Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sitting With It

We have weekly weigh-ins at Renfrew. I'm guessing that the idea is that the staff can monitor by our weight whether we've been following the meal plan. Some women are weighed blind; I'm not one of them. Today I wish I were.

I have followed the meal plan very closely. I'm not always 100% perfect with it--but my slip-ups have been negligible. (I didn't eat enough for lunch on Saturday to pre-compensate for a big meal that night, which turned out to be not that big; I went over on exchanges a couple of times, but in the course of a normal meal, not bingeing--two starches over because I had two slices of pizza to get enough protein exchanges, for example.) And I have accepted on blind faith that my nutritionist is right: I will not gain weight with this plan, and in fact will probably lose some weight.

But this week I was up 1.5 pounds from last week. Now, I know full well that that means exactly nothing. Nothing! The clothes I was wearing, my water retention--1.5 pounds is utterly meaningless. But it still sunk me: I had been doing everything right, and I felt like my body was repaying me in fat.

I think I acted out at dinner as a result--I was supposed to eat a cup of rice and it felt like punishment. Punishment for having been fat in the first place, even though I'm not overweight by BMI standards. Punishment for every minute slip-up I've had; punishment for years of fucked-up eating that may have damaged my metabolism. Punishment for wanting to eat, punishment for being soothed by foot; punishment for having gotten to this place, even though "this place" is far, far away from where some of my fellow patients are. (I'm certainly on the healthier end of the spectrum there.) I didn't finish my meal, and the more the therapist intervened, the more upset I became. She gave me a supplement--which I think a part of me wanted (I wanted to get it, not to drink it), as a weird sort of badge of defiance. I think there was a part of me that was curious to know what would happen if I wasn't the model patient for once; if I said "fuck this" and didn't eat what I was supposed to. And doing so at Renfrew was a safe place to do that. There was support around me afterward; there was a therapist reminding me via the supplement that, yes, I really do need a cup of grains; nobody was going to either boot me out or treat me somehow "special" because I didn't eat my meal.

We talk a lot about "sitting with" a feeling. As in: You're anxious; can you just sit with that? "Sitting with" a feeling is a positive coping mechanism in and of itself, up there with reaching out for support, or going for a walk, or distracting yourself with a movie. It's not something I'm very good at. But the only way to get better at sitting with a feeling is to just do it.

So: I feel fat. Part of that is literal; I run my hands over my stomach, feel my flesh, feel my roundness, am upset. But "fat" is not a feeling--so what exactly is it I'm supposed to sit with? I feel disappointed in myself for not having exercised enough. I feel ashamed at having acted out at dinner; I feel sad and weak that a number on a scale can mean so much to me. I feel sad that I will never be as thin as I once was; I feel sad about no longer leading the life that symbolized (I was confused, but I was also having a lot of fun--everything felt new to me). I feel angry that I care about my weight; I feel angry that I'll never look a way I'll never look. I feel angry that I feel angry. I feel sad that I feel sad.

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