Category Archives: tears

A Tango With Pain

This morning began as all mornings usually do, with the promise of hope and accomplishment.

Then, I got out of bed.

I stretched, as we all do upon waking, and something in my right shoulder or back shifted out of place. I audibly gasped, and J asked me what was wrong. I told him I was fine, finished up in the bathroom, desperately trying not to scream as pain washed over me while I washed my hands.

I opened the door, hunched over, and made it to the bed, where I knelt down and rested my upper body on the mattress, head in my hands, my hair falling  down around my face. I tried to move so my hair would allow me to breathe but I was wildly unsuccessful. I stayed there for a short bit, until the pain eased enough to allow me to climb into bed. J moved the pillows out of the way for me. I attempted to do the Cobra Yoga position which will sometimes pop things back into place but all it did this time was steal my breath. I grabbed a pillow, rested my head on it, and that was that.

I was stuck in bed for awhile.

I made it downstairs after the pain subsided and managed to eat an English muffin along with my morning medication plus ibuprofen. We menu-planned as I sat, nearly immobile with fear on the couch, and decided to go get J’s van while I was feeling better. Somehow, I managed to drive my 5spd to the dealership and back home. It wasn’t that bad because I was sitting down and there was not a lot of sharp movement involved in driving.

Once home, as J ran errands, I decided to fix his daughter’s nightlight in her bathroom and that’s when my lower back decided to join the party. After I got the new bulb placed, I retreated to our bedroom, tossed two pillows in bed, grabbed my body pillow, and curled up with the two pillow behind me, and the body pillow intertwined with my body to prop me up. A neck pillow lay on top of my regular pillow. I was as cushioned as I was going to get.

J finally arrived back home and came upstairs right as I was uncontrollably drifting off to sleep. It was not my intention to fall asleep but the pain was so great I could do little more than sleep. I slept until shortly after 3. He brought me some cheese (I wasn’t very hungry nor was I interested in sitting up for a long period of time to eat), water, and some Aleve.

I tried to get up shortly after to use the restroom only to move horribly wrong and fall back onto the bed, utterly defeated, tears streaming down my face, terrified J would need to help me.

I’m stubborn, though, and I made it on my own.

Eventually I took a hot shower right as J & his daughter ran errands. It helped slightly but not enough to kill the pain. J came home with patches and a heating pad. I opted for the Capsacin patch which helped somewhat and allowed me to get a few things popped but as I sit here, now using the heating pad and finally on Tylenol Arthritis, the pain washes over me as if high tide were rolling in.

Pain is my nemesis but over the past couple of years, it has worsened immensely. I have a threshold of pain I live with on a daily basis but when things go above this threshold, I get bitchy. Today? Today I would qualify at triple my threshold. I’d rather be asleep, to be honest.

Tomorrow, my goal is to make it to the gym to sit in the hot tub for as long as I can tolerate it to help with this. I may swim, I haven’t decided on that yet.

Just like PPD, the pain has taught me to be patient with myself, to be willing to take care of myself, and to let others do things for me. For some reason, I am less willing to do these things with the pain than with the PPD which makes no sense at all because with the pain, I am physically incapable of doing all the things. Perhaps it is the frustration of having the capability suddenly snatched away which initiates the frustration, who knows.

Pain is a cruel mistress, y’all. May you never end up in a permanent tango with her.

veteran-infographic

When You Thank A Vet

Today marks Veteran’s Day here in the United States. It’s a day we set aside to honor those who have fought so valiantly for our country.

With the advent of technology, reaching out to Veterans to declare your support is easier than ever before. Businesses, organizations, individuals – everyone is sending a shout out to Vets today. It is amazing to see the support flowing forth.

But.

I think there is an aspect we often forget about as we reach out to give our thanks to the vets who have fought for us through service in various branches of our military.

It is important to remember they are human too. They have emotions, reactions, and they too, are remembering their journey in their own way as we lavish them with praise and appreciation.

Some may struggle with PTSD. Others are lost in thoughts of brothers in arms lost to battle. Others contend with the idea that those who thank them for all they have taught them are themselves the teachers and worthy of praise.

We forget, all too often, I think, the intense emotional aspect of war. The toll it takes on all of us. Perhaps this is because best summed up by this quote:

“Humankind cannot bear very much reality.”

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Is war something we are unable to closely associate with human emotion because of the very nature of it? Is battle too fierce? The fighting too gruesome? Do our psyches not allow us to carry the traumatic alongside the sensitivity? Is this our brain’s way of protecting us from an emotional overload? Or is it because the majority of soldiers for so long have been men and therefore not allowed to operate as anything less than robotic, keeping them from processing the emotions battle swells within them?

We do not broadcast our losses on the evening news as often as we should, a point made in this deeply moving post about a citizen sharing a last flight home by a soldier. Instead, we relegate ourselves to separation from the tremendous loss and focus instead on the reunions of soldiers with loved ones. We are not acknowledging, in my humble opinion, the steep and tragic cost associated with prolonged battle. The loss, the heartache, the raw emotions steeped in battle and drenched in blood shed against tyrants who dare to threaten our freedoms, are far too great for humanity to bear.

We, for whatever reason, do not often equate humanity with soldiering. Empathy and compassion fails to mesh well with the ferocity of battle. So when soldiering and emotion intersects, as it often does on Veteran’s Day for so many, it can be triggering. It may leave some feeling overwhelmed and not knowing quite how to deal with the gratitude flowing their way.

It is not like Christmas or Thanksgiving. We are not celebrating, we are honoring. There are no gifts or celebratory meals. Instead, there is quiet recognition and thoughtful consideration of all that our veterans have sacrificed. Like anything else, we all choose to do this differently for it is intensely personal for those of us who have a veteran in our lives. Whether they be friends, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, grandfathers, or grandmothers, how we choose to honor their service and their memories is as unique as a snowflake which falls with the first snow.

We may choose to honor them quietly or we may make a public statement. For me, today, I am wearing my grandfather’s tag and will probably at some point watch Mister Roberts, a movie I used to watch with my grandfather quite often. Both of my grandfathers served in the Navy in WWII and although they never spoke of it with me, I knew they carried their experiences with them, as all veterans do. Military service is a part of their souls and the very fiber of their beings. Once you have served, there is rarely a time when you can untangle soldier from human. Therein, in my opinion, lies the challenge in coming to grips with the flow of gratitude on Veteran’s Day.

I only saw my grandfather cry once – when we were at a play meant to raise funds for the WWII D-Day Monument. As the telegraph notifications came in reporting the deaths of the soldiers in Bedford, Virginia, the hall went completely silent. Deeper than an audible silence; the kind of silence which envelops a room when there is great respect for what is occurring. I glanced over at my grandfather at this point to see his cheeks soaked in tears. I quickly looked away and struggled to hide my own flooded cheeks shortly thereafter. We never spoke of these tears but I never forgot them for they symbolized the emotional depths of war for me and always will.

For many, in particular those who have seen war since 2001, today is different. The memories are recent, the pain is ongoing, and they have joined the Greatest Generation in knowing the pain of war. Yes, the pain. War is not some glorified wonderful thing. It is not the Hollywood version where there is a rise to action, action, and then a conclusion. It’s messy, it rips families apart, it pushes soldiers to their limits and back again, and if they’re lucky, they get to come home, alive and still intact both physically and mentally. For all too many, this is not the case, and their wounds may not be visible to the eye.

veteran-infographicSuicide rates among soldiers, for the first time ever, outnumbers the deaths occurring in active combat. There is PTSD, and number of additional other issues which, again, because of technology and advancements in mental health awareness & medicine, are now at the forefront of the adverse affects of war. Women who are deployed face a higher risk of Postpartum Depression which in turn, affects an entire generation. War truly leaves a mark on every one of us, both on and off the battlefield.

So today, when you thank a veteran, particularly a younger veteran, take the time to embrace that they may be filled with emotions they may not be ready for today as a result of the onslaught of gratitude. Take the time to realize that these brave men and women have lost loved ones, brothers in arms, and they are replaying this in their heads as you thank them for their service. Respect their journey but also take the time to check in with them and ask them how they are doing.

For they are soldiers, they are brave men and women, but beneath it all, they have a heart, a soul, and they have bled for us, some more than others. They deserve nothing less than our greatest compassion and understanding for the hell they witnessed on the battlefield as they fought for freedom from tyranny in our great country’s name.

Rain Tears

Here Comes the Rain Again

Yesterday, as we hustled out the door to head to the gym at 5:00am (seriously – who does this?), we were surprised by the downpour just outside our door. It was a soft, quiet downpour in our neck of the woods but by the time we arrived at the gym, the rain fell harder and drifted sideways somewhat, thanks to the growing winds associated with the storms heading our way.

We went inside, I changed, and hopped in the pool. I swam for 40 minutes, engaged with focusing on my stroke instead of the rain just outside the massive windows next to the pool. Once in the hot tub though, I could see the rain, illuminated by the parking lot lights. It still fell quite heavily, according to a fellow soaker.

The rain didn’t stop until last night.

Throughout the day, it wavered between insanely driven to soft and quiet. People in the apartment complex ran to and fro, many covering their heads as they dared to venture into the uncovered spaces. I heard a few giggles from children and witnessed just a couple of adults use their regular strides as they headed to their cars.

Then it hit me.

Rain feeds the vegetation around us. Without it, we wouldn’t have ancient oak trees, green grass, gorgeous flowers, delicious vegetables or fruit. We wouldn’t have the oceans, lakes, ponds, creeks, fish, and all the other flora and fauna which depends upon the very vitality the rain provides as it falls.

Even though many of us don’t like the rain, it provides the means for our planet to thrive.

Boom.

Each of us is different. Each of us reacts to crying in our own way, just as each of us protects ourselves differently when it rains. Some of us run. Some of us use umbrellas. Some of us cover our heads with our hands or a magazine or newspaper. Some of us meander through the rain, not caring if we get soaked and enjoying the feel of every drop on our skin.

Bottom line – we all cope with the rain differently.

Tears are a part of processing emotion. Some of us cry at the drop of a hat or an overtly emotional commercial. Then there are those of us who hold our tears in until they burst through all our carefully constructed barriers, causing a flood as our emotions tied to those tears release. Then there are those of us who just don’t cry at all.

There is no right way to process emotion. There are unhealthy ways to process emotion, yes, but there are so many variants on the healthy ways to process emotions. Just like a walk in the rain – we all do what feels right for US.

Rain allows our planet to grow and thrive.

Tears allow us to grow and thrive.

It’s okay to let go and cry, it’s okay to breathe deeply and open the floodgates.

It’s not okay to pretend everything is okay when it’s not, to keep things to yourself if you’re hurting. What’s important is to remember you’re not alone – no matter where you live – (in a flood plain, a rainforest, a desert…) just because how you process things looks different than how someone else processes them doesn’t mean you’re wrong.

It just means you are human and an individual.

To Write Love on Her Arms Suicide message

In which I thank a friend for saving my life

I shared the above graphic on my personal FB page tonight. You see, today is National Suicide Prevention Day, kicking off a full week of awareness. I’ve seen blog posts, links, graphics, etc, pop up all over the place. Hell, even Wil Wheaton shared about depression.

A year ago this time, I was dancing with Suicide. Tango, actually. Cheek-to-cheek. There was no rose, no romantic embrace, just chills, thoughts, wondering, wanting, yearning. It was a dirty affair with no promise of a happy ending.

But I had this friend. An online friend who recognized my fall from grace despite my best efforts to convince everyone around me (and myself) that everything was hunky dory. My divorce had just been finalized. I was still unemployed. Not with my children. My heart broken into a zillion pieces, scattered and yet still throbbing on the cold hard floor. Yet somehow, I fell asleep every night and awoke every morning.

Did I want to? No.

Every time I was in my car, I wanted to swerve in front of every 18 wheeler I saw, every sturdy oak, down every steep hill. But I didn’t.

Then there was THE day.

The day when I stood upstairs, in my bedroom at my parents’ house, staring out the window, calculating at what angle I’d have to throw myself out of it in order to hit the cement retaining wall which separated the house from the lower driveway. As my hand reached out and touched the screen on my window, I recoiled. Ran downstairs, phone in hand, and sat in the living room with my mother, silent.

I texted my friend.

“I am not okay.”

He responded. Wanted me to call him. I did. He talked me through it. Searched online for an agency which offered income sensitive help. I called them the next day. I was in therapy until this past May with an amazing therapist who constantly pushed the envelope and forced me to face life head-on, something I hadn’t done for years.

That friend?

SAVED.MY.LIFE.

Do you hear me?

HE SAVED MY LIFE.

For so long, and even now, I am *that* person for others. To be on the other side of the equation is impossible for me to fathom. It was then and it is now. But even those of us who *KNOW* about mental health and the toll it has on lives struggle from time to time. We are not perfect. We are human. We too need support when it gets dark. In fact, I’d even postulate that it’s sometimes more dangerous for those of us who *KNOW* about mental health because we tend to talk ourselves out of it without reaching out for help because dammit, we’re supposed to know our stuff.

Reach out.

If you’re suffering, reach out.

If you’re not suffering, reach out to those around you and ask how they’re doing.

Then LISTEN. Don’t listen and think about what you’ll say in response, just listen. Let them pour themselves out and wait for them to need a response. Sometimes? We don’t need a response.

Sometimes?

We just need a comforting and safe place into which we can pour our fear, our darkness, and let go of our terrors. We need a warm hand willing to lift us out of our miry clay into the light. We need to be rescued before it’s too late.

To the friend who saved my life, thank you. Thank you more than the number of stars in the sky, atoms in the universe, and more than all the bacon I will ever eat in a lifetime. Because of you, I am still here. I am still breathing. I.BREATHE.BECAUSE OF YOU.

Thank you more than I can EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER say.

If you or a loved one are thinking of suicide, there’s a button at the top of my sidebar on my homepage here at the blog – click on it for resources. You are not alone. Suicide is a very permanent answer to a very temporary problem. There IS light, laughter, and love on the other side – I’ve found it and I will never again take it for granted.

All alone in a digital world

The following post is not meant to make anyone feel guilty or wonder if they should have leaned on me for support over the past few months. Everything I’ve done to support others has been of my own volition and if I needed to step back, please know I did so. It’s because of what i do that I’m writing to you today.

It’s been a helluva summer over here in my world.

I’ve not talked publicly about the details and will not do so now but I am now divorced. So when I say it’s been a helluva summer, I mean it. Over the course of this past summer, I’ve had a lot of emotional upheaval come my way. There have been things in addition to my divorce, which, I also will not divulge the details of, but these things have shaken me to my very core. I’ve gone to bed in tears. I’ve screamed. I’ve cried. I’ve wailed. I’ve wondered why I have to wake up. If I wanted to wake up. And yet… here I am.

In Nashville, I arose at 530a CT, made my bed, got dressed, drove to a nearby park and hiked 1.5-3 mi, showered, ate breakfast, made coffee, then onto the job hunt. I didn’t find a job. So at the beginning of July, I moved back home with my parents. Which, hello, humbling.

I lost my drive. My routine. I’ve been job hunting but I’ve also felt frozen. Frustrated. Scared. Rejected. Dejected. Alone.

Me? Alone?

But you’re a well-known blogger. The founder of #ppdchat. Giving. Compassionate. Funny. Awesome. One of the best friends I could ever imagine. Always there when people need you.

Surely you have people.

I have people. But I type to them on the computer. On my phone. They’re electricity, phantoms at best. In person?

I have my parents. People with whom I have been close with from a distance for the better part of the past 11 years. And let’s face it – you really don’t want to sit down and share everything with your parents.

Here, in person? I have no friends. I’ve lost touch with them all and really, at this point, don’t want to reconnect. I haven’t had an in-person best friend (other than my former husband) in nearly 11 years.

Then.

Trey Pennington.

Well known. Over 100k followers on Twitter. Committed suicide.

Alone.

Trey’s death scared the shit out of me.

Why?

Because there have been thoughts. A lot of thoughts.

Oh look. That tree is sturdy. I bet it’d destroy me and my car if I hit it going 70mph. Or… A steep hill… a ravine…. And trees. Surely I wouldn’t survive that.

But the one that scared me into really reaching out to someone?

Standing in front of my bedroom’s second story window wondering if I had what it took to fling myself out of it – at what angle would I have to do this in order to hit the cement wall? How long after I hit the ground would I survive for? Would I feel anything? Surely that pain had to be better than living in constant anxiety and frustration.

As I reached out to push the screen, I recoiled and rushed downstairs. Too close. Too.FUCKING.CLOSE.

A friend had reached out and told me if I ever felt Not OK, to text. So I did. We talked. He searched for some local agencies and found one for me. Today was my second therapy appointment. It rocked me. Hard. I drove for nearly an hour just to be okay enough to come home.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for almost a month now. I’ve been lying to myself. To you. To people who love me. I’m not okay. On my good days, I’m okay. But most days? Most days I’m a shell wrapped around shattered porcelain supports threatening to break any second. I rock, I pace, I can’t get my leg or my hands to stay still. I’ve been telling myself I’m okay, that I can do this, that I’m strong, that I have to make it through this because there’s no other choice but through. I can’t get out of this. It is my life. But – I’m alone in my life right now and I’m not so okay with that even though really, I have to be. There I go again.

Why now? Why today?

Because over the past week or so, I’ve had a couple of friends who have been in the same place come to me for support. I’ve watched myself type things to them I should be heeding but haven’t been. Words I need to live by but haven’t been.

It’s so very easy in this day and age to isolate ourselves. To live in an ivory tower connected to the world only with Wi-Fi. There are walls we put up, a lack of contact, a lack of true connection even if we try to impress upon others how much we care, they are, ultimately, still alone in their private hell. Our words are not three dimensional. They’re not hugs. They’re not “real” no matter how real they may seem or feel to those sending them. You can’t hug an email, a tweet, or a comment on a status update. Well, you can.  But it’s awkward. And you’re still alone in the dark. It hurts, y’all. Like hell.

Trey’s death especially hit home because again, here was someone who was not only connected online but in person and yet he felt so profoundly alone and lost that the only way out he could locate was death.What’s really scary is that from initial suicidal thought to completion, time lapse is typically only 10 minutes. 10 MINUTES, people! Which, in the Social Media Realm seems like forever but in the real world? It’s only 10 minutes. That’s not a lot of time to do anything. No amount of Klout in the world is powerful enough to prevent someone from going through with suicide if they’re truly determined.

I don’t want that to be my way out. I don’t want to be a statistic. I can’t let myself be a statistic. I’m fighting as hard as I can but it’s exhausting. Some days, I may be quiet. I may not be able to handle supporting you. I need you to be okay with that. I need to be okay with that. I need to be okay with not being okay right now and admitting that I’m tired. It’s a work in progress and I suspect will be such for quite some time to come.

I’m not posting this for pity. I’m not posting this for attention. I’m posting this because the more honest we all are about how we feel and the more truthful we are with facing the hard, the easier it is for us to make strides in healing the hard. The easier it becomes for the NEXT person to talk about the hard, especially when that hard is suicide or a mental health issue.

I’m refusing, once again, to remain silent. I hope my refusal to stay silent about this will help someone somewhere.

Know I’m on my way to my new okay. I don’t have a plan right now and I am seeking help. In the meantime though, and especially right after I post this, I’m going to need some time to myself because wow has this been hard to write. I imagine deciding to hit Publish will be even harder. Because once I hit that button there’s no more hiding this from anyone.  And also? I’m supposed to be strong. I’m supposed to be the support. Once I hit publish, that flips. Being on the opposite side of the equation is a bit scary… it’s territory I’ve not been in for quite some time. At least not publicly. Or ever, really, because I didn’t go through my PPD in real-time through my blog or on Twitter. Maybe I’ll just close my eyes and click. Like Pin the Tail on the Donkey except this is Bare your heart and soul to the entire fucking Internet and never take it back. It’s a pebble which, once dropped, will create uncontainable ripples.

Also? Make those connections. Online and off. Lean on them. BE HONEST when you’re not okay. Lying about your well-being only hurts yourself. I am SO sorry for not being honest but it’s hard to be honest with others when you’re not even capable of being honest with yourself. Now that I’m somewhat heading toward self-honesty, I will do my best to be honest with you too. I pray you’ll forgive my dishonesty and understand my struggles. I know most of you will. But I do worry some of you will worry unnecessarily about me as well or even wonder if you’ve done anything to add to my issues. Rest assured you have not, I promise.

I love all of you to pieces and hope you’ll continue to support me as I go through this new and not so stable time in my life. I know you’re going to want to help but a lot of this involves things I need to work through on my own. Just knowing you’re out there to support me as I’m moving forward will be more than enough.

I’m working to find my happy again. I promise.

Thank you, South Carolina

This past Sunday.

We all know what the day meant. What it marked. How we spent it.

I spent it in my car, driving to Georgia.

I had decided not to blog about the day after a brief conversation with a friend on Twitter. To spend the day in solemn remembrance and thought about the events of 10 years ago.

At 840am, I turned off my music and turned on NPR. They were covering the ceremonies of the day. The first moment of silence at Ground Zero at 846am. The second moment of silence. A third moment of silence at the Pentagon. Shanksville, PA.

A few tears slid down my face as I listened to the silence. As I listened to the names being read aloud.

And then.

Oh and then.

As my car zoomed at 70+ mph down 85 in Spartanburg, SC, the tears streamed down my face as I rounded a bend and headed toward the first of one of several overpasses in the “metro” area. I wish I could have snapped a photo but given the speed at which I was traveling, I was unable to do so. (I was also unable to safely pull off to the side to get a photo as well – traffic was not amenable to this)

This overpass, covered in huge American flags, filled with Americans, waving, and remembering the tragic events which occurred 10 years ago, dug deep into my soul and heart.

Not the silence in NYC. Not the names read aloud. Not the description of a man who was the only one of 5 to survive at the Pentagon near where the plan struck the building. But this.

Real Americans. Patriotic Americans dedicated to not forgetting.

Sure, those in NY are real Americans. But I wasn’t there. I wasn’t part of their event. I was removed. But this, this in your face dedication and remembrance, I was part of this.

And now, this memory, this beautiful remembrance, has joined the memories I hold in my head as many of us do, of the horrific events of September 11, 2001. While still unfathomably tragic, the memories in my head now have a bookend of beauty and of perseverance.

Thank you, Spartanburg, SC, for giving me this beautiful memory to add to such a dark time in our nation’s history.

Whatever Wednesday: Owning my obesity

Way back in late 2010, the last week of December, to be exact, I decided to weigh myself. I hadn’t been on a scale in months. Too busy running a house with three kids 6 and under. I didn’t have the time. I liked being an ostrich. If I didn’t think about it, it didn’t matter, right?

Wrong.

My feet killed me. I mean, really killed me. Sharp shooting pains in my arches. My knees were giving out. I could hardly stand up once I sat down. My legs were weak. My arms were weak. Walking was a chore. I’d get out of breath just going from the living room to the kitchen. Shopping at Wal-mart exhausted me. I couldn’t play with my kids. A blob on the couch. This was not living. Sidelined in my own life instead of a participating. Life is not meant to be lived like this.

So I got on the scale.

On the Wii. Which, as those of you who have Wii know, can be harsh. Not only does your Mii suddenly put on a Sumo Wrestler fat suit, the computerized voice shrieks for the whole world to hear that you’re “OBESE.”

Sighs.

Obese. Me. Yup.

I’m 5’8. I weighed in at 281lbs that day. I cried. 19 pounds away from 300 pounds. Wow. In my head, I 300 pounds was the number I would never reach. Yet here I was. Staring the bad boy down. So disgustingly close.

No wonder my feet were sore by noon. No wonder my knees were constantly giving out. No wonder my back killed me. No wonder I couldn’t play with my kids. I was OBESE.

This had to change. No more excuses. Time for action.

I started slowly with Wii. I did guided work outs via the Trainer in Yoga. I did Choose your own workouts too. Signed up for My Fitness Pal and tracked my calories. Stopped eating crap. Drank more water. Moved on from Wii to real world hiking at a local botanical garden. I tweeted about my progress. Shared on Facebook too. So many friends encouraged me. I found @bookieboo on Twitter. Started using the #mamavation hashtag occasionally and found even more support.

I could play tag with my kids in the front yard and keep up with them. I walked the neighborhood with them – 1.5 miles up and down some mildly hilly terrain. While pushing  a double stroller. I went from not able to push that stroller up a hill to looking forward to the burn I would feel in my thighs. I bitch-talked myself up and down some nasty hills in my in-law’s neighborhood. I KNEW I could do it. And felt so proud of myself when I did.

Eight months after that horrific weigh-in, I’ve lost a little over 50 pounds.

Earlier this summer, I was hiking 3 miles every day. 1.5 if it was really humid and hot because let’s face it – there’s exercising and then there’s insanity. I’m not quite insane. These days, I’m hooked on an exercise bike. I’m up to 8miles in 30 minutes. I’m a hot sweaty stinky mess when I’m done and I love it. If you had told me I’d be this into exercise a year ago, I probably would have laughed at you.

Exercising and eating right have become a habit. People notice I’m healthier and looking better. They ask me how I’m doing it – expecting me to answer with some sort of fad or get thin quick scam. I’m not into those. I’m into lifestyle changes. Yes, it takes time. But it’s a lasting change. I’m less likely to put the weight back on given that my habits have changed. There’s literally no change in cost to me – no diet pills, no gym membership, no fad foods. Everyone loses weight differently and yes, some people need the structure of a program. Turns out I just needed the motivation of staring down 300 pounds to run in the other direction.

Technically, I’m still obese if you go by the numbers. My BMI is 35. It WAS 42.7.

I don’t feel obese. I can run up and down 14 steps without getting winded. AFTER going for 30 minutes on the exercise bike. I don’t cling to the railing of the stair case for fear I’ll collapse. My thighs are slowly developing muscle definition. I don’t crave (alot of) fatty foods. I haven’t had soda in.. well…. it’s been a long damn time. I’m not capable of pigging out anymore because I get full quickly these days. Water and I are best pals.

I still want to lose 80lbs for a total of 130lbs lost. So yes, I have a long way to go but I’m taking it day by day and as long as I continue to feel healthier and see changes in my body for the better, the numbers really don’t matter. I don’t use My Fitness Pal anymore. My diet has changed so much I’m capable of keeping my calories where they need to be without really thinking about it. I don’t deny myself an indulgence here and there. I just work out harder or eat lighter the rest of the day if I know I’m going to indulge.

Losing the weight has also improved my mood and outlook on life. It’s shown me I can do anything if I just decide to push through the barriers. You can too. There’s fight deep inside you even if you don’t feel it right now. It’s there, just dying to get out and push you forward. Let it escape and motivate you through the hard times. You’ll be glad you did… trust me.

Reanimating my past

Reanimation

Image via Wikipedia

Some time ago, I blogged about how brushing my hair triggered my PTSD from the birth of my second daughter. Not too long after her birth, I chopped all my hair off. It’s long again and I am finally okay with brushing my hair but still mindful of how long I brush. I make every effort to brush only as long as necessary, forcing myself to put the brush down and walk away.

Today, for the first time in over five years, I am listening to Linkin Park’s Reanimation.

Why is this significant?

This is the album I listened to the day my five year old daughter had surgery for her jaw at just 9 days old. I took the MP3 player into the sleep room at the Children’s Hospital right outside the NICU, curled up, cranked it up as loud as it would go, sinking blissfully down into the rhythm of the pulsating beats and the angst of their screaming voices. Thing is, I sank so far down I did not want to come back. I yearned to stay there, hidden, safe, with their angst. Lost in the darkness. Because there, there I did not have an imperfect newborn. There, I was just a soul moving to the rhythm. Nothing was wrong. I was not angry. I was not sad. I was NUMB. I wanted to be lost forever in the solitude of peace which existed amidst the digital beats, the persistent piano tones and haunting echoes behind the remixed rhythms. My womb, my saviour, my peace. I clung to the MP3 player until my knuckles were stiff, refusing to let go, closing my eyes to sink deep beneath the surface of reality.

But today, I sit here, each song echoing into my ears, my soul, my heart, and I am shaking as I type. Breathing deep through pursed lips and wiping away tears. This is music. This is just beats. Just rhythm. Just voices. This is NOT my daughter’s surgery. This is NOT the pain I felt five years ago. It’s not. Today I am letting all of this wash over me and turning it into the music it’s meant to be, not the hell it used to be for me. Today I am not numb. Today I am feeling. Today I am listening. Today, I’m singing with the words. I’m dancing to the beats. I’m reclaiming the music for joy instead of pain.

Today, I win.

Today, I refuse to let this music trigger me any longer.

It’s taken me five years but I’m finally strong enough to refuse to let this beast control me anymore.

Not easy, but necessary. A step toward the new me. Toward the healed me.

Why am I sharing this with you? To let you know that yes, healing takes time. It’s a process with each step presenting itself as you are ready. If you falter, don’t despair. The step will come. You’ll overpower the step with strength from an unknown place when the time is right. It won’t be easy. But it will be powerful. And once you’ve done it, you’ll look back and see just how far your journey has brought you… and how much strength it has added to your life.

Own it instead of letting it own you.

Milestones

This year has been a year full of milestones for our four year old daughter.

She blew out the candles on her birthday cake for the very first time. She belly laughed for the first time. She is thriving in an all-day pre-k full of absolutely normal kids her age. We understand almost 99% of her speech these days. Life is good.

Today, a milestone happened for us in the car.

When I walked in to pick her up from pre-k, she grinned widely, jumped up, and ran over to hug me.

The last time I picked her up? Tears. Total meltdown. Temper tantrum complete with thrashing in the floor. She is accustomed to her father picking her up and had not been informed about the change. She was NOT happy. Today she was happy to see me. We started last night to explain to her that Mommy would be picking her up from school to take her to a doctor’s appointment.

I had a snack waiting in the car. Once strapped in, I got her settled with her snack, got the tunes going, and off we went.

Halfway across town, as she snacked and I chowed down on Peanut M&M’s, a favorite song of hers came on Pandora.

I turned it up, she squealed, and we sang as loud as we could together.

Then, it hit me.

We?

Were a mother and daughter rocking it out in the car.

Just an average, everyday Mom & daughter totally grooving together.

I had to stop singing because I started crying. Furiously blinking back tears so she wouldn’t see me and swallowing my tears so I could sing with her again, relishing the normalcy of the moment.

My four year old and I did not bond when she was born. She was born with a condition known as Pierre Robin Sequence. At just 9 days old, she had major surgery and was in an induced coma for a week as the swelling went down from her surgery.

When she was 56 days old, I was hospitalized.

When she was 7 months old, I stopped exclusively pumping and stopped resenting her for all the issues she brought into my life.

When she was 3 years old, she had to have another surgery and I was forced to return to the same hospital she was at for her NICU stay. We bonded that week, the two of us, and have been growing closer ever since.

But today? Today was really the first time I felt that miraculous mother/daughter bond with my daughter.

I cried not only because it had finally happened but because it took nearly five years to happen.

You know what though?

TOTALLY worth the wait.

Her hobby is “helping othr mommys”

This afternoon, my daughter sat down and began seriously reading a Mother’s Day project she had been laboring over at school this past week. The first pass declared me to be 8ft tall (yup!), 10lbs (wow. Can we say excuse to indulge in ice cream all weekend?!), 70 years old (we need to have a talk, Olay!), sweet, and as beautiful as a rose (ok, Olay, clearly you’re doing something right!)

But then, then there was the sentence about my hobby.

My 6 year old daughter wrote proudly in her Mother’s day book the following:

“Her hobby is helping othr mommys.”

Yes, dear, it is indeed. It is indeed.

I need Kleenex.

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