Monday, August 12, 2013

Am i willing to get well?

We hear a lot about wanting to recover and wanting is great, but i really believe that 'willing" is key.

Recovery isn't easy -- am i willing to do whatever it takes (to go to any lengths, as the 12 Steps say) to get well?

For much of my life, that answer was no. for years, I was absolutely NOT willing to eat anything that would make me gain weight. i was never willing to tell anyone else what i ate and certainly wasn't going to listen to anyone else's advice. Sorry every nutritionist who ever met me!

i wasn't willing to stop binging and purging, no matter that my ulcer begged me, my doctors begged me, my dentist begged me.

i wasn't willing to give up the scale or eat breakfast or give up diet soda.

so, how exactly was i supposed to recover? and what was stopping me?

My eating disorders -- compulsive eating, anorexia, bulimia -- anesthesized all my pain, anger, fear, hurt and sadness. How could i give up the only things that soothed and comforted me? starving was a balm, food was my best friend, lover and constant companion. throwing up felt like tossing out all my inner ugliness.

but considering the state of my health, mental and physical,  how could i not consider giving them up and
facing the underlying issues -- my fear, my anger, my sorrow, my hurt, my disappointments?

i'm walking that path now and what a relief,  i can face and be rid of the fears, the resentments and the pain. at the same time, i find i can eat, can live without a scale, can drink water instead of diet Coke. can live life without the constant obsession

but i have to be willing.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

No More Food Obsession?!

Pancakes were always my go to binge food, and they were my very favorite food.  Because I thought they were a trigger and wouldn’t be able to eat them normally and moderately, I haven’t had a pancake in many years.

Yesterday, my boss ordered pancakes for lunch and asked if I wanted a bite. “Hmmm”, I thought. It would be interesting to test my theory that one bite would likely lead to endless rounds with Aunt Jemima.
I took a bite. It was pleasant, but – it was just a pancake. What a revelation.

I’ve had a lot of revelations about food lately, with the most important being that it’s not that interesting!!!!  My whole damn life I thought food was the end all be all. I believed that if I wouldn’t gain weight, I would spend all my time eating and all of it would be rich and fattening foods. For most of my life , I thought about food ALL the time. One time, I realized I hadn’t once thought about eating for 5 whole minutes, and it brought me to tears.

Lately, I’ve noticed that my food obsession is, well, not there. It’s has though it’s been removed from me.  It floors me. I don’t think about food and when I’m eating, a small portion suffices perfectly. When I’m done, I don’t think about food again until I’m actually hungry.  And “fattening” food holds no particular interest.

(did I just write that paragraph?)

For the longest time, I ate well but still found myself envying people who ate more quantities and less healthy food. I stayed away from foods that were too appealing – foods I would always want more and more of. One slice of pizza seemed never enough.

But now………it’s different. Sometimes the pizza looks good; sometimes it doesn’t. And when it looks good, I’ll take a couple of bites and……….well, I’m good.

I can not believe this freedom. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sleeping Pills

I’ve been an insomniac my whole life. I remember reading thru the night as a child (with, of course, frequent trips to the kitchen – using food to keep me company.)

It was a lifetime of sleepless nights, night after night, starting from early childhood. As an adult, I was alone in my apartment, up all night, binging and puking. Chronic insomnia played a huge role in my drinking (made me sleepy), binging (food “kept me company”), and drugging (with cocaine, I didn’t even need sleep.)

In my 30s, I discovered sleep aids – ambien, codeine, vicodin, xanax, whatever a doctor (any doctor) would give me.  And naturally, I abused them by taking too many or combining them with each other and alcohol.
While in rehab (which is clearly where I belonged!), doctors prescribed Trazodone, which they explained was an anti-depressant that didn’t really work, but it did have the side effect of making people sleepy. Doctors assured me it was fine and not addictive and not problematic.

I’ve been taking Trazodone for four years, every night, and I do sleep well. BUT I do feel pretty drowsy and woozy in the morning. In general, I don’t feel like my mind and memory are as sharp as they used to be, although I don’t know if that’s the Trazodone.

Now, my sponsor wants me to get off the meds. He thinks I use them as a crutch and it’s still “druggy”.
At first, I freaked out. “oh my God, don’t take sleep away from me. I couldn’t bear it.” I flashed back to every sleepless moment throughout my life.

My sponsor was insistent, and I began to see his point. Wouldn’t it be great to be free of a medication that makes me drowsy and woozy and perhaps forgetful and dumb? AND, what if I stepped up and, like a grown-up, took some other measures, like cutting down on my very high caffeine consumption? Exercise? Herbal remedies?

For the last two nights, I’ve cut my dosage in half and slept fewer hours, but I slept! I’m so encouraged.

I’m interested in other people’s experience with sleep and lack thereof. Anyone have an experience to share?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


i haven't weighed myself since last Thursday which, in my world, is quite the record. it's amazing how that's effected this (apparently rather small) life of mine and me.

it's particularly amazing in the face of everything else happening in the real world - planes crashing, political upheaval in the Middle East, my best friend putting his frightened and confused mom into a nursing home. I'm having trouble paying my rent.

but for me, i just want my scale back.

Eating disorders do strange things. i don't feel "right" because i don't know my weight. i'm not quite sure what or how much to eat -- in truth, what should be as natural as breathing is convoluted and artificial.

 i rely on a number on a small digital device to tell me if my body and i are ok. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Changing my Relationship with Food

my relationship with food has been, uh, dysfunctional to say the least.  for most of my life, it was my everything -- mother, lover, sister, friend. If there was food, i wanted it -- no matter what time it was, what it was or if i was even hungry.
i see that's changed, with a lot of work. i've learned that food does nothing for me but nourish me. i'm delighted if it tastes nice, but that's about it.
in some ways, i mourn a more loving relationship. some folks love food and eat a normal amount and get great pleasure from eating, but that doesn't work for me.
for me, food is and has to be practical. i need to find pleasure in other things -- friends, leisure, intellectual challenge, nature......
Many people don't understand my relationship with food. it doesn't excite me. if you take me out to a fancy restaurant, i like being waited on and the prettiness, but i'm not into the food in particular. 
fabulous food doesn't rock my world. i do like it to taste good, but that's about it.
is, i wonder, my relationship still dysfunctional?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Pain behind Compulsive Eating

i've written before about my disagreements with Mrs. Obama's War on Childhood Obesity. Children don't need war; they need many other things but not war.

Yes, it's great to get sedentary kids to move and to teach them about fruits and veggies and grilling BUT that avoids the root of the problem -- the pain behind compulsive eating. In my experience, if the average kid isn't encouraged to get off the couch and eats more fried food than broiled, he may well end up with a certain amount of extra weight but obesity, that's another (mental health) issue entirely.

i grew up with heavy food -- pancakes and waffles for breakfast, big sandwiches for lunch, meat and pasta for dinner. but my parents and my brother and sister weren't overweight. they ate as much as they needed to nourish themselves  and then went about their lives. my mom played the piano, my dad gardened, my sister was cheerleader and my brother, quite the intellectual.

me, i ate. those are my memories. and when things felt stressful -- my parents hated each other, i had no friends, i only thought about food....i ate more.

it was the emptiness i fed. there weren't enough pancakes (always my #1 binge food) in the world to fill up my loneliness. 

the key seems to be in helping us learn how to truly feed our empty souls, because the answer definetely is not in Aunt Jemima. nor, i think is it truly in outdoor activities in broccoli.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


i'm fascinated by obesity and compulsive eating. Why not, it's my story

although i spent years as an anorexic and bulimic, it's obesity and compulsive eating that feel like "home" to me. that's what i am -- a compulsive eater, hwo sometimes masqueraded as anorexic

food was my world. sophomore year of college, i gained 70 pounds in six months. i couldn't sleep, i couldn't breathe, i wouldn't do anything but eat. yet, for all the pain -- emotional and physical, i kept eating. and eating. eating.......

when i was obese, i was miserable -- emotionally demoralized and physically uncomfortable most of the time.

emotional pain -- the terror that i couldn't, wouldn't stop eating, the shame that i'd grown 12 sizes in six months, the certainty that i'd never be anything to anyone.

physically, i hurt. my thighs chafed daily, my bra strap left deep angry marks on my still narrow shoulders, my belly rolls folded and folded, making it uncomfortable to sit.

and still, i ate.

in the years i was starving, all i thought about was food. i made long, endless lists of all the food i would eat if i wouldn't gain weight. it was huge amounts of high calorie mixtures -- pancakes drenched in butter and syrup with bacon and eggs, pecan pie with wet walnuts, ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream,

with bulimia, i ate all those foods and so many more and then purged, starved and binged again trying to fill the bottomless pit that was my soul.

if weight gain were not an option, i would have eaten constantly all day without breaks.  when asked, hypothetically, what i would do if i found out i had only hours to live, i wanted to pull my car into Applegate's Dairy in Montclair, NJ and eat ice cream until the end.

such a sad life, limited to food

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Behind Overeating

i have never much equated overweight and health issues, because i thought that was unfair and judgmental. sure, some ailments seem aggravated by excess weight, but i certainly know thin people with heart trouble, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholestrol, etc.

but this week, james gandolfini and my very overweight brother had heart attacks. my brother is just fine and healing nicely but with the strictest of orders to change his diet immediately.

and now that i'm working at a restaurant with an all-u-can eat salad bar, i see numerous folks laboring under the burden of layers of fat.

and so, i am even more fascinated than ever (if that's possible) by people's food habits, particularly the desire to eat and eat and eat.

it's in me -- i'm, by nature, a compulsive eater. i understand the desire to drown myself (my emotions) in food.  for me, it's a huge sadness that wants to be comforted, and i find i get a little sad watching very large folks load their plates.

i'm hostessing at a family restaurant with decent food, fairly reasonable prices and that, aforementioned, all-u-can eat salad bar. lots of our patrons are older and many are overweight.
most folks who come in want to sit right near the salad bar and complain with notable bitterness when there isn't something available in its exact vicinity. this seems understandable when the customer is using a walker, in a wheelchair, in a cast, etc. but so  many an able-bodied individual gets visibly angry when seated in a farther corner. yet, it's a pretty small restaurant.

the salad bar is lavish and one serving  often seems more than a meal. but folks go back three and four times and then eat a main course and often, dessert.

what is the insatiable appetite for so much food and with no work (a tiny walk to the salad bar) involved.

is it an emptiness -- a feeling that there won't be enough food to fill me, that i won't be able to tolerate even a few short steps to get to the food i need.
does anyone have any other ideas?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


 Loneliness. Aloneness. Just happen

i don't really understand. i've been reaching out and going out. 

i don't really understand. 

has anyone else gone thru a time like this?   

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Taking Responsibility

i let life happen to me. when would the right job find me? why wasn't the rich boyfriend en route? why couldn't i spend all the money i wanted, eat all the food i craved, drink my weight in wine and all without consequence?

finally, at a real financial crossroads, i'm ready to step up and do what i need to do to own this life.

in my last post, i mused about whether or not to waitress. fact is, right now, i can't afford not to!!! kind of a hard reckoning, but a real one.

i'm scheduling training next week and i'm very, very nervous, but i'm doing the right thing and, perhaps, the only thing right now - to keep me afloat.

it feels -- grown up! cool

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Waitressing at 50

okay, 49.

i've posted that i started hostessing at a local restaurant in November. it's easy, breezy and i make a little extra money. but it's a very little extra.

lots of people are telling me i should ask to wait tables because for about the same hours, i'd make a lot more money.

i'd keep the day job, of course, but with all my car and dental bills, extra money would HELP.

still, i'm terrified. i was a TERRIBLE waitress in college (about 30 years ago, to be exact.) bad with the computer, terrified under pressure, clumsy, etc.

 i enjoy hostessing after the stress of the day job. i'm pretty good at it and feel relaxed and pleased at the end of the shift. it's almost my refuge. do i give that up?

on the other hand, how much of a choice do i have? money isn't actually a luxury, is it? 

why not give it a try, right? still, scarey!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Age -Related

 i have to start here. Since i was 10 years old, i have gotten my period EVERY 29 days. Now, one month from my 49th birthday, i've had a few funky months. This month, it's a week late. i haven't been a day late in 29 years.  In previous years, I would have counted back and worried and run out for an EPT. This month, i sort of thought of timing, realized it was pretty impossibly, but also realized that :timing" probably wasn't the point anymore.

I've LOATHED, DESPISED AND SIMPLY HATED my period since i was 10 and couldn't unfurl from the fetal position for three days. i've had scopes and procedures and probes and pills, but mostly, i've had crippling cramps.

Since my 10th year, i've joked loudly and confidently that my days were spent waiting for menopause BUT now that i head surprisingly close to 50, i'm not so sure i'm ready.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Understand Men?

and so i ask you, what should i do. what's going on? where did that come from - the fishnet tights? but i'm not that interested as i know what's there there.

the other one wants the same thing as the young one. and just that.

why do young men and married men want me?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I am looking older - that's all there is to it. i look at pictures from three years ago, when i was 46, and there's a real difference.

Lord knows i took terrible care of myself throughout my life -- drugs, alcohol, anorexia, bulimia -- it makes sense that there's wear and tear.

i always looked young for my age (something i chalked up to lack of responsibility and maturity!) but not anymore. No one looks surprised when i state that i'm nearly 50 -- they just nod and smile.

for no apparent reason, i'm comfortable. it's almost a relief. i SLAVED my whole life to be thinner, prettier, blonder, bronzer, blah, blah, blah...........such time and effort and and money and insecurity.

maybe i'm just tired.

and truth be told, i didn't find my dream career or a good man or inner peace, actually, while i've been thin, blonde, bronzed and young-looking

i'm looking for a change - to grow old gracefully and with different purpose. i'd like to be more useful and kind and compassionate, focused more on others and less on myself (and my appearance!)

waiting in the doctor's office yesterday, i read the new Allure magazine with a whole big section devoted to anti-aging. "anti-aging" sounds odd -- as though it's actually a possibility!

it also sounded utterly exhausting -- time consuming and expensive. And a lot of fight for something that's inevitable. we're getting older and no matter how much botox we stick in our faces or even how much hair color and moisturizer and concealer we use -- we're going to look older.

What's wrong with looking older, looking our ages? i'm not saying we shouldn't take care of ourselves -- i'm just wondering why we can't look great AND old.

perhaps i won't be as comfortable as the lines deepen around my mouth and my jowls droop, as my mother's did -- as the gray comes in quicker and the weight creeps on...all that happened with my mom who looked exactly like me.

but for now, i'm okay

Monday, February 18, 2013

When I was the Fat Girl

I've been reading a lot about obesity and compulsive eating. As I read, i remember the deep pain i experienced as a - i guess i'll just use the word - fat child, teen and young woman. I was lonely, depressed and teased mercilessly. my family and friends constantly urged me to lose weight and scolded me for eating anything but diet food. my mother literally cried in frustration when i couldn't stay on a diet.

I believed i was heinous to look at. it hurt like hell. i felt i carried 100 extra pounds of sheer pain.

having lost those pounds three times, i eventually learned to keep them off through over 20 years of anorexia and bulimia. Yet, as AWFUL as those years were (starving, fainting, binging, binging, binging, puking), i still knew the greatest sadness from those early fat years.

Strange as it sounds, no one commented on my weight when i was anorexic or bulimic.when i weighed my least, i lived in manhattan, among many a super skinny woman. when bulimic, i was a perfectly normal weight that swung to the high end of thin. i didn't "wear" my illness, so no one teased or taunted

Would i take back a minute of any of those years. No. but i still hurt the most for the fat girl

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fear of Food No More

When I started my job a few years ago, I no longer binged, purged or starved BUT i now realize, I was still afraid of food.

I'm not afraid anymore

A little back story, much of my job ironically entails making sure a rather food obsessed office eats. I had no idea when i started that providing meals for everyone would be my job. It takes up (in my opinion, but not my bosses) a silly amount of time each day, but for now, this is my job.

Inevitably, my car is filled with fried chicken, Big Macs, shakes, pancakes and bacon, etc. These are ALL foods i spent as much time as possible avoiding, because i was so TERRIFIED of them. What if i ate french fries, would i be back on my old endless and devastating binge cycles? What if i ate when i wasn't hungry just because the food was there? would i go back to my nearly life long MISERABLE obsession with eating?

None of that happened. Now, blessedly, i don't have those fears. That's because i've learned that FOOD CAN NOT AND WILL NOT SOLVE MY PROBLEMS! i think i did what i had to do to get here out of sheer survival instincts. Perhaps, there was no coincidence that i landed here?

All my life i used food to comfort me, to be my best and sometimes only friend, to replace a lover -- to block out any feelings and particularly to anesthetize pain.

In my case, it was the 12 steps that helped me to see that i was trying to use food for something it could never do. Food won't find me a different job, food won't land me a potential husband, nor will it put money in my bank account or do anything other than...feed me food. Only I can do all those other things for myself.

It's been a journey, and it's cool to see it's possible to move on to live. i was pretty sure that it wasn't possible

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Throwing up

I felt a little queasy after dinner Sunday night but didn't make too much of it until I woke up at 2 am desperately needing to throw up violently.

It was awful and sickening and painful and terrible. All I wanted was it for it too end, please, please, please.

It occurred to me that for most of my life, i CHOSE to throw up in and throughout the day. AND i even got some perverse pleasure from it -- i felt i was regurgitating all my problems AND all the calories i'd binged in right before the purge. I'd come out lighter, i thought, emotionally and physically.

It hard to imagine voluntarily doing what i went thru Sunday night.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

God and Addiction

i spoke at a detox the other day. I spoke about the 12 Steps and how practicing them completely changed me and my life.

I spoke about a sometimes controversial point - reliance on a Higher Power (often, aka "God") and discussed how i came to AA a sure and proud lifelong atheist.

Thru the 12 Step process, I did come to believe in Spirit and that has helped and guided me every step of the way, filling the emptiness with something far better than food, crack or alcohol.

It was a process and one that gives me goosebumps to this day -- it always amazes and thrills me that I can believe.

Through my beliefs and my actions, i AM able to realize that substance, any substance, will not meet my emotional needs. Even with food, i really am perfectly and comfortably moderate. i may still be cuckoo about the weight from time to time (mostly when i'm hormonal) BUT i don't use food.

So, there i was at the detox with a group of detoxing addicts and alcoholics, most of whom put on a tough exterior. And i gave my little usual talk.

After i spoke there was a LONG LINE of people lined up to ask me the same question, "I'm an atheist like you were -- can I find God?"

I suppose i shouldn't have been surprised. All my life i envied people of faith. All my boyfriends were always deeply religious and i wanted what they had, but i thought it wasn't available to me.

AA literature says of atheists, "actually we were fooling ourselves, for deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God."

i can not speak for anyone else, and wouldn't want to, but for me that is true.