Friday, April 29, 2011
When I told her I weighed 185 pounds, she had no idea. She said she thought 150-160, max (of course, she is quite tall and has a substantial body, and I'm guessing she doesn't obsess about what women weigh and how that translates to what clothing size they wear--like I do). I told her when I weighed 150-155 and was in size 8 clothing, I still thought I was fat. Yes, I had great clothes, and I could wear anything I tried on at the store. I got compliments all the time. But the little tag in my clothes didn't say "4" or "6." So I felt like I still had weight to lose and still wasn't thin enough.
RANT: Ever notice that a lot of the female TBL contestants who go home have the caption under their before and after pictures that says they "hope to be in a size 6 by the finale." Why is a 6 the end all be all anyway? I have ALWAYS wanted to be a size 6. For one month in 2008, I was a size 6. I couldn't maintain it. It was just too restrictive and too much work.
Anyway, when I pulled one of my favorite size 8 dresses out of my son's closet a few months ago, I was agog at how small it is. I. was. thin. as a size 8. I had no idea. I still thought I was fat because I had a tummy pooch and wide hips and saddle bags. Obviously, if I were wearing size 8s now I'd be thrilled.
OR WOULD I?
I frankly don't know. The whole deal is (as my therapist and I discussed), if you can't be happy with yourself NOW and see yourself as you really are NOW, then why in the hell do you think your brain is going to magically fix itself and SEE things the way they really are just because of a number on a scale or on the tag of a piece of cloth?
We've talked about this a lot over the years in blog land. We dubbed it "fat head." Thin body, fat head. Vickie wrote about making the inside look like the outside on her post about anger. It's a powerful post that's not specifically about fat-head syndrome, but it does reveal how our insides have to be worked on, too, if we want our outsides to stay healthy.
Which segues nicely to the my next topic: the Geneen Roth book When Food is Love. I could not put it down. I plowed through it, cried a lot, was shocked at how awful some women were treated as children, dug deep into myself to find those boxes where I was treated badly as a child. I read it on my Kindle and didn't bother to highlight anything, so unfortunately I don't have a coherent review to give you. It was SO RICH with information on WHY I am the way I am with food (and relationships too, by the way). I plan to read it again, and take my time, and journal through it. I will share details when I do this.
The general point I want to share now is how she said you can't heal compulsive eating (or drug addiction, or any other unhealthy coping behavior) without first moving through the pain you are trying to cover up with your compulsive behavior. Not avoid the pain or go around the pain--move THROUGH it.
I have nice tidy little boxes inside myself where that pain has stayed for 25 years. I didn't want to open them up. Ever.
But after I read the stories of women who suffered way, way, way more than I ever did--and they not only survived opening their own boxes and then going through the pain; they also healed their compulsive eating disorders and started living their lives with joy--I knew that I couldn't keep the boxes sealed up any more.
Thursday morning I woke up at 3:30 am. I had fallen asleep on the couch reading her book, and when I woke up all I thought of was reading more. I read for two hours, came to a particularly moving part of the book, and I broke down.
I found my boxes, opened them gently, looked at all the ugliness inside. It's hard to describe what it was like. I let myself really look at my memories and how horrible they were. I put them in the context of what they were--child abuse, at the hands of a boy who was six years older than me (I was with him from age 12 to 16) and at the neglect of my mom and dad.
I pushed even further back, when my world was first truly shaken when I was in second grade. My mom had taken my sister and me from our house in the middle of the night while Dad was at work. She'd filed for divorce, she said, and we needed to leave. I didn't want to leave my home or my daddy, and I told her so. She said, "do you want your daddy to come home and find the divorce papers and still be here? Do you want to be here when he's angry?" I'd seen my dad throw a coffee cup at a wall twice. I'd seen him push my mom to the floor. He never hit her, or us, but when he got angry, it was terrifying.
Dad found us soon after, staying at the home of a friend of my mom's. He stood on the stoop of the house with a gun in his hand, threatening to kill himself if Mom didn't bring his daughters back to him. I couldn't see, but I heard. I heard Mom screaming at him to please go away and not do this. I heard the police officers come and handcuff him and take him away. I heard the stories from the adults talking of how he was in jail. I didn't know if I'd ever see him again.
My parents got back together after 3 months of separation. We left our house and moved to a small town to live in a small trailer. Mom and Dad were never really happy together. They fought a lot. I got in the middle of them too many times to count, to stop their arguing. I got straight A's in school. I stayed out of trouble. When Dad was in a bad mood (which was a lot), I stayed out of his way and stayed in my room, by myself. He put TV's and telephones in our rooms because he loved us and wanted to spoil us. I think he did it because he didn't want us to be in the same room as he was, and he felt guilty.
Dad gave me a car when I turned 16. A 1972 green Chevelle. It was my ticket to freedom. For whatever reason, my then 22 year old boyfriend (who was very poor, very ignorant, had a seriously messed up family, had never graduated high school, didn't get his GED, and worked as a dish washer at Busler's) thought I'd decided I was too good for him now that I had a car. I didn't think that, but Praise God, we just sort of unraveled and were over, much like how we started--without my active consent.
I got very, very chubby in those four years. We ate junk food together, a lot. I bought men's clothes from the Dollar General that were big and boxy and ugly. (My therapist said I was likely trying to disguise my blossoming body to avoid male attention.) I didn't do anything with kids from school. I was an 8th grader with huge hickies on my neck; he liked to mark me. I hated those stupid hickies. I hated myself for having them.
I was embarrassed and humiliated at what my life was. I lived in a trailer with arguing parents and had a boyfriend who should have been in jail for statutory rape instead of washing dishes at a truck stop. I thought my parents either didn't love me, didn't have time for me, or approved of the situation. In reality, I think they were so wrapped up in their own crappy lives and were seriously dysfunctional themselves (my mom was 12 when she first met my 18 year old dad), and they were relieved I stayed out of their way and didn't cause trouble. Whatever the reason, I was abandoned as I child to forces that were beyond what I could control.
Control is a big issue for me, too. When we talked about the compliments issue, and about how I like the attention but am uncomfortable with it at the same time, she said I may have gained weight as a way to control the attention. If I'm heavy and perceive myself as invisible, then I'm controlling other people's response to me. Strange as it sounds, it really did get to be almost unbearable, listening to people at church every Sunday say how great I looked and gee, what's your secret? If it had stopped soon after I reached 150ish pounds, it would have maybe been okay. But it went on for well over a year. It got really old.
Nobody asks me about my weight or my body now.
I am going to get to my natural weight again, which may be 155 or 135--who knows. But I'm going to get there much differently this time. I feel well armed--therapy, acupuncture, hindsight. I am motivated by how I look, and by what clothes I can wear. But I'm more motivated by the ease of my life at a healthy weight.
The sheer logistics of being overweight is a lot of work--what will fit me today? do I have the right pair of Spanx for this outfit? how huge does my butt look in these pants? holy cow, these pants don't even fit anymore.
I don't want to eat ice cream anymore because I'm comforting myself or pushing down emotions or keeping the boxes sealed tight. I want to be able to eat an ice cream cone with my kids at Baskin Robbins and feel the same joy they do.
I want to LIVE my life, and not have to make myself numb anymore. No more guilt. No more shame. I want to be open to joy and love.
I don't have to be a 12 year old in a 41 year old body. I can move through the pain. And move on.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I'm planning to get my cyber-social interaction from blogging again. Both writing here, and reading others' blogs. Blogs were a huge part of my weight loss success in 2007. So, I'm adding back in what I works for me.
The morning exercise before work is paying off. The mornings I go to the gym, I am more relaxed and feel tons better. I don't get to work until 11ish, but I stay until 5 pm and I don't go out to lunch. So I'm getting in about 30 hours a week, which is what I was working even when I wasn't going to the gym.
Today I did 1.5 miles on the TM, mostly walking but I threw in some running for good measure to get my heart- and sweat-rate up. Then I took a yoga class. Not hot yoga--that is at the yoga studio. This is the gym's "zen yoga" class. It's more a pilates/yoga combo. We did almost all floor work. She was working on getting our bodies ready to do a back bend--full wheel for the Yoga minded.
I did a full back bend in 2008. I'd never done a back bend in my life before that. That was when I was skinny and strong. Sophie was showing Luke how to do a back bend (she took 6 months of gymnastics when she was four years old, and that pose she can still do). Luke has been in gymnastics for a couple years now; he's a natural and has a lean, limber body.
I was doing weights classes twice a week and running regularly. I could lift our 5 gallon glass water bottles easily, carrying them from the front porch to the kitchen water cooler and plopping it in with no problem at all (this is not an easy task for me right now). So, I figured I'd try and see if I could get into a backbend.
I pushed myself right up, no problem. It was so freaking cool.
Today that did not happen. I have no where near the core or upper body strength needed to do that. I don't think it's weight related, really, although I'm sure having less weight to lift does make it easier.
I want to do a back bend again. I also want to lift those 5 gallon water bottles easily again.
I'm sure there are lots of other non-weight related goals I'll think of, but right now those are the big two.
Let's see how quickly I can get there.
P.S. I started Geneen Roth's When Food is Love last night. Oh. Wow. I bought it on my Kindle but wish I had it in paperback. This is one of those books that I need to underline & highlight & fold corners on. (You can highlight on a Kindle, but it's not the same--I'm a paper and pen kind of girl.) She has such wisdom about food issues. I will share what I'm learning when I figure it out. I'm pretty overwhelmed by it right now, but in a good way.
Therapy appointment on Thursday. Food issues are going to be my focus.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
I loved Jennette's memoir about her chronic headache. I like the way she writes--it's an easy, fun read. Which is to say, she makes her misery entertaining. That sounds horrible, and I don't mean it the way it comes across. I was more fascinated by the idea of not being able to get rid of pain, no matter what the doctors--both traditional and non-traditional--did for her. I am not a chronic pain sufferer, but I still enjoyed her book and got a lot out of it. Pick it up if you can. You'll not regret it.
What most has stuck with me-- when her headache starts to get better, she is scared that if her life is crap because of her headache, what happens if the headache goes away (or at least is manageable) and her life is still crap?
This speaks to my post a few weeks ago "do you want to be healed?" I'm still working though that one. If I were healed, and I didn't need food for my crutch anymore, could I handle it? When I think about getting my sugar/flour/fat foods taken away from me, it's scary.
So, why is it scary? Jessica's book talks about how she filled her loneliness and sadness with food. The way she writes about how she copes with her estranged relationship with her dad and mom really struck home with me.
It got me thinking about why I sabotage myself with food. I started paying attention to how I felt this weekend BEFORE I put the junk in my mouth. Before the kids even went to bed Saturday night, I wanted cereal. I was feeling lonely, and they were still with me. But Mark wasn't feeling well and I knew that as soon as they were in bed, I'd be alone.
Most nights, when my eating blows up, it's because I'm by myself in the family room/kitchen. Alone. I am by nature about half and half introverted/extroverted. I like being alone. At least that's what I tell myself, when I'm sitting watching TV or reading and feeding my face at the same time. Alone. Obviously there's something else going on.
I already know that I'm soothing myself, and pushing down feelings. I haven't wanted to examine what those feelings are, though, because then I have to deal with them. And dealing with them--and fixing them--means I will have to give up my food routines of soothing myself.
I don't know if I'm ready for that.
So. I've got work to do. My therapist mentioned in our first appointment several weeks ago Geneen Roth's books. I had one of her paperbacks decades ago, I think it was When Food Is Love, but it's long gone. I got a couple books of hers on my Kindle last night; and I ordered her workbook in paperback.
I meet with my therapist again on Thursday. I didn't get to see her last week, and I should have. I need to see her weekly, still. I had a hard weekend.
Today, I got up and went to the gym and took 30 minutes of Zumba (missed the first 15 minutes) and a 60 minute Group Active class (20 minutes step, 20 minutes light upper body work, 10 minutes balance & core, 5 minutes stretching). Zumba was a hoot. I can't dance, but it didn't matter. I've at least got the booty for it! I did sweat, and I'm sure that once my core is stronger I'll sweat even more in that class.
I broke down and went back to the diet doctor and got a refill on my Adipex meds. Just one month's worth. I don't really think they work after a few weeks. It's a jump start on the food front, to take the crazy food thoughts away for a while, so maybe I can think straight about why I have crazy food thoughts in the first place. And how I can get them down to a manageable level.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
I went to a pilates class in the a.m. (holy crap, it was hard). I did my Easter basket shopping, tried on clothes at JCPenney (found a cute dress for vacation for $20, but everything else I tried on was just sad...I need to wait till I lose 10 pounds before I try on any more clothes).
Then I got my haircut (shorter--it looks really cute), and came home. Mark was on his way to a body pump class, so I threw on my walking clothes and hit the pavement. It was gorgeous outside. Cloudy but still some blue skies, with a nice breeze to brush away the humidity. I had an hour, and I went 4 miles. I jogged, in total, a little less than a mile.
I was feeling so great, and with just under a mile to go, some loser slows his van down beside me and says "You see the sidewalk, right?" then shakes his head in condescension and drives off.
The main road near our neighborhood was redone the last couple of summers--widened to two wide lanes with a wide turn lane in the middle. It's beautiful, new, smooth asphalt. Which anyone who puts any miles whatsoever on their feet outside KNOWS is much, much better than the brand new concrete sidewalk, which was also newly installed last summer. Asphalt gives back, all squishy and gentle-like; concrete takes away, with giant thuds of "oh no you are not pounding me--I am gonna pound on you."
I never walk on that sidewalk. There's no reason to. The drive lanes are huge, plenty of room for cars. I always hit asphalt when it's safe, no matter the road.
I've never, ever been verbally assaulted by someone like that. (Ok, that's a bit dramatic, but that's how it felt.) I was taken off guard and pissed off. I yelled at him to bite me. Then as he drove away I said "there's plenty of room for you to drive on, asshole." Yeah, not my finest moment. I wish I'd said, "what, there's not enough room on the road for you and your tiny penis?"
Of course, my gut reaction was he's picking on me because I'm fat. If I'd been running on the asphalt at 145 pounds, he'd probably have whistled at me. Which doesn't make him any less of an asswipe.
I talked with Mark about this (and the lost pictures issues) when he got home. It helped to put things in perspective. I KNOW the guy is the one with the problem, not me. But it still rankled me.
It bothers me that my first thoughts go to being hassled because I'm fat. This isn't the first time I've noticed being treated differently because of my weight, though. Seriously, and any of you who are overweight know this too, when you're fat, it's often like you're invisible. I've felt invisible on several occasions the past few months. At stores, at work, at home.
Is it because of my weight? Or am I putting off a "leave me alone" vibe? Or what?
More fodder for therapy.
I hope that guy woke up this morning with a big boil on his butt. That will teach him.
Friday, April 22, 2011
I saw Roseanne Barr on The Tonight Show during her very first appearance with Carson. I must have been in my late teens, I guess. One bit has stuck with me all these years. "My family is always asking me to find things for them. Like the uterus is a tracking device." Funny, but true. The uterus IS a tracking device. That's why men can't ever find anything.
The lost things on my mind this morning are pictures and videos from my daughter's early childhood. I can't find the files I thought I had pulled off my husband's old laptop. I KNOW I took the laptop to our computer guy last year, and I KNOW I gave him the external harddrive to put them on. But they aren't there. And I can't find the old laptop, either, to have the files pulled off of it again.
It's eating me up inside--where are the files? Mark wants a video of Sophie when she was about 3 years old, telling the story of "The Three Little Pigs." I can see her perfectly in my minds eye....She's wearing a Disney Princesses nightgown in blue. She has a pixie haircut and a teeny button nose and huge blue eyes. For the big bad wolf she says, "And I'll puff! and I'll puff!" instead of "huff" then "puff." But I can't find the darn file.
I've looked everywhere for the old laptop. It hit me yesterday, with a sickening thud, that I think I had our computer guy destroy the harddrive after he pulled the files. The laptop was useless, and we didn't need it back, and I didn't need the harddrive because he pulled the files off.
And then, of course, I have MY harddrive that I sent to a Chicago firm that was supposed to get the files off that drive (which is dead as a doornail, and also encrypted) because there are three years of pictures I mostly don't have anywhere else. I have all our Christmases on Snapfish, and a lot of special events on Facebook. But there are thousands of pictures (and all our videos) that I'm probably never going to see again. Because the Chicago firm can't figure out the drive (even though I already paid them a $300 non-refundable "parts fee"). I may try again with a local company, but I don't have high hopes.
I haven't told Mark yet about his old laptop files. He's going to be really upset if the files are gone (not mad at me, but upset that they are lost--he's a very sentimental person and doesn't do well with losing sentimental things). I need to check with the computer company (our guy doesn't work there anymore, but hopefully they will have some kind of record of exactly what they did for me), but I'm not hopeful I'm going to get any good news.
Add that on top of the disappointment of losing my Dad's house to foreclosure, which we'd planned on but it still sucks, and battling my cousin for the $500 he still owes for the last two months of utilities he lived in my Dad's house (he's just completely ignoring my repeated text messages, which is disappointing and frustrating as hell, because I am NOT paying his $500 utility bill). And it's a lot of poo poo on my parade.
No matter how hard I try, I can't get the disappointing black cloud that's hanging over my head from these nagging issues to dissapate. I really want to just let them all go, and move on, but I keep replaying in my head what I did wrong, and "if only" I'd done things differently, I wouldn't be going through this right now.
I read Jen's post this morning, and I'm going to try to put my mind on this statement: "the people who are always abusing themselves for the things they should have done seem to use it as a substitute for action, not a spur toward change."
Wow. How often does "shoulding" cause me to be an inactive blob? All the time. Even stuff like the lost things can paralyze me, especially mentally. Which can push me toward soothing those feelings of loss with food.
Spur toward change. That's my mantra for today.
Oh, and backup the files. I have at least learned that lesson.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I've been mulling over the "what I did right in 2007" thing. I figure I ought to, like, go read my own blog so I can tell my 2011 self what I was doing in 2007. I mean, I've got a little time machine (ala Blogger) in my hands--why the heck not use it?
I read one post from March yesterday before I had to leave to pick up the kids. It was March 30, 2007. This bit me in the butt:
20 pounds is when it really starts to show. It's almost like the first 20 don't mean anything to anyone but me, then all of the sudden people start to notice. "Hey, are you losing weight?" "Um, yeah, I have been for like 3 months and you're just now noticing."
Not sure if I'm ready for the attention that it will bring though. I like compliments, don't get me wrong. But something happens around that time in my weight loss (at least in the past) when I've gotten down to a size 12 and I start to really look good, that I start gaining it all back again. It's not going to happen this time (I'm way too invested to blow it this time), but I have to keep in mind my uncomfortable feelings and guard myself from eating my way through them.
Clearly I have a "compliments" issue. I like being noticed, but I'm uncomfortable being noticed. I want to lose weight, but when I do I am missing a layer of protection (Vickie writes about this a lot, especially regarding the last 20 pounds she lost), and then I put the layer of protection back on. This is kick-ass fodder for therapy. Woot!
I love how cocky I was--"it's not going to happen this time." I hear the Biggest Loser contestants say that all the time. I love that show, and I love what they are doing for people on the show and how inspiring the contestants are. But what they do there is one big fat set up for failure, if there ever was one. You can't maintain that lifestyle in real life. I wonder how many contestants have regained their weight? I watched the "where are they now?" show last year (I've actually watched it a couple times on hulu.com), and one girl said Dr. H told her she'd have to workout 90 minutes 6 days a week to keep her weight off. And she said, "you know what, he's right." There are obviously some people they interviewed that had gained some back, and one winner who gained it all back. I don't judge these people (anymore). I AM those people. I just wish TBL did a better job of talking about real life and food and real life, instead of focusing on the gym so darn much. I guess prepping food and eating it on TV isn't the ratings gold that getting a beating from Jillian is.
Speaking of the gym... Tuesday I got a call from the membership sales person at our city's Fancy Gym. They are running a 20% discount on summer memberships (which we've done the past two years--they have a fabulous pool) and we can use the club NOW. And would we like to sign up?
Hell yeah, I want to sign up. Fancy Gym was one of the things I had going for me in 2007. It's the only gym that has enough classes that I can do them on a regular basis. So you know what? I took myself (with the blessings of my boss, aka my husband) to the gym at 9 am and did a body pump class. It was bliss. I love lifting weights. I do have an issue with my left arm, because of the nerve compression issue that's still hanging around, so I'm having to modify biceps significantly (and my arm is hurting, so I think I still overdid it even though I baby'd it). They have Zumba, which I've never done. And yoga, and mat pilates (and fancy pilates with the machines soon, but that's still in the works as they are remodeling right now), and kick boxing. And oodles of treadmills and a huge indoor track and weight machines and free weights.
I took all my get-ready stuff with me, and was out of the shower and ready in 45 minutes. Plus, there's free hot water! free shampoo and conditioner! free hairspray! free body lotion! This place is going to pay for itself in a few weeks. :) The water must be softened because my hair is soooo soft and manageable. That's enough to get me to the gym every morning.
I really am excited about the working out thing. Classes are always where I've enjoyed exercising the most. Once I get some weight off (did you hear that tiny whisper of hope in that statement?!), it will be easier to run. I love running, but it's really hard to do at 185 pounds.
Today I'm enjoying the smell of success--in the form of the gym's body lotion. It smells yummy.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
1) I haven't lost any weight for over a year and a half. Pretty much all I've done is gain weight since the end of 2009. It's, in all seriousness, like I've forgotten how.
2) I keep asking myself "what's wrong with me?" when I feed my food addiction over and over and over. Should I instead be asking myself "what was RIGHT with me in 2007?"
3) I rarely get compliments any more. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I'm just making an observation. When I was thinner, people would say how cute *I* looked. Heck, I even got whistled or honked at by random strangers (like, two times, but I remember them both very well). Now, it's how cute my dress or my blouse is (IF it's cute... I only have a few things worth commenting on).
4) I may be, on some unknown level, terrified of getting those compliments again. But I'm annoyed (ok, I'll admit it, it's not just an observation. It makes me sad) that I don't get complimented anymore.
5) I don't know what it's going to take to get me back to that place again, where I can do what I need to do to lose weight and get healthy. And not knowing if or when I can get back there is somehow paralyzing me.
6) My husband is back to weighing 200 pounds. By doing NOTHING. No eating plan, no exercise. He's just stopped filling his face with crap, and in about 3 months has lost 20-25 pounds. He announced yesterday that he was under 200 pounds. Instead of feeling happy for him, I felt mad and depressed.
7) Once I hit 170 pounds, it was like I breathed 10 times and BOOM I weighed 180+. The last 15 pounds came on in a stupidly quick fashion. I'm really scared I'm going to put on another 15 in a blink, and weigh more than my husband does. Again.
8) I hate being this size. I'm in size 14s, and the dresses look ok (thank God for boob-high Assets, so no muffin top when I'm squeezing in my saddle bags), but my pants are all tight. I hate that I'm going to Florida in a little over a month, and I have to buy new summer clothes to wear. I hate spending money on clothes I hate. I'd rather spend it on my kids having fun on vacation. Or on myself having fun on vacation.
9) I will probably have to buy a size 18 bathing suit. Shit.
10) Being obese again hurts. Really, awfully, terribly much. I just want to be normal again. I don't know how to get there.
This bummer of a post has been brought to you by WPMS....
Friday, April 15, 2011
But before I go to Wednesday, let me back up a few days.
Monday was a rainy, icky day. Usually on a day like this, I'd be sunk--feeling sad, no energy, eating all things sugary. But I felt good all day. I felt stable, not depressed. All day and night. I met with my new psychiatrist at my new therapists office that night(more on that in a bit), after I did one mile on the treadmill at the gym. All I had time for was one mile. But I went. And I did something.
Tuesday was sunshiny and I did OK.
Wednesday was the day of extraordinary pampering. Mark and the kids woke me up with breakfast in bed (pancakes, turkey bacon, strawberries, OJ--yes, I ate it all and it was fabulous). And presents--Sophie made me a bracelet, Luke painted a picture for me that Mark had framed for the wall, and Mark gave me a sweet card, a dozen pink roses, and the day off (which was the best gift ever).
After I got Sophie on the bus and Luke to day care, I took myself to the spa for a 3 hour spoil-me-rotten session (on the gift card from Mark that he got me for our anniversary in March). I got a massage, a facial, and a pedicure (blue is the new red for toenails this year, just so ya know). I was in heaven.
Then I went to Panera for lunch (on the giftcard from my coworker Sara), and ate a salad outside in the sunshine. After I was finished eating, I stayed put and read Tina Fey's Bossypants (which is brilliantly funny) on my Kindle, in the sunshine. Did I mention there was sunshine? Then I went to Dillard's and found a great new dress (for Easter mostly, but also because I wanted to dress up for dinner).
After I got all spiffed up, I picked up the kids and met Mark for dinner at Bonefish Grill. I ate well, but wasn't stuffed (martini, 1/2 appetizer, salad, and 1/2 coconut pie--which was my "cake"). Then Sophie & I went to church for choir practice, which always refreshes me because I love singing in the choir. Got home, got kids to bed, read CS Lewis's The Magician's Nephew to Luke (which we both are loving, so much).
Then I went and hugged on my husband for helping make my day so wonderfully fabulous. I really was practically high all day. And that hasn't happened in, gosh, ages and ages.
Thursday was back to work, and it was the day from h-e-double hockey sticks. Well, not really, but it was intensely frustrating. My blackberry got taken over by Facebook (I have no idea how), which jacked up my ability to sync to my Outlook calendar & contacts. I spent almost 3 hours on the phone with Verizon tech support to get the thing fixed. During the down times while we waited on the phone to do it's thing (we had to wipe it completely & start over from scratch), I worked on my Dad's taxes on Turbo Tax. Talk about no fun. I had to go through all the receipts and stuff from his home care and medical expenses. I've been putting it off, obviously, because it's a lot of pain to deal with.
A good thing my therapy appointment was Thursday afternoon. I got to unload on Julie, and I didn't lose it. I also have to tell you that I'm dealing with the mortgage company forclosing on Dad's house (It's terribly upside down--neither of us wanted to put $50,000 a piece into it, so my sister & I decided to let it go. For me, it was a no brainer--way too many painful memories there). I got the paperwork on that last week, and talked to the attorney this week. So there's a lot of stuff going on that bringing up a lot of Dad memories, and I'm keeping it together so far. Julie felt good about that, and so did I.
We also talked about my relationship with Mark, which was some good stuff but pretty personal, so I'll skip the update on that. I meet with her again in two weeks (next week was full for her, and it was for me too, because it's Holy Week).
Did I mention I did 45 minutes on the treadmill Thursday morning after Sophie got on the school bus? Yeah, I did. It really helped carry me through the crapola.
Now today, it's back to rainy and stormy, and I still feel stable. Not down or weepy. I had my second acupuncture appointment today, and felt refreshed and chillaxed afterwards. I got to grocery shop in peace tonight, while Sophie was at a Girl Scout's event and Mark had Luke.
So those are the nitty gritties. Good stuff, and I'm feeling fairly happy.
Here's the interesting bits.
I started taking myself off of Wellbutrin a few weeks ago--the usual titration routine. I've weaned myself off antidepressants several times, so I know what to watch for and how to do it. No brain zaps (wellbutrin is the easiest to get off of, in my experience). I'm guessing part of my intense melancholy over the past few weeks could be related to this (circumstances were crazy out of control, though, so I'm not blaming it all on the med withdrawal). As of Monday I'd been off completely for 6 days. I asked the psychiatrist if it would be all out of my system--she said for sure, since I'd been titrating for a couple weeks before that. I think, in my non-doctor opinion, that getting the medicine that wasn't working out of my brain is helping my brain work like it's supposed to.
I asked if I could wait to go back on something else. Do therapy, do acupuncture, eat well, exercise, let summer work it's magic, and see how I do. If I feel myself slipping, she is right there and I can get back on something (we discussed celexa and cymbalta, since I've tried lexapro, prozac, and zoloft already, and know that I gain/keep on weight with all three of those). In 2007 when I lost 55 pounds, I was on no meds for almost an entire year. It wasn't until my SAD kicked in that I started taking Wellbutrin (in January 2008).
So I know I can do mentally healthy all by myself. Whether or not this will stick, is anyone's guess. I'm not against taking meds. I just don't want to jack up my brain by adding another chemical back in, if it needs to chill out for a while. Which is what feels right (and my therapist agrees is OK).
The other interesting thing: I'm trying a new "diet." Fruits and veggies! Shocking, I know. I should write a book. Actually, Mark has been talking about going Vegan for a while (his brother in Colorado is, I think I mentioned this already). The girls at the spa doing pedicures talked about a detox diet that was fruits, veggies, and protein powder (there was more to it than that, but you get the drift). I felt like the universe was telling me "start eating fruits and veggies already, and you'll lose this weight."
So yesterday that's what I did. And also today. I'm not starving myself, and I did have lean chicken for lunch with my spinach salad. I'm not eliminating carbs, just taking them way down, and avoiding junk food. I am planning on using my LA Lite bars for my treats, just like I did when I was on their plan in 2007, so I don't feel deprived. It's worked for 2 days. The big news is that I'm in a mind set of "eat a piece of fruit instead of cookies" and "eat veggies for lunch and dinner" and "I'm not eating that piece of carby deliciousness! it's not a veggie or fruit." At this point, seriously, anything is better than what I had been doing, which is nothing, so this is a victory. And I'm going with it.
Hoping for some good weather this weekend so I can haul my butt around the 'hood and get some miles on my feet. Hope you enjoy yours!
Monday, April 11, 2011
Grief--expressed & unexpressed. I need to work through the obvious grief of losing my Dad, and everything that that complicated relationship involved, but also the unexpressed grief of a childhood I feel like I never had.
I matured very early. I am a first-born. I got good grades & stayed out of trouble.
Which apparently meant that my parents didn't need to parent me after the age of 11.
I had a boyfriend who was 6 years older than I was when I was 12. My mom met my dad at the same age--he was 6 years older than she was, too. He went away to the Army, though, and when he came back she was 16 years old. They got married when she was 17, and had me when she was 18 (they were married before they were pregnant--and she still got married that young). She did finish high school, even though she had a baby her senior year. So, to them, I guess, my dating an 18 year old when I was in middle school was no big deal.
Only it WAS A big deal. I mean--DUH. This is the BIG box I keep locked up, and I'm not going to go into it all here. But, I blame my parents and especially my mom for what happened.
I never realized or thought about how I didn't have a childhood. How I basically parented myself from a tender age. Even when I was 20 and I needed my parents to make grown up decisions on my behalf (more on that later), they didn't. They left it up to me. And they shouldn't have.
Which brings me to the next point: I'm going to be the mom of a 12 year old in two years. I didn't even realize this was an issue for me, mentally. But it's a huge one. I have no idea what good parenting of a teenager should look like. I only know what I will NOT let happen to my daughter. And there's the rub--I will likely over protect my teenage daughter (and son, but he's only 5). I don't want to mess her up by going too far the other way. So, we are going to work through that, too.
Flexibility/Inflexibility-- I have a hard time switching gears. I see the way something is to happen, and if someone throws a monkey wrench in our plans, I don't adjust very well. It takes a lot of time for me to change my expectations. I can get there, but give me time and let me get there in my own way. This is hard on the people I live with (or travel with, which I found out in 2009 when we went to St John with 3 other couples--thank goodness the adult drinks were plentiful, because I'm much more mellow with a few bushwhackers in me). But, it's also hard on ME. This is one of those under the surface issues, I think, that doesn't stick out like a sore thumb (as the above issues do), but is very important for me to work out.
My second therapy appointment was just as revealing. The biggest issues we discovered was this:
My dad used to belittle my mom a lot. He was smart and prized intelligence over everything else. He had very few friends (and for most of his life, none at all). I was smart; I had a perfect 4.0 in high school and got a full paid scholarship to college (thank God, because my parents hadn't saved any money for me). I watched my Dad talk to my mom like she was a bug; I often agreed with him. I sided with my Dad when I was a kid. But I couldn't really say why, when Julie asked me why I chose him over Mom. I thought it was because I blamed her for the non-parenting parts. But dad is just as responsible for parenting as mom, so why not blame him too? Because, Julie said, if you'd have not sided with Dad, could he have withdrawn his love from me?
Bing bing bing! Correct answer, smack in the eyeballs. As a 40 year old adult, I did the same thing. I did NOTHING to my dad when he was sick to make him upset with me. At least, I did as little as possible to not appear to give him everything he wanted.
And you know what happened? About a month before he died (he'd been in the nursing home for a month already), one night when I went to visit him but only had about 45 minutes, when it was time for me to leave and I said "I love you Dad," he shook his head NO. He could still move his head and his eyes enough to communicate pleasure or displeasure. He clearly was telling me "YOU DO NOT LOVE ME. If you loved me, you wouldn't have put me in this nursing home. It's YOUR FAULT I'm here."
I'm not making this up or assuming that's how he felt. He told my sister he thought it was my fault, because I was in charge of his finances.
So my childhood fears were realized, when I was 40 years old. He did exactly what I'd been trying to avoid my whole life--he withdrew his love from me. Now, we sort of reconciled, and he apologized that night (he sent me a text message from his computer, because my uncle made him). And the rest of the times I saw him he never did that again. But he damaged something in me very deeply. And it still really hurts.
Anyway, the kicker is this--I often behave like my dad towards my husband. I never, ever realized it before. I can be passive aggressive, with little stuff especially, and make Mark feel like a child. It's one of our biggest arguments, how I treat or talk to him like a child. I respect him on so many levels, but there is a part of me that thinks he's an idiot about basic things, and it comes out a lot-- like my dad did to my mom. Not the same, but enough to see that I am transferring what I got from my Dad to my husband.
The questions my therapist had me write down after that appointment were: "What price, what consequences, have I paid by turning toward Dad and against Mom? What role has that played in my adult life?"
She discussed the concept "repeat to complete" regarding my interactions with my husband. I don't fully understand what that means yet, other than I'm reenacting what I saw in my childhood, in my adult life. And, she said, I now have an opportunity to heal and NOT repeat what my dad did. I can bring out another outcome, and break the cycle.
I am seeing their nurse practitioner tonight at 6 p to discuss my medication issues. I will let you know what happens after that appointment.
Oh, the acupuncture. Holy moly. That was awesome. First of all, it's done in a spa-styled room, so I was automatically relaxed. Second, I felt the energy in my body "pull" to the very first needle he inserted in my lower back. I knew nothing about acupuncture before I went, other than the doctor and his brother are good friends of my husband. Dr. J explained a lot to me before hand, and I read a flier in the waiting room. So I had zero expectations. Feeling the energy in my body come to a tight little point was bizarre. It hurt some, when the needles went into soft spots like my waist, but mostly I didn't feel anything other than the energy concentration on some needles. The needle in the middle of my stomach hurt the worst, and there's even a bruise now. The session lasted about an hour. He did a series on my lower back for immunity, and another series that's called a GAM treatment. You'll love this--GAM stands for Great American Malady. Yeah, I think we all know what that treats.
I'm going weekly for at least 6 weeks. I cannot wait to go back. I felt relaxed and energized afterwards. It transferred into my entire Friday night and even some into the weekend. After last week, you'd think I'd have been in a ball for two days. But I wasn't. I did OK. I still didn't eat very well, and didn't exercise. BUT I am not in the toilet today, even though it's been raining since late last night and hasn't yet stopped. I am going to the gym after I finish this, before my appointment at 6.
Whether it was the acupuncture or my hormones behaving or some other cosmic force, I don't care. I'll take a semi-stable day like today for what it's worth--gold.
P.S. No weight today. Just got in a hurry & didn't weigh before my shower. I was 185.6 on Sunday, which sucks, but wasn't surprising. I could lose 4 pounds if I'd just cut out the carbs, which I'm gearing up for. Really, I am. I can feel a change coming. Plus, my husband told me today he wants to start eating an almost vegetarian diet (like his brother in Colorado is doing), and that's a huge deal. If we can both get on the same track, it will be a very good thing to have his help and support.
Friday, April 08, 2011
The list is stupidly long--Luke is really sick with allergies and has to go to the doctor this afternoon (day care called, he's in bad shape even with OTC eyedrops and Allegra), Sophie had to go to the doctor Monday afternoon for an infection, my husband was in the ER last night with an infection that made half his face swell up, my daughter's been very emotional all week (hormones? after effects of the accident last week?), my mom still can't drive and is not her usual Friday help or emergency back up. Oh, and the dog has allergies too that I have to give her medicine for twice a day.
I have had physical therapy appointments, therapist appointments, client appointments, an acupuncture appointment (in 45 minutes). Sophie had music lessons Tuesday night. We had kids' night at church & adult Bible study on Wednesday night. I had a funeral to make an appearance at yesterday after work (with Sophie in tow) while Mark took Luke to gymnastics. Now today, I've had both kids' schools call me with complaints about their state of being--Luke's eyes are super itchy (he already had pink eye drops and Zaditor drops and allegra today) and Sophie got hit in the stomach with a ball on the playground and can't stop crying (she told her teacher she's just very emotional and wants to go home). Mark's face is still horrible and he's in a lot of pain, and we had to cancel a client appointment that was today at 3:30; so he's totally out of commission.
I cannot get a routine going to save my life.
I haven't been sleeping well, especially when my husband goes to the ER at midnight and I'm scared he's got an infection that's going to spread to his brain (yeah, I know, I can have an active imagination).
I haven't been eating well. I haven't been exercising. I've got laundry baskets full of clean clothes and hampers full of dirty clothes. The season is finally changing, and I need to buy clothes for my son who has grown like an oak tree since last summer, and I need to get my daughter's clothes out from under bed storage. My house is a disaster--the girl I was going to meet last Friday (before the accident happened) to clean my house, I still need to make new arrangements with her to come over and meet me and our house.
Our vacation (did I mention we are taking a family vacation from 5/26 - 6/5?) is less than 50 days away. We are flying to Florida for what promises to be the best trip we've all had together, but it's going to be a lot of work to get ready for it. I've never taken a family of four on a 10 day vacay on an airplane. All the reservations are booked, so we know the itinerary, but I have to plan and buy and pack. And our weekends are (seriously) already overbooked until the day we leave.
Oh, and Sophie's 10th birthday is May 25th, so I also want to plan her birthday party before we leave for Florida.
All this, while I can barely make myself move every morning because the inertia of my depression is getting worse.
Plus, I mourn the idea every day that I'm going to have to buy myself all new summer clothes. And a bathing suit. Ugh.
The one thing I'm doing for myself is keeping my doctor's appointments. I went to therapy yesterday, which confirmed that I have THE counselor that I need. We are uncovering some deep, deep stuff, in just two sessions. She's very good at her job. I don't know if I'll ever be "finished" with her, really. So much ground to cover.
And the acupuncture--well, I'm basically hoping for some miracles from those little needles. I don't really know what to expect. I don't care. I'm desperate. Any improvement will be a big step forward.
Monday, April 04, 2011
How to find a balance....what gives me energy? what takes away energy?
The gap between my true self and the self I portray to the world sucks a lot of energy from my life. We all have such a gap, I think. I mean, if we all walked around with our hearts on our sleeves or our minds completely open to each other all the time, it would be like an episode of "The Twilight Zone." We probably all need a small gap, just to keep the world spinning.
It's just when the gap is so big that you are physically and emotionally drained from it, that it becomes a problem. My gap is huge right now; I'm spending too much energy trying to keep the gap the size that it is. The result of reconcilizing that distance should be an energy gain. And if I can gain energy then I will feel better.
But.... that's going to be a process. Finding a balance and closing the gap is not going to happen quickly. So in the mean time, where am I getting energy from? And where am I losing it?
I kept a running list on Thursday night and Friday during the day (before the car accident, which, I might add, was HUGELY energy draining, but obviously out of my control). Here it is (and it is not all inclusive. This is just what I kept track of in about a 24 hour period).
ENERGY Plus +
*Cleaned the kitchen after my therapy appointment (I had 45 minutes, and I'd left my kitchen a mess for 3 days, and the thought and sight of the kitchen drained my energy)
*Picking up the kids at day care/school gives me energy. I love seeing their happy faces when I pick them up.
*Reading one or two blogs at a time.
*Writing my blog.
*Listening to music.
*Cooking a healthy, from scratch dinner for myself (chopped veggies & chicken & stir fried them)
ENERGY Minus -
*Not eating lunch (by 5 pm hungry & tired)
*Arguing with Luke about gymnastics (after day care, he didn't want to go right then, but he still wants to go to gymnastics. I had to explain several times that we don't just NOT do something because we aren't in the mood.... I know, I need to take this same advice)
*Facebook. In many ways I love Facebook. Love it so much, it became an addiction in many ways. More often than not, it's bad for me.
*Reading too many blogs at once
*Writing (too much at once)
*Dirty, messy house
*Worrying about my messy house & all the unfinished projects
*Trying to DO too much after work (Thursday nights are gymnastics for Luke from 5:30-6:30, then I have church choir at 7 pm. I haven't been to choir in a couple of months. I want to go to choir, but I'm out of energy by 7 pm. But NOT doing choir when I'm SUPPOSED to be doing choir is energy draining. Oy.)
I have a lot of "shoulds" in my life. They are mostly, if not all, self imposed. And the shoulds are very, very energy draining.
Also, when I'm out of energy, I often do things that make it worse. Like eat fast food or junk food and lay around on the couch and watch TV. I actually feel better making good food and listening to music while I cook. The problem is, when I'm tired, the idea of doing anything but nothing is overwhelming.
Thursday after therapy I felt a lot better. Friday I felt better during the day (the sun was shining). Friday after the accident, I was toast. Saturday I was a lump all day. I could not make myself do anything but take care of kids and the dog. Sunday we all went to church, I taught my 2-3 year olds class, we all went to the grocery afterwards, I chopped & cooked fresh foods while listening to music, I ate lunch in the sunshine.
And I had a sliver of happiness that I let get snatched away by a conversation with my husbands about "shoulds." I was observing (a.k.a. complaining, I guess) about everything that needed to be done outside (deck and fence powerwashed, new outdoor table so we can eat outside, new loungechairs so we can lounge outside--table got shattered in a storm a few years ago; lounge chairs were stolen from our backyard the same year). All he heard were things that were going to cost us money; he made a snarky comment, I got mad and went in the house. We had a fight, then a disucssion, and we were OK but then I was toast again.
I ended up having a fairly productive Sunday. I slept well last night, but today was cloudy and windy and a low pressure storm system came through and sapped my energy (very sensitive to weather changes, obviously). Then when I got to work, I had an unexpected client review to do, and then while our client was here, I got a call from Sophie's teacher that she wasn't feeling well and could I come and pick her up. So, picked up Sophie, off to the doctor, then wait at the drugstore, then back to the office.
I was wiped out and instead of doing work, I wrote this blog. It made me feel a little better. Sophie & Mark & I talked for a bit about her day, and that helped me feel a little better. When I got home tonight, I cleaned my bedroom, started my laundry, cleaned the kitchen, got dinner put together, made sure Sophie did her homework, and now I'm finishing my blog.
I've still got laundry to finish (two loads of my clothes), and we are getting the kids to bed now. It was an energy sucking kind of day. But because I'm AWARE of that, and of what makes me feel better, I found a tiny bit of energy that is making me feel a tiny bit better.
Tiny steps in the right direction.
p.s. - I discovered (confirmed actually) that I can't eat any chocolate anymore if I don't want to have a headache. It was just dark chocolate; now it's any chocolate, even a small amount. I also had a burrito from Moe's Saturday, and had a horrible headach almost immediately after eating it. They advertise "all natural ingredients." I don't know what did it, but something there made me get a migraine. No mo Moe's. Or chocolate. If I want to feel good anyway. Which, yeah, I guess I do. Heck, before you know it, everything that's in a package will make me sick and I'll have to eat healthy all the time... there's a thought.
Friday, April 01, 2011
Talk about the unexpected.
I left work, drove to the hospital (which is 5 minutes from our office), called and texted and Facebook'd everyone I needed to (including cancelling dinner reservations, a nail appointment, and meeting the girl I plan to have clean my house--it was a packed afternoon, but was going to be all good stuff. I think cancelling the appointments helped me keep my stuff together while I waited to see my kids). I waited about 20 minutes in the ER waiting room until my mom & kids arrived at the hospital.
The kids walking in on their own two feet was one of the most beautiful sights ever. My Mom is really beat up--they brought her in on a stretcher with a neck collar and arm splint. They had to cut off her clothes, which she was not happy about. she has lots of bruises, a broken bone in the backside of her ribcage that just has to heal on its own, very sore muscles all over her upper body (even deep breaths hurt), massive bruising of her right arm & hand and on her left leg. But no internal injuries (CT scans all clear) and no other broken bones. She got to go home tonight with my stepdad.
My kids are fine, thank God. Sophie's really sore around her collar bone and neck. Luke doesn't seem to be hurting at all (on the contrary, he's been bouncing off the walls tonight). They were both really scared. It's Sophie's second time in the ER in a month. She was there a few weeks ago for vomiting all night from a migraine/possible stomach virus (I was up with her all night, and Mark had to take her to the ER for that trip).
The car that hit my mom turned onto the road and just didn't see her--she hit mom on the passenger side engine area. Mom could barely get her door open, so the car frame was bent. Mom said she was driving about 40 mph, and never saw the car coming. The air bag went off. Mom doesn't have any facial bruising, at least not yet.
The kids were obviously seat belted & Luke was in his booster seat. A half second difference and the car could have hit the rear passenger door & really hurt Sophie, who was on that side. We are very lucky. It could have been much, much worse.
So I'm thankful tonight to have my family all together. We're watching The Princess & The Frog. I have yet to breakdown & lose it. I'm sure that is still to come.
(I wrote this Thursday night, and set to post Friday morning. There's a lot here. Bless you for sticking with it.)
My counseling session went very well. My counselor, Julie, connected with me in a great way, asked good questions, "saw" what many of my key issues are. I did a good job, too. I told her at first about my "boxes" and how I didn't want to get into them today. But it was a 90 minute session and doggonit, the boxes just wouldn't stay shut. That was okay, though, really. She said our minds & bodies don't let us go where we're not ready to go. If I'm ready to start working on something, even if I don't think I am, I can go there, if I'm ready. If I'm not, I won't be able to go there. (I hope that makes sense.) Before I left, she had me write down what I got from the session (strange, when she handed me the paper & pen, I felt like I was doing an assignment and hoped I was doing it right so she'd give me a good grade). It was just for me--she didn't want to see it. It's so I can remember what we talked about. I wrote down four main bullet points in her office. I've been adding to it tonight, though, as the session has been rolling through my head. There is a lot, so I'm going to break it into parts. This is Part 1.
Compartmentalize-- --Internally --Relationships
I am one person to the world (with it, got it all together); I am a completely different person when I'm all alone in my bathroom in the morning, or at night, when I'm alone on my couch with the TV and a handful of cookies (losing it, crying, no energy, nothing left to give). We kept using hand gestures--I am trying to be "up here" (hand high in the air) but in reality, after all I've been through, I really am at "down here" capacity (hand held about 12 inches below where the high hand is). The space between is HUGE right now. And it represents a deficit of energy that I'm expending, and it is taking (has taken) a toll. We have to reconcile that distance, bring the bottom up, and the top down, so I am more in balance (what Vickie calls "even," I think). So, when we get them closer together, what I show to the world is really who I am.
Also, and she found this very interesting (and you may or may not realize this), I don't share all the stuff on my blog with people "In Real Life" (IRL, that's blog parlance, right?). Only two people IRL have my blog address--my coworker (hi sweet Sara!) and my husband's niece (Kate, The Fabulous). I know they both read me occasionally, but they don't comment so I can pretend they aren't paying attention to me. Sara & I talk a lot and she gets to see parts of me I wish she didn't have to (bless her, she has to listen to me whine & complain on a sort of involuntary basis, since we share an office space and it's just the two of us). Kate & I have only really talked about my blog after my dad died; I know she's really busy and I'm guessing she doesn't spend her days perusing my blog. But she has a good idea of who I am on the inside, too.
Anyway, there's a solace and openness I find in the (relative) anonymity of my blog. I can't share it with friends, even good friends, even my husband, right now. There's to much ME in this blog for me to share with the "real world." Do you all get this, at all? Or seriously, is it just me?
Julie asked me who my "go to" person is when I'm struggling & depressed. I said, my friends on my blog. And, IRL, my husband, my mom, my sister (to a small extent, but not as much since Dad died), and my friend Debra. She asked WHY I compartmentalized my "go to" person. I said, because I am protecting them. I am protecting my husband because he has enough to deal with, and he gets some of me (I can talk to him about anything---he knows me better than I know myself sometimes) but I don't LET him in. My mom I protect (and I went from being totally composed toward the end of our session to completely losing it & blubbering like a baby) because I love my mom--she's is such a great mom & grandmother to my kids. But, I blame her & my dad for the two "boxes" I keep locked up. I BLAME her, and I don't want her to know that. I don't want to hurt her. So she doesn't get those boxes, or anything remotely close to them.
Actually, nobody gets those boxes. They've stayed nice & tight for years, where I've wanted (needed) them to be. But, apparently, all hell's breaking loose inside me after one 90 minute session, because the boxes did not stayed closed today. Apparently the boxes are all Julie's.
That's a lot for now. I have high hopes that we are going to work well together, and I'm looking forward to sharing my discoveries with you all here. Many thanks, as always, for your friendship and support. Even though I don't know you all IRL, I still consider you friends and comrades. And, many of you are THE REASON I have kept it together as long as I have.
I mean, really, after I laid it all out to Julie today, I was kind of amazed that I've managed to stay out of the loony bin, and as a bonus, have two well adjusted, loving kids, and a successful marriage of 16 years.