Posted by: Marie | April 10, 2013

(829) My body and me – Part 2 of 2

Post #829
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, April 5, 2012 – continued from previous post]

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Situations that can be “triggering” for me

1) Fear of becoming attractive

When I was assaulted, I subconsciously blamed my assault on my being attractive. Part of the reason I subsequently allowed myself to gain so much weight was so I could be “safe” – if I’m not attractive, no one will want to assault me – if I become attractive again, I’m putting myself in danger of being assaulted again.

Of course, this thought process is not realistic. I logically know this is not realistic. However, I’ve really struggled to keep my brain from going “there” whenever I start losing weight – and then I sabotage my fitness efforts.

I think I’m doing better with this now (after several years of therapy), but I’ve never gotten past the 20 pound weight loss milestone, so it is something I’ll need to stay alert for if and when I get that far in my weight loss.

2) Equating “getting fit” with “becoming loveable enough”

I have a long history of believing I am disgusting and broken and damaged. This is shifting for me, but when I focus on particular health goals (lose 20 pounds by Christmas, work out five times a week, stick with a strict diet, etc.), the focus always, without fail, turns to meeting those goals so that I can finally be “good enough” to be loved.

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Photo by Martin Chen

I sometimes can stick to a rigid plan for a few hours – maybe a few days – then I “go off the deep end” and slide back into the destructive patterns . . . binge eating, mostly, and depression, hopelessness, etc. I then have to fight hard to get back to a functional state again.

I have learned that I am best able to stay in a balanced, healthy and motivated state when I set more wholesome intentions (use food as a source of energy for my body, enjoy the thrill of moving my body in a powerful way, treasure the spiritual connection with nature I experience on hikes, etc.) This place of balance is still quite new to me and it doesn’t take much for me to push me off into the “deep end” again.

I do best when I put mechanisms in place (a plan for the treadmill, a weight-lifting routine, a supply of healthy food choices at my fingertips) that support my intentions. And then, I do best when I utilize those mechanisms only when I “feel good” about using them. I do best when I don’t “force” myself to stick to my health and fitness plans regardless of how I feel.

If something in my mind/body is telling me it’s not a good day for going to the gym, I don’t go. If my emotions are becoming overwhelming and I identify that I need some relief, I allow myself the relief that comes with eating ice cream – because it is the quickest way I currently know to find relief. I’m learning better ways to manage my emotions and in time I’ll learn to use those better ways. But, sometimes it is helpful to allow myself to use the familiar and comfortable ways even if they aren’t the healthiest options for the short run.

If I get triggered by something related to my fitness efforts, I back off from my exercise plan. I don’t push myself to go to the gym; rather I spend quiet time at home just sitting with my emotions. I take that time to remind myself that I’m already loveable, that there is nothing I “need to become” in order to be loveable. I’m already loveable, even when I don’t go to the gym for a week or two, even if I gain back a few pounds.

I know this seems counter-productive, but it works for me. Legalistic rigidity only makes things worse for me in the long run.

If I make it a priority to view my fitness and health plan in this balanced way, I find I can bounce back from unhealthy thinking rather quickly whenever it does occur. I just have to trust I will get back to the gym and to my eating plan when I am mentally ready to go back. I have to trust my resilience and persistence. And, it is vital that my personal trainer allow me the freedom to operate in this way.

3) Close physical proximity and touch

A couple of years ago, I would feel panicked if I was within a few feet of a guy for more than a few seconds or if he touched me casually. Even with guys I absolutely knew would not harm me, I couldn’t override my fear of being harmed or being forced to do something I didn’t want to do. Alarm bells would sound even when I wasn’t in any danger.

With much therapeutic effort, I’ve pretty much overcome this issue. Now, if a guy hugs me, casually touches me or comes into my personal space, I may have a moment of pause, but I’m able to breath through it and it usually is not a big deal. In fact, I’m finding proximity and touch can be comforting and healing.

If an uncomfortable situation arises that I don’t care to experience again, I feel capable of speaking up and setting a boundary. So, this issue is not very triggering for me anymore, it’s almost a moot issue.

It has been suggested to me that this issue could be avoided if I avoided situations where I might be touched by men. True, the issue would be avoided. But, the issue would also not be addressed and I would never find healing with that approach.

Instead, I have purposefully invited kind, gentle, nurturing men to fill roles in my life where they can provide compassionate support to me in my healing journey. By doing so, I’m replacing my belief that all men are abusive and selfish with the belief there really are men in the world who habitually treat women (me, in particular) with respect and love.

4) Being instructed on body movement

When a person (male or female) provides instruction that includes guidance on how to position or move my body, I often become paralyzed with fear for a minute or two. This is the case even there is no real danger, even when I’ve requested the instruction (like I’m doing with you) and even when I am confident the mentor/coach can be trusted to act in my best interest.

Regardless of how gently the instruction is dispensed, it is often scary to ask myself to consider doing something outside what I’ve deemed a “safe” behavioral routine.

When I get triggered in this way, I will appear resistant to the coach/mentor. In most cases, within a matter of minutes – or sometimes it take a day or two – I can work though the fear and come back with more willingness to follow the instruction. It has nothing to do with the coach/mentor or his/her delivery. It is simply about my lifelong fear of losing control and being forced into doing something I don’t want to do (which has happened a lot in my past).

For example, when you suggested boosting the incline on the treadmill for a minute or two, and when you suggested rotating onto other cardio equipment like the rowing machine and the elliptical, I responded with a million excuses. But then, a few minutes later, after I caught myself being fearful, I was able to process what was happening in my head and then I was able to let down my guard and accept your advice on the treadmill. (And, FYI, I checked out the rowing machine and elliptical machines this week and I’m now willing to use them if you will help me learn how to use them.)

I’ve learned I do better with this if, while the instruction is being given to me, I remind myself that taking in information is not the same as resigning myself to passively complying with it. I can take in the information in the moment and then I can thoughtfully choose at a later time which parts of the instruction to incorporate into my routine.

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Fitness test taken Nov 23, 2007

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Quotes 739


Responses

  1. This sounds like you were very in touch with your needs. I hope it went well, and continues to.

    • I appreciate your kind and supportive words!


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