Monday, January 25, 2010

Getting it out in hopes of getting over it

I was born in Denver. Although we moved around a bit in my life, I always thought of Denver as my home. When I had the chance to move here, I did. I was certain that Denver is where I belonged. And when I moved here, I was certain that my life was going to come together, finally.

When I moved to Denver almost 7 years ago, I started dating a guy. At first, it was WONDERFUL. I mean, absolutely blissfully fantastic. I left the first date calling my mom - telling her that I finally met the man I was going to marry. A few weeks after meeting, we exchanged the "I love you's" with ease. Everything felt wonderful. Everything I thought I wanted, I had. I was living in Denver. I was dating a guy that looked like he stepped out of a Land's End catalogue - blonde hair, blue eyes, broad shoulders, and a smile as American as apple pie. The complete package; he even had a yellow lab for Chrissakes!

Life, surely, couldn't get better than that.

The problem was, I felt like I didn't deserve it. I was not a whole person but rather someone looking to someone else for validation.

At first, I thought that the guy liked me for me. But as each month turned into the next, it became apparent that he didn't really like me at all - maybe just the thought of me? So, like any insecure person who doesn't feel like they have worth, I opted to change. At first, it was small things and then I started to change key parts of my personality.

He withheld sex - first because of his own mental issues. Then it was due to a medical reason of my own (due to faulty testing as I found later). And as time progressed, it became apparent that this guy had ISSUES when it came to sexuality.

He was controlling in almost every way - and actually in the worst way - where he was sneaky about it. Multiple times throughout our relationship, he decided that he wanted to lose weight via an all protein diet...and since I (at the time) had about 20 pounds I wanted to lose, he strongly encouraged me to do the same. To be clear, this guy didn't have a lot of fat to lose. He was over 6' and weighed in at a max of 180. But like any good sheep, I followed the diet.

Except when he said that we shouldn't.

So we'd do this "all or nothing" type thing - one week we'd be eating only meats and the next week we'd blow it all on fatty and sugary foods. What I wanted to do that week was second to what he wanted to do. Come to think of it, that rule applied to us regardless of the topic.

He often remarked about how easy it should be to lose weight. He didn't understand why if anyone wanted to lose weight, they continued to eat "bad" things. "Why can't they just eat a salad? They remark on how hard it is to be fat and yet they order fettuccine alfredo." The message was clear: fat people are lazy and weak-willed; clearly, that's why they're fat.

Unbalanced? Crazy? Co-dependent? That doesn't begin to cover it.

In the middle of all of it, I had a medical complication from a rollover accident - one where my brain swelled. I was ordered to take a medical leave of absence for a few weeks and to not do anything strenuous. I was ordered to take it easy so that my brain would stop swelling and heal.

It was during this time that he chose to tell me the "new" reason we weren't being intimate. It was because I was too fat. He wanted me to run outside with him. "But I'm the same size I was when we started dating! I work out at the gym usually. Isn't that enough?" And the answer that I got was a resounding, "No." So I started to run outside with him - unable to keep up (my God, the guy had run a marathon!)...proving that he was dominant over me in yet another way.

I was so depressed that I had to be on medication for the first (and so far, only) time in my life. And that was yet another reason why poor pitiful me needed him. He reminded me often of the burden that I was placing on him.

So when I say I was miserable, I want you to understand how fully miserable I was.

But wait! This was the guy I was going to marry, remember? It's funny how much you endure when you've convinced yourself of something. For me, this was the perfect pairing... Due to previous events in my life, I was convinced that I was an awful person and I finally found someone who treated me as such.

We finally got to have sex after almost a year and it was the worst. sexual. experience. EVER. Seriously. TMI alert: There was a point I wasn't even sure he was IN me. And the small thrusting rabbit moves? PuhLEEZE! It was like getting humped by his dog. I debated trying to teach him a thing or two, but when he didn't show any interest in trying again the next day, I dumped him that very night. Apparently, even I had a breaking point.

It took YEARS to get over the damage that I had done to myself. As nice as it would be to sit back and call him a turd, my dependence on him was my own choice. I was responsible for staying in the relationship. I was responsible for not being strong and losing myself in him and the "idea" of us.

At first, I beat myself up about it - for being so stupid as to succumb to someone else's wishes. Then I gained weight - to the tune of 80 pounds - so that guys like him wouldn't even dream of coming near me. I never wanted to hurt like that again. Subconsciously, I protected myself the only way I knew how.

After that, I only dated guys that I wasn't really interested in. I only dated guys that were friends - ones that had to prove somehow that they really liked me for me - and even then I didn't believe it.

Losing the 55 pounds that I have so far as been a huge step. Keeping it off has been big. Not regaining the weight has been good. Learning about, and practicing, moderation? Eesh. I'm finding that I have to practice learning and re-learning that often. But actually liking myself? Well, that's been the real challenge.

The simple fact that this post has turned into a venting session about the relationship shows that I'm not completely healed. That relationship has fueled some issues in my current one, especially at the beginning - like when I wrote about it here and here.

There is this voice in my head that only I can hear every now and again. Sometimes it's loud and sometimes it's soft. Always it tells me that guys don't really like curvy women. It tells me that when I lose my weight, I had better be sure to keep it off for good. Because just like my dad and the previous boyfriend proved, no one *really* likes overweight women. It tells me that the number on my scale determines my worth. If I listen to it long enough, it tells me that I may never succeed so I might as well indulge. Today. Tonight. And if I can, RIGHT NOW.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to silence that voice completely. But I do know that my weight loss journey *has* to include a plan on what to do when I hear it.

I'm happy in my current relationship. When I went back to read the posts that I linked to above, I was surprised to read how I used to feel versus how I do feel. I don't worry about squishing my lover in bed. I don't worry about my fat rolls when he hugs me and I don't worry about what people might think about me being bigger than he is.

But every now and again, I hear the voice. And sometimes I indulge it and eat because I'm scared. I listen to that voice and that's when I'm worried that I won't be able to see the red flags that I should've seen in the previous relationship.

I've tried ignoring it. Sadly, that doesn't seem to help...because eventually that voice just gets louder.

Lately, I'm wondering if I should embrace it instead.

Maybe I should look at that voice as the one thing in my life that's tried to pamper me and protect me. Maybe that voice is ME trying to watch out for me. The pain that I experienced in that relationship is something that I never want to go through again so maybe that voice is trying to protect me from having to endure it again.

I was reluctant to write this post. I didn't want it to come across as me complaining or blaming my current situation on someone else. I didn't want you guys to pity me. But I also realize that if I don't ever unpack my mental baggage, I'll never be lighter - mentally or physically.

Even though it's cheesy, to the voice (that, for now, is quiet), I want to say this:

I acknowledge that you are there. I understand. I thank you for being there trying to watch out for my best interests. I want to say that I don't need your protection right now. But I appreciate your thoughtfulness all the same. Instead of you repeating the same record, could you instead encourage me to take care of myself with sleep, with water, and with friends? You are a valuable part of me. You know how bad it was. And with your help, in the right way, we'll never have to feel that way again.

We don't need to hang onto the pain.

It's okay to let it go.


Margie M. said...

Good thing that other relationship ended....YOU SO DESERVE MORE. Looks like you may have found it with your current boyfriend. Letting your self "risk" entering a new relationship, after that disaster, was courage. Without any risk in life, are we really living? Sometimes risk is worth the consequences, or the goodness it most likely will bring.

Believe me, I'd sure LOVE to introduce you to my son!!! He needs a great woman like you.

Margie writes at:

Amy Pousson said...

Man...what a post. I know that voice, too. Mine says different things, but along the same lines. Lately, I have been trying to tell it to "shut the hell up!" But perhaps your approach would be better. I think it's a bit about trying to find the balance between what's inside you that is telling you to protect yourself, and making sure that the method you "protect yourself" is a healthy one. Like you said, with water, sleep, friends, a walk and not an entire 1/2 gallon of ice cream (which, for the record aren't even 1/2 gallons anymore and it was Edy's light, but I digress).

The Merry said...

I'm very glad you actually did write this post. I went through it nodding my head: yep, did that, did that too... oh lord, I remember doing /that/...

I think a lot of women -- and no doubt men -- have gone through similar journeys, but rarely have they expressed it this well.

Florida Food Snob said...

Your amazing! I really enjoyed this post and learning more about where you came from. The most valuable lesson is in deed "that voice just gets louder"

POD said...

That was an amazing post. I have to print it off and read it again later today. I am stunned.
How did my twin get born 20 years later?

TinaM said...

I know this is late... about 5 months lol, but what a GREAT POST.