I got stuck mid-week. I was at a point where I had processed my feelings about my mom but I didn’t know where to go from there. Is forgiveness the next step on the road to healing? I’m not sure it’s necessary as I don’t harbor ill will towards her. I don’t really know how to forgive. Maybe I already have without a conscious effort. Forgiveness is a problem for me regardless of whether it’s necessary in this instance. There are a lot of other things in my life that I need to forgive because I’m holding on tightly to the hurt.
I had a therapy appointment yesterday afternoon. We talked about the progress I’ve made with this issue and how it relates to so much of my life. Many people have hurt me in much the same way, it’s kind of a theme. And I don’t trust because of it. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. My therapist classifies it as a fear of abandonment. I’m not sure I feel that abandonment is the right word, maybe rejection is more accurate, but our time was up. She asked me to think about how I deal with this fear and how I should deal with it.
I know that I deal with it by typically leaving people before they can leave me. In more recent years, I simply don’t let people get close to begin with. I have a constant fear that my expectations will never be met, that people will always let me down. And so often, that’s exactly what happens.
It’s finally becoming clear that most of the problems in my marriage are mine. I fought to leave my husband for the first three years but I didn’t really have anywhere to go and he held on tight. I’m so grateful that he did. I still have my problems, and I still start a lot of fights, but it’s the only relationship in my life with any security. And yet, I fear if I was 100% honest with him, that he would leave. And I would deserve it.
It was 2005 and I was on FMLA and attending the half-day program at the psychiatric hospital the first time a therapist told me to write a letter to my mother. Every therapist I’ve seen since then has suggested the same thing but I could never do it. Finally, on Friday, I wrote that letter. It was hard, really hard. But I realized that I had such a mental block that the reason I couldn’t write before is because I had no idea how I really felt. My mother was safely on her pedestal in my mind and a negative thought was not allowed. I felt guilty, I think, over how I had treated her for a few years and I didn’t understand why I had been that way. I chose to only remember the time when we had a good relationship which was, unfortunately, only the last 6 months of her life. Now, I realize I rebelled and treated her badly because it was the only way I could get her attention and I so desperately wanted her attention that I preferred to be punished than ignored. The truth is she was a wonderful woman, strong and beautiful. But she was human and she had her faults like the rest of us. She did the best she could. And now I can forgive her.
I have been holding on to so much pain that I haven’t left room for anything else.
I recently finished reading a book my therapist loaned me called “When Food is Love” by Geneen Roth. The description from Amazon.com says “In this moving and intimate book, Geneen Roth…shows how dieting and emotional eating often become a substitute for intimacy. Drawing on her own painful personal experiences, as well as the candid stories of those she has helped in her seminars, Roth examines the crucial issues that surround emotional eating: need for control, dependency on melodrama, desire for what is forbidden, and the belief that one wrong move can mean catastrophe. She shows why many people overeat in an attempt to satisfy their emotional hunger, and why weight loss frequently just uncovers a new set of problems. But her welcome message is that change is possible. This book will help readers break destructive, self-perpetuating patterns and learn to satisfy all the hungers—physical and emotional—that make us human.”
I struggled a lot with the book because she bases this behavior on our past however I didhave a pretty good childhood and there was never any abuse. My therapist however believes that the behavior can also be learned from our parents or be from more subtle issues and that helped me to move on with the book. I can see the progression of my weight gain over the course of my life. As a child it was slow. We were brought up on horrible foods – everything came from a box or a can. The only emotional issue I dealt with prior to the teen years was that I was always competing for attention with my twin sister. I still feel like she received most of the attention and I have a reason for why although I’m not sure it’s a reason and that I’m not just making excuses for my parents. Then there were the rebellious years and I actually ate less from 15-18, probably due to getting attention from other activities, mostly negative attention as I stayed in trouble. I have never in my life thought of myself as the attention seeking type so this was a major realization. At 19-20, I lose my cousin, my aunt, my grandmother and my mother while my first marriage fails and I have an abortion. I was overwhelmed and I simply shut down. In the 10-11 years since then I have gained an average of 10 lbs per year. Over 100 lbs.
I didn’t struggle with mental illness until 2004 when I was diagnosed with depression. Since then, there’s been anxiety, bipolar, and talk of borderline personality disorder. I find it interesting that my weight gain did not speed up at this point. Before this point I lived as if I didn’t have a care in the world. In 1 year I managed to go from having it all to nothing. Literally nothing as my boyfriend at the time managed to get me an old chevy blazer, I had to go back to school and take a student loan to pay $290 a month for an apartment and get food stamps to feed myself. Maybe it did speed up and I just don’t remember well enough to see a difference. Actually, that’s probably very likely. My memory is shot.
Basically, I need to do 2 really big things. I need to deal with the feelings I have about my childhood. (And I have a particularly hard time with that because when my mother died I put her on a pedestal and have refused to even think a negative thought about her since.) I also need to grieve the losses I suffered that I never grieved for after I shut down in 2001.
I have to do these things in order to fix my life in the present. I will probably do a lot of writing here (so much for making this a less negative space!). A lot probably won’t make sense but I’ll do my best. I would like to be able to look back in the future and understand this myself.