This post was written to the Instrumental version of Zack Hemsey’s song ‘The Way’ (this one), which was played on repeat, because you know…I felt like being dramatic. 😉 No, it’s just a song that does something to me…it truly reaches in and grabs my soul, which is something I know will be needed to write this post. It definitely fills me with the sense of falling down and rising back up again –
Nearly a year later and again 40 lbs. lighter, I’m back.
When I first started to write what is to be my comeback post, I just stared at the blank page for what seemed like an eternity watching the cursor blink on and off the screen wondering to myself, “Am I really going to fucking do this?”
The answer is obviously ‘yes’ because here we are. Me writing. You reading.
You may want to grab yourself a cup of coffee, a cold beer, or a glass of wine and kick back because this is going to be…
A. VERY. Long. Post.
So, let’s get started.
What Happened and Where’d You Disappear To?
Around this time last year, I had hit the 40 lbs. of weight loss milestone. I was excited and knew I had about 20 more to go to hit my first goal of 60 lbs., which would put me not necessarily at the toned sculpted physique I was striving for, but at a weight I had been a few years prior. This was to be the first goal I was trying to reach with the ultimate goal of becoming fitter at 40+.
Unfortunately, shortly after hitting the 40 lb. mark, things started to fall apart. I had injured my shoulder and life events started to interfere with my progress. To be 100% honest, there really is no reason this should have happened. My shoulder, I could have worked around it. The life events…were nothing that should have derailed me like they did. Especially considering some of the things I had preached about in my videos, which I feel pretty embarrassed about now.
In the end, I ended up gaining all my weight back plus an added couple extra and topping off at a personal record of 213.9 lbs. Let’s just round that puppy up to 214 lbs., shall we.
Also, I was dealing with the same negative health issues as I had prior, which I discussed in my original ‘The Reason Behind this Madness’ about me post.
But here’s a recap of those negative health issues:
- Weight gain
- Chronic headaches
- Mood swings
- Uncontrollable hunger/cravings
- Memory loss and fogginess
- Back pain
- Severe bloating
- Low self-esteem
- Irritability and impatience
- Lack of motivation
- Worsening eye sight
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Sugar/Triglycerides
- Extremely low Vitamin D
Revelation #1 – I Am (Was) an All or Nothing Girl
I won’t lie and say that it’s not a little embarrassing that I did exactly the opposite of what I had talked about in a previous video of mine. That it’s ok to indulge and enjoy yourself once in a while and not to beat yourself up about it…just ensure you enjoy yourself and then get right back into living a healthier lifestyle.
It’s the latter part that I kept stumbling on. I guess it’s safe to say that the videos were just as much of a pep talk for myself as they were for others and something that was definitely a weakness.
I realized that when I would ‘indulge’, I would indulge for an entire day. I had the mentality “Well I’ve already ruined the day, so I’ll just make better choices tomorrow.” The issue was that more times than not, tomorrow turned into days, which turned into weeks, which then turned into months.
This wasn’t only in regards to eating habits, but exercising as well.
It would have been one thing if I wasn’t exactly eating the best, but at least exercising regularly or even vice-versa…eating healthy, and not exercising as much.
But nope, where one ended, so did the other.
Logically, there is nothing wrong with indulging…in moderation. Additionally, a day is not ‘wasted’ because you splurged during a meal or even an event. It’s something I’ve recently started to be able to change my mindset on…to enjoy myself but make healthier choices the rest of the day.
What I was finding was that by foregoing any sort of reasonable healthy choice during the day, led to excessiveness. This excessiveness led my body to respond negatively, usually in the form of feeling lethargic, bloated, or even hungover. Many times I would be blessed with headaches or severe migraines. The last thing I wanted to do was any form of exercise.
Additionally, with being excessive in my all day indulging, meant I was consuming highly processed foods that may have been a complete delight to my damn palate, but wreaked utter havoc on my body internally with chemicals that literally made me crave more. It’s no surprise that highly processed food is a literal drug.
So with not exercising and craving food for comfort, it was an inevitable lose-lose situation.
I just couldn’t get it together…days led into weeks, and weeks led into months.
The 40 lb. weight loss became a 40 lb. weight gain with a little more added on top.
That 40 lb. weight loss became, yet again, part of a cycled history that I just couldn’t seem to escape. Ugh.
The PASSION and the WHY that I had excitedly proclaimed in my videos about why this time was different became nothing more than words.
I felt like a failure…again. Fuck!
Revelation #2 – It’s Not Just About THE BODY
This 2nd revelation is HUGE. It’s probably in all likelihood, far more important than Revelation #1. In the past I was always so focused on losing weight and feeling that THAT would change EVERYTHING. If I lost weight, I’d feel great. Right? My thought process was that weight loss would lead to more energy and confidence, which would lead to more damn happiness.
Seemed simple enough.
Well, that’s true to only a minor extent. What I came to realize, was that it’s not enough. That it will indeed be a short-lived aspect in my life if I maintained that mindset alone. There’s so much more to it.
Becoming physically fit…is just part of the equation.
To become overall fit, it truly is the embodiment of the mind, body, and soul. I just could not ever grasp that. That not only did I need to become healthier physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
Interestingly, my better half tried on numerous occasions to bring this reality to light. I would hear, but not listen. I guess in all honesty, I must’ve had some prideful mindset that that was nothing more than warm fuzzy feel good silliness and I was ‘too strong’ for that.
It wasn’t until a few months ago, that the reality of everything started to set in. That emotionally and mentally, I was withdrawn.
I wasn’t strong.
I was NUMB.
There’s a song called ‘Paralyzed’ by NF that summed me up perfectly:
When did I become so numb?
When did I lose myself?
All the words that leave my tongue
Feel like they came from someone else
Where are my feelings?
I no longer feel things
I know I should
Where is the real me?
I’m lost and it kills me – inside
When did I become so cold?
When did I become ashamed?
Where’s the person that I know?
They must have left
They must have left
With all my faith
I’m scared to live but I’m scared to die
And if life is pain then I buried mine a long time ago
But it’s still alive
And it’s taking over me – where am I?
I wanna feel something, I’m numb inside
But I feel nothing, I wonder why
And on the race of life time passes by
I sit back and I watch it, hands in my pockets
Waves come crashing over me but I just watch ’em
I just watch ’em
I’m under water but I feel like I’m on top of it
I’m at the bottom and I don’t know what the problem is
I’m in a box
But I’m the one who locked me in
Suffocating and I’m running out of oxygen
I’m paralyzed (Yeah, I’m just so paralyzed)
Where are my feelings? (Yeah, I’m just so paralyzed)
I no longer feel things (I have no feelings)
I know I should (Oh. How come I’m not moving? Why aren’t I moving? Ay yeah)
Where is the real me? (Where is the real me?)
I’m lost and it kills me – inside (I’m paralyzed, I’m paralyzed)
I’m paralyzed (I’m paralyzed)
Every time I hear this song, it kills me. It’s the ultimate revealing ‘Hey this is you right now’ damn slap in the face. This is definitely something that wasn’t easy for me to admit and even now, it’s not the most comfortable thing for me to talk about.
More importantly, I’ve come to realize that I have lived with a hurt and anger I’ve been avoiding the majority of my entire life.
Additionally, without ever actually knowing it, I’ve had triggers. Whether those triggers have come in the form of news articles, non-fictional or fictional stories, music, tv, cinema, friend’s lives, etc…they’ve always been there. My mind and heart just wouldn’t outwardly acknowledge their presence. I guess you can say that it’s been my defense mechanism.
A defense mechanism that started 36 years ago when I was only 6 years old…
WARNING: MATURE CONTENT – The Rest of this Post Contains Real Life Situations Relating to Sexual Abuse
I’m about to delve into what I have learned to be my TRIGGERS. These triggers may or may not also be triggers for you as you read this, and may affect you negatively and/or make you uncomfortable.
What I am about to talk about is highly personal and incredibly sensitive in nature. There are specific graphic instances to be aware of.
Though I am about to put myself out there in a way that I never thought imaginable, and I pretty much want to vomit at this very moment, I in NO WAY am looking for sympathy. It is simply my hope, that through my self-discovery, honesty, and rawness, that I can help someone else. If even one person is inspired and positively affected by my story, then this was ALL worth it. The apprehension, self-doubt, fear, anxiety, shame, endless tears…everything was worth it.
If you read my “About” page, you would have learned I was raised in Kodiak, Alaska. I haven’t been back to Kodiak in years, and since my parents retired to Florida several years ago, I happily came to terms with the fact that I would never have to go back “home” again.
You see, in all of Kodiak’s Emerald Isle beauty, there’s a deep ugliness for me.
It’s a place I have avoided at all costs.
It’s where most of my demons reside…
My father was in the U.S. Coast Guard and thus was the reason we moved to Kodiak in 1975. Unlike most Coast Guard families who leave a duty station every few years, we remained. Somehow, my dad was able to keep extending his service time in Kodiak until his very last days in service when he retired, which means I was raised in Kodiak from the time I was 18 months to 18 years old.
It goes without saying that even though we were a Coast Guard family that never moved to a new duty station, we had plenty of other Coast Guard folks that came in and out of our lives.
One of which was a couple that my parents became very close to. The husband (we’ll call him RB) became one of my father’s best friends and was very involved in our lives.
Part of that involvement included taking care of my sister and I when my parents were away or just needed ‘couples time’ together. RB would babysit and watch over us at our home. He’d take us to Saturday movie matinees at the theater on the base. Sometimes, my sister would be at another function, so he’d just watch over me.
And he gladly watched over me because I was his favorite…
…his 6 year old favorite.
And because I was his favorite, sometimes I’d get a special treat of just RB and I going to a Saturday movie at the Billiken theater on the base. We’d be sitting in the dark theatre watching the movie and eating candy and popcorn. Sometimes, there weren’t many other people in the theater, which made the theater seem larger, darker, and scarier. During those times, he’d hold my hand so I wouldn’t be scared.
And while holding my hand, RB did a very odd thing…
He’d take my little hand and tuck it down inside the front of his pants. I still remember what ‘it’ felt like.
I remember RB was always giving me dollar bills or quarters because I was so special and his favorite. I’d always jump on him trying to get more money and he’d wrestle around with me. What we shared was a special secret.
I thought RB was fun.
RB taught me many things. I remember one particular teaching while living in Nimitz Park, which was part of Coast Guard off-base housing and contained basements. That’s normally where we had all our toys and played, and my dad had his tools. It’s also where we had our laundry machines. It was a big open area room.
On one particular day when RB was at my home in Nimitz Park, he took me down to the basement and stood me on top of one of the laundry machines. He proceeded to pulled down my pants and touch me between my legs with his fingers. To this day, I remember what he said to me – “If you ever want to feel good, just rub here with your fingers.”
That day, a 6 year old little girl learned about self-gratification.
It wasn’t until several years later that I learned and understood what happened to me. I never said anything to anyone and by that time, RB and his wife had left Kodiak to another duty station years prior.
Then, the monster to whom I was his favorite, returned to Kodiak with his family for a 2nd tour. I was in Jr. High (middle school to some of you folks) at the time.
My mom was the assistant manager at the Coast Guard Exchange. I remember my sister, mom, and I were on the stairs between floors of the Exchange when we ran into RB with his wife and kids in tow. As my mom happily conversed with him and his wife, I stood there glaring at him. I remember balling my damn fists and shaking.
The next thing I remember was my sister hitting my arm. I looked at her and saw the look on her face as she quickly shook her head for me to stop.
At that point, I had the realization that it happened to her too. It wasn’t until decades later that I found out that it didn’t happen to her the same way. The extent of RB’s inappropriate behavior with my sister was him flirting with her and her friends, and at most, her sitting uncomfortably in his lap, but he didn’t touch her as he did me.
It’s my assumption that because she was older, he didn’t want to risk her knowing that what he was doing was disgustingly wrong.
Regardless of what I know now, at the time when my sister hit me in the arm, I was under the impression that it HAD happened to her and I had to protect her secret as well as mine. Not to mention, I was afraid to bring shame to my family. With my mom in such a visible position, and gossip being so easily prevalent on the base, I felt I had to protect my family. That and my father probably would have killed him.
It was at that moment I vowed I would become a cop and stop predators like him. My whole reason for giving up wanting to be an astronaut and going into law enforcement was because of that very man.
Fast forward many years later. My sister and I are well into our adult lives. I’m living and working as a police officer out in the Marshall Islands, which is located in the South Pacific, and my sister is home in Kodiak. My mom tells my sister that she heard that RB had been arrested for sexually molesting a minor.
My sister decides to tell my mom what happened when we were younger.
Needless to say, I got a telephone call from my mom crying.
I proceeded to confirm that RB had indeed sexually molested me when I was young. Though, I never told her the explicit details as I have listed in this post (which if she is now reading this…I’m truly sorry mom), she knew enough to know that her youngest daughter’s innocence was taken from her in a way that no mother can imagine.
Fast forward to just a couple years ago, I can’t recall what exactly spurred me into looking, but I went on google and typed in RB’s actual first and last name along with the words ‘sex offender’ and lo and behold google spit out results.
When I clicked on the links, there…staring back at me, was the man who in that instant, turned me back into that little girl 36 years ago. Though he’s in his early 60’s now, I can still see the same man.
According to the registry, he was arrested and convicted of ‘Attempted Aggravated Indecent Liberties with a Minor’ in Kansas of a 9 yr. old girl.
I have no idea the full extent of what occurred or if he served any actual jail time.
However, since discovering that listing, something that I had buried for decades came bubbling to the surface and I have spent the last couple years trying to deal with the guilt and anger of never having come forward.
How many other ‘favorite’ little girls did he have?
How many could I have potentially stopped by saying something?
Can I still?
Is there a Statute of Limitations for sexual molestation?
Quick Note: I blurred out certain identifying information in the image because I honestly don’t know the legal ramifications of me posting this on my blog. I would love to post the full record listing. Feel free to contact me if you or someone you know is knowledgeable in laws related to this or even the possible pursuit of bringing justice.
I’m a firm believer that there is no cure for sexual predators such as him. Though the crime that was listed in the registry happened in 2001, I FULLY believe it’s only because he has not been caught since then.
I know where he lives obviously as it’s a requirement for the registry. I know he has his own business. I’ve been tempted to call the number to it a few times just to tell him that I remember what he did all those years ago.
Every time that I see anything regarding sexual abuse towards children, I now go back to that time.
It won’t ever go away.
It wasn’t until recently that it truly dawned on me that though I may have thought I buried it years ago, that it’s always affected me. That a part of me has always been angry and it started all those damn years ago.
That an injustice to a 6 year old little girl went unpunished…
It is my hope, that though this may never have the resolution that it should, I can start forgiving myself and healing within.
Previously, only a handful of friends and my family knew about this. For me, as insanely uncomfortable as this has made me writing this post knowing full well that it’s going to be posted on my blog for anyone to read, it’s something that I needed to do to begin the process.
Acknowledging the anger is not weakness.
Acknowledging the hurt is not weakness.
Acknowledging what happened is not shameful nor is it weakness.
Coming to terms with, acknowledging, and understanding that something that happened to me decades ago has indeed affected me my entire life, are the steps towards true inner strength and being a fighter.
For someone like me, who really prides themselves on now having their life sorted, being in control and all of that…it’s really hard when that trauma affects me. But it’s a part of me and very much real.
Unfortunately, there are more triggers that I am coming to terms with. Trigger #1 is without a doubt the most impacting. The following triggers have all affected my life in one way or another, but Trigger #1 is truly what started it all.
So, Trigger #2…this started the summer before my sophomore year in high school. I grew up being a complete tomboy. Always out and about running around with boys and playing pickup games of basketball or football. We also were into freestyling on our bikes…attempting tricks and the like.
One day, one of my friends who I had just recently started to become closer to, invited me to a party at one of his friend’s house. At first, I said no, but he convinced me to ‘live a little’ and so I went.
Let me just add really quick that growing up in Alaska, the sun didn’t set until late. There is a reason it’s called the land of the midnight sun. That’s no exaggeration.
So being out of the house late for me wasn’t anything out of the norm for my parents.
Just another summer day for Noel.
I met up with my friend at this party and there were a few people from high school present that I knew and some that I didn’t. Of course, there was alcohol…and we drank a bit. After a while, my friend took me in to the game room. There were bean bags surrounding a tv with an Atari system, a dart board, and a pool table.
At the pool table, I saw another acquaintance of mine playing pool with another guy I did not know. It was just the 4 of us inside the game room and we teamed up to play a couple rounds.
My friend who had convinced me to go to the party, started flirting with me. I won’t lie, I had grown to like him quite a lot…it was the whole reason I agreed to go to the party. I liked that he was flirting with me and I was flirting back.
The liquid courage we were consuming probably assisted in that too.
I noticed the other two guys smiling and whispering to each other and when it was my turn to take a shot, I noticed that my friend would be talking quietly to the other two guys. I remember him laughing and telling them to shut up a few times.
Things at this point do start to get hazy. I remember my friend bumping up behind me while I was taking a shot. When I stood and turned around to face him, he leaned down and kissed me. I actually kissed him back.
Then I heard the other two say, “Whooooa” and I became uncomfortable and pushed my friend away.
I remember him telling me to ignore the other two guys and trying to kiss me again, but I kept pushing him away because I didn’t want to kiss in front of the other two and be making a show of it.
What I remember next is being grabbed from behind, called a tease repeatedly, and then being lifted up and pinned to the pool table where my mouth was covered and I was then raped…by all three.
I vaguely remember at one point while everything was happening, just giving up. I stopped trying to fight it and let it happen.
That night I lost my virginity at the hands of those 3 guys, whom also left my wrist and once again my innocence fractured.
And there was no way in hell I was going to say anything to anyone about it.
I was able to easily play off the broken wrist to my parents stating that I wrecked on my bike while attempting to do tricks. They bought it without a second thought.
My friend, whom I had had the massive crush on, tried relentlessly to apologize and ask for forgiveness, but it’s just not something I could offer and ironically would never be able to as a couple years later, he died in an accident.
My other so-called friend that was there committed suicide before he ever graduated high school. I have no idea why he took his own life. I’m not going to lie, there was a time though that I pretended that part of the reason was that he felt overwhelmingly bad for what he did.
Due to the fact that 2 of the 3 are no longer of this earth, I pretty much came to terms with what happened that night.
Oh, and the 3rd guy…I have no freaking clue what became of him. I never knew who he was. All I knew was that he was someone who had graduated high school 1 or 2 years prior. After that night, I never saw him again.
Though for the most part, I have come to terms with what happened, there are times when memories come back or I have bad dreams. Most of the time, it happens when I see or hear about sexual assault/rape in the news.
Most recently, it came about during Lady Gaga’s performance relating to rape and sexual assault at the Grammy’s. It was a powerful performance and definitely brought forth emotions that I normally tend to keep buried.
When it comes to feelings of guilt, this next trigger still to this day breaks my heart. I just can’t seem the shake the ‘what if’ thoughts that haunt my damn mind.
The kids you once called friends before high school, are usually not the same friends you have in high school. Some are, but many times, they aren’t.
I had one such friend that became more of an acquaintance. We had classes together and would chat occasionally, but ‘hanging out’ was not anything that we ever did. I wasn’t a set part of any social circle in high school. I was friends with jocks, cheerleaders, stoners, goth, nerds, etc. and that’s how I liked it.
I’m not sure what circle I would’ve put my friend in. I don’t really recall her gravitating to any set group either.
You know back then, there were no such things as cell phones or social media. Communication was done the old fashioned way via face to face interaction, or notes passed in the hallways or secretly in class. One day, during the latter part of our sophomore year in high school, my friend passed me a note.
The note seemed rather cryptic. My friend wanted to talk to me in person about some stuff that was going on with her. A couple times we tried to meet in person to talk, but for one reason or another, it didn’t work out.
I would then pass her a note apologizing and just told her to tell me in a note what she wanted to talk to me about. I remember her being hesitant, but finally she did.
I remember the day when she passed me the note, she begged me to please keep it to myself and tear it up after I read it because she didn’t want me to accidentally lose it because it contained very personal stuff in it. Her whole demeanor seemed quite strange to me.
I had to wait till I was in my class and then ask for a bathroom pass to go and read it. Our whole interaction when she gave me the note had me quite curious, so I just couldn’t wait until later in the day to read it.
As I sat in the bathroom stall, I read my friend’s words as she rambled on. She was still being very cryptic and didn’t seem to want to come straight to the point. Near the end of the note, she finally did.
Right there, in blue inked bubbly cursive…she told me she liked girls. As in, she REALLY liked girls.
My immediate reaction was that of uneasiness. It’s not something that we ever really heard about in my school. That and it was weird and abnormal.
My second reaction was wondering why the hell she had told me. I mean, we weren’t even close friends…so why in the world would she risk telling me something so personal and crazy as that.
Did she think I was gay too?
Luckily we didn’t have any classes together the rest of the day and I was able to avoid her.
However, the following morning before school started she found me by my locker and asked to talk to me in private.
I remember how incredibly uncomfortable I felt.
As we found a corner that was tucked away from the ears of others, the very moment she started to speak, I pretty much interrupted her. I told her that I would not tell anyone about what she told me and that her secret was safe, but that I was not cool with it and she was a bit of a freak. I told her that I was NOT gay, and if that’s the reason she told me, she was dead wrong. I pretty much ended the conversation saying she was creepy and weird, and then walked away.
That was literally the last time I talked to her. She had tried to pass me another note at one point, and I shook my head and quickly darted in another direction.
I avoided her in the hallways and when we did pass one another, I always looked down or away.
I completely disowned any friendship we had and pretended she didn’t exist.
We didn’t end up having any classes our junior year and thus, I never had to worry about being in close proximity to her.
Then came the summer before our Senior year. As many teens do, I got a summer job.
I’ll never forget that very first day at my new job. It’s a day that many of my friends and classmates won’t forget.
It’s the day that we learned that the very day prior, my secretly gay disowned friend put a gun to her head and killed herself.
I was in complete disbelief and a fog the rest of the day.
And then I started to feel sick and through that sickness, guilt started to enter.
Why did she do that?
What could have been so terrible that she felt this was the only route to take?
How much did being gay add to her depression and despair?
Did her best friend know what I knew?
Did my negative reaction keep her from confiding in anyone else and thus she had a secret that was tearing her apart because she couldn’t talk about it?
What else was going on in her life that I didn’t know about because I had completely shunned her?
I couldn’t help feeling guilty for not being there or even just potentially being there.
WHAT IF I had reacted more positively and been more accepting, it would have been an outlet for her.
Especially if indeed, I was the only one who knew.
Ironically, this would only be the start of my guilt regarding her. A huge revelation about my own self was about to come hammering on the door.
Life’s Sick Sense of Humor
Between being molested, gang-raped, and my friend’s suicide to name a few, I couldn’t wait to get out of Kodiak. I hated it there. I spent the majority of my senior year counting the days till graduation and becoming more and more withdrawn.
Halfway through my senior year, I learned that I would still have enough credits to graduate even if I started to go to school half-days. So, when school broke for lunch, I would leave school and go to work. I wanted the least amount of my time spent in that school.
I started hanging out with older people, mostly those that were in the Coast Guard. I sort of got involved with a cute young guy in the Coast Guard who was on a Cutter, but he wasn’t stationed locally in Kodiak. His Cutter was based out of Hawaii, but its patrol area was all over the pacific. We met when his ship came in to port in Kodiak. We would write letters often and talk on the phone regularly.
He wasn’t the only Coastie I became close to. A friend of mine who I considered one of my best friends my senior year was also in the Coast Guard. She was stationed locally at the base in Kodiak. We became super close near the end of my senior year and when I decided to join the army, hers were one of the letters I looked most forward to getting during bootcamp and I got a lot of them.
At one point, I remember some of her letters becoming cryptic about something she needed to talk to me about, that when I was home on leave, we needed to have a talk. She mentioned she was afraid though that she’d lose me as a friend. We were such close friends, that I told her that there was nothing that she could ever tell me that would make me not want to be her friend.
So, when I was home on leave before going to my first duty station in Korea, I was driving my best friend back to the base after hanging out for a bit. During the drive, I asked her what it was that she had been alluding to in her letters.
She kind of became uneasy and was silent. Then she said the same thing she had said in her letter about being scared about losing me as a friend. I again told her that there was nothing she could tell me that would cause me not to be friends with her.
Again, another long silence.
Then she just came out and said it.
She was gay.
Needless to say, my grip on the steering wheel of my mom’s little red Honda Prelude became white knuckle tight and the gas pedal pressed a little closer to the floor.
We were both silent the rest of the way to the base.
When I pulled up to the barracks, my gay best friend said that she was going to step out of the car to smoke a cigarette. My response was, “Yeah, you do that.”
Once she closed the car door, I started laughing in disbelief and shaking my head. I remember looking up like I was talking to god and saying, “Shit come on, not again. You fucking sure do have one sick sense of humor.”
After my friend got back into the car, I took a deep breath and told her that she was still my best friend. It would take me a little getting used to, but there was no way I was going to disown her as my friend.
That very night, I had a dream where her and I were together…romantically. When I woke in the morning breathing rather heavily, I found myself NOT disgusted, quite the opposite.
But what did that mean?
Was I also gay?
No flipping way!
That dream would not be the only one I had and each time I would wake rather disappointed that I was only dreaming.
I ended up telling my best friend about my dreams. I think this may or may not be (she’d have to confirm) what gave her the courage one evening to kiss me.
It was like pure electricity through my body.
That kiss was the beginning of an awakening within me and what would also become a rather confusing and difficult time in my life.
My best friend did end up becoming my first girlfriend.
However, with that came a roller-coaster of up and downs of confusion, acceptance, understanding, and also of…guilt.
My secret gay disowned friend who committed suicide was right about me. Was that the reason she told me in the first place? She saw something in me that I was completely oblivious to? Her gaydar was actually on point?
I felt like a complete and utter hypocrite.
I mean, disowning my friend was only part of my so-called homophobia. I quite remember making derogatory comments and jokes about gays and lesbians. My sister and I would even get into arguments about the negative things I would say.
And now…I was realizing that I was in fact one of those ‘abnormal freaks’.
My guilt took me on a whirlwind of self-discovery. It was sometimes volatile. It was sometimes reckless.
Growing up Catholic and trying to deal with the religious ramifications of what it meant to possibly be gay.
My recklessness came in the form of drinking heavily and having sex with different guys trying to come to terms with my sexuality. It was like I was trying to force myself to be ‘normal’.
It played like a lifetime movie. I would drink excessively, have sex with a guy, and the moment I would sober up, I would go home and be in the shower crying trying to scrub the filth off of me, only to do it all over again with some different guy.
Rinse and repeat.
Attempting to come to terms with my true sexuality as a gay woman was an intense journey that put me through an emotional wringer.
And though I accepted myself as I was truly born a long long time ago, to this day there’s still a pang of guilt I feel when I think of my friend who took her life that summer before our senior.
I’ve never spoken to any of my classmates about her suicide or about what she told me in that note that one day when we were sophomores, which by the way I never tore up. I have no idea what was the cause of her depression and despair to take her own life. It could have had absolutely nothing to do with her sexuality.
…but WHAT IF?
Sometimes the misconception about my sexuality is that I hate men, which is the farthest thing from the truth. I just have no desire to be with a man sexually. To me, it feels abnormal. There are men that I find physically attractive all the time. It just simply stops there.
I remember a conversation I once had with my mom where she thought that I being molested and raped was what made me gay. If I would have gotten help, it would have resolved my issues with men and I would no longer choose to be with women.
I completely disagreed with her and simply convinced her that I was indeed born this way. Once I accepted myself for who I truly was, it was like a veil had been lifted from me. I was able to look back even in my childhood to moments and feelings I had that were definitely due to the fact that I was gay.
If I had grown up in a place or more so even a time where I was more aware of the LGBT community, I probably would have had my own self-discovery much sooner.
So again, I do not hate men nor do I fear them due to triggers #1 and #2.
In fact, probably two of the worst relationships I have ever been in were with women. One was physically abusive and the other was mentally/emotionally abusive.
This now brings me in to Trigger #4.
This isn’t going to be long in words. Trigger #5 probably won’t be either. They are simply situations in my life that have either helped or hindered me along the way in becoming who I am today.
Trigger #4 revolves around a relationship I was in about 20 years ago.
I think another misconception is that when it comes to two women being in a relationship, it can’t be physically abusive. That would be a very wrong assumption to have. Domestic violence can happen in any relationship.
I was with a woman that physically assaulted me regularly. The simplest thing would set her off. I would either be struck with fists, feet, or objects thrown at me.
A very uncomfortable thing to reveal is that I actually perfected faking orgasms because of her. During sex, if I didn’t have an orgasm, she’d cuss and hit me, and say that there was something wrong with me.
The police were called a few times to our residence. Ironically, I was a Military Police officer at the time. One positive outcome of that fact, was that I worked with the local police department jointly on occasion and befriending the local officers was pretty easy.
With their help, we actually conspired together to move me out of state as soon as my military service was up.
While my ex was at work, they helped me to pack up my belongings, loaded it all up in a truck, along with my two dogs, and off to another state I fled and away from ever having a hand laid upon me in violence again.
I vowed to never again be in a relationship that consisted of physical abuse. No one would ever control, manipulate, or abuse me in that way.
What I would later come to realize, is that there’s a different kind of abuse that in more ways than one…can be far more devastating.
About 10 years after my physically abusive relationship, I found myself in a different kind of abusive relationship.
One that preyed upon my heart and my mind.
One that would cause further bruising that did not heal so easily, unlike those caused by a fist.
It took manipulation and control to an entirely different level.
It took me and whatever self-esteem I had, to the bottom of the deepest, darkest damn barrel.
Even as I write this, I can feel myself clenching my damn jaw and the sense of shame bubble up for having allowed myself to have been in that situation and relationship for so long.
I completely lost myself in that relationship. I had no voice. I had no self-worth. I had no confidence. My insecurities were preyed upon and used against me repeatedly.
This is where my health and weight first began to really spiral out of control and for the first time, I found myself at over 210 lbs. My weight has always been an insecurity for me as it is with many women. My ex-girlfriend exploited that fact with pure expertise. Knowing what things to say to cut me the deepest.
It was such a volatile and demoralizing relationship. We’d fight and argue. She’d tell me about how fat and ugly I was. About how no one would ever want me.
The saddest and most infuriating part, is that I BELIEVED her.
I wasn’t allowed to have my own friends. If I tried, I would constantly be accused of cheating. Ironically however, she was carrying on with secret profiles on social media sites.
I couldn’t even go and have coffee with my own sister, who lives in the same city as I, without my phone blowing up with text messages about when I was going to be home and where I was at.
My mentality of being a care-taker was used against me. My ex dealt with severe bouts of anxiety and couldn’t seem to maintain a job. My finances went to hell, and my credit tanked. I was taking care of her and her child.
Any time I would even attempt to end the relationship, the kid card was pulled. I was manipulated in ways that made me feel that I couldn’t abandon them.
I’m sitting here at this very moment, looking back and trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I was in such a dark place and at a point in my life of feeling utterly lost and helpless, that I allowed someone to have that much power over me.
It’s seriously making my stomach turn right now.
I stayed in that relationship for nearly 3.5 years. It took that long for me to get the damn courage to take my life back.
And though I’ve had my life back for several years now, it’s definitely caused residual effects.
Acknowledging the Effects of My Triggers
Writing out the above triggers has definitely been an emotional and exhausting endeavor. Seeing everything written in black and white, as well as reliving and going through the memories…has been quite difficult.
Without even really knowing it, I have spent my life thinking that I kept most of these memories locked away in some dark corner of my mind and soul, unable to have any effect on me. My own personal little hurt locker.
What I didn’t realize, is that each one of these situations has been contributing to an angry, negative, and tension filled state of being.
I’ve been living my life in a state of petulance, distrust, overly cautiousness, pessimism, and as I hate to say it…to a certain degree, a victim’s mentality.
There’s a quote I always thought I lived by:
“Always the Fighter, Never the Victim”
Little did I know, that many times in my life, I cried foul. I was quick to anger and react to what I would feel would be the slightest of injustices.
The pendulum of my moods was felt by all those around me, especially my loved ones.
I always thought I had my past experiences under control. That they never affected me…because if they had, that would make me ‘weak’ and there’s no way that I would ever be considered a weak person.
I’m a fighter, not a victim…remember?
I guess when you tell yourself something long enough, you take it as the damn truth.
It’s crazy hard for me to sit here and admit that for so long, I was so incredibly wrong. Ironically, strength truly is indeed when you face either your fears, or the hurt and anger that resides within you. I did nothing by try to run from and bury mine.
I always felt that as long as I lived my life and did not let my past dictate any of my future, I was golden. What I didn’t realize, is that my past was very well planted in my present and was affecting me continuously.
My health. My well-being. My opinions. My actions. My reactions. My overall personality really. It all has progressively gone down a darker and apathetic path as years have continued to go by.
Our past does indeed shape us into the people we are today, but the trick apparently is to absorb the positive lessons and discard the negative. This is where I’ve been failing miserably my entire life.
I’ve let my past experiences control and fuel me through my life down a path that was eventually going to breakdown and crumble. And boy, did I ever break.
I remember recently while I was out for a run, that I just totally became overcome by emotion. I literally was bawling in tears and asking myself, “WTF is wrong with me!” and started panicking and looking for a place more private to run to because I had been running on a sidewalk along a very busy roadway and was so embarrassed.
I think it was that very moment though, that it started to really sink in that while I was working on my physical fitness and trying to get back into shape, like so many damn times before, that there was WAY more going on.
That I would continue to go through the roller-coaster health and weight issues if I didn’t finally stop and start looking deeper at the underlying layers and issues that may actually be the contributing factors to my endless up and down cycle.
On January 7, 2016, I started my fitness journey again weighing 214 lbs. As I sit here writing this, I have lost 44 lbs. and still have a ways to go to reach my ‘physical’ fitness goal, but the change in me thus far is completely different than last year.
So, to answer that infamous question of what makes this time different…oh boy…this time is SO different. Though last year I was full of passion regarding my journey and thought I had my WHY down, I didn’t. I was concentrating merely on the physical aspects of becoming healthier.
Never in my wildest dreams did I know that there were these little damn gremlins internally within me sitting in wait, just waiting at the chance to sabotage my goals and because I refused to face any of my past or admit that my past controlled who I was, I was easily conquered.
THIS time is different, because not only am I becoming healthier and stronger physically, I’ve started to take those steps to acknowledge my demons. I’ve literally done an about-face, and as terrifying as it is, I’ve turned to face my past with eyes focused, brows furrowed, teeth showing and snarling, and muscles flexed yelling, “Come get me!”
Ok, that was a little dramatic, but no, in all seriousness…turning to face my demons and acknowledging what I have apparently been running from for decades…has been the most exhausting but liberating experience of my life.
I’m serious, getting over the whole shame and pride mentality has been a huge step in my healing process. Vocalizing what happened and how it’s affected me through the various stages of my life, has been like a boulder being lifted off my damn shoulders.
I’m just in the beginning stages of this journey. I know it will be long and there will be bumps along the way. There will be things that trigger memories I don’t want to relive, but each and every time, I’ll turn to face them because the outcome in doing so, is truly amazing and remarkable.
I always had it backwards; becoming physically fit isn’t what would make me happy. Becoming mentality and emotionally fit is. The physical part…that’s just an awesome perk!
I want to close by saying this…the whole purpose of this post is to share my revelations about why I could never seem to maintain my weight or healthy lifestyle. That there was and has always been, something deeper within that would always wrap its claws around me and pull me off that wagon.
I could never maintain what I started previously because I was never fully equipped to. I’ve always thought that I’ll always be successful if provided the right tools, but who would’ve known that the right tools were residing in me this entire time, I just needed to unlock them.
I guarantee that I am not the only person going through this. That vicious damn cycle of weight loss and weight gain…so I IMPLORE you to look deeper within. What hides beneath your soul? What layers are buried?
Unlock it. Unearth it. Your ah-ha moment could very well be the biggest revelation of your life which changes everything for you.
Share this post…because even if you are ‘A-ok’, I guarantee you that someone in your life isn’t.
If by me putting myself out there helps just one single person, I’m good with that. I’m really REALLY good with that.
Lastly, to LISA – You’re an amazing and remarkable damn creature. I am so sorry that it took me so long to come to terms with all of this. I know these past years have not been easy for you. I know I have not been easy for you. I am truly blessed by your unwavering love and devotion. Your soul is the purest I’ve known, and your heart…there really are no words to describe all the good it encompasses.
I’ve always said one of the things that I adore but also irritates me about you, is your ability to see the good in all things as well as people. Whew, thank god for that. Your unconditional love has been my rock for so long…I think it’s time to start repaying that back.
My rock. My shield. My sounding board. My best friend. Thank you for all the love, the tears, and standing toe to toe with me. You’re an amazing and remarkable damn creature.
I love you.