The broken road

The road I have traveled has long been off course.  Not because I am not traveling the path I am supposed to, it just seems that I always take the long way.  I used to hate that.  But I don’t, anymore.  I just enjoy the journey.

Today is January 26th, and today I am thankful for serendipty. (Side note – this is three days late.  It was written on the 26th, but I forgot to publish it.  Shame on me.)  God has placed people in my life with such intention that it is hard to deny His presence in the moment.  The universe is not a vacuum, and at times (even when I feel like there is no hope), when something is removed from my life, something else filters its way in.

You’ll never know how absolutely undeniable it could be that my path has crossed some of the most extraordinary people.  These people, who mask their amazingness with every day existence, have proven my faith in mankind.  I see what I need to see – faith and love.  I hear what I need to hear – tough words and firm support.  Ultimately, I have the strength to do what I need to do.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me people who show Your love and speak Your words to me.  I am so incredibly thankful.

Mountains and molehills

It’s funny how you can see someone else’s struggles and it either A) gives you perspective and you feel better about your own life or B) wonder what the hell they are sniveling about. Sometimes it’s both at the same time.

Today I watched “Heavy“, which is a show on A&E about extreme morbid obesity and (in the episode that I watched) the battle of two people who wanted to get their health back on track.

One guy, Tom, was eating 6 fast food hamburgers plus 15 chicken nuggets at a time. Holy Moses!

The other gal, Jodi, was slowly allowing food to control her life; escaping into food the way some addicts escape into drugs. In particular, her “drug” of choice – ice cream.

It would be easy to sit back and say, “Well, shit! No wonder you’re fat!” Ah, yes. It is that easy for lots of people who sit back and judge others on their physical appearances. But, if you watched it the way that I did, it is *always* more than just a matter of “make better choices.” It is typically an escape, or means to control some small aspect of life. Ironically, overeating is almost no different than under eating. I have been on both sides of the spectrum.

At one point I weighed 240 lbs. Yep. I was fat. And you know what? Back then? I didn’t give a crap what anyone thought about it. I was happy. I used food like an old friend who was always there. Tough day? Eat. Great day? Eat. Boring day? Eat. Everything was about eating. And I love me some food.

Enter Weight Watchers and the subsequent bulimia (see my post on those issues here). Now, let me be very clear: Weight Watchers does NOT make you crazy. They give you tools and opportunities to learn how to make healthy choices. I *did* learn those things. I also chose to go further and learn all new (and terrible) things.

Jodi is a unique human being. Truthfully, I was inspired by her. I related to everything she said. From the concern that a trainer can’t be trusted if they haven’t been fat to the burden the weight places in every single other area of your life; she and I speak the same language.

Enter the mountain/molehill comparison. Jodi weighs about 200 lbs more than I do. If she were to look at me she’d probably say, “What are you bitching about?” But there is a common thread that ties us both to the problem: when you have old tapes that continue to play in your head, it is easy to give up.

Now, stay with me here: I am going to shift the conversation a little.

I have had my fair share of struggles. I continue to have them. Sometimes they are new, sometimes they are old. But you know what I hear in my head *every time* I come up against something difficult? “I can’t.”  I hear it inside of me every day, which, if you knew me in real life, would make you scratch your head.  I don’t really put it out there, but I hear it.  And it’s the big things that make the “I-can’t-monster” really rear its ugly head.  Fear.  Fear of the unknown.

I’ve got this diet thing under control right now, so I didn’t really apply Jodi’s life lessons to my own program.  But I did hear some underlying tones that make me think I need to make some serious effort in the “I-can” and “I-am” and “I-will” areas of my life.

So, as part of my next month’s goal of posting with various song titles (which is really just an exercise in fun), I will be tying it back it what I can do, and what I am doing.  In the month of February, I will remove “I-can’t” from my vocabulary.  But don’t worry, I’ll start working on it now.

Oh, and before I forget, it is January 23rd, and I am thankful that God places people and events in my path on a regular basis to repeat and support the messages he gives me.  And I am especially thankful that I have the insight to see it, even when it isn’t a burning bush.

And Jodi will never know, but I am thankful for her, too.

And you?  What tape is playing in your head?  What can you do to change it?

More things people don’t know about me

I thought about the last post about what people don’t know about me, and found it rather amusing.  I’d like to think I am a somewhat complicated person.  But, I think, once I’m figured out, you can read me like a book.

Since I have the luxury of anonymity, I decided to share more things that most people don’t know about me.

  • I really hate bugs.
  • I love it when someone takes the time to tell me how much I mean to them.  I wish more people knew that, but I kinda feel like telling them puts them in the awkward position of feeling like they *have* to tell me something.  I’d rather it be unprompted.
  • I cry when I watch a lot of movies – happy, sad, scary… whatever.
  • I *freak out* with scary movies.  Like, throw-the-popcorn-in-the-air-scream-out-loud type of freak out.
  • I honestly believe that we choose our destiny.
  • I don’t believe that we choose who we love.
  • When I was 8 years old I cut my finger almost in half.  Because of that, I hardly have any feeling on one side of that finger.
  • I always wanted to be a writer when I grew up.
  • I haven’t grown up, yet, so stay tuned.
  • When people say, “Go to your happy place”, my happy place always includes water and sunshine.  Sometimes a river, sometimes an ocean.  But always water and always sunshine.
  • I believe in fate.
  • I love the rain.
  • I miss the ocean.
  • I am having a love affair with my iPhone (shhhh… don’t tell).
  • Photographing allows me to see the world the way I want it.
  • Today is January 20th, and I am thankful for some peace.  Just for today.

More things will be in a new post as I think of them.

Now that I think of it, a blog is really an exercise in conceit, isn’t it?  All about me.  Sheesh… I have to say, I love it.  Maybe I don’t teeter on that line between conceit and confidence as much as I think.  Maybe I have fallen onto the other side.  🙂

Oh well, if you’ve read this far – admit it, you’re hooked.  There are worse things to be hooked on, so read on.

Confessions of a teen mom

One of the reasons I love my blog is because I can say all the things I want. This blog has been more of an online, anonymous diary of sorts. I get to confess most (some) of my thoughts. The really private ones I still hold for only a precious few. Honestly… there is maybe two people on the planet that hear my most internal and personal thoughts. Mainly because thoughts that are that private are also very deep and personal. Sometimes so deep they frighten me. So, I only tell a couple of people who know my heart, and know how to protect me when I need it, and when to encourage me because I need it.

Today I have been thinking about how I got where I am. Because, if you must know – it wasn’t supposed to be this way. I had plans for my life. Don’t mistake me – I am not saying that I regret my choices, or that I don’t like the life I have. I love my life. Sure, there are things I’d change – and I am working on that. It isn’t easy. There are too many ways that my life is interwoven with other things and that makes change very slow and sometimes very challenging.

So… how did I get to this place?

We were both 16. And, of course, riddled with desire hormones. We used a condom, but… well. You know how they say abstinence is the only thing that is 100%? Well, yeah. They were right. The truth is that I would have rather had cancer than been pregnant. That isn’t a dig at anyone who has/had cancer. It was my perspective. And my opinion that at least with cancer, I had a chance at beating it. With a baby, you always have it. There’s no cure for a child.

I planned on an abortion. But God has a funny way of changing your mind. It just didn’t work out. I could have pushed to do it, but the closer I got to making the choice (do it or don’t), I realized that I just couldn’t do it.

I had my daughter almost 2 months to the day past my 17th birthday. I was terrified. I felt alone. I had my boyfriend there, as well as several friends. But here it was: the rest of my life. As excited as I was to meet my child, I was so afraid of what her future would look like. I was convinced that I would be another statistic: teen mom ruins child’s life.

I brought her home, and spent the first few weeks of her life in a constant state of anxiety. And it wasn’t like I was great with her; I wasn’t. Thank God for her daddy, who could manage to get her to take a pacifier, or eat, or sleep. She would cry and I would panic. Truth be told, I was never cut out to have a baby.

People gave us all sorts of looks. And believe me, I have heard it all:

  • Babies having babies.
  • How can you provide for that baby when you are still a child?
  • What could you possibly know about parenthood?
  • When are you going to drop out?
  • You must be uneducated.
  • You don’t even know what you are going to be when you grow up.
  • How are you going to be able to enjoy your life now?
  • Just wait until you have to raise the child alone.
  • If he’s smart, he’ll leave you so he can have a real life.
  • Did you get pregnant so he would marry you?
  • How could you be so stupid?

I could go on and on. Some of the things people said were hurtful, some were helpful. More than anything, what hurt the most were the looks people gave me.

Fast forward. She’s 15 now. My boyfriend and I got married, but before you jump to a conclusion, no. I didn’t get pregnant to “snag a man.” I didn’t marry him until she was 5 years old. Now, that whole dynamic is the topic of another post. But suffice it to say that we’ve beaten the odds.

We’ve raised a lovely human being. So, to all of those people who knew for sure we’d fail, fuck you! She is a well-rounded, polite, sweet, smart, funny, compassionate, pretty, fantastic young lady. And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll have a child as wonderful as mine.

So, what are my confessions? Here they are in no particular order:

  1. I almost believed the naysayers. I didn’t think I could do it, either.
  2. The adults who were in my life, giving me the tools and resources I needed to be successful, probably saved my life and my child’s.
  3. Yes, I hated knowing that my friends were out enjoying college and I was changing diapers.
  4. Sometimes, I cried because I felt shame for missing out on my goals.
  5. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, and I knew that. Not my absent, druggie mother, not my alcoholic father, not their divorce, not my difficult childhood. It was *our* fault.
  6. I still bristle when people automatically assume that a teenage parent will fail. Just imagine how empowering it could be if you just encouraged them?
  7. I believe in a woman’s right to choose – even if it isn’t/wasn’t the choice I would make.
  8. Having a child that young ruined me for more. I’ll never have another baby.
  9. Yes, I graduated high school.
  10. No, I haven’t gone to college yet. But you know what? I’m more successful than some of those people who did go to college and have nothing to show for it but a fancy piece of paper.
  11. I had no idea it would be as hard as it is. But I get the feeling that there is no real preparation for parenthood.
  12. I’ve made so many mistakes that I lost count. Thank God children are resilient.
  13. I knew the day I had her that God blessed me with an angel.
  14. I haven’t EVER regretted having my child. I sometimes regretted my timing.

If every young adult has a destination in life, having a child just changes the path that gets us there. Rather than being straight and mapped out, it’s like climbing into a cavernous valley, trudging through a river, climbing up a mountain and then down again. Only without shoes or a map.

I still got there. Talking with people who had children much later than I did, their challenges are no different.

Keep in mind that for every ONE person who has something constructive and helpful to offer, these teen parents are hearing nine other people who don’t have anything nice to say. To those nine people, shut the hell up. Guess what? We know we are young and we don’t need you to remind us. Try opening your mouth when you have something helpful to offer. (I know… I’m kinda bitter still.)

My goal is to give back. I’d like to work with teen moms/parents and help give them the support they need to be successful. Once my daughter is close to graduation, I’ll consider it. Maybe sooner, if the opportunity presents itself. (Hint, hint to the universe genie.)

Today is January 16th. And today I am thankful for the journey. I’m thankful for my daughter, I’m thankful for my husband, and I am thankful for my family. I wouldn’t trade her, or him, for anything, any person, any experience.

If you are a teen mom and you’re looking for help, visit this website for some support. And keep your eyes looking up. You can make it. Leave me a comment. Tell me your story.

What’s up for next month

I decided that I will make all of my posts in February titled with a song running through my head that day.  I fairly much have a soundtrack of music running through my brain daily.  Some song that I wake up hearing, or the song that stuck on my way in to work.

Today: “King of Anything” by Sara Bareilles.  Something about the lyrics really stuck with me.

“Who cares if you disagree?  You are not me.  Who made you king of anything?  So you dare tell me who to be?  Who died and made you king of anything.”

Oh yeah.  Rock on sister. (Disclaimer, this song doesn’t really “rock” in the traditional sense. Just FYI.)

So then it occurred to me that I should post in song title.  Which I’d do now, but I have 16 days left of thankfulness.

Update for today?  I am thankful for music.  I am thankful for strength.  I am especially thankful for the precious few in the world that keep me from going criminally insane.  I am thankful for the people who hear me cry and know that there isn’t anything to say but “I love you.”  (Side note: I love them more than they’ll ever know.)

Choosing to stay thankful keeps me from descending into madness.  I am so grateful that I am doing this.

Getting over the “crazy”

I was crazy once.  I lovingly refer to a time, several years back, when I was “crazy.”  Crazy = bulimic.  Not happy times for me.

How did I arrive at such a place?  Through a series of stupid ass choices, that’s how.

It all started when I weighed in at my Weight Watchers meeting in ’04 (I think).  I was on a plateau of weight loss.  Any one who has experienced such a thing knows how frustrating it can be.  You keep doing everything right and the number goes down, then up, then down, then up.  Or worse – stays the same.  Ugh.  It sucks.

A good friend of mine suggested that I start “burning at both ends” which is athlete speak for working out twice a day.  One intense workout in the morning; a lighter one in the afternoon.  Three days a week.  Plus two other intense workouts on the other days.  I cannot stress enough how wearing this is.  But, it did the trick.  And I was losing again.

Enter the family dynamic.  All that working out makes me a bitch.  Pair that with disordered eating (eating less and less as I get closer to weigh in at the end of the week), and my husband was ready to murder me.  He requested (in so many words) that I quit doing that.  And so I did.  Stuck with five workouts a week.

But, now I wasn’t losing any more.  So what is a girl to do?  I made the choice.  I remember the day I made the choice.  Drop 100 calories from my already meager diet.  100 led to 200.  200 led to more.  Before you know it, I was eating only 600 calories a day.  Or less.

Enter the other bad choices.  Laxatives.  Water Pills.  And finally, the ultimate insult to my body – purging.  Oh yes… I had really gone down that spiral of disaster.  My body was on a rollercoaster.  Little food, not enough hydration, purging…

It took a toll on me that I cannot describe.  I developed habits that, outside of the bulimia, I knew were bad.  I started avoiding eating in front of people; I started avoiding any function where there was pressure to eat, at all..  I started negative self-talk that was unlike *anything* I have ever heard in my life.  I said the worst things to myself.  I started distancing myself from people.  I became a person that I am not.

A friend of mine, who’s known me for 18 years, said (to describe me), “This isn’t the girl I have always known.  I wish you knew her when she was herself.”  He didn’t know how I had been torturing myself for months and months. And even he saw that something was wrong.

Now, the benefit?  I was a size 4.  I weighed less than I had ever in my adolescent and adult life.  But I was hollow.

It took me years to get right with myself.  I gained a lot of weight back (I wear a size 12 now… but there isn’t anything wrong with that).  I think it was a process I had to go through to get back to even.  I figured out that I really do like myself.  I am pretty awesome (I told you before – I teeter on the line between conceit and confidence).  But there are things that I have had a hard time undoing.

I still don’t eat in front of people.  At least, not a lot.  I still struggle with being very full.  I haven’t purged in a long time.  But, to be honest, I have slipped a few times since I went through recovery.  I have a hard time with “dieting.”  I can and will restrict my calorie intake if I am not vigilant against it.  I have to make healthy choices and be more forgiving to try and overcome that instinct.

So… here we are.  Up to now.  Why am I writing this?  Who knows.  I felt “crazy” for about 35 seconds today until my BFF brought me off the ledge.  Gave me perspective (which is why I love her so much).  What happened?  I cancelled a meeting today that I would have gone to last month (before the diet).  I was feeling nervous about eating in front of people (which wasn’t a big deal before the diet).  I made the choice to go, until an opportunity came up that gave me an out.  And I cancelled.  And I felt guilty, like I had given in to the “crazy”.

But, I didn’t.  And I am not.  I had half a cupcake today (I weigh in tomorrow).  I am eating chinese food for lunch (which is another no-no with all that sodium).

I’m still working on it.  I feel like, had I known that choice I made in ’04 would have taken me this long to reverse, I would have made a different choice.  But (since it is January and I am still being thankful), I am glad that I have the insight to see myself struggle and the strength to win.  I am thankful for people who love me, and teach me to forgive myself.  I am happy to feel good in my skin, again.  I am grateful to feel like “me.”

Today – I am thankful that I am mostly over the “crazy.”

****Side note:

Someone may stumble across this post.  Someone looking for help.  Someone wondering about where they stand.  Are they struggling with an eating disorder?  What does that mean?  Can I get better?  Right now, I’ll speak to you.  Here is website that gives you some overall information: Bulimia nervosa info from the Mayo Clinic.

And yes.  You can get better.  With help.  With patience.  With forgiveness.  But you have to make the choice to do it.  It all starts with a phone call.   And if I can be helpful to you, leave me a comment.  You can beat it.  But you have to start today.  Make the call. Do it today.

Day 8 of thankfulness

Well, it’s 8 days into the new year.  8 days into my 30 days of thankfulness.  So far, so good.  It hasn’t been easy.  People and situations have tested my resolve.  Here’s the rundown:

  • I spent the first 3 days of the new year sick with the stomach flu (I chose to be thankful for Charmin and Pepto Bismol).
  • Irritating customers at work (I chose to be thankful for people who wanted to do business with me).
  • Dieting…. ugh (I chose to be thankful that I had the means and ability to choose what I was going to eat, rather than being forced to eat what I had).
  • Cold weather (I chose to be thankful for heaters and warm clothes; there are plenty of people without either).

In addition I was also thankful for:

  • Love
  • Friends
  • Dreaming (which brings me more joy than you’ll know)
  • Hot cocoa (mmmmmmm)
  • My daughter
  • The blessings I have been given (which are too numerous to list)

In turn, I had two really outstanding days in a row.  I’m tellin’ you – it’s the power of intention.  I’m looking forward to more just like it.