Jun 15, 2012
Jun 10, 2012
Apr 22, 2012
Apr 11, 2012
Apr 06, 2012
Today was the first full day after my mother's death that I did not have somewhere I HAD to be: someone to pay, arrangements to make, someone to call or console. It was actually very nice to have some autonomy.
I suppose this is the first day of the rest of my life without my mother.
It's strange. I feel...unanchored. I have 2nd and 3rd cousins and whatnot in the area but my brother lives in Indiana and my mom was an only child so there are no aunts, uncles or first cousins. I sort of feel alone. I know I am not. I've built up quite the extended family. But there is something about that blood connection.
You know she and I had the same blood type, which happens to be THE rarest blood type of all of them: AB negative. That fact always sort of made me feel connected to her. We both went through having that God-awful shot during our pregnancies to keep our bodies from building up anti-bodies to the RH factors our babies may or may not have carried (as it turns out I had negative blood my brother is positive. Both my children are positive so that shot actually made it possible for #2 to be born. Left untreated, antibodies to RH factor will attack an RH positive fetus in utero). She often joked that she was glad we had the same blood type because who else was there to give US blood?
Isn't it strange the thoughts you think about a person when they are gone?
I named this post in the still of the night because that's been the hardest time for me. Last night I had a dream that I saw her. She was in her wedding dress and a beautiful head wrap. Her "butt-length" dread locks (she'd admonish me for using the word "dread") were flowing beautifully down her back. her face was full and she was standing upright with her Afro-centric jewelry on. I ran to her and embraced her tightly. She took my head in her hands and caressed my cheek. She took both my hands in hers and squeezed them, but then let them go. She took a step backward and she was as she was in her early 40's, before the locks, with shoulder-length brown permed hair. Another step back and she was as she was in her 30's. And another step back and she was in her 20's wit her big Afro and tiny body. One more step back and she was the little girl I'd seen a million times in my grandfather's photo album and she was flanked on either side by my grandfather, as his younger self and my grandmother, as her younger self. They each took one hand and led her away. As she left she looked back at me over her shoulder and smiled.
It was a nice dream. I woke up crying happy tears. But then as fast as the happiness came, there came the vacant space. The selfish part of me that just wants my mommy back. I just want her to nag me to chop veggies for dinner or to vacuum the carpet correctly like when I was little. I long for her to call and bug me about something one more time or tell a story she's told me two million times. If only she could "hold me hostage" on the phone one last time.
These are the thoughts I have at night. When it is quiet, after the children have gone to sleep.
I don't think she wanted to die. I think she wanted to live but did not want to live the way she was living: in pain, in turmoil, disconnected from the people, places and things she loved. I can feel the feelings that are down below the surface bubbling. I found a grief support group and I intend to go because I know what these feelings can do. And for the life of me I will NOT regress over this. She was so proud of what I'd accomplished. And I am too. I feel like it would be the utmost dishonor to go back to who I was before, what I was before. So I need to figure out how to deal with this place in my life that used to belong to her. I need to figure out how to get through the night and back into the light of day.
Apr 01, 2012
Mar 21, 2012
I have two very indulged children. In the beginning they were indulged to placate. I couldn’t deal with life so I couldn’t deal with them so I occupied them as best I could. Don’t get me wrong, I know my kids. I talk to them. I hug them. I kiss them. But I’ve also had my fair share (more than actually) of days where I allowed them to watch television or play Xbox or surf the net for HOURS just so they’d be quiet.
So here we are. Both kids are too big for their ages and I really do want to make an effort in earnest to encourage them to care about their health and to take the initiative in being active and healthy. But at the same time…as I said…I have very indulged children. They are resistant, make excuses, everything I used to do.
What I figured was this. I either needed to help them find some activity they REALLY like doing but also an activity they’ve avoided doing for the perception that they cannot do it. The former to be for learning to enjoy activities, the latter being for achievement but also I wanted them to get a little pissed off about not being able to do something. They, like many kids, take the “oh well, can’t do it, guess I won’t even try” approach. I am living proof that thinking does not work!
So fast forward to yesterday. The youngest one (who is the one I am most worried about health-wise) told me some time ago she’d like to go with me in the evenings when I walked. I said ok. Now my goal is not to push her to be a race runner or anything but I did tell her this is a part of my activity for the day so it would not be slow and leisurely walking. She did not seem to mind.
Well, how it played out was a whole different story! The walk began nicely enough. She even wanted to jog a little and so we did. Now anyone who knows me knows that I have a kinship with trees and this particular park has some great ones that I’ve introduced the kids to. At a point in the walking path there is a particularly haunting tree. It’s actually two trees that grew so close together they branch out from one another and look like just one tree. It’s not an easy tree to climb but I learned to climb it. My daughter tries too but has not been successful yet.
We get to the tree and she wants to climb it. Before we started I explained we’d walk the entire loop of the park (the remainder of which was up and then down a hill but on the bright side, at the top of the hill is a beautifully restored pre-antebellum mansion that we like to peek into every now and again). Girlfriend was MAD! She wanted the tree and she wanted it NOW.
And like any 10 year old she began to get obnoxious about it. With each step up the hill she verbalized things she “hates” (thankfully I am not yet one of those things). She hates the trees, she hates the birds, she hates the grass, she hates walking (and she’s never going again).
Now understand this walk is usually my end of the day wind down. It’s how I get into “home” mode. It makes it possible for me to mother these children without going postal. So I am trying…really hard…not to react. I know she wants a reaction.
What’s interesting for me is the WAY I was first inclined to react. I wanted to shake the child and say “Do you know that you are not healthy? Do you know you that you need to be doing this or else you might face a lifetime of obesity and ridicule? Do you know what kind of life that is, how painful it is? Do you???”
But that’s what my mom did to me. Over and over and over again. And slowly but surely a kid who thought she was ok turned into a kid who loathed herself. I don’t want that for my daughter. So after a point I simply went with, “You’re not being very nice. You are welcome to THINK whatever you want to think but please be quiet for a few minutes.” I don’t know if that was right or wrong but it kept me from saying the other things.
So we got around the rest of the loop in good time and we get to the tree. She half-heartedly tries to climb it. Fails. I show her how to climb it: where to put your feet, when to push up, what to grab. She again tries, half-heartedly and again does not make it. Then she proclaims “this tree is stupid and I want to go home!” At this point I said, “fine.” We would be coming back the next day for a walk so if she wanted to try again she’d get the opportunity. But she hung back. In a smaller voice she said, “But I want to climb that tree.”
And I replied, “Would you like me to show you again?” She nodded and I showed her again after which she AGAIN only put partial effort into climbing the tree.
Walking home I was angry. What did she expect? If she didn’t try to really climb the tree she wasn’t going to get up the tree!
But then it occurred to me that maybe why she was frustrated was BECAUSE it was not easy. When she saw me do it, it might have looked easy because I’ve done it so many times I can do it pretty quickly. For her it wasn’t easy. And I believe (though there are few ways to tell) that she felt frustrated because in thinking it SHOULD be easy and accepting that it was NOT easy for her, she made some sort of judgment on herself.
I used to do this a lot in my bigger days. I’d see thin people working out and think it was easy for them where it was so hard for me and I’d resent them so much! Now as a smaller person I know working out is hard at any size. The only difference between then and now is that I am willing to push through the hard parts and keep going.
So that’s my nugget for today. Tonight we go back to the walking path and we walk again. Last night we talked and she said she really wants to learn to climb that tree and I assured her I’d be willing to go with her to the tree as many days as she’d like.
I didn’t like what I saw come out of my daughter yesterday during the walk. I didn’t like what saw come out of me. We both have stuff to work on. But I pray, SO HARD, that by trying, by facing these issues, by talking things out, by getting pissed off, by setting seemingly impossible goals (and hopefully achieving them) I am helping her escape decades of misery that I inflicted upon myself.
Feb 21, 2012
“Your belief in me is both inspiring and petrifying at the same time.”
I thought this thought to myself today. There is, of course, a story behind it.
Most of you know I am a writer by trade. I recently took on an assignment to write an article on my organization’s behalf for a magazine that is well respected in our little corner of the world. But the audience for this magazine was one for which I’d never written before. If I was successful, it would be a great thing for my organization. If I failed, it would be a terrible thing for me.
(No pressure, right?)
I went at the task with fervor. I interviewed experts on my subject matter. I held little focus group discussions. I asked questions, drafted drafts, drafted more drafts, got feedback and…completely melted down.
The problem was that I didn’t give myself time to process all the feedback I was getting. I was on deadline and I didn’t have time to just sit with it. I had to write it! For some people this works (my cousin, she writes for a daily newspaper and for her this works). For me, this is a sure route to failure.
And that is what I did. I failed. Big. Last Friday, after staring at the cursor on my computer for four straight hours I cobbled together a sub-par draft and sent it to my supervisor and left for the weekend, feeling dejected and wondering if I’d still have a job come Tuesday.
And my whole weekend was ruined by it. One thing you have to understand about me is that I was raised in an abusive home. As an adult, I know, academically, that making mistakes will not result in violence, but still knowingly making mistakes makes me feel very unsafe. I tend to be very much like Dobby, from Harry Potter. I beat myself up before anyone else has a chance to do it.
Now before you say it, no I am not exaggerating. The story DID suck that bad. Even my supervisor said so (but, thankfully, not in those exact words). But what she sent me back was obviously not violent, but it also wasn’t an admonition or any statement of me being a bad writer, employee or person. Walking to work Tuesday I didn’t know what we should do about the story. My inclination was to beg her to drop the whole thing. I mean, we did REALLY have to turn a story in, did we?
But she was extremely encouraging. She took the time to read over my draft (and a few others I’d send over the course of the week preliminarily) and give suggestions on how I could complete the story. Never once did she suggest that I give up. And not in a “you better do this or else” sort of way but a “I believe you can do this and you know you can too” sort of way.
So I’ve spent the better part of the day re-crafting the story. A funny thing happens when you allow yourself time and space to process things. You see what you could not see before. You get ideas that seem to have come out of nowhere, but really are the result of our brain running all the possibilities and coming up with the most logical solution.
It was in the drafting of the story that I thought the first line of this blog post. Her belief in me did inspire me to rewrite a better story. But it also scared the holy crap out of me. Expectations are meant to be met or exceeded. Falling short of expectations is absolutely awful. It doesn’t make anybody feel good, especially when you know what you are capable of.
I tell you this to say, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves in this WLS process. The whole world is watching us, waiting for us to fail, or so we think. But imagine, in the situation I described, if I had not made it such a big deal to sit with the information over the weekend and resolved to come back to it today. The story is still getting turned in on time and it’s the RIGHT story.
What might happen if you stopped putting so much pressure on yourself to drop so many pounds or to be able or not be able to eat certain amounts of certain foods or have figured out certain head issues or whatever your challenge is. What would happen if you just chilled out for a moment? Gave yourself this one moment of peace to process all the changes that have happened and to figure out where you want to go from here.
Because there is a way to get from where you are to what you want. Your brain just needs to figure out the most logical solution. And to do that, sometimes you just need a little bit of space and time.
Feb 16, 2012
Feb 14, 2012
My mind is rebellious. If there is something on my mind, it refuses to release thought power until I’ve addressed that thing that’s on my mind.
Four years after bariatric surgery, I wonder if I will ever find peace, a happy medium, a calm and quiet space in even a small corner of my mind.
I manage. I do ok. But I am not “normal.” There is no “natural balance” and there is no “moderation” for me.
Because moderation suggests the ability to moderate. To give validity to both sides while showing favor over neither. To this day, I still cannot do that with regards to food. Either I eat a lot or I eat nothing. I really and truly still do not understand eating just enough.
And at this point, of course, I have to ask myself why. A lot of it has to do with my personal past but today I’d like to speak about environmental challenges, because they are very, very real.
My least favorite saying of post-ops and dieters is, “Food is for fuel only.” That’s a damn lie. Food is for more than fuel. If it were only for fuel why would we bother trying to make it taste good? No, we eat for enjoyment also. It’s built into us as humans and it’s one reason we are still on this planet and not extinct.
And like it or not, food plays a big part in life around us. People use food to connect with one another (family dinner), to mark milestones (the birthday cake), to celebrate tradition (the Thanksgiving Turkey). We use food to express emotions (chicken noodle soup when you are sick) and to pass on culture (Southern food, collard greens, etc.). We even use it to express our faith (Shabbat, Seider, etc.).
So what your surgeon, your support group leader, your psychologist didn’t tell you was this: by attempting to reject food as a central part of your existence, in many ways you are rejecting your own humanity.
That sounds deep doesn’t it? It isn’t that complicated a concept to understand.
It’s the awkwardness you feel when you go to a family dinner and refuse to eat anything. It’s the hurt in your mom or your aunt’s eyes because of that. It’s the confusion people feel on your birthday (after all, if they don’t get you a cake, what should they get you?). It’s the pressure you feel to live healthfully in a way that doesn’t alienate everyone else in your life.
The whole world isn’t necessarily food obsessed. But I am. And because I don’t have the ability to moderate, I have to place myself outside the parameters of community and society to manage my health. That stings a little bit.
This past year I’ve allowed some food tradition back into my life. I’ve always held strong to my weekly church supper, for instance. It’s the carbiest meal ever each week, but it’s a meal shared in fellowship, with people who care for me. And it isn’t about the food. I really don’t care what they serve. It’s about breaking bread together.
I don’t have any conclusions on this post. I’m just getting the thoughts out there. I’m not sure I’ll ever learn to balance naturally. I do want to note, however, that I DO balance, but it is an effort. It’s foreign. I see it as an imposition on precious mental space and I often resent it. I don’t want to wake up in the morning and think about what I’ll eat. I’d like to trust that as I go through my day I will eat the right things.
So anyway…just my rambly thoughts. I think I will post to this blog more often.