Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm sorry, me.

These last days since my diagnosis of hypothyroidism it is like the pieces of a gigantic post-Lucy puzzle are falling to place. I just feel less crazy. There really was a part of me that thought a piece of bread compromised my entire day of eating. Bourbon permanently changed my metabolism. I had that sinking feeling that my husband thought I was lying in my food journal and stuffing a gallon of Breyer's Mint Chocolate Chip during work. I actually considered the possibility that I was one of those sleepwalking bingers. Or you know, the thousands of other shameful thoughts you get when you work as hard as you can work and still fail. "I deserve fatness," I would cruelly think. "I deserve failure. My baby died." I am just not used to that. Working as hard as I can and still failing. It was wearing me out emotionally and physically.

Learning that I did indeed beat the odds, and lost weight despite this crappy condition sort of makes me feel like my work was justified even if I am not where I want to be. I can do the hard hard work to lose weight, even when I only want to ingest ice cream and Maker's Mark. I did and do have amazing will power. I kept my diet going despite having no momentum, despite having lost no weight, I kept tight tabs on my food. I admit, I sometimes cried during dinner. "I just want a bowl of spaghetti. A gigantic bowl. Without measuring it. I want my old relationship with food back."

Sam often would look at me with his perfectly cut body, and say, "I don't eat what I want, Ang. Skinny people don't pig out. I just eat moderate portions." And often I thought two choice words in response. Yes, but you even get moderate portions. You don't need to measure every spoonful of food. You get to eat 2000 calories per day. You don't have to contemplate even an occasional indulge. Every forkful of ice cream opened up a floodgate of hateful thoughts. "This is why you are fat. You are weak." I didn't even remember how I ate before gaining weight. I only knew that my relationship with food has been permanently tarnished. I hated food because I loved it so very much.

The truth of this diagnosis is that it is so bleedingly obvious, I cannot believe that it didn't occur to me before my doctor's office called. I attributed most of my symptoms to grief. Depression. Sleeping a ton. Aches and pains. Not being able to get warm. I literally thought that my body was holding some of winter solstice in my bones. That the inability to get warm in July meant I was mourning Lucy, her deep winter death was now part of my being. I don't know why I thought that. Even in Panama, I kept saying to my mother, "It is so cold here. Isn't this the equator?" The only anomaly was the weight gain without actually eating anything. When I went to that grief counselor, I talked to her about my weight battles. Her dismissive response at first was "Every woman has weight issues." I finally said something like, "It is like my body won't accept that Lucy is dead. It is like I am holding onto this weight to nourish the baby who is supposed to be here."

And she nodded, "That is a very wise observation. Our bodies sometimes react in somatic ways to our grief." And so, there was the explanation of my weight--I was grieving. It all seems so silly now.

Ockham's razor.

Hypothyroidism, something that runs in my family, was the simplest theory, and yet, I opted for the complicated Freudian explanation for every ailment my poor body suffered. My brain really isn't as complicated as I had made it out to be. So often, I am given to these elaborate theories. Maybe it is my INTP nature, or my desire to connect everything to Lucia. I have found myself drawn into elaborate theories more than once in the last few weeks. And as I do, I have to keep remembering Ockham's razor, "All things being equal, the simplest theory is best."

Still, this diagnosis has given me permission finally to forgive myself for my abusive thoughts, for my weight, for my cruel shame, for the added pain of self-loathing on top of grief.

I'm sorry, Angie. I am really sorry I hurt you. You didn't deserve that after Lucy died. Lucy's death was enough. It was enough. I will not do that to you again.


  1. I think Angie forgives you, Angie.

  2. Agreeing with Hope's Mama. In fact, Angie and I personally sat down and discussed this, and she told me herself: she forgives you. You know, I have to say, what a relief to have a diagnosis. I've been big on this concept as "fear of personal extinction" as a symptom of grieving a lost child - and sometimes this fear of physical ailments that don't really exist can obscure real problems that DO exist. I think knowing you've got this thing that I'm not going to try to spell, it ultimately provides some normalcy, some rationality for what is otherwise such a difficult and confusing time in life.

    OH, and as I've said before, you are a wonderful and talented writer. It's a well known fact that writers - people with any artistic talent - deserve extra icecream or chocolate or whatever the hell they want to eat. ;-)

  3. Sounds like you've put your house in order and have discovered a new door, which you've opened to sweet fresh air. Welcome to your new landscape!

  4. You're a beautiful, loving, warm and brilliant person, Angie, so lay off beating her up or I'll have to tell off this Angie person for doing that to you...


  5. It really does explain a lot. I'm sorry it added an extra burden to you when you least needed one, but I'm glad you have an explanation now.

  6. You know, the bitchy, mean, abusive Angie would never have apologized to the nice, sheepish Angie if she didn't think she was going to accept. It is her nature.

  7. Gosh, I dunno what to say, Angie.
    Lately I realize, with shock that I hate my body. HATE it. I keep writing in my journal to let go, accept, forgive, and it's just not happening yet...


  8. Reading this I felt such a sense of relief for you, so thankful that you have found answers. Its a terrible thing, being so low after losing our babies, and then having to feel shame about our appearances. I struggled a great deal with my weight this past year, and too feel shame at the accusations I feel from others who say things like "if you just watched what you ate." thats the problem, i have always watched what I ate, even now, but it didn't matter. I could relate to so much of this post, to the measuring every spoonful of food. I am glad you have found your answers and that in finding them, you have found your sense of self again.

  9. Love you Angie, and this is a beautiful post...I wish this obvious answer had come much much sooner.

  10. I am sorry you have been beating yourself up and I am glad you have an explanation. I have had my struggles with weight as well, and I felt the extra weight after Hannah died was particularly cruel. But food is a comfort for me, so I know I had nothing to blame but my mouth.

  11. I'm sorry you had to wait so long to find an answer, but it must be a small sense of relief now.

    Take it easy on yourself.

  12. I am so glad you have an answer and can begin being kind to yourself.
    I hope that this diagnosis comes with a solution.
    You know I only want you to be happy and taking good care of you.

    *I LOVE Maker's Mark :(


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