Sunday, 18 October 2009

Week 6 Day 42: LL wizardry - more crooked thinking and lifelines

Today only two of us made it into group, so we had our LLC to ourselves. We talked about our weeks, and any crooked thoughts we may have had.

Again, the stuff about male attention really stood out for me - in fact, it's not male attention so much as my appearance is changing, other people are reacting to that, and it's freaking me out. But, although I posted about it on here and seem to have reached a conclusion, I'm still reacting emotionally to that. And when this sort of stuff comes up, I just want to hide from it all - so I have done. I haven't done any of my exercises, haven't posted on here, I've just tried not to think about it.

The truth is that since I've put on weight I've sort of enjoyed being invisible. As an overweight person I could look back on my youth - when I was slim and attractive but thought I was hideous and fat - and think yes, I was attractive. I could do it because I was "safe" now hiding behind my weight.

But you see now I'm approaching being slim and attractive again, all the old fears are being stirred up. When I was slim I had a lot of trouble with jealousy from female friends, male friends suddenly "trying it on", etc. etc. And now I'm returning to the way I looked then I'm worried it's going to happen again. So rather than feel flattered by cute guys in the street giving me the eye, I get all worried. Or I worry that the female friends I love will suddenly drop me when I'm skinny.

But back then I had some really shonky friends! Friends who used me, who always indulged in one-upmanship, and male friends who were, well, male. I've managed to put all that behind me, and it's down to me making the right choices about who I let into my life, not down to me putting on weight.

My situation is very different now; I have really supportive people in my life, and friends who love me for me, whether I'm fat or thin. Some people have got a bit stiff now that I'm approaching attractiveness again, but to be honest they're not people I rate or remember.

But rather than face all this I've squirrelled it away and tried to not think about it at all this week. Also my LLC said "there's nothing wrong with being pretty, why do you keep apologising for it?" which struck a nerve. In the past, my prettiness has made other people feel bad (and I honestly don't know how, because I'M NOT THAT  PRETTY! We're not talking Angelina Jolie here!). But I suppose if people feel like that it's their problem and their insecurity, not mine. I'm not a threat, but if people treat me like one I suppose there's nothing I can do about it.

And in case I was getting carried away with my own prettiness, I was brought sharply down to earth on the way out of my LL meeting by a gaggle of GORGEOUS SUPERMODELS gathered outside for a photoshoot. These women were a million feet tall with figures slimmer than my little finger and cheekbones like razor blades. It's all a question of perception.

The other topic we covered was lifelines. This is where you get a piece of A4 paper, turn it so it's landscape and make a chart:
  • On the left axis you list your ages from 0 to now, ascending (0, 5, 10, etc.)
  • The next column you split into 3, for underweight, normal weight and overweight
  • You mark a cross next to each age for each weight
  • The final column is for 'events' - here you list every significant thing that happened to per age range when you strayed from normal weight
I've been normal weight for most of my life.  My weight fluctuations were, loosely:
  1. 14 - 15: Overweight
  2. 21 - 24: Underweight(!)
  3. 30+: Overweight
Which is really interesting because if I leave it at that, I can look back at those ages and think yeah, I was having a bad time. But actually listing what happened during those years is eye-opening:
  1. 14 - 15: Overweight - crucial family bereavement; problems at school (socially/academically)
  2. 21 - 24: Underweight(!) - family health problems; money problems; anxiety disorder; unsure about future
  3. 30+: Overweight - moving to London, launching career, v v stressful job, another bereavement; moving/buying house, realising I was overweight (which in itself is a trigger!)
This helps in two ways.
  1. I think I've been carrying around guilt all these years because comfort eating is a "weak" thing to do. But actually looking back and auditing what was happening (which obviously I've outlined very vaguely here) has given me a newfound respect for myself. Loads of rubbish things happened (as I'm sure they happen to everyone) - all in quick succession. Taking it all into account now I'm proud that I just overate and didn't do anything more destructive.
  2. In all of these circumstances, I just didn't know what to do. In some cases I was forced into a corner, in others I only perceived that I was in a corner. Either way, I was dealing with a lot of stress and didn't know which way to go. And apparently, when I don't know which way to go, I go in. I retreat to the comfortable and familiar. And I eat. I was dealing with a lot of conflict and stressful people, and I hadn't worked out how to deal with that in the moment. So instead, I hid away. And ate.
So really, I need to work on dealing with people and events in the moment. There's nothing wrong with not wanting to deal with it, but the truth is it's not going to go away just because I pretend it's going away.

And to be honest I like food so much that I'd rather eat for taste than for padding!

Obviously, when I was underweight I didn't eat that much. I wasn't anorexic at all, I just was so anxious all the time I literally couldn't get food down my throat. But I did do the rest - avoidance, retreat, all of that. And I firmly believe that if I could have eaten, I'd have overeaten.


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