Featured

How did I forget?

I met with my counselor last week for the first time in about 9 months. As we were talking, she does her magic and asks a few questions…

(I’m going to stop here for a minute. I have literally just finished a grad school class on cognitive behavioral interventions. My entire final was a live “practice” combining and using questions to help a person see where they can make changes. I made a perfect score. I literally just learned questioning skills. Insert eyeroll.)

Continuing on…as I sit in her office, it occurs to me that I already knew how to manage what had spiraled out of control in my own life. My mind is reeling with the thought, “Are you kidding me?” I had slipped into behaviors without even a conscious thought about how much stress they were causing me!

The process of awareness and using tools to function in emotionally healthy ways simply need to be rebooted sometimes.

I’m going to be honest. On my way home from her office, I was annoyed that I had forgotten that I had choices. I was living in my past reactions within the abuse cycle, and I had totally allowed myself to slip into old habits.

As I have pondered it since then, I have chosen to embrace the fact that I slipped into old patterns. It happens, and I wasn’t paying that much attention. I have just been “getting through” each day.

The difference now is that I know what to do. I know where to look for help if I need it.

But here’s the thing.

I accidentally isolated myself. It wasn’t intentional. It really did just happen.

FYI-isolation is my thing. I am really, really good at it. It’s how I survived in years past.

We absolutely cannot isolate if we are to live meaningful lives!!

Period.

Yes, we get busy. Yes, it has been hard because of the pandemic. Yes, we are busy with work, kids, classes, church…whatever the things are that fill your time.

But we need people to connect with. People to keep us in the present. People to bring us out of our headspace.

(And if you know me, you know how stuck I can get in my mind. I a bit of a weird-o about that. I can also get stuck trying to disappear into reading. And sometimes, I can even get stuck just sitting in my living room doing nothing…it is kind of ridiculous.)

So here’s the deal. I’ve been moving forward, step by step, since the day I found out my ex-husband was gay. Sometimes we get stuck in old patterns of behaviors. Except now, once the a-ha moment comes, I know what to do to get unstuck.

Moving forward isn’t about never looking back and never having another problem.

It’s all about the a-ha moments. They should totally give us a boost of confidence that we are awesome at this moving forward thing. We know how to get ourselves out of stuff. And even if we don’t remember, we probably know where we can go to get a little help!

Keep going. We’ve got this.

Featured

Fresh Eyes

It is 6:30 a.m. the Saturday before Easter. I am alone in a bed and breakfast just a few miles from home, and I have been consistently working to catch up on all of my classwork that has fallen through the cracks the last few weeks.

Why am I in a bed and breakfast? How am I even paying for such an indulgence?

After receiving my tax return, I put it all immediately in my savings to offset the lack of income I will have this next summer…although I also need new tires for my car, my computer is dying, and I have holes in my rental house walls that need professional repairing. (Yes, I am rambling…sometimes fear creeps in.)

But my mental health was failing. The busy-ness inside my home was creating a whirlwind inside my brain. My young adults come in and out. My teenager is struggling with his schoolwork. My home is cluttered. I have been in and out a lot these days. I could not seem to clear my head long enough to focus on what needed to get done.

I realized that I could push through, but I know me…at some point in the near future, I would eventually lose it and hurt someone’s feelings. I have been jumping from activity to activity, attempting to see progress within the house while also trying to get some of my schoolwork (and real work) done. I have been doing a minimal job of completing my schoolwork, not allowing myself to fully grasp the information I need for my future. And in general, I have been walking around frustrated at everyone instead of taking the time to process my feelings, deal with them appropriately, and communicate them.

So I gave myself a budget and permission to spend 2 nights away from the chaos. To clear my head and focus my vision.

Plus…there is this other thing that has sneaked in and has been causing me a bit of unexpected emotions. I needed to allow myself to feel those, so that I can continue moving forward.

I don’t think a lot of people allow themselves to deal with their sh** after a divorce. They move forward and carry all of that mess with them…either that, or I cling to my sh** for a long stinking time. But I don’t think so. I think that as a society, we expect people to move on quickly from their feelings so that the discomfort for those around us can go away. And people move forward believing that the sh** will just go away if they keep doing stuff to push the emotions away.

For me, 25 years of marriage (and a whole lifestyle) was a lot to lose…it would be for anyone. It was only 3 years ago that I was pursuing intense therapy to try and figure out if my marriage could be saved. Back then, my then-husband was working to convince me that he wanted to be married to me. So I kept trying to have an open mind and to be logical.

But on Easter Sunday 2018, a decision was made that confirmed that my marriage could not be saved.

And on this Easter weekend (2021), I am working to reframe that part of my story. Bear with me as a S-T-R-E-T-C-H Jesus’ story to help me along.

Jesus died…betrayal set that in motion. And then He rose again.

A part of me died…because of betrayal. But I am rising again as a new woman. (Told you I was stretching it a bit!)

When I choose to look at my life in this manner, I see encouragement. I see the hope I am giving to others. Has this path been difficult? Yes, beyond anything I could imagine.

When I look around at those who have suffered betrayal, I see many faces. Some of us fall into despair and cannot get up. Some of us fall into rage and become angry women seeking revenge. And some of us pray (beg) daily that God keeps our hearts soft so that we can gently lead others to see Jesus.

My season of difficulty has not yet ended, but I am seeing the fruit of sharing my story and of me leaning on Jesus.

**At least 3 women have come to me and told me that they left abusive relationships…because I shared my story.

**2 young men came to me and told me that they were groomed by older men in trusted situations…because I shared my story.

I have thought that I needed to stop sharing my story, but my story is important. My story gives hope to those who have experienced horrible things…and it is not even the worst one you will ever hear.

But it shines a light in the dark corners that some of us try so hard to hide. It creates a space for people to have a voice.

So this time away has given me fresh eyes. Some things I see:

  1. I love what I am learning, and I need to take the time to create a space to absorb all that I can.
  2. My children are experiencing growing pains and need the space to feel those pains without my intervention.
  3. My heart continues to heal. Allowing myself to feel those pangs of confusion and grief as they pass through my body, not judging them, but accepting them as simply part of the healing process.
  4. I am doing great things. Maybe not from a huge platform, but in teeny, tiny private ways, I am making a difference.
  5. And this job I have but don’t love…I am doing pretty good at that, too. Messages from parents expressing their gratitude about what they are seeing and hearing from my classroom are confirming that I am where I am meant to be.

I encourage you. When your mind is filled with an overabundance of moving parts, and you cannot seem to see clearly, give yourself permission to step away from it all. Fresh eyes bring clarity and peace.

Featured

Pondering…Am I Guilty?

Am I guilty of parental alienation?

I honestly do not know. This is something that I have been afraid of being blamed for ever since the divorce occurred. In fact, it is something that sometimes keeps me awake at night. My thoughts wonder how much I contributed to the negative feelings my children have toward their father.

Three out of my four children live with me. (The fourth lives on his own.) The three that live with me have observed the overwhelming nature of my divorce. It was impossible to protect them from it.

For the first little bit during and after the divorce, I regularly told my children that their father loved them to the best of his ability. Honestly, he wasn’t the nicest guy to live with, and during the divorce he became vindictive directly to them. But he is their father…

All three of them accused me of trying to force them into a relationship with him. All three of them said that I was trying to manipulate them.

So I stopped.

But am I guilty of this thing called parental alienation? Did I promote their feelings of anger directed toward their dad? Was there anything that I could have done to encourage them more?

There’s this: I only found out about my ex-husband’s attraction to men because my daughter told me. In the beginning, I attempted counseling, and I encouraged my children to see that I was trying to be open-minded.

And there’s this: My 2nd son and my daughter told me that if I stayed with their dad, I would not have a relationship with them. That they would make an effort to see me occasionally, but they would never again enter our home freely.

And then there’s this: My 4th child, from a very early age, disliked his father. I never understood it and often attempted to force a relationship. The only way he would spend time with his dad is if he was bribed.

Not to mention this: My ex-husband moved over 1000 miles away.

I was devastated by my ex-husband’s hidden life, and as my eyes opened to why our lives were the way they were, I realized what awful things he had intentionally done to keep his secret. (Some of them are still beyond my comprehension.) Did I share too much of that? Maybe. I don’t know how I could have kept it a secret. Their friends were telling them things, and they came to me with questions. I didn’t want to lie to my kids.

Regardless of all of that, am I guilty of alienating their dad? Did I overly encourage my children to dislike him?

My studies in social work tell me that this is a problem with some divorce cases, and I do not want this to be the story of my children. I want them to know that even if I cannot look their father in the eye or have a face-to-face conversation with him, they are more than welcome to have that. They won’t be hurting me. (FYI-that is a total lie…it will hurt me if they seek out a relationship with him. But I can keep that tucked inside of me to share with a friend instead of my feelings affecting them…(laugh out loud) is that even possible? They do live with me, and they are no longer young children. They can see through any attempt I make to “fake it.”)

How does a person navigate this? How do I prevent this from happening? I know that the emotional turmoil of walking out this devastating path has affected my children, but have I alienated them from their father?

What could I have done differently? What can I do differently?

Today, I continue to ponder if I am guilty. Part of me thinks no way, I would never do that. Another part of me thinks that it is impossible for me to have not negatively influenced them.

I will have to settle with this thought: I have done the best that I could in my situation.

I just pray that sinks into my soul one day soon.

Featured

Tired of Trauma

The word trauma is on my mind this morning…honestly, I’m beginning to feel as if the word is overused. And yet, it is the most accurate word for what so many people have been walking through the last several years.

Someone used the word trauma on my facebook post yesterday in response to all that Texas has gone through. All day, I pondered it and began making a personal list of all that has occurred since Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

While I acknowledge all of the things that have occurred, I want those of you reading it to realize that I have made certain that I have had the help I needed to persevere through it all. I have not attempted to walk this out alone, nor have I powered through out of sheer will-power. I have leaned on the resources around me, and I believe that I have a relatively balanced outlook on all of it. It is a lot and I will not minimize that, but I want you to see that when you acknowledge that things are difficult and tap into resources, you will find that you can make it through stressful seasons without bitterness and anger, and you may even come out on the other side emotionally healthy.

  1. August 2017 — Hurricane Harvey — devastating for Southeast Texas, although not to me personally (a lot of survival guilt during that time)
  2. November 2017 — My ex-husband resigned from his job to avoid being laid off
  3. November 2017 — My oldest son had his first deployment…with submarines, you do not get to know where your loved one is
  4. January 2018 — One of my dearest friends was diagnosed with breast cancer
  5. February 2018 — I found out from my daughter that my husband of 25 years was gay
  6. Throughout 2018 — Struggled with guilt about my own family drama occupying my mental resources while wanting to pour my heart into caring for my friend
  7. March 2018 — One of my children had a complete meltdown and had to be admitted into a psych hospital
  8. March -July 2018 — Information beyond my comprehension was exposed to me
  9. April 2018 — My oldest son came home traumatized from what occurred during deployment
  10. July 2018 — Filed for divorce
  11. July 2018 — My ex-husband barged into the home and had to be removed by police
  12. August 2018 — I began working as the divorce court appearances began
  13. October 2018 — Sold my home and became technically homeless (thankfully, I have dear friends to took us in temporarily)
  14. December 2018 — Moved into new rental home
  15. January 2019 — Divorce finalized
  16. March 2019 — I am sued by my ex-husband
  17. April 2019 — Reality hits…some friendships die when there is a divorce
  18. May 2019 — I get accepted into graduate school
  19. August 2019 — My graduate program begins; my daughter moves into an apartment and begins college
  20. September 2019 — Tropical Storm Imelda unexpectedly floods Houston, trapping my daughter and me in my car downtown
  21. October – December 2019 — Ongoing harassment from my ex-husband’s
  22. January 2020 — I cannot pay my bills, so I make the decision to finish the semester, reduce my hours to part-time student status, and make plans to go to work full-time in May 2020
  23. March 2020 — The world stops because of COVID
  24. April 2020 — I begin searching for a job, because that was my plan…COVID or not
  25. May-June 2020 — Major race riots in America consume our cities
  26. August 2020 — No job in sight so I begin monitoring students for online schooling
  27. October 2020 — My students go back to in-person school, so I begin subbing in the school district and baking to bring in enough income to pay my bills.
  28. June 2020 – January 2021 — Major election drama and people are harshly divided…an insane amount of rage surrounding everyone
  29. January 2021 — I am hired part-time to teach at a small private school
  30. January 6 2021 — Our US Capitol was stormed
  31. January 2021 — My oldest son leaves for a 7-month deployment
  32. February 2021 — Winter Storm Uri wreaks havoc on Texas
  33. February 21, 2021 — Today

For 3 years and 5 months, there has been extreme stress in my life and many others throughout the US. That stress is trauma.

Trauma is real, and it affects us deeper than we realize. I do not want to dwell on all that occurred during these last years; however, I also do not want to minimize all that has happened. So many of us are taught to persevere through hardships without ever acknowledging that things were REALLY hard for a while. And that is simply wrong.

Just because you survived it and have made steps forward; the fact that it was a lot to walk through should not be negated.

I know that I sound like a broken record this morning. I keep seeing and hearing faith platitudes that are meant to encourage, but sometimes feel like reprimands for not having enough faith when we are just tired. There are times when we simply need someone to come alongside and hold up our arms as Aaron and Hur did for Moses.

Being tired is real. Pretending as if we aren’t is not.

Yes, for those of you who Believe, God does love us. God’s presence is real. God will sustain us. AND it is okay to say that we are tired and weary…and to rest in the knowledge that God loves us through it all.

Featured

Something New

Here it is. The beginning of 2021…I am so glad 2020 has ended!

I am grateful for 2020. I have learned so much this last year, and as odd as the year was, I am appreciative of the insight it has given me.

As 2020 ended, I worked through an inventory of my life. What went well this year? What went wrong? What did I grieve? What brought me joy? What can I learn, and how can I grow from all of it?!

2020 was HARD. Not nearly as emotionally hard as the previous two years, but hard for different reasons. I have learned that I am a person who seriously likes to ignore things…I am an avoider. Let me clarify. If I have to deal with something uncomfortable, I will do it (eventually), but I will tiptoe around the issue as long as I possibly can.

I realized that I need to change the way I live. It isn’t healthy. Not physically, emotionally, or spiritually. This is where I want to blame others, which would be an easy out, but it would not be the truth.

It’s time to embrace my life as a single adult woman with children. I need to stop putting my kids first…3 of them are adults. They need my encouragement, but they are perfectly capable of stepping into their own lives. As for my 16-year-old, it’s time to begin empowering him toward independence.

Now that I realize all of this, how do I make the necessary change?

These two verses have been rattling in my mind for the last few weeks. As the end of the year has come and gone, I’ve decided to cling to them for this next year: Isaiah 43:18-19 CSB “Do not remember the past events; pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”

Faith and hope. Fully embrace the future. Keep my eyes looking forward, and allow the past to remain behind me.

Although I have continued to progress forward, I have also felt tethered to the past…to Code Red, to the abuse, and to the horrors of what was. It is time to let all of that go.

It means that I am ready to come to peace with what was. It is part of my story, but it is no longer going to hold me captive.

So here I am, in 2021, feeling as if I am sitting on a hill, looking to see what God is going to do next?

Happy New Year, everyone!

Featured

The Exhaustion of Psychological Abuse

Christmas will be here in just under 3 weeks time. This will be my 3rd Christmas as a single mom, my first Christmas where I don’t have to feel emotionally pulled into someone else’s mental chaos. But for a minute there, that psychological ridiculousness came close to interrupting my season of joy.

Psychological abuse is so sneaky that you don’t even realize it’s happening…or I don’t.

In this latest incident, I had a completely ridiculous and out of proportion reaction to something that was said. Once I paused and looked deeper, I saw that Code Red used his knowledge of my thought processes, a tiny bit of knowledge he gained from someone, and then created an assumption/lie/guess to make it appear that he was “in the know” of something that I had never, ever communicated with him.

In the past, I would have mentally reviewed my words and assumed that I had slipped up and been “stupid”…again, going so far as to label myself as crazy. But this time, I took a breath and thought rationally, and I saw the lie he was creating. Unfortunately though, for about an hour, I was in a full-on state of panic and fear…and if I am truthful, paranoia.

After successfully figuring this out, and (for the first time since leaving my marriage) I realized why my 16-year-old struggles with so much anxiety when it comes to communicating with his father. I was finally able to recognize that Code Red uses the same tactics on our child. The questions, the condescension, the “knowing” is absolutely crazy making. (I wish he would just be a “dad” or better yet, leave the poor kid alone.)

This latest incident took 3 HOURS of my day to help my child process what was happening and figure out a way to communicate effectively. The mental gymnastics required to process the emotional reaction and come up with a firm response exhaust your whole being! There is no “say what you mean and mean what you say” when you are 16-years-old, at least not without backlash. (During the divorce process, my then-14-year-old was told by the judge that he had to unblock his father on his phone. The judge definitely did not realize that his father does not know when to stop texting.)

My child receives texts beginning at 4am on most days. He receives texts throughout the school day that require thought and interaction…interrupting his education and stirring up unneeded anxiety and stress. He continues to receive texts at random each evening. It is a lot.

The only way I have started to heal my brain from the chaos of the last 28 years is by setting strict boundaries. My child does not have that luxury; and yet, healthy boundaries are what keep us sane. Learning how to protect our mind is incredibly difficult, and it is a struggle to teach children how to set boundaries when they are at the mercy of unhealthy adults in their lives.

I continue to hope and pray that by being present and encouraging my son to process and speak for himself, he will eventually learn to set strong, healthy boundaries with his father.

Psychological abuse is an absolute nightmare, and honestly, I am tired of dealing with it. My brain is weary from being switched “on” so much of the time. Selfishly, I am exhausted observing my child fall apart while trying to make sense of how to best communicate.

If I could, I would simply shout, “Go away!” and be done with it! But we continue to persevere, exercise, and grow the mental muscles we need to remain strong. Thank goodness, we have the privilege of knowledge. And one day…there will be rest.

Featured

I Am Just Enough

Although I am 1-1/2 years post divorce and 2-1/2 years past the discovery, life continues to be hard.

It’s November, the month of my anniversary, my favorite month of each and every year.

I find that I am weary these days. This moving forward is difficult, and I am relatively annoyed at myself for continuing to have big feelings. They aren’t as cutting as they used to be, and I can tell that in time they will continue to be less and less.

But right now, those feelings hurt. My heart aches. My nose sniffles. My eyes tear.

I question, “How could this be my life?”

Do the emotions come because of the memories? or do they come because they were triggered?

Last month, my son ran away. Not for long but long enough to worry me. I desperately wanted someone physical to turn to. I wanted someone to hold me, allow me to cry, and to be weak…for just a little while. I am so very tired of being “strong.”

But I did not have that. In fact, when I reached out to my son’s father, somehow the messages got mixed up and ended with him angry and calling me names. It left me depleted and although it’s been a few weeks, I continue to feel the knife edge of his words.

When I began this blog, I did it as a way to move forward and chronicle what that process looks like for someone who had so much…a big house, a big wallet, a lot of stuff…but chose to leave it all to become free. I was filled with hope, in spite of the grief.

As I have moved forward, I have been hesitant to post when I have another emotional hiccup. I haven’t wanted to seem weak.

But there is enough room for the hopeful, the sad, and all of the feelings in-between. Our emotions are real, and it is okay for us to feel them and process them. There is enough room in this world for all of them.

The trick is to remember that the people who cannot help hold my emotions are simply not my people to share the emotions with. Those people need to sit on the sidelines of my life so that they do not interfere with my healing.

I am not weak. And I am not strong. I am just enough.

**When my child ran away, I did have my parents whose presence did help me get through the weekend but that isn’t what I am talking about here.**

Biggest Blessing=Biggest Regret

My biggest blessing is also my biggest regret.

The inner conflict of my life these days leaves me in a near-constant state of frustration. It has now been two years since I moved from my home. As messy as that home was, there was financial security there. Two years out, and I am feeling both elated and terrified every single day.

The biggest blessing of my life has been that I was able to stay at home with my children. There were moments when it was too much, but overall, I genuinely love/d being an active mom in their lives.

The biggest regret of my life has been that I did not establish a career. I often wanted one, but I could not figure out how to balance that as an involved mom with a spouse that was gone as much or more than he was at home.

I actually remember thinking that after we moved to Alabama, I would be able to go back to school and further my education. And then we moved to Virginia. I didn’t give up hope; I looked at classes and made plans to go back to school. And then we moved to Arkansas. That first year, I clung to my hope…if I could go back before I turned 35, it wouldn’t be too late. But I began homeschooling and had another baby, and before long we moved to Texas. My hopes shifted. Maybe after the kids began moving away, I would just take a few classes? Not for a full degree but something just for me.

And then my world cracked open. Sometimes I see that crack as bad (like falling into an abyss), and sometimes I see that crack as good (my eyes and my world being opened up).

Right now, my world is wide open, but I am also scared out of my mind. I am in graduate school doing what I love, but I had hoped to have full-time employment to balance out my expenses. I never dreamed how difficult it would be to find a decent job. Nor did I ever consider that the father of my children wouldn’t be helping them out with college expenses.

I currently feel frustrated and embarrassed. I am ashamed that I cannot find a job. What is wrong with me? Even the career counselor at the university said that I had a pretty good resume’ considering how many years I stayed at home…

Oh, I know nothing is wrong with me. I also know that we are in the middle of a pandemic. But I am discouraged and annoyed that I did not begin my career path before the age of 47.

It is frustrating and lonely to live with this deep, personal conflict in a season fraught with so much external conflict. Heaven knows that I don’t want to talk about it anymore. To outside people, it’s beginning to look as if I am not even searching. Each application, cover letter, and resume’ needs filling out, written, and tweaked, and that takes roughly an hour or two for every single one of them. They are mentally exhausting, and sometimes I apply to so many in a day that I live in fear that I have attached the wrong cover letter to an application.

All of this makes me want to dwell in a state of regret…but how can I possibly regret my life?! I made cookies and birthday cakes, went to parks, read books, had parties, and put my children to bed every night. I LOVE being a mom.

How is it possible that my biggest regret can also be the most wonderful blessing I have ever received?

Featured

Beautiful Marriage

On September 13th, my siblings and I celebrated our parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. During their lifetime, divorce has become relatively commonplace. Many people the age of my parents have divorced, so celebrating their accomplishment provided all of us with a sweet joy as we saw them act like newlyweds…giggling, laughing, getting ready, and gushing about how nice each other looked.

Seeing them interact with their friends and family and remembering the day gave us a glimpse into the love they have for one another. I think, as children, we sometimes only see the mundane living of life (plus the irritabilities and frustrations) and not the beauty of long-time love. We know that it wasn’t always easy, but we also know that time and time again, they persevered.

For me, it gave a little zing to my heart. I am 48 years old, and it would be a miracle that I have another that would last 50 years.

Earlier I used the words “accomplishment” and “persevered”…as if willpower is all that it takes to accomplish and persevere for a long marriage. Those words, while accurately describing my parents’ long marriage, could also be applied to my own marriage that ended in divorce.

Sometimes we use those particular words not realizing that they imply failure to those who do not achieve the same milestones.

I did achieve the longest marriage that I could. I did persevere in the face of difficulty. And I did choose to leave when my eyes were opened to the horrors hidden from me.

My parents’ long and beautiful marriage is just that. Long and beautiful.

My marriage was too long and too hard, and it was just that. Too long and too hard.

And I am ok with that.

There is joy for me, as well. I succeeded in getting out of an abusive, unfaithful marriage. I am thriving as I move forward with peace and joy.

Long marriages are beautiful, but it is also beautiful to witness someone step into a new life, away from something awful.

Featured

Obesity Keeps Me Safe

This post is risky and hard to post, but I think it’s important.

In April 2014, I saw my doctor and told her that I was beginning to experience panic attacks. At the time, I honestly believed that I had no reason to be anxious. So she and I began to try medications to help prevent me from completely losing it.

Looking back, it seems as if it is a miracle that during that season I did not have a complete nervous breakdown. Here is what had been going on:

  • Code Red had been going on and off of medication for depression for years, and I never knew what kind of person would be walking into my home each evening…he might come in happy and hyper…OR he might come in on edge, ready to attack anyone who made the slightest noise…OR he would be so down and depressed that he would mope around talking about how “we never caught a break.” (That last bit was ridiculous. We had been blessed time and time again; he just couldn’t ever seem to see it.) And he was always, always drinking.
  • My oldest son was graduating from high school and seemed to be struggling against the world. Nothing I could do helped him find peace. My heart was sad, and I wasn’t sure if this was what normal growing pains felt like.
  • The herniated disc in my back had completely filled my spinal canal. I was in a ridiculous amount of pain most of the time.
  • Throughout the year, I think that between all 6 of us, there had been 4 or 5 surgeries.

After beginning the medication, I began seeing a counselor because I wanted to know how to best help my son. His high school years had been full of injuries, and he had not able to compete in athletics…and this son LOVES all things competitive. He was extremely depressed and I wondered if he was suicidal…how was I supposed to handle that? He had completely given up on academics (although he would get near-perfect scores on all exams), and he had turned down engineering school because he planned to join the Navy.

I was stressed, but I didn’t think that it was something that moms everywhere weren’t processing and walking through.

During the conversations with my therapist, small details began to come out about our family…and the more details that I shared, the more I began to shut down, and the more I shut down, the more I began to run through a drive-thru rather than cook a meal. (For those of you who know me well, this wasn’t normal. I love to cook. I love the details of putting together a detailed weekly menu, and I love to create enjoyable family meals.)

The pounds began to creep on. 5…10…40…80…100 all within an 8 month period of time, and I simply did not care. In fact, I tried to convince myself to care, but it didn’t work. The only time I even noticed the weight was when I had to dress to go somewhere.

I am pretty sure that the anxiety/depression meds were a bit too strong and created a numbing effect. I was simply grateful to have something to take away all of the stress that I had been feeling, and fast food was an easy provision.

Since 2015, I have fluctuated about 20 lbs but have remained significantly overweight…obese is the word that catches in my throat…never in my life have I been obese until this last season.

In 2018, during the bombshell of Code Red’s secret life, I decided to try a diet/lifestyle change with a dear friend. I failed. Time and time and time again. I set goals only to ignore them. I read information and absorbed it to the point that I know that I could teach someone exactly what to do to become healthy. I have spoken to my current counselor and we have worked through stuff.

But I have not been able to pull myself out of this strange pit.

In less than a month, I will be 48 years old. Just 5-1/2 years ago, I was 100 lbs lighter than I am right now.

What I have learned about myself is:

  • In 2014, I began to eat fast food as a “rebellion” against my family. If they weren’t going to have conversations and deal with stuff, I was not going to provide good, healthy meals for them…plus they like fast food, right?
  • In 2015-2017, I was heavily medicated/numbed. Mixing anxiety/depression meds with opioids and muscle relaxers prevented me from caring about anything. FYI-I did not struggle with addiction…my back pain was extreme. I am currently not on any medication.
  • In 2014-2018, I cooked enough to maintain appearances for outside people. This is weird, but even when I cooked for the family that lived with us after Hurricane Harvey, I felt as if it was keeping an appearance.
  • In 2015, I stopped wanting to be present for my then husband. I didn’t like going places with him only to be left by myself…and if I was overweight, he didn’t invite me. A win for me.
  • In 2018, my world collapsed. I simply survived that year. Fast food kept my kids fed without me having to think and prepare. I ate because it was there…I do not remember craving or enjoying food at all. That’s a lie…I did eat a lot of Captain Crunch…it’s strange how a childhood favorite brought comfort during that time. Food comfort is such a crazy thing…I don’t even like Captain Crunch now.
  • From 2019 – present, I now recognize that I provide fast food or poor food choices to prevent me from having hard conversations with my kids. Let me explain. Traditionally in our family, when fast food was purchased, we all went our separate ways to eat…never eating it as a family. If I cook, we eat as a family. If we eat as a family, we talk. And if we talk, I will begin to want to begin holding some accountability. I simply haven’t wanted to put in the effort. Yes, I know that isn’t emotionally healthy…

Do I eat too much? Yes, I love tacos and candy and soda and all things bad for the body. Not to mention that when you eat fast food nearly every single day, sometimes twice a day, you don’t have to eat astronomical amounts of food…you will put on significant weight without eating all day, every day.

So now that I know the root of what has happened, what am I going to do about it?

I honestly do not know.

There is one more roadblock to overcome. There is the dilemma of losing weight and becoming more attractive. As arrogant as this sounds, I know that when I am even somewhat fit, I am attractive. And if I am attractive, someone might show interest in me. And if someone shows interest in me, what in the world would I do? I don’t know how to determine who to trust. It is probably better for me to avoid that possibility altogether.

As crazy as this sounds, until I find my voice, obesity keeps me safe.