Identity Crisis

April 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-who-you-question-image20599672

 

Disclaimer: This is long.  Once again it’s a whole week’s worth of blogging in one post.  Brevity is apparently not my gift at the moment.  I’m either saying nothing or saying everything these days.  For those of you who take the time to read this—thank you.  I continue to be blessed for each and every one of you.

 

I’ve been struggling with a major depressive episode for several months

I’ve been trying to figure out what is going on and why this has happened

Because I need to fix it, get out of it, move on from it

It’s hanging over my head like the biggest black cloud I’ve ever experienced

And it has no name

It’s undefined

That’s the worst part

Why are you there?? …..I keep asking

What is this about??

I feel like I’m being stalked by a black rain cloud

That hides behind doors and hovers over windows

But never tells me why it’s there

I picture it like an old movie where some stranger in a long black trench coat

Stands under a street light smoking a cigar

But you can’t quite make him out

He’s just a shadow

Sometimes I think he’s gone and then I can feel him watching me

I turn back and there he is again

Always walking a few feet behind me

Never telling me what he wants

Just hovering there to let me know he won’t leave

This is what the depression is like for me

Some stalking stranger who refuses to come out in the light and name himself

Who refuses to just make a demand and tell me what he wants

He won’t communicate

Only hover

And leave me wondering if he’ll ever leave

 

My mom struggled with depression

When she was on medication—she was fine

But when she went off it—an entirely different person emerged

Someone who would sit in the back closet and cry

Someone who would close all the blinds

And hide in the back room refusing to come out for days

Once when I was away at college

I tried calling my mother for two days with no luck

So finally I called the neighbor and asked them to start knocking

Or call the police

Not too long after that, Mom called me

And she was angry

She said she was fine but had gone into one of her ‘phases’

And that she would be unable to answer the phone or the door

Until the “phase” was gone

So please don’t call the neighbors again

After that, I made her promise to let me know

When she was planning to crawl into a cave and become unreachable

So I wouldn’t worry

And she did

A few times a year, Mom would call me to let me know

I would be unable to reach her until she came out of the “cave”

That’s just the way it was

 

I didn’t understand it until I got older

And sometimes I felt the same way

I found I could fight off the dark stranger using strategies and prayer

Only sometimes I couldn’t

It was as if he was getting stronger over time

 

When my husband left me, I became no match for this fight

I went on medication and even that could barely help

I turned to food which I found to be more effective in managing depression

And I became dependent on it

My weight soared and soon I found myself trapped

In a prison of my own making

If I wanted to go into a cave like my mother had

Well….mission accomplished

Because now the cave was my body

And I hid inside of it all the time

 

No one could see me anymore

Not really

Because I was now trapped inside of the prison my body had become

So even when the depression lifted

I still could not come out

Trapped in a body that fit no where anymore

Trapped inside of a body that  ironically made me more invisible

The bigger I got

People less interested in wanting to know me

Men especially looking past me as if I didn’t exist

 

In the beginning, it depressed me more

But then I found safety in it

I found a way to make it ok

I decided it was better like that

I had been hurt and barely survived it… I decided

I didn’t want to get hurt again

I didn’t need men to see me

I didn’t need ANYONE to see me

People hurt you

So who needs them…..I thought

I have Reeses and Kit Kats and ice cream

And McDonalds

I have my recliner and netflix

And I have my kids

I  can’t do much with them physically anymore

But I will try to be the best mother I can be

That’s my mission now

That’s my purpose

This is what I decided

And I determined that part of my life

You know….romance, dating, marriage

Yeah—That’s over now

I decided that back in 2006

That part of my life is finished—I determined

Done at 33

And now this is my life

So I’ll make the best of it

 

I decided that my purpose was to raise my children

To dedicate my life to them

And that’s what I’ve done

Completely alone for the past 7 years

I love my kids and they are my life

They are my reason to live and breathe

LITERALLY

 

When I was in middle school growing up

My mother and father got divorced

My dad remarried

But not my mother

She told me, “Holly I will never so much as have coffee with another man”

She said “You are my priority now”

And she meant it

She struggled and our relationship was tumultuous at times

But at the end of the day, I knew I could count on my mother for anything

Because she had made me her whole life

 

It put pressure on me though

Because I knew that my mother’s very existence was all about her children

So I lived in guilt when I chose to get married and move away

She felt that I was leaving her

At first she boycotted the wedding refusing to come at all

Finally she relented but she told me that I had severed part of our relationship

By marrying someone she did not approve of

By choosing the wrong path

 

My mom had strict standards for me

I was supposed to become a doctor or lawyer

I wasn’t supposed to get married and have children

Until I had secured myself professionally

My mother worked hard to put me through college

And she had not fulfilled her own dreams in life as she wanted

So now all her hope was in me to do things differently

And then I got pregnant soon after I graduated college

And I married the father even though we had only dated for 3 months

He was in the Army and I began a life of traveling

My mother was so disappointed in me that she vowed to never get over it

And she never did

At one point, my mother refused to speak to me for 18 months

Because I had become everything she never wanted

 

I didn’t work

I stayed home with my children

I became what I thought my husband wanted me to be

The best possible wife I could

Cooking, cleaning, homeschooling

And caring for my children

That was my identity

That is who I was

Who I wanted to be

But when he left me

I felt like I failed at that too

 

The feelings of rejection and humiliation

That overwhelmed me during the divorce

Took me to an all time low in my life

I feared that I would be alone for the rest of my life

I’m in no shape to be single again.…I said to myself

My Nana told me it was best to give up the idea of men altogether

“You’re damaged goods now, Holly” she would say

“You’re not marketable anymore”

Because I was over 300 pounds and had 4 children

That part of your life is over now—they told me

 

When my husband left me, I felt so humiliated

I wanted to do something about it

I wanted to go out and find someone

ANYONE

Just to prove to him that I could

To prove to him that if he didn’t want me….someone else would

I even told him that

That I could find someone new if I wanted

I was so desperate to prove to him that I wasn’t unloveable

 

I tried in the beginning to date out of desperation

Hoping someone would still want me

Only I came to the quick conclusion that he was right

Because no one did

He moved out slowly it seemed

Coming by every week to pack up a few more things

Every time he came by the house to take more things away

It was like watching him take one more piece of my life out the door

 

I remember how he would show up at the front door

Dressed in a new outfit

Looking happier each time I saw him

His life was starting anew

While mine was ending

He spent a few minutes in the house gathering more pieces of our life

While I changed diapers and made bottles

Wondering if anyone would ever love me again

 

I scurried around signing up for Eharmony and Christian dating sites

Desperately wanting to cast a net and see if anyone would be interested

Each day I realized more and more that I was “unmarketable” as Nana had said

People wanted “full length pictures” on the profiles

There were sections for weight like “Slim” , “Toned” and “Curvy”

But I was beyond all of those

There was no checkbox for “I’m obese—please love me anyway

 

People would tell me my kids were “baggage”

And that is when I pulled out of the game completely

Because I might have felt unloveable and damaged and unmarketable

But my KIDS were the true treasure

And they were NOT baggage

They were the blessing

They were the gift

And I knew right then that I was done

Because I didn’t care at that time if I had to beg someone to love ME

But my kids would NEVER beg

They were the ones who deserved the real thing

And I decided in that moment to follow my mother’s lead

To give up the idea of men forever

And dedicate my life to my children

 

Food became my best friend

My husband would stop by to visit the kids

And bring me a Dairy Queen blizzard

Saying “No one wants you.  Just keep eating

So I settled into my Candy Land existence

Where food loved me more than men

And I decided that was fine

 

I felt like I had failed at being a good wife

So all I had left…was being a mother

And I would be the best mother I could be

I swore off men like my Mom did

No new damage”, Mom would always say

 

My Mom and Nana vowed to help me in any way they could

From afar…because they didn’t live near me

Long distance…because their health wouldn’t allow them to do more

But they helped me when I needed it

And they promised to continue doing so

As long as I NEVER depended on a man again

As long as you promise to never date or remarry, Holly….

Then we will always be there for you…they both said

But they told me I needed to understand

MEN ARE BAD NEWS

And I must promise to never get involved with one again

Because look what happens when you do, Holly

See what a stupid mess you made out of your life for trusting a man?

So if you want our help you must promise to be done with men  

 

Hadn’t my Mom and Nana always warned me

About men while I was growing up?

My mom’s father had abandoned her as a child

Her husband had left her

I warned you about men, Holly….she said

But I didn’t listen

And now look what happened

Now you’re all alone with 4 kids

And we’re left to clean up your mess...they said

“When will you ever learn???”, Mom cried

 

If I wanted their help, I had to swear off men forever

And I did

Because now I had food

Kit Kats and Reeses

I wasn’t allowed to date

Or even consider the possibility of a man being in my life

And I decided it didn’t matter anyway

Because I had tried briefly in 2006 to see if anyone was interested

And they weren’t

I might be alone

But I could eat

And 100 more pounds later, food had become my spouse

My body a prison

But also a shelter from the world

 

And now I was over 400 pounds

A safe distance from most any man

Because no one could see me anymore

I was hidden inside that exterior

I was invisible to men

Only a few even looked my way for years and years

And once it became harder to walk

I stayed inside more and more

Driving the kids places but barely getting out of the car

Even when I went places

No one approached me….few wanted to befriend me

I seemed to float through existence unnoticed

Stared at many times because of my size

People taking second glances with shock

But other than that….I just lived inside my head

Me, Myself and I

 

I tried to make my life complete by filling it with food

And Netflix

And the hope that I could be a good mother

But the bigger I got, the harder it became to even do that

My mother loved me very much

But it deeply bothered her that I couldn’t control my weight

She would call me upset and crying telling me it was all HER fault I was like this

That she must have gone wrong in her parenting somewhere

For me to have turned out this way

 

Every year I got bigger

And every year my Mom tortured herself saying it was her fault

Your life is a wreck

You are so huge

You can barely walk

Where did I go wrong??

My very existence stressed her out

A constant reminder that she had failed as a parent

Because of how my life had turned out

 

Just the thought of me was enough to cause her pain

The very sound of my voice could spike her blood pressure

I didn’t have to even say anything other than “Hello”

And it could cause a potential heart attack

Because of how deeply disappointing I was to her

My mother had to keep a blood pressure monitor by her phone

And wear it every time we talked

Because she said the sound of my voice was enough

To make her blood pressure spike

 

You see, she had worked very hard and sacrificed a lot

To help me

And she continued to do that right up to the end

Always trying to help me and be supportive of me taking care of my 4 children

Sending the kids clothes and whatever they needed

But it pained her greatly to see what I had become

I had such high hopes for you, she would say

You had so much potential, Holly

But now I was an obese single Mom of 4 children

I had finally finished my Masters degree

But none of it mattered

Because I had veered from the path

I had chosen the wrong road

In spite of her wisdom and advice, I had made my own choices

And look how they turned out?

 

Once my mother called me and said

I saw someone that reminded me of you today, Holly

So I thought I would call

That was nice…I thought

Who reminded you of me?…..I asked

Oh, I was at Walmart

And walked past a very large woman

In a dirty T-shirt and unbrushed hair

With a cart full of junk food

And a slew of screaming kids hanging off her

So  I thought to myself

There goes my daughter

 

That was the image my mother had of me I guess

And for the child she had put in some exclusive private school

Paid for private tuition at an exclusive college

The one she’d hoped would become a doctor or lawyer

Was now that ‘big fat lady at Walmart’ you see

And it pained her greatly

 

Sometimes she would  have to hang up on me when we talked

If my voice was causing her blood pressure to spike

Suddenly there would just be a dead line

And maybe an hour later, she’d call back

We might have been just talking about the weather

But that didn’t matter she would say

Just the very act of talking to me

Just the very sound of my voice

Was life threatening to her

Just being aware of how big I was

How much I had failed to meet her expectations

Was enough to potentially send her heart over the edge

 

She had a hard time coming to visit me

Because my presence was a constant reminder of how I had failed in life

And to see me at 400 pounds was just too much to take

She took that personally

She felt it reflected on her as a mother

That it was somehow her fault I had gained all the weight

 

Everything I did

Everything I said

Had to be carefully monitored most of the time

For fear that would be the very thing that would set her off

She prophesied that it would happen

That she would die from a heart attack or a stroke

And in the end it was both

Exactly what she told me would happen

HAPPENED

 

My mother had atrial fibrillation

She told me it caused her heart to beat irregularly

She had to be so careful when she spoke to me

Because it was so tragic to her that I had turned out this way

That it might cause her heart to skip a beat

So it was better that we just talk on the phone

It was better for us to not see each other

Because if she saw how big I had gotten

It might overwhelm her with worry and anxiety

It might cause palpitations or chest pain

And her heart was weak enough already

She often said “You’ll be the death of me”

But I prayed that I wouldn’t

 

Do you remember Elizabeth Edwards?

The wife of John Edwards?

She died on December 7, 2010

My mother felt Elizabeth Edwards was someone she could relate to

And my mother admired her a lot

So when Elizabeth Edwards died, Mom called me to tell me about it

This is what she said…

You know Elizabeth Edwards died today

And she had a really tough life

Her husband cheated on her

She struggled with cancer

But the one thing she could cling to

Was that her daughter waited to get engaged

Until she had already finished her degrees

She is a lawyer

And she’s marrying a doctor

Elizabeth Edwards died happy knowing she could be proud of her daughter

Because her daughter did things the right way

Too bad I will not be able to say the same thing

 

This was one of the very last conversations I ever had with my Mom

Because  exactly 24 days after my Mother said this to me

She had a heart attack

She never got to see the last Christmas present I sent her

You know why?

Because I mailed it late

I had such a hard time getting to the UPS store because of my weight

And I had procrastinated

My gift arrived at her door too late

I couldn’t even do that right

 

Every day I have to live with the knowledge

That she died unhappy with me

And that never leaves my mind

I failed her

I failed my husband

Maybe I’ve failed my children

And no matter how much weight I lose

None of that includes a time machine to go back and fix

The people I’ve disappointed in my life

 

I depended so much on my Mother after my husband left me

And I believe the stress of it led to her death

I tried so many times to lose this weight while she was alive

But I could never do it

And now I’ve lost 225 pounds

And I feel like I’m finally becoming the person she could have been proud of

But it’s too late

Because she’ll never see it

And that’s how it always is with me

Late again…..

Waiting too long to get something done….

One more thing she never got to see come to pass

 

My brother told me that my mother fell when she had the heart attack

She fell and hit her head

I saw a picture of my mother on life support

With a big gash in her head

That image is burned into my mind

My mother was at my brother’s apartment when she fell

We had just spoken on the phone not long before that

We couldn’t talk long because she had just had that cardioversion procedure

Which had supposedly “fixed” her heart

Restored it back to a regular heartbeat

But then we talked on the phone

She heard MY voice

And shortly thereafter, she had a heart attack

 

She hit her head causing a major head wound

She was able to call 911

But in the meantime, she had to lay in a pool of blood on a floor alone

Dying and alone

While I sat here in Texas watching Netflix and eating pizza

Not even knowing what was happening

 

My mother was stabilized for a short time in the hospital

But she asked them not to call me

Because there was nothing I could do anyway, right?

I couldn’t even fit on a plane to come see her

I could barely walk so it wasn’t like I could help her

So she didn’t even want them to call me

Because what was the point?

Maybe I’d done enough damage

And that night she had a massive stroke

She remained on life support for 3 more days

But she never woke up again

 

I never got to have that last conversation with my Mom

That last chance to say I’m sorry and I love you

My mother was on life support for 3 days

And I had plenty of time to get there before she died

But I couldn’t fit on a plane

I could barely walk across the room

So I had to sit here in my recliner and just wait for her to die

Useless to her once again

 

I wonder sometimes if it was that last phone call with me

The sound of my voice

That finally pushed her over the edge

The cardioversion procedure had supposedly fixed the problem

And all it took was one phone call from me to screw it up again

 

If it was merely speaking to me that day

That caused her heart to skip back to irregularity

Then I often feel at times that I am a murderer

That I don’t deserve to enjoy any bit of joy or happiness that my weight loss has brought me

Because I should be in a jail cell right now

For killing my mother

 

My body used to be a prison I could never escape from

My weight felt like a death sentence weighing me down

Now I feel so much better

So much more free

But maybe I don’t deserve it

Maybe prison is where I deserved to be

Maybe it’s where I truly belong

That’s how I feel so many days lately

 

My mother always told me

She would die from a broken heart

From all the people that had left her

From the disappointments in her life

And in the end

I feel that is what happened

 

This journey is a long and winding road

And all the things that bothered me when I weighed 417 pounds

Like these issues with my mother

Are still there

Eating away at me

Because I’m NOT eating away at them

 

If I could eat them away

Everything would be fine

But I won’t do that anymore

So there they go….rising to the surface

Screwing with my head

And now it’s my job to deal with them

 

I’m in counseling

I’m praying

I’m on medication for depression

And every day I’m walking through the valley

And praying God shines the light down to show me the way

 

My prayer  is that I deal with these issues in the right way

Because the right way is not always the easy way

But if I wanted easy

I wouldn’t have signed up for this journey in the first place

So I’ll find my way

I’ll do it how I’ve done it from the start

30 seconds at a time

One foot in front of the other

 

But I’m finding now

There is no finish line

This journey may have no end

Because there’s always some new corner to turn

Some new  issue that rises to the surface

Because it’s no longer being pushed down with food

 

Sometimes I feel like my “issues” are all standing in line

They’ve all taken a number

And now that food won’t silence them

They are ready for me to see them

To handle them

And when I get done with one issue

I have to say

“Next in line”

And here we go again

 

I never realized just how much the food was hiding

Just how many things I had buried under cheesecake

It’s a full time job now digging them up

And facing them

But that’s what I have to do if I want to keep moving forward

 

My mother was probably the most significant and influential person in my life

It was hard for me to share with you some of the more difficult issues we had

Because I love my mother deeply

And I don’t ever want to disrespect her memory

I loved her with every fiber of my being

But I also struggled at times

To find where she ended

And I began

 

My mother had a horrible childhood

She was abandoned by her parents

Raised by people that didn’t want her

She suffered abuse

She went through divorce

My mother had Bipolar Disorder and Clinical Depression

She was one of the strongest women I ever knew

And  one of the most complicated

 

So much of my identity is wrapped up

In who my mother wanted and needed me to be

And the fact that I could never achieve that during her lifetime

 

In some ways the pressure is now gone

The pressure of always disappointing her

Whatever I do, it can’t kill her now

Whatever I say, it can’t affect her

I feel relieved that this is weight is removed from my life

And then guilty because I feel that relief

But at the same time

That pressure isn’t really gone

Because I can still hear her voice

I still know how she would react to different situations

And now I wonder who I am in her absence

Who am I without my mother?

 

I have discovered through counseling that I must look at

The whole picture

All of it

Because I have a tendency to “sugar coat” things to make them less difficult

I’ve learned that sometimes in life we sugar coat our memories

Because it’s easier

Because truth hurts

But sugar is addictive

So I can’t do that anymore

Now the truth must be seen for what it is

No whip cream and hot fudge to make it easier to swallow

 

Truth hurts

And issues are harder to deal with

Minus the chocolate

But regardless of the pain

I will keep facing the truth

Because it’s only in the truth

That we can be  set free

 

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Paula April 25, 2013 at 3:34 pm

My goodness. I know she was your Mom and I intend no disrespect, but WOW. It sounds like she blamed you for her own life. I’m sorry, but from the info you have given us, it sounds like your husband was totally selfish and your Mom was totally selfish. I’m not surprised you have depression thinking about either one of them. When the people who are supposed to love us the most talk to us in that way you begin to think they are right.

My Mom has A-fib, so does my brother, but I have never heard of blood pressure monitors at the ready. From my understanding yes the danger of a blood clot being thrown from the heart is possible, my Mom is on Coumadin for life to prevent that. When my brother went into A-fib the doc said he had something like 48 hours for the heart to correct itself or he should go to the hospital.

It sounds like both of your relatives put way too much pressure on you at all times. The crazy glasses aren’t clean enough story made me very sad. Your Mom was unhappy and tried to blame you because of it.

I tend to be somewhat negative according to my husband, I was raised to think we are not on this earth to be “happy” all the time, and that life would have its problems (Sicilian and Catholic LOL). I don’t think “positively”, but I have to say I am very content with my life. Hopefully your kids, your religion, and your friends can help you get through this episode. I wish all the best for you.

Reply

Jamie April 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm

You have to release your mother. She made her problems YOUR problems. You are not responsible for her death. You are not responsible for her unhappy life. I had a “complicated” relationship with my mother as well. She died of dementia two years ago. You are feeling guilty over things you could not control. You could have been at the perfect weight, done everything your mother wanted you to do, and she would STILL have been an unhappy person. She didn’t deal with her issues, she instead put that burden on you. She decided that it was easier to do that than to face her own problems.

We are all responsible for our own happiness. It is a CHOICE. We cannot choose what happens to us in life, but we ALWAYS have choices about how we deal with it. Your mother made bad choices that were harmful to you. You have come a very long way. You need to love yourself, and release your mother and release the heavy burdens she placed upon you. And most importantly, you need to allow your children to grow up unburdened.

You CAN do this. You CAN choose not to be a victim anymore.

Reply

Joanna April 25, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Honey! Your mother had a mental illness that made her refuse to take responsibility for her life! Please read about narcissistic mothers! Do not take the blame for her life! Your mother was manipulative and jealous of you! Please see someone and discuss this with them!

Reply

Anele @ Success Along the Weigh April 25, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Thank God other people are also saying what I thought, though I’ll admit, I’m SERIOUSLY P*SSED at your mom’s attitude and I’ll leave it at that.

Okay maybe not…don’t you DARE take on her death. I know, easier said than done but we are all responsible for our OWN lives. If she had that much of a problem with you, then she should’ve kept it to herself, mental illness or not. Unless she had Tourette’s, she could control those horrible things for sliding out of her mouth. She definitely projected her wants for her own life on you and the supposed disappointment she felt for you was actually what she felt for herself. That is very obvious. I know you can never un-hear those words she said or stop that reel running through your mind wondering if it was your voice that caused that event but for your own well being and the well being of your children, you have to find a way to try. I’m so sorry for all you went through and the constant beat down to your self esteem with everything your ex and your mom piled on you but prove them all wrong by living your best life.

I’m a dweller, I get it. But I’m trying to change that and yesterday I saw a great quote that said “you can’t enjoy today when you’re worrying about yesterday.” It helped me, I hope it can help you too.

(((HUGS to my hero)))
Anele @ Success Along the Weigh recently posted..Wanna go window shopping?My Profile

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jennxaz April 25, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Not to analyze you but do you think this stems from the rejection from that guy…it seems like it brought up all these old feelings that you had thought you had dealt with..abandonment…and you are rehashing them again. I wish I could give you a big hug because you truly were worked over good by your mom, exhubby and grandma, I so hope you can turn this around and take what you need to do so(meds, God…) You are a beautiful person who truly deserves to live there life..you have so many wonderful years ahead of you and wonderful children to see grow up…as well as give yourself time to grow up that you didn’t get to have. Hugs from AZ!

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Heather C. April 25, 2013 at 5:10 pm

First~ You amaze me. I want you to know that you are loved and thought of OFTEN by someone you don’t even know! (Too bad I’m not an amazing man, right? *smiles*)

Second, let me say that I think the friends who replied above did so with love and good intentions. My intention is not to ‘bash’ anyone. I have suffered from depression and anxiety and understand that it is NOT a choice. Certainly, you would never CHOOSE to be so miserable. So- get that out of your head!! Jamie means well, but she just doesn’t understand. And…. Joanna recommended that you see someone to discuss this with them….uh….you ARE….and that was clearly stated in the post, so apparently that escaped her.

Third, I think I’m defensive on your behalf because I understand how fragile you are right now, and I’m praying for you, I “feel” your pain, and it DOES get better. It just takes time. God’s time. And I know each minute you are suffering it feels like FOREVER. You think there will never be an end. You think that God has forgotten about you even though you’ve been an amazing disciple, but He hasn’t. Holly~ I wish I had all your answers. I would take away the pain you’ve endured. Right now I can just be supportive and let you know that someone is here for you.

Finally, I don’t know how many posts you will receive when “the goin’ gets tough” but I can tell you from experience that in the TOUGH TIMES, you find out who your ‘real’ friends are. God weeds out the people who don’t belong in your life. It’s another life lesson in the midst of crisis (go figure- He thinks we’re SOOOOO strong!!) It will be ok Holly. I promise it will be ok. God bless you. I will be praying for you, even if you don’t feel it right now.

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Faith April 25, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Im thinking about you, Holly and I wish there was more I could do or say. I emailed you the other night, hopefully it made it to you, it says more than what I can put into words right now after this heart wrenching post. Just know that you are loved very much by many.

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Pam April 25, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Oh Holly, you have been through so much agony and disappointment and are living with so much guilt, it makes me sad. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t suffer from depression if they had been through all this–I’m pretty sure I would need medication if all these things had happened to me. My parents were not happy about my weight, and I wish more than anything they could see me now so they would be proud of me for losing it, and sometimes I think they can. But they were never judgmental nor did they give me the feeling that they were disappointed in how my life turned out.

I too, wish I could give you a big hug and tell you that even when you weighed 417 pounds, you were YOU, and YOU are a good person who has a capacity to love, to care for others, and do not deserve what has happened to you. I used to worry that my husband would leave me because of my obesity or have an affair. He never did though and has often told me he loved me no matter what size I was. I am a very lucky woman. But when I would think about him leaving me and divorcing me, I would think to myself, “I’d almost rather he die than leave me, I could deal with that better.” I was truly evil, wishing that rather than him leaving me, he would die. Well now I’m living with that reality, and his terminal cancer diagnosis could easily tailspin me into eating and regaining, but I refuse to let that happen. Just like he loved me through my fat years, I will stay strong and be there for him when he gets sick. But you know what, now if I could have my ‘druthers’, I’d druther he’d have left me….because this cancer reality just sucks. And I realize finally that I love him enough, my sincerest wish for him is that he be happy and have a long life. So I’m going to do my darnedest to make sure he’s as happy as possible!
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Amy April 25, 2013 at 6:16 pm

This must have been so hard to write, but like so much else that you’ve done it IS helping other people and I very much hope that it is helping you. God knows that we are all flawed in our own ways and no one has perfect relationships with partners or families. Reading your words I can’t help but think that it just wasn’t fair; the expectations that you never could have lived up to, the idea that someone else’s happiness was tied to your actions – and the bad luck to have to deal with that from a parent and a spouse. I’m guessing that you would never put your children in that position, that they must achieve x, y, or z otherwise you will be disappointed and unhappy? It’s one thing to outline your wishes for them but quite another to not accept if they veer away from what you wanted for them. No doubt your mother loved you and was a good person and did what she could but we can be hurt deeply by people who don’t really mean us harm. During a heated discussion about my low grades from college my mother made an off-hand comment about my ending up homeless or on welfare. That was devastating to me and later when it was brought out in a therapy session my mother honestly had no memory of having said it. She was frustrated that I was suffering (depression) and she was probably subconsciously trying to motivate me, to nudge me in the right direction. Even knowing that, 18 years later the memory can still bring me to tears. It’s really a struggle but I am trying very hard to be healthy for ME, not because I am disappointing other people (although I know that I am) so I am trying to dig out from the oppressive feelings of worthlessness. Thank you again for reminding those of us with depression that we aren’t alone, and we aren’t irreparably damaged.

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Sarah April 25, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Oh Holly. I’m so sad for you.

It sounds to me (ever the optimist looking for the good in others) that your mom loved you intensely. Like every mother, what she must have wanted most was for you to be happy. Unfortunately she just didn’t have a good way of listening to what would make you happy and projected her expectations of happy lives onto her dreams for you. Other than her mental health issues, the real thing that was breaking her heart was that you were so desperately unhappy yourself.

I know that your mom is watching you from Heaven and she is beyond proud of how much you have accomplished and her only wish is that you continue to find the happiness you deserve. xxx
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Sheila April 25, 2013 at 7:32 pm

I have no coherent words Holly for you. I just wanted to say how brave you are for blogging about this complicated relationship you had with your mom. I have faith that God will shine that light down on you, find you in the valley and lift you up out of the darkness you are in. Hugs, and just know that people are thinking of you and praying for you.
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Tess April 25, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Hugs to you, my friend. I wish I could be there in person to help you. You’ve helped so many people, and so many people want to help YOU. Feel the love from others, it’s all there for you.

I really don’t know what to say after this post, it was heartwrenching to read, I’m sure it was very difficult to write. You WILL get through this, it WILL get better! Please know that we are here for you, so even if you want to post seemingly meaningless things, do it! Love to you, Holly!!

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Samantha April 25, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Thinking of you Holly. I wish I knew the right words to make you feel better, but I don’t. So I will just say that what you have accomplished is so amazing and I think any mother would be proud of you. Hang in there.
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Mari April 25, 2013 at 8:31 pm

My Dad has A-fib. I’m a nurse and I take care of lots of people with A-fib. It can cause irregular heart beats but it doesn’t cause someones heart to stop beating just because they are disappointed in them.
I would say your Mom had lots of emotional issues, probably because of the way she was raised. It wasn’t fair of her to put that responsibility on you and it WASN’T YOUR FAULT!!!
I think you are amazing! You have been through so much in your life, and you’ve chosen to pick yourself up, take care of yourself and your kids and in a most impressive way you have lost weight.
I’m proud of you!
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tricia April 25, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Im sorry you had to be made to feel that way.. I dont mean to be rude but mothers should exept there children no matter what and some of those things that were said to you were verbal abuse…

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LHA April 25, 2013 at 11:54 pm

How very sad that your mother, through her own mental illness, made your life one filled with guilt and shame. I would like to applaud you for finding the strength to get out of the very compromised situation you found yourself in after she died and your husband deserted the family. I don’t know how many people would have found the courage and strength to do that.

I have to agree with those who have stated that your mother put a very unfair burden on you to live up to her expectations. You cannot do anything about that now, nor could you have then. You could not change her depression and unhappiness no matter what you did. As a mother, you have done amazing job of raising your own children and have not followed the poor example set by your mother. This is something you can be incredibly proud of.

Depression and anxiety are so difficult to overcome. You have my sympathy and I know all of your readers send their support to you over the miles. You are important to many people, your children more than anyone else. I hope you can find it in your heart to rise above the very unfair hand that life has dealt you and continue on your journey. You are truly amazing in what you have already accomplished! It is almost unthinkable that a mother and also your husband have treated someone who is so lovely in such a callous and uncaring way. It is easier said than done, but shed the hurt and pain that has been inflicted on you and enjoy your wonderful children and the new life you have earned for yourself. You deserve happiness! Continue to work with your therapist and psychiatrist and keep walking into the light. It is where you belong!

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Cindy April 26, 2013 at 12:33 am

Hi Holly – When you say you want to be transparent, you mean it! Your story continues to amaze me….the suffering, the hurt, the immense pain, and then, your reliance on what the LORD is doing in your life. I pray that as you work with your therapist and MD the depression will lift and you can come to terms with your family relationships. You have made a 180 degree change in your life, much has happened in a relatively short time, and it will take time to process. Just want you to know you are loved by many and I am truly blessed to have found your blog!

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Tanya Doyle April 26, 2013 at 1:36 am

Hi Holly,
Your mom loved you the best way that she could, but that doesn’t mean you were loved as fully as you deserved to be. It sounds like you’re aware that your mom projected her anger and insecurities onto you. Wouldn’t it be great if, with that realization, came healing? But no matter how logical and rational the head may be, the healing psyche seems to never be on the same page…my heart goes out to you.

Tanya

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Staci April 26, 2013 at 2:53 am

I think it was very therapeutic of you to blog this and get things off your chest and into reality. I love my mom dearly, but if you’ve seen things I’ve said about her on my blog then you know that we have issues. I LOVE HER… yet sometimes I wonder if I will cry when she dies. That just sounds SO AWFUL. But it’s a complicated relationship. She can be so rude and mean to me in one breath and turn around and call me Cinderella in the next. Wha???? Anyway, I guess I don’t have any great words of advice for you other than keep blogging the memories away. Love ya!
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Inga April 26, 2013 at 3:05 am

Holly, I know you loved your mother and she loved you in her own way, but she was abusive as abusive to you as your ex husband. Emotional abuse is real.

I hope that with the therapy and meds, you will understand that you Holly, are a unique, beautiful and highly intelligent young woman. I have daughters your age and if you were my daughter, I would be SO VERY VERY PROUD of you and your accomplishments. You are overcoming so much, I know it will take time, but please know from the bottom of my heart, you are a kind decent gorgeous woman, MOST mothers would be proud to call their own. I wish I could be there to wrap my motherly arms around you and tell you what an incredible human you are.

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Laurakw April 26, 2013 at 3:41 am

Holly – I’m not sure that I have any words of wisdom to impart, but I know when I “hear” pain, and I feel the need to reach out to you. Life is real and Life is good. Life is messy. Life can be painful & maybe even more so when we find ourselves in a depressed state. But even in the darkest times, God is there, walking with us & I believe that He is bringing revelation and eventually healing to you, and He is bringing people in to your life to help you through this. He sees your true worth; He has made you & He knows you. He loves you. Reading your posts, I know how much you loved your mom, and how much you love your children. Maybe you need to work through all this “crap” to see how loved you are in order to love yourself. When you can love yourself, what a wonderful gift you give to your children! I don’t have the answers – I know you can’t just “snap out of it”, but surrounding yourself with people that care for you & can walk with you through this journey – hold on to them, and fight! You are an encouragement to so many – and honestly, when I hear your words, I don’t see a 400+ pound person or a 200 pound person – I just see your heart, and it is truly beautiful!! Holly – thank you for being brave enough to share.

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Amanda April 26, 2013 at 3:46 am

Holly, I am in awe of your strength. You are amazing, and the more I read your blog, the more I learn about your life, the more I am in awe of what you have overcome in your life.

It sounds like you are God’s chain-breaker. Which is great for your kids, but sucks for you. See, a chain-breaker is the person who breaks the chain of abuse in a family history. We all have heard that hurting people hurt people. Abused children often grow up and become abusive parents, whose children abuse their children, and so on. Someone has to stop the cycle. Someone has to break that chain. It seems to me that God see’s you as the strong one, and He is using you to end this tragedy.

I am so sorry for the pain you are in. But I am so happy for your kids, because the insanity stops HERE! You are the generation where this stuff ends. You are the woman who says “No more!”, and does whatever it takes, to be the healthy parent, not just physically, but emotionally as well.

So I applaud you! Your children and grandchildren are going to have a VASTLY different life than your mom or you had, they will see themselves and the world in a totally different way. All because of the stand you are taking now. You are a warrior, Holly. And nothing you could EVER have done with your life, from writing the next great American novel, to becoming a doctor, a scientist, making a million dollars, NOTHING can compare to what you are doing, to what you have already done. You are breaking the cycle of abuse in your family. There is NOTHING more worthy a mother could do, for her children, or the generations to come.

You are amazing, Holly. AMAZING! You are a pioneer, and you are changing EVERYTHING! Someday your kids will see the big picture. Hopefully someday YOU will see the big picture, and see what you have accomplished, and how magnificent it is, how vital, how precious.

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Natalie April 26, 2013 at 3:47 am

I want to say some really horrible things about your mother right now, but that wouldn’t be fair because she had a mental illness and also was the product of her own horrible childhood.

But it wasn’t your fault.

No, really.

It wasn’t your fault.

Other people’s problems weren’t your fault.

The people you do have a lot of influence over are your kids. And they are turning out pretty well, aren’t they?
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Amanda April 26, 2013 at 3:50 am

Hey girl, one more thing, THIS is who you are…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSIVjjY8Ou8

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Denise April 26, 2013 at 4:04 pm

that was a beautiful song……truly. I hope Holly sees it, hears it, and remembers to believe it……even when things are dark.

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Nicola April 26, 2013 at 5:34 am

This post made me so angry, Holly. Angry that you would take all of this on. Angry that you would believe that your actions and decisions had any bearing on your mother’s death AT ALL. No wonder you’re depressed if this is what’s constantly circling around in your head right now.

I can recognise the depression reflected in what you wrote, that black cloud sucking the positivity out and magnifying every negative thought you’ve ever had until you believe that you deserve to feel like nothing.

YOU DON’T. You are a good person who has made mistakes. Do you deserve to be punished? No. Have you fought your way out of the pit before? Yes. Will you do it again this time? YES.

I know what it feels like to never be able to please the one person in your life who should love you unconditionally, and even though our relationship has gotten better over the years, it still hurts that no matter how hard I tried, I still couldn’t be what she wanted me to be.

But that’s not my fault. It’s her fault, her choices, her prejudices, her life experience talking. You can never live your life FOR another person or THROUGH another person, you can only live your life for YOU. Don’t feel guilty that to some degree your mother’s death enabled you to do that. That the loosening of her stranglehold on your thoughts and emotions made you feel freer and less judged.

Remember all the good you have done, all the things you have accomplished and the lives you have touched. Look at your brother, your kids and see the light shining through the storm clouds. Reliving your darkest thoughts and emotions only strengthens the depression. You will NOT let it win, because it doesn’t deserve to.

Why not think about and focus on something that is going well in your life or your brother’s life or with your kids? It may be an effort, it may be more than you think you can stand right now, but try and focus on the little things, the good things. You CAN do it. The light is still there, it’s just hiding behind the clouds.

You WILL find it again.

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Ladora April 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Wow what a story! Similar in so many ways yet so different! Your courage and now faith is inspirational to us all. Continue to tell your story and encourage others and give us all that hope that one day we will be unleashed from our own self!!! Thanks and you are doing an amazing job!!! Im on my journey and hope to one day get released from the 300’s! 301 today from 389 my highest recorded weight. I want to be free…I am free after reading this today!

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Lara April 26, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Holly, my mom and I have a similar relationship. The words she speaks about my WL and WG have always been hurtful, but I know in her heart she only wants the best for me. I’m sure your mother was the same way. Not realizing how hurtful her words were, but that she wanted a happy, healthy daughter. I lost 80 lbs from VSG so far, and my mother said “I hope you don’t gain it all back, AGAIN”. I just took it for what it was. In her way it was an congrats that you lost weight.

I hope you know how much you inspire me personally. Thanks for hanging in there and posting your journey. It really means a lot.

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Kat April 26, 2013 at 2:03 pm

I just want to send you a giant hug. I had tears in my eyes while reading this post.

I have a ‘tumultuous’ relationship with my mom too but or story is different. I had to become a care giver at 19 when my mom had a major heart attack, quadruple by pass surgery and cardiac issues since then. It’s 20 years this year. Since then I have dealt with the struggles of life like you did by eating candy to sweeten the negative & stressful experiences. My mom was divorced too when i was 9 and did the same thing your mom did, swore off men and made me the center of her world, where I still live today. I know the guilt that you speak about, during all the years of taking care of her there have been many battles that I wasn’t doing enough and when I was, she was demanding more and behaving badly while she did it. At times we won’t speak for a long time because she said or did something to hurt me but I keep helping her because I feel indebted to her for working two jobs and giving up her life when i was little to take care of me. She has no one else. Just me.

It’s taken it’s toll on me. I’m in a deep funk right now and I’m looking for a way out. I am beginning to feel trapped in this large body that’s grown around a young girl who had to grow up too fast and has dealt with way too much stress.

I understand where you’re coming from.. HUGSS!!
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Fee April 26, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Oh Holly, I just don’t know what to say… I am thinking of you, sending you love and hugs and truly hope this very rough time you are having will pass!

Remember – You are an inspiration! (you’re my inspiration)

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Jayne April 26, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Holly, I admire as always your willingness to be so very transparent. You are busting through all those painful memories that were buried in the fat and that is hard hard work. I so relate to the challenges you had with your relationship with your mom…..I was always a disappointment to my mother because of my weight…..You are definitely what I would call a forerunner for your family and being a forerunner is not an easy path at all because you are busting up the clods to prepare the soil for new seeds to be planted. Wow I got a little wound up there!!!!! As you know I am pushing through all the emotions that I have buried in my fat and I want to encourage you and tell you that you will come out the other side of this and that strongman who is always lurking around you will be exposed and you will get to a new level of freedom and healing!!! I love you Holly

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Sunny April 26, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Add me to the group of people who are angry at your mom for putting so much pressure on you for HER life.

You did not kill your mother. Your mother was responsible for her own happiness, just like you are responsible for your own. Children are not supposed to owe their parents their lives.

Let me tell you a bit about my son. He was adopted at age 13, and we’d cared for him since age 11. As a result, he of course, knows his birth family. It’s confusing for him…who does he owe loyalty to? He frequently feels torn. His birth mom puts a lot of pressure on him, especially at holidays. So we’ve told him that we want this to be easier on him, and let us know how he wants to handle it. We’re there for him when he needs us…PERIOD.

That, IMO, is what parents are supposed to do. Let those little birdies stretch their wings and fly, and when and if they need us, the nest is warm and dry and ready for them to get some love and shelter.

I’m angry that your mom wasn’t there for you. I’m angry that she expected YOU to make HER happy. I’m angry that she didn’t wrap her arms around you when you were in so much pain.

My son’s life is not what I want for him. He’s an addict, and is working to try and clean himself up. He’s been in trouble with the law. It hurts me that his life is so hard. But that doesn’t make him responsible for my happiness, or the fact that his pain causes ME pain. It hurts me because I love him and I want him to be HAPPY. However happy looks, I want my child to be happy. However success looks for him, that’s what I’ want.

It’s what every parent should want for their child. You made independent life choices that were different from what your mom wanted for you. Surprise for her–you were an ADULT, making ADULT decisions. My dad was a bit like your mom, he wanted me to live my life in a particular way, the way he had set it up in his mind. I moved several hundred miles away and made a life for myself away from him. This hurt him–he couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t live in his backyard and have Sunday dinner with him every week. That was HIS dream, not mine. Children’t aren’t responsible for fulfilling their parents’ dreams.

My hope for you, is that you will have the courage to fulfill YOUR dreams. You are worthy of living a life full of love, and you are worthy of BEING loved. Unconditionally. Which your mom didn’t give you, and for that, I’m sorry.

I hear so much pain, so much disappointment, so much that you tried to to live for other people, other’s expectations (mom, spouse…) but what about what YOU want to do? What about your life, your goals, your dreams. You worth it…in every way.

PS…never, ever look for a man. I tried, it doesn’t work. God will put the right people in your life, at the right time, in His perfect timing. Just wait on him.

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Jen April 26, 2013 at 6:12 pm

I am so excited for you.Know why? With true sincerity,you’re on a sacred path of learning who you truly are.The pure unconditional love you’ve worked so hard to give to your children? that is the love that was so often NOT shown to you.You merely picked up where your mom left off in hating yourself,not accepting yourself for who you are.Not about “blaming” her or anything…just about accepting that that particular voice of criticism is part of the “dark side”,the part that wants to sabotage..you’re healing this now,the true part of you,the Holly that has loved “you” all your life.She’s just as real as those beautiful,lovable children that surround you,waiting for your love.

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Rhonda W April 27, 2013 at 3:07 am

Holly, You are in NO WAY responsible for your Mother’s issues. I find it interesting that you do not in any way want to disrespect her when in fact that is what she did to you continually! I would also be willing to bet that if she were alive today you would still have a weight issue. I’m so sorry for your pain and I know it is hard to see this reality from your perspective… but you MUST let the guilt go. You were not responsible. xoxo

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Danna April 27, 2013 at 4:58 pm

You are enough. You are good enough, you have accomplished enough. Your post brought tears of empathy for you to my eyes. Men are not bad news and if you want to remarry one day, you will. There is nothing in the world that makes you unlovable. I think that you have a remarkable self awareness that will help you weather the storm you are struggling in and come out the other side. Counseling, medication and prayer are exactally what you should be doing. You will not just survive this, you will thrive. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear, contact me….I’m serious. It’s okay to not walk the path our parents dreamed for us. It’s okay. Really.

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Kristen April 28, 2013 at 7:19 pm

There is nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said by others, but if I could give you a big hug I would. No one should have to go through even half of what you’ve gone through and you’ve come out strong and fighting.
Just know that I really admire you! I get along okay with my mom, but I’d have loved to have a mom as supportive and loving as you are to your kids. Your blog is one of my favorites to read and even though I don’t really know you, I hurt for you when you post the things you’ve gone through. I hope you can tell you’ve got a support system here online too!
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Laura April 28, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Welcome back, Holly. The Holly who wrote this blog post, the Holly who has been working to lose weight and to exercise, Holly, the devoted Mother, the Holly who made her own choices, despite what her Mother wanted…that’s the authentic Holly. That’s you. The Holly who has been a victim of her Mother, ex-husband, of feeling that she is only worthy of food for comfort? That Holly is the confused Holly who has been manipulated, beginning at an early age, into not listening and knowing her authentic self.
You are on the right path. You are trying to rise above your demons and you are doing a very good job of it. No, you cannot do it perfectly. You really have no choice but to keep working, working hard at yourself, for yourself, and for your children. Hang in there, Holly. You, (the very authentic you), and your God will provide you with the strength to put one foot in front of the other to do what you need to do to be the best you that you can be.
Have you ever heard of OA? While my life is not like yours, it is like yours in that I needed the support of therapy to discern between my authentic self and the one cowed by “shoulds.” I fight constant chatter in my mind, all of it negative. Therapy helped me till I’d done all of the talking I needed to. Over a long period of time, I learned that I needed *action* OA is a program of action. OA, even though one is to find their higher power, does not take the place of one’s God and one’s religion. It’s just another tool to add to our toolbox. And some of us need a bigger toolbox filled with more tools than others do…that’s all. We’re still good people, we still matter, we still count.
Best wishes and luck to you, Holly. You can do this.
~Laura

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shannon April 29, 2013 at 2:14 am

I am so impressed with your writing, both the quality and the self expression. You have had an adulthood of (inadvertent, unintentional) abuse. You have so much self awareness and honesty that you will break the cycle and have a rich life while allowing your children autonomy and independence.

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Jodi April 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm

There is a book that might help you:The Healing Codes by Alex Loyd. Look it up on Amazon. It helps you discover what’s holding you back in your healing. And I have to say: you had a mother but you are not your mother. You deserve love in your life. Let it in and start with you. <3

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Joyce April 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm

And it is time to unwrap the identity of what you think your mother wanted you to be and allow yourself to follow HOLLY’s path. What does Holly want for her life? After two divorces, I told the counselor,”i am afraid to date.” She asked why and I said, “I am afraid of hurting somone.” “I am afraid if I say no, I do not wish to continue dating him, that I will hurt him.” She told me, you do not hurt them, it is how THEY choose to take it. You must be yourself. That struck home for me in more ways than one. I started looking at myself differently……instead of trying to see myself from others “eyes”, I looked at me….really looked. And I found my own path, the path that was just for me…..for my life journey. And I started to follow it. I lost a so called friend because of it, but then I realized our friendship was founded on the wrong things. On this new path, I gained a love for myself and new friends. Your mother went thru a lot, but your life is your journey. Holly, I will be praying for God’s guidance and vision for you on Holly’s journey. Love you!!!

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