A journal of healing

Archive for the ‘body acceptance’ Category

Don’t take this personally

“You’re too sensitive.” “I meant this is a good way.” And my favorite: Don’t take this personally.” Everyone time someone says those things; I know it is going to be a dagger in my soul. I am too sensitive. I will take it badly. And I most definitely will take it personally. Because that is the honest intent. Prefacing statements with “honestly” or to “tell the truth” does not excuse the fact that you are about to be mean. “It’s for your own good” never really is. It’s about you feeling superior to me.

Being an empath is not a pleasure. I see right through most people’s crap in a heartbeat. It does not mean that I can shield myself from the hurt. I never learned that part of survival. Because of that, I am very vulnerable to insults, even if they are shrouded in good intentions. They never really are good intentions.

When you are a large woman, you are a walking target for these kinds of insults. People feel so justified to say, “You would be so pretty if…..” “or you have a beautiful face….” People tell you how much better your life would be if only you could be more like them with statements like: “you should run with me some morning.” Oh Honey, if you really knew me, you would know I can hardly walk some mornings due to psoriatic arthritis. But you don’t really see me, so thanks but no thanks.

These comments do more than just hurt me. They trigger me. My family never lacked in cruel comments. It was a sport to see how clever someone could insult another. I was an enigma in the sense I was the only woman in my family who was large. I mean I am the tallest by 5 to 7 inches, I wore a much larger size (my Mom was a zero to 3) and I had boobs. I spent my childhood listening to “how much better I would be if I only…” This is emotional abuse by the way. I was deprived of treats, often subjected to ridiculous diets like green beans and Jello and constantly harangued about my shape.

[And this is how just writing about my childhood trigger me to justify it. I realized this when I went back to reread what I wrote:] My mom was in charge of the food in the house and meals were excessively high in carbs and fat. There was always soda and cookies available because the other siblings could gorge on them. They were thin. I was an extremely active child and teen often spending the day swimming or riding a bike for miles. I was not allowed to sit around and watch TV or even read. As a younger woman, I was very active. I only slowed down because of the PsA and if I did not have it, I would still be playing tennis and other activities as much as I could.

My family’s constant barrage of self-improvement comments were actually telling me how I failed. There was little said to counter the demeaning of the words. It successfully made me feel like a failure and that was the intent. I know this now, but it scarred me. So now when people make their veiled comments, I hear the disappointment in my mother and father and it brings me back to that time. When you have PTSD, it does not take much to trigger you.

When you grow up with a sense of failure, you have two choices: over achieve or lie down and whither. I overachieved. My success had not dampened the hurt I feel when someone is critical. I am so sensitive, that a look can set me off. I feel people’s disdain of me even if they think they are hiding it. I read people very clearly. It does not matter who or what the relationship. It does not matter if I love or hate the person. Their intent comes beaming through.

Next time you go to make a comment, try to remember that a large person already knows they are large. Chances are they have spent a lifetime trying to meet other’s expectations and have failed. They may not be strong, and your words will haunt them for days. You have no right to demean someone ever. If you think you are helping them, you are not. Get off your white horse and stop being so pompous. Learn that “right reflexing” (the attempt to take charge of someone else’s change process) does not motivate anyone to change. Understand your motive before you speak. Send love, not hurt.

 

Advertisements

Fat Shaming

There is a very strong movement out there that I think is wonderful and way overdue. It seems to be popping up everywhere on the Intranet. There are many web groups that are devoted to the principals of stopping Fat Shaming and Body Acceptance. It’s about time.

See, it isn’t just about just other people accepting a person of size. It is about how you accept yourself and that is the basic principal for most of these groups. They know to change society’s  point of view will include fighting the fashion and medical-insurance worlds. They have to take on the giant media world. But at least they are starting the awareness. This will start with the individual saying “no more guilt and shame.”

This is not about  eating whatever you want. It is about being healthy at any weight. And the first thing that most people say is that if you are overweight you are not healthy. That is not true. The degree of being overweight and the abilities of the person are factors that need to be included in the overall health of a person. But to judge someone by a statistic is unfair and bias. It is how the insurance companies do it. It is how the medical profession where trained. And it is darn near impossible to change those minds.

Most of these programs work with the primary concept that people have to accept and love who they are. If you have self-compassion for yourself, you will naturally take care of yourself. Taking care of you includes eating better. It means dealing timely with health issues. It means getting the care that you need when you need it. It means dealing with stress. It means, and I think this is the most important concept, not letting people make you feel guilty and bad about being you. Do not let people define who you are.

Living in a world where being Fat has only a negative connotation is difficult. You are discriminated, ridiculed and harassed. Up to now, it has been generally accepted that it is ok to pick on the fat person. We see it in our media. Look at the characters who are the bunglers and pathetic ones in movies and TV. They are fat. Fat equals dumb.

Fat shamming will probably never go away. But I am glad that it has a foothold and people are becoming more aware. I think of all the young girls who put themselves through torture to starve themselves and end up with an eating disorder. Being overweight can be an eating disorder too, but you do not see the same empathy for someone who struggles with compulsive eating. I think about how many women think they are grossly overweight and therefore an abomination and they really are not. What do you think would happen if these women were not riddled with guilt and shame?

Getting rid of the guilt and shame to me is the most important part about this new movement. Women are easily boxed in by trying to meet society’s rules. If people are free of guilt and shame, they are able to dream and be creative and do amazing things. I know many women I work with who are so focused on everything they put in their mouths. They count calories or points and perseverate on every morsel and are bound up with such guilt that it limits them to enjoy life. There is little joy for those who are so worried about every point and calorie. Enjoying one piece of cake does not make you a horrible person. It is like being tied to bully. And organizations like Weight Watchers feed that mentality. I know this to be true as I have done WW many times only to end up frustrated and shamed. Nothing says guilt like getting on a scale in front of everyone in a group, being weighed and although they don’t say it out loud…. Failing because you did not lose a pound. OMG, I think of the subjective oppression that brought on.

Being free of food shame is very liberating. And if you really listen to your body, you will eat what you need and when you need to. But that is a hard process to learn in our world. That’s another blog.

Pay attention to this change. It is everywhere. It makes me hopeful for the next generations. It has to be a better world where every individual is important and is allowed to be free from shame and guilt. Join in this fight for freedom of guilt. A healthy body can be at any size.

Here are a couple of organization’s I am involved with:

https://benourished.org/

https://www.sizediversityandhealth.org/index.asp

 

 

 

Let there be cake!

I saw the bright reflection from down the hall. The light glimmered off the protective covering as my boss walked towards me. It was time for our weekly staff meeting and we met and turned to enter the room together. It was like walking with one of the three kings from the Orient to present the holy child with frankincense or myrrh. She had the gift of the Magi. She had birthday cake.

If I was abandoned on a dessert island and could only have one food, it would be chocolate birthday cake covered in butter cream frosting with tons of roses and flowers. And there is one store here that makes the best. My boss was carrying one of those exact cakes into our meeting as a surprise for one of staff. I had to decide at that point if it was the best day or the worst.

I have been going through an on-line course call “Be Nourished.” It is a series of six modules that offer lessons and inspiration to learn to become an intuitive eater. No diet, no starvation and definitely no deprivation. It takes practice and training to quiet the mind and really feel what the body is saying. Instead of eating from emotion, you eat when and what your body says it wants. Believe it or not, when you really pay attention, the body does not crave sugar. I was surprised to see how easy that has been. I also noticed that I do not crave carbs and salty things as much.

If you think by “letting go” there would be the urge to eat everything under the sun. For some, I guess that happens. But then, it is in response to an emotion and not the actual response to hunger. I discovered I eat when I am bored. I eat out of habit. Its noon, it is time for lunch. But now I wait until I am hungry. It is weird also to actually feel hunger. And then I listen to what my body says it wants. I bring my lunch but at dinner, the choice often is salad automatically.

The other part of intuitive eating is knowing when your full. There are studies which say often obese people do not sense full. I stop for the most part when I am full or just know to stop. Sometimes the guilt of throwing food out makes me push past the point where I could stop.

I sat through the meeting eyeing with delight and patience for them to cut the cake. But when they did, I passed on it. It was only 10:00 am and I truly was not in the mood. I did not want the sugar rush that early on in the day only to crash later. I knew the cake would be left in our shared area and others would attack it later as was my plan. But I ate my lunch first. I was not hungry after that, but images of butter cream rosettes danced in my brain. Finally, I gave in and went to cut a chunk for myself. I included a piece of the biggest pink rose. It was only about an inch and a half square piece. I had to carry it back to my office. I knew if someone passed me in the hall I would get “the look.”

I actually set it behind me on a cabinet for a bit and again reassessed how I felt. The biggest hurdle was the guilt. It was so strong. I thought of all the things I have been doing for myself. This was a blatant disrespectful act and lacked self-compassion, I thought.  I spun my chair around to gaze at the loveliness of the rose which just happened to be my favorite color. I spun back to my computer to think how I would feel with all that sugar pulsing through my body after so long a withdrawal from most sugary things. I could feel the cake behind me. Its chocolate goodness filled the air and the pure white of the frosting sat waiting to be enjoyed. I spun around and with fork in hand, slowly and with purpose devoured the piece. I tasted every grain of sugar, every ounce of butter, every essence of dark cocoa.

It was done.

Was it worth you ask….. Hell, Yeah!

Death sentence

clown 2

Every year since I was very young, this time of year brings some form of bad illness or pain for me. It has been that way since I was 11 years old. I cannot sleep at night. I wake up and I have pain or an issue of some sort  and insomnia becomes the norm. I have written before about this.

I can remember as a young girl getting up in the dark and going downstairs to see the remains of my parents drinking all night. Their favorite glasses would have remains of watered down liquor and the ashtrays would be full. I remember one time when I had something wrong with my shoulder and could not raise my hand above my head. They thought it was bursitis, but I know now it was a Psoriatic Arthritis flare. Back then, they did not even know what Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) is. Many medical providers still don’t.

I have been struggling the past two years trying to find the correct drug to manage my PsA symptoms. Currently I am on Humira, which is if nothing else, has not caused a lot of side effects like some of the other medicines I have been on. But it also is not working. My labs show my SED rate and other indicators show high amount of inflammation. I do not need any lab to tell me that. On top of the PsA, I have just plain old psoriasis. I have never had it as bad as some people get it until now.

I want people to understand. Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease that affects 7.5 million people or 3 % of the world. There is no cause and there is no cure. The skin becomes inflamed and the reaction varies from person to person. I had been lucky not to have many lesions. These are crusty little to large patches of bubbled up skin that itches and burns. The Humira is not working on the Psoriasis at all so now I am covered with very itchy skin and scalp. My legs are mess. A component of Psoriasis is Inverse Psoriasis which occurs in very sensitive places. I am also having an issue with Inverse but I will save the details. However, this is what is keeping me up all night. Anyone who has a mosquito bite can tell you how bad an itch in the middle of the night can be. Imagine that it not only itches very badly but burns.

On top of all this mess, I have been having terrible back pain on my left mid side. I know it is my kidney. I have at least three large stones in there the last time they looked, and they are so big they will not pass. When I lay down, they are pressing on my kidney. By an hour after I get up and have some water, I am ok. I wanted to know why now this was happening on top of my labs showing a change in my Creatinine and GFR.

My Doctor is a young Indian who is usually very patient and concerned about me. He subscribes usually to less is more when it comes to medicating. I have been seeing him for about five years. He does not like the fact that my rheumatologist has been changing my medication so much and does not really understand why we cannot find the right drug.

This visit was terrible. He told me that my kidney had not failed. Yes there had been a change in the creatinine but not that significant. (The lab reading was as high as it was when I struggled to pass a huge stone two years ago) He said the GFR was not a reliable indicator. (So why have the test?) My Systolic reading was forty points higher than normal for me but the diastolic was only 73, which is my normal. And he dismissed the back pain. He also told me to stop taking a potassium supplement I was using for the leg cramps.

What he did say was so painful I started to cry. He said I should go get bariatric surgery. In all the years I have seen him, he has never said this. My last doctor said it would be extremely dangerous for me to have the surgery because of my blood clotting issues. Factor V Leiden is an inherited disease and is passed down through families. It has nothing to do with my weight. He seemed short tempered as he spoke, like my visit was a bother.

He said my blood pressure is out of control. That’s not true, it has been steady and normal level for over a year and a half, since they took me off one shot (for PsA) that raised it to dangerous levels. He said my kidney issues are from being overweight. I said I have stones in there and this has not been a problem since May of 2014. He saw the stone I passed then and was amazed. He seemed to totally forget all that. I had to ask him to schedule me for an ultra sound to see what is going on, because this was NOT normal.

There was more he said that was harsh and I sat there with tears streaming down my face.

To me, he has sentenced me to death. I cannot express how much this affects me. I have a reaction to the concept of bariatric surgery that is so visceral it makes me physically ill. You know when something is very dangerous, and your gut tells you…”BE WARE”. That is what happens to me. When I was younger and able to exercise, the thought of going under the knife did not bother me. I wanted the help. But I was told I was not a candidate way back then. In those days, you had to go through hoops to get the surgery. In most cases, insurance did not cover it.

Now I am 62. I have a diagnosed blood condition and a chronic illness. Now they will cut you open if you simply ask. I argued back with the doctor that the long term success rate they are now finding is not great. This surgery is still new medicine. This was when he made a comment about dying sooner from being obese or having a longer life. I asked, “what if I die from the surgery?” His response was I was high risk, but he felt it would be worth it. REALLY????

Many people gain all the weight and then some back. But even if they do not, the other complications are huge. I do not know anyone who has had the surgery personally who said they would do it again. One friend had such terrible anemia, she had to have transfusions. And she is one who gained everything back. We let one employee go because she was out so much. They found another reason to terminate her, but she never recovered well from the surgery. She was not obese. She was plump and did it for cosmetic reasons. We just had one young employee who had two toddlers die a few months ago from the surgery. She became septic. She was 28. I know of someone locally who had a debilitating stroke from the surgery and is still not and never will be the same. One friend had it done two years ago and she has kept the weight off, but she looks 60 to her actual 40 years of age. She was much prettier heavy.

I could go on for hours about this. I have cried every night, and I am fighting them now. My point is that this is what people of size put up with all the time. I went to the doctor because I think I have a kidney stone trapped. The labs indicate it, my pain indicates it, and I needed professional help before it gets worse. My physical abilities are in the crapper right now because I am not properly medicated for the PsA. I can hardly walk some days. The pain level is extreme. My skin is on fire. I am not sleeping because of this. I cannot get into the rheumatologist until January 3rd.  He never has open appointments because rheumatologists are in such short supply. And my PCP is telling me to take a risk with my life and have a surgery that could very possibly kill me. ( and my gut says it will)

I do not think I have ever been as depressed as I am currently. I am not saying that being thinner would not resolve some things. I am not that stupid. I feel trapped in a world lacking of compassion, ignorant and insensitive, which is leaving me to suffer with vacillating issues of either continuing to suffer in pain or commit suicide, which is how I feel about the surgery.

 

 

“Living with where you are”

falls rainbow

Self-compassion teaches us that we need to come to a place of acceptance with whatever we have been given in life. It is the hardest thing to tackle and embrace. We use phrases like “if only” and “someday I will” to cope with that at this moment, this very present moment, I am not satisfied. Can we ever get to a state of total acceptance of what is, is just that?

There is always someone worse off than we are and then, they are people whose life seems totally charmed and conflict free. Deep down humans by nature are born to struggle and have conflict and it is not our place to measure and judge. But we do. We compare and emote how “no one knows what I struggle with.” That is a true statement. No one can know.

For example, pain is different for each being. We all have it and as we get older it is a constant companion. For me, there are times when it is overwhelming and there is no escape. This is what I have to deal with right now and sadly, it is not going to get better. Unless there is finally a miracle drug that works for me, I will progressively get worse. And the drugs I have tried have been a succession of making things worse, not better. This too is my present moment.

I am not dealing well with this, but I am trying to learn. One of the techniques I am learning is called “sitting with the pain”. Instead of ignoring it, I face it full on. I focus in my head the center of glow, the spot where the pain is the worse, and just sit with it. Sometimes it will calm down a bit to a dull shine instead of as spike of ice cold laser pain. Mediation also calms the beast.

But my life is not of a Buddhist monk. My life is filled with drama. I work fulltime in an angst filled profession where conflict and aggression are a daily part of my day. I have issues in my home life with family squabbles and pressure. This is a normal life and it is challenging.

What I am trying to learn is to be ok with everything. To accept this is what my life is and stop struggling. It is the struggle that exacerbates the pain. It makes sense. If someone ties you up, when you struggle against the restraints, it is painful. If you lay there and accept it, it’s not so painful.

But I am not one who quits either. I am not ready to lie down and give up and let this disease take over and make me bed ridden. I find myself very angry at times with my limitations. That anger has been getting worse because I am not at a place where I easily say, “Ok… that’s enough for today.” So I push myself too far and then end up in excruciating pain. And it is hard on my husband who often is the brunt of the anger. He is used to me doing everything. He sees the deterioration in my strength and stamina.  I think it frightens him. He is also used to be taken care of and he is not the best caregiver. That too is something that worries me.

Self-compassion teaches us to take care of us first. If we do not take care of ourselves, no one else really will and there you are. That is the heart of it. Self-compassion is not being selfish. It is learning to make the individual moments of your life the best they can be. No one else in the whole world can MAKE your life any better than you can for yourself. It is easy to preach these concepts. Much harder to live.

 

 

The Gift of Listening

blue-ball     There are a few things that humans can give and they mean so much and cost so little. One is a smile. Another is to just listen to someone. The act of being quiet and still being present to hear someone’s story is a compassionate gift. This Friday, under a fool moon, my friend and I sat out in the garden and spent the evening just talking. I so desperately needed to just vent all the frustrations that have been building in my heart

I do not share much at work with anyone. I have learned the hard way that what may be said in personal conversation can come back to bite you. However, many people come to me to talk about their issues. I have been told it is because they trust me to keep what is said confidential. But I think it is because I listen with a compassionate ear and fully pay attention to them when they are speaking. I listen. One young girl will sit at my desk and blurt out things and then will pick up her phone and text when she is done speaking.  She just wants to dump and run. I find her rude and self-centered, but I still listen to her.  I absolutely hate people who look at their phone or text when you are talking together.

Most nights, I come home and go out to the garden to ground and relax. I will often recount the day to my husband and try to explain the nuances of issues that have popped up. I know he is not listening. He often is looking everywhere else. He does not comment at all while I am speaking. He is too busy thinking about something else, which he will say once I pause. I can be going on about something as serious as fraud that had been discovered at work and he will reply with “The Yankees won today.” As much as I should not waste my voice, I do need to vent and if nothing else, it gets it out of me and I can relax. Sometimes, however, I just get more frustrated.

Talking with my girlfriend was also difficult. She likes to fix. And as much as I appreciate her thoughts and ideas, I am not asking her to fix my life. I just want someone to listen. I heard her sometimes cruel yet honest replies and felt wounded at times. I listened to her discourse of issues in her life and tied to validate her feelings. We sat out there until the moon was high in the sky and the next day had come.

I was sad because I realized through the conversation that my friendship had been strained and I had not realized how she had felt about me in certain areas. I have known her for over thirty years. But I also had a sense of relief within myself. Like a rock that was in the pit of my gut had left. I realized though venting, I had released much of the angst that has been building in me. I was not looking for a solution; I just needed to be heard.

But I also realized I had listened to myself and had a chance to “soak in” what I had said. I used to journal and I used to blog much more and I realized that was where I went to be heard. I need to go back to writing more. Putting words down on paper is a great method of release. It is why there are so many blogs out there. We love to see those “like” icons piling up because it shows we have been heard.

I feel like I am being taken on a different path in my journey. It is quite bumpy right now and steep and there are lots of rocks to navigate. I also sense a change happening in my life. I do not like change…. I am struggling against it. Part of it is knowing that I am in the sunset of my career and the other part is I have to accept the lower level of energy and pain I am constantly in. It’s not the fear of getting older that is worrying me, either. I am looking forward to not HAVING to work and to live my life on my own schedule when I retire. For right now though, I need to change how I live my life through this transition and be ok with it. I need to let go and just see what happens.

 

Labels

clown 2

I felt the need this morning to not post happy pictures of animals and flowers. I am saddened by the on- going violence and killing that is happening in our world. And I am tired of everyone who is saying that police are racist and are out to get blacks. I am tired of people determining to fight people because of their outside appearances.

We had a situation this week where one woman turned to another in a cashier’s line at Wal-Mart and said something to her. In the paper, they actually used the words, “she dissed her.” She said she did not like the woman’s appearance and all hell broke loose. It caused a riot in the store and 33 people were arrested. This was not racial, it was just stupid. They had a protest here this weekend and 74 people were arrested. And the point of that is????? I struggle with this all.

I am not black, so I do not walk in their world. I am a woman and I am fat. I have my own baggage that I deal with when it comes to discrimination. I know what it feels like to be judged by my outward appearance which has nothing to do with my abilities. I am judge to be slovenly and lazy, which is the farthest thing from the truth. And some people have no trouble demonstrating their immediate disapproval of me on first sight.

But I do not rage and fight physically. Violence is so stupid. I believe that what is going on is an excuse to act poorly and out of control.

As far as people thinking cops are racist. Some are. They are that way because as time goes by on the job, they see and deal with a large body of people whose actions only foster this thinking. Cops do not trust, they can’t. They are doing a job that slowly eats away any sense of fairness. They do not get respect. So if an officer tells you to do something, it is for you and their protection. Just do as they ask. Reaching over to get anything will get you in a heap of trouble. Don’t argue and don’t be stupid.

I will never see a peaceful world. I am not sure that it is humanly possible for everyone to get along. Anger and frustrations start with the smallest and closest group we have, our family and then friends. By the time we make it to kindergarten, we already know how to stereotype and disrespect others based solely on appearance . Our acceptance is based on “like thinking” and so if one hates, we are trained to perpetuate the hatred. Fear and anger comes from not understanding.

We need to learn about each other. We need to not judge but embrace our differences and not be afraid of them.