Archive for November 19th, 2009

Do you ever feel like nothing is ever going to change in your life, so what’s the point in even trying? Sometimes I get that way, especially after I have been sick for a while. I feel this physically, such as watching the child spill applesauce and the dogs track in mud on the floor that I just mopped. I think to myself, “Why did I even bother? Maybe we should just live on a dirt floor and be done with it.”

I feel that way sometimes when it comes to overcoming my eating disorder (binge eating). Before I got sick, I had exercised every day for nine days. I was eating healthier. My clothes were getting looser, and the pounds were dropping off. Since I have been sick, I cannot exercise (still don’t have my energy back) and have gained a few pounds back. So, I ask myself why I even bothered trying to change the size of my body when roadblocks always seem to get in my way.

I felt that way as I dropped off to sleep last night. I asked myself why I even bother putting so much energy into trying to change the course of my life when I just wind up right back where I started. What is the point of trying so hard when some invisible force continues to move me back to square one?

Then, it hit me that I have made many permanent changes in my life, and I am just being unrealistic in wanting to change them all at once. What helped was contrasting my life with my sister’s life. (I mean no disrespect to my sister. I just needed a visual to help me see how far I have come.)

If my sister and I had made no changes, our children would be abused themselves. Both of my parents were abused as children (my mother to a larger degree than my father). My mother continued the abuse, and my father failed to stop it, so that family tradition passed along to another generation. However, neither my son nor my nephews have any idea what it is like to experience child abuse, and I am so grateful for that. No matter what else my sister and I have or have not managed to change, that family legacy stopped with us, and we need to be proud of this.

There are areas that I have changed that my sister has not, and I need to recognize and applaud myself for those changes as well. For example, my parents were both social outcasts with no concept of how to interact with society. My father could turn on the charm to get something out of someone, but he didn’t have the first clue about what an emotionally intimate connection with another person was. My mother did not know how to interact with others without offering up her children as the main course. Clearly, my sister and I learned few positive social skills from either of my parents.

My sister and I grew up as social outcasts. I was the nerd, and she was the freak. Her children are also social outcasts. They are nice enough boys, but they don’t know how to interact with their peers and come across as “odd.” The oldest has been plagued by bullies for years now for this reason. Unfortunately for my nephews, it will be in their hands to figure out how to break free of this family tradition or pass it along to the next generation.

Contrast this with my son, who is Mr. Popularity at his school. Other children love him, and he makes friends very easily. He did not learn those skills from my hermit husband who has no friends and would rather hole himself up in a log cabin away from society. He learned those skills from me, the person who would not rest until she figured out how to make a connection with someone outside of her family. I frequently marvel over how a former social outcast like me could be raising such a “normal” child.

And, the thing is, my kid really isn’t “normal.” He has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which typically makes it difficult for children to make and maintain friendships. My kid’s social skills are so good that he is able to be popular (as in very well-liked) despite having ADHD.

So, I need to acknowledge that I have made changes. I hope that gives me the energy to keep trying.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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