Monday, April 18, 2011
My 7 year old son plays rugby. Every Sunday. In the rain. In a different flippin' COUNTRY. How did this madness come to be, you may ask? I will tell you. Four weeks ago, on a Sunday, when I was longing to settle in to compulsively read newspapers while putting my feet up, my husband was working and the youngest of our children was in his normal mode - full speed ahead. I am convinced he is actually comprised of two or three children, all squished into one very cute, very noisy, very busy boy. He came bursting in, telling me the neighbor wanted to take him to a rugby game and he wasn't sure if he would be watching or playing or what he would be doing but "CAN I GO, MOMMY, CAN I CAN I CAN I?" Hmmm, you go to a rugby game with the neighbors and I get the house to myself for a couple of hours of quiet reading? Tough decision, what to do-what to do? "Sure, sweetie, you can go". The neighbor dad is a rugby coach, he is a big, loud, friendly (of course he is friendly, he is from Canada) guy who has known my son since he was a baby. Turns out, my boy would not be watching rugby. This neighbor was putting on a skills clinic at a rugby practice for a team of 10 year olds. My first grader is as big, or bigger than most 10 year olds so he fits in size wise (I tell people, who remark on his size, it is as if we brought home a puppy only to find out the puppy is a St. Bernard ; ). Turns out he is a natural rugby player (when he actually pays attention). Turns out the coach e-mailed me within minutes of my son returning home that day, confirming that he was on the team. Turns out they play in Canada every Sunday. We show up for the first trip to Canada. Me staying home enjoying a quiet house while my wildchild plays his heart out? One time thing. I am a seasoned sports mama. I know how to do the "find the mouth guard/wash the uniform/drive for hours/cheer my heart out" routine and, quite honestly, I mostly enjoy it. Since we live in Washington state, and the kids play in Canada, we have to cross an international border which involves passports and proper documentation for the kids (especially if they are travelling with only one of their parents) and it involves border guards who do not appreciate humor, even from funny little kids, and other guards who carry automatic weapons and peer into cars. Heaven forbid you get into the wrong lane or have undeclared fruit - pull over, go to the office, your car is searched (the upside: my car is never cleaner than when I go to Canada - I have a fear of them finding old banana peels or forgotten stinky sports gear, rather than kilos of cocaine). One of the boys on the team is new to sports. In my not-so-humble opinion, having your foray into organized sports begin with rugby would be like deciding to lose 20 lbs by eating a strict macrobiotic diet - a rough row to hoe. Since this child is new to sports, so is his mama. She is a single mom, I was a single mom for years so I know exactly how lonesome and difficult that role can be. She did not have a passport or enhanced driver's license so she could not enter Canada therefore, at the coach's request, I agreed to transport her boy. He is a whole lotta boy - talks a lot, has tons of fears, needs quite a bit of reassurance - he is what I think of as a "high needs" kid. Again, I have a lot of experience in this area so I do fine with him. I agreed to bring him the first week, then the second week, by the third week it was just my husband taking the boys (I went the other direction, geographically, to take one of our sons for a college visit). I have a soft spot for this kid. When he came sobbing out of a game because the ball hit him, I comforted him. Of course, I gently pointed out that there was no blood and afterall, this is rugby and "you have to dig deep and find your tough, honey". A rugby dad who overheard me approved of my pep talk. The object of my pep talk was not so inspired. He went and found the hot dog line at the concession stand, rather than searching for his inner toughness. My husband is not so charmed by or patient with this boy, as I am. Plus, this is week three and not a word from the mama. Not a word of thanks, not a question as to how it's going, not a mention that she is working on her ID issue. Not a word. We go from feeling generous to feeling used. I e-mail the coach and ask if he can give her a gentle nudge about her situation. I tell him if he would rather I speak to her, I will, because I have shed a lot of my people-pleasing ways. I have also been in the position of being sort of clueless in certain situations and, while I may have been uncomfortable or offended at the time, I have often gone on to make good use of advice, by making necessary changes. As I get older, and my years long sugar coma continues to recede, I have become less willing to help people behave in less than responsible ways. The big mission for me as I change my habits, my body, my life in general? I have to apply that lesson to my approach to those I love the most, my children, and I have to apply the lesson to myself as well. I can use food in a generous way that nourishes me, or I can use it in a rather abusive way. Eating large amounts of food that contains little in the way of nutritional value but contributes to health problems is using my body in a way it does not deserve. I am no longer willing to make it easy for myself to mistreat my health. "I deserve a treat/ I will deal with this when my life is less stressful/I will wait until Monday/this is the only thing I do for myself" and on and on and on - the pathetic lies I told myself while my weight went up, and my self-respect when down. I am learning to LOVE to be generous with myself in terms of sleep and good food and reasonable exercise and time to myself and I am teaching myself to HATE using and abusing my free will when it comes to gluttony and sloth. I will continue to LOVE to be generous but HATE to be used.
UPDATE: the coach contacted me because, as it turns out, he has the exact same concerns and it made him feel better that it wasn't just him. Strike another blow for actually talking to someone about something, rather than just thinking about it and conjuring up stuff in my own head. I am fully willing to talk with the mom but it seems like it would be better coming from the coach, esp. since more of the burden has been placed on him, than me. Honestly, I think the little guy would be relieved not to have to play rugby anymore so it may work itself out that way.
Friday, April 15, 2011
I feel emotionally exhausted and physically spent. I am struggling to find energy and motivation and my un-done chores surround me. I got out of bed this morning, I exercised with friends, I saw my children off to school, I have fed the dog, and I finally ate and chose food with nutritional value, not just an aspect of comfort. I had no interest in food, though I was hungry. This did not excite me because, as I told an SP friend, "it is a slippery slope and there is a nasty cliff at the bottom". Eat too little, then eat far too much. Do too little, then over-do, then do too little, then....The middle does not seem to be the natural spot for me, in anything.
I was so appreciative of the gentle support I received after writing about my heartache in the blog prior to this one. I questioned my motives for sharing what I was going through, and how my words would be received. Blogging has become a part of my recovery from disorderly eating, however, so I continue. My hope is always to make a connection, or share a lesson, or help someone else feel a little less alone with whatever their struggles are. It also gives me a chance to feel less isolated with my troubles. I have spent much of my life in a "behind the scenes" role - as somone's mom, or wife, or cheering others on, or volunteering to help. I told a friend that prior to joining SP, I felt "over fifty, overweight, overlooked, and overwhelmed". I remain over 50 (and grateful to be alive to be over 50), I am committed to losing 50 pounds and, as of today, I have 33 pounds remaining until I reach a weight that seems reasonable for my body type and my age. I feel less overlooked, thanks in part to the wonderful souls I encounter on SP, and a bit less overwhelmed because I am not spending time in a sugar-stupor.
I have connected with the relatives that my beautiful granddaughter is staying with. I have set aside my feelings of betrayal and my wounded pride (for now, to be taken up later and dealt with, somehow), and I am looking forward to enjoying my little sweetheart. She need not know of any drama surrounding our visit. She will not overhear any snide remarks, or see any tears. I either trust the outcome to God, or I do not. I either have faith, or I operate fully on self will without belief in grace or possibilities. I do have faith, though it is battered. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that grace exists, even if I have to lean on someone else's because I am too weary to see the grace I have been granted. I remain committed to working hard to be better, and to resist the ever present temptation of bitterness. Thank you so much for helping me through this.
I am now going to log off my computer, tend to some chores, and take care of the business of daily living because, as I have told others and will now repeat to myself, "you can cry while you are doing the dishes or while you make a bed". I gave myself some time to rest and now is the time to move. I will move past my sadness and embrace the joy of spending time with a beautiful, brilliant, bright little angel (I know all grandmothers say this, but truly, she IS all those things, and more). Thank you sparklers, for helping me to stop my slide down the scary slope.
Friday, April 15, 2011
I have a friend who reminds me of this question sometimes: do you want to be bitter, or get better? I am struggling with an estrangement from someone I love. It has caused a rift in my family. I feel misunderstood and unsupported by people I love. It is painful. Today I received news that made it worse. I have come to think of this on-going pain as having a small knife in my heart, that scar tissue has formed around. I manage to go through my life and even to be quite happy and content at times. But then, someone says something, or I hear something about the one I miss, and it as if the knife twists and the pain is fresh. I heard painful news today. It was delivered casually, by someone who should know better. She is uncomfortable with the situation, as are many in my large extended family, and they choose to ignore the situation because it is easier, because they don't like conflict. They would prefer not to hear about my pain, or see any evidence of it. They don't take a stand because they are afraid they might become the object of his resentment so they accomodate him and assume that I will be fine. I am able to cope but it takes a toll. The estrangement is from my oldest son, and the painful news is that my beloved grandchild will be in town, in the care of relatives other than me, but I will be allowed an "appointment" or a visit, at their discretion. My son is a good father, a loving husband, and an absent son. I am so glad that, if he had to choose a role to perform poorly at, that he did not turn out to be an absent father, or an unloving husband. It is comforting to know that my granddaughter receives wonderful care from her very devoted parents, and her little brother, when he arrives next month, will be welcomed into the same loving, caring home. I know there are grandmothers who agonize over the welfare of their grandchildren, and I take great comfort in this otherwise terribly painful situation, that my grandchildren receive the best of care.
The painful news did not send me into an eating frenzy. I was faced with the knowledge that excessive food is no longer an option, so I won't be anesthetized by sugar and fat. I cried, I listened to music (the first song that played on my I-Pod began with the lyric - "you are not alone with this"). I called my best friend and she listened while I wept, and she offered some clear-eyed advice. I showed up for my workout, which caused the trainer some alarm when she saw my face, but I assured her that I would be okay and I knew I would feel better when I left. I worked hard, I lifted weights, she reminded me how strong I am, and, I left knowing I was stronger than when I walked in. I had a number of opportunities today to over-eat, I was in several situations where I was surrounded by sugary foods, and offered sugary foods, and I declined. I did not eat particularly well today, though I logged all my food and met my nutrient goals in many categories so I guess it isn't that I did not eat well, I just did not follow a strict routine of meals. I thought about giving myself the excuse not to log my food, not to show up for my workout, not to blog, not to care about what or how much I ate, but I did not want to let myself down. I have several people who are letting me down right now - I don't need to join them. I am at peace with who I am and what I have done or not done. I have made amends and I do not live in denial of my shortcomings. I cannot control my relationships and I cannot force people to treat me the way I believe I deserve to be treated. This situation will be sorted out in God's time, not mine, which is not something I am patient with, but is something I accept. As I change, there are people who become unhappy with the changes I have made because I am not willing to keep the peace at any price. I am not willing to accept scraps or crumbs. I am unsure about posting this blog but I am not the only one who struggles with difficult relationships. I have always had a theory - if I can say one thing that eases the path for one person, then I am willing to risk the discomfort of sharing my experience. I believe I am on the path to better, but bitter is always lurking, looking for an opening. I have turned in that direction in the past, when it feels like too much, for too long, with no end in sight. It is not somewhere I am comfortable staying. I would rather feel raw pain, than the hard shell of bitterness. TWBD
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
or is it eating trash and watching rubbish? That is one of my favorite lines from the movie "Home Alone" and I always mix it up so one of my children always corrects me and I STILL mix it up. This isn't just a line, it's a lifestyle. Actually, it WAS a lifestyle. I am about to spill some embarrassing secrets. The purpose is two-fold: so that I have revealed a not-at-all-flattering side of myself and thus removed some temptation to revert back to this behavior, and also so that if someone happens upon this blog and they recognize this behavior in themselves they will know there is hope for change.
Some people have such severe depression they do not get out of bed. Some people "treat" their depression with drugs and alcohol, which of course just makes it worse but can serve a purpose of at least masking their pain until they (hopefully) get help. I coped, and I use the term loosely, with my last bout of depression by watching (and reading) trash, and eating rubbish. I got out of bed, often at 5:30 am, and met up with friends to exercise for an hour, then I came home, and fixed breakfasts and fed and walked the dog, and did chores, and saw my children off to school - driving one early, then walking with the little one up the hill to his elementary school. Then, my husband having left for work, I was alone in the house, and the endorphins from exercising would wear off, the depression fog would surround me again, and I would struggle to accomplish much of anything else. Like every family, we have some difficulties and sometimes these would feel like too much for me to deal with. I found life harder and harder. I tried prescription anti-depressants and gained 20-30 pounds, which I found even MORE depressing, as you can imagine. I struggled with the fatigue and lethargy, and, after very carefully tapering off "by the book", with my doctor's blessing, I suffered awful withdrawals which took weeks to abate. I would fill my days with junk food and junk magazines and junk tv . I ate food that did not fill me up, especially not with nutrients. I read about people I did not know doing things I had no business knowing about. I watched "real" housewives who never seemed to tend to their homes or their children and spent their days drinking and shopping and arguing. I watched people "war" over cupcakes - though they never lobbed their cupcakes at each other like grenades, which might have made the show a bit more interesting. I watched people who hoarded - a sad state of affairs which served to make me feel marginally better about my own life. You might find giant dustbunnies under my furniture but you certainly would not find actual bunnies overtaking my living room, or the skeleton of some poor lost pet who had gotten trapped under mounds of laundry, or some other horrifically sad discovery. I watched cooking shows where people who swore every other word created some delicious-sounding, and some scary, dishes. I read and read and read and watched and watched and watched and I ate and ate and ate, and I drifted in and out of a sad stupor. I felt guilty, knowing my husband, and many other people, were hard at work while I acted as if I were stapled to my couch for hours at a time. I knew that I would still show up and volunteer and meet other obligations but I felt less willing to commit to all the activities I had previously done. I felt remorse and regret, and I felt absolutely unable to find the willingness to make changes. Every day I would resolve to do better, to be better, to live better. But most days, I would find myself back on the couch, reading about, or watching, people I did not know, and would never meet, live lives I did not envy (in most cases) while watching my own pass me by. I have told a couple of struggling Sparklers, "I was preparing while I was despairing". I really think I was getting ready to make the changes I have made since I have committed to Sparkpeople and living a more balanced life. At my doctor's urging and under her supervision, I began taking St. John's Wort for depression and kava for anxiety, both natural supplements that I take religiously (not hit and miss as I have done so often in the past with various suggested medications or vitamins/minerals). I continued exercising though it was very hard and, for the first time in years, I wanted to just quit exercising as it had ceased to be the solution to keep my depression at bay. I came back to Sparkpeople but instead of just trying it this time, I committed to it, meaning I spend time and effort and energy to really take advantage of what it offers. I now spend a lot of time on Sparkpeople which means I have lost track of the housewives, and the cupcake warriors, and the poor souls who struggle with hoarding, though I still watch people who are battling their weight on t.v. as I remain a person who is fascinated by the process of people changing their lives. I learned a lot from my junk food/t.v./reading binges. I was reminded that, no matter how provoked one might feel, it never looks attractive to gossip or treat friends badly or have public tantrums. It confirmed that, no matter how stressed out one becomes, dropping "f bombs" every other word just sounds stupid (and my 7 y.o. thinks "beeeep" is a swear word). It confirmed that tending to the "business of daily living" keeps a lot of overwhelming chaos at bay. I realized how much I missed participating fully in my own life - even the mundane chores of cooking, cleaning, organizing. I became more enthusiastic about just showing up in general,to do the things that my family and others were counting on me to do. I realized that I did indeed envy some of the lives I saw portrayed, but not the glitzy, so-called glamourous lives. I envied people who were passionate about cooking, or designing, or helping others. I found my spark again, by the grace of God, after fearing that it had died out for good. I will probably always have to be on the lookout for "eating junk and watching rubbish" (this is the ACTUAL quote, according to my expert). By the way, the next part of the line is "you better come out and pound me". It did pound me, I did feel pummeled by my compulsions and my indulgence of those compulsions, but at the time I was too tired to fight back. Maybe I needed that time in TV land. It was an okay place to visit, in some ways, but I sure don't want to live there.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
My eating habits have improved by leaps and bounds since I have committed to Sparkpeople and healthier habits. However, when I read that people are "eating clean" I must admit I get a little intimidated. It is almost as intimidating to me as reading the word "vegan". I don't know exactly what people mean by eating clean but I presume they mean they are staying away from additives and preservatives and overly processed foods (or food products, such an appetizing description - NOTE: reading those words never stopped me) and going with fresh fruits and vegetables and things Mother Nature would recognize. I definitely eat less, I eat better than I used to, I eat more fresh, natural foods, and less food from boxes and bags, but I don't eat clean. I eat pretty dirty, as a matter of fact. Probably a third or more of what I eat in a day has spent time in some factory, somewhere. I don't have particularly strict rules for eating. I pay attention to portion sizes, I stop before I am stuffed or even particularly full, I tend to go a couple of hours without shoving food into my mouth, I do not eat sugar or other simple carbohydrates on an empty stomach (because that tends to trigger my binge-mode), and I don't eat in secret. I do still squirrel away some food but that is just because I don't want my little darlings to eat it all before I can enjoy my ONE serving. All these behaviors are a change from the days when I was imitating a large slug (eating crap and barely moving after ingesting said crap). I have lost just over 15 pounds at this point, and am committed to losing 50 pounds total so that my body can carry around the amount it seems to be designed to carry. I believe that "more will be revealed" in terms of my eating. I will continue to learn, both by reading things posted by other Sparkpeople (and reading the nutrition information books recommended by them), and by the mistakes I will make along the way. A typical day of eating today may not resemble how I eat six months from now. I just know that the desperation I felt for so long around food and weight has been lifted from me. I know I have a ways to go in cleaning up my act, but I know that if I am willing there will be people who will help me with the chore.
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