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Plastic Surgery 12 months on

12 Months ago yesterday I had my plastic surgery. I had a Radical Tummy Tuck, Mons Lift, Breast Reduction, Breast Lift and Fat Transfer to give me boobies. 12 months on I feel very differently about the whole process to how I did at the start. I want to make a few points that I really believe are vitally important for people to know and understand if you have lost a massive amount of weight and then go down the road of plastic surgery.

  1. Size does matter – this is a really strange concept to me. I hate comparisons and I actively advocate NEVER comparing your journey with someone else’s. BUT, where skin surgery is concerned if you are going to look at someone else’s results and covet them for your own – you better be comparing the same kind of starting point and the same end point prior to surgery or disappointment may follow! The results of someone that had 40 kilos of excess weight to lose and the results of someone that had 80 or 90 or 100 kilos of excess weight to lose are not the same thing and they are going to be vastly different! Everyones weight loss is amazing, awesome and incredible – that is a fact – And I don’t believe that anyone is better etc based upon the amount of weight that they have to lose – however these things DO impact results when we are talking about plastic surgery.
  2. When it comes to skin surgery SOOOOOOooooooo many things impact the final results. The results of someone that has had multiple pregnancies but never been overweight is going to have a different result to someone that has been overweight with multiple pregnancies and the higher the starting weight, the more the skin has been stretched and the lower the finishing weight the more noticeable the sag. The length of time that the skin has been stretched also has an impact on the final results too. I knew all of this BEFORE I had my surgery. In my head I understood that stretched skin from being super morbidly obese for nearly 20 years AND having had our 5 kids was going to have an impact upon the way that my skin would respond after surgery. But I didn’t really understand this. I thought I did – but I didn’t. You think because you are paying out serious dollars to have this surgery, that you are going to look pretty fricken amazing by the end of it. The reality of that, for me, did not materialise! I did not look how I wanted to look or how so many other people look. People have told me that I should blame my surgeon for that. He told me to expect revision – I guess I assumed that would happen if things went wrong – not that was going to happen because of the state of my skin. That was probably a breakdown in communication.
  3. Communicate your desires clearly to your surgeon. Ask a lot of questions and write down the answers. Ask where your incisions will be. Ask that it be explained to you thoroughly. Ask what kind of things can go wrong. Ask what you can expect from them in a worst case situation. Ask how wound break downs are treated. Ask how many times you will see them post operatively. Ask what kind of compression garments they recommend and how long you have to wear them for. Ask what kind of dressings they use and ask to test the dressing out to make sure that you don’t have reactions to it PRIOR to your surgery. I wore my dressings for a week before my surgery to make sure that my fussy skin was going to be okay with them.
  4. MAKE SURE you are healthy going in to your skin removal surgery. Make sure that your most trusted health care provider (for me that is my GP) says that it is a good idea to have the skin surgery. Don’t do it if you have even slightly dodgy blood test results. Be as healthy as possible for the best possible healing and outcomes afterwards.
  5. Collagen. I had a LOT of collagen protein in the lead up to my surgery and in the healing phase. It is the one thing that I can say that I did differently to the 26 surgeries that I have had in my lifetime before my skin surgery and it was the ONLY TIME I did not get a wound infection. My incision was gigantic and I was very concerned about that particular aspect of things. I healed beautifully – and when I consider all of the complications that I had post operatively, the healing beautifully thing meant the world to me. The only issue was that I did spit a stitch a few weeks later but again it was fine and healed up well. The brand of Collagen Protein that I use is called Tasteless by Feel Good and it has been fantastic for me.
  6. Expect revisions and expect that it is going to take time. Also expect that it is going to cost a lot of money. There are all kinds of ways to have skin surgery. Some weight loss surgeons in Australia do offer skin removal (usually just tummy tucks) to their patients and they are often done as a revision surgery so there is very little out of pocket cost. Some general surgeons do skin removal then cosmetic and then plastic surgeons. There is also a program called The Access Program and if you have private health insurance then this may provide a lower cost alternative if you are willing to travel to Sydney. https://accessprogram.org.au
  7. How much does it cost? Tash can I just ask you, Tash would you mind telling me, Tash is it too much to ask to know – I totally understand when I get those inboxes and direct messages but the answer to those questions is that I don’t talk about the cost of my surgery. Honestly, the best thing to do is to pick your surgeon and go and have a consultation with them. The initial consultations vary a lot too – anything from $200 – 450 dollars BUT if you want to know how much your personal case would cost with a particular surgeon then it is the best way to go. My general rule of thumb is as follows – for persons with private health insurance the GAP that you would be expected to pay for a low cost tummy tuck would be 1-7k, medium cost 7-11k and high cost 12k and over. That is WITH private health insurance covering the hospital and theatre costs and a small amount to the doctors involved. My theatre costs were astronomical and thankfully covered by my private health insurance because my surgery met the criteria to be considered medically necessary – because I had to be taken back to theatre in the middle of the night so that I wouldn’t bleed to death, my original gas doctor was not available so they had to call someone else in and I ended up paying a second Gap cost for that doctor.

In saying all of those things, I am glad that I did have the tummy tuck. I wish that it had been a better result and I wish that I was not having to have another revision surgery in the future but “wish in one hand, spit in the other” as my Nan used to say. I wanted to include some pictures so that you can see how my skin is now. It is confronting and it is why I need more removed but hey thats life. I lived, I get to enjoy my life with my family and that makes it all worthwhile.

This is me – prior to the tummy tuck
3 months ago. I am 4 kilos lighter now

Love Tash x

Kindness

Today was hard. My blood sugar was low right from my first waking moment. I don’t enjoy checking it, I hate the smell of blood. It reminds me of my time in the ICU last year. I am reminded of blood transfusions and life saving surgery in the middle of the night. I can feel my pulse quicken and I know it’s PTSD. So I just sit still and I try to push the panic down. I haven’t actually found the words to say that out loud to anyone in my family yet. I know it means I’m a little bit broken so I just continue on with the test. 3.8 great 😔 my blood sugar will fall from there when I drink my coffee ….. it will fall when I eat or drink anything so the medication will need to do its job this morning.

As is his custom, Steve brought a coffee and my bariatric multivitamins in to our room at around 6:30 am and I sat – trying not to feel frightened by the appearance of my favourite beverage. My endocrinologist has explained a couple of medical conditions to me – we are treating one and it is everyone’s hope that I am going to quickly respond. So I drank my coffee. I think I do feel better than I was feeling so we are taking that as a positive sign. Taking so many tablets each day is a very strange and foreign concept for me and I feel the symptoms of hypo number 1 for the day coming on at 8:00am. I know what the feeling is now – I thought it was all just in my imagination, a lack of sleep, stress or a combination of all of those things. I was wrong – All along it was blood sugar. It has even had me casting my mind back to last year – wondering if that is really when all of this started … I think it probably was.

I seem to have muddled my way through the morning. Helping the kids when they need me, working and then having my doctors appointment. My GP, I am fairly certain, is some kind of saint. He always listens to me with compassion and totally agrees with my specialist that I must not be driving while my blood sugar is still prone to such terrible lows. This isn’t what I wanted to hear but I know it is the safe and responsible thing. This also means that we need another driver in the family pronto. Dr. Mendes has written a note to that effect. Now we just have to hope that Vic Roads will give Aramis the medical exemption that he needs to get his P’s immediately so that my inability to drive doesn’t affect everyone so terribly.

After that I was feeling fairly low, sad, like a burden and useless. These are feelings that I am not a stranger to. They were my constant companions when I was big. I hate it when they reappear now that I am meant to be living my very best life …. then there was a knock on my front door and a delivery from a lady that I have met via a Facebook page that I help to run. We are nudging 36 thousand members and I truly believe that they are the most inspiring humans I have ever had the privilege to know. Serving the weight loss surgery community is such a passion in my life and I do it because I love watching people’s lives transform. Anyway … the postie handed me the package and when I opened it I was just so touched that someone thought of me. I was even more blown away by the timing of the delivery.

Someone’s kindness changed my whole day. It reminded me of the goodness of people. 💞

The Highs and the Lows

I am slowly coming to terms with my new life. 4.7 is my Blood Sugar Reading this morning. I am not allowed to drive if it is under 5 so that sucks! Hopefully throughout the day I will have a period of time that affords me the opportunity to be able to go and do some essentials at the grocery store. Our son has tried applying for an exemption to get his license (he has been eligible since April but covid means that there is no license tests unless you fall into exceptional circumstances) But the department of transport have knocked back his application on the basis that him driving is not essential – I would say that getting the immunocompromised person with a tendency to become unconscious from hypos should be essential but apparently not. So there is quite a lot of stress around how things are going to look going forward for me and for us. I have an appointment with my GP this morning to discuss things so we will see where things go from there.

The trouble with our hearts

If you can relate to 👆🏻 raise your hand!! I see you there nodding. Gosh if I was to just be led around by my heart I would simply collect fifty thousand floral tea cups, only eat chocolate and never drink anything but coffee or gin. My wardrobe would be 10000 offensive t shirts, all the long boots and ripped skinny jeans and I would probably shave my head just to see how it would look 🤣 !!

Dr. Lan Lan

What a true legend. I was so nervous ahead of my appointment today but I really need not have been. Dr. Lan Lan was absolutely wonderful and such a great fit for me. She was kind, informative, listened to me and I instantly felt so at ease. I am glad that my Weight Loss Surgeon knows me as well as he does and that he referred me to her. We went over everything and she came up with a plan. I have a greatly increased medicine regime to follow, new meal schedule and I have a scary new kit that the family has to learn to use in case I am found unconscious again. Probably the most upsetting part of this is that I have to test my sugar far more often and I am not allowed to drive if my blood sugar is under a certain level. Of course this is the safe and responsible thing and I am 100% in agreement with it but I do worry about how that may look in terms of disruption to our lives. My BSL has only been at a level that I would be able to drive one time in the last 2 weeks that I have been testing it.

To be honest – generally I feel a little bit overwhelmed by it all and I expect that is quite normal. We decided to do this new plan for 4 weeks and then I have another appointment with Dr. L. Hopefully we are not going to need to add in another medication or further tests but if needed she said she will fit me in as soon as possible if things do not calm down. The other medication that she wants to put me on would mean that I would have to be testing my blood pressure all the time as well – I want to avoid that if possible. So I am hoping that things will calm all the way down with the increased meds and I can start having a somewhat normal life again.

My very own stabby stick :/

Endocrinologist

Friday feels like it is looming large for me. It is a big day in my family for a few reasons but for me personally it is endocrinologist day. I am nervous. Mostly because I don’t want there to be something happening with my health but there is. Tonight we filled out the extensive amount of paper work that has to be filled in ahead of the appointment and I noticed that a squirmy feeling has started in the pit of my stomach. I always have that gnawing, unsettled feeling when I am meeting new specialists. Thankfully this is a referral from a well respected surgeon and I have a great deal of faith in his choice. When attending specialists appointments as a big person I experienced a lot of judgement. All of the many comments about my weight hit home and were taken to heart to the point that I still feel nervous even now.

Obviously my weight is not the issue here – well it is and it isn’t. The remedy for the excess weight (my weight loss surgery) may have been the trigger for whatever it is that is happening in my body at the moment – although we won’t really know that until more information is gathered or it could be stress that has triggered this. Whatever it may be – I am over it all. I have been on the new medication for a week and I am having glimpses of feeling okay so I am hopeful that we are on the right track. I still feel pretty crappy most days, but half an hour here and there without terrible symptoms feels like a blessing to me.

I will update when I know more. Much love x

Medication – Day 1

Arcabose – typically for type two diabetics but apparently used to help hold blood sugar steady so that is what I am now taking. I still experienced a couple of mild hypos last night and to be honest I still feel scared to eat this morning because I don’t want the usual to happen – in two hours I am a mess on the floor. Side effects so far – yup. I am itchy and I have the poos (sorry everyone I know how much you wanted to know that 😆) and weight loss – which lets face it, would not be ideal and seems to have already happened. But as with anything, you really have to take any medication for a couple of weeks before you will know if it is going to be okay for you or not, so I will persist. Besides my multivitamins I only take one other tablet which is for reflux so at least I don’t have to worry about any weird medication interactions taking place. It’s still not a pleasant thing to be on another type of medication but hypos that cause you to black out aren’t fun either – in short the risk is not worth being precious about having a mildly irritated butt. All in all I have woken up feeling much more positive today.

I told a close friend yesterday that I was giving myself a few days to sulk and cry and feel like everything was unfair but the truth is – there are much worse things. There are still going to be a lot of tests and there will still be mountains to climb but that is okay – the mountains will move. I have stopped feeling sorry for myself and am thankful for the breathe in my lungs today! Much love always x

Whats In A Name

I remember the first time that I met someone in my surgeons office and they said to me “Oh are you joining the losers bench?” In that moment I had a few thoughts. 1. I guess it is a natural thing to assume that a very very morbidly obese woman sitting in the waiting room of a surgeon that is known for weight loss surgery is probably there for that purpose? 2. Rude cow – what the hell is wrong with you that you would ask a stranger something like that! 3. Is that what the waiting room is known as – The Losers Bench?! ….. In that unguarded moment I think my face probably indicated what I was thinking, “Love, you are a bit of an idiot, get out of my face!” her eyes grew really really wide and she said “Ohhhhhhhhhhh, I’m sorry, I meant are you going to be having weight loss surgery, I had it 6 months ago…” And with that she was off, I heard her very exuberant life story, her passionate adoration for the surgeon I was about to meet and the fact that joining the “losers bench” was the best thing she had ever done. I am usually really excited and happy to meet new people. I love to listen to real life stories and who doesn’t love a happy ending?! But I felt seriously a bit put off by the term “losers bench.” It was well and truly stuck in my head. WTF did I want to be on the Losers Bench for?

I never did adopt that particular vernacular, however, what I have realised is that, for so many people, there is FINALLY a sense of belonging that comes from being part of a group of people that share many similar types of stories and are united by the fact that they have undergone a type of surgery to help them achieve a level of weight, health or wellness that was not going to be otherwise possible or maintainable. Joining the losers bench was not a negative thing for them, it was a positive thing. In one of my very first, and long since deleted Facebook posts about my story, I commented on losing weight and was corrected by a number of different people. One person told me “You aren’t losing weight, you are releasing weight and gaining health” another asked “why does it matter if you lose weight or not, it is your health that matters” and someone else was offended that I called it weight and didn’t say I was losing fat. I nearly gave up the internet that day because I thought “what the actual fuck is okay to say” And then I realised – it is not up to me to define the way that other people want to discuss their journey and likewise, I do not have to use phrases that make me uncomfortable.

I will staunchly defend your right to call your “Journey” whatever you wanna call it! If you wanna say that you joined the losers bench then so be it, if you wanna say you joined the winners circle then so be it, if you wanna say I am now part of the teeny tiny tummy club then, yep, soooooo be that too. My personal favourite is “I had weight loss surgery” but hey thats just a me thing. I’ll keep being me and please don’t ever stop being you because the world would be far too boring if we were all the same. You keep being you and I’ll keep being me and let’s not force our beliefs onto others!! We could even go a step further and be kind to one another and understand that we do not all have to see eye to eye and we do not have to agree! But we can all be supportive of other people’s rights to their own story AND to tell it any way that they see fit! Love Tash

2020 – The Year That Keeps On Giving

We all know that none of us share everything online right? I always remind people that we all love to share our highlight reels with the masses but when it comes down to the muckity pluck – we may try to hold some of that back! Well I am no exception to that rule. There are swathes of my life that are only for me and mine – however I am facing a new situation that is a direct result of my weight loss surgery so I feel like it is something that I should share because it is going to have a massive impact upon how I do everything in the weeks, months and years ahead.

There are times when I have struggled to be open about what is going on in my post weight loss surgery body. I share because I hope that it can possibly help others in some small way. For the most part, things for me have been quite difficult and I think it would be completely fair to say that I have not had an easy time of it. Yes I have lost a LOT of weight. I needed to lose a lot of weight. In saying that I love, celebrate and embrace all shapes – but my body was becoming increasingly immobile and shut down prior to my surgery, that is why I needed to act. I don’t regret my surgery at all. But I am feeling a little overwhelmed today.

Lets take a quick trip down memory lane. May 2018 I had an infected cyst removed from my upper gum that resulted in massive facial swelling and a long recovery. June 2018 I had RNY – Gastric Bypass. July 2018 I had my Gallbladder removed and a longer than expected hospital stay while they tried to work out what was going on with my body (scary visits from the infectious disease specialist) December 2018 Hernia repair surgery. February 2019 my husband had his first flair up around his autoimmune disease. March – June 2019 MASSIVE weight loss (around 10 kilos a month) and malnutrition issues with scope and iron infusion. July 2019 Steve’s official diagnosis. September 2019 First skin removal surgery with complications, ICU stay, return to theatre prevent me from bleeding to death, repeat blood transfusions, ongoing blood protein issues, ongoing iron issues. March 2020 heart scare and hospital Stay. May 2020 Steve had surgery. February – September 2020 strange symptoms that were attributed to stress etc. When I read that and I know that it doesn’t show even an 1/8th of what has gone on in our lives, I know that it has been a really big few years.

It has not been all doom and gloom and actually life really is kind of wonderful in so many terrific ways. I remain steadfastly grateful for the wonderful people that continue to love and care for me and for mine. So, in the paragraph above I said that I have had weird symptoms for more than half a year. If I am honest, and really think about it, it was probably even earlier than this – perhaps late last year but I didn’t want to think about or acknowledge that anything else could possibly be going on in my body. I attributed everything to stress and at the advice of my doctors, I remove additional anxiety, I changed my field of work, I stopped giving my attention to situations that were not good for me and I simplified my life. From that perspective the pandemic was wonderful because it gave me a chance to reimagine and re-think my life but the symptoms persisted. The change in work meant that my weight loss became stable and that was truly a wonderful thing – but the other things persisted.

Last week I passed out for the 3rd time in as many days.This was becoming something of a regular event. A terrifying one and not one that I want to regularly put my children or husband through but it was turning into a somewhat regular thing. So it was time for another doctors visit and more blood tests were ordered, then another doctors visit and more blood tests were ordered and after those yet another lot of emergency bloods came back and I ended up with a referral back to my weight loss surgeon. I was referred back to my specialist because my GP suspected I had a condition that can result from gastrointestinal surgery. It’s rare (yeah so surprised by that 😒) But he felt it required the input of my gastrointestinal surgeon. I called the rooms and made and appointment for the 16th of October – his soonest available. But honestly that felt like a LONG TIME to wait when I keep collapsing. I live in the State of Australia with the most cases of Covid, and if I presented at Emergency I wouldn’t see my family again until I was released …….. so I decided to contact my surgeon directly via email. I told him exactly what has happened and as usual he acted swiftly and I had my appointment yesterday. I have often said he is amazing and he TRULY is. I start medication today. I see an endocrinologist really soon as I learn how to live with reactive hypoglycaemia. Doing my blood sugars regularly, making sure I am eating enough and trying to avoid hypos. Last night, 2 hours after dinner my blood sugar level was dangerously low.

This morning, I will be honest, I feel frightened to eat because I don’t want my BSL to drop and that is what reactive hypoglycaemia does. My body is producing too much insulin and it does that in spite of what I eat. It’s not a common condition and I will learn how to manage it – it will just take me a few days to wrap my head around it all. At least it has a name and thankfully the blood tests caught it! I am so thankful that my GP believed me enough to keep looking because he knew that something was wrong. I am thankful for the urgent blood tests and for the incredible care he always gives. I am also so thankful to my surgeon. He has seriously been incredible every single time I have contacted him. The medication he has prescribed for me had to be ordered in and will arrive today so I will be able to start that tonight. So that is what has been going on with me health wise. It’s a new situation and has been really scary for me and for my family to navigate. Times like these show me who and what is important.

People that love you – truly love you – They are important. It’s easy to love someone when everything is great but who is really there for you? I know who is really there for me! Our health and well being – well that is critically important. We only get so many chances with these things and once they are lost they are sometimes lost forever so I really want to explore you to take care of those you love and take care of you.

My summer clothes have started arriving! We hope to spend Christmas in Queensland with our immediate family – providing Covid restrictions have eased sufficiently by that time.

Like a fish needs a bicycle

Sometimes life throws unexpected things at us and it truly is up to us how we respond in that moment. I am astonished at times, by how different I am now, to the person that I used to know. Although, if I am honest, I feel more like me than I ever have in my whole adult life. Who knew that I would find a whole different way of thinking underneath the layers of excess me and how different my responses have become over the years really just astonishes me. There was a time when I was incredibly influenced by the validation of others. I needed to know that everyone else thought I was doing okay and that they saw something of value or worth in me because when I looked at me all I saw was all of the broken things. Back in those pre weight loss surgery days didn’t understand how people could ever come close to liking themselves, let alone loving themselves and wasn’t loving yourself a bad thing to do anyway? Didn’t that mean that you were prideful and full of your own self importance?

Let’s stop and unpack that for a minute. I am a child of the late 1970’s – and while that time is known mostly for its bellbottoms and strange disco vibe, so much was going on under the surface. It wasn’t a time where tolerance was becoming more common – it was actually an awful era. It was an era where bullies reigned supreme. It was an era of great mistrust! Governments were keeping secrets and pointing big scary weapons at each other – as they always have done and the looming threat of nuclear war hung over us all. I can remember, as a small child, staying in a penthouse apartment with my parents and one morning, asking my mother if a bomb had gone off. It was just the sun rising like a huge liquid orange ball over the water, but it was enough to make her cry about the kind of world I was going to grow up in. I was probably more concerned with those type of things than most little children, I am quite certain it is not a normal thing to be concerned with 🤣 but ‘normal’ was never really a me thing. But the goings on in the world did not influence my formative years anywhere near the amount that religion did. And that was probably something that should have been more feared than the possibility of nuclear war.

I grew up in a devout Christian family – with many values and beliefs that I continue to hold dear, to this day. The transformative power of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is truer and more real to me than it has ever been. HOWEVER, ha! If you are close to me, and know me well then you saw that “however” coming. I started writing this three weeks ago and those that I have read have all chuckled when they came to this part – because they know my feelings on this subject. HOOOOWEVER the stick of religion that was firmly thrust …. hmmmm perhaps not – that is probably a bit too offensive. How about we say it like this, I am not as I once was. I am thankful that
I am not the same. It would be perfectly impossible to go through life, with everything that has taken place over the past decade in our lives and remain in that rut….. Actually, I suppose it would be possible to remain the same but as I am not a believer that it is wise to do the same thing forever and expect a different result, I changed. I needed to changed so I did – I have changed into the person I always was on the inside. And because of that, I want to preface the rest of this with a disclaimer. I am not and will not be sorry for the way that I feel, or for my experience. I am not seeking to offend or hurt anyone, so if you think that you may be offended then this is not the post for you. I have been asked over and over again in many emails and inboxed messages on my socials if I have lost my faith. And to that question I always reply “my faith in whom?” My faith was never up for debate so this is to answer those questions – nothing more or less 💕

My misgivings about the machine that is often wrapped around the sacred and Holy began a long, long time ago. I am referring to the systems used to manage people – because the structure, denomination or venue are not the church! People are and when the structure becomes more important than that, yeah thats when I’m out. As a small child I wondered and questioned everything. I remember wondering why certain people got more attention than others at church. I remember the tears my grandmother cried in numerous situations and my Pop’s softly spoken “ah Doll, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I saw patterns in behaviour – over and over again – to the point where I lost faith and trust that would never be regained in certain branches of the machine. I saw the same things happen over and over again throughout my childhood and into my teen years. My parents were great at shielding us from the majority of it but after a while there are parts that were so obvious that it was laughable. That crap does damage – it damaged me. The judgemental shit that I hate now was something that I always hated. I knew that my broken parts weren’t viewed favourably. There was some small comfort in that fact and during my teen years I was able to shock and horrify whomever I could with them. The real truth is that I was not a bad kid, I was a hurt kid. But thankfully we grow up and grow past those things and eventually my very own Mister McDreamy came along.

That smile and those blue eyes did things to me and happily it was mutual! I remember very vividly, a conversation had back when Stephen and I were newly engaged. I was trying so hard to shed my “bad girl” image and do everything just so. Stephen was told by a pastor that he was going to have to bridle me. 🤣🤣 For a long time I was angry, hurt and confused over that statement. I needed to be a good little cog and fit just so into the machine. Now the depths of that kind of misogyny make my skin crawl and it also makes me laugh because he didn’t even mean bridle me in the kinky, arseless chaps kind of way! (Come on now, that was at least smirk worthy – I know you kept reading even though you were warned) That beautiful example of arrogant, patriarchal thinking meant that I was going to need steering. That I was unable, as a person, as a woman, to make my own decisions or my own way in the world. I was going to need to be controlled and brought to heel. I was too much. Too passionate, too enthusiastic – I was always too something. Too thin, too fat, too intimidating, too quiet, too too too too too flipping too!! Of course these glittering assessments of my ‘flaws’s were made by people that were in possession of perfect characters themselves 😆……… but sadly, at the time, I didn’t see how absurd it all was. At the time I was a hurt young woman trying to do what was expected and I couldn’t see what was happening to me. I wanted to do the right thing so I began a really harmful process. I just reduced myself down more and more and more until I had let my me-ishness drown under the weight of the opinions of others. I have moments when I look back at my 18 year old self and wish that I could shake her into believing that she could and would chase down her dreams. I wish that I could explain to her that she would one day rise up and be her own hero, change her life and learn how to clap for herself but I don’t think it would have made any difference back then.

Thankfully Stephen didn’t believe that I needed bridling for even one moment! He never did care about the opinions of others. “You are meant to be who you are Tash” is what he said to me over and over. For years I was desperate to prove that I could be good, obedient, submissive even! 😂 The submissive part makes me laugh – have you met me? That whole bridling thing was never working in the long term. It was a sad sad thing that I would try so hard to conform to for more than 2 decades of my life. One day, a few years back, I decided that the watered down version of me was done and that was the day I stopped playing that BS role – it was about 6 weeks after that when I decided to have weight loss surgery again. What happened in all those years is not the most important thing, we all have lives and things that happen. What matters is how we allow our lives to be moulded through it all and who we are becoming and that journey was worth taking and it is something I do not regret.

Now I will not play performance based games under the guise of servitude or humility. I will lovingly give whatever I can, with no expectation of anything in return. When I love, I love and I give unquestioningly but there is a line and I don’t go beyond that anymore. I will not be a part of anything that seeks to reduce the Christian experience to something for the talented, the young, the wealthy or those that fit within a certain demographic or that want to try and live up to a particular image. The saddest part is that often this really is not what the intention is at all, but somewhere along the way it becomes that. Overwhelmingly people do have good hearts and good intentions but it is easy to feel used up and spat out if you are doing things for the wrong reasons. It is also very easy to be cynical of the process and systems that are in place, especially if you question what the outcome is.

The other thing that came out of my years of experience is that I refuse to be fake and pretend that all is glossy and golden in my world when I am hurting. I will not pretend that everything is together if I am heartbroken and falling apart. I don’t spew my hurt or pain onto others – I tend to withdraw and speak to a professional – bound by professional confidentiality! Because I have found that people love to do the “I will just tell you this so you can pray” thing 🤣🤣 The psychologist and psychiatrist get well paid to listen and they are qualified to give platitudes which I have to say, have helped me as much as most of the cliches I have ever heard. I was taught in ministry circles to “Talk Up” to those on a higher level, more highly developed or better equipped to be of use to me in whatever situation that may be in. That is probably one of the most dangerous and manipulative things that I fell for. I will never give anyone that kind of power over my life again. No one should ever be that to us and if they want to make a role for themselves like that in your life, then RUN away, don’t walk, don’t jog, RUN like your life and sanity depends upon it, because they do. No one else can run your race except you and even running coaches don’t actually run the race with us!

Imagine my shock and horror when I started to realise that I had spent years trying to do what everyone else expected of me. Would they do that for me? Would they be that stupidly loyal person – ummmm no, no they wouldn’t. And that is when the cracks between me and the Machine that is slick religion, started to show. Is my faith still in tact? Yes it is. I am more sure of the unquestionable truths that I KNOW in my heart, than I have ever been? Absolutely!! But I have zero tolerance for anything that diminishes others and makes them feel that they don’t measure up, or that they don’t fit in or that there is something wrong with them if they have questions or if they are not whatever everyone else expects. Oh but Tash, I have read some of the things you write on pages you manage, I am worried about you, you are a bit sweary now and your humour seems to be a bit off, you laugh at things that are a bit rude…… yeah guess what – I always did. I just used to be fake about it – just like most everyone else 💕 What has changed is that I won’t pretend to be something I am not. All I am doing is being myself and I am finally really good with that but I do hope and pray that I live my life in a way that honours the ones I love.

There have been a couple of influences in my life that have dramatically impacted me – besides Steve – which is a complex, complicated and private topic that I will never blog about! My relationship my Nan was probably one of the most impacting ones that I have ever had. The thing about my Nan was that you could hurt her, but she would just keep on loving. She loved to her own hurt all the time. I hope that I live the rest of my life in a way that brings honour to her memory. Without ever judging me, she made me want to be a kinder and a better human being and I will do everything with my power to honour the things she whispered to me the last time I saw her this side of eternity.

Thankfully prior to Nan leaving this earth, a really incredible person came into my life. Honestly it has been one of the most life changing friendships that I have ever made. I believe that we were destined to cross paths. There is something about her, and just because of who she is, again, I want to be a better person. Without judging me, she has loved me at my lowest lows. And, when I have done my very best to push her away, she refused to give up on me. She is the kind of friend who has said to me “well, we will see” When I have been telling her “NOPE never again!!” over whatever issue it may be and she just smiles at me 😂😂😂!! She has held my hand when I was ugly crying and couldn’t even speak for the sobs. She has been there on my mountain tops and she has never once bashed me with the Jesus stick. Besides my immediate family, I have never had a friendship quite like this one in my life. There are very few people in this life that I worry about disappointing these days but she would be one of them.

I can say truly, from my heart, that we each of us, need to learn the good lessons from those that we love but we need to learn to be our own hero’s. We can wait around for thing to happen, hoping that something will change, or we can change! I needed to change. I got tired of that feeling in the pit of my stomach, that knowing that I was always holding a bit of myself back. Now………………..well I am all the way in. I am passionate about what I get to do for a living. I am passionate about my family and I am passionate about living a healthy, balanced life! This fish does not need a bicycle and I really never did. All that I needed was to be my own hero and be brave enough to swim. Faith in tact, broken and battered by life but still good. Thats me.