Thursday, April 07, 2011
I don't know about everyone else, but I put a lot of pressure on myself. What I find interesting is where I chose to apply that pressure.
Being a success in my household as a child was the way to my father's heart. He was a tough customer and offered little to no support other than the negative. That is how the pressure started, trying to earn the affection of someone who was unwilling to offer it. So, from childhood to adulthood I have been trying to apply pressure to succeed to win my father's affection and approval. The first area I chose was school. I was an above average student, who applied pressure to myself to get the best grades possible even receiving straight A's in 6th grade. Anything lower then a C was cause for punishment in my house. So, I continued to apply pressure all through junior high and high school in the hopes to further my education in college. It was a huge deal to me to be able to go to college, and it was what I thought my parents wanted for me. I thought all the pressure would pay off when it came time to fill out my college applications. I mean my father acted like there was no other way to succeed in life without a higher education. I worked hard, I applied pressure, so that I could make him happy by getting into college. To my utter dismay, neither one of my parents were willing to step up to the plate to help me with college, or at least I thought. My parents divorced when I was 14 and that made things complicated. All this pressure I was applying was because I thought that was what they wanted for me. I made no other arrangements. I did not apply for scholarships, I did not look into financial aid, I did not think I had to. When the day come for me to fill out application my mother told me she could not afford to pay for college, and I could not get financial aid because my father made to much money. I can't remember if my mom told me that my father was not interested in helping, but let's just say the subject was dropped. If I wanted to go to college, I had to find a way to make it happen. I enrolled in community college and paid for it myself. My higher education plans were derailed by love and a baby, so my brief stint at community college came to an end. I came to find out several years later in a conversation with my father about his son from his second marriage finishing college that in fact my dad was wiling to pay for my college, but my mother told him that I did not want to go. Now, that sounds strange doesn't it? Why would my mother do something like that? Well, my mother was struggling with the divorce, and she wanted to make my father look like the bad guy. Whether she came out and said I did not want to go, I am not totally sure, but my gut tells me that she may have she said something like, I have it taken care off and left it at that. I told my dad that nothing could have been farther from the truth, and the mere fact that he did not take the time to talk to me and get my side of it, changed the course of my life. It was at that time that I realized that I would never have his affection and approval because he was unwilling to give it. The funny thing is, is that I don't think until recently, when I was thinking my grades right now, that I was still applying that pressure. I asked myself, why would I still be applying that pressure, because you know he was not going to give it you what you need, but second he's dead. So, do you need to put so much pressure on yourself to get A's? No, you don't even have to put pressure on yourself to get B's if you don't want to. Do what you want, what you need, that is all that really matters. You already put so much pressure on yourself in so many other areas, why keep up the charade.
Now education was not the only place I applied pressure in my life. Being thin was among many of the things that my mother prized and she planted the seed in my brain at a very young age. My body image issues started at 8 when I reached for a second pork chop and my mom looked at my and said, "do you really need that"? I think it was that moment that I never felt comfortable in my own skin again, and began my obsession with always having to look perfect. I was not an overweight child, far from it but I continued to apply the pressure so much so that when I was 16 I developed anorexia. My mother who for her own reasons never got me any professional help which prevented me from learning how to deal with my issues and developing the proper coping mechanisms. I gradually stop food restricting under the watchful eye of my mother and once I was on my own, overeating became the problem. That is how the weight gains and losses started to happen. I continue to apply pressure to reach some sort of beauty ideal left over from my childhood instead of loving myself for who I am.
I feel like I need to stop here and say that by no stretch of the imagination do I think my parents did not love me. It is extremely hard to be a parent, I know that. They did what they felt was best. I also know that not all parents have the means to send their children to college, and some parents feel that the child should be responsible for their own higher education. My parents however, had the means, and college was I thought always the ultimate plan for me and my brother, and my father paid for his other children to attend college. In the end for me, it is not about the money, it is about the fact the neither one of them cared enough to give me the support I needed, so that I could be as prepared for adult life as possible. I do love my parents and have had to learn the very hard way, that they are who they are. The hard part for me is learning to be who I am, not who they want me to be.
So, where should I apply the pressure now? The best place to start would be to myself, I need to apply the pressure to love and accept myself for who I want to be. Apply pressure to myself, to worry about what I want and need. Live according to what brings me joy and pleasure, get the grades I want, look the way I want, work in a job that makes me happy.
I am going to try to leave the pressure where it is needed, to a bleeding wound, or the cooker...not to myself! Wish me luck!
Thursday, March 31, 2011
I have this strange habit of seeing, hearing or feeling something in the present and then connecting it to a bad experience in my past. I once read in a book about self esteem that people with low self esteem do that because they do not value their worth and only focus on the negative to keep themselves in that negative place....Kind of makes sense doesn't it?
That really got me thinking about where I spend my time. I once heard or read somewhere that most people spend time thinking about the past or the future but never really spend time in the present, today, right now, right in this moment. Most of us can appreciate the "when I lose the weight".... I can do lots of things, or my life will be so much better. Sound familiar to anyone? Spending time in the future, because it will be so much better when....
I have made many attempts at losing weight, and have lost it, only to gain it right back. So, when I started this journey AGAIN I asked myself an important question, "Where you happy when you were thinner"? After some honest reflection, I said to myself, no, I was not. Now sure, it has great benefits, but in the end, when the triggers to my unhappiness occurred, I was thinner but still unhappy, and still unable to cope with how to change. I wanted what I thought "thinner" would bring, but it never came. It never came because I was spending time in the past....
I was spending time thinking about who other people wanted me to be.... Spending time reeling over what other people said I wasn't... Spending time focusing on what I had not done.... Spending time trying to live up to someone's expectations when I would never reach them no matter how hard I tried.... Spending time focusing on the mistakes I made and how I would never be good enough because of them. Spending time in unhappiness. I feed that unhappiness with whatever I could get my hands on, food, alcohol, stuff....and most if not all of the time that just led to more unhappiness.
So why do I spend so much time in the past, why do I focus on what is not instead of what is? Many, many reasons, that until the last few years, I was unable to get my head around. Until one day not to long ago I was laying on the couch looking around my hubble little abode that I own, with my furry friends by my side, with a job, plenty of food in my cupboards, a car to drive, clothes to wear, wonderful friends, a beautiful son, and it hit me. Why exactly are you unhappy? You have it so much to be grateful for and you have it better then so many people. You are truly blessed.
That is when I knew, I had to change where I was spending my time. I had to embrace the here and now, I had to embrace what I have done, I have to rejoice in what I have accomplished, what I am lucky to have. I have to spend time in my present. Because this is where my life is happening. I lived my past, and my future is exactly that, my future.
The words are easy to write, the sentiments are nice, truly putting it into place, that is tough for me. The path has been and will be bumpy, but I know that as I learn to let go, be me, the me that I WANT to be, not the me that other people want me to be, the rest will just start to get easier.
I am spending time in today....where are you spending your time?
Monday, March 28, 2011
Pretending....I am really famous for pretending.
Pretend reminds me of how I occupied my time as a child. This line from a John Mayer song..."I was born in the arms of imaginary friends"...sums up my life as a child...spending time with my imaginary friends. I always talked to my imaginary friends. Pretend was something I played for hours in my room. I spent a lot of time alone in my room. I occupied my time with my imaginary friends, or in the imaginary lives of others through reading or watching television. We pretended a lot as a family too. We pretended that there was happiness....when there wasn't. We pretended that living in a beautiful house, with a pool and manicured landscaping would make everything better, until it didn't. Pretending that I was fine because it was easier on my mom who could not deal with the fact that everything else wasn't. While my mom and dad spent hours with doctors and special schools for my brother I put on the brave face, brave smile and said I am fine! When my parent's got divorced, I said I am fine. When my dad told me he did not want to be a dad anymore, or be married to my mother, I said I am fine. When my mom told me I did not deserve to have a nice wedding because I was pregnant, I said ok, that is fine....That is what I always did, said I am fine....but by saying I was fine I never really learned how to cope with the fact that I wasn't.
Yesterday was no different. I was talking about how lucky I was not to be tied down to a man when my mom and a friend were talking about the toils of marriage....My life is fine! Then I got home and this feeling overwhelmed me, I have felt it before, but I never know it is coming until I am in the midst of it. Because, you know, I am fine....I am so fine that eating an entire box of macaroni and cheese is somehow going to make it fine. In the moment I am not thinking of the scale, or I start justifying it, by saying it is just today, tomorrow you will be back at it. Which is fine, you know because you are fine. Then you do something you should not losing further control, and the guilt is overwhelming. But because I always say, I am fine, I never know what is truly wrong. Until I go to sleep. My dreams are so telling, if I want to know what is bothering me, sleep is where I should look for the answers. My dreams will always tell me what is wrong. Last night, I dreamed a dream I have had many times before. I am in a relationship, but not the good kind, the kind I have always settled for, the emotional unavailable or attached man, who can't give me what I want. When I wake up I can still feel how good it was to be with that someone no matter how unavailable he was, and I realize I truly miss it...I am not fine, I am lonely, that I want to be in love and be loved...
There you have it, that is what I am famous for; burying my feelings in the pretend world of "I am fine"...Pretending to be strong because that is all I have ever known. Pretending because it is too hard to admit that you need someone, that your not perfect, that having the perfect job, perfect house or the perfect body is the magic answer to being fine. I get so bogged down in trying to be fine I forget that I don't have to be....
So right now, today I am ready to say I am not fine...I am a sad, lonely and overwhelmed by school and my future unemployment.
Not fine is ok...dealing with not being fine the old way is not ok...dealing with it here getting it out in the open is the only way to stop pretending, and be born into the arms of something real...
Monday, March 14, 2011
I have had a really bad bout of insomnia over the last week or so. At first I was like, everything is fine, why would I be having trouble sleeping? Then I said, really, are you being completely honest with yourself or are you trying to put a brave face on the outside, neglecting what is on the inside? You know, your usual internalizing. Here's an idea, Why don't you take a look at what is going on in your life right now and see if you can make any sense of it:
1. I am going to lose my job in June
2. My mom is coming over this week to help me paint my house and I have some home repairs that need to be done that she is going to question me on
3. School is boring and tedious this semester and I am having a hard time staying engaged
4. I can't seem to get motivated to exercise
5. I have raging PMS
6. Even though I am going to be unemployed, I keep finding excuses to spend money that I should be saving
Now, that was not so bad was it...It is out...in the open...
So why do you keep internalizing? Could it be because if I don't say it out loud then it isn't real? Are those pep talks you keep giving yourself just a cover-up. What are you trying to cover up, you know you are effing tired, you have never been laid off from a job, and have not been unemployed since you were 20. You know you are getting a severance package when you do get laid off but with so much economic uncertainty are you really scared about how long or if you will find a job. Are you worried about your mom's reaction to what needs to be done at your house even though you are an adult, and it is your house. Is it that you still feel like you did when you were a child when you needed to tell her something you did not want to. No offense to anyone who teaches at a community college but it is frustrating to have to take classes from individuals who teach part-time and lecture verbatim out of the text book that they make you read which does not teach you anything yet you still have to spend thousands of dollars to take these classes. Every week you say you are going to put on your work out clothes and work out, but instead you makes excuses and put on your pajamas. PMS, well that just stands alone.
Is facing the reality that you are scared and frustrated admitting that you are not perfect.
Further, why can't you be angry? Because you were angry today about something that happened at work. When you ate lunch you gobbled down your lunch like you hadn't eaten in a week. Even though you knew you weren't still hungry you wanted to eat more and you thought, you know what, you are ANGRY and instead of just dealing with the emotion, or just saying, man I am mad...you gulped up food as if it would take away the anger! Isn't that what you always do, internalize, or do something else not to face the emotion? You betcha you do....
Facing it here was not so bad was it...
Getting it out...isn't that better?
Yes it is!
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