No, it isn’t easy

Trigger warning: abuse, weight loss surgery.

I’m still recording the lyrics I love, this time it’s P!nk’s (Hey Why) Miss You Sometime. No doubt she was writing about a partner but, for me, this could easily be about food. Yes, food – chocolate, savouries, ice cream. OMG Sante Bars!

 

miss you 20190603.jpg

I had weight loss surgery, three years ago this September, and have lost over 70kg. It probably saved my life. But here’s the thing – I’m still a food addict. Surgery is a tool, not a cure. The line “thousand nights I’ve said goodbye, almost lost my mind”. That’s me and chocolate. Chocolate is my answer to grief, pain, shame, embarrassment, loss, fear, boredom, loneliness; anything and everything.

For me, food does two things. It smothers my emotions, and I’ll do anything to avoid feeling emotions. I’ve lived most of my life carefully flat. And, as an addict, certain food gives me a dopamine hit and my brain lights up with sheer joy. That’s the hard truth of it.

On book I’ve read on addiction suggests pain and shame is at the heart of all addictions. For me, the pain and shame stems from low-level but damaging abuse as a kid by a friend of my father, and an abusive first marriage. Now’s not the time to write more about it, just putting it out there and parking it for now.

Despite the weight loss surgery, and a lot of work on “fixing my head”, maintaining a healthy weight will be a lifelong journey for me. If you think weight loss surgery is an easy out, think again.

And, to finish. I love people, love people’s bodies and think all bodies should be honoured – including fat ones. I don’t hate fat bodies, far from it. My father died of a heart attack at 65, Mum died slowly over more than a decade – my decision to have surgery was to try and avoid what happened to them, and a recognition that I could never lose weight on my own. I have *no* judgment of other people’s bodies.

Recording the hard stuff

I was talking with someone on a FB group page and they commented that you can’t journal the hard stuff because others might read it. It means you can’t share the page, so others don’t get to be inspired by your art.

I disagree; I’ve always journaled the good, bad and ugly in my scrapbooks and art journals. As an ex scrapbooking teacher, I’ve always shared my art in person and online.

Sometimes I write it all out so it’s legible and figure, if I share the hard or ugly stuff, I might help others get through and be able to tell their stories. We can all help create safe places for others to share their experiences, especially around addiction, mental health and abuse / domestic violence. I’ve never felt my life has to look perfect in order to share online.

But, even for me, there are things I don’t want the world reading about. Sometimes it is just too raw, other times it’s because it would compromise another person in some way. Often it’s about my food addiction, addictive personality, Tony’s health or my relationship with others who support me (or have similar issues) that I’m wanting to talk about.

When I want to record things but don’t want it to be legible, I use “scribble writing” so I get it all out of my head, but no one can read it. I usually start in the middle of the pages then work up and down, so the lines aren’t consecutive, and make sure the writing is loopy and overlaps. If’ you’re a scrapbooker or art journaler I’d encouarge you to record it all, it’s very healing.

For the record, this page is about some of the head struggles I’ve had this week, more than 2 years post weight loss surgery, what I’m doing about it, and the support I get from people.

go deep wls 20190119

 

We don’t all have the same values

We don’t all have the same values, and we don’t have to in order to get along. But we should be prepared to respect other people’s right to live their lives their own way, without fear or hate. This is something I just wrote in my art journal:

This week I have been exposed to some awfully bigoted people, with views I find abhorrent. It’s mainly been around the Rainbow community but also the way people live their lives. My job as a librarian exposes me to myriad views!

I’m a sociologist so see marriage, gender roles, etc as social constructs originally designed to make society safer etc. Many ‘rules’ and institutions have survived long past their logical need.

I don’t care what people do, or who they do it with, provided it’s truly consensual, with no power imbalance and no one is being hurt. There’s infinite variety in the human condition … people should be free to do whatever floats their goat.

Many people know Tony and I started as an affair, and 26 years on, we’re still together. Of course the relationship is different to those early days. We’re not young anymore! We share a strong companionate love & rely on each other.

We’ve always said it’s who you go home to at night that counts. Heinlein wrote that “sex is just friction between two bodies”. That’s a simplification but also a good point. Emotional connection matters, sex alone not so much. I wish people were less judgemental of others because the world needs to be kinder.  

Adding to what I wrote in my journal, although I have been married twice, I don’t see marriage as essential, sacrosanct or any other moral words. Nor do I have a problem with people having an affair, being bi or pan sexual, and so on. I think some of us have the capacity to love many people in our lifetimes, and sometimes they overlap. As someone who has suffered abuse in the past (which I won’t ever detail), what I care about is power imbalances, consent, safe choices and so on.

I occasionally have someone in the library who I can tell wants to ask me something but is scared of being judged. I smile and say “I don’t care if you dance naked round a fire in the back yard with your neighbour’s wife and a dead chicken, drinking moonshine and smoking mushrooms! What I care about is finding the information you need. Tell me what you’re after.”. Generally people smile and open up. Usually what they want is far from shocking anyway, but that fact they were so hesitant speaks volumes about how judged people feel. Maybe if we all listened more and judged less, there’d be less abuse in the word.

coco fierce4

2 years post weight loss surgery

I’ve just had my final appointments with the weight loss clinic after my 2016 gastric bypass. I had a talk with Atul, my surgeon first. He’s happy with my progress and weight and thinks once I got over all the very serious impacts, I’ve done well.

The dietitian was pleased my weight is almost the same as when we spoke in April. We talked about how I am having to work at keeping my weight up, and some strategies for maintaining that. She recommended I start taking a Copper supplement with my Zinc.

Normally I have a quick chat with the psychologist but this time we talked for about 40 minutes. I have realised there’s stuff in my head that needs sorting, and he was very helpful. We talked briefly about body image and how weird it is to have to eat enough when you struggled to not eat all your adult life.

The main thing we talked about is that I’m increasingly aware I have always eaten my feelings, rather than live/feel them. I smothered them with food. There’s been a lot of triggers to me realising the depth of the issue and, as honest as I am online, even I’m not going to disclose them all here. But I will talk about some of it, because it may help others. There are issues around body image, sexuality, emotions and abuse I need to deal with…

After we’d chatted a bit, Steven asked me if I can easily express my emotions. Hell no. Are you a warm person? No, kind mainly, but not warm. Do you cry easily? Uh, no – I might weep watching the news particularly with stories about kids. Long pause – is that because it feels ‘acceptable’? Yes, I suspect so. Did you parents validate you if you cried as a child? I barely remember crying as a kid, and certainly don’t remember being soothed by Mum. When I think about it, I don’t remember Mum ever saying she loved me as a kid, or even as an adult. I know she did love me, but she certainly didn’t say it.

We talked about the way Mum modeled behaviour, and her own battles with food and weight, and being adopted out as a toddler. I am not blaming Mum for my issues – they are mine – she was a product of her own upbringing and I took some of it on and made it my own.

Six months ago I would have said I was fine and didn’t need to continue with psychologist help. We agreed I am stable, and doing well – with all the tools I need for long-term success – but also that more help would be a good thing. For well-being, it’s vital I do more work on my head and have decided to have further counselling. Overall I get an A+ pass mark but weight loss surgery is a journey, not a destination.

dyary sept 10-16