Sunday, February 20, 2011

You Gotta Bring Your Own Sun


Lots to say, little organization to my thoughts tonight. This post could go anywhere or nowhere, you've been warned.

Today marks the start of Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2011. My boys and I celebrated by attending the first Tampa Bay NEDA Walk yesterday morning (sainted husband, spending his birfday morning in a park being aware of eating disorders). It was amazingly well-run, considering this was the inaugural event for Tampa, and that it was coordinated by a 16-year old. Impressive on both counts. "Excited" wasn't the word for my feelings about going; "emotionally obligated" or "willing to participate" better conveyed the sentiment. Upon arrival, though, I realized I could change that to "more than somewhat freaked out". The light switch flipped and suddenly there was this awareness that I was going to be standing and/or more or less exercising with members of the ED community. Oh boy. That'll make a girl real fat, real fast.

Then again, certainly it wouldn't have helped to see several obviously active bulimics (how do I know this? We're going there in a minute, no worries.) and a girl who required assistance to sit down, while someone insisted she eat a banana and drink water. Here's where things get creepy for me. I'm standing there watching this girl gnaw these tiny niblets off the end of this banana with her front teeth, trying to nonchalantly make it look like she doesn't want to punch somebody or cry or both while she "eats", and I'm shocked and horrified.

Why would I be horrified? Why not appropriately sympathetic, what with my couple or so years of recovery?

BECAUSE I'VE BEEN BANANA GIRL. I have met the enemy, and it was that banana. Or a banana equivalent. I've been the girl people needed to essentially force-feed to keep me from toppling over. More than once, more than a few times. Please, find me something enjoyable about being that girl. It was just part of my life, the way things often turned out, a minor inconvenience. Beyond that, though, I realized how I must have looked to other people. What was normal and commonplace to me is incredibly bizarre and incomprehensible to you, if you're not also a Banana Recipient. I never gave it much thought, people pushing food at me all the time, looking at me like they were afraid I was about to topple over and expire, making (what to me now are rather derogatory) comments about my weight...hmmph. Life. Gah. Watching myself being forced to eat an overripe banana.

Awww. Self-actualization. Oh, I'm not, so not done. Don't I wish.


One of Cutiepatootie's favorite Sunday lunch spots is one of those all-you-can-eat salad bar restaurants. We printed off the coupon this morning and headed off for some soup and veggies, much to his delight. Obviously we hit it at the wrong time, because seating was at a premium and the line was long. With tray at the ready, I hit the salad line and immediately catch a glimpse of the girl making her own plate in front of me. Remember I told you about spotting bulimics in a crowd? Jesus, Mary, & Joseph...her salivary glands were swollen, bilaterally, to the size of large lemons. The big lemons, not the 3-for-$1.99 ones. Looked like an athlete, I'd guess a runner because she was too tall to be a gymnast. Crazed look on the face, trying to play it cool as she made a salad big enough for several people. She bypassed the cashier....yep. It's binge day at the buffet. The one remaining booth sat us with her directly in my line of vision, meaning her array of used plates and soup bowls weren't exactly out of sight. She'd been there a while, reading (The Joy Luck Club) and eating. 5 minutes later, she's up again.

And again.
This time it's the bread.
By the time we left, she had gotten up for food 8 times, not including what was already on the table when we sat down. She had refilled her drink 4 times. By the time she made it to the second huge helping of ice cream, the look on her face had gone from "look at my cool exterior while my heart beats through my shirt" to sad resignation - "now I have to get rid of all this." My guess is this is a cycle she repeats multiple times, day in and day out.

At one point I garnered the nerve to go to her table while she was refilling and leave a small temporary tattoo with the NEDA symbol on it. She picked it up, tucked it into her book, looked around, and cleaned the table where it had been. Eye contact wasn't in the cards here - I mean, cripes, I'd already anonymously called her out - but I wanted her to know that someone knew. Someone saw, and someone understood. I was never bulimic, purging was never my cup of tea. No matter. The underlying motivation is all the same, if you really think about it. Fixing what hurts in the only way you can, albeit temporarily.

We had to go. I couldn't sit there to see how long she was going to go on eating. My only hope is that this wasn't the time when her esophagus ruptured, when her potassium level plummeted and stopped her heart from beating, when she didn't begin seizing because of whacked-out sodium levels and stop breathing. It very well may have been. We have to celebrate Eating Disorder Awareness Week because the fact remains that eating disorders DO kill. Far, far too many people. I am daily grateful not to be among that number.

And since I'm obviously going to be aware of eating disorders all week and I need to stay focused on being grateful to be in recovery from one, I gotta bring my own sun. Welcome to England.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Because You're Mine, I Walk the Line

Old school Johnny Cash. Not bad.

This week, I ran face-first into a parenting wall. You know what I mean, parents. The crossroads of your expectations and others' actions. Ouch.

There are a few things I'm an unabashed hardass parent about. Teaching my kid to say "please", "thank you" and the appropriate "ma'am/sir" is one (sorry, Mayim Bialik. I like ya, but in my world manners matter.). Limits on TV time and corporate consumption for toddlers is another. We are fairly strict in our home about how much time Snoogle gets in front of the box, and what he is allowed to watch when we turn it on. This means there are shows we don't allow him to watch, even though they are designed for children. Perhaps we don't like the way the characters interact with each other, perhaps we don't think they model appropriate behavior, perhaps we just think they're annoying as hell and we don't want to have to put up with them around the clock (you know what I mean by this, too. It's okay to admit it.). I press on with these restrictions, knowing I walk the line between "you're a nutjob, lady" and "may I borrow some of that discipline, please?" most of the time.

I take Little Bit to the gym with me on the days he doesn't go to school. We usually go in the afternoons. I'd noticed the use of the DVD player in the toddler area before, but I also noticed that my son reeeeeeally doesn't like Yo Gabba Gabba and would walk away from it to play with other things. By all means, feel free to envision the look of abject horror on my face when I was told that he was plopped in front of A Show We Do Not Watch and sat there. If you'd like, you can also go right ahead and envision the look of abject horror on the face of the staff when I responded to this news with "UGH. I cannot stand ASWDNW." You'd have though I had simultaneously ripped the head from a kitten and driven over the Bible with my car.

Okay. Maybe my reaction was a little much, but I have a hard time understanding why they need to show videos in the TODDLER area. The school-aged kids' section, fine. They have a WiiFit there, they could show DVDs. But to assume that all parents are okay with their two-year-olds (and younger) watching TV? My assumption is that if I was an unhappy parent, there's at least one more. Thus far, that's been my experience. It's rarely, if ever, just me.

Long story made short, we went back to the gym yesterday afternoon, and the staff made a point of not turning the TV on at all, and telling me about it. I did my best to explain myself without being too defensive or putting them on the defensive. In truth, what it boils down to are these few things:

I have the responsibility of raising my son with the values our family agrees are important.
Not everyone has the same values, or the same way of teaching the same values.
There will be times I will realize no one really gives two good s**ts what values matter to us, because they are acting strictly out of convenience.
I will not like this realization. It will make me angry.
Most important, though....

Because he's mine, I walk the line. I'm willing to be a pariah about some things if it means I get one more shot at protecting my son from influences I don't think are appropriate. My influence will be limited by plenty of other people soon enough. Give me this time with him NOW. Let us teach him what matters to us now, so that he can sort out the rest for himself later.

(and yes, I ran 3 days this week. More running news to come.)

Happy birthday to my wonderful, amazing, funny, best-ever husband and best friend. You're 40 tomorrow...I'll gladly spend the next 40 years with you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I'm tired.
Sleep is eluding us in this house.
Many days lately, small boy and mommy run on hours of sleep that can be counted on one hand.
The longer it goes on, the more anxious and irritable I become. There are people you'd rather be around than me right now, in a nutshell.

The worst of it is that my escape isn't working for me anymore. Having been so passionate about running, and now being so indifferent - or just plain loathing the days I know I'm scheduled to run...ouch. The realization came this morning. I need to not register for the March 12K. Training is not good for me right now. In fact, it's time to admit I need to take a break. Spin more for a while, lift some weights, maybe get back to some yoga, something other than running on a schedule. Pushing myself is great, but not when it's for the wrong reasons. Right now I'm finding that running is a way for me to make up where I feel like the rest of me is lacking. Definitely, most definitely a road I don't want to go down.

I read a wonderful quote recently: When you run, always be sure you're running TO something, never away.

Away is where I've been headed. The worse my running performance gets (which isn't helped by the poor calibration skills of the nike+, thank you, I know my mile markers to a T and it misses them every time), the more the feelings of inadequacy are compounded. So it's time to stop. For now.

I'm going to stop relying on fickle Lance Armstrong to tell me what kind of a person I am a few days a week. I'm going to take the sensor off my shoe. When I feel like it - and ONLY when I feel like it, I'm going to put those shoes on and hit the road, outside, with no agenda other than to find the love again. No timing, no distance requirements. Just me, running until I've had enough for one day. However long or however far that is. Not to worry, I'm still Philadelphia dreamin'.....

but I need a reclamation. And I'm going to make it happen.