May 12, 2014

Train

This morning, my mother asked me if I was planning on coming home to Connecticut to visit my sister and my brother-in-law and their new baby who will be born any day now. As much as I would like to, I don't know how feasible it is since we are moving again at the end of this month - my fifth move in three years, though at least this one is just to a bigger place across town and not cross country. 

"Just get on the train and come visit for a month or so," she begged.

And immediately my stomach tensed up.

In July 2010, I found myself on the train in the middle of nowhere, wondering what my next move was. At that point I was thinking more mentally and emotionally rather than physically - I had a job lined up in Chicago for the fall and was able to afford my apartment for at least another year. At the same time, though, I had big moves on my mind. I was on a train heading back to Chicago from Connecticut, a nearly 24 hour trek that I chose because the train seats were much more accommodating to my large size than the alternative (airplane seats). As it turned out, taking the train was just as humiliating as I had pictured the plane ride would have been - only this time instead of some stranger making comments under his or her breath, the negative talk was entirely internal.

The trip to Connecticut had been just as difficult. I made it back east only once or twice a year, yet I found myself making excuses and avoiding my friends because I was so ashamed of what I had let happen to myself. I stayed home, I overate, and I denied to myself the severity of my situation.

I always prided myself on being functionally fit - I couldn't run 10 seconds, let alone a mile, but I was able to accomplish my everyday tasks without any difficulty. As long as I could get up the stairs to my apartment, walk to the bus stop, and carry home my groceries, I must not be *that* bad.

When I lost the weight the first time, and even as I think about it now, this devastated me. That I didn't think I had a problem because I could still walk. There were so many issues that I ignored, so many red flags that should have been rock-bottom moments. But because I could get up and down the stairs to my apartment and I could walk myself from the bedroom to the kitchen to the bathroom, I saw myself as fine.

When the train got to Chicago's Union Station, I resolved that that would be the last time that I took a train ride instead of a flight because of my body size. I took what I saw as my only asset - the fact that I could walk - and went with it. A year later, I was amazed at what I was able to accomplish taking one step at a time.

My mother wasn't implying anything by my size when she told me to take the train to Connecticut - the train simply cost less than a flight. But the mention of the word "train" fills me with anxiety, and I can't help but notice how close I am in size to where I had been four years ago on my last cross country train ride.

My son turned one year old last week, and my morning weigh-in showed exactly what I feared: I weighed almost exactly what I did the morning I had gone in to the hospital to deliver him. Then I realize that technically I weigh more this year, since the prehospital weight included nearly 8 pounds of just baby.

I made a few false starts this year. I felt strong, I swore that this was it, I promised myself and everyone that I was getting my act together. Eventually I stopped telling people that I was making changes - it was easier to never announce a start than to sheepishly admit the latest failure. The people who cheered me on when I was thinner have become quiet. I am still down 65 pounds from my highest weight, but no one seems to care when the number was once much lower. 

I guess in the last year Blogger changed the way that it registers domain names and I missed the memo. My annual renewal date came and went, and a few days later my website went dark. I got a few Facebook messages, emails, and tweets, and only then did I realize the site was even down.

I thought about killing it permanently. When I first started losing weight, I needed this place. It was my own private corner of the Internet, somewhere where I could honestly relate what my experience was. I never wanted my family or friends to read it - I wanted it to be a safe space. But a few different things have happened over the years, and now it's not nearly as anonymous as it once was. My husband says "you should blog today, you haven't logged in a while," and I get angry. This wasn't anything I ever wanted to feel obligated to do.

I've struggled a lot this past year, and not just with my weight. Becoming a mom is hard. Becoming a wife is hard. Moving to another state is hard. Starting a new job is hard. I've wanted so badly to talk about my experiences, but knowing that this person or that person can read what I say, I choose to stay quiet instead.

Staying quiet about my life and my problems was what got me to 345 pounds. Bottling things up. Eating my feelings instead of writing them down.

This past year I didn't write, I ate.

The other day, my husband broke the can opener, so I went to Target quickly to grab a new one. I always volunteer to run in and grab what we need - since I can't drive myself, this is my main opportunity to stock up, getting what we need but also secretly buying junk food to hide in my closet for later. As I headed towards the kitchen gadgets aisle, my mind flooded with possibility - what would I get today? At the front of the store there was a large display of Oreos newest flavor: watermelon. And I immediately had a flashback to my last semester of graduate school, when I bought two containers of cookies that I thought were just decorated like watermelons but actually tasted like them also - a nauseating artificial flavor - and I ate them anyway, because it didn't matter what I was eating, just that I ate and in excess.

The watermelon cookies were maybe four months before the train ride. History may not be repeating itself, but it's rhyming.

Today is my first official day of summer break, and never have I felt like I fully deserved time off as badly as I do this year. Incidentally, it's also day two of my second attempt at a Whole 30. I know I have a job lined up for the fall, and I know that the courses I will be teaching are ones for which I already have materials prepared. Everything seems right for success - not perfect, but getting there.

Between our upcoming move and, to be honest, a genuine feeling of anxiety I get whenever I think about blogging, I don't know how much I will be writing here, this summer or ever again. Not writing here, though, doesn't mean not writing. When my website was down I felt so relieved, like I could walk away from this failure and try again somewhere else, somewhere as private as it had been the first time. I could finally write openly and talk about how hard motherhood and marriage and everything has been this year, why exactly I have been unsuccessful with my weight loss. For some reason, I keep coming back here. I suppose it's a recurring theme for the last four years - I'm afraid of letting go of the things with which I am comfortable.

12 comments:

Denise said...

I really, really like you. I can relate to a lot of what you're saying--the random triggers of a past life, having to lose weight you once thought was gone forever, the grand proclamation/unmet expectations cycle, contemplating giving up blogging forever--and I just wanted you to know that you're not alone.

What worked last time might not work this time (there is something to be said for writing down feelings so maybe don't stop writing completely, but perhaps more privately), and maybe right now you can focus on your family, on moving, on Whole30ing, and about living a simpler life. Flesh out what needs to stay and what needs to go, and if you decide that blogging is a tool that helps you, then reboot the website and start writing again. Blogging shouldn't give you anxiety. You should stop it since it does.

timothy said...

obviously you do what you need to for you, just don't walk away because of a sense of failure or that you've let us down in any way because you haven't.........I consider my friends real-world and online as friends \. that means thru the good and the bad without reservation or judgement. we've all been where you are so we can empathize. you of all people know how to turn negatives into positives so make a plan of action and trust yourself to follow through. starts and stops are inevitable just don't get off the ride permanently because you deserve to be happy, healthy, and whole, and so does your son. if nothing else let him motivate you to be the best you possibly can cause whatever happens in his eyes you're a superhero!

Amy said...

I totally get it. Every bit of it. Somehow when we find history repeating itself it's just so much harder the second/third/fourth/whatever time around.

I did a blog redo also. I just hated all of that history there. I would read old posts and cringe to myself. I didn't feel like I knew who that person was, and I didn't enjoy reading it.

But I missed writing. So I made a new blog and while not as many people 'followed' me over... that's not why I write.

I hope that you find success in whatever you decide to do - just know that you have created a following and community of people that support you in your journey and just because you're not where you want to be, doesn't make you less of a person, wife or mother.

Mary said...

I don't believe I've ever commented but I wanted to let you know I've read all of your posts and have gotten so much from your honesty. I hope you find peace, whatever path you take.

Valerie said...

Hi, Mary. Long time reader/lurker here. I've been following your story for a long time now and have drawn so much inspiration from you. I thought it was time for me to pipe up since you seem to be a bit down. It sucks that blogging has become a burden for you rather than the outlet it used to be. From a selfish standpoint, I love reading your blog entries, so I would encourage you to keep writing! ;) On the other hand, you have to do what's best for you. But remember, there are still many people who read your blog that cheer you on and are inspired by you. You started your journey about four years ago, right? Think about how much you have accomplished! Losing and keeping 65 lbs off is no small feat. Sure, that number used to be bigger, but so bleeping what? Even if you never lost another pound you would be a success! Health is more than a jean size or a number. You may not be perfect, but you made great strides in the last couple of years. So much so that you were able to find a loving relationship, get pregnant, and give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy! That's amazing, and I think you deserve to know that. And on top of it all, you are building a career and doing what you love. You are awesome and a success in my eyes (and many others, I'm sure). I hope you won't put too much pressure on yourself to fit a mold that other people want to put you in. You are already a success. My wish for you is that you'll be able to step back and enjoy your phenomenal life, which really is just beginning.

M. Patterson said...

I hope you do well on your whole30 journey. Thanks for commenting on my blog. I love that you are so honest and real here. I hope that the whole30 is a success for you.

Serena Michelle said...

I'm delighted to see your post this morning... Just yesterday I thought of you, out of the blue, and realized, "I haven't had any emails for her blog posts in quite some time. I hope she's doing alright."

I only know you from your blog - but I have oftentimes felt connected to what you're going through because I've been there in a similar way. I could write a short story worth of my thoughts or concerns for several of your blog posts - but I never had enough time to sit down and write an email or comment (I'm a stay-at-home, homeschooling mama of three - so I have almost no downtime). However, given my concern this may be your last blog post (if not the last, then maybe for several months) - I wanted to make sure I emailed you.

My weight loss journey has spanned nearly two decades (from adolescence through adulthood). I rode the weight loss roller coaster so many times, but never actually finished my rides (marriage, a few pregnancies, & bipolar disorder brought each ride to a halt).

Although I knew I could lose weight (as you know you can as well)- I had ultimately surrendered to the mistaken belief I would be obese the rest of my life and decided to pretend to be content.

Then, on a random day a couple years ago I came across Katie's (Runs for Cookies) before and after photo on Pinterest and a little spark ignited... it's possible! With a change of approach and mindset - I was finally able to ride that roller coaster to health and success.

If there's any way I can help or encourage you - I'd be happy to! We are strangers but I'm totally rooting for you! *HUGS*

Louise said...

Hi Mary, I'm so glad to see you back here writing. I appreciate that it's a difficult period for you right now. However just wanted to say that you'll be missed if you stop blogging. You're an inspiration to many people, and the challenges you face are the ones so many of us can relate to. Please don't lose hope, and I wish you all the best

Louise said...

Hi Mary, I'm so glad to see you back here writing. I appreciate it's a tough time for you, but please don't lose hope. You'll be sorely missed if you go. Big hugs all round

Christy said...

I am also a lurker. Just wanted to let you know that I love reading your stories. I can relate to almost everything you write. And I understand the reluctance in letting the blog go. I can't seem to cut the ties with my blog either, even though it became a chore years ago.

Good luck!

CarolineCalcote said...

I haven't blogged since December. Just not feeling it. I'm toying with the idea of starting again in June, but doing things differently. I miss the memory keeping aspect of it more than anything. As for the weight issue...I didn't even begin my weight loss journey until Mack was 3 years old. I just felt like I couldn't focus on myself at all when I had babies. I was MUCH older than you. Do not feel bad about anything regarding this past year. You have been doing a wonderful job and doing exactly what you should.

Alizey said...

You are so inspiring and hard working. I enjoy reading your blog and I can totally relate to many things you talk about. I wish you happiness and I know if anyone can get back on track it is you! You have done it before, there is no reason you can not do it again! You have all the tools. Get it done girl!