Posted in Mindfulness Matters, Personal Perspective

Grief Reflects Love

Last week my therapist said that as painful as grief is, it’s reflective of how much you loved someone.


My optimism about Tubs’ ability to recover from his illness didn’t keep him alive. He passed away at home, in my arms, while I was feeding him. It was traumatic. I was wracked with guilt. I felt like I’d killed him. I played all those terrible grief games we’re prone to. I examined the weeks before his death with ruthless scrutiny. My mind looped phrases that began with what if, if only, or I should have, wishing for a time machine to give me another chance to get it right.

Tubs’ littermate, Skinny, stuck to me like glue for the whole week that followed. Wherever I went was where he wanted to be. I was worried he might be depressed about losing his counterpart, but he was still eating, drinking, and using the litter box so I tried to relax. On Sunday, I moved into a new apartment. When the move was finished I picked up Skinny and ordered pizza for those that helped.

I noticed something strange on the ride over to our new home. Anytime Skinny had ever been in a car he screamed bloody murder for the whole trip, even when he was diabetic. This time, he was silent aside from a meow here or there. When we let him out in the new place he would pace around a few steps before laying down. He was meowing, but a strange meow I’d never heard before. It looked like it was hard for him to move around, although he still found a way to jump on my lap. Then he started licking his lips a lot and foaming at the mouth and there was no disputing that something was seriously wrong with him.

My sister and brother-in-law drove us to the emergency vet, hoping maybe he was just dehydrated from the heat. On the ride he lay completely limp in my lap, the full weight of his head in my hand. I wasn’t expecting good news. As much as I wanted to be proven wrong, I was right. The vet’s initial assessment was eerily similar to Tubs’. We were devastated. I didn’t have the money or the emotional capability to go through that process again, so we had to say goodbye.

As heartbroken as I was, a part of me was relieved that they were together. They’d spent their entire lives with one another and something didn’t feel right about their separation. I’m still struggling with intrusive thoughts trying to convince me that it’s all my fault. Luckily, they aren’t as overwhelming as they first were and it’s slowly becoming easier to ignore my inner bully. The hardest part is how lonely I am at home, but my friends have kept me busy and I take comfort in knowing that my cats were happy, healthy, and loved for the majority of their decade on this planet.

Even without my boys, I’m still a crazy cat lady. I’m sure it won’t be too long before I bring home a furry friend to help me navigate the next chapter of my life. After all, they’re great for your health, at least according to an article Greater Good Science Center posted for International Cat Day that goes over research on the health benefits of cat ownership.

 

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Posted in Life Lessons

Separating Food from Feeling

Food is comforting for many of us. Whenever we feel sad, stressed or lonely we try to stuff the feeling down by finishing an entire bag of chips, eating an entire frozen pizza, and a whole pint of ice cream (if you can’t tell, these three in that order are my regular comfort food combo). We fill ourselves until we’re sick and before we know it the ‘bad’ feeling returns, so we reach for another treat to take the edge off.

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It’s problematic for many reasons. For me the main issue is that it fuels my self loathing. When I’ve finished binging and I’m sitting there feeling sick I beat myself up. I criticize being unable to check my impulses when it comes to eating and then I start to pick at my fitness routine. It’s a spiral that only leads to more food and more shame. There’s also a physical fallout. My stomach is extremely sensitive and consuming certain foods can lead to a lot of pain. And that leads to more shame…. the whole situation is a mess.

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How does one go about separating food from feeling without developing disordered eating habits? I have tried logging food before and while it’s been helpful it became obsessive in a very unhealthy way so I’m hesitant to give it another shot. What are my other options?

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There isn’t a quick fix, trust me, I’ve tried. I can follow a new routine successfully for weeks or months at a time, but when my feelings become too burdensome I drown them out with food. It will take time developing healthier eating habits, but there are some methods we can use to get there. Hope to Cope has a post about Emotional Eating Food vs. Feelings that lists some strategies to get there, the most helpful being to face the feelings you’re trying to fill. Wish me good luck, and good luck to you if you struggle with emotional eating!

Posted in Worthy Writings

Snack Attack

The bag of chips sings a hymn from atop the refrigerator.

“Open me,” it serenades seductively, “Consume all of me.”

I try to keep my eyes on the screen, but they dart to the forbidden,

to that which I know I cannot indulge in responsibly.

 

Nothing compliments my Netflix binge better than the

salty crunch that calls and commands my attention.

Resistance gives way to compromise, “maybe… maybe

this time I’ll just eat a few.”

 

A lie is a lie, but I love deceiving myself and

pull the bag from the shelf. “Should I weigh out

a serving to stay on track?” I giggle in response

to my own question, while I’ll continue to act

as though I will eat only a few, I know when I’ve

grabbed the bag off the shelf that I have consented

to the events about to happen.

 

The next half hour is spent in a daze. The sound the

bag makes when opening is so rewarding. I continue

to watch my show, binging while binging. Harmony.

In the transition between shows I lick my fingers, brush

the crumbs off my chest, wipe the crusts off the corners

of my mouth with the napkin, and reach for my drink.

The bag is empty and despite the fullness of my stomach

so am I.

 

Another fifteen minutes pass and a new song begins. A sweet

melody from the freezer reminds me that chocolate is my

one true love. The countdown to the next snack attack begins.

Posted in Fitness Finesse and Fiascos, Life Lessons

Sometimes a Loss Can Be a Win

This month I’ve been consistently at the gym, in a fitness class, on the mat at home, or out on the trail running. Each day I notice my endurance growing along with my confidence, and most days I compliment that great feeling by filling myself up with delicious things that are terrible for me. Sweets, chips, pizza, hot dogs, fries… what is wrong with me?

It would be fine if I indulged in these tasty foods on occasion, but typically I tend to binge and have a combination of several of them at the same time. Opening a bag of chips becomes eating the whole bag of chips followed by pizza and a six pack container of ice cream bars. It tastes soooo good I never want to stop. When I am finally done I feel weak, ashamed, and bloated.

In June I signed up for DietBet. The idea is that you bet $35 that you can lose 4% of your weight over 30 days and then the winners split the pot. The idea was that my motivation to win my money back might curb my binge eating. Instead I found out that my binge eating is more important to me than money is. I am going to lose the DietBet, but that is okay.

I have decided to see the sunny side of things instead of kicking myself for losing the money. While I did not lose the full 4%, I did lose over 2% which is still something! I connected and learned so much about my body. I found consistency and variety in my workout and I took a hard look at my eating habits. I am moving forward in a productive and healthy way instead of sulking in my own failure. Progress is happening and I am the only person who can slow me down. I’m determined not to let it happen this time.