Monday, June 27, 2011

Safety Nets

I recognize that I haven’t been updating regularly. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I’m growing in ways and experiencing things that aren’t exactly easy to write down.

I mentioned in my last post that things are super busy for me. I also mentioned that I’d fill you all in on my life, my weight loss, my health, and my spirit. Unfortunately (perhaps) they’re so enmeshed that it this makes a post filled with lots of stuff going on.

First, six weeks ago, I joined Weight Watchers for the umpteenth time.

Since that time, it’s been a struggle - my life that is. The program is simple. In fact, it’s so simple, I’m really happy that this is what I’m choosing to do now. As of today, I’ve lost just under 9 pounds – which includes one week that I gained (2 pounds) and one week that I lost just 0.2 pounds. The weight loss equates to about 1.5 pounds a week.

I’m really proud.

Because in that time, I’ve found out that a good friend has cancer and that a man named Gary (who is a good friend of my actual family) had a massive stroke this past Friday night. He’s hanging on by a thread (and I suspect that he’s waiting until his son is able to fly in to El Paso today). Gary has always been a bit stand-off-ish, but his wife is like an aunt to us in my family. She comes over every Friday night to be with my mom. I’m sad and scared for her.

Joe’s grandpa has since been released from the hospital, but he’s been in a rehab facility to get his strength back up. Unfortunately, Joe’s grandma had to go to the ER, hospital, and now a rehab facility for her back injuries that I wrote about. Joe visits them everyday – sometimes for hours at a time. I’m left cooking, cleaning, and doing the shopping on days that I don’t go to the nursing home to visit. It’s been daunting, time consuming, and stressful for both Joe and I.

I’ve also done some really difficult work via EMDR. My therapist and I are really delving into the molestation that happened when I was 7 at the hands of my older sister. I’ve often written that it was a close family member, but it feels good to get it out in the open. Because what happened was with my sister – a person who was supposed to watch out for me when my parents were gone – and because of the way my family structure was, I didn’t tell anyone for years.

And what’s come out of my therapy, I have realized that me being overweight – in a family that was all about appearances – was my way of signaling to the rest of the world that all was NOT okay. Something was horribly wrong. I was hurting, in pain, and scared. I just wanted someone to ask me what was wrong.

When I started my weight loss journey almost three years ago, one of the things I wanted to do was to stop binge eating. I wanted to stop the violence against myself. The problem was that I hated myself so much that I couldn’t do it for long. I’d vacillate between restriction (being 100% completely clean with my eating) and binge eating.

These days, I haven’t struggled with that. I’ve come to peace with the idea that I’m worth loving and that what happened wasn’t my fault. I’m not intrinsically flawed. What I have had an issue with has been routinely choosing things that aren’t the healthiest options. I’ve been struggling with overeating or eating when I wasn’t hungry.

Because sometimes the thought of being skinny is too much.

It’s too scary and leaves me feeling vulnerable and naked. And like I have no voice.

No voice to warn people away from my family. No voice to signal to others that I’m in pain – about Joe, about my friends, about my life, and about my family. No voice to say the words of how horrible sometimes it was to grow up the way I did.

And sometimes I’m worried that when I get thin, my family will feel like everything is okay. I’m afraid of my family thinking, “Oh…Anne is FINE – look how pretty she is! Anne is thin so everything is perfect. Everyone in our family is great! Look how we smile! Look how we laugh! Look how we’re thin! Nothing happened here. Our family is FINE.”

So having 39 points each day helps me. It helps me concentrate on the things that need to be focused on – me, my recovery, my family issues, and my way of coping with things. The last thing I need to worry about is what is for dinner.  I know that staying at or around 39 points per day is a safety net...and it feels good.

The added plus is that I know I can always have fruit.

Vegetables sometimes feel like diet food…you know what I mean? Everyone knows that they should eat more veggies, but when you’re scared of running out of fuel or when you’re eating for reasons that have nothing to do with hunger, how appetizing does a pile of veggies feel? How comforting is it to know that you can have more veggies?

For me, not so much.

Fruit, on the other hand, is fun. It’s tasty, it’s sweet, and it’s refreshing.

So I am happy to eat things that may be higher points throughout the day because I know that I can always have fruit if I’m hungry at the end of the day. But because I choose to eat more satisfying things throughout the day, I rarely am hungry for the fruit at the end of the day.

So really?  Fruit is my safety net, too.

Ultimately, I don’t want to have a safety net. I don’t want to eat for reasons that have nothing to do with hunger. But because my life is a bit in turmoil at the moment, I’m giving myself permission to eat out of comfort.

Truthfully? I don’t typically overeat on fruit. So it hasn’t been a big issue.

And really, me eating healthier has been good and nurturing to me. It’s been a way for me to be gentle to myself as I’m going through some panic about being lighter.

It feels great to have a safety net…. Not just of fruit, but of friends, of people I’ve never met who read my words and don’t send me hate mail…in fact, they write the opposite. I know you guys care. I know you guys read my words and can understand my pain. I know you all are here for me.

It feels great to know that I’m supported. So thank you…I appreciate it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I pretty much hate today...

One year ago today, I had to put my dog, Chassis down.

This morning I just found out that Joe’s closest friend, Pat, has a brain tumor. He is probably the nicest person in the whole world. Of course, you never *really* know what kind of marriage two people have, but from the outside looking in, he and his wife of decades have an excellent marriage. Their kids are the two best behaved (and still very real and vivacious) kids I’ve ever been around.

He and his family come up to visit in Denver a few times a year and they’re four of my favorite people in the world. They’re so welcoming – they make me feel comfortable being me. They respect and understand my relationship with Joe. They’re thoughtful, considerate, and funny. The parents and the teenagers all hang out. How they interact gives me hope that some people actually *do* have healthy families, boundaries, and love.

Joe’s parents and step-dad died before I met him. He has no siblings. His grandparents have been in the ER, hospital, and rehab facility in the last few weeks (for completely separate issues). And honestly? His grandma isn’t exactly the most welcoming, considerate, or thankful person. No matter how available I’ve made myself to help her and her husband, she makes it clear that she’d rather only interact with Joe.

I may not get to pick the family that Joe has left…but our friend? He’s Joe’s family; they grew up together. The kids called him Uncle Joe from when they were babies. They’re all so close. And wonderfully, he has made me feel like I’m a part of Joe’s family. I actually love this guy.

And he has a freaking brain tumor.

I know it’s not a death sentence (or anything close to it). But it’s major surgery. ON HIS HEAD. WHICH INCLUDES HIS BRAIN. WHICH IS SERIOUS. WHICH SCARES ME.

They’re operating on Friday. It’s two inches in diameter and is located on the right side of his brain underneath his skull. That’s about all I know.

Well, that and they’re so far away that I feel helpless.

I have more news about my life and my health, but for now, will you just say a quick prayer for my friend, Pat?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How to stop eating as a knee-jerk reaction

Let's be honest.

If you're significantly overweight or even (gasp!) fat, one of the things that well-intentioned people tell you to do is to stop eating your feelings or to stop eating when you're not hungry.

That's kind of like when someone tells you that in order to lose weight, you should start eating more vegetables.

Every time someone says that I secretly want to roll my eyes and sarcastically exclaim, "Really?!?!  That's the key to being thin?  Why haven't I heard this before?"

The concept of eating only when you're hungry isn't lost on me.  And if you've been reading my blog for long, you know that it's kind of like finding the gold at the end of the rainbow - at least for me.  I'm always looking for ways that I can stop eating when I'm not hungry - but I can never seem to find least not for long.

Last week, I referenced a really emotional discussion that I had with my mom - one where we talked about some sexual abuse that I experienced as a child that involves a close family member.  We talked a lot about how I just don't feel like people get how absolutely traumatic that was - that my family just wants to brush it under the rug with the statement of "That person is sorry - can't you just get over it?"  In fact, in the discussion with my mom, she chose to bring up other ways that I've said or done something that hurt my abuser.  Umm...really?  Does that justify what happened to me?  Not so much.  And OHMYGOSH- stealing a Barbie or pulling someone's hair isn't the same as being forced to do things that you don't want to do!

Gah.  I'm getting upset again.

My point is, I walked in the door to my home while still on the phone with my mom.  When I walked through the door and Joe saw my face, he asked me if someone had died.  I shook my head, still listening to my mom, and finished my conversation.  By the end of it, Joe knew what the conversation revolved around, but he was in the office trying to give me the space that I might need.

I got off the phone, grabbed a blanket from the couch, and made my way (past the office) to my bedroom where I bundled myself under the covers and started to sob.  Joe came in quickly thereafter and comforted me (seriously, is he great or what?).

Later, he said, "When I saw you walking past with the blanket, I thought, 'Oh no - this is bad.  She must be really upset.'"

That's because he's seen me do the same routine a few times in the past few months...maybe not the sobbing part, but the bundling underneath the covers part.  I didn't even realize that I had started to use it as my go-to soothing method until Joe said something.

Why?  Because I realized that bundling under the covers feels comforting and soothing.  We even got a mattress cover that heats up (kind of like the ones here) so that the warmth and comfort can be available quickly.

Sometimes this is exactly what I need.  But sometimes it isn't.  I never usually know until I'm underneath the covers.  Kind of like when I used to eat food as a way of comforting myself and then halfway through I'd realize that food wasn't at all what I wanted.

My needs haven't changed. I still don't really know how to comfort myself 100% correctly every time.  What I've done is I've changed what I try first.  Instead of making myself a burrito, I try making myself INTO a burrito. :) 

Like I said, it sounds great to say "don't eat when you're not hungry" but without something to substitute it WITH, it's hard to do.  Usually the follow up to "not eating your feelings" is to try to ask yourself, "What do I really want?  What am I really upset about?"

What if you don't know the answers to the above?  Or what if you do know but you can't get what you most want? 

In the example from above, what I really wanted was feeling like my mother GOT how horrible it felt to be me.  How horrible sometimes it still feels when my abuse isn't acknowledged.  I know that she loves my abuser, but dammit, I'm her daughter too.  No matter how hard I try, she just doesn't get it.  And the sucky thing is, I can ask myself what I'm really upset about all I want; I can ask myself about what I really want.  But if I can't ever receive what would comfort me the most, I am still left with disappointment and the urge to do something - anything - to make myself feel more powerful and/or soothed.  To think beyond that feels too hard.  That's where I've always gotten stuck before, thrown my hands into the air, and then helped myself to eating whatever was handy.

I've never been a mom, but when you have a crying baby, don't you run through a series of fixes before you (hopefully) find something that soothes?  Maybe it's holding, burping, cradling, distracting, changing the diaper, and feeding.  All I'm saying is that I'm choosing to make "feeding" as a potential fix further into the cycle of comforting things rather than the first thing I try.
I know - it's not mind shattering. But for some reason, that simple idea of realizing that I can substitute what I use first to soothe was a completely new idea.

What kinds of things do you try when you're trying to soothe yourself?  Even if you usually don't comment, I'd love your input.  I desperately need more things to add to my soothing rotation and I'm betting that other people could use your idea too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

We've been fired... our couples therapist.

Yup, that's right.  A bit over a week ago, Julie, our therapist, sat Joe and me down and said that we were the healthiest of her patients and she really couldn't do anything more for us.  She said we had a great vibe and that we communicate well.  We've literally been tested and our compatability is great.  We've discussed what we want and need out of our relationship.  We've met each other's needs.  We've gone through our training and can now talk our way through conflict such that even Dr. Phil would be proud (and is it just me or does he seem like he'd be not easy to please?).

Joe immedietly gave me a high-five.  And I immediately said something like, "You do know that she's just saying we're the best of the worst."  What?  It's true!

Alright, alright.  It *is* wonderful.  We've done well with the homework and exercises that she's had us do.

But now it's officially up to Joe as to whether this relationship continues or not.

He's seeing a new therapist (his old one seemed to think that I was simply wrong for him and that he would commit once he found the "right one."  Julie completely disagrees and feels like his issues on not commiting have very little to do with the women that he's dated and everything to do with the fact that he doesn't seem to like close relationships).  His new therapist is someone that Julie highly recommended.  She doesn't take insurance so Joe is paying full price out of pocket weekly.  Clearly, he is trying and I believe that he deserves a lot of kudos for that.

She does want to see us again in 6 weeks to discuss the progress that Joe is making in his therapy and how I'm working on my stuff.

My "stuff" is to press for my own healthy short, to stand up for myself.  I've held strong to my "I need to have a ring on my finger by 2012 or we're through" ultimatum - and it's a stance that both my therapist and Julie have avidly supported me in.  I always thought that ultimatums were bad - they say they're only bad if you don't follow through on them or abuse them. 


Anyway, since I figured you all might be wondering, I thought I'd give you an update.

P.S.  Oh, and if he was 40% sure about getting married to me back in April, he's now at 45%.  Know what's more painful than watching a pot boil or paint dry?  Watching Joe's percentage SLOOOOOWLY creep up.  I mean, it's good, but sometimes, it's just painful.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sharin' versus Sharon...

Joe and I have spent a lot of this past week in the hospital. His grandfather was in and out of the ER 4 times in 5 days and then was finally admitted a week ago today. We’ve spent hours at the hospital each day helping his grandmother to visit (due to a back injury, she shuffles about 2 inches per step).  He doesn't look to be discharged any time soon, either. Saturday we were there for 8 hours. It’s So. Much. Fun! 

And in the middle of all of this, I haven’t exactly made the best food choices…which is to say I’ve made some pretty lousy ones. In fact, WW will probably confirm this tonight, but I’m pretty sure that the weight I lost last week is now back on me – specifically in the saddle bag region.

My newest goal? To be able to sit into a hospital room seat without having to angle in. You know what I mean…where one hip has to go in first so it can kind of get lodged underneath the armrest so you can get the other hip down too?

These are things that I forgot during my slow creep back up the scale.

Oh, I remembered the joy with being able to walk into the GAP and getting to pick out of the mediums and larges. I remember being able to be too small to fit into clothes from the big girls store. But I didn’t remember how it felt to be able to sit without fear in any size seat being certain that you won’t get bruises on your outer thighs.

I forgot what it felt like to have to travel on airplanes and pretend that to have the armrest down means that you have to have someone else lean on it – which pushes down into your chub.

And while we’re at it? Since I had a massage on Sunday, I forgot what it felt like to actually have the two sides of the robe close enough such that when you sit down you’re not pulling a “Basic Instinct” move on the masseuse.

Wait. Now that’s my newest goal. And if we’re being honest about it, that’s probably my masseuse’s newest hope too.

My point is, there are so many health benefits to being thinner, but there are definitely some prideful ones that are perfectly normal to have too.

Because I want to continue being motivated, what is your next non-scale related goal?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

If I could dedicate a song to myself...

It'd be this one.

I'm waiting for me to actually believe it.

But I have hope that one day I will.

Pink – F**kin’ Perfect (Clean Version) Lyrics

Made a wrong turn, once or twice.
Dug my way out, blood and fire.
Bad decisions, that's alright.
Welcome to my silly life.

Mistreated, misplaced, misunderstood.
Miss 'No way, it's all good', it didn't slow me down.
Mistaken, always second guessing, underestimated.
Look, I'm still around.

Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel
Like you're less than, less than perfect.
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you're nothing,
You are perfect to me

You're so mean when you talk about yourself; you were wrong.
Change the voices in your head; make them like you instead.
So complicated, look happy, you'll make it
Filled with so much hatred, such a tired game.
It's enough; I've done all I can think of.
Chased down all my demons, I've seen you do the same.

Woah ohh, pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel
Like you're less than, less than perfect.
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you're nothing,
You are perfect to me.

The whole world's scared so I swallow the fear.
The only thing I should be drinking is an ice cold beer.
So cool in line, and we try try try, but we try too hard and it's a waste of my time.
Done looking for the critics, cause they're everywhere.
They don't like my jeans; they don't get my hair.
Exchange ourselves, and we do it all the time.
Why do we do that? Why do I do that?

Why do I do that?