But I think it was just one of those "I'm really unhappy with my body, so I'm just going to go on another diet," kind of moments. However it happened, I had been referred to a nutritionist, or dietitian, or whatever the heck she was, by my Primary Care Provider (PCP) at that time. (My PCP... a man who never cared to talk much about certain things. Including, telling me my blood sugar was high.)
I sat there, waiting in an office... in the usual weirdness of waiting for one of these folks. Fake plastic foods lining wall to wall shelving, and giant tomes and texts which I am not entirely sure had ever been read. This office was the size of a small bathroom, sterile, and with dark wood paneling to boot. A large, round table, took up most of the room, while a cluttered desk sat at it's opposite.
"So, what exactly is it that you want?" -- says the woman... doctor, who? I am not sure. She's wearing a white lab coat, and it's making me rather uncomfortable. I thought this woman was just going to help me find a diet plan... why is she being so curt? And why the heck is she wearing a lab coat? You don't need a lab coat to write a frigging diet plan!!! Rather shocked, I explain to Doctor Who that I want to lose weight, that I am not happy with my body, and it's time I got things figured out, with a little help.
Doctor Who stops to take a very long, stern, look at me. She demands to know what my life is like, and what I do. Of course, at the time (2002), I was in employment limbo -- much like I am now. I lived with a large, religious family, active in the local college campus community, and I minded their kids in exchange for housing. I lived in their basement. Their dark, dank, gloomy, depression fit inducing, basement. I also worked a minimum wage job, with grueling physical labor, and even more tedious hours. I was at great odds with myself, and with my faith, and to top it off, the family and church I belonged to at that time were extremely controlling, and extremely judgmental. One of those types of churches that need to know and control every single aspect of your life, from what to study, to whom to marry. How I got to be in that state, however, is a story for another day.
"I am NOT giving you a diet. You don't need another diet," said Doctor Who, in her Indian accent... really without knowing much about me. "Then...? What am I supposed to do? I mean, I AM paying to be here, after all..." Her features soften, only for a moment, just enough to tell me that I have an eating disorder. "A what??" ... "Yes, an eating disorder. You don't need another diet, and I'm not going to give it to you."
Stunned, I just sat there. I'm nowhere near skinny enough to have an eating disorder; in fact, I'm quite overweight, even obese. Morbidly obese. (By the way, thanks for that, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.)
She hastily draws up a chart ...
Explains to me I am living in a vicious cycle, and gives me four rules.
- Eat only when you are physically hungry.
- Eat ANYTHING you want. Anything at all.
- Eat only until you are satisfied, not full.
- DO NOT SKIP MEALS.
She then asks that I buy the book Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating, by Geneen Roth, and sends me on my way, though not before telling me that "... but even that won't work, because you're too busy right now, to focus, and need to wait until you're at a better place to make some changes."
Oh. My. God. Who the hell does Doctor Who think she is? I *payed* her to do what she went to college to do... GIVE ME A DIET PLAN. And instead, she gives me a frigging book review, tells ME that *I* have an eating disorder, and spits me out of her office, just like that! How dare she?!?! &$^#^%$@!!
Of course... She was right. She was a total bitch about it, but she was right.
Through much tracking, and tracing, I eventually found the book... because of course, it wasn't an easy off-the-shelf kind of book, either. It was an old 80's book, and it sat on my shelf gathering dust for a good while before I decided to finally crack it open, sometimes just chancing upon segments, and paragraphs, before having the courage to actually read it cover to cover.
Now, this is NOT one of those moments where I tell you I've lost a gazillion pounds (which, at times, I have...), and Oprah comes and finds me, and hosts me on her show... or Dr. Oz... or whatever other idiot flavor of the month happens to be. I am still fat. I still binge. I still get up, gather up the pieces of ME, and keep going.
This is NOT the time when I tell you that that was the most inspirational book of my life; it wasn't. In fact, it's probably one of the cheesiest books I've ever read (and please, never read it while drinking anything... much less soda of any kind).
But it is the time when I will tell you that I learned what was probably the MOST important lesson of my life... and what should probably be the most important lesson of YOUR life.
NEVER ABANDON YOURSELF.
It doesn't mean you are perfect, and will always follow the rules. It doesn't mean you are only relying on yourself. It doesn't mean you won't ever become depressed, nor sad... nor compulsive. It doesn't mean that you need to find 20,000 inspirational post-it notes for your bathroom, either.
What it does mean... is that whatever you experience in life, or whatever it is you choose to do... BE THERE with yourself. Actively keep yourself company. Be conscious and aware. Acknowledge yourself.
Acknowledge and OBSERVE from a non-judgmental place the rhythms and intricacies of your emotions... just observe them. No need to judge them. Turn off the TV, and step away from the electronic gadget.
Do not run away into the occult recesses of your mind while you... ______________. (Enter favored compulsive behavior here, including, not taking care of one's Diabetes.) Acknowledge what it is you need, and seek, and GIVE it to yourself with the REAL DEAL. Not a substitute.
Know that whatever it is we do, we do it for a reason... seek to LEARN those reasons.
Allow yourself to be human, and just learn. Learn from the moment. Learn about YOU. Take life... one second at a time. Life will never be easier, or less complicated, like Dr. Who suggested, so just start TODAY. Start with one moment. One action.
Consider the power of one snowflake... one snowflake every second can lead to a perfect Winter storm. This is YOUR storm.