30 days: Day 28 – The deeper issues

Sunday, July 24, 2011 Permalink

We are definitely at the pointy end of this challenge and these last few themes look a bit scary. Today’s, The deeper issues, will surely involve some introspection. Not that I have a problem with navel-gazing; I spend much time analysing my life to death… but I’m a bit worried I can be a bit TOO self-indulgent once I start. However, so I don’t get too carried away, or off-track, I’ll see what Tina has for me today.

Too often we deny ourselves of the love and respect we deserve. We do so by shying away when others give it or through keeping a cruel commentary of our worth running through our own minds. For me, a lack of self-love manifests itself in telling myself “I am not good enough” in a variety of ways.

“I’m not lean enough”.
“I’m not a good enough mom”.
“I’m not strong enough”.
“I’m not caring enough”.
yada yada yada….

Most of the time, those sayings and feelings arise when I face other difficult emotions and don’t know how to handle them. I used to cruelly nitpick at my appearance and call myself chubby, plain, unattractive, someone nobody would want, and so much more. I battled a lot more than just a diminished confidence in my appearance, though – feelings of hatred, hurt, fear, troubling relationships with many around me, stress from school. Even today, I have to watch myself when things get stressful. My “fat days” often coincide with the days I have trouble accomplishing everything I hoped.

So many times, I discover that I do not in fact feel “fat”. Instead I feel overwhelmed and realize I need to give myself a break. Or I have something I need to share with someone who may have hurt my feelings a bit. Before I used food to shove down and hide the emotions I truly felt. Then, I began to use negative words to bury myself.

Over the years, I have gotten pretty good at pinpointing where a negative thought really comes from. Most of the time a source exists. Figuring out what instigates my frustrations helps me stop the negative thoughts before they consume me. That isn’t to say I have an “a-ha moment” and then everything turns fine and dandy afterwards. It simply helps me more appropriately face the issue at hand, without causing unnecessary damage to myself in the process.

Do you think you use negative talk or harmful physical actions (such as binging, over-exercising, restricting, not sleeping, etc) as a way to cover up deeper feelings? Why do you think we do this? Any tips for recognizing the true source of our frustrations? 

I like to think I know myself pretty well. But that doesn’t mean I always know why I’m doing something, or that I can change or stop certain feelings or behaviour. A couple of years ago when I was at fat camp I realised that I took every single opportunity I could to voice my dread over certain physical challenges – usually those involving hills and mountains. When I knew what was coming I would go on and on (and on and on) about it: How much I hated hills; how bad I was with hills etc etc. I’ve written about the ‘lessons learned’ in this blog as well, but the bit that jumps out at me was:

I learned (the hard way I think) that sharing your anxiety with others doesn’t help ease it. Constantly and publicly obsessing about something (hills and steps) doesn’t make it go away and just annoys those around you.

I never really worked out why I couldn’t stop raving on about the fucking hills. On one hand I suspected that my built-in defence mechanisms (and fear of failure or, lack of perfection) were so strong that I felt I had to keep reminding my fellow campers that I was going to perform badly on the hills. I think I also wanted some comfort or consolation from them. ‘Yes, poor Deborah, hater of hills!’ On the other hand I possibly kept verbalising my fears because I was dreading the hills / mountains / steps more than I thought I could dread anything and so I was obsessed and couldn’t get them out of my mind. Either way, perhaps it doesn’t matter WHY, perhaps it only matters that I recognised (eventually – when someone commented in a group mindset exercise) that I was doing it and tried to stop it.

I may never know why I became anorexic, bulimic and then a binge eater. I’ve talked here about my control issues and my anger issues and the fact that I’m a bit of a perfectionist who fears failure and suffers from a low sense of self worth (and self-identity for that matter). And perhaps it really doesn’t matter WHY.

As I said when I started this response… on many levels I know myself pretty well, but I’m not always good at recognising what’s happening as it happens. It’s all easy in hindsight, but at the time I get home from work and want to binge eat, or drink alcohol or at night in bed when I can’t sleep, I’m often fuzzy on the underlying reason. I’ve talked about my habit of living in the past and worrying about how others perceive me. I think what I need to do is live in the now more. I’m not about to go and read Eckhart Tolle (ie. The Power of Now) but I probably need to slow down and be more mindful in the moment.

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