Thanksgiving Anticipation

So technically I’m late and I missed a day, but I’m going to say that my clock is a little fast and it’s still November 20, dang it!

I’m having anticipatory anxiety. Big time. About Thanksgiving.

One reason I’ve already talked about: Dad.

The other is that we’re going to my aunt and uncle’s house, and I haven’t really spoken with them in four years.

When Lee and I decided to get married and were making up the guest list, it was easy to invite all of his family because they’re so close (physically and emotionally). My side of the family is a bit more complicated.

The majority of my family lives on the west coast. My dad and stepmother live in Holland, and because they had come to visit for Thanksgiving four years ago, they weren’t going to be able to come in for the wedding on New Year’s Eve.

But Dad asked me if I would invite his sister and brother-in-law to the wedding to stand in for him.

I didn’t.

I can’t say that it’s Mom’s fault. It’s not. Ultimately it was my decision to say no.

My grandmother, Precious I called her, my dad’s mom, passed away in October 2007. She died with my mom by her side.

Before that, she was in a nursing home in Dallas. She had dementia and couldn’t live on her own anymore. With her son living across the pond, and her daughter moving to another state for a job opportunity, my mom volunteered to have my grandmother moved to a place in Houston.

This is what I know. I know that Mom visited Precious several times a week. I know that she brought my grandmother her favorite foods and fed them to her. That she put moisturizer on my grandmother’s face and hands and lip balm on her lips. I know that, even though they didn’t speak for a long while after my parents divorced, that they both loved each other very much and were happy to be in each other’s lives.

I know my mom tried her hardest to advocate for my grandmother. I know that she gave my dad and aunt updates on Precious’s condition. I know she was frustrated with the nursing home.

I don’t exactly know what happened that caused Dad and my aunt to decide to no longer include my mom in family decisions. But I know Mom was deeply hurt. I don’t know if Dad told her why the decision was made. All I know is that my mom wouldn’t go to the funeral.

And she never wanted to talk to or see my dad or aunt again.

I sent my aunt and uncle an announcement. Maybe I should’ve explained my reasoning for not inviting them, but I felt like I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Yes, they are family. But ultimately, the day was supposed to be about Lee and me, wasn’t it?

I didn’t hear anything about it until my dad contacted me and told me that my aunt was upset. That I should contact her. What got to me was that she didn’t contact me directly. Maybe she felt she couldn’t. Whatever the case may be, it has been a battle between me and Dad for almost four years.

Dad told me a couple of months ago that he and my stepmother were going to be in Austin for Thanksgiving and they would be staying with my aunt and uncle. And that my aunt would be happy if Lee and I came to dinner. Initially he said that he would let her know that I would like to be there, but I told Dad I would call her. We had a nice chat.

I may be having anticipatory anxiety for nothing, but I’m afraid of what I will say if they ask. I’m afraid of the disappointing stares. Of us all acting one way when we’re thinking something else.

I just want to spend time with my family. Is that so much to ask?

My Happiest Moment

Today’s prompt from BlogHer:

Name the happiest moment in your life thus far.

I would have to say that was on December 31, 2008. My wedding to Lee.

A toast to the married couple!

It was a bit overcast that day, but the night was clear and crisp. We had decorated the backyard with Christmas lights on the fence. We invited only a few people so it would be an intimate affair. Both of us had been married before and had the big wedding, so we wanted something simple and elegant. I can tell you that our wedding turned out even better than expected.

I was still very nervous that evening, but as soon as Lee came to walk with me to the “altar,” I felt at ease. I knew I was marrying the right person.

When we walked into the backyard, everyone started to whistle “The Wedding March.”

We wrote our own ceremony, including our vows, and our officiant was a close friend.

We had a champagne toast afterwards, and our friends and family came up and said wonderful things that made everyone tear up.

Lee made our cake, and his sister Aimi painted beautiful cherry blossoms on the fondant. It was one of the most beautiful cakes I had ever seen.

Mmmm....cake

At midnight we lit sparklers and celebrated the New Year.

Happy New Year!

I look back at that night fondly, and am so glad that we will be celebrating our third anniversary soon.

I love you, Lee!

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.”

He Likes Me! He Really Likes Me!

There are some people in your life that know when you need a little pick-me-up, even when you don’t know it. I had just had a meeting with my manager, whose last day will be the end of this week, and I was a little down. I checked my phone to see if anyone had called, and was greeted with the photo below.

As soon as I saw this, my grin spread from ear to ear.

What a sweet surprise!

My husband Lee, who I’ve been with for more than six years, sent me this precious note. He is a wonderful person who appreciates me in a way that I did not know was possible.

I used to think that being in a relationship would be too much work. I would say that if I ever got married, my husband and I would live in separate houses so that we could be together when we wanted. And then, when things got too much for me and I needed space to myself, I could go back to my house.

Of course, that never happened. I found out I could cohabitate just fine in my first marriage, but when that relationship crumbled, the apartment seemed to close in on me. By that time, my anxiety and depression invaded my life again and pulled me down into the abyss. It took me a while to climb back up, but I did it.

Once I was back living on my own, I decided to join MySpace to reconnect with friends and build a strong base around me. Every so often I would dwell about the divorce, and I even wrote a blog entry about it. I talked about how I was like a duck; on the surface I looked calm, but my legs were going a mile a minute underneath the water.

A few days later, I got an email.

March 16, 2005

just a random word of encouragement from a stranger.

hang in there. it gets better.

what I did to get my mind together was find something I’d always wanted to do but never had the time for … and channeled all of my energy into that whenever I thought about that “missing person” in my life.

now I can play bass. thanks, ex!

the cool part is when you realize you’re doing it because you love it, not because it’s a distraction. when you reach that point it’s amazing.

or get an assortment of krispy kremes, some coffee (black as midnight on a mooooonless night) and load up the twin peaks box set.

works for me when I get overwhelmed.

I thought it was a nice note and so I decided to write back to thank him. I didn’t expect him to write back, which he did. I also didn’t expect for one email exchange to blossom into a friendship, which it did. He never pressured me into anything else until I was ready.

Our first photo together

I had so many “what ifs” in my head. What if we’re not compatible? What if he finds out he can’t live with some of my querks? What if I have a panic attack on the way to his house and have to go back home and he’s disappointed? What if we decide to live together and then break up? What if my heart gets broken again?

But it turns out, just like anticipatory anxiety, things turned out not as bad as I feared. In fact, Lee has been the calm in my storm. And I have found that I can be calm for him, too, which I didn’t think was possible.

Not every day is a piece of cake, but having Lee as my friend and husband is the sweetest thing in the world.

Getting married in our backyard on New Year's Eve, 2008