Thursday, January 27, 2011

If I got one wish...

Most people if given the chance at one free wish would choose fame, fortune or material gains. If I could get my genie to pop out of the lamp I would forgoe all those choices to be able to read other people's minds. Not for some strange lurking or bad movie plot reason, the reality is I pretty much don't care what others think day to day, but I would like the ability to read other people's minds to figure out my own thoughts.

Three times in the last week people have made comments to me about my feelings not being unique, that I am not as different as I think I am. While my instinct has told me for many years that I don't think and feel like others, that other people are happier, have it more together, are better able of capable of managing life's stressors, that keeps getting called into question, to the point even I am unsure anymore.

I try really hard not to spend my life looking backwards, the past is the past and leaning on it is a crutch with little benefit, but the reality is that our past does make us who we are. And if I am honest I have to face that my ability to know whether my feelings are normal or abnormal comes from how I grew up, and in this I know I am not unique. Many people grew up like I did, in families where feelings weren't shared, where showing emotion was a sign of weakness or worse yet a risk. There are many downsides to this kind of childhood, but one of the biggest is never really learning what are normal feelings and what are abnormal. And when every emotion is shot down, they all begin to feel abnormal. Just feeling begins to feel wrong for even happening.

I've overcome a lot in my life time, more than most people luckily will ever face, but I have never gotten past my inability to deal with my emotions or to express them to other people, especially when face to face. Don't get me wrong, I can express opinioins on a situational and logical level. No one ever has to guess if I like something or don't, if I agree or disagree. But when it comes to what I am truly feeling about a situation it is a totally different ball game for me.

And the older I have gotten the harder it has gotten. Any time I have taken the risk and tried to let someone in to that part of me it has seemed to back fire. Too often in life when people say they want in, they really don't once they get there and they walk away, just reinforcing that my feelings must be wrong or abnormal. It has become much easier to hide what is truly going on than to risk driving people away.

I fear saying that comes across as people don't care. That is not what I am saying at all. I have many people around me that care. But caring does not always mean being able to handle hearing the reality of people's feelings, sometimes it is actually easier to talk to those who don't care so much, they seem more open to hearing where I am at and letting me be there in that moment. Too often when people care, they want to convince me to feel otherwise, that I shouldn't feel what I do. And I get it, no one likes to see people they care about upset or hurting. But the reality is when we try to talk someone out of how they feel it doesn't change their feeling, it just drives them to hide it better, or at least it does for me.

I know many times what I am feeling is NOT what I would like to be feeling, I would like to be happy when I am sad, I would like to be content when I feel anxious, I would like to be accepting when I am frustrated. But there is a reason why I am feeling what I am and I need to stop running from that and face where I am. It's time I start dealing with that and not just writing it off to be something else for others. Since I don't know how to do that with other people lately I just keep it to myself.

Is that normal or abnormal, I still don't know.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I typically have the tv on when I am working, it is my background noise. This morning I caught an episode of the new reality show Heavy. This seems to be the year of the weight loss program, Heavy, I Used to be Fat and another one I cant recall the name of, as well as the next season of The Biggest Loser.

I never know whether I want to see these things or not, sometimes they make me sad because they remind me where I used to be and it brings back a lot of shame, other times they frustrate me, because the message on all of them is "eat less, workout more"and you'll be thinner. Not one of the programs has ever profiled someone in my situation, where eating too little is a big part of the problem. One of the profilees on Heavy this morning was eating 10,000 calories a day, I can't even fathom that when I struggle to scrape up 1500 calories a day, even with a horrible slip yesterday of a Big Mac and fries I still barely made my calories for the day.

Heavy for those who haven't seen it documents the first 6 months of a weight loss journey for two individuals. They are provided a treatment program, a trainer and medical support. From what I saw I like the program in that the participants are going through their struggle mostly (for at least 5 months of the 6) in their home environment, facing the everyday realities. That has always been my issue with Biggest Loser, that most of the participants were doing it all in a controlled environment without the stressors and challenges of their lives. The battle is much different when it is part of your every day life, not something that can be your sole focus.

I was very taken with one of the participants on the episode I saw this morning. Jodi and I shared a lot of the same struggles, she was fighting herself, her inability to open up to those trying to help her and her own thoughts as much as her body. She said many of things I have been thinking the last couple weeks about needing help but not knowing how to let her trainers help her, of not knowing how to feel safe enough to be that vulnerable.

She also broke down in tears at one point admitting she feels like a failure most of the time while training and working out. It was the first time on any of these shows that I have heard that level of honesty. I knew exactly what she meant, because I have spent the last few weeks of my training sessions feeling that way. Worrying I have come as far as I can and maybe now I am just kidding myself. The scale isn't moving so I really don't know what else to judge success or failure on, so I see failure.

A friend made a comment to me in the grocery store yesterday about my blog, she said she reads it and wonders if I think I am the only one who goes through the things I write about, truth, most days, yes. I know on one level that is illogical, but it is how I feel. I look around me, at others on the same journey, and just others in general, and yes I do feel much more disfunctional than the people around me. Others seem to cope so much better than I feel I do, others seem to be able to communicate so much better than I do, others seem to be able to let others help them so much better than I do.

I was kind of floored after I left that friend at the checkout at the grocery store and when I came back to checkout myself the cashier said "wow, your friend admires you so much". I really didn't know what to say or what was said by K that lead to that comment. And as usual the only thing that went through my mind was "Why would she admire me? There is certainly nothing about me for her to admire". Luckily for once I was able to stop what was in my head from escaping my mouth, and just smiled and thanked the cashier and moved on.

There is one more thing I wish we could see on tv if the weight genre is going to continue, the full struggle. These programs catalog the first few months, when it's easier, when a small change means a big weight loss. On Heavy this morning they were losing 10 or more pounds a week. That makes for great television, but what still isn't being seen is what it feels like 14 months in, when you work for months for a single pound, when those around you are long bored with your weird eating or your obsessing, when the victories become much smaller and you battle tirelessly and no one notices. That is the true face of this journey that still needs to be told.

Friday, January 21, 2011

My heart breaks for Gabby Giffords....

When Gabby Giffords was shot everyone noticed. It was all over the news, I saw it in my friends' Facebook statuses, it was part of everyone's conversations. Today's stories about her was barely an "also happened" but the truth is today, as she leaves the hospital and heads for rehab, is when her fight really begins. For the last two weeks everyone around the country fought with her, now she begins the much harder part of her journey, battling on her own to regain her life.

It seems strange if you have never been where she is, that regaining your life would be harder than the battle for her life she has been in for the last two weeks but it is. During the last two weeks she has pretty much been in the hands of others. The surgeons, the doctors, they could do things to help her, to make her better, to ease her pain, but with entering rehab the battle becomes hers. Others will be there, her husband, her physical therapists, her occupational therapists, her doctors. But they take on a very different role, they are now there for support and instruction but the work, and ultimately the outcome becomes hers to own. It is an incredibly frightening stage she is entering. She will fight this battle as much within her head as she will her body.

When I read yesterday she was going to need to learn to walk, to use her hands and to communicate it my heart broke, because except for the speaking part, I have been where she is, 16 years ago this week actually.

Despite it being over a decade ago I can remember my first days after becoming paralyzed as if it was yesterday. I can remember every thought, emotion and physical sensation. It is truly part of who I am.

For those that haven't read the whole blog let me catch you up. In January 1995 I was 4 years into my battle with Pseudotumor Cerebri (PTC, also known as Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension or IIH). To that point I had had multiple shunt and eye surgeries, around 75 spinal taps, meningitis, taken every medication on the planet and spent more time in a hospital than I care to recount). My disease was fully out of control and another lumboperitoneal shunt was my only option. At that point surgery was routine for me, this one turned out anything but. During the surgery the shunt displaced and resulted in significant damage to my nervous system and I suffered at least two strokes. Unfortunately the surgeon did not acknowledge what was going on (it would take another couple days til I was even fully believed and we had answers). I couldn't move. I kept telling them I couldn't move, I remember saying it over and over and being told to relax it was nothing. I was sedated and moved to my room. Even after I came to in the neurosurgery unit they weren't prepared for what was going on. I remember calling my neurologist in tears (because no one, including the surgeon, had let her know yet what had happened). By that point all I knew was I couldn't use or feel the entire right side of my body, I couldn't roll over, I couldn't do anything. Had the phone not been dialed for by a nurse even that would have been impossible.

It was all too much for my brain to process, and as I have read about Representative Gifford the last two weeks I try to imagine her waking up to her new reality also. It's a moment I cant even describe. In one minute you realize the simpliest thing you used to take for granted is gone, and you have no idea if it will ever come back. You are still alive, but beyond that NOTHING is like it was a few hours before. Terrifying, overwhelming, unreal, helpless, surreal....are the words that come to mind but they hardly touch it. You keep hoping it is a joke, but you slowly wrap your brain around the reality that it isn't.

The worst part is that no one can tell you if or when you will get better and what better will mean. All those people you thought had all the answer are now just as clueless as you are about what the future holds. You try to read the faces, the looks for the words no one wants to say when you ask questions. You try to hear the whispered comments or see what they are writing to know what they aren't telling you. But the truth, when it comes to the brain and nerve damage, there are no answers anyone can give you. Some people make an instant full recovery, some never get anything back and everything in between. In my case it has been 16 years and it still changes, even recently (the last few weeks) I have noticed a change in where I feel and where I don't on my right side.

For Gabby her next phase will begin today as she enters the rehab stage. She will spend her days with physical and occupational therapists learning to do the simpliest things, holding a pencil or a fork, brushing her teeth, standing, using a walker, tying her shoes.

They seem like such simple things when you write them or say then, we teach them to infants and toddlers, but they will take Gabby days, weeks, months to learn, if ever. It is hard, scary and frustrating work for an adult to be patient doing things over and over, often not well, that we know we should be able to do.

I wasn't very good at it relearning these basic skills. I would get angry at myself, at my body, at those around me. Even though none of it was my doing, or my fault, I felt humiliated, guilty, embarrassed that I wasn't capable of these childish tasks. I remember throwing a handful of marbles across the occupational therapy room because I couldn't pick them up with my fingers on my right hand, I remember laying on the floor in my hospital room crying because I couldn't figure out how to get up when I fell and refused help with it, going barefoot for days because I couldn't face the shoe laces again.

I wish I could say that part gets any easier, but I still battle that at times, as in some ways I am still in that rehab and working on some of these items in the gym. And sadly I handle it just as badly 16 years later. I feel like a complete fool when we are working on me trying to learn still to manage stairs, or when my right hand wont grip a weight right and I have to hand it off to readjust it. I have clothes I would love to wear but refuse to take out of my closet because my hand cant manage the closures on them. I have activities I would love to be part of but wont try because I dont trust my body. I don't tell anyone these things any more, but I still sit and cry or swear over them to myself.

The pace of rehab far outlasts the interest of a public who sees news happen in cycles lasting minutes, of people's concerns which will move on and wane in days or even of some of those around Gabby who will tire of it after weeks or months. And even for her therapists their belief that she can go further will also end, they will eventually discharge her to live with whatever she has gotten back and with hopes she will go further, but with no promise that will happen.

Yet for Gabby, and anyone else who has to relearn to use their body, time is unending. You don't have an option for out or to be done, or to move on. The time drags slowly and painfully into years and decades, but life is never the same. The external scars heal, people forget what happened, you learn to cover it up, to work around it, to make it invisible to many, but as much as I keep seeing the words "full recovery" in news stories, I know from being there that is merely a medical term. Ms. Giffords life and body will never be completely familar to her again, she will spend the rest of her life trying to relearn. My heart goes out to her!!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Feeling about an inch tall....

"It's not who you think you are that holds you back...It's who you think you're not"

I saw the quote above on a friend's facebook status (thanks Michael) and it said so eloquently what I have been trying for days to put into words that I had to start with it.

I was standing in front of the mirror yesterday morning putting on makeup getting ready to head to a client's office, and it hit me how much of my life I spend behind a mask, pretending for people that I feel different than I do, that I have a confidence that most days I am lacking, that I am capable of handling things I'm not. Some days I can even fool myself into believing the roles I play for everyone else, but lately, on the part about confidence or believing in myself, I am no longer able to kid myself. And decided it was time to be just as honest here.

I have a great life. I know that, I have so much more than most people in the world. I dont want anything I am about to say to negate that, this is going to be one of those posts that my friends read and immediately tell me why I shouldn't feel this way or how wrong my feelings are. And I agree with everyone thinking that. I truly wish I didn't feel like I do lately, I know I shouldn't, but I just need to be honest with myself and the world right now, because the longer I try to be who I'm not right now the deeper in my hole I feel myself going, and as a result the worse my eating is getting.

I cant think of any poetic way to say this, so just going to say it flat out. Lately my self esteem and self worth has been nearly non existant, beyond knowing I do my job well the rest of my life just feels like I am failing miserable and sadly in a lot of ways that I deserve to fail. I keep feeling that the last 14 months have just been a mirage and now reality is back. I have lost the person I found in the first part of this journey.

I keep trying to figure out when it started changing and it would be easy to point to getting ready to see my family New Year's Eve, but if I am honest with myself I think I have been sliding this way since the trainer change in July/August. For as much as I know that situation was pre-determined by someone else and nothing I could have done or said or been would have changed it (and truth, looking back I wouldnt want it to have changed, I am glad to be with the trainer I have now, it is a much better situation for me) I still think that is when all the work I had done to find a level of pride in myself, my hard work on my body, and my feeling of being worth all this plummeted and I am not sure I ever truly recovered that part of things. Despite the decision being out of my hands I still have days where I think if I had been better, stronger, more worthy, more something it wouldn't have ended the way it did. That I would have been worth continuing with.

However, I realize now, I didnt even know how much that had impacted my views on myself still until the last couple weeks. Like I said I am good at kidding myself at times. I thought I was over that, and I'm not. I am well over wanting to be back with my previous trainer, I am much happier with Nick as my trainer, but I am not over feeling that I wasn't good enough for the last one to want to keep working with me.

I do think seeing my family, and the anxiety leading up to it, after 20 years of not seeing each other, was probably the final piece that sent me to where I am now. Anything the situation with Gui didnt dissolve, or that I had put back together since then erroded seeing my mother and my sister. All the work I had done to be proud of myself, to make myself realize I was worthy of the love and support of people around me, that I deserved the good in my life seemed to get erased in having to go back and face all the things from my childhood that made me dislike myself in the first place...about who I am, about how I look, about what I have and haven't done with my life. It is amazing how quickly very successful adults can be brought back to being an insecure child in such a short time.

So where am I now. In a word, stuck. Back fighting a lot of the insecurities and uncertanties I did a year ago when I started this journey. I find myself questioning whether I can accomplish the goals I have or if I am fooling myself, I find myself scared to try new things and dissatisfied with my performance when I do, I find myself questioning whether I am wasting the the time of the people helping me, particularly my trainer. For the first time since I started with Nick I found myself today considering cancelling my training session for no other reason than so that I he could use that time for someone who deserved it. Which is logically I know an insane way to think, but it is truly where my heart is. In a lot of ways right now I feel more like that fat, ugly girl who walked into the gym knowing everyone was laughing at her and looking down on her a year ago than I do the confident person who actually felt like she fit in a couple months ago.

The biggest problem with it all is that I am back in a horrible cycle with not eating. The thought of food makes me want to be sick and nothing tastes good. I am forcing myself to do the best I can, but I knew yesterday when I had 227 calories in at 6pm that this was not a good situation. That this wasn't just a day or so blip. I had never considered before that my self esteem (or lack there of) was in any way linked to my eating issues, but I have to wonder now. I am actually going to be talking to a health coach next week and hoping she can help me sort some of what is behind my eating out, but I have gotten my hopes up so many times before on finding help with that topic that I am reserving getting too optimistic til I see how it plays out.

I don't have a great ending for this post, it feels as stuck and awkward as I feel right now. I know I dont like where I am at right now, I miss how I felt about myself not that long ago.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

One of those days.....

This is going to be one of those posts that just rambles and probably doesn't have a real point, but I am struggling this weekend and thought maybe blogging it would help me sort my thoughts out, who knows.

As usual I am back to struggling with food, making myself eat and my weight. I am doing my best thought to fight through it. I am on a day of "reverse journaling", writing out at the beginning of the day what I am going to eat and making myself follow it (vs just documenting after the fact what I ate). I am determined that I am not going to slip back to not eating today, but have to admit every bite that is going in my mouth is weirding me out.

The current trigger of my fear of eating is that it is goal time tomorrow with the trainer. Which I am happy about, I feel I have lost my focus a little lately and welcome having more structure to follow, but at the same time I know it is going to start with another tough discussion about food and more importantly a starting weight and taking measurements (something we haven't done in 6 months). There is nothing that makes it harder to eat than knowing I am going to be weighed and/or measured in front of someone else. I go through it weekly (how often the trainer typically weighs me) but this one is bothering me more than average because I know we are basing things off it.

For as much as my logical brain knows that my body needs food, that I gain if I don't eat, I definitely am in that mode this weekend of "I'll weigh less tomorrow if I don't eat today", hence the listing the food and working to it, vs hoping at the end of the day I am close to where I should have been. It doesn't guarantee success but at least I have a plan of sorts for the days.

There is a big part of me that wants to tell the trainer from now on I don't want to know when these days are coming up, so I don't end up on this roller coaster, but I know that is a cop out. I need to figure out how to get through these feelings not just avoid and hide, ignorance may be bliss in this case, but it isn't progress.

The lead up to my session tomorrow actually started Thursday night with the first conversation on goals, and I have been a little off kilter since then. During the conversation I asked a question I didn't quite realize was leaving my lips, although it has been in my head for a while now. Is it realistic to think I will ever make my weight goal???? I am back to doubting if I can get where I want to, not because of my desire, but because my body seems to be having a harder and harder time letting go of weight. I am back to circling around the same few pounds for weeks at a time.

And yes, I get how far I have already come, which was the response the question was met with. That is a response I keep getting from people, but truly don't understand. I get the past, I am proud of the past, I know how hard it has been and how far I have come. But what I don't get is what does that have to do with the future. Just because someone has had past success does not mean their future is guaranteed, just ask all those one hit wonders. And as far as I have come, as bad as I want this, I do worry about can I get to where I want to be, or have I reached where I am going to get (or am close to that).

I did have to laugh at myself yesterday and how ridiculous our minds work sometimes. I was not happy with the scale, I was up 1/2 a pound from the day before (209.1) and came home from the gym miserable about it, then I went through some old pictures from my previous Israel trips (it has been on my mind the last few days after a conversation about how my physical issues have shaped those trips). I found a couple "before" pictures I didnt remember....

I look at myself in these pictures and feel ridiculous being upset about gaining 8 ounces, or even being unhappy at 210 lbs. I would have KILLED to weight 210 lbs when I was the 338 pounds in those pictures. Yet I can't seem to tap into that feeling anymore. I truthfully don't even remember what that life was like at an emotional level. I can tell people it was hard, but as I shared that with a friend the other night I realized I wasn't feeling that anymore. It was like telling someone else's story.

I guess it's good, it means I have embraced where I am at now, but at the same time, I worry that losing that past pain will mean losing my motivation to get away from it. I talk all the time with my clients about change only happening when the grief factor outweighs the benefit factor, as I have said before in the blog, I worry that scale is getting harder to keep tipped and staying with the changes I need to make.

Yup I was right, this post was really all over the place, please forgive me for those of you saying 'what the heck did I just read', my head is exactly where this post went, jumping in a million directions.

Friday, January 7, 2011

January 16, 1995 - January 7, 2010. The battles sucked but I won the war.....

"I was born a stubborn soul.
Ain't afraid of the great unknown,
Nor the windin road thats all uphill.
This is just a stumblin' block;
Intimidating wall of rock.
If you think this broken heart
will break my will....

I'm gonna take that mountain.
Ain't nothing gonna slow me down.
And there ain't no way around it.
Gonna leave it level with the ground.
Ain't just gonna cross it, climb it, fight it... I'm gonna take that mountain!!" Reba

Downhill skiing is one of those things that has been just outside my reach most of my life. I grew up in the perfect place for skiing, neatly tucked in the Catskill Mountains and within driving distance of some of the best skiing on the east coast. Yet my mother felt it was too dangerous for us to try, so every Friday night the cool kids would head off on the ski bus and we never got to go.

Finally when I made it to college I got my chance. I actually learned to ski on a dare (thanks Heather for that btw, did you ever give up the diet coke?). It was amazing and I was hooked from the first time, especially night skiing. It felt like flying to me and it was one of the few times in my life that my mind shut off and everything else melted away. I was truly at peace on the mountain. For the next two winters I was a season pass holder at Greek Peak and most weeks went 5-7 days a week. Right before I got sick I was even offered a position on the ski patrol.

Unfortunately that all came to an abrupt halt when I got sick and eventually lost the feeling in my right side and my ability to walk (due to a botched shunt surgery and subsequent strokes). Until the last year I had really thought that my skiing was behind me and just a great memory, that that piece was gone forever.

When I started at Lifetime a year ago I was asked to identify three major goals for myself, in addition to losing weight. My three goals were 1) to get certified in scuba diving 2) to walk in the 3 day Susan Komen Breast Cancer walk and 3) to get back to skiing. The first two were important to me, but as things I have never done before they weren't big deals. The scuba diving would be the easiest, my fear around it was getting back in the boat but losing weight solved that (although I still haven't done it I know now I could). And the three day I would like to do but it isn't a huge issue for me.

Skiing however was a big deal, and truth a goal I thought was outside of reality to ever happen. Even my first trainer when we talked about it a few months before he left thought it would be years before it happened. He flat out said he didn't think it would be possible this winter.

But slowly over the last few months the drive to do this, and my belief that I could do it began to outweigh my fears of failing. This was something I knew was going to happen this winter. As with so many other things in my life the people around me helped me realize I could do this, and were there to make sure it was done safely and successfully.

Originally my plan had been to tell no one and to go alone, if it was a disaster no one would ever know I tried and I would quietly put it behind me. But Nick (my trainer), rightly so, pointed out all the flaws in that plan, the biggest being my tendency to chicken out on things. And I can tell you today he was 100% right, I would have gotten there, looked at the mountain and left. I never would have left the parking lot!

In finding someone I had a long list of criteria and a short list to choose from. They had to ski, they had to be willing to tell no one we were doing this, they had to be someone I felt safe with and also someone who could be totally self-less, willing to leave 10 minutes after arriving if it wasn't doable and not feel cheated of not getting to ski. The list only had 2 options on it, and I went with the one that made the most sense, Todd. For those of you who don't know Todd, he is the other trainer I had considered during my trainer change and is now my metabolic specialist.

For only having known Todd for about 6 months now he seems to keep ending up at the biggest moments in my life, some of you will recall he was the person standing beside me at the Twins game. Todd in his amazing style IMMEDIATELY said yes when I asked him if he would go with me about a month ago and it just took us til now to find a date that worked. He was the perfect choice and I am so grateful to you Todd for all your help and moral support today. Not to mention a laugh or two (remember...push don't pull!!!! *smile*).

The actual skiing went a MILLION times better than I expected, to the point I am wondering why I waited so many years to try. I had some major challenges with the people mover (how you get up the bunny hill at this ski slope) and with making left turns. But I am shocked, proud and excited to say I didn't fall once actually skiing. I never made it off the bunny slope, but I could care less. I did it!!!! And now I know I can do it. I know that I can start working on getting better and that I don't need to write it off my list as an impossibility now.

The amazing part was the realization standing on the mountain today that I am now completely whole (or better than whole) from where I was the day the surgery happened. I can not think of one thing now I could do then I can't do now. This was the last piece to the puzzle. I am the weight I was before it happened, I am back to wearing heels, I can walk long distances and I can ski. I'm whole again! Now everything from here is just improvement not catch up, and that is a pretty amazing place to be, especially since I vividly remember what it felt like to wake up after the surgery and thinking I would never walk again.

This post wouldn't be complete without three really important thank you's. Every one of these people would be the first to point out I did the work, and I did, but as I have said many times on the blog before, life is a team sport, no accomplishment I have made was done alone, and it is important to me to remember that. All my progress, especially today was because I let others help me (ok in some cases they helped me despite me fighting them on it *grin* I still have a ways to go on that front).

First Todd. Todd you being there today is more than I can ever express my gratitude for. You are so patient, so supportive and so brave. I consider your friendship a great gift and it is not lost on me how I met you and how lucky I am for that.

Next Nick. Nick you too came into my world by force, and as much as I hated the idea, it was the change I needed (and didn't even know it). My strength, both body and mind, has come so far in the last 5 1/2 months. Thank you for pushing me (even when I push back) and for not giving up on me, even when I probably deserve you too. You made me truly believe I could do this and you helped me physically build the tools I needed to do it successfully. You were truly an "upgrade" *smile* and I consider myself very lucky to be working with you.

Finally Dr Deborah Friedman. Debbie, you were there in 1995, you of all people know how bad it was and that I saw EVERY reason at that moment to give up, and I tried. You fought me, you made me keep going, you rescued me when I tried to end trying (literally and figuratively). I look at my life now and all I would have missed since then and I am overcome with emotion thinking about what could have happened. I truly owe you my life Deb, you knew it was worth saving when I didn't. THANK YOU! I am here today because you didn't stop fighting, for me and against me.

As always I also need to say thank you to all my friends and cheerleaders. You guys keep me going when I lose sight of things, but more importantly you are there to celebrate with me on days like today. I love you all.

I hope everyone gets to feel what I feel today at least once. I have the most amazing life and I wouldn't go back and change one bit of it, because knowing how low things can go is what truly allows us to value how good things are now!!!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Eve 2010...

As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent NYE in Alexandria, Virginia at my brother and his new wife Katie's home. The premise we were all brought there under was a New Year's Eve Black and White Ball, but it was pretty obvious from the first invite this was a wedding. And it was mainly for that reason I went, to be there to support my brother.

I would be lying if I didn't admit doing this was one of the most stress inducing things I have faced in a VERY VERY long time. Both from a body image point of view but also from a family dynamics point of view.

As ashamed as I am to admit it, it threw me many steps backwards with my food and my weight. I let the stress of it being on the horizon send me back to barely eating and considering fast track ways to make the scale fall. And in the process of worrying if I was going to look good in my dress gained about 10 lbs from not eating.

As I said I went to be there for my brother, at his request. I love my brother Thom and would do anything in the world for him. He is a very strong young man who has been through a lot in his life and has managed to persevere through it all. He has recently become licensed to teach High School and is starting out on a great new adventure with Katie. Thom has been one of my strongest supporters and advocates in the last year. As he said last night when I pointed out my heels made me almost as tall as him for the first time in my life, I am also as close to the same weight as him as I have probably ever been in my life (I am going to catch him SOON though and weigh less than him).

I think what was even more touching than his compliments though was how much of my journey his friends knew about (ie how much he had shared). I am a big believer in what people say behind your back is a lot more sincere than what they say to your face, and obviously he has shared my story with great pride and that means the world to me.

Beyond my brother unfortunately my family dynamics are not a positive situation, and last night did not change that.

My sister Candi was there with her husband and son Lucas. She opted, as I expected, to not speak to me the entire night and instead glare across the room. The situation saddens me, particularly since she hasn't spoken to me in 20 years over a nickname I called her when we were kids. And I have spent a lot of years hoping we could resolve it, I have reached out to her a handful of times to try, without a response. I know now that won't happen she won't let it. And I have now made peace with that.

My mother was also there, this part of things is not as cut and dry as it is with my sister. My sister I really would like to repair things with, I think the whole situation is stupid to have held a grudge for 20 years over a nickname.

My mom however, I don't see it being healthy for me to step back into that situation. There was and is too much abuse history, too much ongoing head games and I need to do what is best for me. But that doesn't make it hard.

It was hard to be there last night and watch Katie's family all together and our family not even able to sit at a table together and not long for life to have been different, but one thing the last year has taught me is to not lose how far I have come in all that old noise.

It would be easy to say my family was the root of my not eating and stressing the last few weeks over this event, but if I am being honest even if my family hadn't been involved, I still would have had a hard time leading up to this event. Things like this are a battle I am still trying to overcome when it comes to body image.

For as far as I have come I still feel so uncomfortable in social settings where I don't know people. I still feel like the fat awkward girl at the party that everyone is staring at and laughing at behind my back. I will say that Katie and my brother's friends and Katie's family made me feel INCREDIBLY welcome and comfortable last night and that part was a lot better than I expected. I was surrounded by a lot of 20 and 30 year olds and didn't feel like the fat ugly girl. I felt old because of the music but not because of my weight *grin*. Truth, if I hadn't been dealing with the family dynamics in the end it was a good party and I truly enjoyed the people there.

I will also admit, for those who haven't already been drawn into the chaos leading up to the party (thank you btw the my shopping helpers and those who reviewed clothing) I did go a little off the deep end trying to figure out what to wear. I had 3 different dresses picked out at different times, two pairs of shoes, about 10 different necklaces.

This is the first time in my life I have gone to a social event where I truly had unlimited choices, not just wearing the one thing I could find that would fit, and it was overwhelming. Up until minutes before I left I was second guessing what I was wearing, but in the end I am really happy with my choices. Especially the great shoes.

The pink 4 1/2" heels got me more compliments all night than I ever imagined, and I grinned to myself every time someone said " I don't know how you walk in those". I know I make a big deal out of my shoes, but for me wearing those heels all night, not tripping once, dancing in them and just being in them really represents a true victory over not only my weight, but all that was taken from me years ago with the nerve damage. Although I can honestly say, even before the nerve damage I never EVER wore shoes with a heel like that.

I may just have to have them bronzed for posterity!!!

Mazel Tov....

Congratulations to Thom and Katie Ingram. Last night Thom and Katie surprised (sorta) their friends and family by getting married at their New Year's Eve Party.

Since I wasn't able to be at Thom's first wedding, it was great to witness this happy occasion and to be there as they start their new life together.

I also got to meet my absolutely adorable niece (Molly) and nephew (Graham). Molly, their baby, joined the family a few weeks ago....

Their older son Graham, as you can see, was dressed for the occassion (Graham is the furry one in the bow tie btw)...

Not sure which makes me more proud, that my brother married such a wonderful girl or that they celebrated this morning by running a 5K! I do hope Lauren remembered to tie the cans and streamers to their butts.

I wish you guys all the happiness in the world.