Sunday, November 30, 2008

She's Finding a Pedicurist

Dear SSG,

9 days! Has it been that long?? Really? I'm sorry about that. Work, home, funeral, sadness, and holidays are all culprits of my silence about this question. Not to mention the fact that I've been dealing with these situations by scraping cookie dough from the sides of my holiday baking bowls and adding them to the milk I pour on my captain crunch each morning instead of writing to you. Forgive me, won't you?

Because that right there is avoidance, SSG. And that right there is the defence mechanism of choice in how I've been addressing the question you wrote.

Too.Close.To.Home. Writing with the periods in between the words. It's an attempt to emphasize my feelings on the question you asked below. Also, another attempt to avoid this topic all together.

What was the question again?

Right. Body Image.

So here's an exercise. Get it? Exercise? Body Image? har har. Ok, I actually meant an activity. An emotional one. So gear up!

Take a piece of paper and divide it into five columns. You may have to turn your paper horizontal. The second column will be the most narrow.

Please write the following sentences in the first column.
Or you can write any other unpleasant statements you may say to yourself consistently.

1. I am not happy with my life.
2. I am self-conscious.
3. I am ashamed.
4. I feel rejected.
5.I am lonely.
6. I am nervous.
7. I feel vulnerable.
8. I feel grief.
9. I don't fit in.
10. I give up too easily.

In the second column, rate each sentence on how "true" it feels from 0 to 10. 0 being totally NOT true. 10 being TOTALLY TRUE.

In the third column, please explore any rating higher than a 3. Give reasons, incidents, and specific events underlying those ratings.

If these statements are uncomfortable to answer, remember you're the only one who will see them and this is just a self-assessment. A gauge, if you will. If you're still uncomfortable, then stop and revisit this or other activities another time.

But now this is the clincher, in the forth row, take the reasons associated with the statements, and ADD TO THEM. That's right, cheer yourself up with additional thoughts. But they have to be TRUE positive thoughts about yourself. Stay away from the self-BS. (Did you love that clinical term?). Then rate the statement again in the fifth column. Continue with the reasoning and the authentic positive statements until the rating decreases significantly. This is basic CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).


Statement: I am envious

Rating: 8

Reason: Crash Test Dummy has a great figure and awesome style. The fact that she has 4 kids, is so cool, and is the Relief Society President who everyone loves make me sick sick sick!

Additional Thought: I am very much loved as well. I am authentic and kind. I am smart. And even though some people may be intimidated by me, I can be disarming and help people feel at ease.

Rating: 0

See how all of life's problems are so easily solved? ha!

So really, SSG, this is only a beginning. When we change our thoughts, we change our lives. Period. It's a process for me and everyone on this planet. But a process worth pursuing. I'm guessing if you do this exercise, body issues will inevitably come up. That's good. Write about them in the "reason" section and again, replace them with a better and more true statement.

As with the end of every post, I recommend that if you're feeling like you need more than this simple exercise, see a counselor. I love them! If your first counselor isn't working out for you, find another one. Counselors are like pedicurists, you need to find one that won't judge, that's experienced in "cleaning up", and that will have you leave feeling beautiful and in-tact. All in one hour to boot!

Good Luck, SSG!


Friday, November 21, 2008

She's Gettin' Busy

An emergency came up and I was called unexpectedly to the office. Yikes! I'm sitting here in my pajamas (hot pink and purple stripped flannel and yes, they give me nightmares) writing to tell you all that the question won't get answered until tonight. Wait, no, not tonight because the Bishop hasn't been home all week and that hunky Bishop is my husband. Who also got home last night and folded laundry. . . . I think I'm in love. And I think I'll show him some of that love tonight. (ha! sorry, I won't go there again.)

So below is the awesome question. Fun if you all discussed this issue because, don't lie, you struggle with it too! And if my husband survives the best night of our existence tonight (ha! sorry, I went there again), then I should be back here at some point on Saturday.

Dear SGF,

I struggle with body image. A lot. I hate the way my body looks. While it is true that I need to lose a significant amount of weight, I am not sure I would have a healthy body image even if I were to lose the 40-50 pounds I need to lose. I was athletic in my youth and very thin, but was never happy with my body even then. I compare myself to every woman I see, and I nearly always lose. I have a close friend who is tall and thin and I envy her. It is becoming a barrier in our friendship because of my bitter feelings. I don't know what to do.

How does one go about changing the way one feels about their body? I think I'd do better if I could live in a hut on a deserted island without a mirror, but that's not really a practical solution for someone living in the modern world. Any ideas would be appreciated.

You have my permission to use this question on your blog if you'd like. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person with this problem.



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

She's Got Envy

Dear SSG,

Did you have to go and ask a question about something I deal with too?? Yes, you're right, me, you, and almost every woman, no, make that EVERY woman I know has the same issue. Why oh why could you not ask a question about hearing voices in your head or seeing puppies on your walls. (I had the sweetest elderly lady who had that hallucination. But she was 98, about to pass away from natural causes, and they were nice puppies so the hospital team was not too concerned). Yes, even hallucinations would've been easier to discuss then this dreaded, lingering, all-encompassing, ever-obsessive topic.

It's about 1 am as I write this. I'm doing a tad bit of consulting for the next six weeks so I gotta get up tomorrow morning and actually work. I won't be working this Friday so I'll get to answering then. Suffice it to say, in my own experience, skinny attractive people get away with a lot. I mean, a lot. And I say, more power to them (formally us). Our issue is how we choose to deal with the triggers of not being in that particular position of power and privilege. We have other ways to get our needs met and we use other tools but one thing that has set me back is my habit of living in the past. I was in the temple tonight (can we mention that here?) and realized that sometimes I'm still living in 1998. Then it dawned on me that it's been 10 YEARS since 1998. I know. Crazy, right?

So the short answer is to live in the present. And love the present. Forgive the past. But not before you learn from it. Or maybe before you learn from it. Just make sure you learn from it. Because deep down you know you are an awesome being. Two strategies I've been trying to use and that seem to be working for me: forgive myself for letting myself gain this weight and breathe. Long, deep breaths. I've noticed that I don't compare as much as I use to. And I've even set a goal for myself. Think I can do it? I do. Because my focus is inward. But that's oversimplifying, isn't it? Sorry. It's now 10 past 1 and I'm about to grill me a cheese sandwich (with butter) if I don't fall into bed right now.

See you Friday!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

She's Inquiring

My wife and I divorced when my son was 15 years old when she started up an old affair, and later married the guy. My son is now almost 19 and has been caught doing marijuana. Based on the little info you have here, what is the best way to relate with, help him.

Dear Anonymous,

I hope it's ok that I cut and pasted your question on here. It's an important one and I wanted to get it right. Let me know if you're uncomfortable with that and I'll summarize it in my own words.

Even though I have seen and felt the heartbreak of seeing family members make choices that are not in their best interest, I was thinking about your question all day long. I do have some advice but in reading what you wrote, I actually have some exploratory questions to ask yourself about this situation. And perhaps some of the few readers I have can lend some supportive words of wisdom as well. These questions may be a bit (gulp) hard or maybe not but they are important ones.

Are you over the betrayal of you ex-wife? I know there's a chance that you're over your wife. But what about the betrayal issue? Is that part healed?

Are you still angry about the situation? I'm not asking if you still have angry feelings toward her. You could very well be angry at yourself.

That you can think of, has your son been able to express his own possible feelings of anger, fear, abandonment, and shame to you or his mother without fear of judgment or over-identification?

If there is even a slight yes to any of these questions please consider seeing someone. Yes, I love that there are trained professionals and I do believe they help. A lot.

I don't know if your son's drug use is related to the past family situation. Like you, I believe there may be a correlation but I don't know. I do know that many a men, including every US President that's been in office since I was born, have started down this same road as your son. So there is a great chance that he can come out the other end just fine. He can even govern a first world country! (Which may not be something to wish upon anyone right now but that's another post for another day).

In the meantime, here's some quick tips (again, not to replace counseling):

1. Share with him your love, concern, and expectations of someone who has as much potential as he does. And reassure him each time he needs it. This may be expressed verbally or even through a letter.
2. Find out his goals, daydreams, and hopes. Discuss and encourage. He's 19. He can do anything!
3. Invite him out.
4. Invite him to counseling (like anything, this is where prayer would be helpful to decide if that's the best route).
5. Forgive yourself. You were betrayed and possibly did and/or said things that were not in yours or his best interest.
6. When appropriate, invite him to attend church. I'm Mormon so I believe that the atonement of Jesus Christ helps everybody. Really. But seriously, no matter the denomination, it's important that he gets some perspective and hope.
7. If you haven't already: Get better. If you are still hurting, angry, resentful, or vulnerable, believe me, he knows it. When he sees you work through this, he will then see that it is possible for him to heal as well.

I understand, Anonymous, that I jumped to assumptions here with the information you gave. So bottom line: no one knows your son like you do. Trust yourself, your judgment, your God, and learn what each experience want to teach you. God Bless you and your dear son.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

She's Got Psychic Powers

Dear SGF,
My husband won't change. What can I do?
Your Mom

Dear Mom,
Wait, Mom? Oh hi Mom. Yes, your husband won't change, I know that. Since he is not my father (that's one blessing I can count today), I think it's time you left him. For good. And not because he's not my father either. But mostly because I know that if I asked him how many years he thinks he can get away with calling you those mean names, he would respond with a big smile. A big creepy, yellow UK teeth grin. So I believe it's time to reevaluate the likelihood of him changing. Didn't you two have a food fight sometime ago? Like back when you were 65 yrs. old? I know your cousin, Psychic Fred, told you that "yellow grin" (quotations mean nickname) was going to kick the proverbial bucket. Soon. But remember when Fred wanted to "feel" my earring? He rubbed and rubbed and rubbed that sterling silver hoop until his joints got rusty and then he told me that I was psychic after which he said that my future husband would be wearing a military uniform at our wedding. Mom, I thought I was going marry Colin Powell. Fred told me so. And Fred said it was going to be soon. But as you well know, some years later, I found my soul mate in an Anthropology Professor. Who's even better looking and smarter than Colin, if you can imagine. It was during this earring reading though that I remembered only 5 years prior he told you to hang in there with your marriage because your husband's heart was going to give out. Soon. Thing is, it's been 15 years now. Meanwhile, Mom, your husband has yelled at you, spit at you, swung at you, and done other things "at you" the likes of which I don't care to know
. So Fred was wrong again. But he was right about one thing: I am psychic. At least when it comes to situations such as this. While I believe people can change, I believe that desire has everything to do with how and to what extent they do change. Your husband has no desire, Mom. None. And since you're still with him, maybe you don't want to change either. Maybe it's me that wants to think you want a change. No, not the Barack Obama kind of change. You already believe BHO is with some kind of terrorist cell. But a personal change. A change in how you see yourself, your worth, your value. Maybe all of that is my desire, not yours. Which leads me to a new word in this response, Mom. And that word is agency.

We all have agency. Yellow grin has agency so it's not your responsibility to try and change him. And you have agency so it's not your responsibility to try to change him. See how that works? We are responsible for ourselves, our own thoughts, our own actions, our own food fights. No one can take that away. That's the thing about desire coupled with change, it's the gift that keeps on giving.

That said, I wish you all the best in your endeavor to maneuver through the art of agency. It's a toughie and one that I'm learning to grapple with, even as I watch you to practice yours.
Love Always,
Your daughter,

A note to my readers: Embedded in this letter are issues related to parentification (child becomes parent figure for their mother and/or father) and enmeshment (child and parent do not have clear boundaries). Both issues are all too common and can be the cause of familial and individual distress. Believe me, I know. And those will be the topics of another post another time. I promise.