Monday, July 22, 2013

Wearing my Grief

I had an epiphany about the extra weight that I just can't seem to get or keep off since Mom died 13 months ago and I quickly gained 40 then slowly several more pounds...

I figured out a while back that I was eating my grief.  So many uncomfortable emotions were easily pushed away for minutes at a time with a binge.  And sometimes even minutes of relief were enough to justify my actions.  Seriously, some days I couldn't breathe, I was in so much pain.

Figuring out why I was eating too  much, and eating the wrong things in general, was pretty easy to do.  But figuring out why it's been such a struggle to lose any of it?  Why every time I lost some inches around my middle only to quickly gain them back?  This was more difficult for me.

The answer is that I'm simply not ready to be done with the initial grieving.  Grieving is different for everyone, it seems.  Despite how much I would love to be able to figure out my life without Mom in it, to be able to feel "normal" again, to be able to get back to a healthy lifestyle that includes eating mostly healthy foods and exercising most days...  I'm not quite there yet.

I still cry nearly every day.  I am still figuring out how to survive without Mom.  I was in shock for a long time, and am just now starting to really allow myself to feel the loss and accept it.

This extra weight represents what I've been through the last year.  It is almost like a badge of courage that I made it through the most difficult thing I've ever been through.  I am wearing my grief.

I turned to some coping mechanisms that I was familiar with, and I gained a lot of weight as a side effect.  This is not like the times I've gained weight in the past, where it was all about low self esteem and wanting control of my life.  This was pure emotion.  Pure grief.  Pure love for my mom.  Real stuff.  Powerful stuff.

I'm not recommending this coping mechanism for anyone.  Obviously, I wish that I could have coped with this sudden and devastating loss in another way.  Like, why oh why didn't I just go for a walk to clear my head every time the pain got to be too much?  Why didn't I throw myself into some creative outlet, like painting or collage, as a way to express my feelings?

The fact is that I have issues with food for most of my life.  Specifically, I have issues with using food for things that food is not meant to be used for.  In the past, I used it as a punishment.  I thought that I deserved to be fat (or, during the bout of undereating in my early 20's, that I didn't deserve to eat).  This time, it was about comforting myself.

Some days eating was the only thing that kept me from contemplating suicide.  Seriously.  And I'm glad that out of those options, I chose food.  So in that big way, comfort eating helped me to survive.  I think that many people focus on weight gain, and how to lose the weight, but forget that sometimes overeating serves a need.  I'm not saying that it's a healthy way to cope, or that there wasn't a better way to serve that need, but I am saying that a need was met, and it's okay to stop beating myself up about comfort eating.

Because I never truly recovered from my EDNOS, it was only natural that I turned to food as a coping mechanism to help myself stay afloat.  People who knew me before Mom died don't need to wonder about why I am so much bigger than I was in May 2012.  They know that this has been a rough year for me.

So I am starting to look at my current bigger size as a badge of grief.  I am wearing my grief.  And when I'm ready to shed the grief a bit, I will lose the weight.  I am slowly but surely beginning to feel like myself again.  I believe that as I explore further EDNOS recovery and grief counseling, one day I will not need to carry this extra weight around anymore.  One day I won't want to (need to) wear my grief around.

But that day is not today.  And that's okay.

Thanks for reading.

wearing my grief, but also wearing a genuine
smile thanks to my amazing bellydancing cousins!


Leah: Not Otherwise Specified said...

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Leah: Not Otherwise Specified said...

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April said...

Hi leah, i love reading your blog. The words you write about could have just as easy have been spoken from me. Ive been going to a slimming club for six months and keep yo yoing with the same 8lbs. Its been hard to explain to people the level of grief and the need to feed when they havent experienced it or have no understanding of it. Its good that you have reached out to get help withthe grief, its something that I havent been brave enough to do as yet.

Mariebop said...

Your posts are always very honest. I agree that you have to be mentally ready to lose weight. Whenever I force it, I end up failing horribly. Sometimes you need to work from the inside out. Taking care of yourself emotionally and/or spiritually is just as important as taking care of yourself physically.

Shannon Tatlock said...

You are the most honest blogger I follow and I love that. I really find that for women, weight loss/gain is a very emotional experience and I think you nailed it on the head, when you said you were wearing your guilt. There is no "right" amount of time to grieve, so you need to do it on your own terms and when the time is right to start working at it again, you'll know.

Me said...

HI I lost my mom 4 years ago when I was 33. I thought I would never survive. we were very close. I had also lost 90 lbs before she passed and after she passed I quickly gained 40 lbs back. I still struggle with losing her all these years later and losing the weight too. "it is what it is"