Monday, August 01, 2011

Weekend "Afters" and what to do next time (175.8)

Our weekend trip was really great.  It was easy travelling, the concert was fabulous, and our time with Mark's family was relaxing and enjoyable. 

I did pretty well as far as eating went. No sugary stuff at the concert or hotel, and we had a healthy dinner of grilled chicken, salad, and strawberries on Saturday night.

I also woke up at 6:30 am on Saturday morning & did 3.1 miles on the hotel treadmill.  I was happy about that, and even though I'd only gotten 5 1/2 hours of sleep, it felt great that I got up and worked out. I think it helped shape my food choices all day, too.

I didn't have birthday cake Saturday night.  It was just a plain old cake, and I'd already had some last weekend and didn't feel the need to eat it.  Also, our nephew-in-law made fabulous decaf lattes after dinner, and I'll take one of those over cake any day.

Last night was tough, though.  Mark is having his own case of The Afters, mostly over turning 49 yesterday, which he didn't handle well.  That transferred to me, and I could feel the anxiety and fear building in me all night.  I had driven 4 hours yesterday; I unpacked and put everything away and started laundry (which is a big deal for me, usually I leave things in a suitcase for a week after a trip).  I kept busy all afternoon & early evening, but instead of relieving me of anxiety, it exhausted me. 

I read a novel to relax after the kids went to bed, and fell asleep around 10 pm-- on the couch.  Mark was in the bedroom snoring loudly, and I was also in avoidance mode.  I had done all I could for him but he was still coping badly, and I didn't want to deal with it any more.  So I stayed in the family room.

Sleeping on the couch is deadly for me.  I know this.  I chose to avoid, and then fell into a mini-binge of two bowls of cereal at 1 am while I watched True Blood. 

I knew it was coming, I thought off and on all night about how I could avoid the After, and I was just too tired to do anything about it. 

It's not the end of the world, and I'm back on track this morning and made sure to weigh and didn't bury my head in the sand.  I am not beating myself up, but I am examining what happened and trying to figure things out for next time.

This is not new territory, I realize.  But I am looking at it from the perspective of eating whole foods for five weeks, which makes me clearer mentally and emotionally, and I'm trying to figure out what it is about the night binging that is so hard for me to give up in times of avoidance.

The questions I've been asking myself:

is it okay to get numb when I don't want to feel the fear and anxiety?  or do I have a duty to myself to work through the fear and anxiety and feel it, instead of numbing it? 

and if it's okay to get numb, is it okay to use food?  and if it's not okay to use food, then what do I do? 

and if it's not okay to get numb, then how do I cope when I feel like I have no energy reserves left to do anything else?

I don't have good answers yet, other than I intuitively feel that if I want to heal completely, I can't use food to escape.  Saying it's okay to binge when I "need to" would be like telling an alcoholic she can have some drinks when she feels the need to escape.

I also expect that I will always have times when I feel like this but don't have the energy to deal, no matter how much I prepare for them.  I guess that's when the food-alternative strategies need to come into play.

Now I need to figure out what those strategies might be.


Vickie said...

all good questions for a therapy appt.

in my mind it is treading water

that is how I picture it for myself.

I do the absolute basics and do not ask any more of myself

and I think that was what you were doing in what you describe (not letting the laundry sit so it haunts you all week).

(we don't actually have cereal in the house any more. there isn't even a whole serving of protein in it. no one eats it. just saying.)

I do not turn to food.

what you are talking about is when I sat and cried at the wall or got in the tub and bawled. stayed both places until I could trust myself not to eat over it. So, I guess I am saying I cried over it. I felt it. I got it out of my system.

I was always able to deal once I got done crying. In my mind I was teaching a very small child in me how to cope. Teaching a different response than I had ever learned before. No stuffing down, yes crying it out. And then I could get over it. until I learned to do that, I don't think I ever got over things. I think they stayed with me for all eternity.

those treading water days are when I am likely to eat the exact same meals so I can just be on automatic pilot and not have to think too much.

I am UBBER careful not to put myself in more harms way (like I would not visit someone who is iffy/might set me off during this time, I would not go somewhere with willy nilly food, I would not go somewhere stressful).

My husband does not vent on me. If he is having a tough time, he can't dump on me. he has very short term 'bad times' (like a couple hours) but if he sinks me, it impacts the whole house and it might take me a long time to get over it. that is not to say he keeps things from me - he does not - but he has to be very careful not to sink me.

Vickie said...

the set up of your house really is an issue for you. you are going to have to figure out sleep, couch, kitchen, etc so it works for you even on your worst day. is there somewhere/anywhere to stick an extra bed for emergency nights?

jen said...

Big birthdays are tough. I had more trouble with 29 and 39 than with 30 and 40. God help me when I turn 49. You didn't say, and you didn't have to because it isn't our business, necessarily, but what about Mark's reaction scared you? What did it make you think would happen?

Brenee Brown talks about numbing and taking the edge off in her books. Numbing means we don't feel bad emotions as strongly, but we can't selectively numb the bad stuff without numbing the good stuff too. I find it very hard sometimes not to numb.

Sorry you had such a hard night.

Laura N said...

Vickie, I remember your putting yourself in time out. I had forgotten that you cried, too. I often need to cry and push it down, because if I cried every time I felt like it, I'd be in the bathroom half the day! At least that's how it feels. I do push those emotions down, and they eventually come back up thru night eating.

I hadn't thought about just sitting and crying it out. That might be the answer. I can't "distract" myself enough, either with busy work or other peaceful solutions--that's not the answer. I have to feel the feelings. I guess I didn't know what that really meant. It probably means I need to cry.

There isn't room for another bed, unless we bought a day bed and put it in the front living room where the love seat is. That actually would be a good solution, but we don't have the cash to spend on it right now. But something to consider.

I think it's location, and it's also the temporary situation of falling asleep somewhere other than my bed. If I'm in bed, then I'm IN BED and I am less likely to eat because night time is in full swing. If I'm not asleep in bed, it's like I'm in limbo between day and night, and the kitchen is still an option. You know?

My husband is a very emotional creature. He also has very few relationships right now because he has been focused on school for so long. So I am IT as far as talking about deep dark emotions. I have my blog and therapy (now), and a lot of my angst goes here. He doesn't have another outlet right now--he has in the past, and will have again I'm sure.

And he is going through a HUGE After. Has a hole to fill where school/CFP studying used to be. I told him yesterday it is like he has been in an abusive relationship for the past 3 1/2 years, and he's so relieved he's free from the battering, but he irrationally misses it because it is all he has known for so long. I told him I thought he needs to go back to therapy (of course, that's my answer to everything, because it has helped ME so much); he's not ready yet. I will not push him; he will go when/if he's ready.

Jen, he basically set himself and us up so we couldn't celebrate his birthday Sunday, and then he felt sorry for himself because we weren't making a big enough deal about his birthday. There's more, but like you guessed, I can't talk about it on the blog.

I did the same thing with 39. I dreaded 40 for more than year (it started a few months before I turned 39). When 40 got here, it wasn't that big of a deal. Now I'm 41 and I don't like the changes 40s have brought, but I feel like this will be my best decade yet.

Mark thought 40s were great. 49 is tough b/c people start to die in their 50s. His dad @ 50. His brother @ 57. He is feeling the loss of his youth accutely. I know he'll work through it. What other choice does he have? It will just take time.

I haven't started her books yet--I've been in escape reading mode. I finished my book last night, and after your comment I am going to start reading her books next.

Thank you both for your thoughtful comments.

Laura N said...

Changes 40s have brought are all hormonal. My face sweats a lot, and that's the big issue I hate which I never had before. I am more hormonal and emotional and not just at PMS time. The veins in my hands stand out like my grandma's used to. I have to wear glasses to do computer and read books (never wore glasses before late 30s). I have grey hair on my head. All the getting old stuff, which I just have to work through. I know it's not going to get easier!

jen said...

My feelings about aging are all the what-if-there-isn't-enough-time variety. Also the whole looking-older thing sucks.

jen said...
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Vickie said...

On the crying.

I cried a lot that first year.

I still cried the second year, but not nearly as much.

then it moved on so that I only cried over the really big stuff.

I think the major crying of the first year was getting a lot of old pent up stuff out of my system.

Sort of like expelling bad karma.

I think I was carrying everything with me - had never expressed constructively, a lot was just plain bottled up.

And I think most of my crying was frustration based. Frustrated at myself mostly.

When I got my priorities in order, stopped self sabotaging, got focused, etc, then I was not nearly as frustrated.

Defensiveness and anger sort of figured themselves out about then too.

The times I can remember crying in this past year were not over things I had done to myself. They were over things other people did to me (husband's brother, my mother, etc). And these were BIG things.

So my volume of crying was greatly reduced and when I did cry, it was sort of 'just'.

And I learned much better boundaries because of these incidents. In other words I payed attention to the fact that they made me feel like crying and that was not welcome and not neccessary.

My mother was not very nice at something in July and instead of being hurt, I was slightly amused.

And I have only seen her in very neutral/safe settings since then. And for very short periods of time.

Your husband would do well to pick up a physical activity now - recreational sports team (to interact with guys), running, gym, yoga classes - this would be very good for him - time wise, emotional outlet, positive action for his health.

I also think he might do well in a club - debate, speech, cards, book review, whatever.

I would specifically look for things that do not cost $, do not accumulate clutter, do not drag him into other things (like group that then does massive volunteer work).

I realize there are things with the kids. But I think he is feeling lost and these would be possitive connections for him.

Just because others died in their 50's, does not mean he will. And he would do well to live each day to the fullest so he has no regrets (no matter what, we all should be like that). Hopefully he will get over it in a reasonable length of time. you are right, if it lingers, he needs a therapist.

Helen said...

Tell Mark welcome to the 49 club -- I'm almost 6 months ahead of him -- and tell him that I said the BEST people were born in 1962. ;-)