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Archive for November, 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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As I have shared before, I am working through a Beth Moore study on the patriarchs of Genesis. The stuff I read yesterday has got me thinking (which really is the point of a Bible study, right?). Beth talks about the “stronghold of deception” and how it is passed down from parent to child. She says:

Deception, passed down through example from parent to child, can be a frightfully contagious approach to life. If honesty is not held in high esteem and practiced in the home, children learn the destructive art of deception. Unless something dramatic breaks the cycle, it carries into adulthood and can invade any realm of life. ~ The Patriarchs pp. 114-115

I am not sure how I feel about that chastisement. On the one hand, in a perfect and safe world, being honest all the time sounds idyllic. However, my childhood was anything but idyllic, so deception is all I learned. I learned how to look someone in the eye and lie convincingly because, if anyone learned my secret, then my sister would die. Yes, in adulthood I realize that my abusers were just protecting themselves, but as a child, I believed this. When I looked the police officer in the eye and said that nobody was hurting us, I did it to save my sister’s life. I could not distinguish between the power to kill a dog and the power to kill a child.

So, as a parent, I don’t come down hard on my son for lying. (Also, he is very bad at it!) Because of my son’s special needs (attention-deficit hyperactivity – ADHD) and immaturity, I don’t know what is a normal part of childhood in “telling stories” and what is me passing along my “stronghold of deception.” I know my son did not leap over a 10 story building, so why would I punish him for telling me a story about doing it?

What are your thoughts on the “stronghold of deception.” I am not convinced that always being truthful is a good thing. How can my kid protect himself if he cannot deceive the bad guys and escape? Am I pouring too much of my own s@#$ onto my kid?? I don’t know.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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Does anyone else go into a depression after recovering from an illness? This is standard protocol for me, and I hate it. I can kind of understand how it happens, though.

As I shared yesterday, being sick as a kid meant that I was on my own. There was no nurturing to make me feel better. I was just that much more vulnerable.

Now, as an adult, the same dynamic happens. As Ruby mentioned in the comments, my hub also gets angry when I get sick. Unlike Ruby, though, I don’t have a positive spin for it. It just p@$$es me off and makes me MEAN. I really do get mean when I am sick because that is the only way to get my family to LEAVE ME THE H@#$ ALONE. I am not asking them to take care of me but, for g#$’s sake, can they not take care of THEMSELVES for a few days??

Anyhow, back to the post-illness depression… After my body has finished fighting the illness and I am on the mend, I find myself feeling deeply depressed. I think part of it is because I have just been forced to face the reality that there is no one in my family to take care of me. (I’ve gotta say that some of my friends were great, dropping off food and babysitting my kid so I could rest.)

Another part is that I have been isolated from the positive influences in my life. For an entire week, I was in quarantine and saw nobody except for hub and child, both of whom were unhelpful at best. I guess I got of view of my life minus friends, and it wasn’t pretty.

The other piece of it comes from the book Risking Intimacy by Nancy Groom. I can’t find my copy, so I am paraphrasing, but she says something along the lines of:

It is sad that some people never learn that they are loved for being precious, not for what they do.

When I am ill, I cannot do for others, and the phone stops ringing. That makes me question whether I am of any value to anyone other than in what I can do for them. It is quite a depressing thought.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I guess I must be feeling better because I actually feel up to blogging. Hooray!

Last week, I came down with the H1N1 virus. My symptoms matched the CDC’s list of H1N1 symptoms with the exception of one – I did not vomit. My symptoms began with a “drippy” nose on Monday. It was really annoying. Then on Tuesday, I kept getting lightheaded. I even had to stop a few times during the day to put my head between my knees to keep from passing out. I started my monthly cycle that day, so I chalked it up to that. Then, I woke up on Wednesday with a 101.1 fever – not good.

I very rarely run a fever. On the rare occasions that I do, I either have the flu or some sort of infection (sinus infection or bronchitis). I ran down the list of symptoms for the H1N1 virus, and I had every one of them – fever, cough (it felt like someone was stepping on my windpipe, making it hard to breathe), mild sore throat, body aches, severe headache, chills, fatigue, and diarrhea. I did not vomit, but I was very dizzy and stayed nauseous for five days. It was a miserable experience.

Despite the fact that I ran a fever nonstop for two straight days, was extremely dizzy, had a horrendous headache, and mostly stayed in bed for five days, hub didn’t believe that I had the H1N1 virus. Here in North Carolina, medical providers will not screen for the virus unless you are sick enough to be hospitalized, so there is no way to verify your diagnosis officially. However, I am quite capable of reading a list of symptoms, comparing my symptoms, and making an educated guess about what is ailing me. My sister is the only other person who doubts my self-diagnosis. Of course, neither had a better answer for why I was suddenly running a fever for two days (which peaked at 101.5) and was extremely dizzy for five days. Millions of people have had the H1N1 virus — so many that the president has declared this virus a national emergency — but Faith cannot possibly have it. Or course not!

This experience hearkened me back to my childhood days when nobody would believe me when I was sick. When I was around eight or nine years old, I came down with an “out of both ends” virus while spending the night at my cousins’ house. My aunt drove me home with lots of towels to clean up the mess during the drive. When she got me home, my mother was not happy for me to be returned early. Her response to my aunt was, “She’s not sick.” My exasperated aunt invited my mother to come take a look at the floor of her car for evidence to the contrary.

However, nothing would “reach” my mother. She was practicing “calling things that be not as though they were,” which is religious babble for saying what you want things to be like until they become that way. So, while my mother “spoke over me” that I was healthy, I was an eight-year-old kid who had to take care of herself as I vomited and had diarrhea all over the bathroom.

Fortunately, I do have people in my life (none relatives) who do believe me when I say that I am sick. Friends dropped off food and Gatorade so I could nourish myself. (G*d forbid a family member actually take care of me when I get sick!) A friend took my son overnight so I could get some rest. Thank goodness for the family I have built for myself. I couldn’t get through it relying on my relatives to take care of me when I need help.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I am sick

I awoke this morning with a fever of 101.1. It peaked at 101.5 and is now down to 99.5 (which is relief after how I was feeling a few hours ago). I had both the seasonal flu and H1N1 flu shots, so I am hoping that, if it is the flu, I will feel better soon. If I disappear for a few days, that is why.

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How is this for weird? I think I must have just found my “inner anorexic.” This is really weird, and I don’t know how long it will last … but let me back up…

Since I was 11 years old, I have used food to help me “stuff down” the bad feelings. I just thought I had no self-control. I was well into adulthood when I learned that there was a label for what I did – binge eating/compulsive overeating – and I was shocked to learn that it was a real eating disorder. Since I wasn’t thin and did not vomit up my food, I did not appreciate the severity of the eating disorder. It was validating to call it what it was and recognize that the problem wasn’t just me being “lazy” or lacking in self-control.

I generally succumb to the urge to binge eat at this time of year and wind up putting on weight. Because most people tend to overeat to some degree during the holidays, nobody ever seems to notice this pattern in me. However, this year I have an added stressor – next month, I will be seeing my mother/abuser for the first time in six years as we both attend my sister’s college graduation. I expect to battle the eating disorder in spades, so I have been trying to nurture my body during the times that I am doing okay. I am actually making some progress!

I went to battle with an alter part recently. I finally “met” one of the parts that drives the eating disorder. This little girl believes that being bigger makes me safe, so she is always hungry. Once I recognized this in myself, I started putting energy into fighting this false belief. I have been telling myself that, as an adult woman, I am no longer a small, vulnerable child. I am about 20 pounds overweight, and the extra weight actually makes me less safe. If I need to run away or fight back, then I will actually be safer if my body will get a little bit smaller.

I guess I got through to that part of myself because the urges to overeat have all but stopped. (This has only been for about a week, so I am hardly holding my breath that this is permanent.) In fact, there have been a couple of days where I started feeling lightheaded and could not figure out why. I finally realized that I had not eaten anything other than rice milk all day, and my body was reacting to having so few calories in it by lunchtime. Still, I did not feel hungry.

This is not normal for me, and I am curious to see how long it lasts. In the meantime, I am perfectly happy to drop a few pounds before the next wave of binge eating rears its ugly head. I would love to believe that I have conquered it, but it will take me prolonged periods of eating in a healthy manner for me to believe it.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I am currently working through a Beth Moore study at my church entitled The Patriarchs. In one of the videos, Beth Moore shared a story that really touched me. A woman showed Beth a photograph of herself with her mother and grown daughter. She said that all three women – three generations – were battered women. She then showed Beth a picture of her baby granddaughter (generation #4). The woman said, “She will not be a battered woman.”

Beth went on to talk about how, if we make no changes, then the same behaviors will be passed down from generation to generation. If we want to see a change in our children’s lives, then we need to make that change in our lives. Otherwise, nothing will ever change.

As I shared yesterday, I am seeing in very tangible ways how I have broken the cycle of abuse. Anything in my life that I don’t want to pass down to my kid, I need to change in my own life. That change will have a ripple effect. Not only will I break that cycle of abuse for my child, but it will be broken for my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, and all down the line. People who may never know my name will have a different life because **I** made the choice to change the direction of the family heritage.

If only my mother, grandmother, or great-grandmother had the courage to change the momentum of the abuse in our family, my childhood would have been vastly different. I am grateful that I have had the strength, courage, and determination to change this. I am certainly not perfect and have not fixed everything, but the family legacy that I will leave to my son and grandchildren will be vastly different from what was left to me.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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