Just A Little Update on Us....

We have had a laid back summer. We started out with vacation in Hilton Head Island, SC. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there, but we agreed that it's just not that easy to get there and if we are going to the beach in the future we will stick with the Gulf. I have only been working one or two days a week and have thoroughly enjoyed my time at home with the boys. It's great that they are getting older and more independent.

The boys have  (sort of) practiced math and reading over the summer, especially Carter. He needs to master his multiplication tables so we have worked quite diligently on that. We had a summer reading chart that was going really well, then life happened and even though Carter reads everyday and both boys are read to every night, I haven't been keeping track quite as well. We have had frequent trips to the Adventure Science Center, Circus World, playgrounds and the pool. The boys are finishing up swimming lessons and I am hoping Carter is not far away from being able to pass the swim test at the Y.

It's hard to believe that I will soon have a 4th grader and a Kindergartner. Yikes!

My weight loss journey has been pretty much stuck since my last updates. It doesn't mean I haven't been working on stuff, just trying to take the steps forward to health. Life keeps getting in the way, as it always does, but by no means does it mean my desire to be healthy has waned. I have a great trainer that I meed with twice a week, I am still in counseling (although not as frequent), I have been doing a summer group with some gals from church going through a great healthy body image study. I am also considering my options for getting healthy for good. Since I have been working on this for so long, and I don't want to give up, AND  I want permanent change, I am looking at all my options.

Sadly, everything hasn't been smooth sailing this summer. My dad has chronic health issues and this is his second year on dialysis. He's been doing well with that and is looking forward to switching to home dialysis soon. My step-mom had a major health scare in January and had major surgery and spent 10 days in the ICU. My sister and I were at the hospital with dad as much as possible. Thankfully, Linda has made a full recovery. During that time, dad had been diagnosed with pneumonia and the doctor's thought a spot on his lung may be cancerous. Thankfully, with treatment, the spot on his lung shrunk and the doctors felt that there was no cancer. All that was going on while Linda was in the hospital.

Fast forward to summer and my dad ended up in the hospital after an outpatient procedure preparing him for home dialysis. It was scary because they found spots on each of his kidneys, he had every kind of scan and test and after his second day in the hospital with more tests, I drove to Chattanooga to see what was up. Thankfully, the doctor's felt like the spots on his kidneys are cysts and not cancer.  Dad was released a few days later and I decided to visit him at home last weekend to see for myself how he was doing.

Unfortunately, they had gotten some pretty disturbing news at the doctor's office that day. The spot in daddy's lung has more than doubled. Worst case scenario, it is cancerous and it may have spread to his kidneys. Best case scenario would be pneumonia again. Since I wasn't at the doctor with them I really don't know what was going on, but Linda said that the doctor's face and expressions were quite serious. They removed fluid from my dad's lung and sent it off to be biopsied.

That was Friday. Today is Wednesday and we still haven't heard anything. So, I'm sitting here, waiting to hear back from my dad to see if he has cancer.

Kind of puts a negative turn on summer, huh?

I don't know if the scenarios in my head are worse than reality right now, but I don't think my body knows the difference. I can only imagine what dad is feeling. And Linda. At this point, I just want to know. Whatever it is we are dealing with, knowing would be better than the imagining the worst. Plus, we can have a plan.

It just stinks that I am sitting here, waiting to see if my dad has cancer, which would most likely be terminal.

So, I decided to share the journey we have come so far. Even if dad doesn't have cancer (and we are diligently praying he doesn't) his health isn't going to improve over time, unfortunately.

That means my sister and I are dealing with end of life issues with my dad, and that means frequent travel to and from East Tennessee and, in general, just worrying about what is coming next and praying for the best.

So, it's been hard and stressful. Not nearly as much for us as for my dad, but stressful nonetheless. Do we get dad and Linda to move here? Do they stay close to three hours away? How do we handle frequent hospitalization, and other aging parent issues. Linda is still recovering from a quadruple bypass that came with serious complications leaving her weak. Can she care for dad 24/7? How will we know when she can't. They are adults, completely independent, and have their full faculties....the decisions are in their hands.

So, I figured it was time to write, since writing helps me get stuff out. It also brings in prayer and support from others, and I feel that is needed too. Too long we carry the load and  burden all alone and we are so much better working as a team, asking for help, even if that help is nothing more than prayer. But how are going to know what to pray for if we don't share the struggles we are going through.

So, I am sure there will be more updates, more writing and we appreciate even more prayers.

Not Just Another Sappy Love Song...

I know the last few blogs have been full of heavy stuff. An inside to the shame and guilt I've carried throughout out all these years. Today, I wanted to share the picture of love. Redeeming love. I've been working on this blog post for several weeks, and I guess it seems appropriate to finally come all together the day before Valentine's Day.

I have been struggling with my weight for, well, as long as I can remember. I pretty much internalized everything growing up, in regards to negative comments, joking, whatever, regarding my weight. And there was a lot of focus on it. From my parents, extended family and the school and church environment in which I was raised. There were a lot of people who didn't say anything negative about my weight, and attempted to be neutral and supportive, but from 8th grade on, I felt immense pressure (from my family especially), to lose weight. And the tag line always added on for losing the weight was that I was too pretty to be overweight. Often, even with innocent comments in regards to noticing something about my weight, I internalized things very negatively. I own that.

Add to that a very strict, religious environment where you grow up with the same people at church and at school, and where most outside extra-curricular activities are discouraged and well, you grow up in a fish bowl, a very unhealthy fish bowl.

If you had asked me in my 20's if God had a plan for my life and He was protecting me and guiding me, I would have likely said "No". However, I knew deep down that all the messed up stuff I grew up in had nothing to do with the true God. I don't know how I knew that, but even with seeing other people deeply hurt by the church I grew up in, something deep inside me said "this isn't God doing this stuff". Thankfully, God placed in my life, at that time, people who were pivotal in strengthening me and giving me a different perspective. But, I admit that I was hot mess. I was also young, still growing up. I was socially awkward and trying to find my way and I guess my 20's were about survival. And I am very thankful for the people who were my friends and continue to love me through my messes. And some of those include  a couple of the other kids who grew up in that religious fish bowl. So, there is always good. Always. In every situation.

Flash forward to turning 30 and having a decade of growing up, influential (God-placed) people in my life, and I am now in graduate school and living in Nashville. God had placed in my life great friends, a wonderful church,  but there was still the struggle, the self-hate, disgust at myself for gaining so much weight. Low self-esteem. Ugh. I remember so well.

I spent a lot of time stating I was OK and didn't need anybody while desperately crying out for love. I kept people out. I built walls. I can see clearly now it was all a front, and that's why I always, always stepped back into bondage. Even spiritual bondage. The stage was set. It was perfect. I was reaching for freedom, this strong person on the outside. But that hurting person on the inside was clinging to what I knew. What was comfortable. What I knew seemed so much better and easier. I wasn't ready to fully embrace love.

There was a breaking point right after I turned 30 and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I experienced spiritual freedom, healing and restoration and it was just me and God. I was ready to walk away from church and God altogether because I just wasn't going to do the walk anymore when I didn't feel anything. It made me question so much and because of that it led me to a deeper relationship with Christ.

All of this is leading to something. Something good. Now, I know this was part of God's plan. At the time, I didn't. Even though I had gained healing and self-confidence, I wasn't a total hot mess anymore, but I was still a mess.

We are all a mess, if we admit it. It's just better when we get to the point of admitting our shortcomings, admitting our need. This is where the healing begins.

During this time I lost a lot of weight. Because the weight loss program I was involved in was at church and tied to my spiritual freedom, I didn't realize that I was tying my self-esteem and acceptance into my  relationship to God. Which, on the outside, seems great, but what I didn't realize was that I was returning to the good/bad belief system instead of freedom in Christ.

 And as long as I was successful at losing the weight, then I must have been close to God AND successful, beautiful, fulfilled....blah, blah, blah. The principles of this study were good. But, for me, I tied it to my "obedience" and when I gained the weight back I thought God must be mad at me because I chose food over Him. Before I gained all the weight back, I finally felt beautiful.  I felt accepted. I felt loved. AND I WASN'T EVEN SKINNY! Damn it! I've never been "skinny", in all my attempts at weight loss. I admit I am a little bitter, because I have worked HARD and never tasted complete "success". But even still needing to lose the last 40 pounds, I felt so much better about myself. At the time I didn't fully recognize what great work I had done. I just kept thinking about how much more I needed to lose. I wasn't accepting any of it. And really, that's why the weight loss didn't stick.

 It would be YEARS before I realized how poisonous I had allowed this program to affect my relationship with God. I tied my self-esteem and worth into my success. And the religious program encouraged this. If you were seeing results it meant you were relying on God. If you died to self enough, then you would be free. I had no idea something founded in TRUTH could screw me up even more, but it did. I just didn't realize it until years later.

During this time I met this guy named Greg. And even though the lies were and are still in my head, Greg has repeatedly loved them out of hiding and brought them to light. The lies disappear with him. We dated for two years and were married in 2003. I was still a hot mess. And I am so thankful that even in our hot mess God can bless us abundantly more than we could ever imagine.

As much as I always wanted a relationship, if I had met Greg any earlier, it wouldn't have turned out the way that it did. And, if I had allowed the second best in, when I was struggling to find myself in my twenties, I might have settled for something much, much less. So yeah, God has a plan. It's a wonderful mystery and it keeps me believing how BIG God actually is. Because other's stories don't quite add up to the love story I have been given. It serves as a reminder, a humbling, constant reminder that God did have a plan and even through all the teenage angst and pain, I am loved. Which is what God has been trying to convince me of since day one.

                 Celebrating 11 years of marriage with this guy...

Before we were married I had gained all of my weight back. Greg still loved me. I questioned him. He just didn't see the fat. He saw me. And he has always just seen me. Always. He believes I am beautiful, nothing added or taken away like I like to do. Through the years there has been weight loss successes followed by the shameful regain.

 The thing is I was always loved and always had the ability to receive love. I just didn't. And even though the last 14 years with my husband (11, almost 12 years married) has shown me what true, unconditional love looks like, I continue to fight to believe it. The shame dies hard. But, I am finally winning the battle. By understanding that nobody loves me like Jesus and that He wants me to love me like He does. And Jesus blessed me with this great guy who loves me just. the. way. that. I. am. And Greg has continually been Jesus to me, showing me how He loves me. Over and over again.

Through every weight loss, gain, program, counseling, medical intervention, he has been there. Supporting me. Being my cheerleader, not my enabler. And never, not once, EVER has he thrown my weight regain in my face. He's never said, "should you be eating that?" He's never been angry at me because of my weight loss failures. He's just been there. Constantly loving me the best way a human can love another human being. And God has reminded me many times, "this is the picture I want you to see. This is a picture of HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU....when are you going to get it? How loudly do I have to broadcast it. How low do I have to whisper this truth?

To end this post, I am reminded of the very popular John Legend song. Here is the chorus:

'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I'll give my all to you
You're my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I'm winning
Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you, oh...

It's absolutely amazing.  Greg loves all my curves and all my edges. Always has, and I hope always will. He gets extra points for always saying I'm not difficult to live with (yeah, right).

This is as sappy as I get, but I hope it has a much deeper message to you that resonates long past Valentine's Day. YOU ARE LOVED. Period.

Happy Valentine's Day, babe.

I love you, Greg Mayo!

Thank you for loving me!


Today I had to try on dresses for an upcoming wedding in a few days. As I lugged the dresses into the dressing room I told myself not to get depressed if clothes didn't fit. Kind of a mini pep talk to prepare me for what was coming.

All in all, it went well. Some dresses were too small, some fit, and the sizes were varied so all in all a typical trying on session that most people would experience. I even found a cute dress with a shrug and it was on sale. Score!


I didn't really register a change in my overall mood until I went to pick the kids up at the sitter. I had worked today and been away from the boys all day yet, my nerves seemed to already be running thin with them and I had just picked them up. The bad mood continued after we got home. It took a while for me to figure out I was sad. I was feeling upset about trying on dresses and how I looked in them. The fact that the dress I ended up with was a size 24. The fact that I have several dresses in my closet, and some of them may have fit, I didn't try them on yet, but the one I wanted to try on in my closet wouldn't fit because it was a size 18. I wore it to a fancy wedding in 2007 when I was a lot thinner.

My mood progressively got worse. I was snappy with my kids. Angry at my husband. And just plain sad. I didn't really connect my sadness about my weight and the dresses with why I was so upset until we sat down for dinner and I realized I was just tired.  Tired of everything. Tired of preparing meals, listening to kids whine, the routine.  I was unhappy. Deep down inside I was tired of the weight. Tired of losing weight only to gain it back. Tired of feeling like a failure. Tired of wearing a stupid size 22/24. I have been in and out of a 22/24 my entire adult life. I'm sick of it. Tired of thinking that even if lose the weight again, statistics show that I have a 95% chance of regain. And Lord knows, I know something about regain already.

It's times like this, when I think that losing weight for good is impossible that I feel the lowest. I wish I could just make it go away. But that's not going to happen. I have to walk through this road. I have to lose every pound, walk through all the emotional garbage, and get through it.

The only thing is I don't have to do it alone. But inside my head I was alone. And the task was insurmountable. That's why I felt so sad. So unhappy. Overwhelmed.

So after the boys left the dinner table I told Greg what I was feeling. And I started to cry; surprised at the emotional-ness of it all. He asked if I wanted to talk about it and I shook my head no. But the sadness I felt was deep.

Eventually I was able to share how I was feeling with Greg. He opened the door, I just had to pick when I wanted to walk through.

What I have learned in therapy is that I am unhappy on the inside. And no amount of losing weight on the outside is going to make me happy. It's just a whole lot easier to focus on what I can see and be unhappy about it than what I can't see. When I was younger I turned the unhappiness on myself. As a teenager I remember writing horrible things about myself. I would turn all my unhappiness on myself.

Now I know I am supposed to be kind to myself. Love myself. Not criticize myself. Not rip every part of my body that I despise. I'm not supposed to despise my body, I am supposed to be thankful for everything it has done for me. I'm not supposed to tear myself down. And that's hard. It's a lot easier to focus on what I see and is tangible ... like FAT....and focus hate on that rather than owning feelings and emotions.

See, everybody gets tired. Everybody gets worn down. That's why you need a support system. That's why we don't do it alone. This blog helps too. I share my feelings and I am way more transparent online than I am in person. It still shocks me when people talk to me about the blog and I go, 'oh yeah, I said that. Oops!". LOL!

Step by step I am getting there. It's a process. Recognizing that I struggle with depression and anxiety and have to work on those issues constantly rather than focusing on something negative I can see and not deal with the pain. I also have ADHD, and I know a lot of people say they are ADD or ADHD, but for reals, I have been diagnosed and with it a plethora of feelings around low self-esteem, failure, forgetfulness, guilt and shame come from experiences with that too.

And for the first time I am facing them. So I get sad. Add to it life's little stressors (that are also tremendous blessings) and it can be overwhelming. But, face them, I do. And this was one of those days.

I had a visual reminder of why I am unhappy and it led to deeper revelation about what I am truly unhappy about and even though I can't change this phase of life I am in, I know I won't be here forever and dealing with it now brings healing, so that next time, I can move a few steps closer to health.

If you struggle with anything significantly, I'm sure you've figured out that the path to healing is anything but linear. It's does not have a beginning and an end. I've figured out that healing is ongoing and sometimes messy and hard. It's a journey, not a destination. 

Here's to one step closer to healing. 

Love Every Inch!

Today I met a medicine ball during my workout. My trainer introduced us and he said some interesting words. He said I could use the medicine ball to get rid of pent up anger and frustration. I was instantly intrigued.

My trainer went on to explain today I was going to be throwing the ball at the wall. I could picture him there if I wanted (not a chance) or if I was angry at someone or something I could picture it there and work out my frustrations. I thought that was an awesome idea.

Since I have so much anger/shame that has turned inward, I can be kind of intense sometimes. I am well aware of it, have been told that, and have wanted to change that for sometime. Until I realized that I had the power to release all this shame myself, I had no real way of dealing with this deep seated anger. I had no idea that it was my shame that was causing most of the anger and reactiveness. It has been very eye opening and healing to understand where the brunt of this firestorm comes from.

My anger comes out in many ways, but the most frustrating way for me that it comes out is anger or aggravation at the people I love.  I used to bottle of my feelings so much and it would build and build and build that I would take it out on random people. This mainly happened when I was single and didn't have a lot of coping skills yet, plus I didn't have a significant other to project those reactive feelings upon. My immediate family felt the brunt of it during that time, for sure. Ugh, what a mess when I think about it.

Now, I feel my kids get the brunt of my frustration and I really don't like it. It's something I desperately want to change, yet, seem to struggle with each month. While I can see much progress and offer myself grace time upon time again and always apologize to my kids when I am being reactive, it still hurts and I worry the affect it will have on my kids. Maybe some of this resonates with you. My hope in sharing my story is ultimately to help others. Maybe seeing how my anger presents, you can take a deeper look at your own insides and reflect on how to best deal with whatever baggage you have left.

Anyway, getting back to the medicine ball and my workout.... When I was throwing the ball at the wall I pictured the word SHAME. I thought about the ugliness of it, the  years of pent up anger and frustration and I thought about freedom from it. How it no longer has a place inside. The shame needs to get out.

Needless to say, this was very liberating since I am really not angry at people, even people in my past that have hurt me. I've dealt with it and processed it and feel I have healed from it. It was liberating to realize that *I* can own my fear, frustration, shame, embarrassment, negativity. Nobody does those things to me anymore but I turned them so much inside over the years and had such negative talk about myself that it is literally taking YEARS to undo all that damage. I am just at the beginning. 2014 was like an epiphany for me. I have held on to so much negativity in the midst of overcoming a lot of obstacles. I didn't see it. It's like I was working at so hard at succeeding and overcoming that I missed healing the deep, deep insides of me.

I focused so much on the outside, losing weight (then gaining it back), and placed my happiness meter on what I looked like on the outside that I didn't see the hot mess on the inside, even though I knew, deep down, that it was there. When I gained weight I had deeply depressed feelings and I cannot even begin to tell you what I thought of myself. It all goes back to all the negativity during my adolescence and really never getting over that. Instead of being angry at other people I blamed myself and hated myself and all of that hatred turned inward and was unprocessed because even though I eventually forgave everyone else I never forgave myself. Enter SHAME.

I have no idea if this is making any sense, but the point of all this is that I am OK. I am better than OK. I have overcome a lot. I have healed a lot. But my focus has been misguided all these years because I never got past hating my adolescent self and anytime I lost weight I liked myself better, and tied my feelings about myself and my self-esteem to what was seen on the outside. With all the weight I have lost I have regained so........ So you can see that if I focus on that alone that no wonder I have felt like a total failure for the last 30 years, even though I have accomplished much.

If I am not happy on the inside, no matter what I look like on the outside, I'm still not going to be happy. I have to understand why I am unhappy to begin with.

That means I have to feel feelings. Yuck.

Not really yuck, but unfortunately, I can either feel my feelings or drown them in something else and I'm kind of tired of drowning them. I'm tired of being reactive and angry. I'm tired of feeling shame over something I don't need to feel shame about. I want to understand and overcome this process.

So throwing that medicine ball at the wall was quite therapeutic. I need to focus my anger and frustrations in other areas, not myself. Exercise is a great way to do that!

It's time to love. It's time to take care of myself. And it's time to thank this body that I have been given and fall in love with every. last. inch.

Because when I do that, I am not going to be able to tear myself down ever again.

Whew. Lots to chew on.

Take today and love on yourself. All of you. Every last inch. Thank your body for everything it has endured. Don't hate it. Start to embrace it. I say start because it is definitely a process.

The cellulite on your butt....love it.

Saggy arms....love it

Saggy boobs......what have those boobs done...I have to remember that I fed 2 babies from those boobs. Pretty awesome. Love it.

The butt and thighs with cellulite on it? Well, they may have very well carried children for 9 months. Love it.

Stretch marks...try growing a 8 pound human inside your tummy and see what happens. Love it.

Think about it.

A process well worth following through on.

What is a part of your body that you literally hate? My task to you today is to find how that body part has gotten you through this life. Supported you. Never let you down.

Think about it and let me know what you come up with!

Fight Back With Joy - a Review

I have had the privilege of reading Margaret Feinberg's new book, Fight Back with Joy. I am excited to share my review with you, but more importantly,  I'm excited to share one of my favorite authors and speakers with you!

Last year, Margaret was diagnosed with breast cancer and embarked on a journey of diagnosis, surgery, treatments and much more, as she describes in her new book, Fight Back With Joy.

I have talked about Margaret on my blog before. Everything that I read of hers is just fresh to me. I've grown up on a lot of wonderful, godly women and their bible studies, but there is something about the way that Margaret writes and speaks that just reaches me. Hearing her share stories from the Bible always brings with it a new perspective.

This book was so refreshing because even though Margaret was sharing her private story, it wasn't every gory detail about her cancer diagnosis. Margaret used humor as only Margaret does, telling her story and how early on she and Leif made a commitment to face the future with JOY, no matter what. Margaret only gave glimpses to the gravity she might possibly be facing with her diagnosis. However, she shared plenty in the book about the her and Leif's fears, the surgery and subsequent treatments and how each of their relationships with Christ was strengthened through this process. Margaret is real about the ups and downs, the trials and strains on friendships. She discusses how she processed her feelings and how in every way she turned to God as much as possible for Him to guide her and for Him to be the gauge for how she should be reacting to things. I was very impressed with how she dealt with and handled her journey.

Intertwined in each chapter is a connection to a story in the bible. Something that helped her through a difficult time, something she felt would help deepen the story of each chapter.

Along with Margaret's journey, there is Leif's journey, the caregiver. At the end of the book there is a wonderful reference section that helps people going through the cancer journey to make their load lighter or a little clearer. Leif even gives some tip and suggestions on being a caregiver but also knowing how to take care of yourself so you can be the caregiver.

This book is an easy read, written in Margaret's down to earth musings about God and life and of course, JOY.

This book is for anyone affected by cancer or not. It is encouraging, insightful and helpful. It is also inspiring to see someones journey and commitment to look at a cancer diagnosis square in the face and trust God in those circumstances.....no matter what.

Check out THIS promo video to hear more from Margaret about the book! There is also a fabulous Bible study that you can order and this video gives you a peek inside the Bible study!

I hope I've given you a glimpse into a book that will make it on your must read for 2015.  If you've never read anything by Margaret, then definitely start with Fight Back With Joy....and then ask me for my other favorites!

Click on the AMAZON and BARNES&NOBLES link to buy the book NOW!

HERE is the link to purchase the 6 week bible study!

Enjoy! And let me know what you think!

Here's To 2015!!!!!!

Happy New Year!!!

We have had a completely relaxed Christmas and New Years season. At times I was bored, at times I was really  rested, but most of the time I just enjoyed the time. The time with my kids (although we have had our moments). My husband took an entire week off of work during this time and it was awesome!!! He works from home, so he is usually here, but he is very disciplined and stays upstairs in his office during the work day. It was nice not seeing him go up the stairs every day.

We didn't hang with a lot of family or friends. We had a very quiet, relaxing season. I obviously needed the rest. And even though I am ready to get back to my routine and have the boys back in school, I have to say I am loving the ages of my boys right now because they are independent, but still need me, sort of. Ha! But all in all, they can occupy themselves, or we can all just hang in the living room. We can play games (successfully, if you know what I mean. We actually can complete a game to the finish). We have sung karaoke, the boys have played on their new toy, the Xbox. I have tried to read ( I have so many books, I'm overwhelmed with where to begin), we have watched movies, laughed, cried, ate and slept. Its been good.

As much as I am looking forward getting back into our routine, I am not looking forward to the 6-6;30 AM wake up call on Monday. Nope. That's going to be brutal.

But at least I have caught up on some rest, spent some time with my hubby and kids, reflected on the past year, looking forward to all the positive changes coming in 2015 for myself, and my family. This weekend we are getting together with close friends and it will be nice to entertain. I didn't get everything done I had imagined I would these past two weeks. I did continue to work out (yay me!). I haven't gained any weight over the holidays (yay me!) And even though making permanent life changes can be challenging, sometimes you just have to count your small successes and focus on the positive instead of looking at the big picture.

When I try and look at the big picture instead of living day by day, I get overwhelmed, sad and depressed. And a few days ago I was there, for about 24 hours. I am thankful for forgiveness, for small steps forward, for do-overs and grace.

Here is to 2015! May it be everything you want it to be and more.

What are some of your goals for 2015? I don't do resolutions, but I have goals and as a family we have goals. I'll share some of mine if you share yours!!!

Happy New Year and God bless!!!!


I have found some very encouraging, uplifting, healing blogs that have kind of helped push me forward in opening about my recovery from addiction with food. Disordered eating, whatever you want to call it. These blogs or Facebook pages encouraged me to look at myself as OK just the way that I am.

The one that has currently had the most positive impact you can find HERE!

From these social media outlets, I even started following some plus size fashion pages. Recently, I've started wearing different clothes. I found that even though I was heavier than I was two years ago, I wasn't nearly as self-conscious in my clothes as I used to be. Whereas before, I had to make sure that the outfit I was wearing was flattering and I had to make sure there weren't any bulges sticking out. (there are ALWAYS bulges, c'mon!) But if I believed they weren't there, they weren't there. Ha!

That's why in the past when I lost a significant amount of weight, even though I was still large, I felt like I looked acceptable on the outside, looked good in my clothes, and therefore, I was "happy". Inside I was still a hot mess.

I have always been meticulous about the way that I look and wanting to look my best on the outside. I grew up with a family that looked meticulous at all times. It didn't matter what was going on inside the house, when the Douberly's stepped out, well, we looked like we had it together. So, even though I don't care about looking perfect now, I have used looking good on the outside as kind of my mask for a long time.

Whenever I have lost weight in the past and gotten semi-close to regular-sized clothing, it never failed I would head over to Lane Bryant thinking  how happy I would be that I would be rid of this store once and for all. Part of my shame in being fat is having to shop in specialty stores.

 Of course, eventually I would regain the weight back and there I would be.....back at LB shopping for my 22/24. *sigh*

There is nothing wrong with having to shop specialty stores. Back in the day, when I was much younger, there just wasn't the choices available like there are today. It was kind of an ordeal to find fashionable clothing that fit when I was a teenager. Don't even get me started on shopping with my mom at Proffits Department store in 1982.....

The thing that I have realized is that I was the one who heaped that shame and guilt upon myself. I, again, was adding shame and guilt to something that no one was doing to me, I was doing to myself. Ugh.

What created the shame in the first place? When you don't let people in and you look meticulous on the outside, it is hard for someone to understand the depth of shame a person holds within them. I take responsibility for allowing shame to grow and build in my life, but it didn't just "pop" in my head to feel shame.

It was carefully taught.

The adults in my life when I was an adolescent were key in also contributing to the belief in myself that I was less than. There is really too much to write. I was also bullied by my peers because of my weight (they didn't call it bullying back in the day....). Even family. Loved ones with good intentions spread shame. I took it in, I allowed it to shape me. I believed it.

I have rehashed this junk with people over and over again. It doesn't accomplish anything. It's done. Over. What I allowed it to do to me, however, wasn't. What I have also learned in therapy this past year and a half is that anger turned inward turns into shame. Ding! Ding! Ding! Talk about eye opening.

Anger with no place to go but in, equals shame, guilt and self-hate.

 I certainly heard many other positive things about myself from my peers and the adults in my life. There were many positive experiences in my adolescence, to only focus on this junk would be unfair.

I guess my pain didn't have anywhere to go or I didn't have the tools to get it out so it went inside and my shame ended up being seen on the outside. And it's been haunting me for 30 years.

Even though I know and feel responsible for my eating habits since the time I became an adult, for years I turned what happened in my adolescence and allowed it to shape what I believed about myself.   My 30's came the first true spiritual freedom, first experience of the freedom from food, lots of healing....just no way to make it last. The cycle would win again. Heaping more guilt, shame and self-hate. Confirming all those negative beliefs I had about myself. Yes, you are a fat slob who will NEVER change. No one will EVER love you.

So, even though the 22/24 still haunts me, I've gotten so much more comfortable in my skin the past year and a half. I have learned that all the messages that pop into my head are not ones I need to be meditating on. I have learned to accept myself (for the most part) as I am right now without self-hate and shame. I am surrounded by people who love me and accept me. When I expose myself on this blog, I get acceptance. And part of why this journey is continuing, is able to exist, is the people around me. Encouraging me. Loving me. Helping me. Accepting me.

I guess it's kind of like hearing truth instead of lies. When you hear truth there is no shame, there is no fear. There is love. Acceptance. A kind of nodding your head in agreement moment with people, rather than ringing of the false, conditional statements from the past in my ear one. last. time.

I might even be close to saying this:

The past is past. Thank God.

The present is pretty awesome.

I think it's time I accept the 22/24's of my life and live in the current moment in all this love I am surrounded with. It's time to accept not push away. It's truly the only way to make permanent, lasting change begin.

Next post I will discuss the biggest factor in helping me love and accept myself.... stay tuned!