I outed myself.

I outed myself as an official hot mess in recovery, very recently.  I found that process extremely powerful and decided to add blogging to my cognitive behavioral therapy tool kit.  I am new at this, and feel clumsy.  I spent way more time creating this site than necessary but it is all new to me, so I fell all over the place while figuring it out (of that I am still doing).

I am 50, one year sober and trying to create some order with my disordered eating. I have let shame swallow me, it is a toxic poison, that shame.  And I am drudging through its toxicity so I can rid of it and it’s sickness.  I also have clinical depression and general anxiety disorder.  The mental illness industry has hit the jackpot with me, though I know I am only a mild, annoyance to that conglomerate.

I work with a licensed therapist and a licensed nutrition therapist, both weekly.  I have relinquished coloring my hair and getting my nails done to pay for these luxuries that I am very grateful to have access to.  I have also decided enough is enough with all the glam, I even gave up most make-up with the exception of mascara (still on the hunt for a really lush making one that is BROWN only, that does not run off my lashes and into the already dark circles under my eyes) and lipstick.   I want to embrace my aging and use the money for more fun things like adventures, when therapy is needed less and I have better recovery management.  I went to Costa Rica this past summer and had the time of my life- I want more of that!

I have been seeing a counselor or therapist of some sort since I was about 30, and first diagnosed with clinical depression.  I have been giving therapists the runaround for 20 years, and really not working on “the” issues.  But all my other issues seemed to entertain them enough for an hour, and it was often documented that progress was being made.  But really, I was playing a game.  It was “let’s pretend” I am going to really be genuine in therapy.  I do not know that I was consciously aware  of the game until I hit my rock bottom and started to really dig deep and could see in retrospect that I was farting around with all the others.  I have had my share of awful therapists too..  but I was an awful patient as well.

The very first therapist that I let in, was Josh. He got to work with me on my substance abuse journey. I met him almost a year and half ago.  He didn’t put up with much shit, and could see right through me.  He had the luxury of working with me in a group setting and an individual setting for almost 30 weeks. It was an intensive therapy session, apparently that is what I needed to be real.  Josh will always be in my heart, and in my brain! He was the start to all of this recovery work.  He will say, it is all my work but I know I am NO easy patient and that man worked!

Once I had about 10 months of sobriety under my belt, I knew I needed to continue in therapy as I was graduating from intensive outpatient therapy.  I knew alcoholism was just one of my abuses and I needed to move on to the next “disorder”, to “recover” from.  It will be way more difficult than getting and staying sober, it is a dysfunction I have lived with probably since I was 16 years old.  I am driving the struggle bus on this one!  I decided to tackle my eating problems.  I have struggled with weight for years and obesity is in my genetics.  I have participated in every diet ever created, I have binged, purged and restricted myself.  I have f*cked up any possibility of having a healthy relationship with food. I even had weight loss surgery in the summer of 2013 and kept 90 pounds off,  until I started intensive outpatient therapy and started to live a sober life.  In this year of sobriety I have gained 45 of that 90 back.  I went right back to eating out of control. I have stretched my surgically modified stomach and ruined $30gs plus of surgery. Weight loss surgery does not magically make and keep you at a healthy weight- it truly is only a tool.  This past year, I replaced all the alcohol sugars with dessert sugars.  And I became sedentary because getting sober, for me was exhausting and depressing, so exercise took a back seat.  Bing, Bang, Boom, I am XL again. It is very scary and very upsetting but I am hopeful that my intensive disordered eating therapy will get me to a point to have a healthier relationship (a normal) with food.  I want to be at a healthy weight and active again, I am hoping this new path in therapy will get me there.

I have been going to therapy and nutritional counseling for a few weeks now.  I have completely gained more weight since.  While I have been working very hard in therapy for my shame issues, doing all the homework and then some, I have been doing very little for my nutrition therapy.  I try, I really try.  But working on shame while having no “crutch” (like wine and yummy fatty sugary goods) is VERY difficult.  But I am trying.  Hence this blog.  I need to have a bigger tool in my CBT box, and I think I will try this.  I believe it will give me focus and make me more accountable if I write it all out.

I will be genuine and raw.  I have to strip all the onion layers away. I truly believe that is the only way I will get back to “ME” (well me minus all the onion layers actively covering me up).

I’ve been quiet like a mouse.

I always have these great intentions to blog and post, regularly. I think I am going to get so much out of it, and then I don’t.  Or I get bored of myself or I get stuck on Netflix or I just can’t commit.  Or all of it.

I think so much of it comes from not feeling so great about how tiny my baby steps are in my recovery and that I don’t seem to have any grandiose revelations to share.  I feel boring- maybe I am bored too. Who knows. But here I am, with not much to say.

Yes my movements forward have been with the teeniest of tiniest of baby steps- albeit all movements forward.  Still sober since September 22, 2016 and no binge eating since in forever (nutrition therapist has date for that, I do not).  I have been deemed emotionally ready to handle the process of weight loss again (yippee-aye-yea) <sarcasm>.  That is actually not a baby step but a giant leap forward, but am I ready? I am like in the contemplation stage of addiction with this one.  I want to, but I am terrified.  I am so terrified. It is such a fucking emotional, off the rails ,coaster ride for me- but I am also unhappy and I feel unhealthy about my weight  Who loses 90 pounds, post surgery and then puts 63 back on? I guess someone sobering up does.   I have worked hard at forgiving myself for that and I am 98% there.  There is that 2% that is just so sad about it.  And 2% keeps me afraid of failure, again.

Since June I had to deal with the loss of a wonderful therapist- who finally invested in me (proving to me life beyond Josh, my substance abuse counselor whom I am forever indebted to but had to graduate from) because she needed to move on in her personal life.  This sucks, finding a new therapist after working so bloody hard for a full year with someone.  It is starting all over again and it does set you back emotionally.  I took some time off from my nutritional therapist, and learned I missed her (even though I hate what she is to me- my accountability person).  It was good space though, I needed to learn to appreciate her. I did find a new therapist and it is going okay, it will be good, I can feel it. She assigned me home work right away- and I hate that so that is a sign that I will work hard. Want me to work hard, assign me stuff, give me a dead line, and I will feel challenged and do it.  She got that from me right away.  Spot on.

So this summer I had only tiny movements because of change.  But I stayed sober, I didn’t gain any weight- maintained the gain.  Not gaining is a good thing.  I would have loved to have lost some weight but learning how to cope with out binge eating has been far more important and the maintenance is proof positive. I can move forward whenever I am ready.

I did however keep myself productive with out overwhelming me- and only doing what I wanted to do.  I did no people pleasing….  I didn’t.  It was glorious and cathartic! I made sure I had some fun, I spent time with my husband and  I took on a project that Jim and I have been putting off for a few years (selling our home, downsizing and all the work that comes with that).  So while I have no wild fanfare of “LOOK AT ME NOW” to reveal to others I have made healthy, emotionally thought out, and stress balanced strides in my world- for me.   Teeny, tiny baby steps are really okay and actually feel so much better then trying to do everything all at once and over night! Breathing is fantastic, napping is fantastic, sitting and talking with your adult children is fantastic- not everything has to be so “wow that is amazing”- amazing comes with a set of stress I can not always handle so well.  Some times even keel is the awesomeness I need.

That is it in a nutshell.  If you’re curious, you may not be- but if you got this far in my blog you must… right? If you’re curious this is where I am at. I spent my summer learning how to maintain an even keel, how to say no to people, stay aware of my needs emotionally and what is really important for me/my family and that there is no shame in a daily afternoon nap, a siesta on my porch or reading all day if I choose to do so.  Doing nothing at times works for me.  I did me some nothing this summer, along with some other stuff.  I learned to balance.  Pretty cool.

My therapist says slow down, even though I have felt so stuck. Here, I try to make sense of that.

I love my therapist, I do but she leaves me so confused at times.  About 2 or 3 sessions ago she told me that we really needed to slow things down, this is the same session when I told her I was feeling so stuck and paralyzed.  This feels conundrum like to me as so much of my therapy does.  I have not written in some time because I have felt so stuck, in fact I feel like I have taken many steps back into some pretty dark places from years past, places I thought I would never venture again.  I want to blame the winter, it sure has not been helpful but seasonal affect can’t all be to blame.  Digging into myself has been very sad and left me vulnerable, irritable and uncomfortable.  And besides my therapist, I really don’t want to talk to anyone else about it.  It is just too much to explain, and I don’t even have words to explain some of it.  I feel like enough is enough, let me just move on.

Everything seems to be moving backwards, the depression, my disordered eating, myself loathing and overall unhappiness.  Shame and guilt have swooned over me once again. I am hoping with more sunshine and fresh air that some of this gray stillness will pass and I will fill my lungs with rejuvenating attitude and motivation. I know I am not doing a very good job acting or covering up my mood or disorders- I am pretty much just wearing myself out there.  And that is boring and people don’t want to be around that.

I have been working mostly on shame and guilt in therapy, since battling alcoholism and now trying to concur my eating disorder I can now add failure to that mix.  I have such a great sense of failure because I have gained so much of the weight I lost (and kept off for 3 years) back during my recovery from alcoholism.   In May it will be two years since I entered my first intensive out patient program and when I started to gain weight back because I started to use food again.  Right back to my disordered eating I went.  I should have never had the weight loss surgery until I recovered from my eating disorder (oh yeah, and not drinking anymore may have helped).  Though I never acknowledged I had one. Even so the feeling of failure lurks and I haven’t been able to shake it.

This winter has been rough and I allowed it to consume me, I let it take hold of me.  I have a couch bed for God’s sake.  My daughter calls our love seat in my living room my couch bed.  So pathetic.  I make deals with myself so I can lie on my couch bed guilt free. I am laying on it right now as I write this.  I have days that I did not go into work because I am immobilized by my depression this season.  I think, “hell I have 57 sick days, I am not going in and I don’t” and then I stay in bed only to roll onto my couch bed.  It has been an evil winter.  Have I said that yet?  It has been pretty evil!  Depression is real people, and it can be so debilitating!

I think slowing down is my therapist’s way of saying that I am so desperate to change so many things NOW but I have to start looking at one thing at a time; like, read one self help book at a time, and setting one goal at a time and choosing one intention a month.  Maybe she means I have overwhelmed myself with trying to fix a little bit of everything  at once, that I have paralyzed myself.  I am staying sober, learning about my eating disorder, thinking about leaving my job, working on my marriage, doing new things at work, trying to be kind to myself, my  body, my mind and doing it all at once has been very difficult  (never mind being a wife, mom, sister, daughter and counselor).  And this all makes me feel like a weak person, I think, as no one else is whining in a blog.  Yet here I am.

Yet, even in my gray cloud I am hopeful that Spring will help me.  I have plans to move my body.  I made one intention for April and that is to move.  I will be telling Jim, today, that I want to make our dining room (why do we have one? I entertain at Thanksgiving and that is it) a place for my treadmill and yoga.  There is so much light and it is UPSTAIRS and not hidden in the basement (plus the basement is now a storage area).  I can open the windows and breath in the fresh air. It can be an easy yet large change. Even with the snowy day today, I am hopeful.  I am hoping this is my last dark blog and I am hopeful that in May I will blog with some happy mental health reports!

Namaste’

 

I feel a big change coming on….

pexels-photo-702251.jpegI miss having a coffee shop in my town, I think many feel the loss.  Yes, there are other places to get coffee, but a cozy comfy coffee shop with that coffee shop atmosphere is what we have lost in our downtown area.   I loved feeling all “Central Perk” like with my laptop and latte`.  I loved to people watch and to be engaged with others just by sitting besides them, while reading or working.  Sometimes I think I want to open up a coffee shop (oh the ideas I have) so I am starting to dream and I am dreaming outside of the walls of my box!

What has brought this on? I want out of public school education.  I find my job challenging but I am no longer challenged.  What does that mean?  It means the things that are challenging are things I can not fix, I can not mend.  It means I am no longer challenged because I am actually feeling defeated.  In the last 5 years I have ended each school year thinking, “well it can’t get worse than that,” and each return to August I find it can, and it does. I can not change the complete dysfunction of public school education and with our new political team that reigns at the top, it is only going to worsen in the next 3 years. I am done, toast, fried even.  I have given it all I got.  I am no longer passionate.  I do love the children, but I can no longer give them what is truly needed and the band aids I can apply fall off in the rain.  It rains often where I work.  It is time for a new regime.

What will I do?  Who knows.   I am going to take my time to explore.  When will this happen?  This year, next year, the year after?  It will happen when it happens but it will happen.  I no longer see myself as a “lifer” at my job, as I have always told people.    I only have 15 years in and for most educators that is minute, but I am not willing to stay somewhere I am no longer passionate about.  In fact, I think it is making me ill, it is keeping me too close to my compulsions.

I still have to make money.   So, I have to take some time to do research, ask questions, and to explore.  Will I go back to my business degree?  Will I become an entrepreneur?  Will I become more active in the LGBTQA world?  Will I throw caution to the wind?  What I learned yesterday at an empowerment conference was to JUST DO IT.  Whatever it is, don’t let fear block you, let it drive you.  Don’t let lack of knowledge be your crutch to evade, let yourself learn as you go.  Just do whatever it is you want to do, nothing is too out there or too crazy.  Failure is an option, it happens.  But failure doesn’t mean you die- it means something didn’t work out so learn from it and move on.  See failure as feedback.  I know I have always known this, I am sure I have said a version of this countless times to students but here I am hearing it for the first time- for myself.  This has opened a whole new set of ideas for me, if I choose to heed this guidance.  And I think I just may……

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A Higher Power?: Including a Spiritual Component

Remains-of-Buddha-Found

I do not feel a higher power, I have never felt one.  I do not believe in God, though I am afraid because I don’t.  I also would feel ridiculous if I did because what a scam!  I sound so cynical yet I am not, I am open and empathetic and mindful of any judgement I might feel.  But it is one of the reasons I do not connect or feel welcome in AA.   AA says you don’t have to believe in “God” per say  but you need to have a higher power.  And that is what I have not found.  I really don’t have spirituality.

I believe in accountability and personal responsibility, and I feel surrendering to a higher power would relieve me from consequences I should feel.  This is why I have struggled with shame and guilt, because I don’t give myself an out.  I am, however, learning how to forgive myself.  I don’t make excuses for my choices, I do try to understand where they come from and learn from what I know to be true.  I can not relinquish how my poor choices have caused others harm, but I do believe in the power of forgiveness.  I believe with each better choice you make, you do make amends.  Amending is key, to me it shows your sorrow and willingness to make change.  Apologies are nice but actions do speak louder then words.  I have apologized many times to my husband and my kids, but I truly did not feel their belief in me until I made changes and showed them that I can be better and that I want to be.  This is all action, no words are necessary.

In the book, I do love, “Fit from Within,” Victoria Moran gets right to the spirituality piece in Chapter 3.  I can not run or hide from this notion of spirituality.  Everyone in recovery swears by it.  Substance Abusers in recovery and now the eating disordered in recovery.  I can not get away from it.  I am not a lost cause, I do mostly feel connected to the wisdom of Buddhists.  As I do believe whole-heartily in humanity.  I think there are really good people and really bad people.  I believe really bad people get most of the air time (sensationalism) but I believe that there are more good people out there then there is evilness.  So I do plan to become educated in this thought belief.   I am reading Refuge Recovery now, and learning about the Eightfold Path and Four Noble Truths. If I am going to learn how to manage my compulsions I have to have something bigger then myself to rely on.  This will be another part of my journey.

Ms. Moran says,  “including a spiritual component is simply knowing when you’re up against something that is too much for you and your best intentions to handle on your own (personal responsibility),” and “it’s realizing where you’re weak (accountability) and depending on something strong whether you think of God in heaven, or a power that, although beyond your human ego, resides within yourself.”   I am up against something that is too much for me and I am weak in the throes of a compulsion.   This is my accountability and finding a spiritual component is my personal responsibility.  I  will continue awakening my spiritual learning. Namaste.

 

 

This hutch is my life!

 

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Everything about this hutch personifies my life!  My current life, the one I have been consciously and passionately working on since July 16, 2016.  This is a part of (my) learning how to honor and appreciate myself (from the book of Fit from Within by Victoria Moran).   This is it.  I feel like I am pretty messy in thought and in action.  I feel all of this weight at times, as I have a very difficult time compartmentalizing.  This is me compartmentalizing:unnamed

Even my attempts to compartmentalize have been chaotic.  I am looking at my hutch (in real) as I am writing and making the connection between its disaster and the one I call my life.  I can honestly chuckle at myself, as I accept who I am, I do find myself humorous in many ways.  Like the top of my hutch is covered in things I don’t know what to do with.  I did not decorate it that way on purpose- that is just where that shit landed.  I actually hate it but I walk by it 100 times a day and do nothing to change it (mmmm…. sounds like a connection!). There are even two things behind the fake flora and tin man, and I have NO IDEA what they are, not a clue.  Yet they are there.

I scan down the two top shelves and I see stuff that I am so going to use one day, maybe.  Not.  And I see things that I have no idea why they are not displayed out with the people.  For cripes sake I see cords to electronics I don’t even own anymore and if I do and I find them they are digital dinosaurs and extinct at this point.  I keep this, why?  Good, I know I am lazy but there must be more to this hoarding, this holding on.    I have three brand new boxes of golf balls here, how many are in my bag?  After this season, none, I have none- what golfer has NONE? Not a dedicated golfer (and I want to be a dedicated golfer).  All these balls should be in my bag and not sitting on a shelf collecting dust.  I have Gorilla Glue on this shelf, along with birth certificates and letters I received in response to letters I wrote to State Representative Mary Ann Carson and Chris Murphy and from Senator Andrew Roraback and Hillary, all in 2007.  Of course I have a jar of colored stones, actually I have two… like everyone, right?   What is with this combination?  I am afraid to look lower to the next rack of weirdness I hold on to.

My next find?  Wow, a small life insurance policy my parents took out on me, it is dated September 11, 1967.  The height and weight listed on my policy says 1′ 8″ and 10 pounds respectively.  I am finding this hysterical for some unknown reason!  Really, why is this here?  I believe I have already cashed this baby in a LONG time ago. Or it absolved.  I don’t even remember.  Accompanying this is a box of 72 wooden pencils, some electrical tape that I am sure is almost as old as the insurance policy (with lint attached and all), and ethernet cords.  Yes, ethernet cordS, with an s.  Throw in some invisible tab pockets for a binder (a binder, ha ha ha) and a couple of never opened oil based Sharpie paint pens (etc….) and you have all you need to survive ….. NOTHING!  When we do have our Zombie Apocalypse I will have all the glue sticks, stock card embellishments, brass fasteners, SD cards, and recipe cards from Plated to fend them off  so I can prepare to bludgeon them with a hard whack from a never used Soda Stream machine and a pile of craft stones.  For that I am prepared!

I, of course, have insurmountable stacks of paper, and we call ourselves the paperless society, HA!  I have Smith Barney statements dated back to 2010, why?  Everything I need is ONLINE.  Okay, each year, when I do shed the crap from this hutch (yes I do this yearly and the electrical tape and 1967 insurance policy always make the cut), I say I will shred this someday and leave it there.  I HAVE A FIRE PLACE, HELLO!  This is now making me feel stupid.  My laughing is abating.  Because really this is how I have been conducting my life.  I hold on to SHIT.  I have been working really hard on letting go of guilt and shame.  Guilt and shame I do not believe really were mine to own.   Not all of it, and some of the guilt and shame that is mine I am learning is not mine alone.  I have, at times, willingly taken full responsibility for shared stupidity.  I think I stick it all in this hutch.  Even with the year after year of purging this hutch, I let it pile up again and again (mmm….another connection?!).  Here I am in 2018 and the hutch is full, I did not even clean it out this summer.  Summer time is the usual purge time- it came and went and I kept all of this stuff tucked away.  All of it, apparently too good to withstand an annual purge.

I can’t help but wonder if I am holding on to it because it is a bizarre type of safety net.  I have done some of my best work in therapy since this past spring to this present time.   Was it too hard to tackle and do the difficult verbal (saying stuff out loud makes it real, and you can’t ignore it anymore) work at the same time?  I think so.  This hutch is me!

Well I am feeling more confident, and “awoken” this morning.  I am not religious and spirituality is fairly new for me, so when I say “awoken” I mean like I am ready to move on to another phase of myself, on this journey I am on.  And it does come from within, and on it’s own time table.  I am feeling ready to move on.  So today, while I do not have a magic wand to sort my life out into neat little understandable piles and be rid of all unnecessary items that will get me to my self actualization in one wave of that wand, I CAN clean out this hutch.  I can use this activity as a cathartic experience.  It will allow me time to be mindful (I am working on mindfulness, the serious kind, Buddha and all), to practice mindfulness by thinking about what cleaning this hutch out actually means for me.

Watch out, the world may be one less role of old electrical tape away from it’s sanity!

Accepting and Honoring…..

A high school friend of mine (KWV), who I believe honestly gets my struggles shared this book with me when she learned of my journey.  It is an awesome book, a simple read and a great supplement to all of the harder core self help books I am reading.  Currently I am reading The Gift of Compulsion and Refuge Recovery, this I was able to read and complete while still hammering through the other two.

This book resonates with me so completely I am going to go blog it now (chapters at a time), to help reinforce it’s philosophy and hopefully start to really live it.  The author, Victoria Moran sings to me!

If I were the author of this book I think these first two chapters about, accepting and honoring myself would be at the end of any book I would write, as it seems accepting myself and honoring myself are my end-goals. But she is right to state these two concepts as the beginning of the journey because, in all honesty if you don’t accept and honor yourself then you probably don’t value yourself enough to allow this self care to become your life style. Accepting and honoring have to come first.

I am wondering if all of my dieting attempts have all been thwarted, including my unsuccessful weight loss surgery, because I entered all of these programs without accepting and honoring myself first.  I am THAT person, the one who felt that being a size 12 would provide me my pathway to happiness.  Only accepting myself AFTER I lose weight. I self hate on me when I am not a size 12 but being the size 12, alone, did not provide me with life long happiness as I learned self loathing still lingered no matter my size. Otherwise I would still be a 12 and NOT back to a size XL or 18.  So there are obviously other feelings that are not allowing me to stop using food as a drug, and just using it as a fuel. You know, eating to live and not living to eat….

So I have to accept myself and then honor myself before I can really even think about reconciling my food issues.   My favorite line in this first chapter is “acceptance is not rationalizing overeating as okay.”  I love it because it is at the end of the chapter and the whole time I spent reading the two page chapter I was thinking, “dang I don’t have to think about my eating while I learn to accept myself, that is awesome!” And then BAM, I read Ms. Moran’s reality check statement.  Because overeating and my food choices are diminishing my life so they do not belong in my life. I have to work on being mindful while I journey to acceptance and honor.

I have to redefine myself, and it has been difficult- so much so I have been completely avoiding it (as my nutrition therapist agrees!).  I have always been known as the party girl, fun girl, funny girl.  I called this person Fun Amy, in my early days of substance abuse treatment.  I was borderline reckless and it was a part of my identity that I did enjoy.  People liked me, I was so fun and allowed others to be silly and nutty (and over drink, eat) too.  I was a master enabler for others like me and I could spot you right away!  I’d convince you to come play with me and join me in my compulsions. I am also well known for being a fun eater-  loving appetizers, desserts, fine food…  I was such a FUN (yet pricey) person to be with.  It is always a good time to hang with ‘fun Amy.’ And now I have to redefine me, OR as my therapists would say extenuate the other parts of me that are also awesome and now no longer shadowed by the party girl.  Part of accepting me, is accepting that there is more to me then Party Amy or Fun Amy.  Alcohol-infused Partying Fun Amy is of no longer….  I can not hide behind her anymore.

My alter egos, Contessa and Sage (if you read my other blogs you know these women) are a part of this accepting and honoring journey for me.  Contessa pushes for all the good stuff that require overindulgence and Sage is the one that helps me and Contessa compromise with each other. She’s our mediator.  It is a sick world in my head!  But it works, personifying the compulsion engineers within me help me have conversations with myself so I can make better decisions for me.  Sometimes it works and sometimes Contessa wins over…  but the longer I work at this, the more times Sage gets a say.  I am accepting this part of me, this crazy part that compartmentalizes my compulsions.  I am compulsive, it is me- it is a part of my personal definition but will not completely define me.

Honoring myself means I have to  STOP the SELF HATE TALK LANGUAGE and I have to be brave and ask others around me to stop using this negative thought message activity around me.  I am getting better at saying, “please stop your self shaming, be kinder to yourself.” I need to get others to try and not speak that way around me, as I try my hardest not to malign my person, all on my own.  I have to start focusing on the good work I do with kids, my thoughtfulness of others, my loyalty to others, and the awesome home/family manager I am.  I raised two awesome human beings and I am HAPPILY married for 28 years now (not so many can say such a thing).  I make mistakes, I own them and I work on doing better, ALL THE TIME! This weekend I had an awesome  in depth chat with my 25 year old daughter and had a couple “A HA” moments that validated to me that I did pretty good as a Mom.   I need to honor myself by focusing on these things and not on my appearance.  I am beautiful, I am strong and I am trying my best to be better, every day.  I may be plump, and totally out of shape right now but for now, until I can work up the motivation to get fit again on the outside, I am TOTALLY getting fit on the INSIDE!

Creating Sage

So I told my therapist about Contessa.  You know, Contessa my compulsion from my last blog.  I explained to her my need to personalize my compulsion, after reading a section of the “Gift of Compulsion.”  I told her that I may speak to her at times.  I told her that I am trying to make friends with her, but it is very difficult.  I am mostly sarcastic with her or dismissive with her or I just talk at her.  Contessa isn’t going to be my friend any time soon, with the way I treat her.

During this discussion my therapist asked me what Contessa needs, and suggested that I am infact diffusing my shame onto her (imagine that!).  We discussed how one makes a friend, and how one would make a friend out of someone that can make life difficult, yet in need of compassion. Brilliantly, I said that Contessa needs to have someone talk to her, as oppose at her and someone who can listen.  This turned to a focus on compassion.  My therapist suggests I should be more compassionate with Contessa.  Nope, not there yet.  In fact, my book tells me that as I start to let my compulsion in and stop fighting against it, that it may get quite messy before it turns into a healthier partnership type of relationship.  Ms. Moran says I will confuse this partnership as permission to indulge, throwing caution to the wind and allowing myself to give in to my compulsion without shame.  What she really means is that I am to engage with my compulsion, to be conscious of them and to learn from the “wisdom” of my compulsions.  It means to stop fighting my compulsions so I can see what is really going on. My therapist feels Contessa may need a mediator to help her, to help me engage with her in a productive manner. My book tells me one foundation I must have as I befriend Contessa is patience.  Patience for the process.  I need to be patient.

In my discovery with this thought I revealed to my therapist that I need a mediator too.  My mediator needs to be low-key, a non alarmist, a good listener, not quick to judge, or judge at all.  That is what I need to feel safe when working with Contessa.  I am quick to shame her, before she shames me. So I am creating Sage.  Sage is not only a glorious herb but it means “wisdom” and I need wisdom!  Sage, another female personification, is a giver and wants to be my friend and really wants nothing in return.  She just wants to be my friend.  Simple.  She is mild mannered, she doesn’t jump to assumptions or go to the worst case scenarios.  She is present with me at all times, in the present. She comforts me with her words and calms me with her presence.   She is going to help me with Contessa.  She is going to facilatate my engagement with my compulsion, my Contessa.

Sage is going to ask Contessa, “let me know what is going on, why are you feeling so needy right now?”  She is going to make sure that I check in with Contessa much like I do with the children I work with, in my counseling sessions with them.  “How can I help you, you seem to need some help,” she may say to keep Contessa from feeling the need to be defensive.  Sage is going to provide me with the feedback I do need from Contessa to help me learn “why I need numbing” and “what it is that I need to feel like it is all going to be OK.”

My homework this week is to find a moment (just one time this week) when I need to call on Sage and see what happens.  Some of you may think this is quite possibly insane but I am working well with this CBT work.  I need to personify the things that I want to change, I need the names, the words and the thoughts.  I need the “make believe” though it will be very real for me- when the “engaging” starts.  So I need to have one conversation using Sage as the facilitator and I need to eat one meal at work with my door closed, and slow music playing so I can practice my pacing when I eat. I am slowly working on practical techniques, to help with the actual actions during meals and times that I do spend with food. Doable!

For my nutrition therapist on Thursday, I need to share with her that her techniques are feeling very much like diet applications. I can’t seem to separate myself from the dieting mentality.  I am struggling with shame that I am transfering onto myself when recording my food and using a food template.  I will share with her that I am struggling with food shame.  Wish me luck on this one!

And I call her Contessa…….

The Gift of my Compulsions I have been reading and reading books since I started my post substance abuse counseling to explore the next layer of onion wrapped around my person.  And this book is speaking to me, I am identifying with it and it may be helping.

This book is telling me to become friends with my compulsion.  They book is telling me to respond to my compulsion and not to react to it (what the hell?).  So I named her.  Her name is Contessa.  Contessa Compulsion.  I think it sounds like royality, though she really is just a royal pain in my ass!  Oh, yeah- she is going to be my friend, I should be nicer to her.

Contessa is actually quite pissed with me.  See I do not allow her to drown in luscious, chilled oaky/butter balanced chardonnay anymore. No more Sonoma Cutrer for her, and she is angry.  She is not coming around to the idea of being friendly with me.  Since she can’t drink alcohol anymore, she is moving on to the next best toxic compulsion for me…. food.  She has chosen to sabatoge all my weight loss efforts of the last 4 years.  That is how pissed she is.  And I have been allowing her to win.  AND now therapy is telling me to make her my friend.  How will I do it?  I am not sure, and it sounds a little crazy.  But hating my compulsions and fighting my compulsions has not worked yet, so why not try to build an alliance.

So how does one do this? I am suppose to talk to her.  Me and Contessa are supposed to chat now. When I first read about this in the book “the Gift of my Compulsion” I had a grand old chuckle.  And then I named her.  Why not- this could be entertaining.  So I named her but didn’t speak with her right away, we don’t have the greatest experience with trust, the two of us.  So she will have to wait.

And then it happened.  She whispered to me.  I heard her talk to me, coaching me, controlling me.  Usually I check my work at my office door when I head home.  As I drive away my thoughts about work roll back up Gillotti’s hill and away from me.  I separate work from home pretty well, most of the time.  Every once in a while I get a case that holds on tight to me and slips past the school’s lobby door behind me and slinks into the passenger’s seat of my car.  Contessa makes her follow.  SO this happened last Thursday.  I found myself outside of the Sherman IGA with a pint of chocolate chip Arethusa’s ice cream and a full size Heath Bar.  Now I have not purchased a full size candy bar in years and this has me thinking, I am perplexed as I sit in my car in a very familiar parking lot with very familiar sensations in my body.  So as I back up my car and pull out of the parking lot I start to ask Contessa questions.  “Contessa, what gives?  What is going on? What is going on with the ice cream and what about this Heath bar?”  You know what she said to me, she said “Shut up, the Heath bar is for now, you can’t eat a pint of ice cream and drive stupid.  Hence the candy bar.  Do I have to tell you twice.”   She is SO pushy, so pushy.  So I ate it, she was right, the candy bar was for right that instant.  Then as I am sitting in my living room in front of Judge Judy, eating my ice cream (I did purposefully scoop my three scoops into a coffee mug so I would not eat the whole pint. How is that for good decisions?!)  I asked Contessa what that feeling was about in the parking lot and what is this familiar feeling I am experiencing now?  She did enlighten me and said, “well you know how you usually check your work at the door so it doesn’t follow you home?  Well I allowed it to slip through the door and get into your car.  You drove to the liquor store but went into the grocery store nearby instead.   This could have been wine.  You made the right call, I helped you with that.”  I replied, “Oh my God, I was by the liquor store, a common stop for me over a year ago.  And this familiar feeling is the feeling I used to get when I craved my buzz because of a rough day.”   An ah-ha for me.

For the first time since I started gaining weight, again…  I forgave myself and I did not  beat myself up for giving into my binge.  While eating crap was a bad call, it is what I needed in lieu of a more toxic compulsion.  Contessa is going to be a rough bitch to deal with but at least she is talking to me now and I am hopeful that maybe my book is not nuts, and that there is something to making friends with your compulsions.

I am learning that I may have abandoned myself, 36 years ago.

I have two questions I have to address with my therapist on Tuesday.   “When was the first time I recall feeling connected and when was the last time I felt like my authentic self.”

How did I get this assigned to me?  As I work through trying to figure out why I developed my compulsions (drinking, eating, shopping…), I am learning that my compulsions helped me to deal with an emptiness.  I have always blamed my bouts of loneliness, these past 30 years, on Jim’s work schedule.  I married a man that works a lot, all the time and I do have resentment towards this.  When I first had Carly, my first baby, Jim and I decided that I would stay home.  This meant that Jim had to work two jobs.  He worked 6am-3:30pm and then 4:30pm-11pm Monday- Friday and then from 6am-Noon every Saturday (though most Saturdays he really didn’t come home until 1, 2 or 3pm).  Sunday was for yard work and home maintenance.  I was never so lonely in my life.   Every day dragged on and on for me.  And the guilt I felt for feeling this way as a new mom still haunts me at low times.  Even when I finally went back to work, Jim still worked crazy hours.  For about six years, I would take the kids everywhere by myself. I even took them to Rhode Island to visit Jim’s family every six weeks- WITHOUT JIM because he was working.  I used to “jokingly” tell people I was married, yet a single Mom.  I felt like a single parent for many years.  I cried a lot, A LOT.  I know during these years I did feel true loneliness.  So I just always thought that the nature of my marriage made me lonely.  I never felt unloved, but I did feel lonely.   I am learning while yes, those were very tough years for me, they were not the real reason’s for my need for compulsions.  Though the compulsions were helpful.

My first couple of “dating” experiences jet-setted me into protection mode.  I eventually landed myself in a serious relationship with a man 5 years older then me, when I was 14 going on 15.  This person was so insecure that he only felt confident when he was controlling me.  I lost many friends during this relationship and I lost myself during this relationship. Something that happened to me 36 years ago triggered my need for compulsions.  In learning to protect myself, I lost myself, I abandoned myself.  I was not allowed to be me, if a glimmer of me came out, I paid for it.  I didn’t show up much.  And this traumatic experience could very well be when my “craziness” started.  This relationship lasted 3 years.  And when I got to walk away from this relationship I  imploded, and created an unsafe world.  I went from protecting myself to putting myself in dangerous situations.   I was still  abandoning my true self, I am unsure if I knew where she was anymore.  Compulsions became my go to, feel good, friends, the compulsions were always there for me, they are so dependable.  While I may have had times when I felt lonely in my marriage, I was also feeling abandoned, from myself from many years prior.

As I explore events that happened to me at a younger age, I am learning this is when my compulsions began, so my compulsions have been good trusty friends for years.  I have needed them, they serve a purpose.  They are my sense of control, my meter stick.  Drinking and food are my compulsions.  As a newly sober person, I can only now count on binge eating or compulsive eating.

So my therapist wants me to look back to remember when I first felt connected and then the last time I felt like my true authentic self.   She thinks that I may be suffering from affects of me abandoning me.  It appears Jim is off the hook!  I probably could handle loneliness without compulsions if I wasn’t also feeling so abandoned (something I did to myself).

I had a great childhood and I had an honest to goodness real life best friend when I was little. I had the kind of best friend kids dream of.  Jennifer Martin was my best friend, we were inseparable.  We lived across the street from each other when I was 3, 4, and 5.  When I was turning 6, my family moved.  For years after, I still got together with my best friend Jennifer every summer- up until we were 13 or 14.  I was so connected to her!  We were silly, naughty, adventurous, and happy.  Of course, living far from each other, we did eventually grow apart but we did keep in touch on and off.  And at this point we are Christmas card friends.  My relationship with her was my first experience at being connected.  So I have one question answered!

The second question is much more difficult.  When was the last time I felt like my authentic self????  I feel like since I have been sober, and working at learning as to why I felt I needed alcohol to survive, and now working on my other compulsion, food, that I have been reuniting with my authentic self.  I am experiencing deep close relationships with my adult children- I used to have so much insecurity about my kids loving me or needing me but I do not have that anymore.  And Jim and I are working on rebuilding our relationship.  We have always been in love, and we respect each other and support each other.  Our marriage was never threatened, per se but with a spouse recovering from alcoholism the marriage was obviously stressed and our world needs some redefining.  We have been reconnecting recently and during this time I do feel like my authentic self.  I am happier, laughing, joking, silly, and rekindling the sparks of our 30 year friendship.  I am lucky, I can answer this question as I can.  This leaves me feeling hopeful.  I feel like maybe, just maybe I can find peace.  I may one day really love myself enough to just be, with no need for reacting to my compulsions.  I will always have compulsions but I am hopeful that I will be able to respond to them and not just react to them, in the times to come.

Homework done!

My two therapists had to play good cop, bad cop with me….

I thought it was just me                    Brain over Binge            The Gift of my Compulsions

This disordered eating therapy along with nutritional counseling (hell I know how to eat correctly, I just can ‘t seem to….) is a pain in the ass.   I do like both my therapists but having two working together and collaborating about my sessions is daunting.  After one of my sessions my disordered eating therapist guided me to the conclusion that I am trying to “fix” everything at once and that I shut down when I can not do what needs to be done perfectly.   I guess I’ve thrown an adult tantrum with my nutrition counselor the last time I met with her- as I can not seem to follow through successfully with any of my homework assignments.  I have a food plan I am suppose to follow- like I don’t know what to eat since my weight-loss surgery or my lifetime status as a member of Weight Watchers <sarcasm>…   I just CAN’T seem to do it at all.  I am also suppose to be using this app to track what I am eating and record my “feelings & thoughts” as I move along the day.  Ummm, this is all consuming, so much to do! So I went with what my disordered eating therapist said, “stop trying to do everything at once.”   I decided to drop my nutritional counselor for now.  I am having a very hard time with my talk therapy, saying many things out loud I have never ever said and wrapping my head around my thoughts, without having a vice.  Oh, how a nice chilled bottle of Sonoma Cutrer would help me muddle through all this “stuff” but alas I can not drown my sorrows anymore in booze, so I need the next best thing.  I can’t possibly expect myself to be able to follow a stinking food plan minus the wine.  I am very new at sobriety, how can I expect so much from myself (whimper, whimper). I need my deserts!

Not only did I “break up” with my nutrition counselor but I did it in an email.  There was no way she was going to have an opportunity to talk me out of it, no way.  I did copy in my other therapist so she could see I was really just listening to her advice- I can’t do it all now so don’t.  So I heard her say.

Going into my next session with my disordered eating counselor, I was not ready for the bad cop action from the therapist I pegged as the “good” one.  Man oh man, she laid into me with her questioning my thought process and challenging my fear of gaining more weight yet not paying any attention to it at all, and calling me out on emailing my nutrition counselor in lieu of calling and asking to talk it out.  Sigh…..   not what I was expecting. I have been Cop-out Blocked.

Dang it, these women are good.  I totally talked to my nutrition counselor, tail between my legs and asked if she’d have me back.  So back to facing what I am really struggling with even if I can’t do it by following the guidelines. I have to keep myself aware and hopefully at least maintain my weight and stop gaining.  I HATE IT!  I hate that I can’t do this, I can’t seem to listen to the rules of my nutrition counselor- I fail every week.  I go in and say that I made poor food choices.  I do my blind weigh in and I know it is a weight gain because my clothes are getting so tight.   I get to pay someone to gain weight, excellent.  Honestly I feel like focusing on this so much has made my relationship with food worse, I have become a master of sabotage.  So many triggers.

Why is this so difficult?  It is difficult because I am working on ridding myself of the dieter’s mentality.  And I can’t seem to do this because I need to lose about 45 pounds.  I need to lose weight so I can only think of dieting.  I am suppose to be focusing on nourishing my body and listening to it and  ignore the voices in my head telling me to eat the pudding with whipped cream, eat the dove chocolates, order the waffles butter and syrup, have the salted caramel ice cream in a chocolate covered waffle cone.  I am suppose to turn that off and focus on how my body feels during the day as it connects to hunger and food.   I am not sure I can do this without returning to 250 pounds.  I am driving this struggle bus right through the pastry counter.

I have read three self help books thus far.  All of them recommendations of my disordered eating therapist.  We have worked hard on my issues with guilt and shame.  I work from shame so often, it is kind of pathetic.  I know I should not own it all, all this shame is not for me to keep.  I have learned that the binge-like behavior comes from the part of my brain that shouldn’t be talking to me, but I allow it.  I have to train my brain to function differently (that sounds easy, NOT!) and I am now reading that my compulsions are a “gift.”   Really a gift?!?!?!!?  But I will read it, we will dissect it together.  I do believe that my eating is more of a compulsion and not so much a binge.  I don’t fit the profile of a binge eater per se, but I am completely compulsive. I think I function mainly on compulsion.  This is going to be fun to unravel and straighten out.  Sigh, I truly just want to turn back the hands of time and have a little do over but that is because doing all of this work is hard and wishing I could go back to make better decisions is an immature dream thought for me to have.  There is still a little girl in me that stomps her feet, and who wants to blame all of this on others or on incidents or on genes.  Being accountable all the time for some many things is exhausting.

Good cop, bad cop got me.  They are not taking my candy-assed bullshit, they are holding me to the fire.   I hate it, but I know it is the best for me.  I am done with fooling my therapists, faking them out and telling them stuff that is easy to hear as I have done with so many therapists throughout my years.  These women are not going to allow that.  They have totally called me out!