When Does Friendly Teasing Turn into Something Else?

Teasing is a playful way for people to connect, as long as all parties involved know the intent. Teasing becomes bullying when one person becomes the aggressor either in hurtful words or physical acts.

Here, I will give a very embarrassing antidote about teasing that went wrong when I was little. One year my dad took me for a haircut, which was usually my mom’s domain. I am not 100% how the events occurred but my father told the man to cut my hair short and I ended up walking out looking like a little boy, super short hair with bangs. Later down the timeline I lost a front tooth which leads me to believe I was probably about 6 or 7. Now, I am quite certain my father was teasing originally when he nicknamed me “Butch the toothless boy” during this time however, he encourage my older brother to also use this term. Even when I cried and wanted them to stop it did not. That was the line, it was teasing until my feelings were hurt, I asked for it to stop and it continued anyhow, that is when it became bullying. Thinking about it 30 years later still makes me sad and anger, so we need to be careful with our words.

Our kids today are easy to escalate to bullying from teasing and as a mother this worries me. My son has a very good friend and they tease each other equally, they playfully smack each other and say weird things I do not understand but they both know it is in good fun. Somewhere along the road however, it escalated. It’s fine now, but there were a couple of days where my son asked him to stop punching him and his friend did not. A conversation with the mom, thankfully we are friends, and it was resolved. Or at least, there’s no more punching, though they are a bit offish to each other at the moment I imagine they will figure it out.

In our current world where people who should be respected but our leaders call each other names we are setting up our kids for the same behavior. I will not sit back and watch the people in my life be bullied, and I now am confident enough so I will not be bullied.

I Didn’t Know I Had an Eating Disorder

Food and I have never really had a healthy relationship until recently. When ever I hear eating disorder I think of anorexia or bulimia, not emotional eating and hiding foods.

Since I was young though, food was my comfort. Feeling sad, have some candy, feeling stressed how about some ice cream, bored… carbs! This obviously resulted in weight gain and very unhealthy coping strategies.

Apparently, emotional eating can lead to binge eating. Psychiatry.org defines: “Eating disorders are illnesses in which the people experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions.” Binge eating usually happens at least once a week for over 3 months of time in addition to a lack of control.

Eat faster than normal, check. Eat until uncomfortably full, check. Eat large amounts of food when not physically hungry, check. Eat alone, mostly out of boredom but check. Feel guilty and depressed about eating so much, check. Oh look, I checked each of the little warning signs and you only need three for verification.

Apparently, there are nine types of eating disorders currently classified. Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge eating are the top three. According to NIMH, “Researchers are finding that eating disorders are caused by a complex interaction of genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors.” Fun science is also showing differences in MRIs of healthy women compared to women with eating disorders.

So here’s the thing. I had no clue that this was as bad as it was until I was in therapy this week. I was discussing things that were triggering my trauma recently and how I felt the need to eat more when I saw I was losing weight this week. I am on Keto to be healthy, I realize how insane this was and that is why I spoke to my therapist about it. I didn’t over eat, though ever fiber of my being really wanted to, instead I snacked on almonds and drank more water.

Being a “victim” is very hard for me, being vulnerable is even harder. So with some work, we uncovered that I was not only using food as comfort but when things got really hard for me, my go to was to use my body and my weight as a defense. Blend in and not get noticed.

It gnaws at me still just typing this. I do not want to be this person who uses food instead of emotion, who eats out of boredom and stress. I am working on getting healthy because even when my brain is shrinking from MS and I cannot control what my body does I can at least try and control the balance inside this body.

Sources

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/eating-disorders/what-are-eating-disorders

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/common-eating-disorders#binge-eating-disorder

Eating Disorders: Causes, Symptoms, Signs & Medical Complications

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml

When Your Appearance Matters to Your Child

My typical outfit for the last 11 years has been jeans, a t-shirt and something to cover my head due to alopecia, typically a bandanna of sorts or something like what cancer patients wear when they do chemo. I shave my head so that the significant loss of hair due to alopecia doesn’t break me every time I look in the mirror.

When I drop off my kids and pick them up I am in my usual attire, that’s what I am comfortable in, when you work in IT and they let you wear it every day you get used to it. Depending on how I am feeling I may wear a “nicer” top when going to events at the school (parent/teacher conference, back to school night).

I volunteered at my second graders school for one hour this week. It consisted of sitting on a stool next to a filing system where the kids school work goes and then putting those papers in the corresponding folders. Easy enough for my wonky brain and broken body, though I must admit that doing that for an hour, as simple of a task it may be, actually wore me out. I felt more foggy and fatigued than usual but my kid was so excited I was there.

That being said, and knowing that I already draw attention with a service dog, I put on a more business casual top for that day and my son picked out what was going on my head. He did not approve of the plain black scarf I was going to wear tightly around my scalp with a knot that made it look like a bun at the back.

He is keenly aware of appearance at the ripe age of 7. Most recently he likes to check himself out in a full length mirror attached to a cabinet in the living room where we keep the snow gear. He wears light weight jackets around his waist like an accessory, and makes careful selections about his shirt each day. I expect this from my 13 year-old, I wasn’t prepared for it from my 7 year old.

The oldest made a comment the morning I went to volunteer asking  me where I was going because I was more dressed up than usual. While I would like to think people should just accept us how we are, fashion choices and all, I know that is not the world we live in. It saddens me to think that what I may be wearing will have an impact on how classmates treat my son, it doesn’t make sense and yet that is the world we apparently live in.

Until the world changes, I will continue to let my kids advise me on attire when I am attending something with them or at their school because I love them and don’t want their life to be any more complicated than it is having a mom with MS, Meneire’s disease and a service dog.