Category Archives: women’s health

Why I Stopped Trying to Have Another Child

IMG_9846
Time to rest.

Last night, for the 414th time, I heard it again:

The unintentionally-offensive-you’re-lucky-you-only-have-one-kid remark.

You know the kind.  It also comes in the form of, “Is she your only?” and “only children are so lonely and spoiled” and “I would never do that to a child, have them be the only.”

This time, instead of a meltdown, it was nothing a knowing grimace from my husband couldn’t fix.  This time, instead of letting it stab me like a knife, it was a momentary wince and I moved on.   I watched my daughter trot from house to house, collecting candy gleefully.

*****

Today, I was thinking about how much I’ve had to fight.

First, I thought about how much I’ve fought to have a second child.  I tried for two years.  My husband and I tried having sex every other day, at points.  We got pregnant – to have it end in miscarriage, and to have a D&C I had to fight for because it was a holiday and no one wanted to stay late at the hospital.  I paid $1600 for acupuncture that wasn’t covered by health insurance, took herbs and stopped running.  A family member paid $500 for a failed IUI that wasn’t covered by health insurance, and since we don’t have 7,000 extra to spare, an IVF or even extra IUI’s were out of the question.

Second, I thought about how much I’ve fought in my life thus far.

In early school years, I fought to understand why the students at school hated me because of my weight, and I fought to understand why I was being touched by a classmate inappropriately in the fourth grade and why no one was doing anything about it, even though I told them.   I fought to understand why drug paraphernalia was in my house at a young age.   I fought to understand why people wouldn’t just leave me alone as I became smaller and smaller, since it solved everything anyway.

I fought harder still in college to understand why I couldn’t drink like everyone else, why guy friends had to carry me home after I insulted or hit one of them.  I fought to understand why my father refused to accept that I had an eating disorder, as a social worker confronted him in treatment.  I fought to educate family members, close ones, that I needed to eat at certain times during the day right out of treatment, and that I just wasn’t trying to be a nuisance to older family members.  I fought to stay sober, one day at a time, and fought to make family members understand that my sober anniversaries were actually a big deal and something I wanted to be recognized for.

I unsuccessfully fought to have extended family members unconditionally love me after I spoke my truth about our family, and fought to have in-laws see me as something more than “that antisocial girl who’s too serious”.  I fought to understand how the bomb near the finish line my husband stepped on somehow didn’t detonate during the Boston Bombing.  I fought to get my dad’s brain researched after he died, just like he wanted, packing ice around his head.  I fought back snarling insults as I felt others’ judgment about choosing to live with my mother and bipolar brother.  I fought tooth and nail to climb in my chosen career, only to live paycheck to paycheck.  I fought for my marriage in couples therapy as it floundered.

So yes, I guess you could say I’m tired of fighting.

And I’m good with fighting anymore, for anything else, including a child.

In fact, I’m all set.

If you want me, come and get me.

*****

I’m gonna go ahead and liken infertility to a regular old loss.  It doesn’t hurt any less as the years go on; you just get more used to dealing with it.  You get used to the remarks, seeing bright, shining pictures of families with at least two siblings beam at you from Facebook, and you feel that old, familiar pain.  But this time, it’s in the rearview mirror.

I have a family.

And I have me.  And I tell the truth.  And a lot of people don’t like that and never will.

And despite what a lot of people think, I’m fucking remarkable.

 

Why “If Mama Ain’t Happy, Nobody’s Happy” is a Bullshit Lie I Live

IMG_6863There comes a time in you life when you are doing something really mundane, like going on your daily run, when you realize,

Shit.  I’ve been selling out.  I’ve been settling.  I’ve been settling for behavior from others and myself.

And there are layers to these epiphanies.  My first one?  Came when I realized I wanted to recover from my eating disorder.   My second?  When I wanted more from my life than forgetting the night before because of too many rum and cokes.

My 45th came today when I realized I don’t want to yell anymore.  And I don’t want a partner who yells either.

*****

I am a mother.

I am a wife.

I am a co-owner of a business.

I have a shit ton of stress.

Because, as a woman, I’m expected to “do it all”.  So not only do I manage the money, I make the majority of the money upfront, and I also am expected to do all of the housework, manage my child’s appointments, playdates, extracurricular activities AND manage the psychological well-being of my child.

It was very furtive, wasn’t it?  How, in the span of 70 years, men have continued to deftly sidestep responsibility in any way they can.  Shit, I have to chores now? Guess I can still be lazy emotionally.  Sweet.

Before any right-wing idiot or plainly, insecure men jump down my throat, I want you to do something.  Walk up to the woman in your life.  Ask her what she’s worried about.  Chances are, her experience will be more rich than yours. She’ll be worried about being able to schedule their child’s gasto-intestinal appointment in between the clients she sees.  She’ll be thinking about how her husband yelling at their child mimics the traumatic experience she had as a child and how she’s failing.  She’ll be wondering if she can work out while the baby sleeps because somewhere, in the back corners of her mind, a demon tells her to be attractive for her boyfriend.  Now ask yourself if you have those same thoughts.

The pressures are not equal. NOT.  YET.

So when I hear, “If Mama Ain’t Happy, Nobody’s Happy”, I want to scream.

Why?

Seems to be yet another misogynistic turn of phrase, so eloquently masked as feminism.  It’s misogynistic, because it puts all the pressure on the female to chart the course, when males are perfectly capable of doing some of the emotional work. They’re perfectly capable of putting themselves first, taking care of themselves so they don’t take it out on their children.

It’s just that we haven’t EXPECTED them to, since the dawn of time.

And it reinforces that disgusting, martyr-like dynamic in older women that I despise. “Poor me, I’ve put up with so much from your father.”

EXACTLY.  You put up with it. You’ve enabled it.  Women have enabled it.  And that’s our part.  And that can be changed.

*****

Am I a sanctimommy who expects herself or others to never yell?  No.  But let me tell the truth and talk about yelling, because a lot of us have a ton of shame over it.  And it’s important to talk about during this time of year, when kids are going back to school and transitions are driving us parents nuts.

We’ve been yelling too much in my house.  I know my part – part of me has been justifying my and my husband’s trauma histories.  A refined form of “If we were ok, then she’ll be ok.”  “I’m a good parent.” “I’m doing the best I can.”

Maybe I’m fucking not.

Maybe I’ve been enabling years and years of the masculine approach to things.  The masculine approach of anger, of forcefulness, of yelling.

All I know is, This Mama Ain’t Happy.  Period.  And I’ve been justifying stuff I’m not OK with.   That’s my part.

And it’s my husband’s job to work on his.

Media Mondays: Does Body Acceptance Mean An Unhealthy Lifestyle?

So my friend sent me this article because she thought I might have something to say about it.  (Me?  Never.)  And I did.  So, here’s the link –

Real Women…?

So this lady’s argument is that there’s this common theme today of saying “real women” are only size 14, with curves, and that thin or healthy women get shit on in regards to being “real”. If you scroll down, she tells you that she was one of the overweight women in the second set of pics, and then she became a bodybuilder.  Can I tell you something?  I agree with ONE of her points.  And that is:

There has been a backlash against slender people since the body-acceptance movement.  It’s true.  I bet most naturally-tiny people have felt discriminated against at times, with the boatloads of body acceptance size 14 memes floating around the internet.  The truth is, all women who don’t have botox and don’t photoshop their pics have “real” bodies.

But I don’t agree with the rest of the article.  And here’s why.

1.  One thing that bothers me is the name-calling.  Lady, how ’bout you don’t shame people by telling them they have “shitty” eating habits.

2.  She’s using her story in the wrong way.  This gal apparently lost like 50 lbs or so.  OK, good for you, I was overweight as a kid too and lost it (albeit through unhealthy ways.)  Just because I am society’s standard of “normal” doesn’t mean you see me taking the “real women” movement personally.  I’m confident enough to know I have a real body, a body that is just as real as those size 14-ers.  It’s like a white person crying because black people have their own equality organizations.

3.  I’m sorry, but if you’re a bodybuilder, I’m guessing you use extreme measures to maintain your appearance.

4.  WHAT ABOUT DEPRESSION?  This lady makes losing weight/getting healthy seem supremely easy.  And you know what?  It is, for some.  But others have to battle co-existing illness like depression and anxiety which compound the ability to lose it.  You don’t have a choice when you have depression; it’s a disease and you have symptoms that prevent you from making choices.

5.  And oh yeah, there’s class status.  Not everyone is white and middle class and is able to shop at Whole Foods!

6.  And lastly, God.  Lady, I am guessing when people say “God gave me this body”, they mean their genetics/biology.  And guess what?  That does have an impact.  I’m never going to be Anna Kendrick-sized, but I’m also not ever going to be Geena Davis sized.  Science does, in fact, happen!

Bottom line:  I just hate that women like this get 47,000 likes on an article of this quality, which is basically a shot to get money and publicity through emotional manipulation.  And my little blog just plods along…albeit happily…

(and if you’re wondering the answer to my title, it’s this…)

grumpycat

Recovery Tip Tuesdays: Throw out Your Old Jeans!*

jeansThat’s right, I said it.

Yes, I’m talking about that all-hallowed, smallest-size-you-ever-fit-into jeans.

Yes, those!

(Or donate them to some nice organization.  Whatever you prefer 🙂 )

I feel like that revered pair of jeans is a part of most women’s closets.  They even made a Sex and the City episode about it (Remember, when Miranda fit into her No Excuses jeans from high school and instantly was able to flirt with a hot guy?  Funny episode, but c’mon.).

Why, you ask?

If you hold onto a pair of jeans that is smaller than what you are now, you will always be comparing yourself to that number.  You’ll always be wishing you were that size again.  You’ll always be wanting to be smaller.  And, as our great friend the Buddha taught us, distress and unhappiness take place when we reside in the “wanting” of anything.  When we accept where we are now, we are happier (and I’m betting, if you actually want to lose some weight in a healthy way, it will come off easier when you stop thinking about numbers in general.  Throw away the jeans, put away the scale, stop counting calories or fat grams or sugar grams or WHATEVER.)

A personal anecdote –

I had this size (bleep!) skirt that I bought sophomore year in high school.  It was blue satin, was bought in Harvard Square, and everyone commented on how thin I looked in it.  Years later, when I was a few sizes up, I still had it.  It sat in the back of the closet and teased me.  It taunted me.  “Why aren’t you this weight?” it said.

So, I got sick of its bullshit and threw it out.

Today, I have a closet that’s full of stretchy, one-size-fits-most type clothing.  It works for me.

Today, I’m throwing the question out to you guys – what tips have worked in your quest for good body image?

*Remember, what works for me may not work for you.  Proceed at your own risk.

Hi, My Name is Amanda, and I’m…Different.

normalIf nothing else, the following is true for me –

“Masquerading as a normal person day after day is exhausting.”

– Anonymous

*******

What I’m about to say goes against all advice given in any self-help meeting, but it’s how I feel, damnit.

I have often felt different than most, not a part of, less than.

Not always.  Sometimes, I feel on top of the world, totally present, and I love everything in my life.  And sometimes, I feel just like every other “bozo on the bus”, another nameless face in the crowd, which is honestly ok.  But often, I feel…different.

Why?

Well, let’s pick apart the seventy different kinds of recovery I’m in.  I can’t diet, I can’t drink in safety (in the words of Biggie, if you don’t know, now you know) and my therapist has diagnosed me with depression (that requires medication) and some trauma stuff for a long time now.  Let’s say this:  if you were a clinician, and you saw my rap sheet, you might wince a bit and say, “Jeez.”  You might expect me to be doin’ a lot worse than I am now.

Cause I am doing pretty damn well for the “stuff” I have.  I got my master’s degree, am successful in a field where I can turn my misery into someone else’s avoidance of said misery, and  have a family of my own.  I am fairly high-functioning; I am lucky.  Or resilient.

But there’s something funny about high-functioning anything-ers: they can slip more easily between the cracks.  They, in turn, can feel more different, because they mingle with the “normies” of society.  At work functions, at family parties, at friend’s BBQs.  They can be around people who drink or diet or binge or don’t experience the glory of mood swings, but it doesn’t make it any less hard.  In fact, it can be a particular kind of hard because they’re often the sole “different kid” in a group of “normies”.

So that’s why I feel different.

Self-help groups tell you to identify as just another worker among workers, which helps sometimes.  I’ll often use this example: I have a friend who is allergic to basically any kind of food.  So, I try to remind myself, “Wow.  She must feel the same way – like everyone is staring at her when she orders her food.  Maybe she feels different than, too.”

(And I do realize there is no normal.  And I do realize everybody’s got their thing.)

But I do think it can seem overwhelming to an individual when they realize –

“Hey!  I need an everything-anonymous!”

Fun.

How do YOU feel different?  Is there something that sets you apart from the crowd?

Blissful Body Fridays: Your “Perfect” Weight

 LOVED THIS!

perfectweightchart

Spotted this on 16nite’s Tumblr site.  Cannot claim this as a Bruce original!

Have a great weekend, folks, and be good to yourselves!

Recovery Tip Tuesdays: Set Point Theory

acceptanceGood ol’ set point theory.  What is it?

The idea that all of our bodies have their unique set point, a number, give or take 5-10 lbs, that our body likes to reside at when it’s healthy and we’re feeding it well.

One of the biggest breakthroughs I experienced in my ED recovery was accepting my set point.

(Which is a tall order, I do realize.  Acceptance can be a bit of a bitch to work through)

And my set point is pretty average.  Coming from a family of Irish-German “Campbell Soup Kids”, I realized I was never going to be 110 lbs soaking wet (sorry for the rare number), once I was able to see through the irrationalities of my eating disorder.  It just wasn’t going to happen, unless I engaged in superhuman exercise and dangerous restriction every day.  Which, was alarming to my ED at first.  My ED wanted to fight my body.  Screw you, it said to my body.  I’ll show you.  You can be different.

However, once I accepted it, set point theory was…relaxing, actually.  It comforted me, because if I fed my body the way my nutritionist told me to, it would never screw me over.  It would never put me at an obese weight I feared…it would put me right where I belong.

(But there was quite a fight to get to that acceptance.  Think: A crying, binging sometimes, scratching, screaming fight.)

I still have to check myself fairly daily on this when my ED starts luring me into lesser-weight land.

What do you think?  Have you accepted your body type, your set point?  If not, what steps do you have to take to obtain that acceptance?

*What works for me may not work for you.  Proceed at your own risk.

eateverything

Three Reasons Why This Blog Will Never Be Popular.

eateverything

I’ve spent a long time thinking about how I can market this blog, make it bigger, more accessible, increase the traffic so it can reach more ED sufferers and those in recovery (from bad body image or an ED), and I’ve concluded –

This blog will never be popular.

This is not pessimistic, this is a realistic viewpoint.

And these are my reasons why:

 

1.  Some readers think I’m pro-fat.  I’m not.  I’m pro-health.  And sometimes being healthy also means being overweight.  Given that the current trend is panicking about any “bad” foods or “bad” eating patterns, this “grey-area” blog is not going to go viral anytime soon in this all or nothing thinking world.  (“Either you’re fat and unhealthy or thin and healthy!”  Nope, nope, that’s just not true.  And what about emotional health?)

 

2.  People LOVE trends.  LOVE.   What’s more appealing than a new quick fix all the cool kids are trying out?  Let’s take an example – Paleo.  (Just using that because it seems to be the “trendiest” right now.)  Can some people turn this into a permanent lifestyle?  Very few, I think.  The thing about trends is that they’re never sustainable.  History has proven it.  Powdered faces with the hairline shaven back?  Gone with the medieval times.  Or something.  White lipstick?  My mother dabbled with it in the sixties.  Paleo?  Probably gone just as quick.  

Now, is Paleo healthy?  Absolutely, parts of it.  But it’s the fact that it’s a trend that will ultimately be the demise of it.  Something else will come along that people will latch onto and try.  and it will be left in the dust.  

My blog doesn’t focus on trends – it asks you to do the longterm, day-at-a-time work.  The internal work, not the “change your outsides so you have a temporary high” work.  

 

3.  Diets Make Money.  I could google it, but I’m going to assume that the diet industry makes millions of dollars each year off of people buying into their particular cookbooks, their programs, and low-carb cheesecakes.  So, when I say they’re bullshit, this will obviously earn a quick snub from most viewers. Why?  They invested money in a product and they don’t want to be told it was for nothing, or for little, or for temporarily.  They want that investment to mean something.  And I’m threatening that.  

 

So, that’s part of why I think this blog will never be popular.  

(Like not being popular has ever stopped me before….)

And an anecdote to finish this off.  Recently, I was sitting with my therapist, and said, “You know, I think I’ve found the secret to a healthy weight and healthy life.”

“And what is that?”  She asked.

“Not worrying about it,” I replied.

She smiled.

Walmartsteak

Is Walmart the Cause of Obesity?

So, an acquaintance recently posted this pic from the Walmart FB page on her FB page with the following caption:

Walmartsteak

 

“This is why America is OBESE.”

And I’m not gonna lie, it irritated me…A LOT.

And the reasons why are numbered below.

1.  Is one serving of steak the reason why Joe Schmoe in Arkansas is obese?  Is one carb-laden meal the reason why your aunt has struggled with weight her entire life?  No, fucking no, otherwise I would be obese, because at many a BBQ I’ve ENJOYED meals like this. ENJOYED.  Because it’s healthy to sometimes eat extra carbs on a summer’s day when you’re with friends.  Just as long as you don’t eat like that all the time.  I argued this to my acquaintance, to which she replied, “Americans don’t eat in moderation.”  Maybe not, but I don’t think the answer to getting them to treat food like it’s Hitler and not touch it with a ten foot pole.  I think the answer is more like, not attaching moral value to a fucking meal of steak, mac n cheese, and beans.

(Do you get that, critics?  If you stress people out about the “badness” of food, they’re not going to learn moderation.  In fact, you risk having them going to the other end of the spectrum, starving, and then binging on those “evil carbs” again when they can’t keep their organic-paleo-gluten-free-cage-free-dairy-free diets ((read: you eat broccoli only)) up.)

2.  So, what about genetic obesity factors?  What about emotional eating tendencies that you learned from your mother?  Is Walmart alone solely responsible for our nutrition?  No.  Does it help?  Of course not.  But the cause of obesity is never one thing.  Every individual is different, with different genes and tendencies that help determine our body type and health.  It’s like saying video games cause people to be violent.  Do they help?  No, at least in my belief.  But do they cause all kids to shoot up an entire school?  Nope.

3.  Check your expectations.  Is Walmart going to stop doing what they do?  Probably not, they’re a multi-million dollar corporation who will keep marketing Velveeta if it sells.  So…take some personal responsibility.  Educate yourself and others.  Is the education about food and access to healthy food available to all populations?  Hell no.  But do I think Walmart’s going to start being the model of health?  Nope.

4.  Where’s the war on anorexia and bulimia?  Oh right, those diseases look more aesthetically pleasing, so we don’t need to spend any time there, even though they’re opposite sides of the SAME COIN.  Shit pisses me off.  Anorexia is the #1 most deadly mental illness and yet people are more up in arms about obesity because it’s unhealthy (read:  I don’t like to look at heavy people).   Obesity is a major threat to our health, sure, but people don’t seem to understand that anorexia is a symptom, or group of symptoms, of the same problem.

My Body!

Media Mondays: My Body Gallery

Happy Monday!  I’m gonna take a break from my “media watchdog” status and post something from the media that is BODY POSITIVE – or at least, I think so.  My fabulous friend Liz let me know about the My Body Gallery, a site that is dedicated to portraying an accurate depiction of what REAL women look like.  The coolest part, in my opinion, is the place where you can type in your height and weight and see pictures of other real women.  For the women I spoke to, this was a wakeup call – as in, “Hey I look better than I thought!”  Why?  Because often we view ourselves more negatively than we do others.  However this could be a trigger for some – so you have been warned.

 

So click away!

 

Have a great Monday, folks!