Leading by example

Life as an overweight kid was pretty rough. You definitely notice that you’re not one of the pretty ones and that you don’t look like other kids. Where exactly does that leave you? Kids can be ruthless and downright mean, but so can adults. Probably even worse. The world doesn’t like overweight people. I know with social media now there’s a whole “body positive movement” that seems to be spreading, but the fact of the matter is that it’s crap. Don’t get me wrong. I love the movement. I may even feed and promote the movement. I’m all for the message, but I’ve also lived as an overweight child and adult. It’s not nice. Most people don’t care why you’re overweight or that you feel good about yourself anyways. Being overweight is seen as laziness, lack of control, poor choices, gross,etc. However, don’t lose weight either, because a lot of people will hate and criticize that too. I know this from personal experience. The first thing someone is going to attack is our looks. Most people aren’t going to attack my lack of book smarts or that I’m a scaredy pants. They’d call me a fat cow, before that would happen.  The first thing someone will judge is our looks. Sad, but true. Even with the spread of body positive bloggers and plus size models, it’s an uphill battle covered in insults and judgement. Children are not excluded from this. I remember adults calling me chubby or commenting on my body. Trust me, if a child is overweight, they know that they’re overweight. Kids at school have called them fat. They’ve discovered they don’t look like other kids. They probably can’t play and run like the other kids. They know their clothes is bigger than others their age. Being an overweight adult is hard. Being an overweight child might be even harder. How do you cope with that as a child? How do you learn what to do with that? How is an overweight child supposed to learn to stop it? It’s a child. I was a child. Children aren’t meant to cope with being fat. Heck, most adults don’t even cope with it. It’s horrible. It’s like a tunnel that people just get stuck in and can’t get out of. Children included. 

As a little kid, I didn’t understand or know why I was overweight. I only knew that people called me fat and that’s what I was. I can remember my own family members, classmates, and even random people calling me fat and various insults based on my weight.  As I child, I don’t believe that I had any control or power over my weight. I was a child. I didn’t know I had the option or ability to be a normal sized kid. I didn’t know how that was even possible. I didn’t know why I looked the way I did. I would get older and stayed overweight. I hear people say, “kids stretch out. They’ll outgrow it.” Yeah, I’m still waiting for that. Most children that are overweight, turn into overweight adults. It sucks let me tell you.  I started as a girl that would eat to the point of sickness, so that I wouldn’t go to sleep and have nightmares. I would get older and just learned unhealthier habits that settled in even harder. I never learned to be anything else. 

Of course, at some point we become responsible for our own actions, bodies, choices,etc. I stayed overweight. By then, I wasn’t just overweight. I had issues way bigger than my weight. I was dead on the inside. Do you think I cared what I looked like on the outside? No. All I wanted was to shut my mind off. To not feel anymore pain.  To erase everything from my mind. Oh hello drugs. Then, I found that if I use drugs like meth and opiates, it’ll make me lose weight too. I signed myself right up. For years and years. Guess what? I stayed overweight. Just my luck huh? 

I talked a big game about giving birth to my daughter and using her as a weight to exercise. (Give me a break.) I talked about having her and getting right back out to running and two hour gym sessions. Prior to the fertility treatments, I was probably in the best shape of my life (until now.) So I was hopeful that I’d have her and get right to it. Haha. That was cute. The only thing I used my kid for was a reason to eat like crap and not exercise. What happened to all the work I had done prior to having her? Physically, mentally, and emotionally!  I had promised myself I would show her better. That I would be better. I had retrained my head. Read books. Counseled myself.  I told myself I would lead by example. I had done so much work to just drop the ball. Ugh back to square one. I had to start over. This time fatter than I had ever been in my life. I started to change my lifestyle little by little. 

I worried about my daughter ending up in the terrible cycle of the overweight world. It used to scare me. Now it really fuels me. I truly believe in leading by example with children. I believe our children are the way they way are, because of us. They know what we teach them. Hence, children being mean to overweight people and kids. Following lead. 

My daughter is three years old and she wants to be just like me. She moves her hands like me, she talks like me, she wants to wear a shirt like mine, she wants to eat like me, she wants to sit like me, she wants to love her daddy like me, she wants to exercise like me, etc. I can’t tell you how terrifying, adorable, and motivating this is. I’m not scared my daughter is going to end up like me. I’m not scared she’s going to walk around being made fun of and not have any control over it. I’m not scared she’s going to have to deal with all the crap that comes with being an overweight child. These things used to scare me quite a bit. Except for the first time in my life, I finally have the education, habits, tools, and power to control my fears of my daughter growing up overweight. I finally know how to be healthy and what it means. I finally know what I’m eating. I no longer roll my eyes at moms who don’t give their children sugar or processed foods. I’m not trying to be a perfect mom or a hippie mom. I’m not trying to be better than anyone. I’m trying to raise a healthy child that learns healthy habits. I’m trying to break the cycle. I’m trying to give my child the best chance at this hard game of life. I’m trying to make it so that she doesn’t grow up addicted to sugar and food. I’m trying to make it so that food is not a coping mechanism for her, but fuel for her body. I’m doing that by example. Life is hard enough without having to worry about being overweight. My job is to protect my child and prepare her to become a healthy functionioning adult. I use that as fuel. Fuel to eat right. Fuel to exercise. Fuel to show compassion and forgiveness. Fuel to keep learning and advancing. Being the best version of myself. 

I’m no longer on a weightloss journey. That moment has passed. It turned into a lifestyle at some point. I won’t ever stop this. I make the choice everyday to make health and fitness an important part of our life. This is how my body and my mind feel best. Yes, I am losing weight, but it’s just what’s coming with living a healthy lifestyle. My daughter deserves a fighting chance. She deserves to feel good and be healthy and that’s my job.  This three year old carries so much power for me. She fuels me like no other. I started this journey for myself and now it’s for my family too. It’s not just me anymore. So when I don’t want to for myself, I do it for my girl. She’s watching. 

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Half of me 

My parents split up when I was around 3 years old. There were 3 of us and my mom was pregnant with my brother, when we left our sperm donor. That was it. He never wrote, called, showed up to court, never gave my mom a cent, etc. Nothing. 4 children that were half his and he couldn’t mail a damn birthday card. Jerk. 

When I was 17 years old, I was on meth and a mess. I moved away to my aunt and uncles to get some help. I started to see a counselor. Her name was, “Judy.” She was lovely.  I remember our first session she asked me what my first memory was. I remembered being in a crib. I remembered playing and trying to get a tooth brush (I think) off the bed next to the crib. I remember my father yelling and smacking my hand. I remember him leaving and never seeing him again. I never knew how that one moment would define so much of who I am. I didn’t want people to leave me. I didn’t say no to anyone. I didn’t fight. I was  fearful. I was a pleaser. I would let someone take my soul and not say anything. The list could go on and on. 

It’s funny how our heads work. I have a wonderful mom. She’s been there from the begining. Loving, playful, and full of  fight for us. Why couldn’t my first memory be of playing with my mom? What was it about this one memory that made it stick and be first? Why?  I’ve often wondered why I was left with this memory instead of him just not existing to me. I’ll never know. Just like I’ll never know most answers to questions I have about him. 

I honestly don’t know if a child will ever get over being abandoned by a parent. I don’t know that there’s anything that will ever fill that void or answer so many questions that being abandoned brings. We had a good family that helped raised us and loved us. A power house mom that somehow not only survived, but thrived with all 4 of us. We were never without. I mean, we grew up with a lot less than most. We struggled to make ends meet, but we were never without. We always had clothes, shelter, food, etc. We could have everything, but we still didn’t have a father. Well we did have a father. We’ve always had a father. He may have been a horrible father, but he was ours. 

He ended up getting into a horrible car wreck and survived years later. He was paralyzed, and could barely talk, but he was alive. We received a letter some time after the accident. My mom told us there was a letter for us to read, when we felt ready. A little bit of time passed and I didn’t read it. One day I was high on God knows what and went looking for that damn letter. Big mistake. I read it and put it back like I had never seen it. Boy, I was livid. Before I was sad, hurt, confused, maybe even a little angry, but now? I was shaking in anger. I kept that a secret and just held on to it alone. Never told anyone I read it. He ended up dying. 

My mom asked us if we wanted to go to his funeral. She left the choice to us. My brothers and I decided to go. So we made the trip to Mexico with my mom. I remember my heart racing as we stood in front of the church. I remember being scared. I wasn’t scared of what I would see or the people. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to control myself. I was scared I would go kick the casket over. I was scared I would start screaming in anger and not be able to stop. I saw people crying and mourning this man that I had mourned my entire life. I was so confused. Could a man that abandons 4 children be lovable? Could that man be someone that made people happy? There across the aisle sat a girl with her mother. The girl was sobbing uncontrollably. The girl looked like me. That girl was his daughter. He was a dad? She knew him? Why? Why her? How could she love this man? I was so angry and so jealous. I knew he was a piece of crap, but I was still jealous. Why was she ok to love, but not me? We made it through the funeral. I didn’t kick the casket. I didn’t scream.  Instead, I walked up to his daughter and I told her I was sorry for her loss. I gave her a hug and told her I was so so sorry she lost her dad. 

I read that letter again eventually. Years later. I read the letter sober and as a mother. You know, I like to believe that I’ve done a lot of work on myself. I’ve worked hard to try and get over my shit. Reading the letter again, I still have anger and confusion. It no longer consumes me, but it’s there. In the letter he had said that we weren’t his kids. We were my mom’s kids. She raised and cared for us. The thing is that’s not how this works. When you have a child, that is your child. No matter what, he was my father. I was his child. He had that role whether he wanted it or not. I am a mother and I am responsible for the type of parent I am to my daughter. If I were to leave her, she suddenly wouldn’t stop being my daughter. He was a coward and in the letter I felt he was still trying to avoid responsibility. My aunt asked him what he wanted to say to us. He said, “I’m sorry.” My aunt had asked him if he loved us and she said, “He yelled at me as he was pounding his chest, “aquí los llevo!” (“I have them here”). Reading these things in the letter I felt as if I was being lied to. I wondered if a person that can abandon four children and never look back can even feel remorse. He was sorry? For what? Years and years and years and yearrrrss went by. Where he could’ve talked, written, etc. Now he was dying and he said, “I’m sorry.”  It just wasn’t enough for me, but it’s all I received and have. 

I never asked any questions I had. I never screamed and let it out. I never attacked him, while I sobbed as I had envisioned so many times. I realized I had everything I was going to get from him. Long lashes, issues, and my brothers. 

He had substance abuse issues (alcohol and drugs).  He was a liar. He was abusive. He was selfish. He hurt my mom. He hurt my brothers. He hurt me. He hurt everyone. It would be really easy for me to be just like him. I can’t tell you how terrifying that is. I have everything inside of me to follow lead. I have to fight like hell so that side of me doesn’t win. Today I write this as a 32 year old that is still angry and hurt. My father died and we never made peace. I was never given the chance to love my father.  I feel like that will probably be with me forever. Just like he’s always been with me forever. Whether he wanted it or not. He was there.  

Right beside me 

At 32 years old, I am working on not being scared of everything. We all have our fears. Some more rational than others. Most people are not controlled by these fears. However, as previously stated, my brain is not like other brains. This year I found out that I suffer from panic/anxiety attacks. Come to find out I’ve been suffering from them for years.  I always thought it was something else. I thought I would get motion sickness, fear of heights, my stomach was upset, etc. Then, I was flying alone with my daughter. I started to feel off and uneasy like I had felt so often before. She was sleeping in the seat next to me and I was just getting worse by the second. I looked over at her and remember asking myself what I was going to do. I was alone with my daughter and not well. It went from bad to worse instantly it seemed. No matter how I tried to control my brain, breathing, etc., I continued to spiral. I was dripping sweat like a faucet, my entire body was tingling, I couldn’t breathe, etc. I remember praying telling God to please let someone take care of my baby. I remember thinking about who was going to get her, when she woke up and I was dead next to her. I honestly believed this was it for me. This was how I would die and leave my daughter alone. It started from nothing. I’ve flown countless of times alone with my daughter. That’s how this goes. I’m aware of certain situations and things that will give me anxiety. I’m also aware that it can be nothing that gives me this anxiety. This isn’t anxiety that makes someone bite their nails and be hesistant. This is crippling anxiety that makes you feel physically ill. Have you ever had anxiety so bad that it makes you say a final prayer and black out? 32 years old and I’ve been suffering with anxiety as far back as I can remember. 32 years old and I just find out that I suffer from these anxiety/panic attacks? Wow, that was embarrassing. 

When I learned about panic/anxiety attacks, I tried to think back to the first time I could remember feeling this way. It took me a while. As mentioned previously, my memory is shot and takes some work to sort through. I traced it back to my grandparent’s house. I remember it was storming outside and my grandma had sent me upstairs to shower. I was afraid of storms, but I was even more afraid of my grandma. I went upstairs and let the shower run. I can feel it right now. My heart starting to race. My skin getting clammy. I sat still, because the floor squeaked and I didn’t want her to know I wasn’t in the shower. I remember being so scared that she would find out I didn’t shower. I made myself get in the shower. I cried as I told myself to just let the water wet my hair. As I tried to go back in time to find anxiety or fear, I remembered a lot of similar stories. I remembered every time I had a runny nose, I was so scared to sniff around my grandma that I would let it run into my mouth and down my face. I remembered gagging down food that I didn’t like. Literally gagging and convincing myself, “just one more bite.”  I was a little girl. How could I have been feeling like that? How could a little girl be so scared? How could I still be feeling like that now? 

I’ve always considered myself a pretty chill person. Turns out that I’ve been tightly wound this entire time.  I’ve been in knots for years. It was never “nothing” causing my attacks. I had been on edge my whole life. I never let that go. I knew that my grandma had messed me up. Sounds mean, but it’s the truth. I have a lot of scary and hurtful memories with my grandma. Years ago I chose to take all that and forgive her. She has been one of the biggest healing points for me in my life. She made me cry, fear, panic, and hide. She took the little self esteem I had then and threw it out. Little did I know that what she would give me in return would be invaluable and one of the greatest lessons of my life thus far. She taught me to truly accept people just the way they are. She taught me that I am capable of loving all, even if they have hurt or are different than me. She taught me to forgive. She was the first person I truly forgave. 

I like to believe that people do the best they can with what they have… most of the time. My grandma never left my side. To this day, she is right beside me. Through my mistakes and triumphs, she has stood beside me. As a baby and now as a 32 year old wife and mother, she has stood beside me. She has loved me. She has never turned her back on me. She has never stopped sending me cards on every holiday and birthday. She never stopped praying for me.  No matter how bad things got with me, she stood right beside me. I’m sure I’ve hurt her feelings too. I’m sure I’ve let her down too. She stood right beside me. She’s one of the most important people in my life. She plays such a huge role in the person that I am today.  I’m so lucky to still have her by my side. I’m happy to say that I haven’t had a anxiety attack, since the one I had on the airplane. 

Freak of nature 

I grew up with three brothers. I have two older brothers and a younger brother. Let me just tell you all, these guys are good at everything. I’m not just saying that, because they’re my brothers. Give them a couple tries at anything and I promise, they will be better than most. They’re fast learners and even more importantly they’re eager to learn. They’re incredibly smart and it just so happens that they’re also incredibly good looking. Ugh, I know. I hate them. You know what else they like to do? Be healthy and exercise. So annoying! Of course, we all have our flaws. My brothers and I all made our mistakes. Some bigger than others, but we all made them. Growing up we drove each other mad, but I always remember looking at them and being jealous. I was jealous of how easy it seemed to be for them. Jealous of how they could do everything. Jealous of their normalcy. I’m not talking about a spiteful jealousy. I was a chubby scared little girl watching my brothers be larger than life.  I’ve always admired so much about them. I wanted and heck, I still want to be like them. If there is anyone in this world that I want to be proud of me, it’s my mom and my brothers. Of course, I want to be proud of myself and I know my husband is proud of me. He married me, but to have my siblings and my mom be proud? That’s been my goal for years. 

I made bad decisions. I lied. I hid. I messed up. I hurt people. I didn’t have any regard for my life, much less for anything or anyone else. When I decided to come clean and get help, I knew I had a long road ahead of me. Not just with having to learn how to be sober and make good choices, but making amends with my family. I remember telling my family that I was sorry. I also told them that I knew it meant nothing. I didn’t want to say I was sorry anymore. I knew my words were cheap and abused.  I didn’t want to sit there and give them my reasons or excuses as to why I was a drug addict or did the things I did. I asked them to please watch me live my life. I wanted them to know my actions. All I could show them was that I was living an honest life and making good choices over and over. It was all I could ask for. It’s been years since I’ve told my family that and to this day, sometimes that’s what pushes me to be better. Them. 

I know people say not to compare yourself to others, but really what else do we do? I had three siblings. Of course I was going to compare myself to them.  I compared myself to my brothers, cousins, friends, randoms, etc., my whole life. Even now I feel like that’s what the adult life consists of for most. Keeping up with the Jones. Comparing what you have versus what your neighbor or that blogger has.  Comparing our body versus that body. Our child versus that child. We all do it. I do it daily, I’m sure. I just don’t do it to myself anymore. I know now, that I am a freak of nature. I will never be like anyone else. What works for everyone else, will probably not work for me. The way my brain works will never be the norm. I will never be part of the norm. That was a hard pill for me to swallow. Once I was able to accept that, I was able to stop comparing myself to others. Now I just compare my husband, my kid, etc. Oh wait, sounds like I’m pretty normal after all.  

This played such a big role on my journey to getting body and head right. I finally let go of everyone. I had to do this my way. I had to find my path. You know what I found out? I’m like my brothers. Those guys that I was jealous of? Yes, I’m like them. I can be with any of my brothers and feel like I am home. I wouldn’t say I like to exercise, but I like to be healthy. I wouldn’t say I’m smart, but I’m quick just like them. I’m not traditional, but neither are they. They’re larger than life to me and I’ll always see them that way. They’ve driven me in ways that they will never know. To go work out, to stay off dope, to be an honest person, to be myself. I’m forever grateful for the very best friends anyone could ever have. 

Success story 

I planned on continuing last week’s blog about my weight loss journey. Every time I started to write, I felt pulled towards another direction and fell flat. So I’m going to head another direction with this post and I’ll plan on sharing the rest of my weight loss journey next week. 

When I decided to start writing a blog, I knew that it was going to be raw. I knew it was going to be heavy and it was going to be about things not even those closest to me knew. I worried that I would be judged,misinterpreted, and dismissed. Most importantly, I worried that my family would be hurt and embarrassed. 

 Then, I thought about all the reasons I wanted to do this. I’ve treaded lightly in real life and on social media with talking about my drug abuse, infertility, post partum depression, etc. I put it out there in hopes of someone reading it and discovering that they are not alone and to  possibly give hope to someone. I made the decision to start sharing these  in depth pages in my book, because it doesn’t only have the potential to help someone else, but it helps me too. I’m sharing in hopes of inspiring compassion in others. I’m sharing in hopes of someone reading and maybe becoming more understanding of someone they would generally dismiss.  I’m sharing, because I am not alone. These are things and feelings that so many have to face and we are too ashamed to speak up. I’m sharing, because I haven’t shared in 32 years. 

I did think of the fact that the things I write would be hard for my loved ones to read. Especially my mom(hi mother) and brothers (not that they read, but still), but the thing is that I am writing this blog as a survivor. I have hit the filthy bottom and lived in horrible darkness, but I speak now as someone who has come out on the other side alive and strong. My blog is not meant to inspire sympathy or to hurt. I am sharing a page here and there of my story, but there’s a whole book of pages. Pages filled with good memories, smiling faces, hope, bravery, love, etc. 

6 years ago when I decided to start dealing with my shit, I dealt with the issues we could see. As time has gone by, new issues arise or old memories come up and I’m left to deal with those. I’ve had to go back and reread pages in my book.  I had to hurt, cry, deal, learn, etc., through all my shit that has continued to come up. The things I have and will write about are things I have already faced and learned from. I write my posts in past tense. My life is in a different place now and so am I.  Yes, I continue to struggle with depression and anxiety, but that is something that I  will continue to learn to live with and handle for the rest of my life I’m sure. 

I’ve received quite a few messages and calls about my posts. Family members and friends asking questions and expressing sadness. I love that people are asking questions and wheels are turning. I don’t love the sadness, but I know that comes with it. It is sad. I am sharing sad things. All I can ask if that we don’t get stuck in the sadness and we look at the big picture. All of this brought me to an incredible life. I’ve lived more in the last 6 years than I did the previous 26 years. It’s therapeutic for me to write about my suffering and my success. I truly hope that one person can read any of my blogs and feel that they have a fighting chance. I hope that one person can read and feel a sense of comfort or hope. I hope that one person can read and be kinder to someone. Most importantly I hope that I’m able to get across that this is indeed a successs story I’m sharing. I write to you all as a somewhat level headed adult. I write as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, cousin, niece, or friend. I can’t tell you the honor in being called these things. No matter the darkness I endured, I’m still able to be all these things to everyone. Most importantly I’m able to be myself. 

My Good Thing 

I never imagined I would be alive at 32 years old. I never imagined I would live outside of my early 20’s. It’s a sad way to think and live, but that was my reality. I didn’t have a fear that I was going to die or get killed. I had terrible secrets hidden inside me that had already taken my life. In my mind, I was already dead. 

I lived with those feelings in this dark dark place for years. I painted this picture on the outside of a fun loving funny girl, but secretly I felt incredibly lonely and battered to hell. I had this deep pain that nothing could comfort. That wasn’t the only thing I was hiding. I was also a drug addict. 

I can recall a couple times that I tried to end my pain. I took more and more and begged for it to end. When I would wake up, it wasn’t a sense of relief. It was sadness. I “lived” like this for years. I was dying in front of everyone’s eyes and they had no idea. I’m not sure what happened, but suddenly I was just done. I couldn’t anymore. 

I was clean for a little while and thought, “hey, I’m clean. I’m alright now.” Uh no. That’s not how it works. I still did not know how to cope. I still had horrifying memories and secrets. I also had been doing drugs and living this way for most of my life. I didn’t know any other way to live and cope. I didn’t know how to make peace. I didn’t know how to stop making mistakes. I entered rehab voluntarily and sober in 2011, at the age of 26.  

Is everyone ready for it? Alright ladies and gents, here we go! I remember walking into the room without expectations or a clue about anything. I walked in and saw all these people that were just like me and yet I was terrified. I looked around and there on the couch sat a tall, handsome drink of water. His name was James. I took a seat and that was the end of life as I knew it. Don’t tell James this, but within minutes of meeting him, out of nowhere, my head told me I could marry this man. I want to add that I was the type of girl that never wanted to get married and men were nothing but disposable fun. I was never looking for anyone and I most definitely wasn’t looking to fall in love and get married. Ever. 

Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. James and I continued to be friends throughout the process. We would go on walks, talk, deal with anxiety attacks, be silent, cry, etc. We were friends and we fell in love. Love I never knew exsisted. Love I never knew I deserved. Love I never knew I wanted. The kind of love that gives songs meaning. Hard, soul consuming, make you want to throw up kind of love.

I married James, after knowing him for less than a year. We walked down to the courthouse in Oklahoma wearing David Hasselhoff t-shirts and jeans and said, “I do.” There was never reservation or anxiety. I had never been more at peace with anything in my life.

I truly believe that every ounce of pain, sadness, guilt, etc., had led me straight to this very moment. I believe that I was right where I was supposed to be. I believe that I had to go through all this, in order to get to him. I believe that James is my good thing, my unicorn, the climax (interesting choice of word) in my book, my gift, my sign from God, my one big moment. I believe that if the only thing I ever do in this life is show our daughter this great love, it will be enough for me.

I’m not magically fixed. I still suffer from depression and anxiety. I still seek help in more ways than one. I still have my crap, but I am different. I’m clean. I’m hopeful. I cope. I love. I learn. I share my old secrets. I live. I’m ALIVE and I get to figure this whole life thing out with James holding my hand. I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you God for letting me live.2011