On the Road to Recovery, This Happened…

It has been 4 months and much has happened.

I moved to Tennessee and began working at a different job. I engaged in wellness activities offered at work. And I embraced a vegan diet to help get my cholesterol lower.

Things are going well, so why do I feel sad?

Yesterday I joined a line dancing activity offered at work. I didn’t know any of the steps and found it frustrating, but kept on trying.

Afterward, an emotional avalanche hit.

I felt like I wasn’t wanted there. Not because I couldn’t do the steps, but because as I was leaving the class leader apologized for doing all hard dances and not helping me. And I thought, did she do that on purpose so I wouldn’t come back? Maybe I shouldn’t go back.

It’s hard to tell the difference between slights experienced today and situations that recall the many rejections experienced in the past.

Truth is what she meant is irrelevant. This is a work-sanctioned activity and if I want to go, she can’t stop me. And since she’s a nice person, I rationally do not believe she meant to exclude me.  She simply led the class to appeal to everyone, not just me.

It’s what I’m feeling that’s important right now. It’s a sign of progress to actually feel the feeling and be aware of all this hurt my body has been storing up inside for years. These are feelings I’ve always used food to quieten in the past. I need to instead feel this hurt and deal with it because otherwise I will continue to react defensively every time I’m faced with a situation that recalls past hurts, and I’ll continue to overeat to forget.

I am tired of living an isolated life because I react to people in the present as though they will treat the same way others have in the past. So today I am choosing to feel the hurt. It’s probably not going to be an easy day, so keep me in your thoughts. And I remind myself today that feelings aren’t facts, and feelings do change.

But first they must be felt.

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If Change is Good,Why Am I So Scared?

I’ve accepted a job offer!

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found at picgifs.com

Now that I’ve made the decision to move on and have a clear path to leave, I am faced with some painful realities.

I realize I stayed here longer than I should have because I wanted to win. I wanted them to see that I really am a good person and a hard worker, and am not the batshit crazy old lady my boss has painted me out to be while taking credit for my work.

I kept hoping that a knight in shining armor would ride up and slap some reality into this place.

And I hoped things to be better for the people I serve.

Not gonna happen. The work culture here will not change, and I will never be accepted in the culture such as it is. I must accept that and decide if I want to keep hitting my head against a brick wall or move on. I am choosing to move on.

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If change is good, why does it feel so bad? (clipart from BBB.org)

Change is scary, and I find myself struggling with the desire to handle stress the way I always have- with food. Even with medication, meditation, and exercise, my body goes back to what is familiar. It is a struggle but I am taking it day by day, and minute by minute as needed.

Change also offers hope of better things. I am choosing today to embrace the changes that are coming my way and believe that it will be nothing but better from here on out.

An Update

I have not written in 3 weeks. But I have still been on track taking care of myself.

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I’ve lost 20 pounds and continue to track my food intake and energy output. I exercise in some way daily.

I talked to my doctor about soreness in my knee. An MRI revealed arthritis and a torn meniscus. I’m going to physical therapy to build the muscles and need to have surgery.

I’ve been applying for jobs. Lots of jobs. Any job and every job I’m remotely qualified for. I had a great interview 3 weeks ago and they even contacted me the next day to say they are interested in me, but I’ve heard nothing since. So I continue to look.

In the meantime I continue to show up for work and do what I have to do to avoid giving them any ammunition to get rid of me, because I know they really want to do that. They are hopeful that I’ll soon be gone too. Amazing, isn’t it? They are struggling to keep employees and are spending all this time and money to figure out why, while at the same time they are praying I will soon be gone. In their eyes, I am the problem. But they’ve said the same of every other seasoned employee that got fed up and walked out the door.

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I’ve been on antidepressants for 6 weeks now and they’ve fully kicked in. I feel better and it shows.

I bought new clothes that are stylish and colorful. I have a new hairstyle. And I am taking care of my hands and feet including painting my toenails.

All of these things seem so normal, and yet only 2 months ago it seemed foreign to me to feel good or to take care of myself. In a way that’s sad. But in another, it’s joyous to see I finally am feeling better.

In my counseling session yesterday my therapist said I am resilient. I responded that I guess so, but she wouldn’t let it go. And she’s right. I am resilient. I am a survivor. No matter what, I will make it or go down trying. I’ve made it this far and I will keep on going. I am the tree who withstands all kinds of weather and continues to grow and thrive.

I Am…

I spend a great deal of time wishing I were something I am not.

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clipart by Yamachem at openclipart.com

I wish I were thin.

I wish I were pretty.

I wish I were young.

I wish I were positive.

And after I’ve wasted all that time wishing I were things I am not, I berate myself not not being those things.

But what I am really doing is measuring myself against a yardstick with unrealistic measurements.

Why do women always have to be pretty? And positive? And why do we have to bake great cookies?

Isn’t it OK to be cranky but competent?

Apparently not. Well, not in some circles anyway.

Oh well. Instead of beating myself over the head because of someone else’s expectations of me, let me instead spend a few moments focusing on what I am.

I am strong, both physically and mentally. I’ve done some things I’ll bet you’d say you could never do.

I keep up with current events and have a general idea of what is going on both in the US and around the world.

I am caring and compassionate, and I have the innate ability to look past the behavior to see the pain.

I am intelligent and thoughtful. I am naturally curious and once interested in a topic will explore it in depth.

I am a survivor. I lived through a childhood I would wish on no one, and despite the scars I carry on the inside, I have made a place for myself in this world.

And from here on out, whenever I am overwhelmed because someone has decided I have not measured up to his or her yardstick, I will remind myself of these positive traits I possess.

As for the crankiness, that is something I am working to overcome.

 

 

Walking My Dog and Recovery…

When I walk with my dog, I experience the wonder that is my world. I see the buds and blooms and greens of trees awakening from their winter slumber. I watch squirrels do acrobats from limbs to power lines and over to rooftops with the greatest of ease. It is a magical time.

And when I walk my dog, I experience terror. What if he gets away from me and I never see him again? What if an off-leash dog comes up to us? What if he gets so excited he jerks me down and causes me injury? What if? What if? What if?

For me, food has been an elixir to calm the terror of life. I learned as a child that the world is not safe, and that I can depend on no one, not even myself, to protect me. But certain foods, foods with starch and sugar, could calm the terrors and make me feel… well, feel nothing.

Today I want to do things differently. That means not only making different food choices. It also means looking at the stuff the food has been trying to hide. I am a tree. I am strong. I am rooted. I am safe. And in this state I can face the fears of the past that still haunt me.

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Waking Up After a Food Fog

So it’s been a couple of weeks, and much has happened during that time.

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I began using an antidepressant because I felt it would benefit me. I’ve only recently begun using the medication but already feel some benefit.

My EAP has run out but I’ve chosen to continue therapy.

I’ve hurt my knee so I’m changing to a chair yoga class for now. I still do stretches each day as well as daily walks with my dog. Walking with my dog is the best part of my day.

But by far the most interesting thing that happened was yesterday. My supervisor called a meeting with me and his supervisor to voice all of my sins for the past year. In that meeting I saw his unbridled hatred for me. He was yelling, flailing his arms around, and at one point sat with jaw tensed and arms crossed. When his supervisor asked him how he felt we could rectify the situation he hatefully said “I can’t work with that woman!” And his supervisor, of course, did nothing.

I was very proud of me for keeping my composure in the middle of that hostility. I stood up for myself and didn’t bow down to either of them.

And I saw that I was right about him all along. Hell, I was right about both of them.

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Trees remind me I am strong and resilient regardless of what happens.

I haven’t decided what I want to do about all that. I did ask the Universe that whatever comes out of that meeting be for the greater good of all. Part of me feels I need to go forward with a complaint because that was a blatant ambush and totally inappropriate. But I am not sure I want to fight. Maybe it’s just best I get out of there.

Waking up has helped me to see just how shut down I’ve been these past two years. It’s painful to accept, but it is what it is. I cannot change the past, I can only learn from it and make myself a different future.

And waking up means I no longer need the food drug to stay asleep.

 

Getting to the Root of My Addiction

Inside of me is a 5 year old little girl who is hurt and is angry. 

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clipart from mycutegraphics.com

My therapist has suggested I talk to her, to listen to what she has to say.

So far she’s not talking. She doesn’t trust me. And I get it. I understand I haven’t been any more protective of her than were the other adults who were charged with caring for her. So until she is ready to speak, I will sit with her and comfort her the best that i know how, and I will remind her that we made it. We survived.

She has carrot-red hair and an impish smile. She is smart and sweet and has some amazingly genius ideas.

She was not bonded to her mother who gave birth 10 months after entering a marriage she’d quickly regretted or to her narcissistic father who married to avoid going to Vietnam and had no intention of settling down.

This little girl feared her father’s rages, especially when they became violent toward her mother. She learned to deflect the rage onto herself and was often beaten instead for some minor infraction real or imagined. She was so afraid she often wet herself.

And then she began school, where some children find safety and solace, but not her. No matter how hard she tried, she never fit in there either. Perhaps if she were thin and blonde and beautiful. But she had already learned of the comfort food can bring and was obese, which others used as a license to make fun or ridicule her.

And what of extended family? Her grandparents? Aunts, uncles, cousins? An uncle once said the state should remove the little girl, and his wife, the school teacher, left him. So to save his marriage, he shut up and hardly said anything else for the rest of his life. The rest were more concerned about how it would look to the community if their family was investigated. How would it affect their standing in the church? They kept their mouths shut and let the little girl suffer.

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clipart from mycutegraphics.com

I know that she lived in a constant state of anxiety, and that she learned fairly early  of the narcotic qualities some foods can provide. It was a relief. A release. A means of coping. How confusing and frustrating it must have been for her to be constantly told the only thing that helped her survive was the one thing she must give up.

So here we are now, her and I. We are learning about ourselves and about each other. We are learning to trust each other. To love each other.

To take care of each other.