Thursday, August 1, 2013

Should I Open The Box?

I have been just miserable since I started eating junk again, and it didn't end today, either. I felt mired in sadness, and as I posted in the comments of my earlier post, "broken." I also felt kind of angry when I decided to eat a lot of junk for lunch and couldn't. I don't have the capacity for it anymore and as silly as it seems, it is really frustrating when you *want* to eat a bunch of stuff but physically can't. I am pretty much limited to normal serving sizes now by my stomach, which is used to small mini-meals rather than the large volume of food I used to eat. I wonder if that is how weight loss surgery patients feel... if they haven't fixed the inner emotions yet, and still WANT to overeat but can't. Almost makes you want to cry. But it also makes you face the feelings.

This morning, I wrote that I felt broken. An hour later, I walked in to the counselor's office and sat down, looking sullen I am sure. Before I could say much about how I have been feeling, he sat down and pulled out a piece of paper. On it he drew a heart with the words "emotions" and "needs" on each side. Then he drew a giant crack down the middle of the heart and he said, "when we do not connect our needs and our emotions with what is happening around us, we feel broken." I sat there, stunned that he was talking about feeling broken, when I had never mentioned that to him before and had just decided this morning that I was, in fact, broken. I listened while he talked some more about healing that brokenness, about paying attention to our needs and emotions, and how to make changes that make us whole again. It was just what I needed to hear.

At one point, he wanted to do an exercise. You know I've been talking about my mother lately, and how I pretty much have felt like I am "over it" and have moved on and don't let it affect me... but he proved me oh-so-wrong. He wanted to bring in a neutral person to sit in place of my mother and have me talk to her and say the things I wanted to say but can't because she's dead. As soon as he suggested it I got internally very upset and felt the most raw, reeling emotions I have felt in a long, long time. It was the tip of the iceberg of the feelings from when she was alive, and when she died, and it was so frightening to me that I told him no, I could not do it. I was not ready. In fact I had to sit there silent for a minute collecting myself just to be able to speak again. And I remembered that feeling from when I came home after her death and I could not speak of it for MONTHS. I could not form a single word about my mother or her death to anyone who asked and I could not even write about it or think about it. I remember thinking that if I dared speak one sentence about it, all the very frightening emotions would burst out and I would be unable to control it and I might be... I dunno... incapable of functioning or something. That's how strong the feelings were, how traumatic the experience was, and it did not help that I had no one to talk to about it at the time. So I learned to stuff, stuff, stuff it down by whatever means possible. I remember thinking of The Event in terms of something I had to stuff in a box and get the lid shut and put a lock on it that could never be broken. I mean, for months I was having nightmarish flashbacks of things I still cannot even type out that happened when she died. Those images were the worst I have ever witnessed and I think I was in a really bad state, emotionally, for months afterwards. But over time... over a decade... I was able to talk about it in general terms and eventually even give a few specifics without ANY emotion leaking out. I shoved it all in that box, I got on top of the box and jumped and jumped on it like someone trying to stuff a suitcase full of clothes and shut it, until I got the lid down and I put the biggest, baddest padlock you can imagine on it. And now I could speak of it, write of it, share it with almost no emotion... like it was just a tale I read in a book and not something I'd gone through personally.

Death can be like that, trauma can be like that, and I think more people than you think have done the shove-it-in-a-box method of coping with tragedy.

And now this guy is asking me to open the box.

He says I have to do it to heal. He says it is not about the food, or the diet, or chocolate or weight. It is about healing what's underneath. But still, I am terrified of what's in that box and not sure if opening it is such a good idea. I can't right now, but maybe I should. Maybe he is right.


Anonymous said...

When I would meet with a client for the first time, I'd explain a bit about how things would work.

I'd tell them they didn't have to worry about what to do in the sessions. Part of my job was to be a guide.

I told them that they didn't have to control the steering wheel, but they *were* in charge of the gas pedal and the brake.

They decided how fast we would go. They could stop or slow down any time they wanted. It was my job to be sensitive to that--because it was their session, not mine.

There are other techniques your counselor can pull out to help you work up to a face-to-face. Writing assignments. Art work. Just telling him what happened and how it felt. A face-to-face is intimidating.

As far as fearing that you'll be overwhelmed if you take off the lid of your box. Yes. Well. You probably will be.

But, there's a technique called "dosing" that I often taught clients to use. You may want to ask your counselor about it.

For instance, sometimes a client used the image of an old reel of film. The client would imagine their experiences, events and feelings were on that reel.

They could put it on the projector and let it play during the session, but when it was time to wrap it up, they could just turn off the projector and put that reel of film in its can, to take out the next time.

A memory box was also used. The client had control of opening the lid and closing the lid. (That one may work for you since your already picturing a box.)

Your counselor will know the technique. In fact, he may have already talked to you about it.

Finally. Most of my clients expressed the same kind of feat that you have in this post. They were sure they would lose control and go crazy if they spoke of what had happened to them.

None of them did. :) Instead, they healed and found freedom, not insanity.

Securely in your corner,


Karen said...

So glad you are seeing the counselor.

The pain of walking through it is less than the pain of avoiding it in the long run. Keep going.

Oh, and stay gluten free no matter what. Safe travels.

Anonymous said...

It's always terrifying to open the box. I can really relate; I've had some trauma things that I've had to deal with in therapy AND I also happen to also BE a therapist. I can empathize so strongly to that fear. But here's the amazing part that I have learned from personal experience:

Feelings can't kill you. They HURT. It's HARD. When you decide to open the box you'll need to pay attention to TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF WELL. No condemnation of your feelings, just the freedom to feel them. And, for me, learning to go through them at my OWN PACE, taking steps back when needed. It's a journey.

It's worth it. Even with the pain. It's worth it.

I've been following your blog for a couple of years now, and always appreciate your vulnerable honesty. I think you're an amazing woman. I will be praying for you in this.

MargieAnne said...

Deb has written a very helpful comment.

I didn't have the luxury of a counsellor. Not even sure there were any suitable counsellors at that time in NZ and certainly not where I lived. But I became healed through a series of encounters and dreams and worked it through.

I had a recurring dream. There was a house all furniture removed except this huge chest which I called pandora's box even in my dream. I tried to open it one time and dark stuff flew out so I shut the lid fast. A friend said to me when I was willing to open the box I'd be healed. So true but it took time and courage.

One day this will be behind you.


Crabby McSlacker said...

So sorry you are struggling. I love Deb's analogy about who controls the gas pedal and brakes though... when heading into tough emotionally traumatic territory, you should feel comfortably in charge of pace.

Good for you for trying to move forward in the way that is best for you.

Anonymous said...

Lyn, you must open that box and empty it. This is how you have kept the box shut, holding it down with bingeing and your weight. You will not be truly free until the box is empty, no matter how long it takes. You cannot let this fester inside for the rest of your life. Much love. (Julie from Australia)

Anonymous said...

You are venturing into a lot of deep emotions right now, and that's probably why you are using food as a crutch again. It will get worse before it gets better! Remember that - you are still moving forward, even though it doesn't feel like it. Keep trucking along, you are doing great.

dlamb said...

Trust the process, dear Lyn and trust yourself and your timing.

Susan said...

I think if you have forgiven your mom it would be unproductive to stir it up again. To be broken is a good thing. It brings healing.*[[Psa 34:18]] KJV* The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. You know she was messed up. Might even say she was mentally unstable in all her ways. For you to "open the box" now may prove to do more harm than good. Certainly you have some fond memories of your mom. Hang on to those. Let the other go realizing it was out of your control and your mom was ill. It appears that your mom was led astray by a false teaching. There will be an account given. But for you, there is something very real about committing it to the Lord and leaving it with him. It no longer belongs to you. It is between your mom and the Lord. Forgive and you shall be forgiven. I say let it go and get on with life. Making right food choices, losing weight, it is such a small thing in life. Better to focus on the meatier things, the things that matter in eternity. Better to make your calling and election sure, that is what really matters in the end. Not how much you weigh. Really hope you can see this one day. This may sound a little harsh.. but the wounds of a friend can be trusted.. we all must appear before the judgment seat and give an account of the deeds done in this body... what was more important to you...His Son.. the one who died for your sin.... or your weight. Maybe it is more a matter of priorities. Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all these other things will be added unto you. Hope you are able to receive this.

Anonymous said...

You can't let go of something unless you take hold of it first. Take it up out of the box, look it over, recognize it for what it is...and then dispose of it properly.

Just sayin'

Susan said...

The church is full of Christian Counselors...if God's people would reckon on what He has would put a lot of people out of business....the scriptures say*[[Isa 9:6/KJVLite]]* For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Don't miss...He is the ultimate counsellor. Hear Him. Just a follow up...

Susan said...

She knows what it is... she lived it. Forgivness is the putting away.. what I am saying to Lyn is really only applicable to those who have a relationship with the Lord otherwise it sounds like foolishness. What does it mean to trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. It is not my intent to argue with anyone. It is obvious that people have a different understanding of life based on where they are in life.

16 blessings'mom said...

Lyn, I am thankful for you. Your honesty has helped me more than you can imagine. I just want you to know that I am praying for you.


LHA said...

This is a powerful problem. I read the comments with interest, as they represent some very different viewpoints. I am older than you are, have had many years of therapy, and like most people I have a "box" of past traumas and problems also. My advice is not very specific. I just think that you know what you need to do, deep inside you. If you are ready to delve into these issues, then you must. It is possible that you are not ready. Only you, and possibly your therapist, can know.

I know this will sound pessimistic, but from my experience I would not expect a miracle here if you do go forward with opening the box. It is entirely possible that you will never be completely at peace with your past and the hurtful memories. Possibly you will feel better, and I certainly hope so! If you and/or your therapist think that opening the box will lead to a better, happier, healthier life for you then I hope you get the relief you seek. I am pulling for you!

Anonymous said...

I have a therapist that I love so much. She completely ubderstands me. Sounds like you have a good therapist too. Someone you can trust.

Perhaps you can look in your magic scary box a little at a time and work thru it slowly. Some things will seem big but some might be smaller and all of it will be easier with the help of your therapist.

The sooner you address this, the more you'll know about your triggers and how to handle them. That's part of what's missing -identifying the cause and how to re-route your response from binge eating to something else

It's not easy. I've been in therapy for 10 yrs. but it helps so much and gives you much self esteem.

Anonymous said...

Lyn, I'm sorry you are dealing with such pain. I know what it feels like to have to place traumatic events in a sealed box. My counselor at the time assisted me to place the devastation in a box and lock it until I was ready to deal with it. The panic attacks associated with the trauma was devastating.

Another counselor told me it didn't/wouldn't help me to talk about it at the time.

In time, I was able to with much pain. There will always be pain, but not as raw.

Hugs to you, dear. Do this in your own time. You'll know.

Anonymous said...

You are awesome. That's all I want to say.