Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and GainHere is the quote from Portia's own words and that of the reviewer on Amazon :
“Anorexia was my first love,” De Rossi declares in her memoir of her early Hollywood career and the eating disorders that went along with it. Her unflinching self-portrait depicts a cripplingly self-conscious young Australian in LA overwhelmed by the pressure to be thin. Never comfortable in her own skin, a by-product of her status as a closeted lesbian, De Rossi was sure if she ever gained weight (or came out as being gay), the shooting star she’d been cultivating would turn to lead. Weight loss was the key that allowed De Rossi to feel powerful and in control, until dieting became a sickness that nearly killed her and devastated her family. De Rossi’s story and words are not revolutionary, but they are frank, brave, and revelatory of the unhealthy trends that stardom can generate. Although more development of De Rossi’s happy ending (her eventual complete recovery, self-acceptance, coming-out, and marriage to Ellen DeGeneres) would be welcome, the book succeeds as it’s intended: a journal of her sickness and a provocatively sad love affair with dieting. --Annie Bostrom
When Ellen first started promoting the book I knew it was on some levels, it was going to resonate with me. Then when I saw the interview this week with Oprah, I knew it did. Not because I am or ever was a model or an actress. Not because I am or have ever been a lesbian. But because for as long as I can remember I have hated my body.
Portia is not the first actress to come out and admit an eating disorder, or the first one to write a book about it. But maybe it is the timing. I always knew I had a poor self body image, but self talk is a powerful thing. I have often been able to fool myself over the years to be ok with weight loss and weight gain. How my body looked , where even at a young age I had curves when so many girls were strait up and down...and convince myself that I was embracing my larger arms , larger thighs and having a booty and a poochy belly from the moment I hit puberty. I often flaunted the curves, still do. But down deep there was always that voice, when I was alone, that other set of eyes and self opinion of myself when I looked in the mirror, I was not what I wanted to be . I was not like my friends , I was not like the women in magazines, on TV or in the movies that I so admired. Even as I aged and my daughters aged , that I was not like them, who took after my husband and are slender and can really eat anything and not gain. I have always struggled with my weight. ALWAYS. This is my "readers digest version" of my life long struggle...confession often being the first key to healing, from what I have heard...and I need to heal, and have been working on that, bit by bit, within myself, and within the posts to this blog. Once again, this is not pleasurable ( darn me not being able to remove that header on my own), but this is my "musings" on what is in my head, my heart and something I have rarely talked about to anyone...well actually no one...not really...not without editing.
My Mom has been on a diet from as far back as I can remember. She also pushed the clean plate club, that was just the era I grew up in as did she. I do not blame her, that is just how things were. But I lived with that in my mind for a very long time. I always watched what I ate as a teen because of it though. I lived on junk during the day with my friends, and lettuce sandwiches during the night and when no one was around. I never threw up...hate it. But I did drink a lot when in High School cause of a lot of factors and well that kind of did the job for me. I exercised A LOT. I ran, did gym, lifted weights, roller skated , did sit ups, leg lifts and push ups in my bedroom in between. I walked a lot, and rode my bike....all this sounds normal, till you figure I did this all day, and most of a night if I was not out dancing with my friends or sleeping. I was going to burn off everything I had eaten. I know now that is called exercise bulimia .
When I graduated H.S. I gained 20 pounds over the Summer, no longer having access to the exercise ops at the school, and my friends working and suddenly I found myself dieting 24-7. I have done all of it. You name it I was there with the diet. I could not loose. Then two years later I got married and was pregnant with my first child. I gained 60 plus pounds. My breasts became an E! I was 181 pounds the day I gave birth. Pregnancy had been an excuse to gorge on food. I was eating for two and it was supposed to be "OK" . But after I was left with 40 plus pounds to loose. Breasts that drooped to my waist and wider hips than ever before. the diets and exercise began again. But before I could loose much, after MONTHS of trying, I was pregnant with my second baby and shot back up to 176 pounds. I was nearly back at square one. I could not even look at myself in the mirror. I was disgusted with everything. I now had even more cellulite, stretch marks, the breasts drooped even more and I had no waist that you could even see. I was the blob.I fell into depression that was very dark.
Money was tight , as it seems to have always been , as it is now and the only thing I could control was what I ate and how much I exercised. I could not control a toddler and an infant , my husband was always at work and I had no friends. But I could spend the free hours, when the babies would sleep with exercise and that is what I did. I also joined Weight Watchers. I got on a roll. I was loosing. It was dropping off. I would still pig out once a week, but would just starve the rest of the time. When I hit 128, my goal weight with WW I quit , and continued on my own. I soon reached 102 pounds. I wanted to loose more. Be my weight I was in HS. Size 2 was not small enough. BUT I also wanted another baby. I thought that I could control the weight gain...and loose it all easily.
I gained till the day I gave birth. I was 151 pounds. What I had done to my body, the up and down of the weight showed in the mirror. I became obsessed. I joined WW again, began the process again. I even went and had a breast reduction and then implants to bring my breasts up to what I had always wanted, had always imagined to be perfect. There was a glitch there, and that is a whole other blog, but five surgeries later, I was left with misshapen breasts, that only a bra makes look good...and again something I can not look at in the mirror. I have never had the cash again to have them fixed, and I fear the implants going flat as they are due to be replaced. After this time period is also when I started feeling the fibro symptoms, and my iron anemia seemed to take hold even stronger and I was always sick. It was also shortly after I was told that I had the beginning of periodontal disease...dentist at the time thought it was health related..but with no insurance and no money there was nothing I could do.
I eventually lost the weight from the baby and was at a great looking weight , a healthy weight for my bone structure and height. But one day, with every confidence in myself that at least clothing looked good, I was pulled aside in WW's and told I was MAKING some of the members eat after meetings because I was thin, and talking about ( when I would guest lead the meetings) having a cheat day and still maintaining my loss. My thinness made them feel bad. I was asked to not speak at meetings. I went home and cried to my supposed best friend, who was a larger woman, but by no means obese in my eyes ( funny how I can be so kind and accepting of others, and not of myself!) and told her what happened. She said she felt the same way about me and resented me. I started eating. A lot. I stopped exercising. I started the self talk but in an opposite direction.
A couple years later and nearly thirty pounds heavier, we moved to Texas. I began to hate myself ( had I stopped?) I was hating my body in the mirror. Hating how I was changing with age. Hating the chronic pain that had grown and grown within my body, making me feel 80....and this is when my teeth started hurting on and off and showing signs of advancing in the periodontal issues...I could not do anything for my aches and pains or the teeth, but I could diet and exercise. So I did. This time my body was not fighting me or maybe I was not self sabotaging the diets as much , since I no longer had larger people telling me I was too small...and me being a people pleaser had always gained weight "to fit in" ...whatever it was. I was loosing weight again. I started the exercising all day....even in 100 degree Texas Summers I would walk outdoors, as I KNEW sweating burned off more calories. I would still go out to eat and drink with my new friends, gorging on Southern fried yumminess, but would exercise it off and live on vegies and water the rest of the time. Of course this , along with going through perimenopause and turning 40 really messes with your metabolism.
I had become a pro of covering tracks.Diverting attention from my eating and exercise habits...made easy when your husband works long hours day in and day out...and you eat "normal" when other are around and live on very little when they are not. I never dropped as low , calorie wise as what Portia mentions in her book, but I did live on 1000 calories and exercise enough to burn a lot of that off. But I was ,as I said tricky and no one ever saw that...or if they did I could make excuses or just spend some time pigging out in front of them and then when they were not looking...well you know. Starve and exercise.
But soon my age and body and the fibro had other ideas. Fibro slows the metabolism even more than normal, it makes it hard to exercise and it makes you gain and retain water weight, as well as pile on pounds no matter what you do or do not do and is near impossible to loose. So since I turned 40, I have been loosing the same 5 pounds each year...YES it takes a year to loose 5 pounds for me...even with proper diet and exercise the bulk of the time. I am now 44 years of age and I hit a certain weight and then it quickly climbs back up....as it does, and I get depressed at the numbers on the scale, how clothing is fitting , how I THINK I look, and I start eating bad for me foods, and of course that does not help. I start with the bad self talk and I go into a different type of mind set, but not one any more healthier than starting and exercising to the point of exhaustion. That is where I am now....well sort of.... now it is compounded with my dental issues...which have me stressed and effect the fibro issues. I also have my Father , who is still in Texas, going in for a risky heart surgery on the 10th, and I can not be there, and he may or may not make it. Even if he makes it , he also is in jeopardy of loosing one or both his feet, a separate issue from his heart...but factor his health, with mine, and it is a recipe for disaster...cause my emotions and thinking gets askew even more.
As I type this my teeth are throbbing. My body is doing the same. I have taken pain killers, but they are not even dulling it tonight. The weather keeps changing and that effects sinuses and the arthritis and the fibro and of course the teeth and I am in misery. I have began avoiding food. Food hurts ...even soft food. So in a way moment to moment I am teetering between self destructive eating from stress....and not wanting to eat because the scale numbers are going back up and my teeth may fall out with a bite into a piece of toast.
I am not , as I mentioned yesterday, feeling much self worth, as I blame my dental issues on myself and how I choose at some points, when I had a choice and money, to ignore them, and also made them worse. I feel as if I have failed as a daughter for not being there for my parents during this tough time. I feel as if I have failed my daughters, as I am barely able to be there for them. Failing my husband as it seems the weight of the world is on his shoulders....he works to keep the roof over our head, he works to take care of me when he is at home and he has to also deal with needing to heal from the loss of his jobs and our home this past couple of years, but can not really do so as I am always in need.
I figure God is trying to send me a message. He has sent me a friend who tells me I am beautiful and when I loose my teeth it will not change that. I have received kind words from you readers. The subject matter on The Talk yesterday, then the series of interviews with Portia with the release of her book. I need to get my head on strait. I need to not give up. I need to not give in. But I truly do not know how to go about that. I do not know where to begin, past doing what I am doing now...sharing here, publicly, in a blog for all to see! I have gone the therapy route...did not really work for me. Could not afford that now. Besides they LOVE to pill push. Pills for me will not solve the issues. They never did in the past.
I keep thinking if I could eliminate the pain of my teeth, by getting dentures, then that might be part of the battle won as I could concentrate on controlling the fibro, and if I can control the fibro pain , I could then start to concentrate on me...the rest of me that is. But I have become a stalker of Ellen. I respond to all Tweets and FB posts, have filled in every form ...but that has not netted me any response. I rather doubt I shall win Publishers Clearing House. We can not afford insurance...well you know the song and dance with all that...No need to repeat. So I seem destined to be toothless. I need to come to terms with that, and how it will effect my life, and more important how it will further effect how I see myself, my self worth/image.
You may have noticed I am in a two steps forward, three back syndrome. At times when the physical pain is not so bad that it makes it so I can concentrate on other things, I actually am pretty content. I putter around the apartment, I cook healthy meals, I take strolls , just for enjoyment, I read, I play with my make up and all that girly stuff, and I as I mentioned yesterday find pleasure in the smallest , simplest things....something others used to admire me for...something that when the pain is at the worst, which is more and more often is becoming harder and harder. So IF as I said I am destined to not have the writing into talk shows for monetary help with the dental issue, and if the pain I am living with is going to continue to get worse with age, then I need to start now , I need to start paying attention to Gods messages , and I need to turn the page on the current chapter in my life and move on ...deal with it. I will let you know how that proceeds, as the page turns...but you have probably already guessed that I would do that. In many odd, and I am sure what seems a twisted way...this is actually pleasurable to me....not keeping all this bottled up. FINALLY putting it all out there. Or at least most of it. Funny how that happens.