Taking care of myself


In light of everything that has happened in the last 5 months, of which I have not yet blogged[1], I am not doing very well. My ulcerative colitis has been flared up since I had a colonoscopy in April.[2] The flare coupled with extreme amounts of stress has left me weakened and sick. I have been unemployed since the end of August and I am really not very much better now than I was then. It feels as though the negativity is peeling back one layer at a time; each layer more difficult than the one before.

I have been seeing my counsellor since the middle of September. One of the things that we touch on all the time is how I have unrealistic expectations for myself that I would not have for others. We have explored where this comes from. A lot of this stems from my abusive childhood where I endured not only sexual and physical abuse but a great deal of emotional abuse as well. Most of the emotional abuse centred on my weight, which I have come to learn, is an immutable part of my genetic makeup just like the colour of my eyes.[3] I was consistently told that I would never be successful because I was fat. In my family the scale measured your worth and I was always found to be wanting.

My family was also extremely volatile and angry. I learned to walk on eggshells at a very young age with my young mind trying to think of things to do for everyone else to keep the calm. Of course, I was never successful but that didn’t stop me from trying. Almost every outburst or argument I would blame on myself thinking that if I had only done this or not done that then the fight might not have happened. I have carried this behavior into adulthood. As I age, I am beginning to learn that I have no control over what other people do or how they react but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still feel I could have done something. I have taken care of people my entire life and it has taken a toll.

My counsellor has pointed out to me that by anyone’s standards I am a success. She has pointed to my educational achievements and job success as examples. But the one job I have never taken on is looking after myself. I look after other people all the time and rarely show vulnerability to those around me.

When I look back over my life, I have never actually taken time to look after myself. I have never really put myself first. I have urged many other people to set boundaries and to look after themselves. While I have played at the edges of true self-care, I have never really taken the plunge. At my counsellor’s urging, I am taking the plunge. My job for right now is to look after myself. It means sleeping as much as my body needs to, removing unrealistic expectations and really allowing myself time to heal physically and emotionally. What a radical concept. Please wish me well as this will not be easy.

[1] Short form: bullying and loss of employment.

[2] It’s somewhat common for an invasive colonoscopy to set off a flare.

[3] Or so says the 3rd level, research endocrinologist at VGH.

Things I have learned from this trip

  1. Having my partner near me, steadies me and makes me a better person.
  2. I am far to old to do things I don’t want to do anymore. I kind of new this already but it has been firmly cemented in my head. I spend too much time being sick to waste my ‘good’ time.
  3. Having my partner near me, steadies me
  4. People who say mean and cruel things under the guise of ‘telling you like it is’ are simply mean and cruel people.
  5. The only one who knows what is best for me are the people who really love me and me.
  6. I am not going to eat food I don’t like or food I know is not good for me. End of conversation. I am tired of these trips wherein I eat stuff that does not agree with me and then I am unable to eat anything that stays with me.[1]
  7. I am going to eat food that I now my body likes and needs. It will generally be fresh and local.
  8. I cannot cope with the heat. I especially cannot cope with it in a place other than home. At home I can get some comfort. I have air conditioning and comfortable furniture.
  9. I am not going to let people walk over me. I am far too willing to compromise and take the path of least resistance even if that means I lose something. I am going to value my skills and myself much more highly.


[1] This caused a bit of a problem when I refused to eat the M&M meat.


We all know how hurtful gossip can be. We know that it can ruin reputations, hurt people and that it is a destructive force. Yet many of us continue to engage in this behavior. I have a confession to make. I like to listen to gossip. I do not tend to repeat gossip but I listen. My act of listening makes me an active participant in the act of gossiping.

Over the years, I have learned a great deal about what can happen to relationships when gossip happens. I once had a supervisor who would gossip to me about the people I worked with and she supervised. At first it was a lot of fun to spend time with her. She treated me like I was her confidante at the office. She asked me to report back on things that were going on in the office. She would tell me how competent I was in comparison to other staff. I loved the attention.

The longer I worked with her, the more negative things became. I started to notice that not only was I listening to her gossip; I was an active participant. I found myself saying horrible things about my co-workers. As things started to degenerate, I realized that I had to extricate myself. I came to realize that as much as she talked about other people to me, she would talk about me as well. Eventually, I knew I had to stay away from her because I would get sucked in every time. She was funny and engaging and I would participate in spite of my best intentions.

Over the years, I have learned to not spread gossip. However, I still listened to it. I am now in another situation where this has been my only role. I seem to have difficulty in not listening to others gossip to me. I am working really hard to integrate this lesson into my life. It is going to be hard. I am going to work really hard to figure out what is gossip and what is necessary information. I think it is going to be a work in progress for sure.

What about you? What have been your experiences with gossip? Have you been a victim? How do you handle it in your life?