Sunday, April 08, 2007

Background Noise

I grew up as a chubby kid during The Twiggy Years.

I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't want to be thinner. The effect of this has been to generate a constant kind of background brain static that never fully goes away, a dog-whistle whine of constant dissatisfaction. Even when I'd lost weight to the point where I was quite thin, the static remained. "Just another 5 pounds" was the seashell noise in my ear. And there really isn't a particular weight for me that's the Holy Grail, it's just always "thinner" than what I currently am. When I weighed 160, I thought it would be great if I could weigh 140 again. Now that I weigh about 130 (well within a healthy range for my height), my "ideal" has shifted to 120. I'm sure if I hit 120, I'd want to be 110.

From the time I was 14 until about my early 30's, I was either always on a diet, or bingeing my way off a diet, or planning my next diet. It felt like weight was the one constant "wrong" in my life, even though I drifted ambivalently through college and ultimately quit a couple of quarters short of graduating, slogged through some bad relationships (including a couple of poor marriage choices), struggled along in jobs that barely paid enough to cover rent and food, and dealt with more than a little familial dysfunction. Life had its "ups" during that time too: some great friendships, some adventures that helped build my self-sufficiency, some really fun and joyful times. But the constant theme that ran through it all was dissatisfaction with my body and weight. Even after I stopped dieting, stopped bingeing, and stopped thinking about food all the time (thanks to stumbling onto Geneen Roth's books as well as "Overcoming Overeating" by Munter and Hirschmann), the desire to be thinner has remained a part of me.

The upside is that at least I'm conscious of this now, and know it's not in any way rational. I'm not actively trying to lose any more weight (and honestly at my age it probably wouldn't be achievable or desirable). As much as I wish I could turn off the static, at least I'm at the point where I can tune it out to some degree, and not let it drive me any crazier than I already am. I also don't apply the same harsh standards to anyone else, either. In other people, I'm able to see beauty in all shapes and sizes. I don't hate how I look (on most days) and don't have a problem wearing a swimsuit in public, though I do buy the "flattering" styles and have left the bikini's far behind. I can eat one bite of dessert and stop. I crave salads pretty frequently. This thing doesn't run my life...much. Maybe it's just a form of OCD; I need something to fixate on. Maybe it's just habit, like a deep-rutted track in my brain. At any rate, accepting that it's there, not fighting it, not beating myself up for feeling this way seems to be the best way to deal. At least I know it beats planning to start a diet on Monday.


Blogger Maya's Granny said...

It is such truth. It is always there -- the desire to be thinner, to take up less space, to finally be ok. And the knowledge that it is not reasonable.

And thanks to Ganeen Roth and Munter and Hirshschmann, the drive to diet no longer occurs. But, I find myself wondering -- does anyone know how to do this?

11:38 AM  

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