I am on a new journey I think... aren't I always. I have been learning so much about myself and am sometimes even surprised. This week I have had two major epiphanies. The first is that I can't handle sick people, the second is that I am a closet eater.
Onto the first one. My husband got really sick on the day before New Year's Eve. We went out for lunch together which we never do and after we got home he went to bed. For five hours! He thought he was overtired from working out too hard the week before. My mom invited us over for supper that night. Our middle child had been complaining of a tummy ache so I took the oldest and the youngest with me. We got home four hours later and he hadn't fed Reilly. Anyone who knows my son Reilly, knows that his favorite hobby is eating. He eats all day long, sometimes without taking breaks. Needless to say I was pissed off. I thought how freakin' sick can you be that you can throw the kid a banana? The next day he didn't get out of bed for most of the day. This is two days in bed now. I was getting mad. I NEVER lay around or sleep for two days completely removed from my mommy duties. How is it that he gets to? So I started cooking for the New Years day dinner that we had moved to my mom's house. I kept looking after our children and bringing food and drink for my weak husband. That night I had a glass of wine with some friends and came home. My husband went to bed and I sat and thought. What is my problem? I can't just take care of him and give him what he needs while he is feverish and breaking out with fever blisters and feeling like crap. Where the hell is my empathy, my sensitivity, my compassion? Then it hit me. I'm very uncomfortable with sick people, unless they are vomiting or dying.
I grew up with sickly grandparents. We lived less than a block away from my grandmother and grandfather. I saw them almost every day as a child. My grandfather was in and out of the hospital with a heart condition and I was 12 when he died. My grandmother was mostly well but was also in and out of the hospital with cataracts and glaucoma, angina and then finally when she died at the age of 92 of stomach cancer which she had beaten over 40 years before. I was 27 and 8 months pregnant for my first child. I walked to the hospital every day to sit with her and be with her, I am eternally grateful for the time I was able to spend with her. But I was never uncomfortable around her when she was dying. I helped dress her and held her hand, even when she vomited. My mother's father was a healthy man but he too died of cancer. I was 20 and sat by his bedside for almost 3 days until he took his last breath. I didn't mind that kind of sick. I held his hand, wiped his brow and gave him a shoulder to cry on before he died and I was fine with doing that.
My mother has been sick my entire life. She had knee problems when I was little. She had endometriosis when I was young and had a hysterectomy at the age of 27. She then developed IBS and after that crohn's disease. When I gave birth to my first child it was very traumatic for her and she needed help dealing with that. Then something happened to her back and now she is clinically disabled. I have never had a healthy mother. The person in my life who was my role model was always ill. I have flipped the other way and no matter how sick I get "the show must go on". I think it is for this reason that when my husband gets sick. I have no sympathy. When I get sick, I try not to complain.
From that moment on I think a switch happened in me. I realized how I had lost my compassion, my sympathy, my heart and started caring for my husband. He was really sick and is still not well. I thank god that all he has is an infection, what if it were more serious. Would I have walked away from him them? Probably not but I think the next time he is ill, or someone in my family is ill I will take more care.
Epiphany number two is totally unrelated. I gained a little bit of weight in the month of December. I am less than 5'2 so when I gain a little weight it can't be hidden in a tall frame. It is obvious in the way I look and the way my clothing fits. Of course I have gotten on the treadmill more and am doing more yoga and eating better (so I thought). When I am on the treadmill I tend to watch a bit of TV. For some reason the shows that appeal to me are things like "The Biggest Loser", "The Last 10 Pounds", "X-Weighted" - weight loss shows. I was walking on my treadmill the other day and was really struck by this one woman and her partner. She told the interviewer that she didn't like to eat in front of her husband as he made comments. So she ate when she was alone. My husband went out with our daughter for a ride and as soon as he left I reached for the chocolate. I started eating... not 1, 2 or 3 but when I counted the wrappers I had eaten 7 chocolates. Man did I ever feel sick - too much sugar. The funny thing is that this is how I "enjoy" treats all the time. I wait until I am alone and I stuff my face with whatever junk food I can find. As I was doing this, this strange feeling came over me - I too am a closet eater. I have been eating food this way since I was a kid. My husband does not comment on the food I eat but I still feel ashamed.
I was feeling so guilty about this gorging and I have been hiding it for so many years and I know it's not healthy. It's not good for my body and it is not good for my psyche either. I decided that the first step for me in breaking this unhealthy habit was to tell someone. I told my husband. At first he started to laugh, like I was making up a story. When he realized I was serious he said he wasn't surprised. He noticed that the "junk" food in our house was disappearing very quickly and didn't think I had let the kids eat it all - I'm pretty stricked with their food. I asked him to stop buying the things I crave and to take what we have out of the house. The bonus is that he does the groceries and in essence controls what comes into the house. If the "lover" the food I crave is not around then I won't eat or want it, I know with me it is as simple as that. I'm not on a goal to become skinny, I want to be healthy and I know that what I am doing is paying a toll on my body and it has to stop! Now!
So going forward I am ready to start feeling more empathy for people who are not well. If a person has a cold and they feel sick then that is how they feel and it is not my job to judge or ignore if they are asking for help. I am ready to stop gorging myself with junk food when I am alone. I am arming myself with a plan and will start to eat better one day at a time.
Jennifer is an RMT, long time yoga practitioner and teacher. Follow her musings as an RMT, yoga teacher, prenatal educator and mother of three.