Friday, July 16, 2010

Holding My self Accountable

Unlike Mel Gibson, who apparently likes to blame his racist/misogynistic/homophobic tirades and girlfriend beatings on A) alcohol or B) girlfriend herself (after all, she was baiting him and pushing his buttons, so she DESERVED to have her teeth knocked out and called a whore, right?), I have decided that there are some things I must take responsibility for and change.

One: My weight.  Yes, I've written about this too many times, and yes, I definitely need to focus on the emotional aspects of my weight and eating issues, but I also need to lose some LB's. I've been having lots of aches and pains lately, and my cardio endurance sucks.  There's a history of heart disease in my family, as well, so I really need to be proactive.

Two: My emotions.  Back in the bad old days when I was having panic attacks, I took a course about anxiety and depression.  One of the most important things I learned was that I cannot control what happens; I can only control my reaction to it. And I cannot rely on someone else to make me feel better.  As they said in this course, I am my own "safe person;' the only one who can talk me down is me. And while this worked really well for me in terms of dealing with situations as they came up, it's been a harder road when it comes to emotions.  See, our brains don't know the difference between a real scenario and an imagined one.  Since I am uber-talented at creating the worst possible-case scenario out of ANY situation, I am able to swirl up my own anxiety by imagining it.  My brain then sends signals to my body that I am in danger, and the adrenaline kicks in, thereby releasing cortisol, which, having no outlet (because I'm not in any physical danger), sticks around and creates things like belly fat and extra strain on the heart.  I may not have anxiety attacks anymore, but I live in a constant, low-level state of fear.  It has taken me nearly 41 years to recognize this because it's been there for as long as I can remember, and I thought it was a normal, typical state of being for everyone.  Little did I know...
And I do believe it is one of the chief reasons, along with my emotional, mindless eating, for the weight gain and my difficulty in getting rid of the belly bulge.
There are exercises my therapist has given to me which I haven't been doing.  It's time to start.  It's also time to buckle down and start meditating regularly. 
No one can deal with my swirling mass of emotions but me.  Rather than trying to control my external situations, I need to shift my focus inside. I also need to take myself out of certain stressful situations. Turning off the TV, unless it's "Doctor Who,"  "Spongebob," "Phineas & Ferb," or "30 Rock" would be a good start, I think!

Three: My Health.  I was supposed to get a mammogram last year, but didn't.  I need a dental checkup.  I skipped my OB-GYN appointment last January.  Not a great idea! I STILL don't wear as much sunscreen as I need, even after watching my dad die from skin cancer!
Just wrap me in gold lame and call me Cleopatra, 'cause sometimes I am the queen of denial! (Kinda funny, actually; yesterday I found an old picture of myself as Kleopatra, from a play called "Too Clever By Half," which we did in grad school.  They gave me the whole Cleo look, including the wig.  Foreshadowing? Hmmm...)

Four: Equanimity.  This kinda goes along with emotions.  There's a lot of talk about this in yoga, about feeling and seeing without reacting.  I used to think it meant having no emotions and no opinions, but it is quite the opposite. It means I don't let my thoughts and feelings take me over. 
In our culture we believe that whoever is the loudest wins.  Might makes right.  We CONQUER and are victorious.  Success has a very narrow definition. We scoff at peaceful people, those who have the capacity for great compassion and aren't afraid to use it.  But, more and more, I admire those folks.  I want to be like them.
I think living in L.A. turned me on to this.  Because I saw and knew hugely successful people there; they had power, beautiful (and multiple) homes, cars, sent their kids to tony private schools.  And, in the end, really had nothing that mattered.  They got divorced, their kids despised them, they were restless and unsettled and could never figure out why.
Sometimes I'd go to yoga classes at a particularly well-known studio, frequented by celebs.  The teachers were WONDERFUL, but it was definitely a "scene" for many of the students; a place to show off their skills, their perfectly toned bodies and their matching designer yoga duds.  Interestingly, the celebs were low-key and no-nonsense; it was the wannabees who were the show-offs.  But then, that's often the case.  I developed a theory that the smog hovering over L.A is NOT actually pollution, but the pall of so much insecurity.
I had hoped that moving out of L.A would get me away from all that but, unfortunately, our entire culture is becoming more and more superficial and mean.
Yeah, definitely gotta keep that TV off!

Five: Embarrassment. This has been one of THE greatest hindrances of my entire life!  Fear of embarrassment!  It seems so silly, but it goes deeper, to the absolute terror of Doing Something Wrong. Which is Not Allowed, EVER!!!!! Something I learned at a very young age and still cling to.  It has made me timid, afraid, and anxious. It has led me to some dangerous situations, in which I could not stand up for myself.  It has led to self-hatred, and to absorbing others' hatred of my "weakness."  Of letting other peoples' opinions, even people I don't know, matter more than my own.  To ignoring my instincts. To the belief that everyone knows more than I do, so I should just shut up and listen to them, even when what they say is conflicting.  It has led to bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating, as well as over-exercising. And, most of all, it has led to brutally repressed FEAR and ANGER. Because I became an emotional punching bag for everyone around me.  I let them insult, demean, and hurt me time and time again.  And, again, I thought it was "normal." And anytime I DID speak up, I was met with "I'm just saying this fr your own good."  Well, screw that!  You deal with your OWN own good, got it?!?!?!  I'll take care of myself, thankyouverymuch!

OK, I know there's more, but it's 3:00 in the morning and I have GOT to get back to bed.  To be continued...