Thursday, July 28, 2011

July 18th was my dad's birthday. He would have been 95. Historically, this has been a really fun time for my family. My brothers would visit, we'd have a party for my dad and my sister, go to the Greek festival, celebrate my parents' anniversary, spend lots of time laughing, playing, swimming, and just being together. In fact, my dad said many times before he passed away, "95 this year. Gonna be a BIG celebration." He didn't make it. I almost didn't make it either. The past months, since my dad died, I have been stumbling through. Fumbling for the energy to live, to be a wife, a mom, just a worthwhile person. This month, I actually started to live again.

For my dad's birthday, Chloe and I made our annual pilgramage to Lilydale with our soul friends. My SOLE purpose was to get a message from my dad. In fact I was almost giddy in the days leading up to our trip because I felt like I was going to get to visit him. My dad believed very much in people's ability to communicate beyond the boundaries of the human life, so I knew he would find his way to Lilydale and to me. And of course he did. In both my reading and Chloe's, my dad spoke to us through the mediums. I had never doubted that he was okay, in heaven, happy, any of that. My sadness stemmed from the fact that I missed him so much, and he hadn't spoken to me.

After each of my brothers died, they came to me in dreams--very vivid visitation dreams--to tell me they were okay. In these dreams I was able to to feel them, hug them, ask them questions, and know that they were okay. I felt sad that my dad hadn't "visited." I wasn't worried about his place in the afterlife; I knew he was in heaven. I can't really explain it. Both of my brothers died tragically, violently even, and I needed reassurance that they were okay and not stumbling around in Limbo or worse yet hell--as my good Catholic upbringing taught me. My dad died very peacefully, as I had prayed, and for the first few weeks after his death, I could feel his presence. I would find coins, that I believed he'd left out for me; my kids even started referring to this phenomenon as "pennies from Papa."

So on Sunday, when we celebrated my sister's birthday on Sunday, and she said, "There's only one thing missing..." I didn't fall apart. I know that my dad is okay. And I do miss him, but now I feel as if I was able to speak to him, hear from him, know that he is okay and in heaven with the God he loved and worshipped for 94 years, and with my brothers, who loved him so dearly and only got to spend a short time with him in this life.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fat Ass

Over the last eight months, I have gained 20 pounds. I have a laundry list of excuses why: I quit smoking, my dad died, my husband started smoking again, I had a nervous breakdown, I started taking medication with a happy side effect of weight gain.

Try as I might, I can't blame any of those things completely. I have a really messed up relationship with food. It fulfills all sorts of things for me besides hunger. Really, if I think about it, I haven't felt hungry in years. There's never an opportunity because I'm usually eating out of boredom, sadness, happiness, depression, or socializing over a bowl of chips.

So, here I am, looking at a number that I haven't seen since I was pregnant. Fuck. The worst part is that other than that, I feel really great. I go to the gym, but my clothes don't fit. I don't eat bad food, but I eat LOTS of good food. I don't feel bad about myself, but any woman can tell you, squeezing into a pair of too tight jeans is damaging to your self-esteem. I am wiggling myself in as the jeans are screaming, "Good grief, fat ass!! Give my seams a break!"

So this morning, as I was looking in the mirror and thinking that naked, I really look okay and maybe I just needed to get rid of those size zero jeans that mock me constantly, I decided that I am going to embrace my curves. I am going to make a list of all the positive things about my weight gain, talk nicely to myself, burn those jeans, and then try to stop eating my feelings while coming from a positive rather than negative place.

Here we go:

1. Boobs. My boobs haven't been this big since I was nursing Lily. I actually bought a new bra because I was overflowing my A cups. Hot damn, it's like free cosmetic surgery! Well, for those people who would spend thousands of dollars to almost fill a B cup. But I am happy about it!

2. Wrinkles. Like a miracle, my wrinkles are less visible. Who needs a facelift and collagen injections when you can just eat a couple extra avocados? This shit rocks!

3. My ass. The one part of my anatomy that has long drawn the most attention from  my husband has now doubled in size. Brad is happier than he was when I agreed to try out Men's Health's assertion that couples who have sex 4 times a week or more look 10 years younger. Maybe that's what happened to the wrinkles...

Okay, so I'm new at this and my list is very superficial. But seriously, I  spent my whole life getting this message from my mother: FAT IS BAD, so it takes some adjusting. Today, I'm going to try talk nicely to myself and feel my feelings instead of eating them. It's about to get crazy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Symbyaxally Sublime

For most of what I can remember of my life, I've had mood swings. I've been crazy, neurotic, unpredictable, and many other less-than-favorable adjectives. When I went to grad school for counseling, I spent a lot of time diagnosing myself--and everyone I knew--with a variety of mental disorders. I meet diagnostic criteria for several disorders. I may have obsessive compulsive personality disorder, I may be bi-polar, and so forth. I don't know that my findings are conclusive since I didn't finish my degree, and I was assessing myself, which I'm pretty sure is a no-no; I did complete the professional ethics class. 

Brad agreed that I was crazy, just not necessarily with the notion that it was a diagnosable, treatable kind of crazy. Once, I laid out all the diagnostic criteria and how I met them, and he laughingly acknowledged my findings but suggested, "That's who you are, and that's who I love. I don't want you to be medicated into a different person." I halfheartedly agreed. I usually only stayed depressed for a day or so, and the manic episodes most often resulted in a clean house or some sort of project--the red and white bookshelf, for instance.

When I went to the doctor, she asked me various questions to determine my degree of mental illness. She asked me if I spent money impulsively. I don't really because we live on a very tight budget, I responded. She suggested that many people experiencing manic episodes don't stop to check their budget before going on spending sprees. I got that. I remember my friend's mom, who is bi-polar, would spend thousands of dollars when she was manic. Well, that's good, so I'm bi-polar with a conscience?

Anyway, she prescribed me an anti-depressant/mood stabilizer. After two weeks of taking it, I can honestly say, if I'd known that I could feel this good, I would have started taking medication 20 years ago. I am not angry, I'm not sad, I haven't cried, I haven't really yelled. The other day, I started to yell at the kids for arguing and stopped myself after realizing I was only yelling out of habit, not because I was really mad. I will acknowledge that I have been a little bit tired, and a lot hungry, but I also had PMS, so I am gonna blame that for the hunger and sleepiness.

I used to think that taking medication wasn't for me. I used to feel empowered that I could handle all the things that came my way because I was so strong. Initially I felt ashamed that I had to go to the doctor and ask for medication as if that in some way made me weak and unable to handle my own problems. I now feel that I don't really give a shit if I'm weak because I feel like a million bucks!