Friday, August 17, 2007

Recovery: Well Enough To Choose Maturity.

We all have faults and weaknesses which follow us for years. The lament of those around me was: "Cybe. Why can't you grow up?". I learned to hate that type of question. No matter what strategy I tried, I still ended up in tears and basically throwing a three-year-olds tantrum.

The other seemingly intractable part of my make up was the total emotional meltdown I began experiencing every seven to ten years of my life. I remember being hysterical with a casual friend one summer at camp. I was moving into seventh grade. My cousin was just pounding on me for all the usual things. No matter what I did, it wasn't enough.

If I dutifully washed down all the counters in the kitchen, my cousin's husband would shame me with the statement that his wife POLISHED all the counters! It was hard not calling him the bold faced liar he was. But, my internal emptiness kept growing because there was no praise for anything I did anywhere. I was dying inside.

My camp friend was shocked and since she knew nothing about my home life, pushed me away with the tired retort that I was just pitying myself and to grow up. I stopped sharing and by my senior year in High School was a clinically depressed and disassociating mess. I went through hours of not properly relating to reality with the thought: "You haven't happened yet." I was too scared to really tell anyone what was going on in my mind, but I came close to being put in a mental hospital.

Jumping from the frying pan into a fire, I left home at 19 and married a man twelve years older then I. He had levels of child abuse in his history which I still have trouble relating to. We were two messed up people, who thought we could "fix" each other. FORGET IT! You can only "Fix" yourself. I shudder to remember what my poor x-husband must have thought and felt when he saw me have one of my almost monthly "fits".

I'd just start screaming and crying. I'd lose the ability to feel, see and hear. I'd come out of thse things after maybe twenty to forty-five minutes. My x-husband believed once he got me well, than I could help him get well. Over and over professionals, friends and my x-husband questioned me: "Cybe, why can't you grow up?" I didn't know, but was building a huge "shame" file around the general issue.

Next major break was when, after ten years of marriage, I found my husband was having sex with boys as young as ten. I was so clueless as how to take care of myself I thought the only way to get out of the marriage was suicide. I tried it and failed. But I came mighty close to making it out of this life, long before salvation and healing.

Once on my own I collected sexual partners of either sex and tried to rebuild my life. After another few years I was unable to complete sentences. It seemed that each time I fell apart I was just a little more broken, then the last time. I was forty and in my Md's office as an emergency psychiatric case. My regular doctor wasn't there and a stranger opened the door.
My body literally arced up in the air on the gurney. I made a crucial decision. I was going to seriously look into being committed because it was clear to me, that I was unable to manage my own life.

I told this story elsewhere in this blog, but I will never, ever forget what this kind man told me.

"You don't change (not being able to grow up and stop crying), because you CAN'T change. You have a problem with your brain. This is physical, not phycological,"

Well, here I am now fifty four and something so wonderful happened to me this week. A friend at church and I were at a District Meeting together. When I saw her, I waved at her. She misunderstood my hand gesture. I was just saying "Hi". She thought I wanted her to stop and talk to me. The choir was singing and the sound system was very loud. She was trying to get the person playing the organ to turn it down, as it was drowning out the choir. Because this lovely lady likes me and realizes I can't see the more subtle gestures people make, when they like you, but can't take the time to chat, she tried to talk to me.

She was angry, pressured and busy. She tried to explain about the problem with the organ music being too loud. Due to the noise level, I didn't hear part of what she said. I was standing, swaying and twisting to the beautiful song. I heard: "...choir can't be heard above all of THAT!" Since I didn't hear the beginning of her statement, I thought I was being told to sit down and not upset the choir performance!

Friends, even a year ago, this would have driven me to tears. But, Wednesday August 15, 2007 I experiences the following. At first I was insulted that I was being talked to like that. What tempered my anger was the very real felt experience of the love of the people of my church for me. I've been corrected by several people at church for various infractions. They are always gentle and kind. I felt a little wave of niceness wash over me, remembering these totally new experiences.

Not totally spiritual, I then noticed an entire flock of clapping, singing and NOISY people around me. I wanted to turn around and jump on them for singing! I got jumped on and I know I wasn't singing! I began to ask God to help me keep things in perspective. If I kept my thoughts to myself, and was wrong about the situation - I wouldn't have to apologize later. Oh, what a lovely lesson THAT has been for me. I decided to check with my friend after service, because I was clueless as to what I had done to get such a strong rebuke.

When I got a chance to talk to her, the full story came to light. We had totally misunderstood one another! She was spitting mad at someone else! It wasn't about me at all! (Man, am I thankful I quietly prayed instead of getting snooty with the people around me who were singing)

The real miracle of this exchange then hit me hard. I hadn't cried, hadn't been anywhere near wanting, or needing to cry! I wanted to grab my friend and say: "Oh, please rebuke me, now that I can handle it, I want to practice!" Thanks to another bit of divinely inspired wisdom, I didn't say that either.

At church they talk about having to give your mind and heart new experiences in the present to argue with your dysfunctional past. The love I receive from my fellow church members is real and I've learned I can trust them to be kind and gentle. It is perfectly acceptable to question what I'm told. I don't have to lie and smile when I'm angry and upset. As long as I'm gentle and respectful, questions and even disagreement, are fine.

I still can't believe I am leaving the world of constant tears behind. I'm beginning to take responsibility in areas of my life I've stubornly refused to deal with before. Like physical health and taking better care of my room and belongings. God is teaching me different kinds of patience as I work with the church website. I rarely think about my past these days. I'm too busy living a REAL life. A life where a therapy appointment isn't the most interesting part of the day.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Recovery: Self-discipline Revisited.

More than anything, my goal for this blog is to document recovery from mental illness and child abuse. I am so far into new territory (in my recovery), I am almost lost for words to describe where my life is going.

My early role models and personal habits were warped and dysfunctional at best. I learned to fear being an adult, taking responsibility and most of all self-discipline. I equated all of the above with a torture rack of unending misery and pain.

I mis-learned all these things. I had what has been described by M. Scott Peck PhD. and others as "undisciplined discipline" My odyssey with God is teaching me something tender, sweet and new.

For those of you who don't believe in God, I apologize. I have no substitute. I only have my experience. For my money, Jesus Christ is the best thing going. I owe all my healing to Him and Him alone.

Last Monday night, just before climbing into bed, I brushed my tummy roll and felt a twinge of awareness. Man, I've gained weight. I'd been given some beautiful clothes by a member of my church that were 3x in size. They were a little big on me, but not THAT much too big! I began to question how I could deal with losing weight God's way and not just plunge willy-nilly into another crash diet which would only lead to failure, more weight gain and a sense of futility.

I prayed to God. If You want me to lose weight, I am willing to really make an effort. But I want to do something simple, sane and slow. A life style adjustment instead of a "diet". I can't bear to never eat anything I love. I go into binge eating when I restrict myself like that.

I didn't expect, or receive an immediate answer. No booming voice out of the air, or even a small voice. I just felt like it was possible to do something different. That I would be shown a new way which would fit my requirements.

I did a Google search on weight lose and found a free website that I could use to track my calories, weight and body measurements. If I wanted to pay $5 a month, my calories and other nutritional information would be summed up and compared with he FDA recommended intake for protein, fiber and all that other stuff they track.

I've always liked tracking what I actually do, verses just having a goal which is so far into the future, I can't even relate to it. I learned that I am working my way up to the worst level of obesity, but I'm not quite there yet. I learned that I can set up a diet plan where I can lose a pound a week. I can learn to change things gradually without denying myself an occasional piece of cake, dish of ice cream, or anything else I love.

The bad news? Well, II was 205.5 pounds. I should be around 130 pounds. That is a difference of 75.5 pounds. I can handle losing the weight in 75.5 weeks, which is 1 year and 23.5 weeks. That is a bit less then a year and a half. Having an easy weekly target and a long term goal like this has taken all the tension out of wanting to lose weight. Right there I can see God gently teaching me the beginning of self-care which is actually self-discipline.

The other part of this website is tracking your activities every day. You tell them how much exercise you are doing now and work up to adding something to your daily routine. I love to walk, and when I don't walk, I get stiff to where I have trouble supporting any weight at all on the right foot. I try to walk an hour a day, but before having this lovely website to account to, I never managed to actually walk more then one or two days a week. That was not enough.

There is something very satisfying about seeing what I'm actually doing daily. Carrying my 25 pound walker up and down our 30+ stairs every day wipes out almost 50 calories, all by itself. A one hour walk tallies up to almost 400 calories. Adding in other things I never thought of as exercise brings my activity calorie reduction to nearly 500 calories a day!

This is not a signal for me to buy cake and cookies every day! I only need to cut down my food intake by 500 calories a day to make my goal of 1 pound a week of weight loss. I eat what I want, but HONESTLY admit what it was and how much I ate. I quickly saw that my amazing love of mayonnaise was accounting for almost 1600 calories a day, alone! Maybe I can cut that back, just a touch...?

The amazing thing I discovered is that I'm losing weight, exercising and not acting all crazy. No protein powder, Atkins or any other goofy food plan. I'm down to 198 pounds with no feeling of being cheated out of anything.

The only substitution I've made is to buy oranges and dried apricots for my "sweet" tooth, instead of cake, doughnuts or ice cream. I can have the other stuff, but not on a daily basis. Had a blow-out burger meal with a friend with that lovely chocolate pie. I used Equal in my coffee, but other then that I let myself enjoy a "treat" meal. I gained a pound, which swiftly disappeared when I returned to my regular, less caloric eating.

I can't remember ever having real "diet" success in my life. I can live with the changes. I feel better when I exercise. I am making friends with a whole bunch of new concepts. At church, several days after I began my new food arrangement, the preacher spoke of how important physical health was. The sermon confirmed everything I was doing. Slow, sane and lasting REAL change.

For those of you interested in this (I think) cool dieting website: ( I want to show you the link, as well as give you a link to these folks. They offer various newsletters, but won't clutter your inbox without your opting in.

For those of you who have turned purple with rage about the very notion of dieting. Just realize that this information may not be for you at this time. Not everything is a "have to", "right now". I've spoken of my dieting history when a friend began a diet and I was in a totally different frame of mind. Its okay to say "no". Saying "no" is also a very important part of recovery. You can always come back later and change your mind.