Friday, May 5, 2017

April Showers, Bring May Flowers

I'm not sure "showers" is an accurate term to describe the month of April for me...but for poetic purposes...we will roll with it.  And I DID get flowers recently...the first time anyone but my father has bought me flowers.  But I digress.

First, I want to thank all of you who have commented either here, privately, on Facebook or Instagram, or in person.  Each time you reach out to me I swear it matters.  It makes me tear up a little as I type this.  Heather has blasted me for sharing things on social media...the most recent being...
This photo that is from our marriage license.  I am buying a house (the post is coming) and had to provide a copy.  I failed to remember the person that notarized our marriage, making it legal...was also the person that would play a part in ending it.  It didn't make me angry.  It made me sad and a little sick.  But it was so ironic that of COURSE I had to post it.  Have you met me?  Do I overshare on social media?  Yes.  

And do I care if it gets back to Gina or makes her look bad?

Uh.  No.

Is it childish?

Maybe.

Does it help me?

I think so.  

I'm just making it through this the best way I know how.  And protecting or caring about people who not just lied to me, but sought me out and actively deceived me for months...sorry, not sorry.  You made your bed.  With my wife.  You may now curl up in it.

But back to what I WAS saying...everything y'all do and say matters and helps.  

That I know.

On Monday, at 10:00 am we will go to court and our divorce will be final.  I filed the week after I found out.  Heather didn't know why we just couldn't stay married...you get more back on taxes and all.  It will be tremendously hard for me.  Hopefully I won't have to say much.  We did a "simplified dissolution of marriage", so it should take under 15 minutes.

And then I will no longer be a wife.

We will be nothing again.

And part of that is heartbreaking.

I assume that those 15 minutes will be some of the hardest minutes of my life.  

But I will make it.

I thought I would do a little Q & A style session for y'all since I get a lot of questions these days.  So here we go.

Q: Are "they" still together?
A: I don't ask.  I would assume so.  They are still working together, although Gina was demoted (apparently being the HR manager and having an affair with a married coworker is not totally okay).  I know they still talk and see each other as "because of your facebook post, Gina is the only friend I have left".  But again, I would assume they are.  Heather doesn't do "alone" and needs someone to worship her. Heather is living with her ex (the one she owned our house with).  Last I heard Gina was with her mom, sharing their 12 year old sons time with Harry.  They are getting a divorce as well.

Q:  Do you still see/talk to Heather?
A: Yes.  Here's the deal.  I do A LOT of reading about people who are narcissists.  It's super depressing. Before all of this I thought if someone was a narcissist that just meant they had a big ego.  It's so beyond that.  Sometimes when I read things it's scary because it describes her, or our relationship, EXACTLY.  And if she truly a narcissist, then I should realize she is toxic and there is no room in my life for toxic.  BUT IT'S HARD to admit that the person I loved...was not real.  Monday was our 7 year anniversary.  She came over.  I cooked.  Sigh.  It was my idea so blame me. And I asked her..."How could you lie to me for all those months?  How could you be with Gina and come home to me?  How could you live with yourself when you saw me trying to save us and hating myself".

She shrugged her shoulders and said, "I didn't feel like I was lying".

I didn't have anything to say to that.  There is nothing to say to that.  Although Therapist said I need to "use my voice" and tell her her that's bullshit.

So I AM making progress, and although my mind knows what I need to do, my heart is slower to catch up.

Q:  Where are you living?
A: In my sister's house, which is now where my nephew and fiance now live.  They have been lifesavers.  I have my own room with it's own entrance and bathroom.  And the biggest part, they let the three dogs and crazy cat come with.  All of my stuff is in storage, with the exception of some clothes and an air mattress.  BUT...I should close on my HOUSE in 5 days.  I have been holding off sharing too much about the house until it was for sure.  I am beyond excited and it will get it's own post.

Q: Would you take Heather back?
A: That's not an option for us.  She doesn't want to come back and besides that...she is not the person I thought I loved.  She cannot give me what I need and deserve. Do I love the person I thought she was.  YES.  Does the person she is today bring me happiness?  No.  And I deserve happiness.

You should know I am not alone.  I have so many friends.  I am still working out.  I'm only gonna get better as I try to get rid of the bitter.  I'm open to some potential bids from potential suitors :) Although I want to focus on me and spend time being alone and finding what makes me happy.  I realized yesterday that for the last 7 years, my happiness has revolved around making Heather happy.  I have kinda lost what brings me joy.  I'm finding it again.

 This was my moving truck park job at the gas station.  That's the truck...about 3 inches away from hitting the red thingie.
 A wild night in our temporary digs.  
 My moving part enjoying a much deserved Mexican post moving lunch.
 Me and "my natalie" enjoying the beach (There is "my natalie" and Boobie seen above in the pink USA jacket...who is also Natalie and used to be Heather's best friend...she is technically my natalie now as well but I only call her natalie when she is in trouble)
 Bowling.  Toga night above.  90's night below.

 Pensacola Beach.  Where you will find us most Sundays.
 And the Wahoos with Higgie and her daughter and Miriam.

All of these people and things keep me afloat. xoxo And I couldn't be more lucky in that regard.

Amy Finds Therapist

I have so many things to tell all my little rosebuds. So we will start HERE...with...THERAPIST.

As you may or may not recall, sometime in November I started seeing a counselor to help me "fix myself" because Heather did a miraculous job of making me feel crazy and unjustified in doubting her "friendship" with Gina and so I wanted to go to therapy to learn what was wrong with me to be a better wife.

Sigh.

I know.

It was my first stab at counseling/therapy and it was kinda poo poo.  My counselor was very nice but really just "listened".  I do remember who saying, after I had laid out all of my concerns about Heather and Gina...

"Sooooo....you've basically just chosen to believe she is not having an affair"?

Yep.

What I was looking for from therapy was a more "involved" way of counseling.  I needed action items. Things to work on.

So I stopped going.

All of this happened...

And at the suggestion of Boobie, I booked an appointment with another friend who is a therapist...and henceforth shall be referred to as...

Therapist.

Original.

No.

Fun.

Yes.

I love Therapist as a friend and I love her as a therapist.  She is exactly what I wanted.  She doesn't just listen, she gives me "homework".  She doesn't TELL me what to do, but instead says things like..."You can CHOOSE to stay with Heather, and that's okay.  But know if you choose to stay with her you will stay stuck and you are telling her "What you did to me was okay...and you can do it again.  But the CHOICE is yours".

I see what you are doing there Therapist.  And I dig it.

First session was of course lots of me crying about Heather.

But second session was more about Amy.  And it's scary and confusing and makes me think.  And I think it's going to be wonderful.

SO we spent a lot of that second session talking about my worth.  Or how I don't believe I have any.  Where does that come from?  Why did I think all along that Heather was too good for me and that I should allow her to treat me the way she did?  Why don't I deserve love and happiness?  Why do I not think I will ever find someone attractive AND kind and real?  Why can't I let Heather go even though she cheated on me and broke me into a million pieces.

WHY?

Wellllll.....

You ready for it?

It all ties to my body and my image of my body.

While I think I am kinda cute in clothes, and can wear a size 8...

(This is kinda hard to type...)

I would describe myself as disgusting.  I hate my body naked.  I feel like I am often the fattest and most broken person in the room.  And because I am disgusting, I am not deserving of love and kindness.  I deserve exactly what Heather gave me for years.  I felt like I SHOULD be grateful that she decided to love me and that no...I didn't deserve or need birthday presents or Christmas presents or to celebrate anniversarys...because "You get to love me...I am your present" is what she told me...and I believed it.  Because I don't deserve more than that.  And while I know there are people out there that could treat me better emotionally, I felt like I would never find anyone as fit as Heather to love me...

because I am not fit.

I am broken.

And no amount of working out will ever unbreak my body.  There will be scars and stretchmarks and skin and dimples...

And in my mind...those things define my worth.

Not my heart (which is amazing I think).
Not my mind (I describe myself as "middle smart".
Not my ability to give or love or think of others.

None of that matters as much as my body and how it looks.

Of course Therapist stopped and said at one point, "Amy, I need you to listen to me okay?  Reallly hear me.  THAT'S BULLSHIT".

And I hear her, and I know what she is saying.  But I don't believe her.

We talk about how this has been my "script" from the first time my brother told me I was fat.  And how he made sure to reinforce that over and over again as I grew up.  Hot girls are liked.  Hot girls have sex.  Hot girls get the boys (or girls).  Hot girls Hot girl.  Hot.  Fit.  Skinny.

Fat girls are gross.  They are "less than"...

And that is one of the dominate scripts of my life.

So my assignment after that session was to go home and right IMAGE at the top of a piece of paper and write down everything that came to mind...no censoring.  Free association style.  Two legal sized pages full is what came out and BOY...that was depressing.  Over and over you could see the words 'worthless' 'disgusting' 'broken'.  But I did't redo it to make it sound more "positive".

I turned that sucker in.

Do you know was I crossed the street after that session a truck drove by with 2 men in it...and my FIRST thought as they looked at me was...I bet they are thinking "She's fat".

Anyways.  Next session we talked about how when I around straight guys or lesbians or people who could potentially have sex with me...I am worried the entire time about what they are thinking about my body.

Again, Therapist says "Amy, you realize people have better things to do than think about your body all the time right?  It's not ALWAYS ABOUT YOU?'

um...what? lol

We also talked about how hard it is for me to accept the kindness people have been showing me.  My friend, more of an acquaintance, from when we worked at our old job, had some moving boxes for me and she then gave me a gift, a beautiful mermaid mug that said "Although she was tossed in the waves, she was not broken".  I cried all the way back to work after she gave me that because I didn't know what I had done to EARN her kindness.  Why was Becky being nice to me?  What had I done for Becky?  I didn't deserve that mug.

Therapist said Heather did a good job of "programming" me.  And I realized this idea of having to EARN kindness or reward or attention was the base of how our relationship worked.  If I wanted her to love me I better cook and clean and buy her a Yeti or Apple Watch.  If I wanted to have sex I better make sure the house was spotless and the dogs were occupied.  If I wanted her to love me and never leave me I better be the perfect wife (ooops...that didn't hold true).

So I had four things to focus on as my assignment that week.

1.  Accept kindness
2. Replace negative thoughts I have when people are looking at my body (i.e. she is fat) with a neutral thought (i.e. they probably arent even THINKING about my body).
3.  Be authentic at least 3 times a day.  This is because I wear a mask a lot and it's hard for me to allow others to see me sad or angry or hurting.
4.  When I feel "lonely", ask myself what that really means.  I told her that even though I am often surrounded by a lot of people, I can feel very alone.  She thinks I may be labeling that wrong.

It was hard.  When people compliment on my body, I quickly want to make a fat or food joke.  Like at the gym if a guy says "You are a beast" I want to say "I really like tacos".  (this happened)  If a friend says "look at your leg muscles" I want to say "They are there...under a layer of protection".

But I've been more aware of all of those things.

And I am working on it!

This weeks session we circled back to my  inability to have complete "no contact" with Heather.  Which is an important and final step when dealing with a narcissist.  And out of that came the reoccurring theme that I want to still save her and help her...classic co-dependent behavior.  But it's not just Heather I want to save.  It's the damn world.

Amy's narrative is:

Everyone needs saving.  Everyone is broken.  They need someone to hold their broken pieces. There is not enough kindness in the world SO I have to be the kindness...which is why I can't be sad or or needed because if I am sad or needy, who will give everyone what they need.  If I don't provide it I will find it somewhere else and I WILL BE ALONE.

I feel these behaviors (mine) are mandatory to control the perception and feelings that others have about me...so they don't realize I am unnecessary, average, and replaceable.

What do you think about them apples?

It's a lot for me to process sometimes.  But I DO feel like part of me coming out of all of this a better person is me really looking at why I do what I do.  If I keep repeating the same thoughts and behaviors, most likely...nothing will change.

And I am ready for change.

It's slightly scary putting this out there for everyone (and anyone as I am sure CERTAIN people are stalking my blog) to read.  But part of me being authentic is that I am trying to be okay with feeling everything I do.  And it's okay if people know it.  Because it's who I am.

And who I am is good enough :)

hugs and kisses-

Amy


Friday, April 7, 2017

Everything Can Change...

Twenty one days ago, almost to the hour, everything fell apart.

I know so many of  you follow me on social media...either on Facebook or Instagram.  So many of you are in my "real" life...and for so many of you, you have been with me these past three weeks.  I have thought about how to write this post....and the time never seems right.

Do I write it when I am angry?  Do I write it when I am sad?  Do I only share information about me? Do I share information about them?  What is right?  What is wrong?

But I am just going to give it a shot.

So here goes.

Last year, about six months into our marriage...Heather began to change.  One day, and I literally mean one day, she told me she wanted "space".  I don't know if space was the exact word, but she wanted independence, freedom...she wanted to be able to go out without me, have friends we didn't share.  She, and these are her words "didn't want to have to report to me".  It threw me.  Because for over 6 years, she was overly verbal about how much she loved our life.  We had friends who would regularly do things without their spouse or significant other and Heather would talk about how "we will never be like those people"...and she would say things like, "all I need is you."

And so for me, it was a sudden, and confusing shift.

She started to blame me for "stealing all of her friends".  She came home one night from drinking and told me that "I had ruined her only two friendships (our friend we call Boobie, and ironically Gina)"...because I "stole them from her".

"Everyone likes you better".

This continued for a couple of months...this want of hers for "space".  I was in a panic.  I blamed myself.  Today I actually went and reread some of my journal entries from that time...I was blaming myself. Hating myself.  Telling myself "you are insecure and smothering.  You should trust Heather".

It was all my fault.

That's what I thought.

Well then she started wanting to hang out with Gina more.  They started hiking.  All day on the weekends.  She started taking her to Defuniak (where Heather is from).  Well, in October, October 4th to be exact, Heather got a text message around 5:00am. She told me to check it bc she thought it was someone she was getting up to train.  It was...but under that text was a text between her and Gina.  I still have it saved...but Gina said:

Gina: You can dream about me
Heather:  I will I am sure.  Just being in that bed today knowing you had been there...made me feel better.

Heather had went home that day with a migraine.

I walked into our bedroom.  Sick.  World spinning.  And I asked her...

WHAT IS THIS?

She said it wasn't what it sounded like.  Over the next couple of hours and days, both her and Gina tried to talk their way out of it.  What she MEANT was that just laying in that bed knowing Gina and the girls from work were "There for her" made her feel better.  Gina swore to me that she loved Harry...her husband of 16 years.  Heather admitted to deleting parts of the text but promised me she loved me and our life was the most important thing to her and she would quit her job (she works with Gina) and do whatever I wanted. She swore on her nephew's life that she had never crossed the line with Gina.

I guess I forgot to tell you that Gina was her bridesmaid in our wedding.  And my friend.  That's an important detail.

After 3 days...I just chose to believe her.  And them.

Gina continued to seek my friendship.  She made me a mermaid tank.  She wanted to go to a strip aerobic class with me.  We went to the beach with her.

It all makes me sick thinking about it.

Well Gina LOVES LSU and Heather loves the Florida Gators (football for y'all not in the know).  And Heather had decided prior to me finding the texts that she was going to buy her and Gina tickets to the game for Gina's birthday.  You know, just a $400 birthday present for Gina.  When I didn't even get a card.

I didn't like it.  But Heather made me feel guilty by saying "She's never been allowed to have a girl's weekend with a friend", and "You don't want me to have a friend"...

so I said okay.

Well then a hurricane came and cancelled the game.  This happened the week I found the texts.

I thought...if there is a God, surely this is a sign.  And thank goodness I don't have to worry about that anymore.

Well then the SEC moved the game to LSU, and Heather bought the tickets again.  They were going down on a Friday night, spending the night at Gina's sisters, going to the game Saturday and spending the night again at Gina's sisters.

Before they left I actually text Gina "take care of my wife".

Turns out she did.

Sunday morning I woke up and something didnt feel right.  And for the first time in my life, I logged into Heather's icloud and looked at the location of her phone.

She was at a hotel.

I called the hotel and asked for Heather Gainey's room.  They transferred me.  No answer.  I started calling and texting Heather.  I could see she was reading them.  She finally called me back about 15 minutes later.

Me: Where are you right now?
Her: Why are you acting crazy?
Me:  Where are you right now?
Her:  Why?

She finally said she was at a hotel and that she bought one because Gina's sisters trailer bus was "so disgusting and had dog shit all over and no shower"...so she got the room so she could sleep and shower and didn't tell me because she knew I wouldn't like it.

We argued a little and she said she would be home soon.

This was at 6:00am.

The got home around 4pm that afternoon.

The conversation that followed I will never forget.

We were on the back porch.  I asked her if she slept in the same bed as Gina?

No.

I asked her if she was having an affair with Gina.

No.

For hours we talked.  She said things like "I love you and want to take care of you but I don't want to report to you."  I asked her why she married me?  She said she thought when she married me all of MY insecurities would go away.

After hours of talking, I felt bad for doubting her.  I felt worthless.  I hated myself.  I vowed to be a better wife.

Well now I know, thanks to Gina, that they slept together that night.  That night, when I was laying four hours away in our bed alone crying and hating myself, they slept together.  And then Heather came home to me and looked me in the eyes and lied.
Gina posted this picture when they were at the game.

The next day she changed her password so I could never look at her location again.

We again talked for HOURS.  I asked her about Gina.  She swore they were just friends.  I told her we needed to separate.  She said no.  That she wasn't giving up on us.  She broke down crying.  I held her.  I agreed I wasn't ready.  She promised me she loved me and loved our life.

But things didn't get better.  She spent more time with Gina.  I started therapy to "fix myself".  I thought there must be something wrong with me.  How can I do better and be better.  I found a letter I wrote her after one of my therapy session and in it I actually said,


I am beyond sorry about doubting your loyalty to me.  This applies to my insecurities over the entire relationship but also recently with Gina.  I was trying to make sense of things and went to that because it was easier than looking at my own behaviors that may have contributed to us getting to this point.  I don't know how you put up with all of that from me, but I am grateful you fought through it until I realized I was wrong.

I apologized for so many things in that email.  And all that time they were fucking around behind my back.

I can list other things over the next several months that happened that would make your stomach turn. But you get the point. Please note that I am leaving out many fights, conversations, letters...

But three weeks ago today I got a text from a close friend that said "I need to tell you something in person.  And you probably need to be done with work for the day".

This friend is not "dramatic".  So I was terrified.

I left work and met her and she got in my car to tell me a story.

Apparently about a week before, Gina went and got a tattoo.

The tattoo artist was a friend from high school and asked Gina how her and her husband were doing.  Gina then said "not good...I've been having an affair with a married woman for years (it was relayed to me as years...I hope this was wrong) and I was actually in her wedding and I am in love with her."

She then showed the tattoo artist a picture of Heather,

WHY IN THE WORLD she would give up that information is beyond me.  But this is how the Universe works.

The tattoo artist was telling this story to one of their friends, who happens to be on my Facebook.  We will call this person A.  Well, person and A and I worked together years ago, but aren't really close.  When the tattoo artist was telling person A this story, person A was like...uh...this sounds familiar (and I had been posting posts on Facebook that were a little un-Amy like so she already thought something might be up), so person A showed tattoo artist my facebook with a picture of heather and the tattoo artist was like...yup.  That's her.  Well then person A a close friend of hers, who is also on my Facebook.  That's person B.  Person B and I worked together for years but again, not really close.  Well person B then told my friend...who was sitting in my car with me.

So many people for it to get back to me.

The Universe wanted me to know.

So when I pulled away from my friend, I called Heather and told her I needed her to come home after work.

I waited for two hours.

When she walked in and sat down on the couch I said..

" I am going to ask you again.  Are you having an affair with Gina?"

She sighed and said "Gina and I have feelings for each other so I don't know how to answer that."

I said "have you slept with her?"

No.

I said "Have you kissed her".

She said yes.

Over the next couple of hours I went from crying to numb to screaming.  I wanted to know how and why and HOW and when and how many times and HOW!

I sent Gina's husband a text and him and Gina showed up in our driveway.  They were still sticking to their "just kissing story".  Happened when they were hunting together (another thing I had caught Heather lying about in December)...

Well later that night Gina told her husband that she they had sex the night of the football game.  She gave details.  He called me.  Heather was sleeping in the front room and continued to deny it.  She said "If we are going to keep doing this...I am leaving."  I told her she needed to leave.

Saturday morning I talked to her and asked her for the truth.  And I said, "tell me the truth or else I am posting this shit on facebook".

Childish?

Probably.

But what I will say to that is unless you have been in my shoes...unless you have had your entire life ripped apart by the person you loved more than any other human being ever...pause before you judge.  I live my life out loud.  This blog is proof.  And I just wanted her to tell me the truth.  I knew that her image is the most important thing to her...I thought she would tell me.

She didn't.

So I put it on Facebook.

I posted a picture of these pictures from our wedding and all I said was..."I wish I could tag them".

I don't know how to describe the last three weeks.  Week one was like I was watching my life outside of myself.  There were moments where I would be on the kitchen floor or the bedroom closet or bent over my bed...wailing.  Not crying.  It's different.  Many of you know the pain...because you have reached out and shared your story...but it's a physical pain that I have never felt.  It's oppressive and hurts down from your fingertips to  your heart.  It's a feeling...of hopelessness.  I guess it's heartbreak. As I am typing this my hands are starting to shake.

Week one was full of questions that I will never have answer to.  The main one is, how could Heather do this to me for MONTHS and MONTHS?  How could she come home to me every day and make me feel crazy and watch me struggling to save us...how could she see me in so much pain...?  It truly is mourning the loss of someone who is alive.  I thought I knew her heart.  I would have never NEVER thought she could be this person...TO ME.  I was a good wife.  I am a good person.  And I know you are saying "Amy...this is NOT about you..." I am saving all of that for the next post.

Week one I heard from friends all over the world.  I heard from people that have never really sent me a message but "know" me from this blog.  I heard from some of my most private friends.  While some people, Heather included, think my Facebook post was wrong...it has helped me.  And I posted it for several reasons...some of them selfish.  Absolutely.  I DID want everyone to know what they had done.  But I also knew that so many people are invested in me and us.  So many people care about me.  So many people would need and want closure of their own.  And also...just like sharing everything on this blog...my hope is that one day when I do "come out stronger and better" like everyone is promising me...I hope that because I shared my heartbreak and pain...that it might help someone someday when they feel like there is no hope.

Week one, two, and three have been full of people in my life taking are of me.  Friends show up at my house.  Friends text me and call me.  Friends drag me to the beach where I have a breakdown because there is wedding.  Friends listen to me say the same shit over and over again and patiently explain to me why it's not my fault.  I am surrounded by amazing and caring people.  And it's so hard to let them take care of me.  And it's hard for me to take my mask off and let people see a side of me that I don't often show.  It's hard.  

But I am alive.

So where is Heather living?  Do I see her?  Do I talk to her?

She is living with her ex.  I see her.  I talk to her.  I probably shouldn't.  But the crazy and sad thing is...when someone does something bad to you...apparently...you don't just stop loving them.  I thought she was my forever.  And a part of me wants to believe that inside of her is the person I fell in love with.  But it rips me apart.  I want to be close to her but being close to her makes me physically ill...because all I think about is her and Gina.

I can't sleep really.  I fall asleep but wake up in a panic...crying.  And then just lay in bed...with horrible visions of them in my mind.  If I do sleep.  I dream about them.

Other questions:  Would you forgive her?  

She is not asking for forgiveness.  She hasn't said what she or they did was wrong.  So that's not even an option.

Gina did post something on facebook about "Mistakes".


No.  A mistake is not something you do over and over again.  This was calculated and planned. And is still going on.  Their lives are a mess right now.  Not because of my facebook post.  But because of their choices. 

I will do another post about my feelings and how I am coping.  This one has been long enough.  It's not very deep and it's not very insightful.  It's messy and confusing.  But it's my truth.


Monday, February 13, 2017

The Most Difficult Relationship...

...is the one I have with myself.

2017 will be one of the years that define me.  Some years pass...and they are a mixture of laughter and tears and highs and lows...and of course, all of those moments shape you.  But then there are some years that CHANGE you.

This will be that year for me.

I have been waiting to write "the blog post"...the one I know so many of you are waiting for.  The post  will shed light on my vague status updates on Facebook, or more direct posts (although still "illusive") on Instagram.

And that post will come.  In due time.  But not yet.  One thing I would like to think I have always been over these last 8 years is transparent with you.  It's one of the things that you probably like about me.  I will talk about pretty much anything.  We don't have very many secrets between us.  So that post will come.  But not  yet.

So until then...you get this.

I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately.  Have you ever tried it?  It's fucking scary.  Because when you search for something...you might just find it.  And the "it" is usually hard to find for a reason.  We bury the "it".  Once you start to pull the blanket back though, once you start to peep into places you usually try to skim right over...things start to happen.

And it's happening to me.

I'm going to tell you a secret.  And I hesitate, literally, to type it, because I don't want it to change the way you think about me.

But the secret is...I am full of self-doubt, insecurities, and feelings of inadequacies.  I believe I have a way with words.  I can tell a story, I can tell a joke, I can write a love letter, I can pen this blog. Well you should just HEAR the words I say to myself, sometimes inside my head.  Sometimes aloud when I am alone.  They can be terrible and cruel.

Recently, some of the wonderful people in my life (that I am thankfully surrounded by) have heard me say the things I think about myself.  I have said them out loud to actual people for the first time in...well..for the first time ever.  I don't/didn't want people to know that the Amy that they love...the funny, charming, outgoing, happy, upbeat Amy...isn't really that person on the inside.  I mean...I AM...but there is another Amy.  And I suppose that is true for many people.  But here I am, this person always shouting LOVE YOURSELF...

and I don't love myself.

And here is a distinction I want to make.  I am not talking about my external self.  I still will shout LOVE YOUR BODY...WEAR THE BIKINI...because I am really at a place with my body these days that is relatively wonderful.  I am at peace (98%) of the time with all of me.  The muscles and the fluff.  The curves and the cellulite.  My body is strong and I AM confident in that.  And what will be will be.  Some things will never change.  My biceps can get bigger, my butt can grow in wonderful ways...but I will always have loose skin.  I will always have scars.  And that is just fine.

It's difficult to explain.

People say "But Amy...when I look at you...you always seem so confident".

Well yes.  Because confidence is attractive and I want people to like me and no one likes a sad sack who mopes around and complains.  So I stand up straight, look people in the eyes, make them laugh and try to win them over with my charm.  I am confident in my wit, my heart, my kindness, my mind, my ability to squat you.

But self-worth is a different animal.

And when it comes to matters of the heart, and more specifically, Heather...I've never been enough.   Not in my mind.  My fear from day one was that at any moment, Heather would realize that I was not good enough for her.  And what you think, you become.  This feeling is what has shaped every action and decision in our relationship..  This feeling is why I have allowed things to happen...things that have hurt me and have almost broken me.  How could I stand up for myself?  She is amazing.  And self-disciplined.  And attractive.  And has abs.  Who am I?  Nothing compared to her.  So I have though I should be happy to have something....rather than not have her at all.  We teach people how to treat us.  And we let people treat us the way we do based on how we value our own worth.

Some of you are going to tell me I am crazy.  Some of you are going to tell me Heather is the lucky one.  That I am beautiful and smart.  WELL OF COURSE you are going to tell me that.  Because you are nice and like me.

But several months ago, two of my closest friends did tell me I was crazy.  And for some reason...a little seed was planted.

And it's growing.

And I am nurturing it.

But it's not easy.

Learning to love myself has been, thus far, the most difficult thing I have ever had to do.

Standing up for myself is hard.  I want to please and be loved.  I want to make people happy.  I am a giver.  Giving and doing brings me joy.  I want to be that person for my friends, and certainly for the person I thought I would spend forever with.  Standing up for myself makes me feel...selfish.  Wanting things that make my heart happy...makes me feel selfish.  And it can be confusing.

I started going to therapy for the first time in my life.  I wanted to "fix" whatever was wrong with me.  Maybe if I could fix whatever was broken, maybe Heather would love me more.

Do you know what I have discovered (not in therapy...but just over the last couple of months)?

I do not need to be fixed.

I am not broken.

I am actually kind of amazing.

And...

I might actually like me.

I am 37 years old, and my father will tell you that I have always sold myself short.  He is usually referring to my career and why I don't believe in myself enough to push...but he is right.  This isn't just related to Heather...but my entire life.

And you know what?  I had a great childhood.  My parents always, and still, support me and believe in me.  My mom was THAT mom at graduation, holding the Carpe Diem sign in the crowd.  My lack of self worth didn't come from lack of love and encouragement.  I suppose it came from a mixture of the relationship with my brother (who I love and am not blaming), and my relationship with my weight.  Feeling fat from a super early age (even though I was NOT fat until later) shaped my life.  I had to be the clown that made people love her, so I wouldn't be the fat girl that people made fun of.  I had do and overdo.

And that has never stopped.

I am a size 8-10 now.  Below "average".  And yet I still feel like everyone's first impression of me is "look at that fat girl".

Sure, I have muscle.  But I feel like people think "Wow, that fat girl has a lot of muscle".

Sure I have a sexy walk and can fill out a pencil skirt...but I feel like people are thinking "Wow, that fat girl sure has a sexy walk and can fill out a pencil skirt".

When people see Heather and I together...I feel like they are thinking "Wow, that super fit girl with abs is in love with a fat girl".

As I type this my hands are trembling.  It's easier to pose naked in front of strangers than it is to be honest with people that care about you.  I don't really want you to know all of my secrets.

On this journey, as my little seed of self love is growing (it's like the science experiment with the seed and Styrofoam cup that most of us did in elementary school)...I am trying some new things.

1.  The negative hateful self talk...I stop it almost as soon as it begins.  And it's with pride that I say...it doesn't happen as often as it used to.  It likes to come up when I am drinking (hmmm...perhaps I should not drink then)...but I literally have said to myself "STOP"...and I do.

2.  I am surrounding myself with people that love me.  I am SO lucky to have people in my life that want to pick me up.  People that will listen to me when I am sad.  And that means being honest and not always being "happy Amy".  And you know what I have discovered?  They STILL love me.  Even when I am unable to get out of bed or I am crying so hard I can't breathe or speak.  They still want to be my friends.

3.  I am trying to make choices FOR ME.  This is so so hard. And I am not there yet.  But I have resolved myself to stop trying to fix everything at once.  I don't need to think about next week or next month or next year.  Today is what I am given and I can make a choice today.  One day at a time.  One little step at a time.

4.  I want to do things that will make me the best version of myself.  And if something hurts me or makes me a lesser version...or is something or someone makes the sad Amy want to come out...then I need to look at that as a sign.  I don't want to be bitter.  I want to be better.

5. I'm reading self-help books.  Lord.  I don't like to type that.  But sometimes there are helpful tidbits in those suckers!  And while those authors may not be any more mentally sound than I am...if their words can cause me to THINK...well then it was worth it.

6.  If what we think, we become...I am trying to live mindfully.  I am trying to be present.  I am trying to focus on what I WANT.  What I want to happen.  Where I want to be.  This is hard as well...because it means I have to think about what I WANT (see number 3).

7.  I believe that we are meant to share our lives with other people.  For most of that, that is an intimate partner.  And I have long thought I needed someone to complete me.  Don't get me wrong.  I have been single and am not one of those people who "needs" someone because they don't want to be alone.  But I am a romantic and have long bought into "you complete me".  But I have realized, I can't expect someone else to complete me.  I must be complete on my own.  I CAN expect someone to compliment, support me, love me, encourage me, challenge me, spoil me.  But the voids I feel cannot be filled by another.  That's work for me to do.

8.  Things that I have wanted to change about myself for a long time...I am learning that those are the things that the good people love about me.  I AM super sensitive.  But you know what? My emotions and my empathy is why I can relate to people.  It's why I can make you feel better.  It's why I can love with my whole heart. I've been told that I am "too sensitive".  But I love my heart and it's capacity to hope and believe.  So I am going to keep "overly sensitive" Amy around.


I've been told that I live in an "imaginary world"...where love never fades and people don't hurt you.  For a few months I actually began to think maybe "they" were right.  But I realized on my way to bowling one night...I KNOW love is real.  I know it because I feel it.  I know it because I possess it.

It's a really really weird place for me to be.  It's sad and scary and also...exciting.   We have all heard things like "You can't really love someone until you love yourself". Well I can love, and do love, and have loved.  But I think the truth is...if you don't love yourself, how can you expect someone else to love you in the way you need and deserve.

One of the quotes that sticks with me is...

"You owe yourself the love that you so freely give to other people".

And for the first time in my life...I am starting to believe that.

xoxo-

Amy








Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Getting Naked in the Name of Art (and Ego)


For the longtime readers of my blog...you know a few things about me (well let's be honest...you may know MORE about me than you ever really wanted to know...see the Everybody Poops post).  One of those things that you have been privy to over the years is my healthy sense of self.  I think it was probably a blessing that I have always been a legend in my own mind...it has served me in many capacities...

but last night...it was time to put my body self-confidence to the test.

About a year ago an email popped up in my inbox from our local arts center asking for "models" for their weekly art class.  Well, as I have always wanted to be a model in the official capacity and have long had NUDE modeling on my bucket list, I pulled up my big girl panties (ironic since it would require me taking them off) and emailed the coordinator.  That was 12 months ago.  I let his response set in my email inbox all this time.  Well earlier this month I finally told him I was ready.  He suggested I come one night and watch for a little while, as apparently holding poses for long periods of time is harder than it sounds.

So I went.

I was hoping that the model for that night would be an average folk.  But alas, in walks this girl who resembles a Greek goddess who practices yoga on Mt. Olympus.  Just great.  Well she got naked, hoped up on the stage.  I immediately tried to find a stretch mark...a cellulite dimple...a labia.  Nothing.  No flaws.

Sigh.

So I watched for awhile, decided I was gonna bring the heat to this gentle art folk, and booked my night.

January 30, 2017.  Just one day after my 8 year anniversary of my lapband surgery.

Perfection.

Here's how it works.  The class is free to the artists, they are just asked to tip the model. On average they say a model makes around $65.  I was going to do it for free!  The class lasts 3 hours.  For the first 20 minutes I change my pose every 2 minutes.  After that, I hold poses for 20 minutes at a time, with a 10 minute-ish break in between.  There were about 10 "students" last night.  Most were retired art professors or long time artists.  They were what you would imagine if one were to imagine such an audience.  There was a black mock turtle neck.  There was a pair of off brand Tevas.  There were some beards and some jazz playing on Pandora.  They were super sweet and kind and made me feel amazing.

So.  I arrive.  I take a selfie in the car and do a Facebook post.  I enter the building.

Someone says, "Are you the model"..

I say to this nice fellow "I've been waiting my whole life to answer that question...why yes!  I am the model".

They tell me not to be nervous, tell me there is a robe (not to worry, I have brought my own).  I wait and introduce myself to the people as they walk in.  Someone tips me $5 before I even take my clothes off because "I have the best personality"...

I am liking this already.

So I beebop into the bathroom and disrobe to put on the robe.

I beebop out.

Then, I have to make a decision.  The ONLY thing I was worried about...



...was the wattle...

Again, long time readers and my close friends...and some strangers that I have chosen to tell, know of that which I speak.  And while my mother, and probably my father, do not find it necessary to share stories of emergency poops or excessive labia, I feel like that if I don't bring us together as one...who will?

So I had some decisions to make before I took off my robe.  Do I tuck the fruit rollups up a little bit, almost like a drag queen hiding the kingly bits...or do I just go full ham wallet and let them be.  I kinda decided to tuck.  But the risk I was running was...what if mid pose, they free themselves and BAM...just like someone dropping rose curtains...they pop out.  It could frighten someone.  (Well, they did indeed free themselves, but luckily it was a sitting position where I had strategically placed my forearms as a shield.)

So it was time.  I took off my robe, stepped on the stage (which is about 3 feet away from my people) and started going.

And...

It.Was.Awesome.

Changing poses every two minutes at the beginning was the easy part.  Of course I had created a "routine" of sorts, so I was prepared to change things up. I stood...gave them the front.  I turned...gave them the back.  I sat...gave them a little of this...gave them a little of that.  After the first 20 minutes I got a 10 minute break and then came the 20-minute poses.

This is no joke.  I could be still.  I just kept thinking about this book I had read about Buddhist monks and how they can sit in extreme conditions by focusing on other things.

I chose to focus pizza and chicken nuggets.

Seriously.  Just like when we are supposed to be clearing our mind in yoga...all I think about is food.

At some point, about an hour and a half in, I did ask them "When does the pizza arrive"...I don't know how these people were not starving.  Next time I am totally bringing snacks.

During my ten minute breaks I would put my robe back in and make small talk.  Some of favorite bits of conversation were:

Person:  "Are you a swimmer?
Me:  No.  I lift.  Well...I am a mermaid but...
Person: Yes.  Your back muscles are very developed"
Me:  Oh.  Why yes.  Thank you.

Person: "So do you do this professionally"
Me? Nude model?
Person: Yes.
Me. Uh no.  This is my first time.
Person: Whhhhhaaaaat?  You are so good at it.
Me:  Oh. Why yes.  Thank you.

At one point, after one of the 20 minutes poses involving a chair was over...they actually applauded.  It was kinda like I was in heaven.  I was literally the center of attention, making money, and I didn't have to wear pants or shoes.

I did walk around during the breaks and look at some of the drawings.  They were amazing.  One of the gentleman was doing pretty big drawings and using color and I was in love with myself.  I might email him and ask if I can purchase one of his sketches.  Because he was focused more on form and not things like stretch marks or cellulite, I was in love with the shape of my body.

It really was everything I hoped it would be.  It made me feel like if I can stand naked in front of 10 strangers for 3 hours...then what can't I do?  And it reinforced everything I hope is true.  That confidence in your body is  not about being "perfect".  I don't think perfection is a dream  you should chase...it's about loving and appreciating what you have.  It's hard at times.  I fixed my tots but now instead of tube socks for boobies, I have cute perky boobs with scars.  I COULD have a tummy tuck to remove extra skin, but I trade it for a scar.  But because I walked in there and held my head high, pulled my shoulders back, let the bits fly in the wind, and stuck my ass out like I loved that sucker more than Cheetos (I kinda actually do)...and because I smiled...and was kind...and genuine...I don't think they saw me as a former fat girl with saggy skin and scars and cellulite.  I felt beautiful.  And strong.  And proud.

Oh.  And I made $110 in tips.

So I felt kinda rich too.

I can't wait to do it again.

I gotta start working on my next routine.

Love y'all.

xoxox




Thursday, September 29, 2016

#imjudgingyourworkout

A couple of weeks ago I may have indicated that I was going to write a post about judging other people's workouts.  I may have indicated that I would be writing that post in the next 24 hour window.

Well.

I lied.

It's been more like 24 days, but I'm almost a woman of my word...so here it is!

I've been noticing something.  Something "trending" if you will.  And I am guilty of this something, so I can't get too high on my horse.  But something happens when you adopt a new fitness regimen.  Something happens when you start working out.  It's very similar to what happens when you start a new diet.  For example, Sunday you loved carbs, now it's Monday, you are on Atkins, and suddenly all other humans who eat carbs are RIDICULOUS...and you are looking at their pictures on instagram of their lasagna like..."Oh my god.  HOW can you eat that"?.

You know what I am talking about.  Food shaming is an entirely different post though...so I digress...

What I am referring to is workout shaming.  

Possible types of popular working outs:

-Running
-Cycling
-Crossfit
-Personal Training
-Videos
-Weight lifting
-Barre
-Yoga
-Gym Membership

Possible thoughts you (or I) may have had in relation to these popular working outs:

-Running: "Oh yeah...but running is so hard on your body".
-Cycling: "Oh yeah...Cycling is SO expensive."
-Crossfit: "Uh...yeah.  You're going to get hurt. Crossfit is for douchebags."
-Personal Training: "I would never PAY someone to show me how to workout."
-Videos: "Yeah...those are fine but I like a REAL workout with REAL weights."
-Weight lifting: "I don't want to look like a man.  I'm just into toning."
-Barre: "It's kinda like "sorority girls who lunch". Sorry I don't have time to go in full makeup and work on my toe points.
-Yoga: "Yoga is glorified stretching. It's not a real workout."
-Gym membership: "Why pay for a place to workout when you can do it at home for free?" (You can break this down even further by judging WHAT type of gym membership you have...


Are ya'll scooping what I am pooping?  Are you picking up what I'm putting down?  What we need to realize is that to each their own.  What works for you, what gets you all pumped up, may not be for everyone.  I HATE workout videos.  I end up standing in my living room staring at the ceiling, or laying in fetal position talking to my dogs.  But some people love them.  I HATE running.  It never became a stress release for me.  I never found my runners high.  But some people love that shit.  And it's okay if some of ya'll lift 3 pound weights and feel satisfied  I realize that not all girls want to see their muscles.  We are all on a journey (even though there are detours) to find out what will make us healthy.  And instead of judging other's for the path they have chosen, we should listen and support.  We should lift each other up.  We should share in their conversation and try to remove any negative comments we would like to add.  

And this takes some practice.  At least for me.  I have to mentally check myself preeeetttty often.  I have to say "No No Amy...hush that negativity."  And even if I can't completely stop judging other's and how they workout...like if my brain just WON'T stop talking to me...I can control what comes out of my mouth.  Or I can try :)

If You Could Do It Different

I don't really believe in regret.  I don't really want to go back in time and change anything, because I believe all my life choices, all the mistakes and wins, all the good and bad have brought me here...and if I were to change something in my past, well, ipso facto, it would change my present.

But SOMETIMES I do like to play a game in my head called "IF I believed in going back in time and doing things differently, what would those "things" be".

So let's play.

1.  I wouldn't have dropped out of gymnastics at 6 due to the fact I thought I was too fat for my instructors to support me doing an aerial.  Like seriously.  I was just a normal sized girl.

2.  I would have done weight lifting in high school instead of being intimidated by the athletic dudes.  I could have tore it up!

3.  I would have had better sex.  Lord have mercy.  How many years does it take us to realize that sex is not just about the other person getting off?  Took me until I as abooooout 30.  If I went back in time I would be like "Uh, no sirs.  We aren't done here.  It's me time".

4.  I would have studied abroad in college.

5.  I would have taken Spanish 3 in college.

6.  I would have only taken enough student loans to pay for school...instead of looking at 40 solid years of paying it off.  Lord.

Well.  This turned out to be slightly boring because I cannot think of anything else! lol.  What about you?  Would you have done anything differently?