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Why I Failed…

Before you get started on this post, please go leave a comment on my giveaway.  A comment will enter you to win a hilarious calendar from a great friend in Italy.

Seven years ago I was living in Boston.  I was a classically trained singer who’d been accepted to Berklee College of Music, and I wanted to become a professional musician.  It took me about eight months, three semesters of school, and a ridiculous amount of money in student loans to realize that becoming a professional singer would take sacrifices that I wasn’t willing to make… and in the end I decided to come home.  I felt a little bit defeated, a little bit embarrassed, but mostly just relieved.

Boston wasn’t all bad for me though.  When I moved there, I was sad and lonely.  I had a string of absolutely awful roommates, I was consistently broke, and I was having trouble making friends.  I’d never been so far away from friends and family for so long.  I was even away from Aaron, my newly minted fiance, because he had a job that he couldn’t leave.  The long term plan was for him to find a job in Boston and move there, but it would have been a year or more before that was possible.  It’s an expensive city.  I was so lonely, and I was in a bad place personally.

As is usually the case in these darker times of my life, I used food to try and make things better.  I didn’t have a car, so most of my explorations of the city were on foot.  I did a lot of walking, and thanks to a discount at the YMCA (Berklee didn’t have gym facilities, so we got a deal at the Y) I had even joined a gym and was going a couple of times a week.  All of this meant it was really easy for me to rationalize some really horrible eating habits.  Pretty much every morning, I had breakfast at either Au Bon Pain or one of the ten trillion Dunkin Donuts between my apartment and school.  This meant heavily sweetened coffees and pastries… donuts, chocolate muffins, danishes.  Lunches were usually from one of the myriad places right by campus, which meant either greasy, fried crab rangoon, breaded lemon chicken with white rice, or a burrito with lots of rice and cheese and a generous amount of sour cream.  Dinner most nights was pizza.  I’d stop by my favorite pizza place and get a small pizza (which was still meant to feed more than one person… likely 3-4) and then I’d swing by the grocery store for a pint of Haagen Dazs chocolate ice cream.  I’d eat half the pizza and half the ice cream, and then eat the leftovers the next night.  Or I’d get on to one of the restaurant delivery sites and get fried fish and chips, greasy steak and cheese subs, and always dessert.

Frankly, it’s a miracle (and a testament to the walkability of Boston) that I didn’t die of a heart attack or gain two hundred pounds.  I was totally out of control, and in some ways I knew it.  I wasn’t ready to face it though, so the days went by without anything changing.  After a while I really started to feel the effects of my diet.  I was tired all the time… One morning before a test I had EIGHT shots of espresso for breakfast.  I was sluggish and run down.  I had no motivation.  I was barely sleeping.  My stomach was always hurting.  My skin was a mess because I never drank enough water.  I got sick all the time.  Finally, mostly at the suggestion of a professor I’d become reasonably close to, I did some research and found a therapist who could see me through a school program that made it very inexpensive.  I was super nervous to go and see her, and I remember stopping by Dunkin Donuts and stress scarfing two donuts before I met up with her.  It was a coping mechanism for me, and I knew it was something we’d be discussing.

In the end, I turned out to really like her.  It was hard at first, to know what to talk about and to really let myself be honest.  She was the perfect therapist.  She managed to lead me to the topics I needed to discuss without ever making me feel pushed or pressured or uncomfortable.  And after many sessions, many many many tears, and a lot of difficult pauses on my part…. after hours of discussing my body, my weight, my family, my loneliness, my career plans… we had a breakthrough.  We finally got to talking about what and how I was eating, and we figured out the why.

As it turns out, I was protecting myself.  That sounds ridiculous, right?  How was I protecting myself by ruining my health?  Easy.  It kept me an arm’s length from people.  It was harder for me to make friends, which made it easier for me to stay in my wallowing state.  It was harder for me to make healthy choices, which made it easier for me to just keep going down the path.  And most of all, more than anything else, it gave me a way out.  It gave me an answer when I didn’t have one.  Why did I get turned down for that audition?  Why wasn’t I chosen for that elite vocal group?  Why didn’t that girl want to hang out with me?  Why don’t I get any attention from guys?  Why am I not more successful, more intelligent, happier?

It’s the fat.  It’s not me.  Most people hate this, the idea that the way they look could hold them back.  For me it was comforting.  If my fat kept me from being chosen for an audition, then I didn’t have to face the possibility that I wasn’t talented enough.  If my fat kept me from making a new friend, then I didn’t have to wonder if I wasn’t kind/funny/smart enough.  Whatever people didn’t like about me could be blamed on the fat, which was something I told myself I could change, so it meant that it wasn’t a personal judgment.  It meant that I was safe, me… the girl on the inside.  That was my why.

Of course it took me seven years to really process that and to be able to use that information to build myself back up.  It took me seven years of building and redefining friendships, of marrying the most amazing man in the world, of losing a son and raising a daughter, of redefining myself with new accomplishments and relationships… but I have finally found the truth.  I am worth it.  Me, here on the inside.  I am worth showing to the world.  I don’t need to hide in my fat suit.  If someone doesn’t like me, that is their loss.  If I don’t get a job I want it isn’t a statement about my personal value.  I know that now, in a deep down way, but it took me seven years to figure it out.

What’s your why?

What else I’m up to:

Redecorating the Nursery – exploring new decor options for Evi’s room

Dealing with Stress

How to Read a French Wine Label


3 Responses

  1. […] Why I Failed – discovering why I used to sabotage my diets, and how I stopped […]

  2. Wow, H! This was raw and real. And your realizations show me that you are gonna nail this weight loss thing! You’ve figured out the whys behind it all! Now, you’re gonna DO! Awesome. Simply awesome 🙂

    • Thanks. I just felt like I needed to open up and tell people, because I know I’m not the only one out there who feels this way (felt? felt this way?) and I hope I can help someone.

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