My Progress!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Holding my ground...

I couldn't decide on a pic to use so I've decided that in situations where I can't find the perfect pic for my blogs, I'm going to start posting a bit of eye candy for your enjoyment (and mine). I'd like to think of them as future love interests for when I'm svelte and gorgeous, but I think Josh is already taken....bummer He's awful pretty to look at though isn't he?

I haven't been posting lately because I've honestly been working myself silly. Seriously like 60-80 hr work weeks lately so when I'm done working, the LAST thing I want to do is be in front of the computer. I have used some of the time I had "to myself" in more productive ways and other not so productive ways. I've also been grappling with more of the crap in my head so if I can find the time, I will be sorting through some of it here. Next month shouldn't be so hectic for me so I'm hoping to be able to blog more.

So, I've been working most of my waking hours which means, I haven't been doing much in the way of exercising. I have started doing a few things just to make sure I don't lose more ground. It may sound silly, but every time I have to get up to do something, I try to do about 30 mini squats. Once I get to 30, I'm usually struggling to get that last one done so I figure that's my threshold for now. If I get up to go to the bathroom, I do 30 squats before I sit back down. If I come downstairs to make dinner, I do 30 squats before I take my seat to get everything together. I don't do this every time I get up, but at least 3-4 times a day and I can see some slow gains I'm making since I started it. I keep meaning to get on the treadmill, but I don't know what .....keeps stopping me. I've said this before, but I think it has more to do with the fact that every time I step on the treadmill or try to do much more for exercise, I am slapped in the face with the reality of my situation. I am forced to admit that there is very little that I can do for myself anymore. It's so much better just to sit in my chair and pretend everything is as it always was. I need to find some way to get over that.

My diet hasn't been awful, but it hasn't been great. I have cut back on the fast food, but to be honest.......its more because I'm so freaking broke right now lol. I also have Erik take my debit card with him to work so that I can't make a midnight run to dairy queen or something. When I'm stressed out, it often doesn't matter whether I really have the money to spend on a blizzard. If I have money in my account and I have access to my card, I will make a secret trip. Having him hang on to my card has helped tremendously. What I've found is that I can often go and grab some fruit instead (if I'm wanting something sweet) and even though I'm thinking "This is no substitute for a Georgia Mud Fudge Blizzard" I've found that I'm quite satisfied afterwards.

I weighed myself the other day and I'm still right around 440 so at least I'm not gaining (much). Until I can get myself motivated, my goal is just to not gain anymore weight. I'm actually considering starting a diet that my friend Donia is doing (hi donia :) she is doing something where you have one up day and one down day. On your up day you can eat whatever you want (within reason) and on your down day you eat very low calorie (like shakes and bars). She seems to be doing pretty well on it and it sounds like something I could do. I like the idea of knowing that while I'm basically fasting on my down day, I can have whatever I want the next day. Don't get me wrong, I do understand that this doesn't mean that I can eat out all day on my up day and still expect to lose weight, but if I want a little treat, it won't kill me if I indulge now and then. While I realize I could do this on any diet, I do tend to have the all or nothing mentality at times.

I'm also thinking about my 40th birthday looming around the corner. I can't believe that this year is half over. I really want to be able to do something exciting next year. My Birthday is in April and I'd love to be able to take a trip with Tanner. We've never really been able to take a family vacation and people.....if there is anyone that needs one, its erik and I. Of course, being able to do something like that is going to depend a lot on finances as well. At the moment, we aren't doing all that well financially, but hopefully that will change in the next few months. It just seems like every time I start to get a savings started, Tanner needs a new cochlear or a $500 pair of shoes (he has feet problems) or his hearing aid quits working or the dog goes to the vet and costs another $500. It's insane and frustrating. Sometimes I get annoyed because Erik could be doing something else to make a bit more. He makes just enough to cover his share of the bills so when we have unexpected expenses like the ones I mentioned above, it is my responsibility to pay for it. I get pissed at Erik, but then I think about how he does all the grocery shopping, goes to Tanner's educational meetings, drs appts, etc because I can't and I realize I can't really get upset with him for not getting a second job.

Well, I better run for now. Tanner has informed me that it is DINNER TIME so I have to get crackalackin in the kitchen. Hehe, sounds like I'm going to be cooking doesn't it? More like sandwiches or a lean cuisine tonight. We've discovered that Tanner really likes the lean cuisines and with my schedule the last few months (I don't get off until 6pm most nights) it has made it lot easier for us to eat healthier without much prep time. Yet another thing I've done to combat my tendency to just run out and get something. I still feel like a crappy mom for nuking dinner, but you gotta do what you gotta do right?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Dance with Addiction

I don’t know how many of you watch So you Think you can Dance, but I’m just going to fess up right this second and tell you that one of my guilty pleasures is reality TV. I’m sure it’s obviously because my life has become so devoid of actual activity, reality programming lets me live vicariously through someone else and help me forget that I’m essentially house bound.

One of my favorite choreographers is Mia Michaels. Her choreography is true artistry. I can’t think of a number that I’ve seen of hers that doesn’t just grip me deep in my gut and hold me captive for the one or two minutes it takes to complete the dance. Her routines are the ones I play over and over again because, like poetry, every time I watch it I get something new out of it.

Last night she had an amazing routine she choreographed; it’s the one I’ve embedded above for you to watch. You don’t see the workup to this, but this routine was inspired by Addiction and how it takes hold of someone; how impossible it can be to untangle yourself once you’ve become wrapped up in its web. How it weakens you and becomes your strength all at the same time. Before you know it, you are nothing without your addiction. At the end of the piece, the male dancer smiles malevolently at the camera because he knows she’ll be back. She always comes back. Wow, how can something so warped and twisted be so indescribably beautiful all at the same time?

I think most of us can relate to this artist’s representation of Addiction; especially those of us with a food addiction. I think we have it the worst because with most other addicts, their drug of choice isn’t required for their survival. I’m not saying it’s easy to give up booze or cigarettes or heroin. I know its not, but it’s so much harder when you have to have food to survive.

When we go on a diet, we can’t just quit food cold turkey. Oh sure, we can go through and get rid of all the crap and try to stay away from triggers, but we still have to eat and the stuff that is bad for us is forever calling to us. We are constantly fighting the urge to give in, to get the fix we need; that rush we get when we take those few moments to indulge…and its bliss…for those few moments, until the guilt and shame sets in and then it beats us right back down. It reminds us that we are failures, that we aren’t strong enough, that we don’t have the power or control…that we will NEVER beat this addiction; and before we know it…there we are back in his arms again.

The addiction seduces us initially because it is all reward and no consequences. We eat what we want and we don’t wake up the next morning to discover we can no longer see our feet or go to the grocery store or take a shower without getting out of breath. No, it comes on slowly and if we aren’t diligent, we find ourselves months later wondering where the 40 lbs came from and wondering why its so much harder to climb a flight of stairs, to stand in a long line, or to walk from your car to the store. By this time, we are weakened both physically and emotionally and are called upon to do something that takes great strength.

Many times we are called upon to battle an addiction when that very addiction has eroded our lives to such an extent that all we HAVE is the addiction. That addiction is our lover, our joy, our sadness, our pleasure, our pain. In Mia’s piece, you see the girl try to stand alone on wobbly legs, you see her fight to break free yet unable to keep her balance on her own. She tries to dance again and while the addiction supports her to some extent, her dance is a mere shadow of what she could have done on her own, without the influence of the addiction.

But for those brief moments where she gives in, most of her dance is trying to break free again. This is so how I feel. I want more than anything to break free and stand on my own, but to do so means to leave behind the only joy, the only thing I really know right now. Without it I truly am an empty vessel because at least for the immediate future I am so incredibly limited. I know…I know…it wouldn’t take long for me to enjoy the rewards of a healthier lifestyle; to push myself away and find my legs strong beneath me…ready to carry me out my door and back into the world of the living, but it isn’t easy getting there and you always know that, in the back of your head, your addiction is waiting with that malevolent smile; waiting for a moment of weakness when he can wrap you back up in his warm and comforting embrace. One small slip, one bit of bad news, one bit of good news, a set back, or a success…it doesn’t matter. That is all it takes for you to find yourself back in the dance with your addiction. You’ve been there many times before and each time you try to fight your way out, you know…how easy its going to be to find yourself there again.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Another Rambling Entry..........

I can’t tell you guys how helpful it was to get that monster of a post out the other day. It turns out that I was a bit hormonal which is probably why I was feeling so very low, but I have many days like that and I think even on days when I’m more up, there is a part of me inside somewhere whispering “Yeah, put on that happy face, It may fool others, but it will never fool YOU.”

I also had a crazy thought about trying out for the Biggest Loser….apparently they are having a casting call in my city this Saturday and I had almost jazzed myself up about going. I called a friend who would have probably canceled on me anyway, but I had said that even if she did I was going. And then Erik gave me that look… and said “Are you really going to do that Michelle?” in this tone of voice that was just like it was the most ridiculous thing he ever heard. I guess it is though. I can’t even stand long enough to cook a complete meal right now. I’d probably be their first fatality! In the back of my mind, I was thinking that I would have some time to really try to get myself into decent enough shape if I was selected so that I wouldn’t be so weak. I mean jeez, I used to do kickboxing at 419 lbs just a few years ago…GOD I wish I never stopped going to that gym. I was so strong then and I felt so good about myself.

Part of me was pissed at Erik for taking the wind out of my sails but who could blame him? You guys hear how hard it is for me. I can’t even really do the treadmill right now. Taking a shower wipes me out. He sees me on a daily basis, he knows. Ok, I talked myself out of being pissed at Erik lol.

I am taking Tanner to a hip hop dance class tomorrow. He has become a HUGE Michael Jackson fan in the last week. Seriously, he has been youtubing him and the Jackson 5, he watched the memorial (which was very hard for him btw, he also has a very hard time with death…he’s very sensitive like his mom). As always I’m on the hunt to find some things that will not only get him off the damn couch, but something that he might be able to do and feel good about himself! Some of the things we are considering are hip hop dance class, fencing, drum lessons. Not ALL of those things, probably just one to be honest…I’m not made of money quite frankly.

I’m dreading going to the dance place though. Uggh, I am just anticipating that look on their face when I walk in. I always feel like I have to go into hyperdrive and be super extra likeable so that they don’t continue to look at me with veiled disgust; I hate that. It will actually be the first time I’ve left my house for something other than fast food in…hmm, I seriously can’t remember the last time I left my house. Geez, could it have been as long ago as april? I think it was  Girl needs to get out!

Erik doesn’t want to go with us. I suspect its because he’s slightly embarrassed of Tanner’s weight issues and HUGELY embarrassed of mine. He doesn’t want to be embarrassed, but I know that he is. Erik rarely ever wants to go anywhere in public with me. For the last several years of our marriage and since, he talks his way out of going anywhere he might be seen with this ugly behemoth he married. Even if I just suggest a dinner out, he usually will complain that he’s tired or not up to going out, but I know… All those old feelings of not being good enough just hit me like a ton of bricks every time I suggest we do something together, even a family something, and he finds a way out of it. Sometimes, I feign a migraine or some other malady because I know how he feels and I don’t want to cringe inside the whole time I’m out with him; watching him out the corner of my eye to see if he has that tight lipped expression that says “is there enough distance between us? God, nobody think she’s my wife, nobody think she’s my wife.” He’s always been way more concerned about other people’s perception of him than I have been. I think I had to lose some of that parenting Tanner. I may have mentioned here in this blog somewhere, but I soon learned that when he had a public meltdown, I just couldn’t WORRY about what other people were thinking or I couldn’t do what needed to be done to handle the meltdown appropriately. So maybe my experience with Tanner helped me let go to some degree, my own worries about how I’m perceived. If only it could generalize that a bit more to ME and not just my parenting. All in all, I’m a lot better where this is concerned now than I was in my 20’s, but Id’ be lying if I said I didn’t still care about how I’m perceived because of my weight.

This post kinda seems all over the place tonight lol. Maybe it’s the late hour I don’t know. Thanks again to everyone that has been leaving comments. Please know that while I may not always work up the energy to comment back, your support means so much to me right now and I read EVERY SINGLE COMMENT that comes through. Let me get back on my feet emotionally and hopefully I can start supporting your amazing efforts as well.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I have a recurring dream quite often now. I’m somewhere and I have to call someone for help, but every phone I pick up is missing numbers, doesn’t work or has letters or some other symbols instead of numbers. Sometimes I just keep keying in numbers and making mistakes which means I have to hang up and try again. It is usually my mom or my grandmother I am trying to reach in these dreams. For whatever reason, they are the ONLY people who can help me. So, I keep trying over and over and over and over to punch the numbers in or find a damn phone that isn’t broken but I never manage to get through. You can imagine the frustration and isolation I feel in these dreams. You have probably had a taste of this feeling if you’ve ever picked up the phone to call someone about something that has just happened to you (be it good or bad) only to remember that they are no longer alive.

I don’t handle death very well. With all the recent high profile deaths, its really only driven home how much I really haven’t coped with the death of those I’ve been most close to in my recent past. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized how closely my current physical isolation mirrors the emotional isolation I experienced when I lost my grandmother and mother within 6 months of each other back in 2002. June 30th was the anniversary of my grandmother’s death and November 28th will be the anniversary of my mother’s death although Thanksgiving always feels like the anniversary since I lost her on Thanksgiving day 2002.

I have to say, I’m not sure if losing them led me to where I am right now or if I’m perseverating on their deaths because I NEED them so much right now. I haven’t really cried in I can’t tell you how long, but as I write these first few paragraphs I have tears streaming down my face and they aren’t lonely little tears…it’s a big ol’ ugly cry that would make Oprah green with envy so I must be on to something here.

Growing up, I never knew my father. He and my mother were very young when she got pregnant. They got married, but he was overseas when she had me and they divorced before he ever really made it back home. Some drama created by his sister gave him an easy out of fatherhood and my mom felt that I was probably better off without him so she didn’t pursue a relationship with him or his family. At 18, I discovered that my father had actually died of a brain aneurism when I was 13 years old. I ended up meeting his family and with the exception of one aunt, I realized my mom did me a favor by not pursuing a relationship with his family. Things may have been different with my father; most people had a really good opinion of him and said that if his sister hadn’t gotten things so screwed up, he would have been a great father to me. Of course, I will never know.

I didn’t really grieve when I discovered my father had died years before. It was hard to feel all that connected to a man I’d never known; especially when I’d had plenty of other amazing father figures in my life; my Grandfather being the first, and my uncle the second. I suppose now that I’ve had my own child, I wonder about it more. I wonder what he might have been like and what it would have been like to have a father in my life; how would it have changed me as a person? I don’t believe that anyone can ever replace a parent. To say a child can be raised with just one (either mother or father) just as well as they can be raised with both can’t be right, but I have seen just one parent do a hell of a better job raising a child than two parents put together so I guess it is all relative.

My mother did a pretty good job with what she was given. She always put me first, even to the point of putting off her own love life until I was completely raised. Oh, I later learned that there had been a few loves in her life that I was never aware of until they were long gone, but I was never called upon to “share” her with those loves. I was never required to accept them in my life simply because she wanted them in hers. I think she felt that it was enough that I had to share her with the two and sometimes three jobs she had to work to raise me. Some may not agree with putting off your love life for the sake of your children, but I can see now why its important. I plan on giving my son the same advantage. After all, it isn’t his fault his parents can’t make it work.

My family unit didn’t consist of mother, father, siblings and so on, but I did have a very strong family unit growing up. It consisted of my mom, my maternal grandparents and a maternal uncle. That’s it, but it was more than enough for me…until it wasn’t.

My uncle was about 9 years older than me? (I may need to fact check that lol) so he was really more like my brother. We always used to joke that if I wanted to show him the proper respect he deserved, I’d call him “Uncle.” Since he was really the only uncle I was close to, that’s all I used to call him…the word “Uncle” instead of “Uncle D.A.” He served as a pseudo sibling for most of my childhood and then somewhere in my teens morphed into a pseudo sibling/father. I like to think the passing into Pseudo Father figure happened when I was about 13 and asked OUT LOUD at a dinner party he and my aunt were throwing, what a blow job was. You could have heard a pin drop! I had heard a joke that seemed to hinge on that term and I thought it might be wise to find out what it was so that I could tell the joke properly. Needless to say, my uncle took me along on a last minute beer run so that he and I could become acquainted with the meaning of the term. He had a difficult time with it, managing to get about three words out with some unconscious hand gestures before I said “Ok! Gotcha! Next subject please…”

My uncle is still a part of my life, but he now lives over a thousand miles away and has a family of his own. I haven’t seen him since my mother died, but we manage to talk every couple of months or so.

My grandparents were a huge part of my life growing up. We lived with them until I was 3 years old and even after we moved out, I saw them at least on a semi-weekly basis. I usually spent the weekends with them for sure as my mother had to work Saturdays as a hair stylist at the time. Saturdays were days spent with my grandmother. She always had a great flea market to visit or some new craft to work on. We took macramé classes together, did loads of ceramics, she even taught me needlepoint and once tried to teach me sewing but I had absolutely NO interest in the sewing machine. I’m sure that was the one craft she was the most frustrated trying to teach me because it lasted no more than a few weekends and then we were on to something else. The one thing I loved about her was that she never tried to coach me on color selection or suggest what might look best. She just let me do what I wanted…..even if that meant she eventually had to find a place of honor in her home for a blue and purple turtle with multiple colored spots. One of the things I treasure most now is a Christmas Village she painted herself along with other figurines we painted together when I was younger.

My grandfather was my caretaker. He spent most of his life in the military and had a rather gruff exterior being a former drill sergeant, but with me…he was a big softy. He eventually left the military after losing most of his eyesight due to some rare disease he was exposed to in the jungles of Panama? (I could be wrong there, papa if you are reading this, feel free to leave a note with your edits J He had some definite bumps on his life’s road, but my mom always said that he changed for the better the day I was born. The man he became from that day onwards is the man I grew to love and the man my mother came to love and respect as her father.

Because he was medically disabled, he was my caretaker whenever I was sick. I can still remember my mom dropping me off at his house when I was ill with one childhood illness or another. He’d lay me on their couch, tuck me in….and I mean REALLY tuck me in…nobody could ever tuck quite the way he could…he’d tuck me in and turn on the tv, making sure I had a drink nearby and we’d spend the day watching various daytime TV shows. I remember watching quite a bit of Mike Douglas in those days.

My grandfather was probably the person who inspired me the most when it came to literature or writing in general. He had a Master’s degree in English and would proof my papers throughout middle and high school, help me out with some of the great literary works my teenage mind dreaded reading. When I was younger, I was always the envy of everyone at those book fairs we used to have because I could go through and mark down anything I wanted and he’d show up that day to buy everything on that list. I’m sure those little book fair ladies loved him to pieces. Seriously…he could drop a few hundred dollars at each fair. If you looked up Spoiled Rotten Brat” in the dictionary, you would see my smiling face looking up at you. Later, when I was too old for book fairs, he would take me to a local bookstore and let me shop to my hearts content. That has definitely been something I’ve shared with Tanner growing up…that kid always had one heck of a library!

So, in addition to my mom, you can see what a huge role these people had in my life. I managed to make it to the ripe old age of 32 without having to experience the loss of someone close to me. Most people have to cope with loss so much earlier and I always thought I was lucky to have made it as far as I did, but now I just don’t know.

I’ve tried to explain it to Erik because sometimes I don’t think he understands why it’s still so hard for me. It’s almost like all my life I’ve been on this little raft in the ocean but I’ve had strong ropes tying all four corners of my raft to the these big sturdy boats. These big sturdy boats made my waters a lot calmer. They broke the really big waves for me and helped insulate me from drastic weather changes. I always knew that no matter what I was up against, I had them to keep my raft steady. They were my anchor and they kept me grounded when I felt the rocky waves of life start to roll in. In the last several years, I’ve lost my grandmother, then my mother…half my support network really. My grandfather isn’t in the best of health and while my uncle is there for me whenever I need him, it isn’t the daily support I had in my mother and grandmother. In a sense, I feel like all those tethers were cut right when the storm of the century hit. I’m out here all alone and the waves they used to break for me are crashing down full strength. Now, I feel like my raft has been capsized and I’m just struggling to keep my head above water at this point. Sometimes, I honestly pray for the next big wave to push me under so that I can find their boats at the bottom of the ocean.

I’m sure you know my son is the only thing that keeps me from sinking completely. He’s my little life raft I guess, but it still means that I’m only staying topside at best. Up until recently, I felt like I always had some sort of an internal compass that kept me motivated and moving forward. Some of the other things I’ve gone through in the last decade (most notably my son’s illness and the failure of my marriage) have really beaten away at that compass. Each disappointment was like a hammer to its inner workings. I had to give up on my initial hopes and dreams for my child as a parent. Tanner’s childhood wasn’t the childhood I had hoped he’d have because of his other problems and I had to accept that his life will most likely be drastically different than I had hoped it would be. I may or may not have grandparenthood to look forward to and even if I do, I have to be somewhat concerned for what type of husband or father he might be if he can’t get a true handle on his anger.

We all know how my marriage turned out and while I may have come to terms with the choices Erik made and how they affect me, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m still devastated that I also have to give up on the life I thought I would share with him and question the life I thought I had shared with him. Somewhere in the middle of all this loss….I gave up on God too. I still believe in him, but I don’t feel like he ever believed in me. I’ve done everything I could to be the best person I could be but I never cut a damn break yet I see people all around me take all that they have for granted. They moan about how overscheduled they are with all their kids activities or bitch because their husband is tightfisted with their money and I just want to SLAP them sometimes; and I don’t mean a playful little love tap, I seriously want to haul off and knock the ever loving crap out of them. You can imagine that this often only further isolates me from whatever support network I might have in place now.

I know what I need to do is rebuild my raft, but how do you do that when it's all you can do to keep treading water?