Monday, January 16, 2012

What If?

It's no surprise that things have been a little chaotic in my life. I mean, I'm a teacher, and dealing with chaos is part of the job description. September is always a chaotic month in education in general. Add to the typical beginning of the school year chaos a little bit of personal challenge and you may end up with a recipe for disaster.

And everyone knows disasters are not welcome in September.

Enter yet another beginning: January. The Time of New Year's Resolutions.  January brings all the commercials about joining a gym and starting the perfect diet to get to that perfect body and finally realize that long-standing new year's resolution to lose weight.

So when someone sent me a link to the Healthy At Every Size blog, it was quite timely. It brought to the surface something I wrote back in the chaos of September. The HAES blog post explores a resolution I actually want to keep: boot the bully from your brain. For me, that means taking the iPod of my brain and deleting every single playlist created over the past thirty years, restoring it to factory settings, and compiling new, healthier playlists. Playlists that are filled with positive tracks, tracks full of tools to overcome the challenges that will always arise in life, tracks with healthy coping mechanisms, and resources and wisdom that I am working on acquiring. It means starting over.

And when that hateful, yet familiar voice that has been in your head for a lifetime finally figures out that it's getting replaced... it doesn't go quietly.  Unfortunately, I am part of the 80% of women who have body image issues.*  I've blogged about this a bit before (including this post and this post.) I'd like to say that after the past several months of intense inner work that the issue has lessened, but that isn't the case.

I wrote this poem back in the September chaos. While I was thrilled to be back at school with a wonderful group of students, I was pretty anxious about staying healthy enough to be there for them.

What If?
What if I'm really not ready to give up Ed?
What if I'm stringing my team along, because I just plain like talking to them?
What if I'm really willing to let myself suffer *that* much?
What if I like depriving myself of previous sweet treats?
What if I am on a death mission and am using the Ed as a cover?
What if I like this control just a little too much?
What if I like getting skinnier?
What if I don't care enough to get better?
What if I don't want to get better?
What if I want to let myself go?
What if this is a desperate cry for help?
What if I can't accept that help?
What if I keep Ed around cause he cares, and no one else does?
What if I just don't care at all anymore?

What if I kick Ed out for good?
What if I join my team in fighting together against Ed?
What if I decide to stop suffering?
What if I start to enjoy treats once in a while?
What if I learn to live a life without Ed?
What if I use control as a way to eat better instead of worse?
What if I stop worrying about my weight?
What if I start to take care of myself?
What if I get healthy?
What if I start to care about myself?
What if I start asking for help when I need it?
What if I let people actually help me?
What if I let others actually care about me?
What if I learn to be happy?

© September 2011 © MGD

There has been a big perspective shift since I wrote this poem.  Many of the same "what ifs" are still running through my brain, and while I now know that some of the "what ifs" stemmed from anger and frustration I was feeling at the time, many of them have been powerful topics to address. (Or, more likely, to avoid addressing at times!)  Truthfully, I am still struggling on a daily basis. But I have started to allow myself to lean on those that are supporting me. And that is making all the difference. 

*This statistic comes from the NEDA website, and is based on research pre-2000's.  I am hoping that there are more updated statistics on their way.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Waiting for Normal

I read a great book this summer called Waiting for Normal and I just love the title!  (I also loved the book, and recently picked up a copy of it so I can reread it whenever I'd like.)  While the book is targeted at young adults, and really is quite different than my life, it does have some parallels that made me think...

I have NO IDEA what normal is.  I don't know that it even exists outside the dictionary.  I do know that my "idea" of "normal" is very skewed and warped.  For example, I think it's normal not to drink anything for days cause I don't get thirsty.  (Not normal.)  I also think it's normal that I don't get hungry and eat only because I have a little alarm set to go off several times a day that reminds me it's time to eat.  (Not normal.)

The thing is, there are a lot of things that I did think were normal, at least for me, but it turns out, they're not...  I figured it was no big deal to get a little dizzy every morning when I got out of bed.  Figured that the quick movement from laying comfortably in bed to standing would cause that near-syncope to happen.  Thought I just needed to move slower and have a glass of water.  (This is very NOT normal, by the way.)

I also thought it was pretty normal to always feel slightly achy in your body.  Like, my shoulder hurts 24/7, but it's a dull throb, so I just learned to ignore it.  Same with my lower back.  And my wrist.  And my knee.  Figured that it's just part of life to ache constantly, and you just learn to live with it.  (Again, this is far from normal....)

Come to find out, that it is possible to live without that constant ache.  It is normal to live without physical pain.  It is normal to wake up in the morning and go about your day without any worry of fainting.  It is normal to get thirsty, to get hungry, to have occasional aches and pains.

I've always known I'm not normal, but this was a shocking realization.  At least now that I know it's possible to live within the realm of normal, I now know what I'm shooting for...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Another Wake-up Call

I took a break from life for a while... I'd like to say I've been away enjoying a vacation or travels or some other wonderful adventure.  But that wasn't the case.

Instead, I took a little trip to the local emergency room.  Which is anything but fun.  Especially since going to the ER felt like my worst fears were swallowing me whole.

I have been working my tail off the last few weeks while I was on break, only this time, I wasn't really working on stuff for work.  I was actually working on me.  For nearly ten days, my only job was to focus on me.

It sounds so simple, right?  I mean, as an adult, we are responsible for taking care of our own needs on a daily basis.  Not like when we were kids, and theoretically, our parental figures took care of us and met our needs.  Nope, when you're an adult, you're on your own for that.

And it should be somewhat easy by the time you hit your 30's, right?  Not.

I'm great at putting what everyone else needs ahead of what I need.  I'm great at avoiding taking care of my needs because something else (hello, pinterest) gets in the way.  I'm great at putting things off until the last second, and then stressing myself out while I squeeze in whatever it is that must be done, just in the nick of time.

Sunset, January 2012
It all caught up with me Wednesday.  Thankfully the previous ten days were well spent, and I did manage to take better care of myself than I have done in the past.  I didn't even think about work, instead I kept the focus on what I needed to do to take care of me.  It wasn't as complicated as I thought it would be, but again, I was on vacation, so I only had one focus.  When it came time to go back to work, I had to split my focus - still maintaining the priority of taking care of me, but also getting back into work mode, and taking care of all my work responsibilities.  I love what I do, so it was actually really nice to be back at work and in the routine of things again!

(I digress, back to the point.)

However, had I not spent the previous ten days taking care of myself, Wednesday's ER visit would have been a lot worse.  Still, after ten hours in the ER, they never determined the exact cause of my passing out.  I was sent home with instructions to follow up with my doctor and rest.  And you know what?  I listened.  I did what I needed to do to take care of me.  I actually stayed home from work because I knew if I went to work, resting would not be on the agenda.

Some of you reading this might think that my 2012 has started off horribly (I know some of you are thinking this because I was thinking it myself for a while!)  I have to disagree with that thought.  It started off exactly as it needed to start.  It started off with the reminder that no matter what I am doing, I have to take care of myself first.  I did that for the tail end of 2011, and when 2012 started, I tried to go back to my old ways.  Wednesday's wake-up call was yet another reminder that if I don't take care of myself, there's no way I'll be able to be good for anyone else.  Guess this is one time that "me first" is an appropriate expression!

By the way, spending the day in the ER was pretty miserable.  I was a wreck, terrified they would have to admit me, and I'd be stuck in misery.  My saving grace was having my BFF there... on her day off, no less... After eight hours, I did convince her to leave and go take care of herself, which she did, and another friend came to take me home... but...

"A true friend is one who reaches for your 
hand... but touches your heart..." --unknown

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Week 7: Words that Give me Meaning: Take 5

Introducing Song 5:
Who Says by Selena Gomez

It's 2012!  We made it!  What better way to kick off the new year with some meaningful words.  To be honest, when I first read the topic for Week 7 (yes, week 7 may be long past, but I warned you, I've got lots of songs in my brain!) this was actually the first song that came to mind.  I'm not sure what took so long for me to get around to it, but now is as good of a time as any!

I love, love, love the message in the song, and the title is actually a line I use a lot with my students.  Someone isn't sure they can do something, I'll reply with a "who says?"  It's too hard!  "Who says?"  I can't do it! "Who Says?"  In my head, however, the conversation is more along the self-defeating, self-destructive, negative, put-down path.  Who says I'm not perfect?  I do.  Who says I'm not beautiful, not pretty?  I do.  Who says I can't be the best at what I love?  I do.  Who says I'm not worth it?  I do.

But I don't have to.  Just give the song a listen.  Actually, give it a listen every day.  That's what I've been doing, and I think it's worth it...

(lyrics below video)

I wouldn't wanna be anybody else, hey
You made me insecure, to me I wasn't good enough
But who are you to judge
When you're a diamond in the rough

I'm sure you got some things
You'd like to change about yourself
But when it comes to me
I wouldn't want to be anybody else

I'm no beauty queen, I'm just beautiful me
You got every right to a beautiful life, come on

Who says, who says you're not perfect
Who says you're not worth it
Who says you're the only one that's hurting
Trust me that's the price of beauty
Who says you're not pretty
Who says you're not beautiful, who says?

It's such a funny thing
How nothing's funny when it's you
You tell 'em what you mean
But they keep whitin' out the the truth

It's like the work of art
That never get to see the light
Keep you beneath the stars
Won't let you touch the sky

I'm no beauty queen, I'm just beautiful me
You got every right to a beautiful life, come on

Who says, who says you're not perfect
Who says you're not worth it
Who says you're the only one that's hurting
Trust me that's the price of beauty
Who says you're not pretty
Who says you're not beautiful, who says?

Who says you're not star potential
Who says you're not presidential
Who says you can't be in movies
Listen to me, listen to me

Who says you don't pass the test
Who says you can't be the best
Who said, who said?
Would you tell me who said that, yeah
Who said

Who says, who says you're not perfect
Who says you're not worth it
Who says you're the only one that's hurting
Trust me that's the price of beauty
Who says you're not pretty
Who says you're not beautiful, who says?

Who says you're not perfect
Who says you're not worth it
Who says you're the only one that's hurting
Trust me that's the price of beauty
Who says you're not pretty
Who says you're not beautiful, who says?