More issues…

If I have inside me the stuff to make cocoons–maybe the stuff of butterflies is there too.

–Trina Paulus

 When I wake up tomorrow and remember that I’ve written this post, I’ll have several thoughts in a row.  1–Wait…what?  I actually said that, posted it on my blog, for my world to see?  I say my world because it’s not the strangers that I’m concerned with.  It’s the people who know me.  2–I need to delete that!  3–Well, it’s been there overnight, people could have already read it, I may as well leave it.  4–Besides which, if the point of my blog is some sort of self-therapy, I need to at least tell the truth.  I know this cycle of thoughts, because I’ve been through it before when I post stuff on my blog, especially anything that’s so personal that I’m hesitant to admit it to anyone close to me.  It’s easier to admit things to strangers than to the people who are in your life. 

The people who are sticking around–sometimes I feel like I need to create a facade of perfection because otherwise maybe they won’t stick around.  Like I’m so messed up somewhere inside me that if they found out, they would decide I’m not worth the trouble and just move on to somebody else, somebody who might be capable of being a better friend or daughter or whatever.

(I can already tell that this is going to be a wandering conversation before I finally get around to my point…)

Well, we all know that learning to be alone, learning to be content with only myself for company, has been a huge challenge of my growing-up.  My need to keep people in my life seems to tie into that.  I don’t know why, it’s not like anything particularly traumatic has ever happened to me.  This sounds like an issue for somebody whose mom ran off with another guy, or whose older brother died in a car accident, or something that’s actually traumatic and awful.  Everyone has issues from their childhood and their family, but I certainly don’t have anything like that.

I suppose it makes sense with my last couple of posts.  My problems are because of me, no one else!

Despite my lack of good reasons to have problems, it seems I have this compelling voice in my soul that says if I’m not good enough, if I’m not likeable, smart but not too smart, skinny but not too skinny, a good friend but not too clingy, if I’m not perfect, people will leave and I’ll be alone.  Conversely, since I’m not perfect, I have to somehow get there before I should let anyone new into my life.  I mean, I can’t expect them to actually like me since I’m, well, me.  I need to change me into something perfect before I should risk it.

One of the many issues, of course, is food.  (Oh, here we go, finally, the point!)  The above quote I got from a book called Running on Empty by Carrie Arnold, which is her personal story of falling into anorexia and finding her way back out again.  Reading her story got me thinking about my own…issues.  I have always had an idea that somewhere inside me lurks an eating-disordered girl.  Hopefully she never gets out. 

Oh, who am I kidding?  She comes and goes on a regular basis.

I remember when I was in middle school, I think maybe 4th grade, and I stepped on the scale at home and found that I was 79 pounds.  I was terrified to get to 80 pounds, because 80 just sounded like such a huge number.  I was the tallest girl in my class, I think, and a couple of years later I was the first girl to need a bra.  I prayed so hard to be short and…you know, small.  How well that worked out.  Be careful what you pray for.  🙂 

I don’t think I’ve ever had a realistic idea of what I look like, or more accurately, how appropriate my size was or wasn’t.  I always felt, I always feel just huge compared to other people.  When I was a senior in high school, there was a blood drive, and you had to be 110 pounds to give blood.  I was 108, according to the trusty bathroom scale, so I lied and said I was 110.  I remember thinking that it was ridiculous to think that a person had to be 110.  Surely if I was 108, everyone else was lying too, because there was no way that those other girls giving blood were as huge as me.

Once again, this is a memory that I now find really humorous.  108, seriously!  🙂  I want to tell my 17-year-old self to get a grip, enjoy your teenage body while it lasts, and stop looking at other girls to compare yourself!

Now…I’m not sure exactly where I am at age 25.  I certainly don’t wish for 108, but maybe 120 or 125 would be nice?  Some days I really struggle with a horrible sweet tooth.  It’s not even so much a sweet tooth, it’s just a rebellion issue!  If you ask me what foods are my favorites, what could I live on if I had to, I would happily say fruits and vegetables.  I’m totally serious.  I think I would die of psychological malnutrition if I had to go too many days without fresh fruit.  Becky and Blake saw how thrilled I was to find fruit at Starbucks, and at the Hoover Dam, and at a food court in the Venetian while we were in Las Vegas.  If I’m in a restaurant, I would love to order a veggie omelet, or veggie pizza, or some really good soup with plenty of veggies.  I would happily give up meat for the rest of my life without another thought if there were a good reason to do so.  (There’s not, but that’s a separate issue.  I’m the daughter of generations of farmers, the fact that animals were put on this planet for our use and nourishment is ingrained in me like freckles and brown hair.  Besides, protein is good for you.)

Anyway, back to the issue of sweets.  When I went to college, I really embraced the idea that dessert was available at every meal in the dining center, and I could have as many servings as I wanted.  That’s a crazy concept to a kid who grew up in an environment where dessert was reserved for a birthday, Thanksgiving, Good Friday, or something that was growing outside like rhubarb or mulberries.  Then when I moved into an apartment, I was floored by the thought that anything in the grocery store was available to me, if I wanted it.  Now it’s moved into the mentality that not only can I have whatever I want, but I can have as many servings as I want, because no one is here to tell me I’m nuts.  I can defend myself if Chad (a thrice-former roommate) criticizes my breakfast food choices, but I couldn’t really rationalize it when he came home to discover that I had eaten six cookies after work.  Had he not come home, it would have been more than six.  And the most ridiculous part is, I would rather have an orange!  The only reason I choose the cookies is that I CAN!  Perhaps I’m still rebelling against the rules set place in my childhood, I don’t know.  They’re not even bad rules, it’s pretty reasonable to teach your children that sweets are for occasional treats.  It’s weirdly affected by who’s around me, too.  If I’m with people, I don’t even really want any sweets.  I love cheesecake, and my cousin had cheesecake at her graduation party a couple months ago.  I got my piece of cheescake, and I ate less than half of it.  I love it, but I just wanted a taste, I wasn’t hungry enough to want to finish it.  If I have cheesecake in my apartment, it calls my name from the kitchen until it’s gone.

The thing that affects me in the opposite direction is calorie counting.  Counting calories is a slippery slope for me.  I’ve discovered that I just shouldn’t do it.  If I can eat 1700 calories one day, the next day I decide that I can certainly eat 1500.  And it keeps going.  Once I get below 900 or 1000, I know that I shouldn’t drop that low because about 1100 calories is the minimum required to just keep your body alive and running if you laid on the couch all day.  But I rationalize that since I have extra fat, my body can just get some of its calories from my hips, tummy, whatever.  This cycle comes and goes as well, and often doesn’t last long, but I remember one period in college when I ate 600 calories for several days in a row.  Again, having people around is a good thing because I can only count calories if I can plan every bite that I will eat.  And I can only plan every bite if nothing unexpected happens, like deciding with my dorm roommate to eat at a different dining center than I planned, or getting a phone call inviting me to go out that night, or eating at somebody else’s house where I don’t necessarily know what they will serve or how they cooked it.  I would much rather do these things, so the need to count calories just flies out of my head.

I’m not too incredibly concerned, because I’m not so obsessed with food or calories that I can’t leave it behind.  When a better offer comes along, I happily turn my back on my plans to make a cake and eat half of it just because I can, or my need to stay within my self-imposed calorie rules.  I think maybe I need to find “better offers” that don’t involve other people. 

Well, look at that, this is just another perspective to the issue of learning to be content with only myself for company!

The one thing that began to ease my never-ending battle between the crazy who wants to eat just sugary crap all day long and the crazy who wants to eat as little as possible is focusing on something else, something incompatible with either crazy.  Before I went to Las Vegas, I was starting to get in the habit of working out.  It was just babysteps, working towards having an established habit, but I had a possible goal of running a 10K at some point.  It was only for a couple of weeks, but for that short time it worked.  I can’t bring myself to count calories when I’m working out regularly, because I know my body needs what it craves to build cells as it adapts to the work.  I also tend not to crave sweets as much, and I tend to pay attention to what I crave.  I would be a horrible anorexic, actually, because I just can’t bring myself to work out with the purpose of losing weight.  I only enjoy it when I do it for the purpose of feeling good, or working toward a goal like a 10K.  I’ve totally lost my habit of working out, but perhaps I will begin again towards an established habit.

The reason that I will regret this post tomorrow is that it’s embarassing.  Who has issues with eating?  I mean, I know a lot of people do, but it just sounds so crazy!  It’s eating!  You eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re not.  It sounds about as reasonable as trying to decide if you should breathe, doesn’t it?  But on the other hand, actually writing it, posting it for the world to see, helps.  In honestly telling you, I have honestly confronted these things for myself as well.  So, in case the facade was actually working, now you know.  I’m not perfect!  I have issues.  (And the little voice says, don’t leave.  I don’t think I can be perfect, but please don’t leave.  Please like me anyway.)  You have no idea how much I wish I didn’t need you to accept me.  I can’t begin to tell you how much I would give to not be afraid that people would leave if they found out I’m not perfect.  But I can’t turn it off, for some reason.  It always comes back to, if I dropped the facade, if I didn’t try so hard, if I let people in before I find perfect, would there be enough me left to make a real person?  I hope so, and I hope I’m about to find out.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Becky
    Jul 09, 2007 @ 14:45:22

    one of my friends wrote this note, and i thought you would enjoy it…especially after reading this post. 🙂 Enjoy!

    It seems like everyone is searching for something in their lives. They’ve discovered a flaw in their circle of life, and they’re determined to fix it- smooth it over. They ask other people for answers or opinions. Most of which, they would have expected to hear anyway. But what they may not realize, is that the answers they want to hear cannot, in fact, be heard at all. They try to capture answers that cannot be explained, and they may eventually find themselves back at square one. The answers they want must be felt. To feel the one thing you’d been searching for all along is the answer. It cannot be passed along with the same understanding; it must be experienced. To try and receive the fullness of a feeling, one cannot simply explain. That would be like trying to hear what something tastes like. Experience is the answer to your question. Unfortunately for you, that means time. For most people, that means a difficult level of patience. We write our (feelings) down in hope of finding some clarity in our ever-so-always-complicated lives. We hope, without the knowledge of ourselves, that the analyzation of the smallest moment might bring with it a sense of comfort. So we continue to write, and somewhere along the line we may find ourselves to be a walking contradiction. Myself, ever so analytical, being a prime example: reread.

    Reply

  2. sarah
    Jul 09, 2007 @ 17:09:26

    Not only the stuff of cocoons and butterflies is there, but all the materials and motivation to make anything you want to make. Everyone who has ever met you loves you, and it’s ‘cuz of YOU. It’s because you are caring. You love other people and are always thinking of ways to make other people’s lives happier. And that is not a facade. That’s the REAL YOU.

    Reply

  3. Betty
    Jul 09, 2007 @ 20:34:24

    Hey there Dawn, You are a very complex person!!!! I guess I have known that most of your life but wow…
    I just caught up on your blog–about a month’s worth. Glad the trip was so awesome. I am 100 and 10 percent confident that you are going to make the best move decision for you–with all the contemplating how could you not make the best decision.
    I understand how you can’t see the “perfect you” but I so wish that for just a breath or two you could see the Dawn that I see and that is as close to perfect as any human being can get!
    We need to email about our vaca to make sure it will work for you–so don’t go getting to used to your aloneness cause you know there will not be a quiet moment once our little crew comes blasting into your space! See ya soon! Love, Betty

    Reply

  4. Doris
    Jul 10, 2007 @ 13:27:58

    I’m still here. I have a quote for those times that you feel less than perfect (and we all do most of the time, since you are still there I guess it is okay to be less than perfect all the time).

    I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.
    –Augusten Burroughs

    I have no idea who he is but saw this monday in the “NoonNews” at work.

    Love you just the way you are!
    Doris J

    Reply

  5. Mom
    Jul 16, 2007 @ 21:21:28

    Dawn,
    Do you remember what we have always said in this family? Love is an act of the will. Like is an emotion. We will always love you, even if we don’t always like some parts of you. However, that said, I love and like you just the way you are! Love you, Mom

    Reply

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