The Dark Side Of The Moon

I had two major breakthroughs in therapy today. I did my assignment of making a list of my characteristics; when I presented it, I joked that I did it as a list of pros and cons. She had me read it out loud, then asked me to pretend that all those characteristics belong to someone sitting in the chair next to me. What would I think of that person?

I looked at my list, and admitted that if they were smart, funny, creative, and sarcastic, I would likely want to be their friend. I examined the cons and thought that none of those things were something that would make me dislike someone, things like disorganized, self-doubting, bitchy. She asked what I would tell that person who had self-doubts. Since one of my pros is that I’m encouraging and empathetic, I would tell them that they are capable of doing anything they want.

She then asked what I thought of that person overall. As I looked at that list, a list that I struggled over and thought about endlessly for the last five days, I realized I’m actually a pretty cool person. I’m far from perfect (selfish, authoritative, demanding), but in general, I try to be “good” (kind, caring, giving, generous, fair, ethical). My pros did outweigh my cons, even when weighting various bad characteristics more heavily than others.

That was breakthrough number one. Number two was the big “aha” moment, though… As we talked about my deep-seated parental void that I’m constantly trying to fill, she said that I would NEVER be able to fill that void, that it would always be there. At first I thought that was kind of a negative thing for a therapist to say, but then it hit me.

When I met Ron, I believed with all my heart that he was my missing piece. That if he loved me unconditionally, I would never want for anything or anyone ever again. In a lot of ways, he is my missing piece, and the Universe knows that this man loves me unconditionally and has done so through good times and bad. Even so, I still have that longing, needy, existential void that I keep trying to fill with one person or another, particularly mother figures.

But no one, no matter how wonderful they are, can ever make that nothingness go away. No one can go back in time and re-parent the neglected and abused child to keep that vastness from springing into existence. All I can do now is try to talk myself down off the ledge of low self-esteem by reminding myself that I am worth sacrificing for, I am worth encouraging, I am worth loving, I am worth protecting. And the fact that I wasn’t encouraged, loved, or protected as a child ISN’T MY FAULT. It’s my mother’s.

One of the things I listed is that I am a good mother. I know I’m a good mother because I have awesome relationships with my awesome kids. Matt calls me at least once a week if not more, just to catch up and touch base. I see Aubrey every single day and she hugs me every night before she goes home. In spite of my lack of a maternal example, I still managed to love and protect and encourage my children. I was far from perfect. Trust me, there are plenty of moments where I know I was the worst mother ever. But overall, Matt and Aubrey know they are loved unconditionally. My worst mother moments were my failing, not theirs.

In a hilarious caricature of my entire relationship with my mother, I recently posted a meme about depression not always having a reason. My mother in all of her narcissistic glory, posted, “Now you know how I feel.” OMFG. Are you freakin’ kidding me? While a million and one smart ass comments ran through my head, I settled on replying, “It’s what I aspire to.” Really, I wanted to say, “Way to make it all about you.”

I don’t care who a person is, and especially not if it was my child, if someone I know were to post that meme, I would respond with, “I’m so sorry you’re having a tough time.” Or, ” Is there anything I can do to help?” Or even, “I know it’s hard, I’ve been there, but I’m here for you if you need anything.”

We all had a good laugh about it because it is seriously typical. However, while I know it’s a dark humor thing, I also know that it hurts in a way that only maternal rejection can hurt. But after today, I also know that her response is her problem, not mine. It really, truly, absolutely is NOT about me.

That is huge. Groundbreaking. Tremendous. So after a week of making a list, checking it twice, and interviewing my friends and family, I know exactly who I am.

I am enough.

The Road So Far

I am still committed to the low-carb journey, although I have gone up to 45 carbs a day should I want them. At the behest of a couple of friends, one of whom is a GP, I did check in with my doctor. It was time for a full physical anyway. I gave up five tubes of blood and got a tetanus booster that has my arm swollen, knotted, and itchy. Other than my continuing diagnoses of major depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and insomnia, I’m relatively healthy, although I am still waiting on all the blood results.

Of course my doctor recommended I have 30 grams of carbs per meal. I’m not sure I even know how to do that anymore, unless I eat a potato or something. Should my liver panel show any abnormalities I will obviously have to increase my carbs, but in the meantime I’m at half that. We did agree that I would go back on the slivers of Nuvigil (I can only handle 37.5 mg a day) and that I would see my therapist for this depressive episode.

Depression pisses me off. First off, I fucking hate the word, because it doesn’t really describe the feeling. I think “inundation” is a much better word. I feel inundated with emotion, so overwhelmed that I can’t function because I can’t figure out what the next step should be. Besides, it literally comes in waves. I can feel okay one minute, and then burst into tears the next, then five minutes later be fine again.

It’s been a couple of years since I saw my therapist, but I had to laugh when I saw my folder. It’s almost two inches thick. I’ve been seeing her since 2004, which means I’ve shown her more commitment than my first two marriages put together. She was very happily surprised that Ron and I are still married, as we had essentially decided to divorce the last time I saw her.

We spent a few minutes catching up, (Ron’s great, Aub’s going to college in the spring, Matt’s in California, Aub has an apartment, etc…) and then delved into the cause of this current episode. It all boiled down to my major abandonment issues, my anger at my chronic illness, and my relentless yet hopeless search for a parent.

are you my

This baby bird is my soul sibling.

Most importantly, she gave me permission to grieve my losses. It’s okay to be sad, angry, and disappointed. It’s okay to cry and rant and whine. For a while. But she also had me count out all my positives. Leigh, who offers me the most amazing unconditional love and is a constant source of recovery and healing, even though we only see each other once or twice a year and rarely talk otherwise. My husband, who makes me feel worthy and goes above and beyond every single day. My son, who makes me laugh with his antics in spite of being so far away. My daughter who is truly my best friend and staunchest defender. My friend Rob, who has gently reminded me every day that she is here, even when I push her away. I thought I was past the stage of testing people’s loyalty, but apparently, that nasty habit lingers. Today, I decide to stop pushing and start accepting.

Of course, the not so easy thing is the homework. While I obviously have some residual childhood trauma to deal with (again), this time I have to work at an even deeper level. This week’s assignment is to write out who I am. Not what I can do or have done, but who I am. I really don’t know who I am. In a lot of ways, I know who I want to be, and I know who I’ve been but who I am now? That I’m not so sure about.

I asked my friends and got a few interesting answers: caring, strong, survivor, afraid, quirky, fearless, unapologetic… Ugh, I wish I were fearless. I know there have been times when I have been, but that time is not now.

After much introspection and lots of conversations, I think the only thing that today I know for sure is that I am loved. And for today, that’s enough.

Helplessly, Hopelessly


I am madly in love with my husband. Yup, the same one that not quite two years ago wanted a divorce. Who was that masked man? For that matter, who was I?

Things are so different now. He reaches for my hand when we’re out walking. He initiates hugs and cuddles. He actually touches me all the time, and I love it.

But I’m different, too. I make time for him. I used to think that I did, but really, I didn’t. We used to sleep in separate beds in separate rooms, seeing each other only at dinner or at lunch on the weekends. Now, “reading time” is inviolate and sacred. Movies stop, conversations stop, games are paused. When he’s ready for bed, I go lay down, too. We read, talk, discuss our day, plan the next day, remind each other of things that need to be done, and just connect. This is rarely a sexual thing, although connecting intellectually does lead to a better sex life (men, pay attention!!).

I have ridiculously insane insomnia, so I rarely stay in bed after he turns off the light. I will curl around him for a few minutes, then I get up and go back to whatever I was doing. I still manage to do all the stuff I want to do, but that twenty or thirty minute break makes all the difference in the world.

I wish I could say this is something that can fix any marriage, but anyone who says such things is full of crap. Some marriages just shouldn’t be saved. Habitual cheating? Nope. Untreated addictions? No way. Name on Ashley Madison hacked list? You’re outta here. Abuse of any kind? I’m so gone, you won’t even have time to blink.

But when it’s something as simple as, “We just don’t have anything in common anymore,” I think that can be fixed. C’mon, there are couples out there who are on opposite sides of the political and religious fences, and they manage to make it work. He leaves the seat up and you’re tired of asking him to put it down? I’m willing to bet that with a little bit of commitment on both parts, he can get over that. He thinks you nag about doing the dishes? Just out of curiosity, what are all the things he does that you don’t and that he doesn’t nag you about? The yard work? Car maintenance? Working every day?

I’m the LEAST gender role specific person you’ll likely ever meet, so please forgive my gender normative examples. Change pronouns, whatever, it doesn’t matter. The fact is, while there are things that you “always” have to do, there are things that your partner “always” has to do, too. If there aren’t, then that’s a different issue entirely. My point is, none of that stuff matters. IT DOESN’T MATTER.

What does matter is mutual respect. But before you demand it, you have to give it, first. Yup, be the bigger person. GIVE your partner all the benefit of all the doubts. None of this, “Well they don’t do that for ME, so why should I do it for them?” Do it for them anyway. People respond to love, respect, and attention.

While I dislike the “love is a flower” metaphor, relationships really are like flowers. You can stare at a wilting daisy and whine that if it’s not going to grow and bloom, you’re not going to water it. All you succeed in doing is killing the daisy. Relationships take faith. Faith that if you water it, it will bloom.

Water the flower. Weed it. Talk nicely to it. Watch it bloom. Then do it all over again.

Twenty minutes a day is free. It literally costs nothing to stop your life and pay attention to the person you’re sharing it with. You know what’s not free? Divorce attorneys. And you know what sucks more than spending time with someone you love? Dating weirdos you meet on the internet. Spend five minutes looking at Tinder profiles and you’ll be amazed at the level of commitment you’ll suddenly feel.

When you do something nice for someone, they usually want to do something nice back. Which will make you want to do something nice for them, etc. etc. etc… Spiral back up instead of spiraling down the, “they never” staircase.

Stop whining about what doesn’t happen and make something happen. You might be surprised.

Negative and Positive

As a reader commented the other day regarding her experience, this low carb diet seems to be positively affecting my fibro. I am decidedly less sore and the few nights I’ve managed to sleep, I’ve gotten a straight five hours. I still have ridiculous insomnia and my mental confusion is worse, but my pain is less. This morning, I came across a random article talking about a ketogenic diet being used to treat certain types of epilepsy. Hm. Fibro is treated with epilepsy medication and is considered a neurological condition. So why isn’t anyone studying ketogenic diets as a treatment for fibro? I will happily never eat another potato again if it means I don’t writhe on the bed in pain.

Indeed, the mental confusion does seem to be the worst part of this whole experiment. So far I’ve been baffled by a can opener, the television remote, and my knitting needles. While I can live without tuna, and my daughter can turn on the tv for me, the whole knitting thing is kinda pissing me off. Fortunately, if I divert my attention for a few minutes, the confusion passes and I can go back to doing what I was doing, but I’m really glad I’m not in charge of a nuclear reactor or something. I’m seriously hoping that as I increase my carbs each week, I’ll eventually find a happy medium where I am still ketogenic but not so confused.

It bothers me that so few doctors recommend dietary changes. It’s much easier to write a prescription than it is to talk about various diets. I’m incredibly grateful to my rheumatologist, as she is the one who suggested a diet change to battle the yeast. She recommended the Mediterranean Diet as a way to change my gut flora, but I think my yeast was a little more dug in than that. While my current low carb eating definitely has aspects of the Med Diet, the Med Diet is still pretty high carb in comparison.

While it may or may not be diet related, I went into a deep depressive funk for three days this week. Like “stay in the same nightgown and don’t shower” funk. I just wallowed in my misery in various spots around the house and whined at my husband that I hate my life. I don’t really hate my life (generally speaking), and even with my overall depression, it rarely gets this bad. Finally, in desperation for something to cheer me up, I cheated and weighed in a day early. When I saw that I lost 4.5 pounds, it was like an instant happiness injection! I jumped in the shower, scrubbed off three days of grime, and cooked dinner with my husband.

That puts me at a total of 23 pounds lost. Essentially, I’ve had three babies in the last month. While I still have twice that left to go, I’m a third of the way to where I want to be. What’s different this time is that I don’t have any cravings. When Aubrey and I went to Wingstop for lunch, I had iced tea and original hot wings while she had BBQ wings, french fries, and root beer. The entire time we were eating, the french fries were in the center of the table and I didn’t have a single one.

Last night, we had baked chicken for dinner, and I thought I would splurge 4 grams of carbs on a tablespoon of BBQ sauce. But when I read the label, high fructose corn syrup was listed as a sub-ingredient of three other ingredients. I just couldn’t eat it. Instead, I opted for a glass of wine. It was definitely the better choice, although even my dry white wine tasted overly sweet after not having any sugar for so long

Another thing I’ve noticed that absolutely has to be diet related is my Keratosis Pilaris is GONE. My arms, face, and butt are all baby smooth and soft. That has NEVER EVER happened before, even when I was sugar free for a year. Keratosis Pilaris is commonly known as “chicken skin” and looks like goose bumps, usually on the upper arms, thighs, buttocks, and cheeks. I’ve had it my entire memorable life and tried everything to get rid of it, to no avail. I feel a little like a supermodel now, all polished and smooth! The only downside is that at the moment, the cellulite on my ass is soooooo ridiculously visible, I want to cry.

Last but not least, losing 23 pounds has most definitely affected my sex life in a positive way. I’m sure it’s mostly because I just feel better about being naked, but I was noticing a few issues previously that are no longer issues. So yeah, I highly recommend dietary changes as a first run fix for sexual dysfunction in women.

The end of my fourth week is only three days away, so I’m almost done with the one month experiment to see if this would combat my yeast dilemma. I have to say yes, it has. Enough so that I’m willing to stay sugar free and extreme low carb for another month. While I don’t expect to lose another 23 pounds in one month, I do expect I’ll drop another ten or so. I know the weight loss will slow down as I have less and less to lose, but I have plenty of hoarded clothes that haven’t fit in a long time to keep me motivated and on track.


Sweet Treat

I’m quickly coming up on the end of my third week (tomorrow!), and after much begging on my part, Ron took me out to Texas de Brazil for dinner. I was a good girl and ate my veggies first, with a big salad, olives, tomatoes, asparagus, and a nice side of goat cheese that was amazing on bacon. I splurged on a piece of cheese bread, but since I didn’t have any other carbs today, I know I was fine. I ate a ridiculous amount of meat, but was still way less than I would normally eat, and this time I concentrated on only getting the stuff I really like, especially the picanha. I almost made a huge error of putting two splenda into my tea, but fortunately, I caught myself. I actually only needed a third of a packet per glass! My tastebuds have become super sensitive to anything sweet, so it takes just a few grains now.

Ron was very nice and didn’t get dessert, since I can’t have any. That did remove any kind of temptation for me, which was probably a good thing. I cannot resist their Brazilian Cheesecake with caramel and chocolate mousse. I still have another eight days before I can start adding anything like that, and even so, I’ll have to keep it at a bite or two, not a full half of a slice. Meanwhile, I’m planning on making my own strawberry paletas with cream, strawberries, and a bit of splenda in the blender, then poured into popsicle molds and frozen.

Now that I’ve made it through the first two weeks and I’ve added way more fat to my diet, I’m finally past all the nausea and severe migraines. It is great to not feel so sick, although now I think I’m getting a cold. I made it to the pool yesterday and swam 32 laps, but the water was cold and the room was freezing. By the time I got home, I was sneezing and today I’m snuffly. But I’m going back to the pool tomorrow to work off some of this meat. It was extra awesome to step on the gym scale and see that number, so that will keep me swimming, cold or no.

All in all, I’m still really happy with this low-carb lifestyle. The fact that I’ve made it three weeks is unprecedented, to say the least! I did go an entire year without refined sugar once, but I still ate potatoes and I went through a period of eating six bags of popcorn a day for a few months. I did lose a ton of weight back then, though. I fully intend to stick to this super low-carb diet until I’ve been yeast infection free for at least three months. Hopefully by then, it will have become an ingrained habit. It is really nice to not have to count calories.

More things on the pro side of this diet: I feel GOOD, like super healthy GOOD! My head is clear and not so foggy, although this morning I couldn’t figure out how to open a can of tuna. That’s to be expected, since I do still have fibro. I have more energy. I’m going to sleep at 11pm and waking up at 8am, and only waking up for a few minutes in the night. I’ve been in a great mood. And unexpectedly, we’re saving a fortune on not eating out, buying junk food, or even buying stuff to make junk food. It’s amazing how much one can save by giving up Starbucks and margaritas!


You’re My Castle, You’re My Cabin

Our camping trip was a success, even if it wasn’t our greatest. Oddly enough, I think our greatest trip is also the worst one; it was definitely the most memorable. This was pleasant, if not overwhelmingly fun.

While we were gone, I had a lot of time to ponder things. One of which was that Aubrey’s and my roles have reversed. She drove while I sat in the passenger seat and read. She did most of the work while I sat and played. She pulled my float around the river, rescued me from a cicada, and helped me in and out of my tube. I have no doubt in my mind that she will make an extremely patient and fantastic mother one day.

I realized that I’ve been taking her out to the Frio River for twenty years now. I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed. I’ve been going out there for all my life. Some of my earliest memories are either on the rocks at Neal’s, in the water, or at the Colvin’s cabin. I looked at some of the pictures hanging on the wall at Neal’s Dining Room and realized some of them were taken in my childhood, although I’m certainly not in any of them.

This trip was somewhat sad in that Garner State Park used to be a beautiful place to take a family. Now it is dirty and in disrepair. Cigarette butts littered the ground, the bathrooms were unusable due to the filth, while the shelters had torn screens and broken doors. I don’t think we’ll be going back there. There are better places to camp in Texas.

One of my favorite things about camping trips with Aubrey is singing on the drive. She has a different playlist than I do, so while most of her songs were artists I’ve introduced her to, they were songs I haven’t heard in a while. On the drive back, we listened to Chantal Kreviazuk’s “Feel’s Like Home To Me.” I remembered back to when I used to feel that way about the Frio River and Concan. No matter how crappy my life was, every moment spent out there was good. That was home. I felt like I could breathe and be myself.

This time, hearing that song made me think about my husband. I couldn’t wait to get home; partly because of the air conditioning, partly because of the hot shower, but mostly because I missed him terribly. More than anyone, anything, or anywhere else, he is my home. He is where I want to be. Not that I can’t or don’t go places without him, but when I do, I just want to get back to where he is. This summer has made me realize over and over that while my wanderlust will never truly leave, I don’t want to wander without my husband. Seeing amazing things without him just makes everything blah and colorless.

When he and I went out to Alpine a couple of weeks ago, although there was next to nothing to do out there, I had a blast. We laughed, played, and joked through the entire weekend. I don’t need a fancy vacation destination if Ron is with me. Just being with him is fun, in and of itself.

While I’m glad I had this time with my daughter, I’m even more glad to spend tonight with my husband. It’s good to be home.


The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

A few months ago, I chopped off all my hair. My friend called it “dykeing” myself. I called it convenience. It’s freakin’ hot in Texas and short hair is so much easier to deal with when you spend a lot of time in a pool. However, I’ve let it grow and it’s now at the point where I would think that I should no longer look like a chicken when I wake up in the morning. While we were on our weekend getaway, my husband looked at me and said, “Your hair exploded.” That is indeed kinda what it looks like.

I’m not big on looking in the mirror. I do it when I brush my teeth and when I brush my hair, but even then, I don’t look at my whole face, just my teeth or hair. When I was a kid, my mother beat it into me that looking in a mirror was vain and slutty, so I learned not to do it. I’ve never learned the opposite, so I look at body parts, not my body.

This morning, though, I’ve been installing Rhapsody on my new computer, which required various Windows updates and a couple of restarts. I’m on my bed so there is an east facing window behind me, shining on my extremely reflective screen. While it’s not mirror perfect, it’s close enough. I’m staring at my hair, thinking it’s ridiculous to still be acting this way at this length and that it’s like cutting it chopped off all the “straight” and what’s growing in wants to be curly. I have *never* had naturally curly hair. My hair is thin, fine, and straight as if I’d ironed it. So this curl thing is something new that I don’t quite know how to deal with.

Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. The point is, I was looking at my reflection and looking at my hair when I happened to glance at my cheeks and see what I thought was a lump. I thought it was a lump because there was a hollow area beneath it, and I don’t have cheek hollows. Correction. I didn’t have cheek hollows. That lump is my cheekbone, right where it should be. That hollow is a contour on my face, right where it should be…but hasn’t been.

I also have a jaw line. And a throat. And only one chin. And that saggy neck that I thought would require plastic surgery that would never happen in order to make it go away? Yeah, it’s gone, too.

I have hip bones. I didn’t see those in the mirror, but I can feel them. My husband is fascinated with them too, which is also pretty cool. I wasn’t expecting that at all (his fascination). My granny wings under my arms are shrinking. I love having swim muscles, especially the shoulder ones. I really love being able to see them without a layer of flab on top. But the most surprising thing of all? My left eyelid doesn’t droop like it has for the past few years. I thought it was just a side effect of my meds, but now I’m kinda wondering. Who would think that losing weight or perhaps just eating less carbs would affect their eyelid??

Don’t get me wrong. I loved my body before. It took me a long LONG time to get to where I do love my body, even with its myriad of imperfections. But this is a new and different love. Well, maybe it’s more of an infatuation on top of the love.

I still have a long way to go to get to my ideal weight, and I know I won’t be dropping ten pounds a week the entire time. But it’s only the beginning of September. That means even at two pounds a week, I could be 28 pounds less by Christmas. It’s been over eight years since I was that small.

Oh yeah, and I haven’t had even a bit of itching ANYWHERE on my body in three days. THREE days!

Is that worth giving up potatoes, tortilla chips, root beer, and pretzels?

Yes. Yes, it is.