A journal of healing

Posts tagged ‘fat’

This is not so easy

I have been absent from writing this week. It has been busy, but that is not the reason. I am just going through one of those things and one of those times. January is not a favorite month for me at all. I am the type of person who loves having a million projects going all at once. That is one of the things I like about December. It is so busy. But there is an anticlimactic feeling when it is all over. I don’t want to do anything.

But I am also in the process now of changing my lifestyle and it is becoming apparent to me how necessary this is. I am not sure of the outcome. But in typical fashion I have overdone things.

I went on Weight Watchers. This is my third try with this program. I love it only because it really is a good product to use as a tool. That is all it is. A tool. The thing that will make it work or not is between my ears more than any place. I have to re-evaluate what I do all day.

Fortunately for me I love vegetables. I am very satisfied with a plate full of broccoli. It has not been hard to swing into eating good things. I get into trouble when I am bored. My body sends a message that I can relieve my boredom by munching. This is very common. Good news…veggies are crunchy. Bad news is what happened last week. I had a major diverticulitis attack. Inflammation runs rampant in my body because of the Psoriatic Arthritis. Because of that, about four years ago, I ended up in the hospital and was diagnosed with diverticulitis. I have had a few mild attacks since. Once you have it, you get it again and again. The one last week was terrible. There is nothing much to do about it except switch to soft foods and broth for a while. That is what I did and I was better. But it was brought on because I put too much fiber in.

The other reason it happened is that I sit at my desk all week. Sitting is terrible for this condition and just not helpful for losing weight. I am trying now to walk around inside our square building a couple of times. I am not the only one so no one says anything when they see you go by several times in a row. But it is something I have to be mindful to do because the day does get away from me. Friday was a perfect example. Every time I went to go walk, someone came in to chat. My Fridays were (operative word: were) my day to catch up because I had no meetings. I had three this Friday. Many people came to grouse because the payroll was messed up and no one in our division got paid. (This is another story) So the tension was high all day and people wanted to kibitz. This happens often that my intention of walking gets waylaid. By the time I get home I am exhausted and have no desire to go out in the subzero cold.

I have to change my thinking on this though. I have to make time for me and I know this. But I also have to realize Rome was not built in a day. For example, Saturday is our shopping day. Once a month, we do a huge shopping. Because I wanted healthier choices in the house we decided to go to the Mecca of stores, Wegmans. Now, there are grocery stores and then there is Wegmans. Their produce is divine. You pay a bit more but it is worth it. It was a nice day so I said lets go to the Mother ship, their premier store in Pittsford. This Wegmans takes up the whole end of a shopping mall. When Cher was here, this is where she wanted to go. It is huge. I wanted the walk. It is like going to a bazaar in India. Bright and colorful and there are people handing out samples everywhere. I do not like the crowds but the store was reasonable. So we walked the store and every isle. Two hours later, and almost to the end and checkout, my legs began to hurt horribly. This is not just muscle pain. I do not mind hurting muscles because it means you are doing something. This is a deep in the bone ache brought on by the PsA. We pushed on and by the time I got home I was ok. It was just too much.

This is what I do. I do too much. I grab on to something and go hog wild and overdo it. I have to slow this down and make it part of my lifestyle. But if you know me, I am not patient. This whole thing has been a bit frustrating.

One of the things people do not get with this type of arthritis is that it is a reaction to stimulation. It is a bad reaction. When I exercise, especially if it is a movement that I have not done or I repeated it a lot my body says. “Oh look, she has a boo boo” and swarms the area with inflammation. Because of that, I have really stopped moving. To add to this, I have extreme charlie horses. I know why I get them, and it is not for any of the physical reasons like dehydration. It is a chemical imbalance and they are triggered because I am in a total body clench most of the time. When I sleep and relax, they go off. I am working on that and have been pretty successful in lessening that response. But, I get them also if I move a certain way and that way can be anytime. I discovered the medicine I am on causes these types of charlies. These muscle cramps are not just in my calves. They are in my thighs and the worse ones are in my gut and abdomen. I get them in my shoulders and back also. Just moving slightly the wrong way and I am writhing in pain.

This is adds to the frustration because I want to move. I sat down the other night to work with my yoga DVD and set off a charlie that hurt into the next day.

In my head, I am trying to not let this all get to me. It would be easier to just say f**k it and let nature takes it course with me. But that would really be stupid and I am not stupid. Nothing I have ever done in my life has been easy. But that’s the point. There have been many roadblocks and obstacles in my life and I have overcome them. I do not remember the things that had me tweaked five years ago. I do not remember things had me tweaked five months ago. Point is we do get over things if we work at it. I cherish what I do have in my life because I worked so hard for it. I have to make my mind up what do I want and then go for it. And then “I need to cut me some slack, Jack!”

The eyes have it

eyes    Today I feel like I reached the bottom, which is fine and now I am on the way up again. So true confessions, there was more going on with my life which I did not share because I did not know all the facts. Something occurred today, which has swung the pendulum. One thing I have learned in the past three years “hang on, nothing stays the same.”

The short story is on New Year’s Eve, I went for an eye appointment to get new glasses. It has been four years and my glasses broke right in half. I had an old pair which was great. Seems my prescription for the past ten years has not changed much. Wonderful!

However this time, the doctor found an anomaly in my eye. She said my optic nerve was enlarged. I made an instant appointment to see a specialist. And then, being who I am, I started Googling.

Turns out that the condition has a variety of names, none of which I knew. Seems the cause of this condition can be from medication, blood pressure, fluid, spinal fluid, and the one that stuck with me…..being obese, which is called papilledema. When I read that, I was devastated and furious. I cannot find anywhere what the connection is and why this can cause this condition.

The first technician I saw today looked at the readings and info from the first doctor and said she felt the readings indicated a normal range. But the Doctor said to do tests anyways. So I went through a battery of tests for about an hour. I had different drops and stared at all sorts of bright things.

This was all fine. Leading up to the appointment was not. All the information I read was….well, it just added to the failure I have been feeling about myself lately. I felt “I did this. I deserved it. If I was thinner, this would not be an issue.” No one can beat themselves up like I can. It was a week of this and it got worse and worse. I would check something on google during work and get upset and then come home and read it again, only adding to my angst.

The bottom line is this. I do not have papilledema. I have the markers for MAYBE glaucoma…. Or it is just the way my eye cup is. She said do not lose any sleep. I asked her if this had anything to do with being fat. She just laughed (nicely) and said no. It may be nothing at all, but without any past history she can’t tell. I may have been born with this enlarged opening. She said to just make sure I have an eye exam every year. We are going to do more baseline readings also. She said actually my eyes were healthy, pressure and depth and thickness of the cornea all were fine. I finally let out my breath.

I had been seeing the same eye doctor my husband had for years. I saw him for about 8 years. Last year, my hubby had to have surgery for cataracts that were so bad, one eye was almost totally occluded. And of course, my husband did not say anything. When they went in, it was much worse than they thought and he was under the knife for an hour…. for a fifteen minute surgery. He is now also seeing someone else.

If I had a vision loss of any kind, I would have known it. I am fanatical about my eyes. I am a photographer. I express myself though the lens. (I don’t post many here) I do so much with my eyes that they are absolutely precious to me. The punishment I put myself through this past week just is a demonstration of what people like me do to themselves.

The upshot of all this is I have this safety net in place to help me protect my eyes. I am ok with her prognosis and diagnosis as she was pretty convincing that this really was not an issue, but preventative.

And I think I finally faced up to some challenges I have about my health. So with this hurtle out of the way, I think things I will start to pick myself up again. I am up for the challenge.

Not giving up

This blog post took me several times to start it. There has been a lot going on in my head. I have not shared all of it, but I think it is time. I am scared shitless of dying. Every day I wake up and wonder if this is the day. This started about two years ago when I was beginning to face turning 59. My Mom died at that age. She got sick when she was 58 and within six months, she was gone. She had lung cancer. So as I approached that age, it started nagging at me. Then I turned 59 and woke up still alive. Then I was facing 60. And that was horrible. I do not know why, but this has been an awful time for me.

I stopped a lot of the introspective work I was doing because it was actually making things worse. Ever twinge, every muscle cramp signaled to me that my body was failing. I have NEVER been connected to my body. And the result is why I am so overweight. I never felt fat until recently. And the realization of my body mass coupled with my progress towards old age has plummeted me into an abyss. I admit it. I have been more depressed than ever…. And truthfully, I hate being depressed.

So what is feeding this? Well, on top of my Mom’s early demise, my father died at 71. That is only 10 years more for me. I also have a weird habit. On Sundays, I look at the obits. I think it is my duty to read the last thing people have said about them. It may only be their only tribute too. You never read “John Smith was an a-hole who beat his wife.” I started the habit in my 20’s. When I got divorced, it upset me so much that I would die and not be the loving wife of someone. Sad, I know…but I am confessing here. Now I read the obits and often I am older than the deceased.

I get very upset when we visit Joe’s parents. They do nothing but watch TV and fight. He is 94 and she is 90 and has dementia. It is terrible to see such vibrant souls trapped in their own hell. This is what the future is? I see all the geriatric patients housed in our affiliate nursing facilities and think: What -ho….what a grand life….NOT! I have taken Hospice training and although I think Hospice is wonderful, it has added to my unnerving.

I decided that maybe taking a look at losing weight might add to my longevity. I struggle so much with this because I LOVE food. I love to cook and love baking even more. I also confess that this last year I ate like crap and I gained weight. I knew better. But nothing is going to change unless I take the reins. So what did I do? I met up with that jerk of a counselor who wanted me to get bariatric surgery without even talking to me. She added to my angst so much. I wrote about it but I do not think I went into the level of how much she really upset me. This weekend, I pursued another avenue. I signed up for the program called NYFatLoss.com. The website again sounded fabulous. They balance your hormones, your body makeup and balance your intake and so forth. Sounded perfect, but the website was extremely vague with any details such as cost. My BBF sent me a link to a user’s blog and what an eye opener. The cost was over a thousand dollars to several thousands. It is a 500 calorie diet for forty days. And when that is up, you ante up again. The promise is 35 pounds in 40 days. Of course, if you are eating 500 calories, you are on the Auschwitz diet and you WILL lose. I told my husband you get a choice of two veggies, two fruits and two servings of meat. He thought it was for one meal. That’s it for the day and only certain fruits and meat. You will lose, but when you go back to eating normal you will be right back again and probably worse off because your set point will be so screwed up. You have to pound several vitamins and their supplements which include products that raise your blood pressure and will thin your blood. Not a good combination for someone on Coumadin for a hereditary complication. Again, I hit the wall.

Today in my class I teach, I had two students who both have had bariatric surgery. One was heavy and the other one was thin. They both were eating fast food. They shared that they both have gained weight back. One of them confessed she gained all her weight back and then some. Both said they had complications including being very sick. The thinner girl said she still gets sick. As I walked past her and eyeballed her mayonnaise covered sub with the bag of nachos and sweet tea. I said, “I would get sick too.” I served her a heaping helping of shame with her lunch. I felt terrible and I did not get a chance to apologize. I spoke the truth. I do not eat fast food hardly ever because it does make me sick. Some things that are prepared commercially really get me. McDonald is death and I have not eaten it since 1986. I do not eat red meat either since 1986….well the list is quite long of what I do not eat.

I am so sick of all this. The depression, the frustration, the anger and mostly the additional self-loathing I seem to be heaping on myself. I secretly started planning this weekend to make some changes. I spent much of my time cooking. And I am cooking things for my health. If I have the right things in the house, I will eat them. I eat “bad” things when I am bored. After my disappointment with NYFATLOSS, (what a hose job) I had a choice. I could give up and just continue being this way, or do something. If you know me, option one is not a choice.

So I joined Weight Watchers. All I am going to say about it for now. I am doing this for me because no one else’s opinion matters. If I am successful and take off some weight, wonderful. I am determined. If I don’t, I will start again. I had to get up a walk away from my computer after I typed this. This has been an dreadful or dread-filled time for me and I am worn down to a nub of humiliation covered in fear.

I am stopping for tonight. I have a lot more to share on this topic. Not about swapping recipes for losing weight, but on the humiliation, shame and condemnation people cast on others. I know I have mounted a beaten old nag of a white horse. But I think this is important because body image issues are not about just weight at all. But for now, I am tired.

Bariatric Surgery or BS

I had an interesting experience today and I feel right now, not very pleasant. I am going to share it and I will admit right up front, it is taking a lot balls for me to talk about this. I really want people to comment on what I am about to share. I think the opinions will vary and I am asking for honest feedback. I know I am opening myself to a lot of criticism.
So let me explain. I had a horrible day about three weeks ago. I was so upset and scared and I could not stop crying. Silly thing now, as I have no idea why. Just one of those phases I think. But I got on line and started poking around for support groups. I think at least that was what I was looking for. I love to spend hours on Google searching things out. I start with one thing and go off on a completely different direction. I used to sit and read my home version encyclopedia. I think it is why I am such a master of inane information…
I found this website for a therapist who specializes in people with PTSD, trauma issues, eating disorders, family counseling, anxiety and other problems. She offers help with life balance. I thought humdang! Digging in further into her site she talks about mindful eating and body acceptance. I was so thrilled I sent off an email asking for a session. And much as I think that cognitive based therapy can be dangerous with the wrong therapist, I was willing to try again.
I get there five minute before my appointment. I wait in the waiting area for about 2 minutes. I can hear her talking to someone. I thought, ok she is on the phone, so I knocked to signal I was there. She did not answer. I waited again five more minutes and knocked again. She said she would be right out. Ok. She was with someone so I had no problem. Then she gets me, I sit down and her phone went off. She answered it and left me and went to the waiting room to talk for another ten minutes. It is now a half hour into my appointment time of an hour.
She finally comes in and starts to fire off questions. Of course, she is taking a history which I had expected. Some of her questions were weird and some were pretty probing. But I answered honestly. I think it sort of shocked her. We swing around to talk about my weight issue. I am very uncomfortable talking to anyone about my weight, but hey, that was one of the reasons I was there. However, she went right into something I was not expecting.
She went on the charge of why I should have bariatric surgery. I felt myself flush and I had to hold my anger in. This is the second time a Doctor (she is a PhD doctor) has done this. She knows nothing about me except a brief ten minute interview. I started to explain that my medical issues with Factor V Leiden and Psoriatic Arthritis do not make me a candidate. Matter of fact my two GPs have said not it is not a good idea. She did not know what Factor V Leinden is. My bet is she does not understand that PsA is an autoimmune disease and not osteoarthritis.
She starts to tell me all sorts of things about how when you have the surgery your metabolic rate changes. It is different than dieting because you are not restricting food so that the body goes into shut down and hordes calories. I just shook my head. How is it not restricting calories. It most certainly is because you cannot eat a lot of food without getting violently sick. Talk about Pavlovian training. Eat too much and you will get sick. I did my homework on bariatric surgery along with having several friends who did it. They change the capacity of the stomach by constricting it with a band, stapling it or suturing it or totally by-passing it so food goes right in to the small intestine. Oh my good gracious. How does anyone not see this  to be mutilation of some form? I understand that it has helped many people to lose weight when they could not any other way and that is fine for them. But I told her, not for me. I did not come to her because I was desperate to lose weight. Matter of fact, I was more at peace with myself and my body before I went into all this self-evaluation and discovery. It was peace I was looking for and self-acceptance. I would still be troubled if I was a size 3.
She went on to say how she had the surgery and lost all this weight and so forth and so on. She said I will never lose weight, even forty pounds. I was totally turned off. I became a bit brittle and she felt it. When she asked me why I was pulling away, I said I was not interested in bariatric surgery in any manner. She said she would send me some literature. I said fine. We finished our session with a few other things. She set up another appointment, which I am not sure if I will do.
There is a ton of information out there on these barbaric…oops I mean bariatric processes. They all say the same thing. I understand how losing weight can be life-saving. But I also read about the mortality rate and the long term prognosis of it. There are malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies for sure. Hair loss, anemia, major poop and intestinal issues, blood clots, infections and other ramifications are all in the literature down at the bottom. All say the crappiest statement ever invented about how the cure/medicine comes with issues which the doctor or whomever deems worth the risk…. I paraphrased but it is on most medicines and other medical documentation. I want to change it to … “You feeling lucky?”
So again, in search of trying to better myself, I walked away feeling like a failure and disgrace. I am angry. OHHHHHH am I angry. Why is it we can do all this medical research on obesity and yet not find a cure other than mutilation of the digestive system? I read recently a medical journal article that there may be some connection in a T cell formation that maybe linked to obesity. That same rotten cell also has a lot to do with cancer and can you guess…Psoriatic Arthritis or autoimmune disease. Why can they not figure out that what you put into your mouth couple with the output of energy does not always equate with body mass. Yes, for some it is about what they consume. But if it were totally up to that, then everyone who eats McDonalds would be huge. But they aren’t. Only a select group of people consume food quantities which have an impact on their weight. Try explaining that to some doctors….they will laugh at you. If you are obese, you eat too much. Period! BULLSHIT. I am not going to go into a full rant on this right now.
Although I have a ton more to say on this topic, I am getting very upset. I need to go to bed and I am all cranked. If it were up to me, I would wave a magic wand and make everyone in the whole world obese so they can see that is only a body. We attach so much to image that it makes me crazy. Would we stitch a lung closed so smokers won’t crave cigarettes. Would we suture alcoholics mouths closed so they won’t drink? Would we give women with PMS a frontal lobotomy for depression…..which, by the way IS what they used to do to women and not too long ago. Think of that. I guarantee that someday in the future, they will look back at bariatric surgery as pathetically as primitive brain surgery. Hey, we finally figure out putting mercury in our teeth was pretty stupid.
Tell me what you think.

Trauma induced Obesity…. Really? No Sh*t!

rain clouds'

I actually wrote a whole different blog last night. I decided to sit on and not publish. In the morning, I reread and tweaked it and thought I would send it out anyways later. But in going over my emails, I found this email from a friend and therapist who sent me a blog article. I did not get to read it until later in the day. I had taken a break from work and decided to read through. I sat there at my desk crying.  Fortunately no one was around much. I have a heater fan running so hopefully no one heard me sniffling. I stopped and mopped my face up and decided when I got home to reread the blog and then write. Oh…. I was going to write.

I spent time tonight working on house stuff, laundry and the sorts and just sat down a little while ago to read the blog again. I was actually not thrilled about facing it again. I then went to the site and looked at some of the older posts. It took my breath away. It is so overwhelming to the point it knocked me out of writing what I wanted to. I am just ….and I am not sure the right word is that I am. I am mad because there is so much statistical information out there on trauma induced illness and yet it is so unknown by practicing clinicians. I had written about the ACE study before in my blog. If you have not done an ACE study, do so. And then read the implications. It is enlightening.

http://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/

But now as the night has progressed and I spent it reading instead of writing, I am going to let the blog speak for itself. It is quite a collection of information. I am going to share the one line that made me cry. And it is terrible. The author is sharing the story of how the doctor who was working in creating an obesity clinic was upset because he was not successful. He went on to dig into many of the (obese) patients’ history and found a resounding amount of them had some form of childhood trauma. That is not what made me cry….it made me slap my head and say out loud, “Really? No shit!” This is right from the Dr.’s story after he had given his results to a body of educated physicians and clinicians.

So, if you were Vincent Felitti, whom would you pick as your first audience to reveal your stunning findings? A group relatively informed about obesity that would greet the new information with extreme interest, praise and applause? Natch. So, in 1990, Felitti flew to Atlanta to give a speech to the members – many of them psychologists and psychiatrists — of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. The audience listened quietly and politely. When he finished, one of the experts stood up and blasted him. “He told me I was naïve to believe my patients, that it was commonly understood by those more familiar with such matters that these patient statements were fabrications to provide a cover explanation for failed lives!”   http://acestoohigh.com/2012/10/03/the-adverse-childhood-experiences-study-the-largest-most-important-public-health-study-you-never-heard-of-began-in-an-obesity-clinic/

……..A fabrication to cover FAILED Lives?   Oh man did that stick in my craw. Truthfully it makes me furious. So again, because someone is obese (and I hate that word with a passion) the presumption is that (1) they lie and (2) their life is a failure. If you think this is an exaggeration, you are not in the world of being overweight. The reason I was crying is because it happens a lot. To read someone with such credibility admit this was overwhelming to me. It is pervasive in the medical field and I face it every day at my job. That is exactly what people, doctors and other clinicians have projected to me. I have heard other large people tell about me about their discrimination. A person I know just died because they refused to give her a liver transplant because she was overweight. Prime personal example: years ago, I had gone to have some work done up to find out why my a1c had spiked. I had the Chief of the Endocrinology department tell me I was a waste of time, that I would never be able to lose weight or exercise like HE did and so he was going to march me down to bariatric surgery immediately and get me fixed. (I have to breathe deeply every time I think of this) He never looked at my chart. If he had he would have seen my blood sugar had spiked in three months after a life time of low to normal readings. It took me having to read and discover that the prednisone and other drugs they slammed me on for the PsA all raised blood glucose. AND when I went off, it came back down. I went to see a nephrologist after one of my kidneys failed. Again, he never discussed anything but the fact that I was overweight and he wanted to bet me, BET me, that I would NOT be able to lose weight. I think he thought he was challenging me. Again, no one ever told me for a year my right kidney had failed…first concern…and that I had developed stones and they were a by-product of the PsA…it took me eight years to find that out and I should have been medicated then, eight years ago, to reduce the creation of more…which happened. No one can see past the weight. I am a non-person.

That last statement about being a non-person is very telling. I am going to stop tonight and let it just sit out there. I hope you will skim through the blog article: http://acestoohigh.com/2012/10/03/the-adverse-childhood-experiences-study-the-largest-most-important-public-health-study-you-never-heard-of-began-in-an-obesity-clinic/

 

 

 

 

Disconnection of the body

Buffalo

Tonight I am inspired by a friend’s blog. Please check it out at MY BODY…. She speaks for so many of us. It is funny because sometimes blog ideas come to me in the weirdest ways. I was going to write about something else but this is very relevant and so I am going there. “There” is what it is like being large and what it feels like to be disconnected to our body and what that means. For many survivors of sexual abuse, the only way we can deal with ourselves is to not associate with our bodies, because then we are connected to the trauma. In other words, if I do not feel the trauma, it may not be real.

I know many people who have survived sexual trauma go through a stage of did it really happen? That is what happened to me. The memory was not in place; only fragments which came to me in jagged flashbacks. One was on my first wedding night. I had no sense of the past situation in reality. I did not remember the physical confrontation. Matter of fact, much was not clear enough for me to even know if it was real. And truth be told, I am still not sure. And if you were to survey many of us, you would find that doubt is quite common. But then who would make up this shit? But too much makes sense. As I went through therapy two years ago, I started to put pieces together. And then one night I remembered the physical feeling. I remembered too much. I could smell things. Blurry images became clear. I am not sure now if it was such a good thing to relive as I was alone when it came back and I am positive I retraumatized myself. I had not learned any coping mechanisms, yet.

I do not want to focus on that. What I do want to talk about is disconnection and the impact of not loving our bodies. It is not a simple cognitive function. One who has had physical trauma, especially one based in shame like abuse, does not go “Snap, I am past this.” It can be and often is a life sentence. And why?

These are my theories: I am in firm belief that we ALL hold some form of shame when dealing with fat. It is that basic. Our society likens carrying fat as being the ultimate disgrace. Parents, teachers and other forms of early authority in our lives make sure the larger child knows that they have failed just by being fat. Nothing surpasses that. And I think that it all comes back around to the same thing; they are ashamed for us and of us. They are ashamed of our fatness. So no matter what happens we never can or will ever measure up. I think that we wear our weight as a scarlet letter because we think we deserve to be fat. I am not convinced it has totally to do with what is consumed. I think it has to do with release or not being able to release the trauma. So the weight stays and we take the punishment for what we all think we did to cause our trauma. And if you dig deep enough, you will discover that often the victim feels they caused their situation. Why me….why was I the one, what did I do to deserve this? It is a tape running in our heads that few can ignore.

This is where it becomes interesting, and it is my theory. But I think my studies will hold up to a lot of what I am going to say. We as children do a couple things to survive. We over achieve because we have to prove that being fat is not who we are. And then, we disassociate with the cause of all our pain. We disconnect from our body.

So over achieving…. This is me. I always danced too hard. I would dance around people doing my “what can I do to please you because if I please you, you may like me and I do need to be accepted.” Dance. I danced it for years and I still do. But now I get pissed sooner. I danced it for my family, my mother and father and then for my ex. Silly thing is that all it did was make me vulnerable and more of a victim. But in my defense, I have four degrees, all Summa Cum Laude. I have three professional certifications, two teaching licenses and a plethora of awards and accolades. And I still feel insignificant. Very much so, especially where I work. The need to be the best and most was always so important to me. And this was my original topic for tonight. When do we stop caring so much what other people think about us? Do we ever stop? Does it matter? Really?

The answer is a big fat no. (((smile))) But I have not convinced myself of this, physically and only slightly mentally. The only thing that this type of stress will do for you is make you sick. If you want to do something, do it for yourself…..ah…..here comes the second part.

So doing something for yourself means you have to feel ….oh no….feel…not feel….anything but needing to feel. That is the issue. When you relate to trauma by disassociating, you cannot feel. And now it where it comes to the heart of the matter. Again, my theory, but the more I read the more I think that this is being substantiated.

Nonetheless, the medical model persists. It (arguably) functions fairly effectively with diseases like diabetes and cancer, where the doctor holds all of the knowledge and dictates the necessary interventions for a sick patient. This is not, however, a useful paradigm for trauma healing. Rather than being a disease in the classical sense, trauma is instead a profound experience of “dis-ease” or “dis-order.”

Levine PhD, Peter A. (2012-10-30). In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness (p. 34). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

You can talk your way through trauma with all sorts of processes and mind games. But it is a big waste of time. Thinking is not going to help. Feeling is. If you feel what? I have written before about feeling safe. This is what is needed to heal. You must be in a safe environment. There can be no predators; you must have comfort and no fear. If you do not feel safe, it is impossible to heal. Then, look at what society does to the large person. It is impossible to feel safe when people give you horrid judgmental looks for just existing. And why do they do that? Because you are fat. You don’t want to be fat, so you disassociate from your body. And if you disassociate, you do not feel. And if you do not feel, how can you know if you are safe. Round and a round.

Here is another explanation. I have always been big. Shapely, but most standards, larger than my peers…except my one dear girlfriend who was 6 feet tall by 6th grade. Funny, she could have modeled as she was gorgeous and well developed. But instead, her life dissolved into depression and self-loathing and at 41 she killed herself. (I am so angry about this, btw) I never thought about my body stopping me from sports and so I did them. It never stopped me from anything actually because there was nothing wrong with me. I wanted to dance, so I took dance classes in college and got straight A’s. What I saw in the mirror was not, I guess, what other’s saw. I saw nothing. And the reason was I had disassociated from my body many years before, possibly as an infant but definitely as a young child. The pain and shame about my body came from my family, especially from my mother who was totally disgusted by me. She never held back. I think back and truly I feel so sorry for her angst and shame about me, because she missed such a great opportunity to love me. She made only one comment about her remorse when she was actually on her deathbed and that is why I feel sorry for her. But when I was with friends it was not important. Many of my friends when they make a harsh comment about someone being fat and I corrected them, they would say, “oh we do not think of you as being fat.”

I did not feel. Without going into depth, I did not feel much of anything and had lived that way for so long that when I did feel something, I had to either get drunk or high. Now, there is no denying that drinking massive amounts of alcohol led me to put on significant weight. But I never felt it.

Then, because of the therapy, I began to feel. I equate it to this story. There is a Lakota Chief sitting on hill with a white man. The white man asks the Chief what he is gawking at and the Chief replies, a buffalo. The white man sees nothing in the field except grass everywhere. There is no buffalo. But they continue to sit in quiet for a long time. Finally the white man cannot contain himself and asks the chief again. He turns to look at the chief who smiles and points again to the field. As the white man gazes back at the field, he suddenly is aware of the buffalo that must have been there the whole time. The white man is amazed. The Chief does not turn towards the white man, but just says in a calm manner, “The buffalo allowed you to see him.”

(paraphrased from Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn)

When we disassociate with our bodies, we do not see what others do. And then when they make comments, it is hurtful. There is no way anyone can make a comment about weight to a large person without judgment and not inflict shame. I do not care what the intent. You would never go up to someone who has lost their hair and tell them they should buy a wig. At least I hope you wouldn’t. But few hold back about giving advice on how to lose weight. It is like saying, you are not acceptable as you are and this is what you should do. So if we disassociate with our body, it is not hiding, it is survival. If you are perfect, you would not understand how painful this is. AND…it perpetuates the feeling of not being good enough and then without meaning to be, you become a victim all over again. If you do sooth by eating, no one should point a finger. We all have some form of self soothing like TV, Booze, cigarettes and sex. Guess what, running and excessive exercise can also be a form of self soothing. But we would never say to someone who is addicted to running, geeze, you really need to withhold doing that. We never say to someone who is so gaunt from dieting how emaciated they look, how pale, and boney. We say, “oh, have you lost weight, you clever thing?”

This is getting quite long. I am in the process of reading… I am always reading….more about the physical connection to trauma and healing. I am on a quest, a seeker of sorts, for finding different methodologies of healing. I am totally convinced that it has to be somatic healing. Body and mind and spirit. For my fellow bloggers who have connected, I hope that you will share and keep sharing your thoughts on this.

But for tonight, for Pat especially, give yourself a break. And then give yourself a big hug. We need to get back in touch (no pun intended) to the physical self and not loath it. I know that is very hard as I have my own super big issue (no pun again) about accepting my body, especially now with the horrible Psoriatic Arthritis flaring. But I am also convinced that those two things are connected. I just need to relax and get back to healing exercises. (and not exercises in puff n grunt manner) I need to focus and work on my healing modalities that have worked in the past.

And in offering of hope, I think that this is the key to weight loss. The release…. All in the release. I am still too strung up about things in my life. I am bull rider when it comes to stress. I hop on and allow it to toss me freely inflicting havoc on everything. But I will explain more in future blogs.

bull rider

Sharing dirty little secrets

The following blog  SEX is written by an extremely brave and courageous woman. It is hard to comprehend how she feels unless you have been there. I can imagine how much spirit it took to write this and even more strength to share it. The issue is not the event. It is not the past. It is the present moment and the reaction one has to various stimulus NOW. You cannot erase what happened and so any therapy that makes a person relive the trauma or go over the details of their past are often only re-traumatizing the client or patient. A good therapist gives the patient tools do deal with their trauma and their feelings and reactions in the present moment.
Pat writes about how she interprets sexual feelings now. She knows that any sexual advancement made by an adult to her is taken poorly; she does not enjoy it. She transfers sexual feelings to touch with her own son. Of course she does. It is safe. He is safe to her. She feels it is wrong, and it would be wrong if she were to follow through, which I am sure she didn’t. She loves her son. The problem is that she has attached so much garbage to any intimate relationship that when she feels the physical touch and closeness of a hug from her son, it triggers a response she deems inappropriate. But how would she not when the time and place in her life when she first had sexual relations was when she was a child. There was safety in the body, the smallness of her son. It has nothing to do with intercourse. It was about the intimacy she craves and the safe sensation of being touched by someone who does not want anything from her. THIS is how the cycle of sexual abuse CAN be continued, but Pat knows this is taboo. Instead, she carries so much shame with her. That is the gift that keeps on giving. (sarcasm)
My life is very similar in the sense that I do not like to be touched by anyone. It is extremely difficult for me to relax in any type of physically intimate relationship. My father deemed all women sluts and dirt. The only woman he did not have a comment about was my mother. Their relationship was the strangest growing up. They were never demonstrative. My mother and father never hugged or even sat close. The only kiss I ever saw them give each other was her on his bald head. But I discovered later why she was so Victorian in her manner about sex. My father used to berate me from the time I had boobs that I was a whore, which is incredibly funny since I was anything but promiscuous. There was no healthy sex education growing up in the 50’s and 60’s in white suburbia. Sex was naught and dirty and only “hoods” did that sort of thing.
To be safe and actually unbeknownst to me at the time, the “boyfriends” I had in high school were all gay. They were not out back then, but they were into the arts and gentle young men. I never pushed the issue of sex, and they did not either so it was safe. My best girlfriend was a toucher. She liked to tap on your hand or arm when she was talking to you. Finally one day she asked me why I pulled away every time. I just said I did not like to be touched and she was ok with it and was mindful.
My first sexual encounter as a young woman was disastrous. But I quickly learned that if I got drunk or high, I could relax enough. This became my pattern. My ex-husband was fine with it because I do not think it was ever about intimacy for him. Eventually, sex was the only thing I had to control in my life, so I withheld. He went quickly elsewhere. (Actually he was elsewhere before, during and after our marriage) When we first met, and I felt safe with him, I enjoyed walking hand in hand, cuddles and other intimate gentle touches. That soon turned to grabbing at me, dominating stances like having his arm on my shoulders and slapping my butt. The relationship deteriorated until it became sexually violent and that was when I pulled completely inside and put up the wall. For me, the wall was weight more than anything. I cannot say honestly that I did not want to have a sex and so I was a horrible flirt when out with the girls. But I never went through with anything. For me, it was the need to be desired more than anything.
My relationship with my now husband is platonic. It was established as such and remains. It works for the both of us.
The issue of touch is very touchy (ha ha) for me. The therapy I was in for two years was all touch therapy. It took three months for the therapist to be able to even begin therapy and touch me. The therapy is called Associative Awareness Technique. It is a system that used touch stimulus as part of the therapy in the form of different series of applications such as stroke, tap and pressure in very deliberate patterns and places. The concept is that it helps to deregulate the nervous system from going into flight fright or freeze when touched. It is much more than that and you can read about it here: http://www.rochesterptwellness.com/
As part of my healing process, I also took classes in Spiritual Healing Touch. I really enjoy applying touch therapy. As part of the class, you have to be the client and take turns. It was very hard for me but since I have taken a series of classes with the same girls I have gotten better at receiving. Sometimes it is amazing how I feel afterwards. There are certain partners that I am very comfortable with. I have to completely get out of my head when I am working on someone but because I am the one touching it works. One time they did a group healing on me and I have to say I was shaking I was so frightened. I was on the table and four ladies who I know well all were working on me at once. It was too much and I felt trapped.
The sensation of feeling trapped is very important and I am going to take a moment to explain. Sexual trauma or for that, all physical trauma is based on the premise of being in a situation beyond your control. Having your freedom in some manner removed is what triggers the fight, flight or freeze. You can run away, you can turn and fight for release or you can play dead and freeze, hoping the predatory will pass over you. Being trapped can sometimes not have to have another person physically confining you. You can be trapped mentally and it creates an even more profound sense of helplessness and defeat. This is often the case for people who are in a domestic violence situation. I will write more on this in later blogs. Do not judge, because those chains may be invisible, but trust me they exist.
For a young child, being in a violent home can feel like being trapped. You cannot tell anyone of your situation because that would excommunicate you from your source of survival. Children cannot see that there are alternatives and adult prey on them with that threat. “Tell someone and you will get sent to an orphanage.” “Tell someone and I will really get you the next time.” Children do not have the cognitive ability to see beyond their present moment and they have nothing to compare with.
I am still amazed that there are so many people out there who did not and cannot understand imperfect childhoods. I thought growing up with alcoholics was normal until I became old enough to visit other families whose parents did not get drunk. When and where I grew up, kids were on their own and invisible. Parents disappeared during sleep overs. I always thought they were doing what my folks did and that was sequestering themselves and getting drunk. Parents did not haul their kids everywhere. You walked or rode your bike. It was not until I was preteen that I saw a different structure in family life and once I did, I spent any moment I could out of my house and at my girlfriends. I never had a sleep over at my house. Only once did I have my friends at my house for my fifteenth birthday. My parents and I had moved into a three bedroom apartment and four of my girlfriends and I were in my bedroom listening to music. My father burst through the door, swearing about the “nigger music” we were listening to (it was a folk group) ripped the record off the turntable and smashed it. My friends left in a hurry. Forty years later two of my girlfriends and I got together for a reunion. I told them the whole story and they had no idea that that was what my home life was like. It was one of my dirty little secrets.

Body of a Goddess

stone goddesses

One of the common threads I have been reading on many blogs, books and other places is the connection of body acceptance or should I say the lack of it and people who suffer from trauma, especially sexual abuse. There also seems to be a link in weight gain and eating disorders.

Because it is my frame of reference and I am not familiar with other countries, I say that the American society is very brain washed with the wrong concept when it comes to acceptable body image. We all know that the media shoves tons of images at us of skinny misshaped women. Their bodies are unnatural and Photoshopped. Yet it has become the desirable way to look and it is unobtainable.

I have been enjoying the many new You Tube videos which are trying to open the channels of acceptance for a more human view point of the shape of a human. I also have been enjoying the switch of males for females in sexually explicit commercials. While we find a guy covered in chips in bed hilarious, it is perfectly accepted and broadcast on TV when it was a woman. And we buy these products that say that these products will enhance our sexual appeal. Balderdash!

My point is two-fold on this topic. The media has to stop making females out to be nothing but sexual objects. It is unfair and extremely misleading for the youth of our country to grow up with the misconception that the thing that makes or breaks a female is her body. And it also creates a belief that men can mistreat women because they are an object.

When I was growing up, my father’s attitude towards women definitely influenced not only my brothers who are very chauvinistic, but my sister and me. I think my sister was too promiscuous because she sought acceptance through sex. It affected me with an opposite reaction.

It also influenced our body acceptance. My sister was petite like my mother, she was dark eyed and had dark brown hair like my father’s side of the family. I came into the world big, red-haired, with very light green eyes. The joke used to be, since I did not look like my siblings, that I was left under a cabbage leaf or some other terrible story. All this did was made me feel more ostracized. I was a chubby toddler and I was also taller than any of the other women in my family. By the age of twelve, I was fully blossomed into a shapely female. This was not accepted as a good thing by my family and I was painfully reminded and degraded that I was different. This also caused things to happen in my life which also impacted my feelings about my body.

By the time I was in high school, I had a pretty bad outlook on my appearance. I looked back at the few pictures of me from then and I realize now I was actually quite attractive. I covered myself in my junior and senior year in coveralls and baggie clothes. Later in my life, I had moments of self-acceptance, but then ended up in a marriage that systematically dismantled any self-esteem I had.

I feel very strongly against the propaganda used in so many venues that display women with figures like Barbie. You see it in comics, video games and any place where women are depicted as warrior types. They all have huge chests, no waists and legs ten feel long. Little boys grow up thinking that this is what a strong woman should look like.

In ancient times, Goddesses were not depicted that way at all. They were very full breasted, had full hips and often in this century’s viewpoint, obese. It really scorches me when I see modern drawings of Goddesses drawn in the today’s tradition of unreal body shapes. There are very few if any women out there who really look like that. We set up young girls for failure when we cram these unnatural images of people that they might want to aspire to.

There are many physical reactions that will impact a survivor of sexual abuse and one is often manifested in her body. It is very common for women to put on weight to use as body protection. Having a large body puts space between others and it also thought that it might be a deterrent to more sexual abuse. It also happens when the person becomes disassociated with their body. If you do not feel your body, you do not see your body…… it does not exist and therefore it gets out of shape or maybe is not the best of shape. I know this to be true for myself. It only adds to the concept of self-hatred and loathing and because people of size are not accepted, it continues the ostracization that already occurs being a victim. It deflects people from the real issue. It also feeds the self-deprivation mode that survivors often live in. “I am not worthy. Look I am fat and society deems that ugly, so I must be all that.” (Did not mean to make a rhyme)

I know there are people out there who feel all fat people are disgusting. They think we are lazy and slobs and must spend all our time eating. Our society feeds that mentality. I was on a website where a zaftig young woman was flaunting her curves in some very cute two piece bathing suits. I thought she was stunning. The site had a series of posts from viewers who trashed her. They were repeatedly commenting on the fact that she was not a size 14 like she said in the video but more a 22 or more. They totally were criticizing her on the audacity to wear a two piece with a large tummy. I think someone made a comment about how she must be Photoshopped because she did not have stretch marks. There were some very cruel comments and mostly from women. They missed the point totally. She was standing up for all women to accept their body.

I really want to encourage anyone who is reading this to think twice about their own comments and feelings when they see people of size. I have read where people will do just about anything to not be fat. One woman I read about would rather not take antidepressants because they will make her put weight on. She was prescribed the medicine because she was suicidal. So she would rather be dead than fat. Young girls bully others because they are not bone thin. It is a tradition for women when they get together to eat to first deny that they are hungry. Then they pick and feign desires for the luscious delights that are offered to them, let’s say at a party. I personally like to cook and I have no patience for anyone who comes to my house and does not eat. That’s just rude.

It used to be acceptable to ostracize people with different pigmented skin. They were labeled inappropriately and demeaned them on their physical presentation and not on the person. It is totally unacceptable. We need to really think about this with body image. It is still okay to make fun of people who are small in stature. It is totally acceptable to ridicule someone who is rounder and fuller. It is not ok to stare at someone who has a birth defect (bad word in my terms) but you can stare down and verbally make slanderous remarks to people of size. This actually happened to my husband when we were out. We had parked the car normally in the space allotted. When we went to leave, someone park so close he could not get in the car. It would only open a few inches. It was ridiculous. We went inside and had the owner paged. He came out and when my husband asked him to move his car over, he started throwing all sorts of insults at him, calling him fat and stupid. He took it, but I was pissed. I want to haul off and break his tail light….. but then, that’s my rage issue….Unfortunately he parked elsewhere or his car door would have slipped when I opened it for him…. Ooopps. Don’t mess with a large feminist…. Not good!

 venus-of-willendorf