Victory 3 (This is a big one!)

My therapist said something to me Wednesday about how my feelings spiral and I get to a place of self-hate.  I listened, agreeing in my head and then I was kind of looking for that self-hate part.

Gone.

I don’t think I hate myself anymore.  I am shocked.  I know I do fall into patterns of self-hate, but self-hate is not my baseline. This is sooo different. Like, I almost feel lost without it, and there is a sort of hollow space there.

Then she asked if I was neutral about myself of if perhaps I had some compassion for myself. I kind of laughed at the idea of me holding compassion for myself.  But….maybe some day?  At this point, I’m at neutral.

So, of the core beliefs I have challenged and changed, what do I believe now?

  1. The sexual abuse when I was 4 was not my fault.
  2. The sexual abuse when I was 14 may not have been my fault.
  3. I can tolerate my body (for the most part).
  4. I can tolerate myself (neutral feelings).
  5. My eating disorder is a serious problem.
  6. I do have an eating disorder.
  7. I did have trauma.
  8. I was treated unfairly as a child.
  9. I have needs.
  10. I didn’t deserve any of my traumas.
  11. I can heal.
  12. I am lovable to some people.
  13. I can trust some people.

Okay…that’s kind of a mind-blowing list.  And while I have these new beliefs, they are very fragile and get shaken very easily and there are still lots of contradicting feelings about them.  And they are in no way cemented in my brain and I will and I do lapse on them.  But to even accept these things as true (even if tomorrow I will try to deny some of them) is more than I ever had hoped for.

I am telling you, Hilltop has changed me in ways that are going to change my whole being. I am going to walk out of Hilltop a totally different person than when I went in.  It is kind of terrifying, I don’t know how to be a different me, but I am really trying to learn.

 

 

Self-Worth and My Body

(This was a homework assignment written Sunday evening)

How I Define Self-Worth and How This Became Correlated to My Body

I am not even sure how I define my self-worth.  What things make me worth anything?

  • My intelligence
  • My sense of humor
  • My persistence/perseverance
  • My work ethic
  • My creativity
  • My compassion
  • My love of nature
  • My love of my family

What makes me feel like I am not worth anything?

  • That I am not smart enough
  • That I am not skinny enough
  • That I am ugly
  • That I am disgusting
  • That I am never good enough
  • That I am damaged
  • That I am bad
  • That I am stupid
  • That I do stupid/embarrassing things
  • That I am fat

Just looking at these two lists, it is clear that my sense of worth revolves around things that are intellectually/brain based and the things that make me feel worthless are all about my body.

I guess that the reason my body measures my lack of worth is because of messages I got over and over as a child. I was never good enough because I wasn’t lady-like enough. My body betrayed me by attracting sexual abuse.  Puberty came before I was ready.  My peers teased me relentlessly, first about my early puberty, with ogling and snide remarks about my breasts, and then because I got fat and thus my peers bullied and tortured me for the next 6 years over my size.  Basically, I learned at school to hate my body because my body was what made me a social pariah.  And it was my body’s fault.

I also had lots of criticism about my body at home.  It was never spoken directly, my mother never said to me, “Heidi, you are fat. Lose weight.”  But I was told how to dress and what to wear to make me look good/smaller despite my body size.  I also was told what to wear and how to dress to minimize my busty chest.  And then there was the time that my parents made me do Nutrisystem with them.  No…no one at home ever said I was fat, but the message was there loud and clear.

And the constant focus on my size and my feelings of shame and subsequent hatred of my body because of that focus, consumed my thoughts and emotions and became the central point of my self-worth.  Being smart wasn’t good enough, being funny wasn’t good enough, being kind and compassionate wasn’t good enough.  All people saw when they saw me was my body. And then that’s all I saw too.

So…the past few weeks, at HillTop, I have been feeling a bit better about my body.  I had started to accept my body…I mean, in tiny baby steps, but I was starting to like what I was seeing.  Maybe it was just over-confidence, but I was seeing my body as smaller and feeling some acceptance of it.

But then this afternoon, I undid all that.  I went out shopping with Mel and tried on a bunch of shirts because I wanted some new shirts to wear with my new leggings.  I have been wearing the leggings because they are really comfortable and I really want to be comfortable.  I am also really attracted to the prints and patterns on the leggings.  But when shopping, none of the shirts I found fit right.  And I got to actually look at myself in a mirror and I got to look at myself in my leggings…And I hated what I saw.  And I realized that I have been fooling myself and that I still am disgusting and ugly.  And not worth having any self-confidence.  There is nothing about me to like or feel good about or to even tolerate.

When I look at my body now, like even just sitting in this chair, it looks different.  I am huge.  I can see how big and fat and ugly I am.  I feel stupid and embarrassed that I actually thought any differently.  And that I let myself start to feel comfortable.

This means that everyone is wrong.  I can’t eat food the way I have been eating it.  I can’t not-exercise.  And Mac is wrong.  I do need to know how much I weigh so I can keep everything under control.

And what I really need now is to lose weight.  And a lot of it.

So…I guess the only way I can define self-worth is by my body size.  And right now, I am not worth anything.

 

Tuesday update:  After losing my shit and crying most of yesterday because I hate my body and I am so disgusting….I woke up this morning and pulled out my favorite pair of leggings, put them on, put on a tunic top (which is super comfy and shields some of my awkward body spots) and am trying to wear my leggings again.  I am going to try to tone down the hatred and dial up the fact that I enjoy the comfiness of the leggings…Not sure how this will play out…But I am giving it a try.

 

 

What if….?

What if……?

Okay…I woke up this morning with a thought.  Usually, when I wake up, my thoughts are kind of dreary especially depending on my dreams.  Even though last night I had some unpleasant sex themed dreams, I did not wake up as dreary as usual.  As a matter of fact I woke up thinking about a dress.  My dress.

Now, this probably flies in the face of yesterday’s post about Femininity. Sort of anyway.  I do not wear dresses. I especially don’t wear skirts.  I never feel pretty in dresses and/or worthy of wearing dresses.  And I never feel worth the expense of dresses. But…..Comic Con.  The local Comic Con is at the end of August and I have been pining over a dress for months, like since January.  And my want for this dress has been pretty constant and it is perfect for Comic Con. PERFECT!

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Torrid.com

So…I waited and waited and waited for the dress to go on sale and a week or so ago, it did.  So, I pounced. Ordering the dress was kind of an issue because I had no idea what size I would need.  And I had to break one of my ED Recovery Rules and measure myself to find out. (Weighing and measuring fuel ED urges.)  But I measured anyway and then I ordered two dresses. One that fits my measurements now and one a size smaller because <ahem> since restricting is never far from the surface, I wanted to make sure I had a dress that fit properly at Comic Con.

Yesterday, the dresses came.  I tried on both and the dress that fits my measurements fits PERFECTLY.  Like it was tailored for me.  And you know what?  I felt amazing in the dress.  I love how pretty it is, how nicely it fits and how it looks on my body.  And I even love the little bit of twirl to the skirt.  And as I looked in the mirror, I thought that my body looked pretty good in the dress.  Yup, I actually entertained a positive thought about my body. (And maybe I will be brave enough to post a picture of me in the dress someday!)

When I woke up this morning, I was still feeling a bit giddy about this amazing dress and how it looked on me and how pretty it is.  And then…(I tell you, I am on a roll)…I thought, “Well, what if it isn’t just the dress that is pretty? What if me being in the dress is part of what makes it pretty? What if I am pretty?”  This is kind of an earth shattering concept and one that at the moment, I don’t buy into.  But….then I was thinking about how I think my body is disgusting.  And then…Then I had the beginnings of what is perhaps an epiphany.

What if it’s not me that is disgusting and wrong?  What if the sexual abuse was disgusting and wrong, but when it happened I was to young to differentiate?

Yup.  That’s something to think about.

And then I thought about this and thought maybe I would post it again:

 

 

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.

My Family Of Origin And Food

My Family of Origin and Food

I have been a bit reluctant to blog about this because I am aware that it will highlight some of the dysfunction in my family of origin…But I am guessing that I am sort of a walking symptom of that dysfunction and it isn’t really any surprise that my upbringing was sort of fucked up.  And since I tend to lay it all here on the blog…Why not add more?

I am not sure how old I was when I became aware of food as an issue in my family.  You know, you grow up a certain way and you think that it’s normal…You don’t even question it.  So…I don’t know when my awareness slid from “this is normal” to “this isn’t normal.”

My dad was a clearly dysfunctional eater.  He was/is extremely obese and had very odd eating behaviors.  He ate excessively and drank sugared soda like it was water.  That was kind of normal.  Odd things were like mixing brown sugar and water into a sort of slurry and drinking it.  Or drinking salad dressing.  Weird.  Not normal.  I easily understood that!  I don’t know what drove him to his eating habits…he wasn’t heavy when my parents married.  Clearly something changed dramatically for him.

My mom was also obese when I was growing up.  She wasn’t heavy either when they got married…Her eating habits and soda drinking  were excessive, but did not appear to be dysfunctional in the same way as my dad’s.  Except of course her dieting.  She tried all sorts of diets.  She lost weight here and there, but never kept it off.  Not until the early 2000’s when she had a gastric bypass.  She lost lots of weight then…And while the amount she ate changed, what she ate never actually changed.  She kept eating the same old crap.  Subsequently, she has very slowly, but steadily gained weight.  And so she talks about dieting again.

Ever since I remember, my mom has tried to micromanage my dad’s eating habits and weight. She still does it now. It is kind of ironic as she both micromanages him and enables him…She buys crap for food, which they both eat…But then she tries to keep my dad from eating too much of it.  We will have dinner at their house and she will scold him about what he is eating or about him having a second or third helping…She will even slap his hand away as he will pick at the food on the table non-stop.  As soon as her back is turned, my dad will wolf down food…Which my mom will then notice and chide him for.  It is awkward to watch.  It also does no good…She has only driven him to be worse and it has become a sort of game/power struggle to them.

I remember when I was young that my mom even wanted to chain and padlock the fridge shut to keep my dad from eating.  I can’t remember if she actually ever did it, but I feel like when I saw my dad drinking the brown sugar it was because he didn’t have access to other food.  But my memory is hazy on some details.

Now…that was the tone and dynamic in my home.  But there were other really bizarre things too.  There were “special foods” that children were not allowed to eat, basically, only my mom was allowed to eat them.  This ranged from junk food like Pepperidge Farms cookies to actual healthy foods like fresh fruit.

One of the “special foods” injustices that I clearly remember was foods my mom would eat in the car.  My mom would stop at farm stands and get fresh peas, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries….Yummy, delicious, drool-worthy items.  My sister and I would sit in the back seat and beg and beg for some…If she bought a pint of raspberries, we might get 2 or 3 berries each (to shut us up) and my dad would get a handful and my mom would eat the rest. It was never fair.  And my sister and I knew it.  Talk about feeling like a second-class citizen.  We weren’t worthy of having good food.  And how hard would it have been to buy two pints of berries, one for the front seat, one for the back seat? But I don’t think my mom did a good job of looking past her own wants.  (Clearly!)

And as a slight topic shift….The day I went strawberry picking with SS (The event that earned her the Social Strawberries pseudonym) she had Pixie with her.  When we went to the farm stand to pay and SS and Pixie spotted some raspberries and bought them.  And then SS did the most “normal” thing.  Of course, Pixie wanted some raspberries and wanted them right away, so SS found a little container, poured some raspberries in it and gave them to Pixie to eat.  I admit, I felt a little pang when I watched it.  That interaction highlighted how normal people would do it.  I felt a little…I don’t know…That pang was sort of a wistfulness for what I didn’t have.  If I recall correctly, SS even offered me some raspberries…Normal behavior again and even courteous!

K…back to my family dysfunction….So my mom’s dieting…Mostly, I ignored it.  But when I was about 14, I got sucked into it.  My parents decided to go to Nutrisystem.  It’s a diet place that supplies food for you to eat and weekly “support” meetings.  I got dragged along.  I don’t remember if I wanted to go or not…Or if I had a choice or not…But I feel like maybe it wasn’t really my choice.

The program actually had teen meetings for the “support” meetings…But my parents were never big on accommodating/putting effort into meeting my needs (my sister was not part of this diet…I don’t remember why not).  So…I had to go to the adult meeting with my parents.  Not only was it totally awkward and I was totally out of place and not age-appropriately supported, but….I had to be at the same meeting as my parents. (Not a good set-up for being honest and processing eating issues.) I basically remember about three things from that diet. 1. The food was crap (and it frightens me now to think of what kind of fake sugar and processed crap were in those little foil pouches of “food”), 2. I was ashamed, ashamed, ashamed at being part of the “support” meetings and with all those grown-ups, and 3. I knew my dad was going to fail at the diet because he may have changed what he ate, but he didn’t change his eating habits…So, instead of eating a whole bag of chips, he ate a whole bag of baby carrots…Meaning that when the diet fizzled out, he went right back to eating his whole bag of chips.

Did I lose weight? Probably, but it wasn’t enough of an impact that I actually remember it. Did I learn anything? Just more body shame/self-loathing.  Oh yes…and I learned that I was a failure at self-control and dieting. And…by not being accommodated for the teen meetings, it also reinforced that I wasn’t important.

As a kid who had developed emotional eating as a survival skill, basically I spent most of my middle school and high school years feeling guilty and ashamed for what I ate.  Heck…I didn’t even need to produce the shame myself as my parents did a good job of shaming me for it.   Food/eating and being fat was yet another example of how I was not good enough, didn’t do anything right and….Failed at “Pretty is as Pretty does.”

Do you think I could have ever been good enough for my mom? That I could ever be the child she wanted me to be?  The bar was so high.  And every time I tried to reach it…I just got kicked down. I was never ever good enough. Never.

Is it a wonder that I think that my parents hate me?

It’s good thing I was plucky kind of girl…because when I write all these history posts and actually see the stuff I grew up with…I just have no idea how I made it out of my family of origin as an actual functional human being.  But I can clearly see how I ended up with my self-esteem issues and perfectionism and self-loathing and eating dysfunctions, etc.

And then I always think…All of this was on top of the sexual abuse that I experienced when I was little girl.  How did I even survive at all?

Knitting

Since it was so cold yesterday (today is balmy in comparison at -10) and since I am processing the history blog posts, I spent a lot of time knitting.  I got a couple rows done on the striped square.  But…I got tons done on the kimono sweater. I have to finish the second sleeve and then knit the second front panel and the knitting will be done!

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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).