Friday, October 6, 2017

The walk of life

I couldn’t tell you if my early memories of my mother are actual memories or if they are the made-up kind of memories you get from pictures and stories you have been told throughout your life.  I’ve spent a few days trying to recall my earliest memory of mom and I haven’t been able to pin-point the real, actual, pulled from the compartments of my brain memory. 
My mom told me the story of my birth, but not all of it.  She said that she had a doctor’s appointment on September 26th so she took the bus into town.  The doctor told her to go home and pack her bags because she was having a baby that day, so she did.  I don’t remember if she ever told me who took her to the hospital because apparently my 17-year-old dad was in math class so he didn’t take her.  What were these children doing having a baby? There must have been so much fear surrounding my entry into this world.  I was born at 3 minutes till midnight.  My due date was September 27th.  My mother always said that is why I am always early for everything.  Of course, this isn’t the real memory I am searching for.
The next memory I have is also a story.  Mom told me that once, when I was an infant, she fell asleep while I was laying on her stomach.  She rolled over and I rolled off her, off the bed, and onto the floor.  I was unharmed (children are so resilient) but I don’t think mom ever got over it.  When I turned 1, mom couldn’t afford to buy me a cake until 3 days after my birthday when she got paid.  She also never got over that.
When I was a toddler, my mom was making pizza and put the pizza sauce can in the garbage, with the can lid still attached like can lids do when you use the can opener and don’t cut the lid completely off.  I wanted to help, so I took the can out of the trash and tried to open it using my pinky finger.   I screamed, my mom screamed and carried me to the next-door neighbor’s house in a panic.  I had to have the can removed at the hospital, I almost lost the tip of my pinky finger.  I still have the scar.
Did my mom ever tell me happy stories?  Or is it that I only remember the scary and sad ones?  Still, no actual memories.
When I was two, we lived in Germany and I “remember” these huge (huge to a 2-year-old) throw pillows on the floor in the living room.  They were there for me to sit on and watch cartoons, or eat my breakfast, and sometimes I would take naps on them.  I’m not sure why I associate that memory with my mother, she isn’t even a part of the memory, but I do, probably because it’s not an actual memory but another one that she told me growing up. 
I think my first actual memory of my mom was when I was about 5 or 6 years old.  That seems like a long time to live before having memories.  I had pretty, long blonde hair as a child (I know, strange).  She took me to the salon to get my hair cut and the stylist told her that I had lice.  Mom was mortified. She took me home and washed my hair with lice shampoo then she combed through all my long hair with that stupid lice comb and it hurt so badly.  A few weeks later, I fell asleep with gum in my mouth and she had to cut all my hair off anyway.  I remember thinking that was ironic and I didn’t even know what that meant. She was devastated – my mother always loved my hair, I think it was the thing she was most proud of as if it were an accomplishment on her part.
My parents had a little collection of records.  I was fascinated with them.  My favorite 2 were Dire Straits and Air Supply.  I would make up little dances and when my mom’s friends would come over, everyone had to sit down and watch my “performance.” Once, I turned on “The walk of life” by Dire Straits and I started walking across the living room with my hands out, fingers stretched, shaking them like tamborines. THIS was my impression of “the walk of life.”  From that day on, this was mine and my mother’s song.  Whenever it came on, we would shake our hands and mimic walking across the room.  This has ALWAYS been one of my very favorite memories.
A few weeks before she died, we were laying in her bed talking.  She made a comment about how her 14-year-old cat had managed to stay alive for her and how the cat might actually outlive her.  I said, “Mommy, do you think you will die soon?” “I don’t know,” she said.  “Are you scared?” I managed to get out as my throat swelled and I felt the sharp headache that you get when you fight back tears with all of your might. “No, I’m not scared.  Are you?”
I couldn’t hold the tears back any longer.  I laid in her arms and cried, “Yes.” 
She held me while she fumbled with her phone, I knew what she was doing.  Sure enough, her phone started playing..
“Here comes Johnny singing oldies, goldies
Bebop, a lua baby, what I say…”

This song actually makes no sense.  Kind of like the way I feel about life right now.  However, there is this nugget at the end that makes the whole song worth it and I believe it is what my mother was trying to tell me that day:
“And after all the violence and the double talk
There’s just a song in all the trouble and the strife
You do the walk, yeah, you do the walk of life
You do the walk of life.”

Life is hard.  Sometimes, unbearable.  I spent the years I had with my mommy laughing (and crying) and singing a song that was ultimately about how it would all end.  Through it all, you just keep doing this walk called life.  It’s beautiful, and fun, and ridiculous, and ironic, and scary.  It also makes absolutely no sense, but you walk anyway. That’s what she was trying to say.

She didn’t know what she was doing on September 26, 1979 … and she probably didn’t feel like she knew what she was doing on July 28, 2017 … but she walked, and that’s what she wanted me to do.

Monday, August 21, 2017

3 weeks & 3 days without her

When mom called me on April 3rd, 2017 I thought maybe she saw something on TV that she wanted to tell me about, or she heard a new song that she wanted me to listen to, or maybe she needed me to look something up on the internet for her ... these were usually the reasons she would call me in the middle of the day at work. 

"Hi, Mommy!" 
"Hi, honey, I am in the hospital...Tim brought me to the emergency room last night because my left arm was hurting and he was afraid I was having a heart attack.  They have found a tumor on my left is 2 inches in diameter."

Surely she meant 2 centimeters ... she must have heard them wrong.  "Okay, Mom... I'll be there as soon as I can."  At 2am the next morning I left NC and headed out to WV for the first of what would be 10 trips up and down I77 over the next 4 months.  I slept at the hospital with mom the night of April 4th - she was in so much pain ... I just couldn't understand what was happening.  I remember the nurse coming in the middle of the night and I said to her, "What is going on?  Why is she in so much pain?"  I will never forget the look she gave me.  It was the exact look that the actors on Grey's Anatomy give to family members when they know what is wrong with their loved one, but the can't tell them yet because they haven't confirmed it.  She knew it was cancer ... and at that moment I knew it was cancer.  I laid back down on the most uncomfortable fold-out bed in the history of the world and held my breath and fought back tears in silence until the sun finally came up. 

April 5th began the true torture... really people shouldn't have to ever go through what the words, "You have cancer" put you and your loved ones through.  I didn't say a whole lot to friends or family while mom was sick (I didn't feel that she really wanted people to know how bad it was).  She lost her voice, down to a whisper ... she would tell people on the phone that she had laryngitis.  She didn't like pity, she didn't like to be weak ... she has always been the strength of our family and I believe she intended to continue to be that until her last breath.  I am not as strong as her.  I had 4 panic attacks in the first 2 months - the final one scared me so much that I sought medical attention - I never told her.

When we found out that mom was sick, I knew in my head that it would be hard but there was no way to really comprehend how hard it would be until I went through it.  I knew it would be hard when she died, but there was no way to really comprehend how hard until she died in my arms.  Now I have lived 3 weeks and 3 days without her...I knew it would be hard but ...

The earth keeps spinning, the sun comes up every morning, people are rude in traffic... I have to keep eating dinner, brushing my teeth, washing clothes.  My life continues, but I have to learn to function as a drastically wounded and different person. I know that it won't always be this way and that wounds heal but healing right now feels like forgetting and that is terrifying. 

They say that there are stages of grief but that you don't necessarily experience them in any certain sequence and sometimes you go through certain stages multiple times and sometimes more than one stage at once.  I think I am still in shock and denial.  I have recently experienced moments of reality setting in and then I shut it off because crying hurts so badly.  I hope that by sharing my story I will work through what I am feeling and in some way it may help someone else.  I have had a hard time finding stories to connect to and I think that is because people want to forget and it is too difficult to open up to others. There is nothing wrong with that, but I just feel like my story has to help someone - I will make sure that something good comes from this.

As I have the strength, I will share more stories - it is healing for me and I want to make sure that I document everything while it is still fresh in my mind.  Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Running with Hulk Hogan

Wow..It's been way too long since I have written a blog!  This used to be something I was so passionate about ... and I lost that passion.   I guess I thought that I had run out of things to share, or time to share any of it.  Either way, that is unacceptable.  So, here it goes.

Just about everyone knows by now that I am in the middle of training for a half marathon that I am running the day after my birthday in September.  I have worked up to 8 miles and have done this distance twice now.  I am feeling pretty good about my physical ability to make the 13.1 mile distance ... but this hasn't come without a lot of speed bumps.

I realized quickly that a regimented running schedule was not something that ... let's say ... fit me.  I love running.  I love the pure, simple, idea of running for the sake of running and how it makes me feel.  I don't like HAVING to run.  I also feel like long runs during the week just don't really fit into my busy schedule (nor my desire to sleep until the very last second).  So, what is a girl to do?  Well, NOT running during the week is not an option.  Listen, distances over 8 miles shouldn't be taken lightly, injuries can happen if you don't prepare yourself .... so.... I have to run.  I'm going to try shorter distances during the week but just more of them and see how that goes.  I'll keep you updated.

In other news, the long distances on the weekends have been GREAT!!  I so enjoy being out in nature and the fact that it is so dang hot out means that I have to do my long runs earlier in the morning (which for some reason I don't mind on the weekends because I am in no rush).  Early morning runs offer opportunities to see nature "waking up" ... and I love it!  Three weeks ago I saw a deer ... like a real baby deer about 20 feet away from me ... eating leaves.  He/she just stood there chewing leaves and I just stood there staring in awe.  We stared at each other for a good 3 minutes before it ran off.  This morning I must have seen 3 or 4 bunnies ... cute little cotton tailed bunnies!

None of this beats what I saw last weekend on my first 8 mile run!  I was coming up to the end of mile 4 - feeling like I was going to die and there was no way I could possibly do that loop around town AGAIN!  When all of a sudden, out of nowhere, running right toward me was HULK HOGAN! Yellow tank top, yellow bandana, blonde handle-bar mustache... running right toward me.

"I'm hallucinating ... this is how I will die... running down the street and the last person I see is Hulk Hogan.  The paramedics will tell my mother that I lost my mind in the ambulance murmuring something about Hulkamania and ripping my tank top."

It seriously took everything inside of me not to stop the man and ask if I could take a selfie with him - because NO ONE is going to believe me.  I waved, he waved ... we continued on our separate paths.  I spent the next two miles trying to convince myself that this was just a man that looked a lot like the Hulkster .. and not actually him.  "Hulk Hogan is a HUGELY tall man, this man was average height.  Hulk Hogan would not be running on the greenway in Concord North Carolina, Adrienne."  It was a good distraction.

At some point around mile 7, we crossed paths again.  I am strangely sad to report that this man was not Hulk Hogan.   I am happy to report that I was not hallucinating and I didn't die on that run.  I totally wish I had the guts to ask for that picture!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I have loved you all along

When I really got serious about losing weight I'm not really sure I knew what I was getting myself into. As a matter of fact, I can look back now and I realize that I didn't even believe that I could do it. Losing weight was a novelty. Something I would tell myself I would do but deep down inside I thought just hoping was good enough. I guess I figured that I needed to at least have the illusion that I tried to make myself feel better.

I liked watching shows about weight loss, I read blogs and magazine articles. I can truly say I was an expert at weight loss. I had lost weight. I had lost a significant amount on several occasions. I knew HOW. I could even tell others HOW.

One of the themes that always came up in my studies was the theme of loving yourself and forgiving yourself BEFORE you could shed the pounds. I even named this blog "loving me now." But I didn't. I couldn't. I was so ashamed of my failures. I had constant negative talk in my mind. I made up what I thought other people must think about me. It was torture. I hated the mirror, I hated clothes, I hated Adrienne. (I'm on the verge of tears just typing this). No one on this earth was meaner to Adrienne than I was. Why?

Honestly, I don't even know. My mother is the most accepting person I know. She always taught me to be kind to myself. She always told me how beautiful I was. I didn't learn it from her. I always knew that models were edited and weren't real. I didn't learn it from them. I taught it to myself. I decided something was wrong with me. I became the punishment for what I viewed as failure. Who was I to love and forgive such a terrible failure? do I accept this person and love her enough to do something good for her? Do it for her and not for anyone else? Put her first? She didn't deserve it.

None of those thoughts went away until the pounds started coming off. It was like I was being peeled back and slowly I could breathe. Every breath got easier and easier. I pictured myself happy. I focused all that negative energy on the treadmill. I cried A LOT. Every tear and every drop of sweat was hate...leaving my body. 

A couple of weeks ago I went for a morning run. I felt like I was flying. The wind was blowing on my face and the sun was shining on my skin. I was alive. The song "Far Away" by Nickelback came on Pandora and I heard this lyric:

'Cause I needed
I need to hear you say
That I love you
I have loved you all along
And I forgive you
For being away for far too long
So keep breathing
'Cause I'm not leaving you anymore

For the first time, maybe ever, I realized that I have loved myself all along. I loved the real Adrienne...not the one I had created with hate. I just needed to forgive myself for not treating her like I loved her. I was finally able to forgive.

Maybe you relate to all of this. Maybe you're the meanest person that you know, but only to yourself. There is hope. One day at a time. Start pulling away at those layers. Not every weight loss tip works for everyone. Don't be hard on yourself. Only you can get to the place you need to be to accept yourself and that may not happen right away, thats okay, but it does need to happen. 

My heart has been breaking for others who find themselves in this cycle of hate. I'm here if you want to talk. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


My towel wrapped around me tonight.

For most people this is not profound. "Yes, Adrienne, towels do that." Maybe they have always for you. Not for me.

Maybe it has been wrapping around me, completely, for a while and I just now noticed? I'm not sure.

I've officially lost 75lbs. It has taken me a total of 11 years and 3 separate tries, but I am 10lbs away from the scale reading 199. There are a lot of things I expected would be by now, but it never occurred to me that the towel would wrap all the way around.

If you've never been "morbidly obese" (God, what a ridiculous term) then I don't expect you to understand the following.

There are things that I expected. I expected to be proud of myself, and I am. I expected that I would feel better, sleep better, look better, and I do. I expected all of these things and more. I expected to step on the scale and read 199 and suddenly every struggle for the past 11 years would rush through my mind like a movie and that I would be so overwhelmed with emotion that I would collapse on the floor of my bathroom, sobbing with joy as if this miracle has just taken place before my very eyes without my involvement.

There are also things that I did not expect. I didn't expect to feel kindof numb. I didn't expect to still see myself as the fat girl. I didn't expect people to treat me differently (they do). I didn't expect people to be jealous, or judgy, or weird with me. I didn't expect to be surprised that the towel would wrap around, or that Jillian Michaels videos would no longer be hard, or that running would one day not be enough to take off the lbs. I didn't expect to still be unhappy with pictures or that I would still not fit into American Eagle jeans.

The list goes on and on.

Here is the thing. Life is full of moments where we expect certain things to happen or certain moments to be a certain way. We can't rely on that. Anything worth doing is going to be hard, much harder than you expected. If you want to start a journey to lose weight, or change careers, or start a family, then you have to throw all of your expectations out the window because the final product may not look like what you thought it would.

Here is what I think will happen when I see 199. I will be full of pride for what I have accomplished. I will remember all of the hard work and realize that I DID that. Every pound came off because I made choice after choice,  not because of some miracle that just happened to me.

Or maybe I'll collapse on the ground. Who knows?

Tears will probably be involved.

I'll let you know.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Well, hello there. How is your Sunday afternoon? Mine is nice and quiet (well, except for Max laying here growling at something he hears outside - he does that when I don't have the TV on).

Things with me are going really well. I am getting used to my new routine - let me share it with you:

6:00 am - wake up
6:30 am - leave for work
7:00 am - arrive at work
7 - 7:45 am - work out
7:45-8:30 - get ready for work (at work)
8:30 am - 5:30 pm - work (see a pattern developing here?)
5:30 - about 6:15 depending on traffic - drive home from work
6:15 to whenever I happen to be able to fall asleep - do chores, watch tv, hang out, etc.

Yes, it is very busy.

I do have good news! I got my insurance cards in the mail today!! I haven't had insurance through my place of employment - well...ever really. I did have it at one place for about 2 months and was never able to use it. I'm very excited to be able to go to the doctor again!

I really wanted to share some pictures with you in this blog - but it seems that my ipad won't let me do that - booo! I decorated my cubicle this week ... I got really creative and I'm so much more comfortable at my desk now!

I'm also offically on Week 3 of Couch to 5K! I'm really happy to be running again - I am also really happy to be focusing on me and my health again - it is really important to pay attention to your health...I wish I had done so sooner.

Wow, I'm so unhappy that I can not share pictures with you. I have to figure out a way before my next post.

Well, have a great week everyone...maybe next time I will have some funny story to report to you ... until then...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The "backwards scissor": A Yoga story

So, I promised a story.

My new workplace has a gym. It's pretty great that I could get out of my monthly gym membership...I've been working out there before work. They also offer a yoga class on Wednesdays at lunch, which I thought was free...I was wrong.

So, I attended 3 classes before discovering that I had to pay. The class itself was good, hard, but good and I liked it. Except the part where my co-workers are there with me. Now, I've never really cared much about people watching me workout. You can judge me all you want, but at least I'm doing something. Besides, I'm free to think whatever I want about you be careful where you tread.

Yoga is an interesting form of exercise. Before I tried it...I thought it was for twenty somethings who wanted to buy cute workout clothes and go to the gym to be seen, but didnt really want to sweat...just "stretch" and say they worked out.

Have you ever been really wrong? Me too.

Yoga is no joke. Especially at my "size". That instructer would calmly say "warrior two" and my mind immediately thought, "yes, this is war...and I'm not winning!"

The girls I work with are really nice girls...they are grown women, they act as such, and I have no reason not to like them or to feel negatively toward them in any way. However, there was one moment when that instructor (Jenny is her name) would describe a pose and I literally laughed out loud, just in time for me to look around to see if anyone else thought it was as absurd as I did that she would even suggest that the human body could get into that position, and to find that they were already gracefully in the "backwards scissor" pose.

I don't know about you, but I'd like to clearly state that my body doesn't do "scissor" anything...much less backwards. For a split second I was so jealous of those girls.

Jealousy is such a terrible monster of a thing. It will come on when you dont expect or ask it to. Yes, there are times we choose to be jealous, but that is usually after the emotion has introduced itself, uninvited. I hate it, like it killed my family or something.

Jealousy robs us of our potential. We see someone else succeeding and jealousy creeps in and forces you to focus on what you don't have or can't that you never realize you probably can... sometimes better.

Look, I might not be able to do the "backwards scissor" ... But I might. I didn't try. I was too busy moping about the fact that they could. How dumb.

I hope to go back to the class once I am in a better place financially, and then I will attempt that least then I'll have health insurance, you know, in case I need medical attention afterward.

Life is a constant battle. Jealousy is something I don't have time for if I want to win the war...

"What did she say? Oh, yeah....warrior three. Bring it on."