Along the Way

To paraphrase my grandma Goldie, “The only thing you get out of this life is what you eat, drink, or smoke; and if you’re lucky, you might just get to love someone along the way.”

Strange how love, luck, and fear all roll down the same highway.

Have I been so lucky, or have my fears guarded my heart too much?

I always went for safe men to fulfill my basic human need to love without getting too involved, lest they seek to harm or throw restraints on me.

For good reason. I learned at a very young age that I had to protect myself and guard my sisters from men, particularly from a pedophile who had blended into our family so well that no one believed that he was capable of harming children.

I had some odd ideas about men… wondered if they were some kind of subspecies, so most should be regarded as dangerous creatures. Even those I trusted and deemed as safe had oddities. I believed strange things, like men could not feel the bitter cold of winter because my father went years without a warm coat while us girls were all bundled up and still chattering. In hindsight, I know better… those were lean years when my father went without to provide for his children.

Needless to say, I grew up with some warped ideas. It took years for me to realize that men were just people, too. Poetry and music helped to solidify that conclusion, as it amazed me that men could write with such passion and other emotions.

I was 22 before I willingly had sex with anyone. Thankfully, I had a patient husband who learned how to touch me without triggering body memories that would render me to instant ice or worse… I’d do that little parlor trick and poof, be gone.

Maybe I should delete that, but fuck it… I’m only one of an estimated 60 million survivors in the USA today (link to source) and stats do vary, 1 in 3 girls… 1 in 4… 1 in 5?  Predators thrive on silence, harming little minds as well as bodies, so pretending it does not happen only perpetuates the silence and hinders recovery.

So, how did I meet my husband?

He was in our back yard hunting fishing worms with my nephew when I arrived home from work one day. The only reason I agreed to go anywhere with him (our first date, if you could call it that, was a walk to the park to go swing on the swings) was because I had already said “nothing” when he asked what I was doing and I couldn’t think up a valid excuse to say no. Then he baffled the hell out of me. That weird little man brought me flowers darn near every day while he courted me, but never once tried to touch me. After several weeks passed, I kissed him and we married before the end of summer.

The marriage lasted less than four years, but we were together on and off about ten… lived separately but continued an odd relationship after our first and second dissolution.  Dissolution instead of divorce was quite fitting as I was dissolving in the marriage, felt like I had to explain my every action, as if I needed his permission or approval to breathe.

After I moved two counties north to break free, I tried dating. That was bizarre. I quit after a few blind dates from hell, couldn’t deal with dinner conversation that made me feel like I was on a job interview in the Twilight Zone.

I did meet someone at a gallery… a zany artist who was leaving Ohio before I met him. It started out as a mutual attraction that drew us together now and then, despite us each having reservations (okay, serious issues) that prevented seeking a normal relationship.  Our “unique and special friendship” spanned more than twenty years, with over ten of those years being after he moved to another state.

Once again, I had picked someone safe to fulfill my basic human need to love and be loved.

Then everything changed on March 30, 2015.

Something clicked inside when my aunt died. I threw caution to the wind, and made what turned out to be life altering decisions based on, “What would Betty do?”

Uh… to give credence to what that implies? After my ex-husband met the vet, he asked me how I hooked up with that guy and when I told him that it was a WWBD decision, he was like, “OMG, your aunt was wild! You can’t do that!”

Well, yeah… I did.

I had to throw caution to the wind, banish fears and live a life that’s raw, real, and right now… I just wanted to feel alive.  We could blame it on the bipolar as I did go a tad too manic there for awhile, but there were other things in the works that had been stewing under the surface for a very long time.

So, I went off the deep end, lost a dear friend in the process… but, eventually got it together and life goes on. The consequences of my decisions have not all been bad. Some were pretty good, got me out of the Towers and into a home of my own.

As for the vet, he’s a good man… comes off a bit mean on a first impression, but under the stoic face and military persona is a playful little boy with a kind soul and a teddy bear heart.

He feels more deeply than I do… I opted not to tell him things that he doesn’t need to know about because I don’t want him to feel sad for me. He would, too. I saw his reaction when he asked about a scar on my skin, a little white spot that no one else has ever noticed. He was instantly sad and ready to kill whoever hurt me and I did not go into any details… just said it was a cigarette burn, don’t worry about it.

Besides, I am no longer haunted by body memories. I’m not living in the past, that life is gone. All we have is right here, right now… will it last? I don’t know. All we have is right here, right now, and no one gets out of this world alive.

That’s what clicked inside when my aunt died: a need to live my life raw, real, and right now.

This is not what I intended to write about… I planned to write about life changes docs are demanding I make that run cross-grain to my grandmother’s words, but got detoured by love along the way.

I have been lucky enough to love along the way… and each of the three men mentioned above have blessed my life in different ways. I still love all three… the vet understands that, as he can love me and still love the mother of his children. That’s just the way it goes… true love lingers or flips to hate. It cannot be turned off like water at the faucet. Thanks for reading.

Endings

My last shrink appointment was Thursday, so therapy has come to an end.   It was a good ending.  I told him why I thought I was done, that I wanted to come in person instead of just calling to cancel because I wanted him to know that I wasn’t quitting on me, just quitting therapy.  My recovery continues.

On a good note, he told that he read something about “mindful” eating becoming an acceptable thing in the treatment of eating disorders, that he never heard of “mindful” or “intuitive” eating until he had me for a patient and now he is hearing more and more about it.  Said something about it being good for people with “strong personalities”.   

Like me? Oh my… what negative things that implies?

No, it all good.  I do have a strong personality, but my strength is not in bad things.   It may sound wacky, but my strength is one of the truths about myself that I had to come to terms with because it is part of the me I tried to hide, shove down, and deny. 

“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me” pops into my head. (It is a Bible verse, Phil. 4:16.)

It does NOT say “I can’t do a damn thing.  God has to carry me, tend to my every need, and tie my shoe laces.”  To me, that verse is about empowerment.  If you too weak or timid to deal with what comes your way, God will strengthen you. 

So why deny or hide internal strength when strength is a blessing?  I’m not talking about boastfulness or arrogance.  You can be humble and strong at the same time. 

Maybe that why I had such a problem with OA?

OA is a program that uses the AA twelve step program. They scratched out the word “alcohol” and replaced it with “food” and for some people, it does work.  Unfortunately, I cannot lie to myself to prove that I am not lying to myself.   I cannot pretend to be powerless over food, that I need devine intervention to rescue me from carrots, those evil and cunning tomatoes, or sneaky chocolates.  Sure, I could assign power to particular foods, my choice of foods to binge on, and at times I felt powerless in the midst of a binge while silently screaming at myself to stop, but food is not the problem.  Logic tells me that if I were as powerless over food as an alcoholic is to booze, where a bad chemical or whatever reaction to alcohol is going on, then it would be ALL food and not some.  Have you ever met an alcoholic who only had a problem with SOME but not all?  I haven’t… I’ve met alcoholics so lost in addiction they poured perfume in a tea cup, drank things obviously not intended for human consumption in their despiration.  If food were equivalent to booze, if all food were the problem.  I could buy into the OA program.  Of course, they getcha with a Catch-22 by saying if you cannot admit that you are powerless over food, you are incapable of being honest with yourself.  Maybe I am TOO honest with myself for OA?

Mindfulness and/or intuitive eating offers an alternative for people who, like me, cannot embrace OA.  I found it to be empowering.  I made peace with food (its just food) and more importantly, I made peace with myself.  I am losing weight, slower than would suit most people, partly because I still have bad days (not the end of the world, recovery is a process) and slow partly because I refuse to diet.  I can go out with friends and eat cheesecake in public without one drop of guilt, shame, or remorse. 

image

This photo was snapped to share with a friend in Illinois who had dropped a five for cheesecake in a greeting card, part thank you and part teaser, as she knows that the Mocha House makes THE BEST cheesecake in NE Ohio. 

The thing is… there is a big difference between enjoying a slice of cheesecake now and then and bingeing on cheesecake.

Binge behavior would be to buy or make a whole serves 12 or 24 size cheesecake (or two) pretending you are taking dessert to a party, then secretly eating it all yourself while hating yourself for doing so, feeling so much guilt and shame and out of control that you have to hide the evidence so no one else will know, followed by self punishment in the form of dieting or exercising to counteract the excess calories.  It is a horrid thing.  You may feel powerless, but that cheesecake (or whatever) has no power over your behavior unless you assign it imaginary power. 

I guess what I am saying is… dealing with why I binge and using the principles of intuitive or mindful eating to break the cycle has proven to work for me.  I can live a binge-free life now free of all the internal strife that goes along with binge eating disorder.  Some people find help in OA, but I would rather feel empowered than powerless.

UPDATE FROM PREVIOUS POSTS:

I blew off the “nbarnbees” email addresss (temporarily set up when I forgot my “barnbees” email password) and created a NEW email address that is rather dull (n4barnes) but it is something I can live with.  It may take me awhile to start get email and notifications at the new address as I have to figure out where all it needs updated, but in time, I will stop using the barnbees email, too.

Yes, I have been doing some serious thinking about  ending my use of the word barnbees.  I haven’t decided exactly how to do that, all I know is it just doesn’t feel like mine anymore.  

I really hate the idea of blowing off this blog… barnbees is not just the name on top, it’s the wordpress URL.

I have “Barnes: Artsy Things” pretty much just hanging out in limbo as I haven’t done much posting on that blog.  I launched it as a blog to show my art to friends & family who don’t need to read my rambles.  I could add a poetry category, move poems and art posted here over there before blowing this barnbees blog away… it will take time.

I think I’m done rambling on about eating disorders anyway.  It is becoming a non-issue, and that in itself is a very good thing.

My Studio

Hey, at least I’m calling it a “studio” now (instead of “spare” room) even though I am still treating it like a glorified storage closet.

I’ve yet to make art in there. I go in, get stuff, haul supplies out, work on it someplace else, then just dump stuff back in there. I also dump other stuff in there so, once again, I’m cleaning out junk and trying to get it set up as a studio.

I know, it does not make much sense. The room has the best natural light in this apartment, plenty of work space between the glass top drawing table and a huge, L-shaped desk, more than adequate storage. Why is it a problem?

Maybe it’s the confinement thing? The idea of limiting creativity inside a square box defined by walls? I’d rather breathe art, be free to draw anywhere.

The neccessity of studio space is, after all, merely a need for a safe working environment. Not so much safe for me, but to protect works in progress and protect wee visiting children from hazardous tools; mustn’t let the toddlers play with razor blades.

I can wrap my mind around it, but I am not quite there yet. Anyway, that is what I am doing today, working on this corner of the studio so I can get busy on that mosaic guitar again.

Yes, a stained glass mosaic may be the best first project to do IN the studio as the benefits of leaving the work and supplies out, to simply shut and lock the door when the grandkids stop by, are quite obvious.

Odds are that I will continue to draw elsewhere.

Am I the only one with space issues?
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