Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Magic Dog Ears and M&Ms

When I was a little kid, I had a big black dog. She had wirey hair and she looked kind of ferocious, but she just a pussycat at heart. I'd pretend she was a horse and she'd let me put a towel on her back and a leash around her nose while I groomed her. Anyway, she just happened to be scared of thunder. We had a lot of thunderstorms, and she would run to the bathroom and try to hide behind the toilet. I don't know why she did that, but it was quite a sight, seeing this big dog trying to fit between the bathtub and the toilet and squeeze as far behind it as she could (which wasn't very far). There she'd stay, until the storm was over, and no amount of coaxing or offers of treats could get her out of there. So if you had to go potty, you were going to be splayed across the toilet with a big black dog under your legs. She liked to sleep wrapped around the toilet in the summertime, too... guess it was nice and cool under there.

It also happened that when I was a little girl, I had a problem with constipation. When you eat lots of chips, cheese, ice cream and cookies but no fruits or vegetables, that usually comes with the territory. (Forgive me for sharing my childhood bowel habits, but it's important to the story. Trust me.) I would cry in the bathroom because it hurt so much. Well, my mom, who was a flake on some counts but wise on others, told me that when I was going potty and it hurt, I should hold the dog's ear. She was usually in there anyway, so I'd just reach down and hold onto one of her big, floppy, triangle ears while I was sitting on the toilet. And you know what? Somehow, it took the pain away. Just holding the dog's ear, it was like magic.

We all have our magic dog ears in our lives. Things that we turn to for some kind of "support," whether it be for comfort or courage or reassurance. It's kind of like Dumbo and his magic feather. Remember how Dumbo was too scared to fly? He didn't believe in himself until some crows and Timothy Mouse gave him a "magic feather" and told him that the feather could make it possible for him to fly. And since Dumbo believed them, he *could* fly.

Today as I was running around frantically trying to get everything ready for the big trip out of town, I bought myself a pack of peanut M&M's. It was the weirdest thing. I didn't want to *eat* them; I just wanted to have them with me. I wanted to put them in my purse for the trip. Maybe this is kind of messed up, but I have a long standing habit of turning to food for emotional comfort. When I am freaking out about something, frankly, the quickest way to calm myself down is to eat a cookie. I've done it for so long that I can't remember a time that food was not my bandaid. And now that I am making healthy changes in my life, I've not been using food so much anymore. I've used things like exercise or calling a friend or even just blogging to relieve my stress.

But this trip, it's freaking me out. I wrote about it the other day, and while I am calm on the outside, my insides are churning. I am worried about a lot of things. Yesterday, my son told me he thinks he is going to fail one of his classes, and I just broke down and cried. I had to go hide in the bathroom and muffle my sobs with a towel so I wouldn't scare the kids. I just cried and cried, and endless fountain... not just about the class... but about all the other stuff that's bothering me. Then I got it together and went on with life. Gotta be strong.

Just knowing I have some M&M's in my purse is somehow comforting to me. Knowing I will not be stranded in a hotel or at a hospital for hours with no possible way to get my "fix" if I am distressed... well, it just makes me feel more confident. I know. I am weird.

But at least I don't have to go out and find a dog to bring with me every time I need to use the toilet anymore.

Thanks for all the kind words of support! My daughter is excited and happy about this trip because we are going to the zoo afterwards. Hopefully, she will do just fine with the tests, and I'll bring back some great news!

This blog is currently #3 in the 2009 Blogger's Choice Awards for Best Health Blog! If you haven't voted yet, now's your chance :)

See you on the other side...


Megan said...

Good luck, we'll all have our fingers crossed for you! Have fun at the zoo, with any luck that'll be the memory for your daughter that stands out from the trip! Keep up the good work!

new*me said...

aww.....the zoo will be so great!

Loved the dog cute and so creative of your mom to think of that. Whenever my kids have a boo-boo, I reach up in the sky and sprinkle magic fairy dust on their boo-boo. It's amazing how great that stuff works :)

Ashley said...

It is a horrible feeling when every little thing mounts up and up and up. Crying usually helps me out a lot in those situations. I hope that things get better soon!

♥ Dee ♥ said...

I did the same thing with smokes when I quit. I had a pack on hand. I didn't want to smoke them, but I wanted the option if I did want to. I know, doesn't really make sense. But I guess, given the choice, I felt like it was MY choice to say no. It was a comfort to just have them in the drawer.

Karyn said...

Know that I am praying for all of you over the next couple days. I'm glad you've allowed yourself the M&M's for some comfort.

For the rest of the peace you will need - rest in Jesus' love for you and your little one.

I anxiously await your report of the testing - AND the zoo.

NewMe said...

I will be thinking of you.

(And I did vote!)

Anonymous said...

Lynn, the thing with the M&Ms sounds so familiar to me. Except my problem was with panic attacks. When I was having them, just knowing that I had Xanax in the cabinet IF I needed it was sometimes enough to calm me. I still have that bottle of (out of date) Xanax, just in case. I don't know if it's healthy or not, but if it works, go for it! Love ya and praying for y'all!

missy said...

OH, I can SO relate! I have really weird and strong anxiety/phobia issues and for the last couple of years I used...wait for it...PEANUT M&M's (I know!) as a strange sort of medicine to ease the bad nights. And let me tell you, there were MANY bad nights!

I've started keeping dark chocolate Hershey kisses beside my bed...just in case. I figure at least it's a better alternative! :)

antgirl said...

Hope the trip goes well and ends up less stessful than you are anticipating. :)

Anonymous said...

hi Lyn, I have voted for you to win Best Blog--you deserve it! I could only vote once yet it showed some people have voted more than once, how can you do this--anyone know??
Thanks and yes "see you on the other side". I like that. ;-) Cathleen

chelsea j said...

This might be too personal, but are you going to Portland? I work up on the hill, if that means anything to you. Have fun at the zoo, I went with my 4 year old nephew a month ago, and he had a blast. I'm sure your daughter will too.

Vickie said...

Your post hit something dead on that just happened to me this week - I hope this will not offend - it is too big of a coincidence not to pay attention:

I was cleaning a pile of papers off the counter in our computer room/office, and ran across this note - in my therapist's handwriting -

ED (Eating Disordered) individuals do not have coping mechanisms. Use ED to cope. This is how you know an ED individual is in stress.


Congruent in mind, body, spirit

Rosemary said...

Great post again!

You really motivate me.

And I was the same way with cigs. nasty things...

Good luck and have fun!

Ceres said...

Have a safe trip, and best of luck with your daughter's exams. But I do hope, for your sake, that the M&Ms stay unopened. Maybe you can carry a notebook and a pen, and put your urge to eat down on paper, if and when it comes??? I don't know, perhaps it's a silly idea, but I know that writing stuff down is another way to comfort yourself.

Hanlie said...

((((Lyn)))) Have a safe trip!

I really identified with this post... You have an amazing gift of seeing connections and truths and then to describe your thought processes to eloquently.

beerab said...

I hope it all goes well, sometimes a good cry is all you need to lift some weight off your shoulders :)

I hope the tests go well!

Heather said...

i dont think theres anything wrong with that at all. you didnt eat them and thats what you would have done. your taking steps in the right direction and whatever works for you, works for you.

Laurie ( said...

I have been reading your blog for quite some time, and it's amazing how you can put into words so many things that I totally relate to. I just want to thank you for that! :)