I caught myself acting weird today. Do you ever do that?
I can’t say its a rare occurrence because it’s not, but as I was debriefing with my mom about my day, we both started laughing as I relayed to her a conversation I had with my son, and then it hit me, why do we act so strange sometimes?
While the kids are in school I’m either in class or seeing clients. Last week my colleagues and I listened to a lecture on the statistics and treatment of eating disorders for two solid hours. This happens to be a topic that hits home. From the ages of 14 to 20, I suffered from bulimia. I get food disorders. I wish I din’t know how hellish they can be, but I do. I remember feeling stuck-trapped-unable to get out of this dark web that had grabbed ahold of me.
At a young age I had turned on myself, spiraling down into a very depressing and dangerous hole. With the help of a very talented therapist, that struggle ended two decades ago,but the pain it caused me and my family, well that I will never forget.
Because my adolescence was full of self-deprecation, I began teaching my children early on how to be a friend to themselves. We talk about how to look for thoughts that are putting ourselves down and how to stand up for ourselves, even against our own thoughts. “What would you say to your friend,” I often ask, if they are being hard on themselves.
Food really isn’t an issue in our house right now. They are all athletes and so they eat. They eat a ton, like I’m thinking of starting a non-profit so I can ask for donations to help feed my children. It’s insane how much they eat. Shopping at Trader Joe’s, I can always count on the guy ringing me up to announce with a chuckle, “Looks like you are stocking up.” Uh, nope. It’ll be gone week.
But, after listening to the stats on how many kids suffer from food-related disorders and what symptoms to look for, I felt a little jumpy.
My son is over six feet tall and has leaned out, like really leaned out, this year. Now logically I know it’s from his enormous growth spurt and playing football, but with all those numbers rolling around in my head and the new statistics that say the number of boys suffereing from anorexia is on the rise, I just got a little crazy.
Oh my gosh! He is not eating! He is not eating! my thoughts started to scream, and so I did what most mom’s do when they start to freak out…. I tried to fix it. Brilliant, right?
Hey dude, why don’t you make me a list of some snacks you would like, and I will pick up a stash just for you.
“Uh, okay mom, but, didnt’ you already do that? You bought me the powerbars.”
Well, yeah, but, I just want you to have a drawer that is all yours.
You, know… so that when you are hungry you have lots of stuff you like.
Isn’t that what the refrigerator is for, mom?
He looked at me like I was a little strange…. and I was, but did I stop? Oh no, that would be way too normal.
So, (trying to act all nonchalant) when you were young, bud, did you ever see yourself as,oh I don’t know, overweight?
Mom, I wasn’t overweight.
Well, I know, but were you ever teased for being overweight?
Stop it…. you’re acting weird. I’m fine.
Oh my gosh, sisters, can we just acknowledge that sometimes- just sometimes- we act so incredibly weird and if we were to slow things down and leave some room, we just might discover what is driving our “weirdness”.
As I reflected on this totally ridiculous conversation, I am keenly aware that I was driven by fear. I was afraid. Afraid that I might have missed something. Afraid that this might be the start of something damaging and hurtful to him, and that somehow, in my wacky mind, I was going to fix the problem- run interference- by offering him a plethora of snacks. Totally nuts, right? So why did I do it?
Because , dear sisters, when we are fearful we often respond by trying to take control of the situation rather than addressing those fears.
Truth is, if my son or any of my kids struggle with this issue, having a drawer full of the perfect treats is not going to make a difference. Truth is, as much as I am crazy in love with my kiddies, the are going to have their battles and their demons that they face and my job isn’t to fix every problem or rescue them from every challenge, but to walk with them – alongside of them- through these trials.
So,dear sister, next time you catch yourself acting a little weird, don’t beat yourself up. Stop. Slow down. Pull it apart and find what is at the root- fear- rejection- feeling unloved- unsafe- and address that.