Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Flowerbeds Of Your Soul by Kelley Gunter


One of my favorite metaphors is the weed and the root.  You don't have to be a gardener to know plucking weeds doesn’t work.  You’ve got to dig out the root to eliminate those pesky weeds.

And so it is with eating problems.  Bingeing, bingeing and purging and/or restricting are all solutions to root issues.  These behaviors are problematic, but they are not “the” real problem (even though it sure feels like they are!).

Only by going into the hidden parts of your mind can you locate those roots.  Then you can get rid of them for good. Our minds contain hidden conflicts or emotions that motivate our behavior. When we shine a light into the darkness and illuminate what's there, we’re able to make different, healthier choices. 

My good friend Kelley Gunter, author of “You Have Such A Pretty Face” has written a beautiful guest post that illuminates this concept.   Enjoy her message of hope!

The Flowerbeds of your Soul

by Kelley Gunter


I’ve never been much of a gardener.  Don’t get me wrong, I love flowers, I love fresh veggies, but I’ve never really been that girl who liked to dig around in the ground.  

My mom loved working in the flowerbeds.  I remember telling her that the whole dirt-under-the-fingernails look was just not me. She constantly teased me that there had to have been a mix-up in the nursery because I couldn’t be her daughter. She bought me gloves.  Pink ones.  It didn’t matter--it wasn’t my thing.  

I did love the look of flowers.  Since I lived next door to my parents, my mom was kind enough to take care of the flowers, both at her house and mine.  After she passed, it was extremely hard for me to plant flowers for years, because the memories of us doing that together, multiplied the pain and grief of losing her. It filled me with sadness that I no longer had to respond to the love-filled taunts that questioned my DNA. 

I enjoy the flowers so much in the summer, though, that after eight flowerless years, I decided to try it on my own.  To say it was a struggle would be the understatement of a lifetime.  I would chuckle to myself because I was certain my mom was in heaven, Nonnie right beside her, chortling away at the pitiful display my flower beds had become.  Nevertheless, I pushed onward.  Come hell or high water, there would be flowers.  

Planting the flowers wasn’t the difficult part.  At the end of the day, I stood back proudly surveying the results of my hard work and thought, “hmmm…mom would be proud.” I watered the flowers faithfully every night and just like she taught me, I fed them MiracleGro once a week.  I gave myself a much-deserved pat on the back and thought the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.   Luckily, for the next week it rained regularly and I didn’t even have to water the flowers at night.  

The flowers were growing fabulously and looked great—and suddenly, it happened.  

The weeds came.  

They were littered all through my flowerbeds.  What once was beautiful was now being taken over by prickly green things that appeared to grow at twice the rate of the flowers.  My carefully planted blossoms were being suffocated as the weeds grew around them, beside them, and over top of them.   I stood on my front porch amazed at how quickly this hostile takeover had been accomplished.  

I wasn’t sure how to proceed so I did what everyone does, I googled it.  According to all of the online geniuses, I should have initially put down a defensive, plastic barrier to block the weeds from growing.  Good to know, it’s too late for that now.  I read on.  Round-up appeared to be the punisher and killer of weeds that was needed.   I sprayed the weeds and soaked them with the fix-all poison guaranteed to get the job done.  

Just in case, I also openly cursed them to kill their spirits and let them know that they were not welcome in my peaceful little flowerbed.  They turned brown rather quickly, shriveled up and died.  I collected their dead bodies, even though I momentarily considered leaving their dead carcasses in plain view so their relatives could see what happens to weeds that dare to take root in my flower beds. 

Yes!! Success.  I was so proud of myself.  I was getting this flower thing down.  You can imagine my torment a few days later when I discovered that my beautiful flowers were once again, under siege by the very same weeds. 

This time, they came back with a vengeance.  They were bigger and stronger and much more destructive than the first time.  I was pissed.  I yelled at google for failing me.  Following some further research, I discovered I actually needed to get down in the dirt and dig them out by their roots.  If I didn’t, they would continue to come back and haunt my flower beds all summer.  

I was not happy about this task.  I bought some pretty, flowered gloves and gave myself a little pep talk. I got up early in the morning so it wouldn’t be so hot.  I could do this.  As I was digging down in the ground, getting a firm hold on the root and pulling it out, I made sure that I got allof it this time.  I didn’t want any stragglers left behind.  It was time-consuming tedious work, and as sweat rolled down my cheeks, I thought about my life.  

It had been very hard for the last two years.  I had finally disclosed the sexual abuse I had survived during my childhood--abuse that had gone on from the ages of six to fourteen.  Keeping that abuse a secret for 45 years of my life had almost killed me.  The pain from that unhealed trauma, just like the weeds in my flower bed, had taken over my entire life.  It ruled and controlled every single thing I did. That pain was inescapable and no matter how hard I tried to ignore it, my self-destructive behaviors displayed it in grand fashion.  

I had always turned to food as comfort.  My addiction to food began very early in my childhood.  It was the one thing that made me feel good—temporarily.   By the time I was 25, I weighed 391 pounds. After living at that weight for almost two decades, I decided to have weight loss surgery.  I lost 243 pounds in 14 months and had all of the loose skin remaining removed.  I looked and felt great!!  Sadly, though, just like the Round-up in my flower beds, that amazing result was only a temporary fix.


I now realize that it wasn't about the food.  It wasn't about the exercise or diets.  It was about me.  It was about my unhealed pain.  

The shame of being sexually abused had bound me my entire life.  I was a victim.  I had done nothing wrong.  Yet that shame strangled the life and the faith out of me.  It silenced the hope that I had any chance of living a happy, healthy life.  I felt worthless and broken.  I knew that I was damaged goods and that I would never be enough.  Those negative feelings were the weeds in my soul.  

I did many things to temporarily rid myself of the weeds.  I lost weight.  I had plastic surgery.  I built a successful career.  I presented a great fa├žade to the world.  But just like the weeds in my flowerbeds, when the pain came back, it came back with a vengeance. 

I could no longer use food as comfort and that inner pain and unhealed trauma displayed itself in other destructive ways and behaviors.  I developed other addictions to replace the food addiction.  Eventually those behaviors caused me to lose everything and almost everyone I loved.  Surrounded in the aftermath of my own self-destruction, I was forced to finally disclose all of the abuse I suffered. This disclosure finally allowed me to begin the long and sometimes painful journey of healing.  

Standing in the dirt that afternoon, I realized that until I got to the root of my pain and addressed that hidden, horrific truth, just like my flowerbeds, my soul would never be weed-free.  

As I was pulling the thistles out of the ground, even with the thick, gardening gloves on, they sometimes pricked me.  Surprisingly, those little jabs really hurt.  Healing is the same way.  It is definitely painful at times.  

Sorting through the hurtful things that have caused so much emotional pain can be incredibly difficult.  Having said that, I have been working on my recovery for a couple of years now and I have also discovered how beautiful it can be.  It is very powerful to live in the truth of who I am.  I have become so much stronger by facing the beasts that were living in my soul--monsters that were real in my childhood. 

It takes courage to become vulnerable again.  As terrifying as it is, it is also incredibly brave to say to the world, This is who I am. This is my truth.”  

I have no reason to feel shame.  I was a victim. I was powerless.  I survived, I am getting stronger every day, and for the first time in my life, I’m finally getting it right.  At last, I’m presenting my genuine self to the world.  That fact alone allows me to fall asleep at night thanking God for allowing me to heal and discover that I have always been enough. 

Tend to the flowerbeds of your soul.  You’re worth it.  

About Kelley Gunter:


                                                               

Following a lengthy career in social services, Kelley began writing full time. Her first book, You Have Such a Pretty Face, is a memoir detailing the emotional journey of being obese and the surprising changes brought on by her 243-pound weight loss following bariatric surgery, as well as the emotional factors that contributed to her initial weight gain. 

Kelley is currently in the process of writing a second memoir, The Homecoming Queen of Crazy Town. When she is not writing, she enjoys cooking, baking, and reading. She also loves spending time with her son, her best friend, and her three Rottweilers.

Find Kelley's books at www.KelleyGunter.com
Follow her on Instagram @gunterkelley
Follow her on Facebook







6 comments:

Yvette said...

Kelley your is my story. I too got to the roots and even though I'm waiting for my date for surgery I feel blessed to read your words. So many children grow into adults that either look great on the outside or you can see the trauma that happened. I am looking beyond my past and doing physical activities that helps others because the deep dark place of our heads stays focused on the fears of the past and keeps us focused on the present of hurt but in our heads there is no future. I broke the mental chains by moving my body and keeping my appointments to achieve my physical goals. I thoroughly researched the procedures and understand this is a tool. I will and I am keeping up with doing activities that reflects a good life for me. I want to share my inspiration with others as you are doing!

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friv said...

Your child will play with the friv games, then eat. Let your child touch the food, help him to play with the food. Allow him to take his fingers to his mouth. So eating, eating, eating should be as enjoyable as playing a game. Small colored plates, heart-shaped breakfast plates, prepared lunches such as picnicking, dinner prepared like playing house, can be transformed into a pleasurable event made with family.

It seems difficult for mothers and fathers to give their children food in front of television. Instead they need to turn off the television. Friv needs to find solutions that will increase interest and desire. For example, funny facial shapes, simple games such as airplane flying, eating games for toddlers, interesting and entertaining to eat contribute to your child's movement and cognitive development. When your child is hungry, he can feel grumpy and cry without any reason. Most of the time, these reactions are outdoors. It is necessary to evaluate this reaction well and encourage the child to eat.

Can children who do not eat food add a habit of eating with the game?
Of course, the game at friv 2 is very important for the development of a child. However, the game should be applied up to 2 years of age. The game can be cooked until 2 years of age, after which the game is not suitable for eating and eating habits. Because we can apply certain rules, we have to give this habit to the child from their early ages. It is an important role model for the child to eat together with the family, to sit in the table together. Even if you have not eaten your food, sitting in the family cafeteria is important for the development of the child.
It is best not to make your meal times boring. This is also very important in terms of communication with children. A child who does not eat will want to have a loud tone and different and abrasive expressions will be used. I think it is also important in terms of food.
You can make your child's dinner sessions more engaging at some point. But do not take it to the point of a child who opens your mouth like a robot in every advertising cycle, sitting in front of friv unblocked video-recorded ads.