blogging · food · mental health · Parental issues · writing

Wake-Up Call

Today, the second night into a vacation trip I took with my family to the Pocono Mountains, I had been slowly but surely putting together a blog draft of all the cool things I have experienced thus far. Now in light of something that happened this evening, I feel too somber to publish it. Maybe it is simply not the right time at this moment.

My brother and I spoke and had a real, long conversation for the first time this year, I think. I thought I was pretty open about my struggles on this blog. And I was, yet I was also being selective about what I chose to share. That is a normal thing to do in the blogging world. I just didn’t realize until the conversation I had with my brother that I have been so neglectful of myself by letting other family members take advantage of me.

He spoke to me about lots of things, but for now, I’ll only be covering one of those topics. Oh, I definitely felt the tension in the air today since early this morning between him and my dad. I just never thought whatever my brother was upset about was related to me. Basically, what it is my dad can be a real food pusher. He is like this with everyone, including himself, where he encourages people to eat, eat, and eat even if they say, “No thanks, I’m full” or “No, I don’t want it”, to the point of asking repeatedly and shoveling food onto another person’s plate even after said person clearly already declined. For as long as I can recall, my dad has been this way and I was so used to his pushing methods that for the longest time I didn’t realize his behavior was not normal. The times I did start to feel he crossed my personal boundaries, I fought back by insisting I meant no when I said no. Other times I made excuses for him if my desire to lash out towards him for pushing and pushing had reached a boiling point. I felt ashamed of my own guilt, even. How ridiculous is that?

My brother told me he was worried about me because of my weight gain. I admit, at first, I felt he was shaming my body, but when he started talking about my dad’s inappropriate behavior with me in relation to food, I could see what he meant. I feel I let myself get to this point because my mental health has been on a hard up and down zigzag. From my recent posts about my anxiety coping, I did have some spare good days. However, I know now I haven’t been giving it my all in fighting this anxiety. Bad mental health equaled I stayed home a lot and really did not put an emphasis on my own health; both mentally and physically.

And my dad… Oh goodness, I don’t want to make him out to be a complete monster. He has his own life-long issues and I believe that’s why he has done things with good intentions but really is stuck in such a traditional or cultural mentality that he doesn’t know how to change. He’s at fault but so am I for accepting his behavior everytime he asked me if I want to eat this or eat that and at first I would say no no no, but half the time I would give in all because I was tired of fighting him and having to put up a defense against his repeated insistence. That barrier was even weaker because I could have been in one of my crappy moods and just wanted comfort food to sustain me during those moments. Those days were the worst for me.

It does feel like a wake-up call about my own health. I saw the concern and worry on my brother’s face and it shocked me that I’ve fallen so far in caring for myself. Last summer, I became a yoga freak and it felt good to be so active. This year I fell off that wagon and never got back on it. There was maybe one day this year some months back where I did unroll my mat at home and put on a YouTube yoga introductory lesson so I could ease myself back into it bit by bit. Guess what, I never took out my mat again after that day. It has taken for my brother to point out my lack of priority with my own physical health that I see how much I’ve let myself down.

I unburdened myself to him about my dad’s behavior and he offered to talk to him about it. And he did (without mentioning that we spoke about the issue in private). I don’t know if my dad will actually get it, though. Like how detrimental his food pushing has been and will continue to be for me and everyone else he pressures.


Featured Image by Pexels.

18 thoughts on “Wake-Up Call

  1. Once an exercise routine is broken it’s so hard to get back into it. There have been many periods where I’m great about being active and then something will happen where I miss a day. Then for me, it’s just excuses from there. I’m glad you were able to have such an open conversation with your brother!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’m glad I had that conversation with him too. It’s really brought to my attention how much I’ve let myself go over the past winter. I do hold my dad accountable for his food pushing, but I also am responsible for staying in my comfort zone because I felt depressed and anxious and using terrible coping methods for it (snacking on junk food, not sleeping well, skipping meals, etc.) Point is, it’s my life and I have to take charge of my own body to be more healthy/active.

      It can be hard to get back into an exercise routine. Sometimes the thought alone of, “I’m going to do yoga now” is terrifying enough because it means I have to go through the actual steps to get here. I was able to last night by following along with a YouTube instructional video for yoga, though I still prefer attending classes and doing yoga in a group.

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      1. Food is my coping mechanism too – junk food, pasta, lots of carbs and sugar. Now that you’re aware I’m sure you’ll notice positive changes soon.

        I like going to workout classes also. I don’t push myself as hard as I should on my own. Have you ever taken a spin class? Great for cardio workout! They can be a bit pricey though.

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      2. I stopped drinking as much water everyday, which I need to get back into. Another bad habit I have mostly been able to curb is to not snack on anything after dinner, no matter how early or late I eat. The trick is to brush my teeth a few minutes after the meal so I give myself a sort of warning that if I eat again, I will have to brush my teeth again and I don’t want to do that. However, some nights after dinner, I drink a cup of chamomile tea. That is my vice because I love chamomile, though now that I am paying more attention to my body, I notice it’s better to abstain for some nights because I’m full from dinner and washing it down with tea makes me feel even more full by the time I go to bed.

        Me too, I find exercising alone feels a bit like a downer. It’s so much more invigorating to be in a class getting a workout alongside other people. I have never taken a spin class before. Maybe I will someday when I have money lol.

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  2. I’m glad you had a good conversation with your brother. It always feels nice when a discussion works out that way. It might be uncomfortable at the moment, but it seemed to have opened your eyes about an issue you hadn’t even noticed was an issue, which I find to be really nice. I hope the vacation is going swell otherwise! Your dad sounds like those grandmothers you can’t say no to.

    It is super great to be active otherwise you feel like crap! I remember at my last job I was definitely gaining weight too because I was, well, sitting all day but also miserable and eating out of stress. Now I exercise almost everyday and have even incorporated stretching about twice a day because it helps a lot with tension relief and relaxation (I always hated stretching! But now I like it! I wonder if I still hate yoga…) If I don’t exercise, I actually feel more tired. Definitely more cranky. I hope you getting back on the mat will help you out a lot!

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    1. Directly after the conversation, I definitely felt uncomfortable but not because of the things my brother said. It was so stupid but I actually felt guilty for not being ok with my dad’s food pushing and the fact my brother had to have a talk with him just to settle things. As if I had anything to be ashamed of because of course my dad’s behavior was wrong. I can’t believe how bad I felt, to the point I barely slept while worrying about what would happen next. Urgh. It was getting blown up in my mind when the reality of the situation wasn’t that severe.

      That’s very healthy of you to exercise everyday. 😮 What’s your preferred method of exercising in addition to stretching? I will be getting on the mat very soon… Just booked a yoga class for this Thursday. 😃

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aw I’m there with ya on the whole “things getting blown up in my mind” thing! I don’t know why our minds are so evil like that.
        Haha thank you. I used to do workouts from YouTube, but it got tedious continuously watching YT and I get bored, so I like to do the workouts I remember while watching TV, haha. Less effective but I’m more motivated to continue working out when I think about doing it in front of the TV. Ooh nice! I took some zumba classes. Those are fun. I think I like.. fun, energetic ways of exercising. I used to loooove tennis but haven’t had a partner to play with in years, so 😦 sadness…

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  3. Hey Nat, my mom does the same thing. She always prepares too much food, doesn’t eat much herself and then forces everyone else to eat it all up, shoveling it onto our plates even if we say no. If I eat a normal amount of food, she’s hurt and asks me if I didn’t like it. I gained some weight since living back at home for the past year, but I think it’s a combination of me being depressed and not moving enough, my mother always bringing me sweets and cakes, etc., and comfort eating.

    I know my mom means well and so does your dad. I think it’s a war mentality, if that makes sense? My grandparents were from the war generation so they’ve lived through periods of food scarcity and they probably passed that mentality on to my mom. But it’s important to have the courage to say no, not for those few extra pounds, but as you said for your own mental and physical health. But I struggle with that too, since sometimes I don’t think the conflict is worth it.

    On another note, good for you for going on the family trip! If I remember correctly, you were in doubt whether or not to go because of your anxiety? I’m curious to read your travel stories, and your other insights. It’s nice you got to spend some quality time with your brother 🙂 I hope you continue to enjoy your trip, despite the realisation that you’ve been treated unfairly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oryx, thank you for the comment. Your experience is so similar to mine. My dad would also ask me if I didn’t like it or why I didn’t finish all of it. I remember so many meals where I subconsciously felt SO much pressure just to give in to my dad’s constant prodding even after I said no twice or thrice already. It’s no wonder my mental resolve to be vigiliant against him got wore down. A parent can be at fault but like you, I also think I was depressed and clinging to comfort eating without actively thinking of what I was doing to my body, in addition to relenting to whatever food I was being provided.

      The war mentality probably has had some influence on my parents too. My dad grew up very, very poor, and even more so after his own father died and his family was left without a provider to bring in money. So he had to deal with a lot of experiences with barely having enough to eat and having to grow up fast, like he dropped out of school in sixth grade just to work full-time. So I can see how his mentality became so focused on conserving his resources and being a penny pincher by not wanting to be wasteful, however, it’s obvious he has a lot of unresolved issues in adulthood because of the skewed way he has been dealing with stuff for his whole life. My mom was the one who actually had firsthand experience with surviving the Cambodian war as a prisoner in a camp. She almost died so many times, whether from disease or getting in trouble with the camp guards. But I’m not entirely sure if her mindset is because of the war experience or a combination of that plus the culture she comes from. I notice in their Asian culture, it does seem more acceptable to tell people to eat more or encourage someone to eat heartily, but with both my parents, they seem to have a kind of excessiveness when it comes to how they deal with leftover food and why they find it important for people to finish everything in a meal, which, in reality, is not something that possible. It’s like… How can someone actually live by constantly making too much food and expecting all of it will be finished? That’s exhausting for both the person trying to keep that pretense and for the people who are constantly pushing back from that.

      Yes, I was very anxious about going on this trip. I might still share my travel stories. Maybe when this food issue becomes less fresh in my mind, I’ll have the mental strength to put my focus on writing about other things.

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  4. I’m sorry things didn’t go to plan today. I have a mother with food issues. It has a big effect on us growing up and for life really. Your brother sounds like a really caring guy xx

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    1. Thank you for the comment, it feels comforting to know I am not the only one who experienced food issues with parents. I know parents mean well but that’s the thing about parenting… They have good intentions but their actions can affect their children negatively even if they don’t mean to hurt them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just hope I am not passing on to many. Mine was constant critisism of what I ate. Indidnt realise how disfunctional her diet was until I left home. It led me to be anorexic for many years.

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