The Shape of the Day

I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. It’s my biggest (no pun intended) personal demon.Demon Wrestling

Chocolate makes for a good snuggle… but a bad case of eater’s remorse later.

My first memory of the issue is when my mom looked at me, getting ready to dig into dessert after supper one night – and her saying “Honey, maybe you shouldn’t have so much ice-cream.  You’re starting to get a spare tire.”

I think I was about 7 or 8 at the time.

Growing up, my mom made healthy meals -meat, potatoes, vegetables.  Dessert didn’t automatically follow every meal, and we lived out on a farm, so there was no store nearby to grab snacks all the time.  I worked hard on the farm, taking care of horses, helping with calves, chickens, running up and down the barn stairs from hayloft to ground with the cats and dogs.  I rode horses all the damn time.

In high school, I grew to be 5’7″, and weighed approximately 130-135 lbs.

And yet, I was considered the fat girl.

Sandy & Me

I’m the one on the left – my junior year

Does this girl on the left look fat to you?

And yet, I always felt that way.  Because of the way I was treated by classmates, among others.

And so the girl I saw in the mirror was, in my eyes, fat.

Objects in the mirror appear larger than they really are?

I have old pictures from my first wedding, too, that show me at that 130 lb. mark, at the age of 23… and I’ve been told that people thought I looked too thin in my dress.

But at the time… I still felt fat.

I’d had a baby, who was 3 yrs. old at the time of the wedding, and I’d lost most of the baby weight by that time, true, but I still had the “baby belly”, that little bump that… never… quite… goes… away.

So, I must be fat, right?

I had another baby at the age of 24, but lost the weight fairly quickly the year after, thanks to long walks & a good friend who I walked with every day. Back down to 130 lbs.  But still feeling fat.

And then… I got married for the 2nd time.  And slowly, over the next 10 years, I gained, and gained, and gained.  The first few years were good, and then the marriage started to go south.  My self-esteem crumbled like soggy graham crackers in milk, as my -at the time- husband slowly started pulling his love out of the marriage, and putting it all into our son.  Baby number 3.

I never lost that baby weight, not completely.

At the time of our divorce, I was at my heaviest.  I have no true idea what that weight was, as I refused, at that point, to even look at a scale.  Even when I went to the doctor, I would stand on it backward, and wouldn’t let the nurses tell me what the number was.  I told them that it was because the numbers made me neurotic.

In fact, it was because I was ashamed.  I was, truly and really, fat.

There are very few pictures of me at that weight – I refused to be in front of the camera most of the time, ducking out on one reason or another.  When it was unavoidable, I’d do my best to “hide” whatever of myself I could, tucking myself in behind others in the frame, or “sucking it in”… a meager attempt at best.

I would say that I was probably somewhere between 250-275 lbs.

After the divorce – I lost a good bit of that weight.  I started eating better, started exercising.  I felt better, inside and out, than I had in a long time.

And yet, I still struggle.  There’s more I want to lose, a better shape I want to be in.  Health concerns and just emotional well-being are the 2 things I want this for now.

It’s slow going.  I have multiple food allergies, which knocks out a fair bit of healthy foods I could be eating.  Some of the most favored diet foods – cucumbers, melons, bananas, pineapple – all of them could kill me due to my allergies.

But I work at it, in my own way.  Healthier foods, smaller portions, more exercise, no more soda – only flavored water.

The struggle is real – and it’s time people stop shaming others.

As a child, I might have been a little chubby – but that’s no reason to compare me to the Michelin Man.  Maybe there shouldn’t have been any ice cream in the house?  And who was supposed to teach me about healthy eating and self-control?

As a teen, I wasn’t heavy at all.  I was just the right weight for my height – and yet, because I wasn’t emaciated, and you couldn’t hang clothes from my collarbones, I was called fat in school, and shamed for it by my peers.

As an adult, I finally took back my self-esteem from others – and stopped letting people put me down in subtle ways like my ex-husband had, little by little.

Like the recent co-worker who told me that I “really look like a girl today” on the day I wore a dress to work.  The same co-worker who, upon being told that I’m actually 10 years older than her, remarked that it was my red-dyed hair that is the only thing that makes me look younger, even though she evinced surprise at my actual age.  And, upon being shown a picture of my sweetheart, looked up at me in total shock and said “Really?  But he’s so good looking.”  As if I weren’t good enough for someone she thought was that handsome.

Whether she realizes it or not, she’s a bully.  And I refuse to be ashamed and bullied anymore because of my shape.

So, I still work on my weight, but I’m not doing it for her.  I’m not doing it to “prove” anything to anyone.

I’m doing it for me.  I’m doing it for my sweetheart, and for my kids, and my grandson, so we’ll be able to have many more years as a family.

And that’s the shape of the day.

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Ironic Shift

rainbow lightningJust when I think I’m getting ahead in life…

Along comes the lightning to show me the truth.

I should know better by now, hunh?

Things were looking up, I was looking forward… so of course, I didn’t see the bus coming up behind me that had plans of rolling over the top of me.

I’ve been sick for about 2 weeks now… starting with the flu, it morphed into an upper respiratory infection.  Snotty bobblehead in extremis, I’ve been coughing, fevered, exhausted, stuffed up and generally miserable for a while.

Ok, so far, I’m still able to deal… so here comes the kicker.

Thursday night, I went to bed early.  And woke up an hour and a half later with extreme chest pains, located directly behind my sternum.

Thinking it was probably just acid reflux, I took some meds, thinking – ok – 20 minutes or so, and I can go back to bed. Right?

No.

Woke up at 12am – still in extreme pain at 1:30 am.  Feeling like someone was attempting to yank my heart out through my back, I decided I’d best get a professional opinion.

I’m not waking up EldestDaughter.  She’s got the toddler, so she’d have to get him dressed, drag him along at Zero o’clock, and sit and wait with the baby in a waiting room for godknowshowlong.  No.  OnlySon has school in the morning too, and has been sick, right along with everyone else in the house, so – no.

So, I drove myself to the emergency room.

Drugs, tests, more drugs, more tests… they talked about a possible pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung).  Let’s do an EKG, shall we?  Ok, no blod clots.  So far, so good.  So why am I still in excruciating pain?

Well… let’s do a CT scan, really up the game, here, hunh?

God-awful freezing cold room, with a dye test that makes you feel as though your insides are on fire and you’ve peed yourself.  Good thing I’m so tired at this point and so full of pinholes from IVs and blood tests that I no longer care whether I’m some mad scientist’s latest class project.

Oh, at this point, it’s approximately 4am, and I’ve been in the ER for about 2 hours, still in pain, going on an hour and a half of sleep, and all alone.

CT scan over… they roll me back to the ER, and back behind my protective curtain.  Wavering in and out of consciousness, between exhaustion, fear and drugs, I wait to hear back from the doctors, wait for a glass of water from a nurse that I can hear.. just on the other side of the curtain… playing FAMILY FEUD with her co-workers.

Hey!  Let’s do an ultrasound, shall we?  Just for shits and giggles?

Fine.  I no longer care.

Lucky, lucky me, I have a hiatal hernia – AND a super nice collection of gallstones.

At 6:30am, I’m desperately trying to reach my work before my phone goes dead.  I need to let them know that I’ve been here, in the ER, and won’t be in to work today.  I’m still in excruciating pain… the pain meds they’ve given me only last for about an hour, then the pain is back, shinier and sharper than ever.  But… it’s not a heart attack, so it’s all good, right?

Here.  A pack of papers telling you that you need to talk to a surgeon within the next few days.  Take some acid reducers to help with the GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease – super-duper heartburn) Change your diet, don’t drink pop (haven’t had pop in months, thanks, stop looking at me like that).

Ok, here you go, get dressed and see ya later!

Life.

A never-ending series of ironic shifts, twisted plot lines and WTF moments.

Only way to go from here is forward.  It’s a good thing I’m resilient. (Read – too stubborn to stop)

 

Totally Twisted

Ever since Thanksgiving ended, I’ve been dealing with an ever-increasing amount of anxiety.

And even just thinking about it now, is causing the anxiety to re-double onto itself, heartrate elevated, hands periodically shaking, and my brain… oh, my poor brain.

I’m already one of those people who tends to over-think and over-analyze everything.  I spend so much time, worrying about the future, concerned about the present, my brain just twists itself into Gordian knots.

gordian-knot-mark-sellersLooks a bit like a brain, yeah?

I haven’t been able to even leave my house all weekend, knowing that there are things I should be doing, but I just – can’t.

And it hurts.

Few people understand just how debilitating General Anxiety Disorder can be.  It’s a “hidden” mental disorder, because it’s mostly internal.  The person suffering from it has a tendency to tuck it away, to not want others to see it, because that makes them appear “weak” or “incapable”.  If only they could just “get over it and stop worrying”, everything will be fine.  Geez, have a little faith, be more optimistic, wouldja?

But, it’s not that simple.

The Mayo Clinic, as well as many other reputable health sites, define GAD as:

“Generalized anxiety disorder has symptoms that are similar to panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other types of anxiety, but they’re all different conditions.

Living with generalized anxiety disorder can be a long-term challenge. In many cases, it occurs along with other anxiety or mood disorders. In most cases, generalized anxiety disorder improves with medications or talk therapy (psychotherapy). Making lifestyle changes, learning coping skills and using relaxation techniques also can help.”

And I am taking anti-anxiety meds, which do help considerably.  I’ve been trying to make healthier choices in my life, both in food, exercise, drinking more water, and working on cutting down on caffeine.  My doctor has been impressed with the changes I’ve made since I started seeing her, but we both know there are more changes to be made, so we’re working on the “plan”.  So, even though the medication and the change in lifestyle aren’t total fixes, I’m trying.  I’m really trying.  I don’t want this to be something that takes over my life.

But, this weekend… it’s locked me in place.

The uncomfortable “talk” I had with my dad pretty much threw me off the edge I’d been balancing on, and I’m struggling to pull myself back up and out of it.

I’m working on it, but please, be patient with me.

It’s not as easy as you think to cut through that totally twisted knot.

Anxiety mental health symbol isolated on white. Mental disorder icon design

 

November Rain

slash quote

Otherwise known as SNOW in North Dakota, this November has rained down all manner of craptasticness.

So much, all crammed into just a short space of time.

Geezus, it’s not even the 15th of the month, yet, and I’ve already broken my ankle, had more unwarranted legal drama with EldestDaughter (she has to go to court for something that the legal system didn’t update, and prove that she actually took care of something – luckily, she has all the paperwork backing her up – BUT, she still has to follow their timeline, put up with their bullshit, and probably be out the money for the lawyer because THEY CAN’T UPDATE THEIR SYSTEM) *ok, mini rant over*, and had yet another serious allergy attack due to a coworker who thinks that the office-wide emails going out about not wearing scented lotions and strong perfumes couldn’t possibly be about her. *ok, so rant just changed trains… (deep breath)*

It’s only November 13, and I’ve had it.

I’m tired of all this crap that this gawd-awful month is dishing out.  I’m through with dissolving into the exhausted tears that always seem to herald yet another THING that is kicking me in my gimp foot while I’m down.

I want a RECALL on that vote to leave this freaking month in the calendar year.

Rename the damn thing; take a few days from the month and spread them out to those that don’t have as many as the others… February could use a whole extra freaking WEEK for all I care.

GET RID OF NOVEMBER.

Can I start a Kickstarter project for this?  Raise the money and have people sign a petition?

WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO to make this awful travesty of a man-made “month” go away??

*drops mic and hobbles off stage*

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Additions and Subtractions

There have been a lot of additions and subtractions in my life lately.

Some positive, some… not so much.

But, I have to deal with all of them, get through them.  I must celebrate the good, and grieve for the bad.

The Good News:

I started OnlySon on blogging this last week.  He has been writing short, flash fiction for a little while now, and enjoys putting stories down.  I’ve read some of his stuff, and he has a promising future as a fiction writer.  He’s gifted in his storytelling, and can pull a reader in with the emotional and descriptive things he writes.  It’s all a little twisted and somewhat on the darker side, but – who am I to speak to that?  After all, I write a lot of monster stories, myself!

When we first set up his blog, he was sort of “meh” about it, nonchalant and noncommittal.  But… after he posted his first piece of flash fiction, he got a couple of almost instantaneous “likes” and was strutting like a fluffed-up peacock with pride.  He turned to me and said “You know, this IS going to go to my head.”

I said “Good, it should.  You need to know that other people enjoy your stories as much as I do.  You’re good at this.”

I want him to know that he has a definite talent, instead of always being told he’s not “good enough”, or “smart enough”.  He has a tough time in school, sometimes, and I know that his self-esteem isn’t always at the top end.  So this positive feedback from relative strangers is massively good for him.

Yes, there are things he could work on, and I’ve told him that I will help him with editing anytime he wants, but that I will NOT restrain him from writing whatever he wants.  This is HIS outlet, and I won’t squash that.

The Bad News:

I am on my own again.  There was a man I was in a relationship with, long distance, but I could handle that.  He hurt me emotionally, and I don’t know if there’s a glue that can fix that..

So.

I am left to find my own way once more.

It hurts – immensely.  I’ve cared about him for a long time, and was really hoping it would become something more.  But you can’t change the weather, you can’t fix someone else’s problems for them, and you can’t change their mind when they refuse to talk to you, hear you, or give you a chance to prove them wrong.

I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life.  I want someone I can share my life with, that I can share his too.  I want someone who will touch me like he means it, who will be there through the happy and the sad.  I want a partner I can stand beside and walk through life with.

I want someone who is not going to disappear on me, as others have.

I am an eternal romantic optimist, but this is a blow.  And it will take time to trust anyone else enough to believe that they won’t simply take off.

Additions and Subtractions.

And me, with my allergy to math.

math

Luck of the Irish

OnlySon broke his arm a few weeks ago.

While out walking our dog, Jack, he decided to run across a busy street to try to beat a motorcycle that was headed his way, slipped on some gravel, and slammed his left forearm into a curb, snapping the radius, and also causing a small “greenstick” break in the ulna. 

In other words, thoroughly messing up his left arm for the summer.

He’s been in a cast now for the last few weeks, and today is our last x-ray to decide whether or not the doctor wants him to have surgery to straighten it out, or let it heal, slightly crooked.  The doc assured me that when a child breaks a bone like this, often times they will heal better if they just let it grow back together at a small bent angle, than to do major surgery and try to correct something that won’t make much difference in the end.

But.

OnlySon and I went in for his x-ray appointment last week, and the doc wasn’t entirely happy with the way the films looked. 

Crap.

So, today, we find out whether OnlySon has to go under the knife, and ends up with his whole summer bound up in plaster.

Luckily, OnlySon is part Irish, on his father’s side.  He’s a lucky kid most of the time, as witnessed by the fact that whenever I take him out somewhere – grocery store, restaurants, parks, etc… he finds money on the floor.  No kidding.  He found a $20 bill on the ground once at a park here in town.  Just randomly laying on the ground.  The kid’s got it, whatever it is.

So here’s hoping the Luck o’ the Irish is with him, and me, today. 

Official update:  NO SURGERY REQUIRED!!  Found out yesterday afternoon that OnlySon is a mutant self-healer lucky-charmed kid, and is healing faster than the doctor expected. 

In 2 weeks, we go back, they’ll take the current cast off, and x-ray again.  If everything looks good then… OnlySon can finally have his summer!

A Work in Progress

My parents told me, when I was born, that I was perfect.

But I wasn’t.

I was, instead, a perfectly formed container of pure potential.

Potential to succeed – potential to fail.

Potential to grow, potential to wither.

And it was up to me to use this potential.

I was a work in progress.

They say that I was formed by my surroundings.

To a certain extent, that is true.

We are, all of us, affected by every single thing that happens to and around us throughout our lives.  The people we come into contact with, change us irrevocably, and forever.  As we change them.

And, as the human animals that we are, we are also affected by the things that exist within us, as well.  Instinct, honed by millions of years of evolution, have created a race of beings with the potential for greatness.  Whether great joy, or great tragedy – is completely up to us as a species.  Personal emotions and ideas form the way we interact with the world, aside from the “trained responses” that are part of society and parenting, pushing us to make decisions either for gain or for loss.

And we make mistakes.

I know I do.

Sometimes, out of frustration, or anger, or some other strong, passionate emotion, I will say things that I will later regret.  I have done things in the past that I am not so proud of.  People I’ve hurt, including myself, have been affected by my words, my actions, in ways that I cannot truly comprehend.

Sometimes, I don’t live up to my potential.  I fall down, as the imperfect being that I am.  I stumble and give way to the instinctual “flight or fight” responses that every living, sentient species has within them.  I can be angry, and depressed, and occasionally petty or small-minded. 

I can, however, also be filled with joy, and laughter and genuine helpfulness, caring and compassion for my fellow earth-dwellers.

Be patient with me, please. 

I am a work in progress.

And in the future, there will be times when I will stumble, because I’m not perfect. 

But I have potential.

And I know, this may sound strange – coming from someone who follows the Wiccan faith – but the words are strong in their potential, and carry their own weight, no matter who speaks them.

“Forgive us our trespasses, as We forgive those who trespass against us.”

If I have harmed you in the past, I apologize.  I will endeavor to keep myself from causing harm in the future, but I cannot guarantee perfect success.  I will endeavor to live up to my potential, to work at becoming more than I am today.  I will strive.

We are all of us imperfect beings – full of perfect potential.

Works in Progress.