Monday, September 17, 2018

Maturity.

School vehicular drop offs and pick ups are always fraught with frustration, impatience and people breaking the law. This morning I actually had Kiddlywink there for an on time drop off. Near the school, I'd already had to come around a car that suddenly stopped in a No Standing section on the corner. After a brief toot on the horn as I went past, I let that go and focused on finding an actual park.

KW and I were excited that she was on time.

Luckily, a parallel spot opened up right in front and I stopped, just past the school crossing, waiting for the car to come out...they paused a bit because the two cars in front of them were also pulling out.
Suddenly, a little car comes around the outside of me, sees the cars pulling out and angles in front of me, almost hitting the cars that were coming out. A laid on the horn for a good second or two. I was horrified that their impatience/lateness/entitlement/whatever had nearly caused an accident.

I drove nose first in to my spot, because I now couldn't pull forward to the front spot, to allow others to come behind me, like I'd intended..or even parallel park properly, because the car zoomed crookedly into the spot right in front of mine. "You impatient jerk, that's so dangerous.." Or something along those lines was what I said. "Yeah, that's so stupid, why didn't they wait!" or something along those lines KW said.

Okay, fine, we're all in our spots, begin drop off procedure. I turned engine off and put the car in park, put on the handbrake, then twisted around so Kiddlywink and I could hug and kiss goodbye, and as I'm doing so, I hear a knock on the window. I ignored it to finish my farewell with KW and then urged her to go as she wanted to be on time.

She opened her sliding door, towards the footpath, but didn't leave. She looked really worried, so I turned around at the second knock and engaged the accessories in the ignition so that I could wind down the electric window.

A man and his grade prep or grade one sized daughter are standing on the road close by my door. Angrily, he said, "I didn't take your spot, there's children here, so there was no need for you to beep your horn." And a couple of other things that I can't remember, but the gist was that I had behaved inappropriately.

It was one of those moments where my brain goes into hyper mode and I'm thinking several things simultaneously. I remembered KW's worried face, I noticed the little girl looked concerned and the man looked both angry and impatient. My brain said, "I've heard you, I'm hoping you'll listen to me too. I beeped because that car nearly hit you. If you'd been a little more patient we all could have parked safely."

My brain also noticed that I was breathing calmly. That I was dressed in slippers and pyjamas but did not feel less than, in anyway, despite the fact he was dressed in a well pressed white shirt, slacks and nice shoes. My brain reminded me that my goal was to get Kiddlywink into school on time.

I also realised that this man was in no position to actually hear and understand anything I had to say, and if I did say anything, it would more than likely escalate. Even if it didn't, it wouldn't change anything about the situation or what he believed had happened. Luckily I had my breathe right strip on so that I could breathe through my nose...and there was no danger of me even opening my mouth to breathe let alone speak.

So I stayed silent.

MY choice.

To model behaviour to KW that we can talk about at a more appropriate time.

To acknowledge that I don't need to prove either my debating ability, or that this person was wrong.

That sometimes silence is an appropriate response.

That strength doesn't have to be visibly to anyone else.

That self regulation is possible.

That I did not need to acknowledge what he said in any way.

He finished speaking, I continued to look at him, and then before I could breathe twice more, he was gone. I watched to make sure he was leaving..because my brain fired up at the thought he might interact with KW..but he came around the back of the car..came back up the path, (I assumed to check to make sure his car was locked,) and there my brain stopped paying attention to him. The whole interaction, from horn beep to him walking away, took less than two minutes.

Kiddlywink tried to discuss what had happened with me, she was angry and confused and worried, I reassured her everything was okay, and then urged her out the door to make sure she was on time and not late because of someone's behaviour, mine or the man's, and that we'd talk about it later.

We waved good bye, then I drove off and came home.

I've showered and got dressed before writing this.

I'm still amazed that I handled it how I did. Grateful, for the therapy and self awareness work that enabled me to behave as I did. Appalled, at how very differently I would have handled it in the past, both in the moment and the binge eating afterwards.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Conversations

I had a conversation with Kiddlywink and Alaskaboy this morning about the way I eat. We've had many conversations over the years. Alaskaboy and I have been through my low fat eating phase, we've learned about intuitive eating together, and once Kiddlywink came along..wow, was she good at showing me just what intuitive eating was all about. I also used Lite'n'Easy, CSIRO diet, Weight Watchers, Annette Sym's Shakes plan..all of which taught me something about what my body liked or did not like. Each of these eating plans also led to conversations about food, health etc within my family unit. I've always made sure that Kiddlywink has understood that I'm trying to learn how to eat healthily because I love myself and my body, not because I'm trying to lose weight or get skinny. “I'll help teach you, Mummy, I'm good at listening to my body and eating when I'm hungry then stopping when I've had enough!”

Enough. That's a hard one for me. I remember Kiddlywink had a Little Golden Book called, Baby's First Book by Garth Williams. It's one that was handed down through my extended family, from my oldest cousin through other cousins, to me and my brother and then to Kiddlywink. In the book there's a page that deals with eating. I'm usually very angry with people who deface books. To me, the change in message was much more important than avoiding writing in a book. Everything else about the book was fun and charming, but the message around food, I had to change. So, I did this.



I knew I had to instil in her a different message than what most of us grew up with; how to honour your hunger instead of eating everything that was put in front of you. Even if I couldn't apply it myself, I could at least reinforce KW's natural ability to stop when she'd had enough. Logically and emotionally, I understand why generations of children grew up with that message. But in reality, it made it very difficult for me to understand my own hunger. My mum and dad did they best they could, but I also ate a lot of meals at my grandparent's house, where the message was intensely applied. Again, I understand why, and am also grateful for the food, love and care I received while in their home. However, I did learn that I had to eat what was put in front of me. And Nan was a wonderful cook, so I relished every bite. Being competitive athletes we also ate bigger portions than other children our age, I remember taking two full sandwiches to primary school for lunch and the other children being shocked that I ate so much. At the time I'd simply shrug and say, “I'm hungry!” then devour my lunch.

As time passed, I learned that I was an emotional eater, and I've done a lot of work on that over the last two decades. What I couldn't grasp was this concept of enough. Sure I made inroads, or had little discoveries here and there. But I was always sporty and active and loved exercise, so I was always hungry. And emotionally hungry for many reasons. It wasn't until just recently that I've finally and truly realised that my default setting for Enough was Christmas Dinner Stuffed Full. And I have many memories of being sick on Christmas Day or Boxing Day because it's full on party mode and being able to eat whatever my little heart desired. All the yummy things we only got once a year too! And when you have a large extended family meeting together and all bringing their best dishes..boy is it a budding gourmand's idea of heaven..and hell. Hell, because my eyes and taste buds always won..and my stomach would suffer as a result. I even had a nickname alluding to my love of pork crackling.

Fast forward to my thirties and into my forties and I was still eating like that little girl..without the growth spurts or physical activity to compensate for it. And that's why this morning's conversation was so very different. After getting on the scales, I noticed my weight had gone down..but I felt like I hadn't been doing all that much to show the kind of consistent results I'd had over the last three months. I asked Alaskaboy and Kiddlywink to tell me if they'd noticed any changes in my eating over the past twelve weeks.

Kiddlywink was first with the comment, “You're not eating ALL the time anymore! You would eat whether you were happy, sad, or anything. I was worried, Mummy.”

Alaskaboy alluded to an earlier conversation where he and I had discussed my Christmas Dinner Stomach, “I think you're right, you're not longer eating to that super full point. I was shocked last night when you dished up what looked like a decent portion, but you were full after eating the curry and only half the rice..and you stopped.”

I agreed that I'd stopped, but then when I was hungry later I'd also had a cinnamon donut and a couple of homemade jam drop biscuits for dessert. Which I enjoyed immensely. (And I've just remembered I also only drank about 1/3 of the mug of tea I'd poured.)

They reminded me that not only would I have eaten all that was on my plate before..but also consumed the half a dozen donuts that were in the packet and many more biscuits. Then sat up late because I was too full to go to bed..and eaten a few hours later when I was 'hungry' again.

The conversation flowed amongst the three of us from there but the general gist of it was that I was now able to recognise when I'd had Enough and stop. And just as importantly, if I'm not hungry, I don't start.

Not starting, that's another topic to do with my fear of missing out or just plain old fear of being hungry..but I'll discuss that another time. I reckon I've written enough for now. ;)

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Monday, January 01, 2018

Word Of The Year

I haven't put up my Word Of The Year for the past two years in a row. For different reasons, at the time of conceptualizing them they were deeply personal and I wasn't ready to share.

It's a long 'un. {deep breath}

In 2015 I was struggling with a lot of medical issues, personal issues, fears etc so I wanted 2016 to be about letting it go. The word I came up with was Release and it turned out to be quite apt.
I released my fears about schooling and realised my ambition to pass the Teacher's Aide certificate. I released the ovary and cyst from my body and didn't realise just how much of a release that was, and how deeply it had affected me and for how long, until approximately eighteen months after the surgery. I released Alaskaboy from the horror show his job had become and insisted that he go train as a baker. Nan died. I let go of the dream of owning our own house. All of these things and many more lead me over the course of 2016 to my word for 2017. Especially when I released my wrongly held beliefs that Alaskaboy was the biggest part of our marital issues and my MS would always stand in the way of who I wanted to become. And by the end of 2016? Wow, there was a LOT of fear. So much fear. Still is fear in regards to world events but the word for 2017 has helped with that too.

My word for 2017 was Acceptance. Apt considering all year I underwent Acceptance and Commitment Therapy sessions with my awesome Health Psychologist. Twenty eight sessions I had all up in just over twelve months. The journey was so amazing and I learned so much that I could never have pictured who I am today. (I've covered a bit about my physcial exercise parts of this, but wait there's more!) My psychologist and I had our last session the other week, she's going on to do her Masters for the next two years, and she's given me the name of another therapist in case I want to work some more next year on my Schemas etc. But for now, completely with her encouragement and blessings, I'm taking a break from therapy to let what I've learned settle in some more and enjoy the life I currently have. Which again leads me to my word for this year.

My word for 2018 is Present. It really clicked for me after the last session, when I turned on the car radio on the way home and within thirty seconds Billy Ocean was singing "Get outta my mind, Get into my life!" And it was precisely the stuff we'd been talking about in that last session in particular. Continue what I've been doing with acceptance and commitment..focusing more on not letting the voices talk about what was or what could be, but focusing on what is. I've let go of several ropes, now I need to live and learn to balance in the present, now those things have less/no pull on me.

Some of the biggest things I've let go of are:
a) The Just World Theory. Fascinating thing that a lot of us are raised to believe.
b) A false belief that acceptance means being zen about something. Again, a lot of people practice acceptance wrongly in that they think that have to be happy about something in order to truly accept it. Or even use it as another form of control.
c) The MeToo movement brought up a lot of stuff for me about harrassment, assault, misogyny, the male gaze, and a whole host of other things connected with them. I'd been using my obesity as a form of protection and as a way to take my rightful space in the world (among other things). But when it came up in discussion how I was still giving my control away and being controlled by my fears to be this weight...woah nelly! Click, click, clicketty click went lots of little things on the inside. Then we moved on to ways I could get involved, take my own power back etc. One of which is I've agreed to let another Mum at school (who's been asking me ever since Term Two of Grade Prep) nominate me for School Council. The president of the council even let me know she was happy about the nomination, "We need more proactive, sensible, smart people on the council!"
d) Shit or Get Off The Pot is another form of Let Go Of The Rope. I can't control anyone else. I can't magically make my MS, Diabetes, Sleep Apnea, or Our Financial situation go away. I can't make anyone's behavior change. I can model behaviours, it's up to them if they pick up what I'm putting down or not. I CAN CONTROL how I behave/respind a lot of the time. This doesn't mean I'm always happy and zen. Again it means I can choose to go with the feelings, learn to live with them and deal appropriately with them, or I can continue to eat them away. Some emotional eating is okay..but it's not the only tool I have in the bag now. "Negative" emotions are perfectly healthy. They're a warning sign that needs aren't being met, boundaries aren't being respected.

Acceptance is understanding that the weather is friggen hot or that someone is behaving contrary to what I'd prefer. There's nothing I can do to change the weather/behaviour. Being fused means I am so caught up on the fact that it's hot/infuriating that all I can see is the heat/rage and how awful it makes me feel and how bad bad bad it is and how it's not fair and it/they should change to suit my needs etc etc. Defusing is when I can take even a small step back and say hey, it is what it is, I may not fucking like it, but it is what it is. I can't change that. Then comes, What CAN I do/think/say that is helpful, rather than unhelpful. Sometimes nothing is all I can do. Acknowledge that this is making me feel x y z and that's that. Can I install cooling system? Can I leave the room? Can I say hey you're making me uncomfortable. Each situation is different but acceptance is understanding what is real, feeling what you need to feel about that..and not judging yourself for what you think/feel/say. There's been lots of Modelling of emotions this year, lemme tell you. One of the hardest things to admit to Kiddlywink and Alaskaboy was that sometimes my emotions get too big and I don't know what to do with them..and yes, when I'm not eating them away, sometimes I have tantrums too, because I have to let those emotions out and don't have any other way to do so.

I love the last phrase my psychologist taught me, Chunk and Check. It was something I didn't realise I unconsciously did for others..but didn't do with myself. Bascially, it's a way of learning, or processing, that allows for information to be broken down into smaller less complex bits and then you check back in later to see if anything has been retained. It struck me that I need to do it for myself when Kiddlywink asked me the other day, "Mummy, you were really upset the other day, you and Daddy were arguing. Did you work it out?" She learned from me, when she or AB have been upset over the years, that it's not always easy to digest stuff in the moment, especially a heated moment, and that sometimes you need someone to check in with you later to help with that. And Alaskaboy also modelled it back to me that very same day because he had thought about it at work and checked in with me again when he got home about what he'd figured out and it was exciting for us both to realise we were in fact Chunking and Checking. And boy was it helpful. Big break through for his Holiday Season Blues.

My test of Acceptance and Present came with his revelation. I didn't rush off and try and play therapist like I would have done in the past. We stayed in the present and discussed how it was informing current behaviour. And after that we agreed we'd talk more about it in the future..when he's ready. But also that if he hasn't brought up by a certain time, that it's then okay for me to check in again. So much more respect on both our behalves. More work to be done, but so much better than it's been. So much so, that for the first Christmas Day since we've been married we didn't have one argument. Not on the day itself, at all. Not even one of those awful nit picky ones about something stupid. Not even biting tongues to avoid one. There was no need for one.

So, yeah, I'm actually looking forward to 2018, ups and downs, and I'm hoping that being Present will lead to even better understanding all round.

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