Monday, August 13, 2007

Somebody spot me

As I read this post from h4h, I realize that I'll never be ED-thought free, I'll never be completely comfortable in my skin, until I resolve (? is that the right word) the feelings I have about and around being molested.

So I wonder, if I hadn't been abused, would I have had an eating disorder? Interesting question...

Does it really matter?

Not really.

But it is interesting to note that the most progress I've made in recovery has been since I opened up about the bits of abuse that I remember. Once I told Todd about it, it was like a weight lifted from my shoulders - I wasn't hiding anything any more. I was me - and someone loved me no matter what had happened. And that knowledge made it easier to eat when I was hungry, to trust my body's signals. To then trust a nutritionist when she told me that really, my body does know what it needs. I was able to let go of numbers - calories, weights, bmi's, grams.

Over the last few weeks, I've found myself wanting to count calories, to restrict, to binge. Anything to feel less exhausted. I haven't. I don't plan to. Because I don't want that life anymore. I don't need my outsides to match my insides for others to know that I'm hurting.

And I know that the only way to feel less exhausted is to face my memories - head on, no chickening out.

Of course, the thought frightens the hell out of me.

Facing my memories means letting my guard down. I'm not one to relax easily - physically or mentally.

In high school, I was in all the musicals as well as in chorus. Part of the warm-up would be to make a neck massage chain. I have a talent for giving neck massages - friends would line up at rehearsals for me to massage their necks and backs.

I hated receiving them. I used to say that I was terminally tense because about five minutes after my muscles would relax, I would be in serious pain as my muscles tensed right back up.

I've had similar experiences with the few massages that I've had as an adult. It's like my mind rebels against relaxing.

And if my mind doesn't want my body to relax, who thinks it will allow itself to relax?

Meditations, visualizations - never work. I end up disconnecting myself. Fear stops me. Fear of what might pop up once my guard is let down.

Maybe this is why I'm not getting a restful sleep? My mind is fighting against the relaxation that my body needs, for fear of what may surface. Maybe this is why I seem to have more energy than I had all day right before I go to bed?

But what am I afraid of? What could possibly be worse than what I have already remembered?

Answer: my feelings. Rephrase: feeling my feelings fully.

For me, that's a nightmare.

So, here is where I'm at right now:
I need to truly face my feelings/memories.
This thought scares the begeesus out of me.
I need to find a way through the fear of first feeling these (powerful) emotions, then allowing myself to show them.

But maybe finding a way through the fear is to just do it (ugh, hate that nike slogan.)

Seriously though, maybe it's just about saying, "Okay, I don't like this, but damn-it, I'm doing it anyway" and doing it, over and over, until it's not so scary.

Like in dance class, we have spotters to help us with a new move before we are cleared to practice on our own. And we do the move over and over with the spotter, until we're comfortable with it. And the we repeat it on our own, until it feels almost natural...

So, hopefully, John can be my spotter on this.

Although, I'm beginning to wonder about my spotter - he hasn't returned my second voicemail yet (the first he answered - with a time I couldn't make, so I called him back and left another message to try again. He hasn't called me yet. So, this morning, I left another message... I guess this is the main problem with seeing a therapist whose private practice is his second, part-time job... [sigh] I hate phone tag. But I'll keep trying, even if I have to call everyday.)

John called me back and we set up an appointment.
And yet, 8-( - because now I have no more excuses...


Faith said...

Starting with the last - first. Damn that John but good for you for being determined to get your needs met.

Re: relaxing...I've had similar issues. I had a massage once from a man (first and last) and I literally spent the entire time spasming. I couldn't have him touch my back. He ended up just working on my neck.

Letting your guard down is so scary. It is something that has protected and sheltered us. Something that my t has asked is, what is the worst fear? what is the worst thing that could happen? Sometimes, just picturing that and that I can hold/handle the worst thing makes me feel like I can let myself go a little because I'm a little more prepared.


disordered girl said...

I think you are right, and it takes tremendous courage to face that fear and those feelings. But we'll be here to spot for you too.

æ said...

Hi Jeanne.
wow, bingo--that's what I was thinking. It sounds, based on my own experience, like something else with your memories wants to happen. It takes a lot of energy (and tension and defensive coping styles) to keep it in when it really wants out.

you can do it.

I think you said something to me once along the lines of being impressed that I could face the memories head-on like this, and I've been wanting to tell you that my motivations (really, honestly) is that each bit of memory work I do directly relates to further symptom relief. It's amazing. That keeps me going, because I want to be over my eating disorder and the other issues more than I DON'T want to talk about the abuse.

You can do it.

And also, I would never recommend doing it--approaching the memories--without help, without a safety net. Even if it has to be Todd in a pinch. But really, if it's not John, if he seems somehow unavailable (in multiple ways) you CAN find someone to guide you through this. It would need to be a counselor who doesn't shy away from visiting the old stuff (because that's very much a theoretical orientation at play there), and you might find someone by looking into things like: trauma, somatic or body-centered work, "inner child"--anything that deals with the old stuff.

And, of course, you have our support.

You are being so brave, looking directly at this right now, knowing what it means for you and that you want to approach it.


Faith said...

I'm so glad John called you back. Also, just so you know, I'm spotting you from afar!


Sarah said...

Me too, I'm spotting you! (And not just so I can swipe your shoes while you're not looking.)

The work you're doing . . . tht things you have to sort through . . . it's overwhelming. I'm really in awe of you. I see you reaching out with both hands for a better life. It's amazing to witness.

I know what you mean about whether "resolve" is the right word. Maybe "find a way to co-exist"?


(PS -- HA! word verification has "pie" in it. I may have some pie in me later.)

ms. em said...

hi jeanne,

it is so hard to embrace truths which cause us discomfort. when our 'false refuge' has seemingly served us well, it's hard to see it as just that...'a false refuge'. it's scary to revist experiences that we'd prefer to escape, yet the memories keep rising and our efforts to hide from them at long last become futile. just my own humble two cents...

be gentle with yourself.

please know, you can always reach me via email: empowermentalist AT gmail DOT com. i'd love to hear from you.

much love,
ms. em

p.s. here's the info on the article you were looking for:

Yoga Journal
August 2007 Issue
Pages 67-74
Title: Befriend Your Fears

let me know if you have any trouble finding it.

Jeanne said...

You are all so wonderful!! Thank you so much for being here with me!!

Hi Faith,
Good question from your t - what is the worst fear?

For me, my worst fear is losing control. Of my emotions. Especially in front of other people.

What's the worst that could happen if I did "succomb" to my emotions and actually release in the presence of others??

Irrationally, my world would collapse - everyone would leave me (after mocking me mercilessly with lots of riotous laughter at my expense,) I'd be utterly alone (except for the occasional email/phone calls/meetings where they would once again remember and ridicule me some more...)

Realistically, I know that the worst is that I would be mortified, to the point where I would wish the ground would open up and swallow me whole, never to be seen again.

I guess I'm not so worried about what I'll remember (I mean the only thing that could be worse, I suppose, is if he had really penetrated and/or it had happened numerous times, but on the other hand, what he did in and of itself was awful enough - it would just be a matter of degrees.)

Maybe I need to think about how John might handle me actually showing emotions in his office?? what he might do, how he might react, what he might say???

Thank you, faith!! PS, I’m glad that you are spotting me from afar!

Thank you, dg!! I’m so glad to have you spotting me!

Hello ae,
It sure does take a lot of energy, doesn’t it?

I wish I had your confidence in me… I’m not sure I can…

I think my motivation is the same as yours – I want to have a full marriage with Todd. I want to make love and actually enjoy it for me. I want to be able to meditate and visualize and relax without being worried about what pops up. I want to love my body – completely.

I did hear back from John – I have an appointment on Wednesday. I think I’ll do some research beforehand to see what kinds of techniques are out there on dealing with this type of thing.

Thank you so much for being here, ae!!

Hello sarah,
No way are you getting my shoes!! Not after I’ve spent lots of time picking out various outfits to go with it! Lol

Finding a way to co-exist? Hmmm… perhaps. Although in some ways, I hope that the feelings I have about and around this issue won’t exist anymore. I’d love to just get rid of them like an exorcism… I had spent a lot of time trying to do just that, by starving and bingeing. Of course, that didn’t work. And of course, I don’t know if it is possible for feelings to completely disappear (after they are dealt with…)

Thank you for spotting me, too!

Jeanne said...

Hello Ms. Em,
Oh, absolutely – the memories will just keep coming back, stronger and more frequent the longer I deny them the light of day – what they need to heal.

Thank you so much for your email address (I'll write in a few minutes so that you have my email) and for the article info, and most importantly, for being here with me!