Motherless on Mother’s Day

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Saturday, May 13, 2017

For some, Mother’s Day is a joyful time. For other’s, it can be quite painful. For those of you who fall into the latter category, this blog post is for you. With honesty and bravery, one of my client’s shares her story as well as 6 tips for getting through the weekend. I know you’ll enjoy this one as much as I did. Big thank you to the author for allowing me to share this on my site.

Question: What are ways that you take care of yourself during difficult times?

Here’s the blog. Enjoy.

 On the Friday that I was officially diagnosed with an eating disorder, my mother had her first seizure. That weekend she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the following Monday she had brain surgery, and that night we were told that her cancer was terminal.

As my mother’s illness progressed, so did mine. As she grew sicker, I grew more symptomatic; my eating disorder became a protective factor against my mother’s illness. If I was focused on destroying myself, I was less vulnerable to the feelings evoked by watching the cancer destroy my mother and my best friend. I was wracked with guilt for “making” myself sick when my mother was fighting a real illness; years later, I have come to a less black and white way of thinking about this. I wasn’t making myself sick; I had an illness that I couldn’t control and that I didn’t choose. In a lot of ways, my illness served a purpose; to numb feelings, to distract from my mother’s pain, to battle feelings of guilt and shame, and to quiet the voice in my mind telling me that I was not enough. In some ways, I felt that I should be the one to die and not my mom.

This summer, it will be fifteen years since my mother’s death. The pain has changed but it has not gone away. The pain of losing one’s mother never does. There are times that it comes upon me in waves; holidays, the anniversary of her death, the birth of my own son, other instances of grief and loss, and, of course, Mother’s Day.

Scrolling though my Facebook feed over the past couple of days, I have seen many, many posts on Mother’s Day. NEDA has had a few of their own, asking how people’s mothers have been helpful in their recovery. These posts always cause a pang inside of me. Thoughts of “I wish I had a mother”, “I wish my mother had been there to help me through recovery”, and “It’s not fair that my mother is gone” spiral through my mind. I know there must be others out there dealing with the pain and loss that is triggered on this special day, and I wanted to post some ways that I have used in the past and will use this year in order to cope while motherless on Mother’s Day.

  1. Step Away from Social Media
    This year, on Mother’s Day, I will delete my Facebook and Instagram apps from my phone and will not log in through the Internet. For me, this is a self-care decision. My feed is bound to be full of pictures of people with their mothers, of tributes to amazing moms, and of people feeling blessed and lucky to have their mothers in their lives. I honestly don’t begrudge people who are lucky enough to have their mothers with them, and I think it’s beautiful that there are tributes on social media. However, I do not need to see them on a day that is already quite painful. It only serves to bring to light my own issues of grief and loss.

  2. Do Something to Honor Your Mom
    This will look different for everyone. For me, it’s often been taking day trips to places my mother loved. It has also been looking through the photo album I put together after she died, writing her a letter, and visiting her grave. Perhaps you could do something that the two of you liked to do together; shopping, visiting a garden, taking a walk, or going to a coffee shop. The important thing is that you are honoring her memory by doing something that she loved, and taking care of yourself by cherishing the happy moments you had with your mom.

  3. Nourish Yourself
    It might be tempting to restrict on Mother’s Day. It always is for me. Sometimes, the emotions dampen my appetite; other times, I want to restrict to numb those very emotions. It is important to follow your meal plan or to eat intuitively on Mother’s Day in order to heal both your body and your mind. Even though it might feel right in the moment, restricting or otherwise engaging in eating disordered behavior will only make you feel worse in the long run. Take care of yourself the way your mother would have taken care of you. Pretend you are a child dealing with something difficult; you would want to nourish that child with food that will give them the physical and emotional energy to get through a difficult day.

  4. Have Self-Compassion
    For me, reading authors such as Pema Chodon, Tara Brach, and Kristen Neff has been very healing and helpful in developing self-love and compassion. I am currently reading Kristen Neff’s “Self Compassion” and would recommend it to everyone struggling with an eating disorder, depression, or anxiety, as well as anyone who experiences negative self-talk. Neff recommends that in moments of suffering, one can repeat a mantra: “This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is a part of life. May I show myself kindness in this moment? I am deserving of self-compassion.” Sometimes, when I feel sad, I turn that sadness into other emotions; guilt, self-hate, anger, insecurity. This Mother’s Day, I plan to talk to myself as I would a young child who I care about very much. “Honey, you’re feeling sad. It’s okay to feel sad. You have a sad situation; your mother passed away, and it’s a day to celebrate mothers, and you feel lost and alone. However, you are not alone. There are people around you who love and care about you very much. It’s okay to feel sad. This is sad.”

  5. Reach Out
    I am lucky enough to have an amazing treatment team who provided extra support this week, through appointments, notes in my journal, voicemail messages, and even an extra appointment on Mother’s Day. I know that this is not possible in every situation, but it doesn’t hurt to ask for support in whatever form you find most helpful. You can also reach out to trusted family or friends. Ask for what you need.

  6. Celebrate Yourself
    If you are a mom yourself, remember that this is your day, too! It is not only a day of remembrance and perhaps grief, but also a day of celebration for all you do as a mom. I am a single mom of a young child, so it really is up to me to plan my own celebration! This year, my son and I will be going out to lunch and picking out a bouquet of flowers to brighten up my bedroom. I also hired a babysitter so I could take a few hours to myself, to get a pedicure or go to the bookstore to read. Find something you love to do and go out and do it! Today is not just about your loss; it’s also about celebrating all you have done to be a great mom to your children.

Mother’s Day can be a hard day for many, especially those who have lost a mother. It is important that, on this day, we do our very best to take care of ourselves. Treat yourself like you would your five year-old self; with nurturance, compassion, and love.

Independence from Our Toxic Food Culture

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Sunday, July 03, 2016

In this video blog I talk about how identifying and living from your own food values gives you sanity in an often insane food culture. In the spirit of Independence Day- I invite you to celebrate the fact that you are autonomous and can declare what does and does not work for you and your health. And I discuss why your internal wisdom has more value than all of the opinions or nutrition facts combined. Listen and then share with us your food values!


Marci's Top 5 Tips for Detoxing in 2016

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Wednesday, December 30, 2015

      

As we get ready to ring in the New Year, I wanted to share with you my top 5 tips for detoxing in 2016. I’m going to do this David Letterman style so starting backwards with:

5.) Detox your closet by ditching clothes you can only fit into when starving and overexercising your body, suffering from a severe case of the flu, or battling a bout of significant depression. These clothes should not be a part of your life. If you can’t totally part with them yet, put them in a bin and then out of sight. Many people believe that keeping their “skinny clothes” inspires them. But if those clothes only fit as a result unhealthy behaviors or practices, you should never aspire to wear them again. Ever.

4. Detox the way you assess your body’s acceptability. I highly recommend tossing the scale or any other standard of measure that determines if your body is good enough. Checking on your weight may be done occasionally like any other health measure- periodically and to assess a global picture of health. Depending on your relationship to your weight and personal history, you might decide to take an extended break from the scale. I support this.

3. Detox all of the media in your life. Yes, social media, TV, and books. What are you bringing in to your mind, spirit, and body? Be selective because you are precious. And you might not realize that you are also deeply affected by what you consume. We passively take in all kinds of crap by virtue of being a human in the modern world. So we better take extra care with what we intentionally ingest in our media diet.

2. Detox relationships that do not support your best self. Get choosey! Not everyone is worthy of your time and attention. Holding boundaries in your relational life will spill over to other aspects of your health. I promise. You will be astounded at how much less you need food for managing your emotional landscape when your relationships are in line with your core values.

1. Detox your food vocabulary. Words are POWERFUL influencers of how we experience food. Calling food bad, toxic or dirty may increase your feelings of guilt and shame. This is incredibly unproductive as it clouds your capacity to listen to your inner gauge of food preferences, satiety, hunger, and fullness. Yes, some foods are healthy and some foods are not healthy. But imparting judgment actually worsens health. Ironically, dropping the negativity may actually create a healthier pattern of eating!

I hope my top 5 list for detoxing in 2016 inspires you! I’m eager to hear your feedback. What else needs detoxing in your life in the coming year?

 

Rituals

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It’s the holidays! While it’s a time of stress and overwhelm, for many of you it’s also a time of tradition. The holiday season is filled with traditions and rituals and I have been thinking about this quite a bit. A ritual is a ceremony or action performed in a customary way. My extended family has a pre-Christmas ritual of gathering around a big meal of Mexican food. I also listen to the same Christmas album while wrapping my presents. It’s nostalgic and brings happiness to my heart. I look forward to some of my holiday rituals all year round!

Rituals can be powerful determinants of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

 I’m very curious about your rituals. Have you cultivated any daily rituals that keep you grounded and present? Expressions of gratitude before your evening meal and a cup of tea before bed are simple rituals that can instill a feeling of peace and calm amidst a hectic day. Conversely, many of us engage in unconscious daily rituals that deplete our energy and sense of well-being. Frequent Facebook checks and a critical inner monologue are small but insidious ways we become depleted rather than buoyed up in the course of our day.

I would like to encourage you to take stock of your daily rituals. And if you’re up for it, choose one to create, one to keep and one to toss. Consider which rituals generate more peace and clarity as opposed to greater stress and distraction. Getting a good night sleep is incredibly important to me. So I have recently replaced my nightly ritual of scanning social media with a few meditative breaths and a technology-free zone an hour before bed.

Please share the daily rituals that help you stay grounded during particularly stressful times. And I’d love to hear what rituals you plan to create, keep, or toss! Here’s to a slightly less stressful kick-off to the end of the year.

 

Rituals- Your Daily Habits That Help or Hinder

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It’s the holidays! While it’s a time of stress and overwhelm, for many of you it’s also a time of tradition. The holiday season is filled with traditions and rituals and I have been thinking about this quite a bit. A ritual is a ceremony or action performed in a customary way. My extended family has a pre-Christmas ritual of gathering around a big meal of Mexican food. I also listen to the same Christmas album while wrapping my presents. It’s nostalgic and brings happiness to my heart. I look forward to some of my holiday rituals all year round!

Rituals can be powerful determinants of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.


I’m very curious about your rituals. Have you cultivated any daily rituals that keep you grounded and present? Expressions of gratitude before your evening meal and a cup of tea before bed are simple rituals that can instill a feeling of peace and calm amidst a hectic day. Conversely, many of us engage in unconscious daily rituals that deplete our energy and sense of well-being. Frequent Facebook checks and a critical inner monologue are small but insidious ways we become depleted rather than buoyed up in the course of our day.

I would like to encourage you to take stock of your daily rituals. And if you’re up for it, choose one to create, one to keep and one to toss. Consider which rituals generate more peace and clarity as opposed to greater stress and distraction. Getting a good night sleep is incredibly important to me. So I have recently replaced my nightly ritual of scanning social media with a few meditative breaths and a technology-free zone and hour before bed.

Please share the daily rituals that help you stay grounded during particularly stressful times. And I’d love to hear what rituals you plan to create, keep, or toss! Here’s to a slightly less stressful kick-off to the end of the year.