Wednesday, July 25, 2012

i'm not invisible

i got married in my early twenties. i was younger than a lot of girls, but i'd dated a lot of different guys and i felt confident that i knew what i was looking for and that i'd found it when i met chris.

before i was married, i felt like a confident, self-sufficient woman of the world who could handle anything that came my way. i had a lot to say and an opinion about most subjects, which i felt free to share any time with anyone.

my husband is very good at holding his tongue and over time, i learned to keep my mouth shut until i'd filtered my thoughts through my brain and decided they were worth spilling out onto the people around me. i think this is a good quality most of the time.

i learned how to delay any real decisions until such time as i had discussed them with chris. he's never been demanding about how i spent time or money, but it seemed reasonable to share those decisions rather than just rashly do whatever i felt like without thought to the other half of my partnership.

then i became a mommy. it was what i'd always wanted and i was very happy to have my little girl. my life revolved around brooke and her needs.

over the years, it seems like more and more of my self has vanished as i've dedicated myself to caring for my family. i ate what they liked, i slept when i needed to sleep so that i could best accommodate the lives of my husband and kid. i go where they want to go and watch what they like to watch.

as a larger woman, i've dressed in a way that would blend in to the background and i didn't do anything to draw attention to myself because i didn't want anyone to look at me and think the fat girl was getting out of hand. if i was invisible, no one would notice all the ways i was lacking.

when i think back to the time when i felt most like i knew who i was and was in control of my own life, i picture a big mouthed, hootchie-dressed, smoking girl, with super-high heels. i see long acrylic nails, red lipstick and sleeping til noon.

i like that girl, but those things don't fit me anymore. there has to be a way to rediscover or rebuild myself into a current version that will work for my life and not leaving me feeling like i only exist for the services i perform for others. i want a sense of self-satisfaction that isn't about anyone else, but isn't totally selfish either.

this year has been a time for me to start figuring that out. i still don't know what direction it's going to take, but i'm putting some time and effort into exploring my options. i've made myself more of a priority than i have in many years and it feels good.

maybe eventually i'll figure it out. i don't think the new me looks like either of those girls up above. i think she looks more like this. and she's not invisible.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

so campy

for about a year, brooke has been talking about going to summer camp. she'd read about it in a book and seen some tv episodes about camping and she wanted to give it a try. it made me a little sick to my stomach when i first started considering actually letting her go. she's always been explosive when things got too loud or overwhelming. she likes to know what to expect all the time and she needs time to transition more slowly than most kids from one activity to the next. these are all things that would likely be aggravated by a typical camp environment.

there's a place i went as a kid, every summer, called word of life ranch. it's a wonderful, beautiful place in the adirondack mountains where college students who have done a year at their bible institute work as counselors during the summer. i have tons of happy memories of being there and i felt like, if brooke was going to camp, that's where it would need to be.

i got over my anguishy belly and signed her up for a week. i decided she would only go as a day camper rather than overnight every day for a week so as to have a chance to detox and calm down in my presence if things got too overwhelming for her. i was anticipating at least one SOS call from camp admin asking me to come get her because she was freaking out and inconsolable.

well, as it turns out, brooke was incredibly ready for camp. we drove to new york (15 hr drive) and for a couple nights we just went to the evening camper meetings and walked around the property. she had a chance to absorb the noises and smells and chaos and yelling with me at her side before i dropped her off for a whole day. she met her counselors and the kids who would share her cabin for the week. she was more than ready when i left her at 7:30 monday morning.

all day long, i waited for the phone call of distress. nothing. i enjoyed my day with family and when i picked her up in the evening, she was happy and full of sugary joy.

she got to take a horsemanship class that allowed her to spend a total of six hours with the horses over the course of the week and that was definitely her favorite part.

brooke functioned happily through so many various new things all week long. she had to learn how to go through a food line and pick her own meal choices three times a day. she had to sit still and quiet through bible meetings. she had to always keep track of at least one of her counselors and she had to stay calm even when things got super loud.

each night when i picked her up, she didn't want to sit quietly with me to cool down after a hectic day. she wanted to play and squeal with her cousins and practice her newfound trick of armpit farts.

all in all, it was a fantastical week, better than i'd even dared to hope. she can't wait to go back next year and she wants to sleep over in 2013 now that she knows what to expect.

it's amazing to see my little aspie girl absorbing and applying all the coping skills she's learned so that she can go new places and try new things without becoming overwhelmed or freaking anyone out in the process. my soul is a happy place.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

God won't let me go naked

Five months ago, i had just started dieting. i wasn't entirely sure how it was going to go or if i'd be successful, but i was determined. i remember saying to my mom that i didn't know what i'd do if i shrunk out of all my clothes. i can't afford to buy new ones just because the older ones don't fit anymore. she assured me that God wouldn't let me go naked.

i've been volunteering with a thing my church does called "the closet." it's a place where anyone can drop off clothing or linen donations, much like goodwill, but instead of selling the items cheaply, everything is free to anyone who needs it. they have shopping days 4 times a year and everyone who comes in can take what they need for their family. i love this organization. i've donated tons of our clothes and brooke and i work there - sorting, organizing, carrying, hanging, painting, helping customers, etc. 

this place has also been a wonderful source of clothes for us this year. i can't wear anything from last summer unless i'm able to tailor it. i've cut down a few things, but not everything can be altered by me, by hand and i really needed a lot of new things.

today i got to do some shopping in there and i got a whole bunch of stuff, including some things for brooke and i to wear to my sister's wedding next month. i even got a pair of brand new, gorgeous heels that are exactly what i need for the couple dressy things i own. and might i also mention that the quality of my clothing has improved tremendously since i started getting second hand stuff. i've never even tried anything on in ann taylor or banana republic or some of the expensive department stores, but now i've got all that pretty, high quality stuff hanging in my closet and it was either free or really cheap from goodwill.

on a separate, but related note, i started doing P90X three weeks ago. a few months ago, i never would have been able to do most of it, but i'm keeping up fairly well, though there's room for improvement. i've lost 54 pounds now and i think i'm physically stronger than i've ever been in my life. free weights are new to me, but i like them. it's kind of cool to be able to see muscles popping in my arms and legs. and i'm discovering that i have bones that i'd almost forgotten about. collar bones, shoulder bones, hips, ribs. so exciting.

i feel like my life has gotten bigger as my body has gotten smaller. when i was fat, i wanted to be physically invisible. i wanted to wear baggy, plain, uninteresting clothes to avoid drawing the eyes of anyone i didn't know. i avoided doing fun or silly things that might cause my fat to jiggle. 

so many things have changed for me internally as i've changed externally that i'm wondering why it took me so long to do it. then again, the shrinking world sneaks in, a little piece at a time, not all at once, so that you almost don't notice it until you've gotten used to it. and i wouldn't appreciate the changes as much if i hadn't lived life in chubbytown for ten years.

i'm so glad that God didn't want me to look frumpy or go naked.