Sunday, December 14, 2008

Confession Time

It's said that confession is good for the soul, right? Having not grown up Catholic (even though my mother did), I don't have any firsthand experience with the confessional booth. (My dad was Jewish, and we were raised that way, with a smidge of Christianity thrown in.)
Anyway, there's been something bugging me lately, and I need to get it off my chest. Literally. (And when I say "latey," I mean for pretty much my entire life.)
My weight. And, yeah, one of the places I gain is in my boobs. It's not as great as some would think, lol!
Yes, I realize most women are plagued by body image issues (which, considering the number of women there are in the world, really sucks! That's a lot of issues!) and I could go on and on about how our culture promotes unrealistic and unhealthy ideals for what is considered attractive, or the fact that, as pointed out so well by Charlotte on "The Great Fitness Experiment," you have to have ribs and bones poking out of your skin in order to be considered thin nowadays, or that I think it's a vast conspiracy to keep people from meeting their full potential because how the hell can you when you're too busy starving and exercising to spend time on anything else? Or that many celebrities and models, who claim to have good genes and fast metabolisms, actually WORK REALLY HARD AND TAKE EXTREME MEASURES IN ORDER TO LOOK THE WAY THEY DO! Celebrities don't work out at home just because they can, or because they want to avoid being stared at while they work out (which, by the way, is completely understandable), they do this so they can keep their hard work a bit of a secret. Because, for whatever reason, their handlers don't want people knowing that they don't look that way naturally. Gunnar Petersen, who works with a lot of celebs, said that he just shakes his head every time he reads an interview with one of his clients and they say "Oh, I just walk my dog!" Meanwhile, he's at their house for 1-2 hours a day, 5 days a week, putting them through some tough workouts. He wonders why they're ashamed of confessing to having to work hard. Isn't hard work a good thing? And (I LOVE him for this), why not just be honest? Just say "Yeah, I work out a lot. It's hard. But it's part of my job, and I get paid a lot of money for it, so I do it."
I'm not gonna get into all the eating disorders, the cigarette-and-iced-coffee diets, or the drugs-to-keep-the-weight-down tactics.
Of course there are more honest celebrities, like my mad girl-crush Kate Winslet, who hates working out, is very honest about her weight struggles and body image issues (like when she ripped one magazine a new one for photoshopping her to make her look thinner), and the fact that she is now at peace with both her beautiful body and with food.
Which brings me, in my very roundabout way, to my confession. I started intuitive eating 2 years ago. It's also known as non-dieting. It's about giving yourself permission to eat whatever you want. From this, you learn to pay attention to your body's signals; hunger, satiety, thirst, exhaustion, etc. And you learn to stop bingeing, or restricitng, or both. I LOVE this idea, and I truly believe that it will work for me.
Because, like many others, I went into it as a way to lose weight. I started by treating it like any other diet; there are rules that MUST be followed, I'm a failure if I don't do it exactly right, I HAVE to do this or that, etc.
Eventually, you realize that there are no rules. Each of us is different. "Rules" go against our own instincts. (I'm still talking about food here, not things like stopping at a red light, lol!)
So, I bought and skimmed a bunch of books on the subject. I joined online groups. I even got help over the phone from an expert. It has all helped A LOT. (Although now I'm going back and actually READING the books!)
But I've still put on 20 pounds.
Then I went right back into diet mentality. The old, "what'swrongwithmewhyamIstillso"fat"whycan'tIloseweightlikeotherpeopleyadayadayada." Should I be a vegan? Should I go Primal? Should I train for a marathon? Do Bikram yoga? Oh there's so much confusion, SO MUCH GUILT! And, in the end, a lot of...
I know. I'm happily married with two amazing young kids who keep me on my toes. How can I be lonely?
But I am.
I think I always have been.
Because I never learned how to be truly comfortable in my own skin.
Which is strange, because I've spent more of my life alone than I have with other people. When I lived in Boston and then New York, I went everywhere by myself. But I always had a book or a walkman with me. (Yes, a casette walkman. I'm old, ok?!?) I also have a terrific fantasy life. If I could calm my ADD ass down enough to actually sit still for more than 15 minutes, I could probably be a great writer. But I was really good at spinning fantasies and stories so that I wouldn't feel the lonliness. Not that I realized it at the time, of course.
For a while, being an actor was perfect. I could play out all these different fantasies. But then it wasn't fun anymore. I was living someone else's story (the plawright's), intererpeting it someone else's way (the director's). And I was never quite good enough. Even with great reviews, accolades, compliments, etc., I never felt good enough. (And there were certainly many people only too willing to back that opinion up! Little did I know that it had everything to do with them and nothing with me.)
Last night I was alone with the kids. Again. My husband is in a show in San Francisco (yay!) and the kids and I hang out at home while he's performing.
And it's lonely.
Don't get me wrong: I'm SO glad DH is performing again!!!! And I hope he gets more work! But I need to find a way with being content at home when he's not there.
You see, a few years ago, when the kids were very young, he was away a lot. He was always working and I was home with the kids. They were not as managable as they are now, lol! and it was REALLY hard. I had no family around, and all of my friends were from my theater days. They weren't exactly gung-ho to come over and hang out with the kids. So it was the three of us, 24/7. (I'd looked into some of those moms' groups, but they were awful, lol! And it was hard, with 2 kids with Autism, finding play groups.) I was alone and overwhelmed and, yes, scared.
Last night reminded me of those times. I ended up eating. A LOT. To the point of feeling a little sick. And I fianlly realized that I was trying to distract myself from feeling lonely and scared.
Las night I dreamed that I was in a car, driving. There were people in the passenger and back seats. The person in back kept poking me, hard, and I was starting to bruise. Even when we got to our destination, he was still poking me. I kept telling him to stop, and hitting him with a fan (the kind you hold and flutter), but I felt powereless, and I knew he was just gonna keep on poking me. Like an annoying older brother. But I felt SO frustrated! When I woke up, I thought of something my therapist told me: every person in a dream is a manifestation of yourself.
I keep poking at myself! Annoying and hurting MYSELF!!!! Fighting MYSELF. There is a big part of me that wants to change, but another part of me, the frightened part of me, is fighting it. Because change is scary.
If I start meeting my own needs, doesn't that mean I'm selfish? Won't people stop loving me if I stop putting their needs ahead of my own all the time? Won't they leave me, alone and bereft?
Logically, I know the answer is no. But there is a huge part of me that fears it, just the same. Because for all the lonliness I've felt and continue to feel, the prospect of being left, alone and unloved, is one of the scariest things I can imagine. I've spent most of my life convinced that if I did ANYTHING wrong, that's exactly what would happen.
But I don't want my kids to learn that lesson.

So one thing I've just started working on is finding time for ME. A few weeks ago I realized that I'm either at work, at home with the kids, or at the grocery store.
Which is just kinda pathetic!!!!
So on Thursday morning I drove into the city, walked the dog along the Embarcadero, got some coffee, and just chilled. No classes, no workouts, no responsibilites (aside from cleaning up after the dog).
And it was GREAT!!!!!!!

And I'm gonna do that more. And, eventually, I'll find some friends to do all that hanging out with.


Charlotte said...

Oh Alyssa! What a brave post. I wish we lived closer because I truly feel like you are a kindred spirit. So much of what you say I also see in myself and I can totally relate to having social difficulties because of special-needs kids. (Or in my case: kid) You have such a great big heart. I hope you continue to find moments to take care of yourself. Motherhood is massively overwhelming, even on its best days. You know the oxygen mask analogy, girl:)

BTW - my fave line from your post was "I think it's a vast conspiracy to keep people from meeting their full potential because how the hell can you when you're too busy starving and exercising to spend time on anything else?" EXACTLY!!!! It is SUCH A WASTE of our powerful minds. Amen, sister.

azusmom said...

Wow, thank you, Charlotte! I also think we're kindred spirits!

And I DO know the oxygen mask analogy, I just need to remember it!!!!!

(Is it weird that, when my dad was sick, I looked forward to flying cross-country, 'cause it meant I had 6 hours to myself?)

Conny said...

Yaay, I'm glad Charlotte responded because I think you two ARE kindred spirits. You are two brave kindred spirits.

Not sure if I'm going to say this right, but I think there are different kinds of feeling "alone." There's the kind where I just need 1 hour of peace to catch my breath; there's the kind where hubby has left me with the kids and I feel overwhelmed; and then there's the kind of alone I used to feel, like "who's going to take care of me if so-and-so dies?" Some control over aloneness is good, but lack of control feels like all heck is going to break loose.

I hope you find/make more opportunities to be alone, by choice. Even a little bit does a lot of good.

azusmom said...

Thanks, Conny!
You've really hit it on the head; there are times when you NEED a bit of alone time, and times when it's the LAST thing you need, lol!