Sunday, April 19, 2009

Don't Cry Out Loud....

You know how sometimes, something that you have known for a long time suddenly takes an unexpected twist in your mind? For a long time, I’ve been very aware of my issues with food and I’ve been aware that this started with my family. They are a family of food-soothers. Whenever I was sad, upset, angry, whatever….I was fed. Soothe it with food.
Friday morning I was driving to work and Bianca was extremely upset. It was a rough morning for her, emotionally. She got up early and asked me if she could watch TV in my bed. I told her yes but that I’d have to turn it off before the show was over because we needed to leave for school/work by a certain time. I told her if she was able to work with me and get ready quickly, she could watch TV for a few more minutes before we left while I dried my hair AND we’d have time to stop at Starbucks for tea & hot chocolate. Well, she spent so much time standing still crying when I turned off the TV that we were late in leaving so there was no more TV and no Starbucks. She pretty much cried for a straight hour and a half. I empathized with her and told her that I understood her disappointment. At one of the calmer moments, I took the opportunity to (again) explain the concept about consequences of decisions.
In any case, I found my mind wandering to my Mother. When my Mom witnesses any kind of emotional outburt from Bianca, she is very quick to try to squelch it. Not in an obvious or angry way. But I realized that my Mom does this not just because she can't stand to see Bianca unhappy but because my Mother cannot deal with emotions. I think it's a major trigger for her and one she is not able to deal with AT ALL. It was a seemingly tiny differential but it made me realize something big.
For a long time, I've believed that I soothed my emotions with food. But I'm not soothing. There has been nothing TO soothe. I use the food to keep the emotions from being identified or felt at all. That was my mother's MO. Distract and give her something that makes her happy before there is some show of discontent. For the love of God, let us not exibit any bad feelings. No wonder I'm able to absolutely zone out on food. It's obviously unnerving to my Mom when I let Bianca feel, express and work through her emotions. She becomes agitated and edgy. It certainly doesn't make me happy when Bianca is having a hard time but I'm glad that I can allow her the experience that will better ground her for life. I'm still working on it for myself, though.


Patricia Singleton said...

Kim, these awarenesses are where your hope for change comes from. You can't change what you aren't aware of.

My mom was like yours in that she didn't feel. I don't know what caused her to be that way but at 3 years old, I knew that Mom wasn't like other people in that her emotions were completely shut down. That was the day that I made the decision to be my mom's protector. I was around age 40 when I realized that I was still my mom's protector to the expense of my own mental health. With that awareness of what I was doing, I was able to change my behavior. I stopped doing my mom's anger for her.

Allowing your daughter to be herself when she is happy, sad, angry, disappointed is one of the best gifts that you as her mother can give her. Congratulations. I know you can learn to do it for yourself as well.

Anonymous said...

I applaud you for allowing your child to feel out loud. I totally understand where you're coming from. Food is a natural soother that is so easy to use. I've found that if I can just sit with whatever and allow it to be,it is okay.