“The time is gone, the song is over, Thought I had something more to say.”
“Time” ~Pink Floyd~
Ever have a moment when you woke up in a cold sweat wondering where the hell your life is going? That paralyzing feeling of being out of breath, feeling clamy and sweaty together, and jolted awake as if an earthquake shook your brain awake. That feeling. I’ve had that feeling night after night for months now. It is usually after an evening of mental exhaustion washed down with a big glass of chardonnay puts me to bed around 2 am.
Jolted awake panting for breath, sweating, and remembering part of whatever I started to dream as vividly as it scared me. This is a problem and something most adults would get tested for sleep apnea. I don’t have sleep apnea (I think) its massive anxiety. I have allowed anxiety to take over my days and much needed nights of sleep each and every day.
I have always been self conscious and not sure of myself since the age of 10 years old. This was the first time my Mom told me I was fat and basically needed to “get myself in check.” I was always described as a sweet kid by all of my teachers. I got in trouble for speaking out of turn only and made straight A’s. Part of this is an intrinsic drive the other part was a deep rooted fear of disappointing my parents. The first time my Mom called me overweight and expressed utter disgust on her face towards me, I was too young to have even had sex education. I was a kid in an odd growth spurt who had one real year ever that I wasn’t slender. I was still popular, thriving in and out of school, and molding myself into being a young adult.
To her that didn’t matter. She was in her own internal unhappiness and perpetual state of insecurity that I made an easy target for her to kick around and be called “fat.” My sister would’ve told her to “go to hell” and scowled at her. Even as young as 5 years old….Liz has always had the ability to stand up to people not treating her or talking to her right. I should special order her thick skin next Christmas…..
There is a Pink Floyd lyric from the acclaimed and best selling album “Dark Side of the Moon” that states, “there is someone in my head and its not me.” My Dad told me as a kid that the original lead singer Syd Barrett hallucinated himself into crazy town doing drugs and that was the meaning. I never really understood this notion until my poor 5th grade self stood in front of my Mom in her classroom afterschool being told “my waistband has more elastic than yours…don’t eat that you have gotten way too fat.”
God Damn Everyone.
The next form of attention I got was for the eating disorder I developed when I entered 6th grade. I now understood what it meant to have someone in my head that wasn’t me; it was my Mom telling me negative things. I dropped 15 lbs or so during this time. I literally starved myself and found pride in doing so, I was in control of the voices in my head and of my own body finally. The doctor stated I was just “thinning out” at my annual check up and this was a good thing. My Mom beamed while we were there. So happy I could get back down to the smaller and slender sizes. The only medical professional ever alarmed was my allergist. He was an amazing man and when looking at my chart stated to my Mom, “This isn’t right she hasn’t grown much taller..make sure she doesn’t get smaller.”
I don’t ever remember being so proud of myself. I had taken the nasty voices in my head and conquered them with conviction. I had won! Until one day in 6th grade the girls in the class were give some magazine for pre-teens. It covered everything from dressing right, to first periods, to a girl with an eating disorder. I thought I was sneaky but not so much with my new eating habits. My own friends balled up these pages about anorexia and threw them at me in class hissing, “you are going to die! you are going to die!” The article was about a girl with serious anorexia on death’s door. The only person that defended me was my best friend Julia.
My 6th grade teacher was Mrs. Maher at a small private Catholic elementary school.. She was also my friend Maria’s Mom (in that class.) Maria was one the girls throwing these at me and also a very good friend of min. She made everyone else go to recess except for those girls and myself, slammed the door and said we were going to have a talk. She meant business with her small Italian frame of strength and “do not mess with me attitude.”
I vaguely recall the conversation about how not funny this was and the others were made to apologize to me. I lied and said I was just trying to eat healthier that was all. She made me wait behind and told me that if something more was going on she can help me and will be supportive. I said I was fine. She told me she was going to call my mom as she would any other parent. I hung my head and nodded (this was to be anticipated.)
I remember going to lunch that day and putting more on my plate than I have in months. I felt exhilarated about this and finding the courage to eat again. A classmate’s mom that worked in the cafeteria said to me, “that is all you are going to eat?” I knew then that everyone had been talking about me, not to me, but behind my back in a gossipy fashion. I learned this at 11 years old. I taught myself then to contain items, smiled at her and stated, ” yes this looks just perfect thank you!” My first moment of preservation at 11 years old….while suffering from an eating disorder. I wish I could go back in time and hug that girl. Someone needed to.
I heard holy hell from my Mom went I went home that day. I told her some of the other girls were also being healthy and just jealous had done so well. I don’t know if she bought it or not; but she left it alone. I was yelled at not comforted. What I needed most was a hug from my Mom and reassurance we would move forward healthy as a family. She didn’t care. She just wanted thin daughters and no embarrassment towards her ever.
My Mom’s voice still resonates in my head every day. There is an element to cruelty that can never be mentally revoked from memory without blocking it out. I still hear her. I hear her every time I eat something not healthy, with more calories than expected, or a splurge. I hear her when I shop for clothing. I hear her in exercise class. A small part of me hates her for this. I might also hate her for doing this to me.
When I was in my younger 20’s my Dad heard her talking to me about my appearance/weight. I went upstairs at their home. I heard him get into her head at that moment when he made it very clear the picking on me, name calling, and comments were no longer welcome in our home. He was very angry and meant it. I haven’t had any of it since.
My Mom may not be the reason why I jolt awake with anxiety these evenings but she put those roots there to thrive. She put the first voice in my head of doubt, insecurity, and a loss of innocence. I love my Mom, but a part of me will always hate her a bit for doing this to a young girl. I didn’t deserve that. She is in my head, and is NOT me, but she is there.
I hear therapy, Adavain, Yoga before bed and other things can help. I should probably try whatever I can to silence the voices in my head while trying to sleep and the ultimate anxiety it causes me. The swirling thoughts and “voices” cannot win overall. I owe more to myself than that.
No one should be in my head but me….not even an amazing best selling album.