Saturday, June 4, 2011

Breakthrough, but not a good one

As my last several posts have made it clear, I've been having a very hard time of it psychologically as of late. Losing weight solved some problems, and it created new ones. It reminds me very strongly of something I once read about "even thin people have problems". I'm not thin, but I'm also no longer abusing food for emotional purposes.

Several days ago, I had a snapping point from all of the tension and problems I've been dealing with. In the past, that snapping point brought on an incident where I had a disconnect and mindlessly ate. That was a "cry for help" in which I turned to what I always turned to, self-destructive over-eating. This most recent point had me do something different because food no longer does it for me.

The "something different" was that I lashed out at someone else and did something quite inappropriate. Instead of turning my destruction inward, I turned it outward. I realize in retrospect that both the eating and the lashing out were attempts at self-protection and control. Eating protected me by adding padding to my body and provided a false sense of control because I decided I was choosing to overeat to give me pleasure and comfort. Lashing out at someone else did not comfort me, but what I did (and no, there will be no details) made me feel that I could put up a wall that needed to be in place to reduce the hurt I was feeling. I did what I did fully believing that it was an act of emotional protection and that if I didn't protect myself from this pain, no one else would. It was irrational, but I didn't see it that way at the time.

It was a bad thing to do, and caused no amount of upheaval in my life. The next day, I deeply and sincerely apologized for what I did and explained the circumstances that brought about my actions. My apology took full responsibility and revealed private information about myself and my weight loss which made me deeply vulnerable to this person. I also offered a hand in mending the damage I'd done. The apology was coldly rejected and the hand slapped away. That was fair enough, but I was surprised since I made it clear that this was a mental health issue and the person involved had mental health assistance training. I didn't deserve better, but I had hoped for a little more empathy and compassion from someone who was in a business which requires such things when dealing with people with psychological issues. However, this person was fully entitled to withhold forgiveness and to choose not to exercise understanding or empathy.

What I realize now in retrospect is that I've made a breakthrough in how I handle my stress and pain, but that it isn't necessarily a good one. Instead of hurting myself, I hurt someone else. Note that this isn't something which happens often, and occurred in the depths of deep, deep psychological pain and turmoil. Since not several days ago, I was wishing I'd just die in my sleep to escape my pain, that shouldn't be too surprising.

I've learned a lot from this and feel now that I "shattered" in a way and figured out something of value from how the pieces fell. I need to not allow the situation to get so bad that something like this can happen if it can possibly be prevented (which may not be possible, but it's important to try), but also I need to be careful about acting impulsively when in deep distress. That being said, I'm not sure that it's 100% within my control at such times, but I need to be more aware of the potential for this to happen. The truth is that it is the first time that this has happened since I was a child. I didn't expect it of myself so it was harder to stop. If you can't see the train coming, you don't know it's going to hit something until after the collision has occurred.

What I know now is that, for the first time in a long time, my anger and loathing isn't entirely directed at myself in times of pain. The reactions I had (eating) were grown from the sense of worthlessness that was bred into me since starting to gain weight in childhood. The first response to pain was to hurt myself, because I was not worth preserving. Now, I realize that I don't hate myself enough to hurt me first, foremost, and unconsciously, but have to be very careful to not lash out and hurt someone else. In the fallout of all of this, I told my husband, "this is not me," and I know that I was pushed to this place and acted in opposition to who I am as a result of all I have lost along with weight. I have never been the type of person to hurt others, and in fact have always put others interests before my own to the point of greatly harming myself.

All of this reasoning and explaining in no way makes what I did "okay", but understanding the dynamic is the only way I can grow from it and diminish the likelihood of doing something like this again. It's a new piece of the puzzle, and one that I acquired at the expense of more than one person.