I do not consider myself to be a person who rapidly and randomly changes moods. I have a strong preference for people (myself included) who are stable, joyful, thoughtful, compassionate, tolerant, grace-filled, merciful, humorous, insightful, wise, cherish the moment, deeply reflective about life sorts. Those characteristics give me a sense of trust and safety; both are significant to my heart. That being said, I have struggled this last week with all of these.
I have not externally changed moods, (I don’t think), yet inside me it’s a constant storm of ‘shoulda’s’, ‘what if’s’, and the dreaded shame and guilt tapes. UGH! Yes, ugh! Here, again. I am stuck in the belief that nothing in life is stable. My joy is hiding in the deep. Compassion, thoughtfulness, grace, and mercy all are abundant for others, unfortunately I haven’t saved much for myself. It’s tough to find humor, insight, wisdom, and gratitude in the moment when one is only reflecting on what I fondly refer to as the “familiar muck”. We all have our muck, right? No accident that it rhymes with my favorite curse word. (as in ‘f$*@ the muck…but for my sweet Momma I’m going to not write the word out…this time!) I’m trying my damnedest to keep my eyes above the waves, but if you look closely ,you will see me bobbing up and down, fighting to keep treading water. I’m kinda pooped.
Anyone who spends 30 minutes or more with me will probably figure out that I do not enjoy the negative feels. I will deflect with humor, talk nonstop, busy myself to the point of exhaustion, and turn the conversation around to take the focus away from me purely for the purpose of not feeling my muck. I’m quite good at this. It helps that even strangers feel compelled to share their life stories with me, I tend to be perceived as a safe person. Thus, when someone wants to know about me, I am a pro at getting them to tell their story instead. I am fascinated that this trait, which will help me be a fabulous counselor, can be so detrimental to my real life.
The other night, my 12-year-old daughter and I were hanging out. My phone rang and she started to pick it up for me (normally I am in a stupid mad rush to answer)…because…SOMEONE NEEDS ME!!! The following conversation ensued…
Me: “I don’t want you to answer, I don’t have it in me to be a very good friend right now.”
Stella: “You are always a good friend. Do you mean you don’t have the energy?”
Me: “I do mean that. I’m teary and sad feeling and I just can’t.”
Stella: “Mom, I want you to try something, okay? When you feel like this, why don’t you call a friend who is having a good night and get some energy from them instead of feeling bad because you can’t help them. Sometimes you need help too.”
This is my baby girl. She is a boundary setter galore, so much so that it takes me aback at times. I treasure this quality in her. I’m thankful for it. I’m baffled by it. She is such a natural at something I am still trying to comprehend!
Perhaps this is why writing is incredibly healing for me. I can write and anyone can choose to read/or not read it. I’m not ‘bothering’ anyone. I tell my story in this manner with ease. Vulnerability here is simple for me, even though I know people will read and may judge. I don’t care…in written form. When I write, I do not have to ‘receive’ anything but feedback, I can share only what I want to share and though it’s a great lot…there is so much more brewing inside. My new promise to my readers and myself is to practice the same vulnerability that I practice in written word, face to face. A challenge from me and for me.
No better time than the present to share vulnerability…. I am certain I will write more on this after I have processed a bit…something to look forward too! I am reading “Made to Crave”, by Lysa TerKeurst. I’ve always loved her books and knowing that she has experienced infidelity in her marriage makes me love her even more. Anyway….doing lots of thinking on my relationship with food and wanting that relationship to be different from whatever it has been in my entire life.
Just a few days ago, I had several (I am still ashamed) handfuls of Oreo’s for dinner. As in over 1/2 of a box several. The shame lies in the fact that I ate them as if I were desperately hungry, like I hadn’t eaten in days. I didn’t even enjoy them. (They were Oreo thins and why overeat Oreo’s if they don’t even have the good gooey artificial crack like stuff in the middle?) Also, I had no milk. What a waste.
I NEVER would’ve eaten cookies or anything else with that kind of animatistic drive if someone was watching. I did it in secret. I did it to stuff something I did not want to feel. (Remember, I said I do not like the mucky feels). I know that like any addict, I am comforted by my source in the moment. I think my source is sugar. There is a numbness that accompanies the comfort, again, in the moment.
I’ve been praying about this, and something hit me yesterday like a ton of bricks. I have probably acknowledged ‘around this’ many times, but this time provided a deeper truth than I have ever felt surface. Do I eat in secret only to numb? Do I eat in desperation only for comfort? Do I stuff myself until I feel nauseous to stuff my feelings way down? Yes, yes and yes. Wait! There’s more. Here it is… (drumroll would be cool except this thought is anything but cool).
I EAT TO PUNISH MYSELF. It’s a brilliant form of self-flagellation. It is in the moment that I choose to overeat, ‘self-medicate’, stuff, numb, comfort; in that moment, I am feeling an overwhelming sense of shame and guilt for ‘whatever’ it is on my mind. It could be a multitude of ‘whatever’s’, and that is what I will save for another post. I stuff myself with food (‘bad’ food, not ‘good’ food) and then I can feel even more guilt and shame for making such a miserable, hopeless choice. All of the diets in the world are useless when the desire to diminish the feelings is stronger than the desire to heal.
This is a gigantic AHA for me. I must figure out what to do with my new discovery. I hate the way this knowledge makes me feel. It makes me feel dirty and ashamed. I’m flooded with uncomfortable, ugly memories and truth. I have been praying for endless ‘something’s different’ and my relationship with food is among the top five, it wasn’t coincident that this my eyes have been opened to this revelation. What to do? I guess I’m going to sit in the discomfort for a ‘moment’ and prayerfully seek direction so that I may continue on the road to healing. Life begins outside of our comfort zone, right?
I do not consider myself to be a person who rapidly and randomly changes moods. Oh but my deepest desire is that my insides are always congruent with my outsides. Stable, joyful, thoughtful, compassionate, tolerant, gracious, merciful, humorous, insightful, wise, moment cherishing and reflective….I’m going to be these for myself even amidst the muck. These are part of my soul. Don’t worry, I won’t desert me.