Dear stranger: I am not a bitch

Long before someone coined the phrase “bitchy resting face” I developed a habit of softening my face and wearing a pasted on slight smile whenever I’m in public. Not because I suffer from BRF, I don’t, but because I wanted to convey that I’m a nice person even though I don’t seek out polite conversation with strangers. I can’t even remember when I started doing it, when all the articles and blog posts about BRF started getting popular it dawned on me what I do.

You see, I’m not like most of you. Whatever it is that makes you excited to say hello to a stranger passing on the street, or engage in conversation about the weather with someone in the elevator? I don’t have it. Every stranger is not a friend I just haven’t met yet to me. It’s not that I’m a bitch, I’m not.

If you’re a close neighbor, I will wave hello. If you speak to me, I will speak back. If I pass you every day walking my dog, I will nod hello or wave if you are friendlier. If you’re a facebook friend, I will say hello to you in a store and maybe even have a conversation. I just don’t enjoy talking to strangers, and I never have. You see, I’m an introvert. I know even more articles and blog posts have surfaced lately about introversion. Perhaps to the point that you get tired of seeing them shared on facebook with comments like “Yeah!” or “This is SO ME.” Articles with names like “How to love an introvert” or “20 great things about being an introvert.” The internet provides a great soapbox for us, because we are able to put our energy out there without having people grab at it and take it.

I’m not just an introvert though. I also have an emotional sensitivity disorder. If I were more “new-agey” maybe I would say I’m an empath. I have an anxiety disorder, and I also wasn’t socialized like you were. I was home schooled and spent the majority of my childhood in a house interacting with two other people. I probably would have adapted out of necessity if I had been out in the world like most people, but I wasn’t. I am my own unique cocktail of weirdness that makes it unpleasurable for me to interact with each and every person I pass, even in a small way.

To connect with me, you need to be in a small group or one on one. We need to have something in common that we both like to talk about, so that we aren’t just chatting about nothing. When there’s a give and take of energy in a small group of like-minded people, that is where I am at my best. When you and I are chatting over coffee, getting to know each other, I am filled with the positive energy of getting to know a new person. When I’m in a room full of tumbling conversation and loud voices and there are seven or eight of us a standing in a circle having multiple conversations, I will probably be silent. You might think that I’m aloof, or uninterested, but I’m overwhelmed. Large crowds don’t enthuse me the way they would an extrovert, they take a lot out of me. I don’t know where to focus and I feel pulled in too many different directions. You won’t get the best of me in a large crowd, and I’ll probably have had a glass of wine or two to calm my nerves because while I love events, the chaos can go from pleasant to more than I can handle very quickly. I also do not hear well. I spent much time in my 20s listening to loud music in small clubs, that’s the drawback to loving hard rock and marrying the lead singer of a metal band. So sometimes in situations like these, I can’t really hear what you’re saying to me. I promise you that I want to be able to have a conversation with you, but rather than ask you to repeat yourself I will just nod in a way that makes it impossible for us to truly engage.

I have a physical illness that causes me to be fatigued to some extent on all but my very best days. When I interact with you in passing, it takes some of my energy away and that is energy I need for things like studying and doing my dishes. If I don’t know you, speaking to you makes me anxious. In fact, I get anxious about NOT speaking to you too. Wondering if I should have said hello when we passed on the street, and if you think I’m some horrible person because I didn’t acknowledge you. While I manage my anxiety pretty well, it’s not something I can control, I can’t decide not to be anxious about if you think I’m a bitch. It’s not even that I care in an active way, but my body and brain have a reaction like “fight or flight” where normal everyday situations are stressful for me in the way that a crisis might be for you. When we can focus on each other and exchange energy, our interaction will make me happy and enrich my life but if we can’t then our interaction takes energy from me while likely doing nothing to you. You’re “normal” so none of this has probably ever even occurred to you. Feel lucky. I envy you.

I wish I could just hand a post-it note to everyone that I encounter that says “I am not a bitch.”
It’s not you – it’s me.

Likely, no one I pass on the street while walking my dog is ever going to read this. So if you are reading this, and you have someone that you see that isn’t seeking out an exchange with you, even if it’s just a friendly hello, don’t immediately decide that they’re rude or mean or think they are better than you. It could be that, like me, the world around them effects them differently than most other people. If you smile at them, they will probably smile back.

just me

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Thought of the day!

keep going

The only thing standing between you and success is you. Failure is only where we choose to stop, if we keep going, even slowly, we will meet our goals. Don’t let your preconceived notions of what “should” be stop you from what can be. All any success takes is time and not giving up.

Women have to either get married, or learn something

I started to ramble about this over on facebook, but as I went on I realized it was more of a blog post than a facebook ramble. I’ve been enjoying the articles on Elephant Journal quite a bit. This morning I read Learning from Good, Bad & Ugly Relationships by Andrea Charpentier. I identify quite a lot with most of what she says. I think and blog so much about relationships, it’s fun to find similar perspectives. Carrie Bradshaw (yes, she’s a fictional character, I know) said: “People say ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ These people are usually women. And these women are usually sorting through a break-up. It seems that men can get out of a relationship without even a ‘Goodbye,’ But, apparently, women have to either get married or learn something.”

I think that learning something from each “failed” relationship is not just a woman thing, it’s a human thing. It’s important because from each relationship we can learn something about ourselves: what we want out of life, or more importantly what we DON’T want from/in a relationship; where the boundaries are and where they need to be, for those are often very different; etc. It’s also important because no one wants to waste time. If we can come out of a relationship having learned something, we can reassure ourselves that it was time well-spent. In the aftermath of a romantic implosion, simple need-meeting like companionship, sex, or even just something to do with our time don’t feel meaningful enough to justify the pain. Heartbreak seems less devastating if we can tell ourselves that we’ve learned something that will keep us safer the next time we open up. Because the vast majority of us will want to open up to a romantic partner again, no matter how long it takes for us to heal and build up the courage again.

I think it’s ultimately an exercise in control. If we figure out exactly what we missed about the relationship that did not last – red flags, trust issues, attraction to those that need “fixing”, or any number of things that in hindsight show us that the relationship was doomed from the start, then we can make sure that we don’t overlook those things in the future. At the very least, it can make us feel that we will not make those same mistakes again. I have spent countless hours analyzing my last two relationships, trying to figure out what motivated me to get into two long distance relationships after I said I would never do long distance again. Pondering why on earth I decided to date an active alcoholic and realizing that I actually find it easier to open up to people I know it cannot last with because it’s not scary when I know the ending. Learning about how when we do not let go of people and the past we will seek out closure even against our own best interest – because the last two relationships were for me really to prove to myself that neither of my two great loves from the past were who I was “supposed to be with.” I call it “wish-fulfillment,” a phrase I picked up from one of my therapists over the years. Getting exactly what I always thought I wanted, even when it was more about my feelings and wants and needs than it was about the person, allowed me to in a very limited way live in the fantasy that had always accompanied “the one that got away.” As it turns out, and it should be of no surprise to anyone, fantasy and reality are polar opposites.

I like to think that what I’m left with, at this juncture, is the very first emotional clean slate I have ever had. There is no one from my past that I think was “the one” because I no longer believe in the concept of soulmates as lifetime lovers, but believe they are meant to teach us the things we need to know. I don’t have a nagging suspicion that maybe I should be with either one of them. Both unfinished relationships were allowed to run their course, and because of that I believe that for the first time in my life I am able to give myself 100% to another person, physically, emotionally, spiritually, not a single bit of my heart is residing anyplace except inside of me. It’s a ridiculously frightening feeling, to no longer have that “out”, to no longer be able to say “well it didn’t work with this person because really I’m supposed to be with F.” I just hope that I’ve also learned what I need to know to make a smarter decision about whom I choose to open up to in the future, because I’m afraid there’s still a part of me that wants to follow my feelings and ignore my mind – which has never turned out well for me before.

funny text from the internet not mine

The tale of the faux leather leggings

Last Tuesday, I noticed a post on The Militant Baker’s facebook where she shared a photo of herself with a google autocomplete pop-down over her face. It linked to a post on her website called “What Autocomplete Will Tell You About Fat Hate and Why it Needs to Stop”.

Jes the militant baker

I thought, in quick succession, “how awful is that?” and “how cool is that?” Awful that these things are what people search google for most often (why are you googling looking for someone to back-up your opinion that fat girls shouldn’t wear leggings btw? I feel like the only people googling are fifteen year old girls…) and how cool is it that she’s combating it in such a bold and fierce way.

After a little while, I noticed that in my feed there were images popping up that were obviously not professional photos, like the first few. Jes, the Militant Baker, was asking people to make their own posters to share, so I did.

me in the leggings Here I am, in my faux leather leggings.

The story of the leggings actually begins four days earlier, the Saturday after thanksgiving. I’ve re-lost about 15 pounds, weight that I’ve lost before, gained back, and lost again, so I call it re-lost. I’ve worked hard and I’m still working. I’m proud of the weight I lost, and re-lost, and of my body. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I will be. My clothes are too big, and I feel good. I’ve blogged about my struggles with eating disorders and body hatred before, so I won’t get into that, but running is the only thing that has made me look at food in a somewhat healthy way. As my clothes have gotten baggy, buying some new things has been fun.

I don’t know why, maybe it’s because I follow the 2 least annoying Kardashians on instagram (and one Jenner, shhh.) but I started really wanting some of those faux leather leggings like the ones in the Kardashian Kollection. I make no apologies for it. There’s not a Sears in my area, but luckily they are fairly trendy so I tried on a pair of Vera by Vera Wang leggings at Kohls, liked how my ass looked, and said – why the hell not.

The plan was to wear them out bar-hopping, but when bar-hopping was postponed because of my sister’s possibly fractured foot I decided to wear them out to dinner instead. I spent about a week picturing them with different items from my wardrobe, and finally decided to dress them down a little with an AC/DC t-shirt and the flowy jacket I bought to wear with them. The outfit exactly as I pictured it, is above. I got dressed for dinner, and I have to admit, I felt hot. It was a very “tell me about it, stud” kind of moment. No matter how I looked to anyone else, I felt amazing. And then I got body shamed.

I happened to have a houseguest over Thanksgiving, a good friend of many years. As I took my bound-for-facebook selfies, she asked “Is that what you’re wearing?”
And the world came crashing down.
Suddenly I was catapulted back to when I was about twelve or fourteen years old and I would get dressed for church. I would feel like I looked nice, but then I would come out of my bedroom and my mom would say “Is THAT what you’re wearing?”
It happened enough times as a kid that the simple phrase now throws me into a spiral of self-loathing and despair.

So I started changing tops. Long tops, tunics, longer tunics with the flowy top over them. I chose one and asked “Does this look ok?”
The response was “Well if YOU think it looks good…”
but I didn’t. Nothing could look good on me. I was fat and shamed. I should never have bought those faux leather leggings. I’m still fifty pounds heavier than someone who should wear those kinds of leggings.

I hated myself, I hated my body. I hated her for knocking me back to childhood emotions that she had no way of knowing one simple question would evoke in me. See I’ve always been fat – in my mind I was fat at 115 and I was fat at 215 and I’m still fat at 190. There isn’t a number where I get to be not-fat. Whether or not other people viewed me that way, even with 100 pounds between my heaviest and my lightest weight I always saw myself as “pretty, but too big.” it didn’t matter if I was restricting food or binging on ice cream.

Finally I left for dinner in a longer shirt underneath the flowy jacket. “Cameltoe” hidden. 45 minutes late, I arrived at my parents’ house, with a bag full of other outfits. I had longer tops, a thigh-grazing sweater, and if all else failed a pair of jeans. They told me I looked cute, so I didn’t change. I didn’t feel cute though. I felt a little naked, but I think I probably would’ve felt that way even if I had never been questioned on my outfit.
me in the leggings

When I saw the post from The Militant Baker, I wanted to contribute a photo. I tried to think of what photo to use, what phrase to google, and then I realized – my faux leather leggings. I knew that by googling “fat girls shouldn’t wear” that “leggings” would come up. I had a choice. I hadn’t posted this particular photo to facebook, because I was too self-conscious about the pants. Even though when I took the photo I felt hot as hell. So I had a choice – would I be brave enough to send this photo to a blog that has 27,000 fans on facebook? It only took a minute to decide. I slapped those google searches on there and I sent it. Now the whole world got to see my fat thighs smushing together in faux leather leggings. Even if I had wanted to take it back, I couldn’t.

The silly thing is? I don’t think I look fat in that photo. Maybe you do or some stranger on reddit, or whomever, but I don’t look fat to my own eyes. That’s a pretty rare and recent thing. I feel better at 190 than I felt at 115 – more confident, more sexy, more fabulous. It hurts me how quickly I can go back to that place of shame, but no one said you have to love your body 100% of the time, without wavering, in order to truly love your body. I will probably never love my body 24/7/365. But I worked really hard to be where I am today in all aspects – in body love, in self-acceptance, in weight, in healthy eating… Should I not celebrate the 15 pounds I lost because I have 25 pounds more to go (and 50 pounds if I want a “healthy” BMI?).

Fuck. That.

This is me. Almost 33, and for the first time in my life, I actually really like myself. So the next time I’m going out, I’m putting on those leggings. And if you have a problem with my fat thighs, keep it to yourself.

How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps | Kate Bartolotta

This is an amazing, yet simple piece about changing your life by changing your thinking.

I have been debating on whether or not to share things besides my daily post-its here, but posting only once a day and only original content is sort of not the point of tumblr. So I am going to post other things here and there that I feel are relevant. I’m never going to be able to post 100 times a day because I’m really ridiculously busy. Some days I feel like I’m taking valuable time away from homework when I study 😛

But I digress. Here is a great article I highly recommend!

How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps | Kate Bartolotta

Graduate school!

I’m excited and stressed and enthusiastic about beginning a graduate program this fall! Unfortunately what this means is that I probably will not be able to blog as much. I hope to keep up with it, as I am sure that the things I am studying will inspire posts. I will be a full time student, and while it is not “recommended” that full time students work, I will still be working part-time at my current job. This is going to make for a very full schedule! I have always worked while going to school, except for the last year of my undergraduate degree, but I certainly don’t have the energy at 32 that I had at 26.

My goal over the last month has been to implement a better, more consistent exercise routine into my day before I start school. That way it will be closer to being a habit and hopefully will not fall by the wayside. I have definitely seen that an advanced degree is the best way to find a full time job with benefits while remaining in the mental health field, which is what I want, so overall I am really optimistic. Even though I have only been out of school for two years, the thought of re-entering is a bit daunting though. Wish me luck! I begin August 26th.

elmo

The most expensive “free” book I’ve ever bought

I think Jillian Michaels is hot. I don’t watch “The Biggest Loser” because I have problems with a lot of the things they do. You don’t have to be an expert to understand that it’s dangerous for someone who is completely sedentary and 400+ pounds to start running on a treadmill for an hour. There’s a reason “Couch to 5K” programs have you work your way up to things. It’s common knowledge that the trainers on the show tell the contestants to do things that the doctors say are dangerous. I had the opportunity to hear Patrick House, the winner of season 10, speak and he mentioned things like “standing up from the table and passing out.” That might get you thin, but it sure as hell ain’t healthy. I watched a couple episodes of TBL but I stopped after one of the “cupcake challenges.”

That being said, I’ve always liked Jillian Michaels. I watched her short-lived show “Losing it with Jillian Michaels” where she helped families lose weight, usually one person had already lost weight and had hit a plateau and wanted to lose those “last 10 pounds.” I liked she seemed tough but gentle, and how she really seemed to care about the families. That show aired in 2010 and that was about the time I signed up for her free newsletter. For 3 years I have gotten emails that I sometimes read and sometimes delete, until about two weeks ago when I received this one:

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I love books, and I’ve been just getting into working out again so I thought “Hey, for $5 that’s a pretty good deal.” Nowhere in the email does it say anything about signing up for a “free trial” of JillianMichaels.com! I followed the link and I saw that in addition to the $5 book, I had to sign up for a “free trial” of JilliamMichaels.com I wasn’t really interested in that, I’ve been using SparkPeople.com on and off for years and I like it. I have the app on my phone, when I’m doing what I should I use it to log my food, and it’s linked to my FitBit account so all and all I’m really happy with SparkPeople. I put a reminder in my phone’s calendar to cancel prior to the “free trial” ending, and went to take the first little quiz on the JillianMichaels site. It said I have a pretty normal metabolism and I should eat 30/40/30 carb/fat/protein. I wasn’t impressed. I breezed through the rest of the site, saw that the meal plans didn’t offer a 100% vegetarian plan (for some reason none of these places ever do) and promptly left the site and didn’t go back. Until the day before my “free trial” was supposed to end. My phone’s calendar popped up and reminded me to cancel. I also had a free trial of Hulu Plus that I needed to cancel, so I went to their website, clicked on “My Account” and then where it said “Cancel my Hulu Plus account.” I was never charged.

When I went back to JillianMichaels.com I did the same thing, but oddly – there was no place on the website to cancel the account! I looked throughout the whole “My Account” section and while there was a place to update a credit card there was nothing about canceling. Annoyed, I clicked on “Contact Us” and was redirected to a 404 error page asking me what I was looking for. Now, I was even more annoyed. I found an email address and sent them an email stating that my free trial was about to end and that I wanted to cancel and could not find a place to do it on their website. I almost immediately received an email saying they’d get back to me within 24 hours.

The next day, my paypal account was charged for $52 and then I received an email saying they had “canceled my reoccurring billing as requested” and I would have access to the website until October. Now I was angry.
I emailed them again and said that I wanted my $52 refunded because I did not subscribe, I signed up for a free trial because it was required if I wanted the book and I had attempted to cancel before the free trial was over but they made that impossible.
I was really starting to feel like this was a big scam. I gave my paypal account to pay for shipping on a book. I attempted to cancel during a supposedly free trial, but obviously you can’t cancel on the website because they want to make it difficult for you. Hulu Plus let me click a button. Apparently JillianMichaels.com excepted me to call them. I don’t feel like I should have to take my time to pick up the phone and call a place when I responded to an email and it’s an online subscription to a website; everything about it was web-based except canceling.

After I received the identical email in response to my asking for a refund. “As you requested, I have turned off the automatic renewal for your Jillian Michaels Online account. You will have access to the website until 10/31/2013, but you will not be billed to continue. As explained in the terms of service, when you cancel, billing stops and no new charges will be billed to you. This plan is non-refundable. (If you have been receiving daily emails from us, emails will continue free of charge.)” I picked up the phone and called them this morning. I was not happy, but given that I worked in customer service for almost a decade, I tried very hard not to be rude to the woman on the other end of the phone who was just doing her job. Obviously, this is all set up to make it as difficult as possible to cancel because they want to keep taking your money.

In the end, I am getting a $48 refund. I figure that’s a success. This whole thing has left me pretty disgruntled with “Everyday Health” the service that runs JillianMichaels.com. It has also really affected my opinion of Jillian Michaels. Even though she pays this company to run her website, her name and photo is all over it. When I called the 800#, a recording of her plays; this is her brand and it reflects really poorly on her. This isn’t an isolated incident, sadly. When I first complained on facebook, a friend posted a link to a MyFitnessPal message board where someone had a similar experience a year ago. The main difference is, the people complaining there didn’t do a free trial, they expected to pay something and then cancel if they didn’t like it. I never even wanted the damn website, I just wanted to book!

I guess the silver lining is that I really like the book. I’ve never read a Jillian Michaels book before, although I do have one of her DVDs that I bought in January and haven’t opened yet. If I had known what an ordeal this would be, I would’ve just bought the book on amazon. It ended up costing me $9 and I could’ve bought it new from an amazon seller for $5 + shipping so it would’ve been just about the same price. I don’t know that I will buy another Jillian Michaels product after this. I know she’s not directly involved in things like how you cancel your subscription, but it’s her name, her photo and her brand, and frankly her responsibility who she chooses to run such a huge portion of her brand. I will keep on using SparkPeople, like I have for years. I like that it’s free, although I would pay for it. I like that it’s linked to my fitbit account, and it’s silly but I like that it’s brighter colors and prettier/perkier than the grays and blacks of the Jillian Michaels site. I don’t use SparkPeople’s meal plans, for the same reason I wasn’t interested in Jillian Michaels – I’m a pescatarian, I only eat fish and seafood, no chicken or pork or beef. I know what I need to do anyway. Logging calories helps me stay on track, but I can keep myself in my calorie range without using meal plans. My problem has always been motivation, not that I don’t know what to do. I already eat clean, I know what I need to do.

In case you’re interested, here’s the disclaimer I accepted when purchasing the book:
*Jillian’s book, Master Your Metabolism, is yours FREE! All you pay is $4.95 shipping and handling. You will also gain free access to Jillian Michaels’ customized Web site and online advice for 14 days. Your online access will continue uninterrupted, and you will be enrolled under our standard membership agreement. Online membership is just $4 a week, billed quarterly (every 13 weeks). The charge will be applied to the same account you provide at sign-up. You may cancel before your free trial ends at no charge. If you choose to continue, your quarterly membership will be automatically renewed after each term. You may cancel your membership at any time. When you cancel, billing stops immediately and no new charges will be billed to you. You will continue to have access to your account for the remainder of your term.

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