Thursday, October 02, 2008

Family, Part 1.

I've gained a lot of understanding about myself this year but I've also gained a lot of weight. During the first several months it was comfort eating while using self help books to work through a lot of my issues. The next couple of months after that it was avoidance/denial eating.

For so long I denied how jealous I was of my cousin...oh, let's call him, Joat. (JOAT: because he's a jack of all trades.) I avoided mentioning anywhere but deep in the secret parts of my psyche how hurt I was that my family were heaping praise on him for going to therapy. He went for anger management and for alcohol abuse. And now, all of a sudden instead of the long held concerns they'd about him, he was wonderful and doing great.

Joat this, and Joat that, and Joat and family are sorting through their combined issues too! Hard to take, when in some ways he'd been a bigger screw up than me and I was STILL feeling like I was going around in circles. He's always been like an older brother to me, and I felt like HE was leaving me behind. And that led to wounded pride on my behalf. I also felt like all of a sudden HE was the favoured child of my parents (despite being a nephew), always popping in to see them, when I couldn't. (Which also tied in with a much earlier issue where I'd felt, at the time, like they'd chosen him over me.)

Added to this mess was me also denying how I really felt about our Christmas holiday to Australia last year. Seeing nearly everyone that I consider as my immediate family there for Christmas dinner; Alaskaboy; my parents; my brother; Joat, his wife and kids; Joat's Mum(my mum's sister); my parents-in-law; my brother- and sister-in-law and my nieces; and of course Scruffy, brought it home HARD how much it hurt having my family so far flung. The hurt only increased when my USA best friend showed up for her two week stay and my all time favourite Aunty cut short her Outback trip to stop by “on her way home”. (yeah, Melbourne's really on the way from Alice Springs to Newcastle!). And once again when my best AUS friend and my best USA friend got to meet each other when we all went out for dinner one night. (Gah! I hate the term best friend. It sounds so primary schoolish, but I don't know how else to easily, simply and quickly describe those two women I love like sisters.)

I really couldn't reconcile how much love I have in my life with how much hurt that love was causing me. I couldn't believe how much my parents home had changed in the three years since I'd been back. How it was all of a sudden THEIR home and not mine anymore. How much the whole town, and all of the people dearest to me, had changed. With how doddery both Nan and Scruffy were. I couldn't cope with the consequences of moving so far away finally come home to roost. I had great difficulty fitting my newly changed outlook in with old behaviour patterns. So I ate.

And I ate. And I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what. Or more importantly didn't want to admit what was wrong. I knew it was something big. Something hugely scary that I couldn't deal with on my own. In so many ways, for me, coming to terms with relationship breakups, friendships ending, sexual abuse, and all those other issues from my past were easier for me to deal with than the ones I was now ignoring. I ignored and denied everything until eventually I was a few pounds HEAVIER than my initial start weight two years ago.

So much of my weight gain I blamed on my body still recovering from the effects of the antibiotic poisoning, but when I took a realistic look back at what I'd been eating and the exercise I was slowly adding back into my life, I could no longer blame that entirely. I was back to the same level of comfort eating I'd been doing right before I started on this intuitive eating journey. And me and my body said, “Enough!”

Whatever big, bad and scary was going on, we needed to fix it. When I broached the issues I thought I was dealing with in my intuitive eating group, they unanimously agreed it was something I needed to talk with a therapist about. Taking down the number of one of their therapists, I summoned up my courage and went.

Expecting to deal with perhaps lingering stuff from the issues I'd already confronted during the past two years, I never expected to hear the therapist use the word enmeshment. I've talked a little bit about my therapy on here and how I've coped with the enmeshment, but what I didn't deal with for the longest time was how I felt about going to therapy and talking about my family.

To be blunt, I felt like I was betraying my family and that I was telling myself and the therapist that I had a bad family. While I know I have a good family, there we came up against my perfectionist thinking again. My family wasn't just good, it was perfect! All my friends told me so! I had the best and coolest parents in the world. And by talking about them and how we have interacted with each other in the past and the present, I was ripping away my girlish ideas of perfectionism.

Not only that I was coming up against emotion, thoughts and memories I either suppressed because nice girls don't get angry, or I felt I was the dutiful daughter, or because I wasn't able to cope with what I was feeling at the time. The other big reason behind the suppression is there were instances where MY thoughts at a very young age had led to behaviours that I was blaming on a lot of other people. Not perfect and WRONG on several accounts? Holy shit.

Nothing brought that home harder than the conversation I had on the phone with Joat earlier this week. We actually had a conversation about emotions, our childhoods, our differing therapy treatments and the reasons behind why we went into therapy in the first place. It was a real eye opener. I could hear the man he'd become instead of the angry boy-man I remembered. It was astounding to hear his side of the story. His explanation, that all he could feel and express were anger and negative emotions because, as a boy, that's all he was taught to feel, made complete sense to me. It was like we were the flip side of the same coin and society and family had made us that way.

He chose alcohol to cope with all the feelings and words he didn't know how to express, I chose food, but it was the same problem at its heart. Our family had broken us. But, it had also made us strong enough to seek out help when we truly needed it. I'd made the mistake of seeking help FROM my family. Again the God-like perfectionism of my parents meant they should have been able to help me through all the things I was trying to sort through. But no. An uninvolved third party trained to help me through my crisis was what I needed. She helped me deal with my past issues without compromising my current good relationship with my family.

In fact, our relationships are better than ever. Mainly because I'm now interacting with them as an adult instead of a child. But more about that later.

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