Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What Lies Beneath (Part 3)

I had initially thought that this "What Lies Beneath" series would have only 3 parts, but I am learning that I probably need to leave it open to as many posts as it takes. I have realized at least one more underlying reason for my weight issues, and will be sharing it with you today. This is the 4th thing that I put on this list, and yes, I'm sharing it out of order. I'm putting off sharing that 3rd's the most difficult to write, the deepest issue, the one that will be most difficult to overcome I think. So, I'm going to post about it later. I promise I will. I just need to be in the right frame of mind.

So, on to today's underlying issue. A better title for this post would actually be "Swallowing" My Feelings. That's what I do, both figuratively and literally. I swallow my feelings rather than let them be fully expressed. I'm not as bad at it as I used to be, but that's only because I've come to a point were I can sometimes let my feelings out with my husband. But with others, I hold back. I don't let people know when I'm angry. I downplay when I'm sad or lonely. I deny when I'm feeing depressed. And what do I do rather than let those feelings out? I swallow them, along with some yummy comfort food...some chips and salsa, mashed potatoes and gravy, chocolate, a big plate of Mexican food...anything that sounds good at the time. And I know exactly where it comes from!!

I have a vivid memory in my mind of standing in my garage when I was probably 12 or 13 years old, changing the laundry from the washer to the dryer. My mother had been very ugly to me about something, very unfair. This was quite common, and as usual she had made me very angry! I wanted to show my anger as any girl that age would. I wanted to argue with her, to defend myself. But that would only make it worse. I'd end up with a slap across the face or a belt across my bare butt and legs. I was so angry and frustrated that I wanted to hit something! I wanted to scream! But I couldn't. It wasn't allowed. Disagreeing with my parents in any way was grounds for automatic punishment and/or verbal/physical abuse.

My father had a belt similar to this but with fewer, larger holes. Hurt like HELL!!

Before I knew it tears were rolling down my face. I was crying and it took me by surprise. I wasn't sad. I wasn't hurt. I was pissed. And the only release I had was tears. Luckily I was in the garage where no one could see me, because if my mother had seen the tears it would have been worse. I don't know why but that woman hated it when I cried. One time I was getting one of those leather belt across the bare ass and legs kind of spankings and I cried....loudly. She told me if I didn't stop crying she'd give me ten more swats. She said this as she was beating my ass. I literally could not help but I got another ten swats. That made me cry I got another ten. I was bent over her bed and eventually shoved her comforter so far into my mouth that it muffled my cries. I don't remember how many swats I got, but it was at least 30 or 40 that day. I had welts and bruises all up and down my backside. So I had learned the hard way not to let her see my tears.

Negative emotions were not allowed for me. I remember one time when a classmate of mine was killed in a car accident. I wasn't close to him, but I knew him and it was a tragic accident and very upsetting to all of us. I had had lunch with him just that day when we'd been out for a debate tournament. I was sobbing when a friend called and gave me the news. My parents couldn't understand why I was upset if he wasn't really one of my "friends." I was basically told to suck it up and get over it. So, no...emotions were not allowed. But food was. Food was always allowed. And not healthy food...there was rarely any fresh fruit or veggies in the house. But there was junk food galore, and meals stewing in grease and gravy, fat and calories.

So, instead of letting out my feelings, I ate. I swallowed my feelings down with a giant bowl of ice cream or half a bag of Doritos, or maybe a huge piece of cake. I never learned how to let my feelings out in a healthy way. I never learned how to be upset at someone and actually let them know it. I never learned how to be sad without internalizing all of it and trying to hold it in.

Result? A big fat ass, years of emotional turmoil and scars, and an overwhelming case of severe chronic depression. With some therapy and my happy pills I have my depression under control for the most part. I still haven't learned how to be angry and express it in a healthy way. I have this huge fear of upsetting someone. Logically I know that if I get angry at one of my co-workers and tell them about it they aren't going to take a belt to my butt. However, the child inside me cringes in fear at the thought of upsetting people.

So, I need to work on letting my anger out. I need to find ways to speak my mind. Because it's not just about getting mad. This shows up when I have a different opinion than someone else, when I need to speak up for myself, and other times when the person in question may not like what I have to say. I have to learn that I'm not responsible for the other person's happiness. That may have to become a mantra of some kind for me. I have to find ways to take responsibility for my own happiness rather than make myself miserable to keep others happy. But that is fodder for another post in the future.

If anyone has suggestions for me to help me learn to let those feelings out, please share them with me. This is just one more thing to add to the list of reasons I should see a therapist again. Thanks for reading. Thanks for letting me vent and share. It's very therapeutic for me.


tz said...

That's a very good question, I'm interested to see what kind of posts you get...I myself have no answers for that. I suspect it might be different for everyone.

I find that it has almost become a habit for me, almost like a mindless reaction to every emotion, not just anger.

I am curious and a bit afraid to find out if I do become more vocal about my feelings when I start to lose weight. I'm afraid of how people will react to me and if I will lose relationships. I think I'm at a point in my life where I've already let go of some very bad relationships and I have filled my life with people who are supportive so we'll see. Anyhow, didn't mean to make this all about me...but those are all questions I think those of us who haven't yet gotten the surgery yet may ask ourselves.

nice post, very thought provoking.

The Over-protective husband. said...

I think we need a punching bag..maybe in the garage.

tz said...

Oh and I get the belt thing...for the longest time the sound of the crack of a belt made me tear up and cringe.

Michelle Jackson said...

tz, I'm afraid of the same thing...who might not stick around if I vocalize my true feelings. But the ones that stay are the ones worth keeping, right? Thanks for reading. :)

The Over-protective husband said...


You know as soon as we move, you will be building new relationships. I ain't going anywhere!

Your over-protective husband

Michelle Jackson said...


I know you aren't going anywhere!! Of all the people in my life, you are the one that I KNOW will always be there for me.

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