Sunday, 16 August 2009

De-brief on the last 8 posts...

A big thank you for your comments

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The last 8 posts have been difficult because I’ve had to dig deep within myself to explain – more to myself than to you – why I have so often failed at what seems to be relatively simple: to pull back after indulging in excess.

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Though brought up as an Anglican, my background has Catholic and Presbyterian elements in it, and as a child I unconsciously absorbed the concept of guilt linked to excess of any kind, and particularly to physical enjoyment in all its forms – including swearing. The advocacy of moderation at all times was always served up with a frown, as if ignoring these precepts would shower disapproval on one’s head from adults, and everlasting damnation from the Almighty. I was on the whole a bit in awe of adults and authority generally, and anxious to please. Although I would love to portray myself as a feisty little Just William or Dennis-the-Menace, sadly I was far from being rebellious.

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The three churches would therefore have clucked approvingly as I grew up studying hard, avoiding drugs and youthful sex, never swearing or lying to my parents (though as a teenager I did smoke behind the woodpile on farm holidays, with my cousins…), being polite to my elders, and so on – not necessarily because I was God-fearing, more a case of mother-fearing. You didn’t get away with disobeying Mum, and her anger was definitely to be avoided at all costs. I’m afraid something had to give once I was away from her sphere of influence.

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I take full responsibility for my descent into gluttony, make no mistake about that. However as we who struggle endlessly with the problem know only too well, it is not merely a question of over-eating just because the food is there, but of the anxiety caused by underlying psychological factors, combined with an increasingly sedentary existence.

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At the centre of our beings is the desperate need for love and approval, and if the object of that love shows their displeasure towards us, it rocks our lives and – certainly in my case – triggers a series of reactions which are never really overcome. In trying to please my husband I was unconsciously setting myself up to fail in an endless Groundhog-Day process, forever pleading for approval when starving, and hating myself later for bingeing. Once he disappeared from the picture, the pattern of punishment and reward was set. Other people’s comments and disapproval just worsened the situation, and comforting foods helped to make it bearable for a while. If I had been encouraged to enjoy exercise for its own sake it might have helped, though I shall never know this.

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Looking at all the old pictures I can now honestly say – hey it wasn’t that bad… and having read and thought about your comments I can see that I should have been more assertive at the time, not just with my ex-husband, but with others too, and presumably I didn’t because I lacked self-confidence. This is the story of people like us, isn’t it?

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Thank you and thank you again for taking the trouble to make me feel better by commenting on my entries. I’ve copied and pasted each person’s comments, one page each, printed them off and then looked at them together – I’ve concluded that I’d love to meet each and every one of you, and I think if we did meet up we’d all be talking ten to the dozen all at the same time and you wouldn’t be able to hear yourself think!

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Helen (USA). You’ve made me ask myself – ‘yeah, why did I put up with it?’ – and your comments speak of difficult experiences of your own throughout your life. I can imagine sitting with you in Oklahoma, letting you do all the digging and weeding as we talk… Another nice surprise reaction from you, Tina and Dawn has been your comments on my rugby photos. There all in a box somewhere – it would be fun to recover them sometime and show a few more, if they’re of interest.

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Tina (USA). The malnutrition between 5-8 years old at boarding school was caused I’m told by the owners of the school having had a lot of money stolen from them, so they cut down on expenses, including our food. We were all under-nourished, I heard many years later, and my mother was one of the first to complain – I suppose the other parents hadn’t dared. You ask how I got from South America to the UK – though I think a subsequent entry has probably answered that – having been brought up bilingual I just wanted to study in English. Canada was a first choice, but I decided on the UK in the end because I had so many relations here. Yes, I feel guilty about not having yet supplied ‘before’ and ‘during’ pictures, and John keeps offering to do the latter. I really must set it up (while I try to lose a few more kilos!!)

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Nola (Australia). So supportive, thanks very much. Your frank descriptions of your PB’s/barfs/spews have been so funny that they’ve made me now shrug my shoulders when it happens to me, rather than to be filled with disgust. I still chuckle remembering the chaos of the dogs tied to the table as you fled to get rid of your lime spider, and their galloping anxiously after you…

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Sylvia (USA). Your caring comments are so cheering – it’s truly wonderful to find that I’ve said something which has struck a chord with others, and I hope that some time in the future you will share the pictures and times of your youth.

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Diz (USA). It’s lovely that you’re near the end of your journey and still find time so say such encouraging things to the likes of us who are still a long way from the summit. I hope I too will feel confident enough one day to post a video on my blog!

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Dawn (UK). You’re right about being constantly in denial and forever seeking to conceal ourselves… the greatest give-away to me is when overweight people wear a lot of black – it speaks so clearly about how they feel inside.

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Simone (UK). Chance is a wonderful thing – I was just clicking on ‘next blog’ one day and up popped yours. I imagine you must trawl the internet very assiduously to come up with such stunning photos which so exactly match your taste and moods, and there’s a quality of joyousness about your text which is irresistible. You ask if I’m in a support group – well, only in a very unofficial way. At Taunton where I had the op and attend every 4 weeks for fills and weigh-ins there are always at least half a dozen or more patients waiting to go through the various stages, and we all talk non-stop about our own cases and quiz each other on aspects we need to compare. I’ve made one very good friend this way who’s very supportive and also reads this blog. The blogging is excellent group therapy too – and both serve to make me realise that everything that happens to me is totally normal and predictable.

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Cara (Australia). The bikini shot was three years or so before I met and married my husband and he’d started to comment, by which time I had put on about 8 kg – at that size that’s quite a difference. I remember that ‘slim summer’ of the bikini so well, in Spain, when I felt slim, attractive and happy. However I assure you I’m not whining ‘oh if only’, I’m looking ahead and thinking ‘one day I’ll have another summer like that, only this time it’ll be even better because I’ll know what I went through to get there’.

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Tracey (Australia). I love your suggestion of putting this in a scrapbook, and I’m seriously considering it.

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Thank you too to Sarah, Roo, Laurie Tossey and Zanna for your great and supportive remarks, all really appreciated, and to Ramón a good friend from Argentina, for his very kind words.

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Thank you too to all the anonymous readers who regularly ‘drop by’ and see what I have to say. If you think I’d be interested in your blog, why not leave me a comment – I'll always click on the name to see what your blog is like.

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Next time I’ll knuckle down to writing about how the band is working – I’m delighted to say there are no PB/barf/spew stories! However there will be one involving exercise which if you’ve been reading regularly and know what I’m like you simply will not believe!! (No, not that, this is a self-respecting blog…)

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-oOo-

7 comments:

Tina said...

Thank your for your nice comment responses! My mother-in-law lives near Newport, Wales and we come down near you fairly often (Bristol right?). The next time we are over I will definitely arrange a meeting.

I got the ticker to work but I do not love it in the blog. I put it in the header section. It was the only place I could get it to work. I had to shorten my header in order to stop it from showing up right in the middle of things.

Good luck!!

Tina

Lonicera said...

What a lovely idea! Bristol is definitely on the way to Wales, and the village where I live is 10 minutes down the M5, the motorway which goes south just where you cross the Severn Bridge. Let me know when the next visit is planned. I'd really enjoy meeting you.
Caroline

Tracey said...

HI Caroline, once again, thank you for sharing with us, exactly what is on your mind. You certainly have a way of transfering those emotions into words that move us.

Tracey

The Dash! said...

Hey Caroline :)

I think you are a beautiful person and anyone who tells you differently, well they can go jump!! I loved reading your life story - you have actually done some amazing things what with all your travels and battling the demons within and so forth.
Your man John sounds like the breath of fresh air you needed and with his love and support (and ours) maybe one day the battle within you will subside to a manageable level.
Give yourself creds for battling long and hard. You are doing amazingly and we are all here for you.
Cara xx

Lonicera said...

What wonderful remarks - thank you all so much! The best thing I ever did (apart from the band) is to start a weblog and find so many good friends. I've just read the messages out to John, and he asks to send his love to you all and to say you're "a super bunch of people".
caroline

Zanna, travelling tart, getting ready for her next trip said...

Would so love to meet you - but this trip will be pretty tight - with only a brief stopover in Heathrow on our way from Scotland to HK. Maybe on a future trip we could catch up - would love to. I've done a couple of catch ups with bloggers in NZ - and it was brilliant and have no doubt it would be the same to catch up with you - this trip plan to catch up with Shauna from Dietgirl (if you haven't read her book I strongly recommend it) and Isobel from In this Life - their blogs are on my linkbar - both are in Edinburgh. Keep trying to catch up with Lainey from I'ts Life Jim but damn it she's going to Brazil while I'm in Scotland!! Z xx

Diz said...

Girlfriend...I am far from the end of my journey. The journey ends when I'm pushing up daisies! I still have somewhere between 20 and 40 lbs to go. When I reach the "goal"...whatever that may be, the journey will be to maintain it and lead a normal life. Though something tells me that it will never be the average "normal"...just my normal and a bandster normal.

I've just slacked off on the blogging due to my workload this summer. It was hard to do both..to be honest, I've slacked on on exercise to the workload also, so I've just been maintaining...not really losing. So, I've got some hills to climb. I'm just so lucky to have you on my travels. Thank you Caroline!

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