Sunday, December 28, 2014

Replacements

Today was so low key in my house, which was so perfect for a Sunday.  I slept in, hung out with my younger son (who is always the first one to wake on my the weekends), did a little housework, then did whatever I felt like.  Today, that meant a lot of reading and a little time on my phone.  It is so nice to have a break from the usual chaos of feeling like there is so much to get done for the week.  
I didn't stress out about eating.  I was craving green veggies for once, so I ate broccoli and asparagus with a vegan sausage patty for breakfast.  Eating those healthy things because I genuinely wanted them had a much different effect than when I was eating them because I was restricting certain carbs, or trying to change my body.  Over the holidays, and for some time leading into them, I eat my fair share of completely nutritionally-void junk. At least, when I'm not restricting I do, so by the time the holidays are over, my body is screaming for real food with nutritional value.  When I'm restricting during the holidays, I eat tiny portions of the things I want, but my mind knows I am restricting so as soon as I'm alone, I'm plowing through the plate of cookies and candies with no end in sight.  Neither one makes me feel very good, because both include eating copious amounts of sugars, fats and salt.  At least when I'm not restricting I can eat all that and move on, restricting sends me through torturous mental drama that takes much longer to get past. 
At any rate, I ate a lot more veggies today than I have in a while.  And it made me feel like I was making smart choices and that I was healing my body and brain.
I read some more of Geneen Roth's book "When Food is Love" today, and again I had to stop and re-read some parts because it was almost eerie how she sheds light on questions I have had for so many years, questions why I self-sabotage myself in not just diets but in relationships as well.  Ugh.  It just makes me wish everyone could read this book.  I know so many people who have lost weight and gained it, know what to do but still put food they want to restrict right into their mouth, and can't seem to get back on track, and wonder why.  This book answers the why, but you can't just read it, you have to take it in, sift your own experience through the words and hold the gem up to the light to see it gleaming.  
As I was reading tonight I saw what I did to my relationship with my sister, someone I used to feel protected me and cared for me at times.  And I saw what I did to my relationship with my dad.  I'm still working on looking at the relationship with my mom, it's a little tougher to look at for me, has some sharp edges with a blinding gleam and I don't have the strength to look at it right now.  But I will. Soon.  
One of the things I read that I will be thinking about more as I go to bed and over the next few days is the point she makes about chasing after someone that is (at least in part) unavailable.  I know I'm not the only one who went through this, but maybe I was the only one who went through it at the age I was, and for so long, and so very awkwardly.  When I was in college, I worked at a convenience store.  It was some of the best times I've ever had, we had such an awesome team of people working there.  I fell very quickly for a man named Tim.  He was about 9 years older than me, had the quickest wit I've ever known, and is the best story teller ever.  He was sarcastic and could  be moody, and people picked on him at times because he did his own thing.  I lost myself over him.  We hung out, sometimes every weekend, sometimes not for months, but we worked together and we always kept each other in stitches.  We kept in touch after he stopped working there, and though I would write long letters explaining my feelings for him, we never really got around to taking that step beyond friendship.  We came close, a few times but we were both so awkward and suffering from fear of rejection that neither one of us made a move.  He once wrote me a letter to tell me he wanted to kiss me and see where we could take it, and still we didn't move.  We were frozen in maybe for so long, assuming the other was out of our league.  I kept thinking that if I just stuck to a diet and lost weight, he wouldn't be able to resist me. And when I failed at each diet I tried (while working full time and going to college full time not to mention) I felt like a total failure and didn't want to see him.  I would think to myself, no wonder he doesn't want me, I'm a total loser slob who can't take care of myself and I believed it for so long, that my worth was wrapped up in my jeans size and that no man worth my time would ever look at me until I lost weight.  I pushed Tim away because he didn't dote on me.  But it took me eight long years of chasing him to finally start looking out for myself for once.  And when I moved away and stopped acting so starry-eyed over him, he still wanted to know me.  But then I met the man I eventually married.  I still think about Tim a lot, I realize our personalities would have been too big together and it would have been a disaster in the end.  But I wonder what the significance of it was, why I craved his approval and acceptance more than anyone I've met before or since.  And toniggt, Geneen gave me that answer.  It's not the Tims or the workaholics or the emotionally-unavailable people that we want, what we are really chasing after is that which we feel we didn't get from our parents.  Positive attention, protection (emotionally or physically), approval, validation, praise.  Warm, unconditional love.  We fantasize certain features into those we wish could fill all the holes we have from our past.  It's a dangerous game, but it keeps us from having to look at the painful stuff we had to face when we were too little to know how to handle it or let our needs be known.  I didn't want Tim because he was an amazing man who I knew could make me happy, in fact, there were plenty of times when he hurt my feelings or treated me rough.  I wanted his approval more than anything, I told myself it was because he was so choosy about his friends, but now I realize it wasn't about him at all.  His mood was just as unpredictable as my mother's, I never knew which version I was going to get, but when I got the tiniest morsel of acceptance or approval from either one of them, I soared on it for days!  I wanted Tim to save me from myself, to make me feel loved and worthy and smart and pretty.  But really, I wanted those things from my mother first.  Being fat protected me from rejection in a way, my self esteem was so low that I simply took myself out of other people's equation, stepped away before I could be rejected.  With my mom, I closed myself off as a way to protect a place that was more vulnerable to her than anyone else in my whole world.  With Tim, I made a powerful decision to stop compromising my dignity for someone that never quite made sense to chase in the first place.  I met my husband 2 months later.  I am so lucky Tim never had the balls to make a move, it could have made a mess of my life.  Until today, Tim still had power over me, not because I am pining after him (trust me, if you met both him and my husband you would understand why I don't pine after Tim), but because I would like to see him again, to laugh and reminisc about the good old days, but I am also nervous about how easily he can make me feel bad.  But I realize now that he doesn't have that power, I give him that power, and I can just as easily take it away.  Just like I have to do with my mom.  I'm not a defenseless child anymore and she's not a scared teenage mom, married to an alcohol she may or may not have ever loved, she was just looking to fill the holes her own parents left behind.  
We women are a mess!  No wonder men are always saying there's no way to understand us!  Lol.  
I'm taking baby steps and it's feeling a little easier all the time.  Sorry for the novel, if I don't get this stuff down right away I lose my train of thought, and it is helping tremendously.  

Friday, December 26, 2014

New Eyes

Today I stress-ate myself through my 10 and 11-and-a-half year old boys being home alone the entire day while my husband and I worked.  It was the first time my younger son was alone that long and he was worried and so was I.  They got through it just fine, but I ended up trying to calm the stress with food, and making myself physically uncomfortable in the process.  I still ate pizza for dinner despite not being hungry, and now I'm still more full than I want to be, hours later.  If overeating makes me feel so aweful, why does my brain keep telling me to eat?!
I discovered Goodwillbooks.com a few weeks ago and got two used books I'd been looking for for 99 cents a piece, score!  They are both Geneen Roth books.  One is a workbook called Why Weight, and the other is one I've read before called When Food is Love.  I've been working on the exercises in the workbook on occasion, so I decided to read the other tonight and I'm really glad I did.  I really absorbed the words tonight instead of simply reading lifeless words on a page.  She writes so hauntingly knowingly, like she has the keys to your secrets.  
This passage struck me hard.  This is me.  I learned early in life to tiptoe around others, to be helpful or to get out of the way. I learned to lower my expectations so as not to be so disappointed.  I learned to put my efforts in making my mother happy and avoiding what made her angry because I never knew which side of her I'd get, and I wanted to feel like if I was good, she'd be the warm, loving mom and shower me with affection and praise.  When nothing I'd do seemed good enough I turned to food    for comfort.   
Another passage that grabbed my attention is this:
Yes.  I couldn't control my mom's moods or how ignored I felt, how needy I felt for her love and attention, but at an early age I could control the food I ate, and I could put my focus on my weight so I wouldn't have to think about how desperately I'd failed at being a good enough girl who'd make my mom find me lovable and a treasure.  What I didn't realize is that, all along, is that it was never about me.  I thought I could make her love me more by being better-behaved, by being obedient and helpful, by being invisible when the situation called for it.  I lowered my expectations and took what I could get instead of asking for what I wanted.  
Another passage:
She goes on to say that we begin to feel that only the in-control person is lovable, and if this is so, then who we really are when no one is looking, is not lovable.  
There is a part where she says her mother, when she was angry, told her she was selfish, and that equated to being bad.  Being bad, in a kids mind (especially a fragile kid) means being unlovable.  So if being selfish means you think of your needs above others, and if being selfish means you are bad, and if being bad means you are unlovable, then putting your needs above others makes you unlovable.  This put a huge lump in my throat.  Her mom was my mom in so many ways.  I totally get this philosophy and I have lived it for so so many years.  
I am full of emotion, but it is joyful breakthrough-type emotion, as if I have just discovered a secret that is bittersweet, but liberating all the same.
I am looking forward to re-reading this book with new eyes.  It really has hit the vital nerve, and I think this is exactly where I need to be right now.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

To Nurture

I don't celebrate Christmas.  The family I grew up in did, but I don't now.  It is partly because of my husband, when I met him he was Rastafarian and we just naturally took our own path away from the Christian tradition, and it is partly because I have taken my own, genuine interest in Buddhism which does not celebrate this holiday.  I am not offended when people wish me  a Merry Christmas or ask if I am "all set" for Christmas.  I have great memories of family gatherings and holiday traditions with my family.  Still, we get together with my husband's families every Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for the standard feasts and gifts.  We have begged our families not to get us gifts because it is awkward for us, we either feel obligated to give gifts as well, thus forcing us into their holiday, or we don't give gifts and feel really uncomfortable because they insist on getting us some.  I would much rather spend time as a family without all the extra gift chaos.  To my kids, the gifts (and all the crazy foods) are all they care about on Christmas.  Autism or not, by the time we hit the door to go home, the kids and I are usually in a full-on sprint to the car from all the sensory overload!  Noise makes me nauseous sometimes, it crawls under my skin and kicks me in the brain and gut.  I have had my share of noise pollution the past two days.  
So tonight after things were settled a little, I decided to quiet my mind and do a little meditation.  I had spent a long time looking at Buddhist things on Amazon tonight, and my mind felt open despite the chaos.  I tried a breathing technique I'd heard of recently, where you inhale for four counts, then hold your breath until you feel you can't hold it any longer, and let it out.  After doing it 4 times, my head started to drain (sinuses, etc).  As I felt the draining, I sat quietly and let my mind feel/see myself sitting under a tree meditating, just as the Buddha originally did, but before I went inside myself in my meditation within meditation, the Stars twinkled and shot a bright glowing energy into me.  In waking, I don't think about the stars much, though I have read that we are made of the dust from stars.  I was going to end my meditation there, but I decided I needed to know more.  Why was I given this energy, what am I to do with it?  The answer came in pictures, first I thought it was showing me teaching or guiding, and I knew that wasn't the whole picture then as if a voice said it out loud, the words TO NURTURE came across so clear.  The images I was getting during this were of the people I would encounter at the job I'm going to school for (to help people with special needs learn life skills), and I think the reason teaching/guiding didn't fit right in my meditation is because I am aware that some people with cognitive delay or damage may never learn.  My job will be to teach those that can learn, but to nurture all of them.  
So that was an interesting twist on my standard why-am-I-so-fat meditation.  The spirit of meditation can be very self-serving, but the Buddhist goal is to meditate on how my actions can help or hurt others.   
I haven't been thinking about my body lately, meaning I am not engaging in the typical self-hate or obsessing over how not to eat my weight in carbs, or how to fit into a size 2 dress by New Year's Eve. I see it all around me, "I can't" "I shouldn't" "How can you?"  And food is making people act like they are about to do something totally taboo or horrible.  I can see how those thoughts can ruin special times for folks.  Time we should be enjoying with people that won't be around as long as we want them to be.   Time we should be happy.  We deserve to be happy, no matter what size pants we wear.  Not because of our size, but despite it, because we are not a mistake.  
I hope my readers enjoyed time with loved ones and had a peaceful holiday.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Healing Process

It I took a whole week off work last week, just for some time to myself, to get things done, rejuvenate and refocus.  I had a lot on my plate, sick kids, missed busses, final exams/papers to write, more car repairs, etc!  But I did take some time to just lay on the couch watching documentaries and morning news.  It felt good to have time to do things and it felt really good when I handed in the last of the papers and wrapped up my semester for a month long break.  I thrive on free time.  I wish I had more of it.  
And that got me thinking about ways I can make my morning feel less rushed.  I typically get up at 5:30 am and have less than 2 hours to get myself and my 2 sons ready and out the door.  What transpires between those two hours is pure chaos and disorder!  Clothes that fit last week suddenly don't fit, boots feel wierd or wet, gloves suddenly missing their mates while the bus is pulling up, early meetings and slippery roads, by the time I get to work, I am usually feeling exhausted and look a fright!  I know it doesn't have to be this way, so I've decided to trial a new schedule for myself to give me a little more time to get prepared for the day. One of my major projects I did during my time off was to overhaul my bedroom.  This truly is my own personal space, and over time it somehow became the dumping spot of the house, where those items we didn't want to get rid of but didn't know what to do with ended up.  So I totally changed it, cleaned out every nook and cranny, even redecorated.  Now it truly is a retreat for my overstimulated senses at the end of the day.  And I feel much more calm when I go in there.  It feels therapeutic.  
And I need therapy in all sorts of ways right now.  My body has developed so many new aches, seemingly overnight, and I am feeling really stiff and swollen and dry this winter, even though the snow hasn't been a factor yet. It doesn't help that I misjudged the edge of a chair I was standing on and fell to the ground last week too.  But even before that happened I have had a new stiff and swollen middle finger on one side and an extremely sore elbow/arm on the other.  It stinks getting old!
So I've decided that I need to get back into stretching.  My new morning schedule now has me up at 4:30am so I can do some yoga and have a  hot cup of tea while waking up.  I've chosen 12 beginner poses I found online (one is not a beginner pose and will take me a long time to master but I'm willing to try).  As I do these more I will be able to tell which ones are useful and which I need to swap out.  Today was my first day of sincere effort and it made me aware of a few things.  First, my balance is atrocious!  Second, certain parts of me are pretty flexible despite all the extra weight I carry, but my back is going to take some work to loosen up again.  And, holding a strech for 30 seconds really is hard work, especially when you are also trying not to topple over!
As usual, a work in progress.  I liked the fact that I felt less rushed and got to see my husband for a little bit (he leaves for work at 5:30).  The stretching didn't make me feel too much better physically today, but there are other factors involved.  I am choosing to look at my self care as healing.  I am healing myself, one small step at a time.  And that's as good a place to start as any.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Mind's Mysteries

Some people equate their weight loss journey to climbing a mountain, but never reaching the top.  The yo-yoing back and forth is like climbing the same ten feet of a mountain and never get past that spot. For me, I feel like I'm in a narrow hallway and I'm bouncing off walls.  One wall is discipline, healthy eating, working out.  When I'm on that wall, I feel good, I'm proud of myself for doing "the right thing". But after a little while I get bored of feeling like I HAVE to stay on that wall so I force myself off and I hurl at the opposite wall with reckless abandon thinking, I will eat when and what I want and I make plans to get on the other wall again someday and I keep eating and sleeping and then I get to a point where it is harder to do simple tasks without breathing heavier and I panic or get disgusted by how I look and I hurl myself at the other wall.  I am bouncing off the walls and my mind feels as crazy as the mental image that conjurs up.  I am never just walking the hallway in control, food always has the power over me, it wait her makes me feel better than everyone else or worse than everyone else.  
I focused on that tonight for my meditation, and asked why I am always bouncing between such extremes.  My usual guides were all mumbling over one another but the face of a wise sage came to me and answered that I could not find balance because I did not have stability when I was young.  Before I could ask more, the sage told me that it is up to me to make my own stability, to open up the middle path as an option to myself, and find my own way to steady my foundation.  I was a little puzzled, I thought that is what I was doing by all this meditation work.  I am still very new to all this, but I take everything I can from it because I know I won't have peace until I figure some things out.  And, figuring things out is kind of fun.
Here's to unlocking the mysteries of your own mind!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Intensions

Monday is supposed to be the day I get to go in late to work, typically I go in anywhere from 10-noon because I get done late.  So, in considering getting up early for a workout, I usually pass, assuming I'll have time once the kids are on the bus. But the last two Mondays it hasn't worked out for me.  Last week I got called into work, and today my son had a sick tummy and I kept him home.  I didn't want to leave him when he wasn't feeling good (we have a cardio room right across the parking lot) and once he fell asleep I didn't want to wake him, so I got one of my final exam essay papers done.  It was a great use of time, even though I wanted to be doing fun stuff instead.  
I was able to meditate for a short period tonight.  At first I saw the most adorable image of a baby elephant who'd accidentally flipped on its back, but it wasn't sad or scared, it was actually joyful.  It is joyful to be different I thought, but maybe a more fitting sentiment is that it was happy with who it was and the position it was in.  
I didn't want to get stuck in that one image, it showed up to tell me something and I took the point and turned my attention to my guides.  When I dropped in on them, they were all just waiting around, waiting for me to ask a question I guess.  So I asked.  Why do I want to eat foods that damage my body?  They all tried to speak at once, and I heard a stew of sounds and then the big guy broke through the noise and said (in a sad-but-fed-up manner) "Because you don't see your own worth.  You think you don't matter."  And unlike my conscious mind, that would have denied that comment, my subconscious question back was how do I know my own worth?and the answer once again was "give yourself to others, and you will know your worth.  
I know it is face value and hidden value, I have been wanting to volunteer at my local Cerebral Palsy center, and do some charity work that I could involve my kids in.  But I let things get in my way.  And we all know what they say about good intentions.  So maybe this is a message about intentions, and how they don't turn into actions on their own.  I caught the message, it was hidden in a bunch of other stuff, but I caught it.