Forever plagued by ‘should’ and ‘ought’
Self-discipline so firmly taught
Just leaves me feeling overwrought –
A battleground I never sought.
So rigidly it binds me tight
Held captive by the thought of ‘right’
Internally I feud and fight –
But can’t escape, try as I might.
A childhood foe in adult skin
Craves self-approval from within
While fearing judgement outwards in –
Uncivil war I cannot win…
“Fortunately, some are born with spiritual immune systems that sooner or later give rejection to the illusory worldview grafted upon them from birth through social conditioning. They begin sensing that something is amiss, and start looking for answers. Inner knowledge and anomalous outer experiences show them a side of reality others are oblivious to, and so begins their journey of awakening. Each step of the journey is made by following the heart instead of following the crowd and by choosing knowledge over the veils of ignorance.” ― Henri Bergson
Often I feel that I am the anomaly in life, I am the one who is out of step with the rest of the world, unable or unwilling to fit my firmly square-edged peg into the restrictive round hole alloted to me. But then I read words like these, and feel reassured that perhaps I am, after all, philosophically on the right path for me, and feel glad of my different outlook to the accepted norm… 🙂
As well as my undergraduate degree (BA Hons in Psychosocial Studies – a deliberately cross-disciplined blend of psycholgy and sociology) I have also achieved a post-graduate certificate in Applied Positive Psychology. It was actually supposed to be a Masters Degree, but for varying reasons at that time I found studying a real strain so decided to knock it on the head only a third of the way through. The parts of the course I had already passed gave me enough credits to be to be awarded the PG Cert, so here we are.
The thing is, I was both working full time and studying part time (working Monday to Friday with weekend lectures), and after my 92-year-old grandmother died followed a couple of months later by my best friend’s husband (early 50s, cancer), my head was so full of new and unresolved stuff I just couldn’t concentrate properly, so initially took a break for a semester, and simply never went back to my studies. To be honest, I think had the course truly fulfilled the need I had for finding answers in my own life, I would probably have found a way to keep going, but as it was, I gave up.
In diametrical opposition to the intention of me studying Applied Positive Psychology, the whole experience left me feeling completely out of step with most of my classmates. Where they readily embraced many of the ideas fully and with a genuine enthusiasm, I felt resistant to many of the assumptions that were made as they simply didn’t resonate with my own life experience. I felt like the Eeyore of the group, an unintentional grey misery of negativity. The realities of my own disfunctions become glaringly obvious to me and I could see I was becoming depressed again, so withdrawing from the course seemed the best option for me at that time.
And I have no regrets – neither in relation to beginning the course nor ending it when I did. It did for me what I needed it to do, but not quite in the way I’d intended. I learned that I still had a long way to go to heal the psychological hurts of the past, and that Applied Positive Psychology was not going to be the way forward for me in this aim after all. But I still keep on looking for answers, and keep on keeping on – and I’m still here, plugging away at life, so I must be doing something right, mustn’t I? 🙂
Due to a recent diagnosis of several mid-life digestive health issues, I currently find myself having to face up to the seriously negative consequences of my ever-present emotional eating for comfort. At 55 I’m really not finding it easy, because old habits die hard and after a lifetime of swallowing down my disappointments and reducing the bitter taste of quietly taking my doing-what-I-should-be-doing medicine with the proverbial spoonful of sugar, I’m finally facing my food demons and dealing with my past pains instead of always shutting them up with the promise of tasty treats.
Changing my diet so completely inevitably also requires a necessary change in both attitude and lifestyle, and the emotional consequences of such a massive change means that right now I’m constantly craving the comfort I’ve historically found in food, which of course is the very thing I’m trying to relieve myself of in the first place – Aaarrrggghhh..! It’s unbelievably complex for me to delve so deeply into exploring why I’ve developed such bad habits over the years going all the way back to childhood, and although I’m finding it a complete head-fuck at the moment I’m determined to see it through.
So instead of eating for comfort whenever I feel bad, I’ve been concentrating on colouring in – absolutely loads of colouring in. I really enjoy it, it keeps me busy, and it creates a very different kind of distraction from food. I find I have to be physically calm to colour in well – I like smooth lines and soft shapes, not jerky erratic strokes all over the page. So I tend to start off staccato, and focus on stilling my movements until everything starts to flow better from my hand. And you know what? Once the colour flows smoothly, I do actually feel a bit better emotionally too – at least, relaxed enough to have passed beyond that particular point of craving food for comfort, anyway.
And as well as the physical calmness I find in colouring in, the more emotionally relaxed state it brings me to seems to be responsible for creatively opening up a line of communication with a host of other difficult issues that I’ve also struggled to process in the past. I find myself feeling increasingly curious to explore them now, as if the more the pressure is off the more things seem to come to me, naturally and organically. In finally letting it all out instead of swallowing it all down, it feels as if I’m able to deal relatively comfortably with the emotional as well as the physical issues held within my errant digestive system, which surely can only be a good thing?
So while physically I’m getting to grips with a whole new way of eating, emotionally I’m comfort-colouring my way to good health and wellbeing, in the hope that I can build myself new creative habits to help over-ride the familiarity of those old destructive patterns of behaviour, once and for all…
My whole life I have been an emotional eater – when life’s stressy-stuff shit hits the fan, I melt my misery in a mouthful of chocolate, caress my cares with creamy crumbs of cake (er… and the rest), then soothe my scars with silky ice cream. I do know it’s not good for me, and have tried over the years to fix it – oh, how I have tried – but to no avail. After all, it must work after a fashion because here I am, still here on this crazy planet, still alive and kicking (not to mention screaming silently inside).
But here’s my current problem (well, one of my current problems) I’m seriously struggling with. I have a doctor’s diagnosis of multiple digestive issues that are partially caused by all the crap I eat to try to help myself feel better about having so many stupid stressy-stuff problems to deal with in life in the first place… Aaarrrggghhh…!. Basically, my comfort eating is causing me a lot of discomfort, and right now I just don’t know what to do with myself to easy my pain.
I do understand the absolute logic behind the necessity to knock this comfort eating on the head once and for all, but unfortunately for me my resistance is not coming from a neat and tidy place of common-sense reason but from a deep cavernous well of a lifetime of unresolved feelings churning and roiling in agony. Food – especially sweet, fatty, salty food – seems to placate them, or at least shuts them up for a while when they’re giving me most grief.
What I’m having to learn just now, what I’m trying to teach myself, is to eat to comfort my physical self rather than eat to comfort my emotional self… and I’m really finding it difficult to do. I don’t think I realised just how intrusive and how invasive my comfort eating is – was – because actively NOT comfort eating seems to have left me rootless, anchorless, lost and scared. Perhaps you can teach an old dog new tricks after all, given time, but it’s turning out to be an absolute bitch of a process to go through…
I am, however, persevering nonetheless, and although no doubt I’ll fall off the wagon at some point I’ll simply remind myself it’s not going to be a quick all-or-nothing sprint but (for me especially) is likely to turn into a marathon of epic proportions – I need to keep myself looking forward to my healthy new future on the horizon, keeping my eyes keenly on the prize ahead instead of being distracted by an old distorted demon lagging behind me, dragging me down… Watch this space… 🙂
Within my screaming mind I hear such noise
Cacophonies reverberate immense
Tempestuous and lacking shape or poise
Staccato sounds unformed make no real sense
My mental maelstrom silences my voice
Prevents my thoughts form clearly in my head
Like tongue-tied mute I struggle, stripped of choice
My larynx flayed, I cry a storm instead…
But in a while my wild brain calms once more
Such quietude replaces strident shout
And settling, soft words soon come to the fore
Caress my tongue and dance so sweetly out
Soliloquies flow gently with such ease
Like ribbons streaming freely in the breeze…
I’ve come to the difficult realisation recently that I tend to live life at arm’s length. Even the people I care for most tell me I can feel decidedly distant from them at times, disconnected and detached, and however uncomfortable it is for me to accept, sometimes I feel it in myself too and know they are right.
In holding on so tight, so carefully to the fragile core that feels essentially me, I inadvertently create protective barriers in my heart. These barriers may well prevent further hurt from entering, but to a certain extent they also act as a shield to deflect the full force of the love that is on offer from others, and stop me from fully returning it too.
I engage cautiously with life, but do not fully commit to immersing myself in it. I remain forever stranded on the shore, wading dejectedly in the shallows and the shadows, existing in the imagined safety of a kind of liminal space where I am neither out nor in, hedging my bets, sitting on the fence, and feeling dismally alone.
My aloneness hurts, but deep down it feels better than the risk of rejection. But I’ve had enough of paddling perpetually on the periphery, restricting myself to always appearing reserved and remote. I want to learn to trust in myself to trust others, to trust in life itself, and move forward to a new level of involvement where I can feel truly comfortable to give life and love my all, come what may…