Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

Loving Jane’s tea post from a few days ago, and trying to figure out how to catch up with everyone. And these things have something to do with each other.

(Much of my absence has been devoted to one of our clients, www.spout.com, which is in beta now, and will go through more changes before its official launch this fall. If you check it out, I am “Ingrid” on the site. Anyway, it’s a fast-moving project, time consuming, and pretty exciting.)

We’ve been working our way back to Maine, our annual restoration destination, which is where I am now. Longtime readers will recall we had to cancel last year when Mom was sick. She wanted to come here, but didn’t make it. This year, two days before we got on the plane, Dad fell and broke his hip.

My Dad has very poor short-term memory. Wanted to walk off the break a minute after it happened. Of course, the poor guy needed surgery, but doesn’t remember he’s had it, and has a hard time putting together what’s happened to him. He just wants to go back home.

I decided to take my vacation anyway. Leave him in the very capable care of my three siblings and their spouses and the various medical professionals, and go as planned. The guilt is saltier than the air around here.

My feelings about this make no sense whatsoever. I know this. I know that there is no comfort I could give him in person that he could hang onto, that would make it better for him. If I were there, I wouldn’t relieve my siblings, who would be just as present and worried as they are without me. I can’t make him heal faster, or turn back the clock and catch him before he fell. I could only make myself feel better by performing as the good daughter. But being there would not give me any control over this situation.

So now the trick is to breathe and try to translate what I know cognitively to some kind of emotional understanding. Because what I want to do right now?

Eat.

I haven’t stopped thinking about food since I got here. Normally this is a place where I am so removed from the presense or thought of food, and so exposed to opportunities for exercise that I can count on dropping a few pounds by the end of my vacation. Not sure that’s going to happen this time around. I arrived in a bit of a mess, nursing muscle spasms and a pinched nerve in my neck, migraines, arthritic feet, and various and sundry distresses from the pain medication for the above ailments.

I feel stupid. I feel as if I’ve wallowed in… something. Not self-pity, but self-denial. I’ve wallowed in self-denial. Despite knowing better, knowing full well what’s going on, I have not been taking Care Of My Self.

Taking this time is taking a step in the right direction, but it’s not much of a step at all if I spend it unable to shake my guilt or give my body the diet and exercise it needs now that I really have no barriers to healthy habits at all.

Why is this lesson, the lesson of self-care, so hard to learn? How old will I be before I both understand how to take care of myself and also choose to do it, especially during times of stress? I hope it happens soon, because I’m looking down the road, and see plenty of losses ahead. I must find the graceful and healthy path through.

But. I am walking hills, hills, hills. I am drinking my water. I am sleeping. I am looking for and consuming every veggie on the island (a challenge, let me tell you).

I’m also finding some great yarn. Check out peacefleece.com, knitters.

Meantime, I will take any tips or tricks you’d like to share for restricting guilt consumption. I have a feeling it’s fattening.

Oh. Also we have a new kitten. Her name is Hattie. More on her later.

Miss you guys too.

8 thoughts on “JuJu Learning Again

  1. Mercury says:

    When I went through my own loss several years ago, my therapist told me that guilt can be a way to hold onto what you’ve lost. It’s a way to re-write the past and make the reality less painful. So in that sense, it is a form of denial. But denial is a natural stage of grief. There’s no sense in beating yourself up for it.

    It sounds like you’re not just feeling guilty about your father, you’re also feeling guilty about wanting to eat. THIS, I can assure you, is pointless. Please try and be patient with yourself. Feeling guilt over your guilt, while very meta, isn’t going to prevent you from overeating.

  2. Zentient says:

    Dear JuJu,

    Every time the guilt arises, stop the thinking and just say a big Thank You for the “very capable care of my three siblings and their spouses and the various medical professionals” who enabled you to go on your trip.

    Zentient

  3. Mj says:

    It’s good to “read you back”, JuJu. And good to read that you’re working on the Love-Yourself-As-You-Love-Your-Neighbor thing (isn’t it amazing how we seem to interpret this ‘backwards’?).
    Mj

  4. VickieJ says:

    JuJu,

    I found this information a while back when trying to help a loved one understand and work through guilt feelings. Maybe there is something here that speaks to you?

    Psychotherapy with Brigit Wolz PhD, MFT
    http://bwolz.com/html/guilt.html

    “Guilt can be seen as the price we pay when our behavior violates some standard or belief we hold. As long as our behavior is violating this standard or belief, guilt will follow.”

    “Very often, our standards are not very clear in our consciousness and we question our behavior only in response to feelings of guilt and shame. Therefore, we might not be aware that our standards are unrealistically high. If we consciously observed our behavior or put ourselves into the role of a compassionate friend we might not apply the same high standards. We may come from a family that encouraged us to feel overly responsible through blaming or finding fault whenever things went wrong. Super-responsibility may have been seen as an asset as we grew up. The down side is that throughout life, even a trivial infraction noticed by some authority figure (parents, teachers, employers, etc.) instilled in us a sense of failure, guilt, and diminished self-worth. We developed an “Inner Critic” to protect ourselves by forestalling external criticism. Whenever our behavior now violates a certain standard, we sink into a low state and feel guilty and worthless, instead of revising this standard or using our guilt experience for learning and improvement.”

    “Another cause of guilt seems to have its origin in the “magical thinking” of early childhood. As infants we learn that when we have a need (for clean diapers, food, etc.), all we have to do is make a sound, and someone comes to fill our need. Therefore, we learn to believe in our own power, growing out of the reality that we are the “center of the universe”. This belief continues until our intellectual level (age six to nine) allows us to start understanding other cause and effect relationships in the world. We learn that we are not the cause, and therefore responsible, for everything that happens. But some of us may have kept a certain remnant of magical thinking, like for example “to expect anything good will only bring bad”, and vice versa. Even under the best circumstances most of us retain a bit of magical thinking that contributes to a sense of guilt, especially in response to a profound loss. “What did I do to cause this?” “What could I have done to prevent this?” These are reasonable questions for adults to be asking about their effect on the world. Whether or not they torment us and undermine our sense of worth may depend upon the degree of “magical thinking” we retain from our childhood.”

    “Another cause of guilt is also connected with an “illusion of control”. We would rather believe that certain events in our life are a result of our wrongdoing than that they are caused by inevitable circumstances. The price we pay for this belief that we are in control is guilt.”

    Conquering Guilt

    “There is no need to suffer from unreasonable or even reasonable guilt. The following tools will help you conquer your guilt:

    1. You first need to be fully aware that you feel guilty and recognize how you might act out unconscious guilt.
    2. Then you need to identify, as clearly as possible, just what it is you believe you feel guilty of.
    3. The next step is to ask yourself if your guilt is logical or not. This gives you a different perspective from which to view your actions. Ask yourself: “With the information and resources I had, did I do the best I could?” These kinds of questions may appear ridiculous with their obvious answer but they help you look at your guilt in a true light. Many times, when we say our guilt out loud or write them down, we can hear or see the illogic of them.
    4. Ask yourself, “what was my intention when I made the decision or action I feel guilty about?”
    5. Examine your standards when they conflict with your behavior. Look back at the behavior you feel guilty about from the perspective of a compassionate, non-judgmental friend. Then see whether you would apply the same standards as before.
    6. It might also be helpful to evaluate whether you may be carrying guilt or shame from your childhood that distorts your perspective now. If your standards seem too high, you need to tell your “Inner Critic” to back off and lower these standards.
    7. If you are afraid to lower your standards of behavior, you need to weigh out the pros and cons by asking yourself in each situation, “What do I stand to gain or lose if I lower them?”
    8. If your standards seem clearly appropriate, you need to acknowledge that your guilt was reasonable. Now you can use your experience for learning and improving your behavior.
    9. Sometimes, the only answer is to ask for forgiveness from a person or from God. This helps you to forgive yourself.
    10. With meditation or engaging in a spiritual activity, you can learn to use the power of presence to create an inner atmosphere of acceptance.”

    “It takes time to resolve guilt. You may have to go through these steps over and over again.”

  5. Virginia says:

    Vickie your comments about guilt and how to look and question it was a light bulb moment for me. Thanks for taking the time to write it. I get so much from this blog and the comments and today I wanted to acknowlede this fact.

  6. reesie says:

    Hi, I found this blog through several clicks from flickr. First, thanks for adding me as a friend on flickr. Second, congrats on your amazing weight loss! 100 lbs… that’s incredible.

  7. JuJu says:

    Oh thanks you guys. This is all so helpful.
    Vickie, your comment post is above and beyond. Virginia, yes, what you said. Reesie, hey flickr friend! I’ll have to post a picture of the peacefleece I picked up. But it’ll take some great light to do it justice… tomorrow.

  8. chrissie barclay says:

    Hello,

    I’m writing this from spain where I live and I find all that you write to comforting to me. Many many thanks Chrissie

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