Sunday, July 22, 2012

Resilient

I recently posted a thread on a VSG message board entitled "Why are/were you fat". I began with my own story...

At 11 years old I was living with my mother and step father. My father was no where to be found. My step dad worked nights from about 3pm to midnight, leaving my mom with their 4 year old and a newborn. My mother, diagnosed only a few years ago, is bipolar. Two young children and a husband away in the evenings was too much for her to bear. But, at 11, after spending much of my time caring for their first child, I was well equipped.

There were diapers to be changed, and dinners to be made, and someone to watch the kids while my mother needed "alone time", pursued a variety of different careers to keep her occupied and out of the house, or disappeared for days on end when life was too overwhelming. At that age, "normal" is whatever your life is. So, I did what I believed I was supposed to. But there was not much time to be a kid. No one to scream at to when my brother stuffed yet another box of crayons in the VCR or my sister decided to "puffy paint" the bathroom towels. No one to cry to when I was home taking care of two kids when everyone else was playing sports or meeting boys. So I ate. I used food to comfort me for the adult stressors I was incapable of handling at such a young age (and had been primed for over years before). Who do you cry to when your step dad says he needs to pick up your mom at the suicide clinic so make sure the kids get to bed on time? I became an expert at being capable. At being resilient. At relying on no one. But food. Food was my best friend and a constant.

For years later during high school my parents would "scold" me for sitting on the couch to catch an hour of tv after working one of my two jobs (by 15), presumably because they noticed my growing waistline and assumed it to be lack of exercise (as a varsity gymnast holding down two jobs and "babysitting" every day you'd think they would have figured out it wasn't my ability to commit to hard work or the result of laziness).

I left home at 17 and, by now the consummate overachiever, graduated with my bachelors at 20 and began a career I'm continuing 12 years later, becoming the youngest manger in my region, then the most quickly promoted sr manager, and so on. But always heavy. Always. The stress of two young kids was replaced by stress at work, the need to succeed, anger/grief/etc at my parents when I realized later how different my childhood was...but I never learned how to cope with thes emotions. Being dumped 5 weeks before your wedding, losing a best friend to sudden death at 28, funerals for 16 yr old cousins, and uncles who died too early, friends and family with brain cancer. I was ill-equipped to do anything but make it to therapy, and eat.

So, at 32, I needed a catalyst. A push. A drastic change. Enter the sleeve. At nine weeks out my journey is an emotional one. One that I'm conquering. Slowly. But surely. With the guidance of a therpist who specializes in food and has picked up where other therapists began (but without the weight connection). It's not easy, and it's not about protein or water intake. It's about becoming more emotionally mature. And I'm committed. And I'm nothing if not resilient.

Everyone has a story. Want to read others' stories in response to my message board thread? Read them on Vertical Sleeve Talk.

4 comments:

  1. I can't speak. I can only send love.
    Barbara

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  2. Wow! Thank you for sharing your story. I absolutely love your blog and your transparency. You are affecting many, many lives (mine included). I look forward to continuing to follow your journey as I stumble though my own.

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  3. Thanks Barbara and Melissa - much appreciated :)

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  4. Wow. After reading that, I'm just in shock. U took a lot on, and I'm amazed at your strength. I just found your blog and YouTube videos after searching for some comfort in what I'm about to go through. U have gave me a peace of mind in what Ive decided to do. I'm sure u have helped many others as well. Thank u for putting yourself out there. I live in MS. Wish we lived lived closer! Ha! Hope your journey is much brighter now. Sending love from MS.

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