We’ve all heard the adage, “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” That certainly seems to be true for me in some significant ways. However, I was reminded today that seeing myself in the absolutes – I ALWAYS think/do this or that – detracts from me recognizing and acknowledging the whole truth about myself. It keeps my mind in and drives my emotions into the cycle of negativity, the basis of my depression and eating patterns.
Since my most recent post, I have to be honest and admit that I haven’t been abstinent with my food. These past three or four days have definitely fallen into the compulsive eating/overeating category. I mentioned this when I met with the EAP counselor for the third (and final) time, today. She asked me if it was emotional eating and I had to admit that there was an emotional element to it. However, as I thought about it, I think it was less about me hiding from emotions and it was possibly more about the need to feel something, even if it was negative emotion toward myself about overeating. I’ve dealt with so much recently and cumulatively that I had already begun numbing out mentally and emotionally.
The past two weeks have been especially full and challenging with a death in the family, preparing for the memorial service, being around A LOT of extended family I seldom, if ever, interact with in day-to-day life. I was surrounded by and immersed in all of their emotions and family dynamics. This was immediately followed by a severely sick near preschooler while my “fiancee” was preparing to leave town to hopefully start a new job, which will, essentially, have me single-parenting our daughter while he’s on the road. Add into the mix the ongoing issues in my relationships with my adult children, and I’ve been pretty much maxed out in practicing my constructive interpersonal skills, navigating emotional landmines, and just getting through one day into the next.
Saturday night my fiancee got on a Greyhound bus and it was just me, our daughter, and one of his nieces who was visiting for the weekend. At that point, our daughter was still recovering from being sick and I didn’t think she would be well enough for us to fellowship with our spiritual community the next day, but Sunday morning arrived, bright, beautiful and clear and the toddler was wide awake, bright eyed and bursting with energy. So, we navigated public transportation and hung out with some of the best people I know. Sunday evening the niece left and suddenly it was just the two of us: me and the little one.
I couldn’t get her to go to sleep until around midnight and had difficulty staying asleep past three am myself. Last night she finally went to sleep around 10:30, whereas I, once again, had difficulty sleeping. I wish I could say that disrupted sleep patterns are unusual for me, but that just isn’t the case. I’ve seldom experienced more than 4-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep over the past 20+ years. It’s one of the things the doctors have used to label my health issues as fibromyalgia. So, she’s not gotten enough rest and neither have I. She’s barely eaten and I’ve eaten too much. The things she’s gotten used to her daddy doing and I’ve come to rely on him for we’re having to figure out how to get done with just the two of us.
Anyway, the past two mornings I’ve dealt with a very irritable, upset, angry, whiny, and demanding little girl. Personally, it’s setting my teeth on edge and grating on my nerves like the off-key wails and screeches of the AI contestant, put on national t.v. so the masses can mock and point to in order to feel better about themselves. Rationally, I know it’s because she’s three and her world has just changed in ways she doesn’t yet understand or know how to cope with. Emotionally, it’s taking everything I’ve got to parent her lovingly and rationally while struggling through excruciating back pain and physical exhaustion. Yes, I know that’s life and many, many others go through this. But just as cleaning my plate won’t help a starving child in Africa, neither will not acknowledging how I’m feeling help anyone else going through struggles of their own.
The outcome of my final counseling appointment today is that I need to not just take time for me, I need to actually do something for me with that time. I need to do my writing, regardless of whether I believe it to be blog worthy or not; I need to discover whatever it is that helps me connect with God in significant and meaningful ways for me; and I need to connect with people. Oh, and I need to give myself credit, forgiveness, tolerance, and acceptance – like I give to others.
Here’s to transitions, change, and old habits dying hard.