By the window

(Trigger Warning)

The sky was inky black and smoke grey clouds swirled overhead as she pressed her face against the chilly glass. Condensation formed from the warmth of her breath and the smell of winter assailed her nostrils. The ominous, rain laden clouds, heavy with moisture, seemed to choose that moment to release their bounty and sheets of rain beat down, punishing everything in their path. She slid open the latch on her window, opening it just a crack, to let the freshness of it fill her room. A gust of wind found its way in through the tiny gap and seemed to multiply in the space, blowing papers about and rattling posters that cling to her walls with blue tac.

She adored a good storm, it often felt like they matched her mood! Her teenage moments, she acknowledged, had been tumultuous lately. Her past and the secrets that she carried, combined with rampaging hormones, seemed to provide a perfect storm and when they happened they were a really pleasant way to escape.

Her mind bounced between traumatic memories, the things that her neighbour did to her as a child, the things that happened just months earlier and the fact that she has been acting out before that. They told her it might even be viewed that she had deserved it. Everything she had done would be brought up, did she really want to put her family through that kind of shame. Never mind what had happened or the wrongness of it. Her job was to protect all of the people she had hurt with her behaviour, she didn’t want to cause them more pain, did she. So she would suck it up. She would find a way to cope. She would try her best to hurt no one else, just herself and she would eat her pain.

The bottomless pit of self loathing was temporarily sated when she filled it with food. When she ate, she could feel the hands and the things that they had done to her just melt away. It was never long before the temporary euphoria of the food consumed would turn to dust. The sweetness of her coping mechanism turning acrid in her own mouth and she would hate herself for the food she ate. She would hate herself so much for consuming excess calories that she would be driven get rid of them, she would drive herself with hours of exercise to try to make herself tired enough to sleep. She would cling to the toilet bowl, eyes burning and gut clenching as she forced the food out of her stomach once again. She was tormented and so profoundly lost. It was 1992.

The Cost

Let’s talk for a minute about the Cost of Bariatric Surgery. Many of us pay quite a sum just to have our surgery in the first place. But the costs that are ongoing are something that we don’t really talk about a lot. That’s not to say that WLS isn’t one of the best descisions I have ever made because it is!! But these are things I didn’t think of beforehand. Some of the things that I have replaced because of weight loss surgery include the following.

  1. My mattress – I was in pain from lying in my “big me” sized mattress hole.
  2. All my shoes – I am now 2 sizes smaller
  3. All of my underwear 4 times over as I found out the hard way one can’t wear undies that are too big and not risk them falling off in public – yep it really happened 🤦🏻‍♀️
  4. My car seat – this is a weird one and I upgraded my car because it needed an upgrade anyway BUT the drivers seat was broken because of my bum and my weight.
  5. My lounge suite because I broke it 😔
  6. My dining chair – I am going to have to replace the set but am making do for now.
  7. My entire wardrobe because going from a size 24/26 to a size 4/6 means that nothing from bigger me fits me anymore.
  8. My supplements and vitamins ongoing but for me the cost of my weekly food and vitamins and supplements is still less than what I used to spend per week on my food (I ate a lot).
  9. Skin removal surgery – this shot of me there with the excess skin is current. That is after my radical tummy tuck – obviously I require revision surgery because my surgeon thought that a radical tummy tuck would be enough but it wasn’t. When you have as much excess skin as me it is unpredictable how it will respond.
  10. New glasses coz the old ones fall off my face 😳
This is me now

As for the plastics, I don’t disclose how much my surgery cost, but the following is a rough guide per area of the body and what you might expect to pay (after private health insurance and Medicare covers the hospital costs and a small payment to the surgeon and the gas doctor) THESE ARE AUSTRALIAN PRICES
$1k-$7k is considered low cost.
$7k-$11k is mid range.
$12k and over is high range.
That is the gap payment as plastic surgeons will charge you a gap fee even if skin removal is deemed medically necessary. The gaps vary from surgeon to surgeon. My recommendation is ONLY USE a PLASTIC SURGEON. If you have private health insurance are in NSW or don’t mind traveling, google ‘The Access Program’ if you want a lower cost option.

Would I do it again? Heck yes! Over and over!! I have a life now and I am so grateful for it.

Me yesterday and me a lifetime ago
My dangly skin before I had it chopped off

ET and I are mates 😉

A Pig

Sitting on the main oval of her conservative Christian high school, she could feel the prickle of the browning turf under her thighs, It’s spikey texture poked uncomfortably into her arse, as the sun tried it’s best to beat down on her from above. Streaks of blistering light were fighting a continual battle with the foliage lining the perimeter of the oval. The goal of said blistering light was for the right to blaze down upon and burn anyone, or anything that wasn’t shaded. Through the dappled light of her vantage point she could keep an eye on everyone, and was unfortunate enough to see all the goings on in the zoo. It was always the same, the popular girls and the popular boys, jostling for position and deciding who liked who this week.

She was under no illusions of any kind about who she was, and also, who she was not and where she fitted in! She wasn’t like the “cool” girls, trying to tan their legs in the hot Queensland sun. She secretly rolled her eyes at them and tore her gaze away before they saw her looking, but not before she saw what they were doing. All sitting in a row looking down at the way that their knees touched and then their legs just seemed to gently curve out and up and they didn’t touch at all anywhere in the middle. Glancing down at her own, she felt the familiar stab of comparison and envy as she surveyed her own pasty white, pork sausage legs. There was no sugar coating it, she knew full well that there was no graceful arc between them. Her BMI was over the normal range and she knew it was! She also knew that her legs touched all the way up, with no gaps in between. What was worse was that they rubbed badly at the top and she often felt sweat trickle down the back of her thighs on hot summer days, especially when they were hot summer, sports days. It didn’t have a “name” except “the gap” and the fact that she didn’t have one put her at odds with the beautiful people.

God, how she hated sport days! She hated them nearly as much as she loathed the the sport lord (AKA the PE teacher – there may have even been a song penned in his honour) It felt like sport day was yet another opportunity for those athletically inclined, and, by virtue of that inclination, superior individuals, to assert their dominance, as if they needed a special day for that! Obviously it also served a duel purpose as it was also an opportunity for the beautiful to wear smaller clothes. In short, it was depressing.

The aforementioned sport lord was her least favourite person and to be perfectly frank, he seemed to loathe her also, not that she could blame him. She did have an attitude when it came to this particular subject, and she used the term “subject” loosely! The sport lord made his grand entrance, jogging down the dirt track towards her prime location. Jogging, why was he jogging? Was this an attempt to inspire? Was this because he liked running so much or was it just to prove that he could? All she knew was that he ran in such an upright fashion that she smirked to herself and wondered how he could be that stiff. She hated the fact that even his hair seemed to just understand how to go straight up and down, flying up and around his face. His shorts were just that little bit too short and his whistle, she was sure, belonged up his arse, instead of in his mouth. “Just run a few laps to warm up” she groaned and thought to herself “what is his problem, can he not tell that it is currently a stifling 33 degrees out here – we ARE warm” and hated him all the more.

She set off around the oval, her boobs bounced painfully and her thighs slapped together with each step she took as she tried to comply with his request. Within minutes the burning began and it wasn’t long after that she could feel the chaffing start. Her thighs felt like they were on fire and she knew that by the end of the day, her thighs would be red raw and bleeding again. This was a weekly ritual – they would heal from the week before, only to be torn to pieces again – but she fought her way through the warm up and pretended that she was fine. It wasn’t until she got home from school in the afternoon and she was able to survey the damage to her torn skin that she decided that she wasn’t going to put herself through his exercises in pain and humiliation anymore. From then on she always skipped PE and she didn’t care what anyone thought about it.

Last night my usual nocturnal meanderings through various news and social sites brought me to a rather tragic place! I wasted 10 minutes of my life reading and then re-reading a really disturbing article that prompted much reminiscing, and consequently, my little trip down memory lane. The article was penned by a self proclaimed dating expert 🤦🏼‍♀️. Said “expert” touts the wonders of the feminine Thigh Gap and the Pussy Gap. These two things are, according to Pig Man, the pinnacle of feminine beauty and attractiveness. Please forgive me while I pause to vomit and also while I try to reassure myself, once again, that the voice of reason and balance will be louder in the ears of my sons than trash like Pig Man wrote.

As I read that article I was taken back to being my teen self, staring at my pork sausages on the oval that day and I felt a sense of rage at the the information that I was processing. I am so thankful that I married a respectful man. I am so thankful that my sons are respectful young men. However, I am so angered that anyone thinks it is okay write an essay defining feminine beauty and include absolutely not ONE word about her heart, her soul, her passions, her interests and the innate things about her that are so intrinsically “her” that you would know them anywhere. That Pig Man felt compelled to justify his dangerous obsession with a thigh gap and tried to normalise that type of thinking …… well, it just makes me furious.

Women, you gorgeous, amazing humans, do not buy into any kind of bullshit that would try to tell you that you must be a certain way to be beautiful. I raise my middle finger to arsewipes everywhere that would seek to put beauty into a tiny box and say that is the only type of beautiful! Thick thighs, thin thighs, and everything in between, perhaps especially the in-between (see what I did there 🤣) we are all beautiful!

Beauty is NOT a size

I am 43 years old and in my 43rd year I attained a thigh gap. It’s actually a full leg gap and I seriously don’t care about it!! It really wasn’t worth getting excited over and I hate that it has such an influence over generations of women. What I am more excited over is the broken road that I have walked along and what I have learned on this shadowy path. We never really know strong we are until we have to be and I have had to be. The most valuable lesson that I wish I could magically bestow upon every person that I meet is that you do not have to be a certain anything, size, shape, weight, be able to list certain qualifications, or achievements to be seen as valuable. You are valuable just as you are! If no one else is cheering for you, please know that I am and honestly, learn to clap for yourself!

Oh me oh May (2020 May Iso Files) !

It’s been a long few days in Geelong. Holding myself together while I do not feel like I can has been hard. I am tired. It has been months since I slept well. The last week has been one of the most pressured we have had in a long time for so many reasons.

So, I am not feeling okay right now!! I feel like falling apart a little bit!!! Death and loss and surgery all in one week produces big emotions for those big and small in our house. I can feel myself crumpling and I can’t afford the time right now to crumple under the pressure.

I am also really tired of judgemental people. When I was fat, people didn’t talk about my size to my face – well not usually. But the strange thing that happens when you lose excess weight is that everyone is suddenly an expert on what your health issues “clearly are” and what you should and shouldn’t be doing and they will say it to your face. This is odd. Unless you are numbered in those that I have given permission to say whatever they like to me it would be foolish right now, to do this. You will know if you are one of those people because I will have said “Say whatever you like to me” …. I have decided that the next person to message me via my socials, telling me what I should and shouldn’t be doing with my own body will be told to deep throat a cactus …… and yes, I did and do mean that 🤣. There is a boundary there – even someone like me does have those!

Once again someone was rude to me while we were out doing grocery shopping. I am sincerely sorry that people are triggered by my thinness but so tired of being abused for no reason except that I like to read food labels before mindlessly dumping food in my trolly. So after that, I decided that I was going to come home, finish preparing my slow cooked lamb shoulder, enjoy a tiny dinner, a glass of wine and an early night. I let my frustration at the week that was, spill from my eyes as I sunk into the comfort of my lounge. I reminded myself that I can’t fix all of the things that have broken my little boys heart. All I can do is love him.

Dinner in a ramekin
My frustrations and sadness leaked from my eyes a little tonight but that’s okay. Tomorrow is a new day 💞

Snippets of my why

The lulling tattoo of the waves relentlessly pounding onto the moss-slickened rocks far below her little sheltered nook at the edge of the cliff face, always quietened her heart. It was peaceful in a way that nothing else was, to gaze out over the shimmery, expanse of blue, breathe in deeply and allow herself to feel the sense of perspective wash over her anew. It may feel like the world was collapsing, like her support system was broken, beyond her ability to mend it and her sense of self loathing may have been totally all encompassing at times. But here, in these moments she feel her pains melt away.

That little sea-savaged place had become her most favourite place in the world. It was a place to help her forget and forget she did. He helped her with forgetting. She had a thing for blondes, it started years and years earlier, the only problem was that she was his secret. What she wanted the most, needed the most, was to find a way to like herself, to see some kind of value or worth when she looked at her own reflection and for a few stolen moments she felt like she had value because he wanted her.

When it became that way between them, she wasn’t quite sure. She was messed up with her past hurts and pain and so was he. Two broken people trying to forget and losing themselves in each other. It’s not an unfamiliar narrative is it? All she wanted to do was feel like she was loveable. The beliefs that she had relied on to ground her had slipped through her fingers, and seemed to be lost to her. She felt as though those beliefs hinged on her ability to be good enough – and she had blown that a long time ago! She adored him but she couldn’t tell him that because that would be admitting that she need wanted something and besides, she suspected that he didn’t really want her – he wanted sex and she hoped that if she gave that to him that he would want more.

Oh how I wish I could shake her, stop her, appeal to her in some way that would change the trajectory of her choices. But the truth is that it would take years for her to come to the place where she was willing to learn from the mistakes of others, rather than making her own. She would never have listened – It was the arrogance of youth and her inability to trust. She was sure that she wanted this and that she was okay with no strings. She was convinced that nights in his arms were worth it. They made her feel like garbage afterwards but at the time, for those few hours, it all felt worthwhile and she nearly forgot that she was chunky, just for a while!

Behind The Wall

Sitting silently by the tiny school room door on an old, rickety wooden bench, painted white long ago but now turning shades of dirty grey. She sat in silence, dark blue eyes downcast, not daring to peek around the lunch space she sat in . The clicking of lunch box lids and scrunchy sound of plastic wrap filled the air. She felt her heart flutter harder in her chest as she heard the dragging sounds of foot steps coming toward her and her hands were suddenly slick with anxiety. She traced the grainy wood with her finger tips, hoping against hope that today might be different and he would leave her alone.

The uniform and my darling little brother

She was uncomfortable in her uniform. It was made specially for her because they didn’t make the school dresses in her size. As she moved her neck slightly against its stiff collar, the rough cotton fabric felt hot and horrible against her skin, while the front zipper made her feel nervous, as she absent-mindedly twiddled it between her fingers. Keen to distract herself she turned her attentions to her lunch box, knowing full well that the sound of it clicking open would queue her tormentor. Dreading the taunts that she knew would follow, she hung her head in shame, waiting for the name calling to start. It was predictable and it was relentless, every single lunch time was the same. She felt herself stiffen as his words washed over her again “hey fatso, you don’t need to eat that. Why don’t you stop eating? You are the size of an elephant” and on and on it would go, until the eating portion of lunch time ended.

Thankfully the bully had a short attention span and the pull of the the ramshackle playground that lay beyond the creaky, rust covered gate, would draw him away from her for a few minutes. She wasn’t brave enough to venture into the playground, she knew what happened every other time that she tried. “No Elephants allowed in here” they would say and she would hurry back to the little wooden bench by the classroom door and sit as still as she possibly could, hoping that no one would notice her, wanting to blend into the wall. This was her daily routine and she hated it. Thankfully she was clever enough that she had her work completed early and could leave early. This was a special arrangement struck by her Mumma and she lived for the moments when she saw her arrive to take her away from the place of torment.

A few weeks passed and the breaks in between her classes would always follow the same awful trend. The little girls misery was mounting by the day, she begged to stay home but when she wasn’t allowed to, she hoped that they would just leave her alone. It didn’t happen right away, but help would come from the most unlikely place. Help came in the form of the sweetest little boy, who started to sit by her on her little wooden seat near the class room door. His big blue eyes, blonde hair and cherubic features would win anyone over but his kindness was by far his best feature. He said the words that she couldn’t say, defended her from their taunts and, as if by magic, the bullies left her alone. Sure they still said horrible things, but it wasn’t as bad anymore because she wasn’t alone. They were 6 years old.

And so it would continue through primary school. How does one ever adequately thank the person that made ones life a little less hellish and a lot more happy if you never have the opportunity to say the words? Many years later, long after she had grown, his kindness remained as one of the features of her childhood and, never wanting to forget that, she named one of her children after him. That act stood as reminder to herself that there are good people in the world. We should acknowledge them, appreciate them and most of all BE them.

I learned very early in my life that people can be prejudice. My weight was the start of many missed opportunities but the response of others to my weight was far more damaging. I was good at sidelining myself but it hurt so much more when others did it to me. Imagine if you will, a tiny brick wall. It all starts with one brick. Imagine that each insult or fat slur is a brick. Now imagine what a young child does to protect their heart from the hurt of each word that is hurled in their direction. For me, I turned those insults into bricks and I built something to protect myself. That wall grew larger and larger with each year that passed. Eventually I didn’t have a wall anymore, I had a fortress.

I had constructed around my heart, something that I had hoped would help to shield me from the pain of the prejudice that was thrown my way. Fat shaming is real – just look at memes across the internet but for goodness sake never share them with me – I will call you out on that shit. Prejudice is real, just look at how often the plus sized mother or father is not featured in the family ads that run on TV, at your club or in your church news reel. Does it ever strike you as odd that all sizes are not represented? There is a reason for that and it really annoys the crap out of me!!

There is however a problem with walls that we build around ourselves, yes it keeps others out but it took a long time for me to realise that I had trapped myself behind that wall too. So the last 2 years, as I have shrunk, I am making a conscious effort to dismantle that wall. It is easy to go through life with our faces on, but it is another thing to be authentic and real. It is another thing to say, yes this is me and I am a little bit broken, a little bit screwed up but I am still good. I want to know you and I hope you want to know me too. Not the faces we put on for others – the real authentic parts of ourselves that I used to be frightened to show to others. I am not frightened anymore because time has taught me one very powerful lesson and that is that we are all like the rest of us. I know you aren’t all together either and thats okay – we are all doing our best.

As I dismantled the wall around my heart I found that I had been trapping some of the best parts of myself – what a journey it has been. It’s nice to out from behind that thing!

The wah wah wah of my broken heart

2020 has been a pivotal point for me. It has, in ways I didn’t know were possible, affected change in the way that I envisioned my life panning out. I’m so many ways, that have been totally wonderful, I am a better person for the pain and for the struggles. I am thankful in all that has happened. I am thankful because it has revealed to me so much about myself! Sometimes when we are unmasked it is a wonderful thing and sometimes it is a terrible thing and sometimes it’s both. I have been able to see the things that needed to change.

Recently I took a drive and sat, staring at ocean. I grew up on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, ocean is in my blood and has always been my place of solace. When we moved from paradise to the other end of the country, there were two things that struck me. The first was how different the seasons are in this beautiful little part of the world. The second thing was, the way that ocean looks here. Sitting at the start of The Great Ocean Road it is impossible to keep ones eyes from staring off into the horizon. It is majestic how gnarled rocks jut proudly out of the swirling, rhythmic depths of aqua blue beneath them. The windswept coral vistas still so untouched in so many ways, make me long for a slower pace of life. I am always mesmerised by the way that the vast Australian sky and her ever rolling sea can blur and meld into a mauve haze where it looks as though they meet. It makes me wish that I could walk to the horizon and wrap myself in its mysterious beauty but it doesn’t work that way.

What I have learned from the many times I have admired that particular vista is this, it always changes. I have come to love that about it. I have come to accept that change is the thing upon which I must depend when visit my favourite spot. And this has become the metaphor that most strongly represents 2020 to me. Some things are constant but change is as inevitable as the sun rising tomorrow and we must be resilient.

In 2020 my health was impacted, my husband had surgery, happily, our boys have been home for months and we have all loved that. But for months I have been really open about the fact that I have struggled. I have been super honest about the level of brokenness I felt and also about the feelings of not coping that have threatened to pull me under, over and over again. The thing is – I may have been down but I refuse to stay there. Nothing has changed except me, I have changed and I refuse to bask in a place of sorrow. Stormy days and angry seas do not last.

The wah wah wah of my broken heart is a tiresome sound, even to my own ears! So it is onward from here. The isolation of 2020 has given me something most precious – and that something is time. That time has enabled me to once again take hold of the wispy threads of dreams that I have had, gather them together and begin to weave a tapestry that looks different but is still beautiful and so much more is coming 💞

Loss

I love the beautiful people in my life. They truly do inspire me to want to be a better human being. Today was a really hard day at our house. We got a phone call from our sons principal, letting us know that one of the children in our sons class passed away yesterday in an accident. Our principal is a good guy with a great family. They have children the same age as our children, our boys have played football together for years and been in class together also. I can only imagine how he must have felt to have to call family after family to tell them this terrible news. Our school community is close and I know that homes all over Geelong will be devastated by the loss of this little treasure.

Telling a child that someone they love has died is a terrible thing. It feels especially worse when that narrative includes the death of one of their peers, someone that they called their friend. I am not sure that I have done it correctly. Is there a way to do those things? I cannot imagine that anything would have made the news that I had to deliver to my son any less damaging, and totally devastating. When I told my little boy what had happened, I watched his big blue eyes filled with tears and he repeated “No Mummy, no, no, no please no.” he made that dreadful, gut wrenching sounds that come from a deep place of grief and just not knowing how to articulate the big, painful emotions he was feeling and he cried and cried. He went white as a sheet, he was physically sick and he expressed his sadness for the other children in his class. He has remained very quiet for the rest of the evening and that was okay because we were quiet too. We are grieved too. Tonight he is sleeping in our room. We didn’t question it for a moment, he needs to be close. His dad has surgery this week, I have had heart issues and he is missing his loved ones that he cannot see at the moment. It is a lot for an adult to cope with, let alone a 10 year old child.

When I saw his little face crumble with the horrible news, it reminded me once again why I have made the changes that I made. I wish I could fix everything for them but I can’t.

Where you from, you sexy thang!

Or perhaps I should call this – How Tasha got her groove back? 🤣 In any case I am finding me again. It’s been a long time coming but I am starting to feel at home in my own skin – possibly for the first time in my adult life.

I feel blessed and grateful 🙌🏻💞 Oh and blonder hair is brewing!

Photo Roulette

If you have never played this little gem of a game, you are missing out. We now have a change to the Covid-19 restrictions that we are living with and we are allowed to have 5 people visit our homes. Last night we played this with two close friends – the game is essentially this “guess whose camera roll a picture comes from” and you have a limited time to make your choice. Would you do it? Expose your camera roll to the rest of the room? My camera roll is full of my kids, my family, myself in various stages of transformation, my dog and work related photos. As we were sitting there playing, a photo popped up that I didn’t recognise at all but it was a picture of a large person and photos like that are regularly sent to me by folks asking for advice, so I assumed it was my picture, as did everyone else playing. When that round finished, everyone had that picture wrong – it was from Steve’s phone and it was me! I was totally shaken. How is it possible to not recognise myself??

I sat looking at that picture and it really got to me. If I had known all of the things would happen over the next three years I would have so wanted to find a way to pause or stop time. I would have chosen different outcomes for my family but I wouldn’t have chosen a different outcome for myself. Can you see it in my eyes? The absolute anxiety at being in front of people, feeling horrible about myself and wishing that I didn’t take up so much space in the world? I can see it, it is written all over my face.

This was me – Three years ago to the day. It was two years ago that I had weight loss surgery. That night WAS my defining moment. Not so much because of the double diplomas, but because of the decision I made. I hated how I felt that night. It should have been a celebration but instead I wanted to run and hide. It was the very next day that we increased our health insurance to cover weight loss surgery. I made a life altering decision that night, as I looked out on the hundreds of people assembled, that I never wanted to feel like that again.

I had worked sooooooo hard to stand there, full time mother, working full time, studying as best as I could and fighting through some really crippling anxiety to complete my double diploma. However on the night that I should have felt like I could celebrate my achievements, all I felt was self conscious. My graduation gown wasn’t big enough. It was the largest size that they had. I remember my total embarrassment as tears burned in my eyes. While the gown wouldn’t fit, my humiliation was all encompassing and it wrapped itself around me, cloaking me in feelings of shame and inferiority. I was so conflicted that night. So proud of myself on the one hand and so embarrassed and ashamed in the other. I decided while I was standing in that fitting room, surrounded by strangers, that I NEVER wanted to feel like that again.

Those feelings were the tipping point, the shove that I needed to make the decision to have weight loss surgery.

This is the photo I didn’t recognise

Me Yesterday