Posts in English

Hasta la vista, sad old New Year’s resolutions! Voilà: Better ideas to start a new year/week/day with.

Hey, lovely radicals!

Thank you all for your wonderful feedback for my last podcast episode on marketing literacy and better ideas for New Year’s resolutions. The responses have made my eyes swim.

A lot of you have asked for a written version as a handy reminder. Great idea!
(I’ll make it two posts, though, for length-reasons. Let’s tackle the resolutions first.)

Tadaaaa! January—the international month of mass-dieting—is ahead.
So here it comes thundering in again, the usual tsunami of the same old, diet-y New Year’s resolutions. What a biiiig surprise (yawn): Only 243’039’472 differently packaged versions of
“Just do THIS and happiness is yours!” Did you notice? All they are is a serving of “copy-paste” from last year, the year before, and the many years before that!—Some new products, some new gadgets… but the same crap all over: The message that we need to fix ourselves to be acceptable and—conveniently attached to it—any number of ideas how to go about that.

Enough already!

Sadly, they still get clicks. In fact, the more weight-loss-promising they are, the more clicks they get. That only shows how successfully the idea that “thin is better” has been marketed to us over the past decades.
After all the different ways this idea has been presented to us—anything from “Heroin-chic” to “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” to “Fitspo”, including the viciously spreading trend “Healthy is the new skinny”—millions of people have now come to believe that “healthy” has a LOOK! That “healthy” has a number on the scale.
(—How convenient for disordered eaters to hide their weight-loss-obsession behind: “Oh, I just want to be healthy!”)
People are now subscribing to ideas of clean eating, believing that this is the magic bullet to health, even if it often leads them into very dark rabbit holes of orthorexia and—funny, huh?—very unhealthy states. Sadly, this trend is rampant and turns women and girls into obsessed, rule-based, fearful, compulsive eaters that are anything BUT healthy or happy.
(Needless to say that if all of these trends didn’t promise some sort of weight-loss, we wouldn’t be as obsessed and clinging to all the ways “health” is now being marketed to us:
Cleanses, Paleo, Raw, Clean Eating, Multi-Level-Marketing schemes like “Beach Body” and all its nasty cousins, any number of weight-loss-challenges, and the gazillion of differently wrapped ideas that keep creeping into our feeds and burn themselves on to our already compromised hard drives.)

When all that matters is how we look and how others perceive us, we end up giving up our power and we end up ready and willing to try everything, no matter the cost.
Now matter how UN-healthy and miserable it makes us.

So. New Year’s resolutions.
Really?

Let me gently open the lid of my internal garbage grinder and enjoy the lovely sound of all of those little bastards being torn to shreds.

Aaaaaaah. Relief.
And now that the table is clear, let’s rewrite that script, shall we?
So, for the fun of it, as an emergency backup or just for inspiration, let’s create some NEW, sustainable, kind, game-changing New Year’s resolutions.
Well.
Since everything in our life has been about “have to“s and “gotta get to“s, “should“s and “no more“s—and we’ve all been running ourselves into the ground with these—THIS time, we’re going to abandon that sinking self-flagellation ship and make our list about PERMISSION. (Yep. The thing we think about least.)

Here are some of my ideas for now and forever after; take as many as you wish!

Some last words before I go:
You have permission to just be you, and to try to be as kind to yourself as you can.
We all deserve more freedom and joy, and this is a good time to allow some of that in, instead of opening the door to mood-darkening messages and self-defeating thoughts.

You deserve it.

You matter.

—And to prevent any sort of diet-mentality from creeping back into our minds after New Years Eve, you can count on me; I’ll be back January 2, with a new podcast episode with a wonderful guest who knows everything about kindness, especially when it comes to how we live with our bodies.
Good stuff is coming your way, radicals.
See you on the other side!

Love,
Meret.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The top five regrets of the dieting.

regret

Let’s talk about regrets, dieting and… dying.
Great way to start a post, isn’t it? Totally uplifting.

So here we go.
There’s a wonderful woman called Bronnie Ware who worked as a palliative nurse for many years. As she was tending to the needs of people who were dying, she started recording the regrets that these people expressed to her. She collected them. Thousands of them. And she subsequently wrote about them. Her book is called “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing”.
Most of us have heard of them, and most of us even gave the list some thought, but then… life happened. The daily grind.
Let us refresh our memories, shall we?

Here are the Top Five Regrets the dying expressed:
# 1 … They wish they’d had the courage to live life true to themselves
# 2 … They wish they hadn’t worked so hard
# 3 … They wish they’d had more courage to express their feelings
# 4 … They wish they had stayed in touch with their friends
# 5 … They wish they had let themselves be happier

„Yes. But what do these have to do with dieting?“ you ask.
„Only everything“, I say.

I’m assuming, of course, but let’s say, you’re one of those people who – like me – spent decades trying to lose weight, suppress weight or maintain weight, engaging in excessive exercise even when injured, feeling guilty for eating “too much”, feeling shame for “losing control” and binging, not ever feeling comfortable in your skin, obsessing about calories, the scale and the size of our pants, declining invitations to social gatherings for fear of “eating too much of the bad foods”, not having birthday cake because you’re trying to “be good”, pinching your stomach, hating your thighs and following every piece of diet-advice that is being thrown around in the media. Let’s assume, you’re one of those people who – like me – risked illness in the name of health, wrecking your hormones and metabolism, in other words doing everything in order to avoid weight gain.
And, for the sake of the argument, let’s assume for a minute that we’re all lying on our deathbeds. Can you picture yourself?
Good.
Now, let’s have a look at those regrets through the dieting-lens.

# 1 … They wish they’d had the courage to live life true to themselves.
(—Sadly, a perfect match.)
Because no, we didn’t have the courage to live life true to ourselves. We were very much concerned about what other people expected us to do, and what they expected us to look like. In fact, we internalized society’s arbitrary beauty standards and tried our damnest to conform to them. Exit “live life true to yourself”…

# 2 … They wish they hadn’t worked so hard.
(—Well, it looks like CARPE DIEM flew right out of the window when we started our quest for thinness, right?)
Maybe the first diet was comparably easy, and we were high from all the compliments we got. So when the weight started to creep back up, we doubled down on our efforts, and we loved being showered with praise for our “discipline” and “willpower”. But then, our bodies started to fight back against our attempts at starving it, and flooded us with crazy cravings, which eventually made us binge. And from there, it progressively got worse, didn’t it? Now desperate for control, we cranked up our efforts to keep our weight “in check”. Over time, weight-suppressing turned into a full time job, and we spent half of our mental bandwidth obsessing about food, weight, and how “broken” our body was. Adding the hours, days, weeks, months or years we spent dieting or rigidly weight-suppressing, we end up with a heart-wrenching amount of time (decades?) spent hating our body for not meeting the current beauty ideal. When we truly think about how much time we spent obsessing over our appearance – time that is forever lost – … it makes us want to cry. Possibly forever.

# 3 … They wish they’d had the courage to express their feelings.
(—Oh funny, another match.)
Dieting is an addiction. Dieters are afraid. By dieting, people numb out by obsessing over calories, scales, their pant size, “good” and “bad” foods, meal plans, “health” blogs, diet advice, excessive exercise and therefore not having to really participate in the mess that is LIFE. Afraid of loneliness, rejection and sadness, we often end up manifesting just that. What do dieters really mean when they say “I feel fat”? What kind of truth are we masking by putting all the blame on our body for something that hasn’t got anything to do with its size? What if we did, instead, express how we truly feel? How about saying “Hey, I feel really vulnerable, insecure, sad, angry or confused right now”. What if we stopped pointing the finger at our weight and stopped hiding behind this admittedly cheap and cowardly deflection.

# 4 … They wish they had stayed in touch with their friends.
(—Damn. Yes. That one, too.)
This one, I find particularly painful… I’d be lying if I said that this doesn’t apply to all the years when I was trying to maintain my lower weight. I am still recovering, as you know, but already now, I can see just how many social invitations I declined, how many friends I stopped going out for dinner with because I was worried about the food, and about losing control. Just how much my constant worrying was keeping me imprisoned in my own mind, how it seemed so much “safer” to stay alone, to eat my “safe” foods, to binge alone, to exercise alone, to prioritize all my weight-obsessing above everything else. When I didn’t exercise, going out and doing something else was out of the question, and I would squeeze it in, no matter what.

# 5 … They wish they had let themselves be happier.
(—The most punch-me-in-the-gut-match of them all.)
Oh boy. All those years. All those decades… I was doing what I was doing because I still believed that “once I reached a certain weight”, then I could be happy, I could date, I could RELAX, I could enjoy life. And it took me forever to see that all I did was maneuver myself further away from happiness. Further and further away from the idea of “real intimacy”, carefree laughter, midnight cake or lazy Sundays. I didn’t let myself be happy. I thought happy was around the corner.

Ha, funny how these regrets of the dying all apply so perfectly to us dieters, isn’t it?
Only, it’s not funny at all.

There is no “around the corner”. All we have is NOW.
Let us let ourselves be happy.
Let us reach out. Let us laugh.
Let us eat cake.
Let us jump for joy.
Let us cry.
Let us do your own thing.
Let us acknowledge our innate awesomeness.
Let us throw out the diet-books and that motherfucking scale.
Let us live.

We only have this one ride.
Love,
Meret.

The trouble with intimacy…

When I’m feeling lonely—which is a common enough occurrence with me—I long for closeness, a sense of belonging, being connected; in essence, to experience human intimacy. I want to be seen, I want to be heard. As we humans do.

In those moments, that longing feels like a hungry hole that sucks all lightness and joy out of me and empties out my soul. It is as if gravity has decided to slowly leave me and there is now nothing left to keep me from disappearing into outer space, nothingness. Like a balloon that a toddler accidentally let go of at the amusement park, a ballon being caught up in the branches of a tree, barely holding on to a twig as the wind is picking up.

In those moments, I mostly forget that I have friends. I forget that I have a phone with which I could call them. I forget that there isn’t just shallowness and pretence out there in the world. I forget that I’m not the only one feeling this way.

In those moments, all that’s left is that balloon-in-the-tree-feeling, which of course implies that said toddler had let go of me totally on purpose, simply to be given a new balloon, one with a brighter color or a different shape, one that is better suited to be tied to the toddler’s bedpost.

My inner Gremlin loooooves these moments and has a variety of stealth attacks in his repertoire with which he then comes at me. For example: “Oh maaaan, how pathetic can you even GET?? Know what this is? This is neediness! Ugly, disgusting neediness. Who needs a needy woman?? No one, that’s who.”

It’s hard for me to remember, right then, that there’s such a thing as self-compassion, because it seems downright logical to go into beat-yourself-up-mode. It IS pathetic after all, isn’t it?

So I stay alone and isolate myself (cue food!) since I’ve never learned to be a “burden” to someone else, to ask for consolation or company. (Or, in those rare cases when I did call out for help as a kid, I got rejected—which was the worst pain of all, one that I got acquainted with way too early in life. Now, even I can see that it must have been right around then that I started to believe that food was a much more reliable source of comfort and safety than any adult could ever be.)

Now, that lonely side, sadly, is only one part of the story.

The crux is that there is, at the same time, a flipside to all this, which is the thing that drives me nuts:
I don’t know how to “do” closeness and intimacy, either!
As much as I long for togetherness, I often do a terrible job with it.
It’s like this: When I meet someone new, I am very approachable and might even seem fearlessly open. I love connecting, I love sharing, I love listening. I love people.

But once I get to know them better and really like them (not necessarily in a romantic way), and they are now a friend—and, thus, the risk of being hurt increases—I can get quite weird at times, and I have a very hard time accepting that part of me. Because, most of the time when I am with people that I am more or less close to, it suddenly starts to take some time before I can open up and let them come close—even with my best friends, some of whom I’ve known for years!

When I am not superconnected to myself—which, again, is a common enough occurrence with me—and someone approaches me too quickly or seems overeager to connect, I feel like I can’t trust the situation, that something is strangely unsafe. I don’t actually feel a sense of danger, but I feel a strong urge to turn and run away. (Which, of course, I don’t do, I’m not that strange.) Mostly, what I do, is wall up and act cold and distant. And here’s the thing: I can’t seem to counteract that by force of will! It is as if “it” (something) starts walling me, “it” makes me act cold and distant—it’s by no means a choice!

Now, my friends, they know that I need some breathing room before I can become my „true“ self, the empathetic and emotionally available one. So they usually just let me do my walled-up stunt for a few minutes and as soon as this sense of danger subsides, my unwillingness to show myself dissolves and I open up automatically. That’s when I can start to be present and really connect to the other person.

People who don’t know me well enough, however, understandably feel taken aback or downright offended by my rejecting demeanor, and they get confused why, all of a sudden, I turn into a distant, walled-up person when all they did was come a bit too close a bit too soon upon meeting me. I truly feel for them, because I know that all they are trying to do is be nice: They might ask how I am, they might try to hug me, anything to connect to me, mostly with the best intentions.

What happens on my side, though is this: I feel absurdly powerless to this feeling of unsafety, one that manifests in an utter unwillingness to connect, as this sense of being in a chokehold washes over me. What I perceive in moments like this is that I’m now forced “to be nice”, forced “to be close” or forced “to be fully available on demand”, which totally overwhelms me. (Like the cat that always takes its sweet time until it jumps on your lap to be stroked. Whenever you approach her to quickly, you force yourself onto her, or you try to lift her up against her will, she’ll either scratch you, bite you, or run off.)

“But you wanted to be connected and close to people, didn’t you, psycho?” howls my inner Gremlin. “What is it with you??”

Yet, in this moment of feeling unsafe, there’s no room for rationality. In that very instant, I don’t see the situation for what it is. What I perceive is not reality, but an overpowering feeling of “I must protect myself”.

By now I know that this feeling passes; and it passes fairly quickly when the other person gives me some moments before launching into: “Tell me, how aaaare you!?” and “Come here, give me a huuug!!”. If they just stay present with me and mind their own thing, I can open up in two minutes, easily.

If the tension rises, though, and the other person stands there with that bewildered, hurt look on their face, I can’t help but wall up even more. Because, deep inside, I am riddled with guilt. It’s not that I don’t see what’s happening. I know exactly what’s happening. It is as if I’m standing beside myself, watching myself “hurting” someone who’s utterly innocent, and I feel so terribly guilty for acting so mean, and for defending myself against… nothing. So I tend to hole up even more. (Cue guilt, cue binging, cue excessively exercising, cue obsessing about my weight .)
—My inner Gremlin is having a field day in those moments. It’s hard NOT to feel unworthy of anyone’s display of interest, affection or care when I act like a malfunctioning nuclear reactor, after all.

How to explain inexplicable behavior?

With my friends, I’ve been lucky.
They love me enough to see behind this outwardly weird behavior.
They know what it is that comes over me in these situations, again and again some days, even after such a long time.
They know that I never want to cause any harm when I come across closed-off or distant.
They know, that when I turn cold or rejecting, I am not really cold or rejecting.
They know that, even after all those years, I still reflexively hide every now and then, when something inside me tells me that I’d better protect myself and be careful not to trust too easily.
They know that I’m afraid of being hurt.
They know that I’m afraid that they’ll see inside my heart and then leave me for good.
They know that, deep down, something inside of me feels hopelessly unsafe.
They know that I often feel like I’m expected to give something that I can’t give, even though there usually are no real expectations.
They know that all I truly long for is secure attachment, a thing I never had.
They know where all of this strangeness is coming from.
They know that I’ve been working very hard, with years of therapy, to get better control of the difficult feelings that stem from a very unsafe childhood.
They know that I grew up in a household where nothing was ever reliable.
They know that I was either being half-starved, abandoned, beaten, ignored, or—the crass opposite—that I was being put under enormous pressure to be perfect at school, to look prettier, to be nicer, to be devoid of needs, but to always be available to take the coals out of the fire, sometimes quite literally, when my intoxicated mother passed out with burning cigarettes.
They know that I never really knew if the hand that reached out to me was going to pat me on the head, slap me across the face or punch me in the gut.
They know that I know that my mother never meant to cause so much damage.
They know that I know how bad she was hurting herself and how lost SHE was in the world.
They know that I only recently started to really miss her, almost 30 years after her tragic death.
They know that I so much wish to have known who she truly was, beneath her alcohol and drug addiction, beneath all the hopelessness that suffocated her and made her act the way she did.
They know the real me, the cuddly, soft-hearted one, the vulnerable one, the one that only shows when she truly trusts.
They know how terribly guilty I feel for not always being approachable and open when I see them, and that I always fall back into thinking that I „have to be nice now“, which makes it impossible for me to just feel at ease.
They also know that all it takes is a few minutes of breathing room before I can come out of hiding and let down my guard.
They know what I’m guarding:

A very vulnerable, very delicate, and somewhat hungry, marshmallow-heart.

Wait for part 2… I’ll try and come up with some “solutions” for this problem.
(Which—come to think of it—will solve the world’s problems.)

Stop “stop glorifying obesity“!

 

I’m sick and tired of hearing it.
Whenever something involves people with bigger bodies, some jerk yells it from way in the back: “Stop glorifying obesity!“

concern trolls

Examples?
– I like and comment on a person’s picture of her/his big body looking hot in a crop top?
“Stop glorifying obesity!“

– I speak up against weight-discrimination and its hurtful impact?
“Stop glorifying obesity!“

– I support someone who has stepped out of a lifetime of food-restriction and overexercise and who has gotten their life and laughter back by allowing a few rolls?
“Stop glorifying obesity!“

– I speak highly of a new size-inclusive fashion-label?
“Stop glorifying obesity!“

– I applaud someone with a big body who tells the world that they have amazing sex?
“Stop glorifying obesity!“

– I speak up for fair medical treatment and access to appropriate health care for bigger bodied people?
“Stop glorifying obesity!“

– I promote the Health At Every Size principles?
“Stop glorifying obesity!“

– I think that equal job opportunities for people with big bodies should be a given?
“Stop glorifying obesity!“

– I cheer loudly when someone celebrates their big bikini body with a picture on Instagram?
Stop glorifying obesity!“

– I love it when someone with a big body is looking ridiculously happy on Facebook?
“Stop glorifying obesity!“

– I point out the detriment of weight stigma to physical, mental and psychological health, especially at the intersection with other forms of social injustice like racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism or classism?
“Stop glorifying obesity!“

STOP THAT NOISE.

It’s hurting my brain and makes my heart riot.
All of these examples don’t glorify anything.
They simply point out basic human rights.

That stupid, worn-out, generic comment, however, does glorify some things:

It glorifies discrimination.
It glorifies ignorance.
And it glorifies separation.

So, for fuck’s sake, don’t be jerks, people.
And let’s agree to just drop that phrase, shall we now?

Thank you.

 

 

Father… I come unarmed.

After my post about why Mother’s Day had never meant anything to me up until 2016, I was floored by the sheer amount of responses I received from you. (Day = made!)
What struck me, though, was just how many times this one question was asked:

“How were you able to forgive your mother??“

Weeeeell… that work is still under construction; there are so many layers to the story that I could fill a book with them. Clearly, you don’t want to spend 14 days reading through the murky depths of this complex story.
But since I want to give you an honest answer, I’ll take my father instead, okay?
Due to his great absence, there is a certain lack of material, so it’ll be a lot easier to explain. (And take a moment to acknowledge the neatness of this: it’s actually Father’s Day today!)

Be aware that this is a rather lengthy read, because you simply need a bit of the backstory so that you get the big picture. Also, I guess you brought that upon yourself. 🙂

So. My father.
The man who left when I was not even born yet.
I hated him for leaving me with an unpredictable, alcoholic mother who was living a highly destructive double life; every day, until the early afternoon, she was the highly intelligent, beautiful and well-dressed personal assistant…and after that, at home, she turned into the other one.
I hated him for turning a blind eye on everything that was going on, and for not even listening when I asked him to please, PLEASE, let me live with him.
Interestingly enough though, I never realized how much resentment I held in me until after my mother’s death. Those feelings had all been locked away under layers and layers of desperately glorifying him as if he were a rockstar. In fact, the more my mother—usually with a tongue heavy from alcohol—insisted that he was ‘the most despicable specimen of humanity’, the more I put my father on a pedestal.

The reality that he ‘didn’t want me’ was too painful.

So, instead, I idealized him.
I didn’t know much about him to start with, but I was certain that he was the coolest man ever.
The beautiful hands he had. The awesome massive silver-turquoise ring he wore. The way he dressed in that lax-but-totally-fly style. His elegant handwriting. The smell of his aftershave (Chanel Antaeus). His trendy red round glasses…  Glory.
Add all that to the fact that he even took me to McDonalds once (a total no-go with my weight-obsessed mother)… I mean, wasn’t it evident that this was Superman??

petersunnyboy

Sometimes, I got very lucky. Ever so rarely, when it suited him, he let me sleep over at his place on a Saturday. Dream-come-true moments!
I remember sitting in his living room, in front of this antique, wooden sideboard with his huge headphones on, listening through his awesome records collection. I must have spent days with John Lee Hooker, Eric Clapton and the Dire Straits in my kiddo-ears, playing with the curly cord of the headphones, smelling his vanilla-scented tobacco and dreaming of living like this. I marveled at his wicked records (since there was never music on in my house, these tunes were fucking groundbreaking for me), his disturbingly interesting collection of slightly offensive and PG-rated comics, his stunning—and certainly more than slightly erotic—pictures and posters on the walls, his incredibly gorgeous girlfriends, and his sheer knowledge of seemingly all things… I imagined it would be heaven on earth to be allowed to live with this ubermensch in this retro-yet-modern-yet-cozy apartment that always smelled so nice (and was equipped with a fridge full of the most aaaaawesome foods I’d ever seen… OMG! Ketchup, peanut butter, Coke, Nutella!!)

I couldn’t admit to myself that he never had the intention of any sort of commitment to me. All he was committed to was his own pleasure-seeking, the pursuit of beautiful skinny women, going out, traveling, and generally having as few responsibilities as possible…
Clearly, it was too much of an inconvenience to get his daughter out of hell.
And as any kid would have, I made it about me. I made it about me not being pretty enough, not being worthy of such a cool man’s love.

Well, he stopped being so cool to me when I lived with him for 2 years after my mother died.
I was a teenager and still too young to live on my own, so he ‘had’ to take me, and that’s exactly how it felt. I was an inconvenience.
It didn’t take long for me to get to know and fear his mean side, his sudden outbursts of anger, his icy sarcastic remarks about anything I did or said, his ridicule for my body, my clothes, my hair, my eating. I got to know the king of one-upping other people, the king of shaming people who had a different opinion, a lesser education, other values.
What I especially hated was the way he drove his girlfriends to tears with his disrespect and unpredictability.

Enter resentment.

He was out of the country a lot, so I was on my own for long stretches of time. In retrospect, I’m pretty amazed that I survived puberty without heading for the gutter, because—just as before—I had to make all the big decisions of my life without any sort of parental guidance. You know, career choice, first boyfriend, what to wear to work, dealing with emotions…
Of course, I moved out the first chance I got.

And for the next 20 years, I oscillated between hateful dreams of revenge and a humiliating hustle for his approval.
What I knew for sure was that what had to be avoided at all cost was to appear needy in any way. Asking for advice, support or—heaven forbid!—comfort, had him running for the hills. So I played the independent, low-maintenance daughter.

Seeing the gorgeous skinny women he courted, I of course soon realized that I wasn’t like them at all. At one point, I convinced myself that my mother must have been right when she used to call me ugly and fat. I mean, he seemed to be ashamed of his daughter’s looks too! So in order to live up his standard, I did what I already knew how to do. Fixing my body, getting leaner, trying to ‘improve’ my looks.
When I lost a bunch of weight and started to become known as a national radio host, he suddenly showed interest, and started boasting to his friends about me… He made me his big success story and only called to gather the latest info and to promise to keep in touch or support me.—A cheap betrayal, really, because after being updated, he usually just went AWOL again and forgot all the promises he’d made.
No matter how much I dieted, exercised, hustled or denied myself, he kept being unavailable.

Something in me went very cold and very hard over the years and I started applying cold-war-mode whenever he was nasty. I threatened to cut all contact, thinking: Screw you and your friends! I got myself to where I am today, so fuck you for making it all about your great fathering!“ I usually even followed through with it for a year or two. But sooner or later he would suddenly reappear and want to go and have coffee with me, and—boom—the longing for fatherly love washed over me again. (“Now! Now! He’s finally come to his senses!“ said my hungry heart and of course I lost all my resolve every time, of course my soul melted every time, of course I left my dignity rotting in the corner… Only every damn time.)
I would’ve given everything to finally be able to steal my way into his heart.
Only… that never seemed to happen and, soon enough, he would turn mean, snappy or hostile again, and back I went into cold-war-mode… Rinse and repeat.

So I secretly fostered this smoldering resentment inside of me.
I was addicted to the conviction that I was the one who was in the right, addicted to the fantasy that I would bring him to his knees (wailing with remorse), and I was addicted to the idea that I would, one day, dance on his grave.
It’s a little embarrassing to admit how totally self-righteous I was, how quick to make accusations and how easy it was for me to speak disparagingly about him to my friends:
“He can go to hell. He never once helped me when I was down, he’s never there, he forgets my birthday. He’s just a coldhearted, ignorant, narcissistic bastard!“ —You bet, everyone who knew the story agreed with me: “He’s your my goddamn father, so he should at least start to effing act like something similar to that. He is the one who needs to apologize for his grandiose, ongoing failure.” Yes! Surely, I wouldn’t let him get off the hook that easily.

And aaall the while…. he just kept being who he was.

And even more embarrassing: I was still afraid of his rejection and I was never able to be authentic around him. Deep down, I was still a sucker for his approval, and since I lacked self-respect and a sense of worthiness, I was kinda stuck in victim-mentality.
I stubbornly held on to my belief that he was the one who had to make the first move towards real change.

Fast forward.
Today, I love this cantankerous guy. And he is still exactly the same.
What has changed, is my attitude.

And today I know why it took me so damn long to forgive him:
I tried to think my way to forgiveness. I tried ‘talk-therapying’ my way to forgiveness. I read about forgiveness. I tried to affirm forgiveness and I tried the spiritual detour to forgiveness (you know… ‘meditating a few times, assuming to thereby jump from status quo directly into divine love for all living creatures… bliiiiing!’). Nope. Not happening.
I couldn’t get rid of my accusations against him! All I saw was MY lack of love, MY neglected needs, MY poor daughter heart. It was a very heady matter, and it was a lot of black and white thinking and very little real feeling. I had zero real compassion for him, and really very little real compassion for myself.

Look, you might hate it, but it is what it is:

There is no shortcut to forgiveness.

As life has it, I had to be down in the shitters really bad to become humble enough to explore beyond what I was used to. It was November 2014 when all my walls crumbled and I was at the end of my wits. I was way too skinny and my body was shutting down from exercising obsessively. My life was devoid of any meaning, and I was feeling crippling anxiety almost 24/7. All I wanted was… to leave this shit-show.

I started searching through Youtube for videos about resilience, self-worth, authenticity and vulnerability and after consuming all of what I found from Dr. Brené Brown, I ended up watching stuff about mindfulness meditation.

WTF… meditation?!

I had only massive resistance to that. Who wants to sit in silence, trying not to think about anything, while that monkey mind inside goes fucking batshit?? But, Io and behold, I was humble enough to open some doors in my mind and, well, just tried. And kept trying. As if a part of me knew that I had found the key to the door of healing. I listened to a ton of teachings and learned something that sounded so ‘out there’ that I didn’t believe it at first:

That me and my thoughts aren’t ONE.
That I could put some space between my (usually racing) thoughts.
That my emotions aren’t who I am. That they might flow through me, but that they couldn’t, well, kill me.
So I discovered, over the next few months, that I could, in fact, hold space for myself, somewhere deep inside. I discovered that in that space, I could make room for some of those intense waves of emotions I was so terrified of, and let them flow through me without drowning in them.

What I also learned (which made immediate sense) was the fact that a lifetime of angry resentment in my heart only made me suffer.

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. (Mark Twain)

It meant that I lived like a victim and kept being dependent on his changing, his approval, and needing his love.
With all this started my journey into self-inquiry and I learned something that was previously inconceivable for me:

Happiness really is an inside job.

I needed to love myself. And I knew that in order to ever make this miracle happen, I couldn’t avoid those difficult feelings any longer, and that I had to stop running away from the pain. I stopped delusioning myself that anger was the easier way out and started to learn about different ways to work through some of that.
(—gulp.)

I certainly didn’t start this because I had forgiveness in mind. In fact, it was probably the least important thing I had in mind. I simply wanted to start to get better. And I knew I had a lot of work to do. Work that is still in progress, quite obviously.
I had to start somewhere, right? So, of course my dad came up. But it was quite a surprise to stumble upon forgiveness like this.
Here’s how it went: I had no idea what the outcome of all of it would be, but I started writing down why I was so resentful towards him… Well, that certainly took some time. When I was done, I put all the pieces of paper on the floor around me, sat cross-legged and closed my eyes, thinking about what all of these memories really meant for my life. And finally I was courageous enough to let the gunk come up.
And boy, it did come up.
I felt my arms get warmer and warmer until the seemed explode with heat and I felt like I had turned into some human laser-beam ready to burn the sun. Anger, my friend, pure as it gets.
Instead of running from it, like I used to do, I faced it.
I imagined him sitting across from me (my poor pillow was the stand-in) and let the whole burning red mess come out. My throat produced quite impressive furious growls and I hissed how badly I wanted to hurt him. Let me tell you; in my imaginary carnage, not one gory detail was left out. In fact, I felt it was appropriate to mutilate ‘pillow-him’ with my claws and teeth (which I totally did), to scream at him and to curse him for his emotional bankruptcy.
—As gruesome as this sounds, it really wasn’t. It was like a life-force storming through me in one gigantic wave and I swear it didn’t take more than a few minutes for the anger to subside. And then another feeling came up.
My throat started to constrict and I felt incredibly guilty for what I had done to ‘him’, and for a minute there, I couldn’t help but whisper I am sorry! I am so sorry!“
Right after that, I felt a surge of unspeakable sadness rising up, a feeling of lonely longing.

The raw, undisguised longing of a daughter for her daddy.

While I was crouching on the floor, whimpering, I kept thinking how ridiculous this whole scene would have to look if someone were to look in, but of course, there was no one. I was my own judge. And this wasn’t the time to judge.
This was the time to just ride with the wave and let go, so I just let myself cry for my father. The wave finally passed, and suddenly, I felt an inexplicable compassion well up inside me. Where before there was anger, toxic resentment, coldness and thoughts of revenge, there was, I don’t know… clarity.

In all of this broken-openness, I saw him differently and—talk about unexpected outcomes—felt love for him.

I understood that my father had his own story with his mother and he was carrying so much unprocessed shit with him that he was a victim himself.
In the months to follow, my view of my dad started to shift. I began to see his own undigested story in his outbursts, absences, sarcastic remarks and his need to be right. I started to look for the boy he once was in his eyes.

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A sweet boy with a lot of hurt in his heart.

And I saw that his way of being a father to me was the best he could do. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that all of what he did or didn’t do, it had nothing to do with me. It had never been about me being the wrong way or not good enough. He might never be able to express his love for me in a way the little girl inside me would want him to, but I know he loves me.—In his very own way, as good as he can.
What also happened after my anger-cleanse is that I ceased having any expectations towards him. I just let him be. Today, I am not afraid of him anymore, because I have established healthy boundaries for myself. I can say ‘no’.
Love or not, no one said I have to put up with all of his moods, or that I have to like him all the time.
When he’s nasty, I remind myself that it’s never about me personally, and I take the liberty to tell him three things: That this is not the way I’m willing to communicate with him, that I will call him back another time and that I love him anyway. It works just fine.

Sometimes, it’s challenging. It’s in those moments that I remember the boy he once was. And that makes it incredibly easy and even fucking wonderful to tell him:
Dad, I love you. You’re a good guy.

Know what? I bet no one ever told him that.

Silent dialogues # 1…

When you’re one ‘but’ short of winning.

 

Me: “Hmhmm, s’morning ‘gain?”

Gremlin: “Fuck! It’s 9.30 already, and you haven’t gotten anything done yet.”

Me: “But I’m sooo tired this morning.”

Gremlin: “Ha! From what?? You should’ve just gotten up earlier, then you’d be fresh by now. Also, your exercises for your back and core could long be done and there’d still be enough time for a serious bicycle-trip. You seem to forget just how many calories you ate yesterday evening! Now’s really not the right time to try the avoidance-number.”

Me: “But you keep saying that every day…”

Gremlin: “Goddamn it, get your lazy ass moving already. Other people have been up for hours, —and guess who has already finished their cardio session by now? Correct, it’s not you.”

Me: “But I’ve exercised every day this week!”

Gremlin: “So fucking what?? You’ve been eating like a pig, too!”

Me: “But other people don’t have to work out every day.”

Gremlin. “No they don’t, in fact. Because they eat like normal people.”

Me: “But even my doctor says that it’s actually important to rest, and that it’s totally ok to spend a day reading…”

Gremlin: “Look, dumbhead. I’ve told you before, I’m gonna tell you again: It’s you that eats as much as you do. Seriously, if I didn’t push you like this every day, you’d actually turn into a fat sloth within a week. Clearly, you need to be controlled.”

Me: “But don’t I deserve some down time too?”

Gremlin: “Down time, right? May I remind you, you are currently not working and other people would lick their fingers to have your problems! I mean, really. The trauma-therapy? —Bit of tears, so what. The back-surgery-recovery? —Bit of nerve pain, no biggie. You’re pathetic. Other people have JOBS and KIDS!

Me: “But I have worked out without a day off for several years …”

Gremlin: “… Hu-uh!! You DID take days off. In fact, after your back surgery last December you hardly moved for a few days, right there.”

Me: “ARGH! But my hormones are still completely out of whack… Which is a direct result of too much exercise.”

Gremlin: “With you, that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the exercise component. It might just as well be because of your messed-up way of eating you seem to be unable to change.”

Me: “But YOU were the one that told me I could only eat once a day if I want to eat as much as I want. It was YOU who told me that I couldn’t eat like other people if I want to be skinny. And I’ve done just as you said for more than 20 years!”

Gremlin: “You DID lose weight, did you not?”

Me: “But… Yes.”

Gremlin: “So don’t go all whiney on me now! Weight gain just really isn’t an option for you. We were there before, weren’t we? Do you want to be laughed at again? —See. So since you can’t seem to eat normal portions, it looks like you have a price to pay. Lots of exercise and—if only once a day—a gloriously big meal. What’s there to complain?”

Me: “But I’m tired of living like a prisoner!”

Gremlin: “I know you. If I give you one day off, you’ll never put on those damn sneakers again and you’ll never stop eating. It just doesn’t work with you. You’d be the disgrace of the century. And as a friendly reminder: I’ve already let you reduce the amount of exercise since that thing with your back. I mean, before the surgery, 2 hours of daily cardio were your minimum. These days, you’re not even able to do that anymore. And you’ve gained weight. Honestly, you should be glad to have me around for damage control!”

Me: “But I have friends who are really curvy and that doesn’t make them any less lovable. Sigh. They’re probably out for brunch with their boyfriends right now.”

Gremlin: “Fact is, you don’t have a boyfriend. So, go figure. Maybe you just aren’t as lovable. And that’s why you have to make up for it by staying skinny. Can’t have it all. Also, you’re 42.”

Me: “But one day, I want to feel worthy to just sit in the sun, read a book, eat what I want and not having to make up for anything by doing anything. One day, I’d like to feel worthy for just existing.”

Gremlin: “One day, sure. Now, get that workout done already.”

Me: “But… OK.”

 

The end.

Am I the only one?

  • Am I the only one who feels locked in an emotional rollercoaster?
  • Am I the only one who gets overwhelmed at the drop of a hat?
  • Am I the only one who has days when she—for seemingly ridiculous reasons—loses her temper?
  • Am I the only one beating herself up for being so sensitive?
  • Am I the only one who thinks she ‘should have life figured out’ by now?
  • Am I the only one who often feels utterly lonely in this world?
  • Am I the only one who sometimes doesn’t know what she’s getting up for in the morning?
  • Am I the only one who tries my best to apply self-compassion instead of self-criticism—and mostly failing?
  • Am I the only one who feels anxious about almost every one of the big topics—you know… relationships, sex, purpose, risk-taking, loss, vulnerability, rejection, letting-go, decision-making, money, existence—in life?
  • Am I the only one who instantly gets what another person is feeling, but often getting rejected as soon as they realize that she can see what’s behind their mask?
  • Am I the only one totally sucking at smalltalk?
  • Am I the only one who only really feels comfortable when she is able to really connect to the person she’s talking to—when an honest and real conversation is possible (i.e. not nearly often enough)?
  • Am I the only one who is still searching for her tribe?
  • Am I the only one who struggles with self-love?
  • Am I the only one who finds it hard to talk back to her inner mean voice?
  • Am I the only one who constantly finds herself falling back into ‘worry-mode’?
  • Am I the only one who feels self-conscious most of the time (and tries not to let on)?
  • Am I the only one who immediately thinks that something must be ‘not quite good enough’ with her body when someone’s looking at her?
  • Am I the only one who fears she’s not desirable?
  • Am I the only one who feels like a coward for still not breaking her own rigid rules—despite knowing exactly that this means she’s letting fear rule her life?
  • Am I the only one who realizes that her missing out on so many things in life is totally her own fault and she must be a failure for not being able to just fucking chill already?
  • Am I the only one who thinks that she ‘should do better’—(at preferably everything)?

Am I?
I don’t think so.
Yet.
Jesus—it feels this way.

 

Hugs, Meret.

 

Mama. I never missed you on Mother’s Day.

Today, for the first time, I did. It was beautiful.

I spent more time on this earth without you than with you. When you died, almost 30 years ago, I was just a teenager.
I was staying in an awful boarding home in the french-speaking part of Switzerland where you and my third stepfather-in-spe had put me “so that she learns French“. Your then-fiancé thought that I was the cause of your drinking and your unhappiness, so he was eager to send me away.
And I while I hated the place I was at, I was eager to finally be away from home. Be away from you. I felt safe for the first time.

I clearly remember that morning when I was called out of French grammar class to go see the headmaster in his office. I thought: “What did I do wrong? Hopefully it’s nothing bad.“ I was scared.

All I wanted was to get good grades in order to—for once in my life—make you proud.
All I wanted was—for once in my life—to hear you say that I was enough for you.

Across from the headmaster, there sat sat your guy. And I knew something was awfully wrong. All your guy said was: “Your mother is dead.
The look in his eyes betrayed his thoughts. “It is ALL your fault, you fucking brat.“

In this second, a million feelings happened all at once.
The initial one was a sense of tremendous relief. It felt as if a ton of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders. Right on the heel of that relief came a paralyzing sense of guilt.
“I must not feel this way! What kind of a terrible daughter am I?”
And on the heel of that, shock.
But I wasn’t shocked because you had passed away. I was shocked because I feared that he would take me with him, that I would be made to leave the boarding home.
Out of fear and shock, I started crying. And I begged the headmaster to stay.
Soon after, your guy left – with a hateful look in his eyes.

And I remember hoping: “They are not married yet, they are not married yet, let this mean that he has no real power over me.“

That was the last time I cried about your death for almost 30 years.

During all this time, my heart was closed and my mind was quick to remind me of all the terrible things that happened…
Your unpredictability. Your drinking. Your belying everything to the outside world. Your blaming me for your unhappiness. Your shaming me for the way I looked. Your not feeding me properly. Your weighing me every morning. Your throwing food at me. Your exposing me for all of my mistakes in front of other people. Your way of falling asleep with your cigarette on and causing fires. Your punishing me for saving your life. Your threats to take your own life. Your utter disregard for my feelings. Your merciless expectations. Your not letting me be myself, let alone a kid.

Up until your death, I was sure that I wanted to leave this world. It was too much. It was much too much for me, Mama.

Living with you was killing me.

After your death, I felt relieved, finally free to live my life. I was determined not to ever be dependent of anyone ever again, and as my teacher Brené Brown says, I “armored up” to face life by myself.
That felt better—safer—than to trust anyone.

Up until a few years ago, I never knew that there were so many unprocessed feelings hidden in my subconscious.

All I wanted was NOT to become you!

So I made sure I never started drinking, I never had any violent relationships, I was (haha) “in control“ over the things in my life, and I surely didn’t think my low self-esteem, my terrible body image, my shame and my feelings of unworthiness were a problem. It was just normalcy for me. I was used to your voice, your diets. So I kept on doing that: Yelling at myself for mistakes, and trying to become thinner at all costs. I did that, thinking—still thinking—that I had to change in order to get a pass.

Only after all of that took a very dark turn and the walls I had put up around me started to crumble, it became clear that, at my core, I had been standing on sand all along.
It was only after my breakdown that I could finally start to feel and that I could start—ever so slowly—building a more solid foundation to stand on.
I am in the process of doing that. I’m starting to get to know me. I’m starting to feel more comfortable in my own skin. Progress is painfully slow, but I’m doing my best…—you know I always did.

And today, on Mother’s Day, I suddenly realized how much I miss you.

How much I would’ve wanted to get to know the REAL you, the you that was buried underneath all the issues you kept piling up on top of your wounded soul.

And as I cried, my heart started opening. In an instant, I just knew that even if you could never show me, you must have loved me.

Mama, if you’re out there somewhere, know that I love you, too.
You had the most amazing smile, and I’m grateful to be your daughter.

“Bikini-Body”? Why I can’t even with this word.

Summer peeks around the corner and – bam! – here they are, the same lame claims as every year:
“Super-skinny in 30 days!“
“Super-toned thanks to bootcamp-workouts.“
“Super-healthy with this detox-fast.“
“Super-steely six-pack-abs in three days.“

They take all the fun out of the bathing season, right?
With the empty promise to turn into some avatar-style goddess within a few weeks (if, and only IF, we’re willing to free ourselves of our money, our mental capacity, our precious time, and—overall—our dignity) a carrot gets hung in front of our noses. And as the proverbial donkey, we start going after it. Our self-worth is hijacked, and we become convinced that we’re not cute/skinny/toned enough to wear a bikini the way we are right now, and that we therefore can’t shamelessly enjoy the heck out of summer.

The way the word “bikini-body“ is being tossed around, we’ve come to believe that it’s a badge of honor indicating our worth—WHICH IS FLIPPING ENRAGING! I mean, seriously. Has humanity lost its mind? Argh. If it weren’t so tragic, we could stop for a second and see how ridiculous it all is.
But because most of us bought into this crap, we have obediently started to go after that carrot dangling in front of our noses. Inevitably, just as many of us have experienced the ensuing misery: Hunger, shitty mood, peculiar obsession with anything food- and/or fitness-related, loss of carefree joy of life, loss of self-worth, missed out opportunities for sweet memories with friends and loved ones, and—sooner or later—THE FAILURE. For which we took the blame, every time.

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My crazy workouts were SO MUCH fun. Not.

Why, one might ask, do women run from one restrictive “lifestyle“ (they can’t be called diets anymore, these days, that would be too obvious) to the next, be it by detoxing, fasting, clean-eating, low-carbing (read: zero-fun-eating) and—at the same time—exhaust themselves with increasingly insane workout-habits? Why are women willing to treat themselves like slaves just to lose those “last 10 pounds“?

Probably not because it’s SO MUCH FUN, right?
Probably not because it’s NOT working for them long-term, right?
And HOPEFULLY not because they don’t have bigger dreams in life, right?
So, why? WHY?

It’s logical. For one, there’s only one single type of body that is being represented in the media. We are literally being bombarded by the message that, we can ALL look like that, and that we better get our damned asses moving if we want to be accepted in society.
So we start to feel guilty and ashamed for not looking like the people we see on TV and in the magazines. And don’t get me get started on the ads! From cars to breakfast cereal, from travel companies to cat food, from headache medicine to contact lenses; the men and women we see make up the very smallest percentage of the general population.
AND they’re photoshopped. Please. How could anyone be immune to that?

In the US alone, the diet-industry is making 60 billion Dollars off of our body-shame. 60 BILLION Dollars! That, my friends, is a fucking lot of money. Read: That’s a fucking lot of people spending a fucking lot of, just to find that happiness that’s being promised at the end of the diet-rainbow. (So if you belong to those few who went unfazed by all that toxicity, tell me how you do it!)

I was one of believers. Year after year after year I did my very best to “better“ my body.
Restricting food all day, only eating dinner. No exceptions (for 8 years straight).
Brainfog from hunger.
Inevitable binge-eating attacks.
Punishing exercise routines (daily, for 8 years straight) that drove me into the ground. (Mind you, people applauded me for it. “Woooow!” they said.“You’ve got so much discipline, I wish I could be like you“… Uhm. No. You don’t).

And since we are leading examples, girls start to go after that dream-body at ever younger ages. There is hungering, joyless-to-compulsively restrictive eating, obsessive exercising, in many cases vomiting (at which I—thank GOD—never had any success), dreaming of cosmetic surgery. Everything; just to be skinny. Yet the only ones who get to be as happy as everyone is dreaming to be, are the giants of the diet-industry.

In truth, we all aren’t meant to look the same. Just as no apple tree looks exactly like any other, and just as every apple tree is a small miracle, so are we. Let’s stop comparing our branches and leaves, our fruits and trunks with the trees surrounding us and feeling miserable. Bellies aren’t supposed to be flat, and no ass is supposed to look like the photoshopped version of J-Lo’s. None of us is meant to “fit an ideal“. Each and every one of us are exactly as lovable as everyone else, we are all more than allowed to fully accept ourselves and show up at the beach.

I want to see a generation of girls growing up to be proud in their unique bodies. To live in them with confidence and ease, and to spend their time, creating great stuff in this world.

Screw those who want to go after some sort of “bikini-body“.
You already have it.
Summer is yours!
At any size.

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I swear I wanted to swear. But I can’t.

Talking about diet-culture makes me want to use reeeeaally harsh words. In fact, you have no idea what kind of hellraising words pop into my head when I think about all the lies that we’re being fed on a daily (hourly? secondly??) basis.

– When I think about how my mother never lived to see, let alone believe another truth, how she tried and tried to manipulate her weight into a thinner shape, even though she never had much jiggle to get rid of.

– When I think that I never even once saw her happy or relaxed in her own body. And never will.

My mother. She never made it out alive.

– When I think that she, in turn, put ME on my first diet when I was only in kindergarten and had a body that was really just slightly softer compared to the bodies of most of my peers.

1980-Meret M?
Already used to not being fed at home.

– When I think of all those decades of believing that her denying me food was because she hated me, didn’t want to feed me, or because she wanted to hurt me.

– When I think about the implications this had on my own sense of worthiness, on my sense of safety in the world, on my sense of purpose—or lack thereof.

– When I think that only NOW I’m able to see that, she too, had bought into all that crap about our bodies being something that had to be “fixed”, that the restrictions she put on me were only her way of protecting me from being rejected in a diet-crazy world.

– When I think that only NOW I see what terrible feelings of insufficiency she must have suffered to end up dieting her sense of joy to the bone and drinking her sharp mind into oblivion.

– When I think that, for all those years—even long after her death—I was convinced it was HER that rejected me, and that this must have been the direct effect of me having come out wrong, somehow a mistake, or simply not the daughter that she wanted.

– When I think of the decades I spent hating on my body, spending insane hours on treadmills/ellipticals/stairmasters, on diets, on shameful binges, suffering in silence, trying to meet society’s beauty standards…

When I think of all this, I first want to swear like a mad Italian coal-worker on Meth, I want to yell and scream and raise hell.
But—for as much as I love using foul language—I won’t.

Because my anger is only a very thin shield to cover up a sadness that’s almost unspeakable.
In my heart, there simply aren’t any swearwords to be found for the pain and the grief that hides behind all the misconceptions that my life, her life—so many lives!—are built upon.

The unlaughed laughter, the uncaressed skin, the unexpressed joy, the unbaked cakes, the uncelebrated lives, the unlived dreams.—I’ve lost too much.

The world has grown none the wiser. Diet-culture is ever-present, it’s all around us, it’s sneaked into most of our conversations, the ads, onto all the magazine covers, into the subtext of every rich meal, every unpretentious picture taken and every judgment of a person by their looks.

Diet-culture seems out to get everybody.
Those it gets, it leaves feeling unworthy, sometimes desperate, certainly “at fault“.
That’s bad enough.
Those, however, who had had hurting souls to start with, risk not only to waste a lot of time, energy, money, and self-worth, but also their… yes, their lives.

My mother was one of them. Growing up in a messed up home, she never knew a feeling of inner stability. Looking back, I can only guess how overwhelmed she must have been by life itself. So after endlessly trying to slim-fast her way into feeling loved and—of course—never succeeding, she handed over the reigns to her second “ally“, alcohol, and drowned her feelings of unworthiness in so many glasses of wine that the Gods lost count.
Eventually, I lost her.

She died without ever having seen that she was, in fact, utterly lovable, that there would have been support, had she not believed that she wasn’t worth it. This lack of self-love was quadrupled by every one of the diet-lies she bought into. That set of lies didn’t come cheap. Nor for me, nor for her. It cost me my childhood—an unsafe and utterly unpredictable, often violent chapter of my life. It cost her all of her relationships, most of all the one to herself and to her daughter. And it cost her her life.

The irony?

Shortly after she died, I started to gain some weight (well, I finally had the freedom to eat!) and was so freaked out that I went on my first diet.
“Mom must have been right,” I thought. “I can’t be fed normally.“

Yes, I’ve survived some terrible things and saw scenes that I wish I could delete. But I made it out of there alive. Only, instead of feeling proud, I found fault in myself. I never drank, I was never in debt, I never did drugs (apart from some exploratory detours there in puberty), all of which I consider myself lucky for—it could’ve happened to me just as easily as to the next person.
What I got hung up on in a very bad way was the message of diet culture. I felt awful in my skin all my life. There was a time when I wanted to cut off the flesh on my tummy, my thighs and my butt, because I felt too ugly for the world. I would have given everything for a different body. Until very recently, in fact. Up until I was 40 and hit rock bottom.

I literally spent DECADES running, restricting, binging and shaming myself into the ground, in a desperate attempt to change myself into a more“beautiful“ version that would be worthy of love.
See, all those years, I never even questioned whether what I read and heard and believed was really TRUE! I let my own self-respect slowly, over years and years, rot away in diet-culture-hell.

Two years ago, I started to wake up to another truth. And I am only now building up the courage to really—not just intellectually—get out of that narrow prison cell I made my life to be, and STICK it to all of those toxic messages.

And since I’m a surviver, I want and WILL make it out of this mess.
I want to be able to say “I love myself, no matter what society tries to tell me” before I take my last breath.

Not just for myself.
But for my mother.
And every one of those countless women who never had the privilege to see that it was never THEM who were at fault.

Maybe now you see why, today, I’m too sad to even be angry.

Starving yourself means starving your heart.

And if your heart is starving, even paradise turns into hell. Believe me, I’m Swiss.

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At the height of disordered eating and exercising obsessively…
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… I was praised for my “discipline” and “great body”. Listen: I felt MISERABLE.

Now, nods all around, Switzerland is the land of plenty in the snug embrace of the inexplicable beauty called “The Alps”, massive foundations of rock standing together, kissing the sky. Where slightly weird-talking creatures stir their forks in cheese-soup.
So, great, here I am, in the heavenly haven somewhere in the middle of Europe.

How come I got kicked out of this holy garden?
How come I never got to enjoy that sweet bliss of a melting piece of chocolate on my tongue without feeling guilty?
How come I didn’t ski, didn’t sail, didn’t explore that paradise of mine?
How come I never skinny-dipped in those pure indigo mountain lakes that manage to be cold enough to take your breath away and still make you feel like you just exploded into pure sensuality?
How come I was lonely, when I was surrounded by smiling people?
How come that the more successful I was as a national radio host the emptier I felt inside? How come I never quite felt like a real woman and never felt at ease when naked or feeling watched?
How come I felt uninhabited, like a head was stuck to a vehicle it didn’t like?
How come my smile, my whole life, became nothing more but a waxy facade?

I felt I wasn’t enough.

And oh boy, was I busy trying to make up for all that I thought I was lacking!
Mind you, the message I got when I grew up was clear, so clear that I never questioned it: “You’re a burden and need to be fixed.”
My inner voice reminds me of this all day, yelling: “Get your sorry ass moving already! No one wants to see a failure!” I was so used to not having needs, and to whiteknuckle it through, that I eventually lost the connection to my real self.
That’s a pretty surefire way to kick your own butt out of any holy garden.

The kicking out itself, of course, began very early.
I grew up in painfully dysfunctional circumstances where alcohol, violence and rejection were daily business. What turned out, quite interestingly, to be the thing that eventually, much later, brought me to my knees was the diet my mother put me on when I was five (and slightly chubby at best.)
In puberty, shortly after my mom passed away, and I could finally eat without being shamed, I started to gain weight. At 20, the demons were back, body shame kicked in full on. I freaked out and did the one thing I knew to do: I went on a diet.
That, of course, started out pretty harmless and worked amazingly well in the beginning. Wow! Suddenly, I got noticed, I got compliments, I finally felt like I belonged.
But as diets go, they never work long-term.
To keep the weight down, I had to steadily increase the amount of exercise, and steadily decrease the calories I ate. Seems like I have too much discipline for my own good, because, I took this way too far. No matter how much (or how little) I actually weighed, I never once felt “good enough”. To be clear: we’re talking DECADES spent with various combinations of calorie counting, excluding food-groups, fasting, inevitably ending up stuffing my face and, of course, punishing myself with daily exercise to the point of sheer exhaustion.
In the meantime, a whole shitload of issues started showing up (—surpriiiiise!):
Loss of period, loss of libido, anxiety, insomnia, depression, injuries…
As I saw it, those were the body’s fault, too! Wasn’t IT to blame that I never got anywhere?Because, goddamnit, if only this stupid thing were perfect, I’d finally have a LIFE!
I figured that I had to go at it even harder.
Well, suffice it to say that my life started to resemble an existence in a tiny prison cell. My creativity was out the window, spontaneity was not a thing anymore, and I felt completely lost and desperate. Compulsions and obsessions bloomed, the body went numb, my anxieties skyrocketed, my whole existence was soaked in shame. I was afraid of everything and everyone, didn’t trust myself, let alone my body.

It was then, when I was at my long-dreamed-of lowest weight in my life, that I felt literally dead inside. Sure you’re still dreaming of being thinner?

So now what?
*everybody waiting for the final happy sentence*

I wish I could tell you that all of this was years ago and that I made it safely to the other side of all these fears and compulsions. But no. Bummer. Sorry.
I’m still in Messville. But I’ve learned a few things already.
I’ve learned that demons of that kind can only be battled with self-love and self-compassion (read: words that sure as hell didn’t exist in my previous vocabulary).
So, these days, when my inner critic turns up the volume (“Look at yourself!!”—You’re letting yourself go.”—”Clearly, your mother was right. You’ve got NO control whatsoever.”—”That belly! Yuck!!! Forget cookies and get your ass down to the gym.”—You know, the old yaddayadda…) and I want to go with war with myself, I try to consciously remind myself of my skinniest days and the fact that no skinny body will ever fix anything.

Did you hear, dear?

No skinny body will ever fix anything.

Only self-love will do that.
And self-love doesn’t sound like starvation.

Body-acceptance in a fat-shaming world…

… is one of the trickiest things to accomplish.

The way our culture sees “being thin” as some sort of Holy Grail everyone is supposed to achieve, the tragic assumption that our worth is directly related to how close we get to the promoted “ideal body” has turned into unquestioned “logic”.

The way every magazine is yelling WEIGHT-LOSS at us by selling us diet-pills, lifestyle-clean-eating-meal-plans, detoxes, “bootcamp fitness” and “poweryoga”, the other tragic assumption, namely that we have to make this “skinny” thing happen no matter what the cost, has turned into equally unquestioned “logic”.

The way only thin, mostly young, white females—who really only represent the tiniest fraction of the population—are represented in mass media (photoshopped, of course, for good measure), yet another tragic assumption has turned into fatally unquestioned “logic”: that our bodies are wrong the way they are.
Surprised that more than 90% of women are unhappy with their bodies?
Diet culture has made no one happy. Literally.

It makes me feel powerless and sad and angry to see how women seem to BOND over publicly shaming their own (and other people’s) bodies and comparing perceived “flaws” in their physique by engaging in this rampant, highly obnoxious trend to have all things weight-loss as the number one topic.

Please! Make! It! Stop!

Girls, let’s talk life, creativity, romance, philosophy, politics… ANYthing but the amount of calories you consumed.

The question remains: how the HECK does one recover from body-dysmorphia, disordered eating and that tenacious guilt around food in a society that clearly is in a full-blown body-crisis? When we’re told all around that we’re supposed to “love our bodies”, but—please!—only after we’ve finally made it to “fit and skinny”?
This whole dichotomy is sickening.
It has kept us in the ever draining circle of dieting, bingeing, overexercising and despair. For ever and ever. And ever. On autopilot.
We assume that we can’t be happy with more weight—since we never got to see any happy fat people, we assume that they all must be miserable and lonely.

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Diet-culture loves to keep us small.

 

But… wwwait a minute.
It’s ME who’s miserable and lonely!—In a body that looks healthy and skinny from the outside. Something’s clearly fishy here.
If you take away one line from this post, take this:

You CANNOT determine anyone’s level of “HAPPY” by their weight. 

Who ends up being miserable, lonely and self-loathing are those of us who believe those toxic messages about weight-related lovability and happiness!

Take me: I am not plus-sized anymore. I have been a very “successful” dieter (read: a stubborn white-knuckling type A person who’s busy with that devil called “maintenance”). But all my trying SO hard to fit society’s skinny ideal hasn’t brought happiness any closer, in fact, it has thrown whatever remnants of happiness out and brought in obsessions, anxieties and rigidity. How sweet.
It’s almost three decades that I’ve been fighting to keep my weight down. I’ve developed strict food rules, started beating myself up for every—inevitable—loss of “control” and I’ve sacrificed many social occasions, the most part of my creativity, as well as my laid-back nature in order to exercise like an insane person. In short: I’ve started to believe that if I let go of some of that rigid control, I’d be fat in an instant and everybody would point their finger at me, ridiculing me for “failing”.

All that suffering. Just to fit in. To be accepted. To be loved.

A society like ours makes a healthy approach to food and exercise complicated and very scary. Yet recovery advice, of course, says to make exactly that top priority, contrary to what diet culture tells us to do: To learn to allow all the foods again. To eat when hungry. Not to restrict again. Not to engage in exercise as a way of punishment for eating. To let go of calorie counting. To throw out the scale. To let the body find its natural weight. To buy bigger pants… To start LOVING YOURSELF.

That’s freaking hard in an environment of diet-talk and fat-shaming!
That’s freaking hard with the clear memory in mind of how many people congratulated me on my diet-success and on my strict exercise discipline.
That’s freaking hard when all I see are weight-loss ads, photoshopped models, skinny celebrities and shows like “The Biggest Loser”.
Recovering from all this means to let go.

It means to let go of other people’s approval.

It’s hard.
I might sound like a laughable coward, but some days it seems absurdly risky to believe that my body could be lovable when it doesn’t count as “perfect” or “superfit” anymore, when it’s chubby and soft.
But unless I believe that it is lovable in any form, I won’t be able to fully recover. I think that’s one of the reasons why so many people relapse in eating disorder recovery, and that’s why I see so much disordered eating in the women around me.

I see that the way out means being a badass and taking the harder way, and I admit, I’m scared! Because of this thin-crazed society we live in

NO ONE to congratulate me on my BRAVERY to rest instead of working out, when that’s what’s needed to get my period back.
NO ONE to congratulate me on my BRAVERY to gain weight instead of keeping on maintaining like a madwoman, when that’s what’s needed to become healthy, balanced and of sane mind, unafraid of eating and food.

If you can relate, let’s hold hands and remember: Society is messed up. We’re fine the way Mother Nature built us.

Ugh, it’s hard.

Life is like baking cake.

Today, I somehow ended up messing around in my inner philosophical kitchen for a while and I got some wonderful-smelling life wisdom out of that:

We humans were all born with our own unique set of ingredients, and by living fully, we are creating our own perfect, delicious cake that is true to our nature. So for simplicity’s sake, let’s say that life is about creating a cake unique in style and taste.
Now, why the hell do we get so hung up about the egg?

Wait, wait, I can explain.

So there’s one cake only YOU can bake. The one only you have the heavenly installed starter kit for. The one cake whose recipe only you understand, and to which you have a beautiful set of ingredients unlike any other. One should think that you would go about that delicious business giddy as Mr. Bubble, curiously exploring the contents of the kit you were given by mother nature, eager to find out what kind of cake you would get to create. It should be with utter amazement that you scrutinize every single item, properly taken by all the smells, the feels and the difference in textures.
I’d assume you’d even show your kit to your baker friends and that they’d show you theirs, in fact that everyone would be inspired, engaging in conversations as to how to go about the business of baking. Plans would be exchanged and everyone would help everyone else along on the way to… CAKE. So far, not a single drop of jealousy would have clouded our sparkly eyes. One should think that this would be fun!

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The real reason we’re not happy bakers.

So now what? Something must have happened between then and CAKE, because instead of being a merry bunch of bakers feeding eachother spoonfuls of our dough, you (and almost everyone else I know) started fussing about the egg in our set of ingredients, and you thereby put the cakemaking matter on hold.

That’s where hell came in.

The whole thing went south when you picked up the message that something wasn’t quite right with your egg.
Was it someone looking at it in a weird way, was it someone trying to rub away a gooey bit that stuck to the shell? Was it someone pointing to a crack that wasn’t supposed to be there? Was it someone suggesting that your particular egg was too wide, the wrong color, sort of funny-smelling, maybe pass its sell-by date?

Whatever it was, suddenly you saw it too. Damn, it really was a bit wide, and – oh, no! – others had a white egg and not a brown one like you, why hadn’t you ever noticed that there actually was a weird smell to it, and Jesus, the crack!

Where there previously was none, there was – in fact, there IS – a problem. Exit giddiness, enter problemsolving mode. “Better fix this unless I want to risk ruining my cake!” All the glorious ingredients that you were so joyful over are now forgotten and you have become anxious and totally focused on that egg.
You compare its look to every other egg, especially those on the covers of popular cake-magazines. Holy hell! Every egg but yours seems in better shape.

And so you put all your grit to it, trying everything.
You polish. You bleach. You mask. You glue. You want to change your egg with a vengeance, and since you can’t seem to shape it the way that restores your happy, you end up hating it. Thinking that, since the egg is wrong, who’s to say that the rest of your ingrediences are any good?

And who the fuck said life was supposed to be fun anyway? Stupid egg, you think.

Your thinking is wrong.
Did you know that it is impossible to make a cake with a perfect-looking egg? It must have slipped your mind that, to be of any use for your cakebaking proceedings, you need to actually USE your egg. And to use it, what’s the point in focusing on keeping its outer shell perfect in the first place? To bring your egg to its divine use, you need to BREAK its shell.

So, to you, to all of us: Let’s stop polishing our eggs and bake our cakes already!

Let me know when you got the dough, I’d love a taste of it.

An untied-emotional-shoelaces situation.

It was yesterday.
I was on the phone with a dear friend that I hadn’t heard in a while because he’s moved away and has had to deal with some of his very own personal demons. It was great to hear him! He genuinely wanted to know how I was doing and so I told him. He’s known me for a very long time and was aware of my ongoing struggle with overeating and overexercising and he is actually one of the few people I can eat with without being ashamed. He once told me: “You’re more than this problem, so I don’t focus on it, and I believe in you whether or not you have this eating issue under control or not.” Wow. He just never seemed to judge me, even if I always go on eating long after he’s finished. He knows that I’ve been trying to improve, and he has never put me down for not succeeding yet. He is one of the few people who do not focus on the problem but on spending time with me. He was also aware that my back went out 8 months ago and that I had experienced intense pain. He just wasn’t up to date with anything anymore. So we talked. And talked. Aaaaah.

After my phonecall with him, after telling him about my current struggles, after having heard myself speak the words, I just for a second stopped to change perspective. As if peeking in from the outside, I got a look at my current situation and saw a measure of adversity that seemed mindboggling. And what I perceived from the outside was mindblowingly different from what I was perceiving when I was in my usual state of not even questioning what my inner critic kept shouting at me for all my life. Currently, that critic was of the opinion that all I was was a whimp, a whining failure, someone who just NEVER has her shit together. Someone who’s generally nothing much but a loud dissapointment. That phonecall was like stepping on imaginary breaks, and with this unexpected change of perspective, I felt a surge of compassion. Newsflash: For myself.

In that very instant it seemed absurd how I had thought that it was not necessary, possibly not OK to reach out, to ask for help even, and it seemed even absurder how I had denied myself to see how dire my current situation had become.
Telling my friend what I was going through was helping in two different aspects. For one, I could hear another human being full of understanding and utter warmth for me. And second, it gave me a chance to interrupt the ceaseless stream of self-critisism and putting myself down for what I did or did not do. For a minute there, I was able to stop the sarcastic voice of not-ever-doing-it-right and took a look at my out-of-control eating and the way my way of exercising had this undeniably punishing quality about itself, especially considering the fact that I was in pain and still put myself through daily hours of walking or against-my-will-cardio training. And instead of putting myself down for not implementing any Eating Disorder recovery advice and continuing all the shitty habits, it struck me that not one single person in the world wouldn’t be able to recover in these particular circumstances. Or all by herself, for that matter. So let’s take a look at that stinky potpourri with a compassionate eye.
There was, after all, severe nerve pain in my leg due to the herniated disc in my back. And THAT alone had been going on for 8 months now. This was not just annoying, it had worsened unstoppably – somehow naively I had held up my hope of it getting better, even though the second MRI had revealed an entirely different truth, and even though I could not stand upright or sit (or basically doing anything else than laying on my yoga mat until way past noon). How come I had so insistently closed my eyes to the fact of how this thing with my back had digressed. How could I keep on holding on to the idea of some sort of miracle healing? How could I deny how it was getting worse every week, that there was nothing more to do for me than spending my afternoons walking and walking and walking, until my feet hurt?
Why? How? Because deep down, I never considered myself deserving better.
Seeing how I have lost touch to my inner being who wants to claimed her right to enjoy her days, who tackles the issue of long overdue surgery, who wants this mess to be dealt with, who asks for support. I had grown accustomed to living in the dark. I can be scarily adaptive in this way. Childhood waves a graveyard hand. Wow.
That phonecall had enlightened me enough to see how much a soul, my very own, in fact, must be hurting to be convinced that she must get a grip, not whine, and just buckle the fuck up already. How much hurt must be buried deep to simply endure everything pain- or suffering-related??
I had never questioned that I had to deal with this myself somehow. Endless pain, increasing (very painful) isolation, empty days, no sense of direction, disordered eating, shame and fear? I even felt GUILTY for not doing better! Really. It does seem absurd now.
I was asking myself: “So. You are beating yourself up for the fact that the eating/exercising is a bit more out of control? You tell yourself you’re a total failure? Look, honey. Had a friend of yours been in a situation like that, you’d have run to their side and offered nothing but compassionate support. You’d have had nothing but full-on understanding for her/his desperate attempts to cope with the overwhelm of the whole mess. You should be deserving of that, too. Let’s stop the beating-up for a minute, ok?”
And I saw that there was SO much going on that I am overwhelmed with. We’re not just talking about the nerve pain and the eating disorder here. There’s incredible fear, existential fear of how I was going to be provided for, knowing that in 5 months from now, my insurance payments would be ceased. If they didn’t approve my application for a temporary “allowance” (how are these social payments called?), I was, well… fucked. That’s a scary thought, me being 42 and no family or spouse in sight. Not complaining, just saying, it’s a very scary place to be. A whole lot of uncertainty. Allowance? Surgery? Post-surgery rehabilitation? Where? When? How? What with my eating-/exercise fears? Would I gain a ton of weight? How would I ever get out of this mess? Would I ever find anyone to share life with? All those thoughts and more. In an isolated state.

And I’m surprised I can’t get my emotional shoelaces tied? Really.

I’m learning. And right now, I’m learning the language of self-compassion.
And I’m incredibly grateful for that lovely phonecall that snapped me into that realization.

I miss myself.

It’s been a lonely few weeks.
Dealing with a herniated disc is awful as it is (and it’s been going on for, oh, 6 months now), but it’s not just the physical pain that is crippling at times. It’s how *shit* piles up.
So, there’s the nerve pain in my left leg. Then – wait till I get started –, then there’s my eating disorder holding hands with the devil of compulsive exercising. Cool, that’s already quite the pile of shit.
But there’s one more thing, and that’s what’s making *shit* twice as hard to deal with:

Isolation.

I happen to be a very social being, and for decades, I was surrounded by people. As a radio DJ, I was working in a beehive-like environment, knew what felt like half the country, and even more people thought they “knew” me, since – as the voice babbling from their receivers, I was sort of keeping them company throughout the day, which was a privilege as well as a burden for me.

Always the entertainer.
Always the entertainer.

Privately, I was much more shy than one would think.
I was just brilliant at acting confident, thought that this was what was expected of me – being strong, having an attitude, not taking everyone’s crap, being the “independent” one. Just generally thinking that, well, I need to have my shit together. (Now, now, my use of the word shit is clearly getting out of hand here, gotta watch that.)
Where was I. Right. So, privately, I was much more authentic, kept a handful or two of close friends that I shared my joys and struggles with. I’m glad and ever thankful for each one of them, because without them, I don’t know if I could have made it this far. Not having a family or a partner, and coming from a past of trauma and abuse, it was only with my friends that I slowly experienced what “trust” means. And even though there were letdowns (nope, I didn’t always let the “right ones” in) and hurts, I share my most precious memories with people that I know or once knew.
Problem is, that for the past two years, significant changes are happening. My closest girlfriend got married and moved to another city. The relationship with another girlfriend grew from very close to distant to non-existent because our values diverged too much and her choices in life just weren’t congruent with mine anymore. My four close male friends; one has just had twins and moved away, the other married a woman with a child and is busy with his newfound family, another has had a breakdown and has checked himself into a clinic, and the fourth is caught in a divorce and is busy getting his life together, i.e. changing jobs, moving to another city.

See, it’s not so much that they’re not my friends anymore. They are. Very much so. And I know they’ll probably always be. It’s just that I hardly see them anymore. Gone are the days when we spent hours and hours together, talking, laughing, hiking, hanging out, going for dinner, getting carried away in heated conversations… Weren’t we always the ones who still sat there when the barman started rattling his keys, begging us to please, please, for chrisssake, let him go to sleep.
Ah, good times, those.

Life is constant change. Not a fact I appreciate much, since – as an anxious person – I like it, when things are dependent and reliable. Sameness has a strange appeal to me. That’s why I’m really struggling with my current circumstances, and I wonder where one gets another set of close friends. Rhetorically speaking, but not only so. I really wish there was a bit more connection, a bit more support, a bit more “human” contact, be it a hug, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold or just someone who says “shhhh” when the demons are acting up again.

Thoughts about that brought up a feeling I didn’t expect: This morning, when I awoke with excrutiating pain in my leg (from that herniated disc that presses on a nerve in my back), I cried with overwhelm, and then suddenly, I thought back to when I was this boyish toddler (oh, isn’t HE cute? AAAARGH!!), then a chubby teenager, later a seemingly carefree young adult… and then? Shit (sorry) slowly but continuously hit the fan. There I was, in bed, thinking: I miss myself. That started the crying again, but somehow it was very moving. Because, yes, I do miss myself, the self before the hurt, before the conditioning, before the conviction that there must be something wrong with me, before the diets, before the depression, before the eating disorder, before the isolation.

I miss closeness, I miss connection, I miss authentic, loyal people, I miss a feeling of support. And I miss myself, too.

Feeling better already.

Hollow victory

You know what every “successful” dieter says, if they’re honest?

I’m hanging on by a thread here.

That’s what I say, for heaven’s sake! – Because yes, I DID lose 50 pounds 23 years ago. Yes, I did manage to hold on to that weight-loss, which—many of you might know that well!—works only by introducing ever harsher measures. I was either really, really restricting, or really, really overexercising. Just to keep the fricking weight in check as well as I could.

Low-fat yoghurt, lettuce and broccoli was, apart from the occasional chicken breast, my diet for a reaaaaaally long time. (Save the binge episodes, but I made sure that I exercised even harder the next day, in a desperate attempt at some sort of “damage control”). So, from the outside, people see “a diet that has worked”. Yet it hasn’t, really. Let’s be honest.
I don’t look the way I do just by eating happily and exercising without an obsessed mind.
I don’t KNOW how I’d look if I ate what I wanted and exercised in a feel-good way.

For the longest time, I thought well, I just don’t GET to live as freely as others if I want to look more or less skinny. I just HAVE to watch my weight. I just HAVE to exercise to keep those pounds off. I just CAN’T have the foods I loved most.

Only since last year have I started to learn that MAYBE my body wasn’t wrong. That MAYBE my binges weren’t my fault. That MAYBE I wasn’t just a failure. There’s relief in that.

If it hurts, let that shit go.

 

So. Have I been able to—bam!—snap out of this old mindset?
Sorry to disappoint. With the initial relief has come a lot of fear. Fear to really let go of my insane controlling. Seeing how few people are out there who seem to question diet-culture and all that comes with it—the ever increasing fitness-craze, exponential rise in cosmetic surgeries, diet-plans, the unquestioned NEED for seemingly EVERYONE to lose weight.

I too believed that with lower weight (and didn’t it always have to be lower still??) would come the love of my life, finally a career that I loved getting up for in the morning, respect from other people, being ridiculously body-confident, feeling free to show my body to the world, not ever having to feel ugly and ashamed again, not ever wanting to hide again, having a spectacular sex life, and—overall—a hugely successful outlook on LIFE.

Hasn’t happened. Ever. Not at any level of skinny. In fact, I think I was enjoying life more when I ate what the fuck I wanted and didn’t kill myself at the gym every day. No one is happy living obsessed with weight, food and exercise. No one.

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I had “skinny”. And everything else was LOST.

Before I was so “successful” at dieting, I might not have had the body I wanted, but, let’s face it: At least, I had TIME to cuddle with cats, fool around with my friends, go dancing, to eat popcorn at the cinema, to spend afternoons painting or taking acting classes, to go out for luxurious Sunday brunches without a care in the world, to spend Sunday curled up on the sofa with my favorite book with ZERO guilt, and to generally have a non-obsessed mind.

Now, my best qualities seem to suffer when I’m constantly obsessing about “not re-gaining the weight”. I’m not as freely funny. I’m not—by any measure—as spontaneous. I don’t take enough time to read, write, play, explore the world, rest… to find my purpose! Doesn’t sound like that kiss-my-ass-attitude I thought I’d magically get when I was thin. So. I’m totally not out of this mess called diet-mentality, BUT there’s one thing I certainly DON’T believe anymore, and that’s the lie that “Happy” is X pounds from now.

Because, I had skinny. And everything else was LOST.