Thursday, April 30, 2009

survival skill #2: getting out

I'm sitting in Central Park. I'm dealing with what's in my head, for a few minutes, without escaping. My apartment often serves as endless distraction, avoidance, self-destruction. By getting out, I'm shaking things up in my head. I'm not using the same noises to drown out my thoughts and feelings. There are different stimuli, so I can't be completely numb. I have to take things in, simple things like temperature, people walking by, the light. I have to recognize myself as an entity, separate from my surroundings. I am a person, making use of a worn bench, in a park. I exist. I might not have a big impact, but I exist. Right now, I am not hiding. People can see me. I am accounted for. Even if no one really notices, by being outside, in a world shared with other people and animals, I am acknowledging myself. I have a responsibility on this planet, even if it is just to be another living human, someone people pass by, someone in the park, on a bench. I exist. And that is important. It is important that I exist no matter what I do or don't do. When I'm here, outside, I'm not hiding from everyone; I'm not hiding from myself. And that's something.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

letter to my body

In Body Image group, I was asked to write a letter to my body. At first, I didn't want to. I know how I feel about my body, and I didn't want to write it a damn letter. But, what came out on paper was not at all what I expected. I'm sharing this letter with you, because I think it is a worthwhile exercise for anyone who feels a separation between mind and body.

Dear Body,

I hate you. I'm sorry I hate you, because it's really not your fault. You didn't do anything wrong. You're so good to me - you let me do everything I want to do and almost never get mad. I'm always trying to change you, to make you better. But nothing you could ever be would be good enough. I know it's not fair to you, but I don't know how to stop. I wish I could appreciate you for what you are and what you do for me, but the world around me tells me that that's not enough. It tells me that it doesn't matter if you're getting what you need; it doesn't matter if you work right. It just matters what you look like. I've never appreciated what you do; I've only ever cared about how you look. I'm really sorry. I don't know how to change.

Love, Lily

Monday, April 6, 2009

the dessert challenge

For the past month and a half, I have been following my meal plan very closely. The plan, designed by my nutritionist at the Renfrew Center, dictates the minimum amount of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, fat and starch that I need each day. After throwing away my scale, I was afraid to eat more than the exact minimum my meal plan allowed for. Since I can't weigh myself, I have no way of knowing if I'm eating the "right amount" without these guidelines. The problem is that I have become too comfortable in my eating patterns and am afraid of branching out. Until a week ago, I had been eating the same breakfast, lunch and snack every day. Although there was some variety -- what kind of cereal I had, or what I put on my sandwich -- I was making safe, reliable choices.

Last week, in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, I made a goal of having at least one dessert over the next 7 days. I'm proud to say that I accomplished this goal, and more, by trying unique desserts and enjoying them.

My first challenge was at David Burke Prime steakhouse, where I ordered a cheesecake lollipop tree. Yes, a tree with cheesecake lollipops on it! It was fun to eat, and since the lollipops were each a bite of cheesecake, I didn't get too full or feel guilty. Then, with the check, the server brought us complimentary green apple cotton candy! I've never been a big fan of cotton candy, but it was light and delicious, and eating it made me feel like a little kid.

The next night, out to dinner at Alta Strada, I challenged myself a second time. My friend and I tried pastry chef P.J. Waters' famous Cinema Paradiso -- caramel popcorn, chocolate-covered golden raisins, chocolate mousse with popcorn ice cream, and a tangerine slushy. Although we didn't even come close to finishing it all, we mixed the remaining chocolate raisins and popcorn and took it to go!

So, all of this is not to say that I've conquered my fear of desserts for good. Dessert is still more challenging for me than most other kinds of foods. But, this experience allowed me to have so much fun with dessert that it was, in both cases, the best and most memorable part of the meal. And that, in itself, is a victory.