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The fire beneath my feet is burning bright.

A couple nights ago I shared with Chris my ribcage. Years ago (2014) I weighed much less and my ribcage was a great source of pride. I had worked hard for that weight loss.

I had worked hard to overcome a crippling binge eating disorder. I had worked hard to find truth behind the lies of body dysmorphia. My success was evident in my body.

Then I consumed sugar (an orange, to be specific) for the first time in years and my eating disorder reminded me it was alive and well. Then I got pregnant and miscarried (2015). Eventually I got pregnant and had a baby (2016). Then postpartum happened. And sleep deprivation and stress and unhealthy eating patterns.

Life spiraled.

I gained and lost weight. I did Whole30 multiple times (2017). And keto a few. But something that strict felt like overkill. I wanted to learn to navigate healthy while not restricting sugar.

Previously (2010-2014) I had lived a strict Whole30 lifestyle for three+ years. Never touching any grains or fruit. Only consuming meats, healthy fats and the vegetables that didnt bother me. I felt good and never wanted for more.

I had been content never again consuming sugar, processed or otherwise. It felt safe. Sugar was my heroin. I had said it so many times.

But then suddenly (2018) life felt so different and “staying clean” with food was so freaking hard. I wanted sugar all the time. I was a fiend for it and I chased the rabbit hole in search of rock bottom. I’d hoped rock bottom would neutralize sugar for me. I’d hoped drowning in terrible coping mechanisms would give me time opportunity to learn safe ones.

I’d hoped it would do that before I caused irreparable damage and insurmountable weight gain.

It felt like a gamble. But it felt like a gamble that was worth it.

Last November I committed to Rachel Martin one food related change. Six weeks before everyone else was making New Years’ resolutions, she challenged me to dive head first into a headstart. I began with a food window. Much like intermittent fasting, except I wasn’t logging anything except the time. I needed permission to stop eating after dinner. I needed safeguards to not eat the moment I woke up.

Days turned to weeks turned to months. I was doing it. I could eat full on crap all through my window if I wanted. I didn’t want this time around to be about the food. I wanted it to be about the time. I was committed to clawing my way toward a healthy relationship with food by exhausting unhealthy. Only two things were required: food window from noon til 7pm and the first thing I eat is always a healthy, nutrient dense meal.

Enter a long season of a healthy breakfast at noon followed by hours of ice cream and chips and muffins and cookies and whatever the hell else I deemed in the name of “no restrictions”. Months later I called it quits on many of those things. Not out of fear or a need to restrict, but because I felt crappy. I wasn’t getting the physical results I wanted. Most importantly, I felt worse instead of better emotionally. I was looking for comfort and safety in the nonstop eating, and finding overwhelm and instability instead.

Enter Rachel and Dave Hollis and their next90 challenge.  This centers around five principles tended to daily.

  • Pen to paper five things I’m grateful for.
  • 30 minutes of moving my body.
  • Getting up an hour early for “me” time.
  • Drink half my weight in ounces of water.
  • Cut one food item you know you shouldn’t be eating.

I stopped eating cough drops, which had become a huge crutch. I had appreciated that I had found a hard candy made with sugar instead of corn syrup. And I abused the fuck out of them. For months. I ate them instead of eating, even tho I was still eating so much. And it was ridiculous. Next90 was just the excuse I needed to stop eating them. It was a relief in fact. Two and a half weeks later I committed to no more ice cream as well. It felt good to not rely on the familiar, destructive habits. It felt good to give myself the opportunity to find positive, constructive ones.

Here we are now in May and I’m noticing my ribs. For many days I noticed my ribs and I would touch them and play with them and feel the way my skin feels against them. I’d contemplate how in years past feeling thinner would be a huge trigger for me. How losing fat was the awesome success that turned into my downfall.

I showed Chris.

Chris got that adorable smile on his face. That smirky smile that is part turned on and part beaming with pride. And then he asked me how it feels. Because we ask each other stuff like that.

And I said that it feels weird.

And then he asked me this: how are you going to celebrate your accomplishment?

I was stopped in my tracks.

My accomplishment.

Suddenly it was all a different perspective. No need to get wrapped up in triggering thoughts or fear. No need to feel consumed by fear failure or success. No need to borrow trouble.

I can feel my ribs and know my body speaks for my hard work. I can take pride in my accomplishment and celebrate it. I can reap the benefits of fat minimizing and muscle maximizing.

I can allow my brain and my mindset to catch up with all the healthy, just as I allow my body to. It’s another reminder from the universe that I’ve got this. And the universe has me.

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Pick up the flashpoint.

I felt so much clearer after I wrote on Thursday. It was almost alarming how quickly I felt clear again.

I called the tax guy and made an appt for the following day and by 1:30pm yesterday, our taxes were complete and filed and printed. And I have a copy now that I can submit for my student loan deferment at the end of the month.

Breathing.

I also had some calming thoughts regarding L and my stress paths. It doesn’t really matter how these things unfold. I can do my part and everything else is out of my hands. Sure, maybe there was things I was “supposed to” do sooner. Or maybe those things are right on time. Even if they keep me (or L) from something else. How can we know what is supposed to be? Maybe everything that is is supposed to be.

So, I’m breathing.

And I still haven’t talked to Chris about any of it yet. Because life upheaval and his dislocated shoulder. But I feel better about it without the conversation yet and that is the point.

I haven’t even leapt into the dislocated shoulder conversation here!

It is finally (presumably?) back in place. He has an ortho appt in a couple weeks. He hurts a lot. (Understatement of the year). He can’t take the anti-inflammatory til he finishes the steroid or else it causes severe nausea. But here he is with unfathomable inflammation causing an incredible amount of pain. Furthermore, the pain leads to lack of sleep and the lack of sleep leads to seizure activity. He’s his own walking nightmare right now.

I’m in my element with all of this and I know all of it is completely out of my hands and so all I see in this situation is the universe saying to Chris, “I’m not making myself clear here, son” and then shazam! Clear picture comes into focus. Make boundaries (especially to protect you from you). Delegate. Let people help you. Learn new ways to realize your usefulness. Let who you are define you, not what you can and can’t accomplish with one arm.

And, honestly, I just feel blessed to be along for the ride on this one. Chris is kicking ass and taking freaking names in the self-development department. Yeah, it totally sucks and there’s some kicking rocks, but mostly? Mostly he is stepping up and well surpassing all I’ve always known he is capable of.

He was thrust into this seemingly impossible situation, and knew he had to shift mindset or drown. And in the face of it being so. freaking. hard., he is freaking doing it anyway. And I think that is so freakin’ awesome. I couldn’t be prouder of him.

We both have had such fundamental progress during this quarantine. We are thrivers. I’m so in love with us and our relationship and all the goodness we are capable of.

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It took some time to survive you.

I’ve been disconnecting my why and my who from my present the past few days.

I’m sure there’s a reason. I’m sure that reason is important. But I haven’t tread there yet. I haven’t come here to pick it apart.

I know part (most?) of it is stress. I know it’s some of the little behind-the-scenes stuff happening that is out of my control. Or was once in my control (sorta) and I didn’t fight then to turn overwhelm into action. And so now there are multiple overwhelm categories all sneaking to the forefront at once.

I could name them, but that is scary. I’m not there yet. Even tho I know it’s helpful.

So I’m checking them off slowly without naming them.

But even still, I find myself here, now, facing the fact that my why and my who have not been congruent with my relationship with food. And that’s okay. There’s no shame in that. It’s observation. And still, it’s my present truth.

And that’s not to say that has to be my truth the next time I eat or tonight or tomorrow. It’s just the truth of what the last couple days have looked like. And part of my personal development is that I’m self aware enough to notice and acknowledge these things, and then decide where I place my foot during my next step.

I’ve noticed and acknowledged the last few days. Of course I have! I no longer have the luxury of not seeing it. And still I’ve made the decisions that the ideal, future, healthy version of me would. not. make. And to make it worse, when I make the anti-me decisions, I tack on preposterous words like, “future me would give herself a break right now and eat this” and “future me would allow for self care to be this one cookie”.

FUTURE ME WOULD. NOT. SAY. THAT.

Future me would say, “find a different way, sister!” (Because future me will sometimes talk like Rachel Hollis and randomly call people sister.)

Future me would also take the time to write because it’s my therapy. Because it brings me back to me. Because it brings me closer to living and breathing my idealized me.

So I sit here writing. Because it’s important. It’s vital. I need it. And I take breaks for self care.

Today I took L to the doctor and re-set myself on a stress path. I need to solidify some research there and put pen to paper. That will help. Today I will also call the tax guy and re-set myself on that stress path. Actively being on those paths is a lot less stressful than knowing I need to get on them. My higher functioning brain knows this, but the whole rest of my being fights it.

And I should also talk to my husband and speak some stress paths because that may be helpful even tho I keep adamantly dragging my feet about it and it’s the very very last thing I want to actually do.

So. Time to jump.

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The minor fall and the major lift.

What a difference a year (or six) can make.

The last two weeks have been one crazy thing after another. My insurance is no longer accepting my doctor and physical therapist, so I either have to change insurance or change doctors. The $673 radiologist bill I should have never gotten, that I had fixed and was taken care of in November, suddenly appeared again and hadn’t been resolved afterall. I spent an hour and a half on phone calls getting it resolved again. (Shout out to Tamika who was my own personal savior.)

I’ve been trying to get ahold of a doggie day care place so Harley can run around and play with other pups because ohmygoodness is she in anxiety overdrive/bordering aggressive because she just wants to play play play and has no outlet. (I finally heard back today! Woo!) I ran with her on Sunday (ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod!! I ran! Two laps around the house!!! Freakin’ AMAZING!!!) and then promptly fell on my right knee and palm (and elbow and shoulder). Bright side: I hurt myself, but didn’t injure anything. Less than bright side holy oww and recovery time. (Bonus bright side: I tried Chris’s ghost pepper sauce and I’m a fucking rockstar!)

At 1am today instead of seeing Chris’s paycheck in the account, there was a $900+ fraudulent charge, just in time for me to pay the $150 medical bills today. Kitten’s first vet visit…wait….she has worms?… Oh, our dog’s been eating her poop when we’re not looking?…oh….well…that’s..special…

Have I even mentioned yet we adopted a kitten?! Meet Hazel. R’s early Christmas present/our new family member.

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And I paid the $4.60 on my daughter’s dentist account….that they were going to send me to collections for. Ha. And I was allowed to pay on (instead of pay off) another bill. Thank god. Bright side to all of it: the deposited paycheck offset the $700 overdraft and we’re blessed to have family who can help out until the bank refunds the locked charges.

R has midterms next week and is underslept and overstressed and navigating big adult problems while still being in a teenager’s body with a teenager’s brain. (Given the option to ignore the warning signs of a close friend or make the hard call to betray confidence in order to keep him alive,  she chose life and I couldn’t be more proud.) And S is navigating the end of the semester and a week of unprecedented homework he just hasn’t been able to keep up with, especially when his parents have been a bit m.i.a. in the evenings when it’s time to work on homework because of appointments and meetings. (Given the option this morning of staying home today to work on everything or go to school and own up to the consequences, he chose to go and I’m so freaking proud of him.) And L is still recovering from being sick last week and a bleeding diaper rash to boot because he’s been eating butternut squash soup for days and apparently he’s allergic. (This morning he slept in his own bed til after 5am. Whether fluke or trend, I’m so proud of him.)

Have I worn you out yet? ‘Cause I haven’t run out of material. I could keep going. I won’t tho. Because the only point I wanted to make is that I’m still standing. I didn’t even have to stand back up from this shit show because it hasn’t even knocked me down.

What a difference a year makes.

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The sun broke free of the clouds.

A letter to my husband:

He once told you that I feel trapped. And I feel like it’s the biggest disservice he ever did us.

There was never ever going to be me convincing you otherwise because his word was gospel. So while I never argue the point, I never agreed with it either. I know at the time I said I didn’t agree, but any time you’ve brought it up since, I’ve let it be. It felt too big a thing to put my energy against. Because that’s what it was. Energy against. And not energy into.

Pouring energy into something is positive and constructive. Pouring energy against something is just…insanity.

So I let it be.

This morning a wave of depression crashed upon me. Yesterday was more than I could take after last week. Then this morning when the tire pressure light came on again and I was driving on empty it all got really big. I still went about life anyway. Kids needed to be taken to school. Dishes needed to be done. Life goes on.

But just now as I was washing the dishes, a snapshot of a text conversation flashed in my mind. I was in the basement doing laundry. There was a suggestion to do something fun because it was my birthday. The insinuation that I could go elsewhere with elseothers. “Go out and do karaoke.” I would like that, I had replied. “So go now with Chris.” It’s not the same, I replied.

It’s not the same.

That one line. That one line caused someone else to form the belief that I felt trapped.

He told you I felt trapped. The assumption was always that it was about you and our children. That was the lie I haven’t been able to undo.

I see it clearly now. As I stand here with half-washed dishes behind me. Because this just couldn’t wait. I had to type this out right away. Because I couldn’t squander this moment of clarity. This opportunity of having all the right words.

I said it wouldn’t be the same doing karaoke with you. It wasn’t a slight against you. It wasn’t because I felt trapped by you. I felt trapped within myself.

It wasn’t until just right now, while I stood under a shroud of heavy depression that I could better recall that night. A night filled with depression. Months of depression. And when I said I would love to go out, it was the image of escaping me that filled my head.

I would never go somewhere and sing in front of people. That sounds terrible. But I wanted to be the person who could do that and think of it as fun, just so I could get away from me.

I wanted an escape from me, for just a moment. The thought of a physical escape from being trapped inside myself was appealing. Desperately appealing. For just that moment I needed the illusion of escape.

If anything real existed in that illusion, it would break. So, if you–the most real thing in my life–came, it wouldn’t be the same. You would have broken the illusion.

I never felt trapped in this life with you. I felt trapped in my own head. He didn’t think to differentiate.

I’m sorry I didn’t have the words until now. I’m sorry I felt so small and that that conversation gave way to a misunderstanding that was so big. I don’t feel small like that anymore, not even today under the weight of…all the things. I don’t feel trapped inside myself. It would mean everything if you’d believe me that I never felt trapped by you. It would be everything to heal this part.

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Some kind of light at the end.

I’m not going to eat tonight. I’m so tired from making decisions I shouldn’t have been making. I’m so exhausted I could cry.

I’m so exhausted I didn’t realize I was already crying.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to catch up from the last week. I don’t think I’ll ever try. I think I will just blank slate it. And I will just sleep instead. And maybe sometime tonight my skin will pass by Chris’s skin and he won’t shudder. Because finally finally he has found his way back to me.