Archive for the ‘guilt’ Category

Girl Crush

July 12, 2012

Those of you thinking this blog post is going to be a Katy Perry song-like torrid tale of a girl on girl kiss can stop reading now.

Source:peracollege.wordpress.com

I moved to Vancouver about 3 years ago from Winnipeg where I had lived all of my life (then 28 years). The total number of people I knew in Vancouver at that time: 3. My boyfriend (now fiancee) Bradford, his good friend, and a friendly acquaintance. I was leaving behind my family, my job, my house and all of my friends to be with a man. Before the move my feet were so cold they were numb. While in the future the cloyingly romantic tale we tell our children will be that of a couple who took the chance at love and lived happily ever after, when I first arrived in this strange new city I felt more trepidation than excitement. Nothing was familiar, I felt lost, anonymous and incredibly lonely. Moving had certainly improved my romantic relationship and I had never felt so sure about anyone as I did about the man I had dropped everything for. On the other hand I was distressed by how my relationships with everyone else I loved had changed. I didn’t want to talk to them on the phone, I hate Skype, I don’t remember my MSN messenger password and my Facebook page had changed so much I couldn’t seem to navigate it. Sadness turned to anger and resentment as I blamed poor Bradford for tearing me away from my life to move to this rotten city (voted world’s 5th most livable city) which quickly turned to guilt as he was continuously bending over backwards to make me feel at home. BS: “Look! I bought you a new bike!” Me: “Stupid new European bike. Only one speed. How am I going to ride that in the beautiful Rocky Mountains which are only 30 minutes from our home on the ocean?” BS: “We can go buy some fresh fish right off a fishing boat at Granville island!” Me: “I don’t feel comfortable consuming fish which hasn’t been frozen and vacuum sealed then stamped with a quality seal by Captain Highliner”. BS: “Let’s drive down the coast to California!” Me: “I get carsick on road trips without acres of flat prairie farmland to focus on.” It is said that misery loves company, but since I had no friends I quickly realized that unless I wanted to have a pity party of one I would have to snap out of it. So I decided to give life a real chance here.

Although Bradford had a very inviting, fun and broad group of friends who we socialized with together my feeling of solitude could only be filled by a close girlfriend. I missed girl talk. I also wanted a group of friends of my own. I had always been independent and I suddenly felt like more of an us than a me. I am of the opinion that a healthy couple shouldn’t be joined at the hip. This viewpoint is shared by many experts. Marriage expert/counselor Dr. Margaret Paul PhD says “Some couples spend a lot of time together because they really enjoy it, while others spend a lot of time together out of fear of being alone. It is important for a healthy relationship for each person to have friends and interests, so they are not dependent on each other. Dependency is not healthy in a relationship, particularly emotional dependency.” Psychotherapist Wendy Allen says “Each partner should strive to be a whole, healthy individual who can make positive contributions to the marriage and space encourages the solid, cohesive sense of self in each person.” “Having a variety of friends is a route toward developing—personally, socially, and spiritually. Participating in a variety of activities makes you well-rounded, and gives you more to talk about with your partner.” says Christopher Knippers, author of “Cultivating Confidence”. Understanding how I felt, Bradford would encourage me to call this person or that person from our mutual group of friends for some “girl time” but it felt strange to have to force a friendship. I was waiting to really click with someone. I took a photography course, a hula hooping class, a pole dancing class. I even went for a drink with one of the girls from class. I never called her again.

There was a time when I wasn’t so picky. When I liked to go out every night to lounges, bars or concerts. I wanted to see and be seen. I wanted to dance. My criteria for a girlfriend was essentially that she be fun, easygoing and able to do a lot of shooters. I couldn’t tell you what most of these ‘friends’ are doing these days. Now that I’m older, I want quality over quantity. I want someone to go to brunch with and talk (read:bitch) about my week. I want someone to go shopping with who will give me a real and honest opinion about the skirt I’m trying on (and not make me go into Lulu Lemon or Banana Republic EVER). I want someone I can call when I have PMS and I’m crying about something silly and no one else will understand. Someone who gets my sense of humor and who has one too. Someone intelligent with opinions and world views. Someone well read. Someone who still likes to have a good time but who won’t puke on my shoes if we go out for drinks. I don’t think it’s too much to ask. But as hard as I tried, I was having no luck. There is no friend finding equivalent of Match.com. I checked. It felt like I was losing my sense of self, not really opening up and being myself in social settings because I didn’t feel comfortable with the people I was with. My partner would ask “why don’t you ask so and so to go get a pedicure?” I would cry.

The first time I had a girl crush was in nursery school. Her name was Rachel. She was mesmerizing. She had long, blonde, curly hair and bright blue eyes and she looked like a princess. For our recital she was Snow White. I was a Rain Man. When I skipped from the first to the third grade I walked terrified into the classroom on the first day of school and didn’t know a single person in the class.The teacher introduced me and then told me to sit down. I stood at the front of the class awkwardly scanning the room, my face burning, looking for a place to sit. Suddenly, an adorable little girl named Tamara with long brown hair and olive skin put her hand up and announced loudly “You can sit here! You can be our friend!” referring to herself and another girl beside her. This girl, my second girl crush, will be a bridesmaid in my wedding. In junior high it was a freckled redhead named Kim who was a model and taught me how to smoke and introduced me to my first boyfriend. In high school it was Jen who wore vintage clothes and shiny lipstick and had the straight shiny hair down to her J-Lo butt. There are just some girls you just meet and immediately know you will bond with because you see a part of yourself in them, or a part of who you want to be. I don’t keep in touch with every girl who has caught my fancy, but I have shared secrets and memories with all of them. I had left many of my best friend behind in Winnipeg and while I knew I could never replace them, I needed to find that kind of magic with someone again.

Source:thesun.co.uk

One night a friend from high school who I learned had moved to the city years ago invited me out with him and his friends. One of his friends was a well-dressed woman my age, and we started to talk. We talked about our families, our friends, where we used to live (about 20 minutes from each other!) and our mutual love for perogies. She made me smile, she made me laugh! I talked to her all night, and then we exchanged phone numbers. I felt like a teenager debating whether to call her or whether our connection was all in my head. The first time we went out for dinner, she met me in tights and a t-shirt. I was in a dress. I slunk down in my chair a little. The minute she sat down she burst into tears. Any nervousness I felt immediately dissipated. This was my kinda girl, I thought, she’s so real. We ordered some strong drinks and chicken wings and talked about her bad day. She quickly became my Vancouver best friend. We were similar in ways that mattered and different in ways that were complementary. She liked yoga while I despised it. She would order pancakes at breakfast and I would order eggs and hashbrowns so we could share. We had different styles so we didn’t fight over clothes. She was retro and I’m fashion forward. We both like True Blood, meat buns, perogies, bikes, vintage, 90’s hip-hop and nerds. Between my boyfriend and her, I started to enjoy my new home.

Over the almost 3 years I’ve now been here I’ve made more girlfriends. We’ve had girl talk, laughed, danced, talked politics and religion, gossiped, and yes even gotten pedicures together. I still miss my oldest and best friends from Winnipeg and visit whenever I have a chance. But I’m also thankful I have had the chance to build these new friendships, to meet these engaging new people and get to know them. Every new relationship you forge helps to transform and enrich your life and friendships between women are among the strongest and most important in their lives. My Vancouver best friend just moved away and while I will miss having her so close by I will always consider her a close friend and the girl who reminded me how fun a girl crush can be.

I’ll have the vegan burger, hold the gluten. Oh, and no carbs.

April 19, 2012

Source:www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com

It is hockey playoff season which, depending on how my team fares, will likely mean more dining out while watching them squash the competition. While sports bars and chain restaurant lounges with big screen TVs aren’t exactly fine dining establishments, I am still often overwhelmed by the number of options on their menus. Just yesterday a group of 4 of us went to a neighborhood establishment to watch the game. No one had eaten, and we were all famished. Being the responsible adults that we are (and not college frat boys), we decided to forgo the usual pub fare of chicken wings and nachos in favor of ‘real meals’. That being said, after several minutes spent perusing the menu, all 4 of us ordered burgers and fries.

Dining out for many is a treat, a chance to indulge. But for many of us, it has become commonplace. We go to restaurants when we don’t want to cook, when we want to have foods we can’t make at home, to socialize with friends, for special occasions or sometimes ‘just because’. Eating out has increased dramatically. In 1970, people spent 25% of their food budget on foods prepared outside the home. Today that number is almost 50%. As people eat more and more foods from restaurants, fast food establishments and even grocery store delis, it has become increasingly important to them as consumers that the food they purchase be wholesome and healthy. There has been tremendous pressure placed on the fast food and restaurant industry to improve the standards of their ingredients and cooking techniques and to offer people choices more compliant with their healthier lifestyle choices. Similarly, in recent years certain diets and lifestyles have become commonplace, such as vegetarianism/veganism, low carbohydrate and gluten-free and there has been a big push for restaurants to comply. Books such as the Skinny Bitch series advocating a vegan diet and several other diet plans, websites and celebrities demonizing carbohydrates and gluten have driven the demand for new and specialized restaurants, putting pressure on existing ones to change their focus and broaden their scope.

But has it gone too far? It’s almost gotten to the point where one can barely decide on an entrée at a restaurant without feeling menu guilt. You feel like the artery clogging steak, steak, but the chicken has that little “healthy choice label” beside it. How can ignore your health?? And for every dish that is delicious just as it is, there is a healthy adaptation that can (i.e.should) be made that will impair the taste but somehow benefit you. Any sandwich on the menu can be made with a gluten free bun. (Because gluten is the devil) Or you can get no bun at all, and they will just bring the patty wrapped in lettuce! (Because carbs are the devil) Fries can be substituted for a salad with any sandwich. You can get vegan cheese on your nachos instead of regular cheese. The waitress can just walk your meal in front of you so you can smell it without actually eating any of it, thus saving you the unnecessary calories.

Don’t get me wrong. I realize people have intolerances/preferences/allergies. I think it’s great that restaurants can work around them. But when I order a burger, I don’t want the waitress to ask me if I want the gluten free bun, and if I want a salad with that. No, b@#*h! I want a regular bun, and bring me my damn fries. Extra ketchup.

Have You Met Your Mark?

April 14, 2012

Source: healthkicker.com

Today I am having a fat day. I am bloated and puffy. I have PMS. I have a pimple. I am overly reactive and emotional. When I looked in the mirror this morning, I was all stomach and thighs, and my arms jiggled like Jell-O in my sleeveless shirt. I tried to pull on my most form-fitting jeans, but it felt like the waistband was pushing against my belly causing flesh to form a roll over the top so I opted instead for shorts with an elastic waist. I went for a walk in the sun to clear my head. I have had these thoughts before. At one time I would have let them consume me, setting the tone for the entire day and resulting in self-destructive rituals. Today I have finally found the will to put them in perspective and push them out of my mind. I am no longer a prisoner to my eating disorder.

Many women I know have “fat days”. Days when body image is lower than usual, and you feel like you are a giant in a sea of pixies. Such feelings can be brought on by any number of things; Emotional issues, hormones, guilt from overindulging in food, etc. Whatever the case, these thoughts can significantly affect a woman’s mindset and negatively affect her day to day life. Some women avoid social interactions, romantic situations, or even work when they feel they are less than attractive. The sad part is, in most cases the problem is purely psychological. A woman may feel extremely different physically from one day to the next when in fact she has not changed at all. The only difference is in her perspective. If there are any physical changes, they are usually slight, and have to do with things like salt or water retention. A person can gain or lose a few pounds in 24 hours simply due to water gain or loss.

Many women I know have certain articles of clothing that they consider markers of fat gain and loss. A common example most people are familiar with is their “skinny jeans”. If a woman can fit into her skinny jeans then she is at her own  ideal weight. If she cannot, she has a goal: to lose enough weight to fit into the skinny jeans. Conversely, a lot of women have “fat pants”. When a woman feels she has gained weight, has eaten too much, or in general when self-confidence is low, the fat pants come out.

Right now, I don’t know my exact weight. At one point in my life, I could have told you my weight to the decimal place on any given day. When I was a teenager and I first recovered from my eating disorder, I stopped weighing myself entirely. I knew that if I started to focus on numbers on a scale again, it would be difficult for me to stop. At a vintage sale one day in university I bought several items of clothing. I tried nothing on because there were no change rooms. One of the pieces was a pair of shorts, which I learned when I got home was a child’s or youth size. For some unknown reason I did not get rid of these. When I had a relapse of my eating disorder a few years ago and lost a significant amount of weight, I had no scale and therefore did not start weighing myself right away. This was one reason I was able to remain in denial about my eating disorder. But at one point, I found and put on this pair of children’s shorts and discovered that they almost fit me. From that point on, these shorts became my marker for weight loss. Eventually they fit me perfectly, and at one point even became too loose. No one besides myself has ever seen these shorts on me. I have never worn them outside of my bedroom. It wasn’t until I went to counseling that I found out this was a common practice for women with eating disorders, to use clothing items as markers. I guess this is an extreme and more destructive form of the ‘skinny jeans’ idea. I have long since parted with the shorts and the desire to be the size of a child. But I still find myself averse to clothing that is of a rigid material or too tight in the waist as I know I will constantly be gauging whether it was tighter or looser the last time I wore it. I work on myself every day, but I know it will probably be a lifelong battle. My plan of assault is to try to be open and honest and ask for help if I need it. I have found it is a lot easier to stay healthy when you can admit you aren’t perfect. I am having a fat day. But I feel better already, and tomorrow will be better still.

I fit into children's shorts at this point in my life. I thought I was fat.

Easter spells EAT!!

April 9, 2012

Source:1funny.com

 

This year I thought a bit about what Easter means to me. I’m not a religious person. I wouldn’t quite say I’m an atheist, because I think I believe in ghosts and spirits and if there is an afterlife then maybe there is a big cheese there, some head honcho, a ‘divine ruler’ if you will. But I have had enough dalliances into the Christian faith in my lifetime to seriously doubt that the answer is there. The only grandparents I have ever met are of the Mennonite faith and went to church every Sunday. My Oma does not question the existence of god, only the likelihood of seeing her family members in his kingdom of heaven in the afterlife. So far I have no chance, as I have never been baptized. (In the Mennonite faith you are baptized as an adult). It looked promising for me when I was quite young. There were a few Sunday school lessons as a young girl until my parents finally had their fill of having to go to sermons themselves so I could attend. My sister and I owned a children’s book of bible stories which I enjoyed reading. One summer my parents even sent us to a camp with a religious component. We came back thoroughly brainwashed and convinced they were going to hell for all of their sins: getting divorced, drinking alcohol, using the lord’s name in vain, swearing. They were surely going to burn. It didn’t take long to reverse the damage, we quickly realized that being a devout Christian wasn’t a lot of fun. Anyway, I have a basic understanding of the Easter story, and what it means to those of the Christian faith.

What Easter means to most people I know: FOOD. For as long as I can remember, Easter has been another reason to gather, celebrate, and eat. Much like every other holiday, it is an excuse to overindulge. Food brings people together like nothing else, and many people have holiday food traditions that have existed since they were children. For our family, the Easter meal is ham. When I think of ham, I think of Easter. But family gatherings have not always been a positive experience for me. When I was suffering with an eating disorder, the idea of family dinners terrified me. I knew there would be expectations placed on me to eat all of the delicious food, the bread, the meat and potatoes and the fat-laden gravy. I could just visualize the fat depositing right onto my stomach and my ass. I would try all of the anorexic tricks. Eating slowly, filling up my plate with vegetables, cutting things up in small pieces. But when it comes to a Mennonite feast, you can’t get out of there without a full stomach. Which meant of course that I had to throw up afterwards, which always made me feel guilty and worn out. Even in recovery, family dinners can be difficult. I still feel at times that people are watching what I eat, making sure it’s enough, but not too much. Sometimes when I go to the bathroom after a meal, I feel like I have to prove I’m not purging. Sometimes I just try to pee at record speed, even skipping washing my hands. I think “No one will think I could have thrown up that quickly!!” Other times I will try to have a conversation with someone outside of the bathroom, or sing or talk to myself loudly. No one can vomit and talk at the same time!! I have gotten over most of this now, and can just enjoy a holiday meal for the good food, and the good company. But what I’ve discovered is that for a lot of women holiday feasts can bring about feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame. People tend to eat and drink too much, abandon their diets, regain lost weight. Not to mention the stress women can be under to prepare these elaborate meals. With family dynamics shifting away from the ‘nuclear family’ idea of 2 parents, 2 ½ kids and a dog, people may have multiple meals to attend in a day or over several days. I have a friend who went to 4 dinners this weekend. She claims to have gained 10 pounds. While I doubt this is true, this 4-day gorge-fest has certainly affected her self-esteem, if not her waistline.

It’s interesting to me that in the Christian faith, Easter is a celebration of God sacrificing his only Son to pay the penalty for our sins so that we can have eternal life. This sacrifice is celebrated with gluttony. (I will note that for some Christian faiths this gluttony follows a period of fasting, I just don’t know anyone who actually does this). In the Jewish faith, the Passover feast which celebrates the Israelites being freed from slavery in Egypt, consists of a much less appealing spread. Each component is representative of some part of the story about the Jewish people fleeing Egypt. Matzah, or unleavened bread to represent the haste with which the Jewish people fled, maror, bitter herbs to symbolize the bitterness of slavery, karpas, a vegetable like parsley or celery representing hope and redemption served in a bowl of salted water representing tears shed etc. For the entire 8 days of Passover, nothing with yeast is allowed, and there are several other food restrictions. It is a time of respectful sacrifice. Again, I’m not a religious person, but it sounds like by rearranging their philosophy a bit, Christians could seriously decrease their caloric intake.

For the rest of us agnostics, we just need to remember that it’s only a meal. Food is to be consumed, it shouldn’t consume us. If you eat more than you meant to, don’t beat yourself up over it. Here are some rules that might help you: If you ate an entire family-sized bag of Mini Eggs over the long weekend, don’t sweat it!! Nothing with the word mini in the name can affect your waistline significantly. Remember, red wine is good for your heart, and I read a study once that showed women who drink a glass of red wine daily are on average thinner than those that don’t. I’m sure the same is true for multiple glasses of red wine, white wine, tequila, gin, beer etc. One serving of vegetables cancels out one serving of carbohydrate. The same goes for a glass of diet soft drink. If you cook with olive oil you don’t count that as fat, because it’s “good fat”. Same goes for any fat in olives or avocados. Finally, anything you eat while cooking doesn’t count because you are doing manual labor and you are burning off all of those calories. If you feel better, it is probably a good time to mention that all Easter chocolate is now 50% off. Please, someone buy up all the Mini Eggs!!! They are my Achilles heel!

Who’s that Green-Eyed Monster in my Mirror?

April 4, 2012

Your best friend starts dating a gorgeous, rich new man.

A colleague gets a promotion.

Your sister loses 10 pounds and looks fantastic.

Your new yoga instructor looks like a younger, hotter, fitter version of Giselle Bundchen.

Congratulations, right? So why do you have to smile through your teeth while fighting the urge to rip off her head? Welcome to the emotions of envy and jealousy. Wicked feelings that can creep up on you and turn even the most demure woman into a raging, irrational lunatic.

First, let’s distinguish between the 2 terms.

Envy: To bear a grudge towards someone due to coveting what that person has or enjoys.

Jealous: Apprehensive or vengeful out of fear of being replaced by someone else.

If you are envious of someone, you want what they have. If you are jealous of someone, you believe they can take something from you. For example, you may believe they are a threat to your job or your marriage.

Why am I writing about this topic? Because this blog is devoted to issues that affect women, and to put it frankly, women are jealous bi***es! This realization came to me a couple of days ago as I miserably complained to my fiancée that a colleague had enjoyed a career success that I felt was undeserved. I admitted I was envious. I admitted I was being irrational. He said I was being petty. PETTY?? Now that is just… Well ok, I was being petty. I thought about other instances where I had been jealous or envious of others women. When I really thought about it, I had to admit that I begrudged people success, happiness, beauty, talent, popularity etc. an awful lot, and had been doing so for years.

There are many types of envy/jealousy. You can make adversaries of strangers on the street, your friends, and your colleagues. And we have all heard of sibling rivalry. I have experienced them all. I don’t want to make it sound like I resent everyone’s achievements, prosperity and good fortune. I root for the people that I care for. But intermingled with the pride and joy I feel for them when good things happen in their lives, there is a tiny yet uncontrollable yearning for them to fail miserably (or at least flounder a little).

I clearly have a problem. But I know I’m not alone. I hear the way women talk about other women around me all the time. Bullying between girls as a result of envy/jealousy/insecurity starts in elementary school and continues well into adulthood. A group of women see a beautiful woman walking down the street, claws come out and she is immediately shredded apart. Her hair, her outfit, her makeup, her shoes, anything is fair game. My grandmother still gossips about her friends, and is still competing with her twin sister. Feminist Germaine Grier said at the Fem08 conference that what worried her ‘about the future of women’s equality and feminism was women’s own misogyny”. Is it true? Do women hate other women? Gender expert Susan Shapiro Barash, author of ‘Tripping the Prom Queen-The Truth about Women and Rivalry’ has conducted research and interviews with 500 US women. She has found that 40% of women say they have had another woman steal their boyfriend, lover, husband or job in their lifetime. 25% have done the stealing. 90% of women are or have been envious and jealous of other women in their lives, with 65% saying they feel that way about their sister or best friend. 80% have been victims of another woman’s envy or jealousy.

So why do women treat each other this way? One reason is likely insecurity. If a woman has a negative self-image or poor self-esteem she may not believe herself to be worthy of obtaining what the other woman has that she covets, or she may believe the other woman superior and able to steal what she has. If the other woman is someone like a good friend or a sister, then the feelings of envy or jealousy can cause a lot of guilt, thus contributing to poor self-image. Susan Shapiro Barash believes that women create rivalries with other women due to “scarcity of goods”. She says “We (women) are taught winner takes all — the sense that there is only one (glass) slipper, one crown. And therefore, if she has it, I cannot have it.” Apparently men are immune to this practice. They may be competitive by nature, but “because men have always competed for what they do, and women compete for who they are” they are able to shout obscenities at each other on the basketball court and then shake hands afterwards. To women, being the thinnest, the most beautiful, the most successful, the richest, or smartest will help to define them and so these titles are so coveted that they are willing to push each other under the bus to achieve them, and if they cannot they will sure as hell resent the hussy who beat them out.

Envy and jealousy are natural human emotions that everyone has experienced at one time or another. But where do they get you? Wishing somebody else ill will for something that they have just wastes time that you could be spending making good things happen for you, and could potentially damage important relationships in your life. More importantly, isn’t it time that women started lifting each other up instead of holding each other down? Perhaps if we start cheering each other on and celebrating each other more of us will have the self-confidence and drive to love and believe in ourselves and strive for what we want out of life. And then we will have less to begrudge others for.