Monday, April 5, 2010

a list about food

I've always had a complicated relationship with food. It's been a largely negative presence for the majority of my life, something that I connect to feelings of painful self consciousness and a need for paralyzing, obsessive scrutinizing of my body. I don't remember a time before I felt "too fat," and even though I feel like I have in my recent life began to get a better grasp on those emotions, and take control of the toxic, abusive relationship I have had with eating for the last eighteen years, I know that it is something I will continue to struggle with for the rest of my life.

I have never really liked eating. Well, I mean obviously I like eating, in the sense that there are foods that I enjoy the taste of and, if I could do so without gaining weight, I would gobble them up greedily all of my days. My problem with eating has never been the food itself, but the affect that food can have over my body. When I look at an item of food, whether it’s an ice cream sundae, or a turkey dinner, or a plate of celery, I see calories, carbs, fat, enemies. It’s like there is a voice inside of my head that I can’t turn off, a voice that screams at me whenever I decided I might want to eat something. And then the two desires do battle within me, the desire to enjoy whatever the item of food in front of me happens to be, and the desire to lose weight, to not be fat, to not feel disgusting for hours because I had to eat that damn cupcake, or whatever. And no matter which way I go, which side wins the battle, I lose. I’ve gain ground in this war though, somehow, and I don’t think it will ever be over really, but maybe I’m getting closer to a stalemate, where the food nazi in my mind, the evil taskmaster that insists I am a fat, lazy, overeating heffer, a disgusting excuse for a person, the voice that would just as soon have me give up food all together, maybe someday that voice will fade into a whisper and let me live. It’s getting quieter already, and I believe, for the first time in awhile, that this is actually something I can do. I can change this, change me.

It got to an all time low in my high school years. I guess my own insecurities and body issues sky rocketed with puberty, and so my “food troubles,” as the least helpful of the three psychiatrists I’ve discussed these problems with, would refer to them as, went from a little problem that I worried about to being the most important and central part of my life. My desperate need to lose weight, my excruciating desire to feel thin enough, my wish to not have to drown in self hate, even for one single all overpowered me. And I became bulimic. And the next three years of my life became largely centered in trying to keep this practice up in order to lose weight, while simultaneously avoiding my new habit becoming known to those around me. I failed on both accounts, and I will deal with repercussions forever, I know. I’m growing and changing, and I’m better, I’m better, I’m better, but it’s not over, and I’m not perfect, or cured, or anything naive and silly like that. I’m just myself, whoever that is, and myself will always have to deal with this. It’s a disgusting, demeaning thing to do. I can’t explain the strange wave of shame intermingled with a sick sort of pride that would wash over me after each purge. In my bathroom, my parent's, the school restroom stalls, in vile public restrooms... I became obsessed. I began to try and mix this new hobby up with fasts and strict exercise regiments. And it worked, I suppose. I lost some weight. Not enough, not that any amount would have been “enough.” Not that I know what enough means. I never could have really lost weight that way, I know that logically. Physically I couldn’t have kept up at that pace much longer, and emotionally, I wasn’t keeping up at all. I was running on empty, dragging my lifeless self along on this dangerous quest for skinniness. I hate that I did that to myself, to my family. I hate that my little sister knows. I hate that I made my mother cry. I hate that sometimes it still seems like a good idea. But it’s a process, this recovery business, and I’m trying and trying, and I don’t know...I’ll be okay. But still, to put it very lightly, it isn’t pleasant, and I don’t recommend it.

This blog was intended to be a list of my favorite foods, and it will be, but as I was writing my list I felt like I would be a fraud, a complete asshat of a liar, if I didn’t at least make a passing attempt at addressing the position that food plays in my life, if I ignored the giant elephant in the room at is my eating disorder, a term I hate to think about and have rarely spoken outloud. So there it is (was.) Ineloquent and potentially nonsensical. Just some thoughts. I’m trying to be more open and honest, both with myself and others, to look at things for what they truly are, no bull shit. To look at my life like that. I think that is the only way I am ever going to really grow as a person, and figure out who I am, where I belong, and what I should be doing. There are so many things in my life that I want to straighten out, messes I need to clear away, obstacles that I have to make myself conquer, and I think that accepting my issues with food for what they are, a part of me, a part that isn’t going to go away, not ever, is an important part of that process. Sometimes I feel like I won’t ever be able to get myself together, like I’m just this collection of scattered odds and ends that even all aligned together can’t quite make up a real, functional purpose. But then I step back, take a breath, and promise to keep trying to figure out, if only because I know I’m too young to be so dramatic about the bleakness of my prospects. I’m a drama queen, I realize. So I move away from the problem...and watch some 30 Rock or make a list of my favorite foods...

Foods that I really love to eat (in theory, actuality complicates my feelings, but that’s been addressed above, so now let's just chat about tasty treats)

  • Special K fruit and yogurt. The one in the pretty purple box. So yummy.
  • Sour Patch Kids. need I say more? really? well then, you suck.
  • peanut butter, and most anything that contains it in some variation. my greatest weakness.
  • cheeeeeesecaaaaaake. especially New York style.
  • boneless buffalo wings from 99
  • cherry tomatoes
  • pistachios
  • Kay's cake. A bakery in my hometown that makes the best ever cake, cupcakes, donuts, and basically all pastry type goodness. Their frosting is literally to die for.
  • My aunt Kelley's trifle.
  • toast. I'm completely obsessed with toast, which I realize is fairly odd since bread baked over a little in a toaster is hardly a delicacy, but it's just my favorite food. I think any sandwich is better on toasted bread, and anyway, I'm a carboholic, so just a plain old slice of toasted bread is like nutrients for my soul. Especially if it's wheat and has cheap margarine on it. I'm weird, the faker the margarine tastes the more I love it.
  • grilled cheese. people who make me grilled cheese instantly become very dear to me, forever.
  • twizzlers. favorite. of all.
  • Greek Salad
  • tomato soup
  • Kashi Go Lean Crunch
  • only the marshmallows from Lucky Charms
  • dry Fruit Loops (I really like cereal)
  • homemade mashed potatoes
  • White pizza (preferably from bertuccis)
  • breadsticks, garlic bread, and actually any variety of bread.
  • mall pretzels
  • watermelon
  • fruit salad
  • the Navajo sandwich from Cheesecake Factory
  • McDonald's fries
  • chicken salad
  • Cool Ranch Doritos
hope I didn't bum anyone out too much with the beginning of this post/make anyone too hungry with my list.

listfully yours,
xoxo tess

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