Dropping In

Just wanted to drop in and say I highly recommend this book for anyone who has an addictive personality. It is so good; I may be actually be addicted to it. ūüôā

 

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In other news, I just wrapped up a production of Les Miserables- my first musical theatre endeavor in about 13 years. It was hard work and a huge time commitment, but I am so glad I did it. I met dozens of wonderful new friends and learned a lot about myself. In general I would say the last few months have been humbling, all around. I am currently reading up on book publishing, working on a new edit of my play about bullying, and taking some time to meditate every day. I even went on a real job interview this morning. So…fingers crossed. Hope is high. Life is good.¬†

Milestone.

I’ve started several different posts over the last few months, but never bothered finishing any of them.¬†I guess I don’t have much to say these days. Here’s a synopsis of what’s up in haleyland:

June 6th was my three year sobriety anniversary, which means I started this blog/project about a year ago. I haven’t engaged in any bulimic or psuedo-bulimic behavior in about seven or eight months. I haven’t stayed in or cancelled plans because of my weight ¬†since the calendar changed over to 2013.¬†I’ve also eased up on my self-imposed dress code a bit. Not completely, but a bit. No one else may even notice any of these things from an outside perspective, but I know they’re happening.

Although I have gained and lost (and gained and lost and gained and lost) a grand total of about 65 pounds over the course of the past twelve months (that’s pretty typical of a year in my body), I have somehow managed to end up right where I was on the scale this time last year. It’s frustrating, but I think of where I was when I was one year sober versus where I am today and just keep reminding myself it’s not all gonna happen overnight. Er…or overyear, as the case may be.

My priority in life continues to be finding a legitimate career. The freelancing thing would be fine- enjoyable even- if I could get consistent work. Instead, one week I’m slammed and going so many different directions I can’t even think straight. The next, I’m selling random pieces of furniture on craigslist to pay my bills.

I do have one part-time gig that is an actual go-to-work job instead of a remote writing position. It ¬†requires me to travel/work with people who desperately need to sit through a course in sensitivity training. Their main points of conversation usually revolve around enforcing racial and gender stereotypes or telling me how God has asked them to pray for me. Also, the Regional Manager is now enforcing a rule where if we are scheduled to work an auction over two hours from our house, we are required to stay overnight in a hotel…wait for it.with another coworker in a shared room. It might be someone you know, might not. But you’re required to sleep and shower and pee and poop and snore and drool and do whatever you do on your own private time, while not getting paid, with a co-worker/stranger hanging out in the same living area.

Um, ewwwwwwww.

And also: Hell no.

I’ve miraculously been able to avoid this crazytown requirement until now, but I’m scheduled to work in Sacramento on Monday. My assignment is to spend the night on Sunday with a girl I’ve met twice. For reference, she is a very sweet young thing who I’ve heard say, “That’s soooo retarded” over a dozen times.

So….clearly. This is not a place that is gonna work out for me long term.

I recently found out my former supervisor (at TCOE) no longer works there. I had high hopes that this vacancy would allow them to reinstate my position, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. I don’t know if it’s a money issue or if it’s because my former co-worker- who has now moved into the supervisor role- doesn’t want to rehire me. I was such a bitch to him (way too many times to count), so even though we were getting along at the end of my time there, I can hardly blame him if that’s the case. But let this be a lesson, people. As the great and powerful Justin Timberlake once said, “What goes around ,goes around, goes around comes all the way back around.”

In the mean time, I have been half-heartedly looking for positions in other cities (and states) but I think I really do want to stay here a bit longer. I’m finally making a dent in the theatre community, as far as getting to know more and more people. Or have any of them know who the hell I am, rather. I really do need to be better about meeting some more LGBT and concert-going/live-music-loving friends. I’ve sort of neglected those areas of my personality. I would say my creative life is the only area where I actually feel relatively fulfilled for the moment, so it’s high time I put more energy into other things I care about.

Other than that, I keep on keeping on.

More later when there’s more to say.

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My Self-Indulgent Aftershock Post

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I haven’t been doing so great. I hate to use it as an excuse (because it’s really the truth), but my cousin’s death hit me much harder than I ever could have imagined. It has reverberated into my daily existence in ways that have taken me quite by surprise. Life continues as usual, for the most part, but it also doesn’t. I don’t know how to explain it but to say: if you know what I’m talking about, you already know what I’m talking about and if you don’t, you inevitably will someday.

I have basically been living off of a diet of coffee and sugar for the past…however long it’s been. Lots of coffee. Lots of sugar. And not much of anything else. Sugar is probably the one thing worse on my system than gluten; it makes me irritable and antsy, yet fatigued and tender all at the same time. The lack of important nutrients in my system doesn’t help. I have gained some weight but I find myself too down to care much. I haven’t stepped on my scale in ages, not out of concern as much as laziness. I am literally too lazy to move the scale from out underneath of my sink. Lazy or tired. Whichever it is. I’m certain I am truly *addicted* to the sugar coursing through my body at this point. When I go on binges where it’s all I eat, I need it first thing in the morning or I will feel a headache coming on almost instantly. My current coffee intake contributes to this as well. I think part of me has been ¬†eating like this simply because I do not want to go through the withdrawals that are awaiting me when I do.

I am struggling with my sobriety…very much. Very much, right now I am struggling. Probably more so than I have at all in the past 3 years. I tease myself at the grocery store and browse the alchocol isle (an isle I normally avoid like the plague). I have picked up and put back non-alcoholic wine bottles multiple times; I know they are harmless but they would certainly be a slippery slope for me in my current state of mind. I see strangers and think, “I could fuck them and no one would have to know. I could share a bottle of whiskey with them, go to some strange apartment with them, let them do whatever they want to me, even if I didn’t like how it felt- and no one would ever know.”

Then, I get angry with myself. Am I really more concerned about the appearance of my sobriety than my actual sobriety? The appearance of being grown up, mature, enlightened, fixed? No. I care about my sobriety. I am proud of my sobriety. It is one of the very few things in my life I am proud of. But there are times when it seems like such a lonely path. This is why people go to meetings, I suppose. To meet other people like them so they don’t feel like the polka-dotted zebra at the zoo

I know much of this stems from feeling like I am constantly losing in my struggle for stability. I was ready to throw in the towel on Fresno, right when a few job opportunities turned up. I am doing them now, but I do not enjoy them- I rather dislike them, in fact. I wonder what am I still doing here. What am I looking for? I wonder if I am just one of those people who will have to fight hard and diligently all my life to see the positive, to feel the sunshine. There are plenty of times when I am up for that fight. I think I often make my life’s purpose that fight. But lately, I just don’t have the energy to keep waving my sword. I just want to take a nap on the grass while the battle continues around me.

At least I know this is temporary, but I felt it worth verbalizing.¬†I’ll be up to sea-level soon. I am sure of it. I am also seeing my therapist tomorrow and she always helps give some perspective.

I will try to post again soon. Something brighter, I promise.

For JoJo.

My cousin Joell passed away on Saturday morning.

It was quite unexpected. She was only 45. My dad had to repeat himself multiple times on the phone before my ears would even accept the news. My heart is still having trouble understanding how it could possibly be real. I had to be the one to call and tell my sister about it. After I hung up, I spent several hours wondering if I had heard my father wrong and just told Lindsay some terrible lie. ¬†Oddly, it didn’t truly sink in until after signing in to Facebook later in the day and seeing Joell’s wall, plastered with RIP’s and “you’re in my prayers” postings from dozens of people. That’s when I realized it was true; I was never going to see her again.

Jo was the sort of person who was very good at letting those she loved know¬†she loved them. She frequently made it a point to tell my sister and I that we were beautiful and smart and talented…and whatever other encouraging thoughts struck her in any given moment. ¬†She was also very supportive of our life choices and goals. From her Facebook wall the past few days, I have learned she was that same brand of loving and supportive with nearly everyone she knew. She is also an organ donor, so she will continue to spread her loving kindness, even posthumously.

I wasn’t always the most outwardly reciprocal person; not because I didn’t love her back or anything, but precisely because I did. She would message me to let me know her daughter missed me; I would promise to visit “soon”. ¬†She would post something on my Facebook wall that would make me laugh or smile; I wouldn’t even bother to take the extra second to “like” it because I assumed she intuitively knew I did. In other words, I took her for granted. It never occurred to me to think one day she wouldn’t be around. (I’m assuming I don’t need to pause and explain the underlying lesson here, people.)

The last time I saw her in person, I got to say good-bye and give her a hug, so I am thankful for that. But there is one thing in particular I am kicking myself for never saying to her while she was alive. I am going to say it now. Better late than never, I suppose.

In order to do that, I need to tell you (those of you who didn’t know her, anyway) that she was gay. She was a lot of other things too, of course, ¬†but she was also openly, happily gay. She was lucky enough to meet and fall in love with her soulmate before she left us. I feel terrible for her partner, Shannon, ¬†and the pain she must be suffering right now, but I am so happy the two of them at least had a couple of years together. Some people don’t even get that much.

I don’t remember Jo ever having any big coming out speech to me or my family. ¬†At holidays when we were younger, she would always bring lady friends with her, but whatever their relationship actually was would remain unspoken on all sides.¬†Whether or not Jo had to have a specific coming out conversation with her parents, I am not completely sure. It seems highly unlikely, though. She always just seemed to lived her life, ¬†and we all silently accepted her sexuality as part of who she was.¬†That’s sort of how my dad’s side of the family operates, in general. They’re a very “don’t ask/don’t tell” sort of ¬†bunch. They are all loving and supportive people; it’s just not in their nature to over-share. Sometimes I wonder how my sister and I came from the same bloodline as them, as we tend to be open books when given the opportunity.

Talking to my dad after Jo’s passing, he said he remembers when he was younger, that she and him were very close. They would play football together (if that gives you any sort of indication of the tomboy she was, even as a child). My dad¬†said, “Every day. I played with her every single day.” Then Joell went off to college, and her and my dad were never really close, ever again. They loved each other, sure. They stayed semi-involved in one another’s lives. But it wasn’t the same. My dad says he fully knows it was a little bit due to ‘the gay thing’. “She just left and stayed away,” is how he put it. ¬†Not that he and his brothers would have ever shunned her (again, they are a very family-centric group), but it did cause a minor, unspoken wall between them. Whether it was because my dad and his brothers hadn’t fully sorted their opinions on homosexuality back then (I think my dad is still actively sorting through his own feelings, even now), or if it was because Joell was afraid she would disappoint, she subconsciously (or perhaps consciously) kept a safe distance. Maybe it was a little bit of both. Either way, from my vantage point, it seems like such a silly and wasteful reason to grow apart from someone you care about. And though it was only in hindsight that my dad processed these thoughts, he seemed pretty regretful. ¬†“How sad,” he said, after a few moments of silence.

We all grew up attending The Freewill Baptist Church. By “we”, I mean my dad, my uncles, my sister and I, and all of my cousins, including Joell. Why on earth the church put the name “Freewill” in it’s title is beyond me. They should have called it The “Everything you want to do in this life will lead you to an eternity of hell fire and brimstone” Baptist Church. None of us go there anymore, including my grandparents, who literally still live next door to it.¬†Anyway, I spent the first 18 years of my life sitting through a bunch of bullshit lessons taught to me by one of the most ungodly men I’ve ever known. All this man talked about was hate. He hated gays, he hated Muslims, he hated feminists, he hated liberals, he hated atheists and he even hated other Christian denominations. Even the other Baptists! The good that came out of it was I got to spend quality time with my cousins and my grandparents, and we did learn some nice parables about ethical living from the more loving Christians in the congregation. We got a lot of confusing mixed signals, though. All the misleading and (this is my blog, so I can make this determination here) flat out¬†wrong information we were taught about God V. Homosexuality was directly contradictory to what I was experiencing through knowing a real life gay person. Joell, simply by being herself, was one of the first influences on my life to help me know that the whole “gays are evil” argument was absolute rubbish. And also, her gentle presence taught¬†me to begin to question things I was taught by authority figures.¬†I’m certain I would have come around myself eventually anyway, especially with my own developing libido, but she was a greatly influential person on my young mind. Especially because I was able to put together that if Pastor Ron was wrong about homosexuality, he could be wrong about a whole host of other things, too.

It’s taken years to reverse some of the damage from the sermons that were drummed into me in that church. I know Joell sat through some of those same lectures, and I wonder how long it took her to feel comfortable with herself after she stopped going. Or maybe she just never was as sensitive to it all as I was (I am notoriously sensitive. To everything. Always.). ¬†Either way, I thank her for giving my sister and I a living, breathing example of how ‘gay’ isn’t synonymous with ‘bad person’. And I thank her for being one of the first small stones on my path of learning to think for myself.

It has only been in the last few years that I have been comfortable with my own sexuality. And although I am open about it on a ‘need to know’ basis, it is one of the very few areas of my life that I remain somewhat guarded about. Some of this is because I don’t particularly think it is anyone’s business, unless they plan on having sex with me or talking about sex with me. But a bigger part is, I definitely don’t want to disappoint anyone who loves me and doesn’t understand why I can’t fit into their preconceived notion of who I am (And honestly, for some people that is Straight Haley and for others it is Gay Haley). But, like it or not, my sexuality falls somewhere smack dab in the middle of the Kinsey scale; I¬†just don’t look at gender as a determining factor in an attraction to a person any more than I look eye color or hair color. I either have chemistry with someone or I don’t. This seems totally normal and rational to me; but I am very well aware that many people (gay and straight) are not okay with it. Mostly, because they don’t understand it. I have a lot of friends who want me to be straight, because I make sense in their world as a straight woman. I have other friends who have an easier time thinking of me as gay. Whatever. I don’t really ever feel the need to correct them, as I don’t have a better answer for what I am. I am both those things and neither of those things. I hate the term bisexual. It implies “two”, as if I have some sexually carnivorous appetite and wouldn’t be happy with either a man or woman, without having one of both. The honest truth is, it is very rare that I am truly attracted to anyone of either sex, but when I am- they have been everything from a petite little pixie to a lumberjack of a man to a bubbly, blonde bombshell to a man in makeup. There’s no real rhyme or reason; it’s just chemistry (and sometimes, timing).

Anyway, I go back and forth about how “openly” to express this part of my life. The truth is, with the exception of my grandparents, everyone who is important to me either knows already from discussing it with me first hand, or has been given an ample amount of opportunity to be clued in and just rather not acknowledge it (my dad is one of the latter, for instance). I am fine living like this most days. I wouldn’t even really know how to go about “coming out of the closet”, because for me it would be like, “Um. I like ¬†girls. And I like boys. But only sometimes. Only when they’re not all being stupid. Mostly I just like being by myself.”

I can’t imagine that being very effective or climatic.

I’ve generally decided that I’ll just live my life and whatever happens, happens. If I fall in love with a woman and I want to her to meet my grandparents, then we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. ¬†Usually that seems like the best plan, as long as I am no longer shutting off my own romantic options because I am terrified of how other people will take it. As long as I am living as the truest version of myself possible, then it doesn’t really matter how many people “know”.

But other times I think about impressionable young minds watching me and learning from me and being effected by me, even when I’m not paying attention. And those are the times I think I would want to come out; to make it easier for someone else down the line, to save them the years of self-destruction and self-loathing and guilt I put myself through because of the lies I heard from that church and my mom’s side of the family. ¬† I don’t know if I will ever do that. I might do well enough with just not being ashamed of who I am, and being honest if someone cares enough to ask. That’s pretty much what Jo did, and it was still enough to influence my life. I guess the overall moral here is “To thine own self be true,” and the rest will work itself out.

So, to make a long story short: I am grateful to Jo for her positive influence on me. Her life meant something to my life. Not just because she was kind and loved me. But because she loved herself, too.

And now, life goes on, I guess. The cycle continues. I walk outside, and see my front lawn looks the same as it always has…but I will never again hear her voice. ¬†I laugh with my grandpa about his fascination with social media….but I’ll never smell her perfume. I will hit the publish button on this blog and it will immediately be sent to her email address…but she won’t ever get to read it.¬†

I can worry about my self-image and my eating habits next week. Right now, I am simply grateful to be alive. I am grateful for Joell.

And I am grateful for you, too.

But why dontcha get outta here and tell someone you love how much you care about them?  While you still can.

Rest in peace, JoJo. I love you to the moon and back.

Joell Gange. 1/15/68- 2/16/13

Joell Gange. 1/15/68- 2/16/13

There are no facts, only interpretations.- Neitzsche

Today’s blog is about perception/perspective- whatever you want to call it.

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                 Me, circa 1986.

Here is a photo of me from my days as a dancer. I took dance classes very seriously as a child. Dance classes and singing in church were my gateway drugs into theatre. I would probably still be a dancer had the sole company in Corcoran not left town when I was in middle school. But they did, so I started begrudgingly playing sports instead. I sort of blame my half-assed rhythm on the fact I never had the opportunity to fully hone my skills as a ballerina. While we’re at it, let’s blame my body on that, too. (Just kidding. Sort of.)

Back to the photo. This image of me was taken during my first delve into the dance world; I was one of the bunnies in our town’s production of Sleeping Beauty. I loved my teacher and classmates, I loved the music and the pretty clothing. I loved everything about dance class, except for the fact that our bunny costumes had tails, smack dab on our fannies.

For whatever reason, I found this very uncivilized. I suppose I don’t need to mention that I was a sensitive child, but the horror of a cotton ball poof attached to my bum was literally the worst thing that had ever happened to me up until that point in my life. I was horrified. Somewhere in the world, a video exists of me dancing with my other bunny cohorts. The few times we are required to shake our bunny booties to the audience, you see the other dancers obliging, “And shake, two, three, four…”¬†while I flash my back side towards the audience with a speed my physique has never been capable of before or since, then grimace as I count out the remaining beats of the music shaking my bum towards the back of the stage. You see, it didn’t matter if the bunnies in the row behind me saw my horrific tail. They were worse than me; bunny tails AND second row placement? Ugh.¬†Losers.

I remember the day the photo was taken. I, always having the sensibility of someone much older than myself, was mortified to learn there were a pair of junior high boys in the room. Whether these boys were babysitting their younger sisters or related to the photographer I can’t remember. But because they were older (and therefore cooler- a correlation I’ve only recently come to understand does not always equate), I would not, could not, dare not show my damn tail. It was bad enough I was wearing bunny ears. Like a child! And pink, for christsakes. I spent the entire time trying to make sure that, at any given point, my cotton-tailed butt was facing away from the hip young men. I mean, I was in second grade! What sort of mature, classy, sophisticated second grader dresses up like an animal, replete with a tail? How barbaric! I could feel a panic attack coming on (I had no idea what one was then, but I’m nearly certain I had one. Or it’s possible I may be exaggerating a little here for storytelling purposes). In any case, I do remember asking if I could just postpone the picture. “My tummy hurts,” I whined, half telling the truth by that point. But I was informed this was the only day to take the picture, ever, in the history of the world¬†and since I was the sort of kid who tried not to ever disappoint anyone, I stepped out under the lights and tried my best to dictate how the photos were shot. I’ve never before or since been so loose behind a camera. My reasoning was, “I will do anything as long as I do not have to show this tail to those boys.” So I posed and contorted my little body in a million possible ways that made me look like a bunny, but did not show that stupid tail. ¬†I put my hands out like little paws in front of me.¬†See? I’m posing like a bunny.¬†I jumped and hopped in the air.¬†Just like a cartoon bunny!¬†I sat on the floor and brought my knees up to my chin. Exactly like a real bunny!¬†

It didn’t work, though. The photographer, my mother, my aunt, and my cousin who had just finished taking her shots (the little traitor), all encouraged me to do the same humiliating pose as the rest of my classmates. I tried, unsuccessfully, to protest.

“But everyone is doing it this way,” reasoned the photographer.

“And your little rump is so damn cute!” gushed my aunt.

“Other people are waiting, Haley,” added my mom, with a tone implying it was her final warning.

My face flushed. “FML,” I thought to myself (or would have, had I known what that meant at that age). ¬†I let the photographer take the gdamned picture and then raced to the nearest bathroom to remove my “accessories”.

I HATED the resulting photo for years to come. If you look closely, you can actually see the worry and discomfort in my eyes, the crimson of my embarrassed cheeks, the strain in my tight, forced smile.

Of course, I look back now and think, “I am the cutest fucking thing since an actual baby bunny.” Especially knowing the story behind it.

This past weekend, I joined some of my friends (31 adults, 2 children in strollers and 3 dogs, to be precise) in a 5K for pancreatic cancer research. Our group was the 2nd highest fund-raising team out of the whole race, following only behind the founder’s team. I got to spend an entire day with some of my favorite people and relish in another visit with Jarvis. At this point, every one is sacred because we don’t know how much longer we will have with him.

Upon coming home, I saw some of the pictures taken from the event and immediately my old cantankerous voices came forward to remind me how the whole day was a joke because I am so very very ugly and very very fat. They even got some new zingers in, courtesy of my new haircut. I mourned for a while- not only that these stupid, antagonizing murmurs still exist within me, but that I was giving them the freedom to take away such a special, perfect day.

And then, when I got home from trip, I randomly saw this bunny picture and remembered the parable hidden within it. I thought of my voices, “Oh, just shut the hell up.”

Part of this journey is coming to accept the fact that nothing is gonna change by me snapping my fingers or climbing up a hill and then descending into a easy, even, moderately paced solving of my issues. This has been, and always will be, more like a roller coaster ride. I had a bad moment this weekend; I’ve had a few bad moments lately. But they are at much less frequent intervals than before. And I am able to come of out of them so much quicker than I could do a year ago- to a much higher and better state of ‘neutral’. ¬†For that, I am thankful.

I said something in my last therapy appointment about feeling like I am really “in recovery” now. Then, completely involuntarily, I began weeping. “What’s going on?” my therapist asked.

It was the realization that I fully do see myself “in recovery” at this point. I am no longer in the throws of an eating disorder and body dysmorphia and self-hatred and all those other things. I am truly at a place where I believe I am in recovery from it. There are moments that remind me not to get too cocky, but I do see a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is brighter and closer than I ever dreamed possible. All this, from only taking half a year to face it, head on. Imagine what all of us could do if we faced all our demons head on?

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Years from now, all I’ll remember is: this was a great day.

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                 Team Jarvis at the finish line.

So you see, my dear friends? Perspective. Perception. ¬†If you don’t like the way you’re seein’ something, change your point of view. There are no facts, only interpretations.

Start Me Up

Happy New Year, friends! 

I love a good new year. I am one of those people who enjoy symbolically/metaphorically/literally starting with a clean slate any chance I get. For Christmas, the reigning tradition in my family since my parents divorce has been to write out our goodbyes to the previous year and then our wishes for the approaching one. We set them on fire in the backyard and send them out into the universe. I have high hopes for 2013. I enter every year with high hopes. The difference is, 2012 is one of the few years I also leave behind with little regret.

For being a life-long war, this whole learning-to-love-myself thing is marching along quite nicely. I look back at the progress I’ve made over the past six months- not only with my eating habits, but with my overall perception of myself- and I am full of gratitude and pride. It may take me a while longer to get completely on board with my outer beauty, but I am regularly astounded by the resilience and introspection of the brave little soldier that stands at attention inside this body of mine.¬†

The elimination diet continues…I think dairy is out for me. Sugar seems to directly effect my joint stiffness and skin tenderness, but as of yet, I still don’t have a direct link to my headaches. Still laying off the gluten, and the headaches over the past few months continue to be less severe and less frequent. Why are they still there at all, though?!?¬†

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¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† “It’s a mystery!”

 

 I  should probably mention that I chopped off all my hair today.

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          The floor after Jori was finished.

I’ve always wanted to get to a point where I liked my face enough to not feel the need to hide behind my hair. In college, I depended on my waist-length hippie tangles to hide my face as well as my extra weight and hunched shoulders. ¬†

I probably jumped the gun as far as what I was ready for, but…new year/ new hairdo. This is how my brain works.

 

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¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†the “holy hell that’s short!” side.

 

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¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†the “long” side

The end result….I don’t love. ¬†I love my hairdresser, though, and she really did give me exactly what I asked for. I sense that it will be better after it grows out a bit, especially in the front. ¬†A few years ago, the new ‘do would have evoked a huge ocean of tears from me. Today, not so much. It’s not the best look for me, but whatever. It’s just hair. It will grow back. And now I finally know what I look like with a short cut. I’m thinking maybe I would have liked it more if I didn’t go for the asymetrical look, either, but again- that was me being impulsive. C’est la vie. You live and learn, right? ¬†And in the mean time, it will at least be really easy to manage.

So. This, my friends, is what we call progress. I am a work-in-progress. And I progress. 

To quote my sister, “let’s light up 2013!”

Shall we?

 

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¬† My obligatory “I can’t believe I did this” face.

Elimination

In the weeks since going gluten-free, in a lot of ways I have felt much better. That is certainly what you all must think, because that is really all I have mentioned here in this forum. However, while true that after the majority of meals, I would feel fine (better), sometimes I would still get familiar symptoms of joint tenderness, fatigue, bloating and cramps. I still have not had any major migraines, but I have had a few sporadic minor headaches. This prompted me to want to go on a elimination diet and find out if there were other culprits in my diet contributing to these issues. There are fancy, expensive lab tests one can have done to find out the same thing, but I am in no place to go that route.

So…

One night- the night immediately after writing my last post, actually- I was feeling particularly down. For dinner I ate three king sized candy bars. And not the relatively-healthy, 100% natural ingredient kind I normally try to buy, either. I had three king-sized candy bars…from the dollar store. How trashy am I? I had a healthy breakfast and lunch….a positive day of writing and job hunting…and then I just hit a wall of frustration and went to the store with the intention of buying some q-tips or something and then all hell broke loose. I lied to myself at the store, “Just get three while you’re here for variety sakes; you can spread them out over the course of the next month.” I don’t know where my newly-emerged “love yourself” voice was to say, “Yeah, when has that ever worked before?” That voice was probably craving chocolate, too, I guess.

Anyway, after eating them, I passed out in what is basically best described as something akin to a diabetic coma. When I woke up 7,000 hours later, my joints were stiff, my skin was tender and I could barely lift myself out of bed. I thought, “Enough is enough.”

So I’ve been doing the elimination diet for the past few weeks and keeping a food journal. No substantial findings quite yet, but I’ll keep you posted. It’s a very slow moving sort of process. A full elimination diet takes 6 months- a year. You wait one week between adding anything new in. I have a very sensitive system and usually react to things fairly instantly, so I’m adding new stuff in about every other day, when I seem to respond well to it. I’ll wait a week or so between the stuff that does seem to trigger reactions.

The other thing I’ve been doing is adding a silent meditation before meals. I have an ex who always used to pray before eating and I remember finding it somewhat annoying. I must say, I get it now. Or, at the very least, I get one reason why one might want to do something like that. For me, it helps me be thankful and appreciative, as well as keeps me from gorging. I got this particular prayer out of “Pocket Peace” by Allan Lokos, which has been an invaluable resource for my spiritual growth over the past few years. I highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates Buddhist philosophy. I quote the guy all the time and re-read passages constantly.¬†Here’s the prayer:

This food is the gift of the whole universe- the earth, the sky, and much loving work.
May we eat mindfully and be grateful to receive this food.
May we eat with moderation.
May we eat foods that promote health and prevent illness.
May this food nourish along the path of understanding and love.

In other news, I finally, finally, FINE.AH. LEE. have a job interview on Wednesday. The job is for a local classic rock radio station just a few blocks from my house. I’ll have to impress them with my music snobbery.I knew that random trait might come in useful to me one day. ūüôā

And lastly, happy holidays to everyone (assuming the world doesn’t end on Friday, right?). ¬†I’m going to have to get creative with what foods to make at my family affairs coming up next week, but that is nothing new for this gal.

A Change Gonna Come

I haven’t binged, purged, or done that weird thing where I chew my food and spit it out since August 27th. This is not to say that I haven’t over-eaten or made bad food choices, but I haven’t gone too far astray since before Labor Day. I feel this is something to celebrate.

I have also had several conversations with myself where I’ve acknowledged the fact that “conquering” my food and body issues may ultimately mean doing so only in an internal, spiritual way. ¬†My physical body may never change (at least on the outside), and I need to be okay with that.

I was starting to believe I could be.

Then I see one photo of myself and am reminded how much work still lies ahead.

My family went to an awards banquet for my father last night. He was nominated for an Educator of the Year Award. ¬†The nominees were judged 50% on their own speech and 50% on the essay their nominators wrote about them. With these as the voting guidelines, my dad should have easily crushed his competitors. His speech was powerful, fluid, and void of the million cliches all the other speakers used. I think his downfall was that he was too good, though. He doesn’t speak or think like a middle school teacher; he speaks and thinks like a college professor- and not one of the near-retirement, jaded and cynical variety either. Anyway,¬†I think his words might have been a little too sophisticated for the judging panel (the man referenced the Gordian Knot, for christ sakes). ¬†This is not to put down anyone in the room, or¬†belittle what K-12 educators do. My dad has influenced countless lives as a middle school teacher and high school basketball coach. But sometimes it saddens me to see glaring examples of how much he really settled in life. I wonder how much of what he chose to do with his career was because of my sister and I. Without us, would he have felt less tied down to the goals he made in his twenties? Would he have gone off and done even greater things? Or would he have never gone back to school in the first place and still be working a blue-collar job at J.G. Boswell company? Either way, I spent the evening proud of him- proud of the respect he has rightfully earned from his peers and the community, proud of the values he has instilled in my sister and I, and proud that (whether or not this is the life he would have picked for himself) he has done so much with the path he has taken.

My grandparents were in attendance, cute as ever. My sister was there too, and I always feel like a truer version of myself in her presence. With the exception of some awkward dinner conversation with other people at the table and a few really bad speeches, it was a great night. At the end of the event, it was picture time. They were taking several of our family for the local newspaper and school records and things like that, which I dutifully lined up for. Then I asked someone to take a picture of me and my sister with our grandparents; I’ve been on a kick, trying to get as many pictures of my Granny and Poppa as possible while they’re still alive.

When I saw the photo on my iPhone screen, my heart sank. Staring back at me was a gigantic, ugly, insecure, unhappy football linebacker with round cheeks and an ill-fitting ensemble. I immediately began tearing into myself. My sister had to stop me. I’m ashamed to admit she had to stop me several times over the course of the next 12 hours, because even this morning I had to bring up how frustrating it is to have had a breast reduction and still feel like I have humongous, saggy tits that make me look 10 years older than I really am. She tried to help by reassuring me that I didn’t look any different in the picture than I did in real life. This (unintentionally, of course) made me feel worse. I made myself post the image on my Facebook, because I have been wanting a picture of me with my grandparents to use as my cover image. Although I uploaded the picture, I couldn’t go so far as to make it my cover photo. I have gone round and round about deleting the picture all-together for the last fourteen hours, horrified every time I see my face and figure in it, but subdued when I look at the kind and lovely faces of my family. Bottom line is, for whatever strides I have made in food management and talking to the mirror, I still have some major body dysmorphia concerns. I can acknowledge I’ve made enough progress to recognize this solely as dysmorphia and not any true reflection of reality. I know my eyes are playing tricks on me; but I have not quite got to the point where I can figure out how to see beyond that.

I say this not to complain, but to state a marker point for where I am in my recovery. Three months without binging or purging is a mile-stone and something I am very proud of- but I have more battles ahead.

And I am up to the fight.

I will try to leave the picture up. I will try to even promote it to my cover photo at some point; to remind myself not only how much I love my grandparents and sister, but that I am more than any one picture- that I am more than any or all of my physical characteristics.

Please, no comments about ‘You’re beautiful, Haley” or anything like that on this post. Though I appreciate the sentiment, that’s not what I am aiming at here, nor does approval from other people necessarily help with the issue. This post wasn’t to incite compliments; I just want to look back in a few months and gage where I was at.

And where I am at is: better than I was five months ago. And that’s great, by my estimations.

Late Thanksgiving

I have been meaning to start a gratitude journal ever since I first stopped drinking. That was nearly two and a half years ago.

Today, I finally took the step of opening up one of the many empty notebooks I have lying around the house and jotting down some of the things I am thankful to have going on in my life. I can’t promise I will keep it up, as I am terrible about adhering to any sort of regimen (when was the last time I posted on this blog, for instance?), but it’s always nice to remind yourself of the good, if only sporadically.

I had to go to an Urgent Care earlier today to deal with an ear infection. I was anxiety-ridden when the nurse quoted the estimated cost of the office visit to be between $85-120, but I was in a lot of pain so it was sort of non-negotionable.

While I was in the examination room, waiting to be seen by the doctor, I picked up a magazine and happened to flip to an article about positive energy. Two of the bullet points that stood out to me (and I’ve heard them a million times) were 1) Try to always focus on what goes right instead of what goes wrong, even at the most minor of levels. (Eg: If someone made your coffee weak, be grateful someone took the time to make you a cup of coffee in the first place.) ¬†and 2) Implement the Five Year Rule. Meaning, if you aren’t going to remember what you’re upset about in five years, then don’t let it bother you now.

I liked the reminder so much, I took a picture of it with my camera phone.

After being examined, I headed back to the lobby and discovered the actual cost of my visit was going to be $210. (!)

Of course I proceeded to get disproportionally upset and passive-agressively whiny almost immediately.

I can only hope that five years from now I won’t still be stewing over the cost of one medical bill, so once I got in my car I told myself “you need to let this go”. What scared me, though, was remembering that, five years ago, I ¬†was also uninsured and had a few near-identical experiences.

When I got hired at TCOE, I thought I finally was on the road to security and stability. I started paying off the credit card debt I had racked up in college, I stopped partying and started taking better care of myself, I began making car insurance payments and stopped asking to borrow money from family.

Then I got laid off. And I feel like I have since walked backwards through time.

In the months of unemployment, I have applied for all sorts of jobs, but I can count on both hands the ones that have actually been of any interest to me. And none of them have come close to the salary I was making before (which I thought at the time was too little). Even then, I’ve only been called in for one interview. I debate whether or not I even want to be in Fresno. Or California, for that matter. Or America.

Like always, I hope for signs or clues to point me where I want to be, but like always, there are only confusing nudges and mixed-messages.

I thought today, “take a break from searching for jobs in Fresno and start looking anywhere in the country.” But I had no idea what to search for.

I think about going back to school, and then wonder, “for what?”

I never imagined I would be in my thirties and STILL have absolutely no clue what my purpose is. Yet here I am. I wonder if I will ever be the sort of person who feels settled.

After several hours of letting these things nag at my brain, I decided to focus on what is going right instead of what is going wrong.¬†I feel like this is a conversation I have so often with myself. Maybe even here on my blog, huh? ¬†I really want to be a positive, grateful person. I really, really do. The reality is I spend a lot of time doing the exact opposite. I decided tonight I am going to work even harder to practice what I preach.¬†There is still a lot of good in my life. And I am NOT in the same place I was five years ago; I am much better off. It might take me a while to know where I want to be or what I want to do- hell, it might take my whole life- but it’s my choice whether or not I am going to be miserable while I am figuring it out.

So, in an effort to tell the universe that I am open to possibilities:

I am thankful I had the $200 in my bank account to cover that office visit.
I am thankful my ears feel better.
I am thankful I am relatively healthy and rarely need to visit the doctor.
I am thankful I have a few marketable skills, even if I haven’t found the right job for them quite yet.
I am thankful I am not in a job where I feel stifled and judged by an unsupportive boss.
I am thankful I have too many interests, rather than none at all.
I am thankful I have a roof over my head.
I am thankful to spend most of my life feeling safe.
I am thankful to have people who love me, and know that they love me.
I am thankful I love myself decidedly more than I did only six months ago.
I am thankful to be getting a few freelancing gigs here and there.
I am thankful that when I get negative and catty, there is always that voice in the back of my head who tells me to knock it off. I hope that voice never gives up on me.
I am thankful for gentle reminders.
I am thankful for a wide open future, full of endless possibilities.
I am thankful for this moment, this day, this breath.

And much, much more.

Imagine pageant…

I originally came here to post this nice little meme I came across today. I’m thinking of typing it out and putting a copy of the quote on my actual scale:

Cute huh?

When I got to my wordpress dashboard, though, I saw on my site stats that someone had accidentally come across my page after googling “Did Hayley Rey conquer her eating disorder?”¬†I decided to look up this Rey woman. I learned she is the wife of Dr. Robert Rey, a celebrity plastic surgeon from the E! network show, Dr. 90210. There are both fans and haters of the couple out there, as well as people who either love or hate Robert and Hayley as individuals. As with most reality shows, it appears their lives offer many different dramatic plots to follow, one of which is Hayley’s weight loss. At one point, she weighs herself on camera and it shows she is 88 pounds while wearing clothing and shoes. Ray and others wonder ‘how did she get so skinny?” Hayley replies, “Sometimes when I’m busy I just forget to eat.”

Dr. Robert Rey and wife, Hayley.

Whether or not she is anorexic, I do not know. I’ve never met the woman and know nothing of her other than the results a quick internet search yielded. What I find interesting (depressing) though, is how many blogs/sites there are out there either calling her a whore or an idiot for her possible eating disorder, or praising her because of it.¬†I knew there were pro-anorexia sites out there; accidentally coming across one can be a bit nausea-inducing.

Part of me set out to write a big pro-positive body image rant; to declare that these pro-ana sites are disgusting and wrong. That may be true on some level, but the people who run them are probably not the ones to blame. Individuals¬†who believe and indulge in the misconception that “starvation thin” is beautiful, are really no different from me fearing I can’t be beautiful if I weigh over a certain number on the scale. It’s two sides of the same coin; we’re all victims of the same lies and manipulation. Also, the websites and blogs that blame people with eating disorders, or think the fact that they struggle with them makes them stupid or worthless, are downright silly, too.¬†We wouldn’t blame someone for having cancer. Why do we treat mental illness as through it is a lifestyle choice?

I wish I had a great point to make, or was bringing this up for any other reason than t0 just bring it up, but mostly I’m sad. I wish people had more compassion for others. I wish I was better about it myself, quite frankly.

I’ve been trying to keep up the positive body image talk in the mirror every day. It gets harder to stick with in the winter, especially while I’m currently unemployed. I spend most of my days wearing sweats, staring at my computer screen, never leaving my house. Most of my self-talk is along the lines of “You are smart and worthy. You deserve a good job,” rather than anything specifically body-related. As a result, I think I’ve definitely entered into a bit of my annual funk. I am 32 years old, and I still can not figure out what I want to do with my life or where I want to do it at; my saggy, flabby body is a secondary concern. This means I haven’t necessarily been eating as healthy as I normally would try to, but I still haven’t had any major binges since the summer. Still going without gluten, and as of yet, migraine-free.

At least since I’ve been home, I’ve had the opportunity to write a lot. Whether or not I actually enjoy it or am any good at it remains to be seen.

Anyway, I know this post was all over the place, but I felt like checking in. I’ll try not to post again until I have something productive and happy to offer. ūüôā

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