Adding a third, meta level of triangulation, since I can’t seem to stop myself

My theory this week:  As an emotional eater, my fat actually captures all my sad/angry feels, encapulates them, and deposits them on my ass, rendered inert in their little fatty bubble.  This is why food is comforting — got lots of rage and sadness?  We need fat molecules STAT to neutralize all these shitty feelings.

Thus, when I diet and fat molecules are burned, they release my long-stored sangry feels. This is how I tell you I am a crabby motherfucker for no good reason these days.  It feels neo-biblical; “And Lo, I was sitting at a stop light, burned the wrong calories, and suddenly my head became a mushroom cloud of unexplainable rage.”


I’m having an asshole time communicating with my family.  I decided I’d keep on talking to them, but that I wasn’t going to solicit approval, and I was not going to engage in triangulation.  Funnily enough, this leaves me very little to talk about these days.  Figured I’d be safe if I limited everything to my own thoughts and actions.  So, I told my mom I’m working on being more assertive.  She sounded furrowed-eyebrow disapproving of this plan — Anne, you are confrontational enough!  You are gentle and sweet and know what you want, and those are some of your best qualities!  I don’t like where this is headed.  

Not only lack of approval, but a fair dose of unsolicited disapproval.  It was quite irritating.  And by irritating, I mean, I’ve been reaming her out about it since that conversation happened a week ago.  Unfortunately, she’s never in attendance, as these vicious upbraidings usually occur between the hours of 2 and 4 in the morning, and are directed into my pillow.

So… you know.  I’ve clearly mastered the art of assertiveness.

Anyway, Middle called later in the week.  Living by the same rules set out above, I told my sister the same thing I told my mom about learning how to be assertive.  I foolishly added, “I told Mom, but she wasn’t real happy.”

“I know,” Middle said.  “I heard all about it.”  It was a bit of a sucker punch to hear my mom’s been talking shit about me behind my back.  But before I could do more than laugh in surprise, Middle cut me off.  “I hate how you say you’re going to stop triangulating, but here you are again.”

Yeah, so here I am again.  Try to do different, just keep doing the same.

8 Replies to “Adding a third, meta level of triangulation, since I can’t seem to stop myself”

  1. You are amazing. Keep trying. I am not an expert in family systems theory, but remember that any system, like an organism, will fight change like crazy. You are trying to change the system, change patterns, and that is going to suck for you (sorry!), because you are going to be blamed for wanting to change the way things “have always been”. Stay strong.

    At the risk of harping on a point laid to rest, so take it as something meant encouragingly, not annoying… but this is one of the reasons a therapist or a good (unrelated, impartial) friend can be helpful: to remind you that people are wrong to blame you, that you are being smart and sensible, and that you can do this. You are amazing.

  2. When trying something new, I have to remind myself it takes 10,000 hours to become proficient. For me, I’m tying on Tae Kwon Do belts, and man am I out of my comfort zone. I’m also trying to be more patient with myself and with the rest of my family…..also new, also out of my comfort zone. The Torah says, “All beginnings are hard.”
    But fuck if I’m not here to push myself, to make myself into the best version of myself – if only because my conscience would be easier and my son deserves it. I think if I’m totally easy with my circumstances, then I’m about to make a leap to a new level. The Roman General Marcus Aurelius wrote, “I was not born a man to lie comfortable beneath the warm sheets.”
    Also, the rage roller coaster? Totally part of the package. Anytime feelings get stuffed down (overwork, addictions, overeating: take your pick), when that mechanism is stopped, the feelings return. With a vengeance. It gets better. Things even out eventually. It only *feels like* you’re going crazy. Panic attacks are also bundled into this as a “but-wait-there’s-more” gift from hell. They also go away as you get used to having/processing feelings. I got through mine by taking the Buddhist mindfulness approach: Observing that I was having another “episode” and then thinking, “Isn’t that interesting?” It spared me from judging myself about having these roller coaster highs or lows, and it lessened the time I spent engaged in them.
    Ten thousand hours. Not an impossibility.

  3. “And Lo, I was sitting at a stop light, burned the wrong calories, and suddenly my head became a mushroom cloud of unexplainable rage.”


    This is perfect. Thank you.

  4. No disrespect for your middle sister, but her accusation of triangulation, as I understand it, wasn’t fair. She and your mother engaged in triangulation, not you, since you DID speak with your mother. Have you thought about simply not initiating communication with them for, say, a month, while letting them know that they are welcome to contact you at any time, and that you want to know how/what THEY are doing? As for your plan of action outlined in the last post — hurray. That’s exactly what a good therapist would have tried to get you to do on your own without his or her prompting. (I forget if I already posted this — I’ve thought it out in my head enough that I can’t remember.) Yes, your body image is an important part of self esteem and, if I remember your general height, yes, you are unhealthily overweight. If you don’t lose the pounds now, it will just get more difficult to do so as your hormones start the long decline to perimenopause. (And not to freak — that is not necessarily awful, but excess weight will make the hot flashes, acne, raging anger, etc., worse; regular exercise and appropriate body weight will definitely help tamp them down.) Been there, old lady now, I know. Just remember that it will take a while — at least a year if not more — to lose the weight — your metabolism will have to adjust at each stage. Just accept it and hang in there.

  5. I kind of agree with Jan. You told your mom something, she failed to support you and then she shared it with your sister. They kind of seem like they’re in the wrong, not you. And what does, “you’re confrontational” followed by, “you’re sweet and gentle” mean, exactly? It seems like an odd juxtaposition to me. Not because they’re mutually exclusive, but that she would put them together like that is just… interesting.

  6. I have re-read my comment a number of times, and in my defence although I am clearly a bossy cow, I am a bossy cow who cares.

    Anne, right now, for your family, far from being within safe limits, your ‘own thoughts and actions’ are a MINEFIELD.

    Re communicating with the family – may I suggest keeping it to fairly neutral topics such as oooh I dunno (remember I’m British) the weather, the antics of small children and read any good books recently?

    If it were me – and I speak with rubbish authority as an only child with a hugely dysfunctional relationship with my own mother (go me) – while I explored where/who/how I was comfortable being, I would be tempted to do so in the shelter and safety of my blog and with those friends who didn’t have an emotionally vested interest in keeping a certain view of me.

    Of COURSE they’re going to talk about you amongst themselves, especially if you persist in giving them a blow by blow update on the state of your psyche, you Muppet (said with great affection).

    They would have to be superhuman not to feel in some way that if you are right to change, then they have been wrong in their treatment of/dynamic with you for very many years, right up to the present. And that is a very hard truth to swallow. Impossible not to feel threatened, judged or accused – even if you are not saying so directly and don’t intend that in any way.

    It is much more comfortable for it to be just a phase you’re going through, and it is understandable that they get together and talk about it in those terms – I know I probably would, in their shoes.

    I really don’t think they can help you in this fundamental journey of self discovery – I even think it’s not fair to expect them to – so why make them take ringside seats?

    Do your thing. You can do this, and you know it.

    Moo. xxx

  7. I was just thinking about you while changing the linens on my bed. I thought, I wonder how Anne is getting along? And I mused over your resistance to therapy while wrestling with my Ikea duvet cover. I concluded that this blog really *is* your therapy on many levels and there’s nothing wrong with that. “Therapy” doesn’t have to look any particular way. Then I pulled up your blog to find that you, too, have been musing on the same and that maybe some of the comments have affected your thought process. I believe this is the first time I have ever “delurked” and I certainly wouldn’t christen this first comment with presumptuous advice. You know what’s best for you and I second the commenter above who said that you can do this. I’ll just say that my therapy experience did not involve, or devolve into, seeking approval. My therapist had an amazing ability to listen and then respond in a way that enabled me to ever-so-slightly shift my perception of my own reality in ways that helped me understand myself and my relationships. That sounds a little esoteric, but it’s the only way I can describe it. She did not impose anything on me, but was able to help me see things differently (like focusing a camera?–I’m struggling for an analogy). And it helped. I’m not so sure that she was able to do that by virtue of being a therapist. I think I lucked into a wise and amazing person and relationship. So, wherever and however you can find it…and I wish you the best on the journey.

  8. Favorite parts:

    1. “burned the wrong calories”

    2. “Unfortunately, she’s never in attendance, as these vicious upbraidings usually occur between the hours of 2 and 4 in the morning.”

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