Tales From The Past
A friend of mine has taken an interest as of late in trying to make me see things more positively. At first I scoffed at the idea. I’m a positive person. I like to see the good in things.
And then I realized that is true, when it comes to other people. When it comes to myself…not so much.
We all know that we are our own worst critics. I’ve said before that I would be mortified to think of speaking to someone else the way I speak to myself. I guess I just never fully comprehended how hard I was on myself until he pointed it out.
The problem is that I’m not sure how to turn it around. Reprogramming 37 years of negativity is no small task.
I’ve decided to take it one step at a time. For starters I really need to think about just how far I have come.
It tends to not feel like I’ve come a long way because I feel like I have been holding steady at the same weight for many years, but the truth is that I have been losing. Extremely slowly, but still.
But if I step back and look at the giant picture it really is impressive, if I do say so myself. 🙂
I was once so large that I couldn’t tie my own shoes. All footwear had to be slip ons because I was too embarrassed to ask my husband to tie my shoes for me.
I couldn’t walk a half a block without my lower back seizing up and feeling like I was going to die. I remember walking the dog one night in Arizona and almost crying because I thought I was going to have to ask my husband to go get the car a half a block away and come get pick me up.
Last December I paid good money to walk/run 13 miles for FUN and I’m doing it again this year.
All my life I’ve wanted to be a sing and act. When I was a kid/teenager I would hold “concerts” in my living room and act out movies to an imaginary audience when I was home alone. It was all I ever wanted to do but I would never dare actually let anyone see me do it. I was far to painfully shy and the thought of someone watching me “act” or hearing me sing was mortifying! I would rather the world open up and swallow me than face what I’m sure would have been harsh criticism for my stupidity.
In the last year I have acted in three plays, two of which I sang in, and am gearing up for another one next month. And I LOVE EVERY SECOND of it
Recently, I have taken some steps to reconcile relationships with family members that I thought would never be fixed. The fact that I am willing to find forgiveness and even admit that I may have been wrong about some things tells me how much I have grown as a person over the years.
I may still have a long way to go with a lot of things in my life, but I can’t get there without pausing to look back at how far I have come.
Today was the RENT audition.
Before I go tell today’s tale, however, let me cover another topic that kinda ties in.
I don’t believe I’ve written about it here in this blog but if you know me(and if you didn’t why the hell are you reading my blog???) chances are pretty good you know about the tango I do with a finger infection every few years.
Well I woke up on Wednesday of this week with a sore fingertip. Not on the finger I always get my infection on but the ring finger right next to it. Odd but I didn’t think too much about it. By the end of the day it was swollen and I could see where this was leading so I called my doc and made an appt for the next morning at eleven.
The next morning it was even more swollen and now the tip had turned blue, like there was a large blood blister or something.
Went to the doctor and told her the only thing I could figure was that in trying to grow out my acrylics I had been cutting them really short and something happened from that. She agreed it must have been some trauma to the nail-bed when I cut it recently and said the blue was blood pooled underneath the skin. She didn’t seem all that concerned even though the red line of infection was already creeping down my hand. She gave me some antibiotics and sent me on my way.
After finally getting my prescription filled I headed back to work but my finger was in some serious pain and pretty much all I could do was cry. I went home early.
That was Thursday. Yesterday I called in sick again and kept waiting for the meds to take effect.
Last night rob and I had a long talk since the line of infection was up passed my elbow and I had some small pain in my armpit. We decided that if it had gotten worse by one in the morning when I had to take my next round of meds he would take me to the ER.
That is the back story.
So when I woke up this morning the infection was no better but no worse. I had a choice to make. Go to the ER or go to the audition. Or as I actually phrased it to myself; go to the audition or take full advantage of this infection as an opportunity to chicken out legitimitely from the thing that was scaring me to death. Let’s face it, if I skipped the auditions in lue of taking care of my finger, there wasn’t a single person that could blame me. It was like the universe was offering me the perfect excuse to blow off everything I had worked for the last couple of months.
It was a very hard decision for me, but in the end I knew I would never forgive myself if I didn’t at least try to audition.
Today I did what I never thought in a million years that I would do even though I have always wanted to. I auditioned for a play. That means I voluntarily sang and danced in front of people whose whole purpose was to judge me harshly . I conquered a lifelong fear and it was pretty awesome.
Since it was my first time auditioning for anything I did my research. I picked Eva’s brain because she has been through this kinda stuff before and I also emailed the director of the play. I’m glad I did because it made me aware of just how short of a window we were going to have to sing…I was able to fix my song accordingly for maximum belting capacity.
Of course I was the first one there, I didn’t realize that meant I would be the first one to sing but I’m kinda glad now. It was sort of like ripping off the band aid, nice and clean. No time to sit around and worry about forgetting lyrics or being in the wrong key.
The singing took place in front of two people. I thought it would be more but this was fine with me. The room we were in had tiered seating. The director was at the top, me at the bottom with the piano player. I gave the Piano player my sheet music and told him where I would like to begin and off I went. I did the first chorus just like I had rehearsed it. The piano guy went a little bit faster than the background track I had been using but I think I did an okay job at keeping up. When I was done the director said: “I want you to sing this like your heart is being ripped right out of your chest. This isn’t about pretty, I don’t want pretty.”
So I ran through the same chorus singing as best a person can with a vital organ being torn from their body and when I was done the director asked the piano player if he wanted to go over my range.
He said sure and then asked what my range was. I honestly answered that I didn’t know and that this was my first audition. We ran through some lalala’s with the piano and he said that I was an alto and something or other and gave my key range which I wish I remembered. After that the director thanked me and as I was walking up the tiers to leave asked: “This is your first audition?” I said yes and he mumbled, “Odd choice.” I just smiled and said: “Well, RENT is my passion.” and thanked him before walking out the door.
The dance part was next. There were to be two kinds of dancing. One that was choreographed and one that was improvised. The thought of either made me break out into a cold sweat, but I figured I can take direction fairly well so maybe I’d do better on the first one. To tell you the truth that is when I started to tell myself that I had only come to sing and that I didn’t even care if I got the part so why should I have to go through the dance part right? I mean, I had done what I had gone there to do and hey, who wants to spend so much of their summer rehearsing all the time anyway?
I almost had myself convinced but I couldn’t do it. I had to finish this thing till the end, even if that meant making an even bigger fool of myself in front of a large number of people.
There were about 20 of us in the dance group so it was pretty easy to blend into the back when learning the routine…and I use the word “learning” loosely as I never fully got it, but then she broke us up into groups. Curses!
Eventually I didn’t feel like a total klutz even if I didn’t have most of the act down. The director came in and watched us dance in our smaller groups and then came the improv dancing. The song they chose was “Today 4 U” from the broadway soundtrack. The director got all of us on the floor and told us to just go wild as he put the song on. Instantly the dance floor became a club and everyone just started dancing. I found myself getting caught up in it and just grooving. When that was over he had us pair up and come down a line like in the movie Grease and dance at the end of the line until he told us to stop. And then it was over. Turns out that was the funnest part for me. Who knew?
And that was it. Four hours after I got there it was done and I had only preformed for the director a total of three minutes.
As I was leaving the music hall and heading for my car I found a huge smile creeping across my face. “I did it!” I whispered to myself. “I really did it!”
I am fully aware I will probably not get a part in this play and I am perfectly okay with that. I did what I set out to do today and ended up actually having fun. The hugeness of this day for me is really hard to comprehend. It is not a day I will ever forget and I’m so glad I went through with it.
Yesterday Paula and I did the Heart and Sole 5K walk in Salinas to benefit the Children’s Hospital. Rob had forwarded me a link from his work a few weeks ago and since I am in training for the 10K run in July, I thought this would be a good thing to see how I have progressed as far as walking.
Being able to walk long distances is a huge thing for me. I know that sounds dumb coming from someone who has never had a physical problem with the use of her legs but it really is significant to me.
When I weighed over 300 pounds, to walk longer than about two minutes would make my lower back seize up and put me in extreme pain. Not to mention how out of breath it made me just to walk at a normal pace. Rob and I would take Romie for a walk back in AZ and in just the short distance to the end of the street, there were times I thought of asking him to go get the car and come get pick me up to get me back home.
When I had lost a lot of the weight but was riddled with anxiety to walk in an open space was sheer torture. To walk across the parking lot at work after most of the cars had left would make me want to cry. I had this irrational fear that I was going to fall down. I can’t really explain it but anyone who has ever had acute anxiety may know the feeling. It feels like you get a little dizzy but it’s really just a panic attack starting in. By the time you realize what is happening you are hunched over, lurching forward for your destination as fast as you can. I can’t imagine what people must have thought seeing me walk like that. It was not something I could control. I would have to try and talk myself down and it rarely worked.
Shopping parking lots were alright as long as I had the shopping cart to hold onto. A crowded parking lot was okay because the cars next to me would catch me if I were to suddenly fall over. I know it sounds so incredibly stupid but I lived with this for a good year and a half to two years.
Now that I am somewhat back to being a normal human being in both weight and anxiety levels, being able to go for walks on my own is kinda a big deal to me. Rob and I have done periodic 5K walks here and there since we moved to California. His company encourages fitness and will pay for the fees to do the run/walks around our area. I never really trained for any of them and was always really sore the next couple of days and my time had never really been under an hour. At first it was more about being able to do it without any anxiety than about speed.
I now try to walk at least every other day on my lunch hour at work. My anxiety over the years has lessened by leaps and bounds and I am happy to say that I finally feel normal.
Yesterday Paula and I braved high temps(for where we live) and sunburns and walked the 5K in Salinas. It was mostly flat and was a nice walk around pretty neighborhoods. There was a light breeze and good conversation. We shaved about 13 minutes off our time for the last 5K we both did together in September and finished at 53 minutes. My back never hurt. I never had anything close to a panic attack. And I am not sore today except for one blister on the bottom of my foot. To say I am very proud of this would be a severe understatement. Dare I say, I even had fun?
After the race we rewarded ourselves with a lovely breakfast of biscuits and gravy at the Toro Park Cafe.
It was a wonderful day but there was one casualty. Paula’s cell phone. Since she had no pockets in her sweatpants, she took a page from our friend Jenn and placed her cell phone in her bra, right between her boobs. Well, I guess the combination of the hot day and the sweat from her skin was a little too much for the phone to handle…And while Verizon replaced the phone, she lost all her pictures and contacts. Lesson learned. 😉
Last week I made an alarmingly large payment to my dentists office. While I know we will be getting reimbursed for half of it, I am not in the habit of dropping payments in excess of 4500.00, especially on a debit card…but it was planned for and expected.
While watching that money disappear from my bank account didn’t exactly make me want to dance a jig, the reason for it did.
On Friday I will am going in for yet another sedation dental appointment. This visit marks the end of my serious treatments. The end of my dental nightmare that has spanned the length of ten plus years. The end of a seemingly financial black hole that has easily sucked out over 20,000 dollars out of my wallet over the course of all those years.
You can only imagine my excitement to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel on this.
As if all of this wasn’t bad enough, I only have myself to blame for all of this. I would love to blame genetics but despite the fact that my parents didn’t have the best teeth, (my dad had dentures for as long as I could remember and my mom has always had very small, very weak teeth) my brother and I managed to luck out with some pretty strong teeth. Crooked, very much so, but we had some strong, thick teeth.
No, my dental nightmare began when I though it would be a wise idea to stick my finger down my throat and throw up every single morsel that I ate.
I won’t bore you with the details on that whole fiasco but let’s just say after a few years of this, the enamel on my teeth was pretty much non existent. Despite my brushing after every barfing session, my teeth began their downward spiral.
I’m happy to say that I have fully recovered from the bulimia but the rotting of my teeth has haunted me ever since. Couple that with an intense fear of the dentist after a REALLY horrific root canal that ended in an extraction, and it didn’t take my mouth long to turn into a pretty big mess.
When I lived in Phoenix,it was getting to the point where I had some really bad infections. I knew that they couldn’t do any work on my teeth if they were infected so I would make a worry free visit to have them give me an evaluation, knowing they wouldn’t be poking around in there. They would quote me a price, give me some anti-biotics and I would be on my happy way. Once the infection cleared up I wasn’t in *so much* pain so I never made the follow up appointment to get the work done. Once the infection came back I would do the same thing over again…and so on and so forth.
Once we moved out to California I had to do something. I can’t remember if it was a tooth infection or perhaps a crown that had come off but something had forced me to find a dentist out here.
Thankfully the first place I visited, I fell in love with. They claimed to specialize in “scaredy cats” and introduced me to the wonderful thing that is sedation dentistry.
This will be my fifth and hopefully final sedation dentistry. Each visit has cost me thousands of dollars and has totally been worth it!! I basically take a little nap and when I wake up the dental work is done. It’s sore but I don’t remember a thing of the visit! This was the stuff I had needed all along!
I can’t even express the difference in my teeth since I first started seeing this dentist. I went from constantly being in pain, always having swollen glands in my neck due to infections…now nothing! I honestly thought I would have to live in pain for the rest of my life or get my teeth all extracted because I had let the damage go so far.
After I made the payment over the phone, I called my friend Paula and told her the insane amount of money I had just spent in the course of five seconds. She told me that I was very lucky that my husband was supportive of this. She said a lot of guys wouldn’t have been. I agreed but pointed out that he had seen me in so much pain for so long…he had seen me have to use a mouth guard to eat my dinner because my bottom teeth were so rotten that if I didn’t I would be in severe pain. But I am lucky that has been so supportive and willing to use “our” money to get this all taken care of.
So on after Friday, my dental transformation will be completed. I’m over the moon with happiness!
I never studied and my grades showed it. I lacked any real social skills so if I didn’t enjoy going to school for learning or for socializing there wasn’t a whole lot else to go for was there?
I stayed home a lot. I convinced myself that my mother didn’t seem to mind letting me miss so much school. I remember thinking that at the time but now looking back, she really did try and get me to go. I was just stubborn. I faked sick so many times that I guess she just gave up.
In my high school yearbook, you know the part where they vote for the “biggest flirt” or the “most likely to succeed”? Mine was “Term Paper Illness”. I guess they were lucky I showed up the day they took the pictures.
I never “got” the whole high school socialization thing. I was by no stretch of the imagination popular. I had a small group of friends that I hung out with but I was usually the girl walking down the hall with her head down to avoid eye contact. At the time I thought I would have loved to have been popular but the problem was that I was painfully shy and let’s face it, teenage girls can be some real bitches(hey, I’m guilty of that as well).
I was very self conscious, always second guessing myself and I was constantly wondering if the friends that I did have were mad at me or what I had done wrong if one of my friends didn’t say hi to me in the hall.
I was repeatedly told that these were the best years of my life and I was going to regret it if I didn’t actively get out there and enjoy them. I was an angsty teenager. How could I enjoy the best years of my life when I was miserable all the time? And if these were indeed the best years of my life, does that mean it gets worse??? I was not very hopeful for the future.
So I stayed home “sick” a lot. I would skip classes and the classes I did attend, I would sit in the back of the class and do as little as possible. I had one teacher that literally gave up and let me sit in the back and read a book. I guess she thought as long as I was reading I was getting some sort of educational benefit even though the class she taught was Algebra.
Not surprisingly, I was taken aside by the guidance council at the end of my junior year and told that in order to graduate with my class I would need to take a full years classes, attend the maximum amount of night school classes and on top of that I would have to take four correspondence classes from home.
For a person that hates school, that is pretty much your worst nightmare. School during the day, school at night and then school when you got home.
I did try. For the first quarter of my senior year I did what they told me that I needed to do. I was drowning in school work and I knew it was my own damn fault, but I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I’m sure it comes as no shock to you that I dropped out.
I was only 17 at the time so I needed to get my mothers permission. I sat her down and explained everything. She obviously didn’t want a drop out for a daughter so she did some research. After finding out that there was no difference between a high school diploma from my school and a night school one other than the person that signs the document, she agreed that I could drop out of night school as long as I enrolled straight into the next starting semester of night school classes. Not graduating was not an option. Neither was getting my GED. I was to graduate and that was all there was to it.
At that point I was already taking the night school classes along with my full load of senior classes and those horrible correspondence classes so I jumped at it.
It took me three times as long to graduate but I did eventually get my diploma in 1995.
My social skills finally developed around age 19 or 20, and I know now for sure that my teenage years were FAR from the best years of my life.
Having said that, I always wonder how different my life might be if I could go back and attend high school knowing what I know now. I don’t think I would view the teachers with nearly as much hostility as I once did just because they were “authority figures”. I for damn sure wouldn’t care so much what people thought of me and walk around all day wondering if so and so is mad at me and why. I would definitely try to have more focus and actually pay attention in class. Make an honest effort to try and learn instead of sitting in the back of the class thinking how horrible and it all was.
But then I think that all things happen for a reason. All the things I have gone through in my life have shaped me into the person I am today…and I gotta say, I really like that person.