I haven’t had birthday cake on my last three birthdays. Mostly due to my hesitancy and worry about baking and cooking of any sort. The other part is due to my gluten intolerant issues.
So this year I planned ahead. I found and bought a gluten-free chocolate cake mix in advance. I was uncomfortable with the idea of making a whole cake. I kept planning on making a trial run cake in advance, but found that I was scared of doing it, kept forgetting, and then when remembering kept putting it off. It was overwhelming to me.
I looked for a good recipe for chocolate frosting, but there seemed to be far too many ingredients to research about being gluten-free and for buying. Each time I would go to the grocery store I would forget to buy any of them or wander the aisle not being able to decide to buy or not to buy. Many visits and I still didn’t make any decisions.
It was very frustrating. It was overwhelming to me. When I get frustrated and overwhelmed about purchases, especially gluten intolerant food purchases I tend to keep putting off buying things. This is exactly the same way about cooking and baking. I attribute all of those food related issues to being abused by my mother around food and her rejection and exclusion of me from “her” kitchen.
Finally I found a recipe online for chocolate cake in a mug.
Mix one cake mix and one 4 oz. pudding mix. This mix is enough for about eight or nine cake mugs.
Use 1/2 cup of this cake and pudding combination and then mix one Tablespoon water, one Tablespoon oil, and one egg white.
Use Pam or some other vegetable oil on mug. Spoon mix into mug.
Microwave mug on high for two minutes.
I thought this might be my solution for my birthday cake. I thought it would be very good with ice cream instead of frosting.
When my birthday came I found that I had not bookmarked the recipe and the evening of my birthday, after my dinner with a relative, I found that I couldn’t find it and really was too tired. Almost too tired for a candle, but I did manage that.
But on Monday night, finally, a birthday cake, in a mug. It kind of looked like a tiny muffin. Kind of funny. Kind of cute. It was pretty great.
I wasn’t planning on having an egg salad sandwich, and even though I love them, I only rarely make them. Eggs just tend to sit around in my fridge, but I figure eventually I have to use them.
Some time ago I bought a little device for boiling eggs in the microwave. I love it. But I don’t do it much. So today I decided to cook some eggs.
When they were done I was deciding what to do with them. Most of the time I just eat them with some salt, which I think is pretty great. But as I was deciding at the kitchen counter today I thought of making egg salad and so I did. I ate it with some corn bread. I had a little celebration meal. It was wonderful.
It wasn’t until afterwards that I remembered one of my posts based on an overheard conversation. A woman on the bus was talking about her partner and how he did anything for her that she wanted, even to getting up and making her an egg salad sandwich when she wants it. I remembered at the end of the post that I wrote that it made me hungry for an egg salad sandwich and a man to make it for me.
Then I remembered this quote I had first heard when I was in my mid-twenties:
“So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.”
~ Jorge Luis Borges
Or egg salad sandwiches.
Besides being a mother-daughter sexual abuser, my mother was an eating disorder. As a baby she would sometimes refuse to feed me. She would stop me before I got enough food.
Later she would give me soured milk in my bottle and then take it away when I wouldn’t drink it and say, you don’t drink it, you get nothing, like it was my choice not to have food. No one else was there to notice or to stop her. I knew. I remembered. My body remembered. I was underweight. I was underweight all my childhood.
As a toddler she would take away my naptime bottle from me and give it to my brother. She would offer me food if I would sit or lay still while she abused me or if I would do whatever she instructed me to do when she was sexually abusing me. I abhorred what she wanted to do to me.
As a pre-schooler she would deprive me of food. Any time there were family members I would get food. I could have breakfast each morning. Whether or not I could keep it in my stomach was another matter.
I hated being touched by her. I hated everything about her body. I hated her with a passion. I remember being three and four years old and being consumed with wanting to beat her to death with my bare hands. She would make me vomit up breakfast if she did not think I was cooperating, or sometimes even when I did everything she asked when she was enraged as revenge against some imagined slight or wound, and then she would refuse to give me lunch. The evening meal was often the only meal that I had.
At times I was so gnawingly starved that I did not fight her. Sometimes I did not have the energy to do it. She was huge and powerful. Or I did not have the will to do it. I was tiny and powerless. Or I did not have the mind focus to hide from her or to avoid her or to become invisible right after all the family members left the house and she would catch me. I was a pre-schooler. I was a little child.
At no time have I ever blamed myself for being sexually abused by my mother, not to me, not to us. Some of us inside our multiple system have blamed and some still do blame themselves for not being loved by her, for not being nurtured and cared for by her, for not being protected and fed by her, and for being physically, emotionally, verbally, and sexually abused by her. She constantly blamed us. It was inevitable that her words would become our own inner critic voice, word for word.
Weekends were good. I had witnesses. I am so thankful to my father and family members for being there. I am thankful to them that they were not keeping food from me and I believe that they would not have cooperated with that if they had known. Everyone expected food. Food was a big part of our family life. It was a joy that we all took part in.
She was the person to dish out the food for each person at our table, for every meal. She controlled food in my life, completely.
I cannot express the joy at getting out of that house and going to school at age five. I could eat three meals a day. I was ecstatic. I wasn’t being raped. I wasn’t being beaten. I wasn’t being starved. It was a safe haven. And I was learning. Knowledge, my new obsession.
As a teenager she tried to make me fat. I was deathly afraid of being fat and cruel like her since I was very tiny. I had gained about twenty pounds around age fourteen as I was developing. I stopped eating treats, started running and doing exercises every evening and she went breserk.
She confronted me alone and threatened me. She said I would eat everything she gave me in my lunchbag or else I would regret it. She was hysterical about it all. I told her I wouldn’t and there would be nothing she could do about it and from now on I wouldn’t give it away to anyone else on the bus for my brothers to see and rat me out to her, so she would never know if I was eating everything or not. It was one of the times that I had answered her back and stood up for myself around food.
I didn’t have an eating disorder. My mother was an eating disorder in my life.
I do have disordered eating, at times, and have a very skewed concept of eating, portions, nutrition, and food preparation. She refused to teach me cooking or baking. She would describe the process in magical terms, always reminding me that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough to do what she did with food. She did that whole pinch of this, a handful of that, to taste sort of cooking. That, she made a huge point to always tell me, was way beyond my capabilities.
Everything about food had become over-shadowed with her and all the ways that she stopped me and abused me and used me around food. Since everything about food was consumed by my parental sexual abuser and with my supposed inadequacies and undeservedness of food, it makes food a very negatively charged topic. And the fact that you have to eat every day, with that heavy load in your mind and heart, to help your body be sustained, it is very hard, a very real challenge, at 2 and 6, and 14 and today.
I realize that I have developed a number of ways to have and work on connectedness. But I do not have a connection to food. And that would seem pretty elementary of a thing for someone to have. I have always been afraid that being more connected to food will make me gain a lot more weight.
Being overweight to begin with fuels my fears. I have to deprive myself so much, because I gain weight easily and due to my health limitations cannot walk much or run at all, which are usually necessary for keeping my weight down. Being starved as a tiny child means that my body is in self-defense mode each time I eat and don’t eat, and it compensates to keep me alive.
It’s very hard to lose weight. I have to deprive myself, but it is sort of necessary in order to lose weight. I hate to do that. It is so much like living with my mother and being abused and starved. It can be so triggering. It feels as though I am abusing myself.
The kinds of abuses my mother did to me around food in the furtherance of her sexually abusing me has made food an integral part of child sexual abuse. It disconnected me from food. It was a way of coping. It was a way of surviving.
It is normal for someone to have a strong connection to food, but we don’t have one. So starting today, on Mother’s Day, I will start working on establishing my connectedness to food. I am planning on posting more about my weight loss efforts, my small indulgences that glory in food, my continuing efforts to make food, and my gluten-free cooking and gluten-free foods I have tried and hated and tried and loved.
This is all about the abuses my mother perpetrated against me, both sexual and otherwise, and the damage and aftereffects of mother-daughter sexual abuse. I will be striving to make food a central and loving part of my life, one that is loving and life-affirming, one that is healing, one that sings of nurturance and joy, one that allows me to maintain a more healthier weight.
Well yesterday was my birthday week, day one. I was all stoked and excited to do something good for me. It just so happened that I was taking it easy yesterday, no bus riding to the library, just a sort of quiet day.
I biked over the local Dairy Queen and got a hot fudge sundae. I sat out on a picnic bench in their outside area and read a book, for a long time. It was great. It was one of my favorite areas to go and read before moving. I even thought of it and longed for it when in Ohio.
I found out some time ago on the history channel that sundaes are called sundaes because of our American history of protestantism, guilt, and shame around food and the need to earn your way into heaven, rather than what the Bible teaches. i’m not sure if this is a story or the real truth. Ice cream as a new item of lust was new and well loved treat.
Apparently there was so much opposition to ice cream sodas and sundaes were created in response for something less sinful to eat on Sunday, hence the name. So I learned that sundaes were considered so sinful because they tasted so good, but less sinful than ice cream sodas.
They are sinful, but I sometimes wonder why they would allow something so sinful to be served on Sunday, holy of all holy days in a protestant week.
Well it was wonderful and sinful. And I ate it on a Sunday. But I didn’t feel sinful, not one little bit.
Finally I think I know what is contributing to my health issues and causing me so many problems. I think that I have a gluten intolerance.
Gluten intolerance is an issue where the body cannot digest the gluten that is present in certain grains. Part of the gluten in the digestive system is recognized as foreign and attacked by the body’s defensive system. This causes damage to the villi (little hairs in the intestines that absorbs nutrients) leading to damage that is called Celiac’s Disease. This is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestines.
I was always discounting this idea. Mostly because it is not that common. Though I read recently that Celiac’s Disease (that is caused by gluten intolerance and eating gluten) is being diagnosed in one out of 133 people in the United States. Not so rare at all.
I finally went in and talked to my doctor. He gave me the condescending speech about it being uncommon and it is probably IBS. He went into the whole IBS speech again. I told him I don’t eat a high fat diet. Though he looked like he didn’t believe me. I am moving soon, so hope that I will find a new doctor, one who is listens to me better.
At the beginning of June I went on a very limited diet with just fresh fruits and vegetables. I wanted to see how my body would respond. It felt great. Less than a week and I had significantly less pain. I lost some weight. I was feeling great.
Eating processed foods again was awful. I ate a lot of grains, because I wanted to see how my body would respond. Now I am sure I have gluten intolerance. The symptoms that resulted when I ate bread every day for a week were enough to convince me and horrible enough that I probably won’t be eating bread any time soon.
Learning about gluten is pretty daunting. It seems to be in everything and not always labeled. I found some resources in my area and some more online.
I believe that I will learn and it will help me a lot to feel better and that figuring this out will be a very positive thing for me. It is really funny because the day of my final Reiki class I felt and told them that I know this class is going to bring in a huge change in my life, for the better, for my health. And it has.