I’m cheating on my therapist (part 2)

12 Jan

You might want to read part 1 first. It’s kinda long…

Session number four (at least of the “active” sessions) started out with V talking to me about being bullied again. But this time, it was my grandmother that we were discussing. During my very first conversation with V, we were talking about those “resource” people and V was asking me about extended family like aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. I told her that I loved my grandmother very much, and that she was a big part of our lives growing up and into my adulthood. But that I had some mixed feelings about her, because she was always harping on my weight.

And like some weird television show, I had one of those epiphany moments. I realized very clearly how abusive my grandmother had been to me all my growing up years. How much she had damaged me, hurt me, bullied me, abused me. There was no physical abuse. She loved me. But she hurt me so much.

She compared me to people around us, other girls, other women. She told me I’d never be happy if I didn’t lose weight. She told me that I wouldn’t get a husband if I didn’t lose weight. She took me to her aerobics class as often as she could (very often in the summer when I was out of school), where I was forced into working out with other women of all shapes and sizes. Then she pointed out how I couldn’t keep up with this woman or that woman. She compared me to her (younger) friend’s daughter, a girl who was two years ahead of me in school. Pointed out how slender and in-shape that girl was, how smart she was, how happy she was.

She watched what I ate when we were together. She pointed out what I shouldn’t be eating. She encouraged me to deprive myself, and to eat only the things she gave me. She chastised me when I ate too much, or pointed me away from the cookies or the cake that she had baked for others in the family.

I was the only girl in my family, the youngest of four. I was also the only one of the kids who was overweight. I snuck food because I felt deprived of the food. Oh don’t get me wrong, my mother was watching me, because she, too, was unhappy that I was overweight. But she was more subtle about what she did and said. And she didn’t do the overt comparisons that my grandmother employed.

I went to fat camp, subsidized by my grandparents, because I know my parents couldn’t have afforded it at that time. It was a spectacular failure. I might have lost five or ten pounds at the time–the diet was very restricted and the activities were very forced on us–and I gained it all back very quickly…and then some, I’m sure. And my grandmother pointed it out, reminded me how hard I worked at the camp, and how I was letting it all go to waste.

I loved my grandmother very much. She loved me. She had her own weight issues, her own body image issues…I know this affected her and how she treated me. I know it affected her and affected my mother as well. That doesn’t mean what she did to me all those years wasn’t painful and damaging. As an adult, I understand where it came from for her. I’m working hard to separate her as the woman who loved me from her terrible behaviors toward me. I’m trying to remember that I’m NOT damaged. I am whole and I am okay.

My grandmother is only part of the reason that I never feel like I’m enough. Good enough. A good enough daughter. A good enough sister. A good enough wife. A good enough friend. I work ultra-hard, go the extra mile, do all the little things and the big things…and yet even when people are appreciative, I worry that it wasn’t enough. That I wasn’t enough.

My mother had three boys. All she wanted at that point was a little girl. A daughter, who she could dress in lace and ruffles, who would wear sweet pink dresses and play with baby dolls, who would love her tiny tea set and be the epitome of every dainty little girl. I was none of that. I hate lace and ruffles–they made me itch–and I wasn’t overly fond of pink. I hated dresses. I never once picked up a baby doll and I totally ignored the expensive and lovely tea set that I’m told my uncle bought for me at my mother’s urging. I played with the boys’ toys, with the boys themselves as often as I could work my way into their play-time, and I wore pants and tee shirts. And I was far from the dainty little girl she had hoped for. Very very often, my mother would speak of me, and then tell people all those things…I waited so long for a baby girl, I wanted to dress her in lace and ruffles, I wanted to see her play with baby dolls and tea sets. She never wanted any of those things… Over and over my mother would tell people of my failures. My mother loves me and I love her. If you read any of my blog posts, you can’t miss that. We’re amazing friends. I’m in awe of her. I’m deathly afraid of the day I will lose her. AND she made me feel like I wasn’t enough while I was growing up. I wasn’t who she had expected me to be.

I try so hard to be enough. I’ve been bullied and abused and put down for who I was. I only ever wanted to be loved.

As we were talking about my grandmother–and in part about my mom–V asked me to picture myself as a child. I could immediately remember my little bedroom. The walls were painted a pepto bismal pink, my white iron daybed mattress covered in strawberry shortcake sheets (which were in part pink), the white dressers and desk that had once belonged to my mother, the deep cranberry wool carpeting that my grandparents had passed down to me from a previous house. The full length mirror on the back of my door. The tiny little black and white television on my dresser, under the shelves that held the dolls my grandparents brought for me from every trip they took out of the country (I had never asked for dolls, they just bought them for me). The window air conditioner an uncle gave us for my bedroom. V asked me what that little girl was thinking, and I blurted out she just wants to be loved….she doesn’t want to be alone.

In previous sessions with T, I didn’t really understand talking to the little girl that I used to be. I’m not sure why this time it was more accessible. Maybe because of the revelations I had about my grandmother and my mother. The thing is, I don’t know how to make it better for that little girl. I was alone. I felt unloved. I’m not alone as an adult. I have a wonderful relationship with my mother, I have a good relationship with my father and my brothers. My husband loves me very much. I have a very good friend whom I’ve known since second grade. And yet I still feel not good enough. I just want to feel good enough.

I don’t know what’s going to come next. I was supposed to see V again next week but I’ve canceled the appointment due to my mother’s health. That doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about all of this when I have free brain time, but I’ve been pretty occupied with my mother’s appointments, her care, and taking care of her personal and business issues. I have another appointment scheduled with V in a couple of weeks. If I can manage the appointment, I will. In the meantime, I’m still seeing T, so maybe I’ll be able to address some of these thoughts with her. We’ll have to see how it goes, considering everything else happening at the moment.


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7 responses to “I’m cheating on my therapist (part 2)

  1. joey

    January 12, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    This was a terrible thing to read. I see this all the time. The thin, well-dressed mommy and her chubby little girl in jeans and tee. The mommy, eating pasta and bread while the child has a salad. I see it ALL THE TIME. It’s painful.
    I’ll be glaringly honest, as a parent — I wanted girls. My husband wanted another son, because this one we have is not rough & tumble as much as he’d like. I have to laugh at the irony of this, because our girls are all rough & tumble and I think if Bubba were anymore rough & tumble, I’d be fit to tie. I struggle with boys who wreck at play and find my son and my older nephew were PERFECT. None of my girls are girly, although Sassy did have an earnest Cinderella phase. Your mother, God love her, was a parent in a different time when gender meant a lot more than it does now.
    Your room sounds just like Drew’s. Drew’s parents had the same idea about pretty and pleasingly polite and if you ask me, which you did not, these are the causes of many a heartache for a WOMAN. Hard to get promoted while you’re being pretty and pleasing. Hard to find a good man when he sees you as an object of his pleasure.
    I wanted to raise strong, spunky, independent women and I suppose I do. I didn’t have expectations about gender, just that the world needs girl power.
    My kids also came in all shapes (and kinda sizes) and this presents a lot of problems. Boys are like, whoever is biggest and strongest wins, whoever is smallest and lithest loses. Girls nit-pick, on themselves and on the others. They all want Sassy’s hair, but Sissy’s color, Moo’s eyes, Moo’s skin — on and on it goes, the lot of them, with the feet and the legs and the boobs, right into freckle envy.
    I have the battle of feeding them, and there is no doubt, Sissy is a person who can eat her way through a holiday dinner every night and never gain a pound, even though she does not move. Moo not only moves constantly, but also double-fists broccoli and loves water. Sassy is all about carbs and reading. I mean, really, lol, who wouldn’t wanna be all about carbs and reading?!? lol Anyway, I have maintained the same diet for all of them, and Bubba and Moo were always too thin, venturing into failure to thrive territory, while Sissy was perfect on the chart and Sassy was OFF the chart. They have very little control over this. I’d slather butter on the thinner kids’ breads and ply them with milk, but truly, it’s a metabolic thing.
    I’d tell the dr all I could do was feed them and exercise them, no one asked me how I’d wanted them shaped.
    When Sassy complains about her weight, I smile and I tell her she’s beautiful, and many, many women would kill to have a body like hers, many try to buy one. I tell her if she wants to be thinner, eat less, move more, but her body is in perfect working order.
    Now, I didn’t come naturally to this. I did not know about body issues until I was an adult. I don’t have them. My mother never expressed hatred for her own body or anyone else’s. I had no idea this was a gift you could give a kid, but I had been gifted. It is only as an adult, I have realized people have all these food issues and body issues and it’s because their parents were critical and controlling — and it’s harmful for a child to grow up like that. They leave the house and they rebel, eating boxes of crackers and snack cakes because they can, then gaining weight, then seeking the comfort of food.
    I wish, oh how I wish, people, girls especially, could live in a world where health was as important as beauty. I wish you’d been given the love you deserved, to be enough, to be judged for your talents and spirit and not shamed the way you were. This post made me cry big salty tears.
    Everyone deserves a piece of cake or a second bowl of pasta. Everyone should have an exercise they enjoy. Everyone should be accepted as they are. Beauty comes in all packages.
    I feel sad that your mom got cheated out of some idealized version of a daughter, but I’m betting, if you were brave and you asked her, she’d tell you she got exactly the kind of daughter she wanted, she just didn’t know it at the time.
    I am not a thin woman, but I am enough. You are enough.
    I will screw my kids up somehow, I’m sure, but it won’t be with shame. ((((hugs))))
    And I’m sorry I hijacked your comments, but I SEE IT ALL THE TIME.

    • meANXIETYme

      January 12, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      Jeez, Joey, you made ME cry. In the car. When I was waiting for my husband to get out of his eye exam. Good thing his eyes were dilated or he would have seen the tears.
      I see this stuff, too, even now. Even with what we know now about raising kids and how shame doesn’t work. And like you said back then, gender was a big deal. And back then body shaming wasn’t a concept that was in our collective conscience. But with all that damage hanging on me, and seeing my mom AND my grandmother struggle…it’s in my psyche so hard… And yes, of course, I rebelled and snuck food. It’s pretty much a given that that is going to happen, even if it ends up happening when the kid goes off to college on their own for the first time. It’s a terrible cycle and so hard to get out of.
      I have no doubts now as an adult that my mom is just fine with who I am. And I AM brassy and ballsy a lot of the time–mostly when needed–and I’m still not girly or frilly. I take care of the people around me. I go the extra length to do what needs to be done. I love really hard and I’m loyal as a mo’fo. I’m who I am supposed to be. I can’t be anything other. It’s too hard to try to be anything other.
      But as a child, I didn’t know that would be the case. And I guess a part of me still struggles with that. So I’m working on it. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to V soon and continue that work.
      I know I still struggle with feeling like I’m enough. It’s a work in progress.
      Thanks for your hijack. It was totally worth it. I hope it helps someone else out there, too.
      (((HUGS))) back atcha.
      You sound like a really good mom.

      • joey

        January 12, 2016 at 3:53 pm

        “But as a child, I didn’t know that would be the case. And I guess a part of me still struggles with that. So I’m working on it. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to V soon and continue that work.” — Best you can do 🙂

      • meANXIETYme

        January 12, 2016 at 5:28 pm

        Stupid WP won’t let me like this comment, so I have to manually LIKE. Thanks.

  2. April

    January 13, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    I always hope that I didn’t lead my kids to doubt themselves. I know they struggle and wonder if it is just a natural thing or did my depression/anxiety cause them to have doubts about themselves. It’s nice that you are observing these past experiences. Maybe they can finally be let go in order to move forward? I don’t know…I haven’t figured it out myself.

    • meANXIETYme

      January 13, 2016 at 6:57 pm

      I hope that by acknowledging the experiences, I can either grow or learn from them. Or put them away for good.
      I can’t imagine there isn’t a parent in this world who doesn’t wonder if they screwed up their kids somehow. (Boy that was a terrible sentence.) But to some extent, I think it is up to the child to figure out how to live with their experiences, learn from them, grow from them, or suffer with them.

      • April

        January 14, 2016 at 9:39 am

        Very true.


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