Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Therapy (forgiveness) (176.0)

Monday was my 7th therapy appointment.  I have a spreadsheet that I track everything related to my health on.  I color code and number my therapy and acupuncture appointments.  I track my cycle, and also my moods and intrusive thoughts.  I log if I eat at night, my weight, and my workouts (type, distance, time).  I note if there is anything big that happens that day, things like vacation or being out of town or any other family event.

I think this tracking helps me a lot.  It's sort of like Vickie's green/red day calendar post.  I started using a spreadsheet the first time I lost weight in 2007.  I kept it up for about 3 years, I guess.  I lost it when my harddrive died last year.  I started this new one in February this year.  On February 6, I weighed 176.6.  My weight hasn't had a net change since then, but I gained 10 pounds and have lost 10 pounds in the the past six months.  So, the spreadsheet tells a bigger story than the number on the scale alone.

On to the therapy appointment.  I have made a lot of progress in my 6 therapy appointments.  Obviously, though, I still have things I want to work on.  I had made a list before I went  so I'd know what to talk about, other than how much better I feel, which we did discuss for the first 10 minutes.  Like most lists, I didn't get down to the real meat of what needs to be tackled first until I got to #8. 

Have you heard that before?  If you make a list outlining pros/cons/the "why's" of something, it's not until you get to the end that you find real meaning. I read that once, anyway, and it seems to be true, at least for me.

At any rate, my #8 was anger and resentment toward my mom.  Ever since starting therapy, I have had a horrible time being around my mom.  She has always driven me a little nuts, but dragging all this stuff up from my past has made it almost unbearable. 

Since I started therapy, my mom has not changed.  I have. 

I have been at my absolute worst around her; another way to say that is, she brings out the worst in me. But that implies my behavior is her fault, and it isn't.  I'm impatient and anger easily and am defensive.  I punish her with passive agressive comments.  I spend as little time as possible with her.

I explained all this to Julie.  We talked more about the dynamics of our relationship.  We eventually ended up at Forgiveness.

Julie asked me to define forgiveness.  That was hard.  I said it's not holding something against someone anymore, and forgiveness is more important to the forgiver than the forgivee.  My mom doesn't even know I have anything to forgive her for.

Which is another reason I'm angry at her.  She has no clue (or at least hasn't acknowledged that she has a clue) how abandoned and neglected and abused I felt as a young adolescent and teenager.  I felt all those things, and on top of it, I feel that she knows me so little or cares so little or is so stinking unaware of the complexity of childhood and human beings, that she is ignorant or simply ignores how her actions and inactions have affected me so strongly.

I resent her.  I feel the need to punish her.  I'm angry at her. 

I don't know how to forgive her.

Julie asked if forgiveness is the same as forgetting.  I said yes, in a way, because I want to forget all those things she did/didn't do, because every time I'm with her, I feel those feelings.  I want them gone, so I can forgive and forget. 

Then Julie told me what she thinks forgiveness is.  She said that forgiveness is acknowledging your past, acknowleding your pain, and proclaiming that you have survived.  That you are okay NOW.  And you can move on.  Forgiveness is not letting the past infect your relationships now or control who you are now. 

Forgiveness doesn't mean you have to say "that's okay."  The way I've been brought up, when someone says "I'm sorry," you respond with "that's okay."  I'm teaching my kids that by example.  This is wrong.  "I'm sorry" doesn't mean whatever was done to you was okay. 

I realized in her office that that is why I can't forgive (based on my definition) my mom for the past.  In my mind, if I forgive her, I am saying that what happened then is okay, and it's pretty freaking far from okay. 

This new definition is taking some getting used to.  I understand it, but it's a huge shift in thinking.  I want to embrace it; I plan to.  I don't want to feel all knotted up and angry when I'm with my mom.  She doesn't do anything to me NOW that warrants my behavior (at least that I have examined; I am so wrapped up in the past it is hard to know that for sure). 

Don Henley has a song called The Heart of the Matter.  The bridge goes like this:
There are people in your life who've come and gone.
They've let you down.  You know they've hurt your pride.
You better put it all behind you, baby.  'Cause life goes on.
You keep carrying that anger, it'll eat you up inside.

The last verse is:
I've been trying to get down, to the heart of the matter,
because the flesh will get weak, and the ashes will scatter.
So I think it's about forgiveness, forgiveness,
Even if, even if, you don't love me anymore.

I've been on a Don Henley kick the past week or so (which is how I roll; I like to listen to one artist for days and days, then switch to someone else).  I've listened to his Actual Miles CD every morning, and these lyrics hit me hard every time.

I know I can forgive my mom, because it's not about her.  It's about me.  I survived.  I am okay now.  I can move on.  I don't have to let the past control me anymore.  I can let the light shine into that black box, and release it.

Julie said I need to find a way to work through this in a tangible way.  Ideally, this would involve talking to mom about how I feel.  She said that it's not necessary though; I don't feel the need to hurt my mom with all this.

Which is another issue in itself--I feel like it's my responsibility to protect her from being hurt, but that means it's okay that I hurt myself--which is totally not okay.

So she suggested I choose some kind of symbolism.  I could write about it, print it out, and tie it to a balloon and set it free, or burn it.  I thought of the idea of taking a magnifying glass and setting it on fire with sunlight. I like the symbolism of the light taking away the dark.

There was more, believe it or not.  It was a very productive session.  I'll write next time on commitment vs. attachment.


Cindy...154 said...

Forgiveness is huge. I love that song. Understanding what it means is important. I used to be very confused about it. I like Julie's description. What a good topic. I forgive every day. Sometimes better than others. I have some prayer/meditations that I use. I also have my Forgiveness CD which I play. It is about forgiving myself, and forgiving the other person. But the forgiving self part comes first in the meditation. This is a very helpful post. Thank you!

Laura N said...

I would love to hear how others experience forgiveness, and what it means to each person.

Laura I. (G.G.) said...

I think for me, forgiveness must include an element of acceptance in relation to the person I am forgiving (especially if it's someone who hasn't asked for forgiveness, or who even believes forgiveness of necessary)--acceptance that the person is who he/she is and that I can't change them, can't even prove to him/her that they hurt me, and that it doesn't really matter, anyway. I think it's an acceptance of powerlessness over things which I can't control and acceptance of the things I can (like my own attitude towards the situation).

Laura I. (G.G.) said...

It's weird, but for the really important relationships, like with my parents, there's a grieving process related to the wrong(s) I need to forgive. Grieving for the kid I was, for the adult I've become, grief for the parent who doesn't get it, and for whatever they might have been going through at the time that led to the whole mess. Grief for the things that were and for those that never will be because of what happened. When I've let myself feel that, it's easier to accept things and people the way they are and then move on. Forgiveness, for me, is the last step before moving on.

Vickie said...

the post was excellent, the comments equally so.

I am struggling with this whole concept in my own life.

I have an added twist that my mother thrives on the martyr feeling.

So each and every thing (still, to this day) is going to be motivated by her trying to acieve that feeling for herself. Things are always going to be set up to be negative or to fail, is another way of looking at it.

I went my whole life thinking she wasn't capable of chosing or doing better than she did. When I realized she actually thought she did well, she thrived on what she did, it was a real eye opener.

I hope you continue to write on this topic, candidly, helpful to you and to us too.

JSP said...

I have been reading your blog for awhile but have never commented. I found your and Vickie's blogs while trying to find out what happened to Frances Kuffel after reading "Passing for Thin". I used to read the "Angry Fat Girls" blog. I say this so you know how long I have been following, I probably should have commented long before this. I have been working on forgiveness lately. I don't know how to forgive my mother when she keeps doing the same things, at this point I can't even have her in my life. So, obviously I have no answers. I just wanted to tell you that your blog helps me process things. I should tell Vickie this too. I actually like the way you write to each other, very helpful. I have gotten a lot of useful information on her blog. Now as you work through what you are going through you are helping me too. Thank you.

Julie said...

I love Julie's description of forgiveness as like Laura I, I too felt I had to `prove' to the other person that they had wronged me so I (as an enlightened person!!!) could forgive them - boy, does that say a lot about me and my self-righteous, judgemental attitude - ouch :( This train of thought is why it is so wonderful and generous of you to share so honestly and openly with the rest of us. I have discovered I need to forgive myself for the way I treated myself (despite the fleeting feel-good during overeating one does not become obese due to an overwhelming sense of self-acceptance, respect and love). I have to forgive myself and make apologies to my children for the way I was when I was bringing them up and for some of the things I `taught' them with my behaviour. I tried to ensure they realise that as adults now they are responsible for their own behaviour, I (and my husband who had issues other than food) have demonstrated that major change is possible and they should do whatever they need to move on, not use my/our poor past behaviour as a template/excuse. I don't know the CD you mentioned but will check it out, love finding new music.

Laura N said...

JSP-- in case you are getting replies to comments. Thank you for de-lurking and commenting. It's nice to know you are out there--and for quite a while. We are here for each other, & for you too. It's a community that has been a huge blessing in my life. Take care & hope to hear from you again soon. (and if not, that's okay too. it's okay to "just listen")