Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nothing changes if nothing changes....

Do any of you watch Addicted To Food on Opr@h’s new network? I have to admit I’m now addicted to the show. (That pisses me off slightly in that I have somehow over the course of our current Prez’s campaign – lost some of my love for Opr@h...but I digress)

At any rate – the show has brought up some demons of mine and though I’ve tried to squash them and put them away – they keep coming back up. Draz and my inner demons are nothing if not persistent. Dammit.

I don’t really understand how I’m going to heal if Drazil won’t stay hidden. I’d like to continue living in the Land of Denial but he’s making it impossible. He’s such an azzhole.

So – the jist of the show for those of you who haven’t seen it – is a 6 week inpatient therapy home for anyone with an eating disorder. This includes bulimia, anorexia and compulsive over-eating. They are all grouped together because the founder believes they all have the same issue with food – it just manifests itself differently.

Throughout their stay they are required, of course, to follow a strict diet and work out some (they do not get to know their weight gains/losses) but mostly they take part in group therapy and they receive assignments as the counselors get to know them.

This is where it gets icky for me. I found myself wanting to curl up in the fetal position as I saw some of these “assignments” handed out. Though they seem cruel – they are not – and they work. BUT if I had to do any of them – I’d go nutso. Plain old crazy Jane – in probably .2 seconds.

Therein lies the problem. The fact that the thought of these assignments being given to me makes me want to go all Exorcist on anyone within a 1 mile radius – is a bad, bad thing. Bad – but not un-fixable.

Here are some examples of the assignments:

One of the women has a problem with stuffing her feelings inside. Never asking for help. Never reaching out. Handling everything on her own. Never wanting to burden anyone. Never feeling she’s worth enough to bother anyone with her pain. Appearing strong and confident. When inside she is dying and she’s killing herself with laxatives and is severely underweight. Her assignment?

To wear a blindfold for a week… force her to ask for help. To force her to reach out and know she can’t do it alone. To force her to see people can and will help. To force her to see people want to...if only she’ll let them. To force her to trust someone besides herself.

You see this girl try to eat – with a blindfold on. You see her try to maneuver around a room – with a blindfold on. When others ask if she needs help – she remains steadfast and foolishly says, “Nope – I think I can handle it.” Until she realizes she can’t even see what’s on her plate much less cut it or pick it up to eat. She asks for help. Others gladly give it. She is humbled without even knowing it.

The blindfold works.

Another woman talks. Incessantly. Non-stop. About nothing and everything. It is her wall. She wants people to love her but they can never get close enough because she keeps them out with talk. Never a silent moment. Never getting beyond the talk. It is her survival mechanism…because behind the talk is massive pain…but she hides it with talk.

They show her gardening and the whole time she is talking – to no one. She never stops talking. And her assignment?

She cannot talk for a week.

Holy God in heaven…just typing that gives me hives.

The point is if she isn’t talking she’ll have to feel. She’ll have to listen. She’ll have no wall and others will see what is under the talk. She will have to sit with herself and her pain...and she’s never done that before.

In fact, when they give her the assignment – she knows why – and she calmly says, “I don’t think I talk too much to hide my pain. I think they are wrong.”

One day later – she is nearly brought to her knees. She feels isolated, alone, and desperate. She wants to go home. She is feeling pain – in massive amounts. She can’t talk over it, around it or through it. She has to sit with it. And it nearly kills her.

Another woman has a brother who died tragically and for years she has felt the pressure to heal her parent’s grief over that – and in turn, has never grieved herself. If not for her life – she is convinced – her parents would have killed themselves over their grief. She is crumbling over the pressure. She is everything to everyone to fill the void her brother left but she is nothing to herself.

They tell this woman to go over to a stack of pillows and to think of the pillows as the amount of grief and pressure she feels over her brother’s death…and to pick up how many represent that. She picks up all of the pillows – there are 4 large ones.

Her assignment? To carry them all week….like she carries the grief every day – to show her just how much it inhibits her life.

She thinks it’s a joke. She feels like she’s 5 and she’s being punished. But the metaphor rings true.

Another man there has a problem with never saying no or saying how he really feels. He eats all of that away and is dangerously diabetic. He has lost the feelings in his toes and he will soon lose the feeling in his hands – and his career? He’s a musician who plays a guitar.

His assignment? To wear HUGE gloves for a week – to show him what his life would be like if he continues down this path – if he continues killing himself with food. All week, just the most menial of tasks is difficult. Holding a fork, washing, reading – anything.

His other assignment? He is to wear a sign that says he can ONLY talk if he is telling you how he feels. He can ONLY share his feelings – 24/7. It is incredibly difficult. Sometimes he doesn’t even know how to form the words – because the concept is so foreign to him.

So yes – I can calmly and rationally say if I was made to do any one of those assignments – I’d crumble within a day. I’d be brought to my knees in short order.

The biggest one for me is the talking. I can’t NOT talk. I can’t let you in beyond the talk. I can’t be silent in a room with you – because you might find out or ask something I can’t handle the answer to. Though I want and need you beyond the talk – I’ll never let you in that far. I just can’t.

And blindfolded – being required to reach out and not only ask for help but NEED it? Well – hell to the no. I can’t be that crippled or that out of control. I can’t trust anyone enough to do that. I have to fight for myself – because no one else ever did right?

Only talking about my feelings – and nothing else? Not mundane, stupid things that don’t matter? ONLY what I feel? No one wants to hear that and I can’t express it. That’s just crazy talk.


I have a long way to go, don’t I?

How about you? Could you do these assignments? Do they bring up feelings of dread and fear? Can you ask yourself why --- and can you answer?

Remember….nothing changes if nothing changes….

....and though the pain of actually thinking about doing these assignments seems unbearable...NOT doing them seems even worse....and I think that's progress right?


Sarah Williams said...

I love that show! It's made me try to look at myself and realize my addiction to food and where it comes from. Very intense show!

Dazee Dreamer said...

wow. I have to have talk in a room. that one would probably be really hard for me. I don't like the uncomfortable feeling when no one is talking. I guess I need to dig deeper and find out the reason why.

I really want to meet you someday. We could have a "talk off". :)

JourneyBeyondSurvival said...

Well. It makes me too tired to say I can't do something like a task. Won't, is another matter. But can't? Chickadee has proved to me, as well as mental illness, that I can do pretty much whatever.

I think I'm too strong on one hand. It's not that I want to be capable, it's just I can't handle the way that people react, talk, and doing thing in a way that makes me really uncomfortable.

The other is expressing my feelings. I clearly need to deal with that.

MandaPanda said...

I thnk those would all be difficult. The only talking about your feelings thing would be especially hard for me. I'm an open book but I depend on humor to break the ice and fill the gap and allow people to see what I want them to see. Not so sure about the not talking at all one either though. I'm a babbler. I'd go nuts.

MizFith said...

**runs to set the DVR**

Karen Butler Ogle said...

No. I couldn't do those assignments and I will not be visiting Oprah or her show. That sounds like some kind of torture. I can't share as it is too hard to talk about but what I fear is that I will sometimes be in a place where I can never be alone or have privacy and solitude. It happened once and I can't tell you how that scarred me for a while.

Beth Ann said...

Love you, girl! I'm the queen of making myself face my fears. It's like I'm some sort of glutton for punishment. But I'm obsessed with not letting my fears and insecurities rule me...sometimes to the point where they do, just not in the way I expect. It's weird. I will have to check out this show. said...

I watched the episode you're talking about, and while it was good, I found it SO incredibly triggering of my own food issues that I literally could not finish watching it. Interesting, since I don't have that reaction to other food/obesity shows (I can watch BL and Heavy w/o problem). Maybe that means Addicted to Food is the one that really shows the issues best?