Friday, October 1, 2010

The "I" word

For the past few months my weight has been accelerating upward with some speed. It makes me nervous and self-conscious. While I am somewhat aware of what I'm doing and not doing...still I seem to be gaining quickly. Yesterday as I was driving to work, the truth of it all came crashing down on me as I recalled a recent conversation with a good friend. He was trying to coach me through a divorce issue I've been having. He's been there, done that - having divorced from his wife when his children were small and being much further down the road than I am now. I felt vulnerable in the discussion, like he could see right through my facade. I could feel that creeping uneasiness coming over me. I felt exposed in that moment. As if my friend, a person I've developed a very good relationship with in the past 6 months was seeing too much, getting too close.

I get nervous and uptight when I start getting too close to people. Whether it's a boy or a friend or a group of friends...I'm not good with intimacy. Hell, I don't even like the word. Over the past year I have found myself drawn into 2 communities more deeply than before. In addition to that, I have forged a few new relationships with men in my life as well as renewed an old friendship with a girlfriend that had fallen away years ago. The natural reaction, for me, is to pour on weight.

I'm not sure how this started for me...but I know myself well enough to recognize the pattern. I meet someone, whether it's a boyfriend sort of thing or just a close friendship, and the relationship begins to develop. I find myself enjoying the time I'm spending with this person or group of people, and I start feeling some level of reciprocity in the friendship. Then, out of nowhere it seems, part of me feels invaded. To try and protect myself, I gain weight. It sounds simple really, but it's not. Most of the time it takes years and a hundred pounds for me to even recognize what I'm doing. This time I seem to be a little quicker on my game. I've gained 50 or so in the past year. And it is startling to me how clear it is right now what I'm doing. I can even see it happening. While on one hand I long for closeness to others, I still feel threatened by the relationships somehow. Logically I can say that this isn't sensible. But my heart seems oblivious to what my brain knows.

About 18 months ago I started attending a new church as well as meeting regularly with a priest about some of the turmoil and transition in my life. At about the same time I started hanging out with a new group of attorneys. I've grown close to both the church community as well as the lawyer community. And so when stress comes up I struggle with how to gloss over it or act as if everything is wonderful. It's easier to pull off the act with people I don't know very well. And so I eat crap and become sedentary. It's as if the stress has to go somewhere...and the only place I know to put it is in my mouth.

Now that I finally see this pattern clearly, the question remains whether I can reverse it. A few years ago when I dropped significant weight it was as a result of a singular focus on weight loss. I became obsessive. I thought about it all the time, and I ignored all of the areas of stress or concern in my life at the time. It became easy over time, to have one focus. It was simple in many ways. At the time my marriage was crumbling, my son was sick and I was in a job I hated. Why not focus on weight loss? I could avoid thinking about all the other terrible stuff in my life.

This time around, I feel like it has a lot to do with balance. I can't climb back into the cocoon, that's surely not the answer. But still, there has to be a way for me to get more at ease with intimacy. To not take a step forward in a relationship by being honest about what I'm thinking and then quickly retreat by destroying my physical self.

My size and weight is upsetting to me right now. And embarrassing. I don't like being this size. All I know to do is to try and be conscious of what I'm doing. To live in the now as opposed to the past or the not yet. I do hope that the lessons are more easily learned the second, third or fourth time around. I don't want to lose the relationships I've begun to develop. I think there is room for both my fear and my openness in intimate relationships I have.

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