the life-changing magic of ending one’s life.

Ah, Google. Google is like god: ask and ye shall receive. My oldest daughter wrote a book last year entitled “Searching”, the premise of which was that she typed questions, big and small, mundane and profound, into the ubiquitous search engine and crafted poetry from the most popular results these searches engendered. It’s stunning work; I urge all of you to read it–the author’s name is Meghan Maloney.

What I discovered yesterday was that if you ask Google what the most efficient way to kill yourself is, you will actually find out.

Oh, believe me, all those articles have a disclaimer: “don’t do it! Call a hotline, get a doctor! GET ON MEDICATION!” But keep reading, ’cause once you get past all that bullshit, they’re gonna tell you what’s up. One of these articles actually has a chart that claims to give you success (if you can call it that) rates, estimated time to execute (haha!), the deed, and the amount of “agony” you will suffer in the process. I wonder how they figured THAT out? Obviously, interviewing survivors…but they only have so much information, you know? The people you really want answers from, well, that ship has sailed, so to speak.

I’m not gonna leave you HANGING here (omg see what I did there? So FUNNY!), so yeah, pretty clearly I was looking for information on committing suicide. Now there are many reasons for wanting or needing that information: perhaps one is writing a scholarly article on the subject. Perhaps one is researching suicide to better understand the death of a friend or a loved one. Perhaps one is writing a blog whose ostensible raison d’être is a discussion of mental health and physical fitness. Then there’s the real reason, which of course is that one is considering suicide.

Unless you’re new here, we all know that Jenny’s been off her meds since June 2014. Is anybody new here? Lemme bring ya up to speed: 334 lbs, sleeping through life, dead inside, blah blah blah. Jenny goes cold turkey off the medication, starts to diet and lose weight. Jenny starts taking turmeric to deal with chronic pain, is able to return to the gym, lo and behold, slightly less than two years later she’s reached her goal weight. She looks great! She exercises like a fiend, she sings, she dances. She can wear a size two! She writes a goddamn blog! Wow, things are going great for Jenny!

Wanna know what else has resulted from the Big Experiment? June 2014 through November 2015: oh my god, I feel amazing! I’m losing weight! Now I’m working out! This is amazing! They said it would work, and it works! This shit is fucking amazing! LIFE IS AMAZING!

November 2015 to present: wow, I don’t feel as good as I used to. Maybe if I work out more I’ll feel better. Or, ooh, I know, I’ll have more sex! That’ll do the trick! Shit, it seems my partner doesn’t really WANT to have sex 24 hours a day 7 days a week in order to keep my endorphin levels from dropping. Who could have foreseen THAT? Maybe if I work out a little harder. Maybe if I drop a few more pounds, finally make it to my goal weight, I’ll be happy. Yay, I reached it, NOW I’m happy, right? Right? No? Well, what the fuck now? I know, I’ll sing in a band. I’ll sing with my husband. I’ll join a dance troupe. I’ll write a blog! I’ll keep doing and joining and working and writing and that will all distract me from the fact that I’m miserable and oh yeah in a lot of pain again (where the fuck did that come from?) and frankly, once again, as I have since I was 13 years old, want to die. Again. Even though I did everything they told me to do. I still have depression and I still want to die.

And that ain’t all, folks! One of the little known symptoms of chronic depression is irritability. I’m pretty much low-level pissed off ALL THE TIME. Everything, and everybody, makes me want to fucking scream. My default mood setting is “nails on a blackboard”.

So imagine how much fun I am to live with.

I will give you a clue. I am not at all fun to live with. I’m mean. Impatient. Snarky. Bitchy. Let’s top that with a biiiiig helping of incredibly emotionally needy, weepy, super-sensitive and loonily obsessive. And, now that I’ve yelled at you, sniped at you, complained about you, cried over how mean you are to me, and mentally picked apart every single conversation we’ve had in the last few weeks, hell, maybe years, searching for evidence of how much you actually dislike me and really want to live alone–yes, now that I’ve done all that, what the heck, wanna fuck? No? Boo-hoo, you don’t love me anymore!

And so, of course, the inevitable happened. The thing I’ve been dreading and predicting and fearing and resigned to and hysterically terrified of. I’ve been asked for a divorce.

It isn’t nearly as pleasant as being asked to marry. An odd coincidence is that both of these questions were asked of me while standing in a kitchen…but that’s neither here nor there, just one more of life’s little absurdities.

The other strange thing here is, that is not the worst thing that happened this weekend. The worst thing that happened is what I did after that question was asked. I did not indulge in any of my addictions, but I did act out in a superbly inappropriate manner, and I frightened my son, my husband, and myself rather badly. Oh, and made my daughter the poet so angry that she informed me that we won’t be speaking again until I get back on medication.

But if you’re not new here, you’ll know that I didn’t stop medicating because I felt a little sleepy, or gained a little weight, or felt a little numb. Nobody stops medicating for a life-threatening illness like depression because of “a little” anything, not me, especially–things have got to get EPICALLY BAD before I’ll change. I think I may have discussed this with you before. I DON’T LIKE CHANGE. Not good at it, never happy about it, nearly always have to do it kicking and screaming. Going off meds definitely happened in a more organic fashion than that, but it still took a really long time to come to the conclusion that they weren’t working for me anymore and that I needed to do something different.

So what now, when things have obviously gotten epically bad all over again? When my thoughts and behaviors have gotten this out of control? When meds don’t work, but no meds doesn’t work either? When the path I’ve chosen, despite all visible evidence to the contrary, seems to lead nowhere at all?

What now, as I’m researching the most efficient and painless ways to kill myself?

Is suicide a viable idea as a means to end suffering? Certainly euthanasia is being looked at around the world as a compassionate, dignified way to allow those with a terminal illness to meet death on their own terms when there are no alternatives available, when the question is not if, but when.

Is depression a terminal illness?

As of right now it’s incurable. Some forms are chronic and life-long, and mine appears to fall into that category. It’s painful, debilitating, and it not only causes suffering to its victim, but to its victim’s family and friends, either by being in the sufferer’s immediate vicinity and so falling prey to the symptoms of the illness (the aforementioned constant irritability, anger, and irrational behaviors), or to the illness itself, as depression can definitely be catching.

I know that I’m afraid. Afraid of death, and afraid of life, too–of continuing to live with this death sentence, and alienating all my friends and loved ones in the process. Of ending up, finally, alone–which I what I always guessed would happen, anyway. Why drag it out another 20 or 30 years? How much more damage should I be allowed to inflict? Isn’t it infinitely kinder to just end this now, while I still have a little love left?

One of the things I’ve been saying for a few years now is that I won’t hand my kids the shit sandwich of suicide. I don’t want them to kill themselves, and statistics say they are more at risk for it if I do. But that might just be genetics, too–depression and other mental illnesses seem to be hereditary. So maybe it doesn’t matter, and the shit sandwich was already served up, piping hot, at the moment of their births. Who knows?

I’ve done a lot in 53 years. Survived a lot–physical and emotional abuse, my own drug abuse, painful losses of people I loved–nothing that many others haven’t experienced and lived through, as well. I think the reason I’ve managed to get through it thus far is that I have the biggest “fuck you, life” attitude of nearly anyone else I know. I laugh at it and curse at it and get mad at it and FIGHT it. I get angry and I beat it up–it’s how I lift, too. Get angry. Beat it up.

I’ve never been able to figure out how to do that with this illness. Instead it drains me. Saps all my energy. And then it makes me angry with others, with people who love me, and turns us against each other.

I need to be done with it.

So, what now?

 

 

 

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the rest of the story.

From “The Real Meaning of Meditation” by Swami Rama, yogainternational.com:

“In meditation, the mind is clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused. When you meditate, you are fully awake and alert, but your mind is not focused on the external world or on the events taking place around you. Meditation requires an inner state that is still and one-pointed so that the mind becomes silent. When the mind is silent and no longer distracts you, meditation deepens.”

I read an article today about rest. I read it out loud to my husband, because  I thought it might be of particular interest to him, considering he’s been telling me for twenty-five years that he doesn’t get enough of it. He fell asleep as I read to him. Nailed it, dude.

One of the points made in the article was this: some people cannot rest their minds unless their bodies are at rest, too–but for MOST of us, the opposite is true. We find ourselves most able to rest and quiet our minds when engaged in some sort of physical activity.

I have been wondering if exercise, for me, is a form of meditation, and therefore, mental rest.  I’ve certainly heard it can be, it’s kind of a thing that gets repeated in certain circles.  When I’ve thought about meditation in the past, however, my understanding was that it’s about emptying one’s mind; allowing thoughts that bubble up to simply float through, and drift away. A kind of “letting go” of thought–a thing which, to me, seems nearly impossible. I don’t know about you guys, but pretty much from the time I open my eyes in the morning to the moment I slip into sleep at night, I have a constant inner monologue going on. “I have to pee. I’m hungry. Oh god I NEED COFFEE…” you know the drill. And on and on for the rest of the day.

So the idea of sitting quietly in the lotus position and simply allowing my thoughts to drift and disperse like petals on the wind was pretty, um, dare I say it, laughable to me. I had too much going on, lists of kid stuff, dinners to cook, calls to make, meetings to schedule. It felt a waste of time. I felt guilty considering it. And I thought it would never work for me (hey, doesn’t that sound familiar?).

When I started exercising, though, I felt like I was being healthy and smart. I had a plan, a goal, and I was working hard to see it through. I certainly wasn’t learning how to “rest”–what a ridiculous idea!

Indeed, rest was off the table–I was going HARD, pushing, lifting to the limits of my ability, sweating it out on the bike. But as I worked, focused on breathing, counting reps and sets, making sure my heart rate was at the optimal level–my mind, in fact, quieted. There was no other task at hand, nothing else to worry about, and the only stress was physical. I breathed. I lifted. I pushed. I counted. I breathed again.

But it wasn’t like there was no thinking going on. Certainly I was thinking: I had to count, and tell myself to quit holding my breath, AND there was (and is) much self talk in the way of “ok, I don’t have to go 15 reps here. I can do 12, that’ll be enough. Eight, nine, ten,–hey, I can do 15. Yeah, I can. Eleven, twelve, FUCK this is hard, thirteen, fourteen…” You see my point. Mind, not empty. Thoughts, not dispersing like rose petals.

Something was happening, though. Something  was different.

I felt peaceful.

There were times (there ARE times) that I felt euphoric. I’d be on the bike (cardio seems to do this to me especially), and I felt like at any moment I could just start singing at the top of my lungs I was so damn happy. I’ve actually had to stop myself from doing it–my god, what a wonderful feeling!

There were, and are, times, too, when it’s all I could do not to burst into tears. I’ve been flooded with emotion, rocked with deep, intense feelings that washed over me, usually accompanied with mental images of people, places and things that have brought me both deep joy and deep pain. And it’s goddamn embarrassing to be in the middle of a chest press and find yourself welling up with tears. I have had to stop for a moment, blow my nose, dry my eyes…but it’s not the same for me as it is when I’m deep in depression, wracked with worry, crying in pain. Instead, there seems to be a catharsis that takes place through this hard, physical work, even if I don’t sob my eyes out in the middle of the gym. I WORK it out, instead.

And I feel peaceful.

I don’t know if what’s happening is actual meditation. I don’t know what “an inner state that is still and one-pointed” –one-pointed?  actually is. I can say that a hard workout, while leaving me physically tired, also leaves me mentally rested.

So, physically tired, yet mentally at peace, I know I will sleep. And wake tomorrow with my inner monologue refreshed and ready to start yammering away again. Ooh, now there’s something to look forward to!

Alternatively, I look forward to shutting it up again at the gym.

 

 

 

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cheese…and bread.

Dudes, I guess there’s a good reason I’m writing a blog, and not something called “the chronology of my weight loss: step one write it down step two add it up step three blah blah blah…”, ’cause guess what? I forgot to tell you something!

Okay. So, one of the terrific things about being a patient of Dr. Margot Fass is this: she has an equally terrific PA named Gail Weiser. Gail specializes in what’s called “integrative medicine” (ahem) which is:

“…the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.”–taken from abpus.org, the website of the American Board of Physician Specialties.

Gail has been an enormous help to me  in identifying strategies to help me treat my pain and manage my physical and mental health. While Dr. Fass suggested turmeric for my pain, Gail filled me in on the fact that turmeric is most effective in fighting inflammation when used in conjunction with black pepper oil, and suggested either using the root itself, in cooking, with black pepper, or finding a supplement that included it–which is what I ended up doing. While I don’t mind the taste of turmeric (and I actually adore black pepper), I couldn’t see myself using it at every meal. A supplement seemed like the logical answer.

Here’s the thing; it’s always, ALWAYS preferable to get the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients we need from raw, whole food. It’s the least processed, least handled-by-man, least adulterated way to ingest these things.  But it’s not always PRACTICAL. Maybe I really HATE the taste of turmeric and/or black pepper–how long am I going to put up with having to eat food with that taste before I get discouraged and say to hell with it? Maybe I absolutely must get more vitamin D, but can’t stomach milk? Or tuna fish? Or cod liver oil?  Obviously, what we must sometimes do is take supplements.

Which, by the way, are expensive as SHIT. I’ve literally spent HUNDREDS of dollars at health food and grocery stores buying vitamins and supplements which I and my health care team have determined are the things I need to keep me as healthy and on-track as possible, and which are decidedly NOT covered by insurance. Right now I take krill oil and turmeric for inflammation, vitamin  D3 because I live in the northeast and my blood levels are in the cellar without a boost, magnesium glycinate (it’s the best form when you’re taking it for mental calm, magnesium citrate is the best for absorption when taken orally, and magnesium oxide was not recommended), an herbal blend for hot flashes, biotin for my thinning hair, and another herbal blend to try and stave off the UTI’s I’ve become prone to due to another medical condition. Oh, and a  “certified organic whole food” women’s multi. I mean, holy crap, right?

Anyway.

Here’s what I forgot to tell you!

Fairly early on in this, at the urging of my doc and her PA, I gave up dairy. The research, at the time, indicated that dairy (which encompasses all things made with or containing milk) might have inflammatory properties–specifically casein protein, which makes up approximately 80% of the proteins  in cow’s milk. More recent studies suggest that this may not, in fact, be true–but two years ago it was the best information I had, and I acted on it. To the best of my ability, I gave up milk, cheese, yogurt–any and all dairy products…

…to the best of my ability. I’m STILL not completely off dairy, and like I said, it’s been two years. I don’t drink milk at all, rarely put cheese on anything–but just the other night I had a mouthful of homemade macaroni and cheese, and OH MY GOD it was soooooo good. I used to put grated asiago cheese on my chicken Caesar salads, before I made myself–and I mean MADE myself–stop it.

Dairy is ubiquitous in the American diet. We’ve been conditioned to believe that we NEED it–we need the calcium for our bones, the  vitamin D in order to absorb that calcium.

Not only do we think we need it, WE LOVE IT. Think about it. It’s a rare bird, unless one is lactose intolerant, who doesn’t love cheese. Or ice cream, or whipped cream, or cream in our coffee–for god’s sake, it’s GOOD. It really has been one of the most difficult things to excise from my diet, because it’s EVERYWHERE, and it’s DELICIOUS, and NOTHING COMPARES TO IT. Have you ever tried vegan cheese? Have you? I have some advice: don’t.

I stopped drinking coffee, because I drank it with cream–but I liked tea black. I gave up ice cream completely, and started eating soy yogurt until the one brand that tasted good went out of business. No more cheeseburgers. No pizza. No cheese sticks, whipped cream on strawberries, no nothin’.

Yeah, it sucks.

Cheese, and the various other “dairy products” it’s friends with,  apparently has “umami”–have you heard of umami? It’s a new flavor; well, not new at all, but one that has recently been discovered, or at least named.  “A loanword from the Japanese (うま味 ?), umami can be translated as ‘a pleasant savory taste’.”-thanks, Wikipedia. Umami is imparted by glutamates, especially MSG , so OH, now I finally understand Chinese food, specifically why food that looks so bad smells and tastes SO GOOD. Anyway, apparently foods like chicken soup, bacon, tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, and yes, cheese, are all freaking LOADED with glutamates, and therefore loaded with umami. Oh and, btw? Cheese also releases “opiate-like substances that trigger the brain’s pleasure center” (Joan Price, “Seduced By Food”, http://www.joanprice.com.)

So. Why don’t you just “give up dairy”? You know–just say no.

What-is there a problem?

While the concern about dairy causing inflammation doesn’t seem to be warranted, there are still plenty of reasons to avoid it. Hormones and antibiotics in milk are two of them, but you can say that about any factory-farm product. There’s the animal cruelty issue too–buying meat and dairy from any of these big conglomerates raises all kinds of ethical issues for the thinking person.

As a bonus, there’s also the fact that cutting out dairy products cuts calories and can help with weight loss, while we can continue to get the nutrition we need from other, perhaps less controversial, sources.

Of course, we do, today, have options. There are hormone and antibiotic-free dairy products available at most groceries. Or you can buy these products, along with organic produce and meats, at local farms, where you can be assured that their methods are also cruelty-free. You can do this (if such local farms exist near enough to you)–but you will pay for the privilege.

It comes down to this–getting healthy costs money. From the food you eat to the supplements you consume to the gym you join. It’s an expensive change.

I don’t buy organic, hormone-, antibiotic-, cruelty-free milk–I just stopped drinking it. But I can’t stop eating food, and I can’t afford that kind of chicken, either.

I bought one of those birds, one time, to cook up and then make bone-broth with (bone-broth is stock, by the way, it ain’t nothing fancy). It was lovely to know that what I was cooking was healthier for me and my brood, kinder to the animal, and simply a better choice for the planet as a whole. But it was 5lbs smaller than the “regular” chickens at the store, and it cost 2 dollars more. We’re trying to feed a family on a limited budget here. And while I know it’s better for us, I can’t justify the expense.

So, I make the best choice I can make.  I read the labels and buy the healthiest option I can afford. I skip the breaded frozen chicken  and buy whole parts, breasts, legs, thighs–rather than pressed out pieces like nuggets.  Those whole pieces are cheaper if you buy in bulk at the price club or get the Wegmans “big pack”. And yes, I KNOW that then you have to open the package and separate the parts into smaller packages, and I know it’s a pain in the ass, and I know you’ve got other things to do that can’t wait!

And here I’m going to promote a thing I never thought I’d hear myself say–plan the time for it. What? WHAT? Jenny, didn’t you just say not TWO BLOGS AGO that you’re “not a planner” and nobody has to BE a “planner” and there’s no “right” way to do this? What the hell, dude?

Sigh. Yes. Yes I did say that. And it’s true. There is no “right” way to do this. But there’s definitely a “right” way to self-sabotage, and NOT BUYING THE HEALTHY FOOD BECAUSE YOU DON’T WANT TO DEAL WITH IT IS ONE OF THOSE WAYS.

Anyway, it’s not like you have to do it all alone. Ask your spouse or your kid for help. Frankly, this advice is a bit disingenuous of me because honestly, my husband’s the guy who deals with it. I would, though. If I had to. I would totally open up that huge package of slimy pieces/parts, pull it all apart and rewrap that bitch into three separate manageable packages. You bet I would. If I had to. But I don’t.

Okay, I know I sound like I’m talking out of my ass! I can’t tell you that I’m doing THIS PARTICULAR PART of my routine, because I’m not, but–how about this: plan for help. Go shopping with a friend and help each other deal with your shit when you get home. That, I do.

Also? Shut up about not liking fruit. You do so like it, you just don’t know it because all you’ve eaten from babyhood is strawberry ICE CREAM instead of strawberries.  You think fruit should taste like candy. It does not. It tastes like fruit, and it’s perfectly delicious and lovely and you need to OPEN YOUR MIND.

And ohmigod, vegetables? Spinach is your FRIEND, people. Put it in smoothies, put it in omelettes, wilt it in a pan with garlic and white beans and olive oil.  It costs 3 bucks for sixteen ounces at the price club, and way less at the farmers market held in the mall parking lot every weekend May thru September. It is simply, in my humble opinion, spectacular…but that’s just in my opinion. YOU may hate spinach.   That’s okay! That’s when “there’s no right way to do this” really comes into play–because there are MILLIONS of vegetables out there, and YOU DO NOT HATE THEM ALL. You don’t. It’s impossible. You may hate the way they’ve been prepared for you in the past, but so what? There are just as many ways to prepare them as there are vegetables themselves–millions. I used to think i hated Brussels sprouts. They were gross, mushy and stinky. Then my daughter put them under the broiler with olive oil and garlic–and they were delightful. Crispy, tender, savory. Who knew? Certainly not me–until I opened my mind. Until I got WILLING.

So much of being able to change is about being WILLING to change. I’ve talked about the fact that I SUCK at that–I think many of us do, at least initially. But like most things, willingness is a habit that we can acquire through practice. Once again, we take ourselves by the hand, and lead ourselves down the garden path. Kicking and screaming, if necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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of addicts and elephants.

I’d like to  take a moment to address a small, pink elephant in the room.

I’m a sober addict writing about weight loss. Writing, yes, about being healthy and getting fit–but mainly about the fact that I’ve lost a whole buncha pounds over the last two years. What I’ve done for myself has been a GOOD THING–mostly.

But not without it’s weirdness.

When I started down this path,I talked with many friends and family members about it. I posted about it on Facebook, spent time on the phone with people discussing it, private messaged back and forth with people regarding it. Recently, one of those people, one very sweet, precious and loving soul, died. She died two months ago from complications of several different illnesses, and two of those illnesses were anorexia and bulimia.

One of the last times we spoke was less than a week prior to her death. She’d been hospitalized, and I came to visit. We hadn’t seen each other in quite awhile–I have my own theories as to why, But I can’t go into them here. She knew about the work I’d been doing,  but hadn’t physically seen me in months, so for her the change in my appearance was marked. “You look amazing!” She beamed. “Whatever you’re doing, keep it up!”

I really can’t remember a time when I felt more uncomfortable. Being complimented on my weight loss by a woman who was dying, at least in part, of starvation.

I smiled, and took her hand. I thanked her.  I didn’t know what else to do. I loved her, and I didn’t want to make her feel sad or bad about anything at that point. The hospital was going to be moving her into hospice care shortly, and I just wanted us to enjoy each other’s company for a little while. Nothing I could say was going to change the outcome of that hospital stay, anyway.

A little over a week later, at the funeral home, I kept having the same weird, uncomfortable experience. People complimenting me, exclaiming over the weight loss. I had no idea how to react. The dichotomy of the situation was intense: there I was, the living embodiment of dramatic weight loss, grieving at the funeral of a loved one who died, at least in part, of dramatic weight loss. And getting all sorts of attention for it, when what I’d liked to have done was fade quietly into the wallpaper.

To say it was bizarre is–well, inadequate.

Please don’t get me wrong. I  generally LOVE compliments, and the people who were saying these things were saying them out of genuine surprise and real happiness for me, and I knew and appreciated it. It’s just that to get praise for THAT reason on THAT occasion felt really awkward, and kind of awful.The remarks I heard that afternoon ranged all the way from “you look lovely” to “wow! What a difference!” to “please don’t lose any more weight. You look too skinny and we don’t need any one else getting sick.” And every single one of those individuals was speaking from a place of kindness and of concern. A place of LOVE.

I’m an addict, and I know what I’m addicted to. I’m addicted to anything, ANYTHING, that will take me outside of myself. Anything that will alter me. Anything, in other words, that will make me “feel good”. What feels good? Attention. Approval. And what has garnered me the most attention and approval recently?

Weight loss.

Things were getting a little tricky.

The fact is, I got a little miffed. “I am not ‘too skinny’! ” I huffed. “I’m at a perfectly healthy 146 lbs. I eat well and I exercise and I’m FINE, thank you very much.” And then a couple days later, I stood on the scale, and it read 142. And my fine, healthy brain said, “hey! If you lose 3 more pounds, you’ll be in the 130’s! You haven’t been there since your twenties! Wouldn’t that be cool, to weigh in the 130’s again? You can do it!”

Wait a minute. What the fuck?

I mean, why stop there? Imagine the compliments you’ll get if you drop into the 120’s! The 110’s! The 100’s!

Hey! What if you weighed NOTHING AT ALL?

Would that, finally, be enough?

I really needed to take a look at my shit. Big time.

I am not nothing. And our sweet, beautiful, beloved girl who passed away WAS NOT NOTHING. And we do not have to WEIGH nothing to be WORTH something.

I don’t need to lose any more weight.

I may, in fact, need to gain some.

This is a pretty hard change to make when you’ve done exactly the opposite for 27 months. There used to be a saying that it takes about 3 weeks to form a new habit; according to  the 5 minutes of googling I just did, the new research says it actually takes at least 66 days. Regardless, my habits are strongly ingrained now: eat low calorie, high protein food, and work out. It’s a recipe for losing weight, and it works, and I need to fucking quit it.

I need some more goddamn calories in my life.

Our darling girl, our sweetheart, our love. She’s been on everyone’s mind today–she keeps showing up in my timeline on Facebook, all those moments, those memories. All that love. I wish she knew how much–I hope she does now.

What happened to her was not fair. It wasn’t right. And it didn’t have to happen.

Yes, she had choices. She was an adult, she could have done things differently–I don’t want to sound as though I think she was a child and had no agency of her own. But I also know the deck was stacked against her, because I know what she was living with(at least, to some extent).

She had an illness that exhausted her and sapped her strength. That exhaustion made her vulnerable–to her own natural shyness, and to the tendency of the addict to self-isolate, and to the desire, of some, that she remain isolated.

However. I’m an addict. And I know what it is to live with that, too.

I live with a girl inside my head that is different from the girl the outside world sees. She is cruel. She is sly. She will tell me anything she can think of to get what she wants–and what she wants is me, dead. She says I’m ugly. Fat. Foolish. No, not just foolish–ridiculous. She tells me no one loves me and she can prove it–then she runs the twisted movies in my head that do prove it, with her own narration over them. She beats me up, beats me down, leaves me in a quivering heap, then kicks me again.

I can’t fight her. When I try, when I tell her she’s wrong, she’s stupid, it’s as though I’m yelling at a mirror. Once again, the only one that ends up hurting is me. She slips away, standing off to the side, pointing and laughing.

But what I’ve learned is this–she is like a Chinese finger trap. The only way to escape her, is to first relax–and then push  in.

It’s counter-intuitive. When I’m trapped, I panic. I want to struggle. But that only serves to tighten her hold on me.

Instead, I have to ACKNOWLEDGE her. Accept that she exists. This part of me that I hate, this manipulative liar, this ruthless schemer, this twisted BITCH–exists. Not only exists, but is part of me FOR A REASON.

She is nothing but resources gone wild.

That manipulative liar? Nothing more than  the charm and likeability needed to ace a job interview or land an audition. Put a leash and a collar on that thing, train it to sit and speak, you’ve got a goddamned show dog. Ruthless schemer? No; determined dreamer. She can see how things could work. She has VISION.

And that twisted bitch? She’s a frustrated comedian. Put her on stage, make ’em laugh.

She is part of me. I need to love her into submission.

And I can’t do any of this alone. I need help. WE ALL DO.

I need help to gently remove the addict who lives in my head from behind the wheel. I need support in order to hug her and tell her she doesn’t have to worry, because a cooler head is in control. I need to breathe, relax, and push in.

She will grumble. She will struggle. But eventually, she will loosen her grip.

And I need to remember to ask for the help to do this EVERY SINGLE GODDAMN DAY. If I don’t, she freaks out and grabs the wheel again.

And she WILL crash the car. There’s no other possible outcome.

Because she crashes everybody’s car. She only ever drives drunk.

I’m eighteen years sober and I’m STILL learning this shit. Still a fucking addict, still able to get obsessed with anything that lets me defocus. Oh yeah, ABSOLUTELY still available to become anorexic, you betcha. It’s all. Still. Right. There.

I am so goddamn ANGRY that our girl is gone. I want to PUNCH somebody. Blame somebody. Beat somebody up.

But there’s no one. In the end, there is only this goddamn disease, and a thousand theories as to how to overcome it, and billions of people trying to do that, every single day.

And sometimes, they make it. And sometimes, they don’t.

And the ones who love them celebrate another day with them…or mourn another day without.

Today, I, and many other friends and family members continue to mourn the loss of a beautiful, troubled, warm, complicated, wonderful–WONDERFUL–soul. I’m so very blessed to have known her, to have had her in my life for a little while.

Today, like every other day, I miss her. Today I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to love her, because she made my life BETTER, just by being alive.

And today,  just for today and WITH A LOT OF GODDAMN HELP, I’ve  managed to love the addict in my own head into submission…fucking barely.

Tomorrow…well. I guess I’ll worry about that when I get there.

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stop.

September 11, 2001.

Where were you?

I was at work. I was the secretary at a Catholic high school in Rochester, NY. A co-worker rushed into the office and said, in a voice that sounded panicked, “A plane just hit the World Trade Center.” I couldn’t understand why she was so upset. Little planes run into big buildings all the time (in fact, a small plane had hit a skyscraper in NYC not more than a few days previously), so, yeah, it’s unfortunate, but not front page news, right? Not that big of a deal.

I had my own troubles. Nearly a month earlier, on August 15, 2001, my kids and I had been in a terrible, life-changing and very nearly life-ENDING car accident. We’d been rear ended by a truck carrying a load of steel tools. My son, who was not yet three, had suffered a broken leg, and had nearly been crushed to death by a poorly designed car seat–a month out and he still had bruises all over his face. My daughter, Kate, was not breathing at the scene, and had to be taken by helicopter to the nearest hospital with a trauma center. I was told later that they had to land the helicopter at least once before they made it there, because her breathing had stopped again.

When the truck hit us, we’d been stopped at a corner, waiting for oncoming traffic to pass before making a left turn. I had my foot on the brake, and kept pushing, pushing, pushing on it as we skidded forward, trying to stop, somehow trying to make the whole thing STOP. When we finally finished moving, we were positioned across the eastbound lane, blocking traffic  from that direction. The truck that had hit us had travelled further down the westbound lane and pulled over. I remember unbuckling my seat belt and saying “okay, everybody all right back there?” And hearing–nothing. Silence from the back seat.

My oldest daughter, Meghan, had been up front with me, so I could see she was okay–shaken up, covered with glass, eyes like saucers–but conscious and talking. I looked in the back seat to see my little boy staring at me, mouth open, mute. His face somehow didn’t make sense to me–I realized later that it was because his eyes were bugging out of his head from the pressure of the car seat chest shield, and I couldn’t even see his lips. They were entirely colorless. I exited the car and tried to open the back door to get to him, but it was jammed. Then I saw Katy.

Slumped over at the waist, arms hanging straight down, no movement. Pony-tailed hair flipped forward over her head. I could see the back of her perfect, fragile neck, the sweet, babyish tendrils of  black curls,  sparkling with broken glass. I heard someone, a robot it sounded like, say  “I will never forget this,” and then I realized that voice was in my head and the only sounds I was really hearing were my other daughter screaming and the man who hit us running toward us yelling “are you all right?” And then the robot spoke again, this time out loud, and the robot said “help us. Help us. Help us.” And  Meghan started to wail. “HELP US! HELP US!”

Help came. We all lived. Garrison’s broken leg garnered him a settlement that will help with paying for college and maybe buying a house someday. Katy’s very close brush with death bought her a crappy little used car that she drove off to college in 4 years later–her injuries were “not quantifiable” because her head injury made her combative when she (sort of) regained consciousness at the hospital, so the technicians were unable to get decent pictures. It’s stupid, really–you get knocked on the head so hard that your brain forgets to tell your lungs to breathe, and there’s some sort of question as to how badly you were injured? But there was no “proof”, so the fact that she got any money at all really speaks to our very talented and determined lawyers rather than any fairness under the law.

And there’s this: SHE WENT TO COLLEGE. She’s getting her master’s as we speak. She lived, and her brilliant, beautiful brain doesn’t seem to have suffered much more than memory loss–quite a bit of memory loss really, she doesn’t have many memories of her childhood prior to the accident at all, and doesn’t retain newer memories as well as perhaps her contemporaries might. But she works hard, and her brain works hard, and she is persevering. She’s ALIVE, and I’m so , so grateful.

And Garrison, the then-two-year-old, just began college last week. My funny, smartass teenager, also brilliant, also ALIVE. Thank you, universe.

So on September 11, 2001, I was back at work. After having taken time off to see the kids through the worst of things, I thought I could go back, even though I was consumed with worry about what the lasting effects of Katy’s injuries might be, obsessing over Garrison’s leg and how well it was healing, and beginning to slide into one of the worst depressive episodes I’ve ever experienced, although I had no idea it was happening at the time. It was beginning, but it might have dissipated–they do, sometimes. Then my co-worker came running into the office, and the whole world stopped. Again.

For everybody, this time.

At school, the phones started ringing. Had we heard, had we seen? Did the kids know? Some of them had family in New York–could they please pick up their kids?

Are you guys staying open? We need to be with our kids. This is bad. This is really bad. We’re coming to get our kids.

As the minutes ticked past, and another plane hit, and another plane crashed, and the images on television got more and more unreal, as the fire grew and the clouds of dust and  paper swirled, as the realization dawned as to WHAT THIS ACTUALLY WAS, not an accident, but intentional, an act of war, this country being attacked–I became the robot again. I answered parents’ questions to the best of my ability in as efficient a manner as possible without a lot of emotional reaction. We gave out what information we knew as we knew it and kept moving forward with the day. We allowed parents who wanted to pick up their children to do so. We did not close, that day or the next.

We stumbled forward. Into a new reality. Into a new America.

Well. That isn’t actually true, for me.

I just sort of…stopped.

I stopped going to work. I stopped answering phone calls. I stopped.

Things seemed to slip sideways. Nothing felt real. The robot got the kids to their respective doctor’s appointments, dealt with the lawyers, went to her own therapy appointments, and managed to ask her therapist to write a letter to school explaining why work was not a thing that would be happening anymore. The robot dealt with all the various and sundry stuff of life, while I floated above it all in a kind of dream state.

The 24 hour news cycle blared. The images rotated but never, never stopped, until it seemed the towers would never stop falling, the dust-caked zombies would never stop their endless shamble out of Manhattan, the anomalous gash in a field in Shanksville, PA would grind forward forever into a blood-red sky. Rumors built and swirled and came tumbling down.

The country lurched continuously ahead like a drunk on heels, teetering and ready to pass out, but marching gamely, grimly on. America, on a mission like a crackhead at 4 am on a Sunday morning, muttering “Gotta get ’em. Gotta get ’em,” like some kind of demented mantra.

But I stopped. I stopped.

When I saw the people fall. I stopped. When I heard the number of the dead. I stopped. When what had been unreal became so bizarrely, unthinkably, horrifically real. I stopped. Very nearly completely.

When I looked at my children in their casts and collars. When I remembered my son’s colorless lips. My daughter’s slender neck, sugared with window glass. And Meghan’s enormous, terrified eyes. Meghan screaming. Meghan screaming.

I. Just. Stopped.

Maybe because I couldn’t make the car stop. Maybe because I couldn’t make the planes stop. Maybe because I couldn’t make the screaming stop.

Grief, although it changes, does not stop. Like a scar in a Pennsylvania field, it remains, still disturbed underneath even when the surface heals. It may not have the direct, unambiguous hold it had on us initially, but it still controls us, at least a little, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. It directs our thinking, guides our behaviors. Grief is never really done with us.

It doesn’t stop. But I had to, for a while.

Because the voice that said “I will never forget this,” on August 15th repeated itself on September 11th. Because the wailing for help didn’t workon that day. On that day, help, when it came, was crushed in the rubble along side everyone else.

I don’t know where I was, or what I was doing, when the world started up again for me. When, like my child, my brain remembered to tell my lungs to breathe again. When I lurched forward, a drunk in heels.

But I will never forget where I was when it stopped.

I was in a car on a two-lane highway in Orleans County in western New York.

I was in the main office of a Catholic high school in Rochester.

I wasn’t in the Twin Towers. I wasn’t on the planes that flew into them. I wasn’t on a plane above Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Because while the world stopped for me on both those days, it did begin again, eventually . For me, and for you.

But not for them.

I will never forget where I was when the world stopped, forever, for them.

Were where you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“failing to plan is planning to fail”. or “hahahaha”

The last time we spoke, I believe we were having a discussion about calories and the counting of same. With the long Labor Day weekend and parties and picnics behind us, maybe we should talk about food.

Maybe we should have talked about it BEFORE the parties and picnics?

Whatever. Not a planner, me. Which is too bad because I know it’s SUPER helpful to lots of people. It cuts down on anxiety and keeps people on track.

But I’m gonna be honest here: I can’t do it. I CAN’T. At least I haven’t been able to yet. “Planning” supposes some degree of organizational skill, and if you think I have that, you haven’t seen my house. Here’s my idea of meal planning: my smoothie recipe makes enough for two servings. That’s it, folks. Yay! I’ve got breakfast worked out for today and tomorrow!

What this means is, I have a small repertoire of meals that I pretty much eat all the time, over and over again. Smoothies and salads, guys, smoothies and salads. I like to have a scoop of chocolate vegan protein powder with coconut water after a workout, too, and I like my protein bars for snacks, sometimes.  I keep fruit in the house–right now there’s bananas, strawberries, blueberries and clementines–ooh, and almonds (raw) and dried cranberries (I like the reduced sugar kind).

This way of eating sort of evolved over the past two years. I’m no cook. I really did try when my children were younger, and it’s not that I’m particularly BAD at it–one of them actually ADORES my meatloaf–it’s that I’m not particularly GOOD at it either.

You know how the best cooks tinker and tweak? They’re constantly creative with their recipes, re-imagining them with different ingredients, understanding what flavors will meld and which will clash, taking risks and trying new tastes. My brother-in-law Patrick created the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever had because he bought some fancy apple-y kind of whole-grain bread that looked interesting to him, so he had to try it. My girlfriend Beth posts about her creations, how she substituted this ingredient for that, and it was SO GOOD! (and it SOUNDS freaking good. Why does her kitchen have to be 3000 miles away from mine?)

Here’s my point: I NEVER do that. Never. That meatloaf my kid likes? Straight outta the Fanny Farmer cookbook. No screwing around. The only thing I do differently is use store-bought bread crumbs, ’cause “freshly made”? Seriously, Fanny? Puh-leeze.

I am not a creative cook. I am not a talented cook. I am a person who can follow instructions…generally. I can read a recipe and do what it tells me to do. End of story.

So it tested my mettle, trying to eat differently. I had to think about calories, yes, but I also had to think about nutrition, and I had to think about what I LIKED–what I would actually eat. I also needed to be willing to open my mind a little bit, because never in my life would I have believed I would eat the amount of spinach that I eat today. Eat it, and like it.

And, again, because I am not a creative cook, things had to get really simple. REALLY simple. Really BORINGLY simple.

I decided to try smoothies because it frankly seemed like an efficient way to get some protein and carbs in before a workout.  You can definitely do stuff like toast and  eggs, too, but I was looking for more bang for my protein buck with less calories. Because I lift, I need at least 90 grams of protein daily, and this smoothie helps me get there. I have fiddled with amounts in this recipe (my old blender died a year into this, and the new one is much bigger), but not much with the basic ingredients, ’cause I like ’em. Without further ado, here’s

My Morning Smoothie

1 small ripe banana

1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries

1/2 cup blueberries

(You can substitute other fruits–I’ve used peaches, raspberries, etc–just Google the calorie count for the amount and type you’re using to get an accurate idea of what you’re ingesting. Also, when fresh fruit is not in season, I use a cup of a frozen berry blend.)

3 cups baby organic spinach (I jam baby spinach leaves into a one cup measure for this. Is it accurate? No idea at all. Just doing my best, kids.)

Fill blender with cold water to the 48 oz line. Now add:

2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

2/3 cup Vega Sport Performance protein powder

2/3 cup steel cut oats

Place lid on blender. Pulse 20 times because you’re an OCD weirdo named Jenny. Now hit blend!

In sixty seconds (if you’re using a Ninja Auto IQ blender, which you really should because the 25 year old osterizer you’re using is about to bite the dust BIG time, in a cloud of black smoke with the ODDEST smell), you will have a lovely, healthy, green smoothie that’s gonna cost you about 550 calories per serving, so remember this recipe makes two. Now, that’s A LOT  of calories when you’re trying to lose weight, so some folks might shy away. Never fear! The idea is, now that you’re fueled up, go burn it off! But make sure you wait at least 45 minutes to an hour before you work out after drinking this. You want the carbs to be bio-available to you as fuel, so you need to at least begin digesting. You also don’t want to puke green smoothie at the gym. You will forfeit all popularity.

I only mention the protein powder I use because it gives an accurate idea of the calorie count in this smoothie. You can certainly use whatever protein powder you prefer, and count the calories accordingly. I actually don’t use the scoop provided with the protein powder I use, because the suggested serving size is “1/2 scoop” (which is stupid anyway, why not just make the scoop smaller? Smh) for 15 grams of protein and 80 calories. There are lots of schools of thought out there as to how much protein you can actually process in one sitting (without ending up simply excreting it, and protein farts, let me tell ya, hoo boy), but conventional wisdom says 20 grams, so that’s what I wanted to get. I asked my husband to use the nutritional information on the jar to calculate how much of the supplement I would need to get that amount of protein, and the result was 1/3 cup.

Yes, that’s right. I ASKED MY HUSBAND. And it’s not because I have a panic attack when I hear the words “divide by”. It’s because he LOVES me, and he was feeling left out. “Don’t be sad, Honey,” I said magnanimously. “Here, I have a calculation for you!” Aaaaallll just part of the plan.

This smoothie is meant to cover a lot of nutritional bases and provide fuel for a good workout, which for me consists of a five minute cardio warm-up, an hour of what amounts to HIIT (high-intensity interval training, which means you do a set of lifts, then a cardio or body-weight exercise, then another set of the same lifts, then cardio/body-weight, each 3 times), although my intensity level ain’t what YOUR intensity level might be, and then a half-hour of cardio…

But then life happens. My kid calls and needs a ride. Or my husband needs to take the car to the shop, and I’ve gotta follow him there and then bring him home. Or my dad calls. Or this, that, or the other thing happens and all my “planning” (there’s that word again) goes down the drain, and I end up at Starbucks drinking a cold brew coffee with a double shot of espresso and eating THEIR oatmeal because 3 hours or more has slipped away and now I need to eat carbs again and Starbucks is right next door to the gym…sigh.

But I’m doing it. I’m figuring it out. I’m making it work FOR ME, in my own way.

I guess that’s what I really want to say. There is no right way to do this. I didn’t have to be a “planner”. I didn’t have to be organized. I did have to be willing to make some healthy choices and changes in my life, big and small.

As someone with anxiety, with depression,  with a major tendency to catastrophize, it’s very easy for me to place obstacles in my own path–like the idea that I’d “wasted” my smoothie because my schedule got screwy, so why bother exercising? Or I’ve eaten 3 cookies already, to hell with it, I’m gonna eat the whole box. Or I’m tired, or I’m miserable, or my husband/son/daughter/friend needs me. The thing is, these are all legitimate reasons for not going…and only I know whether or not I’m bullshitting myself. You wanna know what else? Sometimes even I DON’T KNOW. I really don’t. So my default position always has to be JUST FUCKING GO TO THE GYM. Just go. No matter what.

I KNOW I will feel better once I’m done. I KNOW my mood will improve, listening to “Bad MotherF*cker” by MGK while doing bicep curls. I KNOW that learning a new exercise routine will keep me focused on something other than my crappy mood disorder for an hour.

I know my muscles are growing–I can feel that I’m stronger. I know my weight has dropped to a number that I’m happy with.

So I drink my healthy green smoothie and I go work out–or I don’t. I go later, with a bellyful of Starbucks oatmeal.

But I go.

Because if I don’t, it’s back to meds. And if it’s back to meds, then it’s back to sleeping my days away. It’s back to 334 lbs, and pain, and weakness, and an inability to breathe. But the worst part is, it’s back to that horrible nothingness inside. My emotions wrapped in a heavy quilt, everything padded and unbreakable and asleep.

Safe, yes. Safe. But dead.

And if my emotions are dead, if the way in which I experience my life is dead, why am I still here? What is the point of life, if not to FEEL ALL THE STUFF? ALL the stuff? All the terrible, beautiful, hilarious, stupid, ridiculous,foolish, awful, wonderful stuff?

All the stuff that makes us wish we’d never been born?

All the stuff that makes us wish we could live forever?

All the stuff. All of it. I want it. Even when I cry, and wish that I was dead–I still don’t want to live as though I’m dead.

So I go. I work out. I eat the best way I know how in order to fuel those workouts. I screw up sometimes. Oh, well. Planning–not my forte.

But that’s ok, because regardless, it’s working. The working out is, shall we say, working out.  With or without a plan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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to hear or not to hear…what was the question?

Have you ever noticed that fat people can’t speak? That they seem to have no real voice?

No? Let me rephrase that: fat people have no problem with their words or voices AT ALL, but many average sized people can’t HEAR them.

A fat person says, “I’m in pain,” but what is heard is “I’m fat.”

a fat person says, “I’m angry.” Or “I’m hurt.” Or in love. Or full of joy. Or determined. Excited. Apprehensive. Hot. Cold. Alive. Dead. It doesn’t matter, because what is heard is “I’m fat.”

And apparently the only proper response to the fat person’s words is, “well, maybe if you weren’t so damn fat…”

I had loads of reasons for wanting to lose weight. I thought it might make me feel sexy again, because I didn’t. I wanted physical strength and stamina that I did not possess. But a really big reason that I wanted to lose weight was that I was in excruciating pain, and (nearly) every doctor I saw told me that this would end if I would only lose weight. Lose the weight, your joint pain will disappear, they said. To a man, and a woman, without any further physical examination other than looking at me sitting on a table in an exam room, without x-rays, MRI’s, blood tests, or any of that stuff, they each assured me of this: all my symptoms, EVERY SINGLE ONE, stemmed from being fat.

This, ladies and gentlemen, was crap. It remains crap. It’s lazy, easy, dismissive, condescending crap. It’s cruel. It’s unthinking. And I swallowed it because it fed right into my self-esteem issues, which had begun to blossom before I ever had a weight issue and were in full bloom when I was at my heaviest.

If you had told me I could fly if only I would  LOSE WEIGHT, I would’ve believed you. That I would be able to read minds, talk to the animals, control the goddamn weather. It could all be done, and, by the way, SHOULD be done, if I would simply LOSE WEIGHT.

I’d be a better parent. A better wife, sister, daughter, FRIEND. A better person.

Better.

If I would just. Simply. Merely. Only. LOSE THE FUCKING WEIGHT.

Okay.

For six months, I changed my eating habits, counted calories, LOST THE WEIGHT. By December of 2014, I’d lost in the neighborhood of 60-70 lbs. 70 lbs is a LOT of weight. And you know what?

I was STILL in pain. Every single step I took was a grinding, pinching, burning SYMPHONY of pain. My husband would be in the living room while I was out in the kitchen making dinner, and he could hear me from two rooms away. Groaning. Moaning. Gasping with pain. After losing 70 lbs.

So, what did that mean? Did it mean that maybe there was another issue, besides me being fat, that was causing my pain?

Nope. The solution to all your problems, Mrs. Maloney, is this: lose more weight.

But I’ve lost SEVENTY POUNDS! Don’t you think, Doctor, that if my weight were the issue, I would have at least experienced some LESSENING of my pain?

Nah. You’re still really fat, Fatty. Lose some more weight.

But I couldn’t. I’d hit a plateau. The losses had slowed to one or two pounds a month. I knew if I wanted to continue with this, I needed to get some exercise. I still had a gym membership; I wanted to go back.

But I was in PAIN. I knew I wouldn’t be able to exercise in the shape I was in. I felt like I was running on a hamster wheel in my own mind: I can’t lose weight if I don’t exercise. I can’t exercise if I can’t control my pain. I can’t control my pain if I don’t lose weight. I can’t lose weight if I don’t exercise…

I wish I could say that I finally decided to listen to my friends and family who had been bringing up turmeric in conversation for AGES at that point. My brother-in-law had talked about its benefits, a very close friend used it and raved about it–but I had my fingers stuck in my ears for some reason. I just sort of dismissed it;  yeah, yeah, yeah, more new-age nonsense to spend money on that won’t work.

I like to think of myself as this very open person who will make herself available to new experiences, but you may notice there’s a theme coming to light in these posts: I’m not. I don’t like change, and there’s a litany of things in my head that “won’t work”. I’ve already decided, and the decision is NO. My only saving grace is that I’m at least aware of this behavior now, and if I’m called out on it, I can look at it. I’m afraid however, that this is a shortcoming I’m always going to be dealing with–so if I do it when we’re together, challenge me, ok? Thank you.

What happened was, I went to my font of all wisdom, Dr. Fass, and she suggested–wait for it–turmeric. “It’s anti-inflammatory,” she said, “and the kind of pain you’re describing sounds like inflammation to me.”

Wait, you heard me? Even though I’m fat?

Okay. I will listen to you, because I listened to you before and what you told me to do worked. I may not be particularly open to change, but I am teachable.

I started taking it at the beginning of January, 2015.During the second week of February, 2015, I made an appointment with a fitness coach at the gym, developed an exercise program, and began working out again.

It took six weeks to work. After years, literal YEARS of suffering.

Turmeric is an effing miracle.

I could walk without groaning and gasping. The pain wasn’t GONE, but it was SO MUCH LESS. And then I found out this little thing: working out, moving my muscles, lessened my pain as well.

It happened because someone, a doctor, no less, heard me through my fat. Heard ME, instead of my fat.

***********************************

I’ve been describing an actual, quantifiable phenomenon that happens to fat people: they remain unheard because they are fat. It seems to happen especially to fat women. What I’ve learned in writing this post however, is something else: I DON’T HEAR PEOPLE EITHER, and it doesn’t matter what size or gender they are. I don’t like to listen. I think I really, really like the sound of my own voice. Or, to give myself a little bit of a break, I’m just really used to it, and I’ll believe what IT tells me before I’ll believe what YOU tell me.

There is definitely something to be said for trusting your own instincts. But listening only to oneself, blocking out smart, loving, real insight from others–that’s something else.

My friend, the one who regularly refers to himself as The Luckiest Man On The Planet? He did something the other day that actually stopped me in my tracks. I had made a post on Facebook about my depression–I was having a pretty bad day. Many, many friends responded with messages of love and support. Alan spoke  a little bit about a talk he’d been hearing from across the “street” (he’s at Burning Man right now) about the proper way to respond to this type of outpouring. He said it was tough to do on Facebook, but “here goes”. And then he posted–nothing.

Blank space.

For me.

It was stunning. I gasped. Then I cried.

How many of us will do that for each other? Just shut up? Stop talking? Actually give the other person some room–blank space–to speak? To be heard?  How many of us will stop listening to the droning, constant sound of the voice in our own head, in order to really hear another person?

And imagine, if we have such a hard time doing that for each other, for those we perceive as “normal” or “average”, how much attention will we afford the “other”? The fat? The disabled? The other race? The other GENDER, for heaven’s sake?

None of this is news. The fact that we, as a society, all seem to be yammering away at each other, barely waiting for the other person to take a breath before jumping in with our own, brilliant take on the situation. I just didn’t know–I really didn’t–that I do it, too.

Active listening is a skill, and one I’d like to develop. I would like to be able to engage with others in that way–to really HEAR THEM, instead of competing with them for airtime. If I can do that, perhaps the people I talk with will do the same for me.

But then again–nah.It’ll probably never work. 😜

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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