Blog Archives

Honesty, Hypocrisy & Me

I am a hypocrite.

Countless times, I have had the conversation with my children, the conversation that follows a mistake made by them, a bad decision, a poor judgment.  The main point of the conversation is simple:  a mistake has been made, crying and bemoaning the mistake only makes a bad situation worse.  You can’t un-ring the bell.  What you can do is learn from it, and do your best not to repeat it.

Countless times, I engaged in the behaviors associated with active addiction.  At a certain point in time, I became consciously aware that my behavior was wrong on every level, but I repeated the mistake, time and again.  I tried to correct the mistake, and fell down more times than I can count.  In my heart of hearts, though, I had an unshakeable belief that there was a solution.  For a long time, I was unclear on what that solution was, but deep in my heart I knew it was there.  And, by the grace of God, it became clear to me just two short years ago, and I have thanked Him for it every day since that time.

Here is where the admission of hypocrisy begins.  For the past two days, I have been soul-searching in a way I haven’t soul searched in a long time.  It started innocently enough:  my husband and I have planned a trip to celebrate a milestone birthday for him, and a milestone anniversary for us, both taking place this year.  The trip is set for six weeks from now, and will take place on an island, something to anticipate, given the miles of snow I see outside my window currently.  But of course this leads me to the conclusion that I need to get myself in gear, both in terms of diet and exercise, both disciplines that have been abandoned for quite some time now.

The simple “what can I do to improve myself in 6 weeks” has morphed into such an abyss of despair and hand-wringing anxiety, I knew I needed to write about it.  For the first 24 hours, I was sure I would NOT write about it:  nobody wants to hear me blather on yet again about jumping back into the healthy lifestyle ring, it is not original, or interesting, or relevant.

And yet…

The feelings that rose within me as I attempted to complete the task with which I challenged myself, simply come up with a plan to improve my lifestyle in 6 weeks, the feelings were so similar to those I experienced in early recovery, that I figured I must flesh them out with my blogging friends.

At the heart of all those feeling, the single, most gut-wrenching emotion I experienced, was one of despair, and the voice of despair was so clear it was as if a person was standing alongside of me saying the words out loud,

“There is no way you will ever make this work.  You have tried and failed at this endeavor your whole life; there is no hope to turn it around.”

I am sure many of you reading this will relate to those words, anyone familiar with addiction has felt the despair that comes with repeatedly trying and failing.

And it is in admitting this despair that I am also confessing my hypocrisy.  I can (and have) preached to all those around me, that tomorrow is a new day, that it is not about how many times you fall that counts, but how many times you get back up, but in my heart I make an exception, and the exception is me, and healthy eating.  I’ve done lots of great things in my life, have many accomplishments of which I am proud, and believe myself capable of almost anything I set my mind to… except this.

So I’m a hypocrite, because I simply don’t practice what I preach.  I am a terminally unique individual when it comes to eating.

And I guess this is why I needed to write about it, because I am rolling my eyes even as I type those last lines.

This is why blogging about the garbage rolling around in the brain helps so much.  Because, as God as my witness, I was crying earlier this very day, as I realized this is how I have been thinking.

So now that I’ve gotten the self-pity out of my system, and I have exposed my deepest fears to the light of day, I guess it’s time to take some action.

A wise person suggested to me that I treat this problem in a similar way that I did my recovery.  In recovery, I made sure I did 4 things every day to count that day as a success.  Four was an easy to do list, easy to remember, and easy with which to commit.

So for now, I am working on my daily 4 list as it relates to this form of recovery.  I have identified the 4 food items that pose the greatest danger to me, and it is my goal to eliminate them.  To do that, I am committing to simple daily actions, all designed to eliminate the addictive food items.  There is still much work to be done, in terms of coming up with an eating routine that is healthy and sustainable, but for now I will consider this a great start, certainly leaps and bounds beyond anything I have done in recent memory.

The list is somewhat generic, and I have no doubt will need to be tweaked in the days that follow, but in writing about it, I am giving myself some accountability.  I will work on it, daily, make the necessary adjustments, but I am clear on my one, ultimate goal:  to reset my relationship with myself, to work towards creating a healthy mindset when it comes to treating my body.  I’ve gotten the mind-altering substances out of my system, now it’s time to start putting something healthy and life-affirming back into it.  It feels as daunting a task as making sobriety a reality, but at least I have some tools to help me:

  • One Day at a Time
  • Sharing the burden of my negative feelings
  • Allowing others to help me
  • And, most important,turning it over to a power greater than myself

Because, if He can get me sober, He can do anything!

I will let you know how it goes…

Today’s Miracle:

Having the courage to hit “publish” on this post

All Tapped Out

With a heavy heart, I am following up on a post I wrote 30 days ago, Tap Your Way Into Right Thinking.  In this post I challenged myself to a 30-day experiment:  I would use the Emotional Freedom Technique of Tapping for 30 days to see if I could change my negative thought patterns concerning my relationship with food.  Sadly, I failed this experiment, and I need to ‘fess up!

First, a little more background into the process called Tapping.  Tapping, as best I understand it, is a therapy process that works by focusing on a painful thought, memory or belief while tapping with your fingertips on various specific energy points located throughout the body.  There are 14 different energy points, called meridians, that are believed to compose an energy system within your body.  Any negative emotion, such as envy, shame, anxiety, or the like, is due to a disturbance in this energy system.

So I figured I could use my negative belief that I cannot change my unhealthy relationship with food, apply the principles of Tapping, and see where I got at the end of 30 days.  Here is what happened:

I practiced the steps outlined in the book faithfully for more than half the time, 16 days.  I attempted to follow the directions to the letter for each of those sessions.  Initially, the biggest stumbling block to this exercise was my complete skepticism of it.  I was self-conscious, even if I was by myself.  And when my kids walked in and asked what the heck I was doing, that was even worse.  So while I attempted to be open-minded about the exercise, I definitely had a ways to go.

The second mistake I made, and I only realized this after the fact, was that I failed to stay completely focused on the negative belief throughout the exercise.  Much like meditation, it was extremely difficult for me to stay in the moment.  Thoughts of what I was going to do next, or who might walk into the room, or, even worse, the thought that this is a complete waste of time kept crowding into my head as I tried to focus and tap.  As I researched a little further into this practice, I now realize that it is essential to focus solely on the negative belief you are looking to change.

If I were to hypothesize, the biggest barrier to this being an effective technique for me personally is my, I guess I can use the word ambivalence, to the philosophy behind it.  I am sure that this technique could work for many people, I am just not sure I am one of them, and this thought, above all else, was probably blocking my ability to be effective.

So that I am not a complete Negative Nellie with this post, I will end with a positive experience I gained from this experiment.  At some point during each of those tapping sessions, I felt a small but definite feeling of lightness, almost like a feeling of hopefulness.  Sometimes, I would even get a thought such as, “Yes, I can develop a healthy relationship with food!” and it would feel almost exciting, like it was a breakthrough.  The feeling was fleeting, but it was interesting, and it did recur.

So, tapping was not a complete waste of time, but, for me, the benefits were not strong enough or permanent enough to reinforce the routine.  The minute my schedule got hectic, I forgot about it completely, and, by the time I remembered I was supposed to be doing it daily, a whole week had passed.  I will chalk this one up to:  nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Today’s Miracle:

When I finish this post, I will be preparing for the one-year anniversary of the meeting I started… more to follow on this subject tomorrow!

Lather, Rinse, Repeat: The Shame Cycle

M, D3, R

I have been told my daughter is a mini-me… what do you think?

It was a low-key recent Saturday morning, and my husband called me over to the computer to watch a video with Dr. Brene Brown talking about shame.  At one point Dr. Brown remarked that specific memories can bring up shame for us, and, as I listened, a personal childhood memory popped into my head.

I couldn’t tell you my exact age, but I was old enough to make my own toast for breakfast, which I had done the Saturday morning this event took place.  My childhood home had myself, my three siblings, two parents, a grandparent and a dog all living under one roof, and consequently there were always multiple things going on at any given time.  So I happily buttered my toast, then sat down to eat it and watch Saturday morning cartoons (this was during the era when you could only watch cartoons on Saturday morning, kids these days don’t understand how good they have it!).  Unbeknownst to me, my mother had taken note of how many pieces of toast I had made for myself, which was apparently too many, because suddenly I was the focus of her attention; an unusual occurrence, given the number of people in one household.  In this particular case, being the center of attention was not a good thing.  “Do you have any idea how bad that is for you?!?” she exclaimed.  “How could you possibly even think to eat all of that?”

As I re-read the nuts and bolts of that story, it doesn’t look at all horrifying; in fact, it is probably a commonplace occurrence in the average American household.  But I can tell you, it is at least 30 years later, and I can still feel the shame in the pit of my stomach when I recall that incident.  I can place myself in the room in which it took place, 70’s decor and all.  That feeling is one that would repeat itself, time and again, through the next 3 decades of my life.

So I recall the incident, I finish watching the video, and I walk into the kitchen to thank my husband for showing me the video.  Instead of my husband, I find my 13-year old daughter pouring herself some cereal out of a Tupperware container, which is now almost empty.  The problem is that I had only filled the container two days before.  The container easily holds 12 servings of cereal, possibly more, so in doing this math, I am quite alarmed, and I start my interrogation:  who has been eating this cereal?  The discovery portion of this investigation yields that my daughter has eaten the lion’s share of this cereal in the past two days.  I point to the Tupperware container in astonishment, and I exclaim, “Do you realize that this container holds 12 servings of cereal, and it now almost empty?”  She just looks at me with an expression that in all likelihood mirrored the expression I had when my mother admonished me for the toast.

Sometimes when I say there are no coincidences, I say it with some sadness.  I have shame as I am typing the story of how I handled The Cereal Incident.

I am no expert on shame and parenting, but I believe that if I were to read up on the subject, I would find that it is not a good thing to use shame as a parenting tool.  Since my daughter has entered adolescence, I have been vigilant in how people speak to her about eating, because I know from personal experience the outcome of using shame to change a child’s eating decisions.  Not too long after my issue with the toast is when I decided that food was best enjoyed in solitude, I began to eat in private, and the results of that decision have ultimately led me into recovery from substances other than food.  So I have said to my husband, when he feels frustrated by my hampering of his conversations with our daughter, “Look, I don’t claim to have all the answers.  I only know what not to do, because of what has happened to me.”

And yet, here I am, fresh off of listening to Dr. Brene Brown, and doing the exact opposite of what I have been preaching for years.

So how to handle the situation where your child is making decisions that are the opposite of what you have taught them?  I have been very, very open about my struggles with weight.  I truly believe in open communication with children when they are old enough to hear it, and, at 13, my daughter needs to hear about the consequences of overeating.  And who better to tell her than someone who has lived through it?  So we have had multiple conversations.  I am honest with her about my bad decisions (regarding weight, we are not quite up to mind-altering substances yet, but that conversation is coming soon), and the way the consequences affected my entire life.

At the same time, who better than me to have empathy for poor eating decisions?  Because I still make bad choices, all the time!  So why would I react with frustration to a child who is doing as I have done (and, let’s face it, am doing)?  There are no easy answers here, at least none of which I am aware.  For now, I keep the lines of communication open, I make amends when I make mistakes like the one I just described, and I attempt to be observant for patterns of behavior.  And the end result?  I guess time will tell…

Today’s Miracle:

Milestones

You know how when you decide to go on a diet, and you try to plan your life out so as not to be around tempting foods?  You throw all the junk out of your house, buy healthy foods, and avoid your favorite unhealthy places to eat?  And then that inevitable event comes up that you can’t get out of, or your office throws a birthday party for a co-worker, and you find yourself surrounded by temptation.  You find yourself resentful of the event, jealous of those around you who can enjoy the tempting food, and wondering why you have to find yourself in that situation in the first place.

Well, anyone taking early recovery seriously employs the same types of strategies in order to get and stay sober/clean, only the consequences of failure are far more devastating that of a failed diet.  We in recovery are taught early on to stay away from people, places and things that we associate with our alcohol/drug use.

For the past 82 days, I have done just that, and it has brought me immense relief.  But just as the dieter cannot eliminate food from his or her life, so too must the recovering addict deal with tempting situations at some point.  I had hoped for myself that the time would come later in my recovery, when I had solid time behind me, but life doesn’t always work out the way I would like.

So I had my first encounter with a person, place or thing today.  And it was hard.  And it was upsetting.  But guess what I found out? 

1.  I have the most amazing network of support that will be there for me at the drop of a hat.

2.  That I am stronger than I think I am.

3.  I have my first real experience involving temptation behind me, and I got through it.

And in a few hours, I will have 83 days!

losing anonymously

Learning to balance healthy and happy while living a full and busy life!

Oh for the love of...me

Just another 50+ woman trying to get her shit together.

Guitars and Life

Blog about life by a music obsessed middle aged recovering alcoholic from South East England

Off-Dry

I got sober. Life got big.

HealthyJen

From daily wine drinker to alcohol free living...this is my journey.

themessyjessytruth.wordpress.com/

The emotional messy stuff...

Vodka Goggles

No longer seeing the world through vodka colored glasses..

Mindfulbalance

An Irish Mindfulness Meditation Blog: Finding calm, wellness, meaning and a happier life.

viatoday

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Starting today I am on my way.

ainsobriety

Trying to ace sober living

Emotional Sobriety And Food

"... to be able to Twelfth Step ourselves and others into emotional sobriety" -- living, loving & letting go.

girl gone sober.

a blog about living sober. i didn't always drink beer but when i did i drank a lot of it. stay sober my friends.

The Sober Garden

Jettisoning the heavy stuff...

The Six Year Hangover

A BLOG BY A GAY MAN GETTING SOBER IN NEW YORK CITY.

Process Not An Event

Adventures in Addiction Recovery & Cancer Survival

And Everything Afterwards

How I quit alcohol and discovered the beauty of a sober life