It takes some of us longer than others to find our feet. I really hope that I am not the only person that can relate to this but hey if I am then thats okay too. It feels like it has truthfully taken forever for me to achieve that sense of self and to feel at ease and at home in my own skin. I spent a great portion of the last 40ish years of my life not feeling that way. My younger years were distorted by abuse that happened at the hands of a non family member and I grew up with my confidence through the floor. I was such an unhappy child. I know that I was reactive to things and I felt like I was continually scrambling to avoid sinking under the crushing weight of anxiety that came from those times.
I think that this is on my mind because I will watch another child of mine Graduate from High School in a few days and oh the relief that floods my soul that he does not have the same degree of hang ups that I had at his age.
I “acted out” in my teenage years. It was probably the first glimpse of my questioning and doubts about some of the things that I had seen growing up in a hyper faith church, and around some very dysfunctional adults. I will never forget one time, as a 14 year old, when my hollow bedroom door blew shut while some people were visiting! My door had a habit slamming and rattling and was one of those things that my parents were going to get fixed but they were really super busy and it wasn’t like a door that could slam with no help at all was really high on the list of priorities. Anyway the visitors deemed the loud door as me being deeply rude and disrespectful and the visiting adults proceeded to yell, scream and carry on about everything that I was not and how awful I was, when in fact, the wind had blown my door shut. These people had terrorised my childhood and it was always a case of “be on your best behaviour” whenever they were around or all hell quite literally broke loose. That moment was the beginning of me understanding that sometimes people were NOT right just because they were older than me, “further along in the faith” “my elders” etc etc etc. It is possible for adults to be entitled, abusive, angry people and they would go on to prove themselves to be exactly that, time and time again.
That was the first time that I distanced myself from someone and I was right to do that! It would be years before I would personally have dealings with them again. I called it at 14 and wish with all of my heart that I had kept to what I felt back then but hey hide sight is 20 / 20! In short, after a lifetime of this and other unacceptable things happening, I was hurting and put myself into situations that were unsafe at times. Up until then I was always so keen to please, trying to gain approval and trying to feel like there was value in me. I felt like I needed to find a way to banish the self loathing that had entwined itself so fully into my heart that I struggled to find where the loathing stopped and I began. I was in a cycle, self loathing, disordered eating behaviours, placing myself at risk, giving people that did not see my worth power over me, and when I was treated poorly, then self loathing again. It was a pervasive thing that found its way into every single part of who I was.
I found some sense of belonging and feelings of self worth inside Christian teachings – but not the hyper faith movement that I grew up in. In that particular shit storm I found judgement and happy clappy, fake purveyors of a slick, shiny religion that diminished everything down to a point where everything became about being able to do things to earn love.
It would be years and years of feeling broken and trying so hard to be good enough before I would have a moment of total clarity. I had had some horrible complications during pregnancy and someone said that if we did not come and see them immediately they would be leaving the church. In that moment I checked out. I realised how often I brought into that, how often I put my own health both mentally and physically, on the back burner for others. Now thankfully I do not do, or give, anything unless I can freely and willingly do so without the thought of it ever benefiting me in any way at all and as long as it is not going to damage my emotional or physical well being.
I have little time for that type of thing now days. I have a couple of jobs, a busy family and I have found that found game playing, jumping through organisational hoops, being at church every single time the door is open and unrealistic expectations of week nights out on a regular basis are all things that I am just unwilling to do. I am excluded from certain things because of those choices and I am 100% good with that! I would far rather everyone know exactly where they stand with me as opposed to seeing someone on Sunday and then a different person entirely during the week.
I also feel like this needs to be said – I am a nicer, better, kinder person since I stepped away from the pressure of the hyper faith movement. I look back over those times in my life when I was struggling to fake it till I made it and all I made was myself and others miserable!! My god I was awful at times. I was so fricken miserable and I took it out on other people and I will have to live with those consequences for the rest of my life BUT the thing is – I will live. I refuse to just stay stuck and stagnate as I was. Weight loss surgery saved me. As my fat left, so too did the loathing and bitter hatred that I courted for myself. The frustration at not being able to be the person that I wanted to be because of my weight, diminished, until I knew that I would only ever be held back by my own limiting beliefs and that was a very happy day indeed.
I share small chunks of my life here. Usually my weight loss surgery life things. That surgery and its on going effects are probably the most impacting thing on my own situation and life but I feel like this other story runs along side of it.
When I was 14 years old, we were told that all was not well in the area of my hormones. I was told that I may never be able to have children. I was told that I had cysts in and on my ovaries and a whole heap of other things that would be a lot for anyone to deal with but they really were a LOT for a teenage girl. At that point I did know that one day I would want to be a mother, but I don’t think that the full implications of what was told to me at that appointment really sunk all the way in for many years to come. I was very fortunate that I would go on to have 5 incredible children, who I love dearly.
But there truly is this other story that has always run alongside of my weight and it is the one of my periods and my hormones. When I lift the lid on the period story, it started for me when I was just 9. I was clearly early to that party! Precocious pubertyish? Particularly back in the 80’s, when girls were not getting their periods that early. Mine were horrible from the very beginning. Always, ALWAYS heavy and cramps like you wouldn’t believe. If we fast forward through the years, I would be married and would fall pregnant fairly easily, but the heavy periods persisted except for 4 blissful months after Mr. 19 was born ……. and then they were back with a vengeance. When I say back with a vengeance, I mean 10 – 12 days of very heavy bleeding every month. Never being able to use tampons because I would flood them within 10 minutes kind of bleeding. Multiple packs of monster pads every single month, horrific cramps etc.
When we fell pregnant with our last baby we thought it would be great because no periods for a while but I bled throughout the whole pregnancy. By the time he was born I was bleeding non stop and when he was 8 weeks old I had to have surgery. I had a massive ovarian cyst and there was concern about the lining of my uterus. A few months later I would have an ablation. That is when the lining of the uterus is burned. This works in a very high percentage of women. It did not work for me and my periods continued.
They were slightly lighter for a few years – until I had weight loss surgery and then Oh my god they took off again. Recently they have been lasting 20 days with 10 days in between. Prior to the weight loss surgery I didn’t have to battle the iron issues (except while pregnant with our last child) but now I was thrust into my own fresh hell. Finding myself unable to move some mornings and my iron levels couldn’t stay at the correct level, even with infusions and religious iron supplementation.
3 Weeks ago I saw my gynaecologist and last Saturday he removed my uterus and my tubes. I called my weight loss surgeon to ask him if I should expect weight gain and he said nope, my ovaries are staying so not at all. So far I have been asked if I feel empty, I have been asked if I feel old now, I have been told that I am going to love it, told to buy white pants and never worry again and I have been told that I will feel like it is the best thing I have ever done. I am still waiting for those euphoric feelings to come. I woke from surgery and felt pretty good until the nausea started and the babies started to cry – yep they put me in the maternity ward to recover. That stung, more than I would ever admit to anyone face to face. I don’t want pity for it but fricken hell, that cut. People have also said “oh just wait for grandchildren” and thankfully my own mum said to me “sweetheart it isn’t the same don’t listen” hahaha I love her so much.
I know people want to talk to me about it and ask me how I feel but I am not ready for that yet. I would rather make jokes about my red raw arse from the reaction I am having to the antibiotics and just pretend that everything is okay. Sooooooooo hopefully in this instance I can fake it till I make it!
Some day I cannot write for trying. But I thought of you all day – I always do.
I have felt like the Tin Man lately. I have felt fairly numb and I know full well that I have been disassociating because it is easier at times than dealing with the harsh reality of life which can, at times, feel very challenging. So what has been going on?
Well, I am staring straight down the barrel of another surgery. It is something that I truly did not want to do. I didn’t want to have another surgery and I didn’t want to have the particular one that I now need. The truth of the matter is that for the longest of times there is a part of me that wished I could have been a mother one more time. I know that isn’t possible now but it doesn’t stop me from wishing.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Oh I am so grateful for the children that I have. I love them all so dearly. I pray with all of my heart that they have the very best lives possible and am so thankful for their love and kindness towards me. I truly have amazing children!! There is no buts about that. I do wish that I had been a more active mum when they were little and that I had never had a lapband and the dramas that followed it. I am very different as a human being right now to how I was all those years ago when I became a mother for the first time but I have given away the thought that another child could happen for us, so I am going to have a hysterectomy.
My gynaecologist would have been happy to do this surgery in 2014 … The only stipulation that he had for the surgery to be safe was that I would need to lose some weight. Obviously there is no problem with my weight these days and I am seeing my gynaecologist on Wednesday to set the date. I feel overwhelmed but thankful for the thought of being able to get my iron issues under control.
This has come about because my recent blood tests have not been good. I have been tested every couple of months for a while now and my levels have not come up to a normal level even with extensive supplementation. 12 days ago I had an infusion and it has not made enough of a difference. My periods are coming every 9-10 days and lasting 10 days each time. I am just exhausted. I will update when I know more after Wednesday.
Hopefully I may feel more like I have emotions when I am a bit less tired. It would be nice to think that I could get back to normal rather than feeling like I am just on auto pilot! But I must say that I do tend to do auto pilot quite well!
We have some very interesting conversations in lockdown and one of the kids recently asked me what happened in my heart to cause me to change. (he was referring to my weight loss, new career, business etc) And I had to think about it for a while but you know what – I think it was the fact that I spent so many years of my life ignoring things that had happened to me and I gave away pieces of me until I lost the sense of who I actually was. I spent years of my life entombing myself in my very own prison! I spent years hoping that someone would see me, would help me, would rescue me but the truth was I didn’t need some other saviour, I needed to get up and realise that no one else could save me from myself except me! I had to find value in myself, I had to get up and do it myself! I didn’t get to be the weight that I was because of neglect, I got there through systematically abusing my body and treating myself so poorly because the truth of it is that that is all I felt that I deserved. I cannot even begin to explain how many times I withdrew from situations and from people, even from some of you because I was afraid of rejection, or afraid that I would be seen the way that I saw myself. Then one day in 2017, as I tried to walk across a stage in a graduation robe that wouldn’t fit me, I realised that no one else was coming to save me. I was going to have to do something different if I wanted things in my life to change. It has been the hardest, most confronting thing in the world to look myself in the eye and see myself how I was and then start to imagine myself how I could be. I now believe that process will be life long and I also believe that I am not where I used to be and I am so profoundly thankful for that but I also have a whole lot more mountains to climb!! I am so thankful for hope and for the fact that the knight in shining armour that I was waiting for was actually a brave brave big lady who could see in her mind what she wanted for her life and for her health so she got up and did something about it for herself! #beyourownhero
I think I always had a bit of angst with my body. Things that happened to me when I was a child caused me to believe that my body wasn’t really mine and that I had little control over it. From that broken place a really poor view of myself and my body grew. It has taken me a long long time to feel comfortable to talk about this. Even this week I have been asking myself questions about some of the beliefs that I grew up with around , victim blaming and other issues that I can now see were at the heart of poor self esteem.
I didn’t believe I was incredible, strong or unique. I felt disempowered and then other things took place in my life that reinforced that to me. I am truly grieved that it took me the best part of 40 years to start to love myself and my body.
For a while I did wonder about weight loss and body positivity. My journey towards loving my body had begun prior to weight loss surgery and my health had been in a rapid decline due to my size. As part of loving my body and myself I decided that if I was going to live, I simply had to try to lose some of the weight that was beginning to cause other life threatening medical conditions!
For me, I did not have a goal in mind, I didn’t have a size in mind. All I had was a hope of living past the age of 45. So I had the surgery. The entire process has been about wellness, kindness and lovingly accepting myself at all of the different stages of this journey.
Now I am still covered in damaged skin and my body is just that – mine. I love it as it was, and as it is today. How I look is no one else’s concern and likewise the way others look is never for me to make assumptions or judgements about!
Even the skin removal was a matter of health for me. Carrying all of that around was not going to be good for me as I aged and it was very heavy and gave me regular infections. Now I am left with scars and I am totally okay with that 😌
I guess what I am saying is that I feel like I have come a long way in accepting myself as I am and also understanding that this is always going to be a process, with new chapters being written. I am thankful for that. I am in love with the life and the process of finding out what is around the next corner and walking that walk out with love and kindness – both to myself and to others.