Beautiful Words, pt. 14

This is the final week of my quoting from Roxane Gay’s newest book, Hunger. This week the focus is on doctors. Anyone who is fat has a story about a doctor who didn’t see them beyond their fatness. Last year even before I stopped dieting, I stopped seeing the very toxic doctor whom my parents had been seeing for years. She was the type of doctor who passed judgment non-stop (and not just about weight). Every time she saw my parents she told them to lose weight.

When I went to my new doctor, someone who seemed body positive from reviews that I heard, I asked not to be weighed. I told her about my disordered eating and how I was working on my relationship with food. She asked if we could talk about health, and I said not yet. She was kind.

Too often, doctors are not kind. Too often doctors see someone fat and they make a slew of assumptions. Whether those assumptions be that the person is disgusting because of their shape or what they must be eating. Whether those assumptions be that the person is unhealthy. Whether those assumptions be that the person wants to lose weight. Whether those assumptions be that the person was sexually assaulted. All of these assumptions are bad. If you are a doctor, I plead with you, stop making assumptions. When a patient comes in, don’t prescribe weight loss without hearing the symptoms. Really, don’t prescribe weight loss at all. Try, TRY to hear the symptoms without the weight bias coming in. Educate yourself. Read Health at Every Size or Body Respect or other books on the matter.

And for everyone’s sake, please don’t approve children’s dieting.

“I blamed my body for being broken. My doctor did not dissuade me from this, which was its own kind of hell–to have your worst fears about yourself affirmed by a medical professional who is credentialed to make such judgments.”

“I go to the doctor as rarely as possible because when I go, whether for an ingrown toenail or a cold, doctors can only see and diagnose my body.”

“Doctors are supposed to first do no harm, but when it comes to bodies, most doctors seem fundamentally incapable of heeding their oath.”




On Boundaries, In Love

I first heard about boundaries about a year ago, when I was still seeing a career counselor. We hadn’t really been talking about my career for a while. But it would still be a few weeks before I would stop seeing her and start seeing a therapist whose specialty was more fitting.

Boundaries came up in the context of my family and food.

I had just stopped dieting not long before that conversation, and as I told my counselor some things that worried me about seeing my family in this new context, she explained to me that I need to set clear boundaries with my family. I need to tell them what I’m ok with their commenting on, and what is off limits for them.

I was astounded.

You see, I was brought up in a family with very few boundaries. I believed that if you love someone, there shouldn’t be any boundaries. I believed that wholeheartedly.

If you’re someone with healthy boundaries, you’re probably shaking your head right now.

If you are someone like I was, you’re either rejecting this notion all together or a light bulb just went off in  your head.

I’ve been spending a lot of this year building boundaries with people. With my family, with my friends, with my therapist, and my coworkers. Sometimes I am more successful than others. But it’s been immensely freeing to be able to say no to people. That’s really all a boundary is at the end of the day. It’s a no. It’s a line that says I need you to respect my space on this topic.

A year ago I was convinced that needing boundaries meant I didn’t love someone fully. Now I’m realizing that boundaries just mean I love myself.

If you struggle with boundaries, there is a lot of literature out there on the subject. I read Boundaries by Anne Katherine and would recommend it. I also suggest you seek a therapist.



Fearless Friday: Living on Timelines

Part of what made my birthday really difficult last year was my subconscious was very much aware I was hitting a milestone. Both my sisters were married by the time they turned 26. And there I was on my 26th birthday and married I was not.

At the time I was happily partnered, but unfortunately when you’re unaware of a belief/story that you’ve formed (that you should be married by 26), it’s hard to stay mindful and present. That was not a skill I had cultivated at that time.

When I became aware of the pressure I had been putting on myself, I worked on it. I processed it. I let it go.

But I think a lot of us have a tendency to live on timelines.

I remember in high school when my friends outlined what they hoped their lives would look like by 30. I have friends who have decided how many kids they want to have before they turn 30. I have coworkers who have decided that they want to reach a certain level of management before they turn 31.

30 seems to be a magic number.

And it scares me.

It scares me that instead of getting rid of my 26 cut off date for a normal wedding, I just pushed it back. My brother got married when he was 33. What’ll happen on my 33rd birthday if I am still unmarried?

I don’t really have answers to this.

I realize on my 26th birthday I was not mindful, and now that is something I’m cultivating. That makes me think 33 won’t be a big deal.

More importantly, I realize I’m happy not knowing my future. Not in the I feel trapped when I do kind of way. I generally feel very safe when I think things are chugging along just fine and I’ll be in the same place in a year that I am now (not that I’m one for staying in the same place for very long).

I’m happy not knowing my future because that sense of safety was false. Nobody knows their future. But I’m just now starting to realize that. I’m just now starting to look at that with love and faith instead of fear and nausea-level anxiety. It took losing a future I thought was locked down to realize just how scared I was, just how in control I felt I needed to be.

This year I challenged myself to surrender. To surrender that need to control everything and everyone. To surrender a need to know exactly where I’ll be in a year, or five, or ten. I  was scared surrendering would leave me powerless. That in surrender I will wither away doing nothing. But surrendering has freed me. It’s allowed me to try things without getting attached to a certain outcome – or at least to try.

I hope I’m done with timelines. But knowing myself, knowing human nature, knowing recovery from anything is never linear, I have a feeling timelines will come back into my life. Maybe when I turn 30, or 33, or 40. I hope by then I will have this mindfulness and surrender stuff down. I hope by then I can recognize it more quickly than I did last year. I hope but I’m not sure. I’m just doing my best for now.