Tag Archives: fear

Changing your relationship with food

Changing my relationship with food has been a lifelong journey.








I have always struggled with my emotions and food. When I was growing up my father would dish out food depending on how he felt about you. My older brother was his favorite, so he got the biggest and the best pieces of meat. I was given mostly starches like rice and potatoes with a little bit of meat. We were not poor; my parents owned three houses and there were two late-model Mercedes Benz in the driveway. It was about my father having control. As an adult I still sometimes struggle with anger when I feel like there is not enough food or there is nothing available that I like to eat.

whiskey bottle







My mother was an alcoholic. She would walk to the local Stop-and-Go to buy a jug of Gallo wine, cigarettes and beer. She hid her alcohol purchases from my father and would bring us chocolate candy bars to keep us quiet. I learned very quickly that food is a reward. I still think of food as a reward for “good behavior” and have to remind myself that food is for nutrition.

I was a preemie so I got sick quite often as a young girl. I learned that this was the time I would get my mother’s undivided attention so I must admit I got “sick” a little more often than I really was. My mother would make me soup and I would lay on the couch under a blanket and watch soap operas with her. My mother and I had an extremely fragile relationship. She was a paranoid schizophrenic who had tried to smother me with a pillow when I was four years old, so I was always very careful around her. But she was my mother and I desperately needed to be loved. When I was upset my mother fed me mayonnaise sandwiches to soothe me. Yes, mayonnaise sandwiches. My mother lived in Europe during World War 2 when meat was seriously rationed and this was what she learned to eat. She would slather Best Foods mayonnaise on Jewish rye bread and feed that to me. Only Best Foods and only rye bread.

Best Foods MayonnaiseJewish Rye BreadI learned that food represented love and it was one of the few things that connected me to her. Years later whenever I was sad, angry or anxious I would reach for a mayonnaise sandwich. When she died and cut me out of her will (my sister told her I was plotting to kill her) I ate an entire loaf of mayonnaise sandwiches in one sitting. It took me a long time to stop eating those. It wasn’t the taste, it was the connection to her that I craved. Today I no longer eat mayonnaise sandwiches even in my most emotional times.

My mother would making huge batches of cupcakes. There were times I didn’t want to eat “my” cupcake but I knew that my brother or sister would eat mine, so I would lick the frosting in front of them and then put my cupcake back in the fridge. Sometimes my siblings would eat my cupcake anyway, so I learned that I had to eat it even if I wasn’t hungry. To this day I can get very territorial with my food, kind of like a dog that growls when you come near his food bowl. I spent many years mentally beating myself up whenever I over-ate, ate emotionally and didn’t take care of myself.

The truth is I had no idea how to take care of myself. I was taught to abuse myself, not nurture myself. With counseling and coaching I have learned to be aware of these destructive behaviors and to stop myself most of the time. Do I slip? You bet I do. But what I have learned is that slipping is not a moral flaw. It doesn’t make me a bad person, and I can forgive myself and make better choices next time. I could not have learned how to do this by myself. I needed a coach.

If you struggle with any issues like this or others, it helps to have a professional who can guide you to make better choices and change your habits and your future.  This is no different than any kind of training; you need to learn from a professional who has tools that you don’t.  There is no shame in this; professional coaches care about you and your future.

Overcoming the fear of rejection

All my life I’ve been terrified of rejection and have taken elaborate steps to avoid it. Which is funny as I ended up in sales, where you place yourself in front of rejection every day, sometimes many times a day. To protect myself I learned what objections people had and built that into my presentations, thus minimizing rejection. I learned to not take things so personally and realized that life is really a numbers game.


I love photographing flowers. But I have learned that if someone doesn’t like it, it’s not rejection…it’s personal taste

However, when it came to my art and writing I was still extremely terrified to step out into the playing field. If someone rejected an insurance policy I could justify it to myself that they already had a good policy, rates weren’t quite as competitive or their brother in law was their agent. That’s professional rejection, and I learned it had nothing to do with me personally.

So why in the world was I putting myself out for possible rejection with my photography and writing? That’s the most personal rejection possible.  Well, because I have healed from the rejection of my parents and family, I have learned to take risks and also to stop taking things so damn personally. I’ve learned from looking at others artworks that I might like the person but his artwork leaves me unmoved. I realized that if I feel that way, why should I worry if others don’t like my artwork? It’s a tricky slope. But it’s a very real fear.

We were searching for moviestar's homes in Palm Springs and all we found were high gates....then we took a wrong turn and came across a house with found art giants that shouted "Happiness!" to the world.  This is what I mean by wrong turns can be an amazing scenic route to success....if you will just change the way you look at things.

This artist in Palm Springs faces rejection daily and keeps on going

I’m more afraid of what I don’t try to accomplish than what I fail at by not trying. There’s aquote attributed to  Mark Twain I like:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

I try to live my life without regrets. I have always envied those who put their photo note cards in shops and thought “Why not me?” This question gave me courage to submit my work into the world.

I had a free booth at South Bay Pride that I won by submitting my photography. Many people came to my booth on Saturday. They said what a great photographer I am and how they liked my use of color….and didn’t buy anything. I thought about all the times I walked by notecards I liked and for various reasons didn’t buy them. Maybe lack of money, time or no use for them—even though I liked them. So why should people react any differently to my art?


Graffiti artists face rejection every day, but this is a form of art….when asked to be put on someone’s property, that is!

Several friends asked me how it went. I told me how great it was that I tried and put myself out there. I commented to Ernie that in the past I would have been surrounded by people who discouraged me. Ernie said why would they, they like you?  When I was living in victim mode I surrounded myself with people who verified that for me. However since I have healed emotionally,  I have started surrounding myself with people who are supportive. It’s what keeps me going and what gives me hope. It’s interesting to look back at the arc of my healing journey and to see how as I have healed I have surrounded myself with better, kinder people.

One of my photographer friends commented that the board I put together with a sampler of my photos was brilliant.That was really encouraging. As a result of that board, people were able to see a collection of my work and able to chose what they wanted without having to paw through the stand.
I’m going to keep trying and keep getting better. It’s a habit now the way victimization was a habit before. I think differently now and life reflects that.

In the past I would have been horribly hurt and felt like my friends were rejecting me if they didn’t make a special trip to see my artwork. Now since I’m not neurotic with anxiety I realize that people have things to do and it doesn’t mean they are rejecting me. What a relief and what an enormous lightening of energy!

Unless otherwise noted, all photos are original and the property of Susanne Romo. If you would like to use them, please do so, but give yourself the gift of good karma and make a small donation to pretty horses rescue. This charity rehabilitates starving, abandoned horses. Every dollar helps us rescue and rehabilitate starving horses.


Windshield Wiperblades and Abandonment

Abandonment seems to be a recent theme in my life. I blogged about it on February 24th http://www.healingjourneyblog.com/2014/02/24/abandonment/ and it kicked back up again today. It’s amazing to me how quickly and easily abandonment issues can cloud seemingly simple situations.  I was leaving the parking lot of my office and noticed that there was a small leaf stuck in the windshield wiper.  We were in the middle of a storm and there had been a lull, so I got out to lift the windshield wiper to remove the leaf so I wouldn’t have a streak on my windshield driving home.  I lifted the windshield wiper, and it came off completely. Here’s what I was worried about driving in. rain video

This is what I was afraid my drive would look like. Image courtesy of designtaxi.com

Now, this is a seemingly simple thing, right? Oops.  Pull into a parking space and reconnect it, and go home.  If  you don’t struggle with abandonment issues, that’s probably what you would do.  However, my heart clenched, my throat closed, and old fears of being lost and alone rose up, paralyzing me.  What was I going to do? I couldn’t figure it out! My stress level instantly spiked and rage engulfed me.  I needed to get home, and now I couldn’t.  I called my husband, choking back tears and raging at him what do I need to do!?!?!? My beloved Ernie, well used to and unaffected by these tear storms other than to comfort me, told me to take a deep breath and drive to the local car repair shop. Other fears kicked up….I didn’t want to look stupid.  Dumb woman who can’t put a simple windshield wiper back on.  It’s amazing how your self-talk can beat the living crap out of you without anyone seeing it on the outside. I drove to the mechanic, and sat in my car for a few minutes, trying to calm myself down and let the tears subside. I went into the shop and the kind manager tried to fix it for me, but no go. He couldn’t figure out the mechanics of the connection either.  Is it terrible to say I felt a little bit better and a little less stupid right then? He asked me to pull into a service bay and called a few mechanics over.  Another man tried and he couldn’t figure it out. Then they called in their heavy hitter.  He worked on it, trying to figure out the lever. Finally he got the mechanism open and fixed it.  I almost burst into tears. I could make it home now!windshield wiper He shook my hand. I kissed his hand and then kissed him on the neck, thanking him profusely.  He smiled, embarrassed and said it was no big deal.  He was probably puzzled about why this woman was so overwrought over a broken windshield wiper. I stressed the entire drive home, praying that the windshield wiper would hold and I could get home safely to Ernie.  When I got home I collapsed on the bed, the tears that had been threatening the entire drive finally able to release. I sobbed and Ernie, wonderful Ernie, held me in his arms and told me I was safe, that everything was okay.IMG_1625 Abused children grow up to become adults with deep abandonment fears.  They are not logical fears, yet they are 100% real fears.  It wasn’t the windshield wiper that was worrying me. It was that I couldn’t go home, that I didn’t know what to do.  My life had shrunk in a few seconds down to the size of a windshield wiper blade. It’s not rational, but it’s real, and it’s a horrible feeling. I also blog at www.SusysMusings.com and check out this other blog on abandonment http://www.susysmusings.com/2014/03/06/sentri-pass-healing


I am prone to nightmares.  When I can remember them, my dreams are usually a crazy mosaic of jumbled scenes that have no relation to each other, but sometimes there is an entire story line inside, and my nightmare is as vivid as any movie I can watch on the big screen.

Tonight’s nightmare touched on many of my core fears —- abandonment, loss of sense of self, fear of loss.  My nightmare started out with military helicopters hovering in the park behind our house. In my nightmare Ernie called them either Blackhawks or Sea Stallions. I know my brain grabbed the fact that Ernie loves watching the Military Channel and was a Green Beret in Vietnam. What he found fascinating terrified me. There were six of them, grouped the way a gang does watching a fight, in a semi-circle.  They were huge, black, anonymous symbols of authority and bullying in my dream.  I know this kicks back to my father who was a MP in WWII and was a bully who used his badge and authority to take what he wanted from people.  He liked to strip me of any sense of self and personal space

Image courtesy of Tim Beach / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Tim Beach / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There were other unidentifiable shapes hovering in the air, and a felt a visceral fear in my nightmare that even right now while I’m awake typing this, I can still feel in my body.  My heart is racing, my breath is shallow, I’m jittery as I write this.

Ernie thought the helicopters were doing maneuvers, but I knew that in my nightmare their purpose was far worse.  And I was quickly proven right when the helicopters started razing our house with bullets and missiles. The bully was attacking in the night.  That also goes back to my relationship with my father as a young girl.

As is the way of nightmares, even though I could hear and feel the bullets hitting our house, my nightmare switched and now the police were at my front door, demanding entrance. They had a search warrant, I was being accused of some unnamed crime.  From inside, I asked for their search warrant, and instead they rammed the door open and broke the door frame.  Dozens of men swarmed the house, and the leader pointed to a yellow sticky note attached to the very top of our front door that I could not reach. (I’m only 5’4″) Ernie pulled it off and it was a search warrant that the postman had apparently left for us.  I know, random, but nightmares are like that.  They dig at hidden memories, stir up primal fears, frighten us with images that we sometimes cannot understand the meaning behind

The faceless police started scouring our house, ripping paintings off the wall, smashing glass, punching holes in the wall.  All the time my pleas for why this was happening went unanswered. They broke down the back door, thus leaving me completely exposed and defenseless to the outside world.

Suddenly I was no longer at the house.  I knew they were still there, ripping my life apart and exposing my fears, but I couldn’t get back home.  I was walking along familiar streets from my childhood and young adult hood, but they were a patchwork of streets from different cities I have lived in, and every time I thought I was getting closer to my home, another street appeared that took me further away.  I tried climbing stairs, only to have them turn into an oil-covered ramp that I kept slipping on.  A man offered to help me, but as I reached for him he let me fall.   My nightmare was having a field day with my deeply rooted fear of abandonment.

Ernie showed up then and grabbed my hand, stopping me from falling. Ernie is my knight in shining armor, the only man I have ever fully trusted, and he came to my rescue once again. Suddenly we were in front of our house, but it wasn’t a house anymore.  It was a skeleton picked clean by the police and looters. It looked like one of those old-time brick houses that have been abandoned, the roof caved in, weeds reclaiming the concrete floor for the earth. My entire life, my memories, my belongings, my photos, my dogs, everything that mattered, was gone.  I had ceased to exist in my nightmare. I panicked and thrashed in Ernie’s arms to get to our house, but he held me in an iron vise and told me it didn’t matter, we still had each other.

Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I woke up, my heart pounding, my breath shallow, my body tensed. My back ached from the tension my body had felt while my mind was trapped in the nightmare. I felt in the bed, and all three of my beloved dogs were there.  The park behind our house was empty.  Ernie lay next to me, and I grabbed onto him to grab some of his loving, solid energy and put it back into me. He slept on; I must not have thrashed or yelled out in my nightmare.  This nightmare was private and personal, but he was still there protecting me.

.In the past when I was alone, isolated from others inside of myself while smiling in a crowded room, these kinds of nightmares came more frequently.  As I have done the healing work and have learned to trust people, they don’t show up as often.  I call them ‘defragging’ dreams….the computer that is my system is cleaning up random pieces of data that are randomly stored in the hard drive of my brain. They are usually triggered by traumatic events, fears and too much work stress.

My hero

My hero

I am calming down now.  My breathing has steadied, my pulse has slowed.  Getting the words onto the screen has helped purge the last bit of anxiety I held in my body.