December 3, 1999

            The Struggle for Control

            I find myself struggling in the war against accept myself, to appreciate who I am, and to see the beauty and goodness in myself. My struggles lately are of self-hatred and loathing of the lack of self-control I seem to have with food, exercise, the things that I prided myself so much on. This time a year ago I had so much more that made me feel positive about who I am. I was independent, I was fit, and I was taking care of myself. And today, well today I feel slovenly and fat, and unable to regain control of my body, my habits, and get myself back to a place that I can be proud of. I'm not sure why it is I've gotten so far from that place of self-confidence and self-assurance. And what terrifies me most is how that is changing my relationship with the man I love. My self-esteem and confidence are low, and I have difficulty believing his sincerity that the weight I have gained has no bearing on how he feels about me, how attracted to me he is or is not. To me, it is all I can is just short of being all that I am. I can't imagine that it isn't first and foremost in his mind. I realize in typing that how unbelievably shallow that sounds, but it's all that fills my mind. That I am not slim, I am not toned, my body is not defined, I'm not something he or I can feel proud of. My body is currently the result of poor eating habits, lack of self-control, and inactivity. I am not the person I was...and I don't know where she went. I am not the person I felt proud of, I am not the woman who felt accomplished and bright and funny and sexy. I am back to being dumpy and frumpy, and emotional and insecure. The word F.I.N.E. comes to mind. And all of this, well, all of this is most unattractive to a least that is what is in my mind. All of the things Rob fell in love with me for are not there anymore. I am becoming clingy and irritable and quite frankly, I don't think I would want to be around me, so why should he? And the worse my thoughts and moods and predicament become, the more convinced I become that he will eventually leave me, and the more I believe that, the more I seem to become someone who should be left. My actions and my words are not understanding and kind -- they come out sounding harsh and judgemental. I know they come from my fear of being hurt, of being left, of finally trusting someone again to really love me, only to find out one day that he can't stand to be with me anymore, or thinks I'm not worth the work, and he leaves. I'd rather be alone by my own hand than wait for that to happen. And I know this hurts Rob, to hear these things. I wish I could explain to him, somehow, that he might understand that it has nothing to do with him and everything to do with me. He seems to think that I would be better to at least have loved and been loved than to just walk away. And for me, I would rather die than be hurt again as I was before. Sometimes I miss the "comfortableness" of being with my ex-husband. I get trapped in the thought that he accepted me no matter what my weight or fitness. And then I realize that this is part of some distorted reality I'm dealing with. I think about the trade-offs made for that acceptance -- or so it seemed. I was accepted by a man (or is it really more that he would not leave the security of having me?) who was not there, who did things that hurt me very badly, who had so many troubles of his own he has struggled to get his own life in order. I guess I saw it as "you have your crap, I have mine, so I guess it's ok because we're both just messed up." It's as though his problems made my problems ok...neither one of us was really all that great of a catch at the time in many ways. I have a man now who that fell in love with a svelte, fit, sexy woman. A woman who was much more self-confident. I see Rob as normal, healthy, not having these sorts of obsessions and problems, and I feel convinced that the issues I have will eventually drive him away...he will think "I'm outta here're nuts." I am afraid I am becoming something he cannot and will not love -- and it has nothing to do with him. I am becoming someone/something that is crazy, annoying, irrational. I swore to myself I would never go through this again with my weight and my body. I swore that I would die before I would do this again. And here I am, struggling to regain some sense of control, and am at a loss for how to do that. My eating is compulsive. My knee does not tolerate exercise well anymore, yet I used to be able to push myself to exercise in spite of pain. I liked the results so much...I hated the exercise but loved what it did for me. I am at a loss...I don't know how to fix this...I don't know how to regain what I had, that drive, that motivation. I don't know how to become a woman I feel good about again. My urge and inclination are to push the world away and hole myself up somewhere. The only problem with that is that I know how lonely that becomes. So my choices now are deal with the fear, somehow, some way, or hide away. I'm not doing so well with the fear.

            July 26, 1999

            Thoughts on Love

            Sometimes I sit here and think about you for what seems likes hours...and I smile to myself...because I think of your smile, your gentle touch, your sweet and soothing voice, your arms around me, or something silly you said or did, or that really cute grin you have when you know I am being evil in some way, and you want to know how. I think about kissing you, and how I get that warm rush when I think about being with you, or when I remember just how your touch felt to me. I wonder in amazement at your patience and understanding with me...and I wonder how I managed to be so incredibly did I manage to be the one you picked? I think about you and I start to cry with joy because you are everything I have ever hoped and dreamed for...and all the lonely times I spent no longer matter, because I held out...and it was not in vain. Yes indeed, sometimes I know just how blessed I am...and I am grateful, truly and deeply grateful for you. I love you Rob.

            July 1, 1999

            Some Days Are Just A Struggle

            Though most of my days are pretty upbeat, from time to time I hit "patches" where my self-confidence wanes, my outlook is a bit more bleak than usual, and I get myself into a funk. I find myself in this state now...and I am struggling to rid myself of the mood, the melancholia, that is making me feel about as gray and chilled as the skies and climate outside my window.

            I have recently made some pretty major changes in my life. About two months ago, I left my job of 4.5 years, picked up my belongings and a new state where a good job opportunity awaited me and where I would be much closer to the man I love and adore. The move itself, packing, changing utilities over and whatnot, was all very stressful...but I must admit, I find it less stressful than what I am experiencing now. The upheaval of my household was temporary...the bills are sort of dying down...financially things are beginning to fall back into place...the boxes are all gone...the pictures are all hung.

            What I find most disturbing are two things. In my new job, which I do still believe to be a wonderful growth opportunity for me, I am not meeting my own expectations for learning and contributing to this company. What is more, I fear that I may not be meeting my employer's expectations either. That leaves me uncertain, my confidence a bit shaky. The training I was expecting has not really my supervisor told me the other day, they have sort of fallen short in that. My gut feeling though, is that their expectation of my "taking the ball and running with it" may have been a bit overzealous, but nonetheless they still expect I should be learning. I am not the best "self-taught" individual...I do not learn well with just a book in hand. I hope the chat my supervisor and I had is not an indication they are ready to "abandon ship" with me. I have never been fired and it is not something that I would like to experience...though I suppose if it happens, it was meant to be yet another learning experience for me and I will deal with. Thankfully I would not have to deal with it alone.

            My second uneasiness comes from feeling a bit "lost" without my close and dear friends who were merely 10 minutes away before. We still keep in touch regularly...we probably actually communicate more now than we did before because we make a concerted effort to chat now and then. But I miss knowing that I can jump in my car and just drive 10 minutes and be having coffee with my closest friend. Charlene and her hubby Rich have been my touchstones for the past 7+ years...they have been there no matter what catastrophe or joy is heaped upon my doorstep. I have the support and love of Rob up here...without it, I would be lost. But I am missing those friends who are "mine" as I have yet to make any of my own living here. The friends that I do have here are, of course, valuable to me. Not to claim they are not cherished. But my sense of independence is lacking...I am not settled enough or not adventurous enough, I am not sure which yet. I am struggling to feel self-sufficient emotionally. That scares me...I do not want, nor do I think it is healthy, to rely on just one person for my emotional support. I realize it will take time to make new friends. And it is unrealistic to expect those friendships to be as tried and true, at least immediately, as those I have developed over the past 9 years.

            I wonder sometimes if I have adequately expressed my gratitude for the friendships that I have. I hope that those I love, and who apparently love me, realize how much their words of encouragement and love mean to me right now. I find myself needing them so much.

            February 18, 1999

            The Love of a Mother

            I have thought often about sharing what I have written on this site with certain members of my family. Most, to this day, don’t know the site even exists. My fear has always been that it would be read and its content would wound. That is not the intention of these pages, yet it is a possible reaction/result of its ingestion. Recently my mom visited with family. While there, they attempted to find my website, which my mother knows exists, but I had never given her the URL. I’m not quite sure I remember telling her that its content was rather serious, intense, etc. But, the other day she e-mailed me and mentioned they had searched for the address to no avail. I considered glossing over the comment, and not addressing it. And then I thought about it and decided to share it with my mom…I made that decision for a variety of reasons.

            While the content of these pages is an honest portrayal of my experiences, and my feelings and thoughts surrounding those experiences, others may not share that same perspective. And until now, I think I was more afraid of the conflict it might arouse than the closeness it might encourage. Nothing in these pages is news to my mom…she lived through these experiences with me…she was part of them. I realized though, that in the past several years, I am not the only person who has done a lot of work and soul searching. My mother has been working very hard on herself as well…and it is evidenced clearly in how our relationship has developed and matured. I respect and love her for the strides she has made and the openness she has tried to nurture in herself with regards to my experiences and feelings. By no means is our relationship perfect, but it’s honest, it’s pretty open, and it improves all the time.

            My mom may be reading this soon, as well as reading the other things which are here. I write this in part for her to know how I feel about her, but also for you as the reader to understand how relationships evolve and how much things really have changed for me over the years. I don’t live in isolation, I do not change without witnessing and sometimes affecting changes in others…and that is a two-way street. Others change and I change in response to those changes…sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. I have thanked many people on these pages for their support, kindness, and love. There is another person who needs thanking here…for sticking by me, for loving me, for working so hard to better herself and as a result be a better parent/person. I love you mom, and I thank you for being my mom through it all.

            December 17, 1998

            The Joy and Magic of Christmas...Returned

            I’ve thought a great deal about the holidays this year. The holidays are such a mixed bag of thoughts and emotions, and I’ve run the gamut over the past several years.

            Earlier this week was the anniversary of the day my ex-husband left me. Back in 1995, I went home expecting to find my husband. Instead, I found an apartment empty except for furnishings and Faith (my loyal and faithful cat for the past 8-½ years). I got her when I first got out of the hospital, and her name was chosen carefully. When I left the hospital, I was very scared but determined to do something with my life. I wasn't ready to let my life just fizzle out. I knew I would be alone at first, and so I got a cat to keep me company. I also knew that making it on my own, believing I could make it on my own, would require a lot of faith in some things intangible, myself, a higher power, and the future. And so I named my cat Faith, so that there was something real I could hold onto and see, and I could believe would help carry me through. Somewhat of a metaphor I suppose...but anyway...I digress...

            It snowed here on December 14, 1995. It took me hours to get home, and as I said, the apartment was eerily empty. My ex-husband called that night, said he was on his way home, and that was the last time I heard from him for 5 days. Mind you, the holidays with my ex were never a huge hoopla...they were a very, very quiet time between us. He had so many sad anniversaries and memories of the holidays it made holidays, particularly Christmas, rather somber occasions. Growing up, Christmas had always been wonderful and fun and exciting. When I was involved with my ex, Christmas became a quiet, thoughtful (though not necessarily peaceful), loving holiday. I suppose that isn’t really all bad, but it was not something I looked forward to with anticipation. This is my 4th Christmas without him.

            Christmas morning has been hard every year since he left me. We had our rituals. I remember waking up, snuggling, exchanging our gifts, and making breakfast together...just spending quiet time together before trekking to his parent’s house. The first 2 years after my ex left, my mom was with me on Christmas day, and that made it better for me. But the last 2 years, well, I've spent Christmas alone. And I don't want to whine, because it really hasn't been all that bad. I've learned to do a lot of things alone that I'd otherwise love to share with someone else. And I have always tried to do my best to make the most of it. I usually succeed with a minimum of tears. The tears fall regardless, and I give them their due. Then I try to remember there are many people I love, and there is goodness and beauty all around me. I take a walk, think, pay attention to the crisp air, the clear blue sky, the white cleanness of freshly fallen snow, or the smell of a fire burning in the distance. And I remember that this is just one day in 365, and that most of the rest of them are really good days. A few, well, they need a little work now and then to get through.

            This year is different for me. It's different for me because this year I have someone in my life that I care very deeply for. He has brought light and goodness into my life. He makes me smile and feel very much alive, loved, and wanted...and for who knows what absurd reason, seems to want my love in return. And I give it gladly, willingly, whole-heartedly. He has made a difference in my life. I can see things in myself now that I know I’ve done, but never really recognized in myself. Though sometimes I still struggle, I know, he has helped me to believe that I have value, that I am loved, that someone would miss me in this world should I be gone tomorrow.

            This Christmas will be the first for me in at least 8 years that I am really happy inside again, and not so alone because of him. I always hoped to have magic at Christmas again, but I don’t know that I ever really knew it would happen. It’s been a long time coming. This holiday season will be a tough one for him. And although I can’t take away his troubles, I wanted him to know that I love him, and that I am here for him…to love, to hold, to cuddle, to listen, to share whatever magic the season brings. I look forward to waking up beside him Christmas morning, and snuggling, and wishing him a Merry Christmas! Thank you Rob, for loving me and making a difference in my life. I love you Rob! Merry Christmas!

            November 10, 1998

            Everything Old Is New Again

            It's been a while since I've written here, and today is the one year anniversary of starting my page. So much has happened in this past year. I've watched numerous life cycles go full circle. I started my site for a variety of reasons. I had something to say to anyone willing to listen. I still believe in that message of hope and love. There are a great many people in my life to thank for being a wonderful part of my life. My thanks are still heartfelt in my thoughts daily.

            Of course, within the past year I have met so many new people as well. And I've seen the cycles of people getting close, and then watching (unfortunately) that closeness ebb away. I'm not one to approach friendship or any relationship meekly. I am an intense person, and I have fairly high expectations of honesty and directness in all of my relationships, both of myself and of others. Sometimes it's not the best thing in the world, and I am learning to be a bit less rigid in my expectations of both myself and others. There are many people that I have met and grown close to over this amazing means of communication called the internet. I have grown closer to family who are far away...I have shared myself in ways that I was previously too self-conscious to share before, and through that have learned that I can be more open in person as well. I am learning to be silly and have fun, and occasionally be a little childlike...not things that I really had much opportunity to do as a child but qualities I value and admire in others. I'm learning...and so many people are helping me with that and accepting me as I look silly and foolish. But more than accepting me, they encourage me...they help me see what it is to be "normal" and have fun.

            Lately, in addition to a newfound sense of spontaneity and adventure, I have found myself experiencing greater calm with myself and the world around me...more self-assurance to be as I am or feel I am in my heart. There are many people who have attributed to this, but one in particular to whom I owe a word of gratitude. I can't explain it, because I don't understand it...but somehow, his quiet acceptance of who I am, well, I can feel it, I can see it when I look into his eyes, I can feel it when he holds me, and I hear it in his voice. I hope he will forgive my foibles as I learn along the way...and I hope we will continue to grow in friendship, because I think he's a very, very amazing and special man. Thank you Rob for being my friend...every day with you I feel better about me. I like the person you are helping me to be. You may not even realize it, but I really like who I am when I am with you.

            February 13, 1998

            "Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love." –Kahlil Gibran

            February 8, 1998

            Practice Random Acts of Kindness?

            It seems sometimes that we are all far more affectionate and caring, outwardly so anyway, in chat than in our day to day lives. The reality is, we all need affection and compassion. We all openly recognize this need in chat, and fulfill it in both ourselves and others with great regularity through chat hugs. Why then is it so difficult in our day to day lives to acknowledge these needs and perhaps meet them in those we care about? Do we have trouble admitting our needs to others? Exposing our tenderness, our humanity? Is it that to do so would leave us more vulnerable? It takes far more courage to be kind than it does to be apathetic.

            I have seen this bumper sticker on several occasions: Practice random acts of kindness. Sad that it is an admirable concept to practice RANDOM acts of kindness. Wouldn't it be more admirable to treat others with kindness and compassion and concern as a general rule?

            January 10, 1998

            Lust, Love, and Loneliness

            I realized just a few weeks ago that I have not once mentioned on my pages (except in my poems) the one true and deep love that I have experienced in my life…so far anyway. And through the holidays, I must say that my ex-husband has been on my mind a great deal. I suppose that happened for a variety of reasons, like his calling me just before Thanksgiving (and a couple of times since), and the anniversary of his departure from our marriage (eleven days before Christmas, two years this past Christmas). When I think of him I feel so many things…without him, I wouldn’t be where I am now…he was my best friend for many, many years. And losing him broke my heart and devastated my life for a while there.

            I think I spent many years growing up thinking love was lust, or love could be spawned from lust. I also know that I sought love in many, many ways…ways which I am not today particularly proud of, but I have nonetheless learned a great deal from. I have goals for myself, and one of them is not to make those same judgement errors and confuse lust and loneliness for anything other than what they are–fleeting, momentary, repetitive aspects of life. We have all lusted after persons in our lives…sometimes we even act upon that lust…sometimes with great satisfaction followed by nothing, sometimes with great pleasure followed by horrible emptiness, and sometimes for what appears, after the fact, to have been for nothing at all. No pleasure, no emotional connection, no satisfaction whatsoever.

            I did not learn a great deal of respect for myself or my body growing up. And sometimes it surprises me that I have not made worse choices for companions in my life. I did not marry a man who beat me, or who verbally abused me…I married a man who was: an addict, incredibly sensitive and often very, very kind, generous to a fault, emotionally immature and unstable, and often emotionally and physically unavailable to me. I knew these things about him when I married him. We had lived together for five and a half years when we married…I knew we would have it rough…we both had difficult backgrounds. But I believed that we were both on a path of self-discovery and personal growth. Our purpose together was to be each other’s greatest protector of the other’s solitude, to unconditionally support the other in whatever needed doing in our lives.

            Trust is bestowed upon others by me with great difficulty and pain. It was no different with my ex-husband. I remember that on our wedding night, after making the sweetest love we had ever made, I began to sob…I was terrified of having it all fall apart, of being hurt. I am not sure if somewhere in my heart I already knew he was using drugs again (he had been clean for two years before we married), or if I was just afraid of being hurt as I had been many times before. But I knew that I had given this man the best parts of myself…in fact, had given him all of what I was…my heart, my soul, my love, my joy, my sorrow, my pain. He had accepted and loved it all. Or so I thought.

            When he left, he had a choice. He could either get help and we could work through the problems together, or he could continue to get high. The choice he made was to walk away from me, my heart, my soul, my love, my joy, my sorrow, my pain…my essence, everything I had offered to him he essentially said "keep it." There were times I thought I would die…if not from a broken heart than from taking my own life. The pain is less now…and I do not any longer wish to die…but his calls, to say he is sorry, to say how messed up it was to choose drugs over me, well, all of that just complicates my life right now. I have spent the past two years learning to put myself first. To take care of me, my body, my mind. And sometimes I reflect on the past two years and am amazed at how my mind works now, the care I have for myself. I will fight the rest of my life to never lose that perspective again.

            Which brings me to the point of loneliness…I am often lonely. I miss having someone to put my arms around, to talk with and hold into the night, to know intimately and have know me. And it is not my priority to "find" someone to complete me. I am complete just as I am. But these days of loneliness creep up on me now and then, and I weep for what I feel I have lost, what I fear I will never have again. I am afraid that I will never allow myself to give of myself that completely ever again to another human being. I did not wish to marry more than once in my life. And I believe in marriage. I also believe that a person should never "settle" for less than what they desire on anything…least of all love. The most loving relationships still encounter struggles, but with some work and love, there is some victory in those struggles.

            I have encountered people in my life who remind me I am aging, that finding that perfect mate with whom you feel passion and comfort and concern, happens seldom in life. I place emphasis on the word seldom because it is not an impossibility…just a rarity. I had those things with someone once…I believe I can have it again. But if I resign myself to "settling" for less, the relationship will be doomed. I talk to people and see people who have "settled" and it strikes me as so horribly sad. There are special people we could share our lives with all over the world. And if I never meet that person, or if I am too picky (as some people say), I will be okay on my own. I will encounter my loneliness, share it with friends who help to soften and take the edge off of my sadness. And I will remember that the acuteness of my loneliness will pass…it always does. I can ride this wave out, just as I have before.

            December 19, 1997

            Stability and Routine

            The past several days I’ve found myself contemplating the concept of stability…as it applies to my emotional state, the world of material goods around me, my family. In my view, when it applies to the world of objects around me, I tend to think of that as my "routine." The other morning I was fixing my morning tea to have with my breakfast after my morning workout…the repetitiveness of these actions and choices slapped me clear in the face. And for a moment or two, I thought to myself "oh how boring this is Amy…you usually have the same breakfast, the same routine, day after day." And then I hopped into the shower, this vein still present in my mind. I decided that having a routine, while I wouldn’t call it a rigid one but which is still unmodified from day to day, isn’t boring at all. In fact, I decided that it was one of the best things about my world that day, and on many other days as well.

            I recall days when I didn’t have any idea what the day ahead would hold in store for me. Would my family be self-involved in yet another crisis? Would that crisis result in an ultimatum to "shape up or ship out" as so many crises did when I was a child? I lived in terror that I would screw up somehow, misbehave unknowingly, and piss off my mother so much that she would throw me out. This was a common threat from the time I was around 5 until I was an adolescent. During those younger years, I had no confidence in my ability to survive if I was forced to be on my own. I know for fact that there are youngsters who survive under such conditions, homeless and without family so to speak, but at what cost to themselves and their development?

            I wondered how I would eat, where I would sleep, how I would stay clean, how I would get an education, how would I survive. And because the expectations of behavior were never clearly defined in my house, or perhaps because they changed at random (on the rare occasion they were given), I became (or maybe I already was???) clairsensitive. You’ve all heard of a clairvoyant; well, I’m not clairvoyant. I can’t perceive things I can’t see; well, not exactly. But what I can perceive are feelings. I have extremely acute sense of the emotions churning about in another people. It’s as though I can hear a tuning fork's hum in my ears that tunes me in to what’s going on with someone, even when I'm not with the person. Some of you reading this may understand what I'm describing and some may not. I am not talking about hearing voices, or hearing someone's thoughts, merely being highly "tuned in" to their emotional state. And as a child, I wore this sensitivity like a shield, to protect me from my family by warning me of what would be appropriate behavior at any given time.

            On the rare days when I let my guard down and failed to "listen" to what that sensitivity was telling me, the days when I actually indulged in being a child, the days when I laughed and talked about boys and music and playing with friends, those were the days I felt I had betrayed myself most horribly. Those were the days when I tuned out the emotions coming to me…and those days were mistakes.

            I’m not sure I really know how to play…I’ve always wanted children but been desperately afraid of having them. I believe that children need to be allowed to be children. And that parents need to allow and encourage their children to enjoy comes but once and lasts just a few short formative years. What if the parent never knew how to be a child? How in heaven’s name can that parent advocate for that child’s childhood? In order to teach a child to frolic and play and laugh, doesn’t the parent need to know how to do all those? At the age of 29, I find myself questioning how easily I can laugh and play and forget the worries of the world—not irresponsibly, but temporarily clear my head to enjoy the world around me and all it has to offer. I need a teacher myself. I know I'm a serious person, and there's nothing wrong with that. But I'd like to learn how to "play."

            In any event, how does all of this pertain to routine you ask? Well, I figured this much out the other day. My routine may seem very boring to others who might like to see it shaken up a bit now and again. To me, the routine is comforting, it is stability. That stability allows my mind to not obsess about how I will survive, what I will be doing tomorrow, I can let those things go somewhat because of the routine. The obvious result is that my mind is then open to explore other thoughts, entertain new activities, attempt to indulge in life. I battle to love live…I struggle daily to want it. I know that I desperately need to want and love life. And some days, though not all, I can actually see glimpses of the joys life has to offer. So, if my routine seems boring and mundane to some, I no longer feel the need to defend it. I know what purpose it serves for me. It’s value to me is inexplicable.

            December 16, 1997

            "Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the grate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy." –Kahlil Gibran

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