Of Cabbages and Kings

Today was an unexpectedly hard day. A man I barely knew, who was hardly tied to my family, died recently. He led a good life. He was 89 years old. He passed after a long battle with Alzheimer’s and various “old age” illnesses, like double pneumonia. He was a veteran and well loved. We met twice, maybe three times. He was a nice man. His daughter is my mother-in-law. She married my father-in-law after I married J.D. By all accounts, this was about me showing up to support her.

Tell that to the girl on the back row crying to herself.

Every funeral, since those of 2006, first burying my Nunna and then my D-daddy, has been a revisiting of their funerals. Every burial has been me burying them again. You must understand that they were my stars. They were EVERYTHING in the world that was stable and loving. I love my parents and losing them will be hard. But losing my grandparents was like losing my true north. And my compass has never recovered.

So today, sitting in the back row, alone, at the funeral of man I barely knew, I tried desperately to not interrupt the grief of another family. And I grieved the loss of the only unconditional love I have ever understood.

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Check. Check. One. Two. Hey! is this thing on?

So a month has passed since I last touched base. In that time, my kid officially turned four. I maintained my 15ish pound weight-loss. Feared I might have lost one of my oldest friends to our lives moving in separate ways. Coordinated the Homecoming events at work. Recovered from coordinating the Homecoming events at work. Got incredibly irritated with some house guests. Finished two quilt squares under the tutelage of <a href = “http://www.etsy.com/people/trelilli. And finally bought tickets to head to Brooklyn for a wedding.

Reading that just makes me want a drink and a nap.

Here’s a interesting wrinkle brought up by that last item on the list. During the last three-four years, I haven’t exactly bought a slew of clothes. In fact, I’ve only bought what I really had to buy. This has been good on the check book but not so good on my options for anything NOT work related. And so now, I find I have a wedding and absolutely nothing to wear to it!!! The only things I have that are even remotely appropriate are now too big AND not at all garments for an early winter wedding in Brooklyn, NY. And, truthfully, I have found a number of lovely things I would like to order, but I really don’t want to drop 100-150$ on an outfit in a size I hope to not be for very long.

Anyone got something I can just borrow? Size 16. 29ish inch inseam. A little baby chub left on the belly. Not especially busty. I’ll just wait. Shall I?

Isness

A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming. Being does mean becoming, but we run so fast that is only when we seem to stop–a sitting on the rock at the brook–that we are aware of our own isness, of being. But eventually this is not static, for this awareness of being is always a way of moving from selfish self–the self image–towards the real.

Who am I , then? Who are you?
~Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle or Quiet, 1972.

I can’t decide if this idea scares me or relieves me.

I’m not a fan of change. I don’t like moving. (Hush Joe. Just because I have moved a lot doesn’t mean I like it.) The older I get the harder I find having everything in chaos. It feels like the edges of my self are blurred when nothing is in its place; when I don’t know the multiple ways around and through a town. And yet that seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? Absurd that I would be so defined by the kin, if you will, of my environment.

On the other hand, thank goodness my “isness” is changing. There are so many versions of my self out there that I would prefer to never visit. How relieving it is to know that I don’t have to be the same, always.

How scary, though, the thought that neither does anyone else.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a funny thing. During an especially difficult year I went to a psychologist to try and deal with some things that were going on in my life.  What happened that year is a topic for another post, but suffice it to say that it was a year of incredible loss.  Think of a year just shy of Joan Didon’s The Year of Magical Thinking.  I needed help. I drove myself to several appointments, always on icky rainy days (I swear I’m not making this up for dramatic flair), and always with the Wallflower’s album One Headlight playing.   And while I didn’t really like him, because as my friend Corrine pointed out, I wanted him to already be caught up (yes, yes, we can all agree this was unfair of me) I must give him props for introducing an idea to me.

I don’t know if this is a basic starting point for a practicing psychiatrist/psychologist, but what the man said was that he was hearing a great deal of shoulds when I was talking.  In the aftermath of that year I expected more from certain people in my life.  I felt they should have done more.  They should have acted differently.  SHOULD HAVE KNOWN what I needed.

And when they didn’t….

“Be careful of the shoulds,” he said.

I was floored.  I was angry and hurt and I had backed myself into this corner.  And the only way out was to forgive people for not meeting my unspoken expectations.  I had to find a way to forgive them for not being there for me in the wake of the worst year of my life.  Forgive them for not being people they weren’t.  Hope that they might do the same for me.

The struggle with being overweight is like that, you know.  You get caught up in the expectations, those you lay out and those others push on you.  The small ones get you, food = love.  The big ones get you, love = food.  The shoulds all catch up with you and you have to find a way to forgive others for falling short when, perhaps, you most need them not to.    And then you have to forgive yourself.  Learn to trust yourself again.  And move on.

It’s never easy.  But it’s the only way.

Weightlessness

It still surprises me, after all these years, how easily I can be hurt by thoughtless comments from my parents. I feel as if I have been expected to always be the child to buck up without complaint, to bend to the plans/interests of others. I don’t know if it is fair to claim that I have always done so. But certainly I can claim to have, more frequently than not, altered my trajectory. My move back to my hometown is evidence enough of that.

I am sorry to say that I cannot always do so without a little emotional flotsam. There are days, like today, when I get tired of feeling as if I am the only one making certain overtures in my family. At the very least I am tired of such overtures going unnoticed.

Is it wrong, at 34, to still need a little recognition, even perhaps a little approval, from your parent? I suppose we never really stop being our parents’ children.

In related news I told my Dad about the diet. His response was, basically, “I’ll see how good of a plan it is when I see if you succeed.” Hard to not be deflated in the wake of such enthusiasm.

Face the Music Monday

I know that today is usually a report on the weight-loss progress and the promise pictures to come. Today, however, I cannot locate a scale anywhere have only just confirmed the presence of a scale in the weight-room (thanks Scott!) and the pictures are going to have to wait until Wednesday, when JD joins us.  (I’ve told my some of my family about the diet, but none of them know about the blog.) In lieu of the regularly scheduled program, I thought I would offer up a report of how I am doing with the family holiday and report back on the number later.

The trip down was fine, but our lunch stop was [cue the dastardly music] Cracker Barrel. If you have never eaten at Cracker Barrel, let me assure you that it is all that is fantastically awful about “country cooking.” That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by the salad choices on the menu given that my previous experience with the house salad left a lot to be desired. (Read salad dressing and cheese served with a side of iceberg lettuce.) The smoked turkey breast on a bed of mixed greens (no iceberg lettuce) and other various raw veggies was good. The addition of a little cheese and a boiled egg rounded everything out nicely.

After everyone arrived, dinner plans had to be ironed out. “Out” being the operative word since no-one had had the time to get to the grocery store. And so we headed across the state line to a pizza joint called Lillian’s. I did well to just sound noncommittal about the choice when really I wanted to hit groan, loudly. I had visions of the whole week becoming one big meal centered struggle. Pizza??? How was I going to do “healthy” at a pizza joint?! When we got there, however, I discovered that they had a really great (possibly one of the best I’ve ever had) hummus with baked (baked!) pita and an incredibly robust Greek salad. I want to thank whoever decided on that menu. I don’t know who you are, but may the road rise up to meet you.

Yesterday morning I headed to the grocery store, in the pouring rain, where I was reminded that buying for three people is a huge difference from buying for ten. Yes I realize it may seem obvious when stated plainly like this, but you didn’t see my buggy. That was obvious. I could barely wield it by the time I was checking out. Thanks to the trip though, most of yesterday was fine as far as the diet goes.

I have to admit that I haven’t been perfect. At lunch on Saturday I had half a biscuit. At dinner on Saturday I had a sliver of pizza after I boxed up the remainder of the Greek salad, which I ate yesterday as part of dinner. Also, I’ve probably had a few extra snacks, mostly fruit, and a few more beers than I should be having, though I’m trying to stick to “light” versions. I’m trying to find a good balance between enjoying myself and doing what needs to be done a far as staying on track with short-term and long-term goals. To that end, I suppose it would help if I wasn’t a grump with everyone, including myself.

Tallyho!

So tomorrow I head off to my first vacationing adventure while on still-unnamed-diet. I’m hitching a ride to the coast with my dad as JD won’t be able to join us until later and I don’t want to take two cars. I’m a little worried because while on the one hand it is very easy to eat separate meals from most of those my family will be eating, simply as a function of time, those meals that we will be expected to share will be characteristically full of the densely caloric options. Even more of a challenge will be the limitations on alcohol consumption. It is very easy for me to go from 2 to 4 beers without thinking about it. Of course drinking isn’t exactly a thinking man’s sport. And man, do I get snacky. Any advice on managing this particular vice is greatly appreciated.

I foresee a lot of “asides” in the next week.

Now, to pack.

The Whys and Wherefores

Why am I doing this? That’s a fair question.  Why don’t we start with the easiest reasons, the shallow ones. I’m not kidding when I say that I look at those pictures of myself and wonder, “When did I become an old lady?” The cellulite (yes I know it is genetic) and the veins and stretch marks are all there. I’ve never been petite or even thin by any standard.  I’ve been approximately this height and size since I was 12.    But I always had youth on my size.  At 34, I know I’m not ancient.  I am, however, old enough to where the body is less forgiving of being pushed than it use to be. And it shows.

I suppose, though, that even the shallow reasons aren’t easy. Notice that I didn’t ask “When did I become my grandmother?”  I’m not a perfect likeness of my grandmother or my mother. I don’t look like any one person in my family, not even my brothers who look like each other because they all look like my father.  After years of searching for all my features in other people I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m such a conglomeration I end up looking like no one particular. And so, if I’m being honest, I must admit there is the smallest part of me, the part that always thought I didn’t fit in, the part of me that is still the chubby 9-year-old, the part of me that read books while everyone else played organized sports,  that has great hopes.  Hopes that under all this extra weight, there is a “me” that will look like everyone else in my family, which will prove, finally, that I belong with them.

Sharing is Caring

Last night, JD and I went out with some friends.  This being the first week of our new diet, we were a little hesitant about it.  We turned down a dinner invitation earlier in the week because we were unsure if we would be able to align the incredibly restrictive first week of the diet with what would be served.  (More about the actual diet later.)  When turning down the invitation JD explained that we were trying a new diet. And again last night, after we met friends at On Tap, JD shared with everyone that we were on a diet.  I cringed inwardly both times.

Thinking about it this morning, I wonder why I was unwilling to share this exciting and potentially life changing decision to go on this diet, when my husband was perfectly happy to spread the news around.  And now that I’ve been poking at the feeling for a while, I think I know why I was afraid to explicitly share this part of my life with my friends and family, while being perfectly willing to share it with strangers.

[Deep Breath].  I’m afraid that the people closest to me will under-appreciate the effort.  I’m afraid they will make light of it, if not outright undermine the effort.  Also, I think I’m afraid that by admitting I’m on a diet, I reveal to them a way that I have failed.  (As if they hadn’t noticed.  As if they didn’t have eyes.)  And ultimately, I’m afraid that when they realize that I’m a failure, they won’t want to be associated me anymore. You know.  Because I’m not perfect.

Do I have some baggage?  Boy howdy!

The good news?  After sharing with family (the week night dinner we turned down) and friends (last night), everyone is still talking to us. Shocker, I know.  And we successfully laid down a plan and navigated the great temptation of bar food and beer by eating before we went and having a set number of beers we were allowed to enjoy.  Also, Sam Adams was on special last night, so obviously the universe was feeling friendly.  🙂