Taking up Space

9 Jun

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I’m still struggling a lot at the moment. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but it’s there and real and uncomfortable. I’m walking down a very well trodden and familiar path.

When I’m unhappy, my discontent at my body starts up, and my relationship with food turns funny again. I want to eat for comfort, but start despising my figure, which fuels the desire to eat. Fucked up and irrational, yes. But it almost exactly mirrors the weird relationship with drinking I had. Drinking makes me miserable, and I want to quit drinking and I’m putting all my energy into not drinking, so I’ll have drink to take away the pain. Madness. 

I’ve had some sugar slip ups, but I’m trying to keep on fuelling my body in positive ways, which is hard when I either want to starve myself or eat everything IN THE WORLD. 

I’ve blogged many times about my relationship with my body and food, and at the moment, how I perceive myself can do a full 180 degree swing in the matter of moments. Yesterday I went from working out in front of a mirror at the gym and being amazed at how explosive and powerful my box jumps onto a really high platform were, to hating the chunk of my thighs. I can vacillate from one overwhelming feeling to another in seconds. 

I often stay at a friend’s house where cruelly, one entire wall of the bathroom is a mirror. What I see on any given day as I prepare to shower entirely depends on my state of mind. Increasingly, I see a figure that’s simultaneously toned and soft, that is slender but has a womanly curve to it. I think ‘yes, this is how a woman should be’, thankful I’m no longer the bag of bones I once was. On a bad day, I look in horror at my shape, the boldness of my round bum, thinking: ‘it wasn’t like this until I started doing so many hill sprints, I’ll have to cut those out.’

I look at myself and see failure, flaws and feel entirely helpless. All my self esteem is sucked away in a momentary glance. I wait for the steam of the shower to erase what I see. 

I’m so sick of the way my mind constantly undermines me. When it wants to be, it can be a happy, sparkly place full of rainbows and unicorns. I get REALLY happy frequently, like jump-in-the-air-and-do-a-little-heel- click happy and would consider myself a pretty positive person, but when the gloom comes, it’s a bloody battle. 

I was catching up on the clever and wonderful After Alcohol’s blog this morning and this post really spoke to me. The fear of suddenly losing control and blowing up to ‘DIE OF FAT.’ The post is wonderful and mirrors so many of my feelings, but what hit the nail on the head  for me was a comment Primrose made:

those extra ten pounds have been a false focus for me for much of my adult life. if I had spent as much time thinking about my relationships with others or my career or even learning a language I would be Professor of the Liberal Arts at the University of Florence right now. so much wasted effort.

Lord, that’s it. That’s what’s been bothering me. I am pissed off at how my brain works, how much TIME and EFFORT I’ve put into thinking about food and alcohol. About losing weight and giving up drinking. The endless and dissatisfying circle. You know the myth of Sisyphus? The bloke who was eternally condemned to push a rock up a hill and then have it crash down upon him? That’s what my battle with my mind feels like. What a waste of time and energy. Although the struggles with alcohol have got easier, they’re still constantly there. I’ve thought quite a few times about jacking it all in and just having a bloody drink, which is the kind of self defeating thought which got me here in the first place.

The space these thoughts and feelings take up is huge. Thankfully, I’m mostly too busy to let them in at the moment, but it feels like they’re lying dormant, ready to get me whenever I have some spare headspace. I spend hours on sobriety & fitness/dieting, reading about it, listening to podcasts about it and thinking about it. I want some space in my brain to think about other things. When I can help others, this spiral is more under control, so I’m trying to focus my energies on that. 

I’m having a day off today and need to try and make positive use of it. I’m exhausted, but resting makes me anxious and dissatisfied, so I’ll try to spring into action and feel like I’ve achieved something today. 

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11 Responses to “Taking up Space”

  1. carrythemessage June 9, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    Funny – this is the second post I’ve read in as many days that talks about this idea of taking a break from the thinking, the recovery, the constant self-examination. And it’s true – I get the same way. Some days I wish I could just float on a cloud of blissful ignorance and just *be*. But we know we’re not wired that way. Ignorance is not bliss, as I lived my life in miserable ignorance – of why I drank, of how much I drank, of how much anger and resentment and fear I had, of how much I was hurting others. So the alternative is to check in with myself regularly. Check my motives. Be kind to myself, no matter what I look like in the mirror (I have been panicking lately because I’m gaining weight again after my injury hasn’t allowed me to run properly these few weeks). So I am going to join a gym, so I can do other exercises. But I have to check my motives – is it because I am looking to hit a number on a scale, or to release the normal energy I have and to find those lovely endorphins? lol.

    You’ve got some insight here – so have that wonderful positive day that you are setting out to have – do something that you enjoy…without any added baggage!

    Paul

  2. primrosep June 9, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    pffff. this all sounds very familiar….the fed-upness, the just wanting to get off the roundabout for one bloody day.

    I listen to myself talk to my children about food and know that I talk the talk better than I walk the walk. everything in moderation. no forbidden foods. a little of what you fancy yadda yadda. and having a daughter is terrifying. seeing her happy in her own skin now but worrying that she too will be pinching her muffin top (god I HATE that term) every morning for the REST OF HER LIFE.

    when I described it as a false focus it is because with hindsight I was focusing upon it because in my twenties and thirties it meant I didn’t focus on other issues. like my disastrous love-life, or whether I should stop smoking (YES!) or cut down/cut out my drinking (YES YES YES!) or whether I should stay in a dead end job/have more kids/use childcare/stay at home (no/yes/no/yes in my case, not for everyone).

    I read recently that for every compulsive behaviour there is a reward. for me the reward of the food/booze brain thang is that it helps me look away from something else. and I am tired of tripping over the crap that I have been looking away from for too long. focusing on (a) being superkind to myself and (b) clearing the junk out of the bottom of my metaphorical handbag.

    if you had to rate the noise of booze in your brain now, what would it score? if on your day 1 it was 100, what would it be now? because whatever that number is now, I copper-bottom guarantee that it will be less in even a month’s time. leaps and bounds, sweetie. and other stuff may expand to fit the space available in our (my?!) tiny little minds but knowing we are beating the booze dragon is really helpful in knowing how to deal with other varmints too.

    long comment, and all about me me me, sorry.. .have a great day off. sunny here, hope it is with you, too. go on a real roundabout for a change. I dare you 🙂 xxx

    • FitFatFood June 11, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

      Ooooh, rating the noise… Day 1 it was 100, today it’s possibly 10? At the weekend it was 30. So that’s positive. Thanks as ever for being so bloomin insightful 🙂

  3. moretomethanthis June 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    Hi there FFF, I have had some really up and down feelings since quitting drinking – swinging from being happy and content and chuffed with myself and almost joyful (whoa, calm down there) to being full of self loathing and self pity. I think you’re absolutely right that the body discontent pops up because you’re unhappy, rather than being the cause of the unhappy. Ergo, being kind to yourself a much better way forward than food restriction. Your recent change of job must be hugely stressful and bound to set off some unhappy feelings… I really hope this settles down for you. It can be hard to relax coming off a period of being super busy. Be kind. Have a lovely day off. Sit in a park and read a book. Feed the ducks. You’re fab. xxx

  4. One day at a time June 9, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    I’ve kept myself so busy since giving up alcohol. Studying, more studying. Revision. My head is going to explode. Studying + giving up alcohol = far too much chocolate/sweets/cake/crap. I have barely looked in the mirror for months. My hair is a mess. I feel a mess. Then I put a pair of jeans on the other day. That dammed dryer had only shrunk them. I got another pair. The same. 4 pairs later it dawned on me. It wasn’t that dammed dryer it was me, stuffing my face with comfort food. I was going to type – it’s time for another change – as one hand is shovelling the children’s leftovers into my fat face!

    You live in a fantastic city. You’re young. You’re beautiful. Get out there and enjoy it. Visit a museum you’ve not been to for years. Find a free concert in a church. Go and sit on the South Bank with a coffee and watch the world go by. Anything. Just enjoy what’s around you for a while. Hugs X

    • FitFatFood June 11, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

      This was just what I needed to read- thank you. I’ve got to make the most of it, and I do most of the time, but when I feel shit I’m guilty of being a wallower.

      You made me laugh with the mysterious shrinking washing machine, damn thing 😉

  5. Annie June 9, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    You’ve written that you when you help others, you feel that your ‘spiral is more under control’. I can tell you that my reading your blog posts every day is helping me more than you can imagine. I’m on Day 44, and you are REALLY helping me in my sober quest. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I agree with the other comments here. I’ve never met you, but you sound wonderful. Annie xxx

    • FitFatFood June 11, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

      Ahhh thank you Annie! That truly made my day 🙂 I’m so glad to hear it helps- reading the blogs was huge for me too when I was in my first 100 days and for months prior to that. You’re doing great! Keep on keepin on 🙂

  6. Rebecca A. Watson June 11, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    Hey lady. I have been feeling a little of this too, the need to just stop. Stop thinking about all of this. Ugh, what a pain isn’t it? But honestly, I think that as we swing from happy unicorn place to bummed out place, as long as we’re not drinking and trying to be honest with ourselves, that slowly these swings become less intense. We’re no longer pushing the pendulum with booze, so it’s starting to slow down. Hang in there (and I will too!). Things will even out. It just takes patience and kindness (like Paul said) to ourselves. HUGS!

    • FitFatFood June 11, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

      Thank you- I like that pendulum idea. I’m absolutely fine today, bit tired, but doing great, you could say. Swinging back the other way… Hope you start to even out too x x

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    […] readers of this blog will know that weight is a big issue for me. I talk about it here and here and here and countless other […]

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