There was a little bit or grief, sadness, happiness, and shock in my Zac’s (my brother) voice when he called me. “Do you happen to be sitting down?” is never a good way to begin a conversation between my brother and me. “I am not sitting down but I am getting into my car.” To which he replied: “Do not drive anywhere until I tell you this”…What on earth could he possibly need to tell me that is so damn important? We had already had a series of shocks of the summer, what is one more right?
I can handle this I thought. After what seemed like an eternity of silence, an eternity of him thinking what the right words were. Here it came. The bombshell, the mother load of all that I had been, well, searching for in my life. There was nothing more that I wanted in my life than to hear this news. Or did I want to hear it? With a mixed bag of emotions, the bombshell went something like this:
Paul, (our biological father, the man I have never met in my life (I had, but I was 2, too young to remember) had phoned my Aunt Ruth after a Facebook searching, to let her know that he wanted to repair. Repair what? Repair things with his children? What does this mean? I thought. What is the repair? I don’t know you. I don’t know a thing about you, and yet there needs to be repair. Zac had his phone number and had relayed some intermittent details that I don’t really recall between the tears and the hope and the overall cloud that had suddenly passed as I was trying to hold on. It took me three days to get his phone number. Even though I knew I didn’t have to do anything with it, I knew that if it was kept at arm’s length, I was still safe. Safe from what? From being hurt? Safe from a man that I didn’t even know? You see, dear reader, there are the manic crazy questions that I ask myself, therefore you get a million question marks as you read (I digress).
Without briefing too many details of what I know to go on in our family as to why he literally disappeared. This is what I know: When he divorced my mom, Zac and I were then signed off onto another man that she had remarried (some years later). During that time, Paul was busy ruining my grandma and grandpa’s life with his antics. After the final straw, he disappeared for what everyone thought was, for good. He has been an addict of all sorts of things, wrenching terror on everyone’s life to get him by to the next phase, the next thing, the next addiction he could feed.
My mom never kept the details of who he was. She always let us know that we had a father, and we remained very close to our paternal grandparents and family. To this day, they are very much so a huge part of my life. So life went on as we knew it. The name change when the remarried man didn’t affect me but affected my brother in words that even I can’t comprehend. I don’t know this man. I don’t know anything about him and yet I have always felt this longing…where does the other half of me come from? I always felt as though I have been missing something, and so the food would fill the void.
Food is my comfort. I love it. I love the way it tastes, the way it doesn’t taste and just fills the hole in me. I love when it is encompassed with friends, family, happy times, and sad times. I love it. I use it for fuel but mostly I have been using it for feelings. It tells me how to feel and what I should feel after. Temporarily. All of it. Food gives me temporary emotion. It is an addiction. I am an addict to food such as my biological father; Paul was an addict to many other things.
I can count back to when I think about when the addiction really started and it was when my mom and (adopted) dad got divorced at the age of 17. I was pretty active with my horse so I didn’t really have to think about how the divorce would or was affecting me because Buddy (the horse) would comfort me and I could confide in him about anything. They have this natural power to tell you what you need to hear without saying a word (same as food). Then I had to sell my horse. I say I had to because I never wanted to give him up, he was my safe haven and after I graduated high school I was pressured to think I would have no time for him. There I was, no one to talk to, no one to lean on, my family in chaos and then Oh, look!! Food. Boom. Done. Between the divorce and now life has handed me some (sorry for the language) shitty circumstances. The only thing I knew that could save me was food.
I was still searching.
When I graduated high school I sent an invitation to what known address I had for Paul and it came back. Strike one. When I had my daughter, I sent him a card with the next known address I could find for him. Strike two. Finally, when I was married, I sent him a Christmas card of my “happy” family to the last known address that was on the internet. Strike Three. I’m out. I ended the search until I went through a divorce.
When I moved home, I was in conversation with my Aunt and so desperately wanted to find him. After hitting tons of dead ends, I gave up. I wasn’t going to go insane and curb check my good eating habits just for the sake of meeting some guy I don’t even know, or probably wouldn’t even talk to me. I was in a terrible place two years ago. I was defiant in the worst ways, could care less about what happened to me and gave up on the search.
He searched me out.
So now where do I go? I have had minimal communication with him through text. I feel guarded enough that my mixed emotions will be on my side of the phone and with this emotionless gesture I can still have somewhat control and not trust completely. I am not sure where this will go. I am not sure if I will ever really get to know him like I would if I was 2 years old growing up with him.
I went to coffee with a great friend that I met through a running group and he said this: “You are still a 2 year old in your mind”. How true. I didn’t give much emotion to it when he spoke those words but it has really set in. I am entertaining this conversation with Paul like a 2 year old would be entertained by her father. Not knowing what is a lie or what is the truth but trusting, trusting that what he says will be true and he won’t lead her down a bad path and will always be there. When I said to my Aunt over the phone “I don’ know what to feel because I don’t know him” so does the 2 year old little girl not know what to feel because she doesn’t know him but she is eager to learn. And so yet, I am eager to learn (guarded) and find out what I have been missing for 25 years.
When life hands you….what you have been searching for take it with grace, stride, caution, and use the ability to embrace it. It is amazing what you can do to yourself, and your eating habits when you embrace a new change and let the past fall to the wayside and not harbor on what went wrong but FORGIVE, FORGIVE yourself, forgive others and press forward. You never know what hole you could fill without food when you let the door swing open a little more than usual.
I know that we all carry many faces and as mom’s sometimes we are just on auto pilot. I often find myself this way, especially during the week. Being a single mom, trying to get healthy and fitting in a full time job and volunteering with after school activities is a challenge. It really isn’t about how many kids you have; it is about the work load. My mom always used to say that it was easier having two than having one because they could entertain each other. Being on auto-pilot is the same: get up, dressed, get out the door, drop off to school, work, and gym, and pick up, dinner, homework, shower and repeat. I am finding it more and more difficult to find “me time” and while I really don’t mind, I know that it isn’t healthy.
Maybe this is why I blog. (more on this later)
Maybe this is why I resort to reading so much non-fiction.(more on this later, too.)
Finding this balance is crucial, for my sanity and well, everyone else around me. I’m sure they would like to keep theirs. I can’t share with you how many times I have repeated “Lord, please give me strength” when the steam machine is pumping out my ears and I am ready to explode. (I digress)
So where do I look? What do I do to distress. Sure, I run and running is a great outlet. I also lift, lifting releases stress also. BUT what else? This is what I am in search of. I love blogging and it releases so much more than the previous too but I am thinking maybe finding those things that are on the back burner in my mind, that keep reminding me that are there (things from my past), that need to be taken care of is really the reason why I feel stressed in the first place. Ridding people who are toxic to my life (family or the like), ridding of things that hold me down from my past that I just can’t seem to kick because I haven’t stood up to them (rape, divorce, loss of dad from walking away, etc.) may be able to help me have a clear mind when I fall asleep . Getting rid of the why me’s, how did that happen, and how do I fix it’s, I know will help this.
And so where do I start? What do I choose first? Do I start from the very beginning, start from the most recent, or just pick the one that comes to mind first? How much do I really force my brain to work? This is where I make a list of EVERYTHING, literally EVERYTHING that has been emotionally challenging to me in my life. Dive in. Do not be cautious, stand up and be who YOU want to be, not who these situations make me to be.
Why am I doing this? Why does it matter? It matters to me because I am a mom of a heart sensitive little girl who needs her mom to seek outside the auto pilot and seek outside the fog, to give her the best dialogue, best life she can possibly give. When I am a work-run-mom, I can’t just think about myself, I can’t just be on auto-pilot. My life and my child deserve more than that.
And so I start to make my list….More on this later.
Work, to give my family everything. Run, for my sanity and health. Mom, to the most beautiful inspiration in my life.
One of the most amazing people I have met has a blog. She blogs about food, her family, and the things in her past pushing her in the present. There are a few things in her last blog that resonated with me that I wouldn't mind sharing and molding them into how they affect my life.
The blog started on how her mother went to the Y and she never really watched her mother work out because ultimately she was ashamed to look at her mother’s body. This is when I started to feel guilty and the welling of tears started to come over me. Why? Because this was me. I did the same thing when my mom had worked so hard in the early nineties to lose 100 lbs. She still had loose skin, that didn't seem to bother her as much as,taking guilt from things that had happened when she was a teen, losing her 4 year old sister at the age of 8, losing her house shortly after a divorce, her two fathers (another story) dying and ultimately losing contact with her sister (adopted) and mother, oh and in the mix she lost her biological mother also. She had two children left. She had gained all of her weight back and then some. Today, I still see her yo-yo dieting. She tries this, tries that and nothing seems to work. I was too young to remember when she was really heavy. I remember when she was a physical fitness instructor, loving life and helping those who were struggling, even though she wasn't stick thin and had bulging muscles. That is my mom. The happy mom. The mom that was out playing on the play ground with her daycare kids, running around with her kids. Now I just glaze over the fact that she is heavy again. Terrible, I know.
Continuing through the blog, J talked about how she had the same body as her mother. Every girl does. This is finding to be 75% true in my case. I am about 2 inches taller than my mom, My legs are longer and I have a little broader stature. Everything else however is the same. We have the same facial features, the same hands, the same feet, and yet the same struggle with food. I have always been an emotional eater, just like my mom. Her emotional eating exceeded her to the whole box where I wouldn't eat the whole box but would buy enough other stuff where I could have just enough of ALL of my favorite things =a box of whatever she was having. I ate when I was happy (had a pizza after my C-section birthing my daughter, dinner when I got married, and every family function). I ate when I was sad (divorce, selling my prized horse, animals dying, my divorce, deaths of family and friends, loss of boyfriends, etc.) and I just ate (I thought I was hungry, social functions, etc.). So I ate. I was eating myself to look like my mom.
The final moment when I woke and realized (and maybe I did realize but didn't understand it completely) that my daughter is in the same curvature I am and looks just like me when J pointed out that she too has a daughter that is just like her. Her daughter has her body. My daughter has my body. My daughter is built on point, just like me. There is barely anything that she gets from her father. She also has drive, determination and a love for salad (something I had to develop an acquired taste for). She keeps me active and yet, the junk food still is there sometimes. I am a lot better at not cooking out of box from what our poor family was used to BUT it is still a struggle to not inflict the things that were bred into me that I continually fight against, to her. She deserves more than that. She deserves a mom that she doesn't have to be ashamed of. She also deserves to be a daughter that doesn't sit at home and worry if her mom is going to be dead when she shows up to her house, and wonders when her mom is going to really start taking care of herself.
I am not saying that I am ashamed of my mom. I love my mom. I love the valuable lessons that she has taught me in my life and most importantly above everything(something she was never taught), she taught me how to love myself enough to push myself to get what I want, to never give up, and keep fighting. I am saying that I am scared for my mom in a way a daughter should never be scared.
I have fallen off and on the diet track, the fitness track throughout my life. I remember her telling me that she would buy me these cool shoes if I got up and went with her at 4:00 am to the gym, that lasted about 6 weeks, and then I just had a new pair of shoes. But, i also remember her telling me how beautiful I was no matter what. How I was so athletic no matter my size. Even though I never really believed her, she was changing something in her daughter that her mom never told her. My mom would always receive the "your would be so pretty IF".
J’s blog really struck me, it really hammered home the point that, loving our body and building a strong bloodlines of loving ourselves and creating enough passion in ourselves to be healthy is much more important than looking, weighing, and being a number. Life is so much more than that. LOVE yourself enough that you want to be healthy. LOVE yourself enough that you want to be STRONG. BE strong enough to love yourself.
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