Colonoscopy

Seems I need to find at least one body part each month that wants to screw with me.

This month was my colon.

When you turn 50 you should have a colonoscopy as a routine part of your yearly (that year). If all goes well, they put you on a 3-5 year repeat schedule.

I had several colonoscopies many years back and had the most violent reactions to the prep and the anesthesia. I had zero desire to do it ever again, polyps be damned. But then I started bleeding bright red blood from my back side and knew I was going in for one.

They scheduled me quickly as there were no obvious exterior signs that I had a hemorrhoid or something like. I negotiated with the doctor to take the easiest possible prep since I can’t manage more than 4 oz at any time.

This prep was truly simple and I was also sure to fast the day before based on my experience. I swallowed 20 pills over the course of about an hour, then spent the next couple hours cleaning out the colon. The next morning you take another 12 pills. The anesthesia was light and easy and had no post procedure effects other than tiredness. I got a polyp removed (what they think caused the blood) and a clean bill of health otherwise.

For once, I came through a procedure unscathed! Hurrah for me!

I didn’t do much the day of the procedure, laid low, napped and did the absolute minimum about of exercise. I was still tired a day later, but was back on track.

Wondering what my next ailment will be. I’m sure there’s one around the corner waiting for me.

I Trapped Myself

I acknowledge that I am stuck in repetitive negative thoughts. The patterns are so immersed that I believe my brain processes the obsession as my normal cognitive behavior. When I don’t “get what I need/expect” I fight for it.

Fighting for it got me into a hole I nearly didn’t get out of last year.

I fought with my boss and had to leave a job. I fought with my children and still have one relationship that needs mending. I fought with Tony until I made him despise me. Even though, at times, I knew I should stop pushing, it felt like I was wired to defeat myself.

I had trapped myself into my own bad behaviors.

I tried to convince myself that going to Mexico was a reset button for me. If I could lose the weight other things would fall in place. Again, really bad thinking on my part. I know part of it was severe depression because I didn’t want to care if I died. I thought if I could feel physically better about myself, perhaps the emotional duress would lessen.

That’s clearly not what happened. I made everything much, much worse before it even started to level out these past few weeks.

Learning to get out of these behaviors is taking a toll on me. I am doing what I can which is primarily holdings myself accountable by writing out the damaging behaviors as well as redirection and create new, healthy patterns.

I actively try to stop my obsessive thoughts by interrupting myself. My brain is so powerful it can bring me right back to the unwanted and uncomfortable thoughts and I can’t exercise it away all day and night. I have disputed my sleep pattern despite including significant activity in my day. I disrupted my eating pattern and found the old habit of not thinking what was going hand-to-mouth too easy to fall back into.

I stopped the poor eating (there was a different trigger there will talk about in a separate post). Now I am going to figure out exactly what I need to build in my brain to stop the obsessive thoughts. I need a mini activity (even a brain activity, doesn’t have to be physical) that I do each time I begin to obsess. I need a replacement thought.

As much as I currently feel like my life was ruined, I want to begin believing it is simply changed. I have the power to begin making new and different choices. Choices that are better for me. I am not alone. People have lived through heartbreak and come out stronger the other side. I can too.

I hate self talk like I hate exercise but I’ve got to try something different. I may even make a vision board.

Follow Through

Did I follow through on the most important goal I set for myself Tuesday?

Yes!

I wrote out 4 SMART stories before my call with the outplacement consultant. Her job is to help me finesse those stories into compelling statements that will say ” this is why you hire me and not someone else.” I actually asked a respected work friend if they agreed on those stories as my strongest in her memory – because I want to be sure this is how others view me as well.

I even sent out one resume and 2 emails for networking. It really isn’t a back-breaker but this morning made me realize it’s something I have to schedule in as a must do.

I was very distracted so it took me a period of 3.5 hours to do this task. The stories are not easy and required a bit of thinking, but I was avoiding them. The emails and networking was a no-brainer. I have firmly decided I am going to be sure to include a FOCUSED half hour each day to be done before 11am.

In my own crazy, cracked way – this upset my flow a little, my mind started thinking “how can we get out of exercise today?” Almost like “we’ve accomplished enough already!” Ummmm, no. That’s become a non-negotiable.

I acknowledge that my mind plays a game of trade-offs “If you do this Mads, then maybe you don’t have to do that other thing you don’t really want to do anyway.” It was fine to start that way when I was tired and broken. It’s not fine to stay there anymore. It’s March and I’ve got to get up off the floor. I’ve lost, I’ve hit rock bottom, I gave up and I gave in. I quit the game as close as possible. But, something (call it a greater power or my own willfulness) kept me around. I’m here. So I can continue to be a wasteful slug, or I can get going.

This is a psychological battle for me that I need to change. Because, seated somewhere deep within is my drive, my desire, to do more.

I can’t quite dig it out from under, my drive, but it’s like digging that never-ending hole in the sand st the beach ….. you know eventually you are going to hit water…. just a little further because you know in your gut it’s there – you can sense it.

As I’m sitting here having my second cup of coffee I realize I have the privilege of time at the moment – a luxury I’ve never had. I’ve already squandered a bunch of precious time in my healing and debilitating obsession and depression, but now that I am almost fully physically healed, I need to strengthen myself both emotionally, intellectually and physically. The only way I can continue to do this is by small changes each day or week.

I’ve committed to adding the half hour work focus at least 3 times a week (I don’t even need 5 days) and believe it’s totally doable to add in before I start my exercise routine.

In order to convince myself, I did find a trade-off I can make, temporarily. If I want a break, a time-out, a pity party or whatever we want to call it – I’m going to take it. But I can’t do it more than once a week. Consider it like looking towards a weekend food or drink binge after a hard weeks work. My brain and body still feel like I’m pushing them too far and too hard and they like to revolt every chance they get – so I’m gonna let them revolt, on a sort of schedule. I’m in the midst of analyzing my last 4 full weeks of effort (I am 26 straight days and refuse to do less than a 30 day streak) and come up with a plan of attack of how I can exercise, work, be lazy, and do life stuff (like any normally human does – but I’m not quite back to normal). I think getting a schedule together after this month is a good idea to begin thinking about how I spend my time and use that time more wisely.

I’ve agreed with myself that a pity party cannot include eliminating the gains I’ve made in exercise. I’ve studied up on active recovery days and that’s how I can use my “lazy day”. I get to shut off my mind and veg if I want, but I’ve got to get in a minimum amount of activity.

I got this.

Hit a Little Low

A little low, I realized, is much different than where I have been! So that’s good news, right?

I didn’t sleep well, was up and tossing every hour which is unusual as of late.

Wasn’t as motivated to work out as I have been the past 18 days.

Didn’t really want to move from couch.

Sort of depressed I haven’t focused energy on the work search. I’ve put my energy on exercise which I’ve been very consistent with now that I’m in week 3.

It was hard to determine work OR exercise. I didn’t feel like I could do them both yet. But I feel immense guilt that I have no money and no motivation to do something about it.

I am guessing the early phone call with my x about son #1 who is living with him for the past month really set me off. It literally disturbed my mojo and I lost focus. What’s most worrisome about that is – how the hell am I going to actually work if I can’t manage more than one crisis/challenge at a time. I’m not writing about the phone call because my heart rate will spike (it literally got higher than my cardio!). But, am sure to write about son #1’s current actions in another post. The recap is basically he is not coming home and may be dropping out of school.

That one (admittedly very important) thing really threw me down to the ground. I did exercise quickly after that but could not find my center to push myself. Maybe today just becomes an active rest day.

So I’m sitting here writing this post and mulling over when I’m gonna get my ass in gear for the job search. Whole-heartedly in gear. I’m half-assing it at the moment or not doing anything at all.

I don’t even want to get my steps in today. I don’t think it’s good to fall off a wagon 18 days in. I am going to console myself that I still exercised for 35 minutes and I will go on the treadmill for another 30. Again, not a hard effort, but something.

At least I’m doing better than my pre-February self.

How to Become a Morning Person?

How many of you are Morning people?

God knows, I’m not and never have been. I remember when my kids were small fighting through the cries to sleep a little longer, then ignoring the tugging at the side of the bed and making them crawl in with me. I created another generation of late sleepers and these boys of mine can sleep later than anyone I know!

My kids literally do not want to speak in the mornings. They want zero attention and need to be left alone. If they are awake at the same time, they will eat in different rooms with varying light patterns. One likes it dark and warm, the other likes the morning light from a soft couch and a bit cooler. When I say “Good Morning!” I get grunts of acknowledgement and I’ve learned not to push.

I hate waking up early. Anything before 8 am feels like death to me. And most years of my life I have had to be up somewhere between 530am – 630am. My favorite work years were when I could sleep til 730am and take an 830am commute. Yes, I was late every day but my industry gets a late start.

730am feels like a magic number for me, not too early and manageable. I’ve been taking my youngest to school every day just to get this habit going again. I’ve been tracking along my sleep cycles on Fitbit.

I’ve been reading a lot about habits and how the most effective people in this world have very specific patterns. One of them is the 5am wake up call. The thought of that literally makes me gag. But, no matter how many articles I read, one of the core foundations of successful people is early rising.

Ugh.

I’m just starting to work on healthy habits – any healthy habit that I feel I can build and STICK with.

So back to that morning thing…it’s been about just about 2 months that I’ve woken up with the kid and got him to school on time. I feel less internal argument with myself to rise now that I’ve convinced myself it’s a “mom at home” requirement. My older son appreciates that he doesn’t need to drive his brother to school anymore (he did it for 3 months while I was sick) and will do it as a favor for me when I can’t without any arguments. This habit has clicked over to automatic thinking. I read something that said adjust habits slowly, so now I set the alarm clock back 10 minutes. I don’t need the 10 minutes BUT my goal is to eventually train myself for a normal work routine again so I don’t find it overwhelming when the time comes (because EVERYTHING still feels overwhelming to me). So far, so good. The small adjustment hasn’t affected me and the same article mentioned I shouldn’t change my go-to-sleep time, only my wake-time.

I fear I may never be a morning person, but I do believe if I were just to grab an hour or two more in the morning, I could develop a better work/life balance once work kicks back into gear. I’m afraid that the good habits I’m developing now would disappear as I have the ability to basically craft my entire day around my exercise.

Let’s see how the small steps go!

Health ?

I’ve been very lucky or very blessed. I’m still unsure which but I tend to lean towards a higher power continues to step in to save me.

I wouldn’t say I have been a healthy person for the latter half of my life.

I’ve almost met my maker at least 3 times in 50 years. There’s got to be a reason for that?

Maybe?

I’ve had the worst health run of most people I know because I’m always in that 1% that weird things happen to. But I survived. I chose the VSG surgery so I could take better care of myself, so with the other complications in the rear view, it’s time I take control.

Keto isn’t easy but it’s doable. Retraining your brain to eliminate obvious carbs is tough. Sometimes I just want a damn Triscuit.

I usually cave to my favorite Grandma pizza on Friday nights and a sesame bagel on Sunday.

I bought a Ketosis tracking machine. A small device where you prick your finger and it takes a reading. I am starting to learn that I can actually have my favorite cheats as long as I continue with exercise and taking my MCT oil. It’s not ideal, and it’s not a true Keto plan but like any other way of eating I’ve tried, I need to build in things that don’t make me feel deprived. I feel full, I’m eating better (hugely reduces sugar) and I have a built in portion control mechanism now.

My belly and guts make noises like I’ve never heard before. People say this is common after VSG. I also hiccup with one bite too many or too fast. It’s a great automatic lever because I still don’t “feel” full but have this amazing auto-reaction that says “stop now or it’s going to hurt.” I notice I still have to focus on eating more slowly. Having smaller portions helps as I don’t want to finish hours before everyone else, but my brain is trained to eat quickly and I have to reprogram it.

I use smaller plates and can easily tell how much food in a serving is too much for me. If I eat the right things, my hunger is curbed appropriately. I probably still don’t drink enough water so that’s something I have to work on. I tend to wake up throughout the night to drink which definitely signals I need more water throughout the day.

When I’m on a date, they don’t usually notice how little I eat or drink. I’m such a cheap date now! My friends notice though. They notice I barely eat and that I don’t drink even half of what I used to – they liked me when I enjoyed more! I tell them I enjoy eating and drinking as much as I always did, I just do less of it and it’s fine!

I chose the surgery because portion control was always my biggest issue. Now it’s controlled whether I like it or not! It’s interesting how the mind works – knowing I “can” eat anything I want makes it much easier not to eat it. I can’t over eat anymore. But if I am dying for a peanut butter cup, I can have one and not feel the guilt.

My heaviest weight back in 2012 was around 256 pounds. My weight prior to surgery was 214 pounds and today was 154 pounds. I can’t believe I’ve lost 100 pounds from my frame overall. I made a photo compilation of the 3 faces of Madeline over the past 7 years and I look healthier and younger.

As for how the weight falls off me, I notice a pretty consistent 3 week stall, then 4th week drop. My initial goal was 150 pounds but I am pretty sure I am going to drop it to 140-145 pounds. The surgeon feels, since I am now a normal BMI, I won’t lose anymore.

I did have to have my wound cauterized again which was super painful this time as he had to open up the edges and make fresh skin that would heal again. It’s a bloody mess and hurts now, but bloody means healthy.

I don’t know if I can ever be happy I made the decision to have the surgery, or have it in Mexico. But, in typical Mads fashion, I am beginning to forget about the horror I endured and starting to focus on the tool I now have in my body. I need to put this weight loss to good use.

I don’t know if I’m in peri-menopause or if my body is still in shock (totally possible according to the doctors) but I just had another 75 day stretch with no period. I don’t miss not getting a period but I prefer to keep the hormones around! I still have to get back to the doctor to discuss what we are going to do about the polyps.

I’ve been steadily ensuring I am working out every day, no matter what. A 30-45 minute commitment is more daunting before I do it so I just have to stop thinking about it and force myself into automation. It honestly feels good to be a little sore and I’m sure, soon enough, I will start sleeping better as well. I have totally lost my ass from the weight loss and feel excess skin hanging everywhere. I don’t like it so I need to change that. I don’t think I have “so much” excess skin that a steady exercise routine won’t fix.

Sorry my posts are so mundane but I think boring might be good for me for a while as I begin to take my life back into control.

Blogging has always helped me maintain focus when I commit to it.

Small forward steps are happening. I am still obsessing over Tony, but I’m taking control of myself again.

Why This and Not That?

Believe it or not I just finished 10 mins on the Peloton and 10 mins arms, made myself a protein shake and sitting down shaking my head.

How is it I can so adversely hate exercise that my brain can find a million reasons “not to” and I can’t seem to find that same thought when I want to reach out to Tony. It’s the same damn thought “don’t do it” and one actually has a positive outcome while the other has a negative outcome. I feel physically better following any exercise and, if I keep it up, I know I will appreciate the overall results of a toned body and better sleep. I certainly don’t have any of that when it comes to Tony!

Why am I programmed for all this negativity? It’s like I set myself up for more and more pain and don’t even try to help myself out of it. (Oh yes, I know, we’ve seen this bad behavior from me for years now).

What was the one trigger that got me off the couch today? As terrible as this sounds, I convinced myself I could get right back on it and sleep the day away if I just put in the 20 mins. I did it, made the shake and now sitting back on the couch.

Will it work tomorrow or the day after?

It’s not even 10:30 am and I’ve thrown in the towel for the day.

I do acknowledge that until a habit forms, I need to track. I wasn’t paying enough attention to the Keto eating and was over consuming calories and needed to track to ensure I was watching my macros. I haven’t worn my Fitbit in some time because I was tired of it reminding me I needed to move every hour! My brain was able to ignore it enough to say “don’t do it” and eventually remove it.

I am so angry at myself (for a moment, then it passes) for not investing in myself. I went to the trouble of having a surgery for chrissakes and all the pain I endured and I created an amazing foundation for myself, one that I haven’t had in years (being thin).

I read an article about obsession. Obsession drives us equally for better or worse. It’s what makes us successful and it’s what makes us invest in poor choices. People are obsessive about their career and health. Some about family or love. When we are obsessive in the wrong way (not letting go of something), it creates a problem. But when we are obsessive in the right way (staying on schedule, eating well, managing our families or careers) it actually fuels us to continue doing better. Clearly I have an obsessive compulsive disorder which is unhealthy in itself, but I have also used it to my advantage in the past. I don’t know why I can’t be obsessed with myself for a little while: eat well, be healthy and fit, and let go of Tony.

Strangely enough, the short communication with his wife settled me. I gave her enough affair specifics that proves our timeline so he can lie all he wants now. If she’s clever, she will ask the questions before giving up the information. I almost wish I had sent her our text string for a 6 month period. He could say anything he wanted but those text prove how he was leading me to believe there was a life for us. I hadn’t read those text in a long time because they hurt so badly. But, I sat and read all 4000 or so pages in that string. It brought back some really lovely memories and the pain of waiting. It was ok. I didn’t cry or breakdown. I just read. And I had some weird feeling of relief.

Someone mentioned the itch to speak to him is going to come back. I don’t know. When I made up my mind to end Bobby and sent my emails to Ann, I stopped. Somehow I stopped them and somehow I will stop now.

Like the saying “let go and let God.” I’ve given over what I had and it’s their marriage to manage. I don’t think I will hear from either of them ever again.

Who Is That Person?

Slowly, very slowly, I have been easing myself back into the real world and acknowledging I don’t have much longer to subsist on liquid assets and have to earn an income. Oh joy.

My time is running out quickly. March 1st was the internal deadline I set for myself to have a job and start being fit. That gave me a full 6 months of healing. I have done absolutely nothing in the way of fitness and believe me I have all the time in the world as well as an expensive Peloton Bike. I have, however, started the gears going on my job search.

Luckily, I have a good outplacement service paid for by previous employer. I had a slow start as I was confused about how to search for a role that pretty much doesn’t exist anymore. It wasn’t until my resume rewrite was complete that I realized I had to change the way I was thinking about transferable skills as well as what I may want to achieve in my next role.

My resume writer is very strong, definitely better than the one I had in 2014. We speak on the phone and she gives me suggestions about how to finesse my thoughts on my brand (me). I realized through research what was bothering me about my old resume. The resume appeared to say “I did this” and then “I did more of this” and finally “I did a lot more of this” without really highlighting my soft skills that have been quantifiable from my previous role. I was solely focused on my technical skills as I had been in the past, and many of those are actually not transferable skills. But, soft skills are hard to quantify – everyone can state “influential and dynamic” in writing, but I had actually influenced change and created a dynamic process and team – I had quantifiable achievements that can be considered highly valuable in another area.

So we talked through what was on my mind, I made some bullet points for her to use as specifics and a jumping off point to refine and wordsmith to create my brand and we had a blueprint to a new resume focus.

The resume that came back was fascinating! It took me more than a few minutes to digest that it was, perhaps, me. It felt uncomfortable at first. I sent it to a few close peers and received back “sounds just like you, Mads!” Even when I questioned them “isn’t that too over the top? Do I really do these things? do you receive me as a Visionary Leader?” their answers were always “yes, that’s you now.”

Ummmmmm, ok. Humbled.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I haven’t had many moments of true happiness and confidence in 9 months. I got the iceberg in January of 18, but I really didn’t begin to sink until April of 18. Once I took on water, I went down fast from April – September. By September I had given up all hope and just wished for a painless exit. We all know I wasn’t granted my wish, God has a higher purpose for me. I didn’t experience any lasting moments of Joy from April through November, it seemed as if one more difficult, trying or miserable thing just kept happening and I was helpless to affect the outcome.

Regardless if Rob is never apart of my life, the Thanksgiving Football Party with my family, friends and Rob brought me a great deal of happiness for the first time in what had felt like forever. The feeling continued for some time and was the first glimpse that I could move forward. I had another lovely burst of joy around a holiday party with my family, sans a man, but it didn’t have the same lingering effect as the first. My life isn’t entirely devoid of happy moments, they just seem to fade very quickly at this time.

The resume was the second instance of lingering confidence and joy, and this didn’t happen until January. You will all be pleased to note this had nothing to do with a man! Reading the new view of myself elevated my confidence level to the moon and back. But then the doubts crept in – was that really me? Could I do it? Did I want to do it? Do I want to work that had to achieve? Was I presenting an imaginary version of myself?

I knew I could do it if I put my mind to it, but my mind isn’t necessarily in working order these days.

I also know I need to be consistent with positive thoughts and put my statements out into the universe, repeat them and bring the positive energy and light back unto me. I do believe in this, but putting daily mindfulness into practice has always been difficult for me.

I chose to take a webinar about bulletproof confidence. I need to invest in myself and do more mindfulness, but the hours of doing nothing still seem to slip by. The therapist says I will get there, but I’m beginning to get worried that I’m buried in cement as I can’t seem to maintain the effort.

What am I so afraid of?

The glimpses come and they are wonderful and enlightening, but I cannot sustain them. Maybe I am just too afraid of flying high and failing all over again: making promises I can’t actually keep because I’m a fraud?

A failed relationship, a failed career and parenting fails out the whazoo. I’m tired of picking myself up off the ground only to find myself here again, but my total lack of desire to even try this time is frightening, even to me.

Growing Up

Growing up….gosh I don’t recall as much as some other folks do. I think I had a decent childhood earmarked by things I loved and adored.

But when someone reframed events and circumstances for you (hello my therapist) you start to rethink HOW you remembered things. And I have an amazing knack for taking the good forward and leaving the bad behind. Sometimes even eliminating the bad so I don’t have to feel those negative things again.

My father never really engaged in a positive way with his children. I recall begging for any positive attention. I never really liked my father and it took a deathbed promise to my mother to stop arguing with him. My most outstanding memory was being hit by my father, or chased and punished. Until I was 16. Years later my mother and father denied he ever “hit” me. Because of my father ever “hit”Me I would be dead. He simply gave me “love taps” as they liked to call them. Nothing like gaslighting your own child, right?

My father now speaks and behaves as if my mother was the only person that mattered in his life. He has no engagement with his 5 grandchildren unless he eats a meal with us. I’m sure he loves all of us in his own way, but his way is something I will never understand.

I don’t recall him ever encouraging me as a child. I was always “fat” and he called me by a nickname I hated and begged not to be called. Even to this day he tells me how I don’t know anything. When I first got a job (in an office) he thought I would never have “hard work” because I wasn’t a laborer. At least his opinion of that has changed as he’s watched me kill myself working over the years.

I got my work ethic from him. And my ability to be stubborn and argue before listening. I am most unlike my father. I am pretty sure he didn’t like me as a child, but he is proud of me as an adult because he can see the fruit of my labor. I never told him about the surgeries or Mexico because he would never understand.

I still blame him for my mother’s end. Not her death, but how she lived in squalor because he was so possessive and wouldn’t allow anyone else to care for her when he clearly couldn’t. When I think of it I get so angry I could hurt him. My mother had to be carted around like a doll when she was in stage 4 cancer, diapers, and incoherent because of what “he wanted” to do. It was always his way or the highway. Still is. Now I just allow him into our lives on my terms since I know I have to accept him as he is. I feel sad he is my father and tried the best he could. I don’t think he really wanted children the way my mom did. He just wanted her to himself.

My mom, I still have a hard time admitting I wasn’t the child she wanted. An even harder time admitting she didn’t know how to mother a child like me. If she had lived longer we might have found our stride – but we didn’t for most of my life. I regret this immensely and hope this doesn’t happen with my own children. It scares me to death.

My poor mother had to deal with my father who was cruel and possessive, her mother who was mentally unstable and needy (and the two of them hated each other) and then I come along and I’m high strung and aggressive and want to be left alone. I don’t want to do the girl things she wants me to do. I don’t want to take care of her the way she cared for her mother at her beck and call. I watched her be miserable and refused it for myself. I watched her live my brothers life for him, coddling him to a point where he is incapable of being an adult (until he met a woman who kicked his ass!). Her life scared me. I know she wanted better for me and always encouraged me and was my biggest cheerleader – but she was disappointed in my lack of empathy and compassion when I was young (it was her hallmark). I have it now….but not sure if it would have been enough for her.

The hallmark of my entire young life was “not enough” or “too much” and then that carried through to my marriage. How do you forgive your inner child or begin to like her again when she was never just “enough”.

I also realized the first forms of validation I received on being enough came from boyfriends. This is probably why I continue to seek validation with men. The early boyfriends I had were so good to me. Every one of them wanted to marry me. They were all good men for that point in my life but I grew out of each one for one reason or another.

Looking back a growing up I realize I never really liked myself because my parents didn’t like me. I didn’t make solid friends until high school, around the same time I became interested in boys. We had moved twice when I was young and I just couldn’t connect to the girls until I joined Flag Squad In High School and became a part of a “team.” By that time the boys came on the scene and I never really developed those female relationships that so many do. I depended on men for validation from the very beginning.

So much work to do still and it’s so hard. How do you forgive and accept yourself for so many years ago? What if I never like that child? She was always awkward and needy. She never felt pretty until very late – 10th grade – when she realized how sexual she was. Will I always feel like that little girl? With peaks of happiness but not truly satisfied with herself underneath it all? Thinking and feeling that no one really knew her and loved her for who she was. They always wanted her to be someone else until she met her boyfriends. They wanted her just as she was. They would have stayed by her side. Why didn’t her parents feel that way? That she was good enough just the way she was?

Adoption

How do I really feel about adoption?

Other than exploring alternative feelings in therapy, I would always say I am very positive about adoption.   I do not truly understand the stigma people feel related to adoption.

I was adopted the day after I was born, because my mother desperately wanted a child. She told me that she wouldn’t have stayed married to my father had they not gotten the call for me so many years ago.  Her family was thrilled for her because she was the beloved only-child in a large family of cousins.  I never felt anything less than wanted growing up, and never, to this day, question who my parents are.  I even get a bit annoyed when people call them my  “adoptive parents.”   There is no need to label my parents other than parents, they raised me, loved me, cared for me and provided for me my entire life. My birthparents need a distinguishing label because they created me, but did not nurture or parent me.   I literally gag when people refer to my birthparents as “your real parents.’  My real parents are the ones who raised me, no one else is more real to me than my parents.

I do get angry when people feel the need to distinguish the people who raised me with any moniker other than parent.

The back story of my adoption is very interesting, but much too long to share (literally deserves a book) so I will provide and edited version:  Hank and Judy met in High School and were from different sides of the tracks, so to speak.  Hank came from a wealthy and social family and Judy from a less-affluent family.   Hank went off to college and during his first  Christmas break, had sex with Judy.  She got pregnant.  I never asked him if they were having regular sex or not – I will have to ask him more details.  It never really crossed my mind.

Just recently, I came across a family photo on Facebook of Judy around April 1967 – which means she was pregnant with me!  The caption under reads “Family photo for Mothers Day 1967” a little bit of irony there, eh?  The family was embarrassed she was pregnant out of wedlock and sent her away to live with an Aunt until she had the baby.  She doesn’t recall much of my birth, because women were fully sedated in 1967, and won’t speak to me about the pregnancy.  I don’t know how depressed she was, or if it was a healthy pregnancy.  I know from our first conversation that I was a full secret to her family, and her parents did not want her to acknowledge me when I finally found her in 1996.  I know she has real issues acknowledging me in general, but every once in a while her curiosity gets the better of her and she will reach out to me with a note on Facebook (though she will not friend me).

When I first found her, I was angry that she wouldn’t acknowledge me.  I was trying to get pregnant and wanted my medical history.  Because of this, I then pursued my birthfather.  Finding Hank was en entirely different story.

Hank and his wife, Debbie, immediately welcomed me into their hearts and home.  Hank and Debbie also had my beloved sister, whom I believe is the real reason all this fell into place at all.  My little sister, Kiki, and I have developed a wonderful relationship over the years and I adore her.  She just got engaged and I will be her maid-of-honor, even though I am 20 years older!  Finding Hank’s family showed me how nature is just as important as nurture.  Anyone who knows me and knows Hank would agree.  I am his child through and through.  I keep close contact with this family to this day, and my children call him Poppa Hank.

Once I found my birthparents the years have provided a more complete idea of my genetics, and maybe there was something in me that was silenced.  Perhaps the intense curiosity of knowing who I was?  Of why I did the things I did, or thought the way I thought?  I don’t recall how I felt at the time I found them except satisfied.  I was unlike my parents in most ways and everyone would always say “where did you come from!” because my mother was so gentle and I was not.  I was a busy, hyperactive, curious child – that was too much of a handful for my parents.  Looking back, I realize my mother carried the full burden of parenting, my father rarely participated in parenting unless it was to hit me for discipline.  In any case, I don’t think I ever felt resentment towards my birthparents for giving me up for adoption because my life was really good.  If my birthparents had kept me, I would have been a child of a single, unhappy mother.  God chose a better path for me placing me into my mothers loving arms.

That’s pretty much my adoption story.  In therapy we are exploring a few topics related to adoption.   The idea that I wasn’t wanted/loved in utero (this one bothers me quite a deal) and the idea that I was abandoned by my birth parents.  Honestly, I prefer to exclude these ideas in favor of the way I was actually parented, and how that affected my behaviors.  While I still struggle with acknowledging anything about my parents parenting style (because my mother is not alive and my father is 82 – whats the point) I do see value in understanding and exploring my inner child and the lengths she went to in order to be seen, heard and loved – and how my needs as a child were not met with my parents parenting style and how that developed into bad coping mechanisms for me.

I am in the process of reading a book on how to re-parent your inner child, and I can’t say I love it.   While I believe in the theory, the exercises feel just plain stupid to me.  Drawing with your left hand (or non dominant hand) your inner child has more of an ability to speak to you.  I can’t draw a straight line with my dominant hand so this exercise feels simply ridiculous to me.  I have tried a few times now and I give up – this type of creative therapy doesn’t resonate for me.  I will have to speak to the therapist today about that as she feels its significant that I can’t do the art therapy.

In my next few posts I plan to explore what I have rediscovered about my childhood.  The memories I prefer to suppress in favor of the really good, positive and nurturing memories.  I don’t know how much posting I will get to this week as I actually have to go back into the city a couple days…which is already causing me great anxiety.