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everything but the food

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

That is what I told my therapist that I wanted to talk about, when I saw her earlier today. I have been going to see this therapist for a couple of months, roughly once per week, after a hiatus from any type of counseling for years, because I had lost faith in the value of therapy. Fortunately, I met A, upon the recommendation of a friend of mine who is a therapist, and my faith in therapy has been restored. One of the things to spurred me to seek help is my weariness at fighting and fighting and fighting my disorderly eating, to what seems like no avail. Of course, disorderly eating is like most emotional/behavioral disorders - it is mostly a symptom of other things. Plus, add that to the fact that I am sick to death of thinking about/talking about/writing about/reading about/hearing about/worrying about food and weight and food and weight struggles. One caveat, I am not sick of my Sparkfriends or their struggles and triumphs around food and weight, but if I see one more "surefire" food plan, aka diet, in a magazine, I am going to throw said magazine across the room. Or, if I am feeling like a grown-up, I will just turn the page to something more interesting. Anyway, back to therapy and the lovely A, who is so easy to talk to. She agreed with me, and understood my weariness. I said "honestly, I am willing to look at and talk about pretty much anything else, any other struggles or problems", so that is what we proceeded to begin doing. We talked about various events in my life over the last ten years - taking in our youngest son to rescue him from a very troubled environment, the estrangement from my eldest son at his behest, various struggles my youngest child has had as a result of his rough beginning, the difficult teenagerhood of my now 21 & 23 year old children.....I just gave her a brief overview as to what the last decade brought and she briefly, gently stopped me at one point and said "it sounds traumatic". Now, my nature is to want to underplay my own struggles because someone else always has it worse, and in many cases, way worse. Also, I am not one to dwell on the past - my motto is "learn from it, and keep moving ahead". But, I really heard her when she said the word "traumatic". I fought the urge to turn away from that assessment. She's right. I dealt with some traumatic stuff and I just kept pushing myself and pushing myself because I thought if I stopped for too long, I wouldn't be able to get up and move on. But, with some of the worst of it, hopefully, in the rearview mirror, it occurs to me that I can slow down a bit. I can lessen my expectations of myself. I can focus more of the loving care I give others, to myself. I can give myself a break from constantly challenging myself. I can rest more. I can ask for more help. I can share responsibility with other people in my life, instead of my natural role of rushing in to take the burden off of others. I don't have to fill in everyone else's gaps - if they choose a difficult path, than I can wish them well and love them as they make their way, but I don't have to haul their baggage for them. I have no desire to become completely self-involved and self-indulgent, but I also no longer have the desire to continuously set myself aside for other people. If I don't take good care of myself, who will? If I don't take good care of myself, I will set myself up to be a burden to others, and I don't want to be a burden to anyone, if there is anything I can do to prevent that from occurring. I read a powerful article yesterday about a woman and her son, whose lives ended in the worst possible way. The person writing the article said that many people make the choice between the days, and the years. His opinion, and I share it, is that based on all the evidence at hand, this woman allowed herself to be mistreated while continually catering to, and caving in to, a mentally ill son. She chose the days (less immediate conflict, less immediate discomfort) over the years (better health for her and her son, making the difficult choice to ask for and accept help that her son would fight against). I empathized with her at the same time that I allowed myself to judge her. And, the phrase "choosing the days over the years" deeply resonated with me. I have done that in various areas of my life, at various times, and have paid the price for doing so. It isn't always wrong, of course - there are times it is much better to be right here, right now, instead of always planning for a future that may not come to pass. But, my instinct tells me when I am choosing the days over the years, and a bill will be coming due - sometimes I heed that instinct, and other times I ignore it, knowing I will pay for my choice. I have been told I over-think things. Perhaps I do, and this blog is evidence of that, but I promised I would take you along for my therapy sessions so here you go....this is me, underneath the food and the weight.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Cannie, thank you for sharing your therapy journey with us. Your honesty is deeply moving and I appreciate the opportunity to learn so many valuable life lessons from you.
    1515 days ago
    Thank you for writing this blog. It hit so many choards with me. emoticon
    1529 days ago
  • OOLALA53
    I'm not much of a believer in thinking that solving emotional problems gets rid of overeating automatically. We still have to unhook them from each other. But we deserve to look for peace no matter where the need shows up. And who knows? Might as well leave the door open.

    You're doing great- right on time.
    1529 days ago
    Thank you SO much for sharing this. I have to admit to getting pretty teary-eyed and not knowing how to phrase a response for a day or so. I still don't really have words to put it into, but once again, you have struck a chord deep within for me. I see myself as miles behind in this journey, and yet expecting myself to function as if I'm not right in the thick of it. So your therapy blogs are just that, therapy for me!

    Thank you so much for sharing. I mean that more sincerely than you can ever know.
    Thank you for being real.
    1529 days ago
    This blog reminds me of a book I found on Amazon - "Nice Girls Finish Fat". Nope, didn't read it. I "previewed" it, read the first few chapters, and said, "Nope, I'm a selfish brat...this isn't me at all." But maybe...that author was on to something. Or maybe it's stupid. I just thought that there's so many selfless, wonderful people who put others first instead of focusing on their needs. Maybe you could check it out. Who couldn't hurt. Unless that still falls under the category of talking about food or eating plans, haha...

    And yes, I hate hearing about surefire diets, bc they're stupid. My husband is drinking juice all day instead of eating... I hate to say "I told you so" but I have a feeling I know how this will end...
    1529 days ago
    I think its great that you are doing this, because I agree that it is not REALLY about the food, it's about what the real cause is. I get the idea about choosing days over years, I have done that many times.
    1531 days ago
    Wow this really spoke to me. Especially the part about always trying to fill in other peoples gaps - And how that backfire for you/for us- almost extinguishing the flame of true compassion that tends to be the root of it all to begin with.
    And now it's the perfect time for you to use that compassion for yourself, so that you can be the best Cannie possible, which in turn will be an example to others and help everyone in your circle.
    I honestly think that YOU have told me in the past that I've had a lot of tragedies in my life growing up. And what did I do? The same thing I always do, I likely brushed it off. I often tell myself that we all have tragedies, but it's what we do in response that build or breaks us.
    BUT reading this blog really hits home for me that yes I can build myself stronger by these things, but who says that inner fortress is a good thing? Who says it isn't riddled with cracks and fault lines that end up creating a 'me' with jagged edges, and a hidden heart when I do that same behavior???
    I need to feel the bumps of this rough road we call life. I need to allow myself to feel more of it all,so I can allow myself more time and grace to heal from those things. To create a better me, not just a stronger me. I don't want to lose compassion in an effort to gain strength.

    I'm so proud of you for taking this journey, that WILL help in all areas of your life, even the eating one. Thank you for inviting us on this ride with you...
    Such a Rich blog. Thank you!

    1531 days ago
    I am glad you found a therapist that you can trust, and through who you can learn more about yourself.

    thanks for taking us along!
    1531 days ago
  • DAISY443
    I am inclined to agree with you about the weight thing! It seems to me it is much like when I tried so many times to stop smoking and all I could think about was cigarettes. (I was eventually successful, though) When I try to "diet" all I can think about is food! The elephant in the room...

    Trauma, so much a part of my life for so many years, has made me, as opposed to you, insular and having a need to concentrate on ME! Granted, I raised my children, did my part and more for my community for many, many years, but no more. I have gone too far to the other side and your wonderful insightful blog has made me see that! I/we need to find the happy medium between caregiver and self care that can make us whole!

    Thank you, thank you for this wonderful blog and sharing so much of you with us!
    1531 days ago
    I had a flashback to something I've read so many times...stress causes our bodies to hang on to fat...that's the way they're made. So it's necessarily YOU ....all that stress is working against you. I hope you can grab onto that concept of allowing others to handle their own lives and grow through their challenges. You've taken on their burdens long enough. They need to do it now. And accomplishing something every minute of every day is not a requirement. Sometimes we think we're worthless if we're not constantly productive. It's not true.

    Thanks so much for sharing. I always learn a lot and see myself in our mirror, so it really helps me as well. You are an exceptional woman...but not because you take care of everyone.YOU are exceptional woman because of who you are, not how much you do.
    Nancy emoticon
    1531 days ago
    1531 days ago
    I started to read this earlier but was distracted and busy so I saved it toread when iI could focus.

    I noticed something most of us do. We don't CARE for ourselves. We all rush about, rending everyone but ourselves. Then I read in someone's comments about a podcast where they said the only time the took time for themselves was when eating...


    You said traumatic events..


    , too, have had things like that. Troubled kids, losing both parents, critically Ill child, work, financial situations, stress of self employed,payment, betrayal...I mean, life IS so TRAUMaTIC!

    But do we ever stop for one minute to grieve or process or accept? I am like you, so NO!

    This blog really helped me think about those things and as always, your honesty is so awesome.

    Thank you, thank you for writing this, being my friend, and coming into my life at just the right're the bomb!
    1531 days ago
    Wow! Your story gave me chills not because it was so difficult but because I just heard the same story 2 days ago. I was listening to Renee Stephens Inside Out Weight Loss, yeah I know you don't want to hear another weight loss motivation article. In her podcast she talked about a woman who was having trouble losing weight. The woman was successful in all other areas of her professional and personal life but just couldn't conquer her weight issues. Renee talked about the Positive Intent behind all of our behaviors even the negative behaviors we wish we didn't have like overeating. Eventually, the woman discover that she only took time for herself when she overrate. So the positive intent behind the negative overeating behavior was to get her to take time for herself. Once she started taking time to take care of herself that behavior stopped. Got goosebumps yet? If you want to listen to the Podcast yourself, I've posted the link.

    Episode 213: Yo Yo Dieting, Positive Intent and Chronic Fatigue
    Why is it that we can be so successful in some parts of our lives, yet struggle with our weight? If we could just get rid of that devil sitting on our shoulder, all would be well. Or would it? Join Renee this week and learn how to avoid the mistakes of Spain's Francisco Franco and Astronaut Lisa Nowak, and instead turn the devil on your shoulder into your advocate. Discover what causes yo-yo dieting and how you can break that cycle, for good. Plus, Renee shares how she overcame four and a half years of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome when thousands of dollars of supplements didn't work.

    1531 days ago
    I have always admired you for your honesty and willingness to share it - and I thank you for sharing this, as well. For all the blogs I have ever written in the past about my own life, mostly as a caregiver to my Mom and, on occasion, the dysfunctionality of my family at large (siblings), I still remain a deeply private person. Have been all my life. LOL, guess that's why I"m JuliaMoonChild and look exactly like Meryl Streep. But, anyway, I learn so much more about my own feelings and all that I keep hidden away, even things that hurt me a lot, when someone like yourself is willing to share with others things that many of us would find difficult to share. Of course, you are also a brilliant writer when it comes to your blogs and you can tell so much and give so much in this tiny little spark world forum.

    I appreciate you. I truly do. emoticon
    1531 days ago
    Wow. You certainly did have your share of trauma for sure. You are treating yourself so well allowing yourself to be vulnerable and do the therapy w/"A" AND share it here. But you are helping SOOOOOOOoooo many others who have been in at least similar situations.

    Proud of all you've accomplished. It hasn't been easy. You keep getting up and that's what it's all about. For me too!

    1532 days ago
    Thank you for sharing personal information and feelings. It sounds like you were most wise in giving therapy another try, and finding a therapist who feels like a good fit for you. Perhaps food has become a part of how you nurture yourself through traumatic times. Some people don't eat, and there's those (like myself) who tend to turn to food for comfort. I was doing the same thing with alcohol. But unlike my battle with food, I have been successful at giving up alcohol for, at this point, 19 months. We can make a choice to live without alcohol, but we can't give up eating food. I'm better at 'all or nothing' than I am at moderation.

    I wish you the best on your journey, and am glad you are in good guiding hands. Getting those close to you to accept taking on more responsibility for themselves may be a challenge. They are used to your caretaker role. There is something to be said for both long term planning, and the AA way of not being overwhelmed by taking it "One day at a time." I hope you find your niche.

    emoticon Denise
    1532 days ago
    I like that concept of "choosing the days over the years": very useful.

    And -- for me at least -- when I was so overburdened with responsibilities for others, it was hard to find time to care for "me" and easy to comfort and console myself with food.

    No particular diet is helpful for me either. Basically, every diet works if you work it. Three "most useful" resources I've found that adhere to that concept have been:

    Susan Estrich, Making the Case for Yourself

    Dr. Judith Beck, The Beck Diet Solution

    Steve Siebold, (free 21 day program sending a short video coaching session every day).

    1532 days ago
    Thank you as always for sharing so honestly. There is so much that is traumatic in life and of course it's always worse elsewhere but yes, you can honor all that you have endured/are enduring. It is a big life and deserves the proper reverence where due. Good for you for taking the time to see and allow yourself that privilege. I am also shedding off some of my "tough chic" and opting for open, loving, and vulnerable. If there is one thing I've never wanted to be it's dependent but now on this food/ weight battle (the only one that get's me every time) I realize dependency in it's right form is okay too. It's the first time I am cutting corners elsewhere to be able to take care of me instead of "pushing harder, digging deeper" to find some spare minutes that I will eventually volunteer away anyway. We have to be what we have to be when we have to be it in certain circumstances but then those things pass and when we realize we did in fact live through them, we can trade in our combat boots for something more suitable for after war-time. I so get you. I also am starting to see that although the pain is familiar and true, very few hurts are original at this stage in my life. I'm not surprised by much these days and as cynical as that sounds, it's not. It just means I don't need to be in first time kick-ass mode for everything and lose myself for a year or two at a time. I can handle and proceed calmly......usually.

    You are the best and I am so grateful for you. This blog was the treat of my day and much anticipated!
    1532 days ago
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