Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lifting weights is never fun.

One of the reasons I got "STRONGER" on my wrist was because I've learned that the hard things in life are the things that make me stronger. I got it to remind myself of that when I get to those days when I feel like I cant go on, when life feels like too much for me to handle. I know that days like that make me stronger, and I am strong enough to beat them.

I also got it as part of my weight loss journey. I know that every time I eat, and everyday I have to make decisions between healthy choices and what might feel good temporarily. I have to be stronger than those temptations. So, the word is on my wrist because I will have to face it every time I decide to eat ice cream instead of yogurt, or to take a nap instead of going to the gym. Am I stronger than that temptation? I am.

Its in white because it is just for me. I don't care if complete strangers notice that I have "STRONGER" on my skin. They don't know me and they won't know what it means. I'm not trying to advertise how strong I am, that's ridiculous. Its a reminder and testament for me. And when white ink heals, it looks like a scar. This seems really appropriate to me because all these experiences: my parents, the drug abuse all around me, the obesity, the challenges of life, they all leave me with little scars. And despite all of that, I'm going to be beautiful.

So, when I came home last night and my room smelled like pot, or when I came home the day before to overhear a drug deal, or when I came home today to a house filled with cigarette smoke and strangers, I try to remind myself that these things are going to make me stronger or make me bitter. And I get to choose.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My brother smoked pot in the basement. It then got sucked into the heating system and is now merrily blowing into my office and bedroom. I cant even begin to describe how upset I am right now, so I wont try.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

White Ink Tattoo

This is my new tattoo one day old. The blue parts are from the stencil mixing with the ink. Hopefully it will fade as it heals. If not, I'm going to have to get it touched up. There is already less blue in it than there was before, so I'm feeling hopeful. I'll post another when its all healed up.

So I got a tattoo.

Somehow, the car couldnt go fast enough. Every traffic light seemed too long and the road stretched on longer than normal. I wanted to be there right now.

This happens everytime I want something. It takes me a long time to decide whether or not I REALLY want a thing, but once the decision is made, I do not want to wait. At all.

Finally, I pulled into the parking lot as my heart started racing and my hands shook. Inside, three men lounged on a couch near the window. I tried to keep my hands still enough to unplug my ipod and stick it in my purse.

I was alone. I didnt want anyone else to go with me because I wanted to be able to do it all by myself, without support.

Inside, one of the three lounging men asked me what I wanted. I explained. All three offered their opinions on the negetive qualities of white ink before deciding which would tattoo me. It was a scary five minutes as the artist, Nate, prepared the area, his tools, and my stencil. My hands continued to shake and I wondered if that would negetively affect the tattoo.

Finally, I was sitting in the chair as he got ready to place the stencil on my wrist. I explained tohim that I wanted the word to face me and he smiled and said I wanted it the wrong way. I was making him letter backwards and in white ink. I told him he could probably use the challange. The stencil was in the perfect place and I admitted I was scared. Nate assured me that he would hurt me as little as possible. Then, the gun came on in the most terrifying buzzing noise as he dipped it in the ink and then brought it towards my skin.

"Are you ready?" He asks, and I say I am. I brace myself for a pain that will make me cry. I am ready for something more than I can handle. I remember that "massage" I got on the cruise where I nearly asked her to stop because I couldnt take the pain. It would be worse than that, I assured myself. I could handle it.

The needle touched my skin. The horrifying pain did not come. It felt nearly like a rubber band sting. I watched in fascination as he worked along each letter, wiping away excess ink. I kept waiting for the bad part to begin. It never hurt.

Now, I have the word "stronger" on my right wrist. I'll take a picture after it heals. Right now, its not so pretty.

Sarah Jo

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Things I never would have done before:

I bought a belt.

I went up the "down" escalator. I didn't make it to the top, but I got about 3/4 of the way there.

I climbed down that hill in the woods in the dark and then back up it again.

I danced while knowing other people were watching me.

I went hiking on the trails on campus.

I flirted with that server.

. . . because I've lost 35 pounds and I feel good about me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Just an observation:

So it was a little over a year ago that I started seriously considering gastric bypass surgery. I remember learning about the diet and exercise necessary after the surgery. I also remember learning about the vitamins. I told myself then that I would most definitely follow the vitamin schedule, but I had seen that the surgery was successful even without diet and exercise, so that stuff wasn't important to me. Then insurance stuff got held up and I had to wait.

During the waiting, I found the YouTube community of ladies doing everything "the right way". They counted calories and watched sugar and fat intake. They exercised nearly everyday with cardio and strength training. They drank protein shakes. I decided that I could definitely handle the protein shakes and watching sugar and fat intake, but there was no way in hell I was counting calories or doing exercise. I would exercise when I weighed less, when it wouldn't suck so much. Then the will stuff got held up and I had to wait till may.

During the waiting, I discovered that exercising before surgery would make my heart healthier and surgery safer. They also said I should lose ten percent of my body weight (32lbs) to shrink my liver or something. Also, if I did strength training my muscles would recover better during the rapid weight loss and not look so bad. I decided I could do cardio but there was still no way I was going to count calories, lose 32lbs, or do strength training, Then my surgery got cancelled altogether.

I gave up on life for quite a while.

Then, I decided that I couldn't stand being miserable anymore. So, I started doing all kinds of cardio, and I lost some weight. I started counting my calories and I lost more weight. I even started doing strength training and I could measure inches lost. Now, I've lost 32lbs, ten percent of my body weight. It took me a whole year, but I'm finally doing everything I should have been committed to before. Except now, theres no surgery looming on the horizon.


Monday, October 06, 2008

This is the start of something good. Don't you agree?

Today my father said to me - You move thinner.
What? - I ask, clearly confused.
He explained that I move different now, like a thinner person would. He said I look more comfortable with myself.

I joined sparkpeople and starting tracking my calories and exercise and stuff. Its work, but its nice to see what I'm doing and where I am. Today, I didnt get enough calories so I had to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I wasnt sad about that at all because black rasberry jelly is pretty amazing. I know that if I dont get enough calories my metabolism wont work right or something. I dunno. I want to be healthy.

My arms have that strange wobbly feeling I get after strenght training. I like the feeling much better the next day when it burns a bit. Thats nice. I also like the feeling I get when I stand on the scale and the numbers are lower than last time. Ah.

Sarah Jo

So this take home exam is due tomorrow and I haven't started it yet.

Its late. I should be in bed but I just wanted to write something because I feel like my creative outlet is being neglected by my extreme lack of idle time. I don't say "free" time because I'm spending all my free time on my friends. Oops.

I'm staying up to late and going out when I shouldn't and spending time away from them thinking about them and its amazing.

Every thursday, friday, saturday, and sunday seemed to be filled with consecutive fun activities.

Thursday was Kidd coffee and watching the boys swim.
Friday was that wierd movie Blindness.
Saturday was making mix cds, Kidd, the bar (dancing, dancing, laughing, dancing), the van, and my house.
Sunday was the potato festival, the walk in the park, and Drews house.

So, as you can see, homework appears no where on that list. Oops.

Sarah Jo

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I know you don't care, but I think my boobs are getting smaller.

During the last full moon ritual on my list of things to release, I listed negative thoughts and feelings about my body. I said that these would fade each day like the light of the moon until, like the new moon, their influence would be invisible in my life. I've been thinking about that alot today. Monday, I think, was the new moon. Are these negative thoughts and feelings gone? I think they are considerably faded anyway.

I keep my iPod on shuffle most of the time. Lately, I've been exasperated at the amount of christian music I have. If I delete all of it, am I deleting part of myself? Will I want to hear these songs again? Can I take what lessons I can from them, even if I don't believe in the nuts and bolts? Mostly, I've been skipping them.

Today, a song called Free by Ginny Owens. The lyrics go something like, "You're free to dance, forget about your two left feet. And you're free to sing, even joyful noise is music to me. And you're free to love because I have given you my love and its made you free." And I wondered, am I free? I've been bound and shackled by the insecurities of my body. I can't dance because I don't think my hips work right, the way they look swaying back and forth isn't right, isn't like those skinny girls. And awkwardness seems to be painted across my limbs like freckles. All I ever want is people to not look at me, to not notice the fatness, and physical activity seems to draw more attention than I want. Have I let myself be free?

I don't become any more or less fat when I dance. Those people around me are comfortable with my body because it is me and they are comfortable with me. They aren't surprised when my stomach shakes, when my arms are soft, when I have a double chin. These are things they see each time they look at me, they feel each time they hug me. They don't recoil from me. So why do I recoil from me?

So I dance and I hope the horrible insecurity doesn't show on my face. I climb into the van and try to become as small as possible and pray that no one notices the emotions etched in my fingers and shoulder blades. I keep thinking that eventually, if I go through the motions of things, they will become natural to me. After all, I pretended to be okay for a long time and eventually, I was. But I don't think the pretending is what made me heal.

So whats next?

I keep going to the gym and eating things like grilled chicken and yogurt and fruit. I keep passing up things like ice cream and fried things and pop. Slowly, the weight is coming off. But if I can't change the way I see myself, no mirror is ever going to make me happy. There will always be some other flaw to obsess over. Is my nose too bulbous? Are my eyes crooked? Are my pores too large? It would never, ever be enough.

So I resolve to take notice of things I like about me every time I look in the mirror, every time I start to dance, every time I curl in on myself. Even if I have to go through the list of negatives first, I will force myself to find the good things first. This won't be arrogance, this will be learning to love myself, my physical self, in a way that I have never allowed myself to do.

So, for right now: I like the shape my face is taking now that the edges are starting to show.

Sarah Jo

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Your charm had not gone unnoticed by the angel.

I have a lot to say.

First, the title was the fortune in my cookie Sunday at the Chinese restaurant. I find it strangely comforting, even if I don't know who said angel is. At least my charm didn't go unnoticed.

But I'm also curios. Who IS this angel? And why is it noticing my charms? I want to write a story about it. A young girl is trying desperately in her quiet way to be noticed, to be seen, and no one does. Silently she struggles to overcome even the simplest social obstacles like where to put your hands when you talk and how to respond to questions appropriately. It is awful for her and she is failing, sitting in the dark corners alone. But 'the angel' sees her, watches her from another dark corner, tearing apart her every action, every flick of her eyes or nervous shrug of her shoulders. He wants so desperately to know her, to have that unsure voice speak his name but he can only approach when invited, and why would one such as she invite one like him closer? He may be called an 'angel', but humans have no idea what that entails. . .

Okay. Wow. No one cares about my random story ideas.

Yesterday I went on a walk around campus with the mission of finding beautiful things to admire. The mission was successful. I found some paths through the trees and and spent time there. It was nice just to take time to appreciate the beauty in the world. I felt like I used to feel after church.

Now I dont remember what I wanted to say in the first place. That story idea stole all of my other thoughts.

I don't know how to find the words to tell you how happy I am right now. I've found this group of friends that makes me feel so complete. Its like suddenly part of who I am is The Group and so now my spirit is so much bigger, but when I'm not with The Group, then I feel a little empty in a new way. Does that explanation work? I suppose I mean they feel like family. And they challenge me to be better than I am with love and not with force. And they are just there, all the time, like someone I don't have to call because I know they'll show up. And I'm happy.

And this whole weight loss thing is exciting, I'll admit, but that doesn't mean I don't still wish for that surgery. This is going to take me years and I could never find the words to express to you how unhappy I am with my body. I finally learned to compartmentalize the unhappiness so it doesnt infect every other part of me. I can carve out a safe place for my happiness to grow. Still, I feel trapped and uncomfortable and hindered. I know now that I can do this on my own, but the time and the fear of failure still loom before me. I am terrified and miserable. But now people are saying its a good thing I didn't have that surgery and that I shouldn't have it now. I can agree that it was probably a good thing I didnt go into that surgery in May with the way I was thinking about things, but I cant agree with the never having it part of that statement.

I suppose to me it sounds like people saying that it doesnt matter if I suffer for years to come because its healthier that way. It doesnt matter if there are some moments when I forget how to breathe because it hurts so much, because its healthier this way.

I didn't get what I wanted more than anything else in the world, so I'm trying my best to find a next best thing.

I think my charms are going unnoticed by the angel.

Sarah Jo