Day 20: Vulnerability, Mermaids, and Jeans

Tonight I am celebrating embracing vulnerability, which managed to show up several The Sirenways throughout the day. It began with my 13-year-old mistakingly getting dressed wearing my jeans. As she realized that they were a size too big, but not unwearable, she begged me to borrow them for the day. Normally I let my girls borrow my clothes whenever they want, but I found myself telling her a very quick “No!” When she asked why, I instantaneously answered in full honesty, “Because I only have a few pairs that fit me right now!” Eeek! Did I just say that? Did I just admit I those were my fat jeans?!?

I could see the look of her concern in her eyes. “Are you ok, Mom? What’s going on.” I had just walked into the very discussion I had been trying to avoid with both of my daughters; the “I’ve gained 20 plus pounds and those are one of two pairs of fat jeans that I own. Oh and I’m struggling with my overweight body” conversation.

I was so terrified of sharing my own body image issues out of fear they too would take this burden on. I thought I was somehow be protecting my girls. But guess what, not only do they both have body image issues, they both suffer from emotional eating.  Go figure!

The recognition of a pattern that started with my own mother caused me to launch into a seriously vulnerable moment. To this day, I still harbor some resentment toward my mother for hiding various truths from me. I felt that I would have benefited from her knowledge over the years, but instead I inherited shame.

It was right in that moment that I knew I had to break the pattern and be vulnerable for the sake of my daughter and for me. Hiding my Truth from her was in no way shape or form protecting her from the struggles almost all women have. If anything, it may have made her feel more alone and  therefore worse.

On our way to school, I shared with her that I had gained weight and that I was mostly frustrated with how my body felt. I told her that I too have to work on body acceptance, and we shared our sadness of the fact that there was absolutely no chocolate in the house.

I mostly emphasized that as an adult, it isn’t uncommon to have weight fluctuation, and I knew that I wasn’t supporting my body with a healthy diet or enough exercise this winter. We talked about our most challenging emotional eating moments and started to brainstorm ways to support each other.

I feel horrible for passing emotional eating onto my daughter, but at least now, I can be vulnerable with her and share that I am nowhere near perfect, and I also struggle at times. It’s a delicate balance when dealing with body image, but lying just doesn’t cut it. Kids always seem to pick up on any major issues whether they are discussed or not.

The second and third place that vulnerability made an appearance today was in my painting and drawing classes. Both classes consisted of critiques of our last few assignments, and let me tell you, there is nothing more terrifying then displaying your art for open discussion. There is something so raw and exposed about this whole process.

However, I am extremely proud of myself for putting it all out on display, especially in my figure painting class, where we work from live models. In one of my paintings, I had screwed-up the legs and didn’t have the model to work from to complete the painting. So, I turned her into a mermaid. I flat out told the class what had happened, and was commended for my imagination as well as figuring out a perfectly logical solution.

My teacher explained that she would rather us add something in than leave the painting in a place that we were unhappy with. It felt authentic to share my process with the class. Perhaps it would help someone else in the future. Either way, I am glad that I mentioned it rather than smugly pretending that it was my creative intention all along. It was my Truth.

I used to think being vulnerable was telling truths about yourself in the form of stories from the past. This may be part of the picture, however, I am quickly learning that true vulnerability stems from living authentically and in your complete and total Truth, and then stepping out and owning it. It is not easy, but I have to say, it feels damn good. And that is something I am truly proud to model for my daughters.

With love,

Anatheia

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Day 15: Bagels, X-rays and Pettiness

Today, I am celebrating making the decision to let go of petty money issues with my ex. EinsteinsBagelandCoffeeEven in the most amicable divorces, if there is any inequity of finances, there are almost always contentious issues surrounding money.

Money has a definitely been a struggle of ours as he a lot of it, and I don’t (currently). With this arrangement, I have been primarily responsible for the kids anytime there is missed school, doctors appointments, holidays, and summer breaks, etc. You name it and they are with me. This year, they even ride the bus to my house on his technical days and stay until either he picks them up after work or they are carted off to sports practices.

Now, I don’t mind this, because it means I get to spend more time with my girls. However, what I do mind is the amount of food they consume at my house, the mess they make and the cost of the groceries and extra dinners I prepare.

This morning, on what should have been a kid-free day, I took my 10-year-old into the hospital to have her upper digestive track x-rayed and organs peeked at via ultrasound. She has been having digestive issues off and on for several years and we are trying to get to the bottom of it. Today I was scheduled to substitute teach, but her appointment took precedence. It was too late for my ex to cancel his dental patients, it had to be a morning appointment, because she needed to fast, and a Friday- my only morning without class.

There are two things I really appreciated about this morning:

  1. I have a flexible schedule and could be the one taking her in. And I’ll admit, although I need the money, I wasn’t crushed about canceling my sub job. This experience was a bit scary for her and she doesn’t appreciate her dad’s comforting style.
  2. My daughter and I had the pleasure of a little added one-on-one time, as we stopped to get a bagel and smoothie (and of course coffee for mom) on the way back to school.

The reason I bring this up is that this mini-meal and excursion was on my dime, on a day that he was supposed to be responsible for the kids. But more importantly, this day  triggered my thinking about both of my daughters’ diet and health. I recognized that although I am not the most fantastic cook, the meals I prepare are going to be more healthy and well balanced than my ex’s typical Lean Cuisine frozen dinner crap.

Both of my girls are dealing with body image/weight issues, plus the added digestive issues for my younger one. Isn’t it better to retain a little control over their health and help them in the best way I know how? I’m not judging my ex’s cooking choices, ok maybe a little, but he is doing the best he can with the skills and time he has. So, really, it’s not that big of a deal to let go of idea that I should somehow be compensated for this extra time. He is a great dad and shows up as such. It is time to release this need for financial retribution when all it really does is stress me out.

If my ultimate goal is financial freedom, then these are the thought processes that need to be released. He has been more than fair in terms of his child support and extra spousal support over the years, and he works his butt off. I think I can give him this and in the long run, what I am gaining is more financial independence and time with my girls- something that will quickly slip away as we get closer to high school.

So today, I release petty money issues and welcome extra time, food and mess with my daughters.

With love,

Anatheia

Day 1: Depression, Chocolate, Yoga and Maltipoos

As I sit down at my computer tonight, I realize that I have drifted away from my main purpose of this blog. I originally set out to chronicle my journey not only as a healing process for me, but to share my vulnerability with others and remind you that it’s ok to not be ok. What has resulted is  months of paralyzing perfectionism. Writing became a chore, because I didn’t want to post anything that was less than stellar. And of course there were the images…Every post needs to have amazing copyright-free images. Believe me, this process is even more time consuming than Facebook. Then there’s the editing, re-editing and editing some more.

So tonight, I am taking a stand against my true Virgo nature and saying fuck it! The truth is I have hit a pretty low point in my depression and I am sick of feeling stuck in a dark hole. This may not be my best writing and there may be errors, but if I don’t start writing again or doing things differently, nothing will change. In fact, I’m writing this straight on WordPress and not as a safe document in Word or Pages. I will tap into my new love of photography and use my own photos or none at all. No copyright issues there. I release my perfectionism…well, for now anyway.

To catch up on my 40th year thus far:  While I have maintained my celibacy and isolation from men, I have secluded myself from other forms of fun and joy in addition. I have disconnected from friends who seemed unhealthy (which isn’t a bad thing), but at the same time have completely cut myself off from the social world. My search for a job has been met with many rejections in a variety of fields. I have been officially looking for work for a year now, with way too many versions of my resume and cover letters to count.

Food has become my numbing agent and the gym is but a distant memory. I’ve gone back to school 3/4 time to work on prerequisites for a graduate program, which I’m waiting on pins and needles to hear my fate of acceptance or rejection, and am working on a coaching program. In my spare moments, I am running kids to sports and school, dealing with teen drama and binge watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix while I step away for more chocolate intermissions than I would care to admit.

My depression has taken such ahold of me, that I have not only gained over 20 pounds, but I am lethargic, out of shape and mopey. This is not who I am. This is not what I want to model for my girls. I feel so out of touch with myself that it only makes me want to eat more chocolate. To make things worse, I am supposed to travel to Mexico with my uber weight-judgey family in 5 weeks and cram my plumper self into a bathing suit. Sigh…

As I sat on the floor trying to motivate to do something today, my incredibly sweet, fluffy and healing Maltipoo sat beside me and gave me a knowing look. She gazed at me with unconditional loving eyes and jumped up to lick my face. She didn’t care that I was overweight. She didn’t care that I have gone into serious debt or am unemployed. She saw me for love and love alone, my true essence. If she could see me this way, why can’t I? I dragged my ass up, got dressed and went to yoga for the first time in many, many moons.

I’m not going to lie, it was hard. My overweight body argued with every pose, feeling more awkward than ever. I had to constantly reign in the mean girl thoughts every time I looked in the mirror (they should really cover mirrors in yoga) and winced at this unrecognizable body. I had to constantly remind myself to be gentle when I couldn’t even hold poses or get into them comfortably. Something I’m not used to.

After all of this internal struggle, I left class feeling refreshed. Today I made the choice to leave the house and chose movement instead of napping or eating or shaming myself. And although it will take some time to feel good in my body again, I took the first step today, and that is huge.

As the day wore on, I still battled with 3pm exhaustion and emotional eating. I gave myself permission to be ok with that, and am fully aware that the one baby step of going to yoga is monumental.

And so it is that I have decided to embark on a 21-day Bringing-Myself-Back-to-Radiance Adventure. I decided to not call it a challenge, because the word challenge itself is just that, too challenging- a sure-fire set up for failure.  And why 21 days, you might ask? I don’t know, it seems to work for Deepak and Oprah. Oh and I guess there’s that whole 21 days to change a habit thing. Let’s face it- it just sounds good.

Each day I am celebrating one thing about my day and sharing it here. If I try to change everything at once, I will fail, backslide and the shame spiral will continue. If I only do something active once everyday this week, that is a start. The food can come later and I’m ok with that.

If you have ever been in this situation, I would love to hear your success stories in the comments. I would love to hear your failures. I want to hear it all and celebrate you too. This is such a challenge for women and we need to support each other in community. Being raw, vulnerable and real is my gift to me.  And so I share my adventure here- unfiltered and only re-read once for editing.

With Love,

Anatheia