~ making the world shinier one bead at a time

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Still Fighting

Weight: 321 lbs.
One small mercy I'm grateful for right now? That I can bake and leave what I bake alone. Monday was a test for me. I made wedding cookies from scratch to take to Thanksgiving at my daughter's. I haven't touched them and I don't want to. I'm baking pumpkin cheesecake and sweet potato casserole today.
I wasn't sure if I was mentally strong enough to bake, real talk I was afraid I'd descend on cookies like an animal because that's who I was in the past. Bake the batch sometimes led to eat the batch.
I've changed. My tastes have changed. Being free of sugar means I no longer crave these things. I do still fight what's wrong with me. I've never been diagnosed with binge eating disorder but was bulimic as a teen and when I quit purging with laxatives the weight piled on. And off. And on. Rinse. Repeat.
There are times now, far between and getting further, that I will find that I've eaten through a bag, or even two bags, of celery in a sitting. Yes, it's celery, but it's still concerning to me because it's still a pattern of bingeing. I have episodes (thankfully infrequent now) when I am extremely resentful that I can't just eat however I want, there is still anger there. I'm in general a truly happy person now but there are, I don't know, remainders? 
Transparency with all of you is sometimes hard for me. Being honest, brutally honest, with myself is harder. I am currently working hard to be a gym rat. I do circuit training 3xweek and cardio 2xweek (off weekends). Sometimes I find that I can pour my anger into my workouts and that's healthy I think. Of course I still walk Machine every day. It is amazing how much I've been able to recover from a body I thought was finished.

Progress is hard and there is always the very real fear that I'll repeat my history and backslide. In the realm of addictions I've recovered from I can say hands down that this has been the hardest journey of my life.
Much of my life, like everyone, has been a battle. I like to think of myself now as a warrior because it helps me to feel stronger and to push harder every day. There is that part of me that feels this is conceited. Maybe a little conceit isn't always a bad thing.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

How I Learned to Like Walking

Wt: 332 lbs.

I got a dog.

I didn't just get any dog though, I got my furry soulmate. We tight. We listen to Lizzo and Cole Porter songs and Fred Astaire (this is Machine's personal favorite, it rates perfect on the 3 sighs happiness meter).

He looks directly into my eyes. Sometimes I feel like he's looking into my soul.

Y'all people that think you can't connect deeply with a dog, (Lizzo voice) I'm sorry. You just don't get it, you don't understand, man!

Dog lovers though (and cat lovers and ferret lovers and snake lovers and rat lovers, etc), you get this, you feel this. It's that piece of your heart that they own, that they hold, lock and key.

When you lose them it hurts so incredibly bad that you don't know if you can go through that again, that kind of pain.

And then you do, because you have to.

Because living life without that bond is unacceptable. Because the void that is there is profound.

You do and you never look back and have nothing but happiness about getting a new friend.

You won't lose the love you have for your other pets, your heart is bigger than you know.

Just as my cats saved me when they came into my life after my Andi passed, Machine brought me a walking friend that is brave and fierce and happy and smart. He brought me someone who likes to explore. He made me remember ALL the walking I did in Germany in the woods on my own exploring and how much I loved that.

It was so hard to get moving again, it hurt so much. TBH, it still doesn't feel that great but y'know what? It's getting better almost daily.

I can't remember the last time I used my rescue inhaler. I can breathe like a person again.

I know someone at some point will read this and relate. I'm a person that needs a reason to do things. I don't want to walk alone with my headphones on blocking out the entire world, I'm not about that anymore. I was about that, I was hard about that.

When you cover your ears you miss things, you miss nature and you miss life. I'm rediscovering after decades how to be a part again, a part of the universe, a part of life.

And this little guy? He's helping me do that. Isn't that right, Machine?

Saturday, August 24, 2019

I Have a Confession To Make

I've been complacent. I've been living life in a way I haven't in a decade and I quit logging my food. I went back up to 335.4 lbs. Today I'm down to 334 lbs. and have gotten a chokehold on what I'm doing.

I do this to myself. I always have. Always. I lose weight, I get happy because the mental ish backs off when I'm not eating crap and I stop working so hard. I get to that, "Eh, it's about that weight..." and "Eh....looks like two tablespoons to me!" place. I know you know that place. It's the place right before you go, "Eh....I'm happy. I'll just maintain".

But you won't. You know you won't. Even if you did you won't because self-sabotage, that ish is addictive too. Abusing yourself mentally, playing mental games....that's all part of that bargain cycle, you know?

"Well Ima eat this now but that's ok because I won't eat anything the rest of the day...."



For me, that's like pre-binge mode. All my alarm bells went "whoop whoop whoop danger danger" like the Genie in Aladdin when Aladdin tryin' to make time with Jasmine.

And I complain in my weight loss group I'm in that I'm doing everything right and that it's so frustrating.

When the whole time I'm lying because I'm ashamed (crying now, fuck) and I'm afraid to let everyone down.

But the only person I'm letting down?

It's me.

So I put the brakes on yesterday morning. Today is coffee morning. Breakfast gonna be around 1pm. That works for me and I've drifted from it.

It's hard, you know, to be strict and on point for over a year and you still have oceans of work left to do. I get SO impatient.

So. Anyway. A tip:

This is why it's good to write from the very start of your journey. I keep a private diary. TBH, I don't write in it much anymore and I need to do that too because just like the food if you don't keep the bit tight around the mental stuff it oozes back onto your conscious mind like Nickelodeon green slime.

Side note: Rocko's Modern Life is on Netflix. I know, right? Now if they'd just get all the episodes of The Maxx my life would be complete. I know, obscure. Trust me, lots of the things that I love are obscure. Also, history? Of anything, literally anything. So interesting.

So back to the point, lol: if you have kept a journal/diary/a box of assorted torn up paper with scribbles on it you can go back and read the mindset you want back. For me it's like pushing a reset button. I've never tried losing weight this way before. You know, holding myself accountable when I lie to myself and others. Do you do that? Do we all do that? Lie and then feel bad? Is there some magical person out there that manages to have all the answers? If there is I'd really like to know because every person I've ever met in my life has had just boxes and boxes of secrets, like, renting space at the 'You-Lock-It Brain Storage Facility'.

So yesterday morning I went back to my diary and it fell open on 3/01/19, it's says at the top of the page that I weighed 365 lbs. This is what I wrote and it woke me up:

wt: 365 lbs.                                                                                          3/01/19

From My 600 lb. Life:

"I can't wait to eat, it makes all my problems go away."

Except it doesn't.

Nothing makes the pain and problems leave until you face them.

Nothing changes until you change.

You are never in charge until you take charge.

You won't get your life back until until you decide to take it back.

When you do that?

Everything changes.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

We All Cute

TRIGGER WARNING: this blog post contains a side by side weight loss comparison photo. If you find these types of photos toxic and/or triggering I would strongly suggest that you click out. I post this because I'm proud of what I've accomplished, it was damn hard work, it continues to be damn hard work. I also post it to show what a 58 year old fat woman can accomplish in a year's time. Age be damned. Slow metabolism, if it exists (and after a lot of reading I strongly doubt that it does but that is MY opinion for my body, do your own research), be damned. Pain be damned. Above all else, fear of facing my past, confronting my fears, and depression/anxiety be damned. I pushed past it all and lost 110 lbs.

Ima post my photos and that's all I've got to say about that.

Current weight: 329 pounds and I've been stuck in this neighborhood, fluctuating between 329 and 331 for over 6 weeks now. It's horribly frustrating. It also plugs into two things I've always done in the past:

1) Fuck this. I'm eating right and exercising and logging my food and haven't changed what I'm doing and at my weight it should be falling off and, and......just fuck this. Where's the cheesecake?

2) I've stopped losing. What I'm doing isn't working. I should do an egg fast. I should just quit eating entirely for a month and only drink snake juice. I should eat only meat. I should be vegan. I wonder if paleo is better? There's that new liquid fast thing they came out with......

Except I know better now. I have read a LOT over the past year, from self-help books to nutrition books to legit research papers and what I came away with is this:

your body needs time to heal. It will take that time. You may not like that. Tough shit. Just stay the course and live your life and keep doing what you are doing. The weight will drop again.

This is what happened after staying the course and fighting back the urge to quit or do insane-o-diet in a year:

That's my daughter on the left in both photos, she's lost over the last year as well. My husband also lost over 30 pounds and is at his goal weight and that's something to consider too. Sometimes the positive changes you initiate impact those around you in a positive way and that in and of itself is a better gift than my own weight loss.

Also? I think I look like a boss bitch in both photos. I don't hate my 'before'. We cute. We all cute.

We gonna stay the course though because I don't plan on checking out of this life anytime soon. I got shit to do.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Bye Beads

So on this bright Saturday morning I just cancelled the two bead shows I had scheduled. I've come to a place where I don't want to sell beads, I just want to hole up with my boro and work without pressure. 
I want to do my etching and metalsmithing. I want to work on ideas that combine both disciplines. I want to continue to train and play with Machine because he'll only be a puppy once and because being with him brings me joy. I want to keep working on my house because that, also, brings me joy and the boro brings me joy. Beads do not bring me joy. Beads bring me angst and resentment. 
I've been through this before, when I finally left insurance underwriting and nursing for good.
I talked to Chris and we are in a place where it will be tight but I can do that. Most of you know I quit Etsy. My "shops" still exist over there because I like to have access to past purchases and follow some artists there, but all the stock in both stores have been removed.
I'm going through that existential crisis thing I think. I have off and on crying jags and bouts of, "What am I doing with my life?" because it's short, life is short, and I don't want to spend it doing something that upsets me. Right now, for some reason, that's beads and selling beads. Also, I turn 59 in 13 days and I'm sure that's part of it too. I hate birthdays. I hate being reminded of my mortality and I truly hate acknowledging a number that seems insane when I feel about 14 right now mentally.

I feel like a whiny little bitch too because I want to work on what I want to work on, not what makes money which isn't fair to Chris IMO. He can't just stop what he's doing because he doesn't like it, you know? I wish I wasn't wired this way and could just be content, I don't know, pushing papers behind a desk or something. Lots of people are content doing that. I'm always so fucking restless. I'm always searching. I'm always trying to "find myself", whatever tf that is. 

I feel like, though, if I devote myself to those things I'm passionate about in the end I'll be better for it, mentally and financially. I hope so anyway.
The pressure I feel when I think about beads makes me want to eat and that's a dangerous thing for me right now, I'm at a sort of cliff in my, not really journey....in my recovery. I've worked too hard to let it all fall apart for money, and that's the plain truth.
The body changes are freaking me out pretty badly and I think that's part of what is going on too. A big part of the 'what am I?' is 'why don't I look like myself?'.
So I'm hoping by removing pressure in some areas I can address the problems I have in other areas without having the whole house of sticks collapse on me.
Does that make sense? I hope it does. I feel selfish and, for some reason, ashamed - like I've failed yet again.
I just want to not struggle so hard for awhile, you know? Just for awhile.
I wasn't sure I would blog this but I know other people go through the same types of things, especially creatives. 
I love being a maker but sometimes it's really rough.

I love that I've made so many positive changes in my life but sometimes that's really rough too. 

On a positive note, I never have to open doors for myself anymore, lol. I used to do that all the time: open doors for myself, open doors for everyone else. This poor gentleman at the post office today was in such a hurry to open the door for me he almost faceplanted in the lobby. I started to reach for the door and he yelled, "Don't you TOUCH that!" I froze and everyone turned around. Then he recovered himself, strode to the door, and opened it for me, saying, "That's MY job" and all the other women standing around waiting in line to post packages laughed and clapped. It was embarrassing but also really sweet. He made me smile on a day that started out really rough. It's the little things we do for each other in life that sometimes make all the difference.

So bye beads.

It's been real and it's been fun and at times it was real fun but not no more. Time to move on.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Fluffy and Tina

 I had many pets in my childhood. They were all abused but none to the degree that Fluffy was. If you are especially sensitive to descriptions of animal abuse you might want to skip this blog entry.

I started out this blog post intending to write about all of my pets in my childhood in one go but as is always the case when I write, which is very much stream of consciousness, one thing brings up another brings up another and it becomes emotionally exhausting. What follows is the final edit that was written today after days of self-examination and work while my new puppy, Machine, sleeps and dreams with tiny 'woof woofs' while his paws run on imaginary grass. He is everything to me in this time as Fluffy was, and I would imagine Tina and her puppies were, in theirs. There is something about the bond with an animal that cannot be described in words, you have to experience it. Those of you who know, know.

While I could (and tried) to go into detail with every animal it would be book length and I've reached a point that what I need to do is, rather than reciting every evil thing my mother ever did, write down the two specific pets that I think are at the core of my impression of myself that I am a bad person undeserving of pets and love because I couldn't save my Fluffy when I was 4 years old or Tina and her puppies when I was 3. For the rest, I've logged your fate and the best of who you were to me as a companion and a friend below with what photos I have.

I have reached a place where it's time to let go of self-loathing on this subject, on animals, and realize that I've been a wonderful pet mama and an advocate for animals as an adult. My 4 year-old on the inside needs to understand that she was braver than she realizes and that some events are, quite simply, beyond a child's control. My 3 year-old needs to understand that the reason that Tina and the puppies disappeared wasn't because she caught ringworm from them, it was because she had a mother that was abusive and ignorant and just flat-out lazy.

Fluffy was amazing and her story deserves to be heard because people need to realize just how awful some people can be. Also, I think she would approve of me outing my mother, she did her best to chew every decent shoe my mother ever had to bits  (and would then urinate on them which gave me special joy as a child because I was never that brave at 4). Go Fluffy.

We slept together always. When she wasn't in my bed and was relegated to the backyard I would go out and sleep in her doghouse with her because my mother simply didn't care. It was one reason (another being that my mother didn't wear clothing in the house and was always naked in the house and forced me to be as well) that she never allowed family to come over without calling first. Don't want maw-maw to catch her granddaughter sleeping outside in the doghouse, she had enough reason to loathe my mother already.

So this has been in my mind since I realized I was getting a new puppy for real (we brought Machine home Monday and he's amazing and the whole family adores him) and while I don't want to write it (and have had to do this, actually, in stages over days) because it's hard to visit these places and events in my mind I'm going to write it anyway. I'm writing it for myself, so that I can let go. I'm writing it for my inner children, I feel that I have many, frozen at different ages in regards to the pets of my childhood (and other events). It's like mentally I have to unfreeze myself at different ages, if that makes sense? It's like my developmental progress stopped at a traumatic event and my psyche switched tracks and started over with a fresh copy. Sort of like when you are doing digital artwork and you save a copy, it's frozen at that point, and you go on with a duplicate to edit it in different (sometimes better, sometimes worse) ways. In the 80s I was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, I think largely due to the following reasons:

A.) It was the DOC (diagnosis of choice) in the psych field at the time.

B.) I had fugue states, which I now think were likely just really severe emotional flashbacks to         events that were so traumatic that I fell into them, if you will, and lost track of current time.

C.) I described what I felt like were different personalities to the therapist and my psychiatrist because my mother told me I had them and who/what they were. She actually typed up a list of them  when I was around 17 or so and gave it to me so I could know myself. I remember there were 16 and I think that's significant because unless I'm completely wrong that was the amount of personalities the Sybil had? It's like she was crafting her favorite book in human form and it's been the job of years for me to pick out what I was told to remember/experience and what I actually do remember as an experience.

I know, that's a mess. I was a mess. I am still a mess but I'm getting much better. Healing from a traumatic childhood, I've come to understand, isn't really healing. In essence, it's understanding what causes the self-damaging behaviors and working through that event so that you can stop those behaviors.

It's finding health.

It's finding peace.

In my defense, I didn't know any better and I also think she had these discussions with me to convince me I was crazy in the event that the things she and my father did were ever to come to light because I sought help. My mother was the queen of read all the therapy books/diagnostic manuals which I've since discovered is sometimes a thing for people with severe psych disorders. She also would check out and bring home diagnostic books when she could buy them or borrow them from the library at SMU when she was getting her Masters there. I remember 'The Primal Scream' sitting on her nightstand when I was in 5th or 6th grade and how she would lock herself in her bedroom and shriek for hours. Gaslighting at it's finest, she was a master.

Lastly, I'm writing this and throwing it out into the virtual world for those other people, children and adults, who loved their pets fiercely and because they were too small and/or defenseless themselves or were in a situation so abusive that they couldn't always save the animals that gave them all their love in a world where there wasn't love from any other quarter.

It wasn't your fault.

You were small. You were a child. You gave everything you had and everything you could.

You were an adult in an abusive relationship struggling to survive yourself.

Defending the animals you love against your abuser often levels worse abuse on those animals because the abuser realizes that hurting them physically hurts you worse mentally than any beating can. I don't think I'm alone in saying that I would have taken, and sometimes did take (if I could convince my mother I had done whatever my beloved dog did - tearing up furniture, getting into food left out on the cabinet, etc) beatings for my dogs. It was the only way I knew to help them, I was too small to fight her.

You were the only source of pure love for those animals just like they were your only source of pure love. Be proud of that, cherish it. If they could see you again they would give you kisses and head bumps and curl up with you to sleep because you were the one person that kept them safe and loved them.

Think of them with joy.

I will show you the few photos I have of the beloved dogs of my childhood/teen years. My mother kept a steely grip on photos. They were important to me, I revisited them all the time, and she knew that. Photos were, along with music, the way I kept track of my life because I would forget so much. In reality I'm sure my brain was blocking at a furious pace to hold me together. In any event I had to ask permission to look at photos and they were kept in her bedroom and I was not allowed to carry them outside of that room and certainly not ever, under any circumstances, remove them from the albums. Over the years I managed to steal a precious few. Additionally, there simply were not many photos of our pets. My mother considered that a "...waste of film". The photo I have of Suzie was taken with a little black and white camera (I think it was a Brownie? Not sure on that) that my grandfather Mackie bought me on the sly when I was in Abilene one summer and I kept it hidden, taking it out only when my mother wasn't around and buying the film with money I stole from her purse in bits of change she wouldn't miss (yeah, I stole -honestly, do you really blame me?) and getting it when I could get away on my bicycle. I would shove the film down my pants and tell my mother as I rushed past that I had diarrhea, something she was terrified of for some reason, and then stash it under the bathroom cabinet behind a loose board. I remember these things now, think about the hoops I jumped through for a few photographs, and realize why I've had issues around taking pictures of myself for years. I always just assumed it was because I couldn't stand to see how fat and ugly I perceived myself as being but as I peel back layers and more and more memories surface I realize that the damage was different and more perverse. The more you know the more you understand, right?

Photographs also served as a leash. My mother knew (or assumed) I would never leave those photographs I treasured behind and since they were hers to dole out or keep she saw that as yet another way (along with my father's threats to take my truck) to keep me from ever leaving and being free. I think now that the stories I told myself that photographs didn't matter, that living life was more important, was the way I dealt with the pain of, essentially, leaving myself behind. I was afraid that without that image, or for years without my records and my music that I recently radically destashed, that I would somehow, at least mentally, cease to be. Music and photos were the packing tape that held me together for years. That's the best way I can describe it. What you convince yourself you don't need can't keep you chained.

When I left and married, and then broke all contact at  age 28, I left all my photographs behind. There was a small album from a trip to California with Lottie and Hermann, my mother's parents, that my Aunt Elke, my mother's sister, put together for me of my trip. When I came home my mother saw it because I didn't hide it quickly enough and, of course, took it. When I was pregnant with Kelly and already had Sam and we were in our new house my mother, in a fit of pique, threw that album on my front lawn where I found it. At that time it horrified me because it meant she knew where I was when I had taken pains not to leave traces from my old duplex to my new home but my father had ever had gambling/drinking buddies on various police forces in the area so of course he found me, of course.

Throughout Kelly and Sam's childhood they rarely played in their own front yard. I would let them play down the street but live in abject fear the entire time they were gone as I had no doubt my parents, if they happened to stalk me at that particular time, would kidnap my children. It was only with their deaths that I was finally free of that fear. My parents never met my children, their grandchildren. I am fiercely proud of that. Of all of the things I've done in my life I still consider that one act of breaking that chain of abuse the most heroic thing I've done. I don't normally use words like heroic when I refer to myself but I'm working to change that too. 

In the end, she was wrong. It hurt me to leave those photos behind but what she didn't realize is that while I buried many events I saw those photos so many, many times that to this day I can call them up, it's like I copied them to my brain. At least, the most important ones. I also had the few precious ones I managed to steal over the years and rearrange the photos in the albums so she couldn't see that some were missing.

I will say this about my mother, I think she was always sick in this way in regards to animals, much like they say serial killers are. Lottie, her mother, told me that my mother had a little graveyard in Germany behind their house at the ages of 4 - 6. One incident that horrified my grandmother was when she saw my mother hurl their budgie into some sort of fan. When my grandmother, horrified, was screaming at her asking her why my mother calmly told her she wanted to see what happened and then said, "I don't think there's enough left here to bury in my graveyard..." and walked out of the room. I think that happened. I can see my mother saying that. When I say she was a monster, I don't just idly comment like that, like, "Oh, my mother went through my stuff, she's such a monster...."


There are real monsters and they don't hide under beds.

So that was a long explanation and this feels more like a book than a blog post, lol, but I feel like laying down the psychological foundations of the home I grew up in can help a person that hasn't been exposed to living this way to understand it. Now let's talk about my furbabies as I let them go and be at peace over the rainbow bridge where I know they all run and play together. While I'm not a religious person for myself (and I would imagine I'll address the why's of that at some point, everything in it's time) I like to think of my pets as being in a place like heaven, where they all run and are free and rolling in the grass together. It brings me peace.


I was never able to get the one photo of Tina I recall but I can see it in my mind clearly. She's laying on her side, looking at the camera, with her puppies nursing, I think there were 7 but I was very small at the time, I was 3 years old. I don't recall that much. I remember being covered with puppies licking. :D I do remember itching. Later my maw-maw told me I had ringworm when I was telling her I remembered puppies and itching. She also told me that Tina had ringworm and so did the puppies. I don't know their fate, I assume my mother took them all to the pound or just dumped them on a street somewhere far from our house. I also remember another event that, I am sure, is why I remember Tina at all. I asked my mother about it, if it really happened, when I was a teen. She told me that yes, it happened, and it was a necessary "...precaution". What my mother did to me was bend me over in the bathroom and stick a spoon (yes, a standard spoon like you eat with) up my butt to dig out feces and check it for worms because "ringworm" (my mother told me this was how my grandmother Lottie, her mother, treated her for worms). Despite the name, ringworm is a fungal infection that you treat with topicals. You have to treat the entire house as well which I assume also happened although we did move that same year. I know that because years ago I had to construct a timeline while I was in therapy and with maw-maw's help was able to pinpoint when we moved from that house in Abilene and how old I was as well as approximately when Tina lived with us. My mother, while intelligent, could also be stunningly stupid in regards to non-psych medical issues. Stunningly. Stupid. Tina and her puppies paid for that. My maw-maw told me that Tina was a sweet dog that loved me and I'm sure that's true. Be free Tina, run and play with your puppies.<3


This story hurts the worst. To me, this was the most brutal thing my mother ever did to an animal. To my knowledge and the best of my memory there were no photos of Fluffy. If there were my mother destroyed them.

Fluffy was a Spitz, what has been known, SINCE 1917 (according to Google), as an American Eskimo but to my mother they were always Spitz. There is a German folk-tale that my mother repeated to me endlessly about a man who tells his wife she does nothing all day so they agree to switch roles (looking back now I find this comical as my mother literally never did shit in the house and really was as lazy as the man in the story accuses his wife of being). The wife leaves in the morning with a sickle over her shoulder to go harvest wheat? Something like that. The man is left at home and over the course of the day the cow ends up on the thatched roof tied to the chimney to graze and, of course, slides off and chokes to death, the baby Leisl he leaves by the butter churn which she overturns and ends up sitting in and covered with half-churned butter and the dog, a Spitz, runs off with the dinner sausages. The wife comes home and the husband begs her to switch back so she is triumphant. That ugly little story is the reason my mother loved Spitz dogs. eyeroll

Fluffy was a sweet dog and I loved her to bits. She and I spent a lot of time locked in my room together because we were often bad. The shoes, mentioned above, were a frequent reason. I was told that Fluffy was my dog and as my dog I should stop her from chewing up shoes and chewing the plaster on the walls under the little cut-out cubby in the wall where the phone and phone books stood in the middle of the hall. She had a hole there and when she was able to do it would eat the plaster. That house dated from the 1940s or 1950s (I still live in the same town, the house still exists) and I'm sure there was lead in the paint. I would guess Fluffy ate the walls because she was starving, I remember wondering sometimes how it tasted because I was hungry. I think feeding both of us was very much a "when I feel like it" event for my mother, I know I remember being told that I could eat whatever I wanted as long as it wasn't my mother's food. All the food was my mother's, so yeah, hungry a lot as a young child. If I ate what was there because I couldn't stand it I would be beaten until I bled so I learned to starve. I'm sure my propensity for gorging later in life comes from a place of being deprived.

Fluffy also would hide under our cars, doubtless I think, looking back, to get away from the monster that was my mother. The current Karen memes? I love those so much. They give me secret joy even if the name is spelled differently (my mother was Karin). Revenge feelings where you can get them, you know?

Came a day that Fluffy hid under one of our cars that was leaking oil. The main reason, I think, that my mother loved the Spitz breed was the beautiful white coat (that she would describe at length in that crappy German folktale, "Oh the white fur, so schoen..") and here was Fluffy, covered in oil and cowering under the car, I remember seeing her under there. I don't remember my mother getting her out but she must have done. The next scene (and this has been seared in my brain all my life) is Fluffy in the bathtub and my mother pouring gasoline from one of those square metal gas cans all over her while she screamed. She didn't howl or bark or whine, she screamed. If you ever hear a dog scream I promise you it's something you never forget. I know it was gasoline because I also have a memory of the smell of wet dog and gas.  I remember crying and grabbing at her arms and trying to stop her. She had Fluffy tied to the bathtub faucet somehow with a rope. I assume my mother grabbed me and put me in my room. Here's the thing about childhood abuse and why flashbacks is an appropriate name. You get flashes, or scenes, of events. A 3 second clip here, a 20 second clip there. The sequence of events, the time when they occurred in your life, and filling in the missing parts can take years. I'm 58. It has, literally, taken me years.

The next thing I remember is being locked in my room and hearing my parents yelling and my mother saying, "Don't you DARE go in there!" and a door slam and my awareness that my father was gone again. I was petting Fluffy and she was whining. Her fur was coming off in my hands in clumps.
My father frequently left. He abused me too but I often wonder if he would have been that abusive person had he been with a less psychotic partner. He gambled, and drank, and smoked unfiltered Lucky Strikes, a habit I started at 18 and didn't put down until I was 42. The gambling, thankfully, never took with me. The alcohol bit me hard at 14 and I didn't quit until, at 22, I ended up in the ER bleeding from a ruptured ulcer with a young (cute, I remember that) Dr. standing over me and asking me why I was killing myself. He saved me, even though he never knew it, because that was the first time I ever felt like anyone cared if I lived or died.

One of my mother's ways of punishing my father, other than hurling dishes at him which resulted in a broken nose once that was crooked for the rest of his life, was something she called a 'snowball'. I didn't realize until much later that it wasn't snow but must have been either Crisco or lard. She would build it up on the front doorknob and then stick pins and needles in it, sharp ends out, so that when my father came home drunk and grabbed it, well, you get the idea. Another time she poured honey all around the bed on the floor so when he stumbled in drunk he'd walk right into it. My father would tell that story about the honey later in life and laugh and talk about how crazy it is to be newlyweds. They had to have been married about 5 years by the time the 'honey trick' happened. So while I can see fault in my father for the sexual abuse and the belt beatings and I don't excuse them it's obvious to me now, like me, and like our dogs, he was trying to survive. Why didn't he leave? My family doesn't believe in divorce. Ever. For any reason. You work it out, it's just what you do. How do I feel about that? It's stupid. If you are being abused, leave. There is no fixing that.

I remember the next morning waking up next to Fluffy and hugging her and wondering why she was so cold. I remember shaking her. I remember crying as I came to realization, at 4 years old, that she was dead.

I don't remember how long I was in that room with her. I assume the night after the gasoline treatment and the next day because the last memory I have is my father's sad face and trying to hold onto Fluffy when he came to take her out of my bed.

I'm crying. I'm crying because of the horror and sadness of it all. I'm crying because I remember my father's face and the pain and sadness of losing my friend. I'm crying because what kind of monster does that? What causes the Michael Vicks of the world? Why do so many people excuse the complete inhumanity of that because it's 'just a dog'? Why do we currently lock up children in cages because they are 'just illegals'? What causes us as human beings to lose the capacity to care and to take joy in injuring the helpless? I will never, as long as I live, understand it.

So, this is my eulogy of sorts to all my dogs because it's time for me to be happy and to let you all go. I loved you all with all I had and I know you knew that just as I know you loved me with everything you had. I've missed you all for all of my life and I always will. Be happy. Be free. Run and play.

Dog Timeline

Tina (? - 1963) - unknown breed, large brown short hair (no photo) - fate unknown

 Fluffy (1963-1964) - Spitz (no photo) - murdered with gasoline by the monster,aka, my mother

Falstaff (1964 - 1967) - Spitz (no photo) - I was told he was on a farm with children....yeah.
Falstaff was a chewer, he wasn't allowed in the house. He used to gum up and down my arm in 
the backyard and get it all slobbery and I loved it. I also would sleep in his doghouse. One time he dug a hole in the yard that revealed a bracelet I was convinced he found for me. Where Fluffy had always been calm Falstaff was a rebel-rouser according to my dad. When he could get in the house he would go instantly to my mother's favorite place on the couch and piss all over it in front of her.
Go Falstaff. Yesterday I had the clearest memory suddenly strike me of driving home in the back of the Opel with Falstaff in a cardboard box with sides too tall for him and a ratty towel yipping at me all the way home. I hope you made it to that farm Falstaff. I highly doubt it, but I hope you did. 
Kaiser (1966 - 1967) German Shepard (no photo) Kaiser was actually one of the lucky few. He would get out over and over and we had a police officer that lived down the street who would always wave at me when I was riding my bike and when Kaiser ran away it was my job to find him so I would go, naturally, to the only policeman I knew to help me because in school they taught us that was what a policeman was for. Eventually he asked my mother to allow him to take Kaiser and train him for police work. Before we moved I remember he drove up while I was riding my bike one day and told me that Kaiser was going to be the best police dog ever. Kaiser was riding in the back seat with his head held high and when he saw me he woofed and licked my hand. Go Kaiser and go Mr. Officer whoever you were. I hope you are over the rainbow bridge with Kaiser because if anyone deserves to roll in the grass, you do.

 Suzie (1966 - 1977) Peke (photos below) - died of, amazingly, natural causes
Oh Suzie, I have had so many regrets about bringing you home to Monster over the years but I have finally come to realize I was just a child when I found you. Your name was supposed to be Clover, that was my name for you, and always and ever my secret name for you. Of all the dogs, she actually loved you and although she still did things like sticking you in the drawer under the couch in the Airstream trailer while it was going down the road you suffered less than most. You slept with me and played with me and swam in lakes with me and when we lived in Germany for a year when I was 14 you climbed mountains with me. When you died your entire muzzle was gray so however old you were when I found you I think you lived a long life. I hope it was a happy one. I loved you baby, I'll always miss you.

Brownie (1978 - 1984) Brown short-hair mix (photos below) I asked to take him with me when I moved out and my mother refused stating, "You can't have my dog!" About 6 months later she had him put down because, "...since you left all he does is howl".
Brownie you were my jogging buddy and my swimming partner in the backyard pool. No one swam better laps than you and you would swim as long as I would. You dove off the diving board in these amazing flying leaps, you should have been an agility dog. You ran laps with me around the backyard when I decided to lose weight. I was too big to crawl into your doghouse but I would sleep on the chaise on the back porch and you would lay on my legs since you weren't allowed in the house. That bitch killed you out of spite because I left. I've had guilt over that for years but I had to leave. I had to leave my brother behind and I had to leave you behind and I didn't want to do either. Some choices are agonizing. In the end I chose to save myself. You were the best dog, Brownie. Run free baby.<3

Below is a photo of the monster and my father. I take special joy in publishing this on the internet because she never wanted any photos of herself in those stupid feather hats to be seen. 
Welcome to the 'net where you get to be the feather-headed idiot monster that doesn't know the difference between a fungus and actual worms. Oh, that's right! You also swore me to secrecy about the things you did to our pets. Ooops, guess I spilled the beans.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Toxic Shame and the Inner Critic

First of all, credit for the terms in this title go to this book which you should find and read or listen to if,. like me, you are finally in a place to tell that inner critic to shut the fuck up and escape from the toxic shame that, if you are like me, has plagued you for your entire life..

Complex PTSD by Pete Walker

ETA: It's later in the day now and I've come back to edit this because I realized that the idea I originally meant to express was superseded by my need to purge(?)/talk about other events.

Most of you know I went on vacation to Las Vegas. I was deliriously happy there, ate what I wanted, did what I wanted, and had an amazing time. I had planned to go right back to my low carb/keto WOE as soon as I returned.

The next day after I returned I went to Whataburger and got a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit. It's a weakness of mine and 630 calories and 30-ish carbs of wtf are you doing you know better?

The next day I did it again.

The day after that I dropped Sam off at work and pulled into a parking space at Holiday Inn *before* I could just blithely drive myself to Whataburger a third time and basically hashed it out with myself.

Me: "What are you doing?"
Inner critic: "Well if you would START THE FUCKING TRUCK I'm going to get some breakfast."
Me: "We need to go home and just cook eggs."
Inner critic: "Fuck that. Fuck eggs and fuck you. I want real food."
Me: "Why are you doing this to me?"
Inner critic: "Look bitch, it's like this: you fucked up. You went to Vegas and you ruined keto. Ruined it. You're a fucking failure, as always. You'll never lose all the weight. You lost 100 lbs. Be happy and enjoy the next 6 months until you're bedbound again because you and I both know this is where this is headed. Just sayin'...."
Me: "I won't."
Inner critic: "You will! You know the rule. There is no joy without pain."

And here is where I won and the inner critic made her big mistake because she handed me a big ol' key. You see, I didn't always go on vacation with my parents. Frequently my parents went on vacation without me and left me with maw-maw (my father's mother). My mother would take great pains and delight in telling me all the details of the vacation and would write me letters describing all the fun she was having on vacation without me. They would even take Suzie, our pekingnese, because she was a "good girl", unlike me.

However, when I did go on vacations the rule was: there is no joy without pain. If the fun vacation was a week long when we returned we would have what I used to think of as 'hell week'. No going outside, no TV, cleaning from the time I got home from school until bedtime, if I ran out of things to clean I had to spend time in the windowless cellar with the door closed and the lights off. If the vacation was 2 days it was similar. A yin and yang, if you will....a balance, in her eyes. She even kept up with the pain days on a calendar in the kitchen because, you know, she would lose track of time. Both my parents and myself had this problem, my timeline of my life is a shit-show and so was my mother's. What happened when? Fuck if I know.

During my discussion with my inner critic I realized that although the bitch is long dead I have subconsciously carried this practice in my head with me and actively pursued it after every vacation my entire adult life. I've never been that keen on vacations and now, suddenly, at 58, I understand why that is. All the airplane anxiety, especially when returning home? Well DUH, bitch! Who wants to come home to hell week? Better to not go at all which was, of course, my mother's entire intention in the first place.

Mother: "Do you want to come on vacation with daddy and I?"
Me: "Can't I just stay with maw-maw?"
Mother: "Well......I guess that's ok if you're sure?"
Oh, I was always sure. Always.

I won my little war with my inner critic. I've been back on keto for 3 days. Whataburger has been banned and I'm back on track.

I am not a failure. I never was a failure. All or nothing is not the rule of life. You can half-ass things sometimes and still make progress. It's ok. Really, it's ok. Three steps forward two steps back still gets you ahead of the game girl.

Now returning you to the pre-edited portion of my little blog..........

I want to start with a discussion about my arms which have always been a focus of extreme toxic shame for me and are a good example of how I 'got over it' on my own before I found this book. Finding this book, though, explained some of the fundamentals of why I was the way I was, and why my hatred of my arms was so profound. Let me give you an example of a societal instance of public shaming that, well, frankly, brutalized me:

I had been swimming with the kids. We went to Sonic to get a drink. I didn't have on my habitual "swim cover" for driving, for once I was just bare-armed in my bathing suit. We got our drinks and I was handing them back to the kids in the back seat so of course my bingo wings were obvious. I became aware (you fat girls get this, that hyper-aware state that you are always in so that it's almost obscenely prescient how you know when you are being observed) that the car on the passenger side had several people in it that were looking at me. My windows were up and their windows were up so I could not hear anything. When I looked directly into the car the woman driving, what my fat girl brain instantly identified as "the enemy", i.e.., a skinny female, held up her arm and had to actually pull on her underarm flesh to create any kind of an approximation of bingo wings as she was extremely fit. She did this though, made the effort, with a carful of pre-teens avidly watching her. Then she over-exaggeratedly "wobbled" her arm and began laughing open-mouthed. All the pre-teens, of course, did the same with one taking the time to press herself to the window and make retching motions by putting her fingers in her mouth and pantomiming gagging. The fact that I could not hear the laughter, only observe it, somehow made the event more surreal and for me, more horrible. Immediately my inner critic, or what I always thought of as my mother that I carried everywhere with me, began to rant in my head:

"See? See you dumb bitch? See what happens when you don't cover yourself? Are you enjoying this, hmmm? Having fun? Did you see how sick you made that one child? You've probably scarred her for life. You are SO gross. You should just kill yourself."

My kids were oblivious, never saw a thing, and I calmly put my car in reverse and backed out. I didn't respond and in later years the anger I held because I didn't respond often sent me cycling into depression when I thought about the incident and I thought about the incident a LOT, it was one of a pantheon of favorite flogging incidents I used on myself to prove to myself what an ugly, useless, fat piece of shit I was.

Why? Because if I punished myself as a child in front of my mother, proved to her that I knew how worthless, bad, and stupid I was, it would sometimes ameliorate any approaching punishment and would sometimes, if she was in a sexual mood, put her off so that I could escape having to service her. I've not touched on the sexual abuse with my mother much because that is still hard for me. Without being too graphic know that whatever you would do with a female partner I did with her and I was told this was because with my father out-of-town it was my place to take care of this need for her because she was my mother and without her I wouldn't exist. Trust me when I say that suicidal ideation was a thing for me, especially at these times, from a very young age.

This is the 9 year old child that did that:

She always felt bad, dirty, sad, and very, very, very angry although she buried that deeply because to show anger, or any unsanctioned emotion in my childhood home, was an invitation for violence ranging from beatings to rape.

So why tell you this? Well, for one, to tell myself. To show myself that this was a CHILD and this CHILD deserved none of what was done to her. She was talented, she was smart, she was also sometimes very canny and above all she survived, to paraphrase what one of my friends said on FB, ".......stuff that would make a 'normal' person insane".

This was my toxic shame: flogging myself bloody mentally over things from the past that I had no control over.

This was my inner critic: telling myself that I was responsible for everything that was done to me. I led my father on, I walked too sexually as a 9 year old so he had to rape me. I was born and therefore my mother was forced to find a purpose for me and that is why she raped me. It was all my fault.

Except it wasn't.

I had the bad luck to be born to two sicked, twisted, filthy people who never should have had children at all.

It's taken me some time to take that in. Just like the woman in the car at Sonic that damaged me I've had to learn to deconstruct events and see them logically.

Other women are not the enemy, no matter what size they are. Other women have problems too, no matter what size they are.

Some people are vile assholes, no matter what size they are. They do not set the tone for the rest of your life.

Because I never really developed a healthy ego it's the work of my life now to fix that. Because as a child I didn't have nurture it's the work of my life now to fix that. Because I never knew love growing up it's the work of my life now....

to love myself.

It's getting easier. I'm getting stronger. I'm starting to understand that people like me, people love me, people want to be around me, and that I am heard.

In the end, as a child, that's all I ever really wanted. I didn't want bikes, or toys, or clothes.

I wanted to be loved.

I wanted to be heard.

I wanted to matter.

I've said it before but let me reiterate here because I've had to tell friends this too:

Your pain and my pain are one. My experiences do not make your experiences "less" in any way.

"Oh, my parents didn't do xxxxx."

Did they hurt you? Neglect you? Ignore your needs? Shame you? Degrade you?

You have the right to your pain. Don't ever let anyone make you feel like you don't have a right to your pain because you have to experience it and grieve and move through it and by minimizing it in your mind you block your ability to do that and to heal.

I  love you.

I am doing this, for me. You can do it for you, too. You are stronger than you know.