August 15, 2014

The devil you know

A few months ago, I started drafting a blog post while my husband and son slept. It was very emotional content - feelings I've kept to myself for quite a while, things I was finally ready to share, with the hopes of being reassured and comforted by the little community I have for myself here.

As the draft was nearly completed, I heard my husband jump out of bed, and he stormed out the front door, muttering under his breath. After a few minutes of letting him cool off, I called his phone, urged him to come back, and sat on the couch with him, trying to talk about it.

We struggle so much with communication. We're both non-confrontational, so when something bothers or upsets one of us, we just keep quiet and keep everything bottled up.

Eventually, though, something has to give. Eventually someone explodes.

I wish I could say we had amazing revelations that day, and that our relationship has been smooth sailing since then. But the reality is, we didn't, and it hasn't. We still have a lot of work to do on ourselves, and yet this area of self-care hasn't been our top priority.

I bring this up in a post about my weight loss journey because in my past few months of soul searching, I've realized just how much of the work I need to do is mental and emotional. I know how to lose weight. I know how to exercise, and I enjoy doing it. I know how to cook healthy meals, and I know how to portion them out in a way that I feel satisfied but not stuffed. What stops me from making the right choices isn't for lack of knowledge, or even for lack of wanting results.

The problem is, it's easier to deal with the devil you know than the devil you don't.

If I lost my pregnancy weight, I would be left to deal with my the other trouble areas in my life. So I stay heavy, I complain about my reflection, I groan about not fitting into clothes - because it is easier than having to face the much larger issues. When I am this size, I can skip wearing my wedding ring with the excuse of "it doesn't fit anymore," rather than the reality, which is that very often, this relationship hurts.

I got my drivers license about a month or so ago, at long last, and I couldn't be prouder that my first thought upon hearing that I passed the exam was that now, I could get myself to the gym. It's open 'til midnight, our son is asleep by 8 at the latest ... I really have no excuses.

That said, I spent the first few days driving from store to store, indulging in whatever I wanted. I had earned it, hadn't I? Almost my entire time in South Carolina has been spent at work or at home, trips out have been at the mercy of my husband. I am 27, not 16, but still, with the license came a feeling of freedom, and an urge to fully enjoy my liberation.

After the first day, I woke up feeling lousy, and swore I wouldn't do it again - a resolution that lasted nearly four hours. This cycle continued for a day or two, until a rainy day with a few errands to run. I took my son into the post office, then we sat in the car for a few minutes so Mama could shovel donuts in her mouth - see, I'm still a fairly inexperienced driver, so I can't multitask like that. And in the backseat, my toddler started kicking his legs and reaching - saying Yummy! Yummy! Yummy! - and I was suddenly struck with guilt. What are my choices here? Share with him, and expose him to the kind of unhealthy junk that has been my substitute for dealing with emotions - or don't share with him, and be the mom who puts herself before her child, who abuses her drug of choice while her child watches, secretly praying that the trait of addiction ends with her.

I gave him a piece, then cried all the way home.

I am so sorry, baby.
Mama is going to try and be better for you.
Mama is going to do better for you.

It may be interesting to note that all this time, regardless of binges and skipped workouts, I've weighed myself regularly. I watched my weight climb up, up, up, and felt powerless to stop it. I know I want to lose weight, but I also know that right now, in this moment, as I hurt, what I want is to soothe my pain with unhealthy foods. Except - I'm not soothing my pain. I'm just burying it temporarily. I replace one pain with another, and once I've digested, I'm right back where I started, and now feeling guilty as well.

After my series of freedom-induced binges, I stepped on the scale and feared the worst - all three numbers changing again.


How the $!%& did I get back here?

Even though I know the answer.

The last two weeks, I've been on my ... I don't want to call it my A-game, because I've certainly faltered. But I've tried to be more mindful, and most important, I've tried communicating with my husband about what changes we need to make in order to be our healthiest selves again. This past Sunday, I was down to 293 - progress, but still a harsh reality as I head back to work for Fall semester and realize I'm 30 pounds heavier than when I started last year, and this time without a recent pregnancy for an excuse.

I'm trying to be good to myself and not over-scrutinize the missteps of last year. I'm trying to accept that it's hard to be new somewhere, it's hard to be a new mom, it's hard to be a newlywed, it's hard to find time at the end of an already loaded day to invest in yourself and your spouse and try to make the relationship work, and it's hard to be so far away from your comfort zones and your support system.

That said, I have given the last year, and especially the last few months, a lot of consideration, and I'm working on a game plan for moving forward. I want to recognize the things that have been successful for me, and I want to apply them as best as I can to my current situation. I won't have hours and hours every day to go to the gym - but I can do the best I can, when I can.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me in my absence. I needed some time to quietly reflect and process some things in a non-public forum, but now, I am glad to be back. I've missed this place.


Running Meg said...

This is a very brave post. Thank you for sharing. HUGS!

Losing The Rolls said...

Mary, it is so great to see a post from you. Thanks for sharing your struggles. I'm glad to hear you've had a few good days lately and have ideas for moving forward. I know you can achieve your goals. I have confidence in you Mary. Please be kind to yourself and remember that no one is perfect. All we can do is keep trying to do better and use each experience to learn something. That doesn't mean we will make the perfect choice second time around, but maybe eventually. Congratulations on your driver's license and good luck with this semester.

Denise said...

Oh, Mary. I hope you find what you're looking for. I spent the past year turning to food for relief, for comfort, during sad times, during depression, as something to fill the time. It's only recently occurred to me that my life is worth more than this twisted form of bondage; I am not my weight, and losing weight will not make me happy.

You are full of light and goodness and beauty. I'm glad you're writing again.

Losing The Rolls said...

Oops, I forgot to mention...Noah is such a beautiful child! Great picture of momma and son.

LovelyDreams said...

Mary, I found your blog before starting mine, shortly after I started taking better care of myself. I bookmarked a few recipes and then one day, I could no longer access your blog. I was so sad, because I never got the chance to tell you how much it meant to me.

I hope this doesn't seem creepy. But I read your blog from start to finish, the way I would read a novel. I identified so strongly with you--the eating behaviors, the depression, something about the way you write.

I am just recently separated from my husband. I didn't realize how unhealthy our relationship was until I got a nagging "something is wrong" feeling during my pregnancy and truly looked at things about 3 weeks after giving birth. Like you, I used my body and food as a way of avoiding an unhappy marriage (and a very sick child, who is now doing much better). While I hope that eventually my husband and I might reconcile, I am doing my own work in therapy right now. I still struggle with binge and emotional eating, but things are improving.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for writing this blog and for leaving it up. It spoke very deeply to me at a very bad time for me, and helped give me courage. Thank you.

CarolineCalcote said...

Being a new first time parent is one of the most stressful times in your life. You basically coupled that with a new marriage and a whole new life (job/location/etc). You are doing great as a's obvious when you look at that beautiful happy boy. But life is hard. Don't be so hard on yourself. You are FINE. The future is going to happen and there is loads of time...just live it one day at a time and do the best you can! If the worst thing that N ever sees you do is stuff your face with donuts, then he is a lucky boy. I am all nostalgic because Cal will be 13 on Sunday. THIRTEEN! I was morbidly obese until Mack was 3. I medicated myself through their babyhood and all it's stresses with food. I have tried to teach them healthy habits but nobody is perfect. We are all just trying to do the best we can. Just keep truckin' Mary. You are awesome.

Jessica said...

So happy to see you here. I have no doubt that you can be successful!

Erin @ Ideas Worth Living said...

Awesome to see that you are back! We've got this!!!

Annakay said...

Hi Mary,

So I discovered your blog last May, when Matt posted a link to it on Facebook (Matt and I went to UW together and had a few history classes together.) At the time, my SO and I had just gotten two-month old kittens, and I was in the midst of a sleepless week, because we were in a one-bedroom apartment at the time and oh my god the kittens wouldn't stop climbing the curtains and breaking things and meowing and jumping on my face and chewing on each other, and I had to keep them from tussling because they had just been neutered/spayed and had fresh stitches that could pop open, and I was at my wit's end, and I was also trying to finish a huge work project that was stressing me out and making me endlessly miserable. Looking back, it all seems very silly and a little funny, but at the time I was kind of in emotional crisis. So, anyway, one night when I was monitoring the kittens, feeling miserable and sleepless, I found Matt's link to your blog on Facebook, and I pretty much read the whole thing. And it helped me a lot, actually. I figured if you found the courage and strength to be a new mother and deal with all the stressful things in your life, then I could get through some new kittens and work stress. And I've kept reading your blog, because I found myself invested in your journey and really caring about you and your family. As someone who is ambivalent about having kids, your insights on new motherhood have been very interesting and helpful to me. And I admire you tremendously - after a full day of work I can barely find the energy to change into my pajamas and curl up on the couch, so I give you all the props in the world for working full time, raising a baby, and doing all the extra work I know goes into being a college lecturer. All at once, you became a new mother and took on a very stressful job, and moved across the country. As someone who has a meltdown if I forget my lunch at home, I think you are amazing. Your blog has been hugely comforting to me - though my struggles are not the same as yours, hearing how you approach and deal with things has been inspiring and helped me find strength to tackle my own issues. So thank you for that, and I'm glad you're back.

So yeah, I know we've never met, and at the risk of sounding like a total creeper who has been spying on your life from afar, I just wanted to let you know I appreciate this blog and I'm rooting for you and your family.

Also, through Matt's Facebook, I've seen a lot of pictures of Noah. A cuter child does not exist. And I say this as someone who usually thinks babies are kind of awful.

~ Anna

Tibou1421 said...

I'm so glad you found the strength to fight and come back here! I'm sure we all think you can do it (and will do it) and that you are a wonderful mother to this beautiful child. Bravo Mary!

PJ Geek said...

I am so glad you posted. I hope the best for you. It takes two people to make a marriage work and communication is hard. My husband and I have sought help in the past, and we admit we don't communicate or listen well. We work at it. I gained 100 lbs once we had married. I had been single for 34 years, so being a part of a couple just seemed too hard.
The things my therapist stresses
to me is that I can't let his moods or lack of communication with me cling to me. In the end, it's me in this world and then us. I take care of me by going to the gym, blogging, journaling, and doing fun or relaxing things. I know you have Noah in the mix , but I don't think it's any different for you. I also choose to realize I need to invest more in what he wants too when maybe I want to do something for me. In the end we both win .

That Loud Redhead said...

You are such an amazing writer. Thank you for sharing this very personal content. Please know I am cheering you on!!!

That Loud Redhead said...

And your son is gorgeous!

Debby said...

I'm so so happy to see another post from you, even if it is about struggling. I struggle to lose weight and stay on track and I'm not a mother or a wife. Use the support system you've found online and know that you are awesome, you've done it before and you can do it again.

Also, your son is amazingly cute! Which I'm sure you know :)

B. Crew said...

When I re-started losing weight (after getting married, having a miscarriage, and gaining 75 pounds) things didn't click for me until I let go of all of my "before" numbers.

When I finally faced the cold hard truth that my weight wasn't going to change and couldn't change until I embraced the facts-- my situation had changed. My previous low and high points are no longer points in this journey. I am a much different person than I was when I could focus on only me and my goals.

I need to use everything I have learned, but rather than try to cram my previous methods into my new life, I need to take that knowledge and make new paths. I spent months trying to restart my weight loss, failing and gaining until I embraced the new realities of myself and my life.

It's been a couple of months, there have been stumbles, it has been slow, but there has been progress.

I hope you continue to find success and happiness in your own way. You have a whole family of beautifully imperfect people out here who are wishing you only the best, and rooting you on through each stumble and step to where you need to go.

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

A must see video, Mary!!! <3!

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

Watch it, Mary. You ARE enough!!

jd4ever39 said...

Mary, it is so good to hear from you! I can't imagine how tough the journey you are on must be, but I admire you for how far you have come. You are so inspiring for having the courage to admit your troubles and finding ways to work on them. I have no doubt that eventually you will figure it out and things will become more balanced. It may take some time and that's alright. You are great just as you are. I know it's hard but you have to accept you for you, no matter what size skin you're in. Wishing you and your family all the best. :-)


Kami said...

It is good to see you writing again. You are brave for sharing everything in this post. You have been through so many life changes in a year which is difficult, let alone trying to lose weight on top of all of that.

I can relate to the fact that "it is easier to deal with the devil you know that the devil you don't." Spring semester I took a class in group counseling and we practiced counseling on each other. That semester I gained back all of my weight while realizing some of the things I need to work through mentally and emotionally. I have spent the summer trying to tackle some of the issues that came up from class and am losing weight again slowly. It is a battle, but we just have to keep doing what we are able to do.

Amy said...

I am so glad to see new posts from you! I know for a fact that this blog has been such a healthy place for you and while it can also be a burden in that you start to feel accountable towards an audience and if you aren't "successful" then what does that mean?

The reality is, that I think there are so many of us bloggers that struggle with writing in that open space, but always come back because we need to write it out.

For me, starting out blogging about weight loss, and transitioning to a place where I won't really talk about it has been a pretty healthy transition in ways, because when I was so obsessed with the numbers I was so unhealthy mentally. There was so much hate inside.

Now, I haven't weighed myself since the end of my Whole 30 last Fall. I have NO clue what I weigh. While that can cause issues for sure, my clothes fit me and I am in a better place mentally than when I weighed myself on the regular.

That's what works for me. While I know that there are about 40 pounds I should lose, I don't know if it's 34 or 46. I just know that today I should make healthy choices for myself. What I think about, what I do and what I consume.

I love your raw honesty, it's always refreshing. What I don't love is your pain and your hurt, but admitting it's there is seriously such a huge and profound step.

I think you're so right that dealing with the devil you don't know is the key to your search for happiness. I have been on a profound journey of gratitude the last number of years and it has been incredibly healing for me. As corny as the book is (I've actually been working on starting my own version of the program in my hometown) you should pick up the book The Magic. It's a different kind of 30 day program, and it's really about changing your perspective on how we look at life and I know it's something you'd get a lot out of!

Hugs to you!

Lorrie Haley said...

I am also a binge eater. I can really relate to your blog and this post in particular. I have been reading your blog for years now since I started my blog. I love your honesty it has really helped me not feel alone. It's hard when your in that cycle of denial, shame, and binge eating. I can tell that you love your family. Everything you do in your healthy lifestyle change should come from love not just for them but for yourself. Learning to forgiving myself and be compassionate towards myself was a big step for me. When I binge eat it is out of shame, guilt, hate, and hopelessness. Just know that you are not alone and that recovery is possible. Know that you are beautiful no matter what size you are and that you are a strong bad ass woman!

Kara said...

Mary thank you for sharing your story. It's so good to have you back. I've gained back all of the weight I lost last year and it's been devastating and surreal. I paid thousands of dollars to Medifast only to gain it all back. I'm not sure what my next step will be. I'm wishing you all the best.

Susan Sitze said...

I've always been a lurker on your blog, but I thought I'd come out of hiding to tell you how glad I am you're back.

I lost a lot of weight 15 years ago and have slowly put it all back on and then some, so I can totally understand where you are. I'm struggling to get back in the groove and lose it all again myself, and it's hard, but what's important is that we keep trying I suppose.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone because reading your blog helps me realize that I'm not alone either.