Monthly Archives: September 2015

Week One: I’m Tired but Motivated

It’s been a good first week of better health habits, activity, and sleeping. I tried hard, walked on three of my five lunch hours at work. Went to water aerobics three times in the evenings. And today I was at church serving breakfast to 300 homeless at 8 a.m. then came home for an hour and then went back again to serve homeless families a taco feast and got home at 7:45pm. I put 8,000+ steps on my Fitbit today with all that activity. Ten thousand is the daily “goal” set by somebody but I’ve only done that once so far.

The only thing I wish right now is that my parents had a bathtub instead of a shower. Soaking would sure feel good right now.

Two of my co-workers came to help at the church this evening and I felt really blessed that they like me enough to do something like that.

Okay the only other thing I wanted to do was come home and watch part 2 of the premiere of the new season of Doctor Who, but my parents stopped it recording. IT’S THE ONLY DAMNED SHOW I WATCH, PEOPLE! Thank God it’s on again at 9 pm, but I will be too tired to enjoy it by then.

Grrrr….

I was going to cook my beans for tonight here at my parent’s house, but my mom made it clear in her extremely passive aggressive way that she did not want me cooking beans in her kitchen. So I lugged it to church and got there at 2:30 instead of 4pm. She’s such a piece of work.

I had some crap news in the last two days about money and I was starting to let it get to me, but after preparing, serving, and cleaning up after the dinner tonight I drove home looking at the most beautiful full moon and I felt peace inside. It helps to utterly exhaust yourself.

I weighed yesterday and the scale said I lost four pounds. That’s probably not very accurate. At the doctor’s office I had on more clothes, so it’s probably closer to three, at best. But it’s a start.

The Fitbit does encourage me and also my doctor said I can come in for free weighing and blood pressure checks so I’m doing that in a month, which is motivating. I don’t know how often they’ll let me come in and do that, but it all helps with accountability.

Losing the kind of weight I need to lose is a long process, in fact it never ends because if you end it, you gain it back (well, I do). Even if I manage to lose two pounds a week for the next 12 weeks before Christmas, that’s only 24 pounds.

But that 24 pounds will allow me to wear a lot more clothes than I’m able to wear now, which will save me money. I may try to make my goal to be at least 25 lbs lighter by then, surely I’m overweight enough for that to be doable. It’s not as easy when you’re near your goal weight, naturally.

For many months when I was working out and lost the 70 pounds I kept doing all this research on how to keep it off and over and over and over again I kept reading that it’s almost impossible to do. Fat is really an intrepid thing! Once you have it, it always wants to creep back on. Therefore you have to fight it every day, and really increase physical activity.

I’m seriously thinking of buying a bike. Perhaps I’ll start researching and buy it for myself for Christmas. We’ll see. It’s another thing I’ve done quite a bit of in my life so I think I’d enjoy it.

I was worried the water aerobics would be too easy, but I get there early and I stay late, and I work hard in the water, so I’m sure it’s benefitting me. And as a former Southern California girl who spent so much time in the water, I find it very healing.

With only one week under my belt I feel better (and a bit sore) and I feel good emotionally. Exercise is good for you, pure and simple. And I am one to get bored, so between walking, water aerobics, and possibly bike rides, I’ve got a pretty good variety to start with.

They gave me a key to the church today and I felt so honored! I cleaned up the church’s kitchen twice today and I do it lovingly because the place has given me so much. I’m grateful that tomorrow I can go into the chapel and feel closer to God.

xox

Committing to Good Health

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. What an overused expression. But we humans are constantly having to get up, brush ourselves off, and start all over again and that’s why it’s overused — because it’s true.

I just watched Stephen Colbert interview VP Joe Biden and both those men have so much in common with their Irish Catholic sensibilities and the way they’ve withstood tragedy in their lives and kept on living and doing their respective jobs and just being decent human beings.

How we respond to the lows in our lives really does define us and, until recently, I responded to lows by caving in, losing control, taking risks, making wrong choices, self harm, overeating, and taking a lot of pharmaceutical prescriptions that did not make me feel better.

I find it fascinating that what shocked me out of a lifetime of reacting badly was my narcissistic ex-husband using up every penny I had and then abandoning me for a woman less than half my age. It’s almost funny when I think about it now.

Here I am, almost two years later, at age 58. I have a decent job with really compassionate co-workers. I still think about him every day for a brief moment or two, but I’m no longer compelled to text him to ask him a stupid question. I often lean more towards thinking he’s a lowlife scum than any feeling of wistfulness or longing and I still really hope he’ll leave my town eventually.

I’m planning to buy a home next summer. I had to wait because I had to declare bankruptcy and it needs to be two years old before I can get a home loan. In the meantime I’m getting my dental health in order and saving as much as I’m able to.

I’ve realized that even if I am lucky and find a clean, small home in move in condition that I will be house poor and that I either need to find another job, or create more income on my own. It’s probably going to be the latter for me.

I’ve also realized that, at 58, I have exactly no time left to prepare for my retirement — another good reason to find a supplemental source of income. I don’t mind because having my own business is something I’ve longed for my entire life and as soon as I can focus on what I can do on nights and weekends to bring in a few hundred extra bucks a month, I think it’ll be exciting. Fun, even.

I think it’s important that it’s something I love, so that it doesn’t feel like work.

I’d like to wait until I move into my own home to start this up because I need the room, but unfortunately I think I need to start doing what I can now, to be able to show more income. Hopefully there will be some income!

But these days what I am realizing first and foremost is that I must get my  health back under control. I weighed 270 when hubby dumped me and within a year I was at 199. I never got any lower than that because I began to heal from the pain of infidelity and then my old habits of comfort and anxiety eating took over again.

I imagine I’ve gained half that weight back, at the minimum. And as I gain I am getting more and more gimpy, by that I mean my knee hurts, my feet hurt, my back hurts, and I had almost none of that when I was swimming every day and lighter on my feet. I’m tall, so even at 199 I felt terrific and was buying clothes in “normal” shops for a change.

I’m taking today off and seeing my doctor in a couple of hours just for a general check up since it’s been almost a year since I’ve seen her. I’m also going to buy a Fitbit (a fancy pedometer) and I’m going to commit to better health.

The bottom line is that I have to be in better health because:

I’ll feel better
I’ll enjoy looking better
I can work longer
I’ll attract the sort of man I’d like to have in my life

But mainly, to be able to work longer. I can’t afford to walk around in my current “diabesity” state and expect to work to 65 and beyond. It’s not reasonable. It won’t happen. I won’t last.

So, today when I’m at the doctor I’ll find out just exactly how much I have gained and start all over again. I’ll delete my Pinterest “Sweets” category because sugar is not my friend. I’m going to take this in stages starting with sugar since it’s my greatest weakness.

I will figure out what to eat, but to be honest, I’d rather spend time focusing on physical activities, work, and how to make more money, than obsess over what I am going to eat. At my age I already know what’s good for me and not good for me. I’ll figure out a simple plan and do everything I can to stick with it.

I’ve also heard you can link My Fitness Pal to Fitbit and if I can figure that out, I might attempt that — we’ll see. I don’t want to spend all my free time thinking about FOOD. I’d rather just be busy.

The first thing I did today was stumble to the kitchen and get my coffee with 2.5 teaspoons of sugar in it, so I had to forgive myself right off the bat because I simply forgot that today was the first day of the rest of my life. Doh!

My goals are modest: to get under 200, to be active every day, to improve the amount of sleep I get, to love myself enough to commit to good health.

xox

I’m Pretty Sure I Need to Find My Own Place Sooner Rather Than Later.

On Monday, the holiday, I got hit with a cold like a sledgehammer. I dragged myself into work on Tuesday and Wednesday and barely got through the days. I finally caved in and stayed home today, and I’m glad of it. I’m just laying in bed watching Netflix and drinking one hot thing after another. I think I’ve got a low grade fever.

When I came home yesterday I laid right down and after an hour or two my dad hollered that dinner was ready, my mom had made BLTs. I neglected to tell her that I don’t want to eat any more pig products but went out and ate because I was hungry. When I complimented her on the sandwich she made a comment something like, “Well, this isn’t exactly brain surgery. I’d hope a person my age would be able to make a BLT.”

When I was done I sat with my face resting in my hands and my eyes were closed and mom announced, “I CAN’T get sick. I can’t get sick and your dad can’t get sick. We have to do everything we can to avoid getting sick and that’s especially true here in the kitchen.”

My dad said nothing and I said nothing. Pretty soon I went back to bed.

It dawned on me that she’s never asked me how I’m feeling. Never once asked me if I’d like a cup of tea. No. The only thing she’s done is behave as though I could help being sick.

Yes, Ma. I got sick because I stay out late and burn my candle at both ends. Oh, wait, I don’t do that. Never mind. It’s not my place to judge her. I just don’t get her.

She has my dad wait on her constantly all day and all night when she’s in her recliner and her usual excuse for that is that she has a dog in her lap and can’t or won’t displace them.

But when she doesn’t feel good, in spite of the fact that she’s never looked after me or nurtured me in any way, I always offer her things. And even if she says no sometimes I bring it anyway. And I offer things to her all day long, especially if my dad isn’t around.

I’m in a snot based fog right now and can hardly type, but I am having this awful realization of what a truly cold person she is and I mean that in a drastic, horrible way. Truly cold.

I’ve lived here for almost two years and have gone to great lengths to avoid bringing illness into this house primarily because my dad has COPD and a bad cold could lead to death.

But I fear a rough winter ahead of me with everybody at work sharing one cold after another and I don’t want to hear about it from mom or give them a cold. So I’ve started to look at places to rent although I doubt anything will come of it.

Almost every Sunday I feel there is a message for me either in the readings, the sermon, or the songs. Last week someone read this last Sunday:

James 2:14-26

 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

And I thought to myself how my mom can’t get along with people at a church and therefore never goes. She considers herself a devout Christian but please just tell me one act that she does to make the world a better place?

Well, she’s kind to her dogs. Perhaps even overly kind. She lets me stay here which is kind of her.

Other than that, I got nothing.

I feel like saying to her, “Mom, there’s a quilting group at my church, and a knitters guild.” But she’s come up with some excuse about how that doesn’t suit her. Plus, I really don’t want her to decide suddenly to go to my church. I know that’s not kind, but God knows my reasons.

She did go with me once, about two years ago and it was clear that the Episcopal ways are just too Catholic for her tastes. That’s fine. I know that it’s not for everyone — I really like that formality. But she’s prefer an informal sermon and someone with a guitar on stage.

I remember that service, it was only the 2nd time I’ve been to my church, before I was committed to it. And she wanted to hold my hand and so I held hers. And the feeling made me feel disgusted and made me want to run and hide.

We are two broken women.

I’m hoping they’ll be leaving soon for their trek at the mall. I want to open my door and get some fresh air.

Yep, I need to leave this place.

——————-

Three hours later.

My parents went to a long awaited doctor’s appointment for my mom. When I heard them come home I went out to ask how it went and what he said. After I was updated and still waiting for my tea water to boil I realized that neither one of then have even asked how I am.

There’s this weird blue collar work ethic in my family. You’re just never supposed to have a off day or give in to illness. If you give in to illness, as I have by staying home today, then I have failed. What assholes.

Five months of never asking for time off from my new job, taking today off not only because I’m quiet ill but because my coworkers are really grossed out by my appearance and germs just makes me a loser in my parent’s eyes.

That’s twisted. I’d never do that to my kid.

 

The Tragic Lives Around Me

I often say I’d rather live alone the rest of my life than live in a hate filled marriage like my parents. It’s true. But sometimes I do have to motivate myself to accept I may live alone the rest of my life.

The loneliness is overwhelming at times. I just want to share a meal with someone. Go to a movie. Hold hands. Go for a walk. Drive to the coast. Visit their family in the midwest. Make vacation plans. Go on a picnic.

After church I usually hit a few charity shops on my way home and I generally feel pretty mellow after the service. Today I noticed I was feeling a bit more down than usual, but that happens. It comes and goes.

I don’t cook as much as I used to before I began to work full time so, since it’s a three day weekend I texted my mom and asked if I could make tacos tonight. It’s her kitchen so I always ask first. She didn’t respond which to me meant something, I just didn’t know what. So after about an hour I texted, “Ma?”

And she wrote back. “Sure hon. If you’re up to it. I’ll pay you when you get home.”

That last sentence just made me wince. I buy food often and I would never, ever asked to be paid back for it. It’s insulting. I don’t know what she was thinking. I wrote, “That’s silly. No thank you.”

So I buy all the stuff and pull up to the house and see that my dad’s truck is gone which is a fairly rare thing. Then I come in and say hi to mom and can barely hear her response, so it’s clear, they’ve been fighting.

She’s got both recently bathed dogs in her lap so dad was probably finishing up with the last dog when they got into it. I imagine it was very ugly and loud. I’m so glad I wasn’t here for it. The dogs looked traumatized — I remember that feeling.

Then my phone dings and I see she messaged me back saying not to have tacos tonight. They aren’t doing well. Maybe tomorrow.

I got out of my Sunday clothes and sat down here and then dad came home and they are very obviously not speaking to one another.

Their lives are so terribly, terribly sad. I blame both of them, please believe me, but the stuff that comes out of my mom’s mouth is quite often enough to make me want to run and scream so I do know how he feels. And he holds in his anger and resentment for days and weeks and then he blows and says really hurtful shit and then she retreats into her sad and pouty mode and they don’t speak for days.

Right now I’m just trying to imagine me having my own small place, maybe next July, about a year from now. And I think how I’ll play Bach loud and I’ll watch BBC iPlayer and I’ll plant things and water things and watch cooking videos.

I’ll paint rooms, I’ll sort through stuff, I’ll sell stuff on eBay. I’ll hang clothes on the line (I plan to put in a clothes line.) I’ll buy a treadmill and use it.

I’ve decided I want to learn about roses and grow them and I will slowly take the grass out and plant fruit trees and berry bushes. I want a really long outdoor table with some sort of awning over it and I want to string lights and turn them on all summer long.

Funny thing to do when you have no friends, but by then I might have a couple of friends. And I can invite people over for dinner, right? Or I’ll just sit and read and enjoy the solitude.

Now I’m wishing this weren’t a three day weekend because they will drag out this fight for days. Dad’s mowing the lawn and mom just said she won’t be eating and is going to lay down now.

I don’t mind telling you that when they do this I get a fair amount of PTSD and here’s why:

My parents married young. Mom was 18 and dad was 20. By their first anniversary they had my brother and then I came along almost two years after him.

But not long after I was born a woman came to the house and knocked on the door. She told my mom that she was pregnant and dad was the father. She didn’t want anything except a little money and she’d go away.

The family (as far as I know the entire extended family) raised $150 for her and she went away, never to be heard from again. Her son, my half brother did look us up when he was 30, but that’s another story.

So mom and dad separate when I’m around one year old and proceed toward divorce but never finalized it. And the next three to four years became a hell for my mother and she took everything out on me.

I was a preemie, so was small and fussy. Her heart was broken by my father’s actions. She adored my brother but hated me. I am not exaggerating. I complicated her life and she resented me fiercely.

I don’t know how often dad visited. I don’t know if he helped provide for us although he has always been a hard worker and provider so I imagine he did. I don’t now how we lived or with whom. I only know that my mother took everything out on me.

How do I know? Well, she took me to lunch one day when I was about 20 and told me. She asked me to forgive her, she said she had never been so miserable and I took the brunt of her misery emotionally and physically. I could not wait to get out of that restaurant and don’t know why she felt the need to tell me when this is all pre-memory stuff. I didn’t ask for more information — I have tried to blank out what she told me. I just wanted to flee.

But then my life began to make sense.

I’ve despised her from my earliest memories. I never felt close to her. I never wanted her touch. I never went to her for comfort. I. HATED. HER.

When I got a little older and walked to the corner every school day to meet my friends and I would greet them daily with, “I hate her. She’s a witch. I hate her.” And I did. I hated her so much. Every morning she’d have me come into her bathroom and she’d take a fine comb and start coming out my tangled, fine hair. It fucking hurt so bad. She did it with utter hatred.

Almost every morning ended with her screening at me and me stomping out of the house, hating her violently.

The older I got the more I was confused by her behavior. I recall at a very young age, about 10 or 11, that she was fighting with me like a kid, and not like a mom. I just really wanted a mom.

Now it would not be so bad if every kid in our household was treated the same, but we weren’t. She idolized my brother. He was involved in Little League and later basketball. Our free time revolved around going to watch him in sports. And my parents knew all his teachers well and he skipped a grade and everyone liked him.

When he was 12 my father took him to Washington, DC to see the White House. He was going to be the next John F. Kennedy. There were no missteps in his upbringing. They were very involved.

But my younger sister and I were merely extra appendages.

Her life was probably almost as tragic, after all, she came into the picture when my mother, separated from my dad for three years, fell pregnant by a married man at her work. So sometime after she was conceived, Dad came home. I think.

Mom sometimes lets little things slip so we’ll never know the full story. She was always a working woman, but money was very tight. This is about 1960 by now. She has talked about how she sewed herself a new maternity outfit every night of the week and worked full time and looked after my brother and I. Then she realizes she’s not mentioning dad so she stops with the story.

It doesn’t matter. But yeah, my sister’s life was bad, too.

So if my mom had just been a bad parent to all of us, well, I could understand the situation a little better. But no, she favored my brother in every way, and still does to this day. It embarrasses him. He was a good brother to me.

Even after my daughter was born. I was only eighteen and by nineteen I was divorced and moved back home with my parents. My dad worked odd shifts so every single Sunday my mom and brother would drive to Newport Beach or Laguna and have brunch at some fancy place. He was in college, naturally.

I’d hear all about it when they got home and I just wished just once that they’d ask me to come along. But no. This was my mother’s quality alone time with her son and no one was allowed to interfere with that, besides, I had nothing to wear to such nice places.

I’ll never know if my mom was a happy go lucky person at one point in her life, perhaps before she knew the pain of infidelity. I don’t know if that is what caused her to be the cruel, petty, selfish person that she is. I don’t know if my dad ever adored her.

I know that she should not have taken him back, because she made him pay over and over and over again for what he did. And she never trusted him again. And by the time the nest was empty, he cheated again and this time he did leave her and they did get divorced.

They were apart for several years, I can’t recall how many, probably ten or so. But eventually dad remarried her because he was working and she had lost her job and had no health insurance. He married her so that she could have health insurance. But they always kept separate rooms from that point. Dad did it out of his Catholic guilt, but mom attempts to convince herself that it is a real relationship. Until it isn’t with a huge fight like today’s.

Because of how my mother abused me, the violence of their own fights, and of the fights mom and I had when dad wasn’t home, I am not normal and I never will be. But it’s only in the last year that I see that I can nurture and love myself and make some repairs.

I’m a truly broken person and due to that I’ve been in bad relationships and I’ve ruined good relationships. Now that my eyes are opened I am no longer young and pretty. In short, I’m fucked.

This is why I am desperate to find meaning in my life outside of a man’s love. Not easy since I’ve been turning to boys/men for love since I was 16 years old.

Sometimes I wonder what’s the point in learning this lesson now when it’s too late to have a good and loving life and partner. Why couldn’t I just have remained ignorant? Knowing the truth just makes things hurt more.

So PTSD, you have no idea of the fights and the violence we grew up with. And when they fight now, I am transported to that time. I’m just a little girl, living in the paradise of Southern California, but in my own secret hell.

I wonder if I should consider moving out sooner rather than later. I’m going to give it some thought. I just get greedy because, for example, right now I am able to have all this dental work done that is long overdue. And if my car broke down I could afford to have it fixed. But when I move out all that will suddenly grind to a halt.

We’ll see. Most of the time, thanks to work, I can handle it here. And regardless of the insane relationship my mom and I have had, I am very grateful to be here.

Their lives are tragic. I don’t want my life to be tragic.