I’ve been a little leery about opening up my laptop after the last couple of blog posts. Funny; I don’t seem to have a problem writing about weight loss and subsequent maintenance but get a little more personal about gender and Aspergers and I want to shut down this blog and pretend it never existed.
But I exist.
Therefore (dot dot dot), so do some very personal things that I don’t quite know how to share with the world. I don’t mind talking/writing about addictions and mental health. I don’t mind talking/writing about the frustrations of losing weight and the sometimes more frustrating journey of maintaining significant weight loss. I don’t mind talking/writing about feeling emotions and crying through some deep dark shit but mention gender/aspergers and all of a sudden I feel like I have some sort of major defect.
As of late, the two things I want to keep secret more than anything have been at the forefront of my very being. Everyday is a journey into this whole idea of being gender-less and every second of every day is a test of my own ability to control something that most often feels uncontrollable.
I appreciate all the support my family/friends and readers have sent my way but even that feels overwhelming. Now I wonder if people are looking at me differently. Looking for tell-tale signs of that pesky old Aspergers that pulses in my body or being overly conscious about what pronoun to use in my presence.
But at the same time I’m okay with sharing these deeper/darker/more personal parts that make up the Tara/T/T-rex that’s been writing in this blog for a long long LONG time. I open up about them because I’m doing the work to make me a stronger person.
Just like in weight loss you have to do the work to see the results.
Before I embarked on this Life Long (and Life Changing) journey I would stand in the “weight loss” section of some health food store and wondered what pill I should take to get rid of the fat that was collecting in every cell in my body. I’d watch those infomercials and pull out my credit card ready to throw down $59.99 for promise of losing 30 pounds in 30 days. Countless times I prayed for the “Miracle Pill” instead of praying for the strength just to stand up and do something else with my life. I’d proclaim “this is the last time I’m going to eat fast food” only to find myself staring down the menu of another super size me option waiting for that “Welcome to (insert fast food chain here)” voice of approval.
I didn’t want to put the work into weight loss.
But I wanted to change.
The same goes for almost everything in our lives. If I don’t put the work into my gender (lessness) then I surely can’t expect any change to happen. If I don’t put the work into my Aspergers then I surely can’t expect any change. If I don’t put the work into anything…nothing will change.
When we do the work, we get stronger. Physically and mentally. When I talk about my confusion to looking in the mirror and wondering if I’m a boy or a girl I allow the confusion to be front and center. When something is front and center it gets paid attention too and when something gets paid attention too, it shifts. Things change. It’s not easy looking in the mirror and sometimes wishing something dangled between my legs and my chest was flat. More often than not that feels shameful. But sometimes that feels pretty empowering. Standing up for myself and asking to not be called “lady” or “ma’am” and instead saying “my first name is Tara but you can call me T” still feels like its more trouble than what it’s worth but I’m learning that I am in fact worth being addressed the way I prefer and I would hope some one would be honest with me if I addressed them outside their preferred pronoun (or the preference to not have a pronoun).
When I’m forth coming with my Aspergers instead of hiding it, I’m shedding light on a very prominent part of who I am. It’s hard feeling like I’m walking on egg shells with customers because maybe I didn’t smile or I was too direct in my response but it’s comforting to know that my co-workers know who I am, my commitment to work and my constant vigil to do my very best. I’m still really frustrated, and feeling shameful that I’ve had to be hyper focused on my “behaviors” since starting Costco. I’m sort of in panic mode that every time I have an interaction it’s going to turn bad and have been reduced to tears on multiple occasions. It’s embarrassing. But I’m putting the work into being more patient with myself and when you put in the work, you get stronger. I know I look pretty normal to the average Joe so I’m learning to not be afraid to say “I have Aspergers so my social filters are not the same as yours”. Instead of fighting the body ticks (rubbing my head/rocking/walking on my toes/making noises) I’m allowing myself to just do them a little more out in public because a) it feels really good b) it takes away the build up angst c) it helps me not feel so shameful.
Doing the work.
When you have to work at something, it can feel overwhelming. You don’t want to do it. You just want things to be easy. The problem with easy is you don’t learn to appreciate all the blood/sweat/tears/emotions you put into making yourself stronger. It’s not the 110 pounds that I lost that I appreciate. I value the fight I put into taking myself from morbid obesity to athletically fit. I value the confusion of wanting the body of a boy one day and wishing for a pretty little painted flowers on my toes the next. I value the frustration that builds when I know I’m about to have a communication break down with a customer but can look into the eyes of my co-workers and boss because I trust them.
I’m ready to put aside these two parts of Tara/T/T-rex for a little while on this blog. I don’t want the focus to shift just yet. I want to write about Crossfit and working out. I want to write about my disconnect with running. I want to write about food and throwing around the idea of going on a juicing cleanse. I want to write about lifting heavy shit and meeting cool people at my new box. I know the gender stuff and Aspergers is interesting but it takes a toll on my ability to feel comfortable on my blog. I’m still doing the work but not so sure this is the platform.
*taking a deep breath*
and feeling stronger.
Sometimes I wish I could wear a button.
Or something similar.
Like this name tag.
It would open up the door to the conversation that I seem to be having more and more often these days. “Hi Tara. Can you explain to me what having Aspergers means?” Then I could go on this longish (but really short direct and to the point cause you know I have Aspergers) rant about lack of social filters / eye contact problems unless I initiate (and really like you) / most people think I’m kind of rude but in fact very sensitive yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah and thank you for taking the time to listen and hopefully this will help us both understand each other a little better from here on out.
Having Aspergers sucks big hairy fucking monkey balls.
Having to explain that you have Aspergers sucks even more.
Even this blog post is upsetting me. The last couple of weeks I’m finding myself trying to stop the world spinning around me and explaining again and again that “No, I’m not rude. No I’m not trying to be mean. I’m sorry that sounded harsh. Smiling doesn’t come naturally to me. Rules are very important to me. I don’t have the same social filters as you. Have you ever heard the term parallel player? Yes, I would like to sit with you but don’t know how to initiate social interaction. No I’m not talking down to you. No, I’m not insensitive, I just don’t know how to process emotions like you do…”
I work at Costco. I love my job. It’s sweaty. It’s physically demanding. It’s fast paced and somewhat chaotic (but very controlled). I roll hot dogs. I stick my hands in elbow deep soapy water and wash dishes. I haul garbage. I swirl ice cream around on cones. I wear a hairnet and say “howdy” when I’m ringing in someone’s order. It’s much much much different than my professional life as an interpreter and the money is about 1/4 of what I’m used to making. But I love it and I’d like to stay at Costco for as long as possible and climb that “corporate” ladder like it’s no one’s business.
The interactions of late with people not a) knowing and b) understanding what it means to have Aspergers leaves me feeling very frustrated and ashamed of myself. Most days on my drive to work I fret over whether or not I’m going to do something wrong (and by wrong I mean NOT wrong like steal money but wrong like say something that offends someone or not interact properly). That seems to be happening a lot.
I’m really sorry I have Aspergers. I’m embarrassed by it. My whole life I’ve been described as the following (meaning the people I am close to usually at some point say this to me): “You know Tara, I thought you were a real bitch when I first met you but then you turn out to be one of the nicest people I know”…
I can’t even begin to explain to you how hard I work at keeping this little (and by little I mean super fucking BIG) part of me swept under the carpet. It’s like being downstairs and running upstairs every 30 seconds to make sure the lights are turned off. I’m constantly checking to make sure my Aspergers is turned off…funny thing though, you can’t turn it off. Ever. So I’m constantly apologizing for my behavior that isn’t a behavior.
“I’m sorry I said that”
“I’m sorry I make noises”
“I’m sorry that wasn’t my intention”
“I’m sorry I needed clarification”
“I’m sorry the light is bothering me”
“I’m sorry it’s too noisy”
“I’m sorry that sound raises my anxiety”
“I’m sorry I’m sitting apart from everyone”
“I’m sorry I’m rocking”
I try to explain it in a joking manner: “Think of me like Sheldon from Big Bang…Just not as smart“. I try to explain it simply: “my brain is wired a little differently than most”. I try to explain it in everyday language: “It’s like I’m driving around in a particular car, that I know really well and then all of a sudden I have to stop, look for a new car, get in, figure out what’s what and what’s where, recalculate my driving directions, get to where I’m going then go back and find my original car in order to continue on with my day…that’s what it feels like when something happens I wasn’t expecting like someone saying hello.”( <—- I’m not joking.)
I really want to just be the best I can be. If I could wish anything away it would be this part of me that is so entrenched in my cells. I don’t want Aspergers to keep me from reaching my potential with Costco or with anything. I try to bend to what I think other’s want to see in me and yet by the end of most days I’m so emotionally distraught that I *might* have said something / done something wrong I spend the 10 minute drive home crying and second guessing my ability to just.be.normal.
Sometimes I wish Aspergers came with a bodily warning of some kind. Something recognizable so that people could whisper to each other “ooooooooh look at Tara. She has Aspergers. You can tell because her left ring finger is purple (or maybe my right eye would be down by my mouth or something)” That way when people approach me there is a hush hush of patience before the first word is spoken to me. Instead I have to deal with “another member complained” or “maybe try not to be so direct next time”… When you see people with Down Syndrome or in a wheel chair or missing a limb or something really obvious you pause ever so slightly and then react. That’s what I wish for with me. Just to pause before initiation. To understand the reaction and to not make assumptions of my rudeness or my lack of compassion.
I’m extremely sensitive. Case in point. Last week I was over at my in-laws and an adult deer walked along the path behind where they live. It was injured. Still walking but one leg was obviously in serious trouble. I’m still constantly thinking about that deer. Is it alive? Is it eating? Is it suffering? I lay awake at night wondering what has happened. I stare out their window wondering if I’m going to see it. Should I leave food out just in case? This will go on as long as my in-laws live there. No lie. Every time I’m over there I will look out the window and wonder what happened. That’s also a part of my Aspergers. I’ll probably cry over that animal later today because I don’t know how to process emotions and I’m writing about it right now.
I’m not making excuses to just accept my Aspergers. I recognize that what comes out of my mouth most times sounds rude and I’m always apologizing because it helps me to understand what’s appropriate (by society’s standards) and hopefully teach me to do something differently next time.
I am, however, asking the world to have a little more patience with trying to understand what can’t be seen. I know it’s difficult in this fast paced, don’t look back, react first, we all should be the same kind of life we live. I try really hard. I try really really hard…
And just in case: “I’m sorry”
Blog ideas usually come to me when I’m least expecting it..
Except I’m pretty much always thinking about what to write for the next “MIND EXPLODING” episode of A Life Changing Journey.
Usually it goes something like this: blah blah blah (hear or see something), whoa that would make a great blog post (mental note, mental note…oh yhea this is gonna be good) blah blah blah I’m going to go home right now and start it blah blah blah (oh look a squirrel) I’ll start it later. I’ll start it tomorrow. Blah blah blah. What a stupid idea. No one wants to read your blog (idea gets thrown to the wayside). Blah blah blah (hear or see something), whoa that would make a great blog post…over and over again.
It’s what happened yesterday. In the shower of all places. Feeling particularly “girly” I decided to shave…not that you needed to know that but since the whole “gender spectrum” is out there I think it’s okay to add a little “hmmmmm, I wonder where Tara is on her spectrum of boy to girl percentage ratio”…and for some reason the idea of having any body hair revolted me (except on my head because even I can’t deny my haircut is pretty FLY)
So yhea, anyways…
This song came on while in said shower…”Saying and Doing are Two Different Things” (Songza; genre “Feeling Confident”; Sub Category “Baller”…to combat the girly feeling…see how this gender thing really fucks with me sometimes?)
I think we’ve all been “Saying” a lot more than “Doing”
Saying you want to do (insert whatever comes to mind here) and not implementing a “doing” strategy accomplishes nothing. I can’t even begin to count how many times I said “I wish I could (lose weight, run, fit into something other than this XXL shirt, not have to walk into Lane Bryant for nice clothes, walk up these stairs and not breathe like I’m dying, stop playing video games, get up from the damn couch and do something amazing, get off this fucking depression medication)”…and yet I never did anything to get me turned around and pointed in the right direction…
I was all say.
And no do.
I made excuses. I told myself there was no point because all I was going to do was fail. Before I could even start, I stopped. And because I didn’t give myself the opportunity to prove myself wrong, I hated myself even more and the only way I could suppress that hate was to cover it with mind numbing activities like eating or playing video games or doing both simultaneously for hours and hours.
I spent a lot of time in this vicious cycle. Actually I should be honest and not use the word “spent” in it’s past tense. I should use it in it’s present tense because even though I’ve managed to lose the weight, kick the video game addiction (sort of), wiggle into a size S/M, no longer shop in the plus size sections of department stores, push my physical limits beyond anything I thought possible and managed to throw out the anti-depressants I still find myself on this “I wish I could/fail/why try/can’t” cycle…
Right now it has to do with food, social media and my damn phone.
I’m having a hard time cleaning up my palate. It’s easy for me to pull the excuses out of my ass with “oh it was my birthday/holidays/Mimi’s birthday/I need to eat more because I went back to crossfit” but truth be told, I’m just having a hard time getting back to a food foundation that makes me feel really good. I keep saying “tomorrow” instead of saying “RIGHT NOW”. My cupboards aren’t filled with bags of chips and diet soda and that makes the excuse making even easier. I’m not sneaking off to some drive thru and hiding the evidence but I have been eating out more and that always leads to not making the best decisions. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow when I know good and well tomorrow isn’t going to happen.
The other thing I’ve been wanting to do is give up all the games on my phone (damn you Tapped Out / Clash of Clans) and take a break from social media of sorts. The social media thing is pretty dried up for me in the sense that I don’t check it very often but I still find myself aimlessly scrolling through news feeds that bore me and suck me into sitting on the couch longer than I want too. Most times what I want to do is pick up a book and read or practice my double unders but then I think “okay, just 5 minutes on the phone then back to business”…
But then 5 minutes turns to 30…
Some times 60.
And then I’m really angry with myself.
It’s not that I don’t want to know what’s going on with people out there. But I don’t really care about 90% of the stuff that is occupying my media outlet. I want to look at pictures of people making huge leaps and bounds in their weight loss. I want to research recipes to try out. I want to cry over someone reaching a goal they thought totally unobtainable. Instead I’m watching videos of cats in sharks costumes on a roomba.
The problem with my food and social media is I want to make the changes but I’m not Doing…only Saying. Something has to change and I can’t fathom where to start. I know baby steps, baby steps, baby steps…
Just stop going out to eat. Delete the games off your phone. Clean up your FB friend’s list. Put the fucking phone down and walk away. Get up and do something else. You think I don’t already know all this? Of course I do and I’m usually the first to throw my fist up in the air and say “MAKE THOSE CHANGES!”, but right now? Maybe tomorrow.
So here’s my little proclamation of Doing more than Saying:
Seems silly but it’s a start.
I’ll be spending the next couple of days cleaning up my FB list too. I need to focus more on what’s happening in front of me rather than what’s happening so far removed from me. I’ll be dusting off a few books I’ve been wanting to read and hopefully spending more time running rather than thinking about running. Food will be food until I decide I don’t want it to be Food in that way any longer…
I really want this “clean up” to stick. Not just a “oh I’ve had enough” until I download another game or add another friend to my already bogged down list of “how do I know you?” list. I want to make long term changes to my food again. Get back to eating what I know makes me feel good and strong in the long term and not just something that makes me feel good in the short term…
What’s on your Stop Saying and Start Doing list?
Get on that Shit!
I rarely talk about gender here.
And by rarely I mean almost never.
Funny though because I think about it almost more than anything.
I think about it more than weight loss.
I think about from the moment I wake up and walk naked into the bathroom and see my breasts as I sit down to pee and wonder what it would be like to stand, to the moment I get undressed for bed and take off my bra before my t-shirt because I don’t like to be reminded that I in fact have to wear the damn thing. I think about it in the shower. When I’m getting dressed. When I’m lifting weights. When I’m driving, punching in to go to work, picking up my wife or doing the food shopping for the week.
The interesting part about thinking about gender all the time is I don’t really know what to think about my gender. For most of my life I didn’t really *think* about whether I was a boy or a girl. I just assumed the role that came with the body. Girl parts = Girl (therefore dot dot dot). Identifying as queer happened early on in my life. I remember being very young and thinking “I’m going to kiss girls”, which I did. And I like it. But then I kissed boys too…I did a lot more than kiss those boys but that’s because I thought in order to feel “loved” I needed to put out and when you’re searching to be loved for most of your life…well you know what I’m getting at here. I never thought of myself as bisexual. I just used my body to get the attention I wanted and I didn’t really care who gave it to me.
My first “relationship” was with a woman. I was very young. She wasn’t. It lasted a whopping 9 months (and when you’re in junior high school, that nine months feels like a lifetime). Throw in a mother who owns a gay bar, who vehemently disapproves of said relationship, and you can see how things got very confusing for me. Of course in hindsight I realize it wasn’t because I was queer that she was upset about…it was the age thing and her own guilt for “exposing” me to that lifestyle (but damn if I didn’t have the best Dorothy Hamill haircut from her best friend and super gay hairdresser Eddie)
(open closet door and enter)
It was in the midst of becoming a young adult, just having finished high school and aspiring to became a self supporting drug addict that I let that closet door open just a bit. Fiance on one side. Girlfriend I could get high with and bump uglies on the other. Then my mother got sick. Really sick. Really quickly. Before I could even adjust to her cancer she was gone. I didn’t get a chance to react. I was 20 and she was dead. All those years of hiding from the one person that I felt like I disappointed the most and never would there be another opportunity to say “hey mom, this is who I am…please try to love me regardless”
I buried her.
Then began the process of unburying myself.
That process has been ongoing ever since. 20+ years. Trying to find the labels that fit because let’s be honest, people need labels. Not so much as a inner acceptance but to help the outer world feel more at ease. Over the last couple of years (not surprisingly in conjunction with weight loss and shedding the emotional weight along with the physical weight) I noticed more and more how uncomfortable those, who are settled in the “correct’ gender (meaning body matches mind matches heart) are with those, that are completely unsettled with any gender (body does not match mind and may/may not match heart).
But I was excruciatingly uncomfortable too.
As my body changed, I realized there was another unburying happening. The idea of having girl parts = girl no longer made sense to me. I didn’t want to conform to the notion that I was a biologically born female (therefore dot dot dot) and the only way I could demand to be treated differently was to be a radical queer. I couldn’t demand to be called a dyke ( I loathe the “L” word”) because that identity didn’t define me any longer. I realized that my fat was not only a wall to protect me from the proverbial YOU. It was a wall to protect me from ME.
The only problem with letting that wall down is this constant battle of “So what are you?”…
I ask myself that question all the time…
Are you a boy? Are you a girl?
And the honest answer is this….Yes I’m a boy. Yes I’m a girl. I’m neither a boy. I’m neither a girl. Gender doesn’t apply to me. Pronouns of Her/Him/She/He don’t fit. Even my name right now doesn’t make sense. I don’t want to walk into the women’s bathroom nor the men’s bathroom. I don’t want these breasts and I don’t want to magically grow a penis between my legs. I detest being called “lady” but I don’t want to be addressed as “Sir” either.
If you look at my closet (now filled with clothes and NOT emotions) you’d think a man dressed there. If you look at my underwear drawer you’d know a woman dressed there. If you look at my bath products you’d think “hmmmmm, this is a fine smelling boy” showering here but if you look at my daintily painted toes you think “Jesus that is a girly flower on that big toe”…
photo credit: Etsy shop JonathanKingston
The best way I can define my gender (or lack there of) is to look at this tree. This is my gender. When I was a kid, I loved to climb. I could climb the same tree over and over again, looking for different ways to get to the highest point before I got too scared. I could put my foot on one branch and reach for another on one day then see a completely different path the next. The point was to get as high as I bravely could. How I got there didn’t really matter. That’s sort of how it is for me now. One day I might want to hang out on the low branches and to the left of the trunk. Another day a little higher and to the right a bit. Every branch is a different “gender” and therefore (dot dot dot) never ONE gender.
I’m definitely more “boy” than “girl”. I’d rather be he’d than she’d. But truth be told; I don’t want to be he’d or she’d. I prefer to be called T rather than Tara and I’m not interested in having a boy’s name (though if I did Elliot would be a strong contender). I love being Unkie T to my new niece and I LOVE LOVE LOVE being Auntie T to my Amers. I like to wear boy’s underwear but with a matching bra. I work out not because I want to have a girly figure but because my body squares out making it easier for me to pass as a boy. I almost always look at myself in the mirror sideways so that I don’t have to be reminded that I pee sitting down. I don’t like it when men call me “dear” but find it heart pulling when little old ladies do it because it’s easier for me to imagine that they call their grandson dear. I like to shave my legs. I hate my period but love that there’s the monthly excuse for being overly emotional and crying at the drop of a hat (which I do A LOT).
There may be more unburying as time goes on.
Maybe years from now, or next year, or next month, or tomorrow.
As long as there are branches to climb.
I’ll keep climbing higher.
Until then, don’t be afraid. Maybe you know someone like me. Gender-less but in a very biologically apparent body. It’s confusing for you and for me. This biologically born girl, dressed like a trucker who usually answers the question of “are you a boy or a girl” with a resounding YES. If I say “please don’t refer to me as lady”, I’m not trying to be a dick. I’m just trying to tell you I’m not a lady. Don’t apologize if you accidentally call me sir or buddy or dude. In that moment you’re probably more right than you know. Try to not correct me when I walk into the women’s restroom. I’ve been peeing my entire life. I know I’m in the biologically correct place. If you see me go into the “family” restroom don’t get upset that I don’t have a “family” with me when I enter. It’s just easier all around for me to pee where I don’t have to give that explaining glance to someone that thinks I’ve walked into the wrong bathroom.
If you’re not sure what pronoun to use, just ask.
More than likely my response will be “Just call me Tara” or “T”
…and if you really like me call me “T-Rex”.
If you look in the mirror and know for certain your body matches your mind, matches your heart and therefore (dot dot dot) matches your gender, take a moment to wonder what it would feel like if all of sudden it didn’t. Unless you know what that feels like you’ll never know what that feels like and that’s why it’s so hard for people to grasp this idea of being of non-gender. Of being like a gnarled tree with hundreds of branches to climb, never doing it the same way twice.
And there’s a lot of me’s out there.
Esty artist: rachelledyer
We’ve all heard the saying “You are what you eat”.
When I weighed close to 300 pounds, I was defined by what I ate.
I was defined by how much I ate.
I was defined by when I ate.
It wasn’t unusual for me to wake up in the mornings determined to “Make today, THE DAY!” For
years decades, I wanted to put away the paper bags that told me to have it my way. That told me to think outside the bun. That told me I could eat fresh while eating fast. I’d stand in my kitchen and proclaim that I would eat oatmeal or have a smoothie…but by the end of the day I was hiding fast food bags down at the bottom of the trash can so that I could pretend to be hungry when dinner time came around. The energetic notion of wanting to cook in my own kitchen was washed away by the enticing idea of opening up a menu and having someone do my dirty dishes left behind with a smile and a tip.
I was defined by the processed shit I fed my body and in return my body felt like shit.
The Tara of who I wanted to be was being crushed by the Tara of who I was. Crushed under years of damage done by what I put in my mouth and what I didn’t ask my body to do. I sat around for hours each day. I’d get out of bed and sit on the couch. I get up from the couch and sit at a desk. I’d get up from the desk and return to the couch. I’d get up from the couch and return to the bed. Repeat. Again and again and again.
I wanted something different for my life but couldn’t begin to tell you what that different was. I didn’t want to be crushed under my own weight any longer. I didn’t want to be crushed by my emotional demons telling me this was as good as it was going to get. Telling me to settle in and get used to this life of morbid obesity because at 40 the chances of losing weight, let alone over a hundred pounds was literally slipping through my fingers and into that disgusting paper bag full of double bacon cheese burgers with super sized fries and a 32 oz diet soda that I could finish off before I even pulled into my drive way just a few blocks away.
As I began to make the life saving changes needed to get out of that life crushing morbid obesity, I would use that “you are what you eat” as my mantra. Making food choices, no matter how small, that while didn’t satisfy the 270 pound Tara satisfied the Tara waiting for me. Crying in a work kitchen because of the three large pizzas everyone else chipped into to buy became an almost daily ritual. The boxes of diet soda taunting me as I forced myself to drink water. The almost constant reminder that I could just sneak into a drive through, eat whatever I wanted and then before having to see anyone face to face, purge so violently all remnants of the binge could be erased, made morbid obese Tara so uncomfortable, new driving routes had to be found to avoid the temptation.
You are what you eat.
You are what?
You are what?
You are what you LOVE.
It took months and months for my body to cleanse itself of the crap I’d spent decades feeding it. When I began to understand that my addiction to food wasn’t the fault of just my own but a well laid out plan by the food industry to make cheap food just that: Cheap, I could turn away from the paper bags full of thinking outside the bun and focus on what actually was going INTO that bun you so convincingly wanted me to think outside of. The crying because I wanted to have it my way with the greasy foods pumped full of sugar and fat and laced with chemicals I couldn’t pronounce turned to anger. As my body shrank in size, I grew in understanding. Understanding that it’s really hard to swim upstream when the food industry is bombarding that stream with shitty foods that taste so good and unless I wanted to be crushed by that 270 pounds Tara waiting to belly flop right back into that old way of eating I was going to need to get strong and what I was eating before would not make me strong in the after.
We need to talk more about the “convenience” of convenient foods. It’s easier to rip open a box and throw it in the microwave. It’s easier to drive your hungry kids into a drive through and get immediate satisfaction (and much needed peace and quiet). It’s easier to walk down the aisle of chips and chocolate and liters of soda than stand in the fruits and vegetable section and figure out what to eat. It’s easier to pick up the phone and order something made in another kitchen rather than open the cupboards of our own kitchen and plan accordingly. Ease and convenient is pushed into our faces in almost every aspect. In weight gain. In weight loss. Prepackaged foods designed to either make your waist slimmer or just that much bigger you have to start shopping at Lane Bryant or Big and Tall.
I’m still defined by the food that I eat.
Still by how much I eat.
By when I eat.
It’s not easy staying conscious about food. I’m a very small fish in a very big ocean of EAT THIS, EAT THIS, EAT THIS!!! Being defined by “you are what you eat” looks a little (okay okay okay, A LOT) different for me than it did not that long ago. I am what I love and it took years to go from loving those golden arches promising me nothing to loving myself enough give myself a life of freedom from the addiction the food industry doesn’t want me to know about.
They don’t care about us. They don’t see us as humans. They see us as cash farms. The money that lines our pockets as we turn down our radios to order by a number (even ordering has become a matter of extreme convenience) is the ONLY thing they care about. When we’re waddling around in a diabetic stupor with our high cholesterol, heart disease and those damn XXL sweat pants that are getting just a little too snug wondering what the hell happened to us, that very same industry is turning a blind eye away from you and a very open eye towards the next
It’s not easy but we need to stop being someone else’s gravy train and start being in control.
It’s not easy.
But it is necessary.
Necessary for life.
You are what you (L)e(O)a(V)t(E)
etsy design by emilymcdowelldraws
You get up.
You make the choice.
This is it.
This is gonna be the year you’ll (insert just about any damn thing you can think of here) and you’re gonna hit it hard. Harder than you’ve ever done before. Holy crap, look at you. Something is different this time. You can actually imagine yourself being “successful” at your endeavor and before you know it…
YOU DID IT!
At the end of 2009 I didn’t really make a New Year’s resolution. I sat around the cubicle with some co-workers on a cold winter’s night and declared I was going to take the stairs instead of the elevator. I spent a few hours before that fateful declaration looking up calories for certain foods and felt that small seed planted.
I was going to lose weight.
I didn’t know how much (though I knew I was morbidly obese), I didn’t really know how I was going to do it (arbitrarily deciding counting calories was the way to go) and I didn’t really tell anyone (cause if you don’t share the secret, people can’t laugh and point when you fail again
and again and again).
Funny story is, I didn’t fail.
In fact, I’ve managed to do something only about 5-10% of the “weight loss” population has been able to do: Keep it off. My four year “healthiversary”, came and went without any bells or whistles. December 29th of 2009 I decided to change my life. December 29th of 2013 I was blogging about cleaning up on aisle 5 (or “hey Tara, get your shit together will ya!”). Life today is much different than that of 270 pound Tara but in a way it’s still very much the same…
I thought this blog post would be one of those “this is how you get started in weight loss” kind of blogs. Thousands upon thousands of people are googling like mad crazy “HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT” and for a brief moment I wanted my blog to be at the top. If I can do it, so can you and here’s how…
Except my focus isn’t about losing weight anymore. I mean I want everyone to know they can do it (psssst, you can do it) and here’s how (let’s talk). In hindsight the losing of the weight is the easy part. You have a goal in mind and you get after it with a vengeance. Kind of like when you go food shopping. You know what you want and what aisle it’s in. You go in, grab it and get out. Weight loss in general is the same thing. You know what you want. You know what needs to be done. You go in. You grab it. You get out.
Out of weight loss.
And either a) gain that shit back or b) enter a life long maintenance journey.
or a combination of the two.
Instead of going into the grocery store and knowing what you want, you wander aimlessly. Maybe grabbing shit you don’t normally eat. Maybe fighting that inner demon that says “Come on now. You’ve lost the weight. It’s okay to eat overly processed piece of bakery cake and while you’re at it why not just dig deeper into that bag of doritos and take another chug off that diet coke“
You don’t really know what you want because you’re in maintenance and no one really talks about that. We only focus on the losing of the weight. Not the
for fuck’s sake this shit was easy to lose but hard keeping it off. I won’t lie: those food demons are very loud and very clear in their intentions to keep me wandering aimlessly in that proverbial grocery store. Holiday eating (and lack of physical movement) are a constant reminder as my pants are a little tighter and the scale is a little higher. I wander aimlessly because I didn’t have any goals to get after once Half Ironman was checked off my bucket list and I let those “little voices” speak with a little more volume.
On the 29th of December 2009, that one little choice of taking the stairs changed my life. It wasn’t a resolution. Just a decision. I did the same thing on the 29th of December 2013. I decided to return to CrossFit after a long hiatus. It’s not a resolution to move more and get back down to 160 (from my current 170) but rather a decision. Taking the stairs was a small step in the right direction to bigger things. Stairs turned to walking. Walking turned to running….
CrossFit is my small step that leads to bigger things.
Movement is everything to me. And if I’m not finding the love of movement in running right now then I better get off my ass and find something that reminds me that I love to move, that I love to share my story and I love for people to know that if I can, so they can as well.
This post isn’t for those of us wanting to lose weight. This is for us that have lost it and find ourselves in the category of A (gaining that shit back), B (entering the life long journey of maintenence) or (raising my own hand here) a combination of the two. Maybe you’re wandering aimlessly in the next aisle over from me. Maybe we’ve made that proverbial eye contact of “what now” interaction. Maybe your food choices/lack of movement isn’t because you think you can’t but rather because you did and those voices are telling you it’s alright to eat whatever because look at you, the weight loss success story. Go right ahead and shove that cake in your piehole, you deserve it!…
You deserve to know this is a tough place to be.
You deserve to acknowledge that life after weight loss can be more difficult than the shedding of the weight. That the feeling of “what now” and “do I have to do this for a lifetime” is very real. That once the excitement of (commence the throwing of confetti) LOOK AT ME, I DID IT, is over it can be a very lonely place. We ban together when we want to see the scale move in a downward direction. We support each other in our food choices. We’re vocal in our frustrations and triumphs. We’re the first to high five and the last to let go of those much needed virtual hugs. When we hit the goal, we scatter. “Oh look you did it and I’m still fighting so let me find someone else that is also feeling the same way“. You become yesterday’s news…then you become last week’s news.
Then you stop being the news.
Listen very carefully: You’re news to me.
Weight loss is important to me. But you. You are most important. Your triumphs (and frustrations) are my life line. You’re wandering aimlessly in the next aisle. Maybe you’re in the soda aisle. Maybe I’m in the chip aisle. Maybe when we accidentally bump into each other cause we’ve stopped focusing on the movement of life we can leave our carts behind and go for a walk…
Because we all know what those small movements in the right direction can lead too.
Before beginning this post I took a slow deep breath.
The first deep breath of 2014.
Many people out there in the blogging world will be sitting down and looking back over the year. Talking about the good (with hopefully little focus on the bad and the outright ugly). We’ll write about love found (and possible lost), little one’s being born into the world (and those that passed). We’ll write about experiences had (and those we wished we had). We’ll write about the movements forward (and the inevitable not so forward movements). We’ll reminisce on what WAS as we begin to turn towards what IS.
Before beginning this post I took that slow deep breath knowing that I too have spent the last few days thinking about all that WAS 2013 as I turn towards all that IS for 2014. There is something refreshing (though refreshing doesn’t seem a powerful enough word) about going to sleep on the last day of the old year and waking up on the first day of the new year. A feeling of “oh this year is going to be different” overwhelms our being. We brush off the dust that has been collecting on our spirits and proclaim “BRING IT” with such ferocity that we just KNOW this is OUR year!
Blog posts about the “word for the coming year” are popping up all over the place. In fact, my most beautiful Red took the plunge and wrote about her word for the year (and if you haven’t read it, stop here and take a few minutes…I’ll still be here when you’re done).
As the final days of 2013 came and went I started wondering what my word for 2014 should be. You can’t just arbitrarily pick a word. It has to come to you. Like a whisper in your ear. So faint you can barely hear it the first time. Then again it comes to you a little louder and you wonder if that’s the word for you. You find yourself doing something mindless and there it is again, even louder, seeping into everything that is you. Until YES (!), you decide this is the word that will define my 2014.
I took that deep breath before typing in the first word of this blog post. I rested my fingers over the keyboard. The word in my mind. Waiting to be released. And yet, I find it hard to share. Not because I don’t think it’s MY word but because it is MY word. Like a keepsake that you cherish, you’re afraid to share in case someone breaks it. I”m not afraid you’ll break my word for 2014. I’m afraid I’ll break my word.
I’m afraid, because the layers of complexity that are entangled between the letters that come together and form what should be a simple word. I’m afraid because it’s it’s not just about “I’ll run more” or “I’ll make better food choices”. It’s more about looking deep within those complex layers and uncovering those things that scare me. Those things that move me. Those things that define who I am and loving myself (and those around me) so intensely that I’m not afraid to (baby) step forward into the great unknown.
Releasing my word means I am giving myself permission.
Freedom to explore and define my own gender.
Freedom to return to Crossfit.
Freedom to run.
Freedom to love my job.
Freedom to believe I am important to those near and far.
Freedom to communicate my needs/thoughts in ways that work best for me.
Freedom to, as Mimi says, Slow.The.Eff.Down and listen to my heart when it says “I need”…
Freedom from my demons that try to convince me I am nothing, when in fact I am everything.
Freedom from debt.
Freedom from body shame.
Freedom to turn away from what WAS.
Freedom to turn towards what IS.
esty artist: RosyHueArt
I took that long deep breath before laying my hands across the keyboard because my word is BIG stuff for the coming year. All of the actions behind that word might seem small to anyone peeking in on my itty bitty corner of LIFE but for me each and every (small) step is actually a big leap forward.
I woke up this morning, the very first of 2014 just as the darkness of night was turning to the light of day. I looked at Mimi and in that very moment, I knew without a doubt that the next 12 months are going to be something short of amazing for us. We’ve spent that last days of 2013 unzipping the burdens of what WAS and enveloping ourselves in what IS. Her determination is my inspiration and funny thing: my determination is her inspiration…
And in us all things are possible.
As you begin to ponder you own possibilities for 2014 let me leave you with the following. The very first thing I read for 2014 was a text message from a dear friend back home:
Her wish for me.
Is my wish for you.
Happy New Year.
Sometimes when I’m plugging away on my laptop I’m reminded to clean up some free space.
I don’t really have a lot on my computer.
I use it mainly to throw down some words on this little place of safety.
It doesn’t take long for the whole disc cleanup to happen. It whirs for a few minutes searching different files to dump. Then it asks me whether or not I want to “dump” certain pieces of information. Since I’m pretty computer illiterate I usually just check all the boxes and wham bam (thank you ma’am) files are dumped until the next time I think to perform this so called “Clean up”.
I wish life were that easy. I wish every once in a while I could close my eyes and whir around in my brain looking for files to dump so that I can free up some much needed emotional space. We talk about letting go of things and moving on but let’s be totally honest…
Not so easy.
Difficult in fact.
If I could do a “clean up” of the “disc space” in my head (heart and body) the files found would look something like that list over there. Then I could click click click (and click) each one and push that ever loving “do you want to perform this action” button and then wham bam (thank you so very very much ma’am) let go. Move on. Live life.
Every time I got on that roller coaster of (
you’re not a good enough mate to Mimi, your running is shit, your just above minimum wage job isn’t cutting it, are you a boy or a girl and your food choices are so out of whack) emotions it would be so convenient to just click off those files and within a few minutes be free of what’s keeping me down.
Call it the winter blues or whatever but right now I’m working through some heavy stuff but the funny thing is I can’t pinpoint what “stuff” that is. My running is lacking severely. I know I love to run. I know it helps me to process my thoughts and yet…the idea of lacing up my shoes and hitting the streets sounds about as lovely as rubbing dirt in my eyes. My food choices have been (WAY) less than stellar for the last couple of weeks and while it’s easy to chock it up to “hey it’s the holidays and look at all the cakes, cookies, breads, pastas in front of me”, it has nothing to do with the holidays and everything to do with my lack of caring right now. I know food choices affect me greatly. My body has been hopped up on more sugar and less water than I remember being in a long time. My desire to motivate other people in their own journeys has all but halted because how in the world can I tell YOU to keep going when I can’t convince ME to keep going right now. All of those people that reached out to me over the last three years, I secretly now wish I had the courage to say “ummmm, excuse me could you talk to me for a few minutes cause I feel like I’m sort of drowning over here“
I keep looking in the mirror and more often than not hiding parts of my body I don’t seem to be connecting with. My “girl” parts feel intrusive. In the way. I stand naked and instinctively turn sideways wondering what it would be like to be flat chested and wonder if people would stop calling me “dear” at work or lumping me in with “hello Ladies” when I sit with people during breaks.
I spend moments alone with my head in my hands and search for that voice that tells me what direction to go and for a while now that voice has been silent. I keep thinking it will come to me. The urge to run. The urge to eat for health and not emotions. The urge to seek out what this gender stuff means. Maybe after the new year. Maybe after the snow melts. Maybe the following Monday after the full moon rises and the sky is full of flying pigs…
The dumping of files would make this part of my adventure so much easier.
In my own way I’ve started with some baby (dumping) steps (okay baby dumping doesn’t seem right but you know what I mean here): On Boxing day we went through the house and literally dumped all the sugar. The Christmas chocolates that were given (gone). The baking ingredients for giving chocolates (gone). I’ve agreed with myself that I’m keeping the chai I put in my coffee every morning and other than the occasional bowl of oatmeal I like to have, I’m back to eating as Paleo as possible. The detox has been hard…not gonna lie, it sucks donkey ass.
For Christmas I got a homemade medal rack. I haven’t been very nice to the runner. Always berating myself for the lack of running happening right now. I thought about hanging my new medal rack somewhere out of sight so it couldn’t remind me of the running I’m not doing currently. Instead it’s mounted next to my bed. No medals just yet. I don’t have the emotional “you got this” right now to hang them but I will. When I do, I will take the time to think about how much I love running. How much I miss stepping up to a starting line and crossing the finish line. I’ve already designated a hook for the next big adventure for 2014 (50k) and can feel that excitement of training wanting to flip that “voice” to a booming “GET AFTER IT”.
I read a lot of other people talking about this “can’t” feeling. This feeling of “lull”. This feeling of
get off the couch sit and watch the world go by cause I don’t feel like I’m worth it. I keep thinking no one would understand. I keep wondering if I’m alone in these feelings and I know that I’m not. The baby steps don’t feel like much right now, after all that I’ve done over the last couple of years but I just try to remember that no matter how small those baby steps feels they’ll add up to heading in the right direction.
Maybe someone out there wouldn’t mind leading the way for a bit until I get things figured out.
I’ve been having a hard time communicating.
Not just with the people around me but also with myself.
Over the last 3+ years blogging was the way I mainly communicated my thoughts and feelings to the world around me. It was (is) also the way I communicate with myself. For me it can take hours from the first word typed to hitting the “publish” button because as the words fly off my hands I’m digesting them. I’m thinking about them. I’m crying for them. I’m allowing the emotional Tara the freedom to feel, and maybe the most important thing: To let go.
I’ve not been allowing myself that freedom to feel. In part because some of those emotional “need to release” still stem from the accident two years ago that while it didn’t affect me physically because I didn’t come in contact with a truck in a crosswalk, it has seem to affected me much more emotionally than first realized (or probably more accurate never realized).
It was different blogging about my weight loss and subsequent life changes because most people reading the type type type of my words didn’t know Mitch. My thoughts and feelings had a safe haven because he couldn’t give two cents to social media and hardly a blink to the birth of 253andcounting and the graduation to ALifeChangingJourney. I could safely put my words out there for me to step back and ponder. Almost like walking into a vast open space and leaving behind something that I knew I could never find again so take a deep breath Tara and let it go because it’s gone now.
My life with Mimi is so intertwined with social media that when I take my dirty laundry and present it to the proverbial clothesline that is this blog, not only am I hanging out my underwear for the world (albeit population: not that big) to see/read but I’m hanging out a second pair of undies that regardless of how “clean” I try to show them to be, they’re just as dirty because now my shit(stain) is not just mine but ours.
I think about whether what I’m going to say is hurtful or be taken wrong. I think about what others are going to think about this relationship (“Well they *hardly* knew each other before running off and getting married”, or “That’s what happens when you leave one marriage for another”) and how much that one very significant day in November 2011 impacted my life without being the one actually impacted in the crosswalk.
Yesterday found us sitting in an office.
A marriage counselor.
It hurts to say, but I am reminded by Mimi that we walked through that door because we WANTED to not because we NEEDED too. Still truth be told I feel like somewhat of a failure that I couldn’t keep the communication wheel spinning. That slowly I’ve drawn inward and over time kept the
world blog at arm’s length because I didn’t want to work through something that I know is being read by the very person that looks me in the eyes and says “I love you”.
But the gears of Tara’s brain are grinding together and it’s difficult to process “stuff” when not only are you trying to force something to work that clearly isn’t but you aren’t using the tools that keep things running smoothly. It’s like trying to unscrew something with a piece of wet paper and the screwdriver is within arms reach.
(No you can’t)
So the counselor…
Funny part about sitting with someone that doesn’t know me as an individual or us as a couple, I forget how much there is to tell before you even get to the moment at hand.
“We’re here because we’re having a hard time communicating”
(talk talk talk, explain explain explain)
“You see, there was this accident”
(talk talk talk, explain explain explain)
“But in order to understand the impact of the accident, we need to explain how we met and our relationship”
(talk talk talk, explain explain explain)
“But in order to understand our relationship, we need to explain about our weight loss”
(talk talk talk, explain explain explain)
“Oh and just to make things interesting, I’m also on the trans spectrum and for shits and giggles the spectrum for Aspergers”
How you like them apples counselor?
We spent the initial two hours letting her get to know us and our story and hitting on some key trigger spots (road bumps) in what brought us to be sitting next to each other and directly across from her. It wasn’t easy but it’s a start to getting that communication wheel back up and running.
Mimi said some things I wasn’t expecting and along with some of my own gear grinding assumptions about my running/training/blogging/(insert random assumption about whatever here) my eyes see a little clearer, my heart feels a little lighter and instead of drawing inwards towards myself, I’m going to allow myself to gnaw on the notion that maybe it’s time I start blogging a little more…
Even if it means you have to see two pairs of undies instead of just one.
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.