Category Archives: Psychology

Why “If Mama Ain’t Happy, Nobody’s Happy” is a Bullshit Lie I Live

IMG_6863There comes a time in you life when you are doing something really mundane, like going on your daily run, when you realize,

Shit.  I’ve been selling out.  I’ve been settling.  I’ve been settling for behavior from others and myself.

And there are layers to these epiphanies.  My first one?  Came when I realized I wanted to recover from my eating disorder.   My second?  When I wanted more from my life than forgetting the night before because of too many rum and cokes.

My 45th came today when I realized I don’t want to yell anymore.  And I don’t want a partner who yells either.

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I am a mother.

I am a wife.

I am a co-owner of a business.

I have a shit ton of stress.

Because, as a woman, I’m expected to “do it all”.  So not only do I manage the money, I make the majority of the money upfront, and I also am expected to do all of the housework, manage my child’s appointments, playdates, extracurricular activities AND manage the psychological well-being of my child.

It was very furtive, wasn’t it?  How, in the span of 70 years, men have continued to deftly sidestep responsibility in any way they can.  Shit, I have to chores now? Guess I can still be lazy emotionally.  Sweet.

Before any right-wing idiot or plainly, insecure men jump down my throat, I want you to do something.  Walk up to the woman in your life.  Ask her what she’s worried about.  Chances are, her experience will be more rich than yours. She’ll be worried about being able to schedule their child’s gasto-intestinal appointment in between the clients she sees.  She’ll be thinking about how her husband yelling at their child mimics the traumatic experience she had as a child and how she’s failing.  She’ll be wondering if she can work out while the baby sleeps because somewhere, in the back corners of her mind, a demon tells her to be attractive for her boyfriend.  Now ask yourself if you have those same thoughts.

The pressures are not equal. NOT.  YET.

So when I hear, “If Mama Ain’t Happy, Nobody’s Happy”, I want to scream.

Why?

Seems to be yet another misogynistic turn of phrase, so eloquently masked as feminism.  It’s misogynistic, because it puts all the pressure on the female to chart the course, when males are perfectly capable of doing some of the emotional work. They’re perfectly capable of putting themselves first, taking care of themselves so they don’t take it out on their children.

It’s just that we haven’t EXPECTED them to, since the dawn of time.

And it reinforces that disgusting, martyr-like dynamic in older women that I despise. “Poor me, I’ve put up with so much from your father.”

EXACTLY.  You put up with it. You’ve enabled it.  Women have enabled it.  And that’s our part.  And that can be changed.

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Am I a sanctimommy who expects herself or others to never yell?  No.  But let me tell the truth and talk about yelling, because a lot of us have a ton of shame over it.  And it’s important to talk about during this time of year, when kids are going back to school and transitions are driving us parents nuts.

We’ve been yelling too much in my house.  I know my part – part of me has been justifying my and my husband’s trauma histories.  A refined form of “If we were ok, then she’ll be ok.”  “I’m a good parent.” “I’m doing the best I can.”

Maybe I’m fucking not.

Maybe I’ve been enabling years and years of the masculine approach to things.  The masculine approach of anger, of forcefulness, of yelling.

All I know is, This Mama Ain’t Happy.  Period.  And I’ve been justifying stuff I’m not OK with.   That’s my part.

And it’s my husband’s job to work on his.

How Telling Your Child to Be Positive Is Worsening the Opioid Epidemic

IMG_84791It is a crime to teach our children to “Be positive”.

I’m sure you think I’m nuts.  It’s totally fine.  People have literally thought that about me since I was 5.  I stand by what I say – we do ourselves and our children a disservice every time we tell them, “Hey, it could be worse!” or, “Be the change you wish to see in the world!”

In fact, you could be contributing – not causing, but contributing – to the opioid epidemic that is happening right now in our country.

Now I bet you think I’m really crazy, eh?

Let me explain a bit further.  There are positively viewed emotions like happiness, joy, silliness.  And there are negatively viewed emotions like anger, jealousy and sadness that are typically stereotyped as morally “bad” to experience.  Think about it.  Would you want to be labeled as a jealous husband who rants at his wife about where she was?  Or an angry mother who yells at her children seven times out of ten? No, of course not, because if you’re emotionally abusive you’re in the “bad” category.  Even though the wife most definitely played a part in his jealousy. And if you’re the shouting mom, you most certainly are not as good as all those attachment mothers.

But here’s the thing.  Anger and jealousy isn’t good or bad.  They are simply ingenious little signs our bodies gave us to tell us where to go.   Here’s a little answer key, courtesy of Pixar’s “Inside Out” and Glennon Doyle:

Anger: Tells us when something is not fair.

Jealousy: Tells us when we want something someone else has.

Fear:  Keeps us safe.  Physically and emotionally.

So yeah, negative emotions aren’t that negative, it turns out.   They’re actually pretty fucking vital to our existence, and if you’re making fun of them, you’re living by an extremely outdated code.  However, in a Trump era, where pull-yourself-up-by-the bootstraps-baby-boomer-either-or attitudes exist, this can be hard to remember.  And some people can make you feel like embracing emotions means you’re weak.  This, I tell you, is complete bullshit.  Humans can hustle and work 12 hours a day and still tune into their feelings.

The smartest, healthiest, most successful people I know follow their gut intuition about situations and others.

Let me get back to my point about all of us contributing to addictions.

Say your child got up and started whining about going to school. “Mama, I’m so tired.  I can’t go to school today.  I hate going to school.”

“Honey, you have to go.  I can’t do anything about it.  You can do it!”

VERSUS:

“Mama, I’m so tired.  I can’t go to school today.  I hate going to school.”

“Honey, I bet you’re super tired after your first week back. I can’t even imagine.  I feel like that about work too.”

Because the thing is, we do indeed live in a super insane world that doesn’t provide for enough sleep for our children.  And it’s ok to validate that for them.  It doesn’t mean you still can’t teach them the value of showing up for something when they don’t feel like it.  They’ll feel seen and they won’t be taught by you that their negative feelings need to be squashed immediately.  Because what’s one way addicts can start to be addicts?  By having strong emotions, and being told they’re “overdramatic” or to “get over it”.  Then they find tricky ways to numb their strong emotions that their community or society rejects.  Eating a whole pan of brownies.  Drinking their mother’s beer.  Shooting up the next town over.  All because they were taught not to sit with themselves and their strong feelings.  I’m sure some 12 Step programs will disagree, but that’s ok, I didn’t fit in there either.

The truth?  We all have to feel a feeling until it’s done coursing through our brain.  And the more we push it away, the bigger it will come back.

A lot of people – including my husband – accuse me of being too cynical, too pessimistic.  Nah.   I’m usually just telling the truth or calling the situation as to how I see it.  I, in turn, think they’re (typically) uncomfortable with the negative emotions I point out because society has socialized them that way.

Humans are these super amazing, instinctual beings who literally know the way like Moana, if only they listened to every emotion.

And am I the perfect parent who meets her daughter where she is every minute of every day? No fucking way.  On a bad day, I push my anger away, which makes it bigger, and then makes me scream like a crazy woman at my daughter.

But I’m shooting for meeting myself where I am.

 

Recovery Tip Tuesdays: Throw out Your Old Jeans!*

jeansThat’s right, I said it.

Yes, I’m talking about that all-hallowed, smallest-size-you-ever-fit-into jeans.

Yes, those!

(Or donate them to some nice organization.  Whatever you prefer 🙂 )

I feel like that revered pair of jeans is a part of most women’s closets.  They even made a Sex and the City episode about it (Remember, when Miranda fit into her No Excuses jeans from high school and instantly was able to flirt with a hot guy?  Funny episode, but c’mon.).

Why, you ask?

If you hold onto a pair of jeans that is smaller than what you are now, you will always be comparing yourself to that number.  You’ll always be wishing you were that size again.  You’ll always be wanting to be smaller.  And, as our great friend the Buddha taught us, distress and unhappiness take place when we reside in the “wanting” of anything.  When we accept where we are now, we are happier (and I’m betting, if you actually want to lose some weight in a healthy way, it will come off easier when you stop thinking about numbers in general.  Throw away the jeans, put away the scale, stop counting calories or fat grams or sugar grams or WHATEVER.)

A personal anecdote –

I had this size (bleep!) skirt that I bought sophomore year in high school.  It was blue satin, was bought in Harvard Square, and everyone commented on how thin I looked in it.  Years later, when I was a few sizes up, I still had it.  It sat in the back of the closet and teased me.  It taunted me.  “Why aren’t you this weight?” it said.

So, I got sick of its bullshit and threw it out.

Today, I have a closet that’s full of stretchy, one-size-fits-most type clothing.  It works for me.

Today, I’m throwing the question out to you guys – what tips have worked in your quest for good body image?

*Remember, what works for me may not work for you.  Proceed at your own risk.

Recovery Tip Tuesdays: Join A Group!

talkingYeah, yeah, I know, everyone loves self-help support groups.  Everyone loves crawling on hands and knees out of their isolation and entering a room of strangers only to immediately become vulnerable.

But if this introvert could do it, so can you!  I promise!

If you are lucky enough to live in Massachusetts, MEDA is a fabulous ED resource center that has weekly support group for a range of ED behaviors and a range of ages.  If you click here you can view the list of groups they currently run.

If you live in the NYC area, NEDA now hosts support groups.  Find out how to attend here!

And last but certainly not least, they do have Eating Disorder Anonymous meetings, albeit in limited locations.  Find out if they have one near you here!  (And if not, they have online meetings as well!)

Seriously.  Even if you don’t make any lifelong friends (I didn’t, to be honest) you will at least be getting out of your house for the night, perhaps preventing binging behaviors.  So try it!

Hi, My Name is Amanda, and I’m…Different.

normalIf nothing else, the following is true for me –

“Masquerading as a normal person day after day is exhausting.”

– Anonymous

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What I’m about to say goes against all advice given in any self-help meeting, but it’s how I feel, damnit.

I have often felt different than most, not a part of, less than.

Not always.  Sometimes, I feel on top of the world, totally present, and I love everything in my life.  And sometimes, I feel just like every other “bozo on the bus”, another nameless face in the crowd, which is honestly ok.  But often, I feel…different.

Why?

Well, let’s pick apart the seventy different kinds of recovery I’m in.  I can’t diet, I can’t drink in safety (in the words of Biggie, if you don’t know, now you know) and my therapist has diagnosed me with depression (that requires medication) and some trauma stuff for a long time now.  Let’s say this:  if you were a clinician, and you saw my rap sheet, you might wince a bit and say, “Jeez.”  You might expect me to be doin’ a lot worse than I am now.

Cause I am doing pretty damn well for the “stuff” I have.  I got my master’s degree, am successful in a field where I can turn my misery into someone else’s avoidance of said misery, and  have a family of my own.  I am fairly high-functioning; I am lucky.  Or resilient.

But there’s something funny about high-functioning anything-ers: they can slip more easily between the cracks.  They, in turn, can feel more different, because they mingle with the “normies” of society.  At work functions, at family parties, at friend’s BBQs.  They can be around people who drink or diet or binge or don’t experience the glory of mood swings, but it doesn’t make it any less hard.  In fact, it can be a particular kind of hard because they’re often the sole “different kid” in a group of “normies”.

So that’s why I feel different.

Self-help groups tell you to identify as just another worker among workers, which helps sometimes.  I’ll often use this example: I have a friend who is allergic to basically any kind of food.  So, I try to remind myself, “Wow.  She must feel the same way – like everyone is staring at her when she orders her food.  Maybe she feels different than, too.”

(And I do realize there is no normal.  And I do realize everybody’s got their thing.)

But I do think it can seem overwhelming to an individual when they realize –

“Hey!  I need an everything-anonymous!”

Fun.

How do YOU feel different?  Is there something that sets you apart from the crowd?

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Three Reasons Why This Blog Will Never Be Popular.

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I’ve spent a long time thinking about how I can market this blog, make it bigger, more accessible, increase the traffic so it can reach more ED sufferers and those in recovery (from bad body image or an ED), and I’ve concluded –

This blog will never be popular.

This is not pessimistic, this is a realistic viewpoint.

And these are my reasons why:

 

1.  Some readers think I’m pro-fat.  I’m not.  I’m pro-health.  And sometimes being healthy also means being overweight.  Given that the current trend is panicking about any “bad” foods or “bad” eating patterns, this “grey-area” blog is not going to go viral anytime soon in this all or nothing thinking world.  (“Either you’re fat and unhealthy or thin and healthy!”  Nope, nope, that’s just not true.  And what about emotional health?)

 

2.  People LOVE trends.  LOVE.   What’s more appealing than a new quick fix all the cool kids are trying out?  Let’s take an example – Paleo.  (Just using that because it seems to be the “trendiest” right now.)  Can some people turn this into a permanent lifestyle?  Very few, I think.  The thing about trends is that they’re never sustainable.  History has proven it.  Powdered faces with the hairline shaven back?  Gone with the medieval times.  Or something.  White lipstick?  My mother dabbled with it in the sixties.  Paleo?  Probably gone just as quick.  

Now, is Paleo healthy?  Absolutely, parts of it.  But it’s the fact that it’s a trend that will ultimately be the demise of it.  Something else will come along that people will latch onto and try.  and it will be left in the dust.  

My blog doesn’t focus on trends – it asks you to do the longterm, day-at-a-time work.  The internal work, not the “change your outsides so you have a temporary high” work.  

 

3.  Diets Make Money.  I could google it, but I’m going to assume that the diet industry makes millions of dollars each year off of people buying into their particular cookbooks, their programs, and low-carb cheesecakes.  So, when I say they’re bullshit, this will obviously earn a quick snub from most viewers. Why?  They invested money in a product and they don’t want to be told it was for nothing, or for little, or for temporarily.  They want that investment to mean something.  And I’m threatening that.  

 

So, that’s part of why I think this blog will never be popular.  

(Like not being popular has ever stopped me before….)

And an anecdote to finish this off.  Recently, I was sitting with my therapist, and said, “You know, I think I’ve found the secret to a healthy weight and healthy life.”

“And what is that?”  She asked.

“Not worrying about it,” I replied.

She smiled.

My Body!

Media Mondays: My Body Gallery

Happy Monday!  I’m gonna take a break from my “media watchdog” status and post something from the media that is BODY POSITIVE – or at least, I think so.  My fabulous friend Liz let me know about the My Body Gallery, a site that is dedicated to portraying an accurate depiction of what REAL women look like.  The coolest part, in my opinion, is the place where you can type in your height and weight and see pictures of other real women.  For the women I spoke to, this was a wakeup call – as in, “Hey I look better than I thought!”  Why?  Because often we view ourselves more negatively than we do others.  However this could be a trigger for some – so you have been warned.

 

So click away!

 

Have a great Monday, folks!

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Do You Want Your Blog Linked On Mine?

Hey all!

 

I’m looking to link a bunch of Recovery Blogs on my “Links” page.  I’m all for the ED Recovery community connecting and supporting each other.  So, if you want your link on my page, you should meet only a few requirements:

1.  Have a pro-recovery blog (no pro-ana or mia sites, please)

2.  On this blog entry, submit your blog URL.  I will post it!

3.  Comment on another blog that’s  linked on my “Links” page.

 

That’s it…link up my friends!

 

 

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Recovery Tip Tuesday: Spirituality

Welcome to Recovery Tip Tuesday, a weekly update about a skill that’s worked for me in ED recovery.*

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Spirituality.  Why is everyone so afraid of it?  Maybe because we’ve seen those religious extremists who’ve taken it way too far.  Or maybe it’s because the word “God” (Dun-dun-DAH) is involved in it.  Or maybe it’s because self-help groups which claim spirituality as its base struck us as cult-like.  Either way, I personally find it unfortunate that some shy away from this, because your spirituality or God could be a can of tomato soup.

What do I mean?  Well, let me give you an example.  Right after treatment, I worked a job in Harvard Square at an upscale boutique.  I took the T home daily, and got off at Davis Square.  I had been feeling pretty lonely, and fairly lost, because of my recent necessity to quit my regular job to attend treatment.  One day, I had gotten off the T, and all of a sudden, time seemed to slow down.  I noticed everyone around me, walking, running home, all doing and participating in the same thing.  All humans, just trying to achieve the same simple goals, of making enough money to survive or thrive and to be able to enjoy life with their loved ones.

And I, suddenly, felt connected.  Because I was doing the same thing:  I was part of a whole.

And that’s spirituality to me.  That feeling of connectedness that hits you unexpectedly, rendering you ever so present, aware, mindful, and humble.

And connectedness kills eating disorders.  EDs thrive in isolation.

That day was groundbreaking to me, because it reminded me I would never be alone, even if I was alone.  Who knows why it happened – maybe it was some higher power, or maybe, because I was finally feeding my body, my mind was able to be totally and beautifully present.

And I now attempt to utilize it daily.  I’m not perfect, but I try.  When I try to make the right choices about food, I remind myself I’m not alone.  That if others who went before me could trust that eating full meals everyday worked and didn’t make me fat, so could I.  I remind myself that if I need to stop a behavior, I can call someone or pray.  Yes, that scary word, pray.  (To me, prayer is as simple as a dialectical skill, a pause between a feeling and an action, so it’s not that scary anymore.)

What is your form of spirituality, if you have one?  Is it connecting to nature?  Is it healthy exercise?  What other recovery strategies have worked for you?

 

*  What worked for me may not work for you!  So proceed at your own risk.

(Image provided by adaliaconfidenceandsuccessblog.)

Media Mondays: Too Fat to Cheer, My Ass

Welcome to Media Mondays, my weekly post on something ridiculous and stupid I spotted this week that involved the objectification of women’s bodies.  Please feel free to pass along stories you hear at any point; I will profile them on my blog.

 

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This is Kelsey.  Kelsey dances for the Oklahoma Thunder.

kelsey

 

Kelsey was the subject of a literal poll taken by a literal news station (CBS Houston) regarding whether or not readers thought she was too fat to cheer.

Yup.

Since this story broke and it met a crapload of criticism, CBS Houston removed the post.  Who in their right mind approved this?  Someone from the 1950’s via a timewarp?

You know, the first thing I thought of was really inappropriate, but it’s what I thought and here it is:

It’s not like we’re posting pictures of white men and asking, “Do you think his dick is big enough to give him enough macho arrogance he has to embody to maintain his corporate asshole job?”

(So sue me.  It’s what I thought.)

I’m thinking society has fallen pretty low to have to post pictures of women’s bodies for ratings, probably KNOWING that it would cause a firestorm, probably KNOWING that blogs like mine would cover it.  They’re probably not that stupid.

(Or are they…?)

Argh.  And then there’s the “this is nobody’s business but her own” duh viewpoint.

When will we learn?

(Image provided by landthieves)