Friday, September 9, 2016

'Fessing Up to Feelings

Daddy and me, 1961
Daddy would have been 79 yesterday. I can't believe he's been gone almost three years. THREE years. One of the first things to pop up on Facebook were my memories from years past, in the app, On This Day. The previous couple years' posts focused on missing Dad, and before that, sending him greetings on his day of birth. 

I wanted to wish him a happy birthday yesterday, so I posted on Facebook my favorite picture of us together, of his holding me in his arms on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia when I was a baby. 

"Happy Birthday, Daddy. This would have been your 79th birthday. You would be glad to see how happy I am today. Jackie is still so beautiful and full of love. Natalie is such a great teacher, and is enjoying the married life. Your boys are such hardworking husbands and fathers. Your grandbabies are doing great. You would be so proud of us all. We love you. We miss you still."

And then I cried, but just a little. I wasn't ready to process all of the turmoil in my heart just yet. 

All I wanted to do yesterday was sleep. The thought occurred to me that this would be the kind of day when I would have easily plowed through a carton of ice cream, and anything else that wasn't nailed down in the kitchen, but we didn't have ice cream in the house, or anything else that was very tempting, and I refused to stuff down my sadness by eating ice cream.  

I've been trying to just eat when I am hungry, and not deny myself something if I really want it, except for ice cream. I felt I needed a break from my favorite dessert because it seemed to always lead to the worst of binges. So yesterday, although I ate more often than usual, the food I chose didn't entice me to eat great volumes of it. I grazed throughout the day on simple snacks of fresh fruit, dried fruit, cottage cheese, yogurt, and ate my regular three meals. 

My lethargy was palpable, and felt like a huge, grey blanket that pressed down on my shoulders. I woke up very early before dawn, and took a nap before Chuck left for work. I sought out my bed again before noon, sinking into the marshmallow softness of the mattress, wishing the sadness would evaporate before I woke up. Later I forced myself to get out of the house to shop for the rest of the groceries we needed, and then I stopped by the library to pick up the book that was being held for me, Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole. 

The rest of the afternoon, I half-heartedly read the book, and found a tribute to Daddy from my blog that I planned to post on Facebook called Monsters Under the Bed

By the time Chuck got home, I admitted to myself why I was eating throughout the day. Once again, I  found myself avoiding emotions, and this time the emotion was sadness. I just couldn't bring myself to say it out loud yet. 

After dinner, Chuck offered to sit with me on the couch. He asked what was wrong. Was I sad about anything? And I finally let the tears fall. He held me while I sobbed. I miss my dad. I miss calling him on Sunday. I miss seeing him in the summer. I miss celebrating our birthdays and Christmas and Father's Day with cards and phone calls. I miss him so much my heart hurts.

This is what I posted with my Monsters Under the Bed post:

Missing the first man I ever loved tonight. Father's Day, his birthday, and just before Christmas just never seem to get any easier. It helps me to remember him, even if it makes me cry. I'm so grateful for Chuck, the last man I'll ever love, who is willing to hold me when I'm sad, and knows he doesn't have to say anything, just be here for me.

This is one of the things I loved about Daddy when I was a little girl who was afraid of the dark and the monsters under my bed...

While yesterday was a painful day, I feel like I moved one step closer to intuitive eating. Finally, I sat with the emotions. I slept when I felt exhausted, I cried a little, and then I cried a lot. I allowed myself to revisit old memories of my dad, rather than try to stuff them down and comfort my sadness with food. Score one for me. 

The next feeling to tackle will be fear. I am actually AFRAID of eating ice cream, and Chuck and I have a date to do just that this weekend. Feeling afraid of any food is so far from intuitive eating, it discourages me. 

I am working my way toward coping with stress and emotions in healthier ways, and I know there will be setbacks along the way. I will keep you posted on how it goes. (Progress report on the reintroduction of ice cream HERE). My goal is to savor the ice cream, knowing I will be able to have it again, and remembering there will be no need to stockpile it in the freezer because it will not be the last time I get to enjoy it. Deep breaths. I can do this. It will challenge me, but I can do it. 

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