Coping Challenge: Being kind to myself during a coping lapse

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I think about my life often this time of year.  It’s a time of overwhelming feelings and the urge to belong somewhere.

For a couple weeks, I did great with the dietary changes my body felt amazing.  My mind felt wonderful.  And then I had this scary experience with a Uber driver that sent me on a tailspin of flashbacks – being trapped in cars with reckless or anxious drivers and feeling out of control – that pushed me to eat foods that would make me feel physically uncomfortable and/or sick.

I  tried to find alternatives.  I tried to use other grounding and coping skills.  I reached out for help on the hotline and spoke with my therapist.  I talked with my acupuncturist too.  But in the end I gave in and ate the foods that made me bloated, gassy, nauseous, and cramped.

Why?  Partly because I feel mixed emotions about reconnecting with more family members.  Partly because my body is physically changing and healing and becoming the body it’s supposed to be instead of the body it was turned into by past experience.  Partly because one way for me to cope successfully with overwhelming body sensations is to leave my body.  But I can’t leave unless my body is in pain or discomfort; the 2 triggers that allow me to disassociate from my physical self.

Do I feel guilty about harming myself with food?  Not really

Do I feel ashamed of harming myself with food? a little bit

Do I wish I could find an alternative to this?  Absolutely yes

How am I dealing with the minimal guilt and shame?  By being kind to myself and doing what I can to minimize the consequences of eating food that is difficult to digest.

Will I do this again in the future?  Probably.  It’s hard to let go of something that works and drowns out the uncomfortable sensations with familiar ones – even if those familiar ones are harmful and negative.

What next?  keep trying to find a substitute coping strategy that doesn’t involve self harm by food.

Hence the quote above…

Thanks for reading

 

Coping Challenge & Alter Post: Financial triggers and flashbacks of shame

I am triggered.  Tomorrow is my father’s birthday.  It never really bothered me before.  But now, my alters are remembering past experiences in dreams.  And the critical voices – mean, rude, negative, manipulative, insulting, and scary – intrude on my waking hours and try to stop me from moving forward with this month’s tasks: get scholarship information and simplify my budgeting system.

Worrying about money always triggers flashbacks and anxiety from the times when my father controlled me by managing my money, taxes, bills, and car for me.  And when he would manipulate me into giving away expensive stuff to my brother or other family members instead of selling or repurposing the items for myself.  

How?  By making comments about how I wasted time “playing” on these machines or “money” on software or electronics that “didn’t work” right because I was stupid and paid too much.   And by telling me I was in debt and should not waste money I didn’t have.  It would make my credit score worse.  And if I had extra money, why not use it to help my mom instead?  Because I didn’t deserve new or nice things that made me happy.

Back then, I didn’t know he used my credit to buy stuff and then lapse on paying it.  Or that he stole money from me through identity theft.  I know my mom did that through our shared bank account until I moved my money out an had my name taken off of it.  But I didn’t know my dad was until I checked my credit cards and saw a much higher balance than what I put on the cards each month.  But that was after I went to a bank and had the loan officer check my credit to see if I was eligible to buy a house back when I thought I was stuck in my old home forever.

I struggled with the decision to buy a home or go back to graduate school.  My father discouraged both simply by telling me that the only way to accomplish either goal was to follow his explicit plans.  And he had everything mapped out including my budget, transportation routes for both scenarios, and monthly expenses.  He made it clear that I couldn’t do either one on my own because I wasn’t smart enough to get scholarships or have the credit score to get a decent loan.  But worse, he spread his “worry” about me to mom and the rest of the family.  Mom didn’t want me to do either one; buy a house or go back to school because that meant I was doing better than her.  She told dad everything I told her, but in such a way that I was being evil for wanting something different than the life they planned for me.  So between te two of them, I sufdsnly had tons of family discouraging me from pursuing either financial and educational goal.  And you know what, it worked.  I bowed to the pressure and did not pursue either one.

Instead, I used the money to disappear and start over.

Now, every time I spend money on something that helps me or makes me smile, I get flashbacks and anxiety.  The voices start whispering or yelling at me.  I start switching.  My body hurts.  And I wonder if I really am managing my money properly or not.  I start thinking I can’t afford what I bought or invested in.  And I get mad at myself.

Reading, music, distractions, grounding, the usual stuff is not helping.  Mantras, affitmations, maintaining connections with people are somewhat helping, but not really.  And so I find myself struggling to cope with these unexpected triggers.

Thanks for reading.

PTSD: reflecting on eating habits, food triggers, and over/under weight bias

This is not properly formatted…using the app annoys me so I avoid using it as often as possible…sorry if it’s confusing or difficult to follow
This month, I pared down my apartment to less than the basics.  Most of my stuff has been given away or put in the dumpster.  What I kept has been boxed and shipped to the new apartment.  

My clothes are in suitcases. I got rid of my cooking utensils and stopped cooking a little over a week ago.  And because of the “not cooking” part I have had to confront many of my food fears, body anxiety, and personal biases about skinny versus fat in terms of health and my body.

Many people in my circle think I am a healthy eater and lucky not to be addicted to junk food or fat and overweight like they are.  I am a little less than my ideal weight right now because of stress, but not terribly so.  And sure, I prefer eating real food with lofs of nutrients.  But I also love chocolate and cheese; eat way too much chocolate; and get lots of discomfort from eating cheese.

But the easiest kinds of food to prepare without pots, pans, and a microwave are the same foods that being back bad memories and trigger fear.  Even typical snacks do that to me.  But I wanted this time to be different.  I wanted to stay healthy and grounded and present for this entire move.

So I started wondering why eating or even thinking about eating sandwiches, canned/spreadable meats on crackers, salads, wraps, granola and energy bars or drinks, chips, dip, jerky, deli meat and so on made me feel sick and lose my apetite.  Also certain kinds of trail mix, bagels, english muffins, and spreads like hummus can be added to the list.

Sadly, my avoidance of these foods stems from childhood.

I spent a lot of time at home with my mom for a variety of reasons.  I was “her little helper” from a young age and spent most of my days cleaning, doing laundry, and playing by myself.  Mom was sick a lot; she slept often and forgot to cook or prepare food.  And waking her up was impossible sometimes. If I did wake her up, I got smacked and punished.

So I learned to feed myself with what was available in the cabinets I could reach.  The refrigerator was too heavy to open, so a lot of what I ate came from boxes, cans, and bags.  I still can’t eat cereal with milk or toasted bread without feeling queasy.

And often, mom would wake up and find me eating “her” snacks or pastries because that’s what I could reach.  My punishment for stealing: no dinner or lunch, etc.  If I showed a preference for certain food, they never reappeared in the house.  So I started sneaking in food and snacks when no one paid attention.  Plus: I never gained much weight.  Minus: I never had enough nutrients to grow and get strong either.

And then I would hit growth spurts that made me “hungry all the tine” my mom complained.  And I “ate like a bird” and was “too picky” about my food.  Oh, and I was getting fat from eating to much even though I was “on the go” all the time between school, activities, and being “mom’s helper”.  “Mom’s helper” included letting the babysitters and other people picking me up, take me away for hours, and bring me home again. During those times as “mom’s helper”, the people gave me lots of sweets and soda and other stuff filled with drugs and alcohol to make me compliant.  Eventually, though, that stuff made me sick instead.  Then the people couldn’t use me or make money off of me.

I guess that makes me lucky in one way because I never got addicted to the illegal drugs they forced into me.  Between my mom putting me on diets to keep her company or because I was getting fat and my worry that whatever food I ate was going to make me sick, I started restricting myself to only eating foods I knew were safe and only other foods in relatively safe places.

Fast forward to now.  My body hates any kind of chemical and synthetic foodlike substances.  I can smell and taste the chemicals long before the food reaches my plate.  All that time spent eating those foods and watching my parents/sibling get sicker and sicker from those habits scarred me.  Made me think all fat people are evil and unhealthy and not safe for a long time.  But then seeing skinny people or average people or muscle bound fit people did the same.  My perpetrators came in all shapes and sizes, both genders, and a variety of religions and sexual orientations.  All they had in common were pedophilia, sadism, and a love of mind-altering substances.

And eating many of these foods makes my body hurt later.  Sometimes to the point where I don’t realize the food brought back body memories.  And then I wonder why massage and other coping strategies aren’t working or how I got triggered.  

At least now I know that food fearscan trigger   body memories and panic attacks.  And that I can survive on triggering foods without getting sick or fat or turning into my mom.  My weight has mostly stabilized now that the end is close.
And next week I hope to start posting 2x a week again.

Thanks for reading.