Let’s talk about Ed baby

Let’s talk about Ed baby

Please tell me you read that title and at least THOUGHT about Salt-n-Pepa’s song Let’s Talk About Sex. I linked it, so you can have it stuck in your head too. Coincidentally, I probably should have called this post “Could there be any more links in one post?!” You’ll see why, but back to the point….the big long drawn out point. Yes, this will be a long one, and it may not be worth reading, but then again, it might, because a few weeks ago, I did something that really should have terrified me. It definitely pushed me right the hell out of my comfort zone, and it was worth every single second of it. But first, the backstory.

When I was in 6th grade, I met my new best friend on the first day of school when I dropped my pencil in Mr. Hall’s math class, and rather than tapping the shoulder of the girl in front of me to ask her to pick it up, painfully shy me instead chose to lean over as far as humanly possible to try to inconspicuously reach it myself. Well, that didn’t work, because I reached too far, tipped my desk over, right on to the foot of the cute boy next to me, turned 50 shades of red as the ENTIRE class watched me pick up my desk, (I mean how could you miss it), and then the girl in front of me, who I should have just asked for help in the first place handed me that stupid pencil. We’ve been friends ever since. Actually, I think if I could have lived at her house, I would have in a second, at any time during our childhood. (OK, let’s be honest, I’d move in with her now.)

We were pretty much inseparable during the weekends and summer. Our favorite activity? Riding bikes or walking to the Saloon/convenience store (it’s a Mexican restaurant now) about a mile away from her house to get snacks, and then going back to her house to make mix tapes. We certainly got our fill of that during the summer after 6th grade, which was good, because during the beginning of the next school year, my dad dropped a bombshell on us. We were moving to an island with 14 miles of state road in Southeast Alaska. RUDE! Try as I may, I couldn’t convince my family to just let me stay with my new BFF. I had to move with the family. Double rude! I mean, I ended up loving the place we moved, because there’s really nothing to not love about Sitka, or the people in it, but that’s beside the point.

I was always active when I was a kid. We worked and played outside all the time. I played basketball, volleyball, softball, and we swam all summer long and ice skated all winter. We didn’t eat a lot of fast food as a family; my mom cooked almost every meal we ever ate. We never thought of food as either good or bad, we just had food, and sometimes we had treats. But when we were moving, my dad said something to me that forever changed the way I viewed everything. “It’s good we’re leaving,” he said, “because you’re developing bad habits with your friend on the weekends.” The bad habits he spoke of? Convenience store donuts. Our favorite treat at the convenience store that we WALKED to was those mini powdered hostess donuts that you can buy in a package of like 6 or 8. We each bought one. We each ate one, and that apparently warranted worry. It wasn’t long after that, that I realized my mom was using the good old Slim Fast, shake for breakfast, shake for lunch, healthy dinner routine a few times a year to lose weight I didn’t even notice she needed to lose.

I was 13 years old the first time I made myself throw up. I’d just finished a very in depth report on anorexia and bulimia for my 7th grade English class. I was sure I needed to break those bad habits my dad had mentioned, and if my mom was always dieting, surely I could stand to lose some weight too. Besides, my legs were way bigger than the other girls I played sports with, and 13 year old me absolutely couldn’t fathom that this was because they were solid muscle from all of the sports I was involved in, and the way that my body is built. I couldn’t simply not eat, because we had family dinner every night. I couldn’t pick and choose what to eat, because that is certainly not the way it worked, so to be more like the other girls, to be more like the beautiful girls, I just threw up whenever I couldn’t stand the thought of all of the calories in the meal we had just eaten, when I needed to be skinny like the other girls.

I managed to hide this for 2 years before my sister caught me and told my parents. They made me go to a doctor, but I had this thing under control, so I told her what she needed to hear so I could just be done with it. Nobody understood that this was the only thing I felt like I could control. Besides, it’s not like I did it all the time, just when I NEEDED to. And it’s not like I had the self control to just quit eating, so I was still getting nutrition that I needed….until that time my senior year, when I really needed to feel like I had some control over something…anything, so I just quit eating, because if I couldn’t control what was happening in my life, at least I could control what went in to my body, and what stayed there.

The world we live in feeds insecurity. The world we live in makes it SO easy to develop eating disorders. How? Well, because the world we live in focuses SO much energy on physical appearance. When I quit eating, it took about a week before I had a noticeable loss of weight. One week until the comments of “You’re looking good” started coming in. And if I looked good at one week, just imagine what 2 did, and then 3. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I consumed MAYBE 10,000 calories over the course of 3 1/2 weeks before I decided I really needed to stop that. And I did, but not before “Wow, you look great” was just about all anyone could say. I weighed 110 pounds, and on my frame I didn’t look great. I looked sick, and I hid it with baggy clothes and makeup.

For 25 years now, I’ve had to fight an eating disorder mentality every single day of my life. I had a friend living with me once that understood this struggle completely. We decided one day that we were going to call our eating disorders Ed. Ed is a bastard, but it was comforting having someone else who got it. Someone else who we could just say “Hey, Ed is really difficult today,” and without saying another word, we knew that we just needed to be a support to each other.

Ed is an asshole, a constant, unforgiving asshole. I mean, I clearly beat the anorexia side of Ed, but I struggle with the rest of it ALL the time. If someone compliments my appearance, I will assume they need their vision prescription checked. Thanks Ed. If I eat something that isn’t healthy, I want it out of my body, like now. Sometimes I can fight that, but still to this day sometimes I can’t. Thanks Ed. I look in the mirror and see someone who is at least twice the size I am, even though my rational brain knows that’s not the case. Thanks Ed. If I don’t work out today, Ed helps facilitate all kinds of negative self talk.

I have amazing people in my life, who tell me things all the time that are contrary to what Ed and I believe about myself. I ALWAYS brush them off (internally) as “they’re just being kind because they’re my friend” but a few weeks ago, I stepped in to a beautiful studio in Jensen America and had some Ed therapy in the most unexpected of ways. The girl that hides from the camera because she isn’t happy with what she looks like, the girl that layers clothing so nobody can see anything she doesn’t want them to see stripped down to almost nothing, and pranced around the studio while the most amazingly talented photographer took the most amazing pictures I have ever seen. It was a 1-2 punch to Ed, because for the first time in my life, I looked at pictures of myself and didn’t immediately pick them apart. Mindy Gale and Ali Dudley (linked, so you can check them out on insta) worked magic; Mindy with the hair and makeup, somehow managing to make it look like I had slept more than 20 hours in the week leading up to the photo shoot, and Ali with the wicked photography skills. The hour or so that we took pictures for went by SO fast, and as I left the studio and went home looking and feeling absolutely amazing, I felt a peace with myself that I don’t remember feeling ever.

About an hour after my photo shoot, Ali sent me a sneak peek of a couple of images. I literally sat on my floor and cried, because she did something I honestly didn’t believe anyone could do ever. She took pictures of me that I loved. Yes, I still struggle with not being where I want to be, and I still wish I was as fat as I was the first time I thought I was fat, but Ed is far easier to deal with now than he has been in the past quarter of a century, and all it took was stepping way the hell out of my comfort zone, and in front of a camera.

A friend of mine once told me “I don’t know why any woman wouldn’t want to pose for Playboy. They are the best pictures you will ever have taken of you in your entire life.” He may have been on to something, but while every woman won’t have the opportunity to pose for Playboy, every woman should take the opportunity to strip down their insecurities, and their clothes, and do a boudoir session. And before you start to stress about boudoir now that I’ve thrown in the Playboy reference, it’s not about the sexy pictures. It’s not about the sexy clothes; you can keep all of your clothes on if that’s how you’re comfortable. It’s not even about getting those pictures taken for someone else, because Lord knows, if I waited until I had someone to have them done for, they’d never get done! It’s about the confidence you’ll find, because if I can find confidence in a picture, anybody can. Just do it for yourself. You’ll be so glad you did. As for me, I’m pretty sure Ed is pissed about losing some of his power, but I for one, am so relieved that a sweet blonde with a camera and her hair and makeup magician could take that asshole down a few notches.

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Unnecessary Apologies

Unnecessary Apologies

“I’m sorry.” How often do you say it without even thinking about it? If you’re lacking a Y chromosome, I’m guessing you’re an awful lot like me and say it FAR too often. Why though? Why the need to blurt out those words to make someone feel better about the shitty things they do to you? 

I realized what a problem the almost immediate “I’m sorry” is for me this weekend. How? Well, it’s all because I had a little come to Jesus therapy session with one of the sweet phlebotomists at the American Red Cross when I donated blood this weekend.  Here’s the deal, she had an AMAZING color on her fingernails and I was heading out for a pedicure after donating blood and wanted to know where she got them done. When I commented on how great her manicure was, she said “Thanks. They messed up this part though. Look. It’s bubbling. I hate to be that person, but I just got it yesterday, so I called them and said ‘I’m really sorry, but this is lifting, and I’m a single mom who did this as a treat for myself for Christmas. Is there any way I can come get this fixed?'”

That’s right, she was literally apologizing for wanting the nail salon to fix their mistake. They had no reason to NOT fix it, and they did apologize and tell her to come in so they could take care of it, but she still apologized to them for their faulty work. So I asked her “As women, why do we feel the need to apologize for things that are CLEARLY not our fault?” She looked at me as dumbfounded as I imagine we would have looked if someone had said that to me. Because I didn’t want to sound like I was judging her, and I genuinely wanted to just bounce this idea off of another person, I told her what I had apologized for in the past 24 hours that was absolutely unnecessary. 

  • I’m sorry. I just can’t stay at work any longer today (after spending 50 hours at work during the week).
  • I’m sorry: to a co-worker complaining about their check when in reality, your check sucks because YOU didn’t work the hours you were scheduled.
  • I’m sorry: To the drive up employee who dropped my money when I handed it to him and had to wait while I got out of my car and picked it up. 
  • I’m sorry: to the bank employee who didn’t send me a receipt for my deposit, so I had to ask for it. 
  • I’m sorry: to the people who’s Christmas party I won’t attend if the person who sexually harassed me last year is there. 
  • I’m sorry: to the person who straight up ran in to me with their cart at Trader Joe’s because they weren’t paying attention. (related: Trader Joe’s is a special kind of hell on a Saturday afternoon. That is something I don’t need in my life ever again. That dill havarti of theirs is amazing, but TOTALLY not worth that crowd. And I forgot the portobello mushroom soup I went in there for in the first place!) 
  • I’m sorry: to my best friend’s sister who I dropped Christmas presents off to so he could pick them up from her house. 
  • I’m sorry: to the person who had to step back at the automatic door to avoid being hit by it because they were trying to go out the in door at the same time I walked up to the in door.

Seems a bit excessive doesn’t it? It doesn’t even end there. She rattled off some more of her unnecessary apologies, and before she was done taking my health history, we both decided that maybe, just maybe it was time to start a New Year’s Resolution right now. Enough with the unnecessary apologies! Why apologize when you’ve done NOTHING wrong?! There simply isn’t a reason, because the way I see it, when you apologize for other people’s shitty behavior, or just their mistakes, it doesn’t make you the “bigger person,” it just makes it easier for people to walk all over you. 

I’ve already had a chance to put that whole “no unnecessary apologizing” to work, and it’s killing me. You see….Last Monday, I made plans to meet with my person (My Meredith and Christina person, not my Meredith and Derek person….I’m still not convinced the latter exists) on Saturday. Friday night, he told me he forgot I was coming out, and made other plans, but he’d see what he could do in the morning. Cool….Friday night, I apologized to him for not reminding him that I was going to be out on Saturday. Stupid right?

Saturday morning: Crickets.
Saturday day: Crickets.
Saturday night: Crickets
Sunday afternoon: “Ugh. My phone was lost. I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet up with you.”
My Sunday afternoon response: “I’m glad you found it. :)”

My new phlebotomist friend would be so happy that I didn’t cave on our deal and apologize unnecessarily. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though, because my unnecessary apologizing behavior wants to send another text that says “I’m sorry it’s been radio silence the last day or so. My feelings were kind of hurt when you forgot that I was coming out and made other plans and I didn’t want to add my stupid girl emotions to whatever else you have going on.” Look, I already feel like I’ve accomplished something by not using the phrase “you hurt my feelings” and instead used “my feelings were hurt when….” The second version seems so much less accusatory, and just feels like a more healthy way to express disappointment. 

At any rate, I’ve been successful at the end of the year “New Year’s resolution” for 48 hours now, which is about 40 hours longer than I’ve ever managed to keep any other New Year’s resolution, so maybe the end of December is a better time to start with that nonsense anyway. I look forward to checking in with the Red Cross vampire in 55 days when I can donate again to see if we both still realize that you can be compassionate, sympathetic, and caring without apologizing for crap you didn’t do, or don’t need to apologize for. 

I’m Your Huckleberry

I’m Your Huckleberry

I’m your huckleberry. It just sounds so much better than “I’m your go to girl” doesn’t it?  I mean, that probably has more to do with “I’m your huckleberry” conjuring images of Val Kilmer being a total bad ass in Tombstone than it does with huckleberry sounding cooler than “go to girl” but that’s neither here nor there. 

I’m your huckleberry, and sometimes it is mother f-wording exhausting! 

Over the past week, I’ve given 3 complete strangers some valuable information they will need to help navigate the world of a new cancer diagnosis. I’ve listened to my best friend stress about Christmas for his kids and reassured him that he’s doing better than he thinks he is, and that just like the past 2 years, I have some kick ass gifts for those sweet boys so their Christmas isn’t going to be anywhere near as desolate as he’s worried about. I’ve listened to countless other people unload their stresses and let them walk away feeling less of the weight of the world on their shoulders. I spend at least 2 hours every single weekday listening to a certain someone stress talk about the local economy, the stock market, and the president, among other things, which leaves me wondering why I even still live where I do, and if I’ll even have a job this time next year. 

“I match energy, so you just go ahead and decide how we’re going to act.” Actually, when I saw that on Pinterest, it was “I match energy, so you decide how we gon be.” Nails. On. A. Chalkboard. But the sentiment was there. I match energy. I always have. Maybe it’s not even matching energy. Really, most of the time it’s like an energy swap. Like “Here, you take some calm, and give me the storm.” So you can imagine how those interactions over the past week leave me feeling. Sure, while the people I’ve helped out or talked to may feel a little better, I get to add their anxieties on to the ones I already have, and holy shit is that ever draining! Then multiply that by 52, because hand to God, it’s never ending. I don’t mind though, and I’d never walk away from someone who needed it, because…I’m your huckleberry.

I came across this tweet the other day, and I was instantly in love with it. “Do you have the mental space for this right now?” I don’t even know what I’d do if someone actually asked me that. Because the answer is, no. Most of the time, I really don’t have the mental space for it, but somehow I manage to shove something off to the side and do your thing instead of working with mine. It’s ok. I really don’t mind it. Honestly, helping people out is refreshing, even though it’s also draining. I’m your Huckleberry, and knowing I’ve helped you at all, well, it makes me feel a little better about myself. I mean, we all need to feel needed, right?!

Eventually though, all of those things I shove aside decide they need to be worked out, and it’s usually at the end of the day when I’d REALLY just like it if my brain would shut the hell up and let me go to sleep. But my brain is having absolutely nothing to do with that, because when it comes down to it, at the end of the day, there’s a whole lot of things left to say, and nobody to say them to. SO…..that’s when I find myself mindlessly swiping through apps on my phone when I should be sleeping, looking for people who might want to be that somebody to say things to. Except here’s the thing….while I really wouldn’t mind having someone around at the end of the day once in a while, I really don’t think I’m quite ready to have to do that calm/storm trade at home too, and that is why I just deleted (though probably only temporarily) those apps.

I’m your huckleberry….but sometimes I really wish finding one for yourself was as easy as being one for someone else. 

The one with the regret

The one with the regret

I’m not the kind of person who typically regrets anything. I have a huge parenting regret though, and I didn’t even realize it until this weekend.

I’ve struggled with eating disorders since I was 13 years old. That’s just over a quarter of a century dealing with an eating disorder for those of you who know me and are doing the math. I WISH I was as fat as I was when I first thought I was fat. Mother eff…I REALLY wish I was as fat as I was when I was when I was 3 months in to post baby, depression fueled anorexia. If you know me now, you’ll see that I CLEARLY beat anorexia though. I mean, I’m not morbidly obese or anything (even if that’s what I see in the mirror…thanks to the eating disorder brain), but my body definitely says “loves tacos and tequila…and all the rest of the food.”

Here’s where this leads to the regret. I think it must be a universal thing that kids love the water. I have yet to meet a kid that doesn’t love to swim, slip-n-slide, run through sprinklers, or anything that involves a swimming suit and water. I live by some amazing lakes, we can swim in the river, and we have a pretty kick ass rec center pool. Do you want to know how many times I put on a swimming suit and took advantage of any of those experiences with my kid? Aside from a year or so where I had someone in my life who was seeing me naked on the regular, so it didn’t really matter how fat I thought I looked in a swimming suit at the lake with him and the kids (his and mine, not ours), I can count them on one hand. That’s not to say my kid was totally deprived of all water experiences. I just didn’t experience them with him. I sat on the sidelines, like so many other moms, terrified of what people would think of me if I just put on the damn bathing suit and joined my kid in the water.

This weekend, my best friend brought his kids to the tiny town I live in. They stayed at a hotel, partly so they had their own space with no questions back home as to the sleeping arrangements at my place, and partly because it’s been a loooooong time since I’ve had a toddler in my house, and it is NOT a toddler friendly place. (That, and I don’t have TV, so I needed something to help with the cool factor that I would have otherwise been COMPLETELY lacking…) Of course, since there are no Hilton properties in my town, and I refuse to willingly spend any of my money on any Marriott property ever, I just picked the nicer of the 2 hotels near my house, and made sure the pool was in working order before I made reservations for them.

Because this friend is one of the few people in the world I feel 100% comfortable around, you can bet I joined them in the pool, and you know what? Those kids didn’t care one bit that I am without a doubt packing around a few thousand (slight exaggeration) extra pounds. They didn’t care that once my top was wet, it clung painfully and uncomfortably close to my food baby. (Alright, alright…it wasn’t PHYSICALLY painful and uncomfortable….but you guys…I have an eating disorder brain, and the mental struggle was real.) You know what they did care about? They cared that I could balance on one foot, while the 9-year-old stood on my thigh, counting to 3 before I pushed him as high as possible out of the water so he could come crashing back down in to it for maximum splashing. They cared that I could lift the 3-year-old out of the water and on to the side so he could jump back in to me, and make sure I kept his head out of the water over, and over, and over again. They cared that I could do that for 2 solid hours, two different times that day. ALL they cared about was that there was someone there, playing with them, in the freaking water. The sheer joy was infectious. I haven’t had so much fun in the town where I live in YEARS.

I missed out on the one and only chance I had to experience things like this with my own kid. I missed out on that kind of pure joy because I was too damn worried about what other people would think if they saw me in a swimming suit, and after this weekend, I regret the hell out of that.  It’s one of the few things I’d change if I could rewind and try again. So learn from me being soooooo incredibly stupid, and just put on the damn swimming suit and play in the water with those tiny humans of yours. They’ll never forget it, and either will you.

It’s not always who you think it is.

It’s not always who you think it is.

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If you broke a bone, people would want to sign your cast. If you had a cold, people would offer all kinds of tried and true home remedies for that. If you had cancer, the sympathy and help would pour in. We are 100% OK with helping people with visible illnesses, and that is amazing.

Collectively, we suck when it comes to acknowledging mental illnesses and struggles though. We think that telling someone “you just need to snap out of it,” or “it could be worse,” or “it’s all in your head,” or “there’s more to life than….” is all it takes to magically “fix” people when they just aren’t OK. MAYBE hearing something like that is enough for a few people, but honestly, it’s more likely to just make someone feel even worse, and isolated, and alone.

Monday (9/10) this week was World Suicide Prevention Day. Worldwide, the suicide statistics are pretty damn alarming. Every 40 seconds someone in the world commits suicide, and for every one of those people, it’s estimated another 20 people attempt suicide, or have serious suicidal thoughts. Every 40 seconds. Every. Single. Day.  It goes without saying that we should ALL check on our people, and often. Touch base with your freaking friends and family once in a while, and not just the ones that you think might be depressed, because the truth is, depression looks a whole hell of a lot different than you think it does.

Hollywood depression is easy to recognize: sad, withdrawn, never socializes, cries a lot, sleeps a lot, wears a lot of black, maybe drinks or uses drugs excessively. You’ve seen it in the movies and on TV; you know what I’m talking about. Hollywood depressed is easy to be concerned about, but it’s not all Hollywood depression.

Depression also looks like this:

  • Working 70 hours in 5 days every week to try to stay on top of your finances and having absolutely nothing left to give at the end of the day.
  • Not sleeping at night even though you’re exhausted because it simply takes too much effort to shut your brain down enough to sleep.
  • Spending an ungodly amount of money (that you should probably put towards your own debt) to help someone else survive because at least this way it feels like you’re doing something good for someone.
  • Always feeling like you need to be the “fixer” for other people, because you know what broken feels like, and you don’t want other people to experience that.
  • Being the funny one
  • Buying new clothes even though they absolutely are not in the budget, because the thought of doing laundry is just far too overwhelming.
  • Throwing your dishes away and buying new ones because the kid “cleaned” his room and brought 6 million dirty dishes to the kitchen and left them for you to do.
  • 2 naps on a Saturday because you don’t have anything better to do, and that mess in the house will still be there tomorrow anyway. Besides, you worked 70 hours in the 5 previous days, so it’s not like you don’t deserve to relax.
  • Avoiding church activities so you don’t have to answer questions about your personal life, or complete lack thereof.
  • Spending all the time with the kids because they adore you and you just need someone to think you’re worth it, even if they are 3 years old.
  • Being the one who is constantly there for everyone, no matter when, and no matter what they need, all while wishing someone would just want to do for you even 1/10 of what you do for other people.

Obviously that’s not an all-inclusive list. The point remains though, that depression looks different for EVERYBODY. Some people handle it differently than others, and obviously some people have a much more difficult time with it than others. Just because someone seems like they have everything going their way, doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling.

There’s a reason you often hear “I had no idea they were struggling until it was too late.” Life is unbelievably difficult, and the strong ones need support from their people every bit as much as the people they are always working so hard to make sure things are OK for. Check on your people. Yes, even the strong ones. Especially the strong ones.