F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

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LauraCollins_US
As my end-of-year, end-of-era contemplations continue, I thought I'd bring up the issue of disagreement between parents. I've mentioned before that in my history of ED activism it has not been debate with other activists or clinicians or patients that has caused me the most pain: it is with fellow parents. The nature of these disagreements have followed certain themes. As a new generation of parent advocates and activists come up, I thought I'd share some of the patterns:
  • One Note Sallies. I struggle with certain people who have only a single interest that blinds them to other issues, to hearing other people, or to the complexity of how their one note fits in the larger symphony. This singular focus can be positive (something that worked) or negative (the thing that did not). It is rarely convincing.
  • Confusion of people with ideas. Each of us is complex and very few of us share agreement on very many individual points. Befriending or making an enemy based on a single point of agreement is satisfying only in the moment, but keeps us from respecting one another as full individuals.
  • Time-freezing. We evolve as thinkers over time. We need to give ourselves and others the chance to learn, to develop, to change. What we see on a given day is only a single frame, and holding someone to the standard of a former POV is unfair. The point is to grow together.
  • Personalizing. It leads people to think that others are talking about them when they are not, or ignoring them when they are not. The truth is that most people are really thinking more about what they are themselves saying and not what others are saying or feeling. Sorry: it really isn't about "me." And no, I'm not talking about you.
  • Enemy by association. It is a depressing reality that people will hold you to the standard of your lowest common friendship. People who reject and ignore others for associating with the 'wrong' people with the 'wrong' ideas end up terribly righteously correct: alone in a corner.
  • Anger in the form of caring. The language of caring about others doesn't always mask the actual fury and intolerance driving the speaker. You know that cousin who ends her criticism of your lifestyle with "I just thought you'd want to know?"
  • Eating worms. I often hear from people that they feel no one supports them and that they are excluded and undervalued. I also note that these are the same people who: do not read what others write, do not FB/tweet/blog/review other people's work, do not ask advice from others, do not remember the names or work of others, and don't like anyone else. There's a lesson there.
  • Data bullying. Listing data is not persuasive. Neither is listing credentials or personalized attacks. In an ideal world, this sort of bluster would simply be a poor reflection on the doer, but in our world we are far too vulnerable, deep into our learning curve, and all coming from a different intellectual background. Have you ever seen a really smart kid eviscerate a classmate with high-flown statistics above even their own intellect? It's like that.
  • Strategic lack of response. It's almost an art: the willingness to not respond to someone who has taken you seriously and bravely responded. It's brilliantly condescending to not  even bother to acknowledge it. I love this one. The lack of respect is dazzling. The moral superiority: bravo!
I'm sure I could come up with more (I've been at this for too long), but instead let me take time to laud those among us who do not fall into any of these traps. You may not even know who they are, because they aren't the flashy ones. Those who stay above the fray and remain steadily supportive and wise. I admire those who don't take the bait, don't pick their scabs, don't ruminate. I celebrate those with humility and a sense of humor. I am so grateful to those who truly listen, and genuinely care. I've managed to fall into almost all of the above bad traps, myself!

Laura (Collins) Lyster-Mensh
F.E.A.S.T. Executive Director
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IdgieThreadgood7USA
There is so much wisdom and experience in your words, my dear friend. I'm sure I have at times been guilty of this. I don't recognize and listen better for what someone else might be saying before I respond. It's so easy to find identification and run with my own thoughts. I appreciate you taking the time to remind us of a most important and often overlooked skill and tool on our journey of life. Hiw to listen. Really listen to someone else especially someone who has DIFFERENT thoughts and beliefs. These are the people who can actually teach us the most about ourselves and life.
I pledge to work harder to stop and listen without response. Take time to contemplate simeone else's words and thoughts.

May the new year bring us hope and change and growth

Love you
"Sometimes you just have to be your own hero"
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JangledUSA
I experience most of these fairly regularly I'm sorry to say.

This exact same thing is common in the 12-step world too. I heard an AA speaker one time say, "We're all just flawed human beings doing the best we can." That has always stuck with me and I have made it my own.

If there is someone that I am having a problem with in the addiction or ED world I am instantly ready to set aside any disagreement misunderstanding or resentment and do anything I can to help that person if it is in my power.

More than once has the person I had the biggest problem with helped me the most.

Maybe I'm missing what you're getting at but this is what it brought out in me.
A dad.
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SeminarLady
Nicely and eloquently stated, oh sage one.

You give us all much to think about.

May I be a better and more evolved person in the new year.

Happy New Year to you, LC.

Hugs!
Cathy V.
Southern California
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mec
Great wisdom, Laura!

I've been here since 2007 and there are a few things that have helped me maintain longevity here. I keep coming back because I feel that this is a wise and understanding community, our daughter hasn't gone to college yet, and it is my way to pay it forward. 

What I have learned....

1) It is NOT personal! The other person is coming from their experience and their circumstances and I don't know what those are. They may disagree, even angrily, at what I am posting but it is not a personal attack against me because they don't know who I am. I am a screen name with a story that is all.

Note:  It does become more personal once we meet the people and we know each other in person and we friend each other in social media and connect in other worlds but that also breeds a richer understanding of where they are coming from.

2) It is OK to say "I am sorry, I was wrong or I misunderstood you, etc.".

3) Once you've met a person with an Eating Disorder, you've met one person. Even though a lot of the behaviors that our kids exhibit seem a carbon copy of the same playbook, each individual is different and each family is unique.

4) People can only respond to what they are reading. We can't read between the lines. If a response sounds funky, I generally go back and read my original post of my previous posts and sometimes I have found that I left out information or said something that triggered that type of response.

5) Sometimes, it is advisable to take a break from the forum, particularly while in the maintenance phases. If people are getting on your nerves or you find that you are taking offense easily to what others are saying, stepping back for a while is a healthy thing. I've stepped away for weeks at the time due to life's busyness or if I feel as if I am getting burned out.

21 year old daughter who was DX with RAN at 9 years old. The work of recovery is ongoing. 
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Stubbornmum
Oh boy! That is what I believe you guys call a " doozie" of a explanation!

This forum has taught me more about myself than years of expensive therapy ever could. I have made mistakes and quite possibly hurt some people along the way, but they can be assured that I will never forget them because they were my greatest teachers.

This forum has taught me it does take a village to raise a child, we all have wisdom and another point of view to add, no one of us has all the answers.

Laura, you have been a very large influence for me on this forum, you have shown me compassion and how to navigate the tricky aspects of dealing with this anonymous online community with very good advise.

It is a complete honor to be able to come here and help others, and I try not to forget that.

And yes sometimes the best thing to do is take a break when you feel overwhelmed.

I think Lauras post should be pinned somewhere and handed out regularly to all who use this site.
Courage is being afraid, but going on anyhow ( Dan Rather)
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BattyMatty_UK
All very wise and sensible thoughts here. Thank you Laura! (And everyone else who's also contributed above!)
Bev Mattocks, mother of 24-year old male DX with RAN 2009, now recovered. Joined this forum in 2010 - it was a lifesaver.
 
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Charlotte_UK
I am veering between roaring with laughter and personalising the list.  Over three years I am guilty of all of the above except the strategic lack of response - I do so like to have the last word. 
Mother, wife, farmer, C of C and M Productions
http://www.youtube.com/user/CandMedPRODUCTIONS#p/u
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Colleen
I refuse to let you, Charlotte!
Colleen in the great Pacific Northwest, USA

"What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn't much better than tedious disease."
Alexander Pope, 1688-1744
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Red
At the risk of incurring some Very Tall Wrath, I think there's one missing: Punctuation & Grammar Corrector. I have to fight pretty hard against this part of my personality! Oh and how about People Who Think They Are Funny...?

The people on this forum saved the life of my most precious daughter, despite my initial stupidity. It is an imperfect medium for imperfect people but, with a little tolerance and understanding, it gives us so much help and hope! Thank you Laura, and thank you all.
The future is not set; there is no fate but that which we make for ourselves.

"Not my daughter, you bitch." Mrs. Weasley
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Charlotte_UK
Whadda u tarking abart, Red? 

Those of us cursed with autocorrect have real difficulties sometimes.

Colleen - NOT FUNNY!!!! xx
Mother, wife, farmer, C of C and M Productions
http://www.youtube.com/user/CandMedPRODUCTIONS#p/u
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JangledUSA
I'm funny Red.   I think...  
A dad.
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Linda2
Wow, there is a lot to learn!

I like

We need to give ourselves and others the chance to learn, to develop, to change.

Leah
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EB
I am so out of my depth on this thread.  Laura, you have given me pause for thought and cause to consider all kinds of flaws in my personality, and Red, you have added to my angst.  Charlotte, I am sure that I can teach you a thing or two about having the last word, and Colleen, rest assured, you are very, very funny (and Jangled, so are you!).

I am going to re-read this thread tomorrow and see if I can make more sense of who I am and where I sit in relation to it all.  Laura, thank you, as always, for being thought provoking.

Erica, UK
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LauraCollins_US
Wait! I should note that the chief offenders I reference above are not currently active members of the forum. I don't want you all to think I'm talking about you or even this forum: more the long history of fencing with other parent activists. That always grieves me most: I want so much to ally WITH parents and work together and never ever to cause them to be hurt or angry or turn against other parents. And yet, I still manage to  make enemies and alienate folks. I wrote this list to vent, but also to let fellow activists know that they are not alone when they meet these patterns out there. I wish I'd been on the lookout and less naive, really.

I also wish I myself had failed to take the bait, nursed injuries, and allow myself to be sucked in or been foolish!


Laura (Collins) Lyster-Mensh
F.E.A.S.T. Executive Director
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ValesMom_USA
Since I'm beginning this journey and find myself becoming more and more involved in this forum, I took this thread as a list of pitfalls to avoid. I always value candor,so...I thank you and invite all to call me out when I get to be too big for my britches.
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POPB
You know, I just bloody well forget and then go back to find things and then my phone rings and then a cat jumps on my keyboard and posts a message on my facebook... I then go make a coffee and think I should do more to be involved. 

I have no strategy - I so wish I did
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EB
I think it is a good thing to be self aware too.  We can probably recognise the patterns so much more easily in others than in our selves but I don't think it can do us so much harm to examine our own patterns too.  Perhaps more than most, we on this forum can understand what is to be gained from learning from experience.
Erica, UK
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IdgieThreadgood7USA
Red, I'm just challenging your mental skills with my stupid autocorrect errors that I get tired if fixing! Ha ha. Charlotte you little imp, you couldn't resist. That's what I love about you. You can turn anything in a laugh!
Laura, I think it may have a different intention in venting and sharing your frustrations and experience , it served to remind is all of human nature and the value of riding above own own comfortable beliefs.
Colleen, your pretty good at last many words but Charlotte is queen is of the one line zingers !
"Sometimes you just have to be your own hero"
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WeNWinning
Thanks for clarifying Laura.  I was trying to figure out how to respond as I am a forum member who has a serious and analytical nature.  I try not to offend others, but might sometimes because of that seriousness and sometimes blunt feedback.  I feel connected to all of our forum members in different ways and appreciate that each of us have unique situations - where no one size fits all.
But I tend to keep speaking out about the basics that all of our children need to begin their recovery.
So, in that way, I could fit the one-note Sallie because the one-note is to get to accurate and full weight restoration first and foremost.  And don't settle for clinicians who ask for less.
WenWinning (formerly wenlow) - a Mom who has learned patience, determination, empathy, and inner strength to help her young adult daughter gain full remission after over a decade of illness and clinician set inaccurate weights
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mamabear
As a definite offender to many of these things over my 2 years on this forum (especially my first 6 months), I very much do get where this is coming from. I have had many ups and downs and whirlwinds of feelings over time. I have definitely had to learn in some ways to edit myself sometimes........there are things I just do not agree with and rather than feeling guilty about it or telling myself I should feel a certain way- I have come to accept that it is OK to have our own viewpoints on things.........but to relay that viewpoint in a productive way. Does that make sense? We all say all of the time that every family and every ED person is different and has different things that work and do not work for them.

I think in the beginning I was SO all comsumed with saving my kid that I threw caution to the wind at times and did not throroughly think through what I was posting. I was living on caffeine and no sleep and crying and cleaning spaghetti off of my windows. And you know what- I have no regrets because it was a part of my own journey.......the old "if I only knew then what I know now" kind of thing. 

I hope that over time I have learned how to be a better communicator. I am sure I will still mess up here and there, but that is OK. I have enough of a "guilt complex" that I have had to fight along the way so I am letting go!  I really think this thread is a powerful one. I have read it several times. It takes guts to be able to just say it like it is.
Persistent, consistent vigilance!
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