Not afraid to say what is necessary…

23 04 2011

 

is tough.

I’m not sure if I’m ready to talk about what I’ve been going through the last couple of weeks. I’m still trying to figure out where my mind was going with some of the decisions I was making. What I can tell you (because this is about being honest right) is that I had stopped making healthy choices in the food I was consuming (and simultaneously working out too much). I don’t mean I was binging on foods full of calories with ingredients I can’t pronounce. I mean I stopped eating. Literally. I was getting calories in but in unhealthy amounts.

At the end of March I weighed 157 pounds.

Less than three weeks later I weighed 150 pounds.

(I would have kept going)

I don’t know why I started to push food away. I do know that there are certain behaviors that were fueling my desire to not eat food. One of them being challenging myself to go longer durations before eating. First it was an hour after I left gym, then it was challenging myself to go two hours after leaving the gym before eating. Three hours followed close behind until I was trying to go up to four hours. It was to keep my panic in check. It was a good plan to work through the panic but it was poorly planned and executed.

Another behavior was throwing food away. In the beginning the #100daychipquest challenge was set forth to help me understand that no matter where I was I had access to food. Throwing it away was like telling the panic it didn’t have a place in my life anymore and over the past 29 days it was doing exactly what I was hoping…dissapating the panic.

It was also taking away necessary calories.

As time went on, the amount of food I was packing for the day was getting smaller.

But the food I was throwing away was staying the same.

The final behavior is my relationship with the scale. It is unhealthy. I weigh myself multiple times a day…when I say multiple I mean double-digit amounts. Upwards to 15 a day. I don’t know why. A fear of gaining: maybe. A desire to keep losing: maybe. Habit: maybe…whatever the reason, it’s not a good enough one to justify what I was doing…

Not eating enough over the last couple of weeks has left my body weak. I don’t look healthy. I don’t feel healthy. I am not healthy. I can’t complete a workout without getting light-headed. I’ve had to stop doing whatever activity I was doing multiple times because I’m on the verge of passing out. My heart rate is up. My stomach hurts all the time. Eating is painful (emotionally). I don’t want to chew. I don’t want to swallow. I don’t want eat.

Period.

The reason I am writing this post is because over the course of the last couple of days, someone in my life came forward and called me on my shit. At some point in our conversations she asked me the following question: “If I was told I had to eat more in order to keep working out would I?”…I answered honestly: No.

Red Flag

She told me I had two choices – I could either go down the road to living healthy in all aspects of my life or I could go down the road of not living healthy. That I needed to choose. You’d think the choice would be easy but again let me be absolutely honest: I didn’t know at that moment of being asked where I wanted to go. I was thinking like an addict and if you’ve ever been one you know we don’t make the best choices…Before I could answer she sent the following text:

“I’m only going to hold your hand and walk with you down the road to strength and health. I can’t stand by you if you choose the other direction

Being on the receiving end of tough love is hard.

(Difficult Difficult)

But it’s all I needed.

I’m giving up the #100daychipquest as soon as this posts to my blog. I thought about just giving up the throwing away food portion of the challenge but decided that right now I shouldn’t be involved with any challenges. I have other things I need to focus on in order to get my mind right and more importantly get my body back to being healthy.

I need to eat.

I need to eat often.

The other thing I’ve done is given up my scale. I didn’t put it somewhere in the house or give it to my husband to hide. I gave it away. When I walked into Godfather’s gym yesterday morning I did so with scale in hand. The only thing I can liken it too was when I had to give up my paraphernalia when I was getting clean. This morning when I woke up I stood where my scale would normally be and cried. I’ve already thought about sneaking off to my local Fred Meyer store and weighing myself in the bath department (Hello my name is Tara and I am an addict…).

Not only did my friend call me out on my shit and make boundaries for her own emotional well being, so did Godfather. He said if I continued down this unhealthy path, then the trainings would discontinue. To have two of the most important people in my life draw that line and stand firmly on one side waiting for me to decide which path I was choosing made the decision pretty easy…

I don’t want to be on this side of unhealthy.

Alone.

I want to be on their side of healthy.

Together.

So that’s where I am today. Figuring out how I got here and figuring out how to not stay here. Loving myself enough to know that while eating right now is difficult it is necessary. Standing in the place where once my scale was and trying through wishful thinking to make it reappear knowing it won’t. Crying and laughing, then quickly going back to crying. Then taking a deep breath and moving on to the best of my ability.

With my friend by my side.

(Thank you)

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Running naked…

18 04 2011

Hahahahaha…

I bet that got your attention!

Now that you’re here might as well stick around and read the rest of this post (you pervert!).

Today I ran without my garmin. Without a heart rate monitor. Without a route. Without a mileage goal. Without a time goal. I just ran. Today starts the idea of #watchlessmonday. Picking a time during the week where a run takes place without the constraints of what many of us are bogged down with…our gadgets.

It was a little nerve-wracking at first to leave without the comforting compressed feeling of a chest strap around my body. I’ve become very attached to knowing exactly how fast I’m running, how far I’ve run, what my heart rate is and how many calories I’ve burned. As I left the house I was scheming ways of figuring all those things out without the need of any gadgets. I thought about running a direct route, one that would be easy to remember so that I could come home and google map it. I thought about running a route I was familiar with and already knew the mileage. I thought about running for a specific amount of time so that I could estimate distance…

Then I thought to challenge myself.

You know I love a good challenge right?

I purposefully ran a route that would be impossible to map. I purposefully ran a route I’ve never run before. I purposefully ran a route in which timing couldn’t be a factor (we’re talking hills baby!). It was just what I needed. I’m back to tracking food for nutritional purposes, which means I’m back to wearing a HRM when I’m at the gym to calculate how many calories I’m burning. I’ve been bogged down by my gadgets and today was liberating (Thanks Sharla).

And just like most things in my life right now…

There was a message to be learned.

As I started my run I was trying to memorize the route. I didn’t want to, but my own thoughts of having something to prove kicked in. What if it’s not far enough? What if it’s not fast enough. I have a half marathon coming up and how can this count towards training if I have no idea how far I’ve gone? As I rounded a corner I came to a set of long stairs that would have completely thrown me off course. I ran by them.

Then I turned around and ran down them.

It was important for me to let go of the constraints of what I think I should be doing and just enjoy what I was doing. Halfway down there was a landing. There was someone there, alone, throwing a ball against the door of the building. Time slowed down for me in that instance. That person looked bored. As if there was nothing better to do in the world but stand there and toss the ball back and forth. It reminded me of when I was a kid. Socially awkward. Not yet diagnosed with Aspergers. Labeled a loner. Teachers just let me be. No intervention. A tennis ball and brick wall…

That’s just Tara.

As I ran past them I looked inward to who I am and began to give thanks to the GOD that has brought me to where I am today. I tried not to cry, but couldn’t help myself as I remembered what it was like to be that person standing on the landing (both as a child and as an adult). By the time I hit the bottom of the stairs I didn’t care about my gadgets. I didn’t care about how fast I was running. I didn’t care about whether I was going to run 2 miles or 12 miles…

I just ran.

I didn’t need my garmin to tell me I have endurance. The hills I ran without stopping (and if you know Tacoma, you know there are some serious hills in the downtown area) showed me I have endurance. I didn’t need the garmin to tell me I can run fast. I just had to feel the strength in my legs as I pushed harder to know I was running faster. I didn’t need the garmin to tell me how far I was running. I just needed the exhaustion of both my lungs and my body to tell me I ran far enough…

I didn’t need the validation of a gadget.

I just needed me.

Just Tara.





When the whole is broken…

13 04 2011

Have you ever woken up from a dead sleep and wondered “how in the world did I get here?” More importantly you wondered “how in the world do I get out of here?”

I can’t tell you how many times this happened to me.

What I can tell you is how many times, before this LCJ took a hold of me, I actually succeeded at doing something about the direction of my life.

ZERO

I made many attempts at losing weight. Some of them I did okay. Atkins was probably the biggest weight loss I’d seen after almost 50 pounds came off of my body. Of course this was while clogging my arteries and finding a million ways to eat meat stuffed with meat and wrapped in more meat. Once I was sick of meat and the call of bread smothered in delicious butter was too much to handle, the weight came back with a vengeance.

It always did.

The problem?

I had the mathematical equation wrong.

You see, I thought that if I got rid of the weight my life would be normal and all my problems would go away. My depression would melt away just like the pounds. My anxiety would dissipate with every meal turned away. My self loathing would turn to self loving with each lower number on the scale and for a while it would work. I would be elated to see 10 pounds gone, then 20 pounds and sometimes I would even make it to 30 pounds but then something would happen:

LIFE WENT BACK TO BEING THE SAME.

My depression would creep back into the pores of my body and following close behind would come the anxiety. Short bursts of the “Love” I felt for myself became long drawn out episodes of “how much do I really hate myself” on one channel and “You’re such a fucking failure” on the other. The numbers on the scale would tick back up and each time it would go a little higher than the last weight gain.

Weight loss =/= Happiness

By the time my 40th birthday rolled around I was a hot mess of absolute nothingness. When you looked into my eyes there was no life. I had no direction. My whole was broken. Look I have the picture to prove it…

This was taken a few weeks after my 40th birthday. This was hours before I embarked on what I would come to term as my Life Changing Journey. It was taken hours after I came to the following decision (for the umpteenth time):

This is not who I’m supposed to be.

Look at my eyes. There’s nothing there. No life. No love. My face is bloated. Whatever semblance of a smile that seems to be there is forced. It’s hard to believe that this is the shell of the body I used to live in…

Not living in: Occupying.

I was still in that “losing weight will take my problems away” mentality but that was short lived (just like every single time before). I lost a little weight and was riding the “this is it, this is for real” high portion of the diet wave. I was pushing away donuts and fast food bags like it was no one’s business. I was gagging on water despite my almost over powering withdrawals from diet soda. This. Time. It. Would. Be. Different!!!! Then my friend Depression came back and brought along his sidekick Anxiety. Anxiety also brought a few friends: Frustration, Anger and Oh Just Fuck Off.

Weight loss =/= Happiness

I got lucky though. Something about this time around was actually different. I recognized those old behaviors creeping up on me. I didn’t want this to be another short lived “success” story. I kept thinking about that mathematical equation. Every time I’ve gone into this I was convinced when the weight came off I would be happy. I would be whole. Each and every time I was wrong. So I made a small change to the equation…

Being Whole = Happiness.

There were so many parts to my soul missing and I thought that if I lost the weight all those missing parts would some how miraculously be filled. My emotional being would become whole. My mental being would become whole. My spiritual being would become whole…and at the end of the road all the weight loss would eventually bring those missing parts of my soul together and I would BE WHOLE. When I changed the equation I understood that the weight was a secondary symptom of my primary problem: I was not whole.

It’s been a long sixteen month journey.

My friend Depression tried to stick around for the party but left after I started to make my emotional being whole. Anxiety tried to hang out a little longer but when my mental being was coming together real nicely, they left and took their friend Anger. Oh Just Fuck Off? They were around the longest it seems. Never really wanting to leave even after it was apparent that the journey was different this time around. I had the physical, the mental, the emotional aspects down. It wasn’t perfect and it’s an ever evolving journey to make those parts of me whole. The last part? The spiritual part? It’s been the hardest but also the most rewarding. When I surrendered myself to the idea that being whole also meant coming to understand that I did indeed wanted (and so badly needed) the spiritual part of me to come alive, that’s when Oh Just Fuck Off left the building…


That is when I became whole.

That is when I knew deep down in my soul

I was am happy.

It hasn’t been easy. In fact it has been down right painful. Staying in the moment. Living through all the emotions as I fight to become who I was meant to be. As I fight to become whole. As I fight to let go of the old me and embrace the woman that stands here today. But as the pieces of this puzzle come together and empty spaces are filled with Understanding, Patience and above all Love the pain lessens. It becomes easier to stand firm even when I feel like I’m going to fall.

Stop looking at your “diet” equation. That weight loss equation that you think  “This is what’s going to change the direction of my life” is not the equation that you need. What does your life equation looks like?  What’s missing from your whole. Don’t be afraid to change what isn’t working for you anymore. Don’t be afraid of finding those missing pieces. Stop pounding your head against that wall, hoping that this time…this time will be different.

Know it will be different.

Change it.

Be it.

Whole.





Let’s Blog about something FUN!!!

8 04 2011

 

Ohhhhhhhhhh Yheaaaaaaa bayyyyyybeeeeee!

I’ve been very quiet about this little piece of deliciousness because well…every time I think about Ragnar I A) squeal like a little girl B) shake my head in disbelief and C) hold my breath until my face turns blue. I can’t, however, hold in this little bit of “oh my GOD I can’t believe I’m going to do this” any longer!

 

Don’t know what Ragnar is?

I didn’t either until Sharla planted a little seed in my brain. The seed? “Wouldn’t it be cool to run a 187 mile relay race?”…well yes in fact it would be cool but absolutely insane ridiculous impossible….wait a minute?

Tell me more.

You and 11 of your closest friends running 200(ish) miles, day and night, relay-style, through some of the most scenic terrain North America could muster. Add in crazy runners, inside jokes and a mild case of sleep deprivation. The result? Some call it a slumber party without sleep, pillows or deodorant. We call it a Ragnar Relay. It’s really quite simple. Get a bunch of friends together (or we can help you find team members who’ll quickly become your friends) and start running. Okay, there’s a little more to it. Your relay team will consist of 12 members (or 6 for Ultra teams). During the relay, each team member runs three legs, each leg ranging between 3 – 8 miles and varying in difficulty. So, from the elite runner down to the novice jogger, it’s the perfect relay race for anyone. How do you cover 200(ish) miles? Only one runner hits the road at a time. The rest of your teammates are on support duty in your race vehicles. Teams require 2 vehicles, with runners 1-6 in van 1 and 7 -12 in van 2. Van 1’s runners will cover the first six legs. It’s a relay, so as the each runner begins, the crew in the vehicle can drive ahead, cheer their runner on, and meet them at the exchange point to pick them up and drop off the next runner. After the first 6 legs, van 2 picks up the slack and starts putting in the miles. A day, night and day later, you’ll have made it all the way from start to finish!”

(That’s from the WEBSITE)

So now you know why I A) Squeal like a girl B) Shake my head in disbelief and C) Hold my breath until my face turns blue. When we first starting putting this crazy ass preposterous outlandish idea together we had six runners that were ready to sign on the dotted line…so we began looking for another six to complete our twelve runner team. It didn’t take long to find another six runners, but unfortunately they came and went for a variety of reasons. Again the core six of us began to search for another six runners to complete the much needed twelve “man” team because there was no way in hell we were going to run this as an ULTRA team of six….

We had a team of twelve again.

For about a month.

Again for whatever reason those six other runners didn’t pan out and as the deadline for early registration came closer and closer a little whisper began to speak loud and clear to me: Maybe this core team of six is supposed to run the 187 miles…maybe we are meant to go ULTRA!!! So I put it out there to the rest of the team and before I could take back my words and act like I never even had a fleeting thought, we officially became:

T.O.P

(Team Optimus Prime)

ULTRA TEAM!

187 miles (Yes I said 187 miles!)

On July 22 the six of us are going to do something absolutely CRAZY amazing. We’re going to spend 24 hours running…and running…and running from Blaine WA (yep, near the Canadian border) until sometime July 23rd when we’ll cross the finish line in Whidbey Island 187 miles south of where we started.

Did I mention the farthest I’ve ever run is 13.1 miles?

I’m officially Ragnar Relay Race runner #1 hence forth nick named “Rag1” Each runner will run three portions of the race. I run 1st, then 7th and finally 13th. You’re probably already doing some math calculations as to the length each of us will have to run in order to cover 187 miles in 24 hours whenever we finish. Mine breaks down as the following:

First leg = 12.4 miles

Second leg = 7.9 miles

Third leg = 10.9 miles

31.2 miles!

So there ya have it. For someone who just started running just a short year ago (I was up to 2.8 miles this time last year), this is almost incomprehensible….almost. There is something in my heart that says this is going to be one of the hardest coolest things I’ve ever done. I love my team mates more than words can express. I put it out to them that we should do this Ultra style and they came through with flying colors!

I want you to love them too.

BRANDON

MAC

SHARLA

*my other two team mates aren’t bloggers (sad I know)

TEAM OPTIMUS PRIME

(definitely more than meets the eye!)

 





Living in another reality…

29 03 2011

I used to be a death knight…

Five years I played World of Warcraft.

Five years I sank into a chair for hours and hours each day creating a reality that was so far away from what my real life represented. It was WHERE I wanted to be because there I could create a character that represented WHO I wanted to be.

Strong

Fast

Beautiful

Killing demons and saving lives

I played day in and day out. I would get up hours before it was time for me to go to work and play until the very last minute before I had to leave the house (sometimes no shower included). I would wake up on a Saturday and for 8 – 10 hours I would sit in the same place and create a world in which I felt better about myself inside a stupid laptop than I ever did in my actual environment.

I SANK into the chair, but even worse I GREW into the chair.

LITERALLY.

Today I sit in that same chair and take up half the space that I used to. I remember the days of sitting for so long the sides of my hips became sore from pressing into the arms of the chair. It never dawned on me that maybe…just maybe something was wrong with the amount of time I was spending building my death knight into the perfect version of me.

I was safe from the demons of my real life because I was wielding a big sword, wearing a plate of armor and killing the demons of another reality. I know it sounds hokey but if you’ve ever been addicted to video games, this all makes perfect sense to you. It made perfect sense to me. Why spend time out here in my real world, looking around at what life had to offer me (at that time it was sadness, distrust and a overwhelming feeling of failure) when I could spend it playing a game that over time became everything that I was…

It’s scary out here.

Sometimes people hurt your feelings and they mean too. Sometimes people hurt your feelings and they don’t mean too. Sometimes you fail at what you’re trying to do. Sometimes you make one bad choice which leads to two…three….and then you feel out of control. Sometimes you get so overwhelmed by the emotions inside your body you can’t seem to catch your breath. Sometimes you trip and fall and the hardest thing to do is to get back up. Sometimes you look in the mirror and want to pound so hard against what is looking back at you, it breaks into a million pieces and finally you feel what your heart is feeling…broken.

It’s hard to be broken.

It’s hard to not run away.

It’s hard to not want to sink back into that chair.

When I stopped playing that game, I had to stay here in my real world. I had to sit with all the pain of feeling like a failure and now on top of that looking back and realizing what a waste my life had been for the previous 1825 days. I had to live with being broken and find the courage to not run back to what was safe but to stand with my feet firmly planted…

I had to kill some demons.

I learned to pick up those millions of pieces of my heart and slowly mend it back together. I had to learn to forgive those that I felt hurt me in the past and more importantly learn to forgive myself. I had to open my heart, mind and spirit and trust that the world actually isn’t out to get me. I had to get out of that chair and move and save my life because living in a world as a death knight was not living…in fact it was dying.

It hasn’t been an easy road by any means.  I was scared. I was distrustful. I was angry. I was morbidly obese. I lacked the self confidence it took to look people in the eyes when they spoke to me. I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t believe in the world around me. But sinking into a chair and living in another reality wasn’t what was going to fix what was broken. Living in my reality, in the moment, taking all of everything, loving myself, knowing it would be worth it and more importantly that I deserved this is; that’s what fixed it.

Guess what I discovered finally fixing what I felt was broken out here

instead of hiding in a level 80 death knight?

I am:

STRONG

FAST

BEAUTIFUL

KILLING DEMONS AND SAVING LIVES

(Funny how that happens)

 

 

 





Population: One

10 03 2011

I’ve spent the majority of my life as a population of one. I had neighborhood friends and even a best friend or two growing up but as young as I can remember I preferred to be alone. At home I’d spend hours in my room doing nothing. At school I’d put books up around my desk creating a barrier between me and my classmates. During recess I’d throw a tennis ball against the wall while all the other kids played tag or green monster on the monkey bars. Even when I was being a “kid” outside, it was usually alone.  Being alone was a mechanism I created to keep me safe.  Becoming a population of one meant no one could leave me. It meant I was in control of what happened to my surroundings. It meant the only person I could trust to love me, to take care of me, to be there no matter what was me.

It can get pretty lonely being a population of one.

But it’s safe.

As an adult, I clung to this safety. I loved people but I never fully trusted them. I spent time with people but I never fully engaged with them. I may not have physically put books up, like I did in elementary school, between me and my adult relationships but they were up emotionally. Always at arms length. Always on the other side of the proverbial playground while I threw the tennis ball back and forth against the brick wall.

It was safe.

But it was lonely…

As I’ve traveled this journey for the past year, I’ve slowly (so very very slowly) learned that my population of one is no longer necessary. I don’t need to put up the barriers and keep people at bay. I don’t need to be alone thinking this is the only way to keep myself safe. No one is leaving me. No one is trying to take my control away. No one is out to hurt me emotionally and/or physically.

As I look forward, I do so with an open heart. I’ve learned to trust. I’ve learned to love. Fully engaged in my surroundings and those around me. No one wants to hurt me. No one wants to leave me. I no longer need to rely solely on myself to love and care for me. The mechanisms I needed as a child to survive are no longer needed…

I am safe.

I am no longer lonely.

Thank you





The men in my life…

3 03 2011

I was raised by a single mother.

Let me preface this post by saying I truly believe my mother raised me to the best of her ability. However,  her ability was severely lacking. She was not given the proper tools to raise her children and suffered from what I believe is massive genetic depression. She was an alcoholic. She was abusive to all four of her children (though each of our sufferings played out in different avenues). She lived a lonely life and at the young age of 52 she died even lonelier.

My father left 3 months after I was born.

As with most children, I blamed myself. I know in hindsight there is no way a 3 month old infant could cause a grown man to flee from his wife and her 3 sons but you try telling that to an emotionally dysfunctional child who never once laid eyes on the man who helped create her. I became the spokeschild for the “I don’t need a father” statement. I would plant my feet and proclaim “My mother is both parents and I prefer it that way” but secretly I longed for a father. All my neighbors had them. I just had a mom who was pretty non-existent in my upbringing and back in the 70’s you stuck out like a sore thumb.

That left my three brothers to be the male role models I needed.

That didn’t happen.

They had their own demons.

One hated me for being born.

One took my innocence.

Then there was my brother Kevin.

He was my angel growing up. He loved me like a big brother should love his little sister. I remember he would brush the tangles out of my hair after bath time but in all honesty that is only one of very few memories I have of him. Except the day he left when I was 8 years old. He just turned 18 and in order to escape my mother  and her abuse he joined the military. I remember standing in the living room listening to another violent fight take place between the two of them (in our household it was a nightly event between my brothers and her). Then he was gone. I don’t remember if he said goodbye to me. I don’t remember if he told me where he was going.  He just disappeared from my life. Much like I blamed myself for my father leaving when I was 3 months old, I was convinced Kevin’s leaving was my fault. Of course as an adult I know now this is not the case but you can’t convince an 8-year-old who just wanted her brother to brush the tangles out of her hair otherwise. I would bet a million dollars the day he left is the day I started  to panic about food…

This post isn’t supposed to be about what I missed out on as a child.

But to talk about the male role models in my life today.

Because I have them.

And I love them dearly.

I may have not had a father growing up but I have one now. While I wouldn’t call him dad in public (because for pete’s sake I’m 41 years old) I do believe that Godfather was put in my life to be more than my trainer when we first met last summer. I am truly blessed to have him in my life. He started out as my trainer but it has blossomed into something more complex that I just couldn’t explain even if I tried. He is my mentor and makes me want to be a better person (isn’t that what all good dads do for their kids). I still see him in the gym as a coach and he still pushes the athlete in me past what I think I can accomplish but he teaches me outside of the gym as well. He speaks to my heart and looks me in the eyes even when the things I  need to hear are hard to accept. When we go to church I like to sit in between him and his wife and imagine they are my parents. The parents I deserved to have. They love me and I believe them.

While my brother’s sort of tanked in the brotherly love department, I have Michael. I haven’t really mentioned him too much on my blog but he’s pretty much shown me that you can have men in your life and they don’t want anything from you except your friendship. We met last year after my husband gave me a spa certificate for Christmas. My husband thought he would be the best match of all the massage therapists at Jewell Day Spa (shameless plug). But I was 270 pounds and embarrassed to even go and have anyone touch me let alone some guy. I sat on that certificate for a few weeks. I lost a tiny bit of weight and all the walking I was doing made me sore.

After my first appointment I made a second.

It was before my second appointment I started running. By the time that appointment came around I was running three minutes!!!! My muscles hated me but they were a little less hateful when I left my second appointment and had a third in my hand. A month later I was half way through couch to 5k and I would mention this to Michael.

Turns out he was a runner.

Every month would go by and each time I was getting thinner and running longer distances. Every month we would talk about running until eventually we started running together (he has been pivotal in my journey to be a better runner). It didn’t take long for us to realize how much in common we had in our upbringing and slowly but surely a friendship grew. One that has become extremely important to me. He reminds me a lot of Kevin and how secure I felt as a young girl. It didn’t really hit me how much I care about him until just last week when I went to have dinner with him, his wife and a house full of strangers. To know me is to know I don’t do well with people I’ve never met. I’m learning to get out of my comfort zone (sitting at home day in and day out). He invited and for the first time I really felt like I wanted to be there. It was awesome. I felt comfortable and a part of the festivities instead of like a lump of nothingness in the corner. However that wasn’t what made me love the crap out of him.

It was his Donald Duck voice.

I remember as a little girl my brother Kevin would do these voices that he would only do for me. They were like our little game. Donald duck was one of them. He would only do it when we were alone. If there was someone in the room he spoke normally but as soon as it was just him and I these voices would come alive and I would laugh uncontrollably while running around the house asking “did you hear that?” I remember asking him to do the voices for other people and he would just look at me like I was out of my mind and say something like “What voices?” or “What are you talking about?” It’s one of the few happy memories I have of my childhood.

While over at Michael’s house taking in what it looked like when family and friends came together for nothing more but to be in each other’s company I watched him interact with all the kids in the house. It was awesome. I was standing next to him, while he held the smallest of the itty bitty. A beautiful baby boy who was slobbering the hell out of his hands (both his and Michael’s). Out of nowhere I hear his Donald Duck voice and I am immediately transported back to a happier time in my life. In that moment I knew that those kids in that house would always have a man that cared for them.

I am lucky to call Michael my friend.

Finally there is my husband.

All my life I wanted to know what it meant to have unconditional love. I wanted to know what it felt like to look into the eyes and heart of someone and truly believe they loved me for me. I’ve spent my entire life running from relationship to relationship giving everything trying to replace the love lost of a father and brothers (and mother) and never ever have I found comfort in the way I find it with my husband, Mitch. He loved me at 270 and he loves me today. He never saw me as fat. He just saw me. He loved me when I was severely depressed and he loves me today when some days I just can’t seem to keep it together. He loves me when I push him away and he loves me when I can’t seem to get close enough. He really is my knight in shining armor. He doesn’t judge, nor demand.

He just loves.

Did the lack of loving and caring male role models in my life set the stage for the struggles that would bring  me to being 270 pounds and severely depressed at the age of 40? I would say yes. Would it be the only reason that I got to where I was? No. But just as much as the lack of having positive male role models got me to a point of almost no return, the presence of such loving and wonderful men in my life now have brought me to where I am today.

Whole.

Loved.

Important.

Before I end this post I want to talk about my brother Kevin a little bit more. He left when I was 8. It would take 30 years for us to put behind what happened to us as kids and move forward toward being brother and sister again. I didn’t understand his demons. He didn’t understand mine. I now realize he had to leave in order to survive. I missed him so much and it took the dying of my oldest brother John for me to realize that I can’t carry the anger/hurt/sadness of that little 8 year old girl one second longer. I love him today as I loved him as a small child…

His Donald Duck voice is beautiful.

He still denies he can do it.

For that I love him.