Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Feeling Like a Fraud

I've definitely been struggling lately...with food...with self-image...with confidence. This Thursday, some folks will be here doing some taping for an interview for the Channel 7 Health & Fitness Expo. And it will, from what I understand, focus on my blog and its impact on the WLS community and such. In some ways, I feel like I'm being held up as some kind of success story to which I don't feel entitled. I'm almost 2 years post-op. I still food journal every day...even the horrible days. I still strive to get to the gym 4 times a week, but it's been more like 3 lately. I still weigh and measure my food daily...except when I go out. And therein seems to lie the problem. Well, that and night time. I still go to therapy every 2 weeks. I do all these things and yet I'm still struggling with emotional eating that is beyond being satiated. This is making my scale do loopy things and it's making me feel like a fraud, through and through.

How can I be any kind of example for anyone, or inspiration for anyone, when I've obviously not got this all conquered? There was a discussion last week on OH, and one of the things someone said to me was that I was fortunate to have overcome the mindset. Really? Have I overcome it? I don't think so. I try damn hard, but I haven't overcome it...not by a long shot.

I cannot fail at this...it is simply not an option. If I ever have regain issues that are significant, I honestly think I'd rather die than live through being obese again. I can't live through that heartache again. I simply can't. I wish I knew what the issue was. I wish I knew how to regain control. I'm using everything in my power that I know of, and I'm still struggling. I know this surgery was no cure for my head...I just wish I understood why in the past few months it has become so much harder to stay on track. All I can do is just keep doing what I'm doing...and writing and talking.

This weekend, Zachary had the courage to ride his bike again. It's been at least a year since he even took it outside. He had a pretty bad fall a couple of years ago with his training wheels, and so he had no desire to ride his bike again. So, when he voluntarily took it out Sunday, I was pretty excited and asked him if he thought he might like to try riding without the training wheels. He panicked and said no way, he was afraid he'd die. I assured him that would not happen, I would be there for him, but he was adamant. So, I let it go.

We went to the park by his school so he could ride there. On the playground were several older kids...probably 12 to 14 years old. It was clear that Zachary felt self-conscious and didn't wait very long before deciding he wanted to go home...and quietly told me he wanted to try to ride without his training wheels. So, off we went. I was very excited...but I was also pretty nervous. You see, I didn't know if I'd have the ability to teach him to ride. I know how to ride a bike...but I didn't know if I could actually teach him to do it. I have this weird thing in my head about physical activities sometimes. I still feel like I'm fat and like I have no skills/ability/business teaching anyone anything that is physical. Low and behold though, here is my son, and it's my job to teach him. And teach him I did. Within half an hour of coaching, holding the back of his seat, letting go for brief periods of time, he was off and riding. He spent many hours the rest of his weekend riding around, setting new "world records" for how many times around our building he could ride without having to stop. He's also learning to put on the brakes hard to skid. I see future injuries coming.

In my romantic life, well, what romantic life? I'm still struggling. I think, honestly, I will probably always be alone. I didn't really date in high school and I didn't really date after high school. I've dated more since my split with Zachary's father almost 9 years ago than I ever have before in my life. I never was a "dater" and I've never been one to be approached by men. I don't know why that is...but I suspect that it's something I do, some vibe I give off somehow that makes them stay away. I wish I knew what it was I do so I could stop doing it. I think that my fat used to protect me from knowing things about myself that I don't much like. I could chalk up not being approached by men to me being fat. Guess what? I'm not fat anymore...and I'm still not appealing to men. There must actually be something about ME that isn't appealing. There are no excuses...no weight to hide behind...just me. That's not so much fun to acknowledge.

I don't need a man to be happy...but I want a partner to share my life with. I want someone to share the joy of raising my child with...someone who will smile back at me knowing as well as I do just how momentous an occasion it was for Z to learn to ride this weekend. We share with family and friends, which is wonderful. But it's not the same. And I still have my last relationship on my brain, despite my best efforts to dismiss those thoughts. He shows up in dreams and thoughts. I still feel a little baffled by it all, and frustrated because I was fully willing and able to accept his child in my life, but he couldn't do the same for me and mine. It hurts still...and I wish it didn't, I want it not to. I have done everything I can think of to get this crap out of my head and yet it still peeks through here and there.

My mother was 64 when she died. And she died without having a significant other. In fact, she didn't really have too many significant others in her lifetime either. I have so many friends who say "your guy is out there, you just haven't met him yet, be patient, enjoy your life," etc. I do enjoy my life...and I do appreciate all that I have. And I am doing my best to make my life happy, me, myself and I. But I have my times when the loneliness really is very heavy and I think that no matter what, I will probably just end up alone. I'm not relationship material. I'm too defective and damaged. I wonder what makes me so different from other women who have no issues meeting men, at least get asked out, without really having to do much to garner that attention. I'm missing something inherently. And I haven't a clue what it is.

Then again, there's that whole fraud thing. It applies here as well. It applies in my mothering (someday, people will find out I'm a crappy mother despite what they see/think), and it applies in relationships of all kinds (if anyone really gets to know me, they'll realize I'm way too messed up to be around). I've talked about it many times in therapy, the fraud concept. I guess it's not a dead subject and will be raised yet again.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Daily Tarot Card Reading

Love this one, which came up for me today.

The Sun
The Sun This card signifies a time of clarity and power. The Sun will offer light and warmth after a dark time in your life. It is a sign of rejuvenation and growth, and shows that you are starting to flourish in your current situation. The Sun is associated with happiness, growth and good fortune. Your path has been illuminated and good fortune is on its way.

Yes, I'm ready for the good fortune and growth.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Plastics Consult and Mother's Day

I had my plastic surgery consult on Friday. We discussed my sagging and deflated breasts, my Sharpei-like breast and tummy, my thighs, my buttocks, and my face. All of the possible procedures were explored, questions were asked, and costs were estimated. And then, I went home with my head spinning with so much information that I needed to digest and process. I didn't do this alone though; I talked to some friends who've both had and not had plastic surgery...people who have known me fat and thin to be aware of the changes my body and face have gone through. In many ways, I have my own body dysmorphia to contend with and so I need to rely a little bit on external honest sources to help evaluate my appearance.

I've made some decisions...at least for now. The most visible part of my body to others is my face. I've lost a lot of facial fat. To me, this has made my face look hard and angular. But to others, the perception of my face is classic and healthy and athletic looking. Not gaunt or sickly. I'm going to try and sit with that one for a bit. As for my breasts, well, I would need both a lift and augmentation (implants) because a lift alone would leave me with essentially nothing. And if I had just implants, they would need to be fairly large to fill out the loose skin I have and beause the skin is so loose/has lost so much laxity, it can't really support that kind of implant without looking (in my opinion) awful. The thought of how I will age with those also crossed my mind. So for now, I'll settle for a good bra. My tummy...well, it's pretty gross (to me). But I can't justify the length of time off of work, out of my life, the cost, the risk, just to have a belly that looks good without clothing on.

The fact of the matter is, except for my face, all of my skin issues are invisible to the majority people because in clothing, I look great. It's only without clothes that any of these things is apparent. Hopefully, if some man comes into my life and gets close enough to see me naked, he won't be disgusted by what he sees. I also think that perhaps I have an unrealistic view of what women my age, who have had and nursed babies, look like after that. I think that while their tummies and breasts may not be quite like mine, they probably aren't nearly as different as I believe them to be in my head. Until such time as I really can't stand it anymore, I'm going to do nothing. I'm going to try and really be happy with my body and where I am in my journey.

Mother's day was, as it has been the past three years, a good and bittersweet day. I miss my own mom, despite our turbulent relationship. But I had such an awesome mother's day because of my own son. He cooked me dinner Saturday night (yes, yes he did and it was AWESOME!). He wrote me the most beautiful letter that is laminated and I will cherish forever. And his gift, wrapped in paper he decorated himself with his own artwork, was a lovely breakfast tray he decorated. How much better does it get than that?

We went to dinner with my brother, sister-in-law and her mom as well. Dinner was great. I overate, so I felt awful and then had a blood sugar drop on the ride home from NH. Thank goodness for Jolly Ranchers candies. I wonder sometimes if I will EVER stop doing stupid things like that, knowing how it makes me feel. I know, they didn't operate on our brains, only our tummies. It still frustrates me with myself to put myself in that position. My mistake was having too much bread with dinner. Ugh. Anyway, we all survived and it really was a lovely day and weekend.

And here is my beautiful boy this morning, before I woke him up. Those animals are his "friendship club" and the bulk of them are actually at the foot of the bed, not pictured. You can't see his sweet freckles in this picture, but they are getting darker and more prevalent on his nose and cheeks now that the days are nicer and we are outside more. Life is good, really.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Little Rays of Light

My son gives me more joy than anything on this Earth. Last night, one of those moments occurred that just made me feel like "yeah, I guess I'm doing okay with this parenting thing most of the time." I worry a great deal that I'm falling short (in case you hadn't noticed).

Zachary wanted to play Electronic Battleship. We've played many times before but never to completion of the game. I think he gets bored and quits...or he feels like he's going to lose and so he gives up. It's always frustrating to me because I want him to actually finish the game. Last night, we played. I had sunk 4 of his 5 ships. He had sunk 2 of mine. He said once that he didn't want to play anymore, and I said "come on, we're going to finish this game, you can do it."

Well, I had 1 ship of his left to find...the little patrol boat (requiring 2 hits). Not an easy find, could be anywhere. Suffice it to say that he kept at it and ended up winning the game. What a proud moment for me that he finished and I saw that huge beaming smile on his face to be called "admiral." I told him how proud I was of him for finishing, that it was his first time and I was really very pleased. He said "I only did it because of you." I asked him what he meant by that. He said "I only finished the game because you made me feel confident."

As my friend Dave would say, "BEAMIES." Yes, he gets it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Anniversaries and Time

Three years ago today, it was a Friday...and it was the day my mom died. Each year I remember this day, obviously. This year though, I'm in such a different place that reflecting on the changes in the past three years is pretty intense. Zachary has started classifying some things in his life as "before Nana died" and "after Nana died" in terms of memories. It's obviously a big marker in time for him as well.

I had to take Zachary to the pediatrician that morning three years ago. And I had to take him to North Shore Children's Hospital after that to get blood work done. While we sat there waiting, I called mom's ICU nurse to check and see how she had done that night. The nurse wasn't able to talk to me then, and they suggested I call back in half an hour. I did just that, and found out why she hadn't been able to talk to me earlier. Mom hadn't had a particularly good night, and they had her on BI-PAP which helped. Then, they tried to take her off that, and her blood pressure and pulse oxygen plummeted, so they put her back on BI-PAP, to no avail. They moved on to C-PAP. She did better. At that point, I asked that her pulmonologist give me a call so I could get a better idea of her condition, prognosis, etc. Since mom had been in the hospital since Wednesday (and this was now Friday morning), I hadn't yet talked to any of her doctors, only her nurse.

Around lunch time, I called and checked my voice mail at home, and there was a message from the doctor there...I have no idea why as I had given both my work and cell phone numbers. But I called back and left a message for the doctor to return my call at work. About an hour later (just about 1 p.m.), the doctor called and instead of a progress report, I was beckoned to the hospital immediately. Mom had apparently taken a turn for the worse and had been intubated and we needed to get there now. I asked what had happened, since all that I knew was that she had pneumonia. They believed she had a massive blood clot that traveled to her lungs. I began sobbing as I made my way to my boss's office to let him know I had to leave. I couldn't even catch my breath, I was so taken off-guard. I called my brother's cell, got voice mail. So I called my sister-in-law's cell and told her to find him, reach him, and for them to meet me at the hospital.

When I arrived there, the chaplain was there. Never a good sign. They explained what all had happened, and that basically the next 12 hours would really be a good indication of how things would go. At about 5 p.m. they suggested we get some food while they changed her bedding. At about 6:15, as we choked down food at McDonald's, my cell phone rang and we were told to get back to the hospital ASAP. Mom had crashed several times and they were doing everything they could, but didn't think they could sustain her even at that level for much longer. They told us that even if by some miracle she came through it, her quality of life would be negligible. My brother and I made the decision for them to stop trying. And so, the medical personnel left the room, turned off the alarms, and monitored our mom from outside of the room while we stayed with her, talking to her, holding her hand. She wasn't conscious and hadn't been since they sedated her around lunch time to intubate her. At best, it was 15 minutes before the doctor came back in and let us know she was gone.

I made arrangements for Zachary to sleep at a friend's house that night and he was with his dad the next day. That gave me the evening to sort of regroup. His dad and I would tell him the next day when he came home. He was sad. I don't think he really understood what it meant. It was a solid 6 months before he broke down sobbing out of the blue one night in the car saying "I miss my Nana."

I think about the sports he's playing this spring, how he's doing in school, the kind of child he is, and I wonder how thrilled my mom would be to attend every game, practice, etc. that he plays in. She would surely be at every musical event at school, art show, open house, she would take any volunteer opportunity if it meant spending more time with Zachary. I know she would love doing homework with him, playing with him. She would have a much greater appreciation for his limited time as a small child than I feel like I'm having these days. I feel so caught up in a rat race that it is taking concerted effort to remember what is truly important in life.

Life feels very overwhelming right now to me. I've had a sinus headache/issue for over 4 weeks now. It's wearing me down physically and mentally. It's keeping me from working out as regularly and intensely as I would both like and need to. I'm eating more than I should. As a result, I'm seeing changes in my body and in the scale that I really don't like and want. And it has me feeling mildly panicked. Every day, I start new and remind myself that it is NEVER over, and I don't EVER have to give up this battle with food. I just need to keep doing my best. Right now, it feels kind of like my best isn't good enough in any area.

This too shall pass.