Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Troll Policy

Look under the bridges, that's where they hide...

Sigh. I was quite pleased to see myself on the Fatosphere feed, but it seems that there are some devoted Fatosphere trolls, and they have found me.

The internet is like a very long street full of houses belonging to people. A lot of those houses are wide open, and their owners invite people to come inside. Sometimes they come in, love it, and return often. Sometimes they come in, hate it, and leave quietly. Sometimes they come in, hate it, and start flinging shit at the walls and spitting on the floors.

So here's a policy.

All trolling comments will be deleted.

All of them, concern troll and otherwise, all comments suggesting I just need to work harder and eat less, all comments acting as though compulsive eating disorder is not just as much of an illness as anorexia, all comments promoting dieting or a dieting mentality, all comments suggesting fat people are weak or lazy or ugly, all comments that just seem trollish to me, and all comments responding to trolls will be deleted. They probably won't be deleted as quickly as I'd like, because I have no access to Blogspot during the day, but they WILL be deleted. I will not be answering any of them. I will not be blogging about any of them. If trolling continues, I'll just make all comments go through moderation. I don't particularly want to do that, because I only check Blogspot once a day, usually, but I will if I have to.

Who decides if you're a troll?

I do. And I won't get into a discussion with you about why I think you're a troll. If I delete your comment and you really think you weren't trolling, think about why someone else without your assumptions might think you were. If you comment again protesting about being deleted, I will delete that too. I will ignore your emails on the subject, unless you come in sackcloth and ashes repenting your trollishness. Think that's unfair? You are free to leave.

Trolling includes trying to explain to me that you're concerned about my health and should go on X diet because it will fix me.

I have been on that diet. It didn't work. I don't care if you think you care – you don't really care, because you don't know me. If you really cared, you would understand that this is a blog about my eating disorder (and a few related things which may occur to me), and you would understand that any kind of eating disorder is a huge and destructive disease which wreaks havoc on a person's life, and that working through it is exactly that – work, hard, tedious, tiring work which never ends. If you really cared, you would know that you can't fix me with facile advice, and you wouldn't want to hurt me with superior or hateful remarks. Ergo, if you comment here with diet advice or to berate me on not being good enough, you are not concerned, you're an insensitive asshat.

The thing is, this is my blog, my house, it's quite a personal blog talking about some things which are meaningful and sensitive to me, and sometimes about things in society which piss me off. But it's really representative of very little of my external life, and you really don't know me. Oh, you know I'm fat and that I have an eating disorder, but you don't know what I do in my daily life, how fat I actually am, how much I eat or exercise, how much damage this disorder has done to my body or mind, how much I'm progressing, how hard I have to work on a daily basis just to maintain some kind of equilibrium, or anything about the many things that I do which make my life worthwhile.

And I've come far enough not to give a flying fuck what you think. You don't have to like what you see here, but I'm not preventing you from clicking "Back" and leaving me to be fat in peace. I will not engage in email or anything else with you. Clear? Good.

And you lovely people who are reading this who are not trolls, please don't feed the trolls. They'll be deleted, and if you respond to them, so will you, even if I like the rest of your comment. I'm sorry about that. I've thought about it – I even wrote responses to the trolls on my last post. And then I thought, "but I don't owe random asshats a soapbox", and decided on a zero tolerance policy. I just don't have the time or energy to waste on idiots who have nothing better to do than go to strangers' blogs and explain to them how wrong they are. Trolls are a battle I choose not to fight.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

creating eating disorders

You know, the thing that drives me crazy about all these new and horrible measures the government is putting into place to stem the supposed tide of obese children in the UK is not quite the same thing that drives a lot of other people crazy. It's not just about the fact that BMI is rubbish science (though it is), or that diets make people fatter (though they do), or that no one has yet figured out how to permanently make a fat person thin (though they haven't).

No, it's the fact that I can't see how shaming children about their weight – sending home report cards which include their BMI, lecturing them endlessly about food, giving them the constant message that Fat Is Bad – is going to do a single damn thing to make them thinner.

What I can see is that it's going to make them crazier.

And by crazier, I mean crazy like I am. These kids are going to end up in this same boat I've been trying to get out of for two decades. Some of them will become as fat as me, some of them will become very thin. Some of them will remain of average weight, but will still be crazy. I can't see anything but an increase in obsessive behaviour, whether dieting or eating or exercising.

How in the hell does that create a healthy population, let alone a thin population? Aren't increasing numbers of eating disorders going to put a pressure in the health system? We're going to end up with a bunch of people with the normal range of bodies, and the totally intolerable mental state known as an eating disorder. Seriously, I got this way with only my parents having a go at me about my weight. I can't even imagine how horrendous it must be for the kids who have their schools and teachers and random prejudicial people from the local council all chipping in on the notion that being fat is the worst thing that you can possibly be, so, hey, let's treat it like you failed a subject.

The thing is, I'm pretty fat. And I have a few health issues that might be related to my fat. But by far the biggest and most distressing health issue I have is not the pain in my feet or my wonky menstrual cycle (though that might not be related at all). It's the fact that I have compulsive eating disorder and have spent nearly twenty two years obsessed with my body and obsessed with food. This is a health issue far more serious than my actual weight, and it is, in fact, the cause of my weight. Quite seriously, if no one had ever started telling me in adolescence that I was too fat, I would not be this fat. The government is just lining up to do to all children what was done to me, and maybe the intentions are just as good as my mother's were, but the results are going to be just as disastrous.

The whole thing is idiotic and hateful and, you know, it's completely immoral. It's immoral to make children suffer because dubious science reporting and hysteria has created a world in which thinness is equated with moral superiority (and now, apparently, about saving the planet - I mean, GEEZ, people!). It's immoral for schools and governments to tell children that there's something wrong with them, especially when it's something that they don't really have control over.

And you know, in ten years time, when they start complaining about how now seventy percent of teenagers have eating disorders, and blah blah, what a drain on the NHS that is, I will just be sitting here saying, "I fucking told you so."

Sunday, 27 July 2008

feeling my fears

Further to the thoughts about "feeling my feelings" from my last post, I've had a bit of an up and down day today.

I called my youngest sister in Australia this morning, and we had a good long chat, the kind we don't have often enough. She told me about her kids and how she's dealing with the middle one acting out in what we think is an effort to assert some kind of individual identity and the weekend away she and her husband had for their anniversary. I told her how I didn't get the job I interviewed for last week, which I was disappointed about, and how my husband works too much.

And I'm not sure how we got onto the subject of babies. Specifically, my babies, and the things that fill me with fear and dread when I think about having them.

The thing is, for years I've been saying I'm not sure about having kids, and that's partly true. I'm ambivalent because we live a pretty relaxed sort of life, and that would all change with kids. But it's only partly true, which I only realised today when my sister asked "taking away all the intellectual stuff, how do you FEEL?", and I burst into tears, because, yes, I do. One, anyway. No more than two, but at least one.

But here's the thing: I am very, very scared about it. I'm scared because I would probably get a lot of shit from doctors about being so fat and trying to have a baby. I'm scared because my period has been all fucked up for some years, and it might be related to my weight (I never had a problem till I got this fat, and that apparently can affect your hormones). I'm scared because I don't know how to model a healthy relationship with food or exercise, because I don't have one. I'm scared - and I'm ashamed that I'm scared - because I'm fat and my husband is fat, and that makes me think that our baby would be fat (although I suppose it's not necessarily a given - three quarters of our parents and all of our siblings are thin, and neither of us was actually that fat until well into adulthood), and I've been a fat person and it's pretty shit and part of me isn't sure I want to give that to another person. (Please note: this is not a judgement on any fat parents out there, I've never thought of this in conjunction with anyone else, it's just part of my package of fear.)

I'm scared because my weight has consumed so much of my life, and I am terrified that I'll be overinvolved or underinvolved, that I'll end up creating the same thing in my child that my mother, all unknowing, created in me.

So I decided to go with what I've been working on - I went and lay down and really went with it, and cried a lot, and breathed, and cried some more, and breathed some more, and... it wasn't as big when I got right into it.

It's still there, don't get me wrong. I do feel that before we should even try to start getting pregnant we have some work, physical and financial, to do. But it wasn't quite as big or quite as painful as I thought it might be.

But I'd be a good mother, fat, eating disordered, financially challenged or not. I would love my child and listen to them and support them. There are millions of shitty, neglectful, abusive parents in the world, and I'd beat all of them hollow, even if I was twice as fat.

And more, even if we had a fat baby who was a fat child and a fat adult, that doesn't mean their life wouldn't be worth living, that they wouldn't be deeply loved. And even if we had a thin baby, that wouldn't guarantee that their life was easy.

I think this is a fear I'll need to keep going back to for awhile, inviting it in and just letting it be what it is, if only so that I don't keep putting things off while I'm crushing it down and telling myself I don't mind.

And I have to take some action, not for the purpose of any changes in my body (though it'd be great if it would stop my feet hurting), but just so I'm getting in touch with how my body is feeling and what it wants, and so maybe some of the hormonal patterns get sorted out, and so I'm up for actual pregnancy and birth and parenting and all the rest of it.

Monday, 21 July 2008

feeling my feelings

I've been listening to Stephen Cope's "Yoga for Emotional Flow" today, and my mind, she is blown. To be honest, I've been listening to, reading and meditating on a number of things for some time which have related to this, but this just drew it all together and suddenly things seem...well, clear.

The nutshell of what really struck me is the radical notion of actually feeling your feelings. Whatever they are, however they feel, just be with them. Don't try to change them, or make them go away. Just let them be and be with them. And particularly of interest is the fact that he says that this is the point of yoga - to bring you to feeling what you're feeling as you do it. Not losing weight, not being physically stretchier, none of the things that most people seem to put into yoga. It's to help you feel what you feel.

This is incredibly difficult for me. I don't do anger, for example - I repress, I intellectualise, I push it far away and try to smooth it out because part of me is convinced that my anger could destroy the world. I don't feel my feelings about eating either - I dive into the food, always with some distraction to prevent me from feeling it or thinking about it.

There's a whole bunch of psychological stuff I could go on about, which I'm not going to get into, but I have had a frustrating, boring and stressful day, and at the end of the day, I just wanted to eat. I left work thinking "I want to go buy Mars Bars and chicken nuggets and just STUFF MY FUCKING FACE".

But since I was listening to this CD, I thought, "well, till I get to the shops, I'll just feel this desire. I won't fight it, I won't try to repress it. I won't ignore it. I'll just feel it.

I will feel all the wanting for that volume of food that will choke down all my frustration and fury over being so frustrated.

I'll just be here.

I want to eat. I'm wanting to eat."

It was overwhelming. I walked down the street choking on sobs, really allowing myself to feel that wanting, that desperation and that feeling of eternal judgement on myself for having that wanting.

And then it left me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still sobbing like a baby - everything is making me cry - so there's clearly a lot of emotion that wants to be felt right now.

But that feeling, that desperate, repressed, frantic feeling that I had to eat right then, I had to binge, all the self-loathing I felt for having that feeling, it all went away. I mean, within a few minutes, it just...went.

And this is what is clear, all of a sudden, which I have understood in part before: maybe the largest part of my problems with eating have to do with not feeling what I'm feeling. It's not really about a war with my mother on the battleground of my body. It's certainly not about feeling bad about myself because I wasn't physically sufficient when I was younger. It's all a massive created problem around avoiding feeling undesirable feelings.

I grew up in a religious household where certain types of emotion weren't really considered appropriate. Things happened in my early childhood as a result of my own anger which completely shattered my world. And for all of my life, I have wanted to just sustain some kind of "okay" feeling. Any time something goes wrong, I'm just so desperate to get back to "okay" because I don't know how to sit down and be with what I'm feeling. I try to distract myself like waving a toy in front of a crying baby.

So this is a whole new and, today, painful experience, and a liberating one. I really felt my desperate wanting for food, I was overwhelmed by it, and it was okay. It was okay, and because I didn't try to push it away, it left by itself. I am, right now, genuinely hungry, but all that desperation and panic and hateful fear are gone. Because I said, okay, since you're here, let's just be here.

Suddenly...a lot of things make more sense.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Sometimes you just want to take the spectacles off

I keep reading a lot of Fatosphere posts lately about Wall-E and how it's anti-fat, and all the rest of it, and...well, people may be right, but I don't particularly want to go into the movie looking for that.

God knows, I'm alert to all kinds of isms all the time. Seriously, I did Cultural Studies at university, and I loved it, but it does mean that I never, ever don't notice things. Sometimes I can just ignore them, but I never fail to notice them.

I'm not sure I want this to become another thing that I can't stop noticing. I'm not sure I can stop it, but I'm not sure I want it. I suppose it's because I take it more personally than anything else. That is strange, when you consider the amount of sexism I notice. But the difference is that sexism and misogyny just infuriate me, they bring out the fighter in me, and that may not be as fun as laughing, but it's more fun than crying. And laughing at the fat people makes me cry.

Once, I went and saw The Nutty Professor, the horrible Eddie Murphy one, and there's a scene in the middle of the film where he was compulsively eating (M&Ms, I think) and everyone else in the cinema was laughing, and I just sat there and sobbed. Because I knew, you see, what that felt like. To everyone else it was something so extreme that it could be a joke. To me, it was everyday behaviour that hurt.

I don't feel bad about being a woman. I get angry when I see misogyny, because I don't think that I or any other woman deserves the bullshit we get heaped on us because of our gender, even by those who share it.

But even now, I feel bad about being fat. Part of me still thinks I deserve what's said about my body. I feel bad about the way I eat. I feel bad that I am positive that when people look at me they see a giant blob taking over the world. Part of me believes all the propaganda. And you know, I'm just not sure that I want to notice the propaganda as long as I believe it.

Of course, it's a vicious circle - is it even possible to stop believing the propaganda as long as it's being dripped into me subconsciously so that I keep on feeling bad about myself? I'm not sure, but since most of my self-loathing really is self-generated, I'm not sure how it's going to help me to invite in all the other players to generate some more.

I can see sexism and misogyny without feeling bad about myself. I can't see anti-fat stuff without it. So I'm not sure I want to look for it right now.