Change Isn't Always Easy
In my experience, change is rarely easy. We are creatures of habit. We like to get into routines. Sometimes our routines don't seem like routines. Having an occasional drink after work isn't really a routine...unless you do it enough times. Before you know it, an "occasional drink" is a bottle of wine every night. Also our habits aren't just our behavior. Our thoughts and feelings can also be habits. We can decide to change or things can change without our consent. Sometimes making a change requires help and support from others. Over the last six months or so, Margo gained a substantial amount of weight. Who could blame her. Her fiancé had called off the engagement because he wasn't "in love" with her any more. Turns out, a few months later he was dating another woman. The experience set Margo into a tailspin and eating was her only comfort. She realized that she couldn't stay angry forever but she was still very raw by the sudden and unexpected nature of the experience. It was an understandable outcome and all her friends and family were sympathetic. They all agreed it was his fault. Then one day, without warning, someone called the whole story "bullshit". It was from the most unlikely source since they had been inseparable for years. Who was the insensitive soul who disregarded her feelings entirely and told her the bitter truth without an ounce of regret? It was her phone. You see, her phone enjoyed creating reminiscent moments for her by occasionally sending her photos from "one year ago today". There she was, 50 pounds heavier months before the break up. She had gained the weight before his fiancé had even met the new love of his life. How could this be? She began to review the photos in her library and came to a startling realization. Margo was lying to herself. She had told herself that the other woman was the source of all her misery, when in fact, she had been miserable for more than 6 months before "she" ever came into the picture. Margo spent the afternoon with the unfiltered truth that her phone revealed. She saw pics of the miserable vacation where they almost broke up, the embarrassing dinner with friends where they argued to the point of making everyone uncomfortable, the concert they ended up leaving because it was "too loud". She realized that this was not the relationship she thought it was. Many questions lingered in her mind. Why could she not see this? Did other people see this? If they had, why didn't anyone say anything? Margo decided she needed another perspective so she arranged for lunch with a close friend. She asked her friend these questions and at first her friend was evasive. When Margo asked her to get real, the truth came out. Yes, other people did see the incompatibility. Many people had raised concerns but Margo made excuses and quickly passed off the issues with cliché statements like "Men. Can't live with them, can't live without them." She reminded Margo that when another friend, Brenda, had been blunt about their problems, Margo pulled away from the friendship and stopped talking to her. The conversation was enlightening but for some reason, enlightenment didn't feel anything like how it had been described. This "enlightenment" felt like a punch in the stomach. Margo spent the next two days vacillating between nausea and tears. She called in sick to work. All the blame and anger she had channeled to "the other woman" was now directed towards herself. When she returned to work, she was not her usual self. When a co-workers expressed concern, Margo burst into tears. She left early for lunch and said she was still feeling sick so she could go home. When she got home, she took a long nap. She woke up wishing she would never wake up. Margo needed professional help. Change doesn't always come as a positive feeling or outcome. When we see magazines with people who lost weight, the article often describes someone who put their mind to changing their diet and ended up feeling the best they ever had. However, change can be very painful and disruptive. Margo wanted to lose weight but didn't want it too happen through a major depression. However, this was the way it was happening. Margo's first step in change was a painful realization. She needed help to navigate through her feelings and begin to understand herself. Although her anger had served her, she needed to develop others ways to cope. She decided she needed some "couch time", not in front of the television, but in a therapist office. Margo developed the habit of being angry and eating to comfort herself. Anytime feelings of low self esteem came into her mind, Margo coped with those feelings by becoming angry and blaming a woman she never met. She didn't have to face her own problems or sadness because they were directed at someone else. Margo denied her own feelings. She compulsively ate to suppress her emotions. Her difficulty being honest with herself was at least part of the reason she struggled in her relationship. It wasn't all his fault. Margo needed help to learn new coping strategies. She needed a therapist to help her navigate the rough seas of change.