Anger management

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I have had a few readers with good intentions reach out to me and question if my anger is healthy.

Um.

Well…

Probably not.

I do think to some extent anger can be a very healthy emotion.

Especially when you consider the alternative.

Sitting in silence with a time bomb on your vocal cords. Doing your duty because you are a good little girl, trying to make others happy. Keeping silent because you were told you had to or worse things would happen to you and your siblings. Staying stagnate in fear as innocent children continue to be abused because nobody wants to talk about it.

Consider this for a moment…

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused in this country before they reach 18. Look around next time you are at a birthday party or a museum or a picnic or Walmart and think about that. Even with the best of intentions 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted during their formative, trust building years.

Only 1 in 10 will tell somebody about it.

Yes. I’m angry.

No, I’m not concerned that I am.

I’m concerned that more people are not.

The numbers are staggering. Change will not happen without a little rage fuel.

Since I have started this blog dozens and dozens of people have reached out to me and shared their stories. Men and woman. Without divulging or breaking any confidentiality I can tell you this, I believe the numbers of 1 in 4 and 1 in 6 have been pretty damn reliable over the last 6 decades or so.

I have heard from psychiatrists, lawyers, Homemakers, bankers, teachers, friends, and friends of friends, mechanics, relatives, neighbors, professors and more. It doesn’t stop. Every day somebody reaches out. All different ages, backgrounds and sexual orientations.

This doesn’t discriminate and it isn’t slowing down. We address anything and everything that offends people or that can cause potential harm in the moment but childhood sexual abuse is such a taboo topic that nobody feels they can share their pain. They feel like they still have to hide or that they did something that somehow caused their assault to happen.

We didn’t choose this. The abusers did. They count on us to stay silent. They count on society to continue to treat it as if the children who endured the pain have something to be ashamed about.

Thank you for your concern but I will keep my anger, and I will continue to use it to bring recognition to a problem that should be making a lot more people feel pretty fucking angry.

I promise to bring it up at my next therapy appointment though; for those who are truly concerned.

A couple of lifestyle changes

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I lost 95 pounds from May of 2012 -April of 2013.

The initial weight loss came from diet changes alone so that is what I am going to try and focus on today.

When I decided to undergo my physical transformation the first 30 lbs came off very quickly. A Thirty pound weight loss on an average person is immediately evident. On my obese frame you could hardly notice a difference.  I noticed it because I fit into a different size pair of pants. I had been wearing a size 26. I went down to a 24 in about  3 week time frame. This was motivational for me. It helped me to keep going.

I printed out blank calendars and recorded my weight every day. I still have these papers. They help to remind me of how far I have come. Seeing the numbers drop day after day in print and then tallying up the total weight loss at the end of the month helped me stay focused. If I had an off day I would write in the margins what I had done differently. I once gained 7 lbs in one day. No exaggeration. I knew exactly what had caused it (pizza binge) and so I wrote it down. Any gain I highlighted so that I could visually see that my successes were far outweighing my failures.

I watched weight loss transformation shows and bought any magazine that featured before and after weight loss transformation stories. I started cutting out phrases and pictures of success stories I found to be especially motivating. I found the one year weight loss show to be particularly inspiring. I liked the man (forgetting his name) that helped his clients transform over the space of one year and even though it was a bit of a spectacle I found comfort in it. I stopped watching after the contestants all received skin removal surgery and excessive amounts of $ to continue their health journey. Not because they didn’t deserve it but because I wanted it too. The skin removal surgery anyways. I started to feel bitter and I didn’t want to harbor any negative feelings.

I ate breakfast. That was not easy to do. I had never been one to enjoy food in the morning but I forced myself to have something. I ate a snack around 10:00 AM every day. Something light. Apple slices with sun-butter on a rice cake was a favorite.

I ate a semi large lunch every day around 2:00. This was basically my dinner.

I stopped eating after 5:00 every night.

This was controversial and the most difficult piece but I had to do it. I could have the best day ever food wise but I knew all of the damage typically happened after I was home. Either at dinner or just random robot eating of whatever I could find. Forcing myself not to eat after 5 eliminated that problem. I used this time to get out of the house if possible to exercise and if leaving the house wasn’t an option I hit the treadmill while everyone else was eating. After a while I was able to ease back into normal eating patterns but initially I had to change everything that had become a situation in which food =comfort. I didn’t care what others thought because this wasn’t about anyone else.

I wrote down what foods triggered me to binge and completely cut them out of my diet. I learned how to read labels and only ate foods that were basically healthy. I brushed my teeth a lot, chewed a lot of gum and tried to drink a lot of water. That part has always been tricky.

I learned how to tell people no. So many people wanted me to eat and came up with every reason they could to ensure it would happen. The majority of food enablers in my life gave me the most strenuous opposition. People honestly get offended if you refuse their food. The more weight you lose,the harder people will try to get you to eat.

I forced myself to remember that this wasn’t about them.

When I got too depressed for whatever reason I put on that pair of 26 size pants and wore them around the house.

I had days that I deviated from my new strict way of life. I got into funks and the only way out of it was to eat. A lot. Nothing without cheese or chocolate in some form. I embraced this as part of my learning process, and I forgave myself the next day. I didn’t let it depress me into a downward spiral of hatred. I deliberately chose not to go off the rails beyond that one day.

After I lost the first 95 lbs I started slowly adding exercise.

I will save those tips for the next blog.

Anxiety

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I could write a book about it.

I have had debilitating moments of anxiety my entire life.

There have been times when I am in mid conversation with somebody and I hear myself talking and I actually panic. Then I act all weird and say something  off topic and walk away mumbling with my head down.

In mid conversation.

I’m sorry to the 97% of you who have experienced this while attempting to talk to me.

I’m still trying to accept that I have PTSD and not let that define me. More about that some other time. Maybe.

Writing about all of this has been the most difficult thing I have ever done. My fear of the reactions I will receive and the negativity I knew I would invite into my life has caused my already anxious brain to imagine the absolute worst scenario every time I push the publish button.

I woke up this morning to find a message waiting for me from a woman I have known for a very long time. She is smart and beautiful and courageous and to be honest I kind of always thought I wasn’t “good” enough to be in her world. Not because she made me feel that way but because of my own shitty self image. She described an incident she recently experienced that made her feel doubt and pissed her off.  Something she had no control over. It happened around dinner time.

Then she said this…

“So I thought really hard, do I want to eat my anger, sadness, embarrassment? And I thought about what you might do. So I took some deep breaths, tried to name all of my “shameful” emotions like anger, hurt, shame, fear, sadness, and only then did I eat my dinner. It’s funny that we’re so far away, at different stages of this journey, but you and your writing and your presence are helping me SO VERY MUCH. My body deserves my protection. I do not want to eat my feelings anymore.”
I cannot properly ever find a word or phrase to describe the magnitude of support and encouragement I have received since starting this journey.
Many say I am brave. I don’t feel that way. Far from it. Everyone of you that have reached out to me and thanked me and shared your stories with me or read anything I have written have helped me to know it is okay to continue to fight this fight and try to make a difference.
I’m going to stop now because I’m feeling anxious that I am rambling and being corny or trite. My issues are not confined to the obvious.
I just want to throw this out there one more time though because it is worth repeating.
“My body deserves my protection.”
That is my motto for the day.

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This is a ranting response I wrote in response to a victim of child sexual abuse. I wrote it in the moment. It is not articulate or grammatically correct or maybe even understandable. It still needs to be said.

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Your message came at the perfect time for me. We should not feel ashamed by what happened to us. It makes me unbelievably angry that when we finally find the courage to use our voices we get shut down. I truly believe people are afraid. For many reasons. Maybe because of something that happened to them that they can’t confront or they have repressed memories or simply the idea of it is too much to comprehend. It is what nightmares are made of and people don’t like to think  about things that are outside of their safety zone.

I won’t be quiet anymore. Childhood sexual abuse happens. It happens every minute to innocent children every day and it is not fucking acceptable or okay to not talk about it because other people are uncomfortable.

We can be the voices  that people need to hear. Maybe the only ones they can hear because we have lived through it. We can make a difference.

I will never not use my voice again. I don’t think my process of healing should be subjected to a certain ideal of what makes others feel good about themselves. Change will not happen timidly. I know my experiences and sharing them in the way that I have been make people uncomfortable.

Guess what?

We are uncomfortable. The people who have lived through it. And we have been for a long time.  Why should we continue to be victimized because people are afraid to talk about it? We talk about everything else in this world. People talk and talk and talk and talk some more but damn it if we tried to talk about something that actually matters.

I’m not afraid of what others think of me anymore. I sure as hell didn’t ask for this but I’m going to try to be better because of it and hopefully help others to do the same.

My writing publicly about childhood sexual abuse  freaks people out. I have lost “friends” because of it. I  have actually been subjected to dirty looks and whispers as I walk by certain groups of people.

More importantly…

I have received messages of hope and gratitude from survivors who are in their sixties and seventies who had never disclosed because they didn’t feel like they had somebody to tell, because not enough of us feel that it is okay to talk about. Isn’t that what we were told when we were going through this as children?

“Don’t tell.”

“It’s bad.”

“You’re bad.”

“People won’t believe you.”

“Nobody cares.”

We are not voiceless little children anymore and it is disgusting that people continue to treat us that way. I’m over it. I’m using my pain to try to help others heal and let them know they shouldn’t be ashamed. I respect that the way I’m doing it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

I personally don’t give a shit.

P.S. I may turn this answer into a blog without revealing anything you said,Because people need to hear it. And thank you.

Still working on it…

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When my Doctor first referred to me as being morbidly obese I was confused.

I actually looked around the room, half expecting to find some random fat lady hiding behind the door.

I knew I was a “little overweight” but morbidly obese? There is no way I had let things get that out of control.

I was pushing 300 lbs.

He suggested gastric bypass surgery. I was offended. I told him I would do it on my own. He started rattling off statistics about exactly how difficult that was to do, but whole heartily agreed he would rather have a patient lose weight independently. He made me a 6 month appointment so we could check in and see how I was progressing solo. Something about the look on his face and the tone of his voice told me that he was expecting me to come crawling back in six months admitting defeat. Begging for a better way.

So I decided to prove him wrong.

Many have been asking me how I did it.

That is how it began.

Out of complete spite. I knew I could do it if I tried and I wanted to prove I could. To that Doctor and to myself. So I did.

Here is the most important thing though. The thing nobody wants to talk about.

It didn’t matter.

My weight wasn’t what was really making me sick. I was using food as a way to keep from focusing on other things. Hiding behind it. Using it just like so many abuse drugs or alcohol. Addiction is addiction. Until we are ready to deal with the actual problem, it will keep demanding that we feed it. Whatever our personal “it” may be.

Was I healthier? Size wise I suppose I was.

The screaming little girl locked up deep inside of me wasn’t though.

Far from it.

If I wasn’t going to shut her up with food I had better give her something.

I am happily willing to share all of the physical and mental tools I used to shed the weight, but I’m still trying to figure the most important things out.

What I most want all of you to know is that the more you confront the demons, the louder they demand to be fed. Losing all the weight wasn’t the most difficult part.

Confronting why I gained it in the first place was.

The pictures above are me at my highest and lowest weights. I was equally miserable in both photos.

Emotional distress cannot be weighed or measured. Losing weight is not going to miraculously make it all better. Physically I was 150 lbs thinner in the second photograph. Mentally, the worst was yet to come.

The last picture is a pretty fair representation of where I am at right now.

I’m not the thinnest I have ever been. I’m not running 10 miles a day or even a week for that matter. I have gained back 30 lbs. I have great days and seriously terrible ones.

It has been almost 4 years that I have been able to keep 120 lbs off.

I don’t know all of the answers, I can only share with you what worked for me. The most pivotal thing was realizing that it was more than just my weight holding me back.

The rest of it anyone can do.

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Thoughts on Tickling

I have always despised tickling. I mean, maybe despised isn’t strong enough of a word actually. I don’t like to be touched in any way, but tickling?

Get the hell away from me.

Who enjoys that, really? Somebody is putting their hands on your body and applying pressure and digging their finger tips into you and it is uncomfortable to the point that you want to cry but you physically have to laugh because it’s your bodies natural reaction? What kind of cruel, twisted irony is that?

Tickling is like the mild, unassuming cousin of sexual abuse. It’s not quite as bad as it’s counterpart and people really feel out of sorts asking somebody not to do it so it continues. In many ways society has deemed it to be a semi acceptable form of touch so people can get away with it even if they know it makes the person being tickled uncomfortable.

I know I’m rambling but I focused on a memory today and made myself own it. I have had this memory and kept it with me for thirty some odd years but never let myself think about it too much.

Today I did.

And because I did I got angry, had a terrible day, snapped at everyone and want to eat ice cream.

Instead I’m going to write about it. I think writing is helping. I’m still trying to figure that out.

Anyways…

I’m about 5 or 6. I’m sitting with this guy in a chair in our living room.To this day I have no clue who this guy was. It never occurred to me until today that I should ask. I remember both of my parents being there. It was in our house. I think there was a party or something. A birthday maybe? There were a lot of people there, mostly adults. I have had this short film in my head forever and I never put in in slow motion. Today the more I think about it I really can’t remember any other kids being in the room that day but the memory insists that it was some sort of child celebration thing.

So I’m sitting with this guy and he is tickling me, He really wasn’t doing anything inappropriate (beside putting his hands all over my body as I was screaming for him to stop) and I cannot in any way place it near close to other, more uncomfortable situations I have had the pleasure of being forced to endure. What makes the memory a lasting and terrible one is how when I begged him to stop he would just laugh more and of course I was laughing too because that is the bodies natural reaction to tickling. Not because there was a damn thing humorous about this situation. So I’m screaming at him to stop but laughing at the same time. And  all of the other adults in the room were laughing uncontrollably like this was the best live comedy show they had ever seen. Now mind you I’m begging him stop. Nobodies making a move to help me.

Great looking out grown ups. Top notch parenting moment.  I then tell him I have to pee and he has to stop because I really have to go but I’m laughing as I’m saying it so maybe I was sending mixed messages.You know how us little kids can be so manipulative and all. Clearly if I was laughing I must have been having a grand old time and all of the adults were laughing so obviously we were having fun.

Then it happens.

Of course.

I pissed all over the guy.

He pushed me off his lap in horror and started yelling at me. Great. Yes, obviously my fault. Even worse? My parents yelled at me too. Sent me to my room like I committed some major crime. Other people in the room were laughing at him now which was making him even more angry. I couldn’t get out of that room fast enough and I was completely mortified.

I have thought about that moment dozens and dozens of times over the years but I forced myself to think that it wasn’t that big of a deal. I was just being tickled after all.

Kids love to be tickled.

Fun times.