I believe my father's death saved my life.
I don't believe he died TO save my life, I believe his death has resulted in the saving of my life.
Not just because the very last heart-to-heart we had was about my needing to lose weight. Not just because his death at an early age (of a heart attack) has really forced me to take action on said weight loss.
Given even half the chance, I'd want him right back here with me, telling me off for whatever it is I did or did not do correctly in the world according to his rules. But still, in this moment - I think there was purpose in my loss.
Death, loss, tragedy or misfortune - all of these really force us to re-evaluate our lives. You know when you hear about children in trouble for one horrible reason or another, and you just want to run home and hug your own children as hard as you can? Or you hear about a young person contracting some disease, or disappearing on vacation, or some other far-too-soon tragic act and it makes you just - think- about your own life? Or (as was the case for a friend of mine this week) you hear about disaster being narrowly averted because of a carbon monoxide detector...and you go out and buy one just in case? Life is full of moments where we stop and think for a moment about our lives - sometimes only briefly enough to give our kids that hug, sometimes longer (the time it takes to go and buy a carbon monoxide detector) or sometimes...even longer than that. Months and months, or years and years, of reflection and change because of a single -or maybe a series - of tragic or near-tragic events having an impact on us.
Losing my Dad forced me to re-evaluate everything in my life - and that's a pretty normal reaction to grief, I suppose. The months before he died were not great ones for me. My weight had gotten out of control. I was working far too many hours in too many jobs and not making enough money to make either job really worth the effort. At least two of my kids were struggling, and I had not the foggiest clue how to help them. My house was a bit of a disaster zone. Life was just one big ball of mess - and while at the time I would have said things were pretty okay, in retrospect they were very far from okay. I guess I just got used to it, the way you do when life gets in the way of you actually taking any action on anything. Because (as my DH would say) 'comfort and inertia' keep you exactly where you are.
Since he's been gone, I've slowly but surely used the time to heal - not only to heal the giant gaping hole he left behind, but also to heal the ME he left behind. So I've held up my end of the promise I made about the weight. I've looked after my kids the best way I know how - which is intuitively, and which is via action rather than hoping it will all blow over. I've worked really hard to define those things in my life which are truly important to me, and I've honoured those things with my time and attention. I've made some big decisions, some small decisions, and learned that I'm an adult now, even though I was pretty convinced I'd never grow up. While I won't ever stop wanting my parents approval, or need to sometimes lean on my Mom for support...I've come to the realisation that I don't NEED those things as much as I just plain WANT them, and recognising that there is a difference is a step in and of itself. Wanting comfort and approval is okay. Needing them in order to feel worthy, or in order to make forward movement in my life ...well, that's just pointless.
Losing my Dad saved my life.
My physical life - because as much as I cared to pretend it wasn't happening, the way I was behaving was a form of slow suicide.
My emotional life - because as much as I cared to pretend it wasn't happening, the way I was behaving was a form of slow suicide.
Those two sentences are the same because I was managing to be self-destructive on two paths at the same time (hey, always an over-achiever, right?).
I can't say I've got it all figured out now, that everything is just hunky-dory and I've got all my shit together. To borrow a very cliche term - it's a process. I can only say that, in the past 18 months, I've grown up. And while I can't say it was all my Dad's doing (even though he would LOVE to take the credit), I can only say that while I'd have him back in a heartbeat...for me, I've reached a place where at least his death had purpose.
Thanks, Aba. I always said you were the kind of guy who makes things happen. Turns out I was right.
Friday, February 11, 2011
I believe my father's death saved my life.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
I know that I said (and said, and said, and said) that we were not going to talk about the whole weighty issue of weight on this blog any more. I meant it. I really did.
But.. I have things which need to be said. So I am temporarily revoking my, "We shall not discuss weight on this blog" decree.
My thoughts on weight and weight loss could be a post that would go on for several pages. Heck, several days if I let it. So I'm just going to talk about one aspect of weight loss - the simple truths of the emotional side of it. Brace yourself for some BIG news (pun intended): Not all fat people are miserable. Not all fat people FEEL all that fat. Not all fat people feel weighted down by their weight. And certainly, not all fat people are lazy and out of shape.
Go on. Turn that over in your brain for a while. Done? Great. Now I can rant.
I've been actively losing weight for the past 18 months or so. Because of my size, the change wasn't all that obvious until maybe the last 3-4 months, when all of a sudden the butterfly seems to have emerged from her chrysalis. My clavicles are now very prominent, as are my cheekbones. I appear to be taller even though I'm not (please god I hope I'm not). My arse no longer requires it's own postcode, and in most chairs I don't take up the entire seat and then some. So it's no longer a secret that your good friend emzee has disappeared, changed, and become an entirely different person, visually speaking.
But what she has not become is different on the inside. Various friends (who I know are all trying to be supportive and complimentary) have of late asked me a bunch of questions which I find kind of offensive. "Do you feel lighter?" "Do you feel less heavy?" "Do you feel fitter?" "Are you less miserable?" and my personal favourite, "Do you feel BETTER?" I hate the implication of that last one. Did I apparently feel SHITTY before in order to feel BETTER now? Sometimes I want to open my mouth and say, "Oh just fuck off, the lot of you!"
Please don't misunderstand me. I know all these people are just curious, and supportive, and loving, and really wanting to just know what it's like to be significantly different to how you were. Because to them, what's happening is nothing short of miraculous.
Here is the God's honest truth. When I was bigger, I never really felt bad. Sure, I had moments where I wanted to be thinner in order to fit into different or nicer clothes, or not be concerned about chairs in public places, or general 'I wish I was more normal sized' sort of thoughts. But I never ever wasted my life feeling BAD because I was fat. I never felt heavy - like my footfalls would somehow create craters in the concrete side walk. I never really felt unfit - firstly because I've been a fat-but-fit gym junkie for years and secondly because I work an intensely physical job. I never felt miserable about it. Really, being big was just a part of my life just like being brunette is. I never put a huge amount of value into it. Skinny women I know have often said that they too have days when they wanted to have smaller thighs, or days when they didn't feel good about themselves, or days when they wished they were smaller or taller. Isn't that just WOMEN in general? If a skinny woman has a day or two when she feels gross, it's just being human...but apparently the world believes that fat women feel this way twenty four hours a day.
You could not be more wrong. At least, you could not be more wrong ABOUT ME. Because I am sure there are some fat people out there who DO feel miserable all the time about their size, but (news flash!) I think there are thin people who ALSO feel miserable all of the time about their size. (Hello, Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I'm looking at you.)
Here's the other thing. When I was fatter (and make no mistake, I still am fat. My BMI regards me as "overweight" even though I now fit into "normal" clothing sizes) - I had an incredibly blessed life. I had a husband who adored me regardless of size. I had a good job. I had three children who make every day of my life worth living. I had family who love me. I had a bunch of really great skills and talents which I got to use pretty often and people appreciate. I had friends who hung out with me, loved me, laughed with me, shared their lives with me. In short I had ONE SERIOUSLY AWESOMELY FABULOUS LIFE which was filled to the brim with blessings of all sorts.
I'm many, many kilos lighter now. But... I still HAVE ONE SERIOUSLY AWESOMELY FABULOUS LIFE. And I'm still happy with who I am. And I still have days when I wish something or other was smaller or lighter or smoother or thinner or whatever - just like every other woman on this earth. And I still have days when I just feel crappy about myself. But I NEVER have days when I feel somehow better or worse just because of the size I am. I don't feel like my footprints now fall like feathers onto concrete. I don't feel hugely fitter (although I will say my back is thanking me for getting the load off.)
I just feel...like me. The Me who is going to live longer for her children, feel more comfortable in public seating areas, and in general just be a visually different version of me, not an authentically different version of me. So if you happen to see me now (and you saw me way back when), I want you to come up to me and say, "Hey, emzee, how's life these days?" and NOT, "So, emzee, tell me, do you feel BETTER?"
Because I will reserve the right to go all BETTER right there on your skinny or fat ass, with absolutely no warning. And I might be thinner, but I'm also a hell of a lot stronger - in more ways than one.
Consider yourself warned.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Today was officially the last day of my second job...a second job which I've had in one form or another since I started the biz 3 years ago (but not the same job, all sorts of them.) As of next week, for the first time in any meaningful way, my ONLY job will be to concentrate on (and make happen) the growth of my business.
You would think this is terrifying, right? Sitting here writing this, I have no earthly idea how I am going to replace the income the second job provides and which we sorely need. Actually, that's not fair - because I know that income will be replaced with income from the biz, but I don't really know at this point how feasible that will be in the immediate short term. So it could be a year - maybe more - before I can actually replace the income from the second job. And I make no secret about the fact that as a family, we are BROKE. Flat broke, AND in debt (and that's not exactly something to brag about.) So effectively I am choosing to cut off a major income stream for my family at a time when we need it most - and those who know read this blog by now know that I am two things: 1) Totally crazy about money issues, and 2) Totally protective of my family.
I must be mad. Utterly mad.
You would think that letting go of this job - and the security it provides - would be totally, horribly, paralyzingly frightening. In fact I find it completely exhilarating. I feel somehow ...free. Free to finally spend the time on the pursuit which NEEDS my time. Free to devote time to ME - the personal me, the work me, the me who just needs room to breathe once in a while. And I also feel free ... to bugger it up entirely. I don't PLAN to bugger it up, but I've given myself permission to bugger it up. This is huge, my friends. HUGE. I am not one for buggering things up, and more importantly I am one who believes that it is NEVER okay to bugger things up. As a result I put myself under an enormous amount of pressure to get things right all of the time - I often say (and would STILL say) that FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION.
Because for me, it really isn't. An option, that is. Biz Guy (hereafter on this blog known as BG) would say that of *course* it's an option...but this is where he and I have to respectfully agree to disagree. Because for me, the very idea of failure is just... well... that. An abstract idea, not an actual thing which could happen to me. Of course reality dictates that it's possible that I would fail at something and then live to tell the tale, but ...no. Sorry, but no. So to be able to give up my second job AND accept that failure is in fact even an allowable outcome ...well... that's just big for me.
I should say that I have no intention of buggering this up. What I DO have, though, is the intent to give this business thirty billion and infinity plus one percent effort on my part to make it work as it's meant to. So either the business will grow to the great heights I believe it can - or - I will actually fail. If I fail, at least I'll do so content in the knowledge that I could not have possibly given it any more than I gave it. I will have failed with no regrets.
But.... to continue to give it the half-assed effort I've given it thus far, and expect to see major results? That, I would regret. A lot. Failure for that reason - lack of committed effort - would truly not be an option. Because that wouldn't actually be failure at all - that would be not trying in the first place.
And to not try in the first place?
I don't DO failure.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
I have now lived in Australia for 14 years. 15 if you count the very first year where technically I was on a student visa and not really 'living' here so much as spending all my waking moments sleeping with DH and pretending to do coursework at university. (And pretending to my parents that I wasn't sleeping with anyone at all, but that's a story for another day.) That first year I was twenty years old, which means that in a few short years I will have lived here longer than I lived in the US. What a strange idea that is for me to digest. Of course I knew it would happen eventually, but it just seems like these years of living in Oz have just creeped up on me.
Recently someone asked me if I was excited to be going "home" (we leave for the US on Saturday), and I really had to think about that one. Home? Really? I don't really think of the US as being 'home', but then I'm not sure if Australia is 'home' either. Because my parents were not apple-pie-and-Chevrolet Americans (they were immigrants to the US), I never really got imbued with that whole rah-rah-football-beer-and-flag-waving patriotism which many Americans seem to have in spades. (Although I will say that "Proud to be an American" song makes me tear up every time...but then so does "I Still Call Australia Home," so clearly I am patriotic song whore, but whatever.)
When I return to the States, it takes a few days for my accent to normalise/normalize (ha!) back to American sounding. So I'll walk into shops and whatnot and people ask me what part of England I am from. (No joke, this has happened more than once.) Or they ask me what country I am visiting from, or if I am from New Zealand (okay that one was a lie.) After a couple of days I start to sound more American and it's all fine...until I fly back to Australia. Once I'm back here, people start asking me how long I've lived here, because either a) my accent is still really strong, or b) I have hardly any accent at all. Then they ask me if I'm from Canada, because apparently all Canadians get shitty when you ask them if they are American, so it's supposedly 'safer' to ask if someone is Canadian. Apparently there is a whole population of gun-toting Canucks around here - who knew?!
So I'm a displaced person - I don't feel Aussie enough to be Aussie, nor American enough to be American. I will say that while I was raised in the US, I feel as though I did all my growing up right here in Australia. I became an adult here and spent my childhood there...even though I only got here when I was 20 (clearly, a late bloomer.) Being a displaced person is not such a great thing to be - because you never know who to identify with. Plus you're never sure if you should be watching the Superbowl or the Grand Final (thank god they are at different times of year.) You never know if you should have PB&J or Vegemite, never know if you're meant to watch CNN or the ABC, never know if you're meant to fill the car with gas or petrol, talk on a cell or a mobile, and... a whole lot of other stuff to boot (which is a shoe? or a part of a car?)
Hell, it's enough to make a girl need to engage in some emotional eating. Pass the Oreos....mate!
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Last night DH and I went to a "New Parents Dinner" at the kids' new school. It's actually a really nice tradition, where all parents whose kids are starting at the new school come along to meet one another and meet the head honchos of the place. (And sidenote, what IS it about Jews and eating bagels? Bagels are NOT a finger food - far too big and bulky. What did Jews eat BEFORE bagels?!)
Anyway so we got there and I knew I'd find it all strange - because not only is it a room full of strangers, but it's a room full of people who know people and people who generally speaking have a shitload of money. I neither 'know people' in that sense, nor do I have a shitload of money. Now I am SURE that there are plenty of down to earth normal parents at this school, but you know... I just... am not all that convinced it's that easy to find these people. I am not the mother who does not work. I am not the mother who gets her hair blow dried weekly. I'm not the manicure mother, the live-only-for-her-kids mother, the facial and a coffee every Friday mother. I knew I wasn't in Kansas any more when, while standing in the buffet queue, one woman said to another, "Oh! Darl! How ARE you?" and another woman answered, "We're great! Just got back from Club Med, it was FAB!" and woman one said, "Really? Which one? We've been to a few..." Oy. So I'm a little apprehensive about meeting these people, but I WAS willing to at least give them all a chance.
So we sat down at our allotted table and actually there were two other pretty nice couples (although one of the men had this very odd high pitched voice...soooo creepy). There was also a woman who, as it turns out, is the President of the Parent's Association.
I wanted to like her on sight (she was kinda cute and plump and had potential to be funny) but then I quickly didn't like her so much. It was probably the massive boulder on her ring finger, or possible the massive OTHER boulder on the other ring finger, or maybe her Prada labelled glasses, or the fact that she had to show us all the picture of her kids and Oprah, or the fact that she told us she's just come back from a 5 week holiday in the US, or the fact that she looked with loving longing at the principal of the school or... any number of things, really. She just seemed like...those Mums, the ones which I am not. I'll be honest, I find people with conspicuous wealth fairly intimidating and this was no different. I also found her intimidating because she was one of those overachiever parents whose sole purpose in life is to make the rest of us feel like shit if we let them.
And you SO knew there would be a "however" here, didn't you?
In fact there are TWO "howevers." The first came when she asked us how old our child starting at the school was, and we said we had three kids starting fourth grade. As it turns out, she is a mother to twins (plus one 16 months younger.) As it also turns out, she didn't cope too well with said twins, and ended up telling her husband that she needed a full time nanny "even if they had to sell the house to afford it." Now I'm not sitting in judgement here, because multiples are damn hard work no matter how rich you are. But you know, being able to say we had triplets sans nanny? That was just pure gold. Really. I gloated, and I freakin' LOVED it.
The second however was even better than that. She asked me what I do for a living, and even though I briefly considered saying, "I run an empire," instead I just said I owned my own business. There was a bit of a pregnant pause, which was threatening to become a condescending pause. She (of course!) then asked what sort of business it was, and when I said custom cakes...she said, "You don't, per chance, make gluten and dairy free cakes, do you?"
Why YES, actually, I DO.
Turns out her DD was recently diagnosed with a raft of allergies, among those dairy and wheat and whatever else. Also turns out her daughter's birthday is NEXT WEEK. Also turns out that this mother was feeling kinda desperate about her kid's birthday cake and what to do about it.
Also? Turns out I am ONE HELL of a rockstar for doing what I do.
I basked in this glory for a while - which in itself is odd for me, since usually I'm proud of what I do but would rather be proud while standing in a dark corner somewhere - but I basked for a while. Heck, I GLOWED. Then she tried to get me to talk about her order at dinner and I refused (big win for me) - instead asking her politely to call me during work hours so I could devote my attention to her when I was in work mode rather than Mummy mode.
When we got home I commented to DH how nice it was to be the one with the upper hand for once. I always feel so inadequate at these sorts of events, and end up leaving feeling about 2 inches high since I can't compete with these people over money, status, prestige, etc. For what it's worth I don't really WANT to compete, it just would be nice not to feel weird.
DH, bless him, just laughed and said, "Did you SEE the look on her face when you told her you could help her? She looked like a drowning woman who had just been thrown a life preserver."
Tonight we've got another one of these excruciating events to go to. Business card anyone?
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
School has been in session exactly ONE day and already I have experienced the newest of the Helicopter Mums, who apparently are becoming a series of them on this blog.
The kids each got assigned a buddy - a kid in their class who is meant to show them the ropes as it were, because the buddy kids are not new to the school whereas my kids are. In both DS and DD2's case, the respective Mums called over the summer to introduce themselves and their kids. In DD1's case, no call came but I figured it was just because they were busy or away or whatever. Eventually I knew said buddy would reveal themselves, so I didn't worry about it.
On Sunday afternoon the phone rings, and voila! - it's DD1's buddy, asking to speak to DD1. So they have a short chat, and I asked DD1 what happened.
"So she talked a bit but not much and I just said uh-huh and then we hung up. She seems nice."
I did not give this one more thought (because there was nothing unusual about it) ...until about a hour later, when the phone rings, and it's the buddy's Mum.
She was calling to tell me that she did not like her daughter's tone of voice on the phone, and that she resented the implication (that her dd's tone of voice made) that they were just 'too busy' to contact us. The fact is, emzee, the fact is - they were overseas and therefore could not contact us, it was NOT that they were too busy. She could not BELIEVE her DD's tone of voice and what it implied and gave her a stern lecture after she hung up about the way she spoke to my DD.
Here's the thing. We don't really give a shit. But, hey, thanks for calling.
And also? Your DD spoke to my DD who is vaguely autistic-esque and doesn't really "get" most tones of voice anyway, so we double didn't give a shit. But, hey, thanks for calling. Again. Because I really have time for that kind of bullshit in my life. I really do.
This woman carried on for a few minutes about it all, and I totally understand that she felt bad about not getting in touch over the summer. So I was all nice about it and told her that I totally understood and that I'm sure the girls would get to know one another soon enough. I also said that as far as I was concerned, her DD was very polite and friendly on the phone (which she was when I spoke to her.) I complimented her kid on being polite and friendly..and Helicopter Mum said, "Yes, of course she was, I COACHED HER through the whole conversation. She's not had to have that sort of conversation before."
*insert sound of jaw dropping to floor and potential friendship going up in flames*
WHAT THE....?? You coached her? Not had a conversation with a same-age child before? Are you for real, lady?
Sorry lady, but any option for friendship between you and I just died in the ass right then and there. I don't do Helicopter Mums, sorry - and nobody coached me to say that.