November 16

When I sat down to write this post, I didn’t have a clue what the topic would be. I even looked at the writing prompt today to have a jumping off point. But then I saw the date. November 16.

On November 16, 1985, my mom and I were on a plane, heading back home to Houston from Rochester, New York. We had lived near Rochester, in a town called Penfield, for a little over a year.

A month or so before, Dad had come home late from work. I remember him talking to Mom, telling her the reason that he had been out was because he had gone sailing. And then he told her he wanted to divorce.

Then Dad was sleeping on the couch, then Mom and Dad were arguing, then Dad moved out, then there were the boxes. So many boxes.

I’ll never forget the day we flew to Houston. On one hand, I was excited to be going back to school with friends I hadn’t seen in a while. On the other, I was going to miss the friends I had made in the short time I had been in NY.

I was very upset to be moving away from my dad.

I was 12.

I am now almost 40, and while I don’t usually dwell on the moments leading up to my parents’ split, this year it’s hit me pretty hard.

I think part of it is that I will see my dad, for the first time in about a year, on Thanksgiving. A year that has been rocky, and has tested our relationship as well.

But I’m looking forward to seeing him, giving him a hug, and telling him I love him.

Dad and me on the London Eye

Because I do. No matter what date it is.

Love Lost and Weight Gained

My hypnotherapist suggested for future sessions to find a photo of me at a time when I was happy with my weight. For me, that would be around 2001-2002, so I started looking through photos to find one that I could post on my bathroom mirror. The problem with this time frame is that most about that part of my life I would rather forget. Going through those photos made me very emotional, but at the same time I am glad I brought those memories forth.

Obligatory Sears posed photo. My ex had a matching outfit.

Most of my life I was underweight. I believe I was around 80 pounds in high school. It wasn’t that I wanted to be that skinny. I had a high metabolism and could basically eat anything I wanted. My parents were like sticks, too. I was teased about it, but I was also teased about my first and last names, so it wasn’t too big of a deal to me.

The only time it did bother me was when I went to Planned Parenthood to get birth control pills. I was constantly harassed about my weight, and kept being asked, “Do you like yourself? Are you anorexic? Do you want to throw up?” I felt like I was part of the Spanish Inquisition. I thought, “If I had great self esteem when I came in, I’m certainly feeling pretty ugly right now.” When I came to get my thyroid test results, I was told they were normal. However, the receptionist looked me up and down and told me I should eat some ice cream every night.

One of the main symptoms of my anxiety is nausea, so junior high through 2000, I didn’t eat much. If I went out to eat, I would be the nibbler. People would ask me if I didn’t like my food. I would have to have the “It’s not the chef, it’s me” conversation with the waiter. Sometimes I would have to leave the restaurant early because I would have a panic attack. I would just tell people I didn’t feel well. That was the easiest way to put it.

Once I started taking Effexor, things started looking up. As I’ve said in an earlier post, I started taking chances in my life. However, that does not mean that I made all the right decisions.

On Valentine’s Day in 2000, I came out to my car to find that someone had left me a rose and a balloon but no note. I had an idea of who left me these gifts, but I still asked my neighbor’s son if he had seen anyone. When I got to work, there was another rose, another balloon, and a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal on my desk. A lot of people knew that I was a WP fan at the time, but I already knew who left these tokens of affection. It made me uneasy, especially since this person didn’t leave any hint as to who he was.

He finally came clean and asked me out. I said I wasn’t interested in being anything other than friends. Truth be told, I was interested in someone else. Plus I felt E’s behavior was a bit stalker-like and it made me nervous.

But E kept fighting back. He would bring me flowers; he would ask me to lunch. When I finally relented, he asked me while we were eating, “Would you rather kiss a dog’s ass than me?” I didn’t know how to answer. I told my dad about the conversation, and his answer was, “What kind of dog?”

I guess I’m a sucker for determination, because I gave E a chance. But the whole time I felt it was wrong. When he called me drunk saying that he wouldn’t bother me anymore, I shouldn’t have called back. But I was mad, and I was also worried about E having alcohol poisoning. He initially answered the phone, but passed out halfway through. I called the police, and the information, of course, was played on the police scanner in the newsroom. Everyone knew my business. It was embarrassing.

Yet I let E back in again. It was as though since I felt a new lease on life, I could take on this challenge. E had been in an emotionally abusive relationship before, and anything could set him off. If I made one peep about breaking up, or that I needed space, he went ballistic. He would threaten suicide and ask me to hit him because he said he deserved it. He was broken. And for some reason I wanted to try to fix him.

So he came with me to Austin. E didn’t have a job, but luckily I did, so we were able to find a nice apartment. For a while it was nice, and the natural recourse was to get married. We ended up having a ceremony in Dallas, so that my grandmother would be able to attend.

After the ceremony. E's face has been blurred to my satisfaction.

Since E and I had settled into a nice routine, I was enjoying life more and more, including the food that went with it. Both of us were picky eaters, so it was mostly carbohydrates for me. That, along with me getting older, slowed down my metabolism and I started gaining weight. I thought it was also because I was happy and in love.

There were some bumps in the road. E had to have his thyroid removed because it was the size of Texas. Once it was removed and the doctor was trying to even out his hormones, E gained weight. He was a gymnast when he was younger and a cheerleader in high school, so he was very conscious about what he looked like. E became very depressed and started working out…all the time.

I decided to try to get healthy with him, especially since our apartment complex had a gym. The first time I went he worked me on the elliptical machine so much that I threw up when I got home. At the time I was proud of myself, but I didn’t keep up the routine. E did and got in shape. And sometime during this transformation, he lost interest in me.

It’s not all E’s fault. I didn’t really take good care of myself. I found myself thinking that E should love me for who I was, with all I did for him, that hygiene and weight shouldn’t matter. Instead, I found out it mattered very much, and it included a shouting match with E calling me “fat” and “a slob.” It went downhill from there.

By the time E asked for a divorce, which he once swore he would never do, I was in shambles. We had switched self-esteem places from the beginning of the relationship. I was the one pleading with E to stay. Even though I knew in the back of my mind that this was the right thing for both of us, I was afraid to be alone again.

I lost a few pounds after the marriage ended, but have since gained them all back, plus a few more. I know part of it is because I am very comfortable now with the way my life is going, but I also know part of it is because I don’t know how to eat right and I’m not exercising. Both, I’ve been told, can help my mood and my anxiety levels.

I’ve stopped and started many times, but so far nothing has stuck. So now I’m going to try weight release with the hypnotherapist. I have found a photo, one where E does not have to be cut out.

The last time I talked with E I found out that he had remarried and had children. I found out from his stepfather a year later that E’s mother had died. I am grateful that J told me because E’s mother was a wonderful woman who I think of often. I knew that she had Lupus and was in pain most of the time, but she always had a positive outlook on life.

I think of E from time to time, and wonder if he ever thinks of me. It’s not that I want to see him again, but I feel our time together was important and something I’ll never forget.

Now I just need to remember “me.”