A day of clarity

It feels as if I woke up this morning with a sense of clarity and grounding that has been missing for months…

In some ways today has felt no different – there are still urges for disordered eating, and there was a dissociative panic when I went out for a walk… But, in other ways it has all felt very different – I’ve managed to resist those urges to engage in disordered eating, and I went for a walk during the day (I usually walk at night so no one can see me).  This may not seem like much, but it’s so different from what has been happening over the last few months.

I know that one of the reasons for the clarity, is the passing of Christmas and New Year.  These holidays are particularly difficult for me… they’re associated with triggers from the past, and societal expectations in the present day.  That potent combination has meant that for the last few months, I’ve been a dissociative mess.

Adding to my anxiety, has been the knowledge that I would be staying in my home-town for Christmas…  For the last few years, my mother has come up to stay with me for Christmas and New Year; but this year this somehow got reversed, and I travelled to her.  I know that when I made the arrangements, it was with the thought that being in my home-town would be safer than being alone.  I say “safer”, but I realised that the balance between the safety provided by being with someone during the holidays (with all of the associated structure that provides); and the potential triggers of being in my home-town, were debatable.

It was an “interesting” visit home… being around someone else for such long periods of time provided a stark reminder of how much I dissociate – for example, I apparently went for a walk at 2am one night… I found that if I didn’t sit in the aisle seat at the movies, I become so anxious that I basically shut down and nearly fall asleep… I proved to myself that I could go for days on end without one form of disordered eating; but there seemed to be a trade-off to other forms taking over… When I did engage in the disordered eating, I hit new lows – something that I’m not proud of, but am trying to learn from… I found that I could cope being in my home-town, as long as I didn’t visit the satellite town where I spent most of my childhood… I found that I liked the peace associated with living in a retirement village – although the residents do tend to be in everyones business! … I discovered that I could sit with my aunt and mother, and we could talk about real issues…

In the past, my relationship with my aunt has been strained… She seemed to see me as this “perfect” person, who never did anything wrong, and resented me accordingly… considering how much I strived for perfection, I find this rather ironic.  But after we’d been to see the movie Quartet, we had a rather raw and honest conversation… my aunt was in an abusive relationship for several years, and my mother was married to my father (enough said).  We didn’t talk about the respective abuses we experienced; but instead talked about its effect on us… how my aunt tried to encourage her abuser to take responsibility for his abuse, by forcing him to pay for the plastic surgery on her face after he pushed her through a pane of glass… how my mother has purposefully forgotten chunks of her life, just so that she can cope with it all… how the abuse caused all of us to doubt ourselves, our truth, and devastated our self-esteem… and one thing that my aunt observed, was how much my behaviour is defined by my abusive past.  I found my aunt’s statement to be interesting, as she is not aware of my childhood abuses, just my marriage.  It was also a little scary… is my dysfunction that obvious?

As for my relationship with my mother… well, that had its ups and downs.  She was incredibly accepting of my odd habits, and even suggested ways that I could do things in a similar way to I did them at home – I’m still not able to do simple things like hang clothes out on the washing line.  But in other ways, she showed how unaware she was… I was talking to a friend via video on Skype when she came home, and she basically took over the video call.  My mother can be larger than life, especially when she’s trying to impress someone – and she was trying to impress my friend.  I get so overwhelmed by her personality when she is like this… I become this small, vulnerable being, who is unsure of how to react, except to play along… So I smiled, laughed, and played the game… anything to make sure that my mother doesn’t get her feelings hurt…  The call ended soon after my mother walked away from the computer… but what was interesting, was that while my friend also played along, and interacted with my mother; they noted my distress… a distress that I wasn’t aware of showing. They asked me how I was, and I admitted that I was close to tears… it wasn’t that I feared my mother trying to “steal” my friend, but that I felt so overwhelmed by her personality, and became so lost as a result… who was I???  I no longer knew…

Despite these ups and downs, I do think that my visit home was a positive experience.  I learned new things, made connections (internally and externally), and was able to keep promises that I’d made with myself – including attending Midnight Mass…

I’m not sure how long this clarity will last… but, I’m glad I experienced it…

And now for a random photo I took while away…
Sweet pea against the sky

—————-
Now playing: Tracy Chapman – The Promise

Power of shame

I live a shame based existence… the shame that I carry impacts on every aspect of my life.  I say that I “carry” shame, but that’s not quite right… I don’t carry the shame, it walks beside me… crowds my thoughts and actions… looms over me… drives my actions… fills my being… it is me… I am it.

I’ve always had difficulty understanding what shame is… All I knew was that I hated myself; but I thought that was because of my shyness, and low self-esteem.  In some ways, it’s about my perception regarding acceptability of the terms… in some sort of odd way, I thought it was “better” to hate myself, than to feel ashamed.  All you have to do is look at the talk surrounding shame, in order to get the idea that it’s not a positive thing… The Wikipedia entry on Shame mentions words like dishonour, embarrassment, humiliation, chagrin, etc; while the types of shame listed include “secret shame” and “toxic shame”…  Who wants to be part of anything that sounds so negative and dramatic?  Whereas self-hatred, and low self-esteem sound pretty bad; but, for some reason, I didn’t link them with so much negativity… possibly, I didn’t link them with the abuse that I have experienced, and considered them part of my personality, which would have been present, whether there was abuse, or not.

What I didn’t realise, is how closely shame is linked to the shyness and self-hatred.  In reality, they are just another manifestation of shame.  The self-hatred acts as a shameful check on my behaviour, while the shyness tries to hide the shame and self-hatred from the rest of the world… So, it’s all interlinked, and has become a pattern of being that’s developed over time.  It can both be incredibly logical; and yet, totally illogical.  In my moments of functional clarity, I wonder what I’m ashamed of… I didn’t do anything wrong, did I?  But then, the denial slips, and the shame hits like a tidal-wave.  I’m not sure that I can really describe how the shame “feels”; but, I can describe a recent example of how it caused a dysfunctional reaction that was off the scale in reaction to a situation…

As a warning, this mentions Halloween.

In New Zealand we’ve slowly adopted some of the American events such a Halloween.  They’re not big, but there’s usually decorations in the stores, and trick or treaters who roam the neighbourhood on the night.  In the 10 years that I’ve lived in my current accommodation, there have probably been less that five visits from trick or treaters… so, not a big deal.  This year, for some reason, I became excited at the idea of possibility of handing out sweets… I think as part of my current eating disordered behaviour – I can hand out the sweets, but not eat any of them. I had them in the house for days leading up to Halloween as a type of  punishment, and taunt.

On the night, I was both scared and a young kind of excited… I wanted to see the children having fun, and smiling… I wanted acceptance within the community…

But, no trick or treaters knocked on my door.  As the night wore on, the internal voices of self-hatred and shame, amplified… the main message was that everyone in the world knew how crazy I was, and therefore didn’t want their children to take lollies from the “crazy woman in that house”.

As the internal talk of hatred became more intense, there was a drive to punish myself for being so crazy that no one wanted to go anywhere near me…  The method of punishment? Well, that was easy…  There was this nice big bowl of food that I’d been punishing myself with for the last week… why not make the most of it?

So I did…

I had never understood how violent, and self-abusive eating disorders were, until now.  I look back on what happened with a stunned, rather hollow feeling.  Did I really say those things to/about myself?  Did I really do those actions?  It all seems so surreal now.  But, I know it happened…

Another layer of shame…

Shame… such a simple looking word, yet it is so very powerful.  It can destroy you… totally and utterly destroy you.  It comes from within, so knows which buttons to push to play with your head and emotions.  Once it starts, it’s almost impossible to reality check back into any sort of reasonable context.

Last night, it reared its head again… I found I’d been unfriended on a social network by someone I thought was a friend; and found out through a public forum something that in the past the person involved would have talked with me about, but didn’t…  That was enough for the messages about the world seeing my craziness to kick in again.  I went for a hard, fast, punishing walk as a result… but encountered so many people, that I was constantly panicking.

When I returned home, I had to comfort my mother, who had lost a good friend earlier in the day… always those demands to care for others… make sure that others are ok… make sure they see the socially acceptable me, rather than the well of darkness, evil and shame that I truly am…

I described some of this to a shocked Alison on Monday… she had no idea how extreme my self-hatred was.  She asked me to do something interesting… to put aside the shame, and self-hatred for a second to see what would happen… I tried, and memories and images came flooding through…  So, it seems as if my shame and self-hatred has a protective element to it.  They help keep me “safe” from the overwhelming aspects of my past… I honestly don’t know which is worse.

—————-
Now playing: Seether – Remedy

My world is crashing in on me

My world is crashing in on me, and no one sees. That’s ok, because I am one of many.

My world is crashing in on me, and no one sees. That’s wrong, because I am a person, and people are meant to matter.

Nine years ago today I wore red as I walked out the door to get married.  My future mother-in-law could barely contain her scorn at my attire.  I didn’t wear red by deliberate choice, but when you leave the preparations for the wedding until the day before, you get what you can.

Memories of the wedding are sketchy, at best.  We had a picnic the day before the wedding with the mother and two friends.  We did this because we were expecting my future husbands family to ruin the wedding day… they did.  One thing I remember clearly, is when the small gathering threw rose petals over us after the toasts, none of the petals went into my drink; so my mother-in-law picked some up off the ground, threw them into my glass, and made a smart comment about that being better.

Many weddings are about the expectations of the bride… mine were of dread.  In many ways, the wedding was not my own… my sister-in-law has such a dominating personality, that she overshadowed everything – my hair, the photography, directing people around, etc.  The sister, whom I hadn’t communicated with in over ten years passed sarcastic comments onto the mother about her not receiving a wedding invitation… yes, there was the double whammy of her sarcasm, and the mother’s need to inform me of that sarcasm… My future in-laws played games regarding whether they were going to attend, or not.  They only came because their other son paid for the entire trip.  Then on the day, my mother decided that her outfit was too similar to my only invited friends, so I had to help her find an alternative to wear…  Many of these things are run-of-the-mill issues associated with wedding days; but, they increased my anxiety, and therefore levels of dissociation.

The drama didn’t end at the ceremony, but continued through to mix-ups with the billing of the hotel room for the wedding night… We met several very nice police that day…

Did I mention that I didn’t want to get married?  I didn’t.  The only reason the marriage happened, is because he needed to marry.  He needed that security.  Later, as the marriage was falling apart, he often said that if we separated that it would be the end of us both… that I would commit suicide, and that he would be devastated with grief as he returned to the comfort of my mother – note, that he was wanting to gain comfort from my mother, not his.  That sentiment alone indicates his level of dysfunction, pain and confusion…

Marriage was never my thing.  During school, when introduced to the concept of debating, I was on the affirmative team arguing that marriage was an outdated institution.  It was rather amusing, as we drew a picture of marriage as a physical institution… the teacher changed the wording for the debate the following year.  We did get an A though…

I’ve usually seen marriage as a tie to someone who would hurt you.  My marriage didn’t dissuade me from that opinion.  Saying that, I have seen happy marriages… marriages where a combination of compatibility, hard work, and a variety of other factors, have meant that everyone involved has grown in positive ways…  At times, I wish I had that… But, I know I’m too broken for such things.

So yes, my world in crashing in on me… I have failed to work with Eating Disorder Services because I couldn’t meet the directives they established… I have failed at creating any sort of working relationship with my new team leader, and am now building a reputation as being difficult within the workplace… My continual poor communication skills have resulted in my withdrawal from my support system, and causing hurt to those who have braved staying around… Allison is left in the dark as to the reasoning for my behaviour, as I continue to withdraw and become less communicative… Then, earlier this week, the final straw, this chain email from the mother…

I remember the cheese of my childhood,
and the bread that we cut with a knife,
when the children helped with the housework,
and the men went to work not the wife.

The cheese never needed an ice chest,
and the bread was so crusty and hot,
the children were seldom unhappy
and the wife was content with her lot.

I remember the milk from the billy,
with the yummy cream on the top,
our dinner came hot from the oven,
and not from the fridge in the shop.

The kids were a lot more contented,
they didn’t need money for kicks,
just a game with our mates in the paddock,
and sometimes the Saturday flicks.

I remember the shop on the corner,
where a pen’orth of lollies was sold
do you think I’m a bit too nostalgic,
or is it….I’m just getting old?

I remember when the loo was the dunny,
and the pan man came in the night,
it wasn’t the least bit funny
going out the back with no light.

The interesting items we perused,
from the newspapers cut into squares,
and hung on a peg in the outhouse,
it took little to keep us amused.

The clothes were boiled in the copper,
with plenty of rich foamy suds
but the ironing seemed never ending
as Mum pressed everyone’s duds

I remember the slap on my backside,
and the taste of soap if I swore
anorexia and diets weren’t heard of
and we hadn’t much choice what we wore.

Do you think that bruised our ego?
or our initiative was destroyed
we ate what was put on the table
and I think life was better enjoyed.

I realise that she is reminiscing about her childhood… But, she also knows that I experienced sexual abuse within the environment that this poem glorifies… Oh, and yeah, she knows about my eating disorder too…  The irony is that her childhood wasn’t perfect… if it was, she wouldn’t be this unaware of the potential impact of this poem on me…

So yes, my world in crashing in on me…  Oddly enough, I don’t think it’s going to hurt.

—————-
Now playing: Audioslave – Doesn’t remind me

Purple Death

Distraction… that’s all I’m about lately.  Distract from the reality of my experience, and the emotions it generates.  One simple example of this, is that after I wrote the title of this post, I immediately started looking at the prices of slow cookers… To put that into context, I don’t cook.  So yes, distraction has become a way of life…  But, to distract from what?  That’s the million dollar question…

I’ve started to get hints as to what the distraction is about… Early last year, I experienced a long period of intense suicidal ideation and intent.  While feeling a constant level of ideation is not unusual for me, there were significant changes in how it was addressed… When I reached out for help, there were consequences in the form of being placed in the Police holding cells as part of suicide assessment procedures; in a separate incident, I was subjected to a rather traumatic psychiatric assessment; and there was also the ACC privacy breach.  These incidents had a profound effect on me… the most dramatic being that I stopped seeking help.

This may seem counter-intuitive; but, my trust was shaken, and all I could see were the negative consequences of asking for help.  As I struggle with asking for help anyway, these incidents were fodder to that old belief system that no one is to be trusted, and that I have to do this alone.  Practically, this has been shown by the less frequent posts here, less frequent communication with Allison via email, withdrawing from friends and family, etc…

This withdrawal becomes a habit that snowballs so easily… it’s fed by my anxieties and my already isolated existence.  Also, if I’m withdrawing from everyone, then I don’t need to talk about things… I don’t need to face them… I can hide… I can focus on my lack of connection, rather than the reason for the lack of connection… It’s something tangible that I can hold up as a problem to those that I do try to connect with… it’s also easy to explain away when someone asks me why I’ve been more distant…  The line “I’m sorry, it’s nothing personal, I’ve been withdrawing from everything…” has become a bit of a mantra.

But, a distraction from what?

The first hints came a few weeks ago, when I was showing a friend around my house, and showed them an old bottle of Purple Death…  I’ve carried this bottle of alcohol with me for nearly 30 years.  I’ve never had any intention of drinking it; but instead have said that I’m carrying it around because of the funny label…  But, when I look at the origins of that bottle, I doubt that reasoning.  I was given this bottle by one of the sisters boyfriends… a boyfriend whom I idolised, and abused me.

I remember him being charismatic… he seemed so mature to my 10-year-old self.  Looking back, I can see that he was very good at paying just the right amount of attention to me… that is, just the right amount to manipulate the dysfunctional relationship between the sister and I.  He alternated between tolerating me, and showering me with attention.  As I was starved for attention, I lapped it up…

Looking back, I can see his actions fairly clearly… What does me in, is that the mother suspected something was happening between the sister’s boyfriend and I; but, her focus remained on the sister.  The mother knew he was bad for her, and tried to stop the relationship… but, it was all focused on dealing with the sister’s increasing levels of acting out.  Any concern for me was a very distant afterthought… I was the “good one” after all…

It is this dynamic that I often return to when I look at the past… all concern for me was swept aside by the worries for the more dysfunctional members of the family.  When I look at the sisters behaviour, I can understand that intellectually… she was quick to adopt a sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll existence.  But, it also generates a “what about me” feeling… I feel so pathetic and attention seeking writing that sentence… Like I’m whining, and just need to get over it already…  But, I also know that the feelings generated by that dynamic and message, have major impacts on my life now.  It taught me that others are more important than me; that people can, and should hurt me without consequence; and that I am worthless… the ultimate mistake at the end.

The shame associated with this dynamic are immense… But, there’s also anger… How can someone chose one child over another?  What drives that decision?  The sister was already acting out, so what would the consequences have been if the mother had chosen to protect me?  Just… WHY???

I said that there was shame and anger… well, there’s also sadness.  Sadness for that little girl who was so starved for positive attention, that she willingly went to an abuser…  Describes both the sister and I, doesn’t it?

Sad.

As for the bottle of Purple Death… I threw it into the trash on Monday.  If only the emotions and memories were as easily discarded…

—————-
Now playing: Powderfinger – My Happiness

My neon sign

I’ve often joked about the figurative neon sign above my head that reads “Go away!”…  But, those jokes cover a variety of issues that I experience – an inability to trust, be vulnerable, and basically experience any emotion without dissociating.  My past has taught me that people were unreliable, likely to hurt me, and best be avoided.  However, I’m also very human; and as such, crave human contact; this creates a dynamic I experience over and over…  I do things which I consider to open the door to communication, but also look for any hint that the person isn’t genuine, interested, or able to reciprocate in any way.  Depending on the level of involvement that I am expecting to have with the person, I then decide how much energy, and risk I’m willing to take.

Sometimes this has worked out well… for example, my cynical work friend and I get on well.  We’ve formed a good working friendship/relationship, where we can share different aspects of her life, and I share more with her about my life than anyone else around me… it’s a very guarded sharing, but it’s still sharing.

Sometimes this has been a disaster… for example, when I was talking to a mental health nurse this week, I basically set her up to respond in a way that would encourage her to tell me all of the negative aspects of her job.  At the time it was almost automatic, but it was also something that I wanted to explore as a way of finding out her thinking and approach.  It sadly turns out as if my fears were correct.  It came about because my mother had a scathing attitude towards the “manipulative young girls with eating disorders” that she encountered while a nurse… so, when the conversation during my ED appointment turned to online support, it was easy to talk with the nurse about the “destructive, manipulative” behaviours supported through “negative ED sites”… To the nurse, this was probably a conversation about how I was not going to those sites; but to me, this was about her having the same disdain and lack of empathy for those young girls that my mother exhibited.  In my mind, that has totally changed our working relationship… trust is non-existent, and I am feeling the blocks of resistance when thinking of doing anything that she suggests…

I have basically set us both up for failure.  I will go back next week, having been unable to do either of the things that she took for granted were going to happen, and it will reinforce the notes that she has now read from the Mental Health Crisis Team, which say that I’m difficult.  She didn’t hear, or dismissed my concerns about expectations for this week… so it will come back to my difficult nature and resistance to treatment.

But, the situation where this dynamic is most challenging, is when old patterns of dysfunction are involved… for example, the relationship with my mother.  My mother has shown the willingness to be supportive… she has travelled to stay with me after the last attack by my ex-husband, and when I was hospitalised.  But, while she has done these physical acts, there has been a barrier to any emotional connection.  I realise that the barrier is our past… the hurts, misunderstandings, defensiveness, etc.  We continually seem to approach each other from a place of hurt and confusion.  Neither of us understands the other, and we don’t know how to begin a conversation that would ease that position.  A big factor in that, is the neon sign that I wear above my head… my mother helped me build that sign through her actions towards me in the past, so why would I want to change that now?  At times, I don’t.  I want to keep my distance from her, and everyone.  But, at other times, I see the vulnerability; the attempts to reach out, and I wonder if things could be better.

The problem, is that my pattern of taking care of those around me, has meant that I have often been the one to reach out first.  The flip-side of that, is that my “Go away!” sign, means that people often don’t see my distress, or don’t want to reach out first, for fear of being rebuffed.  My mother described this dynamic a few years ago when we saw Bob… Bob asked my mother what she wanted in regards to me, and my mother’s response was that she wanted me to let her in, to let her help.  I remember being stunned… she wanted to help now… after all these years… oh, please!  The thing is, she was genuine… she wants to help, but she doesn’t know how.  When you combine this lack of knowledge, with my defences, you have two people stuck, circling each other…

Last week, there was a small communication between us, which made me think about the dynamics with my mother.  I’m arranging to go to my hometown for Christmas, and the only day that I can arrive is my sister’s birthday.  Considering that my sister and I haven’t talked in over 10 years, I thought this might be difficult; so sent a number of texts and a phone call to my mother before making the bookings.  This small interaction made me wonder about the role, or power, that I play in the continued tenuous relationship with my mother…

A few years ago a very good friend told me that I would need to make the first move in rebuilding the relationship with my mother.  At the time I baulked at that thought… she’s the one who hurt and neglected me!  Why should I make the first move?  But now, I can see the position that has put me in… My mother knows that I am the child she didn’t see.  She knows I’m hurt in ways she doesn’t understand, and that hurts her.  Yes, her pain is about herself, rather than me… but, unless I communicate with her, she will never understand my point of view.  She may never be capable of fully understanding what occurred, and the implications… but the current situation isn’t working either.

There are situations where it’s best to remove yourself from the family group for your own safety… I’ve done that with my sister and father.  But there is a possibility that I could form a better relationship with my mother.  I don’t think it will ever be perfect, as she has so many issues of her own… but, it’s worth trying… I think.

—————-
Now playing: REM – Everybody hurts

Eating disorder assessment

Note: This post will discuss disordered eating thoughts, behaviour and issues.

On Thursday, I was assessed by Eating Disorder Services (EDS).  To say that I was terrified, would be an understatement.  I have so many conflicting views about the assessment, and the reality of my disordered eating…  I constantly question whether I have an eating disorder, or not.  I hold up the evidence that suggests what I’m doing isn’t a big deal… my BMI is in the healthy range; I eat three “meals” a day; and I don’t do many of the stereotypical behaviours attributed to those with an eating disorder.

Then, I stand back a little, and look at what I’m doing… I have lost a substantial amount of weight over the last 18 months, to the point where people I haven’t seen in over a year, no longer recognise me; I’ve had an increasing number of people telling me that I need to stop losing weight; my diet has become narrower, and narrower over time; and my exercise regime has started to become a little obsessive.  Then, there are the physical issues… I’m losing hair; my skin is becoming dry; my fingernails are constantly breaking; fatigue hits me more frequently; I get sore muscles for little, or no reason; and my digestion is obviously compromised.

But, probably the scariest thing, is my eating disordered thinking.  I never really comprehended what people were talking about when they referred to the all-consuming thinking of an ED… now, I understand it a little more.  In the past, when I had issues with food, I would get glimpses of the odd logic and reasoning that I could come up with… I’d start to eat something, and then suddenly become repulsed by it… I’d look at food, and it would morph into something unpalatable and impossible to eat… or, just the thought of food would make me have a panic attack.  Often there would be no context for these previous issues with food, and they seemed like random occurrences.  I could attribute some of them to stress, but not all of them…  Now, things are different, it’s like I’m living in that space all the time.  I think of food, and become scared.  I’m not even totally sure what the fear is about… yes, there’s an element of “food = calories = weight = bad” to it; but, that’s not the real story.  That’s the veneer that is acceptable to describe, but there is so much more to it all.

I’m well aware that there is a mix of the past influencing my thinking…  My father was a butcher during many of my formative years, which has resulted in me always struggling to eat meat of any kind.  My mother has had many issues with her weight over the years… as part of her own issues, she would often make derogatory comments about my weight…  My ex-husband considered himself a chef, which has probably triggered one the most destructive of my food issues… an inability to eat salad.  Yes, I realise how silly that sounds… I mean, salad is good for you, right?  But now, I find myself frozen in front of the salad aisle of the supermarket, totally unable to pick-up any of the healthy food in front of me…  Part of the reason for this, is because my ex-husband made such a performance about making amazing salads; so there’s a negative association.  But, a bigger part of my issue with food, is an inability to touch it in order to prepare a meal.  To give you an idea, the last time I helped to prepare a meal from scratch, was last Christmas… I don’t remember the time before that…  I’m not totally sure how this fear developed, but I think it may have to do with touching raw meat, and the feelings generated as a result… associations with my father, and the butchery… flashbacks… fear… terror…

It’s for these reasons, that when I told my mother that I was going to be assessed for an ED, she commented that she wished them luck as the things that I eat are so limited.  It’s this sort of reaction that helps me realise that my disordered eating isn’t about trying to get attention from my family.  When my oldest brother was in his early 20’s he developed Bulimia Nervosa… the comments he received from our parents were hardly supportive… my father called him a skinny wimp, and my mother ignored it.  My brother managed to find his way through his eating disorder without outside help… but he still struggles with food 20+ years later.

With all of this baggage, I went into the assessment on Thursday… it was pretty much a disaster.  It was meant to be a 90-120 minute assessment, but the nurse called it off after 45 minutes.  I was at my tongue-tied best… staring at the carpet and becoming more and more anxious, despite taking medication prior to the assessment.  The only good thing, was that because EDS are part of the Mental Health Crisis Team, she had my notes which outlined my abuse history and diagnoses.

There were some harsh moments leading up to the assessment… having an ECG was a reminder of the physical damage that I could be doing to my body… the fasting blood tests were an odd contrast to what was meant to be achieved… but, the worst thing, was the terrible drive to restrict food as the assessment approached.  There were fears that if I wasn’t “serious/light enough”, they would call me an attention seeker; or, that they would force me to eat, so I had to counter that by going in as light as possible; and then there were the conflicting views about what being accepted, or not, by EDS would mean… all of these different reactions played out in my disordered eating.

I wish those fears, and behaviours had eased with EDS accepting me into their services… but, they haven’t.  The assessment ended with me being given the diagnosis of EDNOS, and being asked to add some cereal and milk into my diet.  The assessing nurse kept telling me that the changes would be slow, and about helping me to gain health, not weight.  But, I’ve been looking at the cereal in my pantry like it’s the enemy…  I wish I could just pour some in a bowl and eat it, just like they showed in those misguided made-for-tv ED movies of the 80’s and 90’s.  I guess real life isn’t like the movies after all… stink!

—————-
Now playing: INXS – Beautiful girl

Protecting "marriage"

As a warning, I’m a bit (lot) angry today, so this may well read more as a rant, than reasoned discussion…

Late last month, Louisa Wall’s private member bill, the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, was introduced for discussion into New Zealand Parliament.  I realise that the idea of equitable access to marriage for everyone, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, can be challenging for some people.  It’s a concept that can cut through to strong moral beliefs, and cause a reaction.  I realise that I could well be setting myself up for attacks, and misunderstandings because of writing about this… but, I’m a little stunned at some of the extreme reactions that I’ve seen… and amazed at the misinformation being disseminated.

If I was in a better head space, I’d do some research to counter that misinformation… but I’m not; so instead, I’ll tell you a little about my experiences with “traditional” marriage…

I grew up in a middle class, predominantly European neighbourhood.  My father and mother both worked; and to all outward appearances, we were the “ideal” family.  However, we were far from an “ideal family”, with psychological, physical, and sexual abuse being the norm.

Then, there was my marriage… again, a traditional arrangement between a man and woman… again, psychological, physical, and sexual abuse was the norm.

It would be really easy for me to say that “traditional marriage” is the problem within society, as my experience is that marriage between a man and woman is 100% abusive.  Thankfully, I’m a little more open-minded than that… I know that it’s not the gender or sexual identity of the person within the marriage that is the problem; but rather their empathy, relational skills, and so many other things that make a person who they are.  This is why statements such as  Colin Craig’s (Conservative Party leader) concern me…

Mr Craig rubbishes the argument that parenting is about loving the child rather than the sexuality of their parents.

“I disagree with that point of view. Love is not all that matters [emphasis added]”.

“Love is not all that matters”?  Really?  I grew up in a household where healthy love was scarce, so I respectfully disagree with Colin Craig.  If I had the choice between being raised within my abusive heterosexual led family; or one headed by a parent who showed me healthy, appropriate love… I’d pick the latter, every time.

The thing is, I also agree that love is not all that matters… people should choose to have children based on their ability to provide for that child.  I’ve seen heterosexual couples who would make great parents, struggle to conceive; and I’ve seen couples who aren’t able to care for themselves, let alone a child; have children on a yearly cycle.  So no, love isn’t all that matters… But, when you’re using that argument as a reason to stop marriage equality; I have a problem with it.

Marriage is about more than bringing children into this world… isn’t it?  It’s also more than the sexual orientation and identity of the people involved… isn’t it?  I’d like to think so… not because I want to marry; but, because marriage symbolises hope… hope that people can love, commit, and want the best for another person.  I know that marriage doesn’t always work out, and that people change, or don’t change, over time… but, it’s an important aspect of our culture, and to exclude people from that is wrong.

Note: I’m not including any illegal activities when considering sexual identity or orientation.