Friday, September 10, 2010

Processing the anger

*language warning, just in case you need to know*

Since the spew of anger night before last (which was helpful, btw), naturally I've been thinking about it all, where it all came from, and how I need to deal with it.  It had been brewing for a few days and while there's still a bit of residual, I'm better.

I was aware when I was making the list that there were some underlying issues.  I identified them partially in my head at the time, but decided not to write them out.  I chose not to because I remembered something a counselor a few years back told me: "Jayme, you turn your anger into sadness too quickly.  You don't allow yourself to be angry."  He was right.  So, for the first time that I remember, I made no attempts to quell the anger, to pick it apart, to shove it down somewhere and rationalize it all.  I made the list because I wanted to affirm within myself that it was ok to be angry, to remind myself that there are things going on that I have a right to be angry about, and that anger can be a great motivator for change.  So I sat with it for a while.  It was uncomfortable, not-pretty, and....well, angry.

In going over the list that night and yesterday, I'm aware that my anger is caught up in lots of other things; insecurity, fear, unrealistic expectations, disenchantment, annoyance, lack of control and frustration.  I noticed that most of things could have been said "I am angry that, despite...." signaling that even though things are being done to correct it, shit still happens.

Most of the items on the list are beyond my control - and I've already made polite mention of my control issues a little bit here.

The 1.2 lb weight gain I mentioned isn't even an official number (I weigh every day just to keep myself motivated, even though "official" weigh-ins are only weekly) and from weighing in today, it's gone again.  I have no idea why it appeared and was probably just a fluke, but it still freaked me out.  In the 2 days it appeared, I hadn't built up muscle mass - I hadn't even exercised as I had taken those 2 days off, but was still eating right.  But's just a number.  I can't let it freak me out.  *note to self for next time that happens*

Most of the other items on the list are connected with my propensity to expect more of myself than is reasonable, to give myself too high of standards and then berate myself for not meeting them.  That same counselor who told me that I transform my anger to sadness too quickly also said that I use the word "should" in an almost abusive way toward myself, using it as a standard of perfection.  I should be able to deal patiently with drunk people dancing and falling all over me at a concert. I should be the most gracious, patient, loving, peaceful person in the world.  I should be finished with a dissertation that is going to stop the world in its tracks in amazement.  I should be free of fears of failure.

Badass Tara over at the blog 263 and counting (which I highly recommend) posted something last week that really resonated and got me to thinking:
...Anyone that has lived as a fat person knows what I’m talking about. Fat is our one failure that we can never seem to shed. So we over compensate by either being the smartest student, the hardest worker, the funniest person or the one that will drop everything at any given time and be there to lend a helping hand. We think by being the best at something (or everything) it will hide what we’re really feeling: I am a failure at everything because I am fat.

I tried in the past to let go of the fat but I forgot about letting go of the most important part – the “est”(s). If I couldn’t be the thinnEST, the fastEST, the strongEST, the fittEST then there was no point. I used to walk around aimlessly looking at other people and thinking “oh look at him, he looks so strong. I’ll never be that strong" *insert food into pie hole* or “look at her, I’ll never be that thin” *insert food into pie hole AND turn on World of Warcraft* or “look at that runner, I’ll never be that fast” *insert food into pie hole AND turn on World of Warcraft AND sink farther into my depression*.  As a morbidly obese person I was so focused on what I wasn’t doing.  Being the bEST.  That I didn’t see what I was doing.  Being bettER.  
Stop looking around you and seeing what everyone else is doing. You don’t know their history. You don’t know their demons. You don’t know what brought them to where they are today. There is only one person you need to be better than and that’s the you that you’re leaving behind.

I use that standard of perfection - the EST - to judge myself which then gives me ammunition to go to war with myself when I can't live up to it.  Not cool.  Talk about the need for peacebuilding!

And when I get messages from friends that are so full of wisdom, grace, and a dose of reality, they highlight that I beat myself up unnecessarily.  I recognize it when they hold up the mirror for me.  One good friend, commiserating with me in my anger, sent me such words yesterday that I so desperately needed to hear in the way I needed to hear them:

Firstly...I was a fat bastard by my standards, and those standards are the only ones that really matter. What you define as fat is what defines fat for you. Anyone else's definition can fuck right off.
I began running every day, at first a pathetic few miles, then the distance grew. In the first few months I gained weight, which people assured me was muscle mass. But it was the shittiest thing ever in the history of ever. How the F am I running like 18 miles a week and GAINING WEIGHT?

If you are working out, well then its mass...if not, FUCK IT. This is a marathon, a life choice that if you stick with, 1.2 lbs or whatever it is will matter little.

You have a huge set of balls for doing this. Muddle through it, keep your chin up and press on. Cake wasn't a message from God, just a song on your IPOD.

Hang in there, you are awesome and brave, and this is going to be a painful period for you. Literally teaching your tired and slovenly body how to be different, but you are strong and motivated!

 I loved his analogy of training for a marathon with this life change.  That puts it in a new light for me which is really helpful.

Another friend reminded me that making changes such as this is like changing a family system, which will buck, resist and challenge the change and strive to maintain homeostasis.  I'm sure my anger was rooted in some of that - fear of change, resentment, lack of comfort in old ways - and so I have to remember what is required in order to change systems: consistency, calm differentiation, and dedication to the future result.


Ok, back to work.

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