Damaged Dysfunction Part 1

I feel I’ve already taken too much “me” time and not enough “them” time. Let’s face it. I wasn’t the perfect role model to my kids when they were young during the crucial times in their lives when it was important to be a mother. I have no excuse but my therapist will tell you different. She will tell you that I struggled with my own depression and that my life was in shambles. “How could you possibly give three young children the quality of life that you wanted and desired when you were going through so much in your own life?” Really? I find that very selfish, doc. *sigh* So many regrets.

There are many times they had to fend for themselves. They played by themselves. They learned by themselves. They ate by themselves. I worked tremendously and I think that was my way of checking out so that I didn’t have to deal with the crying, yelling and screaming daily. I didn’t have to deal with their wants and needs by myself everyday. I didn’t have to solve fights and disagreements. So of course, they only had each other. So for me to take time for myself today is leaving them to fend for themselves “again” and this leaves me with painful guilt. Literally I feel a heavy and painful jolt in my chest and stomach. Anger at myself heats up my face and wells up in my cheeks and ears. It then shoots towards my eyes and a sudden burst of warmth runs down my face.

I remember a few years ago we had just left a counselors office. All four of us. We took an elevator down because we thought it was a really cool elevator. It was one of those old ones that have the wrought iron looking gates on the front that squeal really loud when you open and close them. The entire elevator was open so as you move you can see everything around you. This also means there are gaps and holes that allow ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to fall through. When we reached the bottom and as I stepped off the elevator my keys slipped from my hand and fell between the gap to the floor below which was empty and looked like it may have been under construction. It was maybe 3 or 4 feet down so not very far but far enough that I couldn’t get down there myself. I didn’t have to say anything. All three of the kids scrambled to worked together and fast. They could see the keys and each one worked together to get them. One held the gate while the other went to retrieve. It took a minute to figure out because it wasn’t as simple as just moving the gate. They had to go in from the side and then determine who was going to go in, who was the smallest to fit and then how they were going to get that person back up. I remember watching them and thinking – “Wow. It’s incredible that just one hour ago they were fighting with one another but now, when comes to having to make a plan or having a job to do, they seem to come together quickly and get it solved.” Any other parent would have been proud and then moved on from the experience. Don’t get me wrong – I was proud. Very proud. But I haven’t forgotten that day because I felt awful. I knew that they worked well together in that way because they had learned from an early age how to survive on their own. They have only ever had each other. Sadness punched me in the gut.

Example of what the elevator looked like

They are all adults in their twenties now and I feel that guilt and regret more so now than ever. I watch them struggle with life. My oldest seems to do okay for the most part although she doesn’t seem to have a sense of direction. My son. Oh, my son. As I type this he is currently sitting in County Detention aka jail. I won’t get into that much here right now but I will say this – I have the guilt. I am guilty of not providing an example. My heart absolutely aches but I put money on his books and try my best to be sure his car is paid for each month and that he knows he is loved. I’m not even sure how to do that right. My youngest, she does well in life but suffers a debilitating anxiety no doubt brought on by a childhood of trauma and chaos.

I’m not sure how to shake how I feel. I just know I feel it. You can’t just tell someone to get over it and *POOF* it’s gone. You can’t tell someone they did the best they could and now suddenly they are healed. I have to be able to believe it. No one lived my life with my children but me and them so to have someone say “you did the best you could” is not enough for me. Did I? Did I really? I’m not so sure. I’m a shining example of damaged dysfunction which has been cast upon my children at no fault of their own and all I want to do is make it better.

To be continued…

He Promised (Part 2) Final

He was an amazing father, lousy husband.  I wanted him to know how it felt to work and be a full-time parent. I wanted him to sit and wonder when I was going to walk through the door. I wanted tears to roll down his face when he was sitting at home alone painting pictures in his mind of what I could be doing and with whom.  Mostly, I wanted him to hurt the way he hurt me.

 

I had my first child at 20, my second child at 21 then married 3 days later. Soon after, I became pregnant with my third child. I had no idea the amount of work that had to go into a marriage and now three small children under 3 years old was taking its toll. I couldn’t handle the feeling of being trapped.  The angel in me said, “You need to settle in and be a mother to these innocent children. You made a promise to God to love your family.” While the devil lustfully whispered, “You deserve this. Run. Be free. For the first time in your life… feel good.”  Yes! This is the final time I allow myself to play victim to my husband’s affairs and broken promises! So I ran. I became selfish, greedy, and reckless.  Atlanta became stomping ground to foggy nights and late mornings. I left my past and reality in rum and coke and kissed responsibility goodbye.

The daily and nightly games may have been fun in the moment, but I missed my kids. I wanted to see them but thought that it’d be best I stay away. I wasn’t healthy. I didn’t want them having a part-time mom bouncing in and out of their lives. I never said I made good decisions. When I saw my kids again, they didn’t know who I was. It was a sad sight. To them, I might as well have been gone 20 years. That killed me but I knew I deserved it so I sucked that pain in and felt every inch of it cut through me. I abandoned them. I left them for my own selfishness. Their mother was a stranger and it was my own damn fault. It took time to heal but we learned how to be a family and how to handle the speed bumps along the way. We learned to move forward and love each other unconditionally. It was nice to have my babies back.  I could hold them whenever I wanted. Kiss their chubby cheeks and laugh at their innocent jokes. I felt needed. I felt loved. All this time I was looking for myself and it was right here with them. There was a piece of me in each one and it made me laugh to see how they brought that out in themselves. As for my ex-husband, we eventually became friends. It was exhausting hating him so I had to do it differently. I prayed that he would find someone who would never put him through what I did. Me? This time, I promised. I promised my children that I was going to do whatever it took to be there for them, to love them unconditionally and to never leave them again. That promise is one that will never be broken.

Where’s the Starving Fat Lady?

I want to jump into where I’ve been and what I have been doing and the reason for my absence quickly. So let’s begin.

Depression is nasty. It debilitates you and leaves you numb, causing you to separate yourself from life, family, and friends.  The devil entered my life at a point where I felt weak and vulnerable and he used that to scratch his own itch. It can last days or months; in my case, months. You are able to function at some small level but anything after that takes energy you don’t have. Reaching out for help is out of the question but I’ve been blessed to have friends and family who give me my space and time to heal. For that, thank you.

Time for the big news! Thanks to all of your comments, feedback and positive prayers, I have decided that I want to share my story with the world. I am writing a book! My own little autobiography. When you read my blogs (and book) I want you to be able to say, “Me too!” You are not alone in the struggle and the struggle IS real! The book is titled, “The Starving Fat Lady – Binge eating, abuse, and mental illness.” I’ve been working on the first chapter these last few months and am hoping to have it proofread and finished in another few weeks. I have years of work to do but it will be worth it to have my readers know they are not alone.  When I think about being isolated, I sometimes think about grade school. It seemed I always befriended the outcasts, the rejects, the mess. Or maybe it was the other way around. They accepted me. I, too, was the outcast, the reject, the mess. Either way I met and know some extraordinary people! Those that knew I was worthy and believed in what I did, even if I failed, thank you!!

I leave you today, with this: You will get better. With time and support, life does open up and bring you sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it seems the darkness will never go away but trust me when I say, it goes away.  Thank you to those hanging in there with me and putting up with my bouts of depression. I can’t express to you just how much it means to me.

Much love,

The Starving Fat Lady

 

 

Two Pieces of Clothing and The Devil Himself

It starts in the dressing room and two pieces of clothing…

I slide my shirt over my head and pull it down over my curves. Wait. This is a T-SHIRT, right? I take it off and look at the size. XXL. How the hell is it so short? They are charging $2 extra for plus size yet they forgot to somehow sew the bottom half of the shirt on! The pants are next. I slip those over my thighs and pull up over my stomach. High-waters. How is this possible? I haven’t grown. Well. Maybe I have. Around but not up! This is impossible. I leave the dressing room and angrily hand my clothes to the attendant. I’m angry at myself for not being able to fit into simple clothes. I’m angry because they want to charge me more for plus-size clothing but not give me enough clothing to wear! And I’m angry that I’ve done nothing to fix it.

I admit that I’m the most contradictive person alive. I complain that I want to fix it, yet do nothing about it. I give advice to others, but don’t practice it myself. I’m safe here. You will hear me refer to my obesity and addiction to food as the devil. It’s a mental fight I have daily and that fight is visualized as cruel, dark, lonely, hurtful, sad… the dark list goes on. The push-pull of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. I share this with you not to make you sad or feel empathy for me. I share it because sometimes I struggle with the darkness and I want others, perhaps you dear reader, to know……you are NOT alone.

As I’ve become older, I’m at a point in my life, that I’m learning to come to terms with obesity. Accepting it. Feeling safe with it. It is what it is, so to speak. Obesity gives me security. Losing weight would only put myself out there to predators so I’m safe being fat. No one wants a starving fat lady.

 

 

Dear Diary…

February 1990
Dear Diary,

Totally fell for this boy. I mean hard. I know I’m only 13 but he’s super cute and super nice. He smokes but I’m okay with it because I smoke too! Hopefully mom and dad don’t find out. Keep it under lock and key, diary, okay?


March 1990
Dear Diary,

I can’t believe it!! We kissed for the first time! My stomach was in knots and I was afraid he was going to want more but he didn’t! Hate how he always talks about other girls though. He’s talks to one girl and I can’t stand her. Her blush is as thick as molasses! Gag!


July 1990
Dear Diary,

I was so stupid. Why did I tell him how I feel? My heart is broken! He told my best friend, Allie that I wouldn’t “put out” so he was going to go out with red molasses face! Oooo I’m so mad!


July 1990
Dear Diary,

Just got back from school. HE CALLED ME FAT!!! He told his friend and he told Allie who also told Stephanie, which by the way I am so ticked off at, that I was fat. Yeah? Well let me know what molasses face really looks like when she scraps off her makeup!


September 1990
Dear Diary,

Totally fell for this boy. I mean hard. I know I’m only 13 but he’s super cute and super nice……..

 

This blog was created by the 13 year old in me. This is a true story with as much detail as I can remember. I think sometimes we just need a reminder that as children, we so easily move on from some of the disappointments and heartbreak we experience in life. But in adulthood we seem to grasp onto the negative and forget the positive. When did we let that go and why? So remember this: Why worry about what you can’t fix in this very moment? Try not to lose focus on something that’s out of your control. Your bills, your kid smoking pot, your car breaking down, getting to an appointment late. whatever it may be…..embrace that moment, breathe, gather yourself, and hit that sucker tomorrow. You got this.

bring it

Preparing To Die

GR

 

I wake up from a restless sleep struggling to breathe. I get up to use the restroom and decide that I should take a shower. You know, just in case the paramedics have to come. I want to be sure I’m clean before they have to revive me. I put pills on my night stand so they know what I’ve taken before I went to bed. I have a sticky note on my phone that shows all medications and allergies as well as emergency contacts. I lotion up and head back to bed, making sure there are no obstacles in the way of the door so that people have easy access to me in a hurry.

Weak hearts run in my family. That extra pound in my chest could be a stroke coming on. Is that tingling in my left hand neuropathy or am I getting ready to stroke out? When I feel dizzy or anxious I think, “Is this it? Is this what’s going to kill me?” Living like this takes away life outside of preparing to die. As sick as it is, I’m ready because I’ve prepared.

What breaks my heart the most is that my kids will check in on me if I’m sleeping too long. Especially my oldest. She comes peeking in the room and I hear, “Mom. You up?” I answer back, “Yes. Just tired.” I hear her exhale heavily and I know that my response put her at ease. Why do I put them through that? How scary their lives must be worrying about their mom’s health. It makes me angry that I’m so selfish.

And the question I have been asking since starting this blog is, “Is that enough to change?” Is it enough that my kids and family worry? Is it enough that my health is declining? That answer…no. It’s this crazy mind fuck game that continues to rule over my life. When I see food that I shouldn’t have and I walk away, I feel as though I’ve lost my best friend. I have literally sat and cried over it. Food is something that will always be there, in my face, tempting me with smells and sights. It’s my devil. It lingers over me like death. My grim reaper.

 

Living With Anxiety

I get in my car and drive to the store. As I open the car door, my heart starts to pound heavily. I look at the people walking in and out and I start to slowly skip breaths.  I dart my eyes around the parking lot as I head in and see several people sitting in their cars, no doubt waiting for a spouse or friend to do their shopping but staring at me as I walk in. The double doors slide open bringing a smell of deli food and bread.

Is that person staring at me?
Did those girls just laugh?
I swear everyone is judging me.
Did that person just look at me twice?
Oh God. I gotta get out of here.

I divert my attention to my phone. If I can’t see anyone, then I can’t see them staring. I grab my items and quickly leave. I get to the car out of breath and nearly in tears. Panic is setting in. I can’t breathe. My finger tips are tingling. There is a huge weight on my chest that is stopping me from breathing.  I’m going to have a heart attack and die right here. Everyone will see it. Will the paramedics know to call my family? People are staring.  My vision starts to blur. I’m dying.

After 20 minutes, the Clonidine taken earlier, kicks in. I start to relax and forget those around me. I start the car and drive home. I feel angry at myself for losing control emotionally and for not holding it together. Even if I  did make it home alive with my groceries.

Anxiety and panic is real. It’s debilitating. It can be triggered by anything. We can’t ask the world around us to change therefore, it’s up to the person with the disorder to learn how to cope.  I’m still learning and I’ve made huge strides. I wrote this blog in hopes that people know that others do understand what you are going through. I want you to know you’re not alone…even if it seems like the loneliest place in the world.

 

 

Judging Others

I stand at the kitchen counter staring at the butter, toast and peanut butter before me. I really shouldn’t have this bread. Maybe I can have it with a tiny bit of butter AND peanut butter. Well, maybe just the butter or maybe just the peanut butter. My mind is fluttering a million miles an hour. Seriously? Over TOAST?? Why is it this hard? I’m so tired of having to THINK about it. Ten minutes later..FUCK IT! I’m eating this damn toast with butter AND peanut butter AND jelly!  I eat in satisfaction that I conquered this quest. I am in control. Or am I?

Addiction is defined as “the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.” My substance is food. My thing is habit. My activity is over-eating. It’s a disease. It’s something that you slowly die of eventually if you don’t CHANGE the substance, thing, or activity. It’s not as if I woke up one day and thought, “I think I will eat everything in the kitchen.” It’s a habit in your mind; a routine so to speak. It’s an emotional connection. It’s that satisfaction of doing what you’re not supposed to but do it anyways out of spite and control. I’ve never been addicted to drugs or alcohol. But food….that’s a story in itself. I’ve broken so many chains in my life but this one keeps me rooted. The nasty, dank, stale air that surrounds my everyday life.

There was a time many, many years ago, where I would see someone obese and think, “Ugh! Why would you want to be that big?” I’ll repeat that. Why would you WANT to be that big? If I was faced with my old self, I’d slap that bitch and tell her to stop eating cupcakes at 1 am. I was always the judge of other people. I was quick to assume in my mind why they looked, talked and behaved the way they did without thinking about the derailments in their lives that brought them to where they were at that moment. I never thought about their struggles with addiction.

Can you believe that there are people who hate obese people the same way they would someone’s religion, sexual orientation and/or color?  I just want to reach out to that person and hug them tight. Perhaps I could squeeze into them the unconditional love I have to offer. Help them realize that their judgment of me is partially why I am the way I am today. My insecurities took over and I became aware of every stare, every whisper, every snicker. I think it’s important to remember that people struggle everyday. The next time you go to judge someone, think about your life and what you’ve gone through and remind yourself, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

**I want to apologize to my readers for my absence. The Mother’s Day weekend took me into a 3 day mini-get away and I wasn’t able to post for a few days. I hope all the mothers out there had a great day!**

 

Breaking The Chain of Childhood Abuse

One thing that has always been important to me is giving my kids the life my parents didn’t. Now that I’m an adult and am able to look back to my childhood, I can say that things were much more different for me than my two youngest brothers. I look back at pictures and see them involved in the YMCA, sports, and community activities. Mom put me in Campfire for girls once and that was great! After that, nothing. I’m not sure what changed that. I made sure that my kids were involved in the community as much as possible. Volleyball, wrestling, football, archery, rugby, soccer, and gym memberships just to name a few. I felt if their time and minds were consumed by something positive, they would stay out of trouble. Which they did, thank God.

As some of my readers know, mom was abusive. Physically and mentally. I want to blame my grandfather for that but at the same time it’s almost as if, “Hey! Wait a minute. I was abused by you but I haven’t passed that onto my children.” Don’t get me wrong, I demand that my kids have respect and that they learn to be polite and I don’t give two thoughts to swatting them on the ass when I think it’s deserved. Of course, they are adults and teens now but you get my point. Perhaps why they are pretty darn good people today, in my opinion. Mom was a bit more than just swatting on the ass. She once threw my middle brother across the kitchen floor by his shirt. His young body slammed into the fridge with a great big “thump.” She once had me pinned up against a wall for wearing her shirt without permission when she did indeed give me that permission earlier that morning. If you have all week, I’d be happy to go into every fight we’ve ever had. Perhaps that can be saved for another blog.

One thing’s for sure, I knew there was no way in hell I was going to treat my kids as she did us. I haven’t been the perfect mother but I’ve done the best that I can with the tools that were NOT given to me in life. I’m sure as mom got older, she’s thinking the same thing. BUT! Could she have broken that chain? I mean, can I really expect her to learn the same as I did? Did it mean that much to her to change? Was she so stuck in habit that she didn’t really know what she was doing was wrong? I may not have all the answers and as an adult, I’m OK with that. There are still memories that define a bit of who I am today but again, it’s just a memory. I’ve confronted her numerous times over the years but it’s usually the same response. “I don’t remember that.” “That didn’t happen.” “Oh Tonia, that was long ago.” I think it’s best to sweep everything (as my family does) under the rug.  We are very close as adults today and I’d like to keep it that way.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I want to thank Teri S. for the writing idea. Reminding me that everything I do can and will trickle down to my kids and for teaching me that change is possible.

The Devil’s Hold

god and food

The smell of seasoned steak over an open fire, teasing your senses with a longing for more. The taste of a warm cookie fresh from the oven. The melted chocolate kisses your lips and caresses your palate. The feel of a warm croissant on a cold day cupped in your hands ever so gently. Opening it’s buttery layers one piece at a time. Hungry?

This is my food addiction. Sensual, sexual, romantic, food addiction. It’s a relationship that is hard to let go. I mean, let’s face it, you HAVE to have food to live. There is, however, an ugly side. It’s killing me. Slowly, it wraps the rope around my neck and lowers me enough to gasp for air but not enough to completely shut me down. It slowly raises me back up with the alluring taste, texture and touch of its beautiful ugliness.

Food, I refer to as the devil, will over power you and convince you that you’re not full. It plays with your mind until you can no longer hold on. You give into seconds and thirds and before you know it, you’re snacking at midnight and crying at 2 a.m. Because you’re now sad, you open your night stand drawer and reveal your secret. Your eyes widen and your mouth waters. You open it and eat your divine treat until your tears dry up and relief kicks in. Then shame. Shame that you must have a secret to begin with. Shame that you have to hide it because it’s yours and no one else will understand. Shame because it’s now 3 a.m. and embarrassing enough, you want more.

You weigh yourself and become sad AND pissed off that you gained weight. The scales flashes your numbers back at you as if to scream, “You fatass! Look what you did!” You look down wondering how the hell it happened. Promising that you’ll never eat like that again, you head to the kitchen. You open the fridge. The cupboards. The hiding spots. Back to the fridge. The devil is toying with you. Convincing you that there’s food to satisfy your desire. You leave the kitchen and try to get your mind on something else. No matter how much you try, craving, boredom, and a sense of needing to feel satisfied overtakes you. This revolving door leads no where and you know it but it’s not enough to stop you. Addiction. A nasty vicious cycle that hates you but that you love more than anything.

Disease has finally caught up. Diabetes, sleep apnea, joint pain, trouble breathing, high blood pressure, peripheral neuropathy. The devil smiles, “Come here, I will take care of you. Everything will feel better. All you need is this large plate of carbohydrates and fat. Remember, you need me to live.” You feel alone in your darkness but food is there to help ignite a passion in you that no one and nothing else can. The devil steps back with a low laugh and whispers, “Eat.”