The Little Engine That Could

Friday, May 22, 2009

I know why I am stuck

For those of you that have been following me for a while, you might remember Maddie.

I wrote about her before surgery. I wrote about her being 130 pound weight that I was saying goodbye to. Today I re-visited her and her story, and realized I am at the 130 pound mark of weight loss (or thereabouts). My skin is flabby and I feel deflated. And yet I have never felt more vulnerable, emotional, raw and surprisingly..... strong. Brave in fact.

I realize what I haven't done and what I need to do. Maddie was all past, there was no future written about her. She lived in-between binges and pushed emotions down with food (and as she got older, drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Mostly cigarettes.), and kept people away with her growing girth and snark. She is something I haven't said goodbye to yet, I keep thinking I have, until I have a particularly emotional conversation, and then, there she is, ready to eat an ice cream, take a swig of maple syrup, or devour a pizza (in small measured bites over the course of a day). She can't hide behind smoking (although she really really wants to) and she's tried the alcohol route and found it, well, lacking.

I now get to create Maddie's future. My future. Fuck calling her Maddie-- she's me, I'm her, I get to create my future. Everything is so wide open for me right now-- I have no job, my boyfriend is moving in this weekend, I have a little bit of money in the bank, and I have all the free time in the world...... to create a future.

So, getting back to my point, I know why I am stuck. I am stuck because I never believed it possible to lose 200 pounds. I never gave myself the chance to really go for it all the way. I keep testing it out-- a little sugar here, a little more cheese there, some wine, something to drink with dinner-- all of these things little roadblocks to keep me in check. To keep me from "hurting" myself. Because if I fail at losing 200 pounds, then I will be so devastated, I will really be able to prove to myself I am an entire failure. So these little roadblocks go up as a way to slow me down, "don't get ahead of yourself", and to keep me from the real disappointment. Because I can say right now I haven't done everything it takes to make this surgery and lifestyle a success, I've done "enough" but haven't put my all into it.

It's like this-- my fear comes from a place that says "Hold back because if you really put it all on the line, you might get disappointed. And then you will prove to everyone else that you can't do it." And then the entire makeup of who I am, my facade will fall apart, and people will finally see that I am not superhuman, but in fact just human with faults and vulnerabilities and failures.

I'm thinking about a conversation that touched me so much last night. "You did good work and that's what you should be proud of." Or at least that's what I heard. It touched me because it was validation for the work I accomplished, the role I was, the identity I created. February 2nd that got stripped away from me, and now I realize this is just another way to get to who I am. I am not my job, I am not my surgery, I am not my weight.

Let me repeat that in a different way, I am not what I identify myself with. Surgery, weight, failure, success, job, title, class, money, ability, etc. All that can be stripped away. What's left is who I am.

Now here's the fun part-- who is that? If I cannot identify myself with things outside myself, who am I?

It seems too much to manage right now, but to be honest, it's a great place to start again. To begin something extraordinary. I say "that is past, now to move forward."

Maddie's gone physically. I don't feel her around my waist, clutching me, anymore. She's holding onto various other parts of me, but I can entangle myself. I can honor her for what she has done for me, but she, in essence, has been reduced in force. It has nothing to do with her job performance, but instead her position of protector and stuffer down of feelings has been eliminated.

I feel super free right now. And I have not smoked in 10 days. And I am being sad and weepy and allowing that to happen. No stuffing anything down.

Begin again, it's a beautiful place to be. I get to choose to keep roadblocking myself, or I choose something different. I'm in the inquiry right now.

Again, a beautiful place to be.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

After the Dentist.....

So after the dentist (which really did nothing) I went into St. Patrick's Cathedral and sat. I had a couple of hours to kill, and being in a very beautiful almost quiet place might just be the place to calm my blues and have me get to the bottom of the blues.

I sat. I prayed. I prayed. I always talk to God in some unorganized way, I believe that organized religion is worthwhile for those that find it worthwhile, much like the biking (hiking, camping, singing, theater, BDSM, kite-flying, vegan, recovery, etc etc) community is worthwhile for those that find it worthwhile. I am not against nor for. My spirituality is uncovered in the shades of gray (grey?) that is between cake or death.

So I am sitting there talking to God. Pouring my little heart out.

"Why me, why did I have to lose my fabulous "I love my job" job? Why did you give me everything and then take it away? Why can't I find anything that I love as much, why am I sitting on a pew in a church with tourists swarming around me taking pictures, bawling.

Why does this keep happening to me, I find something extraordinary and then I lose it? This has to be my fault, right? How come I just didn't get along with that woman and suck it up, why didn't I play the political game and make friends and make nice with that other guy and jockey for a better position. Why did I have to be so sure of myself, why did I have to be so snarky.


I know this is my fault, I did something wrong and my dream job got taken away and it's gone forever and it's never coming back and I am going to have to find something to pay the bills and I am scared that I won't get recognized for the good work that I do, and I am so so scared that James and I are not going to make it financially because he is so scared of trying to find something with his passion and it's taking everything I have to support him emotionally so that he can get up and move in here already and I am just so tired and so exhausted and I can't even eat to shove this all down, I can't drink and I quit smoking.

(bawling bawling, snotting crying, more why me's and finally, like a baby that cries themself calm, I sat. Sat for a hour. Just sitting, thinking, smelling the incense, rage-less against the world, taking in the sounds of people and marble floors and the cool cool of the Church. And calmed down. And said thank you)

"So I know you must have some delicious master plan that I am not privy to at this point but really, God, I love you and thank you for my health and my family and showing me that miracles do happen and confidence comes from self, not from others. But if you could just show me a sign of some sort that would have me know that I'll be okay and I'll get through this, I'd really appreciate it."

Upon leaving Church, having calmed down considerably, I tooled around before visiting a friend after work. I called my mom--the woman who two days after my layoff said "you might want to consider taking things you wouldn't normally take" and that "I can put you on my payroll again". I know she means well, but her words come at me and linger with me like little teeny tiny knives, and she has no idea that she's doing it. She says I am too sensitive, I say that I am human and don't think being mean is the same as being funny-- just because it makes you laugh it is not humor.

I don't know why I reached out to her, except I was sitting at a fountain in Rockefeller center wanting to smoke but not going to-- and I needed my mommy because I was about to cry again. At first she said "Don't be sad" but after I explained that I have nothing that will help me hold this down and it's just coming up-- she said-- cry all you want, baby. It's okay. You are going to be just fine, you'll find something better and it will be the next adventure."

She gave me permission to mourn. Actually encouraged me to mourn, to be sad, to get away for a couple days, to just be. That's my sign. My mom gave me that sign. She said "You have been trying to be brave and you just need some time away to regroup to be sad. You have to or else it's going to eat you up inside."

So, I am mourning-- full out crying and snotting and sad and angry and everything mourning. I loved loved loved my job, so I am sure there will be posts about it in the future. And yes, I have so many things to be thankful for, so I am going to do my best to be thankful and joyous for the things I do have, and contemplate on the things I don't, and grieve the things I have lost. And one day soon, I will pick myself up and dust myself off and say ENOUGH and begin again.

Until then, I am going to snot and cry over here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I'm blue today. On the verge of tears. Nothing seems to be helping.

Maybe it's the dentist appointment that I have in an hour. That's probably it.

More later-- Just blue. I'm allowed, right? I don't have to always smile, right? I don't have to always look on the bright side, I mean, people do have shitty days, and maybe today is one of them.

Oh, and I quit smoking yesterday. So blue and angry and de-carbing. By the end of the week I'll have a whole new perspective, possibly even a sunny disposition, but for now, blue. And angry.

And bored. And confused, and upset and concerned and overwhelmed and underwhelmed and sad and tired and and and.....

but mostly blue.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Rose Candle

It was the end of 1996 or early 1997 and my gramma came to visit my parents in CT. It would be the last time she took an extensive trip from home, as she died in Jan 2001.

I purchased the Rose candle-- that stupid Diana candle-- the English rose.

I gave one to my mom and one to gramma. Gramma was staying in my room-- she had the comfy bed, she had italian ice that she scraped every night (which drove my father to distraction) and she read every sign along the way to and from the grocery, on long drives, etc (Dip, 55 miles per hour, Road Construction ahead). I guess as we get older, we will all do this things. How I miss it so.

Gramma wasn't feeling well. She caught a cold and had terrible nightmares. She had not been terribly holed up in her house yet, but was soon going to be. She needed to be in bed before mom and pop started on their nightly routine, which was to drink themselves into a stupor, turn up the TV and eat leftovers until about 1am, to which their passed out selves would haul up to bed and then wake up at 5am to start the day again. I still can't figure out how they never have a hangover.

I stayed in the room next to Gramma. One night, after a terrible nightmare, I walked into her room to calm her down and knocked over a glass on the nightstand, along with the asprin I was bringing her. Since I didn't have slippers on, I kicked the glass under the bed so that she wouldn't step on it, along with a few of the pills. She said "Just sit with me a while." so I did.

At the end of her bed I lightly rubbed her legs, talking about how my life in NYC was so different from college, and the people I was meeting were so exciting and lovely, and that I finally felt like a grown up in the grown up world I had always lived in. She told me that she wished I would have had more of a childhood and not have taken care of so many people, but that she understood that this was my purpose in life, and that no matter how scared I was of blood and needles, that I would always be a nurse of some sort, just like she was. And that she was proud of me.

I brought in the candle and asked her if she wanted me to light it. It smelled so good, like her hand lotion when I was a little kid that I loved so much, and I wanted to share it with her. It was getting late, and she said "Don't light it, just keep it open and it will be just perfect." I tucked her back into bed, making sure that she had a full glass of water next to her (in a plastic cup this time) and her slippers nearby for bathroom runs. The next morning, I could smell the rose candle in the hallway-- it was delicious, and for the first time in a long time, I felt like I could take on the day, knowing she was right there, snoring lightly in my bed, because that CT house finally felt like home.

Years passed, she passed. I spent months and years missing her from the bottom of my heart-- of my soul. She was my best friend, I took care of her from far away and I surprised her with trips out to CA after I had moved to NYC, with little lunches and naptimes and cuddles and love. Sometimes I think the world will be so much of a better place if I can just crawl into her lap and tell her I had an accident and she will rock me and say "It's okay, I still love you."

When I met James, it was about 3 weeks before my birthday. For my first birthday with James, he gave me a bottle of Sunflowers. My last Christmas gift from Gramma was a bottle of Sunflowers perfume. It was like she blessed it from the heavens above and said "This one you can give your heart to." When I told my mom, we cried together, and this is how I know he's the one forever.

Over the summer, I found the unlit rose candle and brought it to my apartment. Tonight I have it burning, and all these great memories of Gramma come flooding back, swimming in her pool, the red chair, going on motorhome trips, olives in the egg salad, going to Mexico and eating homemade tortillas, the soft soft skin in her skirted bathing suit, her loving gentle and kind ways, her lilting voice, her square nails, her perfect hair, and all the best things that every girl should remember about her Gramma. She taught me how to make pancakes, how to be quiet when necessary, how to fight back and how to love with all my heart. It is because of her that I am generous and forgiving, for if she was nothing else, she was that.

So, I miss her. I always will. I can still see her face and hear her voice. When she died, my friend Dan held me in his arms and cried with me. The last words she said to me in her hospital bed were "I talk to you here (pointing to her heart). I love you forever."

I love you too. And the smell of roses has never been the same for me since.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Being Honest

I ate an entire pizza today.

I threw away the bread on all slices but 3.

And I ate the crust from the strawberry pie. I haven't gotten out of my jammies and need a shower.

Just being honest. I'm ebbing, I'm flowing. I'm speaking my truth. I have no control over food, other than if I eat too much I get sick.

I still love myself, warts and all. But today was a dark day-- nothing exceptional happened. Just pizza.

It's just a reminder that taking care of myself is a conversation I have to keep open and honest and loving. And keep enrolling myself in my health and fitness and most of all, that I am worthy. I am worth it.

It doesn't matter what the IT is-- I am worth it.

I am worth:
the effort to get and stay healthy
being a non smoker
being an active physical adult
all the energy it takes to keep me healthy
an amazing new job
balance in my life
a clean house
bills paid on time
good healthy food
all my vitamins
a healthy relationship with people I love
the hard conversations
joy and love and happiness

I am worth it all. I'm fucking priceless and I keep the unheard voice telling me that "tomorrow" will be better. So for now, tomorrow will be better than today.

That's all. It's not a bypass on the brain. It's just rearranging the guts. Old habits die hard. I may have killed this habit tonight.

I am worth it.

Don't worry, just being honest. It's a good place to start-- to come clean.

Little Bit of Love

The Road Trip went great. I spent time with family, although never enough. Both James and I think that my brother doesn't like us-- he always seems distracted and angry, but I think that's just his way. James is such a grounding force, I got choked up when my niece wanted to go shopping, but I didn't have the money to go, and I went outside for some air. He came out and just hugged me-- we'll get through this. I love this man so much.

The trip back was full of rain-- the whole way. It sucked. Rain rain rain. We stayed overnight in Fredrickburg and had a lovely room, some TV watching and snuggle time. We are great road partners-- I am an awesome co-pilot. The one time I was driving, he upgraded me to the better cup holder-- it was delightful! That is love.

During my time away, I received some packages of vitamins and Avon. the vitamins are the ones that everyone is raving about, chewable calcium. I have to say, I'm not raving. I will mostly like fall in love with them soon enough, but for now, I am getting over the grit. It's better than the lozenges, and I will most likely use them as candies throughout the day, but come on-- it's not candy. It's vitamins. So of course, they are going to be slightly gritty and odd. However, a marked improvement over previous supplements.

I tried Click. I am buzzing. One shake and I have to run around my house cleaning and have so much get up and go. I love it. As a reminder to myself, Click is for the morning only-- because otherwise it would be too much.

Getting back into the swing of things. I have less than a month on my NYSC membership, and am going to work out every day until it's over. Then switch to Planet Fitness (for $50 less per month) . I am down a couple pounds over the last month, and am feeling stronger. Nothing like seeing arm flab in the rearview mirror to have me step away from the chips.

We made sandwiches and realtively healthy things for the ride down and back. In all, we did pretty good-- lots of cheese and crackers in the car for me, but I didn't eat too much during family gatherings. I had half of a cupcake at the Communion, and then wanted to crash out. Reminder that sugar is not my friend.

This morning, I tossed the rest of the road food away. Ecept for a lovely almost sugar free strawberry pie my aunt sent back with us. I had two slices last night, and am saving one for today and then I am tossing it. I just can't have that kind of sabotague in my fridge.

Job search: i am getting concerned. For me, for friends. I had a moment last night where I got really creative and thought of all the things I could do until the economy turns around again-- like working in retail, grocery stores, etc-- so I will keep my eyes open while I am searching for something spectacular. I feel like I should secure something in the next few weeks, but then that feeling goes away (doubt creeps in). I have to remember I am worth every penny that was paid to me by my former company. I did an excellent job, sacrificed a lot of time, and now am seeking balance.

Best quote of the trip: Sitting on the couch last night, I said to James:
"I Love you very much. You are my world. I opened the door to the outside for you, and you opened the door to the inside. Thank you. I will love you forever."

His response: (tears in his eyes) "Me too. You always say what I am thinking. Thank you for being my first love."