Alright, time for a heart to heart post. It’s gonna be a novel, so get cozy.

So… okay. Where to begin – I’ve landed here safely in Australia and have begun the storming and norming process of life with the in-laws (we’ve moved in with my boyfriend’s parents for the next 6 or so months, for those of you who don’t know). Now, the word “in-law” has always had negative connotations, but I’d like to say before we start – Luke’s parents are lovely people.

So far everything is going quite excellently – they have a beautiful house, and they live in a gorgeous area right near a big expanse of sandy, Aussie beach. It’s early spring here, and it seems we just missed their short cold patch of winter – the weather got summery just as we arrived.

And I wake up every morning to pretty birds singing pretty songs and kookaburras laughing outside the window.

In other excellent news, I met all of Luke’s friends and they were all wonderful, and so is his sister and her boyfriend who also live with us. And there are tennis courts just down the road and we’ve started playing tennis, and I LOVE it. It’s so much fun. I was also uncharacteristically proactive and signed up for three dance and fitness classes per week, which I’m really excited about.

And what about the food?

Erm…. well that’s where I’m running into a little bit of trouble. Now, this is hardly anything to do with them – it’s clear to me that it’s mostly me vs myself, and let me tell you why.

Okay, well first of all, let me tell you what the food situation is like so far – his mom is doing the grocery shopping, although I am fine with throwing in the requests for what I want to eat. We all eat whatever we want for breakfast and lunch, so I’ve been eating fruit and big salads. That’s fine – but then we all have a shared dinner. Luke and I have been sometimes cooking it, but a lot of the time it’s been his mom or sister.

The family eats a fairly standard diet, but they are very respectful of my requests to not eat gluten or too much dairy. However, I realize now what a long list of weird picky-seeming things that I do with my own diet I have, and that I don’t feel all that comfortable bringing them up. Especially because it’s not like we’re eating terrible things – the meals we’re having are predominantly whole foods and delicious, so, you know… it’s like…. who am I to complain.

I mean… in reality, I’m sure everyone would be stoked if I offered to do all the grocery shopping and all the cooking… but let’s be honest, there’s also the problem that I am simply REALLY enjoying having someone else cook dinner sometimes!

Anyway, how is this affecting my skin?

Well, it was going okay and I was feeling fine (despite the fact that I ended up getting too scared of Australian customs and leaving my precious manuka honey at home), but recently a few semi-biggish pimples have cropped up on my chin.

Honestly… in reality… they aren’t even that bad at all. But they pulled that fear trigger in me, and I ended up crying about my skin two nights in a row. Suddenly all the heart-wrenching pain I experienced when my skin was so bad came rushing back and I even naturally contorted my face into a look of terror as I was hugging Luke, staring at the wall behind him.

I haven’t cried or gotten seriously upset about my skin in quite a while. In fact, in day to day life, the fear doesn’t affect me at all. I’ve managed to be able to have small breakouts and not let them get to me or ruin my day.

I was maybe even thinking that I was “over it”.

But this is perfect evidence of how we simply hide emotions from ourselves that hang inside somewhere, wreaking havoc, silently. They are hard to identify because we don’t tend to feel them on a daily basis, until triggers pull them to the surface.

I know exactly what’s happening here with me – I’m responding negatively to this loss of control.

For a few weeks before I left Canada, I got a little lazy about all my diet rules and was being much more liberal about what I was eating. My skin broke out a little bit but it didn’t really bother me very much because I knew it was all my own doing, and that if I wanted to clear up my skin, I could do so any time I wanted.

I was in control.

Now all of a sudden, I’m not in control anymore. My fear is putting the blame on my new communal living situation. There is nothing I can do – I’m at someone or something else’s mercy. Just like I am always at the mercy of my acne.

And there is the point that I’m trying to get across – this whole story has nothing to do with my in-laws and what we eat for dinner. It’s about my realization of how much I use food not to control my acne, but to attempt to control my fear of acne and the subsequent suffering.

Deep down, I know this whole issue is probably the real reason I still get acne.

When I first was clearing my acne, my control freak tendencies were pretty severe. I managed to clear myself up 90% with a seemingly flawless diet, but the acne that remained tortured me. I wasn’t excited about the future like I used to be. I love to travel and I realize there are times in life when you can’t eat a perfect diet. So if that meant that the loss of a perfect diet meant pain and suffering because of acne, then I guess that meant I would have to avoid life and become apathetic. I looked forward to nothing.

After I finally decided to take the emotional cause of acne seriously and delve into what was causing me a lot of distress, I put two and two together that my severe acne had come at a time when I was having problems with my ex boyfriend and it was doing a serious number on my self-esteem – and that this must be a major factor with my skin.

When I came to this conclusion, I had such an “aHA!” moment, and suddenly I had this overwhelming feeling of hope for the future – like everything was finally going to be okay. This was something I hadn’t felt in a long time.

No jokes, the rest of my acne immediately cleared up.

Of course, I can’t say it lasted, because healing takes time and effort, and I soon reverted back into my usual state of fear and apprehension. And so back came the mild acne.

Anyway… this shows me what is valuable to me and my wellbeing, and that is hope and excitement for my life to come – without condition (ie. only if I have perfectly clear skin). For me, it seems that without that unconditional hope, acne is probably here to stay. ….. yet I can only achieve that if I let go and stop trying to control my acne.

God…. what an absolutely frustrating paradox.

I’d like to say too that when I say unconditional hope and excitement, I mean this in a completely emotional sense. Rationally, I am excited and hopeful for the future. My life is super – Luke and I are in love and plan to be together for a long time, and The Love Vitamin is giving me a focus and purpose that I have never found with anything else.

And I fully realize that even if my skin does take a bit of a hit while I’m here – does it really matter? It’s only six months, and after that, we’ll be back to living by ourselves and doing whatever we want with our diets. This is all hardly the end of the world.

But, the rational rarely makes much of a dent into the emotional, and so I have had a potent reminder to find ways to work through this fear that keeps me shackled and bound.

Thanks for reading – next post will probably be some tips on how to deal with loss of control! Stay tuned!

Does acne make you feel out of control?

photo by lanuiop