Sugar reading: 196
Today is June 20, 2016. I fell off the food wagon hard on December 17, 2015 and I haven’t looked back from whatever I’ve been eating since. Consider it the “No Carb Left Behind” Offensive.
What a “waist.”
That I can joke about it now is a relief. My depression was such that all I could see was my next meal. I would relish that euphoric sense of numbness associated with every bite of fast food, or chile verde quesadilla, that bag of lemon and Cholula-soaked chicharrones or that gorgeously savory container of carnitas nachos with extra cheese. That crunch. The spice. The salt. These ingredients were all staving off the encroaching sadness that was threatening to consume me as I chewed and swallowed bigger and heavier quantities. Then, one day, with my fingers covered in green salsa, I stop masticating long enoug to realize that The Void was conquering me again.
Yes. The FatBoy was back.
Normally, I would just drive on down to the Lindora clinic and shed those pesky pounds in 10 incredibly focused weeks whenever the fluff took over. But something was different this time. As my waistline expanded, my own will to remain healthy and lean was shrinking exponentially. I saw what was happening on the daily, yet I felt no passion or drive to do anything about it. I kept making excuses for myself. For example, “As soon as I hit 250, I’ll stop and turn it around.” But then I would reach 251 and I’d just push the Fat Zone of No Return to 255. When I hit 260, I made a secret wish to NOT hit 274, the heaviest I have ever been. When 271 became a reality, I was faced with a choice. I either resigned myself to the fact that I was systematically killing myself slowly — or turn it around.
I’ve been working out the reasons as to why I lost so much of my self-control again. It hasn’t been easy to delve into this realm, one that is all-too familiar. I didn’t want to do the work I needed to heal myself. The very process terrified me. More, I allowed myself to be seduced by the thought as to whether I’m lean or fat, I’ll still be invisible. I’m approaching 49. Who in the world is going to care about someone like me?
The world is spinning off its axis and all I’m worried about was remaining single and alone? No. It wasn’t just that. It’s watching Dad slowly fade away from us. It’s people close to me allowing themselves to pray at the cult of victimhood to explain away their woes. It’s the fraying nerves caused by my no longer wanting to nurture the key relationships with people that mean the world to me. And it’s only because I don’t know how to articulate what it is I want for them and for us.
This unstoppable hunger to keep consuming has been my greatest struggle since I recognized I wasn’t like the other boys. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t wrapping myself up in the security blanket that’s always been food. This time, the deeper I retreated, the harder it became to let any sense of rational thought in. I’d become impervious to the words of concern. Forget my doctors, even as the list of medications grew, I defied anyone else who tried to make me feel anything but the anger and rage that was now at the root of this deliberate binge. Scratch that. It was deliberate sabotage. I’d allow myself to listen to that cooing inner voice telling me that I was old, fat, undesirable, bitter, empty…the list was endless. I’d let myself become a vessel of pure negativity.
The world has never seem so bleak to me, yes. But I can’t use the current state of the planet as an excuse for not wanting to cope with any of my issues right now. (For the record, I’m not oblivious to some of the pressing issues facing us all at the moment. But one breakthrough per blog.)
I’ve known that I had something better to offer as an adult than just contributing tax revenues from my steady stream of purchases, cat videos or a picture without context but filtered in a way to mask my flaws. An alarm went off a few weeks ago and I did heed the warning signs. If laying prostate on a gurney at Cedars for a cardio stress test wasn’t enough, the refilling of Metformin and Losartan sure as hell helped. I knew it was time to wrest back some control before I did any further harm to myself. I could have gone back to that weight loss clinic, lose the weight and let the requisite Facebook missives heal my wounded, lonely soul.
If I was going to get any lasting results, I needed to understand the emotional connection I have with food and binge eating and spending. Only with sussing out an answer from within my psyche could I even begin to put a solution to work. I followed the advice of one of my biggest champions and decided to see a therapist.
These last few weeks have been cathartic in the ways that I hoped. This act of introspection is like dredging up the sludge of an empty gas tank one you stop to fill it up at the Chevron. It may bad for the engine of a car, but it is something revealing and necessary for the human mind. And the truth of the matter is I’ve made the task of being “Me” an unnecessary and exhausting reality for myself and the people around me.
Nothing is more self-defeating than going through life trying so hard to be “Interesting” for people who don’t know what to make of you? Why didn’t I just own my true self from the start, embracing being this slightly eccentric but sensitive and eager to be cultured bundle of dynamite? Haha. I didn’t trust who I was as a kid, all doped up on Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, Interview Magazine, Andy Warhol, George Cukor movies from Hollywood’s Golden Age and Jackie Collins. (In other words, GAY!) Hell, I was a sweater queen before I even KNEW what was a sweater queen. (Thank you, Armistead Maupin, for giving me something to aspire to with “Tales of the City.”) No, I wanted to be in the category of Being Liked.
I have spent a good chunk of my lifetime lowering my own worth to court the favor of people who honestly don’t want to understand me or my values and interests. More, I opted to go forth and construct a series of interchangeable false personalities to validate the perceptions I invented for myself on behalf of other people! How fucked up is that? And when I failed to achieve impressing all of these folks with my big vocabulary, envious career, quick wit, savings account and other resources I had no right to squander, I would retreat to the one friend who never failed in making me feel good: food, glorious food.
Being liked. How I look. We don’t even give ourselves a break when we don’t even care if we are liked or how the hell we look. It’s merciless, this act of perception. I am going to be working through these observations out for a while. I know I am not alone dealing with the food and body issues I continue to grapple with today. It does suck that being a gay man can mean bearing the brunt of an unforgiving culture that rivals even the most venal of “Mean Girl” groups. But I digress…
That I chose a photo of Diego Rivera to illustrate this blog was not a bid to shame one of my artistic idols. He was a big man, yes. His appetites were famously huge, but so was his talent in revealing global truths that demanded attention. I don’t even portend to be doing that with these erratic missives. I don’t have that power.
What I do have is a growing desire to share my own observations as to what I feel is part of the malaise of the 21st century: the era of disconnection. So many of us are taking the time for introspection to discover what is wrong with us of late. So many cries for help. But, at one point do we learn how we can help ourselves to heal? At what stage do we start loving ourselves enough so others can find and share that sense of solace and compassion for the rest of the world? That’s what I intend to find out.
The events of Father’s Day weekend, which I won’t get into here but included a rare trip to the infamous Faultline, didn’t have me stumble too bad. Yeah, I hit Jersey Mike’s on the way home. Not the best choice on a 100 degree Sunday, but strangely, I didn’t feel out of control. I knew the next day I would make better food choices. (I did.) I would make my way to gym. (I did.) I would make my way forward in thinking that I’m going to be alright. That who I AM is alright.
I am not sure that means the depression is lifting, but that electrical current of unease and fear wasn’t as strong as I’ve felt for so long. The image is a bit hazy, but I can see the shape of things to come.
I’ve been playing Cynthia Erivo’s stunning rendition of “I’m Here” from The Color Purple of late. Here’s one verse.
I believe I have inside of me
Everything that I need to live a bountiful life
With all the love alive in me
I’ll stand as tall as the tallest tree
And I’m thankful for each day that I’m given
Both the easy and the hard ones I’m livin’…
I want to get to the point where I can say, “If who I am isn’t enough for some people, fuck ’em” and mean it. Do I feel beautiful? Not yet. What I feel is…better.
And I’m still here.