Saturday, February 17, 2007

Scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Warning: This is a long one.

You know you're backed right into the corner when you verbally attack your husband, for something that you would normally put off to a more auspicious occasion.

After succeeding in making him so hurt and confused that he sits dumbfounded and you've turned yourself into a sobbing mess, but still not gotten the satisfaction you seek, you scream something incomprehensible about him just sitting there like a useless lump. When in fact he'd beckoned you over for a hug and you'd left that hug and returned across the room because it wasn't a comfortable position to be in.

Fleeing the scene of the crime you run into the living room but are stopped in your tracks by the stunning thought that yes the bathroom has a lock, but the other tenant's bedroom wall abuts the bathroom, and you don't really want him to hear your blubbering. Thwarted, but needing to vent somehow, you about-face and stride back to your point of entry, slamming the door so hard that things fall off both the television and the nearest bookshelf. And finally, fling yourself onto the couch where you hide under the throw rug and sob.

That was the scene in our house Tuesday night. Histrionics and misdirection. The two greatest weapons in the fight to keep from opening that last doorway into my soul.

The door led into the room that housed the most important reasons for my obesity and despite all of my positive affirmations, or perhaps because of them, I stood there afraid to turn the knob. All the KEEP AWAY signs and DANGER notices had been ignored. The locks picked and chains cut away thanks to the hard work I've done in these prior months, most especially this last three weeks. All that remained was to open it and the truth would finally be free. So, I sunk to scraping the bottom of the barrel: I went on a spending spree of books and junk food (after Alaskaboy's urgings to spend wisely this month after our holiday.) I didn't do any house work (except for washing clothes because we were all out) for a week. Yes, a week's worth of dishes were strewn all over the kitchen benches, stove, oven, and dining table. Now they're tidied and after soaking for two days to get the accumulated junk off them, half have been washed.

But, I digress, back to the other night. A week long bender of reading and eating and general blah behaviour guaranteed to get my husband to ask what was wrong. Only problem with that fail safe plan is that he worked insane hours all last week and especially Friday, spent most of Saturday in an exhausted fog and came down with a bladder infection on Sunday. Monday and Tuesday he improved after taking the antibiotics but was still tired. I? Was horny as all hell and let him know so.(Thanks to said reasons he had no interest whatsoever.) Assuming he was too tired I let him go to bed Tuesday evening because I knew he had to get up early Wednesday morning and I went back to devouring books. Imagine how I felt half an hour later when I went into the computer room to look up something on the 'net and he hadn't gone to bed like I'd assumed he would and was instead working on fiscal matters.

The doorknob turns at last, but still the door stays shut.

I continued on doing what I had intended to do, trying to summon the courage and tone of voice to ask what I had to without causing a fight because I knew he needed to go to bed.

The doorknob turns all the way and the door is pushed ajar.

Having found the control at last I turned around and asked some very loaded questions. “Why is it that if I'm sick or not interested I'll still offer you relief, yet when the tables are turned, I get nothing without having to ask for it? Is it that men and women are raised like that or is it just that I'm more giving than you are in this respect? I know you're shy about instigating things, but I have said straight out the last couple of nights how I've been feeling.” and then applied the goad guaranteed to get a response. “Why won't you seduce me, don't you find me attractive anymore?” (well, something along those lines, I was crying by that point and don't quite remember exactly what I said)

And then more ranting and raving that was one huge cry of Me, Me, Me! What about Me? Disguising my very real need to cope with what I'd been avoiding, certainly not telling him the bigger reasons I was upset. After I fled the scene of my disgrace, he followed me to snuggle and talk on the couch, --admitting he hadn't done anything because of the times we'd had the same argument in the past and he had given me relief, I'd complained about it not being the same as the whole hog, so I'd said don't worry about doing so in the future, I'd wait until he was capable of tripping the light fantastic for real. (Everyone able to follow that though the layer of euphemisms so far? LOL) We kissed and made up after some more crying on my behalf and I sent him to bed to sleep and I went off to shower, which is usually my way of self-soothing after an argument.

{wrung out and exhausted, no longer able to stand straight, the door swings wide open as I stumble headlong into the secret room.}

Standing there in the shower and replaying the argument in my mind, it all finally made sense. But, first of all, I owed my husband an apology. Not only an apology, but a big thank you, and the honesty I usually showed. But, I was so very afraid that this would be the one thing that would chase him away. If it did chase him away... well, I didn't even want to contemplate it. I knew the time had come to tell him what I've learned about myself and the reasons for my obesity. Talking things through with him also helps clarify things and find even more depths to what I initially uncover, so I was definitely afraid of that!

Luckily he wasn't asleep when I went to bed. I offered my apology and his reply was typically him, “what for?”

For taking my fear and not only blaming him, but taking it out on him also. For assuming, despite all evidence to the contrary, that he was like past boyfriends. For not being able to accept myself as completely and unconditionally as he does. And for so many more reasons. But, mainly, for playing the mind games I'd been playing all week. For being dishonest when he had in fact asked if I was all right. Hypocrisy right there, folks. Demanding complete honesty from him, yet lying right to his face about something so important.

The thing is; I was not okay this week. Not by a long shot.

I was a precocious child when it came to sex. I started asking my parents questions at the age of four. And my mother read to me the book by Peter Mayle - Where Did I Come From? My favourite picture in the whole book is where the Mum and Dad are in bed together and there's love hearts floating around. (So mum tells me) Now, from that moment on I equated sex with love. As I got older, started puberty, and had boyfriends, I assumed that they loved me and I loved them and exploring would take place. I enjoyed it. I'm a sensual person so hugging was bliss, kissing was strange but nice, and fondling did funny things to my innards that I didn't really know how to deal with, nor did the boys I dated. So for the whole of my dating years I learned how to give. Only one boy did I have sex with and yes, he was the first one to tell me he loved me. I was almost seventeen, and in my head that meant we would grow up and get married. That relationship lasted a couple of years and ended in heartache. But, that wasn't the deep dark secret.

Alaskaboy already knows all of my past, no skeletons in the closet to speak of. Sure, we knew the bad stuff was there, but we thought we'd dealt with it. What both he and I didn't know was how I really felt about some of those instances. Nor that I'd been blaming myself. We didn't know just how much resentment, anger, fear, and self-disgust I'd been hiding under this protective layer of fat. We had no knowledge of how deep the barrel had become. Losing as much weight as I have recently, each pound another scoop out of the barrel, I finally got to the point where I began to feel sexy. Began to recognise my sensuality in all of its expressions. Began to see my figure appearing from under the layer of protection. (The doona as Beck refers to it in her journal.) And sure enough as I kept bailing, I eventually got to the last scoop, scraping the bottom of the barrel in all its slimy glory.

The door, the last scoopful, the end of the road, whatever euphemism you wish to call it by, I was there as of last week. And I panicked. I froze. Head down in the barrel, I couldn't lift that last bit out into the light of day. I refused to turn the doorknob. No way in hell was I stepping off the path into the unknown. So I dove headlong into the safety net of coping behaviours I've always used.

Until Tuesday night when I realised that if I kept going, I'd always be a prisoner. Those people in the past would forever have power over me and there was a very real chance that my current and future behaviours, caused by my inability to drain the poison completely, would lead me to eventually drive away my husband.

Let's see what that morass held once I finally took the time to sort through it all, shall we? (Sorry but I'm only giving the bare essentials. You'll get the drift anyway.)

Self-blame: If I hadn't snuggled and kissed and explored with this one boy and enjoyed it so much, in effect leading him on, would he still have cornered me in the toilet and not let me out till I gave him a blow job?

Hell yeah! It was his power trip that wouldn't take no for an answer on that occasion.

Anger: Would the friends I much later talked about this with (not in explicit details) have listened if I hadn't been such a drama queen at that point in my teenage years?

No, they weren't able to cope with what I told them. And so told me it was just harmless exploration. They didn't listen, and I didn't want to make a fuss or compound my stupidity, so I didn't elaborate any further.

Resentment: Would my boyfriend have taken the time to give me orgasms if I'd pushed the issue?

No. He didn't have the skill, or the inclination, to get me there. (self blame again: I didn't have the trust in him or myself to relax enough for it anyway.) And that was the trigger for Tuesday night. I was accusing Alaskaboy for doing the same behaviour when in fact he was only respecting my earlier wishes. (I must be so confusing to live with, I swear!)

Self-disgust: All “they” see is the body and not the person inside. Even the strong, healthy, voluptuous body's not good enough to keep them, therefore I'm fat and ugly. I'm not worth loving.

I'll pile on the weight to show the world how disgusting I really am. (But, if I do find my true love, he'll see the real me beyond all the fat. I hope.)

Self-disgust: Going out drinking with friends and kissing guys just so they'd buy me a beer.

Still can't believe how lucky I was to not catch even a cold sore!

Anger: Being forced yet again to give a blow job in a toilet. (certainly explains my preference for having the door open!)

Hard lesson learned that my “friend” was not a friend at all.

Self-blame: OK. Obviously that's not enough protection, need to eat more!

So I did.

And I ate, and I ate, and I blamed my fat for all of my problems. Shoving down just how hurt I was by all of those things and every bad decision I made from that point onwards. Alaskaboy knew all of those things before we got married. He married me in spite of all the damage I'd done to my self esteem, health and the screwed up way I constantly tested his love.

He loves me. All of me. But, as you can see from the list above, I didn't – not until Tuesday night. Nor did I understand the many ways in which I'd lied to myself.

Did fat stop the boys, and girls, from perving? No. Did it stop the second guy from forcing me? No. So how is being fat safe? It's not. So time to accept the shape I see emerging now that I'm throwing off the illusion of protection. Be angry about the betrayals? I have every right to be! Time to feel the anger. I've already learned the lessons, now feel the emotion then let it burn itself out. Don't resent the lack in others, accept it and move on. We all grow and change and do the best we can in any given moment.

Forgiving my younger self and those people was a lot easier than I thought it'd be. Once released the wound no longer festered and is healing surprisingly quickly.

When Alaskaboy and I were done talking Tuesday night. I'd cried so hard I felt like I wanted to vomit and my head would explode. Since then, I've been coming to terms with the new, lighter and freer me. I finally see what Alaskaboy has known all along and what all the rest of them failed to comprehend. Their loss, my gain. The past is where it belongs. Now I'm eager for what I can achieve looking through the eyes of love. Speaking of the eyes of love. You remember my fear that I'd drive him away with just how much rage I was feeling and how I deeply I'd lied about being okay and having moved on from the past? His response to the more than an hour long snot fest was to say, "You know I'm not going anywhere, you can't chase me away. I love you." How can I say anything less to him? Or to myself.

The scales say I've gained four pounds, not surprising with what I've been eating and the lack of activity I've had over the last ten days or so. I may have gained four pounds but I've shed a mountain. Tuesday night, I scooped up the mess and washed the barrel clean; kicked down the door and put the last of the rubbish out for collection; tied up my boots, grabbed a water bottle and headed out for a hike into the jungle!

As Ford Fairlane would say, “This case is getting Ca-losed!”

8 Nibbles:

lisa jane said...

This post is awesome.I had a similar tantrum at my other half recently but unfortunately didnt have the good sense to sit down and talk through it like you did.I still find it difficult to own my sexuality.I need to be more honest both with myself and with my partner about my needs.Thankyou, this post was a real eye opener

Anonymous said...

i don't want to appear rude or ignorant and i don't have a blog which is why i'm anon but this all sounds like psycho babble b/s to me.

i don't know many women who haven't suffered some kind of sexual abuse at the hands of either the family friend or the pushy boyfriend but seriously, this is what you blame for being o/w? why? how does a layer of fat protect you, sounds like you are still a sexually active person regardless of size and what self loathing is going on because of what happened? it just sounds like you are unhappy with your body and your own choices have given you this body and now you want to blame some boy who "made" you give him a blow job... what you don't have teeth??

sorry to sound rude and i know i'm going to get hammered but i'm o/w and i blame nothing but my own poor eating habits and laziness.

i think it's time we took responsibility for our own actions and lack of understanding.

Kada said...

I appreciate that you see this post as psychobable, and I'm guessing that you mean that in a derogatory sense. I'm happy for you that the fact you are overweight only comes from overeating. I'm sure that with exercise, and eating in moderate portions you'll become a healthy weight soon enough. (If you choose to that is. A lot of people are quite comfortable with being over weight. More power to them.)

On the flip side, I am saddened that you dismiss rape of any kind as being unworthy of an eating problem. Praytell, what would have been a worthy reaction?

All of these women that you know who have suffered some form of sexual abuse. Do you know their innermost thoughts and feelings? Do you know what they do behind closed doors? I could have turned to drugs, alcohol, cutting, promiscuity, or many other ways of dealing with the trauma of what happened to me. Food was my addiction to blur the pain. My way of saying "keep away world!" Do you judge the women you know and pass off their reactions to the attacks as psychobabble?

I refer you to the bolded text below.

"Let's see what that morass held once I finally took the time to sort through it all, shall we? (Sorry but I'm only giving the bare essentials. You'll get the drift anyway.)"

If you think hard enough I'm sure you can come up with several ways in which someone can be forced to do something against their bidding. Especially in such a small room as a toilet stall.

You mention teeth. Hmm... Lets see, an unguessable quantity of blood in my mouth when I don't know this person's HIV status or a small amount of semen that I can much more easily spit straight back out, if it even goes as far as that? I know which option I'd rather.

In regards to your statement that you have to choose anon? There is the Other option when replying. You could give me a name, you don't have to hide behind the anon tag.

The things written in the Scraping The Bottom Of The Barrel post are only one part of the reason I am obese. There are many others. Talking about it, bringing it to the light of day is an important part of my journey to get well.

And I am taking responsibility. For my own feelings. For my own choices in trusting those people when perhaps I shouldn't have. For many other things in this post that I guess you didn't quite grasp.

Thank you for taking the time to express your disbelief, normally I love to debate things. Unfortunately, you picked a topic wherein most of the answers you seek are no one else's business but mine and my husband's. Hence me giving only the barest of bare details. Although the answers are no one else's business, if getting this post out on the internet helps even one person other than myself start coming to grips with their own obesity or sexual trauma, then wonderful. If it doesn't, then it's at least helping me.

Kada said...

{hugs} Hey acknowledging the problem is the first step. It's taken me years from the first acknowledgement to get to where I am today, but I got here eventually. ;) Maybe you weren't ready to talk about it yet. We've had similar arguments before and I wasn't ready then either. Take your time, it'll happen as you and your partner are able for it.

Alaskaboy has always been patient, caring, loving and found me sexy as hell. (He's often said, "Heaven help me woman when you're fit enough, I don't know if I'll be able to keep up!" LOL) It was me that didn't find myself sexy. Me, that inhibited our time together by holding back in many ways. More subtle ways than I realised until we had sex for the first time after that discussion took place.

Owning my own sexuality is wonderful. I've NEVER felt so comfortable in my own skin as I do now.

Marshmallow said...

Hey Kada, I have very little *cough* NO *cough* experience in this department whatsoever, so obviously I can only imagine how bottled up and frustrated you must've felt; and I'm very grateful that you shared it with us.

Good on you for having the strength to eat your words and apologise to Alaskaboy and tell him that you weren't all right. Hip Hip Hooray for Honesty, no matter how late in the piece!

As for the Anon comment - don't waste your time. Its disappointing that anyone would dismiss any sexual abuse as the source of self loathing and eating problems. If anything, it makes perfect sense, where eating 'uglifies' you and pushes away the rest of the world.

I'm happy to hear that you're feeling better, Kada! Thanks again for sharing this with us, it must've felt awesome to get all of this off your chest :-)

Wanna_B_slim said...

Oh Anon comments shit me to tears...anon you obviously havent been there so of course you wouldnt understand...
And Kada... your post brought me to tears...
I know how you are feeling ...
Hugs to you...
So glad you could talk about it with your hubby...

Kada said...

I hope that any and all experiences you have in that department are willing and joyful, Raina.

Pigheadedness is a hard habit to grow out of. I think it's also got something to do with the Aussie "she'll be right, mate" mentality too.

Hey, there are people that believe there's no such thing AS sexual abuse. Horifying, isn't it?

I honestly can't begin to describe how good it felt to get it off my chest. I've been getting the Is-she-or-isn't-she-pregnant looks from people. I'm glowing! And spring cleaning. Bwahahahaa. (NO! not nesting. just cleaning)

Kada said...

{hugs} right back at you, Nannette. I hope that in M you've found your rock.

I didn't realise how much a prisoner I was to the past until I finally got it all up and out and dealt with. Kinda like I imagine lancing a boil must feel. If you ignore it you get used to it, but lance it and it hurts like hell, but then can heal. {gag} Not a good analogy for someone who doesn't like snotty textures, but it was the most apt I could think of at the moment. LOL