One of the hardest things to realize in life is that we can’t control everything. I hope that you have realized that before you continue reading this post! I have realized that, but I don’t think I’ve fully accepted it. There is more out of our control than we think. Truthfully, in life, we can’t control much more than our own reaction to situations that we are put in (ALL of the professionals have worked very hard to remind me of that on a very regular basis!!). This is ringing very true for me right now.
When I was teaching at York City I loved it. I love my colleagues and the kids. I don’t think I would ever have chosen to leave…. And then I was furloughed (what they call it when they lay off a teacher). As a teacher, when you are furloughed, it’s all out of your control. It’s all based on seniority and where you fall on a list – essentially your hire date. That was tough. It was tough because who you are, as a person/teacher/coach, means nothing. Your merit as a teacher had no standing whatsoever… it all had to do with the date you were hired! It didn’t matter that people thought I was one of the better teachers in the building, I was young and first to go…. “last hired, first fired.” It’s really hard to know and be told that you’re a great teacher and you’re being let go because a system said you were hired last.
This was part of what threw me into a spiral down into my eating disorder (that was already existent). I had a hard time accepting that such big things in my life (job) were out of my control. Seriously, in life, if you are performing well, you could assume that you would keep your job… that’s just not the same in teaching. And, it’s really hard to know that you’re a good teacher and some who are not as good as you are staying just because they have more years in.
I guess this is the true test…. Education is in a bad place and here I stand again! I’m faced with a furlough. I was hired by my old principal and I’m working in a school that I love. I think I found a home! Our district is cutting teachers – 74 to be exact. We had the chance to stop it with a vote for a pay freeze and our union voted against it (I voted FOR the freeze!). So, essentially, my job was in the hands of my colleagues who wanted to vote for a pay freeze (not taking the freeze would give them about $20 more a check). Needless to say, the pay freeze was NOT accepted. Now, if that isn’t a feeling of out of control, I don’t know what is! Essentially, other teachers voted whether I was going to keep a job! (Yes, I know it goes deeper than that, but standing from my point of view and looking at my mortgage that has to be paid, this is how I see it right now.) I get that there are bigger things happening here – pensions, govt., unions etc. but truthfully, we are in an economy with hard times and who are we as teachers to think we can’t take a pay freeze or that we deserve more? Talk about NO CONTROL here!!! (I’ll end my furlough feelings rant there)
Let’s break this long post up with some pictures of support in my life ….. Here’s the husband…. Mike (love this kid)
…. Here’s Bella 🙂
Now, if you haven’t been told…. NEWS FLASH… eating disorders have a lot to do about control! When we feel like we’ve lost control in our lives (emotions or surroundings), there is one thing we can control and that is our body and our food intake. Some of the things that can contribute to eating disorders is the feeling of the loss of control in situations: maybe a girl on the edge of puberty and her body is changing, family physical or sexual abuse that can’t be stopped, an over controlling parent etc. I know that might sound crazy, but it goes back to coping…. For example: when you’re very stressed out and you can’t do anything about it, sometimes eating a rich snack makes you feel better because you can momentarily stop thinking about the stress and focus on that snack (ladies… you KNOW what I’m talking about)…. That is the role the eating disorder plays for us, just in a more intense way (if this makes no sense to you, refer back to my “Epiphany… it’s not about the food” post). So when things seem “out of control” and “chaotic” we want something that will not fall out of control, and something that we can count on…. Weight loss and Ed. Ed whispers in our ear and tells us that if we lose ___ pounds everything will feel alright, and when we hit that goal, we feel relief…. and he tells us to do it again. We keep in this cycle because we want that relief and to feel like we are in control of something… anything!
The hard part with this disorder is to realize that we never really are in control. We feel in control for a while, but what we don’t realize is that Ed is actually controlling us… controlling us to the point that if we try to change the behavior that the eating disorder has us doing, immense anxiety will ensue. The first time I realized that I was not in control of this disorder was terrifying. All this time I had been starving myself, I felt like I was doing this and I had control and that it was under control…. I had a day when I chose to eat and I sat down with a handful of pretzels and I just stared at them. As I sat there and began crying I came to the realization that, as I was sitting there, I was not making the choice to NOT eat the pretzels….. I was controlled and terrified of the pretzels from the eating disorder. I had previously CHOSEN to eat them! I sat down and was ready and I COULDN’T DO IT! I didn’t want to admit it, but I knew that, at some point, I had lost all control of the eating disorder and now it controlled me.
So, as I sit here faced with feeling out of control with a furlough AGAIN…. I’m given choices….. I can either let the eating disorder show me how I can find quick immediate control, or I can “deal with life” as my therapist puts it. Recently, I feel like I’m on a fence, ready to fall on a healthy or sick side because of all of this going on. Luckily, I have an awesome treatment team that constantly reminds me that this is out of my control and that there is nothing I can do about it and they constantly reiterate that skipping meals will not change my furlough, nor will it help me accomplish anything. I swear it must be exhausting to work with eating disordered people because I think it’s a rule that you have to tell us about 1,659 times before it finally sinks in!!!!! These people are still reminding me that restricting my food intake will not change the outcome of anything – rationally I know this…. but, in the short term, we feel a slight bit of control and it distracts us from the real thing that is hard ….. life!
More support you ask? Here’s Katie! She just got engaged! Congrats my little Ginger!!! 🙂
This should lead to a sigh/giggle…..how is this for irony in the classroom…. My district is going to lay off 74 teachers…. They finalized it during Teacher Appreciation Week!!!! And release the info for the furlough letters on Teacher Appreciation Day! At least I can find humor in something!!!!
So, the true test is now…. The furlough process has started and I have to follow my meal plan! I made a deal with Beth and I can’t break it. I am not sure why this works, but I won’t make a lair out of myself. So, I have to follow her plan for 2 weeks during this furlough process, and add in some variety. THIS IS HUGE (no pun intended… haha). During one of the biggest “out of control” moments in my life, I am following my plan 100% AND adding variety in my fruit! How’d she do it???? She’s like Jafar from Aladdin! Most of all….. how did she suck me into this agreement???? (Truthfully, I think I want recovery bad enough that she knows she can sucker me into a lot of things! oh the power!!)
Somtimes I like to think I’m maturing…. and then I do things like drawing these pictures to feel better and I realize…. NOPE …. not maturing at all! 🙂
Now, I’m not saying she’s all bad here….. I do my fair share of being mean! I’m not saying she doesn’t get frequent “hate mail” from me, because she does!!!!…. I wonder if I’ve emailed her a record number of times saying “I hate your meal plan”….. hmmmm……… I think she has tough skin; she can take it. Thinking about it, I really have to be difficult to work with!!! Wow, I feel bad for these people! They had no warning whatsoever! I bet they thought I was just another quiet little anorexic walking through the door.
Maybe one day we will be friends. I’m working on it with Mr. Sandwich…. so you never know!!! 🙂
So to wrap up this crazy long post….. I have to remember what my therapist and dietitian constantly say….”eating is control.” I am in control of the eating disorder when I follow my meal plan (although it doesn’t feel that way at times). I really thought they were lairs for a while! Not even kidding…. I thought, “how are they convincing people of this, and how has nobody picked up on their trickery yet?!?”…. haha…. well, because they are right! Although I’m not 100% ready to admit that to them yet! After talking with Lisa my medical doctor, I agree with her and trust her when we talked today about the fact that everything happens for a reason. We may not ever know the reason, but there is a reason for everything. When one door closes, another opens (York City closed and my new school, that I love, opened). She reminded me that God will not give us more than we can handle and what we go through makes us a better person. I have to work hard to remember that.
Thinking about control…. What role does control play in your life? What happens when you feel out of control? What do you do? How do you handle it? Healthy coping is the way to go!