Dysmorphia: Phatom Fat Girl

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I am a person who can proudly state that from my highest fat ever, I have lost 175 pounds in my adult lifetime.

I shared this with some coworkers recently and a couple of them were like “what? no way. I cannot imagine you heavy and you are so active!”.

My immediate thought in my head was “but I am still big how do you not see it?”.

And one of my coworkers added, “you are so small. I just can’t picture it.”

Small. And yet I look at pics and think man, my arms are so fat or I look so wide … I don’t see the small girl.

I lost 140 after ballooning up with no clear understanding of why as not much of anything in my life had changed. I was eventually diagnosed with a thyroid disorder and PCOS. I worked with doctors, had surgery, walked 5 miles a day, ate mostly protein, and took my meds. Weight finally came off.

Then I had my boys and between my two almost back to back pregnancies, I gained 30. It seemed impossible to lose. I worked and lost 20 or so pounds but could not get the rest to budge. I was running and eating pretty well, but it seemed a stall I could not surpass.

Then I began to box. I started a primarily plant based diet. I took supplements. Drank keto coffee for breakfast. Cut sugar back. Cut alcohol. And I lost 65 pounds … putting me at a weight I did not know was even possible for me.

I can now wear a medium or a small. I can wear size 8 jeans which were forever my all time goal. My mom was tiny and an 8 growing up and I always hated being bigger than her … so I guess the number just stuck with me.

So how is it I still see a fat girl not that I fit the same size my skinny mini mom did? How do I look at a pic and think I look huge? How can I see my reflection at the gym and marvel at the muscles I have developed, but still feel like a big blob?

I recall when I initially lost weight, I always misjudged how much room I needed to squeeze through a space in public or fit into a chair comfortably. Now I sit on the chairs with kids in my toddler room and my butt fits the chair … I climb through tunnels and hang from the monkey bars … playing all over the playground with the kids while teachers half my age are too winded to keep up.

I have made such huge progress, and yet I do not see it. From a 3x to a S? From a size 28 to an 8? How do I not see it????

I workout like crazy – no less than 5 times a week. I walk an average of 8 miles a day and am currently following an even stricter diet. In two weeks, I have dropped another 6 pounds.

Before anyone gets concerned about my new diet – it is not with the intent of solely losing weight, I am following a diet that is supposed to be very thyroid and adrenal healing, so end goal for me is simply to feel better and less dragged down as I have felt lately. But back to my story.

I tried on a size 28 pants just to try to wrap my head around my progress … and maybe I will do it again and get a pic worthy of being shared here, but even though I see it,  see the progress … and often am aware that I am small in many ways, I still see a fat girl.

I still find myself tempted to throw up when I feel I ate too much. Maybe because I am disappointed in myself for having a piece of cake, or maybe I am scared I will sky rocket with weight gain again.  I struggled with bulimia briefly and thought it something left far behind me… so the temptation of the need to do that … its frightening.  I am mindful of tracking calories, noting days I did not eat enough or ate too much and how I felt. I sometimes think it could be a slippery slope to an eating disorder, so I am always checking myself to make sure I am on a healthy track.

I push myself to work out extra long or extra hard. I sometimes make myself dizzy from pushing too hard. I am trying intermittent fasting and sometimes think I am pushing the hours on that too considering how active I am … but it works, so I keep doing it. Truth be told, I am angry and annoyed days I do not fit a workout in, so it feels like a bit of an obsession, even if a healthy one.  I am having to learn to tell myself not to work out once in a while and instead take a nap or sit and read my book.

“Body-image experts say it’s not uncommon for people, especially women, who have lost a lot of weight to be disappointed to some extent to discover that they still aren’t “perfect.” The excess fat is gone when they reach their goal weight, but they may have sagging skin, cellulite or a body shape that they still deem undesirable.

This may happen because the brain hasn’t “caught up” with the new, leaner body, particularly for people who were obese for many years and then experienced rapid weight loss.” – NBC News

So we have lost the weight but still see all the trouble spots and it lives in this fat girl mentality. At least this is what it seems to be for me.

With my progress, I wear shorter shorts and used to only wear capris in the summer. I view this as an awareness of a win! But, also  I find myself needing to try on smaller sizes when trying on clothes after misjudging what will fit, clear unawareness of my win.

I would like to think that at some point, my head will wrap catch up with where I am at. Not in fat loss mode anymore, just staying fit and trying to learn to accept the imperfections as they are.  Loose skin on my hips and arms are my hated zones. Maybe someday I will have plastic surgery. Or maybe I can simply learn to accept my flaws and see that I am pretty perfect the way I am.

I had one realization as I have begin to dig deeper into reflection and questioning about this … I think when my marriage fell apart and my whole world turned upside down, working towards this goal of weight loss was a saving grace. I put so much effort and energy into it. In a world of chaos, this was something I could control and focus on.

The first step in growth is to recognize the struggle that needs to shift. I see it. I voiced it here. Let’s see what comes next.

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Miss Me

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When I was out for a run Wednesday, Miss Me More by Kelsea Ballerini played on my Amazon playlist. I had not heard it before, but it clicked with much that was on my mind.  It clicked with a conversation with one of my bf’s the next day too … and I feel like her message fits a bit with my own that has been brewing in my heart.

This past week this particular bf and I have had many chats about love and what real love feels like. When all you have had is dysfunction or not meant to be’s in your love tank, the real thing is a bit of a shock …. a wonderment …. and a whole lot like coming home.

I would so much rather be alone then lose who I am ever again…. and I have been perfectly content alone.

We talked about the effort put into making things work. With the wrong people … it FEELS like heavy work. It can feel burdensome. It can go unappreciated or even exploited. It is draining.

Sometimes we change who we are to make things seem … better? To build the other person up or to make them more attracted to us or to somehow fit better with the wrong person.

But with the right person that all goes away.

Think about it … maybe your hair is long because that is what your guy prefers.

Maybe you stopped wearing a favorite lip color because he didn’t like it or switched out your perfume because he preferred another.

Maybe you started to wear heals because he preferred the look of them …. or maybe you stopped wearing them to make him feel taller.

Maybe you stopped wearing a favorite color … because he hated it.

Dreams change … my dream morphed into what our dreams were. And that is ok … but not at the loss of who I am and what my own dreams were too.

I HATE watching people change little things or give up big things to please their significant other.

Of course I get that compromises need to be had. That is inevitable. And adjustments at times have to happen. I mean maybe he hates your perfume because it makes him sneeze or gives him a headache. I totally get that choice and it would be ridiculous not to do so for someone you love.

But in the wrong relationship, you will be the only one compromising the majority of the time. You may be reminded frequently when they do make an adjustment of the big person they are being by doing so … even though you compromise pieces of yourself for them all the time.

What my friend and I have both realized is that with the right person who truly loves you  is that not only are they not takers in the sense of lopsided compromising and giving… but they are also 100% in acceptance of you. The you that shows up ragged and tired … the you that shows up in your favorite bright lipstick. They smile at any changes to your hair and love every inch of you in a way no one has before.

You don’t have to change pieces of who you are.

And you feel no inclination whatsoever that you should.

There is no pressure to make a grand commitment or change. No urgency of things having to be a certain way. No forced opinions of where you should work and how to align your lives together but rather this crazy idea that there is time, and things can fall into place when and as they do. In the meantime just being together is enough and in the same way … it is everything.

My guy and I have both been divorced for a while now and we both have a full sense of who we are, where we aspire to go, and we are both totally ok with letting the other person do their own thing. Mike gets my need to work out and even offers to take over things with the kids so I can go for a run without my asking or even hinting. We work well as a team with the kids and household chores … sometimes giggling at how the other does something but accepting it – not trying to change our methods. He never makes me feel bad for getting a coffee when I literally just had one. He is always willing to stop and do something or grab something when I ask … never acting like it is an inconvenience.

When you are single … these are the things you become used to. There is never judgment and you do what you want when you want …. everything is on your own schedule. To then share your day with someone else and have to take into consideration what they need and want is not at all a burden … but it is different.

I might tell him I think something is really pretty and he will say you think so and smile and say  interesting. He might tell me about great plans to mount deer heads …. and I smile and say in your man cave right?  Or when he told me he wants a bear bust and I was like really? Maybe a bear skin would be better . We could put that on a wall… and for anyone who knows me this is so not my thing.

We never say no to one another or force the idea that our desires are the prevalent one. We just smile at the uniqueness of one another and roll with it. And that is how it should be in love. You should not lose yourself in it. You should not fade into a couple that has no idea what to do without their other half … we need to still be our own person.

Being single as an adult has shown me who I truly am. Broken down … I am a super active busy mom. I am a girly girl … always doing face masks and hair treatments or painting my nails. Some might think I am vain and I am ok with that. I love cute clothes, accessories, and shoes. Do not even get me started on sandals! I love to read and create. Summer is by far my favorite season. I am definitely urban and a bit spoiled with the conveniences of city life without the yuck of downtown. Yet somehow I feel like a little bit of a gypsy with wanderlust and a need to be barefoot and out in nature.  I am passionate about so many things. My most current is the blight of libraries losing federal funding. For real. Stay tuned for more outbursts on that! I am adventerous and free spirited and do best not looking at the clock.I randomly see things I want to explore or think of something to check out and I just go do it … because I am the solo adult and can do that.  I am also a bit of a coffee snob … which has proven comically challenging in the country. But I have a wonderful boyfriend who got me a coffee maker and always makes sure I have good coffee and milk when I visit. I love me. I love being me.

My Mike … he is a through and through country guy who grew up in the city and hates it. He loves tinkering with things and making them work. He is always jumping from project to project in his garage or out int he woods cutting trees that need to come down or out in the garden caring for the plants. In a hour he may have done all these things and a few more … like smoking out moles. He is probably happiest hunting or sitting by the campfire. He is far less maintenance than I … but just as passionate about our government, history, and faith. He too is used to just picking up and going to do the random things he thinks of … checking out auctions or taking on a new random project. He is the kind of person that if you mention wanting to do or try something … he will make sure you do. Even if he thinks it is silly. He loves going out of his way to do special things for his kids and his family.

We are alike in so many ways and different in so many others … but everything feels like home with him. Unrushed, unpressured … and wonderful.

For years with my ex husband I totally lost sight of who I was. And now … well I don’t ever want to lose me again. See I actually do like me. And I realized how wonderful it is to have things my own way.

But with my guy …

He loves all of me and I love all of him … I am so grateful he was willing to just talk with me and not push me into a date right away. He was willing to meet me where I was, let me feel comfortable … and just be here. Loving and accepting me as I am.

The song lyrics …. totally worth a read.

MISS ME MORE

I retired my red lipstick ’cause you said you didn’t like it
I didn’t wear my high heel shoes
‘Cause I couldn’t be taller than you
I didn’t wanna lose my friends, but now it’s hard to even find them
It’s what you wanted, ain’t it?
It’s what you wanted
I thought I’d miss you (when it ended)
I thought it hurt me (but it didn’t)
I thought I’d miss you
I thought I’d miss you
But I miss me more
I miss my own beat, to my own snare drum
I miss me more
Miss my own sheets in the bed I made up
I forgot I had dreams, I forgot I had wings
Forgot who I was before I ever kissed you
Yeah, I thought I’d miss you
But I miss me more (I miss me more)
I put on my old records that I hid in the back of the closet
And I turn them up to ten
And then I played them all again
I found my independence
Can’t believe I ever lost it
What you wanted, ain’t it?
It’s what you wanted
I thought I’d miss you (when it ended)
I thought it hurt me (but it didn’t)
I thought I’d miss you
Yeah, I thought I’d miss you
But I miss me more
I miss my own beat, to my own snare drum
(I miss me more)
Miss my own sheets in the bed I made up
I forgot I had dreams, I forgot I had wings
Forgot who I was before I ever kissed you
Yeah, I thought I’d miss you

Reflections of Me

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Happy summer morning!

I admit I am beginning to feel back to my good self a bit. I have had a few panic moments but all in all seem to FINALLY be re-centering.

I am typing this out on the deck with the scent of lilacs wafting over me and blooms all around the yard. It does not get much better than this!

I have been struggling with my depression/anxiety/panic and struggling with my fitness and body image a bit as well. The panic was clearly triggered by a handful of events that really threw me for a loop, and even my doctor confirmed her feelings that it was situational and in time, something I would get on top of.

She was right and I love her. Having a good medical person to help navigate my thyroid issues as well as my vitamin deficiencies and mental health is so important. She helps me work to be at my best and create a manageable plan for my overall well being. And I am so grateful that I recognize when I need to go in.

As I transition into my summer work schedule and find myself with more time to be with my boys and my guy and my family as a whole, I am finding my heart so very grateful. Despite struggles and hardships in my life, I am so very blessed too.

I had it on my mind to blog about a couple of different things today. So here goes …

I have been struggling with body image. Big time. I have been in weigh loss mode for so long. I see a number on the scale that is higher than I like but which my doctor is quite happy with. I can wear small and medium tops!  I was just at the mall trying on clothes and could not believe that I in fact fit in smalls.

So why do I still feel so big in pictures? Why do I not feel my journey with weight loss has ended?

I went to a doctor last month for a body analysis and to decide how much was realistic to lose. While he said I can for sure tone and tighten, he doesn’t think I have fat to be losing and went on to tell me that I have a wonderful shape. I will be working with him on a plan to firm and tighten my trouble zones where rapid weight loss has not allowed my skin to firm up quite right. Stay tuned for results on that journey.

I have also decided to work with a nutritionist on a plan to clean my eating up a bit as my depressed state the past month or so did cause me to lose sight of my diet. But, what I am truly hoping to get our of this plan is to simply feel more clear headed, less anxious, and more like my best self. I really do believe all the chemicals in our foods greatly affects our well being, and I need to get back on top of that. If I lose a bit more weight, yay, but honestly I just look forward to feeling better.

And last … I am doing a little month of June fitness challenge. I have to be active every single day – I can run or box e/or day and on days I need rest, walking or yoga will do too. I did this as a 100 day challenge. once and it was what inspired me to be a bit of a fitness nut. I am happy to report that 6 days in I am rocking my challenge with running and boxing … I look forward to how much stronger I will be feeling by the end of this month!

I ALSO want to blog a bit about my good friend visiting here from NM. She is one of those people I can be 100% honest with and she will be honest with me too – but never judge me. Do you know what a gift that is???

She is truly a blessing. So here is a bit of our story …. I just feel inspired to share it.

We met in 7th grade Spanish class and would remain friends long after high school with the magic of FB. But when her marriage and mine finally came to a head the same year … hers due to abuse and mine abuse and addiction … we really bonded.

We navigated divorce proceedings, unfairness of the system, difficult and problematic exes who thrived on creating chaos in our lives. There were times I looked at her and told her she was behaving manically and there were times she told me I was being a complete dumb ass and to stand up for myself.

And our friendship survived that.

We agreed to be each others person on Valentines and birthdays so that we both still had someone to show us a little love, and that has become such a blessed and special tradition. I adore picking out gifts for her and seeing her reaction and I appreciate how well she knows me and the thought she puts into what she sends my way.

It is not about the stuff … it is about being remembered and appreciated.

We have heard each other at our worse with parenting, seen one another be opinionated ass hats, and get ourselves into stupid situations in the dating world.

But we have always been honest with one another. We have forced each other to consider tough questions and look at situations with fresh eyes.

I have so many friends I am grateful for, but having a friend who has walked divorce and dating similarly to myself has been such a blessing. It is simply something you cannot fully comprehend until it is your world … and I am so glad I have not walked it alone.

You know what it is like when you talk on the phone, text, and follow friends closely on FB but finally see each other in person!?! For the first time in like 20 years?

I don’t know if either of us knew what to expect. But it was comfortable, easy, and as if no time had passed. We worked through moments of not feeling well, challenges with kids, fitting room fun as we BOTH celebrated significant weight loss, ate and adventured … and just filled up our love cups!

She is truly a sister of my heart. Even when she threatened to slap me for talking to someone she views as toxic in my life. LOL!

We are real. We are patient, We get each other. And we are blessed.

Now I need to plan a trip to visit her … because after yesterday our  kids might be forever friends too. And that is pretty damn amazing.

There are friends, there are family, and then there are friends that become family. She is one of mine.

A best friend isn’t someone who understands you. It is someone who understands you a bit more than you understand yourself.

I love you girl. I am so very proud of you and your journey here and I am telling  you … MN needs to be a regular vacation spot for you and your boys. Two weeks next time.

 

 

 

AMICABLE

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I am the kind of person that if I cut you off, you probably handed me the scissors.

I try TOO hard. Always.

When dealing with a narcissist you have to learn that you cannot change them, you can only change how you react and interact with them.  You can draw boundaries, limit communication, vow to remain calm and neutral, even practice meditation in preparation of an interaction with this person.

With regard to Tom, I have gotten fairly good at that bit. I know I can’t change him and can only change how I react to him.

But I have also thought that we are pretty decent at co-parenting with regard to our kids.

Then … about a year ago …  realized we do not co-parent at all. I am the only parent. He does not do any of the parenting or the taking care of our kids as a parent should.

He does not help with homework. He does not do med appointments. He does not meet teachers or come to sporting events. He doesn’t even bother to call and check in on them…

Which is shocking. His own dad divorced his mom and had very little to do with him after. He hated his dad for this. And he is doing it to his own kids.

But he is the victim. And I am the vengeful one.

“A narcissist paints a picture of themselves as being the victim or innocent in all aspects. They will be offended by the truth. But what is done in the dark will come to light. Time has a way of showing people’s true colors.”
— Karla Grimes

Truth is though, we are all better off with him out of the picture.

Truth is like surgery. It hurts … but it leads to healing.

I have boundaries with Tom. And even with boundaries he constantly tries to project chaos into my life. Over complicating things. Making five steps out of something that should only be one step. Telling me how unfair and unreasonable I am ….

Narcissists retaliate when boundaries are imposed.

Accept that your ex is not going to change.

And even in knowing that … even with boundaries imposed … my current revelation?

Eliminate the need to interact with him. Period. All he does is project. I am so done with having to deal with the chaos and strife he has caused in my life. And tired of false accusations and angry outbursts.

I would rather not get support than deal with him anymore. But that is not fair to my kids either.

So …. next steps …

Have I made it clear enough here what dealing with him has done to my mental health? Or how I loved him until it broke me? Or that I have taken the high road time and again so that my kids would not feel yucky about their dad?

“The narcissist devours people, consumes their output, and casts the empty, writhing shells aside.”
— Sam Vaknin

I am certain I have. And now … now I am done being the amicable one. Just because I can be a bigger person does not mean that I should have to be. Instead, I am not going to focus on being the neutral person.  Not angry. Not adulting. Not rising above. Just neutral. And let it all fall where it needs to.

Cuz I am tired. And I am done.

Hello Darkness … Hello Sunshine

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“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden. It is easier to say, “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken”.”

Do you ever feel like you need a strong hug to help close out what is happening all around you? Even if just for a minute?

I have shared here before the ups and downs of my anxiety and depression.

Years ago, one of the posts I shared was about my anxiety disorder being diagnosed (and later amending that to say what I actually have is panic attack disorder) … and the doctors words from that appointment are never far from my mind.

When you live in chronic stress, it rewires your brain.

“Having anxiety and depression is like being scared and tired at the same time. It’s the fear of failure, but no urge to be productive. It’s wanting friends, but hate socializing. It’s wanting to be alone, but not wanting to be lonely. It’s feeling everything at once then feeling paralyzingly numb.”

Some days, I feel broken.

Others, I feel like superwoman.

I don’t let the hard days break me. I just push through. And the strength to push through really says all you need to know about me. I persevere. Depression may hit me … but I always hit back.

A friend shared about me in a small group and said:

“The thing about this one (nodding towards me) is that she can be going through something incredibly gut wrenching, and she will tell you about it with a smile and leave you with a glimmer of hope and optimism. ”

I do not let the darkness consume me.

In a way, being so acutely aware of your ups and downs is a gift. When I begin to dip down too low … I see it. I can see the triggers. I can meditate. Take a nap. Sit out in the sunshine and soak in the heat. I can snuggle my boys … I can go to a doctor and say I am not myself.

My doctors prescriptions never change a whole lot. Are you eating right? Active? Getting your vitamin d? Are you sleeping? Mediating? Walking away from the computer? When is the last time you got a massage? Read a book?

I can identify the triggers. And I know where I begin to spiral. One word. One thought … and it begins to spin and gain speed. I have to force my brain to stop racing. I have to focus on one thing.

I have so much anger at times towards my ex and yet … I am friendly with him. I departmentalize.  I put things into boxes and leave the issues there, tucked away, until I feel strong enough to face them.

Is this a strength? No … I think it is merely a coping mechanism.

This past week I have realized I am treating myself like a fragile item … in need of sleep. Rest. Water and sunshine. Soothing music. Lighthearted TV. Pampering and chocolate.

My mom and my boyfriend both see it and let me rest … and I am so grateful to them both.

I have had moments I truly feel as if I can break.

And maybe finally that is ok. Maybe it is time for all of that to come out and shatter my world a little. Maybe it is time to welcome the dark and navigate through it. And work my way back to the sunshine … which thanks to my hardships never strays far from me.

I am bent, but not broken. I am scarred, but not disfigured. I am sad, but not hopeless. I am tired, but not powerless. I am angry, but not bitter. I am depressed, but not giving up.”

When We Give a Voice to the Things

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From my Spidey….

I plan to use D.A.R.E. to keep myself and those I know and see doing something harmful to themselves or others safe. I want to keep them  safe and to teach them about what drugs can do to them and to stop bullying.I know how bad bullying can be because I used to be bullied. It made me feel sad and angry all at the same time. I also know how bad drugs are because someone in my family became addicted and they lost their house and their family and still kept using the drugs that were making them sick. I don’t want that to ever happen to me or to anyone else I know.

This past week Mason was telling me about things his dad has said to him.  Nothing earth shattering … but rude and ridiculous.

Cap: Daddy, I’m cold.

Dad: Deal with it.

Cap: Daddy I have to use the bathroom.

Dad: Hold it. Toughen up.

Cap: Daddy, please don’t smoke in the car with me.

Dad: Deal with it.

My kids are still dealing with the consequences of having an addict as a parent.

Spidey, who saw too much. Cap, who is still sensitive to too much. And a dad … who is narcissitic, rude, oblivious, and quite honestly … brain damaged from the amount of alcohol he consumed.

While he has stayed clean, the personality is still there. The bit of reasonable love and compassion he used to show is gone.

Or was it really ever there?

I have so many terrible memories. Beautiful moments marred with hate and disease.

And my kids do too.

I used to tell my boys to talk it out and share with me. To keep it to ourselves. I was there safe place and not everyone else needed to hear about all the yuck.

I didn’t want the ugliness of the truth out there.

And there are still so many terrible moments I have not shared here.

Screaming. Throwing glass near enough me to shatter and scare me … but not hit me. A fist through the wall right by my head. Screaming at me inches from my face while spit sprayed at me.

I gave myself a voice. I began to share. My story … which begins way way back with the piece I called “Spin Out” would begin the process of becoming empowered, awake, and healing.

And my kids need that safe space too.

Spidey won an award for one of the best essays in his class for the essay that included the paragraph I shared here. I realize, he has really mature and adult awareness of the reality of addiction. Cap doesn’t… he questions a lot and doesn’t comprehend the way Spidey and I react to things.

But he is aware of the lack of maturity his dad displays and he doesn’t feel safe with him.

Maybe he never will. I never will again … and that is despite hoping for the best for him and most of the time being able to be friendly to one another.

The consequences of my marriage to him include lawsuits for debts he was to pay and has not, taxes I am still paying off, a constant barage of the injustice of child support even though not once has he paid what he should be paying me.

For me, this has manifested as panic attacks I cannot seem to reign in. Getting through the day at the moment is a miracle.

But our kids … he is robbing his own kids … robbing them of time with me (their only active parent) as I juggle three jobs and robbing them of experiences they should get to have simply because I can’t afford them.

But the worse thing? He is still hurting them with his words.

I realize now I need to let my kids be more empowered to share and speak out. Their voice, just like mine, needs to be heard not only so others can understand the realities of what addiction can do … but also, they still have a lot of healing to do.

It is time for me to give them both a voice … and to stop hiding all the ugly truth.

 

 

A Moment in Time

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In a single moment, the entire course of a persons life can change.

As I have reflected on my marriage, on addiction, and on codependency I have known where the seeds of change began. I know that the tough questions friends asked began to open my eyes. I know that my love affair with running helped me break away and focus on just me … breaking a cycle of codependency that had been in place for years.

There are many ugly truths about living with an addict that I have not shared. Some of them because I feel ashamed I stayed as long as I did. I knew that the situation was bad.

I have a sort of clarity now … I can list many many things that were terrible. Many moments that should have been my last straw. But really … it comes to this one.

I was in bed. I had begun to lock the door and sleep in a room with the boys because I wanted to keep them safe and away from their dads drunken state. I would play soothing music loudly to drown out the sound of his delusional rantings and the sounds of vomit when he had finally had too much.

At some point in the night, I must have gotten up to use the bathroom and forgot to lock the door because I felt his weight crash on the other side of my bed. I was aware he was there and so very annoyed. And worse, panicked. Panic that he was in my space.

I remember that I pretended to be asleep hoping that he would leave me alone.

And it worked … until at some point he had settled into sleep and I could hear him gurgling … sputtering … choking.

He was choking on his own vomit.

I quickly rolled him onto his side and whacked his back a few times until a huge coughing fit followed.

I had saved his life, and immediately, I regretted it.

I remember thinking if I had  just not been there, he would have died. And he would finally be at peace. And so would I.

That moment was the beginning of the end of my marriage … and the day I saved my boys and my own lives. It was the day I chose life … and said goodbye to death and rot.