Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Many countless hours of my youth were spent alone staring out windows. Wasted time contemplating the difference between reality and the dream world to which I felt I existed. So many things I had been sheltered from. I felt very ill prepared for being an adult. I felt lost. Life wasn’t at all like “The Brady Bunch” or “The Walton’s”. There were no knights in shining armor riding to rescue me from the dragons that lay ahead in my life. I know the teenage to adulthood years are always complicated but somehow I felt disconnected from the rest of the world. I feel with the way the government and schools now baby kids and caudal them with everyone wins and nothing’s every wrong they are going to be a large number of children growing up such as I felt. I wasn’t sheltered that much at school but my parents had done everything they could to keep me from seeing the world in an ugly light. Not something I blame them for. They did what they thought was best; however, I was not prepared when at sixteen working my first job I met a woman who didn’t like me and was very blatant about it. I wasn’t prepared for the language or the pictures or the lack of caring that seemed to be for my well being as an employee. The year was 1983 and that was a rough year for me. It was a year that sent me on many years of self-doubt, reflection and yes even depression. 1983 in so many ways is the year that sticks out most in my mind. We all have that year we feel turns us around and leaves us a little if not a lot lost. This was mine. I found out so many things about the world that summer. Most and foremost I found myself hating my body. I wasn’t really that large for my size but I was a little larger than most girls my age. I started a campaign to lose weight and exercise and I was going to do it right and be healthy. I needed to do that. I thought somehow in my mind this woman disliked me for who I was that I saw in the mirror. Looking back today I think she was just bitter in a nowhere job she had for a long time. She didn’t like me because I was young and full of promise where she had withered and lost hope. I understand it now. I wish I had understood it then. Somewhere in September of that year as I went back to school my dad’s mother was admitted to the hospital with stomach issues. She also had a bad heart. This was nothing new though. My grandmother had been in and out of hospitals a lot and I really didn’t pay it much attention at first. My dad went to see his mother in late September without us. She was still in the hospital and seemed to be getting worse. I remember praying for her not to be taken from us. There was so much I wanted her to be a part of. I mean graduation from high school, college, weddings and children. I didn’t want her to go away. I didn’t know what that would be like. I had never lost anyone before that I loved as I loved her. My prayers were not answered though. The day after Thanksgiving in 1983 we headed to Lexington to see her. By the time we entered the waiting room my uncle told us she was gone. Her heart was still beating with the help of machines, but she wasn’t there anymore. It was just a matter of waiting and seeing how long it took her to wind down. The law at that time in Kentucky at that time didn’t allow for her to be taken off life support until her blood pressure dropped below 28. At first I refused to go into the room and see her. I really was scared of what I might find or see. This was all new to me and it frightened me somewhat. My aunt finally talked me into it and I wish to this day I had never let anyone talk me into going into that room. I remember all the tubes and all the machines and the sound of the machine as it inflated her lungs. I remember the tears at her eyes involuntarily caused by the pressure of the machines. I remember how skinny she was. My grandmother had never been a small woman. I hadn’t seen her since early summer when she had given me a necklace passed down in the family for my sixteenth birthday. She was so pale and so lifeless laying there. No words came from me. No movement towards her to touch her or comfort her or even myself. As I stood there looking at her now lying there I could picture her on the end of the porch the last I had seen her in the summer waving good bye to us and telling us to be careful. There was so much I didn’t understand about death at this point. Boy would that change as I lost a multitude of family and friends over the next few years. We waited a couple of days but the hospital could not tell us how long it would be so we headed back to Fort Wayne. That is the first time I ever recall seeing my daddy cry. First time I guess I ever thought of him as human. Now watching him get more and more frail it seems like so long ago he was that strong man that I thought ruled the world. The ride home was quiet. Later that evening not long after we got home they called to say they had taken her off life support and she had passed shortly after. We would be going back the next day. Another trip in such a short time where I would see my daddy cry almost all the way there. The funeral home was full of family. People were laughing and talking all around the casket. Still skinny but at least without the tubes she looked more like the grandmother I remembered. I was numb as I stood there looking around. I barely remember the people with the exception of my cousin Randal and my aunts and uncles. The more I listened the angrier I got. I didn’t understand how these people could be smiling and laughing and talking with my grandmother lying there never to speak to us in this life again. It would take years before I understood that was their way of dealing with it and what they were doing was reminiscing over the memories and celebrating her life. It really was honoring her memory but since I had not been around funerals and I had never lost anyone else it didn’t sink in. So many memories from that time that seem trivial, but some things stick out. For whatever reason it appeared to me that people felt I was strong and didn’t need a shoulder to lean on. They offered support to my dad and my mom and my other family members but I sat alone behind them with a tissue and my thoughts. To this day I couldn’t tell you about the drive home and back to Fort Wayne. The only thing I recall there was looking out the window and contemplating life. Either way for me things had changed. People didn’t live forever which meant someday I’d lose my parents. I started exercising more and watching what I eat even closer. It wasn’t long till I was having contest with myself to see not how many hours but how many days I could go without eating. I would drink liquids I just wouldn’t eat food. Longest I recall going was 8 days. Funny thing is after the first day without food you really don’t’ even want it so it’s not as hard as one might think. Since I had done that without dying I soon started a habit I would keep for a few years. I would eat about every third or fourth day. The really sad thing is that when I would eat I would feel guilty like I was letting someone down. I got really skinny but no matter how much I lost it wasn’t enough for me. Still isn’t. My body didn’t feel happy with me either. On the few occasions I decided to eat real food I would have to run to the bathroom and throw it up. I wasn’t making myself do this, but I wasn’t use to eating anymore either and my body wasn’t happy either way. I got really sick before I sought the help I needed. I started seeing a counselor named Dr. Bolyard. He was a nice guy that let me talk and talk, which I needed, but I had trust issues and I didn’t trust him so I talked with him about many of my issues, but never got close to the eating issues I was having which was the main reason I had started seeing him in the first place. That and I felt lost. Somehow admitting my eating problems seemed as if it would relinquish my control and it would make me a failure at life. I saw him for over a year and never mentioned it once; however, with his talking to me about other issues I started to eat a little better. This is the first time I realized in my own mind that my eating was controlled by my mental image of myself. Good or bad that was just the way it was. As I’ve grown older I’ve learned slowly but surely that there truly are no knights in shining armor. A girl must simply learn to slay dragons on her own and forge on. It’s the structure of my life. One I’m slowly becoming content with. To say I’m happy with my life would still be a bit of a stretch but I know deep down I am responsible for my destiny, my future and my own happiness. It’s a journey I’ve needed to take for a long time. Some people learn it early, some come to it early in life but we all live or die by our own hand in one way or another. So those who support me just understand I’m a work in progress and I love you all very much for being a part of my journey.
Posted by Sheila