Friday, December 28, 2012

feed your head

Awhile back, I mentioned that I'd been trying to write a post, but was having trouble with it. The problem with writing that post was that I was trying to address two loaded topics and I wasn't sure how to write about either one. I tried to work on that post a few times and it turned into a muddled mess, so I took a break from it and here for awhile. I couldn't really write here until I got past that post and I needed to figure out how.

The two issues I was trying to address in that post were the presence I want to have online and my ongoing issues with eating/dieting/exercise. The two are intertwined, because the way I talk about the latter influences the former.

For a long time, I've walked a fine line between being very open about my history of disordered eating and being very uncomfortable talking about my present diet and weight. This is largely because people tend to react in one or more of the following ways: 1) discouraging me from dieting because they're worried about me binging/purging (and saying things like "You aren't even fat!"), 2) acting as though I couldn't possibly know anything about healthy dieting because I have a history of disordered eating, 3) telling me that their way is the only way that works, even when I suggest that this wouldn't work for me because of other issues, 4) re-routing the conversation to tell me how fat they are, even though they are skinnier than I am, thus making me really feel like shit.

I've gotten to the point where there are certain people in my life (most of them) that I refuse to talk about this with because, despite their good intentions, they make me feel awful about myself. This refusal is a personal one--in most cases, I haven't explicitly told anyone that these topics are off-limits because I don't want to argue about it. I just shut down. Part of that shutting down is not blogging about these things, because I don't want concerned messages or advice that I am very sure will not work for me or a subtle undermining of anything I propose, as though I lack the intelligence to thoughtfully investigate what I will and won't do to my body.

If this sounds cold or...removed, that's the point. That other entry got to the point where I was so angry and upset, that I could no longer rationally talk about the subject. That's not a place I want to be in, especially in a blog I created in part to help me be a better person.

When I started this blog, I was in the midst of a massive upheaval of my life. Ravi and I were moving toward our planned breakup, I was moving to a new city, I was starting graduate school, and my best friend, my non-blood sister, was moving a thousand miles away. Swirled in with that, I felt directionless, lacking in purpose, in a place where I was coming to realize life wasn't going to play out as I had envisioned it and still coming to terms with being okay with that. This blog has always had a small audience, but it started out as a deeply personal space where I could anchor my thoughts, write down my goals, track my own mental progress. The name of the blog comes from this quote from Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury:

When the shadow of the sash appeared on the curtains it was between seven and eight o' clock and then I was in time again, hearing the watch. It was Grandfather's and when Father gave it to me he said I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire; it's rather excruciating-ly apt that you will use it to gain the reducto absurdum of all human experience which can fit your individual needs no better than it fitted his or his father's. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.

I like the idea that hope and desire are the the reducto absurdum of the human experience. I like the idea of living in Faulkner's idea of the absurd, though Jason Compson would certainly think me a fool (and I think him a cynic). At the same time, those hopes and desires were fragmented and the blog reflected that, especially in the earliest posts. It was, and remains, an attempt at quantifying, shaping, and discussing my hopes and desires. I used it to give me some of my feelings of self-worth back, to hold me accountable to my goals, to try and articulate what it might be that I wanted from my life, even if that was a goal as small as flying a kite.

But, as willing as I have been to write about some topics (sometimes artlessly or thoughtlessly, as some paramours might attest), weight has been an iffy one for me. Out of the 246 posts on this blog, 16 talk about weight, and only about 10 do so with any real thought going into the subject. Those are the posts that get the most page views and the most comments, on and off the blog itself, which just makes me more uncomfortable. I really want to be able to talk about my weight, my health, what I'm doing, with the same freeness that I discuss my other goals and pitfalls, but I haven't because I don't want to deal with the aforementioned issues. I don't want to be shamed, and very often that's the emotion that comes out when talking about this stuff. Let me be clear--I have enough self-shame to last a lifetime. It is my daily struggle not to shame myself about my body. Feeling as though I'm unable to write about these struggles in my blog is its own kind of shame, a sort of projected shame.

After AWP, I thought hard about going "public" with the blog in a way that it's not currently. I even registered a domain name and I looked into registering with places like BlogHer and  running ads and things of that nature. But, I felt in doing that, I would need to delete some of the more personal entries here, make the whole blog more public-friendly. In doing so, I felt I would need to censor myself in a way I wasn't ready to do, and give up the kind of scrapbook-y format that I enjoy about this blog (bits of poems, random conversations, occasional photos, etc.). I also knew I still wasn't ready to talk about some issues in a more public forum, and that includes weight. I'm still not. I don't want to give the idea that I'm working up to some great climax, wherein I overcome this barrier, then go wide open with the blog. Instead, I just want to build on what this blog always has been. But, I'm asking that you, my very small readership, allow me to do this in a way that is comfortable for me. I ask that you not send me concerned messages or dieting advice or really even bring up the topic. In time, I may get to the point where I want to talk about these things with some people, but right now, for the most part, I don't. I just want to be able to write about them in my blog, for myself (and maybe for you too, if you find it helpful or a cautionary tale)

All that said, I've decided to do a cleanse. Not an all juice thing or drinking cayenne-laced maple syrup, but something involving real food. It's called the Whole Living Action Plan, and it can be found here. I'm starting it on January 1, not as a New Year's resolution, but just because I know I'll be drinking on NYE and this is the most convenient time for me to begin. I'm actually very excited. I want to know how my body feels when I cut out sugar, dairy, gluten, alcohol, and meat. It's about weight loss, but it's also about re-evaluating my relationship to what I eat, which has become, over the past 6 months especially, very unhealthy. I've gotten back to a point where I'm not happy with my body and it's not happy with me. I ache, my head hurts, I feel sluggish, and my clothes fit badly.

I want to keep a journal of the cleanse here. I want to write every day about how I feel, what I ate, what I did. I want to do this because at the moment, I prefer writing here to writing in a food diary. It's easier to reference, to compare, and to do (since I'm usually online at some point during the day anyway). This is something I need to do for myself, both the cleanse and the writing about it, and for the same reasons--to prove to myself that I can. Eventually, I will (I hope) be okay with talking about these things outside the very small group I have discussed it with. That is my goal right now: To lose weight and be healthy and to be okay with talking about those things. Both are a process, and I really would like to go about both at my own pace.

If you've read this far, thank you. I hope I haven't alienated you or bored you (a futile hope), and I hope you know I appreciate all of you.

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