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scale

Eating/Food, Guest Posts

Taking Up Space

July 7, 2021
scale

by Molly Krause

Maybe it’s just the quarantine fifteen. I wouldn’t know because I haven’t weighed myself to get the actual number. I do know that my clothes are tight and some don’t fit. I know that it was sometime after I started weighing my eighteen year old daughter weekly that I stopped stepping on the scale myself. This was months before we were all gripped by the onslaught of all that the novel virus brought to our lives. I couldn’t have even imagined all that at this time. This was when my anxiety rose like a freight train when my daughter said, “I’m struggling to eat enough.”

I flew into action – appointments with the primary care physician, the therapist, the dietician, and I bought The Scale. I ordered it online with some dread as I’ve never had a scale in my house. Shiny and black with a digital display that revealed the number to a tenth of a pound, it was both inexpensive and highly rated. I hid it in my closet.

I bought it to monitor my daughter’s weight but this is not a story of a young adult controlling her life through restricting.

As a serious student of ballet throughout my teens, I viewed my body as a vessel to create beauty through movement. At a yoga class a few years ago I scoffed internally when the instructor said, “If it’s available, reach for your extended leg.” If it’s available? This was not a cooperative relationship I had with my limbs; I would make it available without question. Naturally lean, I did not grow up worried about my weight because I didn’t have to. I was happy with my size and my size was small. My body performed well for me by executing the physically difficult movements of ballet. I wasn’t conflicted about my body image as mine was easily accommodating with what I wanted from it. I never even had to consider if what I wanted from it was reasonable or even right.

Two pregnancies and changing middle age hormones stretched my comfort with my shape. I resolved to stay under a certain number, I even wrote that number down in my planner. I exercised to burn calories and played around with various diets. I only weighed myself occasionally at the gym and used clothing fit as a measure if I was on target. But it wasn’t until The Scale came in my house did I realize the pull the number had on me – what is the numer? Have I been going “good”? Is this water weight or muscle? So I stopped myself from stepping on The Scale, hidden in the closet, every day as a friend of mine told me she did to control her weight. When my daughter entered an intensive outpatient program for eating disorders I gave myself permission not to ever get on that scale again.

But I’ve wanted to and what I’m not sure about is why. To feel better about myself or worse?

When I told a friend that I had gained some weight during quarantine she said, “Really? You look the same to me.” I responded, “I can tell I have but I haven’t stepped on a scale because I don’t hate myself.” We snickered and quickly moved on but my comment stuck with me. Wouldn’t it be better to like myself no matter what the number is?

 I get out The Scale once a week for my daughter. Covid has eliminated in person meetings with most therapeutic professionals, dietitians included. My daughter does not resist The Scale and doesn’t seem fazed by the number it reveals. I still haven’t gotten on it for almost a year at this point. I’m trying out the idea that it’s ok for my body to take up as much space as it wants – whether that’s active on my paddleboard or lazily watching my new favorite station, Acorn TV. The Corora virus has taken away many things from me – from us all – but perhaps it has given me the time to view my shape as something other than a way to project smallness or beauty. Maybe this same body that I happily allowed to grow large to carry two lives will be the vessel to grow new chapters and lives so far not lived, of an unknown and exciting future, of a time that is not bound or defined by a number.

Molly Krause is the author of the memoir ‘Float On’, the novel ‘Joy Again’ and the cookbook ‘The Cook’s Book of Intense Flavors’. Her writing has appeared in numerous locations, including Brain Child, Ragazine and Front Page Review. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband, her grown daughters and a pack of dogs and loves to hike, snowshoe and paddle board.

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emma

Stories of parent/child relationships can be complex, and Emma’s Laugh, The Gift of  Second Chances, is no exception.  Convinced of her inability to love her “imperfect” child and give her the best care and life she deserved, Diana gave Emma up for adoption. But as with all things that are meant to be, Emma found her way back home. As Emma grew, Diana watched her live life determinedly and unapologetically, radiating love always. Emma evolved from a survivor to a warrior, and the little girl that Diana didn’t think she could love enough rearranged her heart. In her short eighteen years of life, Emma gifted her family the indelible lesson of the healing and redemptive power of love.

Read Diana’s ManifestStation essay here

Order the book from Amazon or Bookshop.org

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Anti-racist resources, because silence is not an option

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Click here for all things Jen

Beating Fear with a Stick, Eating Disorders/Healing, healing

Bitch Slap It.

March 4, 2013

Dear Jen, I am coming to you for some major support right now. I know it may seem really unimportant and lame, but it’s weighing on me right now. When I had my first weird symptom in the summer I gained 10 lbs. They say I am retaining fluid. As of this week I gained another 10lbs. I got on the scale this morning and it read 150. Just a number I know, but full blown panic has set in. I was 129 lbs this time last year. So many things come up for me. I can’t stand my body. I don’t want to be seen or wear clothes. I feel right now like I AM MY BODY. I feel ashamed that I teach yoga and I am this big. I feel sad that I can’t lose weight and be the way outside that I feel on the inside. I know this conversation feels so dumb. Our friend’s baby just died, my son has PWS, a man just got swallowed up in a sinkhole in Florida, and yet I can’t stand the sight of myself. That is sad. How do I get past this? I am soul searching. I am reading books, writing, doing all the spiritual journey I can find. How can I learn to love myself at any weight? I feel ashamed right now, of my body and how I feel about myself. I have never shared this with but a few people before. I truly need support right now. I am on a journey to be a spiritual being and I AM STUCK! I need your help. xo, Stuck.

Unimportant and lame. That’s what you think you know and what we think we know is usually miniscule compared to what we really don’t know at all. Compared to what we actually know, what we don’t know is a towering lion.

What you don’t know is more important.

You think you know that this feeling of being ashamed is a petty and silly, possibly even irrelevant. That compared to some of the troubles in the world (so many troubles! So much sadness and death and dying and potholes!) that this, this stupid little thing isn’t even worth a thought. You can’t quantify sadness or grief or upset. You can’t say this is worse just because it is a more obvious “worse.” Although we try and do that all the time. I should be more grateful because the guy who lives next door to me is in a wheelchair. Comparing our problems or lack of problems and making ourselves wrong for feeling what we are feeling is a recipe for misery.

How do I know? I spent many years of my life telling myself I had no reason to be depressed and yet there I was at three in the afternoon, laying in my bed with the covers over my head and an ugly pair of pajama bottoms on. What you don’t know is this: you are not stuck.

A stuck thing couldn’t write this email asking for help. What you don’t know is this: your sharing this will help more people than you will probably be able to process because guess how many of us feel this way? A lot. I don’t know the exact number but it is a lot.

I have some questions for you though. You say you want to be the way outside that you feel on the inside? How do you feel on the inside? It seems to me, based on this email that you feel sort of shitty on the inside so the first thing is ABTTT. As I said in my essay yesterday, Always Be Telling The Truth. I think perhaps the real issue is on the inside not the outside.

I get it, I do. I have struggled with severe anorexia and body dysmorphia and all the rest. I still do at times. I sit writing and feel my belly hanging over my waistline and think how do I call myself a yogi, let alone a yoga teacher? I am a fraud. I am a fatass. Then I start writing and I get out of my own way. When I actually get up and away from the compter and do my own yoga practice or walk or whatever it may be, I feel even better. Even though my belly/waistline ratio is exactly the same, I somehow feel lighter and more grounded. I believe it’s called endorphins. We need them and as much as I prefer sitting (gasp!) and writing or reading, I must get off my ass and move. Not for any reason except that it keeps me feeling what I want to be feeling on the inside. And that is alive.

The other thing? It does matter. How we look often indicates how we feel and how we feel is important even though life often tries to tell us differently. By life I mean our family, peers, Facebook.

The catch is this: most of the time we can’t see ourselves clearly. We think we look fat or ugly or bad or this or that, and again, I must point out two things. One, what you don’t know (or can’t see) is greater than what you know, and two, ABTTT. Always be tellin’ the truth.

Are you telling the truth to yourself? Oftentimes we don’t want to admit that we look good or feel good because that would be admitting our happiness and we don’t deserve to be happy, do we?

Can I get a Hell Yes? Hell yes, you deserve to be happy.

We all do.

A few more things I’d like to point out since you asked. Can you give yourself some time away from the scale? I have written a lot about the fact that I can’t get on the scale still. That’s my own personal demon that I intend to face but what I am wondering is how much getting on the scale and seeing the numbers keeps you feeling stuck? I am not suggesting to live in denial but rather to give yourself some space from it so you can appreciate how you look without getting made wrong by some awful numbers.

How do I get past this? Listen, you don’t get past this. You are in it. You may be in it for the rest of your life. Who knows? I know it still comes up for me more than I care to admit. You have to learn how to be with it and waltz with it and eventually how to own it. It’s owning you now. It has your attention and your focus and you can’t really get anything done until you come to terms with the fact that you are letting this dominate your life. Why are you letting this dominate your life? I have no idea but I know why I let it dominate my life. I literally spent at least 15 years being bitch slapped by an eating disorder and self hatred until I took it by the balls and said I own you bitch.

You absolutely have to get crass with it and tell it who is who. You think you know. What you don’t know is this: it will listen to you eventually. You must do the work though.

It sounds like you are with your writing and reading and asking for help. You just have to tell it who’s boss. You have to admit you don’t know what you don’t know and start from there. You have to admit that you deserve to be happy. (We all do!) You have to ABTTT.

And then you have to do what may be the easiest or hardest part depending on your personality. Exercise, stay away from the scale, get out of your own head (bad bad neighborhood) and my own personal favorite, stop looking in the mirror so much. You may not do that but I do and it’s like falling down the rabbit hole and landing in a shitstorm of disapproval.

Asking for help is just about the best thing any of us can do. Most people don’t know this secret (so please pass it on if you would). What we think we know is usually miniscule compared to what we really don’t know at all and what we don’t know is how the world will open up and show us that we are held.

So when you say I am on a journey to be a spiritual being and I AM STUCK! I need your help I’d like to point out that the help has been granted. It’s right here. And here. And there.

Oh, and one more thing, you are already a spiritual being. You may have just forgotten. It happens to the best of us. You made it. You’ve arrived.

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