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To Live and not Just Exist

Choosing life, happiness, peace and joy. Oh and weight loss too

Month

July 2014

Being different

My sister and I come from the same womb. Same father. Brought up the same way. Granted she is 9 years older than I am, but surely the people doing the bringing up won’t have changed their methods in any fundamental way in that time.

Yes people are born different. Yes our experiences shape and mould us into who we ultimately become. However, surely genes and upbringing play a large part of the becoming of an individual?

So why does my sister so often look at me like I am from another planet? We are different in almost every discernible way, and that is how it should be I guess. We are each our own person. However, I find it odd that she finds fundamental parts of my nature to be so woo hoo and out there.

What I consider family for example.

Living alone and having no significant others, I pour my love and affection into my animals. I don’t think my sister has ever lived alone for significant periods and perhaps that is why she does not understand. She also has 2 kids to nurture, in her way of nurturing.

I’m not saying I dress them up and pretend they are human. I fully allow them to be the doggies that they are. I just rotate my world around them.

My sister finds this woo hoo.

I find her finding it woo hoo, woo hoo.

So maybe what we have is a woo hoo cuddling up to a riddle, that is wrapped in a mystery, inside of an enigma?

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For the love of

As mentioned in many a blog, I am a nurturer. It is something that comes naturally to me, more often than not, to my detriment.

For the last while, I have been trying to teach myself to channel that ‘giving’ nature into safe arenas – undamaged people, charities, animals.

So, so many animals.

It’s an odd thing though. Having grown up on a farm you would think that I know much about furry creatures.

So not. I must have been asleep when that lesson was supposedly being learnt.

Having lived in a flat for quite a while, I limited my fur ownership to cats. One of the most grumpy ginger cats you have ever tried to scratch (seriously – she growls) and one of the most lovable grey kitties to ever stalk the earth.

kitties

Very content – I fully classified myself as ‘a cat person’. Well on my way to becoming ‘that crazy cat spinster type lady that lives in flat 2B’.

But life happens. I moved a few times. I inherited a bird.  Then a worm farm. All the while still doing my ‘crazy cat lady’ thing.

Until the nurturing side of me was just about bursting. I needed something, and this is the rub, something needy. That is an inherent problem with people who are nurturers. We seek out the needy because they validate us to a degree.

So I got dogs. Completely spur of the moment. One day I had a bird, a worm farm and 2 cats. The next day I had adopted Muffin the Precious and a month later, Blossom the Cherished.

muffin

blossom

Now I classify myself as the ‘crazy spinster type lady with the menagerie’ and I couldn’t be happier.

The vast amount of joy, happiness, love that these two needy little souls have added to my life in the last year is staggering. And I can never thank them, if thanking dogs was a thing, enough.

I still have misery cat and happy cat, still have red canary and the worm farm ‘Borg’. Add in a few more canaries and finches and that’s me. I love them all and I will do everything in my power to make them happy and have good, full lives.

But the puppies. The puppies fill a part of my nature that is so often destructive.

I cannot fathom why I never got them sooner.

Perhaps these specific two were waiting for me. Or I for them.

Muffin the Precious and Blossom the Cherished.

both puppies

They taught me the greatest thing of all. Family is not the same for everyone.

Ponder me this

I have been trawling through some of the blogs on word press and to say I feel intimidated is to be kind.

I have always loved writing. I remember writing the most convoluted stories when I was child growing up on the farm. Having the basic story down on paper, I would then dress myself up in my mothers favorite flat sheet (princess dress once appropriately draped and pinned) and off I would go to rehearse the words, nuances, pauses of every moment of every character.

Not that I had any idea what a nuance was. In my child mind, I just knew that certain things needed to be said a certain way.

To say I was a child is also putting it kindly. While I may have started my play act rehearsing as a child, I clearly remember being about 15 when I finally stopped the enactments.

However, for the longest time, even now when I am deeply stressed or upset, I still rehearse the lines of the story that has run in my head forever.

A story of bravery and courage and the girl triumphant and love. Or unicorns and dragons and swords and heroes.

I keep thinking I should turn it into a book, but it is so deeply part of my childhood, my consciousness, my subconsciousness that I fear I wouldn’t do it justice. Growing up, my television favorite and hero was MacGuyver. To this day, I won’t watch the reruns because I don’t want to ruin the memory of it. The pure joy of the adventure. 

To put my never ending story to paper, may just end it. 

I don’t think I could bear the loss. 

 

Gastricly Speaking

So 2 years ago give or take a month, I had a gastric bypass.
Basically I had my stomach (internally) made smaller and a whole bunch of intestine bypassed.

A whole mess of people have said that I should have done it the ‘old fashioned way’ and a slightly smaller mass of less polite people have flat out said I took the easy way out .

And every single one of these people are thin. Maybe not supermodel thin, but thin none the less.

So here is the answer to them that they cannot seem to understand.

1. Fat runs in our family. I know that sounds like a cliché but, and it is a big but, that doesn’t make it untrue. We go back generations and on both sides of a familial line. 90% of my gene is fat. The other 10% is my red hair… 🙂

2. I did try it the ‘old fashioned way’. And it worked to a degree. But no matter how many mountains I climbed (please note, fat does not mean unfit), how many small meals I ate, how much I went to the gym, the weight only went down so far and then plateau became my best friend.

3. I got sick somewhere in all of number 2 above and got put on a whole banana boat worth of cortisone. Sjoe I was so swollen my lips split open. For those of you who don’t know – cortisone = swollen and usually = heavy duty weight gain.

4. At my biggest I was 170kg. People who didn’t understand the illness and what cortisone does to you, judged me continuously. Friends and strangers alike. I cannot begin to describe to you what weighing that much, being that sick and being judged does to a self-esteem. It is probably easier to just say there was no self-esteem.

5. I got the gastric bypass to save my life. My life. Very important and often misplaced words. My life. The one I have to live. The one I inhabit and make my own. My life.

I have lost 70kg and I want to lose another 30. However, if I don’t that is fine too. Because along the way I realized that I don’t need to be thin. I need to be happy. Free from caring what others think of me.

Alone in my space and at peace.

That is all any of us need. So the next time you feel a need to pass judgment on what you perceive to be ugly, deformed, disabled, fat – just stop a moment. And be alone in your own space, at peace. And afford that gift to others.

Time removed from Memory

Sometimes, you just have to write things down in order for them to make sense. For whatever reason, your brain gets too full, too convoluted, too bogged down and the endless circle of thought and rethought is… well, endless. Allot of this blog will be about me trying to make sense of my rethoughts, amongst other things.

I have this slightly weird memory issue. As in I don’t have one. While I remember various parts of my life, some mundane and some not so much, huge gaps of time are lost to me. When I am not missing a particular memory, then I am quite content to believe that this space in my recollection of time is a blessing. However, there are times when I intrinsically know that I am missing huge chunks of a childhood, a life, a relationship, a period in time – and the sense of loss is profound.

I do not think that this loss of time is due to any massive trauma or actual choice that I made. I think it is just a part of me, and oddly, my sister. As much a part of our genetic line as our freckles or particular sense of humour.

What I do remember is difficult to articulate. It is taste and love and isolation and running around in an unseasonal and atypical snowfall, hotdogs in front of the SABC’s big round and ugly test pattern, Macguyver in black and white, the freedom of the ignored, horses, dogs and  fantasy.

I believe that some of what I remember is absolute truth, and some is based on the stories of truth that families tell each other over many years.

I was born in 1975, a very late edition to an already established middle class family consisting of a working dad, a housewife mom, a 12 year old brother and a 9 year old sister.  I don’t know if I was planned or if I was a glipsie – not that it really matters, late is late and the reality of being born late to a family already being torn my division meant that I spent huge amounts of time alone. So to say that I didn’t really fit is putting it mildly.

I have overwhelmingly good memories. All of them in isolation to each other. The smell of a horse. The freedom of a slightly wild child on a farm. A neighbour child and myself being naughty, as only farm children can be. My first fireworks. Fresh milk. Homemade biltong. The smell of my dad. The laughter of the workers. A snake.

However, too often the gaps are telling. Or maybe the missed memory is telling. For example – we moved from the farm to Cape Town when I was 13. But in my memory of the farm I was always young. I am always young. I don’t remember being a ‘tween’ as it were. My memories of the time are confused and jumbled and I think I remember things out of time.

It is a very odd sense of being. To this day, my memory works like that. Not in any obvious way, and I never really realize it until someone sends an offhand comment my way: “Remember when…”

And I really don’t.

I sometimes wonder if it hasn’t left an indelible mark on me somehow. A shadow across my personality if you will. Perhaps in the not remembering, that is why I doubt and second guess myself always.

Then again, perhaps in the not remembering, I am protecting myself?

I chose to believe that in the not remembering, I am making space for awesome.

 

 

 

Nurturer

I am one of those indomitable (and truth be told, annoying) souls that are convinced that if you just love someone enough, they will ….. (fill in your most desperate wish here)….

Love you?

Accept you?

Treat you better?

Respect you?

Truth is, I believe anyway, is that to be a nurturer is to be damaged too. I have never come across one such as myself who nurtures only the sound of mind and heart, only those with a healthy ego. No, part of our condition is that we pick the injured, broken and damaged. Those souls that need saving. In our eyes anyway.

We offer our all to these less than worthwhile souls, breaking our entire being on the shores of their damage. We attach ourselves wholeheartedly to the unworthy and in doing so, perversely, base almost all of our worth on them. Their opinion. Their kind, or harsh words. Their indifferent actions.

And we break. If we are lucky, we do not shatter.

Stay in a moment like that for long enough, constantly trying to heal and help and clothe and feed the monster we create, and part of your soul goes black.

The best, and worst of a nurturer, is that we give. We give all. And the nature of the human condition is that we take. We take it all if offered.

Some souls do not want to be fixed. Some souls, as damaged as we perceive them to be, are not broken. Some souls enjoy the shattering of others. And some souls simply don’t care.

I have been blessed. I nurtured the hell out of a narcissistic sociopath. He was not broken. He simply was. And who he was didn’t care. Couldn’t care. His right, if I am to be fair. We all have the right to be who we are.

I broke my being against his nothing for an age.

But I came out the other side with an understanding of the human condition. And for that I am blessed.

I do not allow anyone to take advantage anymore. I still nurture, for that side of me is almost completely me. I mostly nurture my zoo. And my family. And the few special souls I have allowed into my orbit.

Never again will I break my soul against another. Perhaps that is part of why I remain single. Or perhaps the damage runs deeper than even I can see.

No matter.

I have learnt my lesson. Each of us, has a supreme right to be exactly who we are. Do not think you can change anyone. You cannot. Do not break your soul against another.

Rather find your place and your peace.

And be exactly who you are.

Rewind

It has taken me a good long while to decide to write again. Life happened and writing fell away. Time changed all sorts of circumstances and the world kept turning.

Sometimes it felt like it didn’t. But it did.

My walk along the ‘gastric bypass’ highway has been freaking hard. Portion control becomes the be all and the end all of everything. The entirety of my being revolved around what I could or couldn’t eat, would I would or wouldn’t tolerate. Lets not even mention the pressure to lose. Because if you don’t? Well that is just a whole new level of failure.

However, much like any diet, it is neigh on impossible to eat like that for eternity. Human nature kicks in. A chip here, a biscuit there and voila – plateau.

I have managed to lose almost 70 kg. Almost. The ‘almost’ part of things makes me feel better. It is not the truth though. Almost is not where I wanted to be. It is not thin.  And all my waffling about accepting who I am and thin not being the be all and end all?

Was true. But was not the only truth. The entirety of it is that I want to be smaller. I want to fit into regular clothing. I want to  run and not have bits jiggle more than they should in places that they shouldn’t.

So I have dreamed a new dream. I started jogging. Oh so ever slowly. 5 minute warm up, 60 seconds run, 90 seconds walk, repeat for 20 minutes, 5 minute cool down. It probably doesn’t sound like much. But for a reformed ‘fatty’ this is huge.

It is also not the only exercise I do. Having recently adopted 2 bundles of furry fluffiness, walking puppies at least 40 minutes a day has become commonplace. But I don’t know that I can consider that as just exercise. The therapy? The joy? The love? The laughter?

Priceless.

I hope to write more often. I hope to find the same peace I have always  found in the written word. There is a joy and a calm in formulating sentences, phrases, paragraphs. It forces me into the calm places in my head.

It is my great, true love. And I have found it again.

 

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