What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Gastric Bypass

Viruses are much more vicious on a newly post-op body.

I’ve been concentrating on social media to slowly pull myself back into the real world, but it’s been aslow process. I think I’m finally REALLY back on the upswing. I got sick back in May and stayed sick until about a week ago. I’m not sure what I had (I got the flu shot at the hospital when I had my surgery in January), but my best friend had it, too. We were both rendered useless for almost a week. There was weakness, hot flashes, tiredness, achy muscles and upset stomach. Then on top of it, my pouch decided that it is significantly more sensitive to nausea than my stomach, and I wasn’t even able to keep anything down.

Because of that, I was not getting in my nutrients – protein, vitamins, I was barely getting in water. Kathie got better – slowly, but still better – but there were multiple times when I went out to the store and would nearly pass out and throw up. It was as though it was just too much for my body. Finally, I struggled through and managed to start being able to keep things down. I’m still not back up to getting all of my protein in, but I am getting way more than I was before, and I’m pulling the nose back up and getting in more every day.

The reason I bring this up, and go into detail, is because I definitely feel like it’s something that I wish I’d been aware of when having the surgery. I didn’t know how long it would take to get over a simple virus when my body is (technically) so malnourished at the moment. I also had some issues with my depression creeping up on me, so that could have had something to do with my extensive recovery time. I am certain, though, that being sick post-op was an incredibly different experience to being sick pre-op – at least so newly post-op. I’m hoping that will change in the future.

And yet, I’m not even sure how much I’ve lost at this point, but I will say that I still don’t regret a single second of this. It is a battle – but it’s worth it. I went shopping the other day, and my feet didn’t hurt at all by the time we left. I sit Indian style on the couch, comfortably. I tried on a shirt that I was positive wouldn’t fit me yet, and it fit like a glove. There is progress, there’s a difference in the way I feel. I just need to make sure I can keep ahold of that progress and build on it, and stay motivated.

Hey, and while I have spent entirely too much time binge-watching Netflix – anyone else totally obsessed with The Keepers? How about that Orange is the New Black season?? Anyone have any good recommendations?

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“Just leave me alone with my thermometer and the one nostril I can breathe out of.”

GUYS. I miss you. I miss writing. I miss social media. I am not dead or dying (contrary to my whining to anyone who will listen 😂🙄🙈), just sick. Luckily, nothing serious or to do with my surgery, but my pouch is certainly more sensitive to vomiting than my stomach ever was, which has been an adjustment.

I’ve been sick for more than a week now, and while I’m definitely on the upswing (finally?!?), I am stuck at the bottom of a mountain of catching up. Also stuck at the bottom of a mountain of tissues – I’ve never seen so much grossness! I have exciting things going on here, and I will begin to ease myself back into the swing of my routine, starting with this post.

This may be short and sweet, but I do bring good news! I had my weigh-in with my surgeon the other day, and I have lost 80 pounds!! More where that came from, but that’s a story for later. 😉

 

So keep your eyes peeled! I’ll be right back with a ton more content that I’m so excited to share with you!!

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SKINNY Bucket List (Part 1)!

SKINNY Bucket List

Things I can’t wait to do as the weight comes off!

As the weight really begins to come off, the small changes I see in my body are producing big moments in my journey, and it’s making me more and more excited for life post-op! My best friend noticed that as I get smaller, my corner on the couch seems further and further away from her spot. It’s not anything big, but it’s more than I’ve had in years. Hope. A light at the end of this tunnel. And I’m not out of it yet, but it’s there! It’s about the time that I’ve noticed many others really beginning to notice and embrace all the changes (3 months), and I seem to be right on schedule. I am finally really beginning to see significant changes in my body, things are getting smaller and my clothes are noticeably bigger. 

It’s about the time that I’ve noticed many others really beginning to notice and embrace all the changes (3 months), and I seem to be right on schedule. I am finally really beginning to see significant changes in my body, things are getting smaller and my clothes are noticeably bigger. I’m already dreaming of new summer clothes!

It’s in these little victories that our ultimate success really lies, so focusing on these little things, all the ways that living will be easier, and more satisfying, and less stressful – it matters. It’s so important to not get caught up in being impatient and frustrated and discouraged at all of the natural valleys and plateaus our weight forms as it goes down – because nothing worth having comes easy. And now I can look at this list (I plan to post more parts!) and remember all the amazing things I’ve already accomplished.

  • Crossing my legs.

crossed, legs, crossing, weight loss, wls

  • Hiking.

hiking, hike, active, fitness, wls, gastric bypass, weight loss

  • Taking a flight anywhere without worrying about my weight/size even once.
  • My rings getting too big. Hey, I’m not married – it just means I get new rings! 😂

rings, fingers, weight loss, wls, gastric bypass, rny

  • Wearing dresses again. Comfortably. And looking good in them? (Gulp!)
  • No more excess chins! I mean, as great as holding your phone way up over your head for selfies might be…
  • More energy!!!!!!! In my case, I have spent a very large portion of my life asleep. This is a culmination of a bunch of different factors, but the fact is that when I’m sticking to my ordered diet and exercise plan, the rest of the factors are usually pretty easy to overcome. Naps are still one of my favorite things, but I don’t need them every day like I used to.
  • One day: wear a wedding dress, and look pretty in it. This is a long ways away, but I’m like many other girls and have dreamt of my wedding day since I was old enough to know what weddings were. Provided that I get married one day, this is one I can’t wait to cross off.

wedding, married, weight loss, rny, gastric bypass

  • One day: successfully sustain a pregnancy and have a healthy baby without worrying about my weight and what effect it will have. I’ve wanted to be a mom most of my life. I remember wanting to start to have babies by the time I was 20, and I definitely wanted at least 6 of them. Things have certainly changed since then (thankfully!), but I still want to be a mom one day, and I want that relationship to start with me being healthy and able to create a nurturing environment without the added worry of being obese.

pregnant, gastric bypass, weight loss, baby rny, wls, someday

  • Traveling to Rome and actually being able to walk around the city and sightsee the way a normal person would. There are a ton of other places I’d love to go, too, but Rome has been my ideal travel location for nearly two decades.

rome, italy, tourism, travel, gastric bypass, weight loss, wls, rny

  • Wear boyfriend’s t-shirts – and have them be big on me. There has always been something so cute to me about the idea of wearing a boy’s shirt, and swimming in it. The comfy, big t-shirt that hangs nearly down to the knees, that smells like him – can’t wait for that one.

boyfriend shirt, bf's shirt, weight loss, gastric bypass, rny

  • Not being so humiliated by the thought of swimming in a public pool. I don’t need to be the hottest girl there, but it would be nice to be able to go for a swim without feeling like you’re the receiving end of a joke that lasts from the moment your swimsuit is on until the moment you’re back in your own clothes.

swimming, pool, weight loss, gastric bypass, wls, rny, swimsuit

  • Needing to ask for a smaller size instead of a bigger one when I’m trying on something and it doesn’t fit. Personally, I don’t remember the last time this happened. Trying on clothes as the weight comes off is going to be a brand new experience! I’m used to loathing the dressing room. Maybe we can kiss and make up one day.
  • Not needing to worry about how small the stalls in public restrooms are. Uncomfortable, awkward, embarrassing, frustrating – you girls feel me? I can’t wait to just be average.
  • Being able to go to Disneyland and walk around all day without terrible pain. I’ve never been to a Disney park and this has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I’ve avoided going thus far as an adult because I know I’ll have a lot more fun if I’m not in pain, and I continued with the “I’ll start tomorrow” mindset with a diet for years. I’m gonna make it there now, I’m determined! I’ll see you soon, Mouse!

disneyland, gastric bypass, wls, weight loss, rny

  • Boots! They’re uncomfortable and unflattering on me now, but I have a feeling I’m going to have an obsession with them. Here we go…

boots, weight loss, wls, gastric bypass, shoes

  • Sitting comfortably in chairs with arms! I can’t remember the last time that happened. That awkward position can get uncomfortable real quick! I’ve already noticed a difference in my general width when it comes to chairs, so I’m excited to see it continue!
  • Getting to a place where exercise feels good, and it’s something I enjoy doing. It’s been a long time since exercise has been fun to me, and that’s always been because of my weight. I don’t remember what exercise feels like without all of the negative parts that come with being overweight – but I am excited to find out!
  • More band shirts! I don’t even know how many times I’ve been to a concert and wanted a cute band t-shirt or hoodie or tank, only to find that, as per usual, there were no sizes above XL. At some point you just kind of stop trying, because they never carry bigger sizes. But now I can actually showcase the things I’m a fan of, especially bands. There will certainly be no shortage of fandoms in my closet!
  • No more sitting at the handicapped accessible desks at school! When I was in college (4 years, no degree yet, Psychology major), notes were impossible to take in lecture halls unless I was able to sit at a desk. These were usually at the front of the classroom, meant for those in wheelchairs, but it’s where the fat people sat. Fear of this situation contributed to why I didn’t finish – I was too afraid of switching to a State University from my little Community College to finish out my required courses. I didn’t want to deal with the anxiety and humiliation of it all, especially on top of being in a new place with large crowds of people in the age group that typically weren’t always kind to me. It’s going to feel so good to be able to walk onto campus and worry solely about my studies – not about how my weight is going to influence my day.

desk, school, college, university, weight loss, wls, rny, gastric bypass

  • Reaching my goal weight and knowing that no one else did this – that it was all me. I made better choices, I made the changes, I used the tool I’d been given and I invested in myself for the first time in my life. That I am worth something, because I made myself worth something.
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March 2017 – Waiting For the Car to Warm Up Sucks

March Weight Recap

01/25/17 to 04/04/17

 

“At least I don’t weigh 500 pounds! 🐷🐽🐄”

 

Six months ago, I might have been annoyed by this comment. It might have even brought me to tears, if I’d been feeling particularly fat that day. Today? I just laughed when this insult was thrown at me. (Emoji’s and everything!) This surgery has changed that part of me, because I know that I’m doing something – and there are so much worse things I could be. And to be honest, of all the bad things going on in the world right now, being fat should be the least of our worries. Let’s first worry about being kind, and respectful, and showing compassion. Then maybe we’ll worry about why someone else’s weight offends you so much.

strong, girl, female, feminism, woman

It’s been 11 weeks today since my surgery, and I’m finally starting to learn more about my pouch and understand how this process works. This is partly good and partly bad, but all necessary as I make progress! Even though some parts of this might not be fun, I’m determined to take the bad with the good, because I know it will all be worth it in the end.

 

  • I. Am. Freezing. It’s actually been warming up here in California, it’s been regularly in the 70’s, even reaching 80 the other day. But it doesn’t seem to matter much, I’m always cold. I was already bad with the cold so this was expected but unwelcomed. (Especially by those privy to my whining!)

spring, cherry blossom, flower, blossom, pink, tree, sun, warm, allergies

  • Nutrition comes from protein shakes and vitamins. My surgeon had to remind me of this on my second appointment. I knew it, but it just seemed so foreign to me to go so long without eating, like I was being unhealthy and I guess I just went into panic mode.  That I had to get something in me. However, once you relax and learn that you aren’t just going to keel over from malnutrition if you go a few days without eating anything, it’s much easier to trust the process. It’s just weird at first.
  • I have felt the suburbs of this big energy metropolis I hear everyone referencing so often, and the tired haze I used to feel is much easier to see through, in comparison. I think mostly I’m trying to fight the mental tendency to get overwhelmed and just shut down. Now where I’d usually just give up and avoid it all, I’ve been pushing myself to fight through it, even if it means I don’t accomplish much – it’s better than letting myself fall into old habits that are little more than a pathway back down the road I just came from.
  • The hardest daily goal for me to hit is definitely the water – it’s hard to keep pushing that much liquid in, and to make it habit. I have no problems with getting my protein in, and my vitamins, but the water is just so easy to forget about!
  • The BFF keeps telling me that my arms show the biggest change, whereas it’s hard for me to see that. I still don’t feel any smaller, per se – I know that I am losing, and I notice randomly that things are smaller than they used to be. (Example: “Hey, you can see the muscle on my arm now instead of just fat!” or “These pants weren’t this big last time I wore them…”) But it’s still hard to notice a difference when I look in the mirror. This is common, apparently many people don’t feel any different until about 3 months out, when the weight really starts to come off as the body fully heals and the metabolism starts really putting pedal to the metal, so to speak. It helps to know that my progress is normal, even if I’m feeling disappointed that it’s not going away faster, and keeps me from feeling discouraged on the whole.

scale, weight loss, obese, fat, pounds

  • I have lost the pleasure of eating – it now just kind of feels like a chore. This is common too, especially for more recent surgeries, and lasts for the first few years post-op. It kind of sucks, but it’s also exciting to try to find other things to make you happy. People, hobbies, music, traveling, there’s so many things to shift that focus to, instead. Just, you know, remember that you have to eat (or drink a protein shake) every now and then!
  • Chicken and turkey are still a big “no” for Evelyn Pouch. I’ve gotten sick a handful of times – the first time, I ate too fast. I was watching TV and not paying attention to taking slow, tiny bites. I paid for it! Every other time since then has been when I’ve tried to eat chicken or turkey. It gets stuck, no matter how much I chew. For some people it takes as long as a year to be able to eat it again, I hope I’m not one of those. There’s so many good chicken recipes I want to try!

 

March was definitely a month of adjustment and searching for new, healthy habits. Some of them stuck (protein coffee – yes, please!) and some didn’t (updating my blog every day…), but it all helped me settle more into my new life. You never know unless you try, and that’s been my March Mantra. (I didn’t even plan that one!)

 

Honestly, while the actual scale didn’t move as much as I wanted it to (it did move – significant amounts, even, I’m just impatient and set the bar a little too high for myself), I still feel the good effects of what I’m doing. I can feel the strength in my body in places I haven’t in a very long time. I feel more driven, and focused. I feel overwhelmed when I look at the length of the journey I have to make, but I try to remind myself that big successes are just made up of a bunch of little ones. And now the journey has started, and I’m on the road. No matter how slow the progress may be, at least there’s progress. And I’ll get there.

 

Learning patience is definitely my goal for April! Patience and more water. Sip, sip sip!

 

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The Weight-Loss Story So Far – My Gastric Bypass Story From the Beginning to Now

The Weight-Loss Story So Far

My Gastric Bypass Story From the Beginning to Now

Letting Go of the Old and Embracing the New Me

 

Making the decision and actually having Gastric Bypass surgery to lose weight has been a lifechanging experience for me. So far, this weight-loss journey has been difficult, rewarding, challenging and the best choice I’ve ever made. This is my story, from the beginning of my weight problem to now.

 

I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember. I don’t really know what it feels like to not be. Like everyone who has found themselves in this position, I’ll readily admit that I had an addiction to food. I was raised on fast or restaurant food nearly every single day and very few healthy choices available at home. I don’t blame anyone else for my weight. But, I also understand how fundamental healthy eating habits are from day one. Having a healthier foundation of food may not have saved me from obesity, I don’t know. But I do know it didn’t do me any favors.

 

burger, fries, fast food, junk food, burger king, unhealthy, obese

 

When I was about 10, my mom (250 pounds) started to lose weight. She had been overweight most of her life, as well, and wanted the weight off. She read a book about weight loss and all its seductive freedom, and was motivated enough to keep it off. I remember being jealous of what she was accomplishing, wondering why I couldn’t do it myself. Tips my mom gave me were readily accessible. “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips!” or “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels!” were common. We still went out every night, she would just choose lower calorie items that kept her within her daily allowance.

 

Especially as a teenager, I hated myself. I was bullied, which led to self-deprecation that I didn’t have the capacity to handle. My weight, the food, my general coping mechanisms were all so contorted, and definitely anything but healthy. Although this point in my life was one of the darkest, it also tightened a resolve within me. Even if it didn’t do it today, or tomorrow, or even in a year – someday, I was going to lose this weight. I didn’t know how, or when it would happen, but I never lost hope that I could be healthy, and I have always referred to it as a certainty. “When I lose weight,” or “When I’m smaller.”

 

weight loss, pounds, obesity

 

I was in such a deep denial about how big of a problem (literally!) I’d gotten myself into that I allowed all of those “when”’s to be pushed back, time and time again. I’d be so afraid of failing, that I would sabotage myself. Or I would get so upset about something and begin to justify eating those feelings as though it was an emergency situation that no one could blame me for. Food helped me keep that switch turned to OFF, and helped keep those feelings at bay. Of course, when I was empty again, I felt even worse, as well as stabbing pangs of guilt for using food to mask my feelings. And then I’d have to make those feelings stop, too, so I’d eat. And then I’d give up, convinced I could never do this.

 

Through every hard time in my life, food was always there, and always made me feel better. It’s not something I’m proud of, but that doesn’t change the fact that food comforted me. The weight had to come from somewhere, and given what my triggers for eating are and always have been, it’s become pretty clear that emotional eating is my biggest hang-up that’s always hindered my progress in the past. It’s where I always seemed to get tripped up and, as a result, give up.

 

depression, help, give up, hopeless

 

I knew, in a general sense, what Gastric Bypass surgery was, and I had remained adamant for my entire adult life that I could lose the weight on my own if I tried, and I didn’t need to have my stomach stapled to see results. I just needed to have the willpower to resist the temptation to eat that came along whenever I was feeling particularly stressed. My weight had yo-yo’ed somewhat through my life, and while I’d always remained obese, I’d lost up to 100 pounds at one time. Granted, not in a healthy way, but this became my bargaining chip with myself. Putting it off because I could just do it later became my way of justifying trying to fill up that emotional space.

 

There was never any one event that pushed me over the edge, so to speak. It was a gradual build up of things, but most of all just being sick of my life. Living life at almost 450 pounds certainly wasn’t what I’d imagined my life to be. I never would have guessed when I was 20, that I’d still have all the weight I’d resolved to lose and then some by the time I turned 30. I just felt trapped by where I was, not sure where to summon the strength to try again when I knew that I was always my own worst enemy, always making the wrong choices.

 

Initially, the reason that I decided to look up more about Weight Loss Surgery was sheer curiosity. I had no idea how the different procedures worked and what kind of lifestyle was expected afterwards. I did an online seminar before I even called, soaking it all in and allowing my own mind to settle on this surgery as a possible solution for me. Would I benefit from it? Would I succeed? Would there be complications? Would I be able to give up everything required of me?

 

From the first day I walked into my surgeon’s office, I felt an assurance that this was the right path for me. I wanted to do this, I wanted to give myself this chance, because I have wasted enough of my life being tangled in something that’s done nothing but hold me back. There was a light at the end of the tunnel when I considered what my life would be like with Gastric Bypass. Even though I knew it wouldn’t be easy, and I wouldn’t be perfect, I also knew that this could be the missing piece. This tool could be exactly what I need to push me through into real success. I remember my surgeon looking shocked that I seemed so knowledgeable and sure about everything from the moment I walked into his office. I was ready for the change, because my solution hadn’t been working.

 

hope, faith, light at the end of the tunnel, breathe

 

As difficult as it was (and believe me, it was – I gave up everything that was high in carbs, sugar, soda and cigarettes), I did it. I surprised even myself with how dedicated I was. My 6 month waiting period was full of self-reflection and learning. I started to listen to my body, and what it was telling me – if I needed to add more water, or eat some protein, or stop eating the carbs. Once I understood how my body worked and what it was trying to tell me, it was easy to hear it. I noticed things about my body that I never had before. That carbs tricked my body into making it think it was hungry when it wasn’t, for example. Or how much more awake and focused I was able to be when I had stayed away from the carbs.

 

From the first appointment with my surgeon until the morning of my surgery, I don’t think I lost more than 20 pounds in total. But I gained so much knowledge. Every time I cheated, and regretted it, I gained one more lesson about why I’m only hurting myself by cheating. I also learned very quickly that mentally beating myself up every time I screw up doesn’t do any good either. It’s all about picking yourself up and trying again, not losing the resolve for success. When I ate according to my surgeon’s plan and stuck to my diet, I learned quickly how much healthier I felt and how the scale reacted to it. I learned how important celebrating the small victories is. From the moment I was wheeled into surgery, I felt ready and prepared for this change. I knew what was required of me, and I had faith in myself that I could accomplish my goals – for the first time, I truly believed it. I’d already accomplished more than I thought I could.

 

surgery, gastric bypass, weight loss surgery, rny, wls, bariatric

 

It’s now been nearly 2 months, and in that time, I’ve lost more than 40 pounds. I’m not eating that much now even though I’ve been cleared to eat most foods. All of the nutrition I need, I get from my protein shakes and my daily vitamins. Anything I eat past that is just extra protein, calories, etc. I still eat sometimes, things like eggs, yogurt or cheese, tuna or vegetables, but I don’t eat even a small percentage of what I used to eat, and some days I don’t even eat. Part of the surgery involves decreasing the hormone in the stomach that makes you feel hungry, and I definitely have noticed that, but it feels good. I feel like I have more room to find myself and figure out who I am under all the weight. And that’s so exciting for me.

 

My only regret with this surgery, as cliche as it may sound, is that I didn’t have it done earlier. I look back at all of the life that I missed out on, both as a teenager and then the entirety of my 20’s, and I definitely feel that sting. I missed out. It’s time that I’ll never get back. And even though I’ve made my peace with that, and decided to look towards the awesome future I’ll have instead, I really wish I would have stood up and taken my own life back sooner. Maybe there is a reason I was supposed to wait. But even as long as the road ahead may be, it feels so incredible to know that I’m finally traveling it. I’m here, and I’ve made it this far.

 

It’s hard not to be impatient when it comes to getting all the weight off – I struggle most with feeling frustrated that it’s not all just vanishing! – but it’s helping me to learn the extent of damage that I caused my body by being so big, and giving me lots of time to dream about what my future will be like. Healthy and happy, and I won’t settle for anything less!

 

salad, healthy, new me, weight loss, good choices

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Myers-Briggs Personality Types (Literary Princess Edition!) Part 1 – ENFP

enfp, myers-briggs, personality test

One of the most telling parts of a personality, in my opinion, is what their Myers-Briggs Personality Type is. It’s flavored like your standard personality test, but it’s widely used by Psychologists, and designed to give much more accurate information about someone’s personality. It helps someone to learn someone’s motivations, weaknesses and how they interact with others, which can be helpful both for Psychological treatment and to get to know someone.

 

All Types within the scale are measured on combinations of 4 letters, out of a possible 8. For example, either you are an Extrovert or an Introvert, and the first letter of all types is either an E or an I. Then you have either Sensing or iNtuition, Thinking or Feeling, and Judging or Perceiving. This combination of attributes can be very telling about the type of person you are.

 

I love the MBPT model, and love exploring both other types, as well as my own (INFJ, for those curious), and I decided to try to figure out which literary females actually fit into all of the types. Fun, right? Go here to take the test for yourself and find your own Myers-Briggs type!

 

 

ENFP Qualities:

idealists, champions, team-players, charismatic, think outside the box, adaptable, seeing the big picture, insightful, inspiring, warmly enthusiastic, high-spirited, ingenious, imaginative, tend to be self-employed, people-centered, project oriented, may go through several careers in their lifetime, strong sense of highly evolved values, emotional excitement, need time alone to center themselves, strong need to be liked, true free spirit

ENFP Careers:

musician, comedian, strategic consultant, interior designer, author, college professor, social scientist, counselor, missionary, teacher

ENFP’s in History:

Walt Disney, Ellen Degeneres, Robin Williams, Bill Clinton, Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Dr. Seuss, Drew Barrymore, Julie Andrews, Robert Downey, Jr., Will Smith, Russell Brand

ENFP Stats:

8% of the General Population

10% of Women

6% of Men

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Letter to My Younger Self

Dear Younger Me,

I’m so glad I’m not 17 anymore.

This period of my life seems to be heavy on the reflection – for someone who has been overweight as long as I can remember, the prospect of not having that literal and figurative weight carried around with me is both liberating and a little bit scary. My identity is certainly not my weight, and never has been, but there has always been outside sources in my life that have influenced me to believe differently, especially as a child.

 

This said, though, I feel that it’s time to let all of that go. While I’m losing the literal weight, why not the figurative weight of the trauma from my childhood, too? It’s not doing me any favors to have it so readily accessible to any anxiety that builds up – it’s only hurting me, at this point.

 

This is Part 1 of 2 – a series I wanted to write to myself, one to my Younger Self (circa age 17) and one to my Older Self (circa age 70), coming on Thursday. There are a lot of resolutions that I was able to make from this, and I encourage you all to try it, too! Not necessarily with your weight, but in general – you’d be surprised what kind of self-reflections begin to pop up!

 

Nik,

 

You’ve spent your life trying to grow while being stuck inside a box too small for you, and you are tired. You’re a fighter, I know you won’t give up, and you’ll keep being angry at the world for everything you’ve been through – as inaccurate and at times, damaging, as that may be, it gets you through some hard times. It’s not the right way to truly learn anything, but your emotions are out of control, and it’s not your fault. The only reality you know is the one you feel, and that reality is one full of injustices and self-deprecation.

 

I know no one understands right now, and I can’t say that you find someone who does anytime soon. Everything you think you’ve already been through is going to feel like a pin prick by the time you reach your 30’s, but it shapes you. This time, right here, shapes who you become, and despite how unhappy you may feel, or how much anger you have for the rest of the world, you are still a good person, and that will shine through. You don’t see it until you’re older – you just believed everyone who told you that you were your mistakes, but it’s a lie. You have a good heart, even when you make mistakes. You are worth no less on a day when you screw up a hundred times than you are on a day when you manage to be perfect, and your worth does not change based on someone else’s opinion of you.

 

Mom and Dad have already split up by this time, and the divorce does actually go through. I know it feels like a relief, even if you feel guilty even thinking that right now – it’s okay that you do, because it is. For you, and for Dad. It’s the first step to healing from everything she’s put you through. It gets you away from her constant pressure, and when given the freedom to decide for yourself who you were, you thrive. You begin to understand your own emotions and what they mean, where they came from. It still doesn’t even begin to touch the kinds of hard lessons you’ll learn, particularly over the next few years, but they’re lessons that are invaluable to you later. You and Dad are in for a lot of struggle – financially, emotionally and physically, so brace yourself. It’s hard, but you are both stronger than you could ever even imagine.

 

I know so much has happened in these last few years that has made it feel like you can’t even make sense of where you are, much less how to get out. Grandma’s death was the beginning of the end, and the loss you felt from that is still rippling with aftershocks – it will be for a long time. After all, you didn’t just lose her, even though that would have been painful enough, it also shattered your family into pieces. Mom and Dad split up, family Christmases stopped – they were too painful without Grandma, and the funeral was the last time you see your cousins. People essentially keep telling you to “get over it” because they don’t understand the depth of that fracture within your family, and the truth is, they never will. You know what this has done to you, don’t listen to them and find your own way through. There is another side, and though that crack probably won’t ever heal (it hasn’t yet), you do make it through it.

Your relationship with mom never gets any better. In fact, it gets worse, if you can imagine that. You let it stand for far too long, let her damage you in so many ways and then one day, the courage to finally, truly cut her out of your life shows itself. Once she’s gone, you truly do begin to heal – you can function without constant thoughts in your mind about her, about what she’s done to you and trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not. You put up with it for far too long, but once she’s gone, she’s gone for good – and you are better off. You can finally begin to feel what it’s like to be without her, and while having her for a mother has never been what you wanted, accepting that she will never be the mother you need – that you will never truly have a mother and that the damage that leaves is irreparable – that’s the hardest part.

 

You have successes, and you have failures that bring you so low, you don’t think you can ever come up again, but you do. And it makes you strong. And then it makes you really strong. And then you just pretty much become bulletproof. Through all the broken hearts and the projected shame and fear, and loss, and displaced emotions, you do find the light at the other end. And in the end, isn’t that really all that matters? Especially when it makes you a better, stronger person in the process. While it’s not a reason for any of the awful stuff you’ve been through, and will go through, you learn to appreciate the good things in life. Eventually, you find your own saving graces, and you love them with everything you have, because that’s the only way to love anything – you want to love them even bigger than the pain once was. Love must always be louder.

 

Thus far, this life has taught me so many things, I could fill books. As cliche as it may sound, it really can be summed up in 3 simple words: “It goes on.” And so do you. You’re gonna make it, kid.

 

Nik

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10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me

  1. The only piece of jewelry I wear every day is a silver ring that my pseudo-mom bought for me in Santa Cruz. Kathie has a matching one, and it’s three hearts in a row, with an opal in the center heart. This was really the beginning of my obsession with opal jewelry.
  2. I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma for five months when I was 18. I was definitely delusional about what it really means to be on your own, and I learned fast. I came home for multiple reasons, and as much as the entire experience sucked, I learned a hard lesson about what it means to actually be an adult.
  3. My toes are always cold. I wear socks all year, even in the summer, and usually 2 pairs in the winter months. It’s been worse since my surgery – they’re even colder than before, and so is everything else! I also somehow end up with socks everywhere. They’re all around the washer and dryer, and I don’t know how they get there. Washer monsters, man.
  4. I’ve had the same e-mail address for about 15 years, and I still use it. And just for reference – I never delete my e-mails, they stay in my storage and always have, and I am currently only using 13% of my Gmail storage. Impressive, right? At this point, it’s just entirely too much work to go in and figure out ALL the places I used that e-mail address to register and change them all. How do people even do that anymore? Am I alone here?
  5. I love notebooks. I collect them. If I see a really cute one, I want to buy it, even if I have virtually no idea what to use it for. It’s a disease, folks. I’ve had it since childhood. And it’s spreading to craft supplies…

  6. My car (that I share with my BFF/roommate) is a blue Prius and it’s been affectionately named Cap(tain America). And we have a Cap air freshener, and steering wheel cover, and license plate cover, and 3 different bumper stickers…and we don’t care what you think, okay.
  7. I am clumsy. I mean, okay, so nearly everyone knows this already. But for those that have clearly never actually met me, if there is something to run into, or spill, or knock over, I will do it. Promise. I’ve been basically banned from aisles with breakables. Miraculously, I’ve only broken one bone, but I’ve had stitches multiple times and So. Many. Bruises.
  8. I hate most frostings. I’ve never been one to indulge in overly sweet, rich foods – I’m much more of a salt girl. However, if I eat cake, I’d really prefer it to be without frosting. Imagine for a moment the looks I’d get at a birthday party when I’d scrape all the frosting off. Now, though, I’ll just skip the cake entirely!

  9. Most of my favorite movies as a child were ones that my parents recorded from TV – commercials and everything. I also wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a kid – everything was deemed too sexual or violent. So I watched things like made-for-TV movies about L. Frank Baum (author of Wizard of Oz), a teenager dying of cancer and a strange, terrifying version of Alice in Wonderland. There was also the Claymation Christmas special, Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century (not gonna lie, still a fan – Zoom Zoom Zoom) and collections of episodes of Family Matters from various seasons.
  10. Growing up on the East Coast and having no idea of what the California Missions even were, I was fascinated by these little historical stops up and down the entire state from the beginning. They’re satisfying to the history geek in me, and it’s the perfect opportunity to get out and walk for awhile when we have been riding in the car for hours.
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5 Things NOT to Say to a Friend Coming Out (And What to Say Instead!)

 

How to avoid putting your foot in your mouth!

I was raised in a Conservative, Mennonite home – in my home, my church, my school, my entire life, homosexuality was a sin. To my knowledge at that point, I’d never had a friend who was gay, much less anyone coming out to me. After I moved to California, I was forced to put a face and a heart to the thing that I’d been taught to believe was one of the worst things someone could do. For the first time, I actually knew LGBTQ+ people personally. It didn’t take long for me to connect the dots and understand the inhumanity of looking down on anyone – we are all just people. All different, all just wanting to find love and happiness.

 

This past week, my best friend came out as gay to her Facebook friends and family. This is a big step for her – she is accepting it more every day, and I see the effect it’s had on not just her love life, but her life in general. She is happier because she can be herself, and it means so much more to her than whomever she might date, or marry one day. She is not the first friend to come out to me, and I have not always been proud of the way I’ve handled what I’ve said – it’s never been with the intent of being ignorant or angry or hurtful, but I realize now how subtly aggressive what I said was. With that in mind, I got my bestie and we brainstormed, using her experience in coming out, as well as helping others come out, for a list of things not to say.

 

 

Where coming out is concerned, there are often a lot of negative emotions that keep people feeling trapped in the closet – certainly one of the biggest of those emotions being fear – particularly fear of judgment and loss. It’s often difficult to know exactly what to say to our friend or loved one when they come out – even if we are completely accepting – and it can be difficult to convey the support we intend to offer. Even as supportive as I am of my biffle, I still find myself saying things that come out completely opposite of the way I intended them – it’s all about learning and hearing our loved ones! Here are 5 things NOT to say, and what to say instead:

 

  • “You’re too [masculine or feminine] to be gay!”

 

I understand that in the moment, if this comes as a surprise to you, this could be one of the first things that pop into your head – after all, you are seeing this person that you’ve likely known for awhile in an entirely new light. However, not only is this sexist, but it implies that their sexuality (which they’ve spent years digesting and arriving at this point has likely been a painful journey) is a matter of opinion.

 

Instead of coming across as argumentative about something as personal and intimate as someone’s sexuality, keep in mind how vulnerable they feel and instead say something like, “I’ve always been attracted to [opposite sex], I can’t imagine how difficult this must have been for you!” This offers support to their decision to let you see who they really are, and also brings yourself down just a little bit too, enough to hopefully make them feel a little more comfortable and less vulnerable.

 

 

  • “You’re a good person, anyway!” or “I love you, anyway!”

 

This one is often one that gets overlooked, and one I see all the time. The “anyway” in this sentence implies that their newly accepted sexuality is somehow damaging to their character, or somehow a nullifying quality to their relationship with you – that it’s something to be overlooked. As with all of these, the intention is usually not to say that, or insinuate that, but that’s how it is usually read by the one coming out nevertheless.

 

“I’m so happy for you!” is much more supportive and neutral in nature, and offers them the respect of deciding what is best for them. Hopefully you don’t, but even if you do think that it’s a sin, the least you can do is support them in their hard times and not judge them for anything you might disagree with. Respect is both given and earned.

 

 

  • “But you dated [member of opposite sex]!”

 

Folks, I hate to disappoint you here, but there are many gay people in marriages because they believe that the way they feel is wrong, much less more insignificant relationships. And sometimes that works – some people manage to suppress those feelings, no matter how unnatural that must seem – but not everyone can. But most LGBTQ+ people have felt pressured to be “straight” and “normal” at least one point in their lives.

 

Honestly, there really is no tactful way to bring up their past hetero relationships, and they are probably sensitive, painful subjects for them to begin with, so they should probably be just avoided altogether. Instead of talking about past relationships, maybe ask about future (or current) relationships, or ask how they’re doing with the dating scene. “Is there anyone special in your life?” or “Have you met anyone interesting lately?” are much less combative ways to ask about their dating life.

 

 

 

  • “When did that happen??”

 

Even I’m confused on this one. I never understand what they mean, but I see/hear it a lot. The point is, it’s probably been happening their entire lives, and it’s not often just one brilliant stroke of rainbow genius that a person feels when they realize they’re gay. You’re straight? When did that happen?? See, kind of a dumb question, right?

 

“I’d love to hear about your journey sometime!” or “I’m so glad you felt comfortable enough with me to tell me!” are much kinder options – it shows interest in the inner workings of their mind, and makes them feel cared for, which is likely the reason they told you to start with! This also buffers the person coming out – if talking about their journey is too painful to do right then, they don’t feel obligated to drudge that back up again, but you are still showing interest and support.

 

 

  • [Silence.]

 

Not saying anything at all speaks volumes as well – it communicates that you want no part in their life as a result of this change. Whether or not you agree with homosexuality, I don’t think it can be denied that you would not be a part of their life if your loyalty to them was that shallow and easily broken, right? By coming out, they are affirming to themselves that it’s okay to be exactly who they are – that is a difficult step to make, and is one that should always be supported and celebrated regardless of what the epiphany may be. Coming out takes courage for a reason!

 

Instead of staying silent, I hope you’ve found some helpful things to say instead and maybe understood why wording is so important in such an occasion. We should always offer our fellow human beings with a certain dignity and respect, especially when they accept something as life-altering as this. The difficult decision to come out can be made either excruciating or significantly easier if they are just shown compassion and love for what they have to offer the world.

Go to: http://www.rucomingout.com/ or http://lgbt.foundation/information-advice/coming-out-support/ or http://hrc.org for more on coming out, as well as touching testimonials of those who have been on the other side.

How about you guys? Do you have any ideas to add? How about ideas on what to say instead?

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