Friday, September 14, 2007

Taking care of me

On my recent post, hayley commented that I seem to very good at taking care of myself.


But I didn't always.

I used to be the very last person I would ever consider taking care of. Everyone else's needs came before mine. Not just my son's needs (which naturally come first until he is ready to take over,) but everyone's - even our dog's needs came before my own. I thought I deserved to be everyone's slave; needed to be punished. And when I failed at meeting someone's need, I hated myself even more and found more creative ways to punish myself - restricting food and sleep (the later so I could get more done for other people.)

I was miserable - all of the time.

It took me until I was almost 30 years old to realize that if I continue to restrict more and more of my needs, I will die.

I didn't want to die. (Still don't.)

So I found help for my eating disorder - the most obvious sign that something was wrong with me.

Learning that my needs were valid took a long time. A very long time. I started small. Feeding myself some bare minimum of nourishment each day progressed to staying home from work when I was sick.

I practiced these things for a few years all the while I dug into my psyche for the whys - what did I ever do to think that I needed capital punishment. Did I murder? No. Did I pillage? No. Did I maim or abuse? No.

Over and over again I thought about these things. Digging, digging deeper and deeper.

Until I found that I was the one who was wronged. I was the one who was abused.

And I didn't want to believe that.

But I was miserable enough to talk about it with a therapist (John) and I found out that it was true. All of it.

That was my true turning point. To realize that I was a victim. I never deserved the torture I gave myself for so many years.

Ever since then, I've been almost incapable of harming myself. At least not for long.

For the same reason I can't kick my dog or take the food away from my son.

I deserve to be loved.

And I have found that the most reliable person in my life, the person whom will never ever ever desert me - is physically unable to leave me



So who better to rely on for my care? Who better to know my needs and see that they are met?

If I don't do it, who will?

That isn't to say that I am an island, because I am far from it. My husband is always there waiting to help. I just need more practice in asking for it (and not feeling incredibly guilty about needing.)

But then, I'm still a work in progress...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Places, everyone! Places!

My parents are coming to visit this weekend.

Usually, I'd be completely excited, especially since the weather sounds like it will be warm and sunny and there are lots of festivals to go to around the area.

But this time, I face the weekend with trepidation.

Because if I'm ever going to tell my parents about my abuse, this is it.

On my walk today, I rehearsed (and rehearsed and rehearsed) what I'll say to my mom. The basic spiel is:

Mom, I have something that is really hard for me to tell you. It's really hard for me to talk about. But keeping it secret is hurting me. It's the main reason I have an eating disorder, which I'm managing very well now.
When I was 11 or 12 years old, Tom, my brother, sexually molested me a few times. He confirmed it and apologized for it last fall. But I'm still angry.
I need you and dad to understand and respect that I am angry at him. And while he and I can be civil (like my visit in July,) it hurts me deeply.

If necessary, I'm prepared to elaborate:

"Yes, he apologized. Yes, I accepted his apology, but that doesn't mean that I'm not angry for what he did to me. He could have ruined my life. I almost lost my marriage. I developed a disease that could have killed me. I've hated myself and my body for as long as I can remember. That makes me angry. And I have every right to feel that way."

"True, it happened over twenty years ago, but for me, it's like it happened last fall, when I was strong enough to handle the memories."

If she asks, "What do you want me to do about it?"
"Just understand that it hurts me to hear about Tom right now. Respect that I'm angry at him."

And if she struggles with this information, I'll say,
"Mom, I understand that this information is a lot to take in. There isn't really anything you can do, other than realize that I don't want to hear about Tom right now. I've talked with Johnny about this, asked him for advice on how to tell you. He didn't seem to think I should tell you any of it, but I thought that gave you far too little credit. I don't want the family broken up, but I also can't live with this secret pain anymore. I don't deserve that. I didn't do anything wrong."

I can't think of any other questions she may ask or statements she may make.

And I do realize that not once have I thought about how I would react should I get a supportive reply.

And I do realize how sad that may seem, however in my recovery, I've learned that 'tis better to lower one's expectations than to constantly be disappointed. Better to stop banging my head against the cement wall.

So, I'm extremely nervous about doing this. I'm worried that I'm missing a potential scenario (like the world blowing up in my face.) A voice in my head keeps saying, "You're making a mountain out of a molehill. Why are you stirring all this up? Why are you going to break your mother's heart over something that happened so long ago?"

But then I remember the weird, disturbing dreams that I have every single night.
And I think about how tired I am all the time. And how I've been fighting my eating disorder and depression and bad body image.

I don't want to hide anymore. Not from myself. Not from my husband. Not from my parents.

Not anymore.

So I drown that voice by practicing my "speech." And I focus on the relief I will feel after I tell my mother.

Because no matter what her reaction is, I will have done it. The truth will be out in the open.

And it will be a relief. At least on some level.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Can I boot Barbie into the 21st century already???

Last night, I saw a commercial for the Barbie Fashion Fever Shopping Boutique set.

Like watching a B movie, I sat with my jaw dropped. Stunned.

I couldn't believe it.

Load twenty-odd outfits for Barbie into the spinning rack (tops on top, bottoms on bottom) and spin the rack to choose an outfit.
Then swipe your credit card... and to boot, it tells your daughter her balance.

I'm speechless.

I looked up the description:
Shoes, shades, and stylin' outfits! This is the hottest boutique in town, and it's yours to run! Set up shop, choose your fashion passions and spice them up with the trendiest accessories. Your boutique even has a register to swipe your Fashion Fever™ card and send your dolls home with the latest head-turning looks!

I suppose I should be glad that Barbie is now attempting to teach girls the meaning of a dollar.*

but am I the only one who takes issue with the stereotype that Barbie perpetuates?

Actually, I shouldn't single out poor Barbie. Have you seen all the toys - both for girls and boys? I walk into Target and it saddens me. The "boy" toy aisle is filled with toys with various weapons (guns, blasters, light sabers, batarangs, numchucks.) In the "girl" toy aisle, well, I need sunglasses just to get near the neon pink and purple bedecked shelves.

Then, in between, are a few rows of the "gender neutral" toys. The ones that are almost always child-free.

Why is that?

When Jack was a baby, I had thought about providing him with lots of "gender neutral" toys.
Until he turned 6 months old.
That was when he started sleeping with cars instead of a yellow rubber duck. (Jack never got into stuffed animals. Still doesn't like them.)

I never pushed cars on him. It was like cars were in his blood.

From that point on, I gave up. Toy guns? We've got'em in various sizes. Action figures with grenades and blasters? Got'em.

We also have lots of blocks.
Which my son turns into a) weapons, b) vehicles, or c) all of the above.

When I was his age, I turned blocks into houses - complete with kitchen table and chairs.

Are these differences in our genetic make-ups? Does it have to do with the missing leg of the Y chromosome?

Or are the stereotypes in our culture so pervasive that they have infiltrated our minds at such early ages?

And if it's the later, what hope do we have to change, not just the gender stereotypes, but the unreal body image ideals???

* I just saw the commercial again. Scratch this. The credit card "never runs out of money." ::rolls eyes::