Tuesday, April 17, 2012

You Used to Know

For the last month or so my brain has been a maelstrom of thoughts and I’ve been trying to organize them, both for me to make sense of them and also so that I can write them down.

When Mac and I were deciding to get married one of our shared beliefs was that having a long history with the person you were marrying was really important, that the knowledge you had gained from day to day life would offer insight and understanding into the other person’s reactions and decisions. While I still believe this is true, I have stumbled upon a curious component of shared history, which I’m going to call the “stop gap.”

After writing my last blog I received a very emotional response from a family member. Given the strength of that person’s feelings I was initially worried about how to buffer what I write, but then I began to think about one very important issue, I have the right to be honest about my life. Understandably people who have been in your life a long time read between the lines and add the details that they know. But this is where the “stop gap” comes into play. A person may be in your life a long time, but that doesn’t mean they know the details of your life, or even who you truly were and are now.

I spent a great deal of time in therapy discussing the fact that I have held who I am very close to myself. The motivation of my last blog was to share my belief that if those of us that could were willing to reach out to children in need, perhaps even lay our insecurities on the table and show them how we cope, that we might literally save a life. In the telling of my taking the Adverse Childhood Experience Survey I was accused of being disloyal to my family; the person questioned my honesty and accused me of damaging our family name. Initially the old feelings of my being too much work set in, but Mac helped me dig my way out. In truth I feel no remorse. Owning a secret in order to remain falsely loyal is what gets a lot of us into trouble. As for damaging our family name, I am fairly certain that it was done long ago and others did a bigger whammy to it than I ever have. So again, no I feel no remorse. I could care less about a name and care deeply about words and actions.

In complete contrast, another family member reached out to me and asked me how they missed out on many of the issues I wrote about last time, could they help me now, wanted me to feel strong. I’m fairly certain that I can never express how powerful that conversation was. I have waited a very long time to be me and not feel the need to veil who I am for self-protection. It was such an emotional release. I feel so much love and appreciation for that person and thank them for asking me about who I really am. I felt accepted. As for feeling strong, I feel stronger every day.

Anorexia. I was asked by many people to share my story. There are components of control, dysmorphia and punishment. Moving a lot as a child left me uncertain about myself and affected my development; social skills, fitting in emotionally, physical appearance, how to handle confrontation and conflict, just to name a few. Bullies have a keen sense of smell. I bought into their cruel words (dysmorphia). Along the way I developed “Survivors Guilt” and didn’t feel I deserved to be happy (punishment).Many things in life came easy to me, and for many around me that wasn’t the case (control). What I would like to share is that I believe Anorexia is very much like any addiction, it takes effort every day to overcome it.
I started starving myself in my teens. My parents, therapist and family priest were active in trying to help me. It took almost ten years of wearing many layers of clothing, pushing food around my plate, “eating at friends’ houses,” and exercising hours and hours a day and talking for hours and hours to my support group to get a handle on things. I had a brief relapse in my thirties. I was settling into family life with a husband who loved me and we had everything we needed, while so many that I loved didn’t have all of this, and again guilt set in.

The angry family member told me I should focus on the positive. To a person such as me those words just feed the disease. If anything, the philosophy of only focusing on the positive can be destructive. Bad stuff happens and why can we not recognize it, sit with it, feel it, talk about it and then move on? Sometimes it takes a while. Do I have to follow some prescribed timeline so that someone else doesn’t feel uncomfortable?

Long ago I decided that a family member didn’t get allowances simply because of shared DNA. I believe that in order to have on-going relationships with family the relationship must be built upon respect and trust. So at the end of the day I need to say publicly that I will not change who I am, I will not bare my soul to someone who hasn’t earned it, I will not write only about happy things, in order to have a dishonest relationship. With regards to this person I am not angry, I am sad. I mourn the loss of who we were to eachother; in truth our paths diverged many years ago. Is there a future relationship for us? I allow for any possibility.

Fear is a powerful foe. It stops us from being who we are, from telling our truth, from confronting bullies. It wounds us, sometimes mortally. Why do I want to write? Because I understand how powerful words can be, I for one do not believe “sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

By now you’ve probably noticed that music of all kinds resonates deeply within me. Today Somebody that I used to know (Gotye) is on my mind; my favorite version of this song is by Walk off the Earth.

Thanks for reading.