Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


For, Not Against

A couple of weeks ago at therapy I was sharing my, per usual, mixed response to the good news about my cardiac calcium test.

Things I read about the test noted that when that score hits 400 there's discussion about interventions involving exercise and diet.

My score was zero.

I honestly never considered that would even be a possibility. We're still going to test my cholesterol to see if the supplement I've been taking to address it has had any positive effects. If it has, I'll keep taking it just to be on the safe side.

I'm 51 and over 18 years ago I decided that I was going to tackle my family history of heart disease and my high cholesterol on my own.

I also thought I was going to help my back pain get better. By 2001 I'd already lost a bunch of weight, so I dug in.

I lost over 150 pounds. I kept off around 130 of that. I regained about 40 pounds, but then lost 20 or so pounds of that in the past couple of years as I've passed menopause. The numbers are a little vague because I stopped using a scale a couple of years ago.

There was part of that weight loss that involved really disordered eating behaviors. That deserves multiple posts by itself.

The net result was that it worked. I got all kinds of wonderful feedback and accolades for doing it. No one thought it was weird that I spent hours of every day absolutely obsessed about food because my cholesterol went down and the weight came off. I was my doctor's ONLY success story of personal lifestyle change affecting cholesterol.

Then, poof, I passed menopause and my cholesterol popped up. This test was to see if there was really anything to worry about and, clearly, I can relax a little.

Yet, here I am, unable to celebrate my good news. Again.

I "won" and I don't feel it.

I mentioned it to my therapist. How it almost is as if I don't know what to do if I'm not actively pushing against the examples set by my horrible family. I've used them as a kind of backstop from which I can blast away from.

Now that I've blasted on past any of the health expectations I was haunted by growing up, I don't know what to do!

My therapist wondered if I had to keep them as what I'm always resisting, pushing back against them, pushing myself further away from them.

What if I used that energy to work for myself?

Today in our session it came up at the end in being able to see how I sought out help and resources in the form of neighbors, concerned teachers, a pastor's wife, museum staff, librarians from all over, and more. When I was doing that and other self-soothing & emotionally regulating activities, it wasn't pushing against my family, I was seeking outward to support myself.

I'm going to keep focusing on this shift. I've moved so far past my terrible family that I don't have to fight them, I only have to keep moving myself forward.

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