Knowing Me Knowing You*

As i continue to know myself better, so do i know others. What i’m learning is that i know so little as to be laughable, yet the pittance that i’ve gathered is worth more than anything else that could be considered mine.

I thought i was so tragically unique.
I’m not like most people. I’m odd. No, but i am. I’m so very different.
I took the tests they gave me growing up, and they confirmed it.
Various teachers and helpers of every ilk and stripe echoed it.
When i was grown, i formed deep and lasting love relationships of my own choosing and my uniqueness became less tragic, and more romantic. As i had my unconditional love reflected back to me by non-abusive people, i began to accept, and even like myself a little. I began to see myself as the muse of all the poems and love songs where the subject is a mass of contradictions and is loved/desired in spite of/because of them. She is mysterious, enigmatic, deep, ethereal, unknowable, beyond you.

So dramatic. Such art. Much longing.

As i mature and deepen as a human, i see more beauty in truth. In flesh, bone, blood, breath. Enduring mystery has lost it’s appeal, and i’m not as interested in things that are, at least historically, unknowable. I’ve become far more curious, however. And that curiosity is naturally extending itself beyond my own borders of skin and brainspace. I reach out into the spaces outside of me and i want to know more about it, and them, and you.

And i can see something.

I see that you are like me, and i see that you are not like me.
I can define you, but i also know that i can never quite define you – just like me.
I see that i can sometimes be something, and sometimes not. Take patience, for instance. When i’m happy and well-rested, i can be very patient.
Where my boys are concerned, my patience could be my mutant power.
Sometimes though, no amount of happiness or sleep is gonna stop me from losing my shit, and sometimes, no one can cause me to lose it so easily as my husband and my children.

I know you get it.
I know, because i see you are the same. Maybe not exactly, but enough that you understand. For you, perhaps you had a great example of parental patience at home and so you just easily model what you grew up with. Or maybe your parents were terrible at it, and you made and have kept a vow to never be like that with your own kids.
You have your own story and your own reasons and some subtly or even wildly different motivations… But it is enough that you get it.

I see that you are multifaceted and contradictory and conflicted and ambivalently ambiguous and weird, just like i am. I also see that you aren’t like me at all. You cannot be. You were not born to the same parents or under the same circumstances or at the same moment as i was. You did not live through the same situations as i. You may have lived through similar things, but you did not process them the same way i did, nor did you react to them in the same way. But you may have reacted in a comparable, or otherwise homologous, fashion. Even if you didn’t -even if our reactions were miles apart- perhaps you can relate anyway. You may have felt emotions on par with mine and given consideration to expressing them as i did. Or maybe, as was so often the case with me growing up, you just reacted, as there was neither the opportunity or inclination to consider anything; the reflexes of a child that follow many of us well into adulthood. They most assuredly have in my case.

You may have zigged while i zagged, but i get why you did it that way. Or maybe i don’t. Sometimes i don’t get you at all, or some particular facet of you is too much like me that it hurts too much or i am too afraid to look at it and see. Maybe as i grow i’ll be able to or maybe i never will. I don’t know, but i do know that i can quickly and easily find many more things that i have in common with you, and that is what i want to do and what i will do. It’s who i want to be. I like me this way. I like you this way. And hey, even if i don’t like you, i find you ever so much more tolerable. And you being relatable makes it easier to like you – even if it may only be parts of you.

The better i know myself, the more like me and relatable i find you. I experience on a deeper and deeper level how we are all alike and yet not.

All of this may sound strange coming out of my agnosticism, but i don’t think so. These observances may be somewhat metaphysical, but they’re not spiritual for me in any way.
I’m learning who i am, and making decisions about who i want to be and what i want to bring to the earth’s table.

To help. To unite. To teach. To share. To love.

Happy Sunday,
Love and Peace to All,
~H~

*This was a Facebook post of mine from Friday that i suppose could do well here, too.

Hunger

Hunger is the best sauce in the world.
~Miguel de Cervantes

This next diet tweak is hard. I may stumble quite a bit, but i am 100% committed, if not terrified.

No more eating, unless i’m hungry.
Really hungry. Like, approaching hangry, if not already there.
No more, “I could eat.”
No more, that looks good so i’m gonna have some.
No more eating just because that’s the regular time i eat, or i’m eating now because i won’t have time later.
No more eating just because everyone else is.
There will be the odd exception, as there is with any of my prior tweaks, like No Eating While Standing, and Must Eat At The Table, No Media Distractions, etc.
I taste test for seasoning when i’m cooking, and i’ll eat sitting on the couch if my husband is really tired after work and wants to watch a show and then go to bed.
I eat relatively well, and it won’t kill me to miss a meal if i’m not hungry at family suppertime, or if i’m out and about and don’t have time, money, or great choices for something to eat.
I had a gastric bypass in 2005, lost over 250lbs, and then gained around 80lbs back. Sure, it was initially due to being put on bipolar medication, but that’s no longer an issue, and i still find myself wrestling with the first 30lbs… I’ll take it off and put it back on, take it off and immediately put it back on. Over and over, ever since i regained it. I can’t seem to get to that second batch of about 50lbs.
As my mental health has improved, i have been, as some of you know, making small, manageable changes to the way i eat. Nothing magical, just sound alterations to my diet. Not so much what i eat, as HOW i eat.
What i eat is not so much of a problem for me. I don’t struggle with junk food or sweets. Maybe potatoes, bread, rice, and pasta, but dealing with my childhood and the myriad, complicated reasons behind my struggle with those particular foods have reduced that to almost a non-issue.
Here’s the thing: you can out-eat your weight loss surgery, and it’s not that hard. I’ve struggled with taking off this weight that came back on, and it has nothing to do with medication anymore.
Due to my personal health problems, my stomach has been scoped a number of times, and it is, thankfully, still the size of a lemon. I’m not bingeing. I’m not consuming vast quantities of food at a sitting.
So i’ve had to get unflinchingly honest and take a hard look at what my real issues are with eating and food.
I’ve tackled them one by one.
The first thing is i’m no longer a heavy, compulsive drinker. The booze weight is gone. I didn’t quit drinking for weight loss, i quit it because it’s a sick behaviour that will result in my premature death.
The second issue was simple to identify, but required management in a number of areas – a multipronged attack, if you will.
One way to out-eat a weight loss surgery is by snacking and grazing, and that’s what i’ve been doing. I haven’t taken it too far, but it’s been enough that i cannot lose the pounds i gained when i went off the rails with Bipolar Disorder.
That must change.
Over the years i’ve tried to deal with it through diet, but i went about it in the old way. You know, the way that hadn’t worked in the first place and caused me to seek the surgery solution?
Yeah, that way.
<you may roll your eyes here>
It failed, just as it had always done. It wasn’t until i began managing my brain’s diet, that i was finally able to tackle these accursed eighty-or-so extra pounds. I approximate numbers, because one of the things that i’ve learned is unhealthy for me is the scale. My doctor knows my number and she knows my mental status, and i trust her with both. I can make a fairly educated guess based on how i look naked and how my clothes are fitting, and if things go wrong i can go see my MD, or talk with an RD.
Learning to control what my brain takes in and puts out not only gave me the clarity of mind to address my weight problem, but it gave me some strong indications of how i might manage it as well.
I feed my brain mostly healthy stuff, with only the occasional treat.
If garbage is coming out of my face, the first thing i do is check my brain-diet. Am i watching crap telly while consuming nothing but junk like anger, bitterness,or hopelessness? If i feed my brain information, what i get is knowledge, THE vital nutrient required to keep my brain running in peak condition. Writing is the exercise necessary to rid my body of those unnecessary emotional pounds that feeling trapped and helpless and alone had slowly packed on.
So i have devised a way to eat that i can live with, and live happily, for the rest of my life. I have created it with my years of experience, my intense, hard work to know myself, and the knowledge and input of those who are experts in the field of nutrition (your friendly, neighbourhood Registered Dietitian), all under the care of my personal physician.
I have progressed very slowly, giving these small alterations to my lifestyle a chance to take root.
There this one big thing left (there may be other small things, for sure), with respect to what and how i eat, that must be adapted, and that is my caloric intake.
And so, with that firmly in the forefront of my mind, i do perhaps the hardest thing: put an end to grazing and between-meal snacking.
It is clearly the solution to my overconsumption of calories. I won’t be discussing my activity level in this post, just suffice it to say that it is currently evolving along with my eating, but is sufficient.
If i only eat three squares a day with nothing in between, it will reduce my calorie intake to weight loss levels. No matter how hungry i am, i simply cannot eat a large amount of food; i’m restricted by my small stomach pouch.
Being hungry is normal. One is supposed to feel hunger. I am dreadfully uncomfortable with the feeling, due to childhood abuse and neglect, and my aversion of the feeling for the vast majority of my adulthood.
The modifications i’ve made have brought me to the edge of the thirty pound boundary. I am determined to cross it and never look back.
This may very well not be the way for you and i am in no way suggesting it should be. Excess weight and unhealthy eating habits are an incredibly complex and personal issue. I have no advice to give you. This blog post is what almost all my blog posts are, and that is a journal that i share with anyone who wants to know about me, how my brain works, and how i am slowly-but-ever-so-surely, creating the life i want to live and the happiness that i have always sought.
Your kind attention to my process is helpful beyond measure.
Thank you.
Love and Peace to You All,
~H~

Unique Up On It*

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine made a comment on a blog post regarding my willingness to know myself, and all the hard work i’ve put in to doing so. It relates to some stuff that’s been sloshing around in my brain, so i thought i’d write a bit about it.

My mother was intensely interested in psychology. I think she may have genuinely been seeking help for herself in the beginning, but by the time i was ready to attend school, it was more of a weapon than anything else. She jumped on every bandwagon, embraced every fad, and swallowed every line of pop psychology she could find. There were therapists i saw for individual and family counselling during the day, that would be involved in our nighttime activities, and then there was the odd social worker who would come to school to speak with me. The former were criminals, and the latter merely useless, but they both cemented a distrust of all involved in psychology – a science so soft one could call it “mushy”.

I knew something was wrong with me but i never knew what. My religion taught me that i was a hopeless sinner in need of salvation, which i pursued generally, sometimes even tirelessly. (I was gonna say single-mindedly, but that doesn’t quite fit. Heh.) My family either reinforced religion, ignored the problem, or contributed to it. This left mental health professionals, from whom i regularly sought answers, despite my wariness and stunning lack of success with them.

It wasn’t all for naught. As i have with many things, i took what i liked and left the rest – like the religions from which i took that advice. Over decades i’ve amassed a decent amount of knowledge on the subject of the functions of my mind with respect to my behaviour within a given context. You’re not going to hear a bunch of current buzz words coming from me. I’m not a spiritual person, but neither am i only about that which is tangible and provable. Every day my understanding that i am a truly unique individual, deepens. I think you are too, although that understanding is more exoteric. What i know about myself is more abstruse.

There endeth my grandiloquence.

I draw from this font of knowledge every day. The more i know myself the better able i am to make good decisions and enjoy positive outcomes.
Take for instance, my lifelong, contentious relationship with food. From chubby at 8, to super-morbidly obese at 35, to thin at 38, to Bipolar Disorder packing 80lbs back on… I’ve been through it all with food. Abuse and neglect warped my mental and physical connection with food. Being intermittently starved, and frequently lured, rewarded, and placated with food,┬áhas done an incredible amount of damage in my life.

You’ve heard the stories before. Some of those stories may be like your own.
Yeah, i eventually tried all the diets. It was in later years though, not really ever as a child. Regularly not having food in the house made the thought of dieting anathema.
School was excruciating. The children were unrelentingly vicious until the latter half of grade nine, when i switched to a half decent school where only about half of the boys and a few of the girls were truly heinous. I cried myself to sleep as so many of us fat kids have done. I sobbed out desperate prayers to the god i was raised with, begging him to make me thin. I mostly thought my school troubles were due to my weight, i only came to realise through years of the kind of self-study that i’m right now referring to, that it was sosoSO much deeper than that. I look back now and i see a chubby girl who was quiet, another who had money, one may have been wide, but she was very, very short, and one or more of them came from families whose names everyone knew and respected. None of them got it as bad as i did.
I’m telling you, i’m a very nice person, but there are some people from those last 2 schools i attended that i would be hard-pressed not to punch right in their smug faces and gouge out those glittering eyes filled with cruel glee. I may be odd, honey, but you’re still a shitty human being.

Sorry for the digression – i don’t know if that school stuff will ever go away.
So, back to food and fat then.
And diets.
Oh my eff-you-see-kay, did i ever try ’em. All of ’em. The late-night infomercial scammers, the impossibly petite and perfect, smiley Buffybots, and the anti-science pitchers of expensive woo solutions… All of ’em.
Exercise is the answer.
Eliminating the sugarcarbglutenfat is the answer.
Eating like a caveman. Or a coeliac. Or a diabetic. Or a fat man on the fasttrack to a massive heart attack. Or a runway model. Or a toot widdow bunny wabbit.
I’ve done most of it, and had similar results to those of you who’ve also done it.
PFFT.

You know how i said i take what i like and leave the rest? Well, here’s something i picked up from one of those places and put right back on the shelf for someone else.
“Terminal uniqueness”.
See now, that just doesn’t work for me. The implication is that the answer is already out there, you’re just not working the solution correctly. Or hard enough. Or long enough. Or honestly enough. Or… Eff you in the eh with a dee.

It’s not to say that that concept is never helpful for anyone.
I’m saying it was not helpful for me in this particular aspect of my life. (Honestly, it wasn’t particularly helpful for me in any area, but i’m trying not to do that digressing thingy i did a while back there.)

I AM unique, and if one bears in mind that i will one day die – terminally so.
I wasted a tremendous amount of time trying to be like other people when i wasn’t. To fit in when i couldn’t. To belong to groups i didn’t want to be a part of, and be liked by people i didn’t care for.
For years i ran away from a diagnosis that would change my life, forever and for the better, because i thought being different was bad and being alone was bad. Neither of those things is either always the truth, or always a lie.
Not for any of us.

And so none of those diets worked. For all the reasons that anyone who struggles already knows, but also for this reason that i am now telling you – because i AM terminally unique.
The only “diet” that will ever have a healthy and long term affect/effect on me is one that is tailored specifically for me. It will only fit me. It will not fit you or anyone else.

I now understand that i’m the only one that can craft the perfect solution. And between all the knowledge i have acquired over the years about dieting and myself -you throw in a registered dietician (the ONLY people i think should be trusted regarding the science of nutrition)- and i am set. I am set for life! (That’s the title of some diet book i read once, i think. HEH.)

I will give you one example of how this works for me, and then i shall stop jabbering at you for the day.
I read a very popular diet book once. Well, actually i bought it and all the stuff that came along with the book, and i read the book itself several times. The first thing this doctor, author, diet guru did was tell me that i must go through my entire house and remove foods that he deemed not healthy, or dangerous to my eating plan, or however he put it. (That book is no longer in my house, so i can’t/won’t refer to it for accuracy.)

Removing foods from my house is a bad idea for me. Removing foods that some call treats or junk is an exceedingly bad idea for me.
I was starved growing up. There was regularly not enough food in my house. And worse.
My mother ate while i starved. She would hide sweet and salty treats from me, and often cook for herself after she’d sent me to bed. She kept money aside to support her junk food habit, that should have been spent on clothing for me, or school supplies and fun activities. She would serve me spoiled food. I’d be starving and i’d scrounge food from the garbage, from other people’s homes. I stole other kid’s lunches or dug them out of the trash.

To this day, when i get low on something, or my fridge doesn’t look full or my cupboards are emptying out, i get nervous and anxious. I will leave a smidgen or a dollop of something in a box or a jar until i can get to the store to buy more – because being completely out of something can cause an anxiety attack.
And here’s the other thing, the barer my larder, the hungrier i get. When my kitchen is full of food, i don’t graze as much, and i snack less frequently. And when the sweet and salty snack foods are around i don’t experience an overpowering craving for them. Those things don’t call to me when they’re on my shelf, but when they’re not there, the 7-Eleven is a siren song.

So that extremely successful dude┬áthat’s sold millions of diet advice books starts out with a bad idea for me, and goes downhill from there.
Factor in all that science can and has debunked as far as diet fads and crazes, and i can toss out almost all the other books and videos and videotapes and CDs and equipment that i’ve bought over the years (decades).
Factor in that i’ve had weight loss surgery.
Factor in my Peanut Gallery.

I know how to eat now, to be healthy, and to lose some weight. I’m on my way down, very slowly and mostly surely, and i’m fairly certain that, barring mental/physical issues i may face in the future and the resultant medications – it’s staying off for good. I’m not even excited. I just know it’s a pretty safe bet.

So yeah, to clumsily bring it all back around to my friend’s comment on my blog from the other day.
I’ve been thinking about how none of what i now currently enjoy along the lines of daily functionality and enjoyment of life might just not be possible at this level if i didn’t know myself as well as i do today. (That’s a helluva sentence; i hope it made sense.)

To know myself, to know who i am, what i think, and why i think it, is without question, the best thing that i have ever done, or will continue to do. It makes me better, happier, and more productive in every way.

Have as good a day as you’re able. I’ll do the same.

Love and Peace,
~H~

*From a favourite old joke:
Q: How do you catch a unique rabbit?

A: Unique up on it.

Q: How do you catch a tame rabbit?

A: Tame way.