Posts Tagged With: healthy

my defining moment as a frog in cold water

Acute stress feels like it will crush you where you stand.
I promise you it won’t. Your fight or flight instinct will kick in and save you. Acute stress feels overwhelming and most of us would do anything to get away from it. But, acute stress won’t kill, no matter how much you believe it might.
Chronic stress is what will kill you.
Chronic stress is like putting a frog in a pot of cold water and then slowly turning up the heat. The frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until it’s already boiling! That’s when one of two things happens. Fight or flight kicks in to save you, or you just die.

I’m an expert in chronic stress. I’m that frog in the pot of water. I was lucky enough that my instinct for flight is so strong. It saved my life.
I spent seventeen years with a man who emotionally abused me.
His sabotage so subtle, his manipulation so nuanced, it was poetry of pure unadulterated evil. He brought passive aggression to new and frightening depths. For the most part I was unaware on a conscious level. I went about my daily life feeling anxious without actually realizing it.
Sometimes I would wonder…Why did I require so much sleep? Why did I turn so much of my focus to my children? Why did I feel nauseous when he would come home? But never for long because there would be some sudden kindness and I would smile and believe him when he told me everything was lovely.

But on some level, I did know what was going on. I did know that something was amiss. I focused on my children to be a buffer between him and them so he couldn’t treat them the way he treated me. I presented the picture of the perfect little family to the rest of the world so no one would realize that he was not what he seemed.
I was scared of him. And scared isn’t a big enough word, but I’m honestly too lazy to thesaurus right now. He frightened every fiber of my being. Somehow I knew he’d never lay hands on me. I wasn’t worried about that. I didn’t realize the internal wounds could occasionally be worse.

He used to tell me that I was crazy. That I was certifiable. That they would put me in a straight jacket in the padded cell and that was where I belonged. He told me no judge in his right mind would give the girls to me. I had nothing and I was crazy. He told me that he would take the girls and I would never see them again.
I would have done and would still do anything for my girls. So I stayed with this man.
He read my journals. He read my email.
He even tried to sabotage my friendships…he had to do that carefully because he didn’t want to show his true colors. I was lucky that most of my friendships were strong enough to withstand his tricks.

I was trapped in a hell I helped create.
Every single day of my life I was scared.
Every single day of my life I was anxious.
Every single day of my life I was angry.
I was miserable. My girls were miserable. I was failing at being a mother. I was failing at being a person.
I was the frog in the pot of water suddenly aware that I was boiling!

This was the defining moment.
Would I die in that pot of boiling water?
No! I would save my own life!

The chronic stress was literally killing me. I was dying. I had to do something to preserve my own life.
I told him that I was done. I told him that I was empty and dead inside. I told him that I had nothing left to give. I told him I was leaving because I knew he would never leave.
When I finally left, he acted as though he was surprised. As though I’d never expressed any of my concerns. I didn’t even argue. I just walked away.
That’s when he turned on my girls. He manipulated them. He used them as weapons to hurt me.
That’s the only thing I regret about leaving him…what he did to my babies. You want to hurt me? Come at me directly.
My poor babies had to suffer for me to live.
That doesn’t seem right. But it was how it was.
A dying person is a desperate person.
I had to save my own life.
They’ve moved through that part of their lives. Will they ever heal? I honestly don’t know.
I know the only one who came out unscathed was their father. He has no clue what he’s done…or he doesn’t care. How’s that for crazy?

I was told by friends and family that I was strong. That I was brave. I felt neither. I felt as frightened as I’d ever been. I did what I had to do to stay alive.
It was the hardest thing I ever did, saving my own life. I only wish I’d been strong enough to do it sooner. Of course, the frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until the water comes to a boil…

I’m writing about this because of a conversation I had with my friend Nora last night, and a conversation I had with my sister in law today. Nora and I talked of relationships and life and celebs and sports stars we’d like to have our way with. We talked of previous lives and choices we make. We discussed “winning” at divorce. (When your life is better than it was before AND better than your ex’s current life.) We talked about being mothers. We ate pasta and drank a goodly bit of wine. We were “just girls” together, but we talked of important topics.
She’s actually the one who verbalized the frog in water analogy.

This afternoon I had a distressing conversation with my sister in law about her relationship with her children’s father. Apparently their state of chronic stress has escalated to acute and he’s announced he’s leaving. Knowing him as long as I have, I think he’s having a bit of a temper tantrum and it will blow over and they’ll go back to their life of chronic stress.
It is killing my sister in law. Now, there is a fairly decent amount of her stress that has little or nothing to do with him. She has some of her own shit to sort.
I told I knew what she was capable of. I suggested she tap into that deeply rooted power and make a better life for herself.
She expressed her fear.
Fear can ride shotgun, get it out of the driver’s seat. Fear will never drive me again. But it sure as hell likes to go along for the ride. I was scared half to death to make that huge change. Especially considering what impact it had on my children.
She’s not ready to do that hard work. She will eventually have to decide to save her own life or she will die.

I can’t run other people’s lives.
Some days I can barely run my own life. Seems that way lately.
I have stress in my life. But it’s acute stress. It causes an immediate reaction. And though my flight instinct is the strongest, I’m learning to fight. Fight the good fight. Fight for what’s right.

I fought the good fight by flying all those years ago. The fight to save my life. Because I tell you, I was dying. Not metaphorically dying. Actually. Physically. Emotionally. I was actively dying.
I learned the most important lesson about myself by saving my own life.
I learned that I can do anything.

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Categories: divorce, loss, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

my number is 10

Going over my medical history today at the doctor’s office.

Nurse: Have you had more than five sexual partners?
Me: Yes.
Nurse: How many?
(Uh…”more than five” isn’t good enough?)

Me: Ten.

This question struck me as odd. I was at the gynecologist, so not that odd…but why ask it that way? Why not ask ‘how many’ straight off?
Less than five is OK, but more than isn’t?
Is there a “right” number?

Mostly it got me thinking about my sexual life.
I’m a healthy, forty four year old woman and my number is ten.
Apparently ten is the perfect “Goldilocks” number, according to this article in The Telegraph. Is there an ‘ideal number’ of sexual partners to have?
So I guess, in the grand scheme of things, ten is not a “too small” number, neither is it a “too large” number.

In my scheme of things, it’s the perfect number.
I can name each person I’ve had sex with and only cringe at the memory of two of them. (Mistakes and bad choices happen…turns out a couple of times I didn’t make decisions with my brain.)

I can say I lost my virginity in my own bed one morning before school, to a boy I cared very much for.
I can say I took the virginity of the first boy I honestly loved.
I can say one of the ten is a girl with whom I spent eight spectacular months.
I can say one of the ten is the father of my children.
I can say one of the ten is, without a doubt, the unsurpassed giver of oral sex.
I can say one of the ten savagely broke my heart for sport.
I can say the last of the ten is my precious (and sexy as hell) husband.

You hear stories of, and see in television and movies, people comparing their lists of past lovers and it’s almost always a mess. Feelings are hurt. One partner’s list is longer than the other’s. There might be some objectionable things on the list.
I’m not shy about sharing my number. YBW has a bigger number than me. I don’t know the exact number, but I know it’s more. I’ve heard the stories of him going through girls in college.
I don’t care about any of that.

I don’t think a list should be made to share and compare if you’re in a relationship, unless of course, there’s a medical necessity. I kind of feel like the sharing of pasts (including sexual partners) comes about organically as you get to know each other.

Other questions the nurse asked seem more pertinent to my medical health.
How many pregnancies have you had? (Three.) How many live births? (Two.) How many living children? (Two.)
Any history of cancer in your immediate family? (Yes, my mother.)
Any history of alcohol or drug abuse in your immediate family? (Yes, my dad and brother.)
Any history of heart attack or stroke in your immediate family? (Yes to both, maternal grandfather.)
Do you have asthma? (Yep. I was diagnosed last year.)
Do you have high blood pressure? (Uh, no. You just took it two minutes ago and it was 118 over 84 and I remarked how that’s high for me.)

I don’t know. I guess going over my medical history, and especially my sexual history got me thinking.
The number of people with whom I’ve had sex is mine and I own it.
I’m just a girl who lived and loved and had sex and I’m comfortable with that.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

healthy gut = healthy brain

I read an article recently about how your gut is your “other” brain. Meet Your Second Brain: The Gut
My sister-in-law has been talking about bits and pieces of this concept for a while, but I really didn’t understand the impact until I read all about it.
Here’s the gist that’s directly important to me: If your gut isn’t healthy it can trigger neurological issues.

What if this whole brain swelling situation is simply my wretched digestive system?
(yeah, I’m going to leave that here and walk away for a moment)

I’ve had digestive issues my entire life. Even as a little girl I struggled with the pain of constipation and bloating. I didn’t know it wasn’t normal until I was an adult. That was an interesting learning curve. I was surrounded by people with healthy digestive systems.

My stomach simply doesn’t digest properly. The holistic “doctor obvious” shared that gem. I was a whole lot of ‘well no sh*t, dude’. I haven’t been to him in a while. Honestly he’s so expensive and insurance doesn’t cover it. Also YBW thinks he’s a bit of a quack. Which makes it hard for me, because I really need him on board if I’m going to get treatment for this. Some of his stuff is quack-like. For instance: him preaching ‘don’t immunize your kids’ is one that makes me want to stab. But some of his stuff is totally on point.

Though I may not have to go see him…
I’ve been researching as much as I can the last few days and I’m learning what to do to help restore my “good gut flora”. It doesn’t seem all that difficult apart from one thing. I’m going to have to give up wine. At least for a little while.
In learning what to eat to heal my gut I’m excited to discover fermented foods are a must. That means kimchi. My dad used to have a special refrigerator ONLY for his huge jar of kimchi. I don’t think I’ll get that drastic, but I love it and am excited to know it will help me.
My friend in Arizona went completely gluten free to help with terrible headaches and digestive issues. I’ve been researching that too. I suspect that will help me a great deal.

What this means is an upheaval of our foodstuffs and the way I prepare things. I’m not sure how it will work when the boys are here, but I can simply feed YBW whatever I’m eating when they aren’t here. It’ll be good for him too.

I don’t know if I’m actually on the right track, but I’m willing to try this as apposed to waiting around any longer to see if my brain get’s it’s act together. I’ve struggled with this brain swelling since May. And though I’m not getting any worse, I sure as hell am not getting any better.

I’ll continue to research and begin to make changes and cross my fingers.
I’ll go see the holistic doctor as a touchstone.

It’s time for me to be well.
I’m not getting well the way we’re doing it. I’m ready to try something new.
I’m gonna get healthy if it kills me!

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

miscommunication is a bite in the ass

YBW came home Thursday ready to talk about the weirdness.
I felt better prepared because I’d written about it. He was ready to talk because he read what I wrote.
As it turns out, there was gross misunderstanding. (I can’t even feign surprise.)
He thought I was angry. He thought I was quite fed up with his YBW “shenanigans” so he was putting forth great effort to change his behavior. He also was feeling a great deal of fear after being hurt physically by me. It stirred up residual feelings from living with his second ex-wife.

I was horrified that he felt fearful of me. The only way I know to fix that is not to punch him in the arm anymore. This will be hard for me…it’s my “go to”. I don’t mean to hurt, it’s just a thing that started from having a brother and cousin and then the former husband as a way to make a point. Never hard enough to really hurt, but enough to get their attention and shift their behavior.
Is it a positive or healthy move? Of course not, but it’s what worked.
When I punched YBW in the arm, he was closer to me than I realized and the contact came swifter and with more force than I’d anticipated. He was actually hurt. But I’m realizing that he thought I was angry and hurt him out of anger. And that triggered his hot button of fear.

After we talked about the “kitchen incident”. I explained that I had no anger, that I was just messing around. Both Thing C and Thing 2 were in the kitchen with us, it was nothing more than us being silly about language and I never felt anything but playful.
The fact he thought I was angry and that it was my motivation to hurt him nearly broke my heart. That’s when my tears started. I honestly don’t think he believes me. That will have to come in time.

It turns out that when I was expressing that I noticed an imbalance in our being “handsy” with each other he thought it had to do with the kitchen incident and was under the impression that I was completely fed up with him being goofy.
He was trying to change to make me less frustrated.
It seems to me that he thinks I believe that he’s stupid, ridiculous, annoying, etc. I think he’s playful. Does that become tiresome occasionally? Of course it does. But I am self aware enough to know that I become tiresome occasionally too.

I told him that I liked him for who he really is. That if I’d been with him these six years it was because I liked his personality and for him to suddenly not be him was no way to “fix” anything.
He told me it would take a bit for him to relax enough to be himself and asked for me to be patient.
I told him that I would do my best not to rely on the arm punch.

Yesterday, things felt closer to normal. We went to this Salvadorian joint and had an early dinner yesterday, we came home and watched the Nats lose to the Marlins. We communicated realistically both verbally and physically. (And my bottom got patted while I brushed my teeth.)

Here’s my biggest thing:
I don’t know how to help him hear what I’m actually saying versus what he thinks he hears.
I don’t know how to trust that he’s not going to manipulate me if I make myself vulnerable to him.
Not because we’ve experienced either of these with the other. These are old patterns. Hurt caused by other people who came before each other in our lives.

I made a specific decision to trust him the first moment we were in the same physical space after months of dating over the phone and via email. In that moment I chose to be fearless. I have not regretted it in six years.
I know he’s not passive aggressive.
I know he’s not manipulative.
I know he’s not trying to undermine every forward step I take.
I trust that.
But I spent seventeen years walking on eggshells waiting to make the wrong move and suffer the emotional repercussions of that.
Waiting for “the other shoe to drop” is a pattern I work every day to break.

I am safe in this relationship. I know it like I know my own name.
I believe that YBW feels safe in this relationship. He’s trying to break his patterns too.
He’s been told he’s “less than” for so long he probably doesn’t even hear my words when I talk about his character and his kindness. He’s beautiful inside and out. That is his true self. He doesn’t know that. He doesn’t believe that.
I can’t change that for him, but I can keep expressing it in the hopes that one day he hears my words and not the words left over from his past.

I’m still not sleeping through the night. But I am sleeping in the bed we share and I’m not struggling to lie next to him.
It’s progress.
There is a great deal of love in our lives. I love YBW like I’ve never loved another man. I didn’t know I could love someone who didn’t come out of my body with this kind of unconditional love. I waited my entire life to find him. He has no idea that he elicits that kind of love just by being himself.
All that love doesn’t erase the past. But I hope that it can heal it. I hope it can create a new kind of relationship upon which to build the rest of our lives.

I’ve been told I’m more stubborn than a mule. (Thanks, Mommie.)
This statement is true, however unkind it may have sounded hearing it my whole life. Therefore I will use that stubbornness as I continue to chip away at old patterns in both of us. Eventually I’ll get there. And I will stop feeling like I need to wait for the other shoe to drop. And he will start hearing what he truly is and perhaps even begin to believe it.
And I’m hopeful we’ll continue to love and be loved the way we do. Playfully and earnestly. Only it will be better because we will use our past lives as foundation upon which to build this new way of being.

Categories: love, me, peace and wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

loving yourself

My much loved friend in Arizona has four children, the eldest (a boy) is exactly two months younger than Thing 1 I’ve known him since he was four. The second born (a girl) chose me to be her Godmother when she was about eight years old, I’ve know her since she was two. She’s about eighteen months older than Thing 2. The third, (another girl) was born when Thing 2 was in my friend’s two year old preschool class. I taught the baby of the family, (a second boy, who is now thirteen) for two years in a row between the ages of one and three.
I love this family as though they were my own. My own children consider these children an integral part of their family life.

Earlier this week, a simple facebook conversation with the eldest boy that started as comments and replies on a photo of his parents moved me to tears.

Him: I can’t wait to see you pretty lady!!! You’re getting hitched, and I get to be a part of it. I am so honored and unbelievably excited for you 🙂 Can’t wait to meet the family!

Me: My heart is near bursting that you’ll be here! I love you!

Him: I love you too! You’ll always be a big influence in my life as to who I am and how I must be myself, love myself and be happy to go my own way. I see this in you and it is a true inspiration to where I hope to be one day.

This young man went through terrible emotional struggles his second year of college. He was deeply confused, depressed, and on the edge of hurting himself. His Dad went across the country to support and love his son. This time was sacred for them and because of this time, he was able to build up the courage to safely come out as gay.
We all could see that him saying it out loud changed everything for him. He was at peace with himself. He was as content and carefree as he’d been as a little boy. Our joy was huge. His own joy was too.
And then he met a really wonderful young man. They are such a precious couple! They compliment each other beautifully, bringing out the best in each other. I’ve not seen this boy I helped raise this healthy and peaceful since he was about ten years old.

I say all of this because I want to explain the magnitude of his words. I am truly humbled. This is a child I loved because he was one of my brood. I loved him as my own. For him to share this with me was overwhelming.
To know that my actions have made that kind of impact was so powerful!

It took me thirty-odd years to learn to “must be myself, love myself and be happy to go my own way”. To make the choice to get out of what was categorically, the least healthy situation I’d ever been in. I trusted myself for the first time in my life and loved myself enough to go my own way. It was the most difficult and scary situation I’d ever experienced. It changed nearly every relationship in my life. And I was stronger than I’d ever been.

Never did I feel like a role model. Never did I feel like a positive example. I was afraid every single day. I never stopped looking over my shoulder. But I kept putting one foot in front of the other because I knew if I didn’t the last little spark inside of me would go out.
But the spark grew into the long lost fire in my belly and fueled my independence. Fueled my confidence. Fueled my ability to love and be loved.

I love this young man ever so dearly. I wish him all the success of love and life without too much of the struggle.
To know that I’ve been inspiration to him is almost more than I can even bear.
My heart is overflowing.
We all deserve to feel this much love and gratitude.

Categories: love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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