Sunday, November 4, 2012

One of those days...

Today was a day that might have been better spent in bed.  Despite gaining an hour to sleep, I really didn't want to get out of bed this morning.  A cat who can't tell time woke me for good.  After getting her claw stuck in my pinky.

The place we normally go to for breakfast was packed.  A line to even get into the parking lot.  I really really had my heart set on their french toast.  We went somewhere else, and the little old woman in front of me at the buffet took every single strawberry muffin (the only reason, IMO, to go to Eat & Park for breakfast anymore). 

Our plan for the day was to drive down to WV to do some holiday shopping.  We went to an "outdoors" store, partially to equip Matt for hunting season, partially to see if I could find anything for my dad or brother.  I ended up hiding near the aquarium, after overhearing a man say that he was "stocking up in case the election goes the wrong way next week."  Talk about sticking out like a sore thumb.

We decided to try the outlet mall after that, attempting to salvage our shopping afternoon.  I found a nice jacket for my brother at Columbia.  A really great deal even.  Stopped by my parents' house and find out that my mom bought my brother the identical jacket last year.  Went back, returned it. 

Stupid stuff.  The bathroom at the restaurant we stopped at was completely out of toilet paper.  I had wanted pizza with my parents' but couldn't contend with the Steelers game and my mom feeling a bit off.  It just seemed like the world was conspiring against me, a sign I should have stayed in bed. 

But I talked to my dad for a bit, while helping him with a computer issue.  And you know what?  Today was a bad day for me.  But compared to so many people, it was nothing.  We have power, we have gas.  Our streets, our basement, not flooded.  Despite the ailments of my grandmothers, most of my family has their health.  My biggest issues were that I couldn't have the french toast I wanted, and that I had to find something else to buy my brother for Christmas. 

I'm blessed.  I need to remember that.  I'm so so very very blessed. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tricks and Treats

This was our worst Trick or Treat turnout in the history of living in this house.  It breaks my heart, truly. 

Four kids.  Two of whom probably shouldn't count, because they're friends' kids, and we'd see them in costume anyway. 

Our street just isn't cut out for Trick or Treat.  A quasi dead-end with houses on just one side.  No one else gives out candy.  There just isn't good ROI for the kids.  The two we did have come live at the bottom of the hill and were on their way to better streets.  I just happened to be on the porch when they went past.  (For reference, when we lived in our apartment, two blocks away, we had hundreds of kids and ran out of candy.)

Every year I think "this is the candy for the teenagers who aren't in costume, this is the candy for the adorable little kids."  We didn't even get teenagers this year.  Every year I get my hopes up, buy really good candy or make goody bags, and every year I'm disappointed.   

So what this means this year is that we have twenty bags of Butterfinger coated pretzel twists, and sixteen full size candy bars, that will haunt me.  They'll call my name from the other room until one by one, Matt eats them.  I'll have one or two, I'll admit that to myself now, but I'm not going to eat them out of self pity.  Or to make myself feel better after a bad day. 

I need to figure out the fine line between tricking myself, and treating myself.  And that the answer to my happiness isn't coated in Butterfingers. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Baby You Can Drive My Car

From the moment my dad taught me to drive, I've always loved it.  The freedom, the control, it's a perfect blend.  Even in my crappiest of cars, it's something I took to immediately. 

Last Friday I had a bit of an accident.  My current commute involves a lot of construction, and a significant portion of it is through "state minimum width" roads.  As in the roads cannot be any narrower, legally. 

I'm no fan of driving in the dark.  The lights of other cars blind me, but surprisingly that's getting better.  My astigmatism, according to my doctor, is actually improving.  She predicts in the next year or so it will be gone, and that will only improve my night driving.  Weird.  But a few too many years in the future to help me now. 

So a large truck, speeding across the bridge, was over the line into my lane.  The choice was to be sideswiped, or to veer into the construction cones.  I smacked a cone with my passenger mirror.  The mirror, thank god, folded into the window.  But the decorative cap flew off and smacked the window.  It startled me so badly that I screamed.  And am stunned the window didn't crack.  The cap, knowing my luck, either shattered or bounced off into the river.  Either way, not a great way to start the morning. 

I spent a lot of time on Friday working through the problem, calling the service, then parts, then body shop, of our dealership.  All great guys.  All of whom made it clear, one way or another, that they'd have rather talked to my husband. 

My mistake, mine to fix.  My father raised me to take care of myself, to drive, to parallel park, to not need to be taken care of.  (That I'm incredibly well taken care of is truly just a fluke.  I think many people are surprised that I didn't end up a crazy, single, cat lady.)  So some frustration.  At one point I actually said "I'm confident that the only part missing is the cap, but if it makes you feel better, I'll pretend to take this fax home to my husband, and I'll call you back in the morning." 

Other things happened on Friday.  Stressful work things, a trust betrayal, a computer fluke, enough that I could feel the anxiety, physically, coursing through my veins. 

One of my tells, when I'm truly drunk, is that the sugar in alcohol makes my cheeks hurt and my teeth numb.  Which explains the text I sent Yvette that night. "I can't feel my teeth."  My coping skills are crap. 

I left work early and went to the body shop this afternoon.  Stomped in on my highest heels, offered my hand to the manager, and introduced myself.  They put on the cap, I paid my bill, it's a done deal.  I don't need penis in order to take care of my car. 

No point to any of this really.  I just get frustrated.  I truly, truly love to drive.  There are two parts of my commute, that perhaps once a month there's a perfect confluence of events that I can open up my car and make her do what she's meant to.  It's beautiful.  Those moments are too few and far between.  I need to find more of those moments.  On and off the road. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I have to admit to myself, and well, I guess to the ten of you who know about this blog, that October was a mess for me.  It is usually my favorite month, the month of my birthday and Halloween, the month I look forward to the most every year.  Instead it was my month of crashing not just off the wagon, but careening solidly into some self loathing behaviors.  The month of stress and depression and illness.  So, with a sudden spur of the moment decision I've decided to try to blog every day this month, and see if I can write my way back to sanity.  HA.  Considering I was thinking about doing NaNoWrMo, this has to be a less crazy option.  Right?   

Some things I've been pondering lately on my car rides to and from work -
* What is the difference between looking at people of the opposite sex, and checking them out? Serious question, I'm genuinely not sure that I can tell the difference. 
* Why is it that after so long, I've discovered high heels again and love the way I walk in them?  It's a solid stompy stride, and I almost feel like I've found a part of me that's been missing since we lived in New York.  Why didn't I do this sooner?
* When will I remember that no candy or sugar actually will ever taste as good as the fantasy craving of it does? 
* Am I emotionally going to be able to go back to the gym? Or will my horrible self esteem and my struggle with my attitudes, fears, and assumptions about other women sabotage me? 
* Why is it that no matter how often I tell myself that I'm blessed, that so many other people are struggling with much, much worse things than I am, do the little voices in my head tell me otherwise?
* Why the hell am I so attracted to Marcus Mumford? 
* Don't I really have a lot of other better things to do than watching the back catalogue of Law & Order: Criminal Intent on Netflix? 
* When am I going to quit letting my husband's family tie me up in knots? 
* What the hell am I going to get my Mom/Brother/Father/Matt for Christmas? 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Resolutely Fall

This morning I got up, on a Saturday morning no less, and did something I never thought I'd do in my life.  I joined a gym. 

I've built in accountability - not just the financial investment - but I dragged along a friend, and it is also a gym owned by another friend. 

I find the whole thing sort of hilarious.  I found out at the conference in Chicago that one of my librarian friends was opening her own gym.  Well, basically becoming the new owner of her current gym.  Kim is a self professed "spin addict," and has taught for awhile.  Kim is also the best kind of crazy, and I adore her.  (That she's a kick butt librarian as well is just gravy.) 

So the other night at a baseball game, I turned to one of my dearest friends and said "so there's this gym we should join."  God love her for putting up with my proclamations. 

I didn't even mention it to Matt.  I don't know why.  Fear he'd talk me out of it?  Fear I'd see doubt in his eyes?  I told him Thursday night "I'm meeting Vette on Saturday morning at ten to go join Kim's gym."  He is exceedingly on board.  Looked over the class list, made suggestions.  He is very much pro-spinning (thinking that it will be a good stepping stone to regular bike riding) and I am very much pro-kick boxing (a soon to be offered class).  I want to see what Pilates is about.  I am willing to make an ass of myself at Zumba. 

And I'm completely and totally terrified.  I have a treadmill in my basement.  Other than our stint at yoga, I haven't exercised in front of anyone other than a cat, in forever.  (Given my frequent ability to fall asleep in corpse pose, I can't really call our yoga classes anything beyond flexibility & strength training.) 

Tuesday night is our meeting with the personal trainer, she's going to explain all of the equipment to us, and show us proper form.  (Today Kim gave us a tour.  Demonstrated the elliptical in her high heeled flip flops.  I suspect the trainer means business.)  I'm going to go early and try out the elliptical.  I already know that a treadmill isn't enough to keep me entertained, after burning out 4 weeks into Cto5K.  Maybe the stair climber.  And then plot out my class choices for the week. 

It's September First.  I'm back in the game.  Bring it on. 

Ironically, one of the health bloggers I read posted this today:  Hey Fat Girl.  I've seen it before, bouncing around in the past.  But I needed to see it today.  I needed to re-read that a lot of the people in the gym, on the track, where ever, have been where I am today.  And that they're not all looking at me and thinking "she can't do it." 

It's a women's only gym.  And when I emailed with Kim about it in the past, psyching myself up to this, she mentioned more than once that it's a community.  That they "know each other's business and support each other."  They opened today, under new ownership, and 8 am, and had people at the door.  I thought, sure, sure.  It's a community for you.  These are already your people, the skinny pretty fit people.  But I was so happy to see a variety of ages and sizes among the women there.  And some random stranger came up to us and told us that she knew we were going to love it and make plenty of new friends.  (Thank god Yvette was with me to thank her, I was gobsmacked and speechless.) Everyone was welcoming and kind and a little bit kooky.  Basically, just what I needed to get me through the terror. 

I can do this.  I can do this.  I just need to keep telling myself that.  I can do this. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I've started and deleted a new post here multiple times since my last one.  I'm still too scattered to put anything down concrete, so instead, bullet points.

* I find it hilarious that the most frequent referral to this blog is from a Russian p0rn site.  Apparently a lot of foot fetishes floating around over there. 

* I have become a boot buying maniac.  Well, shoes.  Well, accessories.  In the past month I've bought a new bag for work, a cross-body bag for lighter traveling, ordered two pairs of boots online, another pair from Target, and two pairs of shoes from DSW.  And I'm not even going to go into my addiction to Charming Charlies. 

* I also ordered enough new pairs of panties that I can completely throw out every old pair I own.  Which I apologize for the TMI there, but I truly can't remember the last time I bought new underwear.  My bras are still in horrible shape, but I'm having a hard time replacing them. 

* I guess what I'm doing is slowly rebuilding a wardrobe.  One that closer matches my age and personality.  But I'm still incredibly frustrated by a lack of clothing options out there.  Finding new jeans that fit will be the death of me.  The other day Matt offered to pay for a custom pair of Levi's just to shut me up. 

* I'm working on the depression.  Kind of.  Sort of.  I've told myself that I have until this weekend to shape up my act.  That once fall begins (in my head, Labor Day is the end of summer) I have to be back on this.  Dedicated.  Optimistic.  Working for the best. 

* I sat down yesterday and plotted out weekends for the fall.  I need to force myself to get out, to do things, to be social.  To see people.  To stop wallowing.  

*  I'm looking into joining a gym.  I can't believe I just typed that.  But it's true. 

*  I'm also trying to clean some other things up.  Broader things.  Slimmed down the people I follow on Twitter, finally did a bunch of filters and weeding on Facebook.  Cleaned a lot of the house last weekend, deep cleaned.  A bit more to do there, but I've made a promise to myself, and to my ever patient husband, that September will bring good things. It has to. 

Friday, August 17, 2012


I had planned on writing something tonight about clothes and shopping, seeing as I wore an "old lady sweater" to work today.  I'll explain that later.  But something else is bothering me more.  

Earlier in the week, I came across the quote below.  (I'm going to paste it in here, in case the image disappears: "You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do." - Eleanor Roosevelt.) 

This is something I need to repeat to myself regularly, until it sinks into my brain.  Because right now, at the peak of depression (can depression have peaks?) I'm perceiving slights and offenses and taking them more personally than perhaps I should.  Or perhaps not.  I don't know.

See, there are a few (oh two specific) people who I'm fairly certain I should consider frienemies.  People who I'm connected to on various social medias, and that they maintain those connections purely for the outward image it portrays to our mutual friends.  In one case, yes, we have some issues to work out if we were to ever truly be friends again.  But in the other, I have no idea what I've done to make her not like me.  We may live very different lives, but I often lend kind words and support.  I tell myself again and again to stop it, since it's very clearly not appreciated, not welcomed, but there was a time in my life that this person was truly supportive, and I valued that.  There's a part of me that wants to think, "it's them, not me."  That where they are in their life, and the changes they've undergone, are the issues.  Not that I'm such a horrible and repellant person that they'd be visiting my town, no, my neighborhood, and not bother to say anything.  But I suspect that's not the case.  That right now, it IS me.  That they don't really want to be friends. 

So the quote.  I'm trying to take it to heart.  It's ok that these people don't like me.  Truly.  I'm an adult, I know you can't be friends with everyone.  I should just hide them on Facebook and quit following their blogs so that I'm not tempted to reach out.  And that even if it IS me, that it bothers me a lot more than it bothers either of them.  And I don't want them to have that power over me.  I've already invested more time into this, just by this blog post alone, than either of them have probably ever spent thinking about me.  Eleanor is wise.  It's time to clean house, for my own well being. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Observations from a husband

This weekend, while we were out of town for a wedding, we had a lot of time to kill Sunday morning while waiting for our brunch plans to materialize.  We spent the morning walking near our hotel, through a shopping district, mostly people watching while we waited for the stores to open.

Matt made two comments about my personality that I want to record.  The first was him thanking me, for my tone of voice.  That I "know how to talk so that the only people who hear me are the ones I'm actually talking to."  Both that Sunday morning, and the Friday before at the baseball game, we were surrounded by people who talked incredibly loudly, obnoxiously, perhaps not intentionally.  They clearly thought they were so fascinating that everyone wanted to hear about what kind of beer they liked, how their future children would wear their hair, where they were when Bin Laden was shot, that they didn't know where peanuts came from.  People like that tend to force me to revert into a deeper shell, to the point that at the baseball game I had to leave our seats for awhile to avoid an anxiety attack.  (That one of the jerks was tossing peanut shells down my back certainly helped with that though.) 

So it's true.  I don't really have a loud voice on a regular basis.  My throat hurts after we've been to a restaurant with loud music.  It's part of the reason I am loathe to hang out at bars.  Part of it is that I'm really a snarky bitch, and a lot of what I mumble under my breath would probably get me punched, but part of it is that my regular daily conversation is meant for those I'm with.  Those I trust.  Those I care about.  I'm not a public person.  I've told a total of 10 people about this blog - the people I care about the most, that will help me the most on this journey, that inspire me.  I only recently unlocked my Twitter account, and I'll probably lock it again at some point.  I get hives every time I have to speak, even at work, even though I've known and taught those people for over a decade.  So yeah, some of it is snark.  But some of it is that I just don't believe that I have anything to say that anyone would be interested in hearing.  Tied to that, is that I really don't want to draw attention to myself.  I don't go to bars, because I take up too much space.  Same thing goes for things like concerts, or ballgames.  Why didn't I tell the jerk behind me to shove his peanut shells down his big mouth?  Because I didn't want to be called a fat bitch.  Again.  (And I didn't want Matt to kill someone.  He had no idea about this, and when I confessed it on the way home, well, I'm glad I didn't tell him then.) 

Am I ever going to be comfortable in the public eye?  Probably not.  It's just not in my nature.  It's genetic.  But I need to start to value my own words. 

As a counterpoint, the other thing Matt pointed out to me was that I always give people more information than they might need.  I think some of this comes from being a librarian, someone who values information, someone who fills a service role.  Some of it comes from having worked retail.  I make a concerted effort to treat everyone in a retail or service role as a human being, not someone to serve me, but as an equal with a job to be respected.  Eye contact.  A kind word.  A smile.  It's really the least I can do. 

So yesterday we poked our heads into a Trader Joe's in Ohio, looked around the booze section, and walked back out.  It was too early to legally buy anything, but we were curious.  On our way out, the manager approached us and wanted to know if we had found everything we were looking for, since we were clearly leaving empty handed.  Matt just kept walking with a brisk nod.  But I babbled "Oh no, we're from Pennsylvania, so we were just looking at all of the alcohol.  We'll be back later when we can purchase something."  That's when Matt pointed it out to me.  I'm not quite the queen of TMI, but I do tell people more than they probably expect.  I don't want that manager to think that there's something wrong with his store.  I've been there.  If I can offer a compliment, or an explanation, I generally will. 

A lot of that was how I was raised.  Our family communicates.  Ad nauseam.  We're talkers, but we also touch base regularly, even now, as a habit from when Dad was deployed.  So if a few words can ease the way for someone else, I'll do it.  A text message to Mom that we're safe in Ohio, and home again.  Things like that. 

So I've got a different post brewing in my brain over being Type A or not, and I really think that what it comes to is that I see it as being nurturing.  Not motherly, since lord knows I'm not interested in going there, but I want to help people, care for them, and have them care back.  And I think truly that a lot of my stress over the past few months has been not as much a lack of control, as a lack of communication.  If I can do something to ease a strain, lessen a stress, offer some compassion, I will.  But I've got to know that you (royal you, none of you who are reading this) need that.  I'm not asking for people to share like I do, because man, I obviously know how to over-share.  But I think I'm asking for simple courtesies.  Like if I'm expecting to see someone somewhere, it would be nice to know that they weren't coming.  Or if I invite someone somewhere, it's fine, truly, that they don't want to go.  Just tell me.  Don't not answer an email or a text because you think it will hurt my feelings.  Being ignored hurts more. 

That ties into the self esteem thing again.  If you're late for something, and don't tell me you're late, it feels like you don't value my time as much as your own.  I'm going to automatically go to the worst case scenario.  Not that you've got a lot going on in your own life, because I really don't know that, especially if you don't tell me, but that it's me.  I really just naturally assume that people would rather not spend time with me, and as I dip further into the depression, it's easier and easier to believe.  

I really don't know what to do about that though.  I think truly, that until I feel like I'm in a better place emotionally, that I'll just need to barrier myself from people who hurt me.  Because that's easier, in my head, than telling them "hey, the fact that you do X really is a pain in the ass."  Perhaps not in the long run, and it's not fair for me to not share information with them (perhaps not over-sharing for once?), but for now, I need to do what I need to do to preserve my own sense of self.  Because this struggle is too painful on it's own to add in other people in the mix.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Being an It Girl

I took a vacation day today.  Last night when I came home from work I had every intention of being productive, but then fell asleep on the couch.  I slept horribly overnight, my mind running constantly, teetering on the edge of an anxiety attack, and when my alarm went off this morning I figured that the best thing for me was a day at home.

I think it's time to admit to myself that I'm probably at my lowest depressive point that I've ever been, outside of any time there's snow on the ground.

Last week I was in North Carolina for work, a whirlwind two day trip, and I know that part of the problem there was a frustration that the trip wasn't mine to control.  And tied with that, I was in a state where a friend lives, and couldn't see her, again, due to lack of control.

I have control issues.  This isn't news to anyone reading this. 

I spent today sleeping, texting with my mother about family issues, talking to my father in law about family issues, and doing almost everything on my personal to do list.  Not exactly a relaxing day off.

I have a friend who had a recent revelation in her own therapy.  That the notion of a "Has It Together Girl" is a myth.  It's something that we as women hold up as our ideal.  And I have to say, hearing it from this person, who if you'd asked me totally has it together, was a big deal for me.  As women, we all compare ourselves to each other, each trying to be perfect, each trying to be the girl who is in control of their own perfect life.  And if that's a myth, I need to work on my own definition of who I'm trying to be.

I know a lot of my problems right now are the control issues.  This weekend we have a wedding out of town, and what that is making me face is that there are two more weddings I'd really like to attend this year but can't.  It's a weekend with people who are a lot more lose and fancy free with both time and food issues than I tend to be.  So this is my last major stressor in the near future.

So my vacation day was spent cleaning, and paying bills, and basically getting ready for a stressful weekend.  Doing things that no one really expected, or needed me to do, except that they were things I needed to do for myself.  For me to feel in control.  For me to feel like I have it together.

I really don't know what to do about this.  I'm not sure that after this many years on the planet, I'm going to learn to change.  Other than to say that I'm getting through.  After this weekend, I'll have survived most of my major stresses for the year.  That this summer has been brutal, and then I can come back and dedicate myself to doing what I need to do to feel healthy.  Because right now I'm in a spiral of comforting myself to the point of feeling sick, and then comforting myself again.  It's a cycle I need to break, and I need to give myself that break.  Soon.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Guilt and Forgiveness

I'm sorry, but this got pretty long. 

For the past several years, we’ve been lucky enough to go on an amazing vacation to Rehoboth with some of our very dear friends.  And through a sheer coincidence of fate, it happens to be Restaurant Week when we’re in town.  It’s fantastic, special three course menus at almost all of the restaurants, for set prices, highlighting regional cuisine.  Very, very lucky all around. 

This year when we left for vacation in the beginning of June, I swore to myself I’d be “good.”  I charted out the distance between our house and each end of the boardwalk, and then again from the boardwalk to the end of the main drag.  I figured if I walked as much as I thought we would, and if I ate well, I might even manage to come away from vacation lighter instead of heavier. 
On our Saturday trip down, we stopped at a nice restaurant, and I proudly ordered a salmon salad.  We grocery shopped, and I kept an eye on what I put in the cart, making as healthy of choices as I could.  Even when we went to the massive liquor store, I bought low calorie booze.  That night we went to a local British pub, and again, ordered fish with a vegetable.  Smugly.  This was going to work.
Then came lunch on Sunday.  We went to Dogfish Head’s brew pub for lunch.  And I was presented with their three course restaurant week menu, and it all went to hell.  Fresh mozzarella?  Deep fried soft shelled crabs?  Home made tiramisu?  Yeah.  As I was spooning the tiramisu in my mouth, a dessert at lunch, I thought to myself, “it really doesn’t get more decadent than this.  It’s not even noon and I’m eating dessert.” 
And with that began my downhill slide.  I told myself that we were on vacation, my diet could be on vacation too, I could truly enjoy myself.  To eat with abandon, to throw caution to the wind.  But I felt horrible about it.  Guilty.  Really, really beat myself up inside.  Even though I knew we were walking at least five miles every day, sometimes more (we hiked a good bit as well).  I thought that it would counter balance things a bit, but every bite I put in my mouth had guilt attached to it. 
Then one morning, we were all hanging around the fantastic front porch of the rental house, each picking away at our version of a morning meal.  It might have been a morning that I slept in and the others walked to the beach towers, it might not have been.  But it was just a nice lazy day, reading, drinking coffee, hanging out.  I had an assortment of foods on my breakfast plate – fresh berries, a hard boiled egg, and a few slices of honey blueberry bread from the farmer’s market.  And it hit me then that my friends, all eating similarly odd concoctions of food, really didn’t care what I ate.  They weren’t judging me.  Admittedly, for as long as I’ve known these people, I’ve probably been “most likely to order dessert,” but regardless, they were not the people who were making me feel bad about my food decisions.  It was me.  And me alone.  I’m the one who judges myself, and I’m the one who makes me feel bad about what I eat. 

So for the rest of the trip, I let myself enjoy the food.  We were on vacation for goodness sake!  I ate, I drank, I savored and enjoyed every single minute of it.  I accepted the amount of weight I would gain back, acknowledged that there would be a higher number on the scale when we went home, and just let it go.  I think at one point I even tweeted about it, that the person who you’re hardest on is often yourself.  It was sort of a revelation.  No guilt.  Just acceptance.
We came back from vacation and I lost the weight I had gained, relatively quickly, but to be honest I think most of it was water weight from the booze.  I was back on track.  Again, smugly.  I went into the end of the month at my lowest weight in a decade.    
And then, at the end of June came my high school class reunion.  (Which is another post all together.)  For a variety of reasons, not all high school related (Matt had his first bout of the illness that eventually put him in the hospital), it was a weekend of emotional eating.  On Sunday, when I finally left the family picnic, I stopped at one of my favorite childhood restaurants and got take out for myself – pepperoni rolls, hummingbird cake, some sort of cheese based vegetable casserole.  Chocolate milk. 
We had friends over for the Third of July, and I ate like I’d never heard the word “diet.”  In fact, I specifically asked friends to bring foods that weren’t healthy.  All tied to emotions.  All tied to being the fat girl in high school, the girl who had to plan an event she didn’t even want to be at, the girl who wanted to drown her sorrows in the company of good friends and good food. 
Hot on the tails of the Fourth, we went to Chicago for a conference.  And let me tell you, Chicago is one hell of a town to go on a food bender in.  We ate some of the best meals we’ve ever eaten in our lives.  I drank booze out of quart glasses.  Our last meal in town had seven courses.  But we walked.  Constantly.  Our hotel was incredibly inconvenient to anything.  And the first day alone my pedometer marked 13 miles.  In flip flops.  When I told fellow conference attendees the places we’d walked to, more than one said “but you’re not supposed to walk there.  That’s what cabs are for.” 
We came home from Chicago and Matt went right into the hospital.  I took over cooking while he was sick, and I’m the queen of comfort food.  Cinnamon rolls for breakfast, sandwiches on fresh bread for lunch.  Whatever he wanted to feel better, I made.  He wanted Burger King on the way home from the hospital, and he got it.  And now, it’s the end of July, and as I sat down last night after a heated and stressful neighborhood council meeting, I ate a handful of homemade oatmeal cookies and acknowledged a few things about myself. 
1)      I am always going to be an emotional eater.  What I need to do is to acknowledge that, and balance it with exercise or something else, to not let me gain weight back that I’ve worked so hard to lose.

2)      I can’t beat myself up about my relationship with food.  I’m the only one judging.  I’m the only one I’m disappointing.  I’m the only one who set unobtainable goals without room for error.  And I’m the only one who can fix it.    

3)      Considering how much we’ve eaten in the past two months, I think I’m on my way to understanding what it will be like to “maintain” after I finally reach my goal weight.  That’s been a pretty big fear of mine, given that I’ve done this in the past and gained it all back, so that’s a good thing. 

4)      It’s time to forgive myself.  I have two more emotional hurdles to get through in the near future, but looking at my calendar, once I survive to mid-August, the rest of the year is smooth sailing.  I have given myself permission to eat what I need to in order to stay sane until then, and then I will re-dedicate myself to weight loss and exercise.  FORGIVE, ACCEPT, LET GO.

5)      It’s also time to congratulate myself.  Regardless of how stressful the past two months have been, I’ve still lost (and kept off) forty pounds this year.  It might not be the amount I wanted to based on my irrational goals, but it’s still pretty damn good. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Proof is in the trash bags

It has taken me most of the weekend (and four oversize trash bags), but I've finished cleaning out my wardrobe.  I still have a bit of a closet to do, but after two days of this I need a break.  Yesterday I went through all of the pants and skirts, and by the end of it I was a little loopy.  When you start thinking of things like "these were the pants I had on when I got that speeding ticket," it's probably time to take a break.  I have to say, it was also kind of emotional.  Surprisingly so.  It was hard to get rid of some of the pants, knowing that they were my "favorites" at a certain size, but I tried to stay pretty ruthless and not keep anything that I currently can't wear (unless it's too small and something to work towards). I admit a lot of what I wanted to keep, my favorites, were like clinging to a sense of security, knowing those favorites were the clothes I would most likely wear when sad, or because they did the best job of hiding me. 

This afternoon I went ahead and went through all of my dresses, suits, and blazers.  These have lived in a section of the wardrobe that are hard to get to, behind a chair, and I rarely wear any of them.  I kept a few of the wool pieces to use as craft parts, immediately discarded a lot of the suits and blazers based on style (hello loud red plaid!) and then enlisted Matt's very critical help to decide which of the dresses to keep.  I had a very interesting mix of far too old of a style (very frumpy) and far too young.  I have a handful of things left, as evidenced by the photo proof I've shared.  I really really struggled with keeping things out of sentimentality, and kept just a few things - the dress I wore to our wedding rehearsal (which fits again), a sweater with fond Valentine's memories, the kimonos my dad brought me back from his travels. I've moved the dresses into the skirt/pant wardrobe (and my jeans over into the sweater storage I weeded previously) and my plan moving forward is to move my sewing fabric into that rarely used section and out from under our bed. 

I guess I was surprised at how long it would take, and how emotional it was.  To really face the reality that I had so many clothes, and so few of them were flattering.  So much of what I had wasn't based on a style choice, but more on a "well, this fits, it covers me, and won't draw attention to me."  I found ridiculous clothes - sweaters with shoulder pads, a pair of jeans with a loop like painter's pants, lots of appliques, lots of embroidery.  I found clothes from more than one store that doesn't exist anymore.  (I'm sorry Casual Corner that I was too fat to help keep you in business.)  And I found that I was able to unpack all of my "skinny" clothes from the last time I lost weight and try them all on.  Some surprisingly, can be rotated into my wardrobe now.  Some are so painfully out of style they're going away.  And some I'm still not quiet comfortable with how they fit, but I'm getting there. 

So two other pictures:  The one on the left is me wearing a pair of jeans that were the highest size in my closet.  The one on the right is me wearing a pair of cords that are the smallest size.  They fit, but I think they're a little tighter than I'm comfortable with.  But it's not like I'm going to need cords in August. 

Now that I'm done, (Well not quite, I still need to do a closet.) I have to admit that I'm worried. Or overwhelmed.  Right now I'm still able to shop in the plus sized stores I've shopped at since well, I moved out of my parents' house and started to buy my own clothes.  I have a very small handful of clothes from a few non-plus stores.  Very small.  Most of those clothes are from stores who carry plus clothes in the regular stores (Dress Barn, Target, Old Navy).  Right now I'm not at the point I need any new clothes.  And I know I'm putting the cart before the horse, but in 10 more, or 20 more pounds, I'm going to need clothes.  And it scares me to think of even where to start. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cleaning the Closet

There has always been a direct connection between how clean my house is, and my mental state.  Normally I try pretty hard to keep the house at least at a state that if someone stopped by I wouldn't be mortified to open the door.  I think there's a difference between "close friends clean" and "company clean," and we've been close friends clean for most of the year.  It's been fairly self sustaining, and I have to admit it's made life easier to just have to pick up a few things when my parents surprise us, or when we're frantically trying to pack and leaving the house in the hands of our petsitter.

But lately, that's been harder to sustain.  I feel like my energy level is winding down, and it's getting hard to care about the cat hair on the floor or putting laundry away.  Since this is one of the most obvious and tangible signs of me dipping into depression, I know I need to do something about it.  It's just a struggle, bouncing back from a stressful conference, Matt's hospital adventure, and looking at another business trip in the future.  I feel like the lack of control has almost turned into a physical presence, lurking, and when it gets to that point, it's easier to slouch on the couch, to wallow, to nap the chaos away.

Regardless of how "company clean" I've managed to keep the house (or not, presently), there are parts of it that remain absolute chaos.  And I'm going to draw a direct and cheesy analogy.  My closets, and my brain, are both hidden messes, messes that are easy to keep private.  I don't think people who see me on a casual, everyday basis, can see how I'm struggling.  I keep a smile on my face at work, and everyone thinks all is well in my world.  But you can't judge a book by it's cover, a librarian by her smile, or a clean room for the mess hidden behind closed doors. 

The photo I've included (now with bonus nebby cat!) shows the wardrobe where I keep my pants and skirts.  And it's a fiasco.  There are four stacks on the top shelf, three huge piles on top of the shoes, all of the hanging clothes, and a few things that I've crammed on top of the hang bar out of frustration.  The first part of this problem is that the clothes in there span six clothing sizes.  From my biggest point (the holidays 2011) to my lowest point (summer 2003) in recent years, I've got skirts, I've got pants, I've got jeans, I've got capris, I've got sweats.  And to be honest, I hate 90% of those clothes.  That harkens back to me buying clothes to hide in, not clothes that I look good in.

So my goal for this weekend, is to clean out this closet.  I've hit near the bottom range of the sizes again, so plan on donating all of the clothes that are too big to the VA.  Then I'm going to go through what fits, and what I hope to fit into again, and make decisions on if they're flattering or if it fits in with who I'm hoping to become, externally.  And to be accountable, I'll post pictures when I'm done.  

I'm hoping that if I start to address the hidden issues, both emotionally and in my home, I'll start to fight my way out of this bout of depression.  To get up off of the couch and the internet.  I'm really hoping to have a handle on things, to be headed back towards a better place once August hits.  I've been struggling in my head, too hard on myself, my own worst critic, disappointing myself, from Memorial Day to now, and it's time to just stop.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Why shoes and boots?

So what am I doing here, starting a new blog?  It’s been years since I’ve blogged religiously, and most of that was private and locked down, kept to a trusted few.  Lately my fingers have been itching and I’ve had that vague sense of unease and I’m hoping I’ll be able to type my way out of some therapy.

The title of this blog is Red Shoes and Knee High Boots.  I should explain that. 

In January I went to the doctor for a physical, one that was very long over due.  I have white coat syndrome.  I hate to go to the doctor, to pretty much anyone who was going to take one look at me and make a judgment on my health based on my size.  See, the funny thing is, despite being a big girl my entire life, I’ve always been essentially healthy.  Beyond my wonky sinuses and being blind as a bat, doctors are consistently surprised by my “numbers” – blood pressure, cholesterol, even how much I actually weigh (I’m much heavier than I apparently look) – healthy as a horse.  

Now though, as I’m approaching 40, several family members approached me about taking care of myself.  Which led to the aforementioned physical. 

Which led to a blood test.  Which led to some less than satisfactory results.  For the first time in my life the judging eyes of the doctor were in fact reflecting the facts.  In essence, I have until I’m 40 to get my weight down to a healthy BMI, and to eat “right” and exercise.  So two years.  To lose a lot of weight.  To take my numbers out of the borderline region, to avoid medication, to “take charge of my health.”  We’re not quite talking triple digits, but we’re close.  And six months in, I’m starting to struggle. 

And here I am.

So the red shoes.  I bought these ridiculous red high heeled peep toe espadrilles when I lost the first ten pounds.  I don’t wear heels.  These are totally shoes that don’t go any further than our bedroom.  (Hello TMI!  How ya doin’?)  They were a reward to myself.  I read some quote on Pinterest that I’ll paraphrase, but sticks with me.  “You’re not a dog, quit rewarding yourself with food.”  I’ve always rewarded myself with food.  I’m an emotional eater.  My mom and I both use food as a means to show love.  I moved right from my mother’s kitchen into my husband’s, and I think not being in charge of my own cooking has enabled a lot of my food issues.  I don’t grasp portion sizes.  I eat like my husband.  Who hikes home up a mountain every day.  I don’t exercise.  Good lord do I loathe exercise.  

Through walking at lunch, and a few calorie apps on my phone, another ten pounds went.  And into our house came the complete Hunger Games collection of nail polish colors.  Another reward.  The next ten pounds meant a sparkly thumb ring.  I haven’t committed to a 40 pound reward, because it hasn’t been “gone for good” – June and July have been hard months for me.  Vacation, travel, family emergencies, things that meant unplanned eating and a lot of yo-yo-ing on the scale.  I’m at “roughly” 40 pounds gone as I start this blog, but I’ve been “roughly” at that point since early June.  

So the knee high boots?  Those are my ultimate goal.  I have horrible legs.  I hate them.  I’ve always had huge calves, back to my pre-teen years, and boots beyond my ankles haven’t happened in, well, ever.  (Beyond my Doc Martens. Which are oh so feminine.)  So as much as I’m doing this for my health, I’m doing this for a pair of those damn boots.  I want to knit some lacy knee high socks and wear boots with a skirt and rock it out like I’ve never been able to before.  

The thing is, I’ve never dressed for style.  Sure, there are clothes I like, and clothes I love.  But as a fat girl, I have always, always, dressed to hide myself.  I have no true fashion sense, no style identity.  I’ve always bought at least one size too big.  As long as it isn’t falling off of me physically, I’d wear it.  Did you notice that my three rewards were girly and fashion related?  Not by accident.  I’m not girly, nor stylish.  And if I have to do this, if my health is necessitating this physician mandated journey, I want to gain something out of it mentally and emotionally as well.  I want to figure out who I am, and who I want to portray to the outside world.  I’m tired of fitting into the stereotype of the fat loveable sidekick.  (Sookie from Girlmore Girls?  Yep.  Got that trope all sewn up.)  

I have mixed feelings about this journey.  I’ve never been thin.  I remember being a 6X as a little girl and then the next size I remember is a 12/14 as a teenager.   I don’t even know if I’m going to succeed.  All of my self identity is in being a big girl, accepting it, being fat positive, loving myself regardless of the rolls and curves.  Not that I’ve got good self esteem – not by a long shot.  But there is just so much connection for women to tie in our self worth with our weight, and I’ve been here too long to have anything but a skewed view of things.  And this is where this blog comes in, me trying to figure it out.  Welcome to my journey*.

* Not that this will entirely be about health.  It's my blog, I'll post what I want.  I think a lot of my issues keeping a consistent journal is that I'm too hard on myself when it comes to content.  So no restrictions.  Recipes, books, stuff about the city I love.  Heck, probably cat pictures.  This is for me.  And for the few friends I'm going to let know about it.