Monday, January 9, 2012

The Lies We Tell Ourselves (and others)

Honesty seems to be a running theme when anyone talks about self improvement. Possibly the reason is that when we aren't honest with ourselves....that is when things tend to spiral out of control. I have found that often, even the most honest of people can be in so much denial about something that they habitually lie to themselves. The lies we most often tell ourselves (and others too) often concern some sort of addiction or addictive behavior.

A perfect example of what I am referring to would be my mother. There was no more honest woman on the planet. She would rather have her tongue cut out than be dishonest about anything.........except her smoking. Back in the 1950's when mom took her first puff, cigarette smoking was not looked on as a vice. It was viewed as manly for men and elegant for women. A woman who smoked had a mystery about her. She was deemed very modern and sexy if she was seen holding a cigarette. Apparently lung killing smoke and ash tray breath were also sexy back then. Sadly even the medical industry didn't know or were in their own form of denial as nursing school was where my mom learned to smoke. When each of the nursing students did their psych rotation they were "forced" to smoke with the patients. It was believed that smoking relaxed the patients and kept them calmer. I guess then the nurses smoking with them kept them even calmer. At any rate....Mom said 26 girls (all non-smokers) started the rotation and when it was done...all but two were hooked. Yes folks....that was the medical field for you back then. And we all know what BS that the info they were given was. It would be interesting to know what percentage of those girls ended up with lung cancer. Mom did!

Once addicted though....smoking became a crutch for mom. Just like anyone with an addiction smoking was what she used to cope. When she divorced, when she and Dad fought after the divorce, when times where tight, when us kids acted up or when she was just alone.....cigarette smoking was how she handled life. And believe one has that kind of an addiction without a lot denial and self lying going on. My brother and I were both horrid asthmatics and common sense would tell you that it was exasperated by her smoking. She convinced herself though that it wasn't her smoke but pollen, grass and anything and everything else. Thus our asthma raged until we moved out. Magically our asthma symptoms resided. Mom's answer to that was that we simply had grown out of our asthma.

My brother and I literally spent years begging her to quit smoking. After my uncle died of lung cancer and I watched my aunt and cousins suffer I once again begged her to quit smoking. Mom took our pleas as us finding personal fault with her. She was NOT going to get lung cancer and we were trying to take away the only enjoyment she had in life. Yeah....coughing up phlegm everyday for 40 some years is nothing but pure enjoyment? 

It wasn't until they found Mom's uterine cancer and then her lungs collapsed after surgery that she was finally jolted into the reality of what she had done to herself. Once out of the hospital she quit cold turkey and never looked back. Later....she realized just how much in denial she had been believing that her four pack a day addiction was just a moderate problem. She had lied to herself and everyone else around her for years. It took almost dying and losing everything for her to realize that she really was addicted and even that realization was too little too late. She ultimately died because of her addiction.

My son sadly did not learn from his grandmothers mistakes. At 25 he is a heavy smoker and has been since he was 18. To compound this addiction....he is also addicted to pot. I hear the same type of self lies from him that I used to hear from my mother. Pot shouldn't be illegal. It is safer than alcohol. He only uses it to relax. There is no long term effects from smoking pot. I have heard it all and yet his life tells a different story.  He has no ambition and he will always choose cigarettes and pot over any one or anything in his life. I want to shake him and wake him up, but I know all too well that decades of pleading didn't work with my mom. The only thing that did was having reality hit her smack dab in the middle of the face. I just hope when it happens for is not too late. 

After thinking about all of this I ended up doing some major soul searching of my own. While I only smoked for about five minutes in my life (yeah...I thought I was cool) and I only smoked pot once (it made me sick as a dog), I too am not without my lies and addictions. My 

In my lifetime....I have lost and gained the same 10-15 lbs over and over again. I am short (5' 1 3/4") so five extra pounds sticks out like a sore thumb. In my late teens and twenties I yo-yoed with those pounds over and over again. In my early thirties I was thin......very thin and then after I met my husband and started having kids I was happy and my weight issues went to the back burner. My husband loved me (as much or as little of me as there was) and I stayed at a healthy weight . After my youngest was born prematurely and then my husband and mother died....healthy weight went out the window. Food became my comfort. I was dealing with loss and with my oldest sons antics (drinking, drugs, running off, sneaking out) and I was in over my head. So I did with food what Mom did with cigarettes and my son is doing with pot.....I started lying to myself. I refused to look in a full length mirror and I told myself that I needed the comfort. I was almost a recluse hiding from the world and not wanting to face the day to day realities that I was alone and doing everything all by myself....and if you listened to my oldest....doing it all VERY VERY wrong. It didn't help that at the same time I went through a total hysterectomy and was thrown into menopause about a decade too early. My thyroid was out of whack and I was using all these things as excuses for the fact that I couldn't put down the banana bread, ice cream, fast food, etc.

Now none of my children has ever called me fat. My father on the other hand has numerous times. Funny though...his insistence that I was fat happened when I was young and really wasn't fat at all. I have been fully aware of my addiction to food for some time. I have also been aware that my clothes size has also blossomed with my ever expanding waist. Still....knowing that I was gaining and that it could have ill effects on my health (open me up for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, etc) didn't keep the fries, the burgers and the shakes from finding their way to my mouth.  It wasn't until someone pointed out to me that my children had already lost one parent and didn't need to loose another that I really started admitting my own personal addiction. Yes...I have been lying to myself and in turn others about why I have gained for years, but the bottom line is.....I have and the only way to change the situation is to admit that I have gained and to take steps to quit denying and making excuses for my bad behavior. I have to find solace in something other than pizza  or sweets and stop putting food in my mouth as a knee jerk reaction to a bad day. I also have to get moving again.

Last year when I was working out....I was feeling so much better, but my love of exercise borders between slim and none. takes very little for me to throw in the towel or make excuses not to hit the gym. I think I also have an underlying desire to sabotage myself when I work out. I push myself to the very limit...often times causing me to hurt myself...thus giving me a reason to give up...thus making me feel like I need comfort.....thus causing me to find the nearest McDonalds. Yep...I am all about feeding the addiction.

So....after a long talk with myself I came to the conclusion that the only real failure here would be if I didn't keep trying. I know my weaknesses, my excuses and my sabotage points. I know that with the highs there will be lows and that some days.....every minute will be a battle to stay focused and on track. The important thing though is that I have decided to choose myself over my addiction. I choose having time to spend and time to live,  over time in the fast food line. I choose slow but steady exercise over my tv and computer and most of all.....I choose watching my kids grow, graduate, marry and have families of their own rather than an early death from some disease related to my unhealthy eating habits. Maybe if my mother had decided to choose herself or us kids over her addiction she might still be with us. Who knows?!

This is not a new years resolution....those rarely come to fruition. What this a choice to love myself and my kids more than I love food. No more lies!


  1. Good for you Lisa...this is my year to get into shape too!!! I know that you can do it because I have seen you accomplish things when you sent your mind and determination to it!!! Cant wait to see the results. your blog. I had to laugh when you wrote your mom saying "smoking was her only enjoyment in life" Only because that is EXACTLY what my Grandma used to say to me when I asked her to quit!!! AND about your sons comments about Pot. My sister used to say the very thing..."Make it legal....Helps me relax...NO long term affects" Meh...I see her now and I KNOW there are long term affects!!!!
    I admit to trying smoking....YUCK!!! and the smoking pot...yeah Ive tried that once too...Put me to sleep. No fun there!!!!

  2. Love love love this! Thanks for sneaking in to my head and writing what I live daily. May be different circumstances but in the end its all the same!

  3. Those excuses about smoking pot are ridiculously because I am a firm believer that people only use drugs to run away from reality.. I sat in on several of Dan's AA meetings when he was a valley hope avd he even agreed..... He did it to hide his emotions. I wish these guys would grow up and realize there are other ways to deal with these problems. Again.. now I know why I was the one always being called a mother because i cared about their health but they found it to be annoying when I asked them to stop!!