Monday, August 31, 2015

After a season of suffering...

Hello, world...

Lord knows I am no stranger to suffering, but I am also no stranger to an infinite amount of grace from God, from others and from myself. I am no stranger to restoration of mind, body or soul. The last nearly twelve weeks of my life has been the hardest season of suffering I've ever known...and that's saying something. In the last week, however, I feel as though my soul has been renewed and I can finally turn the page again.

I had a little chat with my chiropractor this morning about finally being ready to put my focus back on myself. He told me he was hoping I would tell him everything I did. I admire him both as a doctor and as a friend who has helped me physically, mentally and emotionally. I told him (and I quote) "And even though this is twice now in the last 2 1/2 years that I've been on this life changing journey that I've paused for an extended period of time, I knew both times I would find my way back because of the changes inside of me that had taken place." 

If you tuned into the blog last week, you saw the picture of that awesome dress I found! Somehow, seeing myself in that dress is what gave me the spark I had needed all summer. I turn 30 in 74 days...on a Friday the 13th no less and I've been dreading it. Ever since I lost my dad, I've dreaded my birthday because it's hard to fathom not sharing it with him. I've realized that I have to change my way of thinking and find a way to make it something positive. Said dress from last week fits now, but in 74 days I want it to look amazing. I haven't stepped foot into the gym since the day before my dad died and today is D-Day, so to speak. Right before we lost him I was in the gym nearly every day plus doing my yoga and chiro stretches at home every day. I was sleeping very well. I was eating exceptionally well and taking my Zeal every day. The only thing that has stuck since losing him is my Zeal and I know that is physically what has kept me going. I've continued to lose over the summer but nothing like I was before, not that I expected to. I set a goal to reach by my birthday when I surpass that goal, I will have something to focus on a celebrate rather than merely being sad that my dad isn't there with me. 

I've been watching my country count on Blogger steadily go up since creating this blog (after saying goodbye to my old one). Today I hit 60...SIXTY countries. That continues to blow my mind. My blog has been read in nearly 1/4 of the countries in our little world. 111,683 views. I had multiple people reach out to me last week and thank me for talking about grief and not sugar coating what it's really like. Knowing that my story reaches others who are hurting helps me. I started changing my life two and a half years ago after refusing to be defined by pain and medication, by doctors who seemingly knew nothing or by past hurts that had damn near broken me. Today I've lost 150lbs, 7 dress sizes and a dozen medications. I've gained a sense of self that nobody can ever take away from me again. I've gained the ability to pick myself up, no matter how hurt I am. I've gained the strength to share my entire story in hopes of giving others the strength they need to make a change. I've lost a lot but I've gained so much more.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Crawl if you have to...

Hello, world...

Yesterday marked eleven weeks without my dad. It was the first Tuesday since that awful day that I haven't cried. I still cry, Lord knows I do, but it doesn't break me repeatedly every day any more. I miss him more than I ever knew it was possible to miss another person but I'm getting through it.

One thing I miss is the unwavering support and encouragement my dad gave me every day. It's a well known fact that we often collided and got upset with each other, which happens with two very stubborn people. The last few years though we truly grew in our relationship with each other and saw one another in a different light. The last two years especially, he had vocally been my biggest cheerleader. Oh, how I've missed that. I've needed that encouragement so much. Insert the tears...they're never really all that far away.

Last night something awesome happened and I know he would have been the first to say something about it. I sent a text to my DC bff/sister from another mother and she told me "He's smiling so big right now!" It made me sad and she said not to be sad because of how happy he would be for me. And it's true.

For the last couple of weeks I've been working on building up my fall wardrobe as everything from last fall is just too big. I've been buying regular XL sweaters which truly blows my mind. I saw a dress hanging on a clearance rack (hello, 80% off, plus an additional 20% off AND I had a 15% off coupon...$9.28.) that all but screamed my name. I tried it on and couldn't believe the reflection in the mirror. I felt beautiful and happy for myself. My birthday is in two and a half months (30...eek!) and the goal is for this dress to make an appearance during the festivities and to look amazing on.

I've fought REALLY hard to go from a size 26/28 dress down to that XL. The last eleven weeks my body has been through absolute hell and torment. The first two weeks without my dad I was lucky if I got 2 hours of very broken sleep every night. If I felt like eating at all, easily 90% of anything I ate did not stay down. I had a continual migraine and hurt from head to toe. In the weeks since, my sleep, thank God, for the most part has improved quite a bit. Most nights I manage 5-6 hours, still broken though and often have pretty awful dreams, but I still get rest. Most days, however, I'm nauseous all throughout the day and it doesn't seem to matter what I eat or don't eat. It's not uncommon for roughly half of what I manage to eat to still not stay down. It's grief and it's awful...but it's normal, unfortunately. The headaches and migraines have been atrocious, though not surprising given the lack of sleep and nutrition. My saving grace in terms of nutrients every day is my Zeal...I have no doubt that is part of physically what keeps me going.

I've been in survival mode for the past eleven weeks and I hate "living" in survival mode. It's not living and as should know as that is what life was for me for roughly fifteen years. I don't want to merely survive and get through the days anymore. I know that grief doesn't magically just go away. With my birthday and the holiday season coming up, I know it's going to hit me harder than it has thus far probably but it isn't supposed to be easy.

I know how proud my dad was of me for all of the changes that have been taking place in my life. He told me on a nearly daily basis. I've been really gentle with myself. It's now been eleven weeks and three days since I last stepped foot into the gym and I had been going almost daily before that. I told myself that it physically wasn't safe for me to go and push myself because I wasn't sleep, wasn't eating and if I did eat I got sick. I've been doing yoga at home still a few times a week but it's not the same. I need to get back to where I was physically before June 9th and run with it. I know he would want me to.

One thing we tend to forget when we're in the depths of a storm is that life does in fact go has to. There are always going to be waves that will crash into us, knock us down, beat us up and attempt to drag us out to sea. When you get swept out, you have to find a way to get back on land and stand on your feet again. Some days in the last eleven weeks it's felt like all I could do is crawl out of and into bed. I've made eight trips to Marion in the last eleven weeks, been out of town for work, had overnights and spent a total of 6 nights in my own bed over the course of four and a half weeks. I've been completely and utterly exhausted this summer...mentally...emotionally...physically. Schedule wise, life is finally starting to get back to normal so I need to as well. Even if I have to crawl into and out of the gym to get back into it and be where I was, it's what I have to do. I refuse to give up on the plans I've had for myself.

I also sent in my application yesterday to be one of the 2016 faces for a plus size company...wish me luck! It's something I've thought about doing for a VERY long time and have been told time and time again that I should do. I picked up my mail and had something from them that informed me the deadline was today. Even if I don't get picked, I'm glad I finally tried.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Baby steps...

Hello, world...

Eight weeks. I don't know how it is that time keeps marching on. Some days feel like they last for months. Some days it feels like nothing at all has changed. Other days I'm reminded just how much my entire world has changed and will never be the same and in this case, that isn't a good thing.

I came across something the other day while reading and it really struck me.
I am a griever. That doesn't mean I have a disease. It means that I miss and love someone who has died. Let me grieve at my own pace. My reality is forever changed. Do not judge me nor feel it is your obligation to tell me to "move on" or "get over it." Getting over it is not an option. With time, I will do my best to move forward with one step in front of the other. They might be baby steps, but it's better than none at all. When I need you...just be there.

I am constantly amazed by the number of people who try to tell me how I should be feeling right now. People who still have both parents. People who are married, have kids, grand-kids in some instances, try to tell me that I need to essentially just suck it up because he would want me to. That's not only unfair, it's not fully accurate. My dad was the biggest cry-baby I have ever's where I get it from. Not only that, but my grandma Tressie (yes, I was named after her) passed away before I was even born. My dad lived the last 34 years of his life without her and I heard about how sad he was, how much he missed her, etc, for my entire life. Most people in my family on both sides lived to be 80-90, so based on that we'll assume that I have another 50-60 years of life without my dad. You can't begin to understand what this feels like unless you've lot your dad....and really you can't understand unless you are a woman, unmarried, in your 20's still and have no kids. It's a completely different reality than losing your father when you are already married and have kids. I also can't imagine what it's like for a son to lose his father. But I don't pretend to know what it's like or interject my thoughts on how someone should deal with it or not.

Last week I finally ventured back to Baseball Heaven for the first time since we lost my dad. I was genuinely really excited to go. I met up with an old friend at a pub beforehand to grab something to eat and I should have known when I was about half a block away that the night wasn't going to go in my favor. Why? Because three years ago I looked at a wedding venue with my ex and my mother and it's the place that (even post breakup, obviously) I still imagined my dad eventually walking me down the aisle one day. It hit me all over again that he will never do that. It sucked. During most of the game, I thought of all of the baseball conversations we shared and the memories from the stadium that we soon as I got into my car afterwards, I lost it. I cried for a while. I was awake and very sick to my stomach for hours after that.

I can truly be completely fine one minute and then the next I see something, hear something, smell something, remember something and I just yearn for my dad. This happens a lot when I go to my hometown. I was there the last full weekend of July and needed to feel my dad's presence. I drove down to our old marina at the lake and just hung out on the docks for a little while. I felt him there and my heart was flooded with memories of being on the water with him. A hot summer breeze blew over the water and I got a whiff of fish and that was all I needed. I left and drove down to the cemetery and that was gut wrenching. I remember very little from the last time I was there because I was so out of it the week we lost him. After that I needed to be with someone who reminded me of my dad, who has the same corny sense of humor that he had. I went to his younger brother's house to visit for a while. Remarkably, at the cemetery was the only time that trip home that I cried.

My mother is moving up here for sure and I'm glad she is. However, I am dreading the process of helping to sort and pack. I hate how many of my dad's things I will never see again because we have no use for them. I know how awful it was for me when my parents packed up to move from Illinois to Florida. I cried and cried. It's totally different now and I can't imagine it would be better. How do you pack up, give away or throw away things that belonged to a parent? You can't keep everything (especially when you live in a one bedroom apartment and have absolutely no use for most of it), but you hate to see someone else have it. I can't imagine there never being a garage full of fishing stuff ever again. I can't imagine not seeing all of his tools. I've already brought some things back to St. Louis with me and there are others that my mom will hold onto and I will get eventually. With my mom moving here, even though I still have a lot of family in and around my hometown, it feels like part of me has to say it's no longer going to be "home." That breaks my heart.

I've also learned over these last eight weeks just how important it is to be kind and gentle with yourself, and not in the normal ways even. For several weeks I beat myself up about the fact I've yet to get back into the gym. Perhaps some people it does help them feel better to physically work it out. For me, it takes everything in me most days to chase a toddler all over creation at work. Throw in the fact that I go through huge of waves of not sleeping or eating and it would actually be really bad for me to go to the gym in that state. I've never been one to let myself just do nothing...I've had days/nights where that's all I crave and you have to let yourself do that because your body, your heart, your mind and your soul need time to just be and not have to fight to make it through the rough days. On the good days, I go out with friends and enjoy normalcy. I think that the biggest thing I've learned is how alone you feel because most of the people in your life (I've now learned from experience) have no idea what to say or not say to you so instead they say nothing. Eventually, you will reach out because you want your people and they'll say something like "Oh, I think about you every day", and you'll think something like "I'm so glad you think of me daily but never reach out, because that helps me...not." And if you're like me, you'll later feel bad for even having such thoughts. Don't hold things against your friends who truly have no idea what you're going through and thus don't know how to approach you. Don't beat yourself up for thoughts that you have because anger is one of the big parts of grief, unfortunately.

When you're grieving, all you can really do is live day to day, and sometimes its more like minute by minute. Nothing truly makes you feel better. Words or people can offer comfort, but I've learned how fleeting comfort really can be. Some days you're going to feel everything and it's going to hurt like hell. Some days you'll laugh and feel normal. Some days you will feel numb to literally everything and everyone around you. But that is in fact normal no matter how strange it feels. And if you want to heal, you have no choice but to let all of it come and at times consume you.