Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Trapped In A Fat Suit

I am a curvy woman.  Currently I wear size 18/20 top & bottom.  I am not one of those gorgeous BBW who are so brilliantly confident in their own skin and are just fabulous being who they are.  I admittedly am sad and unhappy as all get out.  True story.

Growing up I was a typical beanpole tomboy.  I could eat anything I wanted, which may have spurted me up, but never out.  I was so thin that my hipbones jutted out, my collarbone showed, and my ribs were covered, but not by much.  I never tried to be skinny, I just was.  I had a super charged metabolism and so did my mama.  From about the age of 5 up until about 15 I was tall, as in I was 'that' girl.  You know, the one taller than the boys.

Now I'm 5'10" and for a while, due to compression from all the accidents & injuries, I was down to 5'8".  I kid you not, seriously I lost two whole inches of height.  Thanks to chiropractic, massage therapy, and doing a lot of physical therapy, I am back to my full natural height.  So yeah, I'm still taller than a lot of men out there, but I'm okay with that.

Back to the skinny girl/fat girl thing, I went through all my pregnancies and each and every time I snapped right back to a trim figure and went home in regular clothes that I wore pre-pregnancy.  No dieting, no working out, nada.  Just gave birth.  The lowest I remember being in regards to weight at this height was a very unhealthy 118 lbs., which came about due to severe stress and not any form of trying to lose it.  My first husband sat me down on my 22nd birthday to hand me a present and then proceeded to tell me he wasn't happy being married to me, was in love with someone else, and wanted a divorce.  Surprise!

Hitting my 30's didn't change my metabolism or body type either.  I barely noticed my 30th, and didn't spend one minute in denial or angst over it either.  I just am not one of those women who freak out about aging.  Psshh, I earned every grey hair, every crease & wrinkle baby, they're mine, I am not theirs, and I'm okay.  Fuggetaboutit!  Not to say I don't dye my hair, I do.  I have since I was 18.  For fun, to try new things.  Yes, in part, it is now to cover the greys, but I wouldn't lose it if I were to be unable to dye and have to go natural tomorrow.

What changed my life, and size, was a freak accident involving a horse.  My husband bought me a gorgeous palomino filly for my engagement present.  So, right after we married in June I began working with her on ground work and manners.  She had none.  One day in late August after I had finished with her, I walked her out to the pasture, went to put her through the gate, and the other horses crowded her.  She panicked.  Into me.  Repeatedly.  Against a 5-bar steel gate.  Until the gate, myself, and the filly crashed to the concrete pad just behind us.

There I was, lying on a cold slab of concrete, on top of a twisted and mangled gate, the filly and all her 750 lbs. mostly on top of me.  Then she began thrashing around to get off.  What I was once she finally made it to her feet is more than I care to completely recall, nor do I have sufficient words to describe it, but I can tell you this, it was bad y'all.  I was one big, hot mess of pain.  All I can remember thinking is how incredibly awful I felt, and that nothing up to that point had ever hurt me so much.  I had to crawl down to the barn, over crushed gravel, and passing out a few times along the way.  Once there, I grabbed the bucket sitting under the phone on the wall and I threw it, over and over again, until finally it knocked the phone down.  I was praying the entire time it wouldn't break into pieces when it landed.

Luckily for me, it didn't break.  It actually landed on me.  I dialed my husband's cell and when he answered, I think for quite a while, all he heard was me sobbing hysterically.  Finally he was able to get the gist of my garbled, sob filled story, and he told me he was on his way home.  I passed out at least one more time.  He got there, and by then I was sitting up, and when he pulled into the barnyard I stood up on my own.  We got to the hospital and I was to find out I had torn muscles, pulled muscles, bruised bones, deep tissue hematomas, and a mild concussion, etc.

It hurt to breathe, move, and I don't think I did much of the latter for days and days afterward.  I did my best on the pain pills and muscle relaxers to still be up and get my girls off to the bus, to make supper in the evenings, but those mornings & afternoons in between, well, I was in a medicated fog, mostly on the sofa, praying the pain would go away and leave me in peace.  Over the next 8 months, even though I was actually eating less than before the accident, I gained weight, and a lot of it.  I went from a healthy size 7 to a size 16.  I hated how I looked, how I felt, and how it made me so unhappy.

Over these past 12 years since that accident there have been others.  I have been hit by a semi-truck, a car, and have fallen down the stairs, on slick ice, and the one I can't recall, fallen from the ATV this past June.  I have now sustained 5 concussions, numerous muscle tears, pulls, strains, sprains, vertebral compression, nerve damage, broken and bruised bones, and have put on an extra 115 lbs. of fat.  Being that broken and hurting doesn't easily allow one to keep active in the gym.  I've been in & out of physical therapy so many times, and for the record, I do my exercises every single day.

When I can't do them all, I do what I can.  Sneezing can put my back out.  Being hugged does it to.  It all depends on the day and the mood my body is in.  I have tried so many diets, and am on my 3rd gym.  I have found one that I feel comfortable in, that I feel is working for me.  No judgement, just help and guidance when I ask for it.

I cry when I'm alone and no one can see or hear me.  I cry because I do truly feel like that skinny girl I was my entire life, one who is trapped in a fat suit and no one can get her out.  There are times I look in the mirror and am shocked at my body.  I hate photos being taken of me, and I realized the other day, I have very little photographic memories of myself with my children, and now with my granddaughter Sora.  I want to change that.  I want to be able to be okay being in photos with them.  Make memories of now for the future.  But mostly I want the zipper to go down, step out of this thing, and be me again.

Me at age 5 with my Mama

Age 17 & about to graduate high school, size 5

Age 23, size 5

Age 31, equestrian college, size 7

Age 40, size 18

Thursday, August 23, 2012

History & A Voice From the Past

I recently gave a car to my eldest & her husband.  He is mechanically inclined, the car needs some attention and work, and I had no use for it, they need one, and so on.  Anyhow, in searching for the title to it for them, I found a letter file that belonged to my Dad.  He's been gone for well over 10 years now, and it was quite a shock to me to find it.  I had no idea Mom had put that away. 

I mean, I may have once had an idea, heck, she probably gave it to me after he passed away.  However, since the wreck this past June, the resulting major concussion causing memory loss, well, who knows, I certainly don't.  There it was though.  A manila envelope marked Family on the tab, sitting in her old file cabinet.  I pulled it out and there are these letters and stories from Dad to me, to my children, about his birth, moving to America, his growing up, his life.

Intending to read through it, I sat down with it.  I didn't make it past the first.  Too many memories are slamming into my head, causing my brain to spin.  Seriously, I feel ill.  My stomach is turning over and over, my heart is pounding.  I can hear his voice as I read the words and it hurts so much.  I swear to you I smelt his Old Spice, butterscotch pipe tobacco, and the scent of pine that was forever coming from his skin.  He was a cabinet maker, and even though he was allergic to all 40 some odd species, he nevertheless continued his craft.

Closing my eyes and leaning my head back, the images, scents, and sounds of the past continued to swarm into my mind.  Pouring relentlessly even as I struggled to slow them. Him waking me at 4 AM so we could leave by 5 to get to a lake or river by 6 and fish for trout before it would be too hot according to him.  On these mornings, mist rising from the water, wrapped in one of his flannel shirts, he would let me drink coffee with him.  My entire family, to my knowledge loved coffee; aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, grandparents.  They all drank it whether black, sweet black, or with cream and/or sugar.  Not me.  Nope, I hated the stuff.  I loved tea.  But those times on the banks of various waterways, poles stuck between our feet, lines taut as the current teased the lures, I drank it and listened to him talk about his birth in England, moving to Canada, then to the USA, his service in WWII, the horrible awfulness of seeing action in Morocco, Italy, Germany. 

He carried tiny bits of shrapnel in his back and neck.  There had been Purple Hearts and other commendations awarded to him, Silver Stars.  He would never speak of any of it, other than our fishing trips.  Only when we were alone and out in the wilderness did he open up.  The things he saw, experienced, had to do, they haunted him I knew.  Those things had changed him, altered the young man he had been, made him into someone else.  He had been amongst the very first group when the Army split and the Army Air Corps was established.  A young officer.  I have a photo of him, crouching amongst his unit, different colored uniform, distinguisable even in black and white.  A cockeyed grin crosses his face, eyes crinkled with some unspoken mirth. There is no mistaking this is my Dad, that nose, those eyes, that overall expression that is undeniably him.

Because of these stories, his pride in having helped a military branch be born, I joined the US Air Force upon high school graduation.  The stanzas of the old songs he'd taught me rang through my mind as I made my way through basic training.  On the hottest, most humid days San Antonio threw at me, I would call up his face, hear him telling me how brutal the heat and humidity of Africa had been, and I would push through. How could I not, far be it from me to let the old man down.  The very thought of it sent renewed energy coursing through me every single time.

Not my father, not the man who created me along with my mother, but my dad all the same.  We did not have an easy, nor altogether healthy relationship.  Over the years there had been things done and said, damage caused that would take years to heal.  And still I loved him.  Incredibly this man, whom I had never once heard say he was sorry, never saw him back down, would apologize to me later in life.  From that day, that discussion on, we would be close.  We talked several times a week by phone.  He in Washington State, me in West Virginia and later Pennsylvania.  Talk about my children, food and recipes, dogs, pine trees, trout, huckleberry season, the weather.  He never again spoke to me of his childhood, the war, none of it.  Apparently without the protection of being in a forest on the edge of wild water, he no longer felt safe enough to do so.  I don't know, but what ever his reasons, I am so grateful, and feel enormously blessed for those mornings we shared.

Then too, I feel blessed to have found this file this afternoon.  To be able to hold once more letters from him, read his stories.  Eventually I'll get through them all, one by one, tears or no, and I will treasure them each and every single one.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Baby Girl

I leave next Friday, early in the morning, to take my youngest back down to college.  At 19, she remains my 'baby', though she is so independent, so strong & capable, that at times I have the urge to remind her of that fact.  We had coffee recently & I stole looks at her when she had her attention occupied.  She is am amazing young woman, and I feel more than blessed to call her mine.  Her smile always reaches her eyes, and she listens to those talking to her with an intensity I don't see in the majority of young folks around her age.  Sadly, I don't see it in a lot of folks at any age lately.  Those conversing with her cannot help but realize the gem of a listener they have in her, she actively listens, verifying this by the input of a quick question or small comment, then back to looking into your eyes and engaging you to keep talking.  It's a gift indeed. 

I often see her big brother when I look at her.  None of my 4 kids think they resemble one another, and I find that mildly amusing as I find them in each other at every turn.  Of course, I too feel they don't resemble me, and have been often told that, in fact, they do.  Each of them.  Anyhow, she looked up at me at one point, the light coming through the large window of the shop just right, illuminating her eyes and cheekbones, and I couldn't believe how much she looked like Matty.  He is 6'2", she a mere 5'3".  He has very curly hair, as do the other two girls and myself, whereas Kait has beachy waves, that kind that seem perfectly placed with care during a lengthy styling session.  She has bemoaned wanting our curls, we her waves.  Isn't that how it always seems to go?

Yet, in that small moment of time, I found them staring at me from the same eyes.  It was a beautiful thing, and just for a second, my heart stopped.  They've all moved out on their own, two of them in one small town, the eldest in another state, and Kait in yet another small town here in Pennsyvlania.  Until she leaves for school.  Then she is going to be several states away.  Mere hours, that can feel so much farther.  I'll miss grabbing our coffee at our fave little shop.  They buy their coffee from another local business that roasts their own blends, and the truth is in the details y'all...so very, very good.  But I digress.  We try to thrift shop together as often as we can also.  Both of us enjoy browsing through the shelves, racks, and piles in several stores here in the city I live near.  Just a block either direction from our coffee shop, and we have a choice of no less than 5 thrift stores to peruse.  How lovely is that?

While I will miss that time spent nearly weekly with her, I am, at the same time, bursting with pride in my girl.  Dedicated to obtaining her degree in early childhood education and becoming a teacher of littles. Plans to spend next summer overseas, some place like Indonesia, India, Cambodia, teaching English in an orphanage.  She is talking to a group that arranges these amazing trips for people like her; students around the world, looking for opportunities to expand their hearts, knowledge, minds.  I pray she raises the money it will take.  The experience would be beyond her dreamy expectations I know, the chance to do something so many merely dream about, but if I know my girl, she will not rest in her quest to make it reality for herself.  I dearly admire that bulldog quality she has.  Like my other 3 punks do. When I am down, I call up memories of her, and that soothes it away.  Just like that, her gorgeous smile makes all well again.

My beautiful, amazing Kait!

Bethy & Kait on Beth's 'best day ever', Beth married Tim!

Liv & Kait on their 18th/16th birthday...great party!

And finally, with the big brother...Cinco de Mayo back in '09

Friday, August 3, 2012

Family Ties

My eldest and youngest daughters, and my son, rarely get to see the middle daughter's baby girl.  With things like work, school, attending college a few states away, etc., and so forth, they just seem to miss out on seeing her much.  Yesterday my mom and I went and picked her up and drove down to see my eldest for a while.  The baby was completely fascinated by her auntie's dog Jack.  Sadly I wasn't able to get any video of her laughing and laughing over Jack being silly, or with her lovely aunty either.

Then today, after her morning play, and a nap, we went to meet my son for lunch.  He really just loves her so much and barely ate his meal playing with her and holding her the entire time.  I did manage to get a few snapshots of them together.  She is a pickle this one, kept stealing his toast and paper placemat.  Yes, we are those kind of people, we eat breakfast for lunch and supper.

Sora and Uncle Matty back on day one Feb. 13th

Trying to eat that paper placemat

What she thinks about him saying no to the former 

So, she stole his toast instead lol!