light switch

I have really been struggling with my self esteem. For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with loving who I am, just the way I am. That’s completely foreign to me. When people say that, I am like…. “Huhhhhh? what’s that? How does that work?” It never came easy for me. Honestly, I don’t think it comes easy for anyone but I think people do it and they find a way to nurture themselves and love who they are, regardless how they look on the outside. I grew up in a home where beauty was prominent. But you weren’t beautiful unless you were thin. So being thin was even more important than being beautiful. I have two older sisters that are very beautiful to the eye. They are definitely head turners. They were both in pageants and were in Miss America and Miss USA and did very well. Wherever we go, they are stared at and it’s what our family knows. That’s the norm. My mother is very beautiful. She has an identical twin which means, she too is very beautiful. Beauty, beauty, beauty. My cousins are very stunning. They are all VERY THIN hence the beauty part. You can’t be beautiful without being thin. Did I mention that? No one has really had a weight problem, only because they have made SURE to never have a weight problem. They did what had to be done.. My mother had me 15-16 years after having them and I have a different father than them. So our genetic make up is different from the get go. They are platinum blondes and naturally thin. I have a darker complexion, and a my frame is definitely not the same. I have always been more muscular. I too have always been a dancer, cheerleader, and gymnast. So again, doing those things in my extra time, also focused on the weight situation.  I was never abused and told how ugly I was. I want to make sure that is known. I always had very loving parents. They always supported me in everything I did. However, I also saw what was important to my family. I thought it was normal until I started seeing other families and getting to know my friends. I was a cheerleader in junior high and I remember clear as day, that my mom would start hiding the butter. She even helped me do the cabbage soup diet when I was in 8th grade. At one point, she told me she would buy me something if I lost 5 pounds. She will never admit that she did that, but I could never forget it. I compared myself to EVERYONE. My friends were stick thin and my legs were bigger than theirs. It rocked my world. I didn’t understand why my body didn’t look like it used to and why it was changing and why I didn’t have skinny legs just like my friends and just like my sisters. I would go with my friends and they would eat anything they wanted. I would eat with them but immediately feel guilty.. it would consume me that I couldn’t even enjoy what was going on because I knew I had food in my stomach that was going to make me fat or gain weight. So I would go in the bathroom and try making myself vomit. I knew my sisters had also had bulimia, so maybe if I did it, I would look like them and then I also wouldn’t feel guilty every time I ate cause I couldn’t control myself from eating anything that are labeled as “bad”.. I eventually got to the point where it was easier. At that point, my innocence was taken away. I remember vividly being at a birthday party and eating cake and whatever else they have at birthday parties, and as a young girl I was tucked away in the bathroom with the tap water running and the fan on, trying to get every little piece up and out of my stomach so I could go and enjoy the rest of the party. That breaks my heart for the little me that was in there missing out on all the games the other kids were playing. I look at other 8th graders now and think there is no way I can imagine one of those little kids being that worried about weight that she would be doing such harmful things to herself.  How could my mom not know? She had to of known. At one point, I told her.  It was a cry for help. I don’t remember her ever being worried or surprised. I just remember being taken to a therapist one time for it. Besides that, it wasn’t talked about.

In high school, I still struggled with bulimia. I didn’t have enough self control to not eat, which is why I couldn’t be anorexic. I tried, believe me. I would go on chat rooms and forums with other people dealing with the same issues. It wasn’t to help me over come it, it was to feed the addiction. To get ideas. I counted calories, then would accidentally eat something that wasn’t allowed, and the minute I did that, I would just give in and eat whatever and then spend the next hour in the bathroom. What a disgusting and vicious cycle. I was jealous of anorexics. They had willpower. They could literally control themselves. Now looking back, it was the opposite of control in a way. But then and even now, I still wish I had the self control to not eat. My face was always round, but it got even more puffy and swollen with throwing up. I never felt like I got thin from throwing up. It became more about throwing up just because I couldn’t handle the feeling of feeling like I had food in my stomach. The guilt was far too great. I can’t sit and have conversations. I can’t just sit with myself feeling that feeling. I got to the point where I didn’t have to try very hard, I could just lean over and throw it all up. One memory in particular was in class they handed out donuts. After I ate the donut, I was mortified. I always heard of people using ipecac syrup and thought I would try it out. But nothing immediately happened.. my dad then asked me to go to lunch and as we were there, it took full effect and I was running to the bathroom vomiting everywhere. How humiliating for me. But no one ever said anything in my family.  I was on the drill team and I remember having a big performance and I had to wear full on spandex from neck to toe. I remember very clearly my mom making disgusting looks my way. I was not stupid. I would watch her look me up and down. I had never felt so shameful. If my mom would tell me how good I looked, I knew that I really looked good and I would have a good night. If my mom looked at me and didn’t say anything, I would know she was not happy with how I looked. It got to the point where depending on my mom’s response, I would be able to feel good about myself that night. How fucked up is that?

Years passed and it was still something very prominent in my life. But I started partying and dabeling into the party drugs. I moved out with my best friend and I didn’t see my mom as much. The pressure was always there, but it lifted a bit when I moved out. As I was getting unhealthy with drugs and alcohol, I noticed my weight come down drastically. Funny how that happens. It just made my unhealthy lifestyle worse and condoned it. I started hearing so many compliments on how pretty I was and how good I looked. Just what I have always wanted. Yet the vomiting was still a thing. I still was uncomfortable with having calories in my stomach. I just didn’t obsess about it as much. I didn’t count my calories. It was such a relief.

As time went on and I matured, I became less friendly with the bathroom floor and the toilet. I still would visit it from time to time, but I became a mom and I tried really hard to stop thinking about myself and more about them. I wanted a change. I look back at pictures and I looked so good, but I could see my sad eyes. My soul was miserable. It really didn’t help that my husband was looking at pornography behind my back and having affairs. That always was a big reminder that I was not enough. My husband would always tell me how beautiful I was. He never ever said anything but that I was perfect the way I was. But actions spoke louder than words. I had seen the effects that bulimia had caused physically not just emotionally. I had developed ulcers in my stomach. It was brutal. My teeth were very sensitive and thin and still are today.

As you know, my divorce hit and all hell broke lose. The addict in me came out full force. I couldn’t handle my feelings of inadequacy any longer. I couldn’t handle actually losing what I had worked so hard for, for 10 + years. I did things I never thought I would ever do. At the time, I didn’t see the future. I just did what I had to in order to numb what I was feeling at the time. For 2 years, I messed my life up horribly. I got down to 100 pounds but that wasn’t the focus any more. Staying away from withdrawal was my only focus. I even had my attorney tell me that I needed to wear 3 pairs of pants to court, so I didn’t look so stick thin.

I finally was able to kick the habit after many times of trial and error. After living hell every day for 2 years. But unfortunately, I made the decision to get on methadone. At the time, I didn’t look at the negative effects. I didn’t think about how hard it would be to get off of it. I just wanted to survive and live a normal life. So here I am 2.5 years clean, and 30 pounds heavier than my normal weight. I’ve questioned what is better, to be a full addict and thin or to be completely clean and heavy. How sad is that? I had no idea that methadone would cause so much weight gain. I thought it was just me not doing enough and my metabolism shot from all the hell I put my body through. But the past few months, I have worked out almost every day and ate extremely clean. I have never worked SO hard to lose weight. I have not seen ONE pound come off. I am starting to feel obsessed again. I have never been this insecure. I hide in huge clothes. I will purposely look down when I walk passed a reflection or mirror. When pictures are being taken, I will dread it and try to walk away.. or I will only take a pic if I can take it myself through an amazing filter and even then, it’s very iffy. Being around my family is extremely difficult. I want to die. My niece was usually known for being kinda bigger. I wasn’t alone. Well recently, she’s lost all of her weight and has completely turned into one of those girls that constantly is taking selfies and getting a ton of a attention. Her and my sisters are still head turners. I am completely opposite of them. When I run into people that used to know me, I can see them not recognizing me or wondering “what happened to her?” In fact, when J has ended up going off on me and we argue, I will never forget the words out of his mouth “everyone wonders what happened to you… you don’t look anything like you used to. Everyone feels sorry for you.”

So now the back story has been explained. My mom has been extremely “supportive” by paying for my gym membership and also my meal planning that I am getting. She doesn’t really have a ton of money, but she finds a way to help me. I know that she is trying her damnedest to be helpful. But knowing what I’ve been through with her, it’s also hard cause I know that she’s doing it cause she wants me to be thin.. and what she says is she wants me happy. Which yes, I want to be happy too. I don’t want to look like this. So long story short, I don’t think she realizes she knows what she is doing and that it hurts me. The other day I ended up crying to my parents about how discouraging it is to work this hard and sacrifice this much and not see any change. I also explained how I am stuck between a rock and hard place with being on methadone. I know that it is the main culprit and methadone is not something you can just come off of. You have to be smart about it. So I am on a weaning program of 2 mg a week. That’s the best I can do and the fastest I can wean being responsible and having my sobriety as the upmost importance. Anyway, the next day, I felt like there was some hope with my mom. She had text me saying “I am really sad and angry knowing how you’ve always felt about yourself. I love you and want you happy.” There was a sense of relief in that text. I kid you not, an hour later I saw a missed call from her. I saw a voicemail was there. I went to listen to it and realized the voicemail was an accident and she was having a conversation with my dad in the car and she had no idea she had called me. These are some of the things I heard her say.. “she is very heavy. She has let herself go. What does she expect, to lose all the weight that fast? She has to stop opening her mouth to any and everything. I am sick of hearing how unhappy she is. She needs to start running and doing what it takes and stop blaming her medication on her weight. This isn’t going to change over night. She has become a big girl.”  Typing this out has me in utter disbelief and so much shame. Now am I surprised that she feels that way? Not really. To hear her say it like that, was extremely hurtful. To hear the person that gave birth to you talk about you in that way is something I can’t describe. I already am so hard on myself. I just wish I had nothing but love from her. Not judgement. It was as if the little bit of soul I had left was completely crushed.

I text her and let her know I heard her talking about me and as much as I appreciate all that she has done, that I need to take some time to work on myself without knowing how she feels about me effecting my progress or journey. She immediately started writing me and calling me about how sorry she was and how much she just wants my happiness. She said she cried the whole night knowing that I heard her talking about me. But it doesn’t change the pain that is there.

I don’t know how to just turn this all around. I know that self esteem should come from within and because I haven’t been able to figure this all out is why I have dealt with addiction and depression. I can read all the self help books in the world, but how do I change what has been pressed inside of me since I was little? I don’t want to be that mom that is just worried about how she looks, because I want to say I have more depth to me than that, but do I? Obviously not. How am I going to change this for my daughter? It obviously is too late for me and my happiness, but what about my daughter? My beautiful perfect innocent daughter?

My self esteem and beliefs can’t just change like a light switch. I honestly am at a loss. How do I move on realistically with where I am at today. How am I ever going to be able to love myself, let alone love someone else. No wonder I can’t move on from my marriage/divorce. I have overcome SO much in my life, but this is the one thing that is holding me back from saying I am truly happy. How can I stop hiding? How can I look in the mirror and see what I am supposed to see?

xoxo

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losing it all

Once upon a time I had it all. The perfect life. Or it looked like it, and that’s all that matters right? I look back and I was beautiful. I had the perfect family. The perfect body. The perfect kids. The perfect house. The perfect friends. I was one lucky girl. And like many of us are guilty of, during the time, I was so focused on what I didn’t have. I was bulimic. I was trying to keep my husband from straying. I was trying to keep up with all the Smith’s and the Jones’s next door. I was trying to cut back from taking 30 pain killers that day so I didn’t have to “feel”. I was trying to run that extra mile a little faster. I was attempting to be a better cook. The list could go on and on and on. It was never enough, I was never enough. I look back at my old pictures and I looked great and my life looked amazing, but my eyes are dark, empty, and sad. I am screaming out my insecurities and personal torment, hoping and praying someone would save me. Little did I know my life would soon be taking a huge turn for the worse, falling apart, and I would end up losing all the things I didn’t realize I had, all along.

I should have seen it coming. Looking back, the signs were all there. I should have known. I had many sleepless nights next to my husband of 10 years, questioning whether he was staying faithful after his 1st affair.. That was very painful, but what was even more excruciating was the mind games that he played with me, the criticizing, always being blamed for any and everything that went wrong, the walking on egg-shells, the silent treatment, always being told to do better, etc.. I knew there was something wrong with how he treated me, but I didn’t realize there was an actual name for it. Narcissism or NCP (narcissistic personality disorder). I used to always say he was narcissistic, but I didn’t realize the extent of what that word meant until we started our divorce and I started educating myself and the light bulb came on. I finally felt understood after years and years of not being able to describe what he would do to me, such as the gas lighting and silent treatments and putting me in knots until I thought I was crazy or there was something wrong with me. It was as if these professionals had studied our relationship the entire 10 years and put a name to it.

As I was dealing with a lot of this pain, I was taking whatever I could get my hands on and still be a decent mother. I say decent because, I still kept up the front and functioned, but I kept myself distracted from actually living. It was almost impossible to be present. But I guess that’s how I wanted it. Eventually as most addicts explain, I was introduced to black … No one ever used the word heroin. I often wondered if they would have used that wording, if I would have run? But at the time, I was in such a the perfect place for that drug to come in and completely take over my life. Boy, do I ever wish I could have put a huge barrier between myself and these so called friends and the pain that drove me to that dark place. Just like any addicts story, I didn’t immediately become a junkie like you imagine. I stayed as a “high functioning” addict for a while. During this time, the drugs did their job by putting me in a very numb place where I didn’t want to deal with my husbands bull shit nor did I have to feel the pain that I was in on a daily basis. I would never say that drugs were EVER a good thing, but they gave me the push I needed to leave him. It’s almost like I knew I would NEVER leave him. I would stay and deal with him hurting me for the rest of my life and the only way I could do it was if I was completely in a drugged up or numb place. If I could change anything, I would have done it the right way where I was sober and clear-headed, where I could start the healing process and not take myself down a darker more challenging path. But leave it up to me to learn everything the hard way:)

The divorce was grueling. He knew I was not in my right frame of mind, so it was super easy to blame me for the divorce, but he had to know deep down that he put us in the path of destruction, and I pulled the trigger. Like my dad would always say, ” you can only kick a dog so much until they run away and never come back.” It was kinda the same thing with me. Slowly, my health started dwindling. I thought it was from using. And maybe it was. But I think there was something wrong with me from beforehand, and from using and my stress, it made it get ten times worse. I had WEIRD symptoms. Stuff I could never describe without feeling insane. I would attempt going to doctor after doctor, and they would say that I need to go to a therapist. Itching all over, hair falling out of my head like crazy, feeling like I had a tight headband on my head all the time as if I was losing all my feeling in my head and not getting any circulation in my head, hands, feet, etc.. The way my hair was growing on my head was wrong. Weird right?  No one believed me, I thought I was going crazy till one day I woke up and there was a huge bald spot right in the middle of my head at the crown. It was devastating. My eye lashes and eyebrows had fallen out. I didn’t even recognize myself. People thought I was doing it to myself. My skin looked and felt so different. I really wanted to die. During this time, I watched my husband with this beautiful girl he had an affair during our marriage. It was so hard not to use and keep numbing myself. The pain was too raw. I really begged to not wake up in the morning so many nights. No one understood how dark I felt and was. I lost all my friends that I had for so many years. It was such a confusing time because I knew I was doing things I shouldn’t, but my health was unbearable and the emotional pain with my divorce hurt just as bad. My poor parents tried time after time to help pull me out of this hole I was in, and I would try but fall back every time.

I’ll never forget trying to wear wigs. It wasn’t something I could do. I hated faking I had hair.  I just wanted to stay in a dark house and never come out. I couldn’t look in the mirror. The only time I spent with my kids was watching movies in my room because I couldn’t go out and do anything with them. People that knew me didn’t recognize me. My feet and legs started swelling. No one could give me answers. I ended up in the hospital at detox and just hoping that if I got clean that my health would get better. I relapsed right out of the hospital. Met some awesome people along the way but couldn’t get better. I watched my kids play outside while I was in a dark room. I watched my family go do fun things while I laid in bed almost dead. My life revolved around my addiction and the shame that consumed me. It was a deadly cycle.

After a few years, I never thought I could or would be a normal person. Looking at old pictures were too hard for me. For so long I thought I was ugly when I was beautiful. I thought I was fat, when really I was healthy and thin. I was a great mom when I thought I was a bad one. I was a great wife when I thought he could do better. Why did it take me going through something so tragic to learn such valuable lessons? I don’t know how I pulled myself out of such a dark place, but somehow I did and today I am a year and 8 months sober. I repeat, I AM ONE YEAR AND 8 WHOLE MONTHS SOBER!!!! It is an honest to God miracle. After finally getting a diagnosis called Diffuse Alopecia (extremely rare) my hair is finally coming in. I still deal with every day problems and my health isn’t perfect but I finally feel “normal” and happy. I still deal with my narcissistic ex and his on and off  again “girlfriend”. My life is far from perfect, but I appreciate my life at a whole new level. My whole life is my kids and I don’t take one day for granted like I did before. I am not as thin as I was once, but no longer do I throw up my food or count every calorie. After losing it all, I now have everything and I am so proud to be where I am. There isn’t one person out there that doesn’t have their insecurities and isn’t struggling  with being okay with who they are, but why get to the point of losing it all before you can appreciate your flaws and enjoy the ride along the way?

Having my sobriety and health is worth everything I went through. I am proud of who I am today and what I have overcome. For anyone in the dark place, no matter at what stage. DO NOT GIVE UP. If I can to where I am today, there is hope for you. Your life matters. You are important and worth it. Life is hard and the struggle is absolutely real, you aren’t alone. No one is perfect. Nobody lives a perfect life. But I now have the rest of my life to enjoy and live, might as well learn to love myself along the way.

XoXo