Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Micromanaging, Baby Stealer...

There used to be a woman at church that drove me just a little bit crazy. She had a tendency to be in everyone's business in some form or another, and if you worked with her on a project she had this habit of hounding you about things, or calling you to update you on some aspect that she could have easily waited to talk to you about, or updated you via email or a message. I screen my calls. It's not a great trait of mine, but I like my solitude and I hate answering the phone and having it be a sales person, survey taker, or just someone I don't want to talk to. So I let the machine get it almost every time, and if I want to talk to the person, I pick up the phone. This particular person would never leave whatever business she wanted to tell me about on a message, she would just leave a message to call her, and then she would call multiple times a day. I told her that I preferred email and hated talking on the phone but it didn't matter to her. She wanted to tell me whatever it was herself. I will admit that I lacked patience with her, and that I occasionally got snappy with her.
When I gave birth to my youngest daughter last December it was via an emergency C-section and it was four weeks earlier than we were expecting her. This woman was the only person that called me in the hospital and it wasn't to congratulate me on my baby or check on how I was doing. It was to report to me what was going on with a project that she had volunteered to take off my hands so that I wouldn't have to deal with it at the end of my pregnancy.
She would call me to remind me about meetings I was in charge of, or to report things that she could have told me about at a meeting scheduled later the same day. When I saw her at church I had a tendency to turn and hurry the other direction because if I didn't I would end up stuck in a conversation about something I already knew about, repeating things we had already said. She also had somewhat of a reputation as a baby stealer. That doesn't mean that she went around kidnapping babies, but she did love to hold people's babies, and had stalked me in the past, even following me into the mother's room to see if I was done nursing so that she could hold my baby. I don't really mind letting people hold my babies, but I am picky about who holds them, and I really like holding my babies myself, so I'm not one to pass them off all the time. This woman didn't seem to mind if the babies were unhappy while she held them. When my now 11 year old was a baby, she would follow me around every Sunday and steal him away and although he was fine with her at four months, by the time he was eight or nine months old he would cry and cry. I finally started avoiding her during church and went to great lengths to not let her hold subsequent babies. If the baby likes to be held by someone that is one thing, but when they are crying and don't like the person, that is another.
I spent a decade being annoyed by this woman. I was polite to her for the most part, but I am sure there were times when my annoyance showed through both in person and on the phone. That never seemed to phase her.
About six months ago, shortly after the birth of my last baby, I came to a sudden realization about this woman. She is lonely. I began to understand that the hounding phone calls, the baby holding, the checking up about minute details constantly were not because she is a micromanaging control freak, but because they were opportunities for her to connect with other people. Calling to remind people of something, or to ask about something, or to update them about things they probably already knew (and it wasn't just me that she did this to) were moments of human interaction for her. Holding a baby meant having some physical touch, even just for a few moments. I began to see her in a different light. Her motivations for the way she acted became clearer and my heart began to soften towards her. If there is one thing I know and understand, it is loneliness. You might think that with eight beautiful kids I could never be lonely, but you'd be wrong. Loneliness is one of my big challenges.
So I let her hold my youngest baby, and I didn't wait for her to ask or offer, I just handed the baby over. It was a little bit difficult for me to do, but afterwards I felt good about it. The baby didn't cry, she cooed and smiled, and I think that it made this woman feel loved.
I know this doesn't make me any kind of a saint. In reality I am a pretty rotten person for going a whole decade and not realizing this sooner. And I still find myself feeling annoyed by this person from time to time, but I am trying really hard to view her through a different lens and to realize that there are many lonely people all around. Sometimes they are doing everything they can to be noticed, and sometimes they are quiet about it, but they are everywhere. It would do us all some good to reach out from time and bridge those gaps between us. Give it a try...I dare you.

Monday, January 27, 2014

To Blog or Not To Blog...

I have been away from my blog for almost nine months. This isn't the first time I have been away from it, and I know that since I don't have a lot of readers, it wouldn't really matter if I continued to stay away from it. The thing is, sometimes I miss blogging.
Back when I first started blogging, I posted pictures of my family and kids, and thought nothing of it. Then I heard horror stories about people's photos getting stolen off their blogs and so I took down all the posts with pictures of my kids in them. Then that made me feel like my blog was impersonal, so I started posting pics of them again, but there are a lot of missing posts from before (like all of 2009). For a while I tried blogging on a private blog just for myself, but that felt pretty useless also, so I came back here and started up again. I started blogging my thoughts and not just family events and such about a year ago. I was really enjoying it. Then, I got pregnant.
I was thrilled to be pregnant, but I was puking my guts out for the first few months and after that I was just plain TIRED. Then my kids went back to school after the summer and it was just me and my three year old son at home, and we were both bored. I didn't feel like writing and I was still tired. Now I have a newborn, and the three year old and I am still tired. I'm not sure my brain can come up with coherent thoughts. I don't know what kind of a blog I want to have. Not a Mommy blog, but not just writing either. I feel like I don't do anything creative anymore, unless you count cutting hot dogs to look like little octopuses to get my three year old to eat them as creative (and really it isn't since it is just copying someone else's idea).
One part of me says I should just let the blog go. It has been almost a year after all, and no one is missing it. No one except for me. I miss blogging...but I'm not sure I know how to be a blogger anymore.

And just so I don't seem too impersonal...here is a current family picture!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Random acts...

I recently turned 40.
In the spirit of various pins on pinterest, and ideas floating around the Internets, I decided that I wanted to do 40 random acts of kindness for my birthday. I toyed with a few different ideas among which were buying roses and leaving them on car windshields, passing out candy or other treats, printing out notes that say "Someone love you." and putting them where people would find them. These are all fine ideas, but somehow they made me feel like I was trying too hard. Trying to cram as much kindness into as little time as I possibly could. Something about that just didn't seem right. I was trying to be kind for the sake of getting to a certain number.
My husband took the day off work for my birthday. We went around town running various errands including driving up to a local view spot that has a $1 parking fee for a year long pass. A couple of times when we have gone up there the little shop you buy the passes has been closed, so we hadn't gotten one yet this year. I went in, paid for my pass, and gave the cashier an extra dollar to pay for the next person who came in to get one. That was my first act of kindness.
Outside there was a couple with a beautiful dog taking pictures of each other. I went over and offered to take a picture of them together. Act of kindness two.
Then we went to lunch and I left the waitress a nice note along with the tip. At this point I realized that I was not going to accomplish 40 acts of kindness in one day without mass producing them and making things feel a little less personal. My husband suggested that I should try to do my 40 acts during the week of my birthday instead. I wasn't totally happy with that compromise but decided to think about it.
Today I had a little epiphany. Why was I so worried about achieving this goal? Was it so I could feel good about myself? Was it for bragging rights about how good I was being? Was it so I could turn my thoughts outward on a day when I was feeling tempted to only think about me? Was it so that other people would experience a little kindness in small ways that they might not normally encounter? It was probably a combination of all of those. Then it hit me. I should be being kind ALL the time, to EVERYONE. It shouldn't be about numbers, or anything other than being a better person and treating people the way that everyone deserves to be treated.
So, my 40 acts was somewhat of a failure, but to me it was also a complete success. I think you should try it too.
Try being kind for the sake of being kind.
Stretch a little bit outside of yourself.
Smile at a stranger.
Hold the door open for someone.
Give compliments freely and without embarrassment.
Be generous.
Say positive things and keep the negative to yourself.
Be forgiving.
Look up and make eye contact.
Be a good tipper.
Show patience.
Give someone a hug (acts of kindness are for more than just strangers).
Write a letter.
Say Thank You.
Lend a helping hand.
Think of yourself less.
Don't worry about numbers or keeping track, just be a better person. And if you slip up, you can just start right over. I dare you to try it. It might just change your life!


Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Lessons From Running

As a teen I was a runner. I didn't run on a team or because I was good at it. I ran to survive. Running was literally my sanity in high school. After school I would get home, change into my sweats or shorts and head right back out. The run back to the high school was about a mile and a half, so my typical route took me on a three mile run round trip.
I wasn't great at running. In fact, running was pretty painful, but there was just something about it that calmed me down. There was some kind of freedom in going out for a run and being in charge of where I was running and how fast and far I would go. I would settle into a rhythm, look ahead to a goal such as a sign or light post ahead and run that far. Just before I would reach that goal I would pick another one farther off and keep running. I found that if I just made a goal to run the entire way I wouldn't make it, but by setting smaller goals to endure, I could focus on just getting that far and then I could get stubborn and keep going once I hit that goal. There were times I just had to slow down and walk for a bit, but I never let those last very long, just a few breaths and then back into the run.
Looking back I didn't have a particular reason for running. It certainly wasn't to stay in shape. I think it was for the solitude of being by myself, and for control. When I was upset, I ran. When I was stressed, I ran and while I was running I would only focus on those goals ahead, I only had the energy to keep running and not to think about everything that was stressing me out or making me upset that day. Running equaled peace, even though there was also pain involved.
Now I am much older, out of shape, and I can't physically run the way I used to. A bad knee keeps me from it along with a lot of pounds I didn't used to have. I find myself thinking about it often though. I still want to be a runner. I miss the escape from stress where everything just fell away and there was nothing but me, breathing, running and looking at that next goal.
Running did teach me some things though. Mainly about endurance and about setting those smaller goals. Life can be overwhelming. Demands on time, energy and resources can literally make me want to crawl into bed and hide. Hiding doesn't make those problems go away though. Sometimes you just have to look ahead to a small goal and push through to make it that far, and when you reach that destination, you look ahead to another one, even if it's just a short distance away, and you keep going.
There are times when I can feel my mind and my motivation shift and I find myself focusing on a goal, or working my way towards changing something that I need to change in my life, and I suddenly feel like a runner again. Yes, those changes are sometimes painful to make, but I am learning that getting through that pain is making me a stronger person the same way that I got stronger physically when I didn't give up during a run.
I have a long road ahead of me, and while I look forward to my final destination, I know that right now, I need to focus on those smaller goals and remember that each one is bringing me closer to the person I really want to be.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Engage

I spend a lot of time sitting in front of screens. Do I work in an office? No. Am I writing a book? Nah. I'm a stay at home Mom trying to escape from what can sometimes become the monotonous routine of my days. The thing is, there isn't that much to escape to.
There's checking my email. Only I don't get that many emails, and when I do they are usually junk mail, or Facebook notifications.
Then there is Facebook. That's where I go in an attempt to feel like I have meaningful connections with people, many of whom I didn't bother to stay in touch with after High School. Don't get me wrong, Facebook is a great way to find out what people have been up to that you don't get to talk to often. I often also find out more about what is going on with people that live in my area through Facebook than I do through regular conversation. The thing is, those one line screen connections are tenuous at best. As much as I enjoy seeing status updates, giving them a thumbs up, and commenting, it always lacks a certain something. It always feels just a bit empty. But hey, this is a busy world and who has time to have an actual conversation? One where you can hear the other person's voice or look them in the eye. I do. Maybe I don't have all day, but I can find time here and there, and I have to tell you, a good conversation, even if it's only ten minutes long, can feel so much more real and fill up those voids much better than hours upon hours spent on Facebook.
Next up is Pinterest. The place of ideas, inspiration and sometimes impossible dreams. Do I love it? Yes. But does it leave me feeling wonderful? No. It's great to have a place to collect those ideas and inspirations, but it doesn't keep my interest. Often I find myself comparing my skills, my home, my dreams, and even the way the food I cook is plated to the often perfect seeming pins I find there. It leaves me feeling inadequate, and somewhat hopeless.
Last but not least, I go through my blog feeds and see what there is to read. Bloggers don't seem to blog as often as they used to, and a lot of blogs that I used to read are no longer being updated. I still enjoy reading blogs, but again, I rarely find myself really feeling invested in something I read there.
I am starting to realize that a good portion of the problem is me. I need to, as Captain Jean-Luc Picard would say, "Engage".
I have been flitting through life on the outskirts, not allowing myself to feel really connected to anyone or anything. I have been distancing myself from everyone, my husband, my children, my extended family and my friends. I still love them, but somehow it has been easier to wrap myself up in insulation and detach myself from life. Those screens have been like little windows, only they aren't looking out onto the things that matter most. They are easier in many ways than the real thing. For instance, I can say all kinds of nice and wonderful things on Facebook and it takes very little effort. I can praise people, pass on a smile or a virtual hug, and feel like I have done something good with my time. Guess what? Real smiles are better! Real conversations are better! Real hugs are infinitely better! Not that sending someone a personal message on Facebook isn't good, but how much more awesome would it be if I mailed them a card or a letter? Something that will last longer than the pixels on a screen. What if I picked up the phone and called someone? Or invited a friend to lunch? What if I sat down on the living room floor to play with my kids? What if I went on a walk with my husband or took lunch to him at work? What if I bought some flowers or some seeds and planted them in my yard? What if I baked some bread for a neighbor? What if I told someone I love them out loud instead of keeping it to myself? What if I danced around the living room with my daughter? What if I went for a walk with the sun on my face? What if I read a book to a child? What if I thought of someone else before myself? What if I engaged instead of avoiding?
Maybe then I wouldn't feel so empty all the time.
Thank you Jean-Luc...I think I will take your advice.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Pond

When I was 11 we lived in a house on a busy street. We had moved from a neighborhood full of kids, to a house with only one easily accessible neighbor.  Luckily they had three kids.  The kids were a couple of years younger than me, but they were the only available option.  Behind our two houses the yards ended in a wooded area.  Parts of it were muddy and wet, and we took to calling it "The Swamp".  I remember the neighbor boy Richard getting stuck in the mud once, and when I pulled him out, his boots got left behind.  We weren't really supposed to play in those woods as they were someone else's property, but we couldn't seem to stop ourselves from going there.  After the swampy area the woods became even thicker, and one day while we were exploring we came across three trees that had been knocked down.  One of them showed a burned area just down from what would have been the top of the tree if it was upright, and we surmised that lightning must have struck the tree.  We climbed up and walked along the trunks of the trees like they were bridges through the forest, and at the end we made a wonderful discovery.  The trees had been growing so close together that their roots were entertwined.  When the middle tree got hit by lightning, it brought the other two trees down as well and as they were uprooted, they brought a tall wall of earth along with them.  The wonderful discovery came when we walked around to the other side of that wall.  Where the roots had been had left a large empty hole that was filled with water.  It was like a hidden, magical kingdom to us.  We spent hours there, watching frogs and other small creatures.  We imagined ourselves in another world, and it became a place of refuge and peace for me especially.  Now that I am a grown up, I know that I shouldn't have been sneaking off to the pond.  I often went there by myself, and if anything had happened to me my parents wouldn't really have known where to look, but I didn't want to give up such a secluded place that seemed like it was just for me. There are times that I wish I still had a place like that to escape to.  For now, I remember it in my head, and it is still beautiful.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Escape

I started losing myself in books almost as soon as I learned to read. Books became a gateway to other landscapes, ideas, places and experiences. I learned about things I never would have learned about, went on adventures, and learned to dream, all in the pages of a book.
I was with Alec Ramsey the first time he rode The Black Stallion after being shipwrecked on a desert island. I went on adventures with Assistant Pig-Keeper Taran, his furry friend Gurgi and a spunky Princess named Eilonwy. I travelled from Barbados to Connecticut with Kit Tyler and learned about friendship, family, love and being true to who you are. I ran away from home to live in The Metropolitan Museum of Art with Claudia and Jamie. I had a mouse friend named Ralph who rode a motorcycle. I rode into battle with Harry Crewe and her blue sword, and I fought a dragon with Aerin Firehair in Damar. I explored the American frontier with the Sacket family. I travelled to Mars with John Carter. I survived a plane crash with a boy named Brian and his hatchet. I ran with wolves. I joined a fellowship in order to destroy the One Ring. I went to the Rats of Nimh for help. I found a secret world at the back of a wardrobe and met Aslan there and I had many more adventures in the pages of books over the years.
Books were my great escape. Most family gatherings found me curled up in a corner with a book at some point.  I stayed up late into the night reading. Reading broadened my imagination, and took me away from the drudgery that life could sometimes be but it also returned me home with a greater appreciation for who I was and what I had. Books taught me lessons, gave me something to look forward to, and sparked ideas in my head. 
Sometimes life makes me restless. I long for an adventure, or just to get away from the stresses of life. I'm happy to say that I am still able to find solace and imagination, even if it's only for a little while, in the pages of a book. Join me won't you? Pick a destination, open the cover, and escape.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Life Skills

We have seven kids.  Some people think we are crazy, but we love our kids (even when they do drive us crazy).  Lately I have been thinking about how fast the time goes by and how quickly our kids are growing up.  Our oldest is about to turn 16 and he is a Junior in High School.  Every day junk mail from colleges comes to both his email and to our physical mail box.  My children growing up snuck up on me and I found myself unprepared for it.
Realizing that in just two years our oldest will be an adult, and that he will graduate just a few months after he turns 17 has made me really want to focus on making sure our kids have the life skills they will need to go out into the wide world and thrive.  I am a protective parent, and my kids have led pretty sheltered lives which I wouldn't change, but I am also aware that they need a lot of skills to be successful in life.  That is our new focus in parenting right now.
For a long time we have had a basic chore system for our kids that they use to earn their time on the computer and such.  We are currently in the process of tweaking our system so that they are earning their rewards more like a paycheck.  In the past we assigned each of them a day of the week for their computer time and they earned time according to how well they did their chores.  Now, instead of it just being based on chores, they will also earn points or bucks based on developing good habits and life skills.  They will get "paid" every two weeks and can spend their earnings on computer or wii time, TV time, extra snacks, and other things they want.  They will learn how to budget, how to plan ahead and save up and they will also learn about responsibility.  If they choose to spend all their earnings playing video games right away, they will have to wait until their next pay day.  Our 12 year old even asked if they could earn interest if they saved their earnings which surprised me since he is the one I think is most likely to just spend all of his earnings at once.
Other things we would like to implement as far as life skills go are cooking skills, meal planning, time and money management and independence.  Our three older boys will be learning about bus routes and taking the bus places.  Each of the kids will get a turn to plan their own menu for a week, given a set amount of money to spend and then they will have to buy the food and live on their planned menu.  We will also be trying to help them learn better interpersonal skills and to overcome some of their shyness. 
What do you think are the most important life skills to have?  I'd love it if you shared your input in the comments section.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Drowning

As a very young child I took swimming lessons. I was around four years old, maybe close to five. At the end of my swimming lessons I still couldn't swim. The instructor thought that since I knew the basics I should be able to do it. She asked me to jump off the diving board into the deep end of the pool. Her assistant was in the water waiting for me to jump in and would make sure nothing bad happened. I remember being afraid of jumping, looking down into the water at the waiting assistant. I hesitated. The instructor told me that if I jumped into the water she would buy me an ice cream cone. How could I resist such an offer? I jumped. The assistant swam away.
I can still remember sinking down into the water, eyes open. I don't think I even tried to swim. The assistant was supposed to come and help me out of the water. The assistant, however, was waiting for me to use the knowledge that swimming lessons were supposed to have given me. I didn't. I just sank down holding my breath. Finally the assistant came and pulled me out of the water. I didn't have to have CPR or anything. I was perfectly fine, but the experience scared me. It made me afraid of the water. It made me not trust people when they said they would be there. And I never got the ice cream cone either (that might have been the worst part to my young mind at the time). I didn't learn to "swim" until I was ten. Even then, it was just an awkward dog paddle. To this day I don't swim well, and I don't like getting my face wet. Water is one of my fears.
Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in life. I am supposed to know all the skills that I need to face the challenges of life and get through them. I had been taught the basics, and then I jumped into the deep end. But there are times I find that I am sinking, looking through the water, unable to move. "Get up!" My mind says, but I stay in bed anyway. "Do some house work! Cook dinner! Take care of the basics! Just do SOMETHING!" But I feel frozen. The skills that I am supposed to know seem to have fled and I am drowning...waiting for the assistant to come and help me out of the water, but not trusting they will come.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Zest

I have a four year old daughter. On the blog I refer to her as Miss B. She has an enthusiasm for life that I have never seen in anyone else. If there is music on she is dancing (actually she is often dancing even when there isn't music on-I think she has her own internal soundtrack). She sings, often making up her own sweet little songs. She tells me multiple times a day that I am the best Mommy ever and how much she loves me. When we take pictures of her she almost always has a cheesy, open mouthed grin, and when the mood is right, jazz hands to accompany it. Miss B has zest for living.  
If you look up zest there are a few different definitions. They are:
1: a piece of the peel of a citrus fruit (as an orange or lemon) used as flavoring.
2: an enjoyably exciting quality.
3: keen enjoyment. 
Miss B certainly fits the second and third definitions. I often find myself smiling as she dances around me at Costco or sings her made up little songs to me. There are also moments when I find her energy draining and all I want is for her to hold still. Then I stop to think about it.  Who am I to ask her to stop enjoying herself? Life will do that to her soon enough.
Watching her has made me realize that Miss B has something I need to find again. When I think of zest for me, I think more in terms of that first definition. In cooking zest is just a bit of citrus peel finely shredded and added to a recipe to add depth and flavor. I don't need to dance around everywhere I go, or to sing instead of talking. For me that is not practical. However, a dance around my kitchen while I am cooking dinner, singing at the top of my lungs in the car, and just taking a few moments to look around in wonder at my own life are all things I can use a little more of. Just a little zest can make all the difference in the flavor of life. Thanks Miss B for being such a good example to me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Super Underneath

Sometimes when I am having a bad day I wear a T-shirt with a Superman symbol on it under my clothes. No one else can see it, but somehow it makes me feel a little bit better. I wore it to church on Sunday under a sweater, and I will admit right now that I have worn it more than once this week. I think I may need to get some more so I can feel secretly super every day.
It's not that I am a big fan of Superman.  Somehow though, this idea has worked its way into my head.  It's because he always had his secret identity with him. Being Clark Kent didn't change who he really was.  He was always super underneath, it's just that no one else could see it. 
Sometimes I feel like that too.  To everyone around me I am just a regular, everyday person.  There is nothing fabulous or wonderful about me.  I am just ordinary.  But inside...inside you wouldn't believe how extraordinary I can be.  Super underneath.  I bet you are too.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Surfacing

Sometimes I feel like I spend most of life swimming underwater. This is not a joke about living in a wet climate. Depression dulls things, makes me feel less, makes things look darker, makes food taste bland, makes things that usually bring happiness less satisfying somehow. I still look for those happier things. I still go through life and do my best to really live, and I have degrees of happiness within a more confined range of feelings. I just can't seem to connect the way I want to. Everything is muffled, limited, farther out of reach, insulated. It's very difficult to explain.

Then there are days where a little light comes on, and it's like I am surfacing; out from under the water and into the bright sunshine. Things are warm, touched with light, colorful and beautiful. Life becomes breathtaking. Love feels more piercing and exquisite. Food tastes unbelievable. Breathing brings satisfaction and just a look or a touch from someone else makes a connection. There are moments of overwhelming joy and I feel like light is pouring out of my whole soul. Those moments are what makes all the swimming underwater worth it. It's worth it just for the surfacing.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Addicted

For as long as I can remember food has been an issue. Some of my earliest memories are of my Dad taking me to a bakery next to Baxter's Auto Parts. I can remember wanting to go with him when he went to Baxter's because he would take me to get a pastry. I don't remember how many times we did this, I just remember feeling special because he asked me to go and I got a treat. I must have been about four at the time. I remember that I got a danish shaped like a figure 8. I thought it looked like a racetrack. Food was how my family showed affection.
So growing up, if my Dad was feeling good, we generally got a treat. He might take one of us on a drive or to run an errand, and buy us a candy bar, or some other form of sugary treat. It made whoever was with him at the time feel extra special. It wasn't just my Dad either.  Birthdays were made special with food.  Achievements were rewarded with food.  If my parents were in a good mood and happy with us then there was a higher chance of it being a night for what they called "A junk run."  Dad would go to the store with specific instructions for bringing home something salty, sweet or some of each.  We all looked forward to junk runs.  It's no wonder that many of us in my family struggle with food issues. Our family celebrations are centered around the food. We never get together without an abundance of it and usually much more than we can eat.  Food seems to be the one thing everyone in our family has in common.  Differing political and religious views can easily be overcome over a plate of something delicious.
Other childhood memories for me around food involve eating myself sick. I can remember having the missionaries over for dinner when I was maybe six or seven and eating more than they did. In the moment I was proud that I out-ate the missionaries, but really, a little girl eating more than those big teenage boys? It makes me cringe to think about it. I often ate until I felt sick. During the night I would wake up and throw up just to feel better. While I was eating it, the food was a comfort, like being hugged. I felt loved and secure, but once I had overdone it, it was awful. You would think I would learn from the experience, but I never did. I was often sick from eating. My extended family still remembers the holidays when I would eat myself into a stupor and have to sleep it off afterwards. It has become a family joke. One that is funny to them but painful to me even though it has been more than 20 years since I ate to the point of having a food induced hangover.
So throughout my life food has been something to turn to for comfort. Getting a candy bar is like getting a hug. Food is how we say I love you. If you do good or have something to celebrate...you get food. If you're feeling down, some food will cheer you up. If we have more than enough to eat it means that we are financially doing okay.  A full plate feels like security.  Food is what we bond over both in the family and with friends.  No wonder I have such an unhealthy relationship with it.  Food is usually the first place I turn to for comfort, and I have managed to perpetuate the showing of affection with food. The message I sometimes send my kids is "I love you so I bought you your favorite snack." or  "I cooked this for you because I love you, and I spent hours cooking it so you would know how much." I don't say those things out loud, but that is what comes across.  I know it isn't the healthiest thing in the world, but I can't seem to get away from the idea of food equalling love and safety.  Maybe being aware of it is the first step.  I know this isn't an issue that is only mine.  I think that many families probably work in a similar way.
I have been thinking about trying to recover from my food addiction.  I know people can overcome smoking, alcohol and drug addictions, but how do you recover from being addicted to something that you have to consume to survive?  How do you learn to separate the emotional response from the need for nutrients?