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Sex Love and Obesity – Part 10

Previously in the Sex Love and Obesity series we talked about how someone else had come along and Superman had let me go without resistance to seek the greener grass in another relationship. In my last blog discussed Dissociative Identity Disorder and how after 15 years of managing this mental health issue my next relationship choice suddenly made it a prevalent issue in my life again.

Before we talk about the relationship itself, let’s talk about how it even came to exist. You see, I wasn’t really looking for a new relationship. I wasn’t really looking to fall in love with someone else. Superman and I had issues, but most of our issues centered around me, around my need for sexual attention and my inability to deal with a relationship that was void of passion and intimacy.

I wasn’t looking for love, I was looking for attention.

I was looking for intimacy. I was looking for someone to boost my self-confidence and my self-worth by making me feel wanted sexually. I was looking for someone to appreciate my new body, to look at me with want and desire. I was looking for validation of what I had accomplished. I was looking for someone to make me feel pretty.

I’m going to be talking about this next relationship for a while, so I feel I need to give this gentleman a name as well. I’m going to call him Peter.

The first time I met him was at a weight loss surgery-oriented convention. He was barely beginning his journey. We met in passing and he told me that he read my blog and appreciated the motivation and inspiration I provided. A year later, when I couldn’t afford to go to that convention, he stepped up and started a community fundraiser to pay for me to attend. I was appreciative. Nobody had ever done anything like that for me before.

We hung out quite a bit at that convention. We had a lot in common. Like myself he had lost an impressive amount of weight after weight loss surgery. He wasn’t where he wanted to be yet. But he was less than a year post op, so he still had a little way to go. We became friends, got to know each other. We talked about our current relationship statuses. We discussed the frayed strands of relationships I had dangling in my life. The boyfriend that didn’t want to be sexual with me. We discussed his unhappiness in his marriage that was generated by many of the same issues.

He spent most of the convention upset at a girl that he was smitten with. Her lack of reciprocation of his attention and the mixed messages he felt she was sending had him twisted and confused.

I spent most of the convention jealous of her.

I wasn’t jealous that he was smitten with her mind you. To be honest, I wasn’t really attracted to him at the time. I had just returned from a weekend trip at another weight loss-oriented event where I was having a fling with a man who I was ridiculously physically attracted to.

I was jealous that she drew that sort of attention to her in a way that I didn’t. I watched her, flirting, sitting in the laps of men that were so obviously drawn to her, and ask myself what was wrong with me that I didn’t receive this sort of attention. As I admitted earlier, I was seeking that kind of attention. I was envious of her. But, it wasn’t a green-eyed monster sort of jealousy. It was an ugly duckling syndrome type of jealousy.

I listened as he confided in me that she was his ideal of a perfect woman. That her appearance, attitude and personality were exactly what he would create for himself in some Weird Science, create the perfect woman sort of scenario.

It was August of 2015, and something had changed for me during the two weeks that I had been gone attending these events. I came back with the distinct mindset, that I didn’t want to settle anymore. I didn’t want to have all these relationships that lacked closure because I was afraid to stand up and say I was unhappy.

I wanted a chance at the Happily Ever After fairy tale that I was seeking.

I didn’t think I had found Prince Charming at either of these events, but the weekend had opened my eyes up to the fact that he might be out there and that all my lingering relationship ties might be keeping him from finding me. I came home from that convention and all be it very slowly, started severing ties.

I was scheduled to give a motivational speech at another weight loss-oriented event a couple of months out. I put a call out on social media looking for someone who was willing to listen to my presentation and help me practice. Peter volunteered. This led to us spending a large amount of time talking on the phone together. Day after day I would call, practice my presentation, he would listen, and we’d chat a little bit after. As the month went on, the after chats got longer and longer.  We’d vent to each other. Me about the boyfriend that didn’t pay attention to me. Him about the wife that didn’t pay attention to him.

By October, our friendship had progressed into something unique and special. I really considered him one of my best friends at that point. He had made it into a small inner circle of people I let close to me, people who I consider my “Ride or Die” friends.

Somewhere between August and October I had decided I was going to go to Disneyland World and run the Star Wars half marathon. I had invited a couple of my Disney loving girlfriends to go with me. Being a Disney fanatic and Star Wars nerd himself, he decided he wanted to go too. I was impressed that he wanted to try to run a half marathon, motivating people to take on their first finish line is a passion of mine.

In September he decided that he wanted to be present when I gave my first motivational speech. He’d been a big part of helping me get prepared for it. I was excited, it was my first big motivational speaking gig. A whole hour of me talking to a room full of people about how I had used exercise as a weapon against emotional eating in my weight loss journey.

He booked a trip to Raleigh, NC where the event was at. We decided to share a room together. I was excited to have one of my dear friends along for the ride. He was in the middle of training for a half marathon we were going to do together the following April. I was already training for the Dopey Challenge event I was going to be doing the following January. We packed our running shoes and found a local event to participate in while we were there that would get us both the distance we needed to run that weekend.

We went through the entire event without me even realizing that he was looking at me as anything other than the friend I thought I was. In fact, the girl that he had been upset wasn’t paying attention to him the way he wanted her too just a few months ago was at that convention too.

I was under the impression his romantic interests still centered on her.

When we first arrived at the hotel he presented me with a ring that I had posted about wanting on social media. I thought it was a friendly gesture. It was a Tinker Bell ring that I had lusted after. I thought it was a “Thank you for being part of this Disney running journey with me” gift.

When I got back to the room after delivering my presentation there was a dozen yellow roses waiting for me. I took it as a “Congratulations, you rocked that presentation.” present. Yellow roses are after all a symbol of friendship. I correlated it with him knowing how much I missed my father, how much I wished he was there. The whole yellow rose of Texas thing.

It wasn’t until I was sitting in a room with a couple of my girlfriends the final night of the event getting ready for the evening festivities that I even realized I was being courted. He had confided his feelings to them privately before we had even arrived in Raleigh.

At first, I didn’t believe them. I was convinced his intentions, attention and romantic obsession was focused on another woman.

Next, I was angry. Angry that he was looking for more than a friendship. Angry that I was going to have to tell someone I cared about as a friend that I wasn’t attracted to them in that manner. Upset that he was trying to take our friendship to a different level. I’d never been in that position before. Having to be the one that says, “I’m sorry, I just don’t feel that way about you.” I was used to being on the other side of the equation.

We had that conversation. We got up the following morning and did our run. We had a great time. He went back to home to his wife, I went back to my boyfriend, we said our friendly good-byes and life should have gone back to normal.

But if there is one thing I will ever say about Peter, it’s that when he decides he wants something, he is relentless in his pursuit of it. He had decided that he wanted me, and even though I didn’t really want to be wanted by him at the time. I wanted to be wanted by someone more than I wanted anything else at that point in my life.

I had worked hard to get to where I was in my weight loss journey. Happily residing in Onederland. But I still had no self-confidence. I lacked self-esteem, I lacked self-worth. I wanted to be wanted because I wanted the way someone else looked at me to validate me. That desire to be wanted was about to take me down a very dark rabbit hole.

Stay tuned for Sex Love and Obesity Part 11 – Down The Rabbit Hole of Attention Seeking

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Cooper Institute Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies. Her training and coaching services are offered exclusively through GoGirl Fitness Studio.

Dissociative Identity Disorder – My Super Power

I’ve been trying to decide how to broach this topic for a quite a while now. It’s a sensitive subject. It’s something I want to make sure I explain well so that it is not misunderstood or misinterpreted.

It’s something I’ve avoided discussing publicly for fear of judgement or ridicule. But, it’s also something that I feel we need to talk about before we move forward in the Sex Love and Obesity series.

Without understanding this component of my life, you might not understand how badly my lack of self-worth, self-confidence and self-efficacy nearly ruined it.

When it comes to discussing mental health, I have issues with terms. Most mental health issues are considered “mental illnesses”. There is a stigma that surrounds mental health issues. In my opinion that stigmas is just as prevalent as those that surround weight bias.

I don’t consider what I am about to talk about a mental illness, I consider it a “mental ability”, a self-defense mechanism, a coping skill, a miraculous function of my mind that has allowed me to survive traumatic things. I believe that if I had not had this ability, I might not be here today. I believe it saved my life.

I have what is classified as Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) – is a condition where a person’s identity is compartmentalized into two or more distinct personality states. People with this rare condition are usually victims of severe abuse.

But, I don’t consider it a disorder, I consider it a super power.  

I consider it something that saved my life during a highly traumatic time in my childhood. I’ve often defined myself as an “escapist” – when things in life get tough I typically find something else to bury myself in. I find something that provides me an escape from whatever is going on so that I don’t wallow in the darkness and self-pity of whatever negativity surrounds me.

I believe that DID, MPD, whatever you want to call it, is the first form of escapism that my brain learned as a child. It allowed me to NOT be present for the abuse that was happening to me at the time. It allowed me to escape to a place in my mind where what was happening wasn’t happening to me, it was happening to someone else.

Having DID as a child was never a problem for me. It was a benefit. I lived a very sheltered childhood. My mother considered herself “over protective”, she didn’t allow me to do much and as such I didn’t have much of a social life. I didn’t have a lot of friends. I learned to deal with the loneliness and isolation by making up my own friends. That’s how I explained the different personalities my mind had created to myself as a child, they were my friends.

It wasn’t until my late teens that having DID started to cause problems for me.

As the insurgence of the internet exploded and chat rooms that allowed you to anonymously talk to people came into the world, I started to realize that what had saved me as a child was posing a problem for me as an adult.

Things started to happen that I couldn’t explain. I started losing time. Suddenly waking up in a different part of the house and not remembering being there. I found clothes in my closet that I didn’t remember purchasing. Food in my refrigerator that I didn’t remember eating had disappeared.

But the most alarming issue was that I started finding chat logs on my computer of conversations I didn’t remember having. Conversations with different men, each of which I appeared to be having some sort of romantic relationship with, and in each circumstance, I had given them a different name for myself and many of the names where names that I recognized as “my friends” – the friends I had when I was a little girl. The girls I played with in the backyard when I was lonely or scared.

I convinced myself that these girls were my roommates. That the reason there were chat logs on my computer of their conversations with other people was because they used my computer when I wasn’t home. I attributed much of what I was experiencing to these roommates. The strange clothes in my closet, the missing food in my refrigerator, the things that got moved around the house. It was the only rational explanation.

But my time loss issues started getting worse. I started losing track of days not hours. I started losing track of weeks not days. Then one day, I woke up in an apartment I didn’t recognize, with a man I only knew of as one of my friend’s internet boyfriends looking at me and calling me by a different name.

I had lost the better part of three months – I had no idea what had happened in that time frame. But from what I could piece together – I had ended my previous relationship, moved in with someone new, and had spent the better part of three months smoking methamphetamine trying to lose weight because the man I was living with thought I was too fat.

Not too long after this incident I went into treatment.

Treatment didn’t happen overnight. It took almost a year before I found a mental health professional that recognized what was going on with me. Things got a lot worse before they started to get better. I was very lucky. I had a Godfather that had some prior experience with Dissociative Identity Disorder. He was relentless in the pursuit of getting me treatment and making sure that despite this diagnosis, I would be able to function in the world.

I spent the better part of 6 years in therapy. I went into an inpatient program at a hospital that specialized in the treatment of DID – and miraculously by the time I was 25 I was what mental health professionals considered a “Cooperative Multiple”.

It is common in treatment for DID/MPD to try to integrate the compartmentalized personalities. To try to bring them together as one whole. It’s also something that isn’t achievable unless the personalities want to be integrated. This was the case in my situation. I had personalities that were designated as “Protector Personalities’, pieces of my identity that were assigned protector roles in my life. They had protected me from harm and abuse several times over. They had protected me from others, and even sometimes, from myself.

When you have such dominant personalities that do not want to be integrated, for whatever reason, full integration is pretty much unattainable.  In my case, my protector personalities didn’t believe they were no longer necessary. Life had been rough for me, they had to be there to protect me a lot, they weren’t ready to leave me to my own devices. In situations like mine, the goal then becomes cooperation. The compartmentalized personalities must be able to function together in a way that represents a whole cohesive unit. They must be able to communicate with each other, make decisions together, and present to the world as one whole person rather than multiple personalities encompassing one body.

I am a Cooperative Multiple.

What that means for me personally is that in everyday life, my compartmentalized brain functions as one common unit. I’ve always explained it to people close to me like this…

Everyone has that little voice inside them that tells them what they should or should not do. Some might refer to it as their conscious, some might view it as the devil or angel sitting on their shoulder debating right from wrong. For me, in my head, those voices are more distinctly recognized. They have names, personalities and sometimes skills attached to them.

Ever heard the saying it takes a village? It applies very much to how I live life every day. I have a village, a tribe, in my mind that helps me function in the world as a normal person.

I’m not walking down the street having conversations with myself. I’m not standing in front of someone talking about myself like I am not there, but every day of my life, the compartmentalized components of my mind work together to form one whole version of myself that is presented to the world. This is what I learned to do in therapy. This is how I learned to deal with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

If you did some research on Dissociative Identity Disorder you might find this discussed as a “harmony between altered identities.” It is sometimes referred to as “resolution” and involves achieving a cooperative arrangement between identities. It allows someone like me, “optional functionality” in the world and it is a much more common outcome that full integration.

Living as a cooperative multiple worked for me for almost 15 years. I didn’t lose time. I never found myself out of control of what I was saying or doing. I didn’t experienced an internal struggle inside me for control. I never felt the need to warn anyone about it or to explain it, because I had done all the work to learn how to deal with it, manage it, and live with it. When something hasn’t been an issue for nearly 15 years, you don’t really expect it to be an issue.

So why am I sharing this information with you NOW?

Because we’re talking about Sex Love and Obesity. We’re talking about how my lack of self-worth and self-confidence attributed to decades of suffering from obesity as well as my lack of self-awareness of these issues lead me to make poor choices when it comes to sex love and relationships.

My poor choices didn’t just wound me emotionally, they wounded me mentally.

My next relationship choice led me right into a full-blown mental breakdown and suddenly after 15 years of being able to function and manage as a cooperative multiple, I found myself back to losing time, losing control, and losing my cooperative skills. My compartmentalized mind started trying to protect me when I wasn’t doing a good enough job at protecting myself.

It was a very ugly, very scary moment in my journey, and we’re about to talk about it.

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Cooper Institute Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies. Her training and coaching services are offered exclusively through GoGirl Fitness Studio.
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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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