I Am That Girl Now

Monday, October 31, 2005

Wow, it's been a while.

I know, I know. I'm sorry.

It's all about the mental health these days, and while I've got the exercise thing still going, the food is highly questionable. Sigh. I will work on it. I swear.

Zoloft is good. Therapy is good. My therapist seems to have reached the point at which she stops taking notes and starts making this into a conversation instead of a monologue on my part. It's left me gobsmacked a few times already, sitting there with my mouth open saying "Guh..." and not much more, because I'd honestly never thought of things the way she mentioned it before.

There's a big thing about how I respond to people being angry with me or disappointed in me, in that I seem to fear it more than death or needles or rabid squirrels. My therapist told me that I can't manage anyone's reaction to me, including whether or not they become disappointed in me; I have been putting a vast amount of effort into artfully obscuring my failures and working to make other people like me and approve of me, but because that approval is based on misdirection and lies, I don't trust it, and when a slight bit of disapproval comes up I panic because I think they've seen through my mask and discovered that I'm someone they don't really like... when in fact they're just not approving of that one small thing. And in the meantime I'm not confident in myself.

I realized that the reason that I fear discussing my weight and health with my father isn't half so much because it's such a disasterous issue between us (although, really, it is) as that it's something I can't cover up when I'm going through a rough time. Rough times for anything else, I don't have to mention to him, and he has no way of finding out for himself-- finances, work, my marriage, whatever. My weight, though, is there. It's right there. If I gain, he sees it.

I seem to have had this idea in my head that I could avoid people being disappointed in me by trying like crazy to "live up to my potential" in absolutely everything. And since the "good" example I had growing up was how my father handled life-- by working pretty much constantly and occasionally sleeping, no hobbies that weren't productive-- I was trying to do that. Y'all seem to have been around for the culmination of that saga: I crashed and burned in a very big way.

So the question is, what's the worst that can happen, emotionally, if someone disapproves of me? No idea. I've always thought of it as an end to itself, The Bad Thing, and so it's weird to have to think otherwise. I'm trying to hash it out, figure out a new option for a response, and come to grips with the fact that I can't avoid this happening, all I can do is to learn how not to flip out. And, well, learn how to push myself only a reasonable amount, instead of pushing until my brain blows up. Pushing when I fear failure so much, given the fact that occasional failure is inevitable even in the best of outcomes, is a very bad thing.

I need to embrace a happy medium, somehow. Divorce my self-esteem from my performance; love the worst-case scenario Meg as well as the best-case scenario Meg, and everything in between.

Another thought that my therapist brought up is that there are some things that I need to have off-limits with my dad, both in the good times and the bad. I got lured into sharing my accomplishments with him because it was a cheap way to get approval-- really, the "easiest" way to make my dad shower me with pride and affection is for me to lose weight. It's hard to resist that. My therapist told me that I can't have it both ways-- I can't enjoy his random approval for the wrong reason and then avoid his disapproval for the wrong reason on the same subject. I was betting that this would never become an issue again, and I bet wrong. I'm going to have to put this whole subject off-limits, because it's really a toxic issue between me and my dad, and I need to free my weight issues from my yearning for approval.

Which also means that I need to figure out what my reasons are for doing the weight-management thing. I mean, really what my reasons are, not the ones I tell myself, not the ones I tell other people. Truthfully, I started losing weight because I was sick to death of hating myself, and I thought I could fix that by fixing my weight. It doesn't work that way. It just meant that the first moment I "failed" at weight management, I started hating myself again. Tying my self-approval, my self-esteem, to my weight is just not good.

So I need better reasons. And I need to find those at the same time that I'm taking away the "if I don't lose weight I am a horrible human being" motivation. This is scaring the hell out of me, because I'm terrified that if I stop beating myself up then I won't have any motivation at all to eat healthy.

The good news is that I'm pretty much loving yoga for itself, not for anything else. Love it, love it, love it. Love being stretchy. Love being bendy. Love the way I move, love the way I stand. It's so good. I seriously need to find that kind of love for other forms of exercise-- more cardio-vascular-fitness type. Dancy stuff.

In short, I need to do the stuff that I've heard before that I should do but didn't think I needed to do because I was just fine, thank you. Yeah, well. Bleah. Not fine.

So, scary stuff. Big stuff. I'm working on it.


  • Uhm, yeah, like I was having that exact - exact! - same conversation with my therapist-type person last week. All about my skewed definitions of failure and success, and how really my definition of failure is all about dissapointing other people, either actual people or an invisible yet powerful public audience living in my head. And about how there is not in-between the two poles of success and failure, at least nothing beyond the vastness of my own paralysis.

    So I was hashing this out with a friend last night, a friend who baffles me because she seems to have no problem with bouncing back from "failures" that would terrify me, at least in her professional life. Getting fired from multiple jobs for example, or bombing a job interview, or being the subject of office gossip.

    Sometimes I wish I had been a screw-up earlier in life so I'd know already what it meant to dissapoint others or myself, and move on.

    I'm certainly not a raving success now, but I find myself setting the bar fairly low, for goals I know are achievable, all to avoid falling off my own pedastal.

    I need to practice at screwing up more!

    Glad your stillhere. I was wondering about you, hoping you were hanging in there!


    By Blogger Megan, at 2:38 PM  

  • Sounds like you're doing really well with this therapist and treatment regimen -- it's a great and awful moment when you discover that a lot of your psychic energy is spent attempting to gain the approval of individuals who may or may not mean anything to you. Your insights are really impressive.

    By Blogger The Troescher Team, at 2:47 PM  

  • Sounds like you've been doing some good work with your therapist. I know this is something I have issues with and am coming to realise that you can't have everyone's approval all the time.

    By Blogger kathrynoh, at 3:26 PM  

  • holy moly! that must be so much to take in. but looks like you're figuring a lot of things out. it was really great to see a new entry from ya :) take care, tiger!

    By Anonymous dg, at 2:50 AM  

  • Wow. I am beginning to think that a lot of my weight-loss motivation is the same as what you are describing. Somehow, some way I need to find out how to like myself, just as I am.

    By Blogger ms ralph, at 3:02 AM  

  • Glad you're back. It sounds like you are doing a lot of great work.

    By Blogger chaos, at 7:30 AM  

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