Treatment is a Bitch

Yesterday, I ended up sharing homework assignments in both our Eating Disorder group and in our main therapy group.  I also had my 1:1 anxiety therapy.

My name was top of the list for sharing in Eating Disorder group.  I like sharing in groups because it is an opportunity for getting feedback, support and thoughtful questions from my peers and the therapists running the group.  Sometimes the questions make me squirm, but it is always productive.

My dietitian and I had discussed what to talk about in ED group and she said I could read an older homework assignment or read something from my blog.  I felt like reading the post about my family of origin and food would be most helpful in terms of getting support and feedback.  I felt embarassed to share it as it kind of highlights how fucked up my family was…but part of sharing in groups is about reducing shame.

You know what I realized when reading it and during the feedback after?  That my orthorexic thinking has much deeper roots than I realized.  Like, it goes way back to when I was in elementary school.  I had no idea!  It gave me a bit of pause about the self-judgment I feel because I have a hard time shaking the orthorexia.  The orthorexia is deeply ingrained in my thought processes and feelings about food.  I am not going to just be able to snap out of it.  It’s not at all that simple.  Now…if I can turn that understanding into some compassion for myself, I will be in a better place.  But, I still am frustrated and angry at myself that I cannot shake the orthorexia faster.  I guess since I really only got diagnosed with it recently, I figured it was a recent development and would be easy to stop.  I sure was wrong about that.

Anxiety therapy was hard yesterday.  Somehow we got to talking about what I feel like I deserve and don’t deserve.  I don’t think I deserve much.  Like really, this is another deeply ingrained belief.  And while we were talking, I was working hard at challenging my therapy blocking behaviors (namely, shutting down when I felt intense emotions.)  It was a hard and draining session.  I left sniffling from crying and feeling totally raw.

I went from that session to the main therapy group…I walked in half-way through it (because of the anxiety appt) and noted that there were four people observing the group.  I don’t like change, people observing make me uncomfortable.  They were clinicians from around the country who had come for an event that Hilltop PHP is having today and tomorrow, but they had come early to observe groups and stuff.

So…I sat down and was trying to decompress a little bit and…My name popped up on the sharing list and I was immediately called upon to share some homework.  Yikes!  So, I shared an assignment about feelings and tried to ignore the visitors and focus on what I was doing.  The glitch was that the assignment briefly addressed the physical abuse I endured as a child.  This is something I pretty much never talk about and had never even really brought up during my whole stay a Hilltop.  (Because I am pretty sure I deserved the abuse because I was bad.)  Of course, it became part of the discussion and I was really uncomfortable.  And I didn’t share that I minimize the abuse because I feel like I deserved it.

Anyway, it was an intense day.  And everything has been more intense lately because I have been steadily working on my trauma narrative from the first sexual abuse I had when I was four.  That assignment has me in a constant state of emotional rawness and miner overload.

It has been a long week.

K…I don’t have time to proofread…Hopefully, the typos aren’t too bad!!!  I’ll try to get to editing later.

Emotional Development

This morning, instead of having time to blog, I am finishing up two agendas because I might be up on group to read them today.  Here they are:

  1. How Am I Responding To My Feelings The Way They Were Responded To?
  2. What beliefs do I have that prevent my feelings from being expressed?

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1.

I respond to emotions with:

  • Restricting (both emotional expression and food)
  • Historically, emotional eating
  • Invalidating my feelings
  • Distraction
  • Ignoring source of feelings
  • Completely deny having feelings
  • Isolating when I am crying

The main way I re-enact how my feelings were responded to as a child, is by ignoring their existence.  My parents didn’t acknowledge my feelings.  It was like I was in an emotional vacuum.  The times that my mother did respond to my feelings, it was totally mis-attuned and she would tell me that I was either tired or hungry.  And so she would tell me to eat something.

This food-response to feelings certainly was part of what created my emotional eating habits.  If I was upset, then food would make it better.  I was basically trained on that.  Right now, I do not emotionally eat.  Just the same way I emotionally restrict, I also restrict-food.  Only, restricting food is better because not only do I get to shut down emotions, but I get to lose weight too.  It is a win-win situation.

My mother’s response to feelings also served to completely invalidate what I was feeling and never actually look at why I was having intense feelings.  This left me at a loss to manage those feelings on my own.  Eventually, I learned that my feelings are not valid and that it didn’t matter what I felt or how badly I was hurting, feelings were not important.  The source of my pain was inconsequential.  It didn’t matter why I was hurting, it just mattered that my feelings needed to be stopped.

I continue this pattern even now.  I will avoid and distract from feelings and refuse to look at what is causing them.  It just seems easier than dealing with the pain.  And if I don’t want the feelings then why bother to figure out why I am feeling them.  If I am really pushed and really upset, I will regress to, “I don’t have feelings.”  I just shut down completely.  I don’t do it too often anymore, but it is a fall-back response when I am emotionally flooded and/or in too much emotional pain (I mean severe, intense emotional pain.)

I also deal with emotions by withdrawing physically (especially to cry).  When I was young, my parents would lock me in my bedroom when I was having intense emotions.  I used to rage and rage while in my room and then just melt into a crying mess of defeat and worthlessness.  As an adult, I repeat the pattern of the physical isolation when I need to cry.  As a matter of fact, I retreat to my bedroom, close the door and shut down.  As an adult, I don’t rage.  But I certainly crash into feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness.

2.

I also have come to have the belief that my emotions are too much for people, too big for people to deal with.  If my parents weren’t able to support me emotionally and had to lock me in my room when I was emotional, then my emotions were so big that they needed to be contained.  I could barely make sense of what I was feeling and how to manage the feelings (I was only a preschooler and didn’t have good modeling from my parents) so the fact that I had to be shut away when I felt emotions taught me that emotions must be shut away.

When I did approach my parents with intense emotions, my dad was unresponsive.  He was always emotionally unresponsive and unavailable and when he did demonstrate emotions, it was to rage.  He would rage against us kids, he would rage against nothing in particular.  He never would rage at my mother.  With my mother, my father just expressed a cold seething, but with me and my sister it was a terrifying rage and being hit with his belt.

My mother was too self-absorbed to pay attention to my emotions.  Anything else was more important than me and what I was feeling, be it her job, the soap operas she was addicted to or my sister.  If she did notice my feelings she always invalidated and dismissed them.  I never remember her letting me crawl on her lap to cry or to talk about what I was feeling. And if I ever did try to talk to her, there was correction and shaming on her part that was I was feeling wasn’t right.  But really, I was left to my own devices and as a self-sufficient kind of child, there was no real “need” for my parents to be involved in my emotional affairs.

Really, the messages I got were that emotions are bad, especially Sad and Angry.  Emotions would get me punished.  Emotions were too much for anyone, including myself, to handle and that what I was feeling wasn’t really what I was feeling.  As a young child, there was no way to make sense of any of this and thus began the development of some of my core beliefs.

As an adult, I still am emotionally withdrawn.  I feel very vulnerable and expect rejection when I try to share emotions with people, so I don’t.  And if people ask how to support me with my feelings, I often have no idea what to say.  I am afraid to feel sad and I am afraid to feel angry and I am sure if I express those emotions at/with people, it will push them away and I will be all alone again to try to manage what I am feeling with no idea of how to do it.

Confused and Ignoring Reality and Knitting

Confused

I am still trying to figure out what is abuse/not abuse.  I have been told unequivocally by the AT and by my friend, L, that what I experienced growing up was abuse.  I just can’t wrap my head around it. The AT says that how my parents treated me was about them and their issues and not about me…Which completely defies the construct that I have in my head and I just don’t know how to reconcile it.  I kind of like the AT’s version…It is a lot nicer than my version (well…sort of anyway).

You know, I am afraid of latching onto the AT’s versions of things because if he is wrong, I will have a pretty hard fall.  But…he is an outside observer, his opinion is unbiased in that respect.  And I trust his experience and ability to see things that I don’t….Ugh. I just don’t know.  Therapy has been very confusing lately.

Ignoring Reality

This is a huge topic shift!

My friend, A, is very near and dear to my heart.  I have known her for 29 years (!) and she is one of those friends who knows everything about me.  And I mean everything.  We text daily and usually for at least an hour.  We get together about once a month…She lives about an hour away and coordinating schedules can be tricky, but we do the best we can.  Her friendship means the world to me and her support through all my mental illness has been strong and steady.

And at the end of July, she is moving away, across the country.  I have known about this since last May.  My first instinct was to withdraw from the relationship to wean myself off and save myself heartache.  Instead, I decided to make the most of it while she is still here.  Honestly, I am kind of devastated that she is moving, so I have been choosing to ignore it.  But as the months fly by, I realize that if I don’t face reality, I will be setting myself up for a huge crash.

Anyway, I just wanted to write this all down as sort of a first step in forcing myself to accept the inevitable.  Honestly, what I will do is ignore the fact that I wrote this out and keep ignoring the fact that she is moving.  It is just easier that way (at the moment). Have I ever mentioned I hate feelings/feeling?  I don’t want to feel the sadness about this.

Knitting

Huge progress on the kimono sweater yesterday.  It is done, seamed, I crocheted contrasting edging all around it…All it needs now is fasteners to close it.  The pattern calls for ties, I am pondering buttons.  Not sure what I will do.

Here’s one I made ages ago…it has ties on the side and inside.  They kind of look sloppy.

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And here’s the green one.  Adding a button to the front would still keep this clean look.  Hmmmm……I am leaning towards buttons, but the knitting is too tight to push a button through and I didn’t allow for button holes when I knit it.  I do have a solution in mind.  I guess I just need to commit, buttons or ties?

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And I will be casting on for a second one of this sweater pretty much immediately.  I like the pattern and I have another baby in mind to knit one for.  (A yet-to-be-born baby!) Although….I am somewhat tempted to start at 5HBS for that baby…So many choices.

5HBS is a 5 Hour Baby Sweater (or in my case, a 10-12 hour baby sweater. LOL)  I have knit zillions, I actually probably have 5 already knit and set aside.  Here’s one I knit ages ago.

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Of course, there is no rule as to how many projects I can have going at one time.  I could cast on for both sweaters! 😉

The Invalidation Of Heidi and What is Abuse? and The Little Heidi Slideshow

The Invalidation Of Heidi

There is definitely a theme in all the history posts.  Basically, my childhood was about being invalidated.  The messages I heard were

  • You are not pretty enough
  • You are not good enough
  • Your feelings don’t matter
  • Your behavior is not appropriate for a girl
  • You have to endure bullying and teasing (I got the classic and ineffectual parental advice of “just ignore it”)
  • Television is more important than you (I haven’t blogged about this one yet.)
  • Love is conditional
  • You are an inconvenience
  • Your needs are not important
  • Your behavior is (i.e. you are) so bad that that we (my parents) can’t have friends (another yet-to-be post)
  • You are shameful
  • You are a second-class citizen
  • Your sister is the preferred child
  • You don’t matter

I have probably missed some…But the last one kind of sums it up.  Most of these messages became part of my understanding of my Self. And still strongly influence me.  And that last one is the one the AT is trying his absolute hardest to change my belief on.

What Is Abuse?

I was IMing with my friend L last night…She had read yesterday’s blog and made the comment that she was sad because I was raised in “such an abusive household.”  That one kind of threw me for a loop.  I guess I just never thought of all that stuff as being abuse.  It just was what I experienced, what I knew.  Maybe it wasn’t great…But was it really abuse?  Ummm….I think maybe I am not going to think about this yet.  Remember, I am taking the week off?  Contemplating what was/wasn’t abuse pushes into some of that touchy territory that I don’t like to think about…Nope..not going there right now.

The Little Heidi Slideshow

I made this slideshow a while ago (in December)…I think it is self-explanatory.