I feel like I spent years and years of my life going around with a blindfold tied firmly around my head. I put it on myself and I kept it there willingly mind you. I allowed myself to wallow in my own self loathing. I was totally convinced that life for me, was to a large extent, as good as it was going to get. That I had, because of my many short comings and failings, been overlooked and in my mind I deserved it. My sense of self loathing began as a little girl. I remember the day that it started and the trigger has haunted me for years. I remember what I was wearing that day and I remember coming home and throwing my favourite dress in the bin. It would be years and years and years before I told anyone what had happened but by then it was too late. I had brought into a destructive lie that would go on to shape so much of my thinking around who I was.
I remember not understanding so many things and wondering what was wrong with me and why I was different to other kids. My happiness and the care free feeling of childhood died that day. Within a few short years I would embark on a pathway that would lead towards an eating disorder and a few years after that it led to alcohol abuse and drugs. All the while my loving family continued to love and pray for me while many a sanctimonious relative looked down their judgemental noses at me, my choices and my life.
They swore that their kids would never end up as mucked up as I was (just quietly, how did that work out for you?) My mum was encouraged to kick me out of home to make me come to my sense. Honestly would have probably been easier on them some days! But my gosh, the love of my mother is a force. It can be felt across states, it still wraps around me now just like it did back then and there was no way that she would let me go. No way that my Dad would let me go either! Thankfully my Mum and Dad both flipped off the naysayers and refused to put me out of their home. However, all it took was one little blonde haired girl with ringlets and a disposition as sweet and pure as sunshine itself to do me in. I didn’t want her to be hurt or disappointed in me so I did my best to sort my shit out. I am my mother’s daughter, I love my family passionately and even if I didn’t love me at that time, I loved my little sister with all of my heart. I didn’t want my little brother to find me passed out in my own vomit anymore and I didn’t want to wake up and not remember what or who I had done. It sounds as bad as it was – It is probably worse than that actually. There were moments of sobriety but they were few and far between.
I really was just a messed up kid trying my very best to cope with some truly shitty things that we just don’t like to talk about and I still don’t like to talk about. The first guy I ever really loved copped the worst of me – the vile mood swings, the temper, the destructive self loathing and the hormones – oh my god – lets not forget those! Add into that an eating disorder, and a terrible need to feel like I had some kind of control over my life. I often cringe inwardly when I think back to the mess that I was in those years. Of course I was good at putting on faces and did a brilliant job of that most of the time but at that point in my life I wasn’t able to admit to the brokenness or even see it as that.
My personal train wreck continued on a really private level for a long, long time. I battled with the shame of my very public break down and as a result, I battled with feeling less than worthy. I struggled with self loathing and battled an eating disorder well into my 30ies. However, so many incredible, milestone moments have taken place on the very tricky path I have walked and those moments have shaped the turns that my story would take. There is no one in life that I love more than my children. When I became a mother for the first time everything changed. I wanted to be the best I could possibly be for this incredible little person that I got to love. I still have the same want and it motivates my choices each day. I did not get it right all the time or even most of the time. I have buckets of regrets and have cried rivers of tears over my short comings and failures. I have also learned that there is little point in living life filled with regret. I hope that my failings have caused me to grow and made me into a better, more authentic and kinder person – finding the good, or the golden in myself is a lesson in self discovery.
We are approaching the 2 year mark! On the 18th of June, it will be 2 years since I had RNY – Gastric Bypass. It has been a strange time. The changing, the growing, the turning into a different version of me. Dealing with the demons in my past and letting go of things and people that I didn’t want to let go of. In short – life is very different. But different, I am learning, can be a gift – it all depends how you look at it. The wonderful thing about choice is that we get the chance to move ourselves from where we are and position ourselves to have every possible chance to make life long changes.
2 years ago, wow, there is absolutely no way that I imagined that I would be where I am at right now. Getting to be an Australian size 4-6 was NEVER ever part of my plan. I had thought that it would be wonderful to be perhaps a size 12-14 if possible. I have enjoyed so many wonderful and unexpected blessings along the way to being a healthier me. Over the last 7 months I have noticed marked changes. Those who know me best can attest to this also. I have tried to put my finger on what triggered it. I have tried to work and reason it out, mostly without success – until I was chatting with one of a hand full of people that I consider to be part of my inner circle. That circle has 6 people in it. They are the people that I trust unquestioningly and that I know, like I know that I know that I know, love me, without judgement and that I talk to nearly on a daily basis. Here is what has come from our talk.
I realised that I have not allowed myself to process AT ALL, the fact that I was on deaths door when I had my plastic surgery last year. I had a radical tummy tuck with mons lift and muscle repair and a breast lift, reduction and fat grafting. Now I know that we can’t dwell on things because that isn’t healthy, but I am damaged by what happened to me and not dealing with that trauma isn’t healthy either. I need to talk about it so here goes.
I guess I knew it, like……… I knew that I was very very sick. But in truth I didn’t want to admit how close I came to not being here anymore. I didn’t want to have to think about any of it!!! I tried to avoid it, however I can now see that it has changed me in the most profound ways. When I was lying in the ICU, surrounded by doctors trying to get lines in to me and keep my oxygen levels from dipping any lower than they already were, they were asking me “Who should we call for you, do you understand what is happening, you are very very calm, are you sure you understand what is happening”. I am scary calm under pressure. When I was young this was NOT the case. But years change people and I don’t get loud or dramatic now. I go stone cold ….. but this wasn’t that – I was awake to what was happening!
In that moment did I understand what was going on? Yes of course I did. I was fully informed of my risks prior to my surgery. I knew that the massive blood vessels that used to feed my fat had not shrunk and that I had an increased risk of bleeding because of it. I knew that I had internal bleeding. I knew that they had to stabilise me before they moved me to the icu and I knew that the nurse looking after me stayed well past the end of her shift to hold my hand until they moved me. She had caught my head the second time I fainted and when I woke, lying in a crumpled mess of blood and my own urine she was still holding me. (Fun fact, when you pass out, if you need to pee …. well you just do.)She also carefully cut my blood and pee soaked night gown off me – it was too far gone to be kept. She reassured me that she would stay with me until ICU had me and she did. So I knew from those things that it wasn’t good. I have had a lot of surgery, been in hospitals a lot and I knew this was not a “usual” thing. Nurses are incredible people, they see that type of stuff on a daily basis and remain caring and thorough in their care. But she was going far beyond normal.
After the ICU stint and additional surgery was over, I eventually came back to the ward days later and found that my story had preceded me. One of the nurses that had been responsible for my care on the day it all happened, came, found me, hugged me and told me she was so glad that I was alright. I remembered her on sight and called her by name. She said “oh you remember!” I said “Yes, the doctor told me to focus on your faces and not let myself float off!” So that is what I did. There was a long period of time where they couldn’t get my blood pressure to read or find a pulse. That was not great. This was during the time when they were trying to stabilise me. I kept wanting to shut my eyes and sleep but they told me it wouldn’t be sleep if I did that so I had to stay awake.
I knew what that meant. I fought to not let myself float off and tried so very hard to stay with them. Loud shoutings of my name brought me round time and time again. Multiple failures to locate veins because my body didn’t want to cooperate didn’t even bother me, I was being jabbed with needles and I didn’t care. I was fading away and I knew I was. In that moment I made some decisions. I did decide that if I woke up after the emergency surgery I needed to stop the internal bleeding, I was not going to live my life afraid of what people would think of me anymore. I wasn’t going to wear any type of face to please others and that I was going to be kind and assume the best of people no matter what.
So did I understand what was happening? Yes, I absolutely knew and I told the very lovely doctor that yes I understood, and as she held my hand she made no promises – which I appreciated! I loved the fact that she didn’t say to me “oh don’t even worry, you will be fine!” Because I was bleeding out on the inside and I wasn’t fine! I like real and value it when people don’t bullshit me.
No one of my contacts that the intensivist called were answering – it was 1 am so naturally people were asleep, but they were anxious to let someone know that I was not okay. In that moment my mind was drawn to the person that I knew would not answer me and as tears rolled down my face and my heart broke a little bit more than it had before, I knew who would answer me, I called my Dad. When I was a kid and was hit by a car he knew something was the matter and was frantically trying to get info before anyone knew what had happened. The phone rang once and he answered with “hello baby are you okay!” The intensivist was holding the phone to my ear as I said “no Dad I’m not, please keep calling Steve, try to wake someone up. They are taking me back to theatre, I love you Dad I have to go” and with that I ended the call. The doctor finally managed to get my Aramis to answer and he spoke to the doctor and went and got his dad. Steve ran into the ICU as I was being wheeled through the doors to go to theatre. Do they call families in to the hospital at 1:00 am very often? Well I already know the answer to that. They don’t. They had told me that I may be kept sedated – it would depend how things went. I don’t really remember waking up but I know it was hours later and I know that Steve was there all night waiting for me. Then he had to go, after sitting up all night waiting for news of me, to get the boys and drive them to Melbourne to the airport to catch their flights.
When I saw Steve’s face at around 11am that day the look of exhaustion and concern was so evident to me. He had arrived back from the airport to sit beside my bed in the ICU. I just wanted to cry for him. I know what it is like to sit in one of those rooms watching machines and listening for alarms that were going off very frequently. No family nearby to help him and carrying the weight of everything on his shoulders. Thankfully my Dad made provisions to take time off work and flew from the Gold Coast to Geelong to be with Steve and I. Our boys were being loved on by family in QLD and I got to rest, heal and think about all of the ways I would rewrite my story. I was going to really live! No more bench sitting! And most of all, how I would stop pulling my punches. So in that spirit let me tell you that the skin removal and tummy tuck surgery has changed my life and it was worth it BUT it was really fricken hard and many tears were shed over the process of my recovery! I didn’t know I could cry so much or that I would emerge from this so changed.
I am excited for the next chapter of my story. I am looking forward to how the rest of 2020 will unfold. Let’s face it – the first part has been less than ideal but I am getting ready for a comeback story! I am dreaming of days with family and friends, living with intention and purpose, being kinder and more open, taking less and giving more. Xx