Posts Tagged ‘emotions’

Not-crying and the art of self-awareness

This was originally posted at Nicholosophy, where I blog about much more than just fat acceptance.

I am always on a journey of self-development. It’s only been in the last few years that I have become more self-aware. I am learning to listen to my body and to heed it when it tells me that I need to rest, or that I’m feeling flat. I am aware now that when I’m feeling blue that it is a state of mind and something that I can work though. Well, sometimes I am aware of this. Sometimes I fall into a heap and not-cry.

I don’t know if it is special to me, but I am a very good not-crier. Not-crying is when I am feeling so emotionally raw and on edge that I want to cry, and yet I can’t. My mind goes blank and I just stare, looking at nothing in particular in a state of despair and sadness. No tears well in my eyes, no sobbing or anything like that. Yet my brain switches to this off mode that is like nothing else I ever experience. So I figure it is something significant, and call it not-crying.

I’ve often felt weird about my brain. I was diagnosed as being hyperactive when I was a child, and I realised when I was studying Primary Education at Uni (thank goodness I didn’t stick with that!) that I probably had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Photo of three graffiti-style creatures on the side of a train

Oh Shiny! More completely unrelated stuff – makes sense, no? (by

What I find is that I am one who bores quickly of things when I’ve mastered them, or at least mastered them in my own brain. I also feel like my brain never switches off. Some conscious thought is going through my brain, trying to make its way out. This occurs regardless of whether I’m trying to chill out or get other things done. It’s only when I’m having a not-cry that I feel this void of thought.

So it’s no surprise then to learn that since I have these thoughts running through my brain all the time, that I often find myself falling into the trap of negative self-talk and putting myself down when I’m feeling crap. I am not perfect and yet being someone who writes about fat acceptance, I think people expect me to be. Or more correctly, I expect me to be.

I sometimes feel bad about the things I eat, even though I know I shouldn’t put a good or bad emotion on food. I sometimes berate myself for not being able to fit into my clothes, even though I know that my body will move between my natural weight range. There are days when I’d happily give up and just allow myself to be brainwashed yet again into thinking I’m defective and evil for being fat.

I’ve learned enough though to know that I can’t go back there. I was miserable there. I had no idea who I was as a person. In fact I think I was trying to pretend that I was someone I wasn’t. I was pretending to be ok with being fat, and clearly I wasn’t. I read all the books and had all the recipes on how to lose weight. I’d regularly think about joining Weight Watchers, which I think I last did in 2005 or 2006. Man I was such a sad person back then, and yet I thought I was happy.

Now I know I am happy, at least a lot of the time. The times I feel like crap I at least appreciate later on knowing that I was feeling like crap. I’ve learned so much from my crap moments that I can’t really trade them. I wouldn’t be me without them.

I think it is hard to be accepting of ourselves, whether we are fat, thin, tall, short or whatever. I reckon that if I wasn’t fat I wouldn’t be happy with other things. So to hell with going backwards, I’ll happily keep moving forward. I just need to remember to cut myself some slack occasionally.


Triggering

This was recently posted over on my new blog Nicholosophy. I’ve taken the liberty to cross-post this as I think it’s very relevant to what we often deal with within the Fat Acceptance community. As a warning, I mention the terms ‘weight loss surgery’ and ‘sexual assault’ but do not talk about these topics.

I’ve had this topic in my drafts bin (which is where I keep all the things I want to write about) for the last few days but I’ve been putting it off. I think it might be that I’m concerned about what I’m going to write and how it is going to trigger me. Now it’s funny that I should start a post on triggering with how I think my own writing might trigger me. I haven’t even explained what it is yet, so perhaps I should get onto that.

A trigger as defined by the Wordnet (r) 2.0 dictionary is “an act that sets in motion some course of events”. As an example, you turn the key in your car and you trigger the ignition system to start the car. It could be the fact that you stand on your dog’s foot triggers it to growl. These sort of situations make sense – you do something which causes a reaction. However triggers don’t have to relate to setting off some sort of physical event. They can be emotional as well.

Triggering is the concept that some things, when said or written, can trigger a bad emotional response. A blog post or video or tweet is considered ‘triggering’ if it sets off someone to have a bad reaction because it brought up some situation or issue that they have faced in the past.

I’ll give you an example of an emotional trigger that happened with me the other night. I was washing up the dishes and “Australia’s Funniest Home Videos” was on the television. Like any home video clip show, they often show things that are perhaps funny to some but just make other cringe. But you don’t expect much of an emotional response, except perhaps laughter.

Well the clip they showed was of a fat man on a water slide. The voice over went something like “Now I know why the attendant wanted to grease me down before I went on the slide”. The man was stuck – not because the slide wasn’t wide enough but because he must have been sticking to the slide. He then gets up and starts to walk down the slide. Apparently this is considered ‘funny’. But I was upset, not laughing.

Back in the 90s I went to the local water park here called “Wet ‘n’ Wild”. I was a teenager and I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to roller coasters, speed slides or anything of that nature. This time I thought I’d get on the speed slide. They have mats bu

t since I was concerned that I would end up going too fast and crap myself, I decided I didn’t need one. No one said anything to me suggesting it would be a good idea. So I got in and pushed myself off.

Cue me half way down a speed slide unable to move because I was sticking to the slide. The embarrassment and shame of being the fat kid stuck in the slide still hits me today. I had to get out of the slide, walk down the maintenance strip on the side of the slide and come down to the bottom. To make matters worse, I cut my foot open on some wire and had to get attended by first aid.

A little piece of me died that day. A little piece of me went away and locked itself so tightly inside that it would never get hurt again. Any time I think of that day I end up in tears. Hence why I’ve put writing this off until now.

Consider someone who has been sexually assaulted, bullied or who has been bashed up because of their race of sexuality. Any time something comes on TV or the radio or the internet that reminds them of that time, it triggers an emotional response. A very innocent situation or words said that would not make most people react can cause them to become upset, angry or even (in the extreme) violent. And it is all perfectly reasonable for that to happen, because they are dealing with a hurt unlike anything else that most of us experience.

My experience on the slide that day is significant to me. I can’t imagine what it is like to have someone overpower you, take away your dignity and sexually assault you. I can’t imagine what it is like to be spat on and kicked to the ground because you are gay. I’m sure it hurts and haunts much more than my experience. So if a TV show can trigger an emotional response in me, it must be worse for them.

In the Fat Acceptance community, talk about weight loss and weight loss surgery is considered triggering. The first time I ever learned about triggering was when I posted a blog post on Axis of Fat which was an interview with a lady who had gone through weight loss surgery. The idea was that I wanted to learn more about it so that my opinions could be formed based on fact and not conjecture. What I didn’t realise was that my post would trigger emotional responses in some people that crushed them inside.

Now when I write a blog post and I think the content might be triggering, I warn the reader at the outset. That way they can make up their mind whether they want to read on or not. I don’t have to stop writing about the triggering subject matter. I allow the reader the chance to have the choice about whether they read about it. This is actually fairly standard practice in the Fat Acceptance community.

I need to keep in mind every day that everything I write here, or on Twitter or Facebook can be read by someone I don’t know too well. I don’t know about everything that has happened to them and even with my closest friends, they could have some secret trauma that they have locked away for their own self preservation. I have to keep in mind to be sure that what I write won’t be triggering for someone. If I think it will, I either don’t write it or I warn people in advance. Quite often it is probably better to just leave it well alone.


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