I am getting through December. Are you? I’ve had a migraine that started on Sunday and lasted through Tuesday morning. I am finally better but I was a true wreck. Not the most patient Mom on the planet or the most helpful wife. Far from it. I spent most of the time sprawled out in bed or on the couch. I attempted a viewing of The Sound of Music with my 5 year old son, but the pure grumpiness and pain that coursed through my veins into a pulsating mess in my right eye made me unable to feel anything but anger at the young and innocent Rolf as I knew what was to come. So by 16 going on 17 I was done.
I’m sure that many of you are going home to families that might be dysfunctional this week. Really, most families are dysfunctional (or perhaps I have a skewed sample set as a Psychotherapist) – and I want to help you to navigate your recovery and stay strong while you’re there. Please don’t hesitate to reply to this email with any questions. I’ll anonymously post the answer in tip form in upcoming get through December newsletters.
For the past few weeks in the 5 Week Program, we’ve been talking a lot about guilt and obligation. Many have been telling me that their families are stressful for them because they are constantly doing for everyone in the family and they don’t know how to say no. They feel guilty for saying no and have no good reason to say no. I have what I call the codependency litmus test here. If you say no will you feel guilty and if you say yes will you feel resentful? If the answer is yes and yes, take the choice to go with the guilt. The guilt is yours, that’s something you can work with. Those of us with the disordered eating schema tend to spend a lot of time trying to please people and to be the best us that we possibly can be. We sacrifice our own needs for the sake of others. Then, eventually, in your family, you become the person who everyone expects to make sacrifices. When you don’t, when you choose to take care of yourself, people get angry. This is common. That’s because we don’t like change. We hide from it. And when we change, we force other people to change too. Change causes an effect of change all around. For instance, your sister asks you to take her shopping because she wants to have wine in the afternoon and doesn’t want to drive. You don’t feel like taking her to the market. You’re tired, you’ve been working all week, you finally have a rest. If you tell her no, she will get angry. She will get angry because then she has to do something that she doesn’t want to do. She is forced to make a healthier choice because you are choosing not to sacrifice your needs for her needs. You are choosing to care for yourself. Change is hard, but necessary. We were all given our own lives and the ability to do things for ourselves. If you don’t give someone else they opportunity to care for themselves when they can, (unless they are children or elderly or disabled) you are cheating both yourself and them. Take care of yourself and everyone else is forced to do the same. That’s change that can be good!
Relationships are where we take our recovery on the road. – Melody Beattie
I love this quote. It reminds us that we didn’t get sick in a void and we can’t recover in a void. We have to reclaim ourselves in the system that we became who we are in. That means work and change and doing something scary. But it’s the kind of necessary work that makes life-long change.