Thursday, November 5, 2009

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Is there ever an age at which we feel "grown-up"? It amuses me to realize that I am aging, but don't FEEL like I'm aging. I still feel like I'm in my early 20's. But I don't look it any longer, and apparently that is just going to get worse as the years go by.

How do you decide what you want to do with your life? Who you want to be? I have been making mental lists of the things I want to do, probably when the kids get a little older. But will I do them? (Or will I just keep wasting tremendous amounts of time on Facebook??) What motivates other people to really go after things they want? What is the balance between pursuing dreams and facing the reality of house payments and doctor visits and childrens' needs and your spouse's needs and the just day-to-day reality of life? I don't know.

These are some of the things I am interested in:

1. Photography - I'd like to take a real class or two, and work on taking photographs.

2. Genealogy - I'd love to research the family history more.

3. Drawing / Art - I used to be quite a good sketcher in my youth, but haven't really done any drawing in years

4. Piano - I took it from about age 6 to 12, and then quit. I'm learning a bit again through my son's lessons, but would like to get better.

5. Writing - I love to write. I don't do it nearly enough. I can't even seem to sustain a blog, so I wonder how I'll ever write anything else. But I would like to try my hand at writing a romance, writing chick lit, writing articles, writing a memoir. Maybe I'd be the only one who would enjoy it, but my husband keeps telling me that's O.K.!

6. Relearning science - it was never my forte, but I wasn't terrible, either. Now, however, I don't remember much of earth science or chemistry, which were subjects I actually LIKED.

7. Web design - back in the mid to late 90's, I had a huge Elvis web site, which I crafted from scratch with good old HTML. I'd like to venture back into web design again, but am intimidated by how advanced things have become. I guess that's what taking classes might be good for!

8. Jigsaw puzzles - O.K., so this is a silly small one, but I do like doing them, and never take the time to do so (plus with two kids and two cats, where would I assemble one that wouldn't immediately get destroyed and have pieces lost?)

9. German - the German language is one of my loves. I took it in high school, majored in it in college, lived in Germany twice, and certainly used it in grad school - but having no one with whom to speak it now, and no academic reason to read it, I am losing it. Same with...

10. Latin - I learned it in college and used it in grad school, and while I found it much harder than German, I'd like to "relearn" it.

11. Languages - Heck, while I'm at it, I'd like to learn Italian. And Spanish, considering how handy that would be around here.

12. Singing - I love to sing. I'm not saying I'm great and I have limited vocal range. But it would be fun to sing again in some capacity.

13. Traveling - sure, had I time and money, I'd want to go tons of places. But I would like to go to these places, at least (and I doubt I'll get to them all): Great Britain, Germany (especially a castle tour), Italy, Graceland, the Grand Canyon, Philadelphia, Greece, etc...

14. I'm sure there's a 14. And a 15. Etc. But what I'd REALLY like to do when I grow up is figure out how to beat whatever it is in me (brain chemicals / upbringing / whatever) that lets anxiety dominate my world view, and makes inherent lack of confidence my biggest challenge to accomplishing just about anything...

Monday, September 28, 2009

3D and 4D

At church I am involved now in a 3D Group - dedicated to focusing on the 3 big D's - diet, discipline, and discipleship. I'm enjoying it as I enjoy any small group activity in which I can talk honestly with real women. I also like the 3 tiered approach, which reminds me of OA - working on our physical selves, our lives, and our connection with God.

However, in the 2nd week (last week), my rebellious demon reared its nasty head. I just got belligerent and took on the "f*ck this" attitude that seems to take over all too often. I was ready to throw in the towel - I certainly wasn't doing well with what I was eating, I wasn't trying too hard to take care of myself, and I wasn't connecting spiritually with anything. Then I went to my gym's Fitness Festival. I joined the mayor's challenge to work on fitness. And then I got my blood pressure checked - and it was back up to 135/94. THAT scared me. Seeing displays about Type 2 Diabetes scared me. And reminded me this is NOT a game and that my rebellion is working hand in hand with the Grim Reaper, apparently.

So I can't give up. I am not well. I have borderline high blood pressure. I have moderately high cholesterol. I am apparently prediabetic and probably have PCOS (no blood tests confirmed it, so I don't know for sure). I look like the contestants on the Biggest Loser (the before versions!), even if I don't want to admit it. I am killing myself with these addictions.

My new motto is: "Get clean." It's to remind myself I am an addict. I am. Getting clean means not giving up, means giving up my trigger foods (at least for today), means keeping myself and my house clean, means making peace and keeping my behavior clean with others. It reminds me of "House," my current obsession. His battles with Vicodin and my battles with food are pretty darn similar, right down to our denials and willingness to go to disgusting lengths to secure our habits.

So I'm following 3D and giving up 4D. What is 4D? The four most destructive food habits I have: Chocolate, Diet Soda, Donuts, and Fast Food. I'm not saying it's forever, but I'm going to do my best to let go of those things, as they don't serve me well.

This was much longer than I intended. I don't seem to be very good at blogging, and feel ridiculously aware that my blogs are all about me, usually me whining, and not about the big picture or the outside world. Well, so be it - maybe that's what this is meant to be in my life. I can't fix the world. But I can work on me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Painting From the Inside Out

So today I have the urge to paint. Mind you, I don't have the time (with a preschooler to keep tabs on), or really much skill. But I want to paint. I don't like how most of the walls in my home show significant wear, dirt, smearing, just smudging dirt. I want everything clean and nice again.

Come to think of it, I want the same for me. I'd like to paint over the cracks and damage marks in myself. I want to be whole and pristine again, with all evidence of imperfection well-covered. I guess life doesn't work that way. I guess what I really need to do is empty out the closet and start over. Haul all those character defects off to Good Will, be willing to get rid of certain habits and patterns - especially thought patterns.

So this is my metaphor for today. It's O.K. to pick a different color. But you've got to do the primer first.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Blah blah blah... I haven't updated this blog in a while, or my family one. I haven't cleaned my house, I haven't done any of the projects I want to do, I haven't sold things on eBay, I haven't done the budget, I haven't planned for this, that or the other thing... I feel beseiged by inertia. I'm still tired all the time, and the lack of energy leads to lack of production, which may in turn increase fatigue as I survey how much I "should" be doing.

How do the gogetters of the world get their energy? Their motivation? I have the same number of hours in my day as Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein did, as Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama do. So what separates me from them? (Besides fame) Apparently, drive. I just don't feel driven to do much. Is it laziness? Is it depression? Does it stem from being self-centered? A combination of those? Perhaps.

I don't really realize how self-focused I am until I compare my blog, my thoughts, even my status updates on Facebook with those of other people. I am not fighting discrimination in South Africa, I am not walking in the Relay for Life, I am not even active in my church. But I'm darn good about whining about how I have no energy, no drive, just feel bleah...

Not sure what the point is here. Not really sure how or what to change. I do know I've fallen back into the avoidance trap - I don't want to think about the reality of my messy house, my toddler who's suddenly figured out she's a toddler and so is now throwing fits far too often, my son who's wrestling with some pretty big issues and doesn't even know it yet - I just want to hide my head from it all. And I do. Which I guess is what separates me from Jefferson, Einstein, Winfrey, and Obama.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I am full of grief and rage and sadness and anger and feelings of being overwhelmed. I want to rail at God, I want to throw dishes, I want to stomp my feet and throw a bigger tantrum than either of my kids ever did. I want to pound the ground in frustration and scream at the universe.

My son, my darling son. has Tourette's and Asperger syndrome. For those of you who didn't know this but read this blog, keep it to yourselves. I wouldn't normally even dare write something here but I need an outlet today. We have known about the Tourette's since he was 6. Asperger's has been suspected since then, as well, but officially "diagnosed" this week.

Both of those were evident before - we noticed tics as early as age 4, and oddities in behavior, etc., since he was a baby, really. But who among us isn't odd? (Especially in my family!)

Still, the grief is here today, and strong. With Tourette's, at least, I could tell myself "the prognosis is good - most people's tics lessen throughout adolescence and are often mostly gone by adulthood." There was no guarantee that would happen for my son - we won't know until we're there - but at least it was a hope. But Asperger's? That's life-long. I know it could be worse. I know. I know. It isn't cancer. It isn't full-blown autism. It probably won't preclude him from most of the things we all hope for - good education, good job, even a good marriage and kids.

But my grief is for what might have been - what kinds of relationships he might have had if his brain wiring made him more capable of truly connecting, and for what might be - the pain of never quite getting it, never quite fitting in, and how hard it will be as his parent to try to help him navigate a world that will be more difficult for him than for many others just because his brain was built differently.

My husband is intensely private, and I certainly understand not discussing all this with just anybody, but it also leaves me without support. It's not that I want to talk about it every minute, I just want someone to understand and know. I will eventually take steps to figure out support groups, etc., but for right now, we're not doing a lot because we don't want to push this label on my son. He knows about the Tourette's, I had to label it for him about a month ago after they thought he was having a seizure at a local camp, but you know what, I don't want to always focus on these labels. He's still my son. Quirky, often exasperating, but also funny and computer savvy and never boring... without the labels, what would we all think?

Maybe eventually they will help explain to others what others might normally dismiss as social awkwardness, or even rudeness or just weirdness. Maybe eventually it will feel like a blessing to be in this age where we know more about what is going on, and being able to explain to others, at least adults, will net him some grace where before others might have been hesitant to give.

But right now I'm grieving, for the lost dreams both my husband and I have had for him, and for the future challenges to come. I know I shouldn't expect a problem-free life, for me or others. I don't. I know it's better than cancer or any other number of things. But he's my son. And I'm pissed at God for his sake.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Weighty Conversation

So this morning I was walking my laps at the gym, listening to Dave Ramsey on my mp3, when an older lady, probably in her 60's, came up along side me and, smiling, said, "I like your shirt!" I was wearing my Biggest Loser shirt from the Wellness Center, on the back of which it says, "Being a loser never felt so good." I smiled and said "Thanks!" I thought we were done, but she continued to walk next to me and said something about supporting me in the competition (which is actually over), and then commented about how if I lost any weight maybe I could give it to her. I laughed and said, "If only it were that easy, I'd love to." She talked about how she was underweight now and needed to gain some weight (she was very thin), about how hard that was. I jokingly said, "Eat some cookie dough!" She went on about how she would get so busy with what she was doing, if it weren't for her husband and son, she would forget to eat. I, of course, have never had that problem, and admitted so. After we had talked a bit more and walked more laps, she asked, "So how much weight do you have to lose?" I was nonplussed. She certainly seemed to be coming from a friendly position, I don't think she was being malicious, but what was I to say? Was she trying to discern just how fat I was, really? I mean, obviously anyone who sees me knows I am fat and could really lose some weight. So if I had told her, "100 lbs," would she have been like, "Is that all?" Or would she have said, "No way!" If I had said 30 lbs, would she have laughed, thinking (knowing) that that wasn't all? I kind of chuckled and said, "I don't even know, and I don't wanna know!" and she chuckled, and we went on chatting, she telling me in full detail how hard it is to gain weight.

I seriously think she was being kind and just making conversation. I don't think she had a mean bone in her body. But boy, did I feel exposed or something. Or am I just too sensitive (yes!) about any conversations about weight that I don't initiate myself?

Would it have bothered you?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Three Square Meals A Day

My name is Anne, and I am a compulsive overeater. This has been true for as long as I can remember. I don't have a lot of childhood memories, but many that I do revolve around food or lack thereof. I can remember stealing money to go to the corner store and buy candy when I was in elementary school. I can remember the freedom of driving my own car and how it let me stop at Dunkin' Donuts on the way to school and Burger King on the way home in high school. I can remember in college deciding I'd had it with being fat, especially after being called such in front of a group of "friends" and hearing them laugh, and supplementing my bingeing with purging. I can remember after the birth of my son subsisting on cookie dough to try to make it through the day. So food has been my best friend and worst enemy for a long time.

In 2004, I joined OA. I did what I was supposed to do: got a sponsor, created a food plan, journaled, went to lots of meetings. I even found God. I dropped about 30 pounds. Woo hoo! Then I got pregnant, and my diet/scale/weight-obsessed mind couldn't reconcile going to OA while pregnant - I don't need to lose weight while pregnant, so why go? (Apparently my recovery had only come so far.) So I stopped going. I dabbled in it, meaning I'd go to a meeting here or there, over the next 4 years, but decided that clearly OA wasn't going to work for me again, since I am obviously still fat.

This year in January I decided to recommit to the Saturday meetings - mostly because I was realizing how nice it was to have a place to go and vomit up the crap that was going on in my life. I wasn't doing a darn thing for OA or my own recovery outside of Saturday mornings, but it sure was great to go and realize I wasn't alone in my craziness. Then suddenly one day out of desperation I finally asked someone to be my sponsor. I confessed to her that I was worried I wouldn't be able to be perfect for her and follow the plan perfectly like I felt I "had" to do if I had a sponsor, but wonder of wonders, she reminded me that waiting to be perfect until I got a sponsor wasn't exactly logical or realistic thinking.

I still feel like I'm not doing it "right." I don't call her, I e-mail. I don't journal regularly. Lord knows my food is still wacky. But I don't feel as hopeless as I once did. Do I believe I can recover from this and lose weight? I don't know. But I don't feel alone, and I'm slowly starting to believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.

The food plan thing has still been tripping me up, though. I'm supposed to have one, it's one of the tools, and yet I can't commit. Story of my life! I paralyze myself by thinking of all the options and end up doing nothing differently. If nothing changes, nothing changes. I can find reasons to think I should eat 6 meals a day (keep the blood sugar levels steady! maybe I can avoid bingeing more if I eat more often! my kids eat and others snack and so should I, right?) and to think I should eat 3 meals a day. I can find reasons to think I should cut out all sugar and white flour (probably the healthiest thing I could do for myself) and reasons I shouldn't (that sounds too scary and does it seem so insurmountable that I will just give up and stay in the binges?). Etc, etc, etc. I wonder if *I'm* trying to be in control, rather than my Higher Power, by devising my own food plan. But apparently God isn't going to send down a written Food Plan from on high (I've been waiting, but haven't seen any burning bushes with a piece of paper stuck to it), and so I have to create it myself.

Keep it simple, silly. KISS me. Keep it simple. So for today, just for today, I am committing to 3 meals, breakfast lunch and dinner. I don't want to but am willing to, which makes me think maybe my Higher Power is in there somewhere. And just for today, I'm not going to worry if my meals seem exceptionally large (which they probably will if I get panicky about not "being able" to eat again) or not nutritionally sound or if they include sugary foods or even red light foods. If I avoid them, great. If I don't, O.K., just do the next right thing. For me the next right thing is 3 meals a day.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Kingdom For A Headache Free Day

So I've been on Metformin for about a week. Besides the usual stomach upset that brings, I've had migraines again - 3 in 3 days. This is on top of having a low-to-medium level headache most days anyway. Is it the medicine? Is it the springtime pollen? (Perhaps, the hypochondriac in me is screaming, I'm having a stroke or have a tumor!) Who knows - what I *do* know is it's making me bitchy with everyone. Having the kids home for spring break isn't helping, but still, when your head is pounding and you have fuzzy floaters in your eyes obscuring your vision, how the heck are you gonna be June Cleaver?

This morning I called the doctor - while migraine is not associated with Metformin, I'm supposed to off of it for a week and see what happens.

All these medicines. What did people do in the era before modern medicine? Ah, used herbs and other natural remedies. Or suffered. Or is modern medicine making us sicker? I don't like being on Metformin, I don't like being on Zoloft. I still feel depressed, I'm still irritable, and still fat, so is it really helping?

Maybe what I need isn't a medical cure, it's an emotional cure - more close friendships, more time spent in the company of other women, more affirmations from the people in my life that I am important to them and serve a purpose. Would outer affirmations cure an inner feeling of woe? Because if I have to wait to feel confident to gain those things, well - vicious cycle. I am more isolated and isolating myself more than I think I ever have, and don't really know why. Some of it is the current reality of life - I have young kids, I am at home, so I don't see co-workers and don't have lots of free time to just run around with peers (oh, those of you in college, enjoy those friendships while you can!). My husband is not socially-driven and would rather be at home. I would rather be with him, so I'm often at home. And don't really have the energy to go out gallavanting every night, even if I could. Long story somewhat shorter, I'm lonely. But loneliness is a feeling that has pervaded my life for as long as I can remember - I feel lonely and alone a lot. Separate. Other.

Just rambling today, wondering how other people feel - how do you deal with loneliness? Are others less lonely than I am? Does everybody feel an outsider? It's funny how most people never identify themselves as having been part of the popular crowd in high school - but obviously someone was, or there wouldn't have been such a crowd! Do we all identify ourselves as different, even when others view us as the same?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

PC Oh What?

So I've officially been diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). What? Me? What? A hormonal imbalance? Endocrine disorder? Metabolic syndrome / insulin resistance? Higher susceptibility to depression and anxiety? Oh - hey, wait - maybe that DOES explain much of my life. Still, I'm feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. My first inclination is to dive into reading, which I do need to do. But I also need to remind myself to step back and calm down. I have been so anxious and scared and rebellious about it that my food has taken up its residence on my back again, especially the sugary items (exact opposite of what I need to be eating, apparently). One step at a time, one day at a time... there is time to learn about this, time to experiment with what works and what doesn't, time to be me. I've been me for 37 years and probably had this for a good portion of that, so nothing has really changed except my level of knowledge, and hopefully that will help me make good decisions and keep this stuff under control.

I was put on Metformin as of 2 days ago, and so far have had the upset stomach and headache common with that. Hopefully it will go away soon.

If anyone out there in blog land happens to read this and has familiarity with PCOS, could you let me know what you recommend as far as reading, or where to start in general?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Old ISCA BBS Profile Poetry

(Back in the early 1990's I was very active on a BBS at the University of Iowa. Your alias included a profile - a space for you to write anything you wanted to - limited to 5 lines. I often used the space to express how I was feeling, and saved some of my favorite "prose poems." I just rediscovered them a few days ago.)

Standing on the edge of absurdity, looking over into your eyes. They change, they cloud over, they are gone, and still I am looking, looking deep into nothing. I can't even see myself reflected in you anymore. I feel my heart go cold. You have frozen me in some horrible web of emotion. I feel your absence circle around me. I am choking, choking on my past. Watch me bleed...

Relatively happy, relatively sad. Relatively good, relatively bad.
Relatively dog-like, relatively cat. Relatively thin, relatively fat.
Relatively pretty. Relatively plain. Some say that I'm crazy, but I say they're insane.

A splintering of rose-fragmented poetry raining down in the midst of inky moonlight surrounding and enfolding skin smooth as flesh lying naked on a rock in the summertime with daisies sprinkled all around gliding in the breeze bringing fresh scents of trees and memories laced with just a dash of old melancholy resting its dark head on my lap and singing to me of yesterday...

Dip your fingers into my ink, spreading my flesh across your page. Smooth me, shape me, shade me darkly with your hands. Take my mouth and paint it raw, dripping oil down across your brush. Feel me rise under your pen, my skin an extension of your touch. Make me come alive, color my world, draw me in to who you are...

I got so used to having it that now that it's gone I can't cope. The craving is always there, strong and feverish. I wake up at 4 a.m. just thinking about it, fantasizing, remembering... Sometimes I'd have it two, three times a day. Each time it just got better. How can I return to a life of abstinence? What? Sex? Who said anything about sex? I was talking about Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

I am everything you've never wanted. I am what you fear I am. I am the inner bitch you've tried to bury. I am the childhood you want to deny. I am what keeps you up at night. I am nothing. I am not who I am. I am not what you think I am. Don't think you know me. You don't. I am hatred. I am rage. I am a dark secret, seething alone. I am what you will not see. I am not me.

Rain, dripping, dripping down. Rain on my face. Gliding down my nose, falling from my eyes. How I hate the rain. Feel it coming - the storm's brewing, even if you see no clouds. Opening, expanding, releasing a torrent, a tempest of age-old fury; my skin is exploding and the rain's going to come, falling, trickling, dripping, dropping, until my eyes are empty and my world is dry.

Dissection and Autopsies of Past Relationships: MWF 10:30, 44 SH
Understanding Your Cat, Understanding Yourself: MW 2:30 - 3:45, 100 PHBA
Guilt and Contemporary American Society: TR 9:30 - 10:45, 224 SH
Survey of Eating Disorders: TR 10:55 - 12:10, 161 VAN
Women Who Love Too Much And Men Who Don't Care: MWF 11:30, 427 EPB

An arm passes a leg in darkness. I feel you move over me, slowly, carefully. I brush your face and your stubble kisses my fingertips. Your mouth descends onto my mouth in soft hello. I move my hand across your back, feeling the muscles turn as you dip to greet my stomach with your lips, your beautiful lips. Your hair whispers across my chest, telling me of love. I am listening.

You were my binge food. The thing I turned to when I wanted to go numb. I indulged myself in you ravenously, hungrily. I felt I could never get enough, panicky at the thought of you being gone. I ate as much as I could, terrified. You settled like acid in my stomach. I hated myself even as I worshipped you. Purging, I wanted more. I tried to throw you up. I still can't.

October walked across my soul, leaving footprints as a reminder, a soft caress of yesterday. Night enfolded me in its arms, playing, teasing me with whispers of you. The mist slipped slowly around my shoulders, settling like a lover's kiss on the back of my neck. I moved in darkness, feeling it follow me, and touched your memory. The water lapped at my bare feet, calling your name...

I envy cats. Old or young, big or small, fat or thin, they are loved for what they are, and they know it. They are not ashamed of their bodies; they love to be stroked, and unabashedly seek out others to touch them. They purr when they're happy. They choose to be alone when they want to be. They do not follow rules. They do not obey. They live for pleasure. They are not afraid.

I have to learn to stop thinking first in terms of whether or not
I'm good enough for you,
And start thinking about whether you're good
For me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

(Almost) Feeling 17 Again...

Do we ever leave high school behind? Why does that period resonate so intensely with many of us, whether we were happy or not, popular or not? Obviously it means a lot to many people, or there wouldn't be so many movies made about it.

Truth be told, much of my memory of high school is vague, as are about any memories over 20 minutes old. Yet, having found all sorts of high school friends and acquaintances on Facebook, I've actually been a bit stung to realize a) all the relationships / friendships / activities that went on when I was in high school that I was not a part of (not having been in any way in the "in" crowd), b) that many of those friendships continued after high school and into today (I somehow did not keep in contact with people - my fault? Theirs? Was I not liked?), and c) that it *still* hurts my feelings 20 years later to realize how marginalized I felt (perhaps was, I don't know - do any of us accurately analyze our status in school?).

Why does it matter to me today? Does it? The sting usually lasts a few minutes, and then I go on and realize that I was quite happy in college, formed great friendships in college, went on to grad school, got married, have an awesome husband and great kids and am happy in my life. So why do I care about feelings from the late 80's? I think it strikes at that basic fear that people still won't/don't like me. Why did they have all those friendships and why wasn't I a part? Of course what I don't always ask myself is, did I want to be a part? I know by senior year I was drifting away from many friends because I had decided I wasn't interested in drinking or drugs, and many of them decided they were. It helped somewhat to designate myself as a sober driver, but I still was often not a "part" of what was going on. After high school I spent 4 months in Germany, and I know upon returning home that reentry was hard for me, and I didn't feel a connection with my high school friends, even though I wanted to.

I guess the bigger issue is my own underlying feelings of being left out. I've often felt that way. Sometimes those feelings reflect/reflected reality - I was overtly made fun of often for my weight or for being weird or what have you, and clearly rejected by many of my more popular classmates. Sometimes, though, those feelings came from within, which is why I think it bugs me 20 years later. I have those same feelings, of not quite fitting in but wanting to, that I had then. It'd be better if I didn't want to, of course - then it wouldn't bother me. *sigh*.

20 years later, and I'm still just a scared little high school kid on the inside, wanting to be liked.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Hypochondriac In Me Is Alive And Kicking

I've always been a bit of a hypochondriac. It's not something I'm proud of, or a trait I like about myself, it just is. So yesterday, when I woke up bone tired, took many naps, and yet still felt bone tired - well, by 3:00 I had myself convinced it was something terrible. I was convinced it was related to prediabetes or PCOS or something to do with being at my fattest I've ever been - clearly I'm just exhausted because I weigh so damn much! Maybe it's sleep apnea - fat people get that, you know! I knew I hadn't eaten well, so it must be related to eating white flour and sugar, when was I ever going to learn? And since my leg has been bothering me a bit, I was convinced there was something to that - that obviously I was going downhill with this extreme fatigue and slight leg pain and maybe I needed to consider gastric bypass surgery? Or maybe I had deep vein thrombosis. Then I started remembering I had read that often women who have heart attacks don't know it because the symptoms are usually less obvious, like fatigue or upset stomach, and wasn't I exhausted and spending time in the bathroom? Maybe I was having a heart issue! I'd better check my pulse...

So by mid-afternoon I was convinced I was the fattest, laziest person on the planet suffering from leg pain and sleep apnea because of my girth, feeling exhausted because of my crappy food intake, convinced I was showing signs of diabetes or heart disease, or what have you.

Turns out I think I'm just sick. Duh. Yes, some of those other things are things I have been and should be concerned about, but I don't think they are what laid me low yesterday.

However, I'm convinced that TOMORROW that's what's gonna get me.

Out, out, damned hypochondriasm, out!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Energy, Energy, Wherefore Art Thou, Energy?

I have no energy today. This is not unusual as of late, and I am wondering once again what the origin is: lack of sleep? too much sugar? hormonal issues? depression? PCOS? prediabetes? lack of exercise? something else?

I'm sure all of those come into play. I certainly don't get enough sleep or enough quality sleep, at that. The curse of being a light-sleeper, but also of wanting to have a life beyond mommyhood and therefore staying up until 11:00 p.m. or so when I really should be in bed (and does it count as having a life if I'm just watching TV or playing on Facebook? Doubtful...). I know I eat too many sweets and am addicted to sugar and white flour. Sure, I've given up chocolate and fast food for Lent, but I'm finding other things to eat, of course, and I know it starts the blood sugar tango. Which, of course, is related to the prediabetes and possibly PCOS I've been told I possibly have. Don't know when I'll get something definite - but if it IS prediabetes/PCOS, can I overcome it? If prediabetes drives cravings which leads me to sugar, if fatigue is sometimes a symptom of those things, what do I do? Could it be depression? I do feel just really blah lately, unmotivated, but is it a chicken and egg thing? Do I feel those because I'm tired, or does feeling ehh make one tired? I'm also certainly not exercising enough - sickness has prevented that, fatigue has contributed to the "I just don't feel like it" mentality, and both of those have me moving less and feeling tired more, not good for a fat lady to begin with.

The thing is, I want a simple answer. Or maybe better said, a simple solution. I want to know what it is and fix it. Likely it's a combination of all of those things. But it's wearing me down, it's impacting my life, it's making me much less the mom I want to be, it's chipping away at my self-esteem (a battle already), I just feel useless... too tired to be who I want to be, too tired to care about changing. I'm SURE if I dropped 80 pounds I would feel better, but it just feels so impossible. When I had my heart health check, the nurse with whom I spoke said the first thing I need to do is work on the fatigue and getting enough rest, because if I don't I won't have the coping skills to work on the other things. So true! So TRUE! But if the other things exacerbate the fatigue, how can I fix THAT cycle? So I write today wondering if other 37 year old moms feel as tired as I do... is this common? How can I fix it? WHAT IS IT?

I guess I need to do what I can to: a) get to bed earlier, b) sleep more soundly, c) eat better so to keep blood sugar steady, and d) exercise even if I don't feel up to it, b/c the more regular it is the better I feel. But today all I am thinking is how much I want to go back to bed and ignore my life.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Great Expectations, or, The Birthday That Wasn't

Yesterday I turned 37. 37 has been my favorite number for who knows how long (and for who knows why?), so I have been looking forward to this birthday for what seems like forever. And although, as an adult, I realize adult birthdays are much different from childhood birthdays - as an adult, I know not to expect clowns or pool parties or streamers or what have you - I have to admit I felt let down by all the hoopla that wasn't.

I'm sure it's not fair to the people around me. I just expected - I don't know - *something*. We had a little "Open House" for me on Sunday night, to which we invited a number of people, but only 1 family and 1/2 of another family stopped in, plus my parents. Not to denigrate them - we had a great time, ate some pizza, talked a bunch, but it was fewer than I had been expecting (and fewer than had RSVPed yes), and kind of rushed, and I had to get out my own cake and put the candles on it, and remind family to videotape, etc. And everyone was gone within an hour, and then *poof*, the kids were in bed.

On my actual birthday, I got two wonderful cards from my family and hugs. We were stuck at home for a snow day, but that was O.K. It just didn't seem wowy zowy. My husband, in particular, just wasn't enthused, and hasn't been for a while. Don't know if it's me or something else, but it was kind of a bummer. I actually expressed that to him, but it still didn't help. I think a little part of me wanted the parade, wanted the fireworks, wanted to be struck on the head by lightning so that I would glow to the world and say, "Yes, THIS lady is 37! Celebrate!"

It's a reminder to me that expectations are just that - expectations. They aren't reality, and they aren't always realistic. Just because 37 is special to me doesn't mean the world will react that way. So I go on, on Day 2 of being 37, and just have to celebrate me on the inside.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I told Jefferson this morning that tomorrow marks the beginning of Lent. "What is Lent?" he asked, to which I replied, "the forty days before Easter." I then tried to explain how people often choose something to give up for the Lenten period to honor the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Jefferson replied, "O.K., I'll give up being King, because Jesus is the real King." I said that sounded good, but in spite of the fact that that morning he had been wearing his Burger King crown and had announced that he was king and therefore overruled mom and was not going to school that day because kings don't go to school, I reminded him that in all truth, he wasn't king, so that wouldn't really be a sacrifice. He said, "O.K., I'll give up fits." I thought this sounded much better... but then said maybe he shouldn't promise something to God that he had almost no chance of achieving. So we left it at he should think of something and get back to me...

I decided to give up chocolate and fast food for Lent. These are two vices of mine that when I am caught in their grasp just get worse with time - I crave more of both more often. So this is a healthy choice. But is it honoring God? Is it in line with the kind of sacrifice Jesus made? Can a middle-aged housewife's attempt to give up some binge foods, while leaving others like donuts as totally optional, really be much of a sacrifice at all? And am I doing it for Jesus' sake, or for my own? Does it matter?

I struggle to comprehend Jesus. I struggle to comprehend God and the universe and Christianity and spirituality and all that jazz. Lately it seems I'm especially ping ponging between wondering if it's all just a hoax, just a bunch of stories patterned after earlier stories made up to assuage our deepest fears, answer our most basic questions, and give us boundaries about how to live so that everything seems a little less chaotic (for those of us prone to anxiety, rules actually feel safe much of the time). I'm sure having seen Bill Maher's "Religulous" recently has played into that - for all his diffident, arrogant comments and attitude toward organized religion, the questions he raised are ones I've often asked myself. On the other side of the table (to get back to the ping pong metaphor), I think about my own personal experiences and feelings - specifically about how I felt the day I was doing laundry and basically said, "O.K., Jesus, if you're real help me here," and realized Mercy Me's "I Can Only Imagine" was playing on the radio. I felt then and there as if a warm spirit had come into the room and was with me. I really did. I felt that same spirit, the feeling as if someone (Jesus) had slung their arms around me and was sitting with me the night I was lying in a UVa hospital bed as a hospital chaplain was praying with me because I was about to lose my baby girl. I hadn't asked the chaplain to come, wasn't even sure I wanted him there, but when he prayed and asked that Jesus walk with me, I swear I felt Him near me, with his arm around my shoulder, and I did not feel alone. No one can take those feelings away from me, and that is why the ping pong game continues. My intellect argues against faith all the time, but my soul longs for it, and I just *feel* like God is there, like there is something bigger than me, bigger than all of us, that links us together. The stories of Jesus feel good to me. Would I like to be someone who just believed everything in Christianity and felt secure in my faith - heck, YES! Am I one of those people? No. But God knows that. Maybe I'm supposed to be like that. Maybe in the questioning and the arguing and the rebelling and the doubting and the craving and the fearing and all of that mess, maybe in all of that God is working on me, waiting for me to come out of my toddler years, waiting for me to grow into relationship with Him. Or maybe it's a bunch of hocus pocus. I don't know. This inner argument always reminds me of the book "The Life of Pi," where at the end you find out all may not have been as it seemed, and the question is asked, "Well, which version do you prefer?"

There's no real point to this blog entry today, no sudden epiphany, no lightning bolt on the head. Is sacrificing chocolate and fast food (and recommitting to 10,000 steps a day, which I also promised) really a good Lenten vow? I kind of think so. I know it will be better for my health, and I think God wants me, wants all of us, to be healthy - physically, emotionally, mentally, creatively, lovingly, spiritually healthy. Is it on par with the sacrifice Jesus made? Of course not. Nothing is. But at least Lent has me thinking about it all again.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I turn 37 in one week. 37 has been my favorite number for about as long as I remember. No, I don't know why. But it does seem to pop up in my life a lot, along with my second favorite number, 17. When we went to Graceland, the address of the Graceland center? 3717 (although Elvis' house is actually 3764). When we used my silly numerology book to analyze my future husband's name? His first name added up to 17, his entire name to 37. I notice 37's everywhere - on apartment doors in movies, on the odometer in the car, and yes, I seem to glance at the clock a lot when it hits 37. My husband argues it's because I'm hyperaware, hypersensitive to 37's presence. Perhaps.

What I do know is, 37 holds special significance for me, and so turning 37 feels like a huge deal. I feel like something momentous is supposed to happen, like I'm supposed to achieve something amazing (not necessarily amazing to the world, just to me). It's a lot of pressure. I did, after all, graduate from high school and then live in Germany when I was 17 - and that was a major transformation for me. What will happen when I'm 37? What will I MAKE happen when I'm 37? Because that's key - I can wait all I want to for a spectacular event, for a new me, but, in all likelihood, waiting won't bring anything. Graduating from high school and going to Germany didn't just happen, I worked for that, long and hard. I learned German all my years in high school and worked a part-time job to be able to have money while over there. It didn't just happen, I made it happen.

So expecting great change without changing myself is unrealistic. I want it - I want to magically wake up and have all my character faults gone, to have it be easy to eat well and exercise hard, to suddenly be free of the fear and perfectionism and self-confidence and control issues that have plagued me all my life. But I won't. I may want God to strike me on the head with a lightning bolt to show me which way to go, to transform and transfigure me, but I'm not Moses. I'm not Jesus. I'm just little old Anne. And I'd better start making a plan. Because I'm going to be 37, baby, and I'm not going to waste it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

So This Is Isolation

In OA, they talk a lot about how these addictions are diseases of isolation. We tend to use them to escape whatever it is from which we want to escape and to isolate ourselves from others. I've always scoffed inwardly at that last one. Me, isolate myself? Are you kidding? I love people! I love to talk! I thrive on social interaction, even though, as half intro/extrovert, I also value private time and solitude.

Only lately I'm realizing, I am isolated. I am. I've complained about it in the sense of feeling lonely, a common feeling for me, and telling my husband it's in part because many of my friends with whom I hung around in playgroups, etc., when Jefferson was little do not have young kids now and so have moved on to jobs or volunteering or just things that don't revolve around toddlers. With Eleanor I tried briefly to have a playgroup, but it seemed to fail from lack of interest. What I guess I didn't know was part of it was lack of my interest... with Jefferson I was bound and determined to get out and meet people, so I did - we went to the library, the children's museum, the Mommy and Me playtime at the gym, anything and everything. And I found a good playgroup and socialized regularly.

I'm not doing that now. And as much as I don't want to admit it, a big part of that is me. Yes, some of my friends have moved on. So I should make new ones. Yes, Eleanor is easier than Jefferson was and is happier at home so it's easy to stay at home - it doesn't mean I should. But the big question for me is, why am I isolating myself? Why am I not making an effort in so many ways to connect with people? Sure, I'm on Facebook all the time, and even chat with people there, but it's not face to face, not verbal, not intimate - and easy to walk away from.

I don't know the answer yet. I don't quite know why I am hiding. But admitting that I am is probably important, I guess. I know I feel shame from having gained a lot of weight in the last two years. When I think about the number on the scale I do feel like hiding - and escaping into food, as illogical as that seems to someone who doesn't battle food addiction. I guess maybe that shame is playing out into my real life... I want to escape what I don't like in favor of what I (think) I do: food and Facebook.

I know there have been times in my life when I have woven in and out of being more or less extroverted... long periods of really wanting to be out there, and others where I am more inwardly focused. But I want to acknowledge to myself that this one, this period of withdrawing and isolating, is not healthy and is not for the right reasons. Shame is weighing me down, and I need to let myself feel that, acknowledge that, and face it, so that I can let it go and reemerge into my own life.