Learning Body Shame

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Learning Body Shame

When I was a little girl, up until age 11 when I got my period, I was not fat.  I was healthy and active and while not boney skinny, I was not by any means fat.

Puberty is a cruel thing.  As soon as I got my period, I started gaining fat. And I was mercilessly taunted by my classmates for it.  But worse than that, my body started developing and I wasn’t quite ready for it.  I remember that the boys used to find it high entertainment to hit us girls in the chest…Laughing as we flinched in pain from being hit on our tender developing breasts.

And then I had one of those sort of momentous growth spurts…The kind where you go to bed flat chested and wake up the next morning a C cup.  (Okay…it wasn’t quite that fast, but it sure felt like it!)  Talk about body betrayal!  And I was the first girl in the class to sport breasts like that.  If being teased for getting fat wasn’t bad enough, I was ogled and tormented and teased for those grown-up sized breasts on what I still saw as a little girl body. (I am sure my body was not little girlish anymore, but my brain had not caught up with the puberty, I still felt like a little girl.)

I spent grades 6, 7 and 8 burning with shame and being exposed to unrelenting teasing every day.  I hated my body.  I hated my breasts, I hated being fat and I was ashamed…So overwhelmingly ashamed.

Eventually, the other girls’ body development caught up with mine and I wasn’t the only one with breasts.  Nor was I even the fattest girl.  But it didn’t matter at that point as the damage had already been done and I had already learned to be ashamed of and to hate my body.

I still hate my body, which you already know.  But I also feel that betrayal of my body too…The body that developed too fast and left the little-girl me behind and pushed her into the ogling limelight.  The body that (long before it developed) was enticing to a child molester. The body that subjected me to torment in high school.  Even in adulthood, I feel like my body has betrayed me.  It has just been one betrayal after another.

How do I ever reconcile all of that? How do I ever grow to like my body? Can I even do it?

Building You Up Or Tearing You Down

Building You Up Or Tearing You Down

I have been reflecting a lot since Thursday about parental messages I received  when I was growing up and certain things come to mind…It’s funny, all my memories from when I was a kid are negative memories.  I like to think that good things happened to me too…I don’t know why only the bad memories have stuck with me.

Here’s one that has stuck…

There used to be a store in Train Junction that I loved as a child.  It was kind of a gift shop in the front part of the store. There were glass cases with music boxes and figurines and fine porcelain knick-knacks.  Here and there were little baubles and trinkets that a little girl could buy with the bit of money stuffed in her pocket.

The best part about the store was the smell. The back of the store sold candles and candle making supplies, wax, molds, wax coloring cubes, wicks and best of all…Scents.  The store just had this yummy smell, not at all cloying like modern candle shops, but soft and sweet and natural…I can practically smell it just thinking about it.

Now, this was in a more “safe” era, when it was okay to let your 8 year old go into the store by herself while you shopped the next store over…No one was worried you were going to get kidnapped or make trouble, there was lots more freedom and opportunity for independence.

So, one day, I was in that store with my parents off a few stores down.  As I was admiring all the shiny things, a teacher I knew from my elementary school came in with her boyfriend.  She was all glowy and happy.  She saw me and greeted me and introduced me to her boyfriend.  I felt very grown-up being introduced like that!  I wandered away as she and her boyfriend were looking at a glass case of music boxes.

After I bit, I wandered back towards them and the teacher was hemming and hawing, unable to decide which music box her boyfriend should buy for her.  And then she did the most amazing thing….She asked me what I thought!  I remember feeling extra grown-up and special because she cared about my opinion.  We looked at the music boxes and listened to them play.  I told the teacher which one I liked better and that sealed her decision.  She wanted her boyfriend to buy her the one that I picked!

I was pretty much over the moon with feeling grown-up and valued and special.  I couldn’t wait to meet my parents back at the car and tell them all about it.  And so I did…I imagine I was beaming and puffed up with pride.  I don’t really remember my mom acknowledging my feelings of worth and happiness.  She was too busy in “Pretty is as Pretty does” mode.

What did my mother say?  She pointed out my peanut butter smeared, grubby pants and fly-away hair.  She told me that running into a teacher like that was a good situation to point out why I should dress nicely and look nice when we went places.  It’s funny…the teacher didn’t seem to mind how I looked. I suppose the teacher was looking past all that and seeing me as a person, not as a fashion plate.

And instead of feeling proud and important, I felt ashamed.  And ugly.  And disappointing…yet again.  And it was my fault because I didn’t change into clean clothes before we went out on errands.  My happy feeling soured and I felt worthless.

Pretty is as Pretty does was just an unfair expectation, especially for me.

The memory doesn’t sting as much as it used to…And as an adult, I can see that maybe my mom felt embarrassed that I was so grubby that day.  And maybe she was frustrated that I couldn’t fit into the “Pretty does” mold for her.  But as a tender, sensitive 8 year old, I couldn’t see any of that.  All I could see was that yet again, I didn’t measure up.  I was ugly and imperfect and shameful.  Those are crappy messages to get when you are forming your identity and learning your self-worth (or lack therefore of).

You Matter and You Don’t Matter

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You Matter

The Art Therapist hurt my brain yesterday.  He is trying so hard to get me hear and understand his message that I matter but it just flies in the face of all my experiences and subsequent conclusions.  But he is so sure, I mean so, so, so sure, that I just plain get confused.  I even said to him, “You are confusing me!”  I forget his exact response, but I think he was happy that I was/am confused because that means that my steadfastness might be wavering.  That’s what hurts my brain.  It’s like the new synapses that are trying to be born hurt.

You Don’t Matter

And we got to talking about my parents and the messages that I got from them growing up.  I hate talking about that stuff.  It is too painful and if I think about it too much, I will just crash.  Or another way to put it is that I can’t think about that stuff because it will just open a big ol’ can of emotion worms…I don’t let myself feel any feelings about it because it would just hurt too much. Ugh…even writing about the idea of letting myself go towards those feelings is too much.

Another thing we discussed was that when I was a little girl and upset or sad or having strong feelings, my mother would always say, “You must be hungry.” or “You must be tired.”  The feeling I was having was never addressed.  So, I felt invalidated.  I also didn’t learn how to handle big/intense feelings (other than with food).  And I was left alone and overwhelmed and ultimately found it easier to just turn off feelings (which actually served several purposes) than to have/feel them.  This is also part of the reason why I don’t cry (except now I seem to cry every time in therapy.)  Crying was never responded to, so I just shut it down.  Again though, there were other reasons I stopped crying too, all of this is very complex!

Another message I got from my mom was something she said to me a zillion times, “Pretty is as Pretty does.”  If I had a nickel for every time I heard that….<sigh>  Now imagine, if you were a tomboy, you would have a rat’s ass chance of ever meeting the bar of “Pretty does.”  So…what kind of message does that give?  The message I heard was that my behavior (and thus me) was never good enough…And there was no way I could ever be good enough…Square peg/Round hole.  Behaving “pretty” was not part of my genetic make-up.  Being curious and active and boisterous and messy and opinionated…All those traits were hard wired, but evidently not acceptable.

And being pretty?  Well, if I could never meet the bar of “Pretty does” then there was absolutely no way I could ever be pretty.  Think that’s why I never look at myself in mirrors?  Talk about a way to undermine a little girl’s self-confidence!

Oh yes, and what if that little girl had already had some pretty significant trauma that had screwed up her sense of herself and her sense of the world?  Well…Probably what she really needed was to be supported, not to be invalidated and torn down.

Okay…I gotta cut this off now.  Talking about all this is treacherous emotional territory and I don’t really feel like going any further.

Waiting and Pottery Class

Waiting

Yesterday morning, I got up and started some turkey stock both on the stove and in the crockpot.  Ds made stock earlier this month and it was well-liked in the soups/stews I have made recently but there is only a pint of his stock left.  After the stock cooks, I put it into canning jars and freeze it up.  Luckily, the weather this time of year cooperates with the cooling and freezing of the stock on the deck.  I won’t ever eat anything made from the stock, as it is meat based, but I am glad to make it and know that dh and ds are eating healthy homemade food.

I did some hand sewing for quite a while in the morning.  It was just the right kind of activity because I was super low energy and just finding it hard to move much.  I had planned on walking the dogs, but it was cold and snowing and I just didn’t feel up to it.  (I have been really cold lately.)  It was a quiet kind of morning.

Mostly though, I was waiting.  My bloodwork came back from Tuesday’s blood draw and I took a look at it first thing in the morning.  (There is a website through the hospital that posts labs and stuff, the info show up there fast and I can check it before my doctor even sees it.)  A couple of my lab values were off…This is the first time that has happened.  So, I was waiting for an email from my doctor to see what she thought.  Here is the message she put on the bottom of my lab results, “Heidi, Your liver enzymes (AST and ALT) are now elevated and this may be due to the stress on your liver due to inadequate calorie intake.  We should recheck this at your next visit. Please let me know if you have questions. Best wishes, [Your Doctor]”  I am not sure how worried I should be about this…I guess the next bloodwork check will let me know.

Pottery Class

In the evening I had pottery class.  Despite just wanting to curl up in bed to stay warm and rest, I pulled myself together and went to pottery.  It’s kind of like yoga in that I love it so much that I will get there come Hell or high water.  I threw my pot lid on the wheel, though I don’t have much hope that it will fire to the right size.  But it was my first lid and I did my best…Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised!  I also started glazing my tiles.  I am painting in the glaze to color the pictures I drew…Technically, this might not work as the glaze colors may just run together when it is fired.  Honestly, I am okay with that, as painting the tiles is kind of an experiment and I am not feeling like they have to come out perfect.

Here are the tiles during the glazing process.  The colors of the glaze are not at all accurate, they fire and change color/darken significantly. For example the trees will fire to a dark green even though the glaze is so light.

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To Work Or Not To Work? and Having The Driveway Sanded

To Work Or Not To Work?

It has been decided.

I saw my Primary Physician yesterday.  It was a good appointment, meaning I felt like she really was taking the time to talk to me and listen to me and I felt good about it.  I also got bloodwork done, I wasn’t feeling as good about that—ouch! And evidently, she loves my heart so much that she did another EKG.  (Which was fine.)  Heck…she even gave me a nice hug (after asking permission first.)

And I waited until the very end to ask her the question.  Should I go back to work? (Partly, this was prompted by a text from my boss that was already a few days old, asking about me working on Saturday.)

My PP said, “I don’t think you should go back to work. I think you should take the time and focus on yourself.”

So…It has been decided. And I am relieved.

And then after I got home, I made a phone call and I got a forbearance on my student loans.

And now, I need to re-run budget numbers without the hefty student loan payment.  As family CFO, it is my job to make sure all the bills get paid.  It was going to be super tight, but the forbearance will give us some breathing room.

Having The Driveway Sanded

You know…I appreciate the simple things.

So, our driveway goes up a hill…Not a crazy bad kind of hill, but enough that sometimes cars can’t get up it in the winter.  When we moved here, my car wouldn’t go up. Lemme tell ya, that car got traded in lickety-split. Parking at the bottom of the driveway and hiking up in the freezing cold is not fun.

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In the winter, the UPS man doesn’t drive up at all and drops our packages at the bottom of the driveway.  We get better service from FedEx, who will drive up most of the time, but if he elects not too, he walks up with our packages.

But…The fuel oil delivery folks are fussy.  They won’t even bother to come up, and forget them trying to use those handy chains hanging off the bottom of the truck, it isn’t happening!  So, now they call the day before they deliver to give us a heads-up. Then I can call the plow guy and have him come sand.

This all happened yesterday.  The fuel oil company called to check on the status of the driveway…Packed snow over ice, not good for the heavy fuel oil truck to back up (did I mention they back up the driveway as there is no spot for a truck to turn around at the top?)  I called my plow guy and asked if he could come sand.  Within ten minutes he was here and sanding.

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And not only did he sand, but he drove really slowly to get a good layer of sand down.  And he knows the tricky spots in the driveway and went extra slowly over them to get a really heavy coat of sand.

And I watched him do it and felt a lot of gratitude for his diligence.

 

So Close, But Not Perfect and What I Should Not Have Said To The Nutritionist

So Close, But Not Perfect

So…I got up at 3 yesterday because the little dog had to pee (she seems to have a small bladder!).  We went back to bed, but I was awake…Just up for the day.  After laying awake for 45 minutes, I got up.  I went into the kitchen, made supper for dh and ds (turkey stew in the crockpot), cleaned up the kitchen, finished loading and then started the dishwasher and took all the old dishcloths out for washing and replaced them with fresh ones.  Then I cleaned the living room, sorted the dog toys and vacuumed the living room/dining room and kitchen.  Then I mended some tears in the dog bed because the little dog started pulling stuffing out of the holes.   I sorted through the couch throws and tossed ones that needed washing into the laundry pile.

Once dh was up, I asked him to print out the page for getting reimbursement on the rest of last year’s flexible spending (I had asked him several days ago, but he forgot and it is due on Mondays).  So, I filled out the form…I had already collated all the receipts, put it all together with a binder clip and handed it over to dh.  I also packed up dh’s lunch (I don’t usually, but he was running behind).

Now…I got all of that done by about 6:30.  But guess what?  I forgot something. <sigh>

It was trash day.  Emphasis on the was…as by the time I got home from my art therapy appointment, the trash truck had come and gone and won’t be back for two weeks. I was really frustrated…And I could feel that run-away train gaining speed.  If I could get all that other stuff done, why couldn’t I have remembered the trash too?

What I Should Not Have Said To The Nutritionist

Well…I am in quite the hard spot.  I have no idea what to do.

Last week, at my Nutritionist appointment, I said something that I now really regret saying.  We were talking about how I go about making a change…from a general perspective…I am sure with the idea of transferring that technique to changing my eating pattern.  I told her that I don’t really know, and that sometimes, I just do it.  Meaning that I just suck it up, put on my big girl pants and make the change.  I didn’t tell her how difficult that actually is for me to do, and that the stars sort of have to align just right for it to work.

Well, she latched on to the idea.  And she talked to me just making the change and that it is up to me to get better.  I know it is up to me.  I get it.  But I am not near that point right now.  I don’t know when I will be near that point, but I am not feeling it at the moment.

I sent her an email regarding the protected post (which was a post about Team Heidi and I used their names and pictures, so I didn’t want it public) and I tacked on a part about how I was having a hard time with this week’s goal.  She has asked me to email me when I am having a hard time.  I am loathe to do it, but it seemed like an opportune time since I was already emailing her.

Anyway, in her response she mentioned the idea me of just “buckling down” and doing it.  <sigh> (She also talked about taking baby steps…So, I am a bit confused by the contradiction.)  So, here’s my conundrum.  If it is up to me to make the change and I am just supposed to buckle down and do it, and I am not at that point, should I even bother to continue to see her?  I mean, what would the point be?  There’s no point in wasting her time.

Probably, the right thing to do is to talk to her about it at my next appointment (Thursday afternoon) but I get so sick of always doing the right thing…Sometimes, I just want to stamp my feet, cross my arms over my chest and shout, “NO!”   “No, I don’t have to go.  No, you can’t help me. No, don’t waste your time with me. NO. NO. NO.”

I really wish that I hadn’t told her about my “just do it” approach to change, because now, I feel like there is pressure for me to just do it.  And the last thing I need at the moment is more pressure.  I already feel like a failure because I haven’t/can’t make the changes everyone wants me to make.  Adding in more pressure is only going to amplify those feelings, which won’t really help me at all.

Another Day, Another Week

Another Day, Another Week

I kind of feel irritable this morning.  I’ve got some home stress going on…It is causing me some pretty constant anxiety.  I have so little reserve for that kind of stuff…It overwhelms me and stretches my resiliency into a fine, fraying thread.

This has the potential of being a very long week.  No…I think it is past the potential, I think the run-away train has already started down the track.

Ah well…nothing like getting up at 3:00 on Monday morning and realizing that your week is fucked before you have even started it.