28 June 2013

Going Green - When It Doesn't Leave A Mark You Can See

I finally got out of 2008, opting for a post I wrote in October of 2009. By this time, it was pretty clear that there was nothing I could do to save my marriage, and that I should really focus on saving myself and my son.

Although at the time this post was written, I was still with my husband, the situation would continue to escalate, and 2 months later my son and I would be moving into an apartment of our own.

It's been 3-1/2 years since I made that move. Husband and I attempted to reconcile at one point, however I knew there was no way I could ever go back to living the way I did when I was with him.

We've been separated since I moved out, but remain married (in the eyes of the law). That decision is one that stemmed from financial need - a house in both of our names - insurance coverage. We have both agreed to move on with our lives and will complete the divorce process in 2014.

I am also happy to say that I am in a new relationship now. One that is filled with what good relationships need to grow. Mike has been, and continues to be, patient with the scars that were left from being with husband as long as I was. I couldn't ask for more!


Yesterday, Veronica over at Another Suburban Mom posted a reminder that in addition to October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

I've been with husband for six years now, married for three and a half years. He was married when we got together. It wasn't until we had been living together for 6 months that his ex-wife filed for divorce. 18 months later, their divorce was final.

Husband wasn't always on his best behavior when we dated. There were warning signs. The battering, the abuse, started long before we said "I do" ... and I ignored it. I am not a bad person. I have a lot of good qualities. Yet I'm always thinking "If I could only be a better wife," "If only I were more attractive," "If only I could fulfill his sexual desires" ... if only ... if only ...

Yesterday, as I was reading Veronica's post and clicking on some of the resources, I came across the Domestic Violence Wheel. It's funny, I actually used this very graphic in one of my posts, but didn't really consider its validity in my own relationship. Of the eight pieces of this wheel, I am currently living each and every one of them to varying degrees.

USING INTIMIDATION: Yelling - and I mean at the top of his lungs yelling - is husband's preferred method of intimidation, but he has also used throwing things, punching walls, faking a punch, etc. He intentionally interferes with my sleep, making sure I am awake any time and every time he is.

USING EMOTIONAL ABUSE: I am often told how I waste my life, how I'm not living up to husband's expectations thus making him work harder. I don't keep the house clean enough. The laundry isn't done quickly enough. I didn't get his clothes to the cleaners soon enough. I don't make enough money. I need to do everything around the house to make up for my lack of financial contribution. Nothing I do is ever enough. I can always do better.

Husband often withholds "love", affection and recognition as punishment when I've done something unacceptable or something that makes him mad. There are many days (sometimes strung together into a week) when he never speaks to me, refusing to acknowledge my presence in the home.

USING ISOLATION: Husband has insisted I not talk about our relationship to anyone in our families or in the community. He distances himself from our families and "demands" the same of Cam and I, mocking and belittling us when we are so weak we must rely on family. He offered to pay the airfare for Cam and I to visit Washington this summer, then changed his mind at the last minute, making it almost impossible for us to get there.

MINIMIZING, DENYING & BLAMING: This is one of the bigger ones. It is always my actions that cause husband to act the way he does. All couples fight, but I push him and make him say things he doesn't mean. His favorite? This isn't an abusive relationship, I'm just over-sensitive due to the dysfunction of my own family growing up.

USING CHILDREN: This was the one piece of the wheel I thought I was exempt from because husband has no claims to Cam, but the truth is he often tells me how I screwed up Cam's life, how my own selfishness in becoming a single parent has destroyed any potential Cam might have, how I've ruined Cam. Attacking my parenting is a common theme.

USING MALE PRIVILEGE: Husband makes all of the major decisions without any input. If he does tell me and I disagree with his plan, my input is dismissed without consideration, usually to the tune of an eye roll. He often makes decisions that impact the family, the safety and security of the household, without allowing any input from me.

USING ECONOMIC ABUSE: This is another big one in our home. Husband puts the mortgage payment into the joint account - the account I "control" I am responsible for providing EVERYTHING else for the household and for Cam, on a salary 1/4 of his. Husband has at his disposal, $2,500 in discretionary spending each month. I have $400. In addition to scrutinizing grocery receipts, he also double checks deposits to the joint account to insure I'm not "stealing" from him. I must ask for money and justify the need should we run short in any month. He then decides if I (or Cam) am worthy.

USING COERCION & THREATS: Any time there is a disagreement, husband tells me he is going to leave and take all of his money with him, leaving me in a house that will be foreclosed on. He threatens to take Cam and me off the health insurance. Tells me to call the police because they'll never see a mark on me and will know I'm lying to them.

When I look at all of these things, I cannot deny that I am in an abusive relationship, nor can I shake the notion that this is somehow my fault. Logically, I cannot explain why I am still in this marriage, yet emotionally I am paralyzed with anxiety and fear. I can't tell you why I stay (although this guide offers some insight), just as I can't tell you why husband continues to batter and abuse.

I'd love to end this post by telling you all that I am leaving, that I have a plan, but all that I can tell you is that I am closer to leaving now than I ever have been before. I have reached out for help - in more than one direction - but the response has been one of "just do this next", and I've been unable to tackle that next step. All that I can manage right now is to ask for support. Chasing it down? Having to call one more person? Tell my story one more time? It's overwhelming.

I feel crazy. Embarrassed. Humiliated. What is so wrong with me? Why can't I just walk away? How can it be battering? Abuse? If there isn't a black eye? Bruises on my arms? Broken bones? How can it be domestic violence when it doesn't leave a mark you can see?

27 June 2013

Going Green - When Good Blogging Goes Bad

Maybe I should have titled this series "Going Green From 2008" as it seems I'm finding my content during that year is the only content worthy of recycling. 

I've been active online for 15+ years, starting in forums and email lists. When I made the jump to blogging, I really tried to keep those two worlds separate  As you'll see from this post, that didn't work out so well for me.

I have had similar run-ins a few times since this post was written, one of which resulted in a reader (who I also know in "real life") contacting my employer via an anonymous email (later tracked by IP address) and "outing" my tumblr blog in an attempt to jeopardize my employment.

The good news? It was a valuable lesson learned early. Trying to keep your online world from colliding with your real life world is next to impossible. Your best bet is to be who you are, be accountable for what you write, and accept that anything you write can be found by anyone online.


Any of you who read the comments on my blog yesterday saw what happens when good blogging goes bad. This is a situation where my past caught up with my present, even though I did my damnedest to separate the two.

A little background. When I moved from Maryland to Minnesota in 1998 due to a company acquisition, I was in desperate need of a support system. I was a single mom to a 2-year old. I had just moved halfway across the country to a place that held nothing for me but dark memories. I had no family within 1,500 miles, and I knew no one in my new "home" state.

While surfing the net one day, I came across a Single Moms email list that I thought might be helpful. I subscribed and built some very strong cyber friendships, and even a few amazing real life friendships. Sure, there were ups and downs on the list - any time you get a large group of women together there are plenty of opportunities for snarky cat fights - but overall it was just what I needed - a group of women who had been where I was that had made it through. That meant I could too!

Over the years there were some list members that I frequently butted heads with. My Anon commenter yesterday was one of those. She and I often saw things differently - from parenting to politics - and many a nasty word was said. We were always able to come to some resolution though, and life moved on.

Not long after starting Half Nekkid Thursday (HNT) on my blog, one of the list members asked about it. I had one of those email brain farts where you reply to all rather than replying to the individual, and posted the link to my blog to the entire Single Moms email list.

I am certain there were many on the list who questioned my blog writings and HNT pics, but there were two, in particular, who were quite vocal and critical.   These two women did their best to shame me in a group of women that I had grown to respect, and who had grown to respect me. Each of them claimed to be doing it for my own "good." 

I attempted to defend myself for about a month, but every time the topic died down, one of the two would bring it up again. I asked, respectfully, that they stop reading the blog and/or stop discussing it on the Single Moms email list. They believed that because my blog was public, they should be able to bring up any part of it they wanted, any where they wanted. 


I left the list. It was difficult - many of these women had been around when I became a member of the list 10 years ago - but I was tired of trying to explain myself - tired of hearing the criticisms (I get enough of that at home) - tired of feeling that I didn't belong. I didn't make some "I'm taking my ball and playing somewhere else" exit speech, I just quietly walked out the door and closed it behind me.

I've been quite impressed with the blogger community I stepped into. Those of you who read me regularly, as well as those who just stop by for HNT, have been amazingly supportive. I know that you don't necessarily agree with what I'm doing all of the time, but you offer positive thoughts, stories and often just a smile. Those are the things that keep me going these days - that remind me that when I'm ready, I can make good decisions and have the life I deserve. I know that my life is a train wreck and I don't ever take your support as a blanket "atta-boy," but the positive way that y'all approach difficult situations has given me a different perspective.

At least one of these two women (and I'm almost certain, both of them) have come out from behind the lurker curtain (they've both continued to read me over the past few months) to judge me and shame me in yet another public forum. One of them claims this is about security - both mine and that of my family - (and to a certain extent I understand that) but there is always this underlying tone of how "wrong" I am for doing what I do.

This time they are on my playground, yet they want to play by their rules. Neither of them seems to realize what a bad decision this is. I'm not quitting, and I'm not going away. I do have some concern that these two women know too much about me and may try to leverage that knowledge to "force" me out of blogging - to shame me even further. In their distorted, self-righteous lives, they believe I am harming myself and my family and they need to "fix" me. They are entitled to their opinion, but it would be good for them to remember that I have just as much knowledge about them. 

I won't fight dirty, but I will fight fair.

26 June 2013

Going Green - But I Read it in the New York Times!

Another post recycled from 2008 - this one touched on two of my (many) pet peeves: Veterans, and society accepting that the news media reports logically rather than choosing how they report information in order to positively impact their ratings. 

We have access to so much information these days, yet so many of us believe everything we are told is the complete truth.


A few weeks ago, the New York Times published a lengthy, front page article that generally portrayed returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as psychotic killers who should never be trusted with small children.

The story focused on "research" done by the newspaper that found 121 cases of returning veterans who had killed (murder, manslaughter and in some cases DUI).

The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment — along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems — appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction.

The article angered me. I wasn't surprised that military veterans commit murder, but that it NEVER crossed the "brilliant" literary minds of the New York Times to give statistical data to back up this "quiet phenomenon" as they describe it. You'll understand why in just a minute.

Nowhere in the article is it mentioned that these 121 killings came from a population of veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan of about 700,000. 121 acts of murder, out of 700,000 veterans spread over six years, yields a rate of 2.88 murders per 100,000 veterans, per year.

Interestingly enough, the Department of Justice publishes statistics on homicide offenders (general population). The US offender rate for homicide in the 18 - 24 year old range is 26.5/100,000. For 25 - 34 year olds, it is 13.5/100,000.

Do you see a problem here? Yes, that's right, your chances of being killed by a returning Iraq/Afghanistan war veteran are at least FOUR TIMES LOWER than your chances of being killed by someone who never served.

This story does nothing more than attempt to exploit the acts of troops who have committed crimes since they returned to the state and suggest that being a part of the military made these people do what they did. It is an insult to all the troops who serve honorably and act with honor and dignity when they return home - it is an insult to me.

They should stick to crossword puzzles.

25 June 2013

Going Green - Plus-Sized Model?

This post originally appeared in May of 2008. As I strive to - once again - reach a healthy weight (this time with the help of bariatric surgery), this topic remains very relevant. 

I continue to struggle with what healthy looks like, and and feels like. I still cannot look at my reflection without my head filling with negative self-talk - things I would never even think about saying to anyone else.

This post is a reminder that the labels "society" places on each of us are often made from a very subjective place.


Have you ever watched America's Next Top Model? 

I've peeked in on this show on occasion - my thirteen year old step-daughter watches it incessantly when she visits - but it's not a show I'd ever seek out. The other day I thought I'd watch an episode to see which cheeseburger needing beautiful young girls were in the finals for cycle 10. I was surprised to learn that the token "plus-size" (or as they like to call it in the industry, "full-figure") model was in the final three. That surprise turned to horror when I saw these photos of one of the final three contestants and discovered that she was the "plus-size" model!

What? You've got to be kidding me! This beautiful, healthy looking, 20 year old girl (Whitney Thompson) wears a size 8/10 on a bloated PMS bad day - and we are going to call her a "plus-size" model? Since when did a healthy weight become "plus-size"? You can't even buy a size 10 in a plus-size store - they start at size 16.

Much of what I've read on Whitney's win talks about how great this is for young girls - to see that even a "plus-size" girl can win America's Next Top Model. I say bullshit! This does little more than distort the perception of "normal".

Do you know what's even worse? For years, men have taken the brunt of the blame for encouraging the stereotype of super thin as attractive, sexy, and beautiful and I don't believe it for a minute. It's not the men that encourage this stereotype, it's the women. I've read quite a bit on Whitney's win, and it's the women who say, "She sure put on a few pounds after they selected her," and "She looked better when she was thinner."

Looked better? She looks fabulous! Maybe as women we should stop being so critical of each other, and of ourselves, and recognize the beauty each one of us exudes.

And maybe ... just maybe ... that attitude will trickle down and begin to alter the way our society defines beauty.

24 June 2013

Going Green - The End of an Era

*PREFACE* I started blogging in September 2007, when blogging was more about sharing original content and being part of a community, than it was about SEO optimization and page hits. Twitter was in its infancy and tumblr had yet to be launched. I started writing because I was in an unhappy marriage and had no "safe" place for my thoughts. I needed somewhere to to gain perspective - to try to find direction in a life that had gone beyond off track.

This post was written in January of 2008, after my husband told me the reason we weren't having sex (and hadn't had sex for over 4 months) was because he was afraid I would get pregnant. I felt "pressured" to have a tubal ligation - that somehow this surgery would "fix" something very wrong in our marriage - and that not having the surgery would have been very selfish on my part.

So much has changed since then, yet looking back, it's pretty clear that ... well ...? It's pretty clear that everything was pretty clear, I just didn't want to open my eyes to look at it.


Tomorrow is the day that I voluntarily end my childbearing years. I do this with mixed emotions.

On one hand, the thought of sex without concern for an "OOPS" baby (if I conceived today, I'd be 44 years old with a newborn - can't think of anything much more terrifying) is almost orgasmic. On the other hand, it's kind of sad to finally make the decision that I'm just too damn old to be birthing any more babies.

My "baby" will be TWELVE in a little over a month. Six more years and he'll graduate from high school. Ninety days after that he'll either be heading off to college, or getting a job and moving out. Those have been the rules since day one and all three kids (one of whom is already in college) have heard it at least weekly all of their lives. Six years and I can sell the house, buy a motorhome and travel the NASCAR circuit *gigglesnort*! Now why would I even consider another eighteen year obligation?

The truth is, I wouldn't ... or at least I think I wouldn't ... but knowing that I wouldn't, and knowing that I couldn't, even if I wanted to, are completely different. Right now, I have a choice, but after surgery tomorrow, that choice will forever be gone.

There is also this idea rumbling through my head that, because I will no longer be able to have children, I am somehow less of a woman. Will this be the solution to the sexual problems in our marriage, or will it bring on an entirely different set of issues? I don't know. I wish I did.

While I contemplate lost choices and declining femininity, would anyone like to toast my fallopian tubes before they are severed??? I have until midnight to partake in the fine, distilled spirits!

21 June 2013

Going Green

I've been trying (rather unsuccessfully) to get this blog back to a somewhat active lifestyle. It's been a little lazy and I can see it's putting on a little fat. If I'm getting more active, this blog needs to as well!

I find myself bitching, whining, and moaning - more and more - about how irritating I find social media (primarily tumblr and Facebook) these days. I crave original content, and blogging always offered substantially more of that than any other platform.

Then Tracie's Going Green And Recycling Old Posts post (Wording anyone? AWKWARD) showed up in my reader ...


I've got some oldies but goodies hanging around that might still be interesting, or at least entertaining. What is required ... errrrr ... suggested ... y'all know how I am about rules ...?
Spruce up an old post and “recycle” it! Then, come back Monday and add your link to the list.
How can you make an old post better? It’s as easy as 1-2-3!
1.  Add a pinnable image
2. Clean it up with a nice edit
3. Check your word count
Then, link up and be sure to visit others to get those posts the attention they deserve.
Hopefully this will be the kick in the ass this sedentary blog needs to get back into bikini shape!!

02 June 2013

2 Months Down

Skipping Chibi's Sunday Sound-Off today for a celebration ...

Today is my 2-month surg-iversary!

Back in November, I decided to attend a weight-loss surgery informational session. I've been battling my weight for the past 3+ decades. Although I have lost over 100 lbs. ... twice ... I have never been able to keep that weight off, and I was miserable - physically and emotionally. That night I decided that I needed help, and bariatric surgery was my best chance to get healthy.

2 months ago today, I was wheeled into the operating room for a vertical sleeve gastrectomy.

The stats:
Official Pre-Op Weight: 307.2 lbs
Surgery Weight (after 10-day pre-op diet): 290 lbs
Current weight: 249.8 lbs

Total lost: 57.4 lbs

In two months ...

My goal weight is 195-205 lbs. I am 44.8 lbs away from the high end of my goal weight. I am hoping to hit my goal weight before the end of the 2013, which should be well within my grasp. I know this seems kind of odd - I lost over half of my excess weight in 2 months, so the other half should come off in another 2 months, right? Unfortunately, weight loss slows the farther out from surgery you get.

Just for shits and grins, I thought I'd share with you what a "typical" (I tend to eat the same foods) day of food looks like for me.

I start my morning with a protein shake/smoothie (2 scoops of protein, 
1 cup of water, 3 ice cubes, and maybe 1/4 cup of frozen fruit)

It looks much better when it has spent a few seconds in my Ninja!

My mid-morning snack is almost always a protein bar. I eat the Pure Protein brand 
exclusively as they are high protein, low carb, and low sugar

I've discovered Atkin's frozen meals. They are usually in the 250-350 calorie range 
(yes, I still count calories), 20+ grams of protein, and low carb.

I cannot eat a whole one, so I start with the protein and (usually) am able to finish that part. 
This photo was what was left when I stopped eating.

I'll have another protein bar, or a bag of Glenny's Soy Crisps, for my afternoon snack.

Dinner is always different. I try to cook meals where the protein portion of the meal is separate from 
anything else (like chicken in the crock pot, brats, ribs, etc.). One of the things I promised myself was 
that I would not make my family eat what I eat, but instead, I would find a way to adapt what I need to 
eat from their meal. Last night Mike and Cam had Little Caesars HOT-N-READY®'s for dinner. 
There was a Jimmy John's next door, so I went with a #1 PEPE® (applewood smoked ham and 
provolone cheese garnished with lettuce, tomato, and mayo) Unwich (lettuce wrap instead of bread).

I set the lettuce aside and got through about 2/3's of the meat/cheese/tomato innards.

That's a day of food! I'm usually in the 800 - 1000 calorie range, 60+ grams of protein, and under 50 grams of carbohydrates ... and I'm not hungry. It's pretty amazing!

These 2 months have not been without issue. I had a very rare reaction to the JP Drain they used during surgery - a huge buildup of fat necrosis that cause a great deal of pain and eventually required a second surgery to remove.

That slowed my healing process down quite a bit, and I wasn't able to start the exercise portion of this process until just last week. I am now on a 5 day/week exercise schedule and moving right along.

I couldn't have done this if it hadn't been for Mike's AMAZING support. He has been my rock. He has been my caretaker when I couldn't take care of myself. He has been the reasonable voice in the process who has reminded me that I am doing just fine - that I don't need to compare my progress to anyone else.

I'm actually looking forward to seeing what the next 2 months bring!