I started dieting when I was 14. I also started looking at my body different and most importantly, started looking at food differently. During the week, I would not eat during the school days and have dinner after my mom’s day care kids went home and went to bed. Every day, I got up and thought I was fat. I thought I was only worth the amount of food that I put on my plate. I would substitute what hunger pains were for stimulants and caffeine. I often didn’t sleep. On the weekends, I would be “starving” so badly that I would make up my eating with whatever my Oma made. She is a great cook and baker. I had a horse at their house, so often times I would eat and “graze” continuously throughout the day. Come Monday morning, back in town for school, it was the regimen.
Fast forward to senior year of high school. My parents started the process of a divorce; my mother lost her business and her house. There we were, my brother was moved out, moving to my Papa and Oma’s basement. Reflecting on that time, I could only imagine how my mom felt losing everything she had and worked so hard for. There I started on the path of self-destruction. Still on the same schedule during the week, weekends also the same. Starving, bingeing, starving bingeing, week after week. By the end of my senior year, we got a house back in town, so there was stability but there wasn’t any change in eating.
I have always had a hate relationship with food. I have always found it easy to starve myself to the point where when I do eat, it is everything I have deprived myself and all in one sitting, sometimes making myself physically sick. I had a lot of personal things that happened that started at the age of 10, that now I realize, I was punishing myself because I would always think “if I was just 10 pounds lighter, or if I didn’t have thick thighs, people would pay attention to me, people would love me, and people would treat me with kindness”. I was punishing myself because I was personally violated, I was mad that my sister went to the Army and left me behind, I was mad at my step-dad for turning our world upside down, I was mad at my real dad for ignoring me (so I thought) and I was mad at the world. I am usually a pretty quiet person when conveying my feelings until I fill the bottle and explode, so this was the way to “show them” that I was mad. But no one ever knew what I was doing. No one noticed that I didn’t eat, because when they were looking, I would eat just enough to make them think I was “full”. So I guess you could say I have been a “closet eater” for the better half of my life. I have always eaten out of the spotlight because my theory was “if no one sees it, it didn’t happen”.
Closet eating got worse after I had my daughter and when I would work in the restaurant or food service places. I would drive through 3-4 drive-through’s on a random Saturday when I had no one with me and order the same thing then sit in an empty parking lot and indulge in it. Then, I would come home make dinner for my daughter and me and eat that too. Following that would be a full work week, so I would keep myself busy enough that I didn’t think about food.
Multiple times in my life, I had had enough. I wanted more for myself and so I would commit to the “30 day diet” or “take these pills” or just plain start running and do nothing else. But I would last about 2 weeks and say “fuck this” and be done with it, go back to my eating habits. 45 days later, I would “be sick of feeling this way” again. Finally, I truly had enough and Addie had gotten me wrapped into this plan that she was doing. I did amazing on it and lost 30 pounds, felt amazing, then got lazy. I have been lazy since then and I have had my food tendencies. I started reading Geneen Roth’s books on not dieting but I haven’t been active in the gym. I recommitted to myself and I am committed to make lifestyle changes. The best part is my husband has committed to me and our program as well.
Not everyone walks the same path and not everyone has a battle that others can see with their own eyes. Depression, fear, anger, hurting is not emotion that can often be seen. I have heard plenty of people tell others that “lifestyles changes are easy and being auto-pilot on a diet is easy”. What they don’t share with you is that they either A) are living in a personal hell where they have “checked out” of their emotions behind the strict choices they make for their bodies or B)they are lying to themselves. Lifestyles changes suck. They are hard and mentally taxing, often times you feel like you are alone and you have no support. Accompanied by the fact that it feels like it takes way longer to undo what you just did, then it all is over-whelming and you give up. Not to mention in that time frame, you have beat yourself up and not healed from the scares that you tried to eat away in the first place. I had a very smart friend share with me something he learned in counseling. Everyone that was brought up in a household that wasn’t “perfect” has to re-parent themselves. Re-parenting, or un-doing what has been done to you is the most heart wrenching, difficult job you will ever have.
I have learned to break friendships, walk away from family, and accept the things that have happened but most of all, forgive myself. Forgiveness is not for the other person and forgiveness doesn’t mean that you let that person come back into your life and overshadow all of the work that you have put in, even if it is your old self. I forgave myself for the things that have happened in my childhood that I cannot change. I have forgiven myself for letting some people control me and my thoughts. I have forgiven myself for every time I was a closet eater and every time I deprived myself of nutrition to just relish in things that were still harming me. I forgave myself for being unhealthy. Forgive and move on but remember every moment in every situation that got you to make the best decisions you should have made a long time ago, right now. Forgive and move forward.
Being married has a lot of ups and a lot of downs and so sometimes finding the good in situations where you and your partner are not seeing eye to eye can keep your mind healthy and get you through whatever disagreement may be occurring. Never will you meet another married couple who doesn’t have healthy (or unhealthy) disagreements between them. Healthy couples however, will share that most of the time, they are situations where you can learn about one another and grow together to make the road ahead smoother. There are five best things that I have found (in my whole three ½ ish months) that I have found about being married.
This week took a lot of reflecting on my part of things that are the best things about being married, but more specifically married to Andrew. Each love is unique in its own right. All of these things have an underlying word that contributes to all of the best things in my marriage. It is respect. We respect each other, where we have come, where want to go and how we can support each other in doing so. Respect your spouse. I can’t wait until I am much older and richer into my marriage that I can come back and share 5 more things that I love about my marriage.
Part of my “16 Thing to Accomplish in 2016” was to run 10 5k’s a year and my theory was the make the planned March 5k the first one of the year. Well, scratch that, January 16, 2016 was my first 5k of the year. I was planning a visit to Addie anyway and she realized that on the same weekend, she was signed up for a 5k. Instead of staying on the side lines, I thought to myself “now or never”. So I signed up. I am so glad I did. It was a chance to get out of my comfort box considering I hadn’t stroke my foot on pavement in almost two years, I am still way over my goal weight and it was terrifying for me to put my body in a place where so many other bodies were so much more of an athlete than I (I still struggle with my body image). My fear was quickly subsided when we met two ladies – probably out age- who had come up with the same idea that Addie and I did. One lives in Grand Rapids, the other in Lansing. Their first 5k of the year was this Portland 5k and next week they would do one closer to GR, that way, as they are besties, would be able to make sure that they see each other at the very least once a month. Who knew that we would have the same idea! Addie and I have started planning out the net couple months to help keep us focused.
So, this race. Prior to walking to the start line, I made a promise to myself that A) I would keep a pace and it didn’t matter if it was slower than all of the rest and B) If I needed to walk, I would walk but only for short periods of time and C) I would not get discouraged no matter what the time on the clock says. And I did all of those things. I finished strong, and the first thing I said to Addie was “that felt really good”, she said the same and we high-fived with smiles on our faces. My time officially was 43:09. It is a start to where I want to be and where I will go. I thought for sure I was the last runner in my age group, but I wasn’t! I was so pleased! Little surprises kept me going that day! Whatever I did, I wasn’t last and that was a hit for me!
Post-race there was vegetarian chili (to die for) and bananas. Devouring that, we moved on to pedicures which was probably the best idea we had for the whole weekend.
There is just something about being around a bestie that is inviting, warm, encouraging and helps me more than I will ever be able to comprehend. It was so refreshing to be with her, and be encouraged by her.
So you may be wondering, what is next. On February 20th (The first anniversary of my father's death), we will run the BARC Mardi Gras 5k in Bay City. Cheers!
Soon after the New Year began my family sat down, each in their normal seating arrangement with a blank piece of paper in front of them. On one side it was labeled “Things I need to do” and the other “Things I want to do”. There wasn’t a specific in number in mind; we just began to write, categorizing our thoughts in our brains onto paper. This exercise was meant to do a few things. 1. Really have them (Andrew and Ella) map out some goals. Ella hasn’t had any experience generating these thoughts on to paper and I could probably say Andrew hasn’t much either.
Without going in to great detail (because Andrew likes to keep his life private), Andrew made some pretty substantial goals for himself. The second line item was: be a better person. This goal was listed under “Thing I NEED to do”. This speaks so many volumes about who he is as a husband, step-father, student, and person. This goal was not arrogant or just another line item on the paper, he truly thinks that there are areas for improvement. How profound is it that we (all of us) go through life and see nothing wrong with where we are, until something shakes us to the core where we maybe realize that we need to make a substantial change, and it needs to be fast? How many times do we often participate in relationships and “blame” the other person or continue to validate the activities or hurtful acts that we commit against our partner? It truly sets Andrew to a new tone when he releases that kind of statement to me. It makes me fall in love with him even more. Other things on the “want” list were 4.0 for a semester, Michigan basketball game, and do more things as a family. Again, could this man be any more selfless? Love.
Ella also made me very proud. When constructing her list, she made statements like “what do you mean?” and “can you help me?” to which I replied, “Just think and write”. And that she did. Her “need” section moved me to tears.
Things on her want list also made me realize that she still needs me and yet again, moved me to tears.
From the goals I have set, and both of their goals, we then worked it into what sort of the same things did we write down and what other goals can we accomplish together. From there we have the list below:
I’m definitely excited to see where this takes my family and how we grow as individuals and as a family. I adore my little family and I could not have asked for a better husband and daughter to share my journey with. ONWARD 2016!!!
2016 has started out to be indifferent. Yes, we are 11 days in and there have been days that I have already wanted to throw in the towel and already tragedy has found its way into my life. I have found myself wondering when does life start to settle down and when do I get to turn the page without it already covered in chaotic scribbles.
Then I discovered maybe it is my thinking. I have always been a positive person that sometimes lets negative grab ahold of me and take me through a little spin in the parking lot, making so many donuts that I vomit the second the car stops. I have let negativity carry a dark storm cloud over my head and follow me around like a lost puppy dog or a kitty sitting on back porch waiting to be let in. I have found more struggle in 2015 with letting positive things take me for a joy ride. Over the course of this last week, I have thought about how maybe I can be proactive in my thinking to become more positive, even when the situation is blatantly negative.
Such as death. Death has yet again cast out in my sea of 2016. A school mate that I went to grade school with fell on the dark path soon after high school and eventually made good for himself, was on the road to recovery, but like many of us, couldn’t find the reason or purpose that he was here. Couldn’t take life anymore and eventually ended it. He was the one guy, through all tragedy; you would hope maybe he would get it right. Now, he is at peace. No more worry and no more sorrow, for him or any of his family. After the news broke on Saturday on the confirmation of his death, I moped all day. I just want myself and I couldn’t get into the groove of the everyday things that I needed to accomplish. Then, lying in bed at 10:30pm, it hit me. Don’t be sad. In all the deaths that occurred in 2015 and even this young man’s, there is a reason and a time for death. My religion tells my so. My Bible tells me so. Sure, some timing of deaths is self-inflicted but that is because the person has abused the power of free will, but others are because it was time.
I will circle back to my dad’s death for just a moment as I used it as an example in my thinking while lying in bed. I wondered for 27 years where my dad was, what he could possibly be doing and why I wasn’t speaking to him. I found him (or he found me rather) and I didn’t worry so much about what he could possibly be doing or if he wanted to get to know me or why he wasn’t looking for me BUT I still wondered if he was safe (truck driver life) and wondered how his health was. ALL things that a daughter worries about with their parents, especially ones that are never home, far away and have brief contact with, I worried about. Then, when I processed the magnitude of his death and how lucky he was to pull over his truck because someone hit it just moments before his heart gave out, I knew. I didn’t have to worry any more, I know exactly right where my dad is. I know where he is not and I know that I will see him again someday but this time, I won’t have to go and search with dead ends, unanswered phone calls, wrong addresses, and disconnected phone numbers. He is right where I need him to be. In my heart.
I mentioned to Andrew the other day that I have decided not to relieve myself that at any time death can strike, because it can. It makes grieving easier this way. Some may think this is negative thinking, and sometimes it may be, but I think of it in the light of I am able to comprehend and process their death faster to help me remember the good things in the wake of the bad. It helps me not have to put my body through the grieving process because I know how I internalize that (hello, emotional eater). It is understanding that death happens. Sure, it sucks the big one when it is your family, friend, or close loved one. It does, I will never deny that BUT what is not needed is letting it steal you, wreck you and bind you to a place where you don’t deserve or need to be.
I have found solace in myself enough to be there for those that are grieving. To mourn, but still allow myself to be me without having death take a hold of me. I have learned things this week. I have learned that I can’t and won’t let death nor negativity of any sort defeat me. So, those chaotic scribbles, I just need to turn those into beautiful pictures. Color in the blanks and turn the next page. I can’t wait for life to settle down, or wait for “my” time because it is always “my” time to do something with my life, it is just learning how to juggle other things with it.
As we lay my friend to rest Wednesday, I can only hope that he has found peace. He has found his way out of what he found to be a troubled, burdened life. Most of all, I hope his family finds peace that they know where he is and they no longer have to worry about where he is, who he is with, if he is getting in to trouble or if he is dead somewhere they don’t want him to be. Peace, hope, and love are the things the Lord gave us, I rejoice in that and I find strength in that.