Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Letting Go

Oh my goodness... our kitty has a problem!! My daughter went to pet her under the chin and all her fur is gone and the skin is bright red and sore. It is the whole area under her chin and totally not visible until you tip her head up. It probably has been an issue for at least a few days but because of where it is, we never saw it. I have no idea what it could be! She is acting fine otherwise but of course we have a call in to our vet (two vets, actually, trying to get her in ASAP) who will call if they can get her in today. Otherwise we are taking her in tomorrow. Man, what a bad time to have a sick/injured cat! She is 12 years old. I hope it is a simple fix and heals quickly. We are leaving this weekend for the beach and I will have to make sure someone is here who can care for this sore spot and give medication if needed.

In other news, I had a thought the other day that I have been subconsciously trying to channel my mom. If you've read my blog, you know I had an iffy relationship with her and have spent a long time healing from the pain she caused me while she was alive and in the months following her death. I have had this mixture of anger, resentment, peace, forgiveness, love, and disdain for her over the years. I have always felt I did not want to be ANYTHING like her, shunning the alcoholism, the fanatical religiousness, the self-absorption, and just about everything else I could shun. I have a bubbling, brewing, (festering?) desire to NOT be like her. And yet, in some way, perhaps I have been trying in a primal, subconscious way to connect to my mother via my weight and eating issues.

Crazy, isn't it? But one thing I learned while I was a foster parent is that children love their mothers. They love them if they are good mothers, and they love them if they are bad mothers. They love them even if they have abused them, beaten them, verbally attacked them, ignored them, starved them, and rejected them. Children, at least most children, deeply desire their mother's love, affection, and approval. And while I gave up on getting any of those things long ago... decades before my mother passed away... perhaps the inner child still wants to connect and be loved by a mother long gone.

Part of me, I think, feels there is this one thing that connects me to my mother. We had nothing in common... nothing but our obesity. She never saw me fat, never even knew I was obese, until very late in her life. When I came to her on her deathbed, I think she was surprised as she lay there dying to see her daughter in such a state. I was somewhere between 245 and 275 pounds at the time, and she, too, was morbidly obese. She laid eyes on me, and for once in my adult life I saw regret in her eyes and she said, "you know I always loved you." No, no actually I didn't. I still don't. But I said "I know, mom. I love you too."

She died in my arms and I wanted to forgive her. She left notes in her closet calling me to repentance (for what? I never understood) and a will specifically leaving me out and devoting everything to her church. Nothing to my children who lived in poverty with me at the time. Not even my father's things. She left family heirlooms to people I didn't even know, and her friends taunted me before her body was even cremated with the fact that she left me nothing. It was cold, and cruel, and it hurt me as much as watching her die had hurt. Even from beyond the grave, couldn't she have loved me? I always wished there had been a note of love instead of notes of condemnation. It's been difficult to let go of, yet I think in my own way I have.

So why do I try to channel her with my weight? Why do I feel connected to my mother as I battle my eating as she did every day of my childhood? Why do I feel like I am betraying her when I become thinner? I got to leave obesity... she never did... and it feels like yet another massive gorge between my mother and I.

I guess I will always long for her approval and acceptance. I guess part of me looks up to heaven and says "see mom? Look, I am like you! We are the same! I understand what you went through. I am going through it too. Do you love me now?" It is the only thing we have in common. Yet the other part of me knows we are not alike, not really, We share some genes. I see her in the mirror sometimes, or in my children's faces. I loved her even though she did not know how to love me back. Staying fat or losing weight won't change that. Neither state will bring us closer. It is something I am finally coming to accept.

It has been ten years since my mother died. I think when I go to the ocean next week, I will talk to her in the waves. She always loved the ocean, although she never took me there with her. But when I stand on the opposite coast of the United States and look west at the sunset a decade after she last looked east at the sunrise, perhaps I can let her know somehow that I am letting go of that last thing I felt was connecting us, and instead embracing the life she gave me and living it to the fullest.

22 comments:

Marie said...

NO knowledge of you and your mom, just my two cents -

I sort of doubt you got overweight because of some sort of subconscious desire to be like your mom.

There are all kinds of ways to be like your mom. You could have subconsciously chosen any or all of them. I doubt you picked weight and weight alone as your issue.

I don't know why you overweight - I think it is easy to be overweight, all you have to do is eat a little more than you should and sit a lot. It may just be that, really, and you have gotten rid of much of the weight.

On another note I am so sorry your mom did that to you, in re: the inheritance, that was truly wrong.

Deb Willbefree said...

Well. I was only going to write that mom issues are the toughest things to work thru.

Then I made the mistake of reading a comment already made. sigh. Now I feel compelled to write more.

Since you mention alcoholism and obesity r/t your mom, I think apart from any psychological issue (Of which there may be several), there is most probably, most extremely probable, that their is the physical tendency towards addiction.

Alcohol and food addiction are so closely related. You've read the research about brain stimuli. I don't need to repeat that.

Additionally, those who are extremely carb sensitive (whether guten intolerant or not) also tend to be obese and, often, alcoholics also tend to be carb sensitive.

Anyway, to have the emotional impact of what you felt as a child reinforced by your mom's actions re: her will, etc, would be horrendous. No ability to talk yourself out of the reality of your childhood impressions after that!

I commend you for having the courage to not only write about it, but to address it. Really, you're doing good work with this.

I think, among many other good things, that your ability to gain some understanding re: your mom's addiction may be increased. Not for her benefit, but for the little girl that suffered the impact of that addiction.

Additionally, the adult that you are can feel some satisfaction that although you, too, experienced addiction, you worked to be a good mom--not repeating your mom's mistakes. You deserve to appreciate yourself for that--I hope you already have.

Now, the cat--might be ringworm. It's contagious.

Deb

Janis said...

Maybe losing the weight feels like Moving On™ to you. Staying in a problem can often feel like you're sort of stuck in time and not moving forward. Mentally, I've sometimes felt as if dropping a problem and moving forward almost was like giving up. Giving up on worrying at the problem, giving up hope on finding a solution. It's an ugly feeling to tell yourself that a problem is stuck there, embedded in the concrete of 15 or 20 years (or more), and that nothing you do will solve it.

Staying with a problem feels like you're staying in the past, there next to the problem where you can still reach it and try to fix it. Maybe you feel that as long as your current problem with your weight is there, it's sort of still 1990-whatever or 1980-whatever, and as such you can still figure out a way to reach your mom somehow and get her to give you what you need.

Losing the weight -- jettisoning your problem in the present -- might feel to you a bit like you are saying, "Okay fine, I have a dead body buried under my house. I'd like to dig it up, but well, it's not going to happen. I can't dig the thing up, I've just got to build my house on top of the thing and make it work." It's such an ugly realization to confront. :-(

Lose the weight, get out of the hole next to that dead body, and just leave the damn thing there. It's not going to budge, and you'll waste your life trying to budge it. Just leave it where it is, stuck in the concrete of those decades, build your life on the concrete surface over it, and move on.

Janis said...

BTW, I just realized that my comment was sort of confusing: I'm talking about two problems:

The one in the past: your relationship with your mom.

The one in your present: your weight/health.

I just get the feeling -- and I might be wrong, but I'm going on how I've reacted to things in my own past -- that some part of you feels that solving the weight problems is somehow connected to just saying, "I can't fix the other problem of the relationship with my mom, so I've got to just stop trying and move on anyway."

Of course, my words are worth what you paid for them ...

Lyn said...

Marie~

I agree. The gain had nothing to do with my mom. I have blogged in great detail about the why's of my weight gain, and she is not it. But I am aware that now it is the one thing I feel some strange connection to her over. Since it came up in my brain, I think it's good to explore it.

Deb~

definitely an addictive family I come from! Lots going on in my brain and body. I am getting a PhD in myself ;)

ringworm...yikes!!

Lyn said...

Janis~

That is a VERY insightful comment. I think you are correct. THANK YOU!

lynna said...

The greek word for forgiveness is "to let go". It was only after I let go of my need for my dad's approval (still craved it years after he had died), that I found peace. I realized that I had only to look inward for self-approval (and outward for God-approval) and that would be complete... and unshakable, and independent of any human being. It was and is very empowering. Blessings to you this weekend as you do the hard work of letting go.

Janis said...

Letting go is a better term than forgiving, I think. "Forgiving" sounds to me too much like saying, "It was okay that XYZ was done to me." Well, it wasn't.

Letting go sounds more like, "It wasn't okay, but that doesn't matter. What matters is I can't go back and change it, and I've got to get on with my life because I can't just let the years scrape my skin off from whizzing past me while I sit here."

RhubarbLady said...

Oh, I hope everything will be okay with your cat-ours is 14 1/2 and other than a few bad teeth that had to be removed she's doing well. Enjoy the beach with your children!

GottaReason said...

@Deb - I've heard a lot, and I hadn't yet heard of carb sensitivities. That would explain A Lot.

@Janis- loving your rich imagery

And forgiveness, if I might add to the conversation, has always been for me like eating the pain someone else has caused, usually with the comment in my mind "You owe me, but I'm not going to hold you accountable anymore." Sour in the swallowing, sweet in the subsequent removal of unfulfillable obligation.

timothy said...

sometimes we're so focused on NOT being like someone we end up letting other stuff slip by unnoticed. my family tends to be alcoholic and drug addicted and i NEVER wanted to be like them. then i wound up being obsessed with sex, which to me was affection. and i was VERY affectionate! lololol not really funny but i "see" the ridiculousness in hindsight. not too much affection when you don't even know a name and never hear from em again and the ones that wanted more i treated horribly and avoided at all cost.
have a glorious time at the beach and prayin for the kitty's quick recovery.

Amy said...

Poor kitty. Does she lay in front of the window a lot? Or somewhere where a lot of sun shines in? This once happened to my cat and he ended up having sunburn!

I just started reading your blog, so I haven't read much yet, but I loved this posting. It seems like you are so descripted and honest.

I have just started my weight loss journey and I am hoping that reading other peoples stories, struggles, and accomplishments help.

Thank you for your post.

Marilyn said...

maybe this will shed some light on why we keep returning emotionally to "the scene of the crime"

* * *
Many of you learned at an early age to use sugar and fat and white stuff to help you manage. As children, bad things happened to you. You had no way out, and no one to help you make sense of bad things. You were “stuck” in a family. You could not just move out or go live with someone else. You could not say, “Oh, excuse me, this is not working for me, I would like a different set of parents.”

So you found ways to manage. And usually that included eating. On some level you learned the beta-endorphin effect, you got it that sugar is a painkiller. You may not have understood that on a conscious level, but on a physical level you did. Your body knew. You got by.
Some part of you knows and remembers that childhood was no bed of roses. But what you cannot figure out is how you got here as an adult? Why do these things still happen? How could you keep doing it with all the knowing? That part makes no sense. And often you trash yourself because you think you should know better. How could you go back to a situation that is abusive? And if you are really honest, you think, “How could I be that stupid?”
Rather than thinking of the “going back” as being stupid, consider the option that you go back for two core reasons: the first is that your psyche wants to be healed. You do the same story over and over as a way of “seeing” the truth. If you can change the filter that you are not bad, not inadequate, just persistent about finding healing, it helps. You want to sort out this story so you can heal it. The other key issue is that while you are caught in addictive behavior, it is impossible to step outside a negative situation and heal it. Addiction keeps you caught. It chains you to the abuse. What you originally thought was giving you relief (and it did), actually now is killing you. When you are in an addictive pattern, you have one primary focus, and that is how to feed it. Your rational brain may say, “I have to get out of here. This is nuts. My life is at stake.” but if you are caught in the food, you cannot make the move to be free.

But as an adult with healing, you have power over what happens to you. Feeling like a victim is biochemical. Feeling stuck is biochemical. Feeling helpless or enraged without a way out is biochemical. When you heal the biochemistry, those feelings change. Even though the memories are real and the abuse happened, as you heal the biochemistry something happens. You find yourself thinking, “You know, I don’t need to keep doing this old story.”
You don’t stuff it, you don’t lash out in rage and spike your beta endorphin, you just say, “nope, not going there.” And that energy, the energy that comes from a healed place starts growing and feeding itself.

Now, when a grocery store clerk is surly, you laugh and say, “Excuse me?” When someone is obnoxious and testy, you walk away. When your husband or boyfriend or girlfriend picks a fight, you say, ”This does not work for me, what alternatives do we have?” You acknowledge that you need to learn new skills, new language. You didn’t learn either when you were growing up, so you start listening to the skilled. Your ear hears new ways of deflecting and disarming. You become confident and skilled. The longer you do the food, the more natural the skill becomes.

This does not happen all at once or in a flash. It, like your food program, comes in baby steps, sometimes in nano steps. But it does come. Do the food and things change. Do the food and heal. It is a very simple equation.

©Kathleen DesMaisons 2004.

Confessions of an Obese Mom said...

Lynn,
My heart goes out to you.

I long for the acceptance of my father (who's still alive) and I always wanted to be daddy's little girl. It has taken me 42 years and therapy to realize I will never be. I just have to accept he is the way he is, and in some weird way he does love me. Just not the conventional way I wanted. Does that make sense?
You can do something for your mother.

Show her that you are putting you first and being a shining example to your children. Take care of you and lose your remaining weight. You have learned from her. How to be a better mother to your children. Don't hold resentment (I know easier said than done) but look to it as an opportunity to show the kids and yourself that you are a better person BECAUSE of your mother. (does this make sense?)

Thinking of you.

definingmore said...

What a lovely and thought provoking post Lyn. I read itlast night and had to return this morning for a second read.

I am sorry about how your mom treated you and the children when she was alive. I have an aunt who is so active in her church its like her church is her family and her blood relations are the cast-offs.

Exploring your thought of the connection is great. Approaching the waves to communicate is great. I hope you can find your closure and continue to share your story of sucess.

Anonymous said...

I know it can be hard but something that someone said to me years ago really helped me realize that certain things that happened weren't my fault and I had absolutely no control it. Why? It's very simple, you must look at it for what it is; "You're mother is just a person (that's a tough pill to swallow). Just a person like any other person on this planet of millions. She was going to be the same person weather you were born or not". I know it seems simple and kinda weird but when I was able to look at my mother as any other person it did help. Like you said, no matter what they do to us we have them on a pettistool. Why? They are just people doing what people do, weather it's doing good things or doing bad things. Unfortunately, having children doesn't change DNA.
When I think that she was the way she was regardless of weather I was born or not, it does help me take a little of the pressure off of myself.
Stacey

Barbara said...

Wow Lyn, Thank you so much for sharing that. You are so right that we love our parents no matter what they do and long to have that love returned. I am 54 hers old. My mother passed away over 20 years ago and only very recently have I let go of that need. I still "talk" to her once in a while but I can finally accept that while she wanted to be a good mother, she wasn't. I believe her needs & wounds were to great & she thought children would heal her. She took rather than gave emotionally & couldn't feel the love I had for her so grew angry & cruel. I swore I'd never be like her & in many ways I am not but I, too, have never felt love. Only where she grew angry, I grew depressed. Where she blamed others, I blamed myself. I was treated for depression most of my adult life until about a year ago when I started seeing a therapist who told me I was not clinically depressed. I was someone who had reason to be sad and the verbal & emotional abuse I suffered was not my fault. Finally she helped me work through it & I was able to stop the longing for parental love that would not be. I am still amazed that the bag in which I was collecting all the painful memories of my life, perhaps in some way to justify the way my parents treated me, has been cut loose. Of course now I face a new challenge.....building a life beyond "my story" and discovering what it is that I would like to do or what makes me happy rather than continuing to totally sacrifice myself in an effort to please others hoping if I am just "good enough" I will earn the love I couldn't earn before.

Steelers6 said...

You ARE living life to the fullest. I am so proud of you for working so hard to be the best Mom you can be, and totally improving on what you knew as a child.

Have a great vaca.
Chrissy

LN said...

Recognizing that having left obesity behind, you have also left that fragile connection you felt you had with her experience - that is something to mourn. it is a part of who you think you were - your identity. Letting that change and be more who you are now - I know that has stopped me when I have had some major success in weight loss before.

simplysidney said...

You do write from the heart and I can only imagine the pain you felt when opening up this part of yourself, but hopefully very freeing.
I have many issues with my mom and many are weight related. She is one of the lucky who is thin no mater what she eats. I got my dad's frame and she's not been kind about my weight.
I like the idea of letting go, it's actually something I've been working on. You and your mom have lived thru the same weight issue, you will always have that in common, if nothing else.
You however, have come out the other end and are helping others on their journey, very powerful!!

I'm so very glad as well that it was the laptop that died and not the kitty- so happy she's on the mend!!

Tammy said...

I loved your post. You write really well and express your feelings and emotions like I wish I could. I'm still "closed off" to an extent and only let people see the surface. I'm working on that. I'm soo sorry that your mom did that to you. I will never understand how some parents just can't or won't love their children. My dad loved me, but he left my mom (and us if you ask me) for another family when I was 12. I found out later that the judge had to ORDER him to have visitation with us, because he didn't want anything to do with us at the time. It changed later a bit and I'm thankful for that. When he died (also 10 years ago), he left his wife (my step-mom) everything..well he didn't LEAVE it to her, he just didn't write a will, even though he knew he was sick.:( So I felt a little like that 12 year old again and the feelings of being rejected. She took the money and went to Europe 2months after he passed away. That made me even more upset. You ARE a great person and I'm sure your mom loved you in her own way...just wish she could have shown you more..even after she was gone.

jmak said...

My father was an alcoholic, and my mother was insane (the real deal), so I can relate. The problem I faced, which you might be facing, is the need to apply logic to an illogical situation. As an alcoholic, your mother did not have all of her faculties. As a child, I tried with all my heart, soul, and gorging of food, to figure out how to get my father to love me, be nice to me, stop abusing me, etc.... and it just couldn't be done. I was a victim of circumstance, as were you. Alcoholism changes the playing field from normal, logical, and fairly predictable, to freaking insane and truly something to escape. I know that for me, I am not in a complete place of forgiveness yet, but as I let go of my rage, etc., my need to overeat dissipates. I'm glad you posted your thoughts on this topic. Good luck.