Monday, September 9, 2013

Family Parties - Distorted & Healthy Thinking

Last night as I was sitting down to do homework, I was having a difficult time focusing because all I could think about were the incredibly beautiful transitions my life has made this past year.

This past weekend was my grandma's 93rd birthday party and in typical Cronkright fashion, there were more people running around and food being consumed than I can typically handle. As much as I hate to admit it, unfortunately, family gatherings have never been my favorite thing. My family is one of the most loving, goofy, and entertaining groups of people I will ever meet. My family is far from perfect, but they make up for their flaws with a contagious, genuine, and kindhearted spirit. So why in the world would I ever dread these big family parties?

Rather than attempting to critically think about this question and explore the root causes of this issue, for years I have chosen to beat myself up for not enjoying these family get togethers - until now. Here is a list of many of my old distorted thoughts followed by some new healthy thoughts I have recently started to believe:

1. Socially Awkward 
Old Distorted Thoughts: Compared to the rest of my family, I'm quite shy and that shyness was only magnified when I was caught up in my eating disorder. In order to fit in, have fun, or relate to anyone at theses parties I needed to be outgoing, bubbly, and the center of attention.
New Healthy Thought: I don't need to be anything by myself, even if that means I'm quiet, at these parties. The less I pretend to be something I'm not, the more I will enjoy my time spent with these special people.

2. Food Centered Parties 
Old Distorted Thoughts: Food has always been the focal point of every family gathering I can remember. We typically eat holiday lunches, rather than dinners, so the feast can continue throughout the entire day. Oftentimes most of the food is left out and we are expected to graze from noon until sometime after dark when we finally pass out in a food coma. Also, I always thought people were constantly watching me eat and noticing the amount of food I was consuming. Obviously, this aspect of family gatherings has never been easy with an eating disorder.
New Healthy Thoughts: Everyone has different dietary views. I think I have become particularly sensitive to this over the past year and I have finally come to terms with the fact that I do not have to eat what everyone else is eating. More often than not, people are so caught up in their own plate of food, they are too busy to even notice mine.

3. Feelings of Inferiority 
 Old Distorted Thoughts: Due to my lack of enjoyment at these gatherings, my distorted brain makes me automatically believe I'm somehow not good enough. I tend to get in these self-destructive thought cycles: Everyone else looks forward to these parties, while I dread them. They all have so much fun, while I count down the minutes until I can leave. This is my family. They provide unconditional love. Why can't I return that love? I'm just different than everyone. I must not be good enough.
New Healthy Thoughts: I'm sure having my closest cousin ask me to be in her wedding this weekend helped me feel "good enough" at this year's party; more importantly, however, it proved so many of my distorted thoughts wrong. By discovering a little self-acceptance and self-compassion, I am learning to be okay with who I am, which ultimately helps stop those self-destructive thought cycles.

4. Personality Differences and Various Interests 
Old Distorted Thoughts: I have talked about this quite a bit in this blog. Over the past year or so, as I have been stripping away my eating disorder identity, I am learning how different I truly am from many of my family members. I can only handle talking about the Detroit Tigers for so long and I have never been a big fan of football or hunting. Unlike my brother, eventually I want to move away from my hometown, experience different cultures, and find my own perspective on social issues.
New Healthy Thoughts: The best part of all, over time, I have started to realize not only is it okay to be different, but many of my cousins see themselves as different, too. Those differences are what make our family dynamic so unique and wonderful. If other family members can be different and accepted, then for goodness sakes, so can I.

5. Comfort Zones
Old Distorted Thoughts: As crazy and distorted as this might sound, for the past several years I have always felt like my eating disorder has made those around me uncomfortable. I feel badly for making those closest to me feel like they needed to walk on egg shells around me to avoid saying something that might upset me.
New Healthy Thoughts: Again, with my own personal level of self-acceptance over my past, I feel like the more open others are to discuss certain things with me. I'm not saying everyone needs to be as open as I am about past struggles, but I do think there is a sense of freedom that comes along with letting go of the shame associated with a troubled past.

Words don't do justice to my level of excitement this morning. I might not have been 100% comfortable at my grandma's 93rd birthday party, but this year's level of comfort was far beyond anything I have ever experienced. I've always known the issue wasn't with my family members themselves; it was always in my own head. To think a lifetime of distorted thoughts have made noticeable strides in the right direction in just one year is huge. Wish me luck getting rid of this smile anytime soon.



  1. Hi Kelsi,

    Progress, not perfection. I think your recovery is just moving forwards so beautifully. I will email you today! xoxo and <3

    1. Sounds good, Kyoko! I'm looking forward to hearing about your weekend. <3

  2. I hope that smile stays with you all week :)

    I, too, am an introvert in a very large extended family of major extroverts so I really appreciated this post.

    I particularly liked what you wrote about feeling inferior and comfort zones. I often feel like my differences exclude me rather than give me shape and definition and I am learning to accept this and yet it's a SLOW learning. I also struggle with feeling undeserving of unconditional love. I think the shift I need to make is to realize that other people CHOOSE for themselves to give that kind of love... so if they have chosen, they can't be wrong. <3

    1. I'm really glad you could relate. I kind of had a hard time sharing this one because it was so personal. Why do we feel undeserving of unconditional love? Such an interesting thought. <3

  3. . . . :) < - my reaction after I'd read this post. Kelsi, dearest Kelsi, you have made such progress. Making these changes require time and hard work, as well as a great deal of courage and determination. What is amazing is that every single word of yours express this. They are full of life and wisdom. My hope is that you take the time to acknowledge your own greatness. <3

    I truly appreciate your honesty. I know it can be a real challenge to let ourselves be vulnerable and share our thoughts and feelings. I can relate to so many of these challenges. Feeling inferior, triggered, insecure . . . When I was ill I felt like I did not belong anywhere and social gatherings were something I feared because of the food and imaginary/real expectations to behave in a certain way. Recovery has not only helped me feel more comfortable around food, it has also taught me to believe in myself and my voice. I am a quiet person, but I no longer hide due to a fear of being seen or not measure up. I am accepting and embracing my true nature and. . . well, I am actually starting to see myself as worthy and enough. :)

    So much love your way, wonderful friend!

    Ps : Thank you once again for showing us that recovery is possible. It's a tough process, but it is nonetheless possible.

    1. Thank you, as always Hedda! I think you should give yourself a little credit for how far you have come as well. Keep using that beautiful voice of yours and sharing your wisdom. You have been a huge part of my recovery. What would I do without you? :) I am so glad you are beginning to see your worthiness. I know for me, I don't feel it every single day, but I am starting to feel it more days than not! <3

  4. I have to say, I find myself really growing into my recovery when I do the things I used to with so much difficulty and now just seem like the norm. Family parties are certainly one of them. I used to avoid them at all costs but have slowly started to embrace enjoying that time rather than hating it. heck i only want to do it when I am with them

    1. Yeah, I was just talking about that with my therapist today. So many things that used to be be unimaginable are now things I feel quite comfortable doing. I used to avoid these parties all together, too.

  5. Happy Birthday to your grandma! I loved reading about your changes in thought about family gatherings. There is certainly progress!! I am an introvert as well, but as you said, the more we can be comfortable in who we are, the more we enjoy the people around us.

    Your blog gives such great portraits of these changes in your life. They are encouraging to many different people, so thank you for sharing!

    As for unconditional love--it is hard to grasp from anyone. My family and I heard a song today about God's love, the only perfect love, called "He Loves Us"...the words really pierce my heart when I hear them. Yes we are undeserving--all of us are because only God is perfect--but he loves us and wants to give us so much! We are worthy because he makes us worthy. We come as we are and he sweeps us up in the best love we can imagine. I get a little carried away when I talk about this, but I am not going to apologize! :)

    Midweek blessings --Alison

    1. Thank you for reading, Alison! Please don't apologize for talking about things that bring you happiness and piece of mind. I always love reading your comments because they bring a new perspective to my day. Happy Wednesday - I hope you're doing well! <3