Back in a Flash

I hate you, Facebook Memories.

I began my morning and thought I’d check in on Facebook before I started work. What comes up? The year 2016 in photos–the last full year I had my brother. He was there in my memories, pics of our Halloween tour of the local winery. Other photos of me where I looked so fucking happy…some I know weren’t real smiles, but others showed genuine happiness. I look at that Holly and want to scream at her. “Tell Phil every single thing you’ve ever wanted to! Go and see him each day. Take time off and take your boy along and just be with Phil. Do nothing and everything with him.”

I miss him. I miss my brother so damn much.

Typically, I love this time of year but everything is still tinged with sadness. And mornings like these? It’s hard to function. It’s difficult to not just say, “Fuck it. I’m not going to work today.” I know I could legitimately do that, but my mother’s voice is telling me to just go to work and you’ll feel better. My own inner voice is also saying, “Don’t let your staff and patrons down. Just go and you’ll be ok.”

So I went.

I went about my day, doing whatever needed to be done–working on reports, paying bills, answering emails. I still felt like I was in a fog, but it was manageable. Then I went to make a cup of tea, something I rarely do. But I was freezing and needed something warm and there sat a box of Earl Grey tea on top of the fridge at work. It’s been there for months, but today I really saw it…and thought of Phil. This was one of his favorite teas. I picked up the box, started to cry and whispered, “You’re everywhere today, aren’t you?”

If only he was. If only I could talk to my big brother, ask him questions I know he’d have answers for, or at least have a joke for them. I wish he could see his nephew and realize that he’d be able to see him eye to eye now. I’d love to hear them laugh together and share some dirty joke or discuss Star Wars films. I just…I just wish he was here.

You know, I’ve been desperate over the past few months to get down to a particular weight. I’ve obsessively counted calories, added a few extra miles to my long runs, and lifted weights. But absolutely nothing happened. I actually gained another 5 pounds instead. (Of course, I now realize I wasn’t counting some calories accurately, but that’s another story.) As I was telling my therapist about my weight dilemma, she asked why that weight. Why this arbitrary number? I told her that I know I feel good at that weight–it’s a little more than when I was running A LOT and when people thought I was sick because they thought I looked too thin. But it’s a weight where I felt good in my body…and the weight I was at when Phil died.

After I said those words to my therapist, my body became very still. I looked at her and let out a sob. I covered my mouth and shook my head. It was such an epiphany, an a-ha moment, and a gut-wrenching grief-inducing realization.

I think I’ve been trying to find my way back to a time when my brother was here and my parents were here, and although life was still difficult and complicated, it just wasn’t quite so lonely or sad.

But I know I can’t do that. Rationally, I know that no matter how much weight I lose, my family will not come back. Of course I know that. Will that stop me from trying to lose weight? Nope. Do I still want to find a way to be happy in this body of mine? Yes. Will losing the weight do that? Probably not. But my pants will fit better.

And hopefully my therapist can help me with the rest of it.

Friends, if you’re out there and you’re missing someone so much that you just want to turn back time and have one more conversation or hug or “I love you,” please know that I hear you. I understand and I wish for that, too. I might not be the one you want to talk with, but I’m here and I’ll listen.

Take care, friends.

And then….

It’s 2020. The roaring twenties? A new year, a new decade, maybe even a new you? I used to love the beginning of the new year–a fresh start, a clean slate. Time to start eating better, exercising more, doing new things, achieving those goals I couldn’t get to last year, and becoming a new person.

Starting over used to really appeal to me. I used to love the thought that I could become a new person, someone I would like more and others would like me more, too. I really thought that losing weight would do that for me. So I did it. I lost over 85 pounds and kept it off for nearly a decade. As a matter of fact, 10 years ago yesterday I began running. I had already lost the weight I had intended, but now I wanted to challenge myself. And so I did. I became a runner. I became that crazy lady you saw at 5:30 on a winter morning with the head lamp running in the dark. I ran some road races but really just ran for me. Did I like this new person I had become? Sometimes. But not completely like I thought I would.

And then 2017 came along. I started to struggle with running because of injuries and motivation. And then my brother died and I didn’t want to live anymore. I didn’t know how to and I honestly didn’t really care to. But I did. I even tried to run some but often I’d start to sob in the middle of the runs or stop a half mile before home and drop to my knees because the darkness just overcame me and I couldn’t put one step in front of the other.

So I stopped. I started to care for both of my parents off and on and tried to parent my son the best I could and still be a wife that was semi-present at least and still work 40 hours a week. I stopped caring for myself or about myself. I was no longer moving forward but backward and if I was lucky, sideways.

Then my husband was laid off. Backwards I went. Then I got a new job directing the library I had loved for over 13 years. A few steps sideways and one forward.

Then my beautiful, hilarious, sweet dad died. Back and back and back…

Then my husband got a new job. A hop forward. Then I broke my arm so badly I needed a metal plate and 9 screws and 6 months later I still can’t completely move it. A step to the back.

And then my mom died. My loving, badass mom. Backwards I fell. Literally. (I passed out the evening of my mother’s service.)

And now we’re here. January 1st, 2020. Am I a new person? Well…yes. I’ve become a new person over and over and over in the past two and half years. Every time an “and then” occurred, I became a new person. Every one of these life-altering events made me into a new person. A different person. I don’t always like the new person I’ve become or am becoming, but that’s something I have to figure out. I don’t even know who I am most of the time, but that’s something else for me to discover and manage.

I do know that losing the 20 pounds I gained these past 2 1/2 years will not make me a new person or happier. Will I try and lose it? Of course! I need to be a healthy me and I need to fit in my clothes better because restrictive clothing makes me a very grumpy Holly and no one needs that. But will I try and lose it by going on a diet? No. I can’t be that person anymore. I’ll eat as best I can, but I’m hoping that running will help me lose some of it.

I hope I do not become that person I used to be that constantly posted my stats or photos of running because honestly? I hated those assholes for the past 2 1/2 years when I didn’t have it in me to run. Look, I know we all need to do it sometimes. We need that encouragement or pat on the back. I get it, I do! I’ve done it many times, too! But I’ve also been on the other side where I couldn’t run due to injury or grief and I felt like my friends were rubbing my nose in it. “Look what I can do and you can’t or won’t, you lazy bitch!” (Hey, I know you didn’t say it and probably didn’t even think it, but my mind just went there.)

So let’s make a deal. I’ll post this photo of the end of my run on Christmas Day.

Me in my dooryard at the end of my first 5K run in eons. This was a happy moment. Just before this run, I had been sitting in my living room sobbing and rocking myself while I thought about my family. There is so much photos don’t say.

This will be it for at least a week. Of course, I’ll probably be on the treadmill or in front of my tv for the next 2 months due to Maine weather, but whatever. Feel free to keep doing whatever you’re doing and posting what you’re posting. If I start being annoying with running posts, tell me to pipe down and give it a rest. I will probably oblige because I’ve been there.

Or I’ll tell you to fuck off because my pants are still too tight and I’m cranky. But I’ll still love you. That much I can promise.

Attempting to “stickK” to it

Over the past 8 months, I’ve ever so slowly gained 8 pounds.  Big deal, right?  When I was 252 pounds, I would have said the same thing.  I would have been irritated at this person who appears slim-like, runs a few days a week, and eats salad every day.  So she gained a few pounds? Who the hell cares?!? She looks great, so why is she bitching so much?

Why? Because this slim-like gal looks in the mirror and sees that 252 pound girl looking back.  That heavy girl was angry and sad and ate every emotion that came her way. She was more unhappy than anyone could imagine.  I can’t be that person anymore.  I don’t want to forget her, but I can’t be her. Thus, I need to lose 8 pounds. (Odd logic, I know, but this is how my mind works.)

My motivation for losing this weight isn’t just the fact that I’m afraid to become obese again. It’s also the little things, like my pants not fitting as well as before, or how sometimes I just feel so squishy.  Eight pounds might not sound like a lot, but once your metabolism slows down a bit, it can seem more like 80 pounds. (My sister warned me that the day I turned 40, my metabolism would go down the crapper.  I hate it when she’s  right.)

So….how do I go about this?  Weight Watchers? Atkins? The Vegetable Soup Diet?

Back  in 2009, I was inspired by the book, The Big Skinny by Carol Fay. It’s a graphic novel about a woman who loses weight by just eating sensibly, counting calories and increasing her physical activity. I lost over 40 pounds by doing it this way.    We all know that losing weight isn’t rocket science, but why does it seem so damn difficult?  It’s slow going and we just want it all gone RIGHT NOW!  People always say, “Well, you didn’t put the weight on overnight, so you can’t expect to lose it overnight.”  Yeah, honey, I know, but please stop reminding me because you are seriously pissing me off.


See?  Aren’t you glad you don’t have to live or work with me?!?

Anyway, I decided that this time around, I needed a little more motivation than just my pants fitting better.  I signed up on to “commit” to lose weight.  I put my money where my mouth is, people.  And for me, money is a HUGE motivator.  Here’s what I did: I committed to lose at least a half pound a week for 16 weeks to get me back to my 165 pounds that I love so much.  I have a “referee” who is supposed to make sure I stay on track and who gives me encouragement. I can also have supporters to cheer me on each week.  Ok, but here’s the kicker.  If I DON’T lose a half pound a week….I have to give $5 each week to my “anti-charity.”  In other words, I would have to give money to a group that I didn’t like and would never, ever support.  In this case, I chose the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy—they are against gay marriage.  Trust me, folks, I would cut out my tongue before I give money to this organization, which is why I picked it.   If this doesn’t encourage me and keep me from eating that bag of chips, then nothing will.

I won’t lie, though. This has been very, very difficult for me. I’m  3 weeks in and have lost 4 pounds, but oh my word I am sooooo hungry!!  I wasn’t running when I lost weight before, and I’m having a very hard time not eating a cow the day after a long run.  (I’m usually ok the day of, but the day after is a killer.)  I’ve had many weak and exhausted moments, and more grumpy days than my co-workers can count.

Back a few years ago, if I ate more than I wanted to, I’d add a bit more exercise into my routine.   But now? I already exercise every day (although only run 4 days a week). So I feel I have to be more strict about my caloric intake, which makes me a bit….obsessive…..compulsive….bat-shit crazy.   I am really, really trying to do this the right way, just like I did before….eating lots of vegetables and fruit, no artificial sweetened garbage. Just real food, good food, and still the occasional yummy like a chocolate bar or DQ vanilla ice cream……mmmmmm…ice cream……icecream

Wait….what?  Where was I?

Phew! Ok, got it.  As I was saying, I like that it’s only 8 pounds, and not 50, but it’s still just as difficult… you can see.  I’m pretty ticked at myself, though, for letting my weight get this far up.  I’ve been really diligent over the past three years in staying within 2 to 3 pounds of 165.  I liked it there. I felt good and looked decent. Admittedly, I got a bunch of people asking me if I was well, if I was ok. I hadn’t been in the hospital, had I?  It was nice to hear people concerned about me, but they didn’t realize that this is what I’m supposed to look like!  They had only known me as fat or chunky or full-figured. My “norm” had become their “norm” as well.  But no, folks, I’m not physically ill. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been.  We can discuss my mental health at another time. 😉

So….4 more pounds to go.  Can I do it?   Will my family and co-workers survive the next few months?  Will the Institute of Marriage and Public Policy get my money?

Shall we make a bet?