Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good....

My kids are awesome.  Seriously.  They're hilarious.  Leo is a crazy little nut and Lily is so silly sometimes.  The first picture is after her haircut.  It's so nice to be able to see her adorable little face!  The second picture is just Leo being Leo and flashing his brilliant smile for me.  And the third picture is what my children do for entertainment when we're stuck in the winter doldrums and can't get out of the in boxes!  Fun times.  I love how children can take the most inane objects and turn them into fun.

On the activity front....I haven't lost any more weight yet.  I think I'm hitting a plateau, which is just fine with me.  My boobs have started to look like droopy little water balloons.  I think at least half of the weight I lost has come directly from them!  Seriously though, I think the plateau means my body is gearing up for another big drop.  If it is, great.  If not, that's okay too.  I'm hoping to start adding in the Couch to 5k program in addition to working out on the elliptical whenever I can make it to the gym (see below on more explanation for that).  If I can start the program as soon as the snow has cleared from the roads and running paths around our home, then maybe I'll be able to finish it before the end of April, when the 5k runs seem to be starting up! Oh, and super-awesome something....I ordered 4 new headbands from and the super-fantastic creator of them threw in a 5th one!  Now I can keep my hair out of my face and my mouth while I get sweaty!

The Bad.....

We're all sick.  It's awful.  Leo started with a fever of nearly 103 early last week.  Then he moved on to a hacking cough that ends with him gagging every single time.  Now, Lily has the fever and just a teeny bit of cough, which will probably develop into a much worse cough soon.  Feverish, sick Leo is not pretty.  I have a feeling he's going to be an all-out, live-life-at-full-speed kind of kid.  He doesn't do things in half-measures.  He's happy and giggly and funny when he's feeling good.  When he's sick, he screams, wants to be held and snuggled 24/7, demands food and drinks and then throws them on the floor, screaming, "don't want", and is just generally an all-out, can't-be-pleased PITA (pain in the a**).  But I love him, so we deal with it.  The other bad side of feverish children...they're not allowed in the gym's child care.  This leads us to....

The Ugly.....

My husband is a software engineer.  He works on software that has to do with Pacemakers.  Stressful, right? You have no idea!  But, put this in the "Good" area....the project he's been working on has moved from being created into being tested.  That means, unless they find some big problem with the program, he won't have anymore part in it.  He's done his job and he's done it well.  Finally!  This ties in with the "Bad" though, because for the last couple of weeks, he's been very anxious, very preoccupied.  He's had to work some later hours, trying to finish everything up.  He's good about never working too many hours.  But because he's working later, I don't get to sneak out to the gym when he gets home.  It's hard to find the energy by that time of night!  And because he's been so busy, I've had a lot of time to think, bringing me to the "Ugly" portion of my post....

Tomorrow afternoon, we have a marriage counseling session coming up.  I've come to some interesting conclusions about all of this.  Here are some things I've come to realize:

*When things get overwhelming for me, I choose to sacrifice "tasks".
*When things get overwhelming for my husband, he sacrifices "relationships".
*If you weighed how much we each do physically for our relationship, my husband's side will always be heavier.
*If you weighed how much we each do emotionally for our relationship, my side will always out-weigh his.
*We both suffer from what I call "prior damage".  I think I probably have much more damage than my husband does.  He's always felt loved and valued and never had to question his worth to another person.  I've never had that.  But, he's also always been the responsible one and never had the luxury of being vulnerable to  someone else (yes, that is a luxury).

So, here's what all that means....things are never going to be perfect.  But, I think I can be okay with that and be accommodating of some of those things that make my husband who he is as long as my needs are being met.  That's the hard part, because so far, I don't think my needs have been met.  It's hard sometimes to figure out just what I'm needing that I'm not getting.  And I think, more than anything, what I need is for my husband to try to see things from my point of view, to think about how things affect me.  A good example of that is the recent strain he's been under.  It's obvious to me how stressful the situation at work has been for him.  He's been the "go-to" person on a multi-million dollar software program.  He's the one everyone looks to when something needs to be fixed, when a problem comes up, when someone else doesn't come through on their part of the program.  It's stressful.  And then he comes home and the kids are sick and I'm crabby and stressed.  But the fact is that I will always give.  When he comes home stressed, I send him off to the gym by himself.  I suggest he take a break and I take care of the kids.  I keep going, no matter how much I may need a break too.  I feel like he doesn't realize that sometimes...he spends a few hours with the kids when they're sick and crabby and he gets frustrated.  But he doesn't realize that the kids have been like that all week long and I've been stuck home with them for the entire time and it all drains me just the same way as it drains him.  I've tried to get that point across to him, but I don't think I'm stating the point right.  He seems to think I'm trying to "out-do" him, to make it seem like my job is harder than his or that I do more than him.  I'm not a competitive person.  At all, in any way, shape, or form.  I do not want to compete in this contest!  I just want recognition for what I do, for all that I sacrifice for myself so that I can take care of the kids and take care of him.  I want affection and appreciation.

Okay, back on track....I've come to the conclusion that our marriage is always going to be a struggle for both of us.  It's never going to just be easy.  It's going to require that we think about what the other person needs from us.  We need to constantly keep ourselves in check and be aware of what each of our issues our and how they're affecting us.  I need to keep hold of the reins on my depression so that I can keep it from overriding me.  Our marriage requires that I push myself out of my comfort zones, push myself to think and do more than what I'm naturally inclined to do.  My husband will have to keep the reins on his anxiety, to constantly be aware of whether he's in charge or if he's allowing his anxiety to get the better of him.  It's not easy.  But I'm not sure marriage was meant to be.  Maybe marriage is like a puzzle where none of the pieces are quite the right shape.  We need to reshape, remold, until the pieces fit.  We can't change the substance of what we're made of, but maybe we can change the shape of things so that we fit together a bit better, so one's strengths make up for the other's weaknesses.

Anyway, we'll see what happens tomorrow at our counseling session.  I also have The 5 Love Languages on it's way from Amazon (thanks to those of you who recommended it!).  And before I turn in for the night....I just wanted to say a very big, very profound thank you to all of you for your comments on the last post.  I'm still struggling with some of it, but your comments are so helpful and have made me feel so much better!  I've never regretted how I was raised or the struggles I've been through.  I know they've helped to make me who I am and the truth is that I'm at peace with who I am.  I like who I am, for the most part.  I just wish there was some book out there that could tell me that it's okay to not feel like the earth has shattered after a parent has passed away!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

There's a story to be told...

Reyna, if I haven't said it often enough or emphatically enough, you are an incredible person and I'm so lucky to have "met" you!  Thank you again for checking in on me and letting me know that my absence of late has been noticed.  You've helped me to see that I need to tell this story...

Some of you may have noticed that I've been missing a bit lately.  I haven't posted much to my blog, haven't commented on others' blogs.  I've been quiet.  I fall into this funk around the end of January-beginning of February every year.  I even know to anticipate the funk by now.  This time of year brings a lot of important dates for me.  January 22, 1987.  I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes.  February 6, 1988.  My family's home caught fire and we were left without any possessions.  Those two are nothing compared to the next one though.  February 3-4, 2003.  My father died.  The story behind that one is a huge, ugly, tangled mess that started before I was even born....

I was the fifth girl born to my mom and her first husband.  The first was born in August.  The second, a year later in November.  The third and fourth, 13 months later, in December.  And then a three-year break before I came along.  I know from things relatives have said (my mom included) that my mom left my father several times before I came along.  He had some tendencies to fly into rages over the littlest of things.  I've heard stories of how he would drag my oldest sister to her bedroom by her hair.  Stories about my mom leaving him when the twins were 6-months-old because he left bruises all over one of them.  But she always went back to him.  And then she got pregnant with me.  I've had some suspicions that she might have thought that if I had been born a boy, my father might not have been so bad.  But his rages just kept escalating.  He abused her and my sisters.  And then my mom met Tom.  By the time my second birthday rolled around, my mother was remarried and had given birth to my half-brother.  Her second husband was a much different kind of man.  He was fun, he played around with us.  He was DAD.  I could never call my own father by that name.  I avoided saying it to him, whenever possible.  It stuck in my throat whenever I had to resort to saying it.  To other people, I've always called him "my father" or by his first name.

My skin crawled whenever I was around him. He had weekend visitation rights.  It wasn't easy to get something like that terminated back then.  It was just standard protocol...moms got physical custody during the week, dads got visitation every other weekend.  I HATED it.  My sisters did too.  We made up any excuse to get out of it.  My mom would occasionally tell him that one of us was sick, but couldn't get away with it too often.  Weekends with my father were torture.  I have memories of being forced to nap with my father, with his leg thrown over me while my skin itched and crept.  (Luckily it never went any further than that, but I have since found out that my father had been accused several times of molesting his nieces and nephews.)  My father had a particular fondness for locking me in a broom closet.  I'm not sure why or what he got out of it, but my oldest sister would wait until he fell asleep and come and let me out.  He let us have cats for pets.  He laughed at us when we cried as he swung our pets around the room by their tails.  I remember one particular incident very clearly.  During dinner, I spilled my cup of milk.  He flew into a rage.  Threw the kitchen table out the door (broke the legs off to do it).  Dumped an entire bag of cat food on the living room carpet, yelled and screamed at all of us.  Spanked me for spilling my milk (his version of spanking involved bare bottoms and leather belts).  And then went off to take a nap while we cleaned up the mess.

When I was 6-years-old, it stopped.  My sisters and I banded together and refused to set foot out the door when he came to pick us up.  Eventually, we ended up in a court battle, but when it came down to it, there wasn't anything they could do to force us to go visit him.  My father ended up moving away for a few years.  He came back when I was 13.  I made an attempt to have an relationship with him, visiting on Saturdays for a few hours.  He came back with a new wife and a new baby.  I was in the midst of the teenage-girl-hates-her-mother stage.  It was around the same time that my mom was busy divorcing my dad and moving on to a new boyfriend.  My mom and I got into a fight and I decided I'd live with my dad for a while.  I lasted one night.  Just after heading to bed, I overheard my father arguing with his new wife and the physical blows that he was dishing out.  That was enough to convince me to keep him at a distance.

I don't mean to make it sound like it was all bad.  My father did good things too.  He taught us to fish, took us camping, took us to amusement parks.  But all of those "good things" ended up tainted.  While camping, he'd play tricks to scare us.  Pretend to lose us in the woods and leave one of us standing there, completely alone. He'd try to make it sound like there was a bear outside our tent.  He'd fly into a rage because a fish got away.  Stupid little things that acted as a trigger and ruined what might have been good, happy, childhood memories. When I met my husband, he helped me learn to focus on those good things a bit more.  He encouraged me to stop in for a few minutes before we left town.  As much as I disliked those few minutes and the man they were spent with, I am grateful to my husband for them.  They have helped me figure out that my father wasn't an entirely evil person, just a severely damaged one.  And he loved me as much as he was able.

February 3, 2003....I was about two weeks into my semester of student teaching.  That evening, I was working on lesson planning.  Until I got a phone call from one of my sisters.  My father had fallen through the ice while snowmobiling on the lake.  He'd managed to get himself out and made it to one of the resorts on the lake and was being brought in to the hospital.  I knew it wasn't good.  My father was epileptic.  He'd had several smaller heart attacks.  The shock of the ice-cold water sent him into a series of heart attacks and seizures.  They wanted to transport him to a bigger hospital by life-flight.  But they couldn't stabilize him.  My husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, agreed to try to help me get to the bigger hospital.  I'm not quite sure why I wanted to go, to be honest with you.  I'd tried several times to get answers from my father about what he'd done to us and why, but he'd always flat-out denied it.  I think I might have been hoping for just a simple "sorry for hurting you" kind of thing.  We drove through blizzard-like conditions for 3 hours, making it only as far as it would have taken us an hour to drive on a good day.  Just after midnight the call came in to say that he hadn't made it.  We stopped and checked into a hotel, where I cried myself to sleep over the realization that there would never be any apologies or answers for what had been done.

Losing a parent is supposed to be heart-wrenching and earth-shattering, right?  It's not supposed to be an easy thing to go through.  But from my experience, I think it's a whole lot harder to go through when you can't feel the normal things.  I didn't feel sad.  I wasn't shedding tears over losing my father.  I was RELIEVED!  I didn't have to make the effort to be around him anymore.  I didn't have to feel my skin crawl and have the word "dad" stick in my throat.  The day after he died, I was right back at the school, right back at student-teaching.  Oh, what a mistake that was!  I know now that I wasn't in the right frame of mind.  I was irritated and uncomfortable every time someone told me how sorry they were for my loss.  I just wanted to reply "what loss?"  Or tell them I'm glad someone was sorry over it because I wasn't!  Not feeling grief over the loss was so hard though.  It made me question what kind of a person I was.  It's hard to come to terms to that.  You should feel sorry about the loss, you should cry over it, right?  And there I was, relieved and going about my life like nothing major had changed.  How horrible of a person I must be to not feel grief over a death!

There's my story.  And the reason for my funk.  Every year it comes around, that lingering horrible of a person I must be that I didn't grieve over the loss of my father!  I know I'm not a bad person and I know that considering the circumstances and all that my family went through, it's no wonder I didn't grieve for him.  A year and a half later, when my step-dad passed away, I cried.  Even though I hadn't had any contact with him since my mom divorced him when I was 13.  I cried because he'd been my dad for more than 11 years.  But my own father?  I never shed a tear over his loss.  And I still can't bring myself to cry for him.  The trick now is to find a way to be okay with that and still be okay with who I am.  I need to find my way back to feeling like I'm a good person, in spite of the lack of grief.  I want to be sure that I'm not a deeply damaged person, like my father was.  I don't want to inflict the kind of damage that was done to me on my own children.  As soon as I can be sure of that, I can crawl out from this funk and hopefully be free of it for good!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Are they ever going to get it right?

Ricki Lake commented on national television that juvenile diabetes is preventable.  She later apologized and corrected herself by saying that she meant type 2 diabetes in children, not juvenile diabetes.  But the damage was done.  Chiropractor Bob Wilcher published an article this week that implied that type 1 diabetes could possibly be due to lifestyle choices and nutrition choices.  He printed a "retraction" saying that his point in the article was to get across the idea that living a healthy life can make a significant difference in the lives of type 1 and type 2 diabetics (well, duh!).  Oprah and Dr. Oz briefly touch on type 1, but rather than putting out any good information or clearing up any misconceptions, they move right on to type 2 and all it's guts and glory.  Halle Berry has come out several times to say that she's weaned herself off insulin and has upgraded her condition from type 1 to type 2 diabetes.  (I have a theory that her brain cells have been diverted into her boobs and are therefore unavailable to provide her with any intelligence.)  There's no end and no beginning to mis-statements about diabetes.  Most of the people making those statements are trying to scare us into buying some product they're trying to push (Lake has a book and now an online weight-loss management program called All Stride, Wilder has one called Killer B Fitness).  But the mis-statements started on the day diabetes was first discovered and they haven't stopped yet.

So, here's the one is ever going to get it right.  I wish I could tell you that they would, but it hasn't happened yet.  At least, not in a setting public enough and wide-spread enough to make much difference.  The fact is, when people are out there, putting out incorrect information, they're trying to sensationalize things. They have something they want to sell and they want people to fear enough that they buy their product.  They don't bother putting the truth out there if they can make money with half-truths and lies.

I wish I had something eloquent and uplifting to say about all of this.  But really, all I want to say is....they can all suck it!  The television and the internet are filled with a bunch of ignorant idiots who apparently have no clue when they should shut their over-active traps.  There is no end of them and not one of them is worth anything more than the others.  I could write an entire post ranting about the idiocy that comes from Halle Berry's mouth alone (and my "go suck it" message is double for her alone!).  But they're not worth our time and energy.  Each and every single person in the DOC is worth more than the collective weight of all of these misconception-spewing jackasses!

*This post is written in fun, not anger.  It may sound angry, but the truth is, these people just really aren't worth the amount of energy it would take to get angry with them.  Frustrated?  Yes!  Wishing someone would light a match near them and ignite all the hot, empty air in their heads?  Definitely!  But, that's about the extent of the energy I have to waste on them.  Maybe if my kids let me get a few extra hours I can find some more energy to devote to anger and trying to correct all the misinformation they've put out there.  But chances are, I'm not going to get anywhere near enough sleep anytime soon!  Too busy waking up throughout the night to cram more sugary snacks down my diabetic child's throat....wouldn't want her to lose her diabetes by not giving her enough sugar to keep it going, right?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nature vs. Nurture?

It's been an interesting couple of days.  I loaded the kids up to head to the gym Monday afternoon.  And promptly got stuck in the mounds of snow on the side of our driver.  I tried and tried to get the car out.  Ended the whole escapade by burning out the power steering pump on my car.  Fun stuff!  So, while I'm waiting for the car to be fixed, I'm stuck home with my two little beasties.  Leo spends the days begging to "go gyn, play basketballs" and Lily spends the days going from playing nicely with her brother first thing in the morning to knocking him over and hitting him over the head with toys while screaming at him to "be good".  HA!  It's a wonder I have any sanity left after three days of this!  So tonight, when my husband offered to let me skip out on bedtime and spend a couple of hours at the gym, I jumped at the chance and took full advantage of it.  There's this funny thing that happens in Minnesota in the winter.  People forget they have legs!  Seriously, they do.  It's the only explanation I can come up with for some of their behaviors.  I'm not used to driving my husband's big 4x4 truck.  So when I parked at the very busy gym, I didn't do the best job.  I had to back up and try to straighten the truck out.  Apparently, that made it look like maybe I was vacating the spot.  So, a minivan stopped to wait for me.  I pulled back in and realized I was going to have to make another attempt at it.  I waited for the minivan to go by and then reversed again.  The driver of the minivan must have been seriously desperate for a spot.  He/she decided to reverse a full 15 feet or more and wait for me again!  Oy!  I really hope this is just a Minnesota thing.  I didn't even have a prime spot or anything!  More than halfway back from the front of the building!  I used the annoyance I felt to get in a good workout.  Pushed myself hard, even though my foot (the eczema-spots) was killing me.  Wanna know how all of this exercise/lifestyle change is going for me?  I stepped on the scale this morning and discovered that I am now down 28 lbs from when I started 4 months ago!  Love it!  I think about half of that weight has come directly from my boobs....they're starting to look like gym socks that someone dropped an orange into!  I'm realizing that changing your life/losing weight is really more of a marathon (or even an ultra-marathon) than a sprint.  You can't expect quick results, but if you keep at it and hang in there, eventually you'll get the results.

A little clarification from my last husband was really upset with me.  He actually read it!  He thought I made it sound like he wasn't making any effort at all.  He really is trying.  I think I tend to get a little resentful sometimes because it seems to me like he gives 150% at work and I wonder why he can't give that much effort to our marriage.  But work is something that comes easily to him.  Romantic relationships, not so much. In fact, when we met 11 years ago, he'd only ever had one other "girlfriend" that he'd dated for a few months. He's an amazing person and is incredible in so many ways.  It's just the differences in how we show our love for each other that causes us some problems.  And when it comes down to it, the way we were raised can be a huge factor in our relationships.  He grew up secure in the knowledge that his mom adored him (she's always told him he's her favorite person in the entire world).  I grew up never feeling loved, never feeling secure.  He may not know how to show love, but the fact is that I don't know how to accept love.  I forget and lose sight of the security he gives me.  And really, he must love me tremendously....he lets me sleep in nearly every morning on the weekends!

I've been thinking about this a lot lately...the idea that being fat may be genetic.  How exactly can they go about determining that?  Do all fat people share a gene?  Seriously, how do they figure it out?  (And please, let me insert here, I don't mean to offend with the use of the term "fat people"...I'm a fat person, it's just a way of stating things to me).  Here's the thing....parents share so much more with their children than just their genes.  We learn how to live, how to view the world, how to view ourselves, how to view food.  It all comes from our parents!  So how can we separate that from the genetics?  Do you pluck a baby from his chunky mommy's arms and raise him in a lab with just the right amounts of food and exercise and see if he turns out chunky too?  Here's my point in all of this and why I've been thinking about it....fat people make excuses for being fat and let that keep them from creating any other reality.  Please understand that I'm speaking about this from a personal experience....I do understand that there are genuine medical conditions that can make someone retain weight.  And maybe genetics are the reason.  But, the truth is, we have a choice.  Even if our genetics predispose us to being chunky, we still have a choice.  I'm learning as I go along in my fitness journey that I'm making a new choice for myself.  I'm okay with it if my body stays fat.  And being fat isn't necessarily a bad thing (hey, your chances of surviving a debilitating illness are better if you've got an extra store of nutrients!).  But, I'm only okay with being fat now if strength and endurance are part of it.  Your genetics may say that you're going to be chunkier, but they don't say that you can only be chunky.  You can be chunky and have muscle.  You can be chunky and still be able to run a 5k.  You can be chunky and fit!  I've spent so many years being ashamed of my fat.  I refuse to feel shame anymore and I hope others will stop feeling ashamed of their weight too.   Shame crushes and prevents improvement.  It's definitely not a useful emotion.  And when it comes down to it, why waste time feeling ashamed of your size when you can put all that energy into creating a better life instead?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Deep Pit

I've been silent.  I have post ideas floating around in my head, but I just can't bring myself to sit down and write lately.  I'm doing really well with the exercise stuff and eating healthy and all of that.  I think I may actually be down a few more pounds, but I'm avoiding the scale for now.  I'll check in with it in another week or so.

So, here's the reason for my silence....I've fallen into a deep, dark pit.  I'm not quite sure how to get myself out of it or how I ended up in it.  The longer winter drags on, the worse it gets.  But it's even more than that.  I have a new analogy for you:  Marriage is like a car.  If you forget to fuel it up, do the regular maintenance, it ends up abandoned along the side of the road somewhere.  If you don't turn the ignition on a daily basis, it doesn't run.  A few weeks ago, my husband and I had a marriage counseling session.  In the words of our therapist, my husband speaks German, I speak French.  For my husband, the things that say "I love you" are actions.  Like cooking a meal, doing the laundry, changing the oil in my car, spending three hours on a Saturday, trying to pop a dent out of the front of my car.  For me, I couldn't care less about the dent in my car and the laundry, the cooking, the oil change, are things that just simply have to get done at some point.  Not that I don't appreciate him doing those things, but I don't look at the three hours spent trying to pop that dent out of my car and go, "Oh my, look how much he loves me?"  For me, the things that say, "I love you" are random acts of affection, a card that was picked out and left for no special reason, an email during the day to tell me that he's thinking about me.  For me, it's all about the mush.  I need that.  Those are the things that fill up my tank and give me the energy to keep on going.  At the end of our appointment, our assignment was to make more of an effort to do things that the other person would interpret as love instead of doing the things that we think say, "I love you".  I threw myself into it.  I tried to do something every day.  I picked up the living room so it was spotless.  I swept and mopped.  I had the house clean several days before Leo's birthday party instead of waiting until the last minute.  I cooked meals and made more of an effort.  And then I noticed something; my husband wasn't making the same effort.  And I gave up.

Here's a fact that I'm becoming painfully aware of....if my marriage falls apart, it's going to be because I've given up and chosen to walk away.  My husband would never leave me.  I know that.  But, I don't know for sure why that is.  He has an amazing sense of duty and responsibility.  He adores our children, even though they may drive him nuts on a daily basis.  I know those things.  But I don't know that he loves me wholly and unconditionally.  I don't know if he's even capable of loving me in the way that I need him to.  He's used to being the caretaker, the responsible one.  But he's not used to making himself vulnerable or allowing someone else to help him.  I know that he loves me, but I don't know that he needs me.  If that makes any sense at all.  I adore him.  He's a wonderful person, an amazing human being.  A strong, faithful, loyal, beautiful man.  The problem is, I need more than that.  I need to be needed.  I need him to open up to me, talk to me, spend time with me.  I need so much more than just someone who pays the bills, takes care of the house, and shares the child-raising duties.  But because he already does so much and takes so much responsibility for things, I don't feel like I can tell him that.   How do I tell him that the one thing I need from him is the one thing he finds the hardest to do?  He's not good about showing his feelings and showing vulnerability.

Anyway, I needed to get all of that out.  I keep bottling it up and it just festers until it overflows.  Feelings like these shouldn't be bottled up.  They need to be let out before they cause further damage.  If you're still reading, thanks for allowing me to vent and stick through it.  Right now, my task is to find a way to refill my own tank so I have the energy and motivation to keep going, to keep putting effort and love into my marriage.  Once spring arrives, that'll slowly start to get easier to do, I think.  Until then...I just might be considering hitting up a tanning salon to get some Vitamin D production going!