Photos and pheelings … feelings and fotos

I finally escaped the house with my camera for a few hours this weekend. I had forgotten how good that felt, even if it was cold – winter is settling in – and a bit miserable, though that fitted my mood perfectly. Here are a couple of shots I took. They also seem to fit how I’m feeling.

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I recently discovered the talents of an Aboriginal singer who is blind. He’s amazing. Here’s one of my favourite songs and you can learn more about him here.

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The Food Thing Part 834 – or: Progress? Or not?

I’ve written a few times about the Food Thing (starting here, with lots more here). In a bid to start addressing this, I saw a dietician this week. My therapist wants to tackle it physically as well as psychologically. I didn’t want to go, but I did. My therapist thinks this is great progress. I’m not so sure.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to be honest with the dietician about my f***ed up relationship with food. She said and did a couple of things that made me clam up and retreat. My walls went up… BIG TIME.

So the person who went to the dietician’s appointment was a different version of me: a not-quite-honest version; the person who fronts banks and the like; the person who deals with things totally objectively as if she’s talking about another person.

Certainly not the person who writes this blog. And certainly not the person who has been so brutally honest with you, and with her therapist, about the Food Thing.

If I had DID I might describe this person as “Management”. She steps in sometimes when the “real” me can’t deal with things. I haven’t seen her for a long time, though – not since I started therapy. It was quite odd to see her again.

My therapist is just about having kittens that I was able to talk to someone about the Food Thing – and its close cousins the Weight Thing and the Body Image Thing – even if I wasn’t honest. Not entirely. The other me stepped in and spoke objectively about things I eat, but wasn’t entirely honest about the binge eating and other stupid behaviours.

The whole experience was kinda triggering. Being weighed. Talking about weight. Talking about foods (some of which are triggering as well). To her credit the dietician suggested a couple of easy things that I’ll try, but none of it was fun – I cried all the way home and then pigged out on chocolate when I got here – but the therapist thinks it’s great progress.

From my perspective my biggest achievement was in not wigging out when I had to drive through the tunnel that runs under the river here (the bridge at the other end was another matter, but that’s another story for another time).

Control – I lost it

As most of you know I’ve been having a rough time lately. As if the work situation isn’t enough, I am possibly/probably heading for another round of gynae surgery before Christmas (unexpectedly but not emergently) and have scratched/smashed two cars in two weeks. Sigh.

I’ve found myself turning to time honoured strategies… in particular, The Food Thing.

I hate to admit it but I have been binge eating quite a lot lately. The worst episode for a while was last week. I got sick. Quite sick. So sick that it took me a couple of days to recover. And then I turned to another time honoured strategy: not eating anything at all. 

I have been trying to think about why I do this… if there are any triggers or any clues about what’s coming. I think there are. I know that as soon as work gets stressful, I start craving chocolate. And when I get upset or anxious, I just want to run. And when I can’t run, I eat. Even when I can run, I still crave food. Not just chocolate. Any food. Anything at all.

Sometimes I’m not even aware of what I’m doing… not until afterwards when I can see the mess, or when I’m suffering the consequences.

I know this can’t go on. For one thing it just generates more self loathing. Not to mention the potential weight gain that is itself a giant trigger. A ridiculously vicious circle.

I talked to my therapist about it this week. I foolishly gave her permission to tie me down and bludgeon me into talking about it. For some reason the stupid little leprechaun who lives in my head thought this was a good idea. Now I’m not so sure.

I came away with one side of my head screaming, “I HATE MY THERAPIST” and the other side saying, “No you don’t. She’s just trying to help.” In the cool light of day I realise she is just trying to help. It’s just incredibly hard and incredibly shame-inducing dealing with all this.

Sigh.

On eyes and cake and failure to set boundaries

I saw my therapist yesterday. It helped – sort of. I still feel like a mess, and have been in tears for much of this week.  My therapist says it’s better to let the tears out. I guess, but it’s hard now that my mother has helped me bottle them up again.

I told my therapist the good news about seeing something positive in my toes and my eyes. She looked like she thought I was a bit weird. At least until she asked me what was wrong with my eyes before? When I told her, she just looked at me with such sadness and said, “Oh, Kerro.” So now I feel bad for upsetting her. Doh.

I came away from the session craving junk food. This sometimes happens, and more often happens when I’m at work and things turn stressful. I don’t always give in, but I did yesterday, albeit unconsciously. I ate…and I ate…and I ate…and then I ate cream cake until I was sick. Binge binge binge. It’s been a while since I’ve done that. And of course this is more heroin for the inner critic. (Yes, I am deliberately glossing over this.)

This Food Thing and the endless tears lead me to think that something’s not quite right. I’m perhaps not ready to face it, but I am sick of this pain and the dark clouds that are following me about. Perhaps, to use David’s analogy, I’m trying to walk again before the latest round of toxic infection has been dealt with? My therapist says I need to cut myself some slack after the time away with my mother. I guess.

In other news, I had another Pilates session today. And again I received a barrage of PTSD related information and tips from the Instructor. I came away stressed and upset – mostly upset with myself for not telling this woman to shut up. She’s one of those people who could talk under water, and it’s downright annoying. Not to mention that I generally don’t want to hear what she’s saying. Yak yak yak. Incessant banter about her own traumas and her own experiences with PTSD and all the varied things that have and haven’t helped her and all the people she’s met who have PTSD and who she’s rescued helped. That’s all fine, but I can’t deal with all that as well as my own mess. I did a better job this week of letting her yakking just float off into the ether but it still affected me.

David was right when he said that she needs to “stay in her own space”. I don’t need this. I see that now. Yes I experienced trauma and yes, I have PTSD, but I need to heal in my own way. I know that my healing needs to include something for my body as well as my mind – and Pilates will help with that – but I don’t want to have breakfast with her. I don’t want to write a book with her. And I don’t want to go to her retreat in Bali. The best thing she can do for me is focus on Pilates. Pilates will be good, but only if it doesn’t come with all this mess. I feel mean saying that, but I really need to set this boundary or she’ll do me in.

Random ups and downs

I’m guessing that putting on weight is triggering for me or something. I went shopping today and the sight of myself in the fitting room mirrors made me feel sick. I was truly repulsed. I felt I didn’t deserve anything, let alone anything good or nice. I certainly didn’t deserve to look good.

I guess this comes from my parents (and particularly my father) who spent many years laughing at me or mocking me or telling me off for how much I weighed. He’s even done that to me as an adult. I remember a few years ago not having seen him for a few weeks. His first comment to me wasn’t ‘hello’ or ‘how are you’ or any other greeting; it was, “you’ve put on weight”.

Those comments, and the sight of myself in the mirrors, make me want to crawl into a dark hole for a very long time. This is the inner critic’s utopia.  

In other news I was offered – or sort of offered – another job yesterday through a former colleague. It sounds good – really good. If I were willing to go “freelance” I could start tomorrow (a salaried position may take a little longer). “Freelance” would be great as I could pick and choose my work, work more flexibly, work on the good projects (or the money spinners) and leave the rest.

Trouble is I have never been a risk taker so think I’m probably destined to indentured servitude for a while longer yet.

In which the father turns 90 and I find something to be proud of

This is long, I’m sorry, but it’s been a big weekend and I’ve got a lot to process.

My father turned 90 yesterday. My mother organised a party. I was dreading it. Dreading my father being critical and nasty to me, or humiliating me in front of everyone (a familiar experience, but hurtful even after all these years). I was also dreading seeing people I haven’t seen in a long time, and them quizzing me about my life (or lack thereof) – my endless embarrassment about not being married, not having children, etc etc etc. And I was dreading meeting my other half-sister.

My therapist said I shouldn’t go, but I didn’t have the heart to disappoint my mother. In all, it wasn’t as nearly as bad as I anticipated.

The day didn’t start off great, with my father being his usual critical, horrible self but once his guests arrived, and he was the centre of attention, everything settled down. The day ended up quite well…good even. My father enjoyed himself and, were he anyone else, I’d say that’s all that matters. But, my father being my father, I don’t really care if he enjoyed himself or not. There is part of me who does care, but I don’t see why I should.

I spent most of the day hiding in the kitchen or playing hostess, but it was nice to catch up with a couple of family friends I haven’t seen for a long time. B – who is a lovely, gentle man. He has always been kind and was one of the few people who looked out for me when I was a kid and my father was going off. Back then I wished B was my father. He’s not, but I am grateful to him for his kindness.

And E, who is also a lovely lovely man. He and his parents were in the displaced persons camp with my father in Europe, and came to Australia on the same ship. Unfortunately he took it upon himself to make a speech, but it was ok. I “checked out” quite a bit, but the bits I heard were mostly about those very ancient times, with very little eulogising, so they weren’t really that traumatising.

Even meeting my other half-sister and her husband wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. We didn’t get a chance to talk that much, but her husband spoke to me a few times. He seemed nice. He said that he and my half-sister are grateful that I found it in my heart to share my father with them (their words, not mine). I didn’t really know what to say. All I could think was, “my god, if only you knew…” but thankfully when any of those moments came up I was able to make a quick escape to the kitchen and relative safety.

My father went beyond himself afterwards and thanked my mother for the party. She said he’d been an obnoxious a$$ all week. Rationally I know that this doesn’t make up for his bad behaviour – that a single thank you, a nanosecond of gratitude, can never make up for the decades of abusive shyte he’s meted out against my mother and me. But there’s still a little kid inside who thinks “omg, I did something right. Everything is ok now.” I don’t even know where this comes from, because rationally I know I can never please him and he will never be happy with anything. But for some reason that little kid, the little girl who could never do anything right even though she tried and tried and tried again… for some reason she hears everything he says, and responds in the same way she always has.

This might sound silly, but I’ll confess that I woke up this morning hoping that my father had died overnight now that he’s reached this grand milestone. He didn’t, but perhaps this will enable him to start (and finish) checking out. (Don’t even suggest that it’ll give him the zest he needs to reach 100 or I will personally come out there into the blogosphere and whollop you!! LOL) I still feel bad wishing him dead like this, even though I know I shouldn’t. I should go back to my therapist’s little mantras: “Just because he’s a sperm donor doesn’t mean he’s a good father” and “You owe him NOTHING.”

I survived the party. More than survived, I even came away with a few things I am proud of:

  • When my father was being horrible, I said to my mother, “Mum, I’m not staying if he’s going to behave like that.” She wasn’t happy, but I also said, “I’m only here for you, Mum, and to help you. Not for him.” This was the best I could to do stand up for myself this weekend.
  • This is the first time in over a year that I’ve seen the parents and not had the urge to binge eat, cut or do something else destructive afterwards. (Ok, the eating thing may have had something to do with a mild hangover and an ice pick-headache, but I’ll claim it as progress anyway!)
  • This is the first time in over a year that I’ve driven home from the parents’ house and haven’t wanted to run my car off the road. Actually, it’s better than that – it’s the first time I’ve driven home and thought, “you know, it’s important that I DON’T drive my car off the road. I am important and I don’t want to die today.” 🙂 (I’ll admit that the inner critic piped up with some commentary about, “who are you important to?” but I chose not to listen. Just turned the music up and kept going.)
  • This is the first time in I don’t know how many years that I’ve felt reasonably comfortable talking to people in a social situation. Even, or perhaps especially, people I know. Ok, that might have been Dutch courage, but I think it was more than that. I think, or at least I’m hoping, that it’s a sign I’m no longer as embarrassed as I was to be me. No longer as worried people will find out about the dark secrets. And no longer as concerned about what they think of me.
  • My bathroom at the parents’ house has a hideous mirror that displays far more than any mirror ever should. That fact not withstanding I did notice that some of the awful stretched skin is coming back. Strange as it may seem, this makes me happy. I’m hopeful it means that some of the evil anti-depressant weight may be starting to shift.
  • I even remembered some of back-up therapist’s advice about preparing myself to see the parents, not berating myself afterwards… and, are you sitting down? I even remembered to be gentle with myself afterwards. I’ve listened to nice music, put my favourite sheets on the bed, and just been generally gentle. I even did the ironing, which isn’t exactly soothing, but does help turn my brain off and help me process stuff. There’s something about the repetitive motion of the iron… back and forth, back and forth, and the “tshshsh” of the steam that I find … almost restful. 🙂