Consolation Prizes

We all have been conditioned to equate thinness with goodness and fat with badness. Lazy, slovenly, no will power etc.
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I bring my own spin to this because eating is such a crazy adventure for me. For the past 19 months I’ve struggled valiantly to eat at all. One gift achalasia has given me is the total “fuck it” attitude when it comes to food. All I care about is if I can swallow it with a minimum of drama. Chocolate pudding for dinner? Sure. Cookies go down well so I’ll eat them. Every day. In any quantity.
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I had a crazy thought the other month, as I battled a belly that just seemed to defy caloric rationality and get bigger and bigger despite my ever more restricted intake: I had hoped achalasia would make me look better. When I realized I had lost weight, I was actually happy. (Side note – it wasn’t h til I reported weight loss that my doctors got interested in my situation. Prior to that, I had been told to eat more slowly… chew more thoroughly. Once weight loss entered the symptom list, tests were ordered and attitudes changed.)

I thought there was a silver lining, and that a flat stomach was it. I have an incurable chronic illness but hey, I get a flat belly as a consolation prize. I was stoked.
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No such luck. Menopause or some other process has meant my body is rearranged. Yes, I’m thin in some places, but I’m expanding in others. That’s reality. I can be angry, sad, feel betrayed, disappointed, or anything else. What I can’t do is have a flat belly. I have bigger fish to fry.
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My illness has given me the gift of throwing out all the rules. I drink seltzer at breakfast, eat whatever the fuck I want and answer to no one. Maybe after surgery, when I can swallow again, I might be less feral. But I doubt it.

This post was inspired by an article published on the Scary Mommy website: Please STFU About Your Diet. The article is great; the site has tons of advertisements and pop ups.

This is me. This is a person with a chronic illness. I look fine. Healthy even.

Making peace with who we are, what we look like, and how we feel is a tall order. I’m a short person. But I’m trying, some days a whole lot harder than others, to do my best to just shut off any voices in my head that tell me I should. I reject any should at all in any arena. I’m doing my best to live “shouldlessly.” Shouldfree. Unshoulded. Fuck shoulds.

When a discrepancy between a healthy attitude and a healthy food choice comes up, I plan to choose the healthy attitude from now on. Because mental health requires it. Achalasia is like a crucible in which all my shoulds got immolated. I’m unashamed.

The truth is, you don’t need to get sick to get well. I hope you can take some morsel of this for yourself and join me in saying fuck it to shoulds. It’s liberating. And if you can’t, that’s cool too.

Happy holidays. Stay safe and be well. Hugs from the mountain.

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