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The connection

Wow.  So I knew it had been awhile, but I did not know that I was nearing thirty days since my last blog.  I know I have repeated it over and over again.  I could say it is because we are busy (we are, very), I could say that it is because of kids activities (it is, partly), or I could just be honest and say that it is hard to write about.

It is hard to write about.

Writing is one of my most favorite things to do.  When I was younger, I would write short stories endlessly.  And in a bit of a cliché manner, most of my stories involved some sort of family heartache with triumph in the end.  There always needed to be a triumph.

I recognize now, as an adult, that I was exercising one of the very few outlets I had to get out my emotions, my anger, and my pain.  But to me, back then, it was just writing.  I could pick up a pen and write in my journal or on pages of loose leaf.  When I was tired of writing, I stopped.  There was no audience.  No readers.  I wrote for myself.

I realize now, that while I AM writing for myself still, I am now sharing this journey with others.  So it isn’t necessarily fair to take so long to finish the story that I started.  There is an ending.  But it is hard to write about.  It is emotionally draining.  But I know that this truly is the least of my problems nowadays, so I am forcing myself to “pick up the pen”, so to speak.

The loss of Jerry was tremendously hard.  The only healing that has come, has come from time.  I was a teenager when that happened and it rocked my entire world.  I have learned to cope with it, as we all must cope with loss in some way.  But it wasn’t easy at the time.

I remember I was starting my junior year of high school and the last place I had wanted to be was in school.  I felt separate from everyone else.  When friends were talking about boys and parties over the summer, I thought of Jerry.  And again, I talked to no one.  Only one friend at my school knew about Jerry, and so, I withdrew further.

Oddly enough, with all of my family issues, we were a close knit bunch.  I spent a lot of time with my family.  The boyfriend I had, at the time, lived down the street and he spent a lot of time with my family.  So despite (or in spite) of all of the issues, we were all close.  While I had lots of friends and outside sources of comfort in elementary and junior high, I did not have that in high school.  Part of that comes from me simply pushing people away because I did not want anyone to know.  But that only furthered my isolation and it really lead to nothing good.

Now might be the time that I make the connection for you in regards to my comfort with food.  It is very simple, yet incredibly powerful.  To me it is powerful.

Most often when my mom was “normal” she cooked dinner.  She cooked big, large meals that were more than enough food for five people and my grandmother living next door.  A family of four might peel 4-6 potatoes for a side with dinner.  My mom peeled the whole bag.  I don’t know why, but everything was in mass proportion.

Also, usually before some sort of large holiday or family gathering there would be a BIG slip up.  She would usually overdose when she had been doing very well for some time.  Or, to be blunt, she would get drunk.  The drama of the situation always caused concern about the upcoming holiday.  But, to my memory, she was always able to pull off the holiday in full form.  Full dinner, full everything despite being high days beforehand.  So holidays were remembered with joy.  With comfort.  With normal.  With hope.

I can almost remember my own thoughts back then.  My silent prayers of “This is it!  She has decided to change!  It will be better.  SHE will be better.  It ALL has to be better.”

And then.

Better never came.

Not really.

Family dinners equaled comfort.  Safety.  Family.  NORMAL.

And then, when there was no family dinner, there was always food.  Chips, pizza, corn dogs.  Every possible processed food you could think of.

And then, when there was no family dinner, sometimes there was pizza night.  Or Chinese night. Or fish and ribs night.  Or pizza night.

My family loved pizza.

And then, there was always Grandma.

My grandma.  My rock.  Truly, my rock, throughout my entire life.  My one continuous support that I knew would never leave me, would never overdose on anything, and would always be there to comfort me.  She was right next door.  Always.

She always had food too.  It was in that loving sweet grandma way—the way that you always know that grandma will have warm home baked cookies (and she did, a lot of the time), and hugs, and words of wisdom about life.

And food.

Food.  Comfort.  Safety. NORMAL.

That is where it begins and that is where I connected the dots.  In my circumstance there is no grand formula and there is no magical ONE thing that happened.  It all came down to comfort and a craving for being normal.  I wanted to be normal more than anything at that time in my life.  So even though I know I started gaining weight at a rapid pace between my sophomore and junior year (and during) it really didn’t matter because I didn’t understand the connection at that moment in time.

I just did not see it.

But I started eating.

A lot.

My grandma, Sam, Sabrina and I at her 90th birthday in July 2013.

My grandma, Sam, Sabrina and I at her 90th birthday in July 2013.

A ramble.

The comments and support I have had through sharing this is amazing.  So many of you have reached out to me to let me know that you appreciate my sharing.  Some of you have shared that you have gone through a similar experience, some of you have apologized for not seeing the signs, and some of you have just sent wonderful and heartfelt messages.  I truly appreciate them all.

Please, if you knew me back then, don’t apologize for not knowing.  I pushed most people away on purpose for that very reason—I didn’t want anyone to know.  Only certain members of our family even knew what a fraction was going on.  It was a very big secret for a very long time.  Could things have been done differently?  Of course.  But it isn’t anything to dwell on.  I’m not dwelling on this stuff now, just simply sharing.

The experience I described in my last blog was not successful (thank goodness) and I was left to wonder what to do.  I actually attempted to do something like that and I failed at it.  I remember falling asleep with a picture of my parents next to my head.  They were going through a very difficult time in their marriage, in addition to what my mom was struggling with.  I felt very much alone and withdrawn, and I felt there was no other answer.

I think back to that now, and I am unbelievably lucky that I survived that.  When I awoke, I remember seeing the picture of my mom and dad and for one minute believed that I had been successful at such a horrible thing.  But then the phone rang.  It was my mom calling to check up on me.  She had left for a few days (I can’t remember where she went) and she wanted to see how I was doing.  I remember crying with her on the phone, saying I missed her.  She promised me she was coming home soon (and she did).  I remember my dad being devastated with her being gone because even though it felt like they fought ALL THE TIME, he couldn’t stand to be without her.

I saw my dad in pain and heard my mom in pain and I it dawned on me how much more in pain they would have been had I been successful at such a thing.  Even though I felt low enough to attempt it, it resonated with me that I wasn’t successful.  I saw and felt their pain, and never once  attempted to do such a thing again.  It didn’t mean I had answers.  It meant at that point in time that was not my answer.  As low as I felt, and as distraught as I felt, I believed there was a reason I survived.  Even though I wasn’t sure what the reason was yet.

I am not a perfect person.  I am certainly not a perfect mother and I know I was not a perfect teenager.  Yes, I had to deal with a lot of issues going on at home.  But I am sure, on more than one occasion, my nasty side came out.  I know it did.  I remember having fights with my mom and dad.  My mom especially because a lot of moms and daughters fight during the teenage years.  But at one point, I took on the role as caregiver and our roles were reversed, for lack of a better word.  No matter how angry I got at my mother, I still felt empathy and sympathy.  I still wanted to fix it.  I think I accepted that this was my world and there was a reason I was put there.

I survived school, but did not thrive in it.  It wasn’t until my senior year (more on that later) that I came out of my shell somewhat.  I did what I had to do to get done.  I even attempted to ask for help from our guidance counselor, which I am sad to say, was not helpful at all.  Her solution was for me to go to my room and work on my homework when my parents were arguing or my mom acting strange.  That only solidified to me that no one could really help me.

When I would find the empty pill bottles of Xanax, Vicodin, and Esgic, I called each and every pharmacy and asked to speak to the pharmacist.  I told them that my mother had a drug addiction problem and begged them not to fill her refills anymore.  Some listened, I think…or I hoped.  But one pharmacist blatantly told me that she was going to get the prescriptions filled somewhere, so why not there?  I am still stunned by this comment today.

I called individual therapists and doctors in the yellow pages, begging for help.  They all told me the same thing—and they were correct.  That I could make any appointment for my mom, but that it had to be up to her to change herself, and if she was not ready, she would not change.

I cried at my mom’s bedside and begged her to change.  Begged her to stop.  BEGGED her to stop.  “Please mom, it doesn’t have to be this way.  I can help you. I can help you.  I can help you.”

I couldn’t help her.

A memory came to me, while writing this.  My biggest fear is that people will see my mother as a monster, which she was not; in any way, shape, or form.  She didn’t get the right help.  But my mom was not a monster.  She was loving, affectionate, and kind…until she lost her strength.  Her resolve.  Her will to live.

I was playing on the merry-go-round, I think in the fourth grade.  When I jumped off my knee hit it in just the right way and I sliced my knee straight open.  I had to have stiches put in and went to the doctor’s office, the one that she actually worked in.  She held me, the entire time, while the doctor put the stiches in.  She rubbed my forehead when they put the shot in and I cried in pain.  She comforted me.

Another memory flashes.  I had an asthma attack after or during a basketball game.  But she is there, calming me down, making me breathe, and talking me through it.

My senior prom night.  We joke around in the front yard and take pictures.  She tells me I am beautiful.

My wedding day flashes.  She tells me that she is so happy for me, and can’t wait for me to have babies.  I laugh with her and joke…”Mom, I’m only getting married.  No babies yet.”

My graduation from college.  The first one in my immediate family to finish a higher degree.  She is proud, but she is ill.  But she is still proud.

April 28th, 2005.  I am driving to the hospital and a feeling overwhelms me that I cannot and will not be able to ever describe in words to anyone.

She is gone.

March 2nd, 2007.  2:36 am in the morning.  My son is born, followed by my daughter in one minute. I think of my mom.  How I wish she were here to be in this moment.  To hold me and tell me how beautiful my babies are.  To hold both of my babies, but especially my baby girl, whose middle name is after her, and tell her that life will be different.

It will be.

Christmas morning, 1980 something.

Christmas morning, 1980 something.

Family pic, 1980 something.

Family pic, 1980 something.

 

My babies.

My babies.

Why?

I guess I want to preface this blog by saying that I do not feel sorry for myself for my experiences, nor do I harbor any regret or anger towards my mother.  It will become clear why I could have these feelings, but I do not.  I love my mother very much and always will.  That’s not to say that I didn’t have moments of anger with her.

I share this as a therapy of sort (though I’ve had plenty) and given the opportunity that Jason and I had—I feel like the audience missed something.  If you have ever attended a casting call for a weight loss show, they inevitably ask you why you THINK you are overweight.  It did not have to do with my husband.  It had to do with my mother.  My personal story.

Jason’s personal food issues and mine—those are separate in certain ways.  Yes, we found a way to be comfortable with each other and bad food habits—and it grew.  But my struggle started long before I met him.

Forgive me for this sounding possibly too “cheesy”, but I share also because I “feel” that I have to. Yesterday (April 28th) was the ninth anniversary of my mother’s passing.  Today (April 29th) would have been her 58th birthday.  Around this time anyways I am inclined to speak and talk about her, but never about her personal issues.  It isn’t just something that I bring up in everyday conversation.  I just say I miss my mom simply because I do.  But something else has been nagging me to write and share.  It just won’t go away.  Maybe someone is reading and my story will resonate with them.  Maybe someone is reading this and is ready to change their life.  Maybe some people are just simply reading this.  And that is okay too.

But I struggled where to start writing.  Do I tell you all the wonderful stuff about my mom (there is so much) first? Or do I dive right in to the not so great stuff?  Do I share a horrible memory from my childhood or a tender one?

I wasn’t sure exactly where to start, because it all plays a part.  Everything I experienced in my childhood played a part in shaping who I have become today.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  All of it.

Lastly, I share for hope.  I may be the ever optimist, but I always believe that someone can change their life if they truly want to.  The want takes courage, desire, and determination, but I firmly believe that we all have it in ourselves.  I know this from first hand experience.

It isn’t simple.  It isn’t fun and it is definitely not easy.  When we are at our darkest hour the road seems beyond rough ahead.

But it can be done.

Tomorrow, I will share more.

As a side note, if you know me personally I may come across as an open book.  I know I am pretty open and social to everyone.  But choosing to share this this publicly, is actually very hard for me.  I do so for the purposes I stated above, but is still hard for me to do.  I appreciate that anyone takes the time to read this.

The Beginning

As you read this blog, you will find Jason and I sharing food tips and recipes, what we do for exercise, and all the “traditional” things that you would expect to find in a blog about “Extreme Weight Loss”.

But, along with these tools and tips that we want to share, there are things that the show didn’t share with you—that are important, that MATTER to our story, and really, are a huge part of WHY we reached out for help.

Sam and Sabrina

If you were able to catch our show (and we hope you did!), you really only caught a GLIMPSE, a SMALL glimpse of our children.  I hope, that within that glimpse you were able to see what wonderful, kind, loving children they are.  Because they truly are.  They are our world and our true inspiration and we love them beyond all possible words.

When I found out I was pregnant with twins in 2006, it was truly one of the happiest days of my life.  I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face all day long.  And the day they were born—even happier.  Jason and I were beyond thrilled to welcome two healthy children into the world.

With all the joy that Sam and Sabrina brought into our lives, I knew I was doing them a disservice by being overweight.  Not only because Jason or I couldn’t be as active as we wanted to be.  Not because we were eating junk food (they rarely saw that).  That was a small part of it.  Not even because I was overweight.  But because I truly felt HATE for my own self because I was fat.  I hated looking in the mirror.  I hated getting dressed.  I wondered if people were judging me and hated THAT feeling as well.

If I was overweight and okay with myself, that was one thing.  But I realized, as time went on, that my children were seeing my hatred of my own self—and that is a not a good thing.  I made sure to never speak those words in front of my children, but children KNOW.  They read people well.  They pick up on signals, on cues.  And I knew, it was only a matter of time before they would catch on.

I didn’t want our children to have a mother that hated herself.  I didn’t want our daughter OR our son to have a crappy body image.  I needed to set a better example.  Jason needed to set a better example.  We just didn’t WANT to change, we NEEDED to change, for our children.

And so, for the love of our children, I reached out to Chris.

 

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