Real Life happens, with Wanda, Our Inspiration
See that girl over there? The one surrounded by friends and always laughing and smiling? That’s me! I’m loud, I use grand gestures to tell stories and I swear like a sailor when excited. I’m always up for a fun time, whether it be an evening playing board games, an afternoon of ski-dooing, a friendly game of softball or skipping school to dye my hair red. I am in the school band, on the school soccer team, take martial arts classes, hang out with skateboarders, watch my friends’ “jam” in their basement, waste my weekends at the pool hall and graduate top of my class. I go to parties and drink and dance. I participate in events, volunteer in the community and am eager to try new things. Blessed with good genetics, I never worry about what I eat, how I look or what my future will be like.
Or more correctly, that WAS me!
I remember exactly when all that changed. I was in to see my doctor the year I turned 30 and he told me (out of the blue) that if I wanted to have children that I should start planning soon. Until this point kids were only a distant thought for me, something that I would want in the future. But all of a sudden I was hit with the reality that I would not be young forever. We decided after that appointment that it was time to settle down and start a family, and because everything in my life had always come so easily for me, I just assumed getting pregnant would be easy too. But month after month passed with no luck and I honestly did not know how to handle not getting something that I wanted. I became obsessed with getting pregnant. I started monitoring what I was eating (in an unhealthy way), I stopped going out to clubs on weekends, I withdrew from friends who were getting pregnant all around me and basically, I just stopped enjoying so many things in life that I used to love.
I finally got pregnant after a year of trying, but that happiness did not last long. I miscarried at 13 weeks. On top of the pain I felt over the loss, I felt completely betrayed – by my own body. How could I be having so much trouble over something that millions of other women do without even a thought? I led a (mostly) healthy lifestyle my whole life and yet this is how I was repaid! Why should I even bother taking care of myself! I avoided all of my friends, withdrew from my family, dropped all of my extracurricular activities and even stopped talking with my husband. Like many people battling depression, I found comfort in food. I was so angry at my body that I didn’t care that I was gaining weight. I stopped caring about clothes or how my hair looked. I woke up, went to work, came home, ate, and slept. All I could feel was anger, sadness and self-pity. I was wholly lost.
When I found out that I was pregnant the second time, I could never fully relax and enjoy my pregnancy. There was always a sense of dread overshadowing my happiness. It hurt to plan for the future knowing now that not everything in life is fair or has a happy ending. I continued to seek comfort in food, this time with the excuse that I was pregnant. By the time Peter was born, I had gained about 60 lbs over a period of about 3 years.
When Peter was born – a happy, healthy baby boy – I let out a huge breathe of relief. But I was still not happy or healthy in my own body and mind. I did not easily adjust to motherhood, but it wasn’t the everyday tasks (feeding, diapers, little sleep, etc) that I found hard. I felt LONELY all the time, even though I had several friends off on maternity leave at the same time. I just couldn’t connect with other mothers. I would listen to them talk about how blessed and happy their lives were since their babies were born, and I would smile and nod. But really, I hated having someone depend on me for every single need. I hated not knowing if I was doing things “right”. I hated that a friend could get Peter to stop crying but I could not. I hated that every single conversation I had was now centered on the baby. I hated that I was happier going back to work than I was staying home on maternity leave. And I hated that I couldn’t feel like society told me that I should. I felt trapped and I wouldn’t dare tell anyone how I truly felt because that would mean admitting that I was a horrible person/mother. And most of all, I felt guilty! Guilty because we had tried so long to have this baby and now that he was here I still wasn’t happy.
Looking back on it now I can see that I was deeply depressed, and had been right from the beginning of trying to get pregnant. But, just as I remember exactly when this all started, I also remember the exact moment that I decided to change. It was during one of Cindy Butt’s Zumba classes and we were dancing to “I’m Sexy And I Know It”. There is a section in that song where Cindy lets us do our own thing, and it usually gets pretty raunchy and funny with some of the more outgoing gals in class. This particular Zumba class, those same girls dragged me into their circle of craziness and made me dance with them. Afterwards I went home and cried. If this group of strangers could embrace me, then I could learn to do the same. After that, Cindy’s classes became part of my healing process, and were no longer just excuses to get out of the house and away from the “mommy” part of my life.
Today, I am a much happier person. Through a lot of hard work, both emotionally and physically, I have lost 2/3 of the weight that I had gained. First I had to work at forgiving my own self and accepting that I am not perfect, no one is. Then I had to allow myself to believe that I was worth it and deserved to be happy. Cindy offered me the tools to do the rest – clean eating and fitness classes that I loved going to. I am now the mother that I’ve always wanted to be. I value my time with my family and cannot wait to see my sweet boy’s little face every day after work. (He is nearly 3 years old now). I chat with my mom and sisters on the phone more frequently. I have renewed friendships and even made a few new ones along the way. I changed my hairstyle recently and enjoy shopping for new clothes. THAT is the power of feeling healthy mentally and physically!
Now when I look in the mirror I see the girl I used to be. Maybe only a little wiser and more refined.