Thursday, May 5, 2011

A new relationship

I realize that I'm pretty transparent here on ye' ol' blog, as in take whatever there is I'm thinking about, find something real and perhaps deep and true and even difficult about my life and spread it out before you like a meal on the table.  Well, sometimes that meal is liver and onions, something my mother served because inexplicably our dad loved it.  The only thing I liked about it was the grilled onions and they weren't enough to make me like liver.  If we were lucky, she dropped a package of hotdogs into a pot of boiling water and (yippee!) we got to eat them instead.  And I didn't even like hotdogs all that much.  Still, compared to liver, they were a feast.

That's a little like what some of my posts are like, I suppose.  I reveal things you'd just as soon not know about anyone, but you don't really have a choice...except to turn off the computer, which isn't a bad idea--but that's a whole different thing. 


When I was in college, I was pretty thin.  I had a 23 inch waist and wore sizes 8-10 depending on whether it was a thin or fat day. I did, however, always have hips.  I carry weight there.  I'm a woman, after all. But once I got engaged to that first boy-friend, he started hinting that I was heavy.  He actually told me that he'd pay me 50 dollars (which was a whole lot more in those days, especially when we were both poor college students) if I lost got down to 115 lbs by our wedding day.

Then he called off our engagement and couldn't give me an explanation.  He could only say, "It doesn't feel right."  I remember saying, "Just make something up, then," but he wouldn't.  So I almost instantly fixated on my weight as the reason for our break-up.  From the moment he broke up with me, I found it impossible to eat and by the time we should have married, I weighed 104 lbs. Sure enough, I had managed to not eat my way into an eating disorder, one that lasted most of my twenties (which is older than the average, but I always was a late bloomer).

One of the results of this disorder was my fascination/fixation with fasting.  Back then I was always finding one reason or another to fast.  Looking back I can tell that they had far less to do with God than they did with my weight.  I remember telling my friends (seriously, I actually said this!) that hunger was an emotion, one I didn't have to give in to any more than I gave in to anger or resentment.  Unbelievable, right?  Really sounds like the attitude of a person who wants to give up food and or drink for a small amount of time in order to concentrate on God.  It didn't keep me from doing it.  I did often spend the time I might otherwise be eating to pray or read or study the word but at the corners of my consciousness there was always the awareness/worry that perhaps I wasn't thin enough.  Friends from that time will attest that I used to actually poke at my hip bones (which clearly jutted out) and complain that I was too fat.

The real change didn't happen until I got married.  I'd eaten more when I went to Europe, but we walked everywhere.  The next year, in Holland, the leaders of the YWAM base actually had to change my work assignment because weight kept pouring off me from all the bicycling I was doing--more than anyone else in our DTS.  But then I married the Beve.  My giant, could-eat-anything husband.  I gained ten pounds just saying, "I do," I think.  And another funny thing happened.  All that fasting I'd done in my twenties suddenly became impossible.  Every time I tried to fast, I got a headache.  A HUGE headache.  It was like God was saying, "Oh no you don't.  Not for me."  I just couldn't go without food and say it was for Him.

In fact, diets stopped working altogether. When I finally talked to a doctor about it--many years, and many, many more pounds later--he nodded sagely.  People who have had eating disorders often have this problem, he told me, this inability to lose weight as other people do. Metabolism has been too screwed up.  I've always called it a negative metabolism.  I eat less than anyone in my family and still gain weight.  So any diet I've ever tried has been difficult to sustain--no results will do that to a person, you know?

Then this spring someone close to me talked about an eating change that has been helping her feel better.  Not for weight, but in order to feel more healthy, to sleep better and hurt less.  My ears perked up listening to her.  To sleep better and hurt less.  I want that.  I WANT THAT.  So a month ago, I decided to give it a go.  And--and this is more important to a person like me, who still has that eating disorder hiding waiting to rear its ugly head, than you can imagine--we gave our scale to Grampie and Thyrza so I'm not even tempted to see it as a weight-loss diet.  That isn't the point.

But here's the beautiful thing:  within three nights, I was sleeping better than I have in decades.  Within  THREE nights.  That's spectacular.  And I really do feel better.  Of course, no diet will take away the pain in my leg, but the other things...well, I'll take what I can get, and be grateful.  And you know what?  It's easy.  This eating change is easy.  I mean, it doesn't feel like I'm on a weight-loss diet, doesn't feel like I'm depriving myself, and definitely do not allow myself to get hungry.  I'm just learning to have a new relationship with this stuff with which I've always had such a love-hate relationship.  And that, my friends, makes all the difference.

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