Who do I think I am?

Past relationships; for example within the family, in school, with church etc and most importantly parents and carers, will play a powerful role in forming the way you are as a person. You will be the person you are because of the swings and roundabouts from your childhood. Once you are an adult it takes courage and insight to recognize that you are the builder of your own personality, and owning  yourself  as being in  charge of your own destiny.

However, remember that you are who you are because of what you observed within your family system. You do what you do mainly because you made decisions as a child and these decisions will be about yourself; for example you may have decided that you are ‘stupid’ or that ‘you are not lovable’. You may have decided that other people ‘don’t care about you’ or ‘that others cannot be trusted’. This is linked to having  low self esteem. You may have high self esteem in some areas but not in others.

Perhaps you have decided the world is an unsafe place and view life as frightening or dangerous. These decisions will have affected the way you  behave, think and feel in relation to the world around you.

If in order to get on in life you  may have decided it would be best not to let others  know certain things about you. perhaps hiding a sense of worthlessness. This may be your defense protecting yourself from  future hurt. We find clever ways of protecting ourselves from the hurts we experienced as children.

The bad news is those decisions made in order to self protect can in the long-term  be self-destructive,  and damaging to both yourself and your relationships in your adult life. The good news is you can change, and re decide. You can broaden your view of yourself, change the way you see others and the world around you. In other words you can shift from a limited view of life to a great wide open walkway full of choices.

In order to improve your relationships with others you must first understand yourself. You must also learn the meaning of love and Intimacy.

When I have written about love and Intimacy in relationships in the past, I instinctively linked them together without thinking why. I suppose up until formulating ideas for a book I had unconsciously identified them as the basic concept in any relationship. However there is a difference. Love conjures up some kind of emotional attachment, whereas intimacy is a sharing or a closeness of the mind and spirit.

Love is to have a great attachment to and affection for another. To have a passionate desire, longing and feeling for another. It is an intense longing or emotion; it’s a feeling of warmth, fondness and regard for the other person, place or thing.

Love is also about compassion, a deep understanding and acceptance, with love we show concern and empathy for whatever the other is experiencing in the moment to moment interaction and it is a sense of belonging and concern in that moment and generally. I see love as an intelligent energy that wants and seeks unity and pulls towards it.

As far as intimacy is concerned it is a close and warm friendship or a deep understanding personal relationship and it is characterized in personal relationship, as a sharing of deep individual and private moments, and it’s having a profound and unusual knowledge of the other or sharing something that is intrinsic.

It is also a way for people to come together and express authentic feelings without holding back. Intimacy could be seen as a merging of oneself with the other, not in the engulfing sense but in the contact sense in any moment when two or more people are seeking to share with other/s.

I believe that in order to feel truly close and intimate with others we need to be honest with both ourselves and the other. Allowing closeness  we need more spontaneity  it means to overcome the fear of saying what is in your heart.  No more adapting to please, no more being afraid of saying what you want or what you hope for, just in case the other rejects you.

Many of us are afraid of intimacy, afraid to love, afraid to be close to another or be dependant upon another. Not merely with other humans but even with pets. I have heard some say they won’t take on a dog or a cat because they have short lives and they wouldn’t want to lose something they have grown to love.

It you have experienced loss and grief you may have decided, that it was so painful you don’t want to go through that again and you are able to justify your reasoning with the idea of it being too painful. So because of grief you may have given up the concept of feeling love and being loved! Being cautious and fearing the inevitable loss of something you might grow to love.

  • Why get into relationships only for them to end?
  • How do I learn to take the risk?
  • Do you hide your feelings about others?
  • Do you experience scare of revealing what you really think?
  • Do you hold back from showing care and loving contact because you are afraid of letting the other know how you are feeling?

All of the above are more likely to be about fearing the closeness, and the love and the intimacy which goes with relationships in case you lose it.

A New Lease of Life

I need a new lease of life. An occasion when you become more energetic and active like grandchildren giving grandparents a new lease of life.”

I am at the stage where I can sit and do my knitting or paint my watercolour or  get off my arse and find a new life. Life is short and not always sweet. Bobbing and weaving on a great ocean where seemingly one can keep control if one works hard enough.

We are supposed to enjoy it but in the main I am not sure if many of us completely do. There seems a great number of stumbling blocks in each aspect of life. We do have  choices, some of which we might not notice. Many differing directions, relationships, career,  success or failure. In truth whenever we start out on a new path we have no real clue as to what it entails the future is a work in progress.

Just getting onto a career path can be pretty bewildering, we may go through many to reach the job we want. Take nursing,  the 60’s and 70’s. Very different from today however I loved nursing. Comradery amongst my peers. Laughter and tears and sadness. Struggling to pass exams with a staff nurse or sister post as the main prize.  Relationships and finding love was a path along side the nursing.  So much to think about when back then getting engaged and planning a life with the one you love carved memories to cherish. Having a child and watching them grow with children of their own. Watching their struggles and anxieties and now your struggle becomes a helpless one.

I seem to have lived a few lives in one.

Trying to paint a picture of my childhood in the forties and fifties is like seeing through jam jar bottom glasses. Born as the war ended and  before the formation of the health service and a time only seen through black and white movies. Children playing in the street and on some collapsed air raid shelter, pretend games and vivid imaginations were the norm. Childhood was not a good experience when your father is a violent alcoholic. Observing wide-eyed my mother desperate to placate him. Us kids in bed early and herself waiting with a rapid heart beat for his drunken return as the pubs closed.

Leaving school to start work another phase without choice and with limited options when ne’er a full weeks attendance, is a scar for the future. Fighting for a place on the career ladder was slow and arduous. Once in nursing the world changed and opportunities began to open. Could we say that was a new lease of life? I like to think so. Marriage to a wonderful man who gave me the stability I so craved and needed not truly recognised until he had gone.  Losing the love of your life to a horrible and young death turns the mind, wakes one up to the realities of life, shock waves of madness and even psychosis in the middle of the night when your all alone. Coming through that horror, is that a new lease of life?

Three years on from the nightmare and finding someone to love again, that was a new lease of life albeit a short one but then walking away ten years later , that really was a massive new life change. Now here I am back to the beginning  wondering does everyone want change and something new to happen? We are the makers of our own destiny, we are the ones who make life happen. We take life as it is thrown at us and do with it what we can. A new lease of life means taking what fate offers and making the best of it.

Now however at my age there might be many options if only I had the energy and the where with all to take the deal. I like to think I have done OK and still have a ways to go. Now it’s time again for a step up to a new lease of life.

 

Understanding Old Age

When young we may look at the elderly and wonder what it might be like. However that is only fleeting otherwise fear steps in.

Coming to terms with getting older  is a strange phenomenon. There is nothing in society to make one think of it as something to cherish something to look forward too. Each of us has to deal with it in our own way. There is plenty written, but for me none of it is relevant because it is a purely personal experience.

When young we  look at old people and cannot really know what it will be like. We watched the bent and slow aged folks shuffling through the shops ahead of us and maybe felt a tad irritated because as a younger person we were always in a hurry as if there wasn’t enough time  in the day. Why don’t old people shop in the week?  younger folks say. Why don’t they have it delivered? Why do they have to be so obviously old? Why don’t they just disappear from society all together?

Oh dear! Does that sound over the top? It isn’t because society is becoming ageist. Maybe it always has been. When young perhaps we tend to have a bit of a laugh at the aged parents. I can remember my mother in law coming to baby sit for us fairly regularly and we had to give her a set time when we would be home. She would be waiting for us at 10-30 with her coat on. Probably a bit aggrieved  if we were late. She seemed to have petty worries about her neighbours and her health and what that entailed. X-rays, medication and prescriptions and hospital appointments,everything seemed overly played out. To us, her family we saw it as a bit of a joke how much she seemed to worry and how important time and routine were to her.  Now at seventy-three, I am the same, anxious if I cannot meet my deadlines or if I feel taken for granted. My health and all its facets seem to rule my life, probably because I cannot control what is happening to me on a daily basis. My comforts and relationships with friends has become more important. Small things seem much bigger and my level of anxiety has become manifold. I realise that for all of my working life I wore and managed a band  of anxiety around my middle. Coping with it. Retrospectively I can see that this was something from childhood but that is another story. In order to make a success of my life this anxiety had to be controlled and managed and it was. However once released from the life of work after retirement and after ten years in I am aware of this feeling tugging at me daily. When something anxiety provoking occurs in the day there it is. So sticking to plans, keeping a fairly reasonable routine and opting not to place my self in too vulnerable a situation holds it back. I will force myself to do things I don’t want to do but when I do I am more vulnerable. I am not on my own with this and would be interested to hear from others in this aging process. I am sure there is much more to say.

Another aspect of aging at the moment is the controversy regarding state pension.  People are jealous or angry at the fact that we receive a regular income. Gone any idea that we have paid our dues in taxes and national insurance or paid into a private pension scheme. It’s costing the country millions say the media.  There are far too many old people sponging on the state say some of the young. They have stolen from us the young, and they don’t deserve what they are getting. Heating allowances should stop, they should lose their homes to pay for care in the community. This is Agisim isn’t it?

We  each have to find our own way through this. There are those who fight old age, constantly trying to maintain a young style. Plastic surgery if one can afford it.  If you keep your face reasonably free of wrinkles is that OK when the hands and neck show the signs. Next step body transplant because the skin and bones continues its losing battle against gravity.

For me it’s not about staving off old age it’s not about looking young, but more about acting ones age.  There is always the danger of closing in on oneself, too bad if you don’t know  you are, and are lacking in self awareness because that is the key. However sometimes self awareness can be just that bit too painful. Maybe finding interests  and changing them by learning something new, perhaps rotating them to keep them alive is the answer. I like painting watercolours, knitting, reading and writing down what bugs me or excites me at any given time and this is generally on the face book or a blog like this. I have recently become excited by politics and am an avid follower of Jeremy Corbyn and chatting on various groups. I would like to be more active but find my health and mobility are an issue so having joined the labour party movement I can have my say on various factions but am not as active as I want to be. I make plans about going to this or that labour meeting but find on the day I don’t have the physical where with all to do it which feels like failure. Also after a particularly stressful day and being pretty busy I pay a price in tiredness the next.

I don’t think this is just about me even though we are all unique there are many trials and jagged paths in this aging process but what is the alternative. Finally I would say, don’t expect those younger than yourself  to understand, they cannot until they reach that path themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Addiction to Food

Research has shown that there are psychological and physiological differences in the brain of someone who has any addictions.

Addiction means that the individual still goes for the thing they crave even though they are aware that following this path is dangerous and can lead to life threatening consequences.  Trying to break the cycle of addiction causes frustration, internal anxiety and distress and physical discomfort. As I have explored the issues around compulsive eating and problems with obesity I am more convinced that there is a problem with addiction to food. Not all foods just the ones one craves. Not many obese or over weight people crave carrots raw or otherwise, veg and even fruits nice and good as they are. Cravings are usually about favourite foods that are bad unless taken in moderation. Chocolate, cake and fatty foods are the most common. Crisps, nuts and savouries treats are on the list. Not many people crave salad and flat white fish these are the foods one is supposed to eat for a healthy life.

In the main my article is geared to those who are yo-yo dieters. Or serial  dieters those of us who diet on and off for a few weeks to lose a few pounds and then give up for no major reason.  Because the mind of a dieter is  preoccupied with food dieting or otherwise huge concentration is required. The serial dieter is always thinking about food whether on a diet or what to have for next meal. It is a way of life and comes in fits and starts throughout life. Each time a few pounds if lost it will be regained along with a few more.

Along with the preoccupation with food comes guilt and shame of failing. Seen as a loser without will power, even though  constantly thinking about what the next meal is going to be. What the portion size is,   scales at the ready, how many calories in a potato and so on.  Always the desire for the wrong food whilst eating the right food.

The food addict is a mindless eater and the breaking of the cycle of short-term dieting comes with eating almost unconsciously. Dissociating from reality to some extent.

I hear myself saying ‘why did I eat that’ or ‘wish I hadn’t eaten that’ because then I have slipped back onto the not caring the mindlessness around food usually going hand in hand with ‘it doesn’t matter’ and ‘fuck it’. However what it means in reality is ‘I don’t matter’/ I don’t love myself enough to care. Now comes the cycle of addiction.

  1. Must start a diet tomorrow.
  2. Food shopping for healthy eating
  3. Walking past the favourite things like crisps, biscuits, crackers and cheese and chocolate things for puddings.
  4. Good start and keeping diary feeling positive and weeks and a few pounds lighter something happens.
  5. A weekend away,out to lunch with a friend and then wham bam fuck it off the diet. However with this comes the guilt and a touch of secrecy. Motivation has gone and is replaced by contempt for oneself and some contempt for others. Mainly because one feels ashamed of not having enough will power so unhappiness follows.

If one turns to food for comfort in times of distress this is why one gains weight.

So if it’s hard for you to imagine what that feels like think for a minute what do you do when you need to comfort yourself. Some say jog or cycle or the gym. Knit, embriodery or anything you do to comfort yourself what ever it may be. Then imagine you cannot do any of it again that method of self comfort has gone. You cannot have it anymore. How does that feel?

If you are an alcoholic or a drug addict or a compulsive gambler etc you have to make a complete stop from your substance. With food that is not possible is it? I am not saying that somewhere in ones history is a valid reason where it all started. Maybe from being abused or hungry or shamed and so on?

Personally it began somewhere in childhood. Body image and family comments. AS a child I was different from the norm because I had longer limbs, more shape and was generally taller than the other kids in the family. In the north of England people were smaller generally because of poverty and living amongst tall factories where the sun didn’t shine rickets were in the plenty.  However even in spite of this I was physically different. Blue eyes and blond hair of viking stock it seems because as it turned out my father had been an American airman from an affair my mother had in the mid forties. During family events I would be paraded in front of relatives who generally were admiring of my stature but it didn’t feel like admiration to me it felt like shame.

I think this was the start of body consciousness and not in a good way. Regardless of all this I was generally hungry because in the late forties and fifties we were.

I do not know what my triggers are. A life time of dieting even when I wasn’t overweight. I just felt fat. Slimming pills and starvation diets were a regular event and in the sixties we could buy slimming tablets over the counter at boots chemist. Doctors didn’t worry about giving out   Dospan addictive I hear. Dieting in my twenties was a way of life. For special events do a diet of boiled eggs and salad for a couple of weeks and lose a stone. I am now seventy-three and still in this battle within myself when I should be relaxing into old age happily. Am I addicted to certain foods or am I crazy. I don’t know and maybe never will.

Suggestions welcome

Oscar is the boy

Taking on a dog is no simple task.Saying I want a dog sounds easy enough but after the wanting comes the need for structure and responsibility.  Making a choice of breed, puppy or full-grown? Pedigree or cross? Rescue or breeder.  I have had a few dogs over the years but my first encounter was as a child.

My mother loved animals all kind of strays would somehow end up in our house. Never less than two dogs and 2 cats, rabbits and birds. Once she brought home a magpie she had found flying down to people outside on the street. Sensing it was lost she brought it in and taught it to speak. Although she had this menagerie, care was random. Dogs watched, following her every move until she’d create a pan of food made up of left over. Maŕrow bone gravy, pilchards and Oates which cats and dogs alike scoffed each evening. Sometimes the smell of that mixture made my mouth water because of my constant hunger. It was generally something with chips for us humans.

Now I have Oscar, who I suspect will be my last dog, probably out living me. It’s written that Pugs can live for fifteen years. A thousand-year old breed specially adapted as a lap dog.

He is a black pug so tends to attract attention. A character in every sense of the word. Facial expression which is a permanent questioning look. What?

He snuggles which is more about food than love and when I am standing around maybe passing time of day with someone,he sits either between my ankles or  on my feet. Looking upwards patiently waiting for the conversation to end.

In the past my dogs have generally been rescue but for one other. Oscar  however cost so much I am too embarrassed to say. He is treasured not because of that but because of who he is. Funny, annoying too. Lovable and often serious and thoughtful. He ponders on life a lot. I like that.

Past, Present and Future

We cannot change the past but we can change our attitude towards it.

Do you ever experience the past   haunting you? When life is not going  well find yourself looking back for someone to blame or forward as a means of escape.

‘You will never amount to anything’ was my mother’s favourite saying. ‘A Jack of all trades and master of none’, was another directed at me. It crushed any confidence or dreams I had about what I might become.  I was 24 before I found some semblance of myself when I was accepted into nurse training. Happy days those were. Laughter, tears and good friends. I started as an auxillary and it wasn’t until some senior nurse asked me if I had considered training that I suddenly saw a world of opportunity opening for me. None the less, over the following years I carried a deep  sense of shame that I would be discovered as a fraud.  Even on the day of exam results I envisaged a tap on the shoulder and a whispered apology for a terrible mistake about my results.   In all the career moves that followed the anxiety never really left.  With each success came more confidence and my fear of failure somehow made me more determined to succeed.

That was in 1969 and now we are in 2017.

Looking back on life serves no purpose but it’s difficult not too. ‘If onlys’ can be painful and guilt ridden. If only I hadn’t remarried. If only I had not said this or that.

What purpose does it serve because we are where we are however we got here. As much as we desire it we cannot control the future. We make plans but the future is an illusion it does not exist and soon turns into memory. Here and now is the only reality and in that split second we often make decisions that can change life.

There are aspects of my past I would change and there are things I would like to happen in the future that are now unattainable.

I used to wonder if  life was  some kind of test for something better. Now as an older woman I  know it isn’t, we are here to do the best we can with what we have. It isn’t really a test it’s just life.

We are born, we live and then we die, in the  final maybe we all hope to be remembered for something good.