Sunday, March 31, 2013

Yap yap yap yap, into the void.

Last week, after feeling sort of body-okay, albeit body-agitated, for a bit (where a bit is measured in weeks), my body image tanked.  It was abrupt.  It left me at the bottom of a big hole, the kind in which you find yourself suddenly holding back tears on New Jersey Transit.  It came with a sudden plummet of my sex drive, a near-absolute physical inability to be aroused. 

I talked about it in therapy.  I felt monstrous, I told my therapist; I was watching myself in subway windows with revulsion, finding new asymmetries in my face, hating its spherical bulge, disgusted with myself more than anything that I had somehow just recently thought it was okay.  This, I think, was the key.  My therapist pointed it out; it was easy to come to following her lead but I don't think I would have gotten there on my own because the linear causal traction of the disordered logic of fat-hate has such a strong pull (you hate your face because it's fat, the thing to do about it is to be less fat, immediately, which is to say stop eating now, by taking steps to become less fat you will be able to assuage your distress about the thing you see reflected foggily across the subway aisle).  The thing is this: just recently I'd felt okay.

Over the past six or seven months, I've lost thirty-five pounds or so.  This brings me to the bottom of my adult range, and I don't have much credibility with myself at this juncture when I say things like this after twenty years of weight cycles, but this time it feels a little different.  (How is not the point here, but it feels different because I'm not restricting my intake, and I'm not white-knuckling hyperfocusing obsessing.  I'm thinking hard, but it feels qualitatively somewhat different.)  I will say that it looks a little different to my professional help, too: my therapist has recently gotten pushy about talking about body and weight, which is to say that we have been talking about it near-exclusively for months.  I have been crying a lot.  It is new and maybe interesting and definitely unpleasant.  Anyway, the point is, one thing we have been exploring is my sense of the difference I think that 35 pounds, tacked onto another 15 or so from the year before, makes in the reactions I get from the world.  They seem to take me into the realm of the visible.  I feel looked at more often.  Sometimes I look up from whatever I'm doing and make unexpected eye contact with a man, who is looking at my face, which feels deeply invasive.  Anyway, I have lots of complicated feelings about that movement, and some of them are positive.  We'd been sort of focusing on my complicated feelings about having positive feelings—my fear of confirming other people's toxic weight narratives; my fear of reopening myself to bigger, stronger, more harrassing weight stigma by becoming (counterintuitively) somewhat smaller such that my size ceases to be an unspeakable thing; etc.  This is a thing we had not discussed: the feeling of being caught not feeling terrible about myself.

What happened is that I saw a friend I hadn't seen since November and before that since last March.  This is a friend to whom I have for the last several years served the function of second-string girlfriend.  Not like that, because I've been dating someone, but when he becomes single he calls me up and I put on lipstick and we go for nice dinner and sometimes he walks me home and comes in for a nightcap and then maybe but no.  This is the guy that I'm supposed to be dating; the guy I'd be dating if I'd never been fat.  My dad loves him.  But I have come to resent the second-string status, for obvious reasons, and so when he busted into the plans I'd made with another friend with no warning to me, I became dismayed.  And we still had our old spark—we had it back in force; it felt stronger than it did thirty-five pounds heavier, but I also knew, like stumbling over a rock I'd been stepping around for years, that no, never, no way.  I would were I single.  He wouldn't.  Not unless I were a size six or under.  I'm disqualified.  I'm still categorically unsuited; I'm barely a woman.

And it was like having my unsteady little platform bashed to bits with a sledgehammer.  I'd been talking for weeks about how weird it felt to be in a different category; I'd been deluded and self-aggrandizing; I'd been disgustingly complacent.  I'd let up when I'd had no excuse to let up, when I didn't deserve to be let up on. 

I haven't solved this.  I still feel gross. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Oh My God, I Can Get Into It

Shit, you guys; you're always locked out of the stuff you did on the internet a million years ago.  Not this time.  Mysterious & lovely.

I have been excavating, again, some more, which is how I wound up here.  I read Jen Larsen's piece on Refinery29 today because someone linked something else there on Facebook and then her name popped up and I was all, "didn't she used to be...?" and I read it and she did used to.

And I used to, too.

A long time ago, Jen and I had an exchange on this very website, which I remembered and found.  And just a couple of weeks ago, I read through old archives of Fatshionista, which, bless you for what you were and are no longer; goodnight, sweet prince(ss).

And now as never before, I have been talking to my therapist about fat and fatness; I have been weeping through therapy sessions, getting angry.  All of this is bound up in the excavation impulse that brought me to this corner of the internet I created & abandoned.

I feel sad for having abandoned it.  I feel sad for the work I was starting to do here and elsewhere, and I'm not sure why I stopped doing it, but I feel very much like I need to pick it up and have lost time.  Valuable time.  Time I need and won't get back.

But I just read the post I wrote for Fatshionista on my body history.  I note its closing air of triumph.  I have emerged victorious from the body wars, I imply.  I can hear that tone in some of my posts here, too.  And that triumph was/felt real: I remember vividly the visceral thrill of the months just after recovery, the inkling that I could live normally, things could be different.  I could be a regular person.

Not quite.

Or only with sacrifices.  I think I sacrificed my investment in the thought possibilities of fat to my deep craving for normalcy.  I wanted to try to be a regular person.  Having at least partially dispelled my sense that I was unqualified for normalcy because fat, I wanted to give that a shot.  I wanted to be like other girls, with a job and a boyfriend and an apartment in Brooklyn.  I had all those things.  And I've puttered along; I have them still.  I have a different job (do you count "graduate student" as a job?) and a different boyfriend and a different apartment in Brooklyn (after three years away).  I have all these markers of normalcy; I chat with my beautiful friends about our lives and because I am being a regular person, I don't draw attention to the ways in which our lives diverge.  But when they fail to see or fail to acknowledge or offend me over the way our lives diverge, I burn with grief and rage.  

Since I stopped keeping this blog, I have gone through two full (well, not quite, since by the end of my tenure here I was clearly on the upswing again, and feeling rocky about it) weight cycles of my sixty-to-seventy-pound range.  I want to tell my younger self, "Oh, honey.  Buckle up.  Hang on tight."

Through these cycles I have kept mum.  I have never said shit to anyone about being fat, not beyond the theoretical, the analytical.  I have pretended I am just like them, the girls who can buy jeans in stores they just happen to be passing, the girls who can put up an internet-dating profile without having to contemplate the difficult prospect of how to present their bodies; I have pretended my friends do not have eyes and cannot see (only explanation for thinking that no one will notice that I'm never the same size for more than a few months on end if I don't mention it).

This is what's got me excavating again: I'm at the bottom.  Again.  I'm probably the smallest I've been in my adult life (I know this because I still have those jeans I bought, the Gap 20s, and they fit—not like in a hey-let's-leave-the-house way, but in a these-pants-contain-my-volume way) and frankly, it has got me riled.  It is worth noting that I appear, given my behavior, to only feel able to talk about fatness when I am below a certain size.  I am below that size, and God, I want to talk about fatness.  I want to talk about it and write about it.  I want to figure it out.