I’m slowly learning that even if I react, it won’t change anything, it won’t make people suddenly love and respect me, it won’t magically change their minds. Sometimes it’s better to just let things be, let people go, don’t fight for closure, don’t ask for explanations, don’t chase answers and don’t expect people to understand where you’re coming from. I’m slowly learning that life is better lived when you don’t center it on what’s happening around you and center it on what’s happening inside you instead. Work on yourself and your inner peace and you’ll come to realize that not reacting to every little thing that bothers you is the first ingredient to living a happy and healthy life.
If you want to win at life, start by letting people do what they need to do to make themselves happy. Mind your own business. Do what you need to do to make yourself happy.
I wander down this path where evil shadows lurk
dancing in the darkness, calling upon courage to turn and face the monsters
each dying shadow reveals more to take its place
more to carry on the battle, more to haunt me
with the turn of every corner, I grow more determined
Lost Part Two
For as long as I can remember the majority of my extended family has been on a diet. We’re all, shall we say, ample side.
Weight-watchers was the main one, but, every once in a while there would be the Non-Fat Only Diet, Cabbage Soup Diet, Fasting, 80/20 – any time I went to visit I was not looking forward to dessert. Almost always some canned fruit with mayonnaise. I assure you that it is a real thing; a real, disgusting thing that no one should try.
When I was in Kindergarten, a cousin told me that if I “sucked in” my belly I would look better. Thinner. Around about the same time another FAMILY member said to me that my legs were too fat. I was sitting on the center armrest in a pick-up truck. I was 5, and my fucking legs were lying flat. Did I mention, I WAS FIVE.
Who does that? Oh, yeah, ass-holes do that.
Between that behavior and during that time in my life food was not always around and when it was, it was the lowest of quality. Remember those white box black label foodstuffs – GENERIC in big, bold letters. That’s the stuff.
Meal options were limited as well. You can have boiled “GENERIC thin strand pasta” because somehow calling it SPAGHETTI is just wrong; and with this comparable facsimile of spaghetti, a tiny blop of “GENERIC tomato catsup sauce,” dumped onto a slice of white bread and folded it up like a taco. The other “taco” option was a potato, sliced, skillet fried – onto the bread slice and there you have white girl Tacos de Papas. Sometimes for an added treat, you could put a schmear of COUNTRY CROCK on it: Mmmm, the butter-like-spread of Rednecks Worldwide.
When I was in 3rd grade, and the magical JCPenney Catalog arrived, and all of the clothes I liked and circled didn’t come in my size. Now, my mother has to try to explain to me why it was I couldn’t get the pretty light purple button down with pearl buttons. “You’re built like a linebacker; it is just how our family is.”Yay Mom!?
This kind of disappointment went on. Freshman year, I was told by tiny little specimens of Genus cheerleader that I was too fat. I was 5’8″ and 140 lbs, I must have been hideous. Catty bitches suck, but when they are young, they are dimwitted as well. In college, I was 5’8” and 170 pounds, sitting in the booth at Macadoo’s in Blacksburg, VA when a friend of my friend said something like “you have a pretty face, but” It didn’t really register until a few days later standing in line at the grocery store with my boyfriend and his brother. A magazine on the stand raved about some magic diet that “Sally” used to lose 40 pounds and 7 inches by Summer” – and then he said, “You should try that diet.” I stopped, stunned. I turned and said as loud as I could without screaming – “I know how I can lose 200 pounds and 3 inches right the fuck now by dumping your sorry ass.” I walked out to my car and drove off.
The shitty and unwelcomed commentary continued well into my adult life. It gave me a lot of practice to come up with witty retorts. Feel free to use them. *grins*
You have such a pretty face. — You should see my ass!
You should wear a bathing suit that cover-up your legs? — You should wear one that covers your mouth.
Mooooove Cow. — You first Jack-Ass.
You need to get off the couch and move. — You need to get off your high horse.
Why would you let yourself go like this? — Go? Don’t mind if I do. (while you walk away)
Have you tried losing the weight? — Yeah, but it just keeps finding me.
You fat bitch. — “Wow, you are so perceptive, Sherlock would be proud of that kind of attention to the details.”
It has taken me 40+ years to begin a healthier relationship with my body. I am not on this planet to worry about my weight. The scale reads a number that is nothing more than a reminder that gravity is fantastic. Healthy doesn’t equal weight alone; there are so many things that go into being healthy.
As I struggle, like so many others, I am trying to accept my body for what it is – MY BODY. I don’t have to conform to any idea of what beautiful is. No one does – be your own beautiful. There is so much to see and do that I no longer have the time or the desire to fit into any mold.
Be well, and remember “those that matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.”
I get up before anyone else in my household, not because sleep has deserted me in my advancing years, but because an intense eagerness to live draws me from my bed. In the same way, I drop off every night with a kind of secret satisfaction as I think of the day to come, even if it is likely to be a dark one; for tomorrow is the future and tomorrow contains the whole of that which is possible.
Prepare for a bit of ramble – but I wanted to share the photos as an accountability thing for me and possibly to help others struggling. I left out a lot of details because there are others that have newer and more helpful info – but if you have a question, please feel free to ask. You can contact me from the form.
Eight years ago I was prepping for bariatric surgery. Now, after all of it – would I recommend it? If you are serious about making a lifestyle change and if you are sure that you genuinely have put forth every effort and still are struggling. YES.
Otherwise, no. It is not a quick fix; it is not — let me repeat that IT IS NOT the easy way out.
I had the Gastric Bypass – Roux en Y in March 2011. In March 2010, we took a road trip to CA. We stopped along the way to visit friends. Between my weight and fibromyalgia, I had a mobility scooter. I was miserable if I had to walk more than 100 feet. I had to miss out on several places because I couldn’t make the trek up the stairs or I would not fit in the tiny seats. Miserable I tell you.
When we returned from the trip, and I was sorting the images. I realized then, and there I had to do something!
I did a lot of research. I read books; I chatted with others who had the surgery and contacted a reputable surgeon. I was on my way. It took eight months from walking in the door for my first consult to surgery date. It was a whirlwind. I had psychiatric appointments; I had blood work, I had to meet with a support group. After the first two months of the intro to this process, I had to adhere to a weight loss plan. I had to be able to lose 25 lbs before I would be ready to go under the knife.
During that time I stuck to my plan – no matter how painful it was. It was so hard to train myself to eat healthier foods when in the back of my head was that voice – “just order the milkshake, this is the LAST milkshake you will ever have” – “oh fries, yes please – this will be the LAST time I can have fries” — you get the idea.
I was mourning the loss of comfort foods; I was trying to let go of the warm and fuzzy feelings you get when you are stuffing your mouth with grandma’s biscuits. It was a very trying time for me.
I was thankful that during my recovery, Michael cooked his food. It was the complete opposite of being tempted, the smells and visual cues of the food was just more than my newly sensitive stomach could bear.
It took me about six months to make my way up to being able to eat a small handful of food in one sitting.
Cut to 8 years later. I’ve learned my thinking I would never have delicious foods again was not only a major mental stressor, but it was also unnecessary; I have had fries and the rare milkshake. The key for me has been a drastic modification process. It helps that I don’t crave the same foods that I did before the surgery. I have also learned that if I have a craving for a specific food, I let it linger for a bit and if it doesn’t go away after a few days, I let myself have it. It gives me comfort to know that if I want it that no food is off the table forever, and that has made binge mentality disappear.
I lost a lot of weight during the first 13 months – by 18 months I had lost 205 pounds – by the 3-year mark I had gained some back, and here at eight years, I am still under the goal weight set for me, and more importantly, I feel better. When I was in the 130s I was miserable every time I looked into the mirror. Sagging skin and I thought I looked sickly. In a short amount of time, I went from 24US jeans to 4US jeans. It was a whirlwind for sure.
My parents died a few weeks apart in 2002. They had just sold their place in Floyd County, Virginia and moved to Carlsbad, New Mexico. About three weeks after moving into their new home my mother had a massive stroke. She died a few hours after I arrived at the hospital. Everyone said she held on for me. I spoke to her the night before the stroke, her last words to me were of love. We were best friends. My dad was diagnosed with metastatic Bladder Cancer about a month later. We spent those last few weeks talking and sharing and laughing — some people say the Cancer “took him” but he didn’t fight it and because of that I think he didn’t let the Cancer win. He spent his last moments exactly how he wanted to. His last words were “Thank You.” That is one hell of a legacy if you ask me.
My mom spent her entire life helping animals, and my dad spent their marriage letting her and I fill the house with homeless creatures without so much as a complaint. Mom once transported a pony in the back seat of her car because she didn’t have access to a horse trailer – Dad once sat out in the cold waiting on a field mouse he saw run up under the truck to come out. Crazy animal lovers but I would not have traded them for the world. I owe who I am to them. Giving me more than I could ever repay and I am forever grateful.
Melody Ann Merckling Gibbs
08 January 1947 – 05 February 2002
Thomas Franklin Gibbs, Jr
03 July 1943 – 21 June 2002
Pain in the …
When I was a girl, and I couldn’t ignore the physical pain any longer, dismissed as attention seeking child that was too young to feel that way. It’s growing pains; it will pass. When my family would go on Volksmarches, I learned to cope by giving myself markers “I have to make it to the end of this fence. If I focus on my feet, I won’t realize how far I have left to go.” I was 10, and to this day I find those markers. Just get through this twinge of pain, make it to the end of this day. Modify and adapt.
It is almost impossible to gauge the pain. The number scale with zero is no pain, and ten is unbearable. A 9 on the scale for one person may be my 4, even though the pain is nearly the same. Pain is whatever the patient says it is, along with other physiological and psychological reasons that influence perception – that is what makes treatment of chronic pain so difficult. Pain leads a life of its own. Evidence suggests that over time untreated pain eventually rewrites the central nervous system, causing pathological changes to the brain and spinal cord and that these, in turn, create more significant pain. Even more disturbingly, recent evidence suggests that prolonged pain damages parts of the brain, including those involved in cognition. Scans have revealed that chronic pain had dramatically reduced gray matter; normal aging causes gray matter to atrophy by half a percent a year. The gray matter of chronic pain patients atrophy dramatically faster: the pain patients showed losses amounting to between 5 and 11 percent, that is like ten to twenty years of aging.
There is no way to manage chronic pain but only to COPE with it. Managing implies that we can control the pain — chronic means long-lasting with no end. There is no pill, method, diet or magical potion that allows us to live the way we used to. There is no cure; it will never go away, you can learn to cope and adapt to it. The strength to get out of bed, the power to face another day is an accomplishment, even if you don’t believe it. You can OWN your struggle. There is nothing I can do to cure the pain, and when I am in a severe flare, I try to hang on until it ebbs for a while. Knowing the flow of pain will return I try to take the lesser pain days with enthusiasm and try to make the most of that day.
What does it look like to be sick? Some tend to believe that to be SICK we have to look like we are on death’s doorstep. That is utter bullshit. There are so many illnesses that have no visible signs. If I don’t look sick, if I have a little make-up on and a smile it doesn’t make my illness less real, it just means that I have become a master at hiding it. Telling someone they don’t look sick is not a compliment, it is aggression. What you’re saying, whether you know it or not, is “I don’t believe you.” If you want to compliment someone with chronic illness start with something you genuinely like – their hair, their outfit, that funky bag or whatever. Just don’t tell them that they don’t look sick.
Looking like you are not in pain is just something we have adapted to – why? Not to make us more likely to fit, but for me at least, putting myself together the best I can is for me and me alone. I hate looking in the mirror and only seeing my disease. How my pain is showing up on my face, you would never tell someone with cancer that they don’t look sick. You would never judge them if they were having a good day. You wouldn’t judge them for not looking ill enough. You wouldn’t assume much at all. So stop believing that people with chronic illnesses don’t look sick enough. You can also come to understand that the comments and “helpful” advice are not about you. It is about that person. Their fear that this too could happen to them. Their ignorance. Their ill manners. Not YOURS.
I am proud of all of you. Whether you made it to the top of the mountain – finished a load of laundry – all the above, none of it at all, and everything in between. You are not LESS than in any way, and you are not alone.
James Blunt Saved My Life
Well, sort of; one day in 2006 while hugging and swaying to the music “You’re Beautiful” came on and Michael and I were singing the lyrics together. He was singing “You’re Beautiful,” and I was singing the parody “My Cubicle.” We laughed.
In the Summer of 2013, during a significant depressive episode, brought on by stress and more stress and I wanted to die. I was sitting on the bed looking at a bottle of Rx — I took some out and let them roll about in my palm. I was too tired to fight the demons anymore. I wanted the pain to stop. I wanted quiet.
Then “You’re Beautiful” came on the radio. A flashback to that moment where Michael and I sang, laughed and hugged. I wanted more of THAT. I wasn’t ready to give up on THAT. I put the pills back into the bottle and curled up into a ball and cried as I rocked myself.
Jump to 4 Aug 2017
We went to see Ed Sheeran / James Blunt at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV
Andee and I went to get a t-shirt and beverage. I saw a sign that James Blunt would be doing a meet and greet. We went back and told the gang that we were going to meet James Blunt. Michael laughed and said you aren’t going to meet him. I said matter of factly – I am and when I do I am going to get his autograph.
We were standing in line telling Andee the whys and hows, and the tears started rolling, emotions of that day in 2017 washed over me, all that I have survived – all that I didn’t miss. Well, I met James Blunt.
I leaned in and told him that his music got me through some very tough times. He said I was sweet and hugged me.
I got his autograph – on my arm, and as soon as I got out of line with my sharpie autograph, I called my tattoo guy and made an appointment to have it made permanent. A silly thing to do, but it was MY silly thing.
The next day I went into the shop and explained to Moe WHY it meant so much to me. He teared up, I teared up. Michael wrote “you’re beautiful” on a piece of paper and Moe inked both on my arm. The signature looks more like a math problem, but I know what it means to me.
- she stood in the nights’ freezing air
- crying for their love
- slowly he boarded the bus
- turning back every step
- she waved, he smiled
- love was in her eyes
- when they pulled away
- farther than before
- she had so much faith in her love
- the tears just streamed down her cheek
- he vowed to return
- but no one ever really knows
- but Autumn believed
- she believed in him
- lehnanne g. kidd © December 19, 1990