Putting The Backstories On Hold For A Little Bit and My Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and Pottery

Putting The Backstories On Hold For A Little Bit

I think I am going to take a day or two off of the backstories.  I have lots more stories that want to be told, but I have had my mood dropping all week and I think I just need to pace myself, iykwim.  Especially since one of the backstories I want to share is about my family and food.  That one will be tricky, I need a day or two to figure out what I am going to say.

My Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Yesterday, I saw my PNP.  I had a hard time talking with her yesterday as I think I went in to the appointment half dissociated…Not her fault nor me having anxiety about being there, but more a product of my needing to pace myself as I said above.  She was able to reel me in though and I even drew for her!

And I cried.  This crying thing is becoming a habit!  I am going to try to stop judging myself about it, because I am not sure I have any control over it anymore.  If it’s going to happen, I guess it is going to happen.

What I didn’t realize (until I cried) is how strongly upsetting my Nutritionist appointments are for me.  Because, that’s what made me cry.  My PNP asked about how my Nutritionist appointments are going and if they are still hard and my eyes just welled up with tears and I couldn’t even look at my PNP.  I am not even sure what is so hard about the Nutritionist that just thinking about it made me cry…But clearly, there is a trigger there.

And of course, I see the Nutritionist today. <sigh>

Back to the drawing…I wish I had taken of picture of it so that I could post it here.  She was asking what my eating disorder looked like, and I told her it was black and had long fingers…gripping fingers.  She asked a few more questions about how it looked and then handed me a clipboard, paper and a pack of crayons so I could draw it.

When I finished the drawing, she asked if I wanted it or if she could keep it.  I told her she could keep it, but that she should probably send a copy to the AT.  She said she would fax it to him.  It’s funny, it’s not at all the kind of drawing that I would do in Art Therapy…The different settings appear to invoke different responses.  I guess that actually makes total sense…I had just never observed it before as my PNP has never given me an opportunity to draw before.

Lastly, I left my PNP appointment with my pocketbook stuffed full of samples of one of my meds.  I am truly appreciative that she gave me the boxes of samples because I have been feeling stressed trying to keep our finances afloat right now.  And since we have rolled into a new year, I am still meeting my deductible for my prescriptions and at the moment, paying full price for my meds is challenging and kind of painful.

Pottery

Just a quick note about pottery class…I know my mood is off because I didn’t really feel like going to pottery class…I feel like I just don’t care and am not motivated.  However, I did go and finished some glazing and collected my tiles from last week that had been fired.  This one came out amazing.  I am so pleased with how my glazing worked!

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Then I was prepping the lid for the pot (smoothing rough spots) so it and the pot could finally be bisque fired.  Only, I pressed too hard and…..

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Guess next week I’ll be making lid #3!

More Of Heidi’s Backstory

More Of Heidi’s Backstory

Dh said he got teary eyed when he read my post, “Building You Up Or Tearing You Down.”  It’s funny, I feel so matter-of-fact about what I wrote…I was surprised he felt teary.  Then again, I try to approach those kinds of memories without feeling…I don’t need to muck it up with yucky feelings!

Dh commented that my mom needs to have things “just so”…Not only her children, but everything, and he commented on how she keeps her house.

Which reminded me….

So, growing up in a family of 4, with both parents working full-time, led to an untidy and chaotic house.  If you have a family and work full-time, I am guessing you know exactly what I mean.  Heck…you don’t even have to work full-time or have kids, we all get out-numbered and out-gunned by chores and laundry and clutter.  It just happens.

However, appearances were/are very important to my mom.  For me, having friends over was a nightmare because if I wanted to have a friend over, the house had to be spotlessly, picture-perfect clean. (So much so, that my friends admitted never feeling comfortable when they visited.)  And it would be my responsibility to clean it since I was the one wanting to have a friend over.  And when I say clean, I mean, to clean all of it.  Needless to say, I didn’t have friends over very often…It was too hard to meet the exacting standard and to do all that work to get the house perfect.

Of course, not having friends visit kind of put a damper on relationships.  Friendship is a reciprocity, and when you keep not being able to have friends come over to your house, they stop inviting you to theirs.  It also means you never get a reprieve from your parents.

Life got so challenging for me at home, that when I was 14 or 15, I had a very clear and very intentional plan to run away.  I was saving my babysitting money so that I could buy a plane ticket.  This was back in the “olden” days (pre-internet) when there used to be full-page newspaper ads featuring reasonably priced plane tickets.  I used to pore over the ads…Watching the prices.  My plan was to run away to Florida because Florida was warm and I reasoned that I could survive all the seasons without too much effort.

I tried and tried to convince my best friend to run away with me.  She said she would, but she didn’t really mean it.  I totally meant it.

In the end, I did not run away.  I don’t know what changed my mind…Maybe just lack of confidence that I could actually pull it off.  Honestly, it could have gone either way.  I could have just as easily decided to do it, though it’s likely a good thing that I didn’t…I am not sure the streets of Orlando were going to be a great choice.

And maybe it was just too much work to run away.  This was not a pleasant time in my life and I am sure that I was pretty depressed…especially as I was frequently suicidal and self-harming.  That was when I started cutting, and I used to pierce my ears, over and over again.  I also used to take handfuls of ibuprofen (literally a handful) because I didn’t care what happened.  I was at the end of my rope…And I was totally lost and unsupported.

Well…I suppose my parents tried.  One of my friends told my guidance counselor that I was suicidal and my parents sent me to see a psychiatrist.  I sat and stared icily at the psychiatrist week after week.  I don’t remember doing any actual work with her.  (And in an ironic side note:  My second therapist, the one I had before the AT, actually worked in the same office at the psychiatrist.  I have often wondered what would have happened if I had been hooked up with her instead of the psychiatrist.  However, my mom was big on having the “best” of everything and the psychiatrist was really well-known in the area and supposed to be the “best” so I had to see her.  Just because someone is the “best” does not mean they are the best fit for everyone….especially and unwilling and surly teenager.)

In the end, I did get back on track…I met my friend, A, when she moved here from New York.  Though a somewhat unlikely match, we developed a deep friendship and I started going to church with her.  Her conservative church gave me the structure and support I needed to make it through the rest of my teen years unscathed.  It is kind of hard to explain the complexities about why/how this worked for me….But her family happily accepted me like I was a daughter, the church was full of caring people, and the structure helped keep my loose ends intact, and my faith gave me something to believe in and focus on.

And A and I are still friends, 29 years later! My association with that church did not last anywhere near as long…And now, as a comfortably established Secular Humanist, I am not affiliated with any church except for some infrequent visits to the Unitarian Universalist meeting house in the City.

Okay…how was that for another trip down memory lane?

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.