Tonight I don’t have a witty blog-post title or perfect picture to go with it. Tonight I just want to go on a diet. I just want to lose 15 or 20 pounds. That’s all. Nothing drastic. Just enough to feel good about myself. I know I started this whole blog thing because I wanted the amazing women out there, and the amazing women I know, to know that the shape of their body is not what matters, not what I see, not what anyone that loves them sees, not what the universe sees. That they are so much more than the shape or size of their body. That all bodies are good. That self-worth should not be about size. That I wouldn’t wish my own struggle with my body on anyone. Seriously, not anyone. But right now, all I want to do is go on a diet. Just 15 or 20 pounds. That’s all. Just enough to help me feel in control. Just enough to help me not feel like a failure.
I’ve been on this roller coaster since I was ten. I have no idea how many actual diets I’ve been on. Your guess is as good as mine. But you should know that I’m 44 now. So whatever you guessed, you should probably up it. Mostly, I don’t remember a day that I wasn’t concerned about my calorie count, what I ate or didn’t eat, how much I exercised, what I looked like, whether I looked better or worse than the day before.
My last diet was last year– the second half of 2014, to be exact. I lost a lot of weight. I got a lot of compliments. I said I was just exercising and eating healthy. But I felt ashamed of the compliments, because I always answered them with a lie. And while I was answering them, I was secretly tallying the calories I had consumed that day to see if it was too much, wondering if I had exercised enough. While I pretended to be in such a healthy place, I wasn’t just “exercising and eating healthy”, I was exercising way too much, I was eating way too little, and I was obsessed with whether or not I looked thin enough.
So then I got this crazy idea that I didn’t want to live this way anymore. I was going to get healthy. I was going to finally overcome my obsession with my food and my body. I was going to radically accept and love myself, no matter what. So I started to eat again. I stopped taking scary supplements. I quit workouts I hated. I started writing. I started doing yoga. I started working with a coach. I read every article and listened to every podcast that supported this new, crazy idea that I was more than the size of my body.
Then, as I began to eat again, my body began to put back on the weight I lost by starving it and over-working it. This shouldn’t have been a surprise. It’s happened every time I ended a diet, it fits with the lovely statistic that 95% of diets fail. But as I passed the size I deemed acceptable, I got farther and farther away from believing that my body was ok, that I really was good enough– no matter what my body looked like. I believed everyone ELSE was okay, no matter what, just not me. But I didn’t give up. This isn’t the first time on this journey I have wanted to diet. I journaled, meditated, went to yoga. It worked. It helped. Sometimes. Some days. Not always.
A little backstory at this point might be helpful. Before the Drastic Diet of 2014, I had tried for a few years to “not diet”. I tried eating intuitively. I tried not restricting “so much”. And I lost some weight through this process of “not dieting”. But I never really stopped judging. And judging constituted making sure that, even though I “wasn’t dieting”, I wasn’t gaining weight. During this period, my husband and I also adopted 2 kids. Siblings. A three year old girl and a four day old baby boy.
And, as there is probably not enough web space for the whole backstory, I will jump ahead. Our daughter was never easy. She got harder. And harder. And harder. She had therapists and doctors. And I had therapists and doctors. Because I was sure if I had just been better at dealing with her hardness, she wouldn’t have been hard. And so, when we had gone through a hard spell even harder than the others, I woke up one morning and decided I would go on a diet. I could do that. I could control that. I could focus on that instead of the failure I felt I was as a mother. Those weren’t my exact thoughts, but they are the honest reasons.
I’ve done my personal work, learned about why I do what I do. I’ve learned the ways I have coped throughout my life when things were hard, scary, overwhelming, out of control. I know that when I get stressed or overwhelmed or feel not good enough, my fallback is dieting. Which means my fallback is trying to control. Something. Anything. So, even though I was trying to be self-aware and healthy or whatever you want to call it, when things got to the point where I had no idea what to do, I did what I’d always done. I woke up one morning and decided to go on a diet.
It was very successful. I got pretty thin for my body. But it required continual effort, focus, discipline, and a lack of concern for my actual health. And, as I mentioned earlier, the second all my effort, focus, and discipline was not focused on being thin, I wasn’t able to stay that way. But, remember? I was ready to be done with thin=good, thin=enough, thin=everlasting-peace-and-happiness.
But my daughter was still hard. Getting harder. And I had to really start accepting the fact that I was not in control of her or how she felt. That nothing I did could really fix what was wrong. That no matter how hard I tried, she was still hard– is hard. She still has a mental illness. She still has severe impulse control issues. She still steals, lies, gets in fights. She still thinks that it is my fault her birth-mom placed her for adoption– that I should have stopped her birth-mom from doing that. That her sadness is my fault.
And I have gone up and down with this. I have either felt horrible and hopeless or hopeful and expectant. This past couple of weeks, we hit some more “harder”. I was reminded by those that love me that I can’t “fix” her. I was reminded by the professionals that I most likely won’t ever have the relationship with a daughter– my daughter– that I hoped for when we adopted her. And I see it. I know. And it sucks.
So for the past few days, all I have been able to think about is how much weight I’ve gained that I “shouldn’t” have. How “good” it felt when I was thin. It’s hard to remember how miserable I was. How crazy I was. How excited I was to make the decision to not live like that anymore– to not judge a good day by the number of calories I ate, the hours I spent at the gym, the size of my body. It’s been really hard to remember that going on a diet won’t change my life. It’s been difficult to remember that going an a diet has never been the answer I wanted it to be. It’s been near impossible to remember that I had decided I would never to do this to myself again.
Because right now, I just wish I could fix my daughter. I just want it all to be ok. But that’s not really in my control. So I figure at least I can “fix” me. As if I’m somehow broken. As if somehow thin equals good, thin equals enough, thin equals ever-lasting-peace-and-happiness. As if thin could equal what I had hoped for me, for my family, for my daughter.
I think the best thing to do at this point is to go to sleep and hope I wake up feeling better tomorrow. It’s worked before. It’s helped. Not always. But sometimes. Some days…