Carry on Tuesday: Once Upon A Time

Out of fog Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge a...

Out of fog Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco in fog and crepuscular rays. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a time once, not so long ago, when I was chubby, fat, or just pleasantly plump. In Italy I would have been a goddess. Men would have followed me down the cobble stoned streets, whistling and begging to touch my beautiful breasts and my bountiful behind. Unfortunately, I wasn’t living in Italy, I was here in the United States, where all I really wanted was to be slender. I thought if I was thin, all my problems would dissipate like the mysterious fog in San Francisco. I imagined the fog lifting while I watched, wearing a heavy knit red sweater and sitting peacefully on a huge rock.

A couple of months ago I was very sick, (on top of my chronic illnesses” Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, IBS) I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t leave my house or the bathroom for an entire four weeks. I was pale, gaunt and looked ill. People on the street would ask me guardedly “If I was okay?” Part of me, if I had a sense of humor back then wanted to say “Of course, I’m in the middle-aged super model competition” but I had no sense of humor at the time. The other part of me was scared to speak so I just said “I’m fine” which people accept with relief and don’t follow-up with questions.

All my life there was always something about me that I wanted to change and after I changed it, I thought I would be happy: my weight, my hair, my glasses, wearing make-up, dressing better, nice shoes, tinting my hair to cover the tiny amount of gray that swirled in front of my face. The gray hair that I had been so proud to have, to acknowledge my real place in the world, as someone who had already experienced a great deal of life and had earned them with pride.

Having been married for 24 years with two young adults doing well in college was proof enough and even though I did go through a time feeling sorry for myself that the kids ” didn’t need me anymore” I realized my husband and I had done a very good job of parenting. I admit, I needed to remind myself that loving and needing were two very different things, they would love me as their mom but their lives and our lives would be constantly changing. Yes, sometimes it changes so quickly it was hard to keep up, that’s when I found myself alone, crying into an old, soft, handkerchief and feeling sorry for myself. I learned to accept that too. You have no choice.

Six weeks ago I went from eating and being lively to not eating and not feeling well, I lost over 30 pounds and before you coo and ooh and ahhh and wish it was you I can tell you, you better take that back. I did not enjoy clothes falling from my body, or food flowing through me, and not being able to go outside of my house for four weeks. The doctor scheduled me for every “cancer” test known to humanity and that was not fun. The doctor, not known for his bedside matter, actually told me WHAT he was testing for when we first met him in his office. Thanks, Doc, nice touch.

I will be getting the results later this week, I’m hoping that everything will be fine, I’m ( fairly) certain that they will be. The symptoms stopped a few days after my office visit and while I haven’t gained a lot of weight back, I do get hungry and I feel better. My newest ( little ) problem is this: I went to shop for new jeans and found that there are no jeans for women of my age. They have skinny jeans, under the waist jeans and jeans for teenagers with lithe bodies. Basically, the clothes that I have are four sizes too big for me and the style out there now are for teenagers only. I have nothing to wear, I miss my “Mom jeans.” It is impossible to find them, anywhere. Suggestions?

All that I have accomplished in this quest are the lack of clothes to wear and the acquisition of numerous wrinkles. I sat outside in the sun for a few moments, noticing all the wrinkles on my knees and thighs that were not there before. As I sat, warming my face, was I thinking about the good things in my life in a delighted way? No. I was thinking about the barium test (drinking chalk) that I have to drink tomorrow morning at eight am and where to aim my projectile vomiting. That, at least, is amusing me.

Be happy with what you have and who you are. As my dad used to say “Health is the most important thing.”  It’s the only thing, be grateful.

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The Reasons Why

I wake up each night every two hours.  I fall asleep quickly but two hours later these horrible mind games occur.  I wake up, not groggy, but alert as if an alarm inside me has gone off like a very loud siren.  Last night the ghost of anxiety past, present and future  filled my brain so much that I felt confused and uncertain. My mind was a mixture of headlines and dark thoughts twisted together like a  tree with very weak limbs. If there was a blast of wind I know the tree would ultimately go down, lying decrepit and lost by the side of the snow-covered road.

Why were there two teenagers admitted to the ICU with blood clots in an arm and in the brain. They are from the same town and know each other.  What are the chances of that happening, and why? The messages that terrorists are likely to attack again, soon frighten me.   I see the images of their faces in the newspapers and on television, over and over again.  I felt uneasy rereading the thirty-seven pages I read of The Bell Jar for my son.  The Methotrexate drug I take  haunts me and hates me, as I do it. The intense images of my daughter’s presentation on Haiti sticks in my mind, mud and blood, and half-dead children, with red gauze across their eyes, mothers reaching out for their dead children, crying. Grandmothers and fathers stretching their arms out to pray while tears are flowing down their cheeks. I also dream about evil rats, dorm rooms and multiplying green and black snakes. Nothing is too silly to taunt me.

Every two hours I rise from my bed to try to shake the demons away but they will not go, they stick to me like honey and  burrs and laugh when I try to shake them off. I am so tired that I try to stay awake during the day but sometimes I cannot.  I don’t  feel well physically, my stomach hurts, my body aches, my energy is at an all time low. I think about going back to the guru Dr. in the city and I feel like I am a failure.  My body is slow but my mind is racing, on over- drive. I cannot adjust the two to be synchronized. I wish I could. My legs are jumpy and my body cold, I trek to the bathroom back and forth as if I was pacing for a baby to be born, except there is no joy.

I have tried everything from deep breathing, telling myself an imaginary story, drugs, walking around, having a cookie,  but nothing seems to work.   I lie in bed awake and tense, I try to pull my fluffy pink blanket close by just to finger its texture but that doesn’t work either. I find myself turning over and over, asking myself questions that I don’t know the answer to. I am too tired to go downstairs and watch TV and our house is too small for me to wander around without waking someone up. For the first time in a long time, along with these physical maladies is fear; and I don’t know where that is coming from.

I am not even sure of what I am afraid of. If I knew, I could sort it out and try to solve it. Except I am afraid that this pattern will continue and my lack of sleep will only ravage me further.  I tried to sleep with the moon on my face last night but that gave me no sense of comfort either. I think I am going backwards in my physical health and that in itself is a nightmare.

I write now with a cup of coffee that I gulped down, fast enough that I don’t remember the flavor or the taste. I need to write but nothing comes to mind. Nothing but the puzzle pieces of my brain that are not fitting together. I ask for help in my silent plea to my deceased father  but nothing comes and then I am left with pure longing. I cringe because I am forgetting what my father’s voice used to sound like and that makes me terribly unhappy and lost.

I am feeling a bit disoriented. Where is my peace? Why can’t I find my gratitude guide? Why is everything scary and troubling and unlike the nightmares, I am wide awake enough to continue to feel these emotions. I am scared of nothing and everything, I feel sad and anxious and confused. I want to destroy these night-time monsters but they are indestructible. I am not Max of the Wild Things, I cannot make these evenings an adventure. they are in control of me and I surrender because I have no strength left to fight. I try to talk to myself but I cannot listen.