I don’t know why I’ve named you Ted but I had to name you.
We’ve never met. Or at least I don’t think we’ve ever met. You’re an older guy and I see a lot of older gentlemen where I work. Asking me if the ice cream machine is working or if you can get gravy on that chicken strips you’re about to eat before pushing your cart down the concrete aisles wondering if you’re medication is ready. So maybe we have met.
You and I will never know.
But there is something I need you to know regardless of whether or not we meet and actually figure out how closely we are connected: I hate you. I’m sorry to be so forthcoming with my hatred because you are probably a really nice person. And before I go on I guess I should at least give you the common courtesy of explaining myself…
You see two years ago you changed everything. You probably didn’t wake up that fateful morning and think to yourself “self, I’d like to get in my large truck and in just a few hours hit someone in the crosswalk”. I certainly didn’t wake up 3500 miles away and think to myself “self, I’d like to receive a call in just a few short hours telling me that my beautiful wife has been hit by a truck” and I’m pretty sure I can vouch for Red that she also did not wake up that morning and think to herself “Self, I’d like everything I’ve worked so hard for the last year to be taken away from me in the blink of an eye”
Why the universe chose to bring us all “together” will go forever unanswered.
I thought I was okay. I mean in the grand scheme of shitty things to have happened, the fact that I could wrap my arms around Red less than 24 hours later and see for my own eyes she was still living and breathing at least put me at some ease with what you did…Let me ask you a question though Ted: Have you ever gotten a rock in your shoe and felt that nagging discomfort as it rubbed and pressed into your skin? You know that sweet relief once you remove the rock and that gentle sigh of “oh that’s better”? For the last two years I’ve been searching for the sweet relief. Instead that rock that you planted has been growing bigger and the discomfort as it’s rubbed my emotional state raw is wearing me down.
Two years later and I’m feeling an immense amount of anger. The problem? It’s being directed toward the two people that don’t deserve it instead of the one person that does deserve it. I’m not trying to say you’re a horrible person for what you did. I’m just trying to direct some of what I’m feeling away from my life and for that too happen I have to acknowledge it’s existence.
I’m wracked with guilt over my anger. I’m wracked with confusion over my anger. I’m wracked with sadness over my anger. When I should be blaming you for what the last two years of my life has been like, I’m blaming Red. I’m blaming myself. When I should be angry at you, I’ve been angry at Red. Angry at myself. I kept thinking these feelings of resentment for the weight gain and emotional distress would dissipate but then I feel that incessant gnawing of discomfort press into my emotional (not so) well being and I have to admit that where I am right now is not a good place.
Red didn’t ask to be hit. She didn’t ask for the weight gain. She didn’t ask for the pain. She didn’t ask for any of what the last two years has brought and yet I still internally point fingers and instead of blaming you Ted, the rightful owner of my anguish I continue to blame myself and Red.
Did you know we were married just a few months before you hit her? Funny thing about this is we hadn’t even known what it was like to live together before you forced me to drop everything and come to Nova Scotia. In the 3 1/2 months we were married we spent three weeks within hand holding distance of each other. The months before we were married and the even longer months after, were mostly spent looking at each other over Skype or saying I love you over text. We spent hours talking about our admiration for one another because of how far we’d both come in our weight loss. Virtual high fiving over weights lifted, cloth sizes discarded and miles run. We planned long hikes in the mountains for our upcoming summers together and even longer walks in our new neighborhood in our new home during the colder months…
Then Ted, you came along.
I’m afraid to write about my anger. I’m afraid to put it out there because it’s not just me. It’s us. It would be different if I could definitively force my anger in a new direction towards an entity that is not emotionally connected to me. Sometimes I look out my window at a tree and wish I could just walk up to it and scream “I HATE YOU, YOU FUCKING TREE” and then stand there. The tree wouldn’t care. It wouldn’t react. It would just be. I could kick it and throw myself at it and it would just stay in one place taking all that anger away from me. Then when I was completely drained of that anger it would still be there almost as if in gratitude that I no longer felt angry and it was still just a tree.
So Ted, I’m here to tell you that I’m angry at my wife. I’m angry at what has happened to her and I acknowledge that my anger is painfully misdirected. I acknowledge that my guilt over this misdirected anger is causing me to eat foods that make me feel uncomfortable. I acknowledge that my misdirected anger is keeping me from running because deep down inside I feel like I deserve to punish myself. That my own weight gain is a form of self punishment because if Red can’t lose the weight then why should I keep trying.
As fucked up as it all sounds Ted, I’m trying real hard to not let go of those few short weeks I had with her before you hit her. I close my eyes and I see that smile full of wonder and excitement over being married and how beautiful she looked in her wedding dress. It wasn’t just that I thought she looked beautiful but you could see that she felt beautiful. Like a movie star. And now when she cries over not being able to wear the things that once made her feel beautiful I try to remember that day we found the dress. The moment she put it on and her whole being glowed because all that hard work to save herself was reflecting back at her in the mirror and she could see it too.
When I hold her hand now I’m trying so hard not to let go of what I want for her. I imagine my fingers becoming her fingers. Wanting to reach up through her arm into her heart and pull out all the pain she feels. Pull out all the fear she still feels two years later. All the exhaustion of doctor’s appointments and lawyer conversations and instead replace everything with the bright fire she had the day I said “I love you” some 3500 miles away at 5 am in an empty parking lot while I waited for the gym to open.
You took that away from me Ted.
You took it away from Us.
You deserve my anger.
Not Red. Not my marriage. Not me.
I hope you think about us. Especially in the wake of the 5 pedestrians hit this week in my city. Our city. The city in which you still drive. I hope each time you turn on your engine and buckle your seat belt you stop, even if just for an instance, and send up a little apology to my beautiful wife.
She deserves that much.
I’m sorry Red. I know the last couple of weeks hasn’t been easy on you. On us. The holidays suck already and then to have my emotional (not so) well being be even more off kilter takes it’s toll on your already burdened (not so) well being. Thank you for saying it’s okay to blog when the last thing I want to do is air the dirty laundry that is now the Martin (Carlson)/Dowe household instead of just me. You of all people deserve to be loved beyond comprehension.
I love you.
In my perfect world I would have woken up this morning and called my mother. I would have made the perfect cup of coffee made and I’d sit at my perfect little kitchen table looking out my window onto the perfect view of some fairy tale mountain range. I’d say good morning and we’d begin our conversation as we’d always began them, talking about nothing and everything and all the little bits in between.
I couldn’t call my mother this morning because 23 years ago on this very morning my mother passed away. And while I think I’ve perfected the “perfect cup of Tara coffee” it won’t be shared talking about nothing and everything and all the little bits in between with her. I don’t know if you’ve lost a parent but when people tell you it gets easier they’re right. I don’t think about her much as time passes. Days like today that are momentous she’s heavier in my thoughts but for the most part she’s settled into the background of my memory. It used to be I’d spend weeks getting ready for this day. This day of passing. This day of lost. This day of wondering what it would be like to have her be a phone call away. Now it’s more of a pause. More of a “hard to believe it’s been 23 years”. More of a stacking up the family lost as thoughts of my mother, turn to my brother and grandmother…
In my perfect world I would be able to run for hours without even blinking an eye. Every morning I’d wake up and with a smile on my face, strap on the perfect pair of running shoes and hit play on the perfect running play list that would motivate me to run marathon after marathon.
I didn’t go out and run for hours this morning. I didn’t have a smile on my face as I strapped on the perfect pair of running shoes and hit play on the perfect running playlist. I did run. It was just under 4 miles. Far from the marathons/half marathons training runs. I’ve been struggling to run for minutes instead of hours. I’m trying to listen to my heart and when it says to run to drop everything and just do it. To run when the body says go and to stop when the body says it’s done. Whether it’s 4 miles or 4 minutes. I know my love for running is inside of me somewhere. Buried deep under the negative self talk of not being able to afford the time or money to training for something expensive. Buried deep under the negative self talk of not being fast enough, strong enough or having the endurance to run long periods of time…
In my perfect world I wouldn’t struggle with food. Period. I’d laugh in the face of cravings and tempting commercials. Those little 30 second blips telling me to think fresh while thinking outside the bun wouldn’t phase me in the least. Every drive by would go unnoticed and every billboard unread.
As the holidays approach I worry about food choices. Birthdays/American Thanksgiving/Christmas/Oh look it’s Tuesday morning let’s celebrate. They’ve not been easy as of late. They’ve not been easy…ever. Some days I think I literally have it “in the bag”, pushing away offers of sharing a bag of chips at work or not using the emergency lunch cash I keep with me for that just made chicken strips and fries. Some days I wake up with a food coma hang over because that small piece of my mother-in-laws pumpkin pie turned into multiple pieces of pie with ice cream on top or a gorging of “healthier” foods just because I want to feel uncomfortably full no matter the choices I’m making…
In my perfect world I never would have had to start a journey of admitting my own mortality in the form of obesity. My closet would never had been full of size 24 pants, XXL tops and space for the next bigger size because that was the direction I was heading.
I don’t think I’ll stop looking around the corner for obesity. Three years I’ve lived as a “normal sized” person (by who’s definition of “normal” I’m not quite sure of) and I’m still not used to the body that I see when I look in the mirror or see a reflection. I spend too much time looking at loose skin and new muscles. I think about pushing my body into smaller sizes so that I’m even farther away from needing to make space in my closet for larger sized clothes. I often wonder if people who are naturally thinner ever think in this way. If you’ve always had the body you’ve had are you afraid of losing it…misplacing it…forgetting it?
In my perfect world I’d be present in the moment. I’d allow myself to struggle to move forward even during times where it feels all backwards to me. I’d take long deep breaths and tell myself that this is just one moment in time. I’d appreciate all things about me even when I have a hard time looking in the mirror. I’d appreciate the time and effort I put into my life despite what I believe to be my shortcomings and flaws. In my perfect world I’d stop and think about those that are gone but instead of wallowing in the loss I’d take a moment to remember that had they lived, they’d be proud to call me their child. Their sibling. Their grandchild. In my perfect world I’d reflect on the miles run rather the not miles run today because not that long ago physical movement was not even on my radar. In my perfect world I’d continue to nourish my body with foods made with my own two hands, not being afraid of my own kitchen and food choices are CHOICES and not my lifestyle as it was before…
(oh wait a minute)
This is my perfect world.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The last couple of weeks has been a bumpy ride.
And by bumpy I mean it’s sucked to be in my body.
And by bumpy I mean it’s sucked to be the loved one of someone riding out this bumpy ride.
Living with depression is no different than living with an addiction. I’ve been clean from my drug of choice for almost 24 years. 24 years is a long time to be clean and most people would just assume that calling myself an addict is unnecessary…
I am an addict.
While the drugs may not be coursing through my body and I’m not bound by the chains of addiction any longer, anyone who has walked through the doors of being any kind of addict (alcohol/food/sex/drugs/gambling) will tell you, you’re only a few bad choices away from walking right back through those doors and the next time you might not be so lucky.
I’ve had close friends make those few bad choices. Thinking this one time will be okay because they had their addiction under control. Yet many of them find themselves a) right back where they thought they wouldn’t end up or b) dead.
Living with depression is the same thing. You can be “cured” of depression through medication. You can be “cured” through therapy. You can be “cured” through proper exercise/food/movement. But let’s be totally honest here: depression is always lurking. It’s waiting to sink it’s claws into us. Silently in the corner just waiting for those few choices that start to bring the dark clouds over us again.
Maybe it’s not moving as much.
Maybe it’s eating more sugar than what we normally eat.
Maybe it’s not sleeping enough.
Maybe it’s the change in the seasons.
Maybe it’s reading a book that triggers emotions you weren’t (I wasn’t) expecting.
Maybe it’s not making the bed like you (I) normally do.
Maybe it’s spending too much time on the phone.
Maybe it’s having to deal with a new job.
Maybe it’s going home for 2 weeks and trying to figure out if home is still there.
Maybe it’s all of these things and before you (I) know it, the clouds are dark, the walls are closing in and Depression is rubbing it’s palms together at the excitement of enveloping you (me) and choking the life out of you (me) so much so that you (I) can barely get out of bed.
I’ve been in a dark place the last couple of weeks. It’s nothing I’m not familiar with. It happens, and just like I never forget that I’m an addict, I never forget that Depression lives inside of me and my daily choices will either a) lead me down a path of self destruction (self deprecation/self loathing/self hatred) or b) lead me down a path of self care (Loving myself/being Involved with myself/ having Faith in myself and Evolving). I thought “oh it’s okay I’m not breaking a sweat right now” “It’s okay I’m not really paying attention to my food too much” “No this book I’m reading isn’t bringing up any ‘stuff’ for me” “No I’m not feeling lost after seeing my niece get married and leaving Washington state” “no really I’m okay...“
But I wasn’t. I was pushing everything under the carpet hoping it would get better. I was ignoring the tell tale signs of how my depression manifests itself. I’m not 100% back to kicking ass/taking names but I’m recognizing that the direction I was moving was not okay and slowly turning around.
- I’ve moved a little more.
- I’ve made better food choices.
- I’ve tried to get a little more sleep.
- I’ve finished the book and recognized that it triggered me.
- I’m making my bed (which is the first sign that something is off).
- I’m staying off my phone more.
- I’m trying to shake that lost feeling and plant my feet firmly.
So here I am. Just exhaling and hoping that it won’t take me too much to get back into the swing of things but not really sure what that swing looks like at the moment. I’m not going balls to the walls with moving/running/training or hyper focused on food right now. I’m okay with that (and I mean I’m really okay with that). Sometimes you have to put aside all the chaos of losing weight and maintaining the weight loss and just be.
Just exhale and be.
“I knew then that no matter how hard you tried, no matter how many jars of honey you threw, no matter how much you thought you could leave your mother behind, she would never disappear from the tender places in you”
(Secret Life of Bees)
I’m not sure how many times I’ve thought about opening up my laptop, taking a slow, deep breath and almost with a defeated resolution attempt to blog something.
I don’t think anyone consciously wants to “check out” from what’s around them. Well maybe that’s not entirely correct. We always want to disconnect from things that cause us stress or anxiety. But unless you’re falling into some form of depression complete check out usually isn’t on our “to-do” list.
I’ve thought about blogging a lot lately. Inside, my brain says “just sit down and verbally vomit the best you know how”, “you know you feel better after”, “what the fuck is wrong with you Tara?”, “Okay now seriously I’m starting to get worried”, “Can you please just check in for a few minutes instead of checking out”…
Even now I’m staring blankly at my laptop. Feeling like nothing is worth doing. That “oh for fuck sake are you going to cry again” feeling at the back of my throat. It’s a beautiful day here in Halifax. One that should be fully enjoyed and yet all I can think about slowly walking to the back of the apartment where it’s colder and no sun is shining through, crawling back into bed (that I can’t seem to muster up the energy to make) and getting lost in some stupid game on my phone.
“Tara, please just get out of bed and do something”
I literally had to sit up, cover my face with my hands, beg myself to get out of bed and open up this laptop. It’s defeating. I need to get things done around the house. Even the simplest things are hard to do. I don’t want to admit that something is wrong because I don’t know what that something is. It’s noon and all I’ve managed to do is put on some clothes (play on my phone), drive my wife to work (play on my phone), run an errand or two (oh and hey why don’t I sit in my car for 45 minutes playing on my phone because the idea of being around people makes me want to throw up) and then go back to bed.
Depression? I don’t know. Does it feel like depression? Sort of. I’m lost in a train wreck of thoughts that can’t seem to come together in anything cohesive. I want to run but can’t. I want to go to the gym but can’t. I want to make good food choices that help me feel better physically and emotionally but those are getting harder and harder with each bite I put in my mouth. I just want to put on some shoes, go outside and feel the heat of the sun on my face as I close my eyes, let the tears come and wonder why I’m in such a dark place right now.
Instead I feel trapped in my own head.
Like nothing matters.
I look at crowds of people and all I can think of is does anyone know the point of anything? Anything at all? I want someone to make eye contact with me so I can feel like I exist even if just for a moment but as I stare at the those around me I realize they’re probably just as lost as I am. I think about doing something as mindless as mowing the lawn for the last time now that Fall has descended and Winter shows signs of returning and yet before I can blink I’m lost in a trail of “everything around me is dying” and my chest feels like it’s caving in from sadness.
I feel stupid. I feel stupid for letting my emotions get intertwined with my everyday living. I feel stupid because I want to find joy in doing something I KNOW I enjoy doing but can’t fathom the idea of putting on my running shoes and hitting the streets for even 30 minutes. I feel stupid for trying to find some understanding in my life at this moment by putting them down into a blog post. There is nothing to be sad about. There is nothing to be upset about. There is nothing happening in my life that should be preventing me from being an active participant and yet sitting on the sidelines feels like the only option.
I don’t want people to put they’re arms around me and say “it’s just a day” or asking “what do you have to be so upset about?”. They’re telling me things I already know. I feel stupid that I”m worried what someone might think when I blog now, both from people I know and love and from complete strangers. I feel stupid for not finding joy in other people’s accomplishments and instead just beating myself up for not “standing up and taking control” (whatever that means).
The idea of hitting publish on this damn post makes me want to shove a spoon so far down my throat and purge until I’m raw, because now I’m sure the only reason I’m sitting here is because I’m looking for attention and what I really want is for someone to close the door to this very dark place and confirm that I am not worth the time. I keep trying to make excuses for the way I feel. I’m tired. I’m recuperating from vacation. I’m still trying to get used to the new hours at work. Chester keeps me up at night so sleep isn’t really happening…I’ll do better tomorrow. Then tomorrow get here and nothing has changed.
I would tell anyone else to be kind and walk a little more slowly. To allow the emotions to work through the cycle. To know that what is being felt ebbs and flows like most things in life. I want to punch myself in the face. I’m angry. I want to grab myself by the shoulders and say “pull up your big girl panties” and “get your shit together”. I’m confused. Nothing has happened to trigger this life sucking episode. I want to curl up in a ball and quietly rock myself into some sort of calm.
I just want to feel like something is right.
Of that there is no doubt.
I spend a lot of time trying to weave words into something powerful to help you, me and anyone that hangs out on their own Life Changing Journey see that in us all things are possible. The focus here of course is weight loss and life long maintenance. I write a lot about emotions and feelings. Whether they be the kind that move us in a forward direction or the ones that leave us feeling like we’re swimming up stream against a current we just can’t match.
I don’t spend too much time just talking about me. The Tara that doesn’t feel emotional. The Tara that just gets up and lives life without too much “look at what’s going on inside my head”. The Tara that settles in at night with a good book and gets up wondering what kind of sweat to break in the morning…
Let’s play catch up.
I’m in a “not counting calories” mood these days. With Mimi doing Lean Eating, it’s important to me to support her 100% so all the new habits (life changes) they are using, so too am I. Learning to listen to my body (and not panic over food) and eat slowly (again, not panic over food) have been the main focus the last few weeks. This shit isn’t easy folks. I can’t just say “okay Tara, you have 500 calories and this delicious bag of chips so you can have (insert number of servings here)”…now it’s more about “Do you really want those chips? Are you bored? Are you hungry? This is not an emergency so you don’t need to eat those chips to fulfill that hunger…”
I’ve also been taking fish oil and probiotics every morning for the last six weeks and while I can’t tell too much of a difference, I have gotten used to the fishy burps that occur during boot camps or running….
I’m changing jobs again.
I’ve been at Pete’s for about 5 months but have decided to jump ship. I’m heading to Costco! The job is not glorious but I’m not ashamed to say I’ll be working in the food court. Those cheap ass (but oh so delicious) hotdogs that you just.can’t.resist? Yhea that’s gonna be me. Hair net and all. Don’t care. Better pay. Better benefits. And if you know anything about me then you know I’ve got my sights set on the bigger goals in Costco. Keep your eye on this girl(boy) cause big things are gonna happen! My last day at Pete’s is this coming Wednesday and without even a stumble in my step I begin my new schedule on Thursday.
There’s a new addition in our family. My brother-in-law and his wife brought to our lives an adorable little itty bitty: “Sweet Pea”. It’s been a new experience for me, being part of a growing family. Not quite sure where I belong and a more than a little leery of getting attached, I’ve spent the last two months letting go of the fear of being an outsider and holding on to that beautiful baby, hoping that she’ll call me “Unkie T” when the time comes…
I miss my niece Amers something awful though. Her wedding is fast approaching and while she may not be all cuddly like Sweet Pea, she is still my baby and right now all I can think about is our trip back home in a few short weeks. We’ll be back West for 12 days. I’m looking forward to hugging the ever living daylights out of her (not too tight of course since I want to see her walk down the aisle), going to the Fair (my friends back home know what I’m talking about), seeing friends and of course spending all the days with my Mimi.
The slump of the “post-Half Ironman” blues have come and gone. Running is back up and well….running I suppose. I’m not getting in the miles I would like but when I am out there I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’ve been focusing on some strength training and know that the two need to find a good balance. My pull-ups are off the hook (to toot my own horn) and that gun show is coming back with a vengeance (with a six pack to boot!). I’m sore more often than not and I like it that way…
So there ya go.
I’m not sure if this post is going to make any sense. In my mind it’s perfectly clear the message my little fingers want to tap tap tap into this little ditty of words meant to inspire, provoke thought and hopefully by the end help you to take that much needed deep breath and say “This is just want I needed today”…
Not too long ago we moved into a much more “Mimi and Tara” kind of space. Part of that “Mimi and Tara” kind of space included having a yard of sorts. You see I like to garden. And by garden I mean I like to mow the yard, pull the weeds and keep things looking nice. The first year I lived here in Halifax, I would leave our apartment (sans green like space) and as I walked around I would admire anyone that had a yard. It didn’t matter if they kept it up or let the weeds grow like wildfire (and trust me some of these folks around here have LOTS of wildfire growing). I kept thinking to myself “If only I had a yard of my own”.
Then the universe provided me with a little patch of green I could call my own. I can’t do much with it as it doesn’t “technically” belong to me. What I can do is pull out the rusty old push/pull mower (you know the one without the motor), cut the grass, pull up weeds and keep the small trees, bushes and that pesky hosta (that Mimi despises but I love) from growing uncontrollably.
It’s not much, but I take pride in what I can do to take care of it.
I have a next door neighbor, Ann.
(this is her yard)
Now her yard is something to admire. It’s beautifully manicured and I often find myself wishing that the yard that I currently take pride in (which up until just a few short months ago didn’t even have) looked more like hers. A few days ago, I asked about her son’s upcoming wedding in which the reception is taking place at her house. She’s been busy the last few weeks putting the finishing touches on her already beautiful house and on this particular day she was working in her yard.
She stopped what she was doing and said “I can’t believe how beautiful my soon to be daughter-in-law’s Mother’s yard/garden is”…(that’s where the actual wedding is taking place).
Isn’t it funny (but not really funny) how we are always looking over the proverbial fence at someone else’s “greener” grass all the while forgetting the beauty that is right in front of us.
When I was first stepping on to this Life Changing Journey, I would constantly look at those around me that were thinner/faster/stronger and a) berate myself for not looking like them, telling myself I’ll never get to goal weight, I’ll never run a mile, I’ll never be able to do whatever (insert name here) can do and that led to b) feeling defeated, disgusted with myself and wanting to give up before I’d even really started.
I didn’t spend nearly enough time thinking about where I was standing at that exact moment and how far I’d come even with the small baby steps I was taking. Maybe I wasn’t at goal weight but fuck I lost 15 pounds without taking pills, shoving a spoon down my throat or starving myself. I was reading labels. I was educating myself about processed foods. I was in my own fucking kitchen (the proverbial garden) people! I wasn’t running a mile but at 4am in the morning I was at the waterfront and that 60 second run turned into a 90 second and eventually turned into a THREE. MINUTE. RUN. without stopping. I was moving. I was sweating. I was heading in the right direction. Whatever (insert name) could do that I couldn’t, it was okay really because what I WAS doing at that time was pretty amazing considering where I’d started.
You see where this is going right?
Wait a minute…maybe you don’t know where this is going. I know you’re probably thinking “So what Tara is telling me is to stop looking over at what someone else is doing and pay more attention to what I’m doing“…yhea sort of. But what I’m really saying is that all that time you’re looking over there at someone else wishing you had what they had, you’re forgetting one important thing: someone is looking over their fence at your garden.
Take pride in what you’re doing. Right now. Today. Don’t worry about what’s happening over there. Stand where you are and look around. Someone is wishing they could do what you’re doing today. Whether it’s pushing the plate away from you when you’re full and NOT taking another slice of pizza, or going an extra 5 minutes on the elliptical. That modified push-up you’re doing that you tell yourself looks weak because you’re looking at someone next to you doing weighted incline push-ups looks pretty fucking amazing to someone that can’t even do one push-up of any kind. That slower than molasses run YOU THINK you’re doing looks pretty fast to someone that can barely walk down to their mailbox.
It might not seem B.I.G. now. Those small changes. The frustrations of why can’t I (insert whatever here) feeling like they are drowning out the ability to see how far you’ve come. The anger of how you got to be in this situation in the first place keeping you from seeing what’s really happening. I spent so much time being angry with the fact that I was morbidly obese and how hard it was for me to move, if even for short bursts of time that I missed seeing the truly awesome changes that were taking place no matter how minuscule they seemed.
Yes, Ann’s garden is spectacular. I would love to sit for hours on her cute little bench, barefoot reading a book or just laying in the grass looking up at the sky but I can’t. I have my own yard to tend too. My little patch of green that makes me smile each time I take my lawn chair out and watch the world go by. It’s may not be the best yard in the neighborhood but I work hard at keeping it just the way I like it…
And someone out there without a yard is wishing they could have mine.
As someone that has spent the last three years and 422 posts putting words to emotions / ideas / feelings / experiences I’ve become quite adapt at the concept of blogging. It’s as if each blog post is a seed and sitting down at my laptop is the growing process. Each time I sat down to talk about all the things I ended with something beautiful. A “flower”. One grown out of love, tears, sadness, confusion, elation, patience and maybe the most important thing: Understanding.
In the beginning I grew that garden like a wildfire. I couldn’t wait to sit down and analyze the next “step” in my life. Weight loss, divorce, transgenderism, marriage, body image, body transformation. You name it I probably have a space in my garden analyzing that shit. As time went on my life became much less complicated. I lost the weight. I survived the divorce. I began to understand my own transgenderism and combined with the weight loss, my body transformed. Tara on the outside became more congruent with the Tara on the inside, body acceptance (or at least a much more improved version than previous) fell right into place.
My blog was (and still is) a sense of peace for me. It helps me to slow down and think about my words. My life. The progression of where I was to where I am to where I hope to go. I sit at this laptop and pour my LIFE here because I know that somewhere out there is someone who thinks the way I used to think. That weight loss is NOT possible. That making life changes is NOT possible. That putting oneself first is NOT possible. I also sit at this laptop and pour my LIFE here because I know that somewhere out there is someone who thinks that by losing the weight, the world will finally be a happier place. That once you get down to a size 8 all your problems will magically disappear. That the shedding of the XXL clothes will somehow erase all the problems that got you into that XXL in the first place.
I have purposefully chosen not to “pimp” myself out to larger companies in an “oooooh pick me, pick me, pleeeeeease pick me as your ambassador” kind of way because I didn’t want every blog post (facebook status, twitter update) to be filled with links back to said company in hopes that you’ll click click
boom buy said products using my secret link back code or what the fuck ever. The words I say, the pictures I post, the struggles I feel and the accomplishments made are on my own two feet. On my own tears. On my own doubts. On my own “I don’t know if this is possible but fuck it here we go people”. I don’t want to sugar coat this journey in the least bit.
But well worth the fight everyday.
I want people to know (and understand) that not every one is going to step on to this path and become some crazy ass runner that PR’s every race. Not everyone is going to run an Ultra marathon every weekend or get on the cover of a magazine. Not everyone is going to end up on Oprah or sell a million books. Not everyone is going to get 20,000 likes on a Facebook page or get 1000 thumbs up on some random status update about practically nothing.
Some of us are just going to continue to run the miles that are needed to cleanse the soul. Some of us are going to push some serious physical boundaries but do it in a way that makes it possible for others to see that they too can move their bodies. Some of us are going to step back in the shadows of this blogging community and let the havoc of pimping someone else’s product happen elsewhere. Some of us are going to PR at living L.I.F.E (loving ourselves, being involved with ourselves, having faith in ourselves and evolving ourselves into the people we deserve to be).
Listen, weight loss IS possible. It comes with a lot of hard work and set backs. Acceptance of oneself IS possible. It comes with a lot of hard work and set backs. Life IS possible. It comes with a lot of hard work and set backs. The end of the proverbial rainbow may or may not be filled with a bunch of “I just ran a 6 minute mile” or “Nike is sending me another pair of shoes to giveaway”. That’s not the norm. The norm is knowing that some days you’re going to feel like you are kicking the ever loving ass out of this journey and some days you’re going to feel like the journey is stomping you right into the ground. The norm is knowing that sometimes you’re going to go into a situation thinking you are totally in control only to come out of the situation having lost absolute control, taking a deep breath of “well that sucked” and moving on to the best of your ability. The norm is knowing that there are going to be days filled with singing birds, beautiful sunshine and a garden full of “I CAN”(s) and knowing that some days are going to be filled with cacophony of violent noises, gloomy dark clouds and a garden being choked out by “I CAN’T”(s).
As the blog posts here become fewer (and fewer) in between I don’t want people to lose sight of the fact that in us all things are possible. That we deserve to stand up and take control of our lives. To make choices and decisions that move us forward instead of standing on the sidelines wondering “when is it going to be my turn?”.
That turn is right here.
What are you waiting for?
I feel stuck.
I feel unmotivated.
In a rut of sorts.
Definition of “In a rut“: In a settled or established pattern, habit or course of action, especially a boring one.
My pattern, habit and/or course of action has been (as of late) one of wanting to pull the covers over my head and sleep more. One of wanting to be okay with mediocre runs and lack luster workouts. One of wanting to be okay with eating shitty foods and then being okay with wanting to continue to eat shitty foods by shoving crappier foods into my already full body.
This feeling comes from a few different places and hopefully putting fingers to keyboard (bringing the “un”conscious to the conscious and the “un”said to the voiced). I know I’m having the post race blues something big right now. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that when you accomplish that “big” (insert whatever here) you should have something ready to go not long after. Something that keeps you focused beyond that “big”. This weekend should have found me at the starting line of my longest trail run to date. It’s something that I love doing and it helps to keep my running ability in perspective. Because of financial strains the trip that was long in planning is now short in cancelling. It required travel and travel requires expensive gas (have you seen the gas prices here in Eastern Atlantic Canada?), hotel accommodations and of course the required intake of food and what nots. What we don’t have at the moment is disposable income so some things have to give.
One of the things I’ve come to dislike about blogging is my overwhelming feeling of being judged. “This is my blog” “don’t listen to what others say” “haters will hate” are all good ways of dealing with this #judgyeyed feeling but lets be honest: Sometimes I’m afraid to type my words for fear of what “those that I’ll probably never even meet in real life” will think or say, and fear of being judged by or hurting those that I do know in real life.
I’ve spent the last two years in Halifax having all of my goals put first. By no fault of Mimi’s or my own it just happened that way. Physical goals of hers put on the back burner while recovery began, meant that running goals of mine came first. Weight loss wasn’t my focus: Running was. Now it’s time to shift focus. Mimi must come first as she embarks on this new portion of her journey with Precision Nutrition and the Lean Eating program. It’s a hard shift for her as she fights to make herself a priority in a mind frame that leaves her feeling anything but. It’s a hard shift for me to step out of the “limelight” and not shove that very bright light in her face with a “You got this” cheer in the background. Figuring out when to push, when to comfort and when to just say “today is just a day and it’s everything is okay”.
All of this “figuring out my life at this very moment” while “figuring out her life” while “figuring out our lives” has meant that my desire to move forward has kind of turned into a “let me lay in bed for another 40 minutes/I’ll run tomorrow/Let’s eat candy until I get sick and watch a marathon of Nurse Jackie/No I’m not hungry but yes I’ll continue to eat these chicken wings.
I feel stupid for complaining. I can just put on some fucking running shoes and spend an hour outside. I can just push the plate away or take my hand out of the candy bag. I can get up when my alarm says to do so and break a sweat. It’s a battle. One that I don’t feel much like fighting today…this week really…well since I’m being honest for the last month really. Then I justify all of it by hopping on the scale and thinking “shit look at all the crap I ate and moving I didn’t do and still holding strong at 160″. It’s like I want the scale to creep up so that I can at least draw that proverbial line on myself and say “Oh no you don’t Tara”.
But this journey isn’t just about the physical portion of weight loss/maintenance. It’s about making sure the emotional portion stays in check too. Walking a little more deliberately. Talking myself through food choices a little more deliberately. Spending some quiet time reading or blogging instead of feeling like I should be making sure my heart rate reaches a certain BPM or running a certain amount of miles. The rut is just as hard to get out of emotionally as it is physically. Acknowledging and allowing these feelings of “Meh”ness to be a part of me as much as feeling motivated/determined/focused gives them the ability to move along, instead of lingering and picking up their very close friends: Guilt/shame/helplessness/depression along the way.
Life is like the weather.
You never really appreciate the days of warmth and sun unless you appreciate the days of cold and overcast.
I appreciate today.
Clouds and all.
I’ve been blogging a long time.
Three and half years I’ve put my life changing journey out here for the masses(and by masses I mean the 150 or so people that click my blog each day) to read, digest, contemplate and hopefully then decide themselves to move in their own life changing direction. If it’s happen to me in the last 3+ years more than likely I’ve blogged about it openly.
Nothing has been off limits up to this point.
I put myself out here because for much of my life I felt alone. Swimming against a current I couldn’t beat. Struggling to feel some sort of self acceptance when I looked in the mirror and all I got was self loathing. Finding emotional relief in foods that couldn’t call me FAT or STUPID or WORTHLESS and then trying to find more emotional relief in violently purging because eventually the hatred I felt towards myself couldn’t be comforted by boxes of macaroni and cheese or half gallons of ice cream. As my emotional/physical health became a focal point in my life I felt compelled to share my story so that others wouldn’t feel like they too were all alone in what can be a very ugly world in which to exist.
Not that long ago I received my very first, what I would call “I don’t like you Tara” mail to a post I wrote about “showing up” to the Half Ironman competition. In hind sight I feel very lucky that after 400+ posts, some 500k hits and over 3000 comments this is my first one. I read it. Re-read it.Replied* directly to the emailer. Trashed it on the blog. Trashed it in my email and went about my business.
And yet over a month later I’m blogging about it.
The following is verbatim to what was sent:
So, remember when you were an Internet panhandler? And you begged people for money you didn’t have to go to a fitness conference? (P.S. how dare you act like an entitled brat when you chose to leave your husband for Mimi and move to a foreign country and sit on your ass for 18 months)..So what happened to all that money you conned people out of?
And when are you going to stop beating the hell out of your body and believe that you’re worthy of love and you’re enough?
Sometimes I write about things and you only get a “small picture” version of the “Fuck this is BIG PICTURE shit happening right now”. Life can’t be summed up in a few paragraphs with a few pictures thrown in for good measure. You don’t see the internal battle that happens during this journey of changes both emotionally and physically. I try my best to condense a lifetime of “STUFF” into short bursts of coherent words. To help me better understand who I am, who I want to be and to not go down without one heck of a fight.
I may be an entitled brat for leaving my husband after being together for almost 10 years because I fell in love with Mimi and “sitting on my ass” for 18 months in a foreign country but as I step back from the email sent I realize that again most people only see what I allow them to see. What I choose to share. What you choose to understand. And more often than not there is going to be some personal feelings interjected into your personal opinions on someone else’s personal journey.
I’m not writing this blog as a “OH HEY NOW WAIT A FREAKING MINUTE HERE. LET ME DEFEND MYSELF….” The joy in learning to love who you see in the mirror is that you begin to understand that the love you so desperately fight to find happens without needing to defend yourself. No one knows what it was truly like to experience leaving Mitch. To leave the comforts of what had become my life because no matter what I had at that time I wasn’t happy. I didn’t love myself. Period. End of story. Give me a house. Two cars. A great career. A devoted husband. Friends. Money….
I didn’t love the being that was inside.
And no matter what was happening outside, things had to change.
Falling in love was never on my “To-Do” list. When I wrapped my arms around myself and held on with as much emotional strength as I could muster, repeating a million times over “you ARE worthy” something magical happened: The self love that was planting itself firmly in my being was reaching out. Not out of physical attraction because let’s face it, my whole life I’d thrown my body at any signs of attention. Fucking = Love. Right? I was learning to love someone unconditionally and that someone happened to be on her own journey of planting those multiple seeds of self-acceptance, self-worth and fighting everyday to save herself emotionally while changing her body physically.
I didn’t write this playbook. If I was penning the story of my life before it happened this chapter might never have been written. In the two years I’ve been married to Mimi I’ve learned what it’s like to FEEL words like “marriage”, “commitment”, “patience”, “understanding”, “deserving”, “unconditional”, “dedication”, “protect”, “LOVE” instead of just saying them because we took our pants off and bumped girl parts and fucking = love, right?
And when are you going to stop beating the hell out of your body and believe that you’re worthy of love and you’re enough?
Isn’t that the million dollar question my friend?
When I look in the mirror or at a passing window, I still don’t see what the rest of the world sees. A successful 100+ pound weight loss story. A marathoner. An athlete with muscles. Don’t get me wrong I mean I know that’s who I am but it’s not what I see. I still struggle to release the morbidly obese Tara from my life. I struggle to turn down the voices of “you can’t” while blasting the speakers with “you can”. I still struggle to get out of bed some mornings because the emotional weight of self hatred is heavier than the emotional power of self love.
A life time of living in a world of “you’ll never be worthy enough” being egged on by “You’ll never be good enough” doesn’t just disappear because for the last three years I’ve been working towards a more accurate version of myself. Beating the hell out of my body is not just about pushing my physical limits but about taking care of my body. I spent 40 years shoving food down my throat followed by a spoon to bring that same food up so violently the blood vessels in my eyes popped. I spent years snorting and smoking meth and trying to get lost. I didn’t move. I laid down and accepted what I thought I deserved.
I’m not beating my body up now.
I was beating it up then.
I may not see what you see but I don’t look away from my reflection any longer. I stare. I linger. I love. I learn. And instead of laying down and accepting what I thought I deserved, I’m out in the world going after what I truly know I deserve.
And while sharing this “me” journey I realize not everyone is going to get it. You’ll take what you want and turn it around to better fit your beliefs, opinions and your “Well I certainly wouldn’t do x,y and z”. It helps to lash outward when what you’re really doing is wanting to lash inward. Take heed in your words. I don’t know you and you don’t know me. You only know what I choose to share. And just when you think you *might* know me you can believe things are gonna change up a bit because the beauty about this journey is it’s not a straight line from point A (birth) to point B (death)…It’s a winding path full of uphill battles and down hill victories. It’s full of twists and curves and “holy crap I didn’t see that coming”.
The journey is about living and for so long I wasn’t.
Today is a different story.
* This was my response:
Answer: we returned every cent back to those people that so kindly offered to help.
Answer: probably never with hatred spewed in my direction from the likes of people like you.
Thank you for your concern. I hope all is well on your side and this ungrateful brat is appreciative of your questions and concerns.
PS. My now ex husband is doing extremely well, has fallen in Love and moved on. I suggest you do the same.
First off let me start this blog by saying it’s a beautiful day here in Halifax. We’ve had quite a bit of rain over the last month (almost double the yearly average for the month of June) and while I do love a good rainy day, the weather has taken it’s toll on my emotional well being. I’m typing this while sitting on my porch (it’s really the first time I’ve got to enjoy it fully since moving in June 1st), coffee in hand and many thoughts running in and out of my brain. I’ve had lots to say but lacked the mental energy to make sense of ideas/opinions/thought bubbles/images and those “oh my goodness this is going to be a great blog post” blog posts petered out before I could even ignite that fire.
In addition to the
oh well just fuck it slump I’ve been feeling post Half IronMan and the “Oh man can it please just stop raining for three freaking minutes” the Dowe family (and since I married a Dowe, that would include me) has just welcomed it’s newest itty bitty to the family and that is bringing up much more emotions that I had anticipated (but that might be for another blog post)…
The sun is out, the baby is here and I woke up feeling like maybe I should sling some words.
Fitbloggin13 happened last week.
I miss seeing the faces of my interwebby friends turned in person friends turned holy crap I miss you friends. I was glued to the social
crack media of twitter, facebook and instagram as familiar faces popped up with the hashtag #fitbloggin, hugging, smiling…hugging some more. I longed to be there and feel at place with people that understood what it’s like to struggle with self acceptance, self love and the close knit companion: weight loss.
I chose not to go this year because of the Half Ironman race and more importantly because my beautiful niece Amers is getting married in September and returning home (or the close vicinity) just wasn’t financially possible…so something had to go and it was an easy choice.
I loved seeing all the pictures. I was living vicariously through the hashtags…I felt like I was smack in the middle of all the goodness that is Fitbloggin…
Until I wasn’t.
I thought long and hard about whether to voice my “opinion” over the Voodoo Donuts pictures that were all of a sudden popping up on my social media list of “oh man I wish I was there” pictures. Donuts covered in maple and bacon. Donuts covered in oreo cookies. Donuts covered in froot loops, capt’n crunch and m & m’s. I tried not to judge. I tried not to let it upset me. I tried not to let the “I’ve gone back twice and now I’m going back for a third time” or “I’m standing in line at 10p and it’s out the door” tweets poke at my “What the fuck are you guys thinking?” opinion forming in my over emotional head.
Talk of love, support and acceptance over a (insert # here) weight gain, followed by a “totally standing in line for a pink box of voodoo” gnawed at me…
I feel like a smuck for judging (or at least forming a strong opinion). But then I realize I’m not judging outwardly. I’m judging inwardly. Someone commented “Everything in moderation” when I “voiced” my feelings about the plethora of donut pictures and it struck me like lightning…
Moderation doesn’t really work for me.
What I should have been saying all along is had I been able to attend Fitbloggin this year I probably would have been one of those people that returned multiple times because my addiction to sugar/processed foods is always at the surface no matter how hard I work to keep it at bay.
I am not without my own “did I just fucking eat that” moments. Half Ironman found me eating poutine for the first time and while it seems reasonable after almost 8 hours of swimming, biking and running, what isn’t reasonable is the Mcdonald’s egg McMuffin I ate the next morning driving home or the second stop I made an hour later to get another Egg McMuffin this time with two hashbrowns followed by a few bags of chips and finally a handshake and deeply needed eye contact with Mimi followed by a “we need to stop” promise to each other.
Here’s the deal: I’m addicted to shitty foods and the food industry knows it.
I can’t just eat something (whatever shitty food I happen to shove in my pie hole) and walk away. There is no such thing as moderation for me. Even having a tad bit of sugar in my coffee sends the chemical messages to my brain to consume more shitty foods. And while I would love to think that the rest of the world can live in a “everything in moderation” frame of thinking, I know this isn’t true. If it were, then there wouldn’t be a need for words like “morbid obesity” or “co-morbidities” in our vocabulary. Moderation today means only going through some fucking drive thru twice a week instead of five and hey maybe ordering a salad to go with that Big Mac and Extra Large Fries instead of stopping to pick up a “pink box” of something or other.
That’s why it upset me. Because I know I’m addicted and I don’t know if I could have politely said “Thanks but no thanks“. I wonder how many others wanted to pass on the pink but didn’t because deep down inside the urge to “use” is more powerful that the ability to resist. “We’re on vacation”, “It’s not like you can find this at home”, “I’ll only eat one”, “why am I buying three?” “Why am I hiding in my room at 11p at night eating this?” “I won’t tell anyone”, “I’ll start again tomorrow, next monday, when I return home”…
I’m lucky in a way to have an intimate understanding of addiction. It’s been well over 20 years since I wandered the streets high on meth, scrounging around looking for enough bus money to get back to Tacoma so I could reset the cycle of lying and stealing to get back to Seattle to get high and wander the streets looking for enough bus money to get back to Tacoma. I will always be a meth head even though two decades has passed since it’s been in my system. 20 years and yet I still know that unless I am diligent about my recovery (meaning I always remember that for the grace of whomever/whatever I survived when many of my friends didn’t) and know that one small step in the “wrong” direction will lead me back to where I never want to return.
For me moderation is that “small step” in the wrong direction. I know eating sugar/shitty food of any kind sets off the chain reaction. A chain reaction that sometimes I can squash after one or two decisions but other times it just goes on and on…
Until I find myself where I don’t want to be.