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Today is an odd sort of anniversary for me.

Three years ago today, I was at the ranch with my brother and my mom. I don't remember why my dad wasn't there, but Claudia was working that weekend. I remember getting the phone call from my then boyfriend. Mama answered, and she talked to him briefly about the weather while I came to the phone. I was surprised he called so early in the day. I wasn't expecting to talk to him until Sunday night. I asked him how his day was going so far. He said "eventful." Then he said "I'm in Giddings." And I said "What?" And he said "I'm in Giddings. I'm in the Ramada parking lot. I don't remember the rest of the way. Come get me." I said "I'll be there in five minutes. Ten minutes."

I raced to the Ramada Inn parking lot, thinking that it was an amazingly sweet and sweeping gesture to surprise me with a visit, given the two and a half hour flight, dealing with a rental car and the hour and a half drive to the ranch. We'd been having some problems, and he'd asked me to temporarily halt my job search in Baltimore so we could live in the same city a month earlier. But he never talked about those problems since he asked me to stop looking, and we both had pretty severe illnesses to deal with in the interim. I thought we were working together on our relationship.

Of course, instead of having a joyous reunion, I got dumped on my ass. I still go back and forth in my head about whether the decision to surprise me with a visit so he could do it in person was particularly cruel or an effort to be a man about it and do it to my face. I'm pretty sure that he intended the latter. I'm more confident that making a breakup feel like the exact opposite of a surprise proposal--down to checking my schedule ahead of time to ensure I'd be at the right place at the right time--was one of the most painful things I've ever been through. I know that I would have been hurt no matter what his method of dumping, but I still wince every time I pass that parking lot.

At any rate, I was in pretty bad shape. I stopped eating. I stopped posting in my journal and at my lawyer board. I didn't speak to anyone for a week, aside from jasheffe, who was my lifeline. I couldn't sleep. I started a private journal to wail in. I couldn't stop crying. I cut off all of my friends. I wept for hours into Relampago's fur.

But the one thing I could do was go to the gym. In addition to the two scheduled workouts with Wooch, I started running on the treadmill. And doing yoga. And running some more. I obsessively wrote down all of my workouts in a moleskine diary, and I talked a lot about my workouts in the private breakup journal that I started for myself.

A few days after the breakup, I confirmed my longheld theory that I was too fat to be loved. My ex- and I--unwisely in retrospect--restarted communication, and he told me via IM that he was physically unattracted to me because of my weight and that was the primary reason for his decision to dump me. I was actually really surprised at how well I took that. Part of it was that it was completely unsurprising to me. As I said, it was a longheld belief, and I was ready to accept that being fat means you don't get to be loved. Part of it was also that I was really, really desperate to understand why this had happened, and this was at least a reason. This was a person who had enthusiastically started planning a life with me six months prior and gave me every indication that he had been head over heels in love. While not entirely out of the blue, his going from "rest of our lives" to "whoa nellie" to "never again" was really fucking fast. I had no idea why or, more importantly, how to stop something like that from happening again.

We very unwisely maintained a pretty intense online communication for a few months. I did it because I was desparate to hold on to him in some way and also to get some answers. I don't know why he did it, because he certainly wasn't interested in actual communication. I gave him access to my private journal, and at the beginning, I stripped myself emotionally raw there. Over time, though, it became more of a documentation for my training and a guage of my progress.

But that was a relatively small part of my day. I still wasn't ready to reenter the world, so I dedicated my life to the gym. In July, I told my brother and my sister that we were going to do a bootcamp together at the gym. And because they love me and wanted me to recover, for ten weeks, they got up at an ungodly hour of the morning four days a week, and worked out two grueling hours with me. One of the trainers was into boxing, and he'd strap the boxing gloves on us and let us go to town on the bags. It was one of the most cathartic things I could have done.

In those first two months, I probably lost a good 30 to 40 pounds, though I'll never know because I didn't know my start weight. When I went to the doctor for my annual, I stepped on the scale a good 16 pounds lighter than I had been the last time I was there, and I know that I had gained weight in the previous year. I don't know if I ate anything in that period of time. I don't really remember outside that first week where I literally only ate a bag of twizzlers, a handful of pasta, and some pistachios for a total of maybe 500 calories for the week. I'm pretty sure I ate something, though.

In August, I added a running class to my already pretty intense workout schedule and went to a few social events. In September, I started religiously following my rigorous half marathon training schedule and felt brave enough to rejoin my online communities. In October, I Raced for the Cure and went to my friend Candyman's Halloween party. In November, missing the catharsis of boxing, I added a Saturday boxing class to my routine, but I still kept going without seriously reinjuring myself. In December, I had a major setback in that the half marathon sold out before I could sign up, but I found another race to run. Most of the Christmas Tree Cutting Party was spent explaining to people how I'd lost so much weight. In January, I ran a half-marathon.

This was ridiculously huge for me. I set a goal and I did it. While I had the help of Wooch, and my siblings, and the instructors at the boot camp, and my yoga teacher, and the other people in run class to help me along, I did this thing mainly on my own. I could barely run a mile when I started back in June. But I ran almost every day, and I built up more and more and more distance. Most of my training was just me and my ipod on a treadmill or on a running trail. I remember one Saturday in December I ran 12 miles and then went to my boxing class afterwards. I was almost high with what I could do with my body once I put the time and dedication into it. And I lost another 30 pounds in the process.

After the half-marathon, I was ready to reenter the world. I immediately got on board with building the Vroom Vroom Room, and I spent pretty much as much time building my social life as I had my physical life in the previous six months. I spent hours with my friends in warehouses and bars and garages. I built up old friendships and established new ones. I played with my appearance and my attitude and I started really not caring about what society as a whole thought of me. I did things because I wanted to do them, and I was thoroughly unafraid to let myself shine.

By the time I went to Burning Man the six months after that, I was a more complete, a more happy me than I ever could have been with my ex. I spent a little over a year breaking myself down and building myself back up again. I was ready to find intimacy again, and I found a person who satisfied my needs and wants and desires in a way that no one else ever has. And the rebuilt me was a much better, happier person than the unsure person who was slightly dependent on other people's wants and opinions.

Of course, my core being has always been the same. I've always been a sparkly personality drawn to whimsy and fun. I've always been highly opinionated and slightly outside the norm. I've always been drawn to challenging myself and being unable to turn down a dare. But I do it now a little more on my own terms than I did before. I rebuilt myself for ME.

I've regained some of that weight since that amazing year. I've lost a lot of the endurance. But I'm still fundamentally a better person, and I know it. Part of it is that I'm actually loved by someone genuinely. I know this in my soul, and I never ever second guess it. Part of it is that I have a rich, interesting life full of wonderful friends, great adventures, and lots of sparkles and lights. But most of it comes from a self-awareness that I attained by going through that process of stripping myself down, facing my worse self and determining that she was worth saving.

I'm about to start training again for a half-marathon. I do this for myself, as I know that I take the best care of my physical self when I'm training for an event. But I also do it for someone else. Graham and I want to have kids soon, and I want to be as in good a shape as possible for that. Because of my age, any pregnancy will a high risk one, even if everything goes smoothly. I want to do everything I can to minimize any risks that I can control.

I wouldn't wish the pain I went through three years ago on anyone. It was just awful, and there were points where I was pretty sure that my psyche would not survive intact. But I am immensely proud that I picked myself up and made myself a better person. And I shudder sometimes when I think of what my life could have been compared to what it is now.


( 18 comments — Say something )
Jun. 11th, 2009 01:54 am (UTC)
Yay you!
Jun. 11th, 2009 02:15 am (UTC)
Strong and True
Great writing, you must feel even better now. Motivational and honest, true strength and belief. Well writ.
Jun. 11th, 2009 02:40 am (UTC)
I knew your prior boyfriend was a dick (which I judged by the way he treated you), but I hadn't realized how much of a dick he was. I'm sorry that happened to you, but I'm glad you were able to use it as fuel to relearn who you are and love yourself for the great person that you are. Yay!
Jun. 11th, 2009 03:11 am (UTC)
I love you very much, and I'm so glad you are who you are. Then, now, and always.
Jun. 11th, 2009 03:20 am (UTC)
I have no words for what an absolute ass I think he acted like, first to blindside you like that and then to have the gall to blame his issues on *you*. ::stompy boots of DOOM, let me tell you:: And I would guess he kept in touch because it gave him a feeling a power over you.

But I am so very proud of how you took that pain and used it to make yourself stronger and fiercer, more self-confident, and more able to see and appreciate yourself for the wonderful, beautiful woman you are.

The boxing gloves made me smile and think of Cat -- when we were dealing with the abuse memories was when she took up whipcracking because it was so cathartic. It sounds ike the boxing was the same for you.

I love you.

Jun. 11th, 2009 02:57 pm (UTC)
It needs to be very clear that he did not blame his issues on me. I begged for the reason that this happened, and he gave me one. One of many, many reasons, but the reason he articulated at the beginning as the primary one. Over time, it became less clear if this was the real reason or even if there was a reason. The relationship failed because of two people, not just one.
Jun. 11th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
If you'd just met and your size was something realistic to suddenly notice, I could see it being a valid issue that could preclude a relationship.

But being brought up after you'd already had a physical relationship, it sounds much more like something said specifically to hurt you enought that you'd stop asking "why" -- and that's why I think he acted like an ass.
Jun. 11th, 2009 03:23 am (UTC)
I didn't know he told you he had an issue with your weight. I would have had some rather uncharming words for him about that...
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 11th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
Me too.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 11th, 2009 03:10 pm (UTC)
Absolutely not, the working out was for me. It was a way for me to be inside my head and actually be productive. And it never, ever, ever felt like punishment. I LOVED it. It made me feel stronger, and more in control over myself. I felt this wonderful tingling sensation when I'd come home from the gym, and I couldn't wait to prove to myself that I could do more. And most importantly, running the half marathon was something that I had to do by myself. It wasn't a co-dependent thing. It wasn't something that someone else could do for me. It was something I had to do independently of every other thing going on around me.

Everyone here was amazed at how well I took something that was a negative and turned it into something that was so positive for me.

And there was something wrong with my weight for him. Weighing, so to speak, physical attraction is perfectly valid for someone contemplating a rest of his life with someone, and I don't really have a problem with it. I go weak at the knees every time I see Graham and can barely keep my hands off of him (sometime to his chagrin because he's pretty ticklish...), and the first time he and I had sex, he kept running his hands all over me murmuring "I love this body." I'm a sexual being, and it would suck beyond the telling for physical attraction not to be a really important part of the relationship.

He wasn't rejecting me as a person because of my weight, he was rejecting me as a lover. That's a huge, huge difference.

I do appreciate the concern though. I was in a very rough place those first two months, and all I wanted to do was curl up and hide. Going to the gym was a way to force myself out of the house to do something productive. Most of the rest of that summer was spent on my couch knitting.

Edited at 2009-06-11 03:13 pm (UTC)
Jun. 11th, 2009 05:54 am (UTC)
Thank you for sharing. What a dick. I've always thought you were awesome. You've always been someone I wanted to be when I grew up (never mind that I'm older than you). Honestly, there's so much more to a person than the size of their clothes. If someone doesn't like me & my fat ass, then screw them. When/if I lose weight it will be because I want to, not because other people want me to. You did what you did because you needed to. And that's awesome. That you emerged stronger inside and out is a bonus.
Jun. 11th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
That's pretty much every girl's worst fear - being rejected because of their weight. The guys I hang out with say that's never an issue for them, but regardless of how confident you are in yourself, sometimes you still have that voice in the back of your head that says "I'll never be with anyone because I'm too fat".

I have this overpowering desire to tear the coward's balls off and feed them to him for being that asshole who buys into all that bullshit.

That being said, you probably would not have met Graham if all that ridiculousness hadn't happened, so I'll restrain myself from doing so. ;)

Jun. 11th, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC)
There are a lot of reasons that having such a disasterous previous relationship led to such an amazingly awesome one with Graham. I used to be afraid to voice my fears, concerns, irritations, etc. in an effort not to rock the boat. Now, Graham will attest that I'm a lot better at that (though he'll say that I still need to come forward when I'm feeling scared or in pain, which was an issue after my surgery). Communication is a lot better in my current relationship in part because my last relationship it sucked so bad (on both parts) and in part because my partner is very, very awesome.
Jun. 11th, 2009 02:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this story. I needed to hear it.
Jun. 11th, 2009 02:46 pm (UTC)
i say
ditto. thank you.
Jun. 11th, 2009 03:11 pm (UTC)
I do confess that I was thinking of you when I wrote parts of it.

(((HUGS))) (((HUGS))) (((HUGS)))
Jun. 11th, 2009 10:24 pm (UTC)
Bravo for you, kiddo. (This is why you are always at the top of my list of Imaginary Friends!) Thanks for sharing that -- I'm sure that it couldn't have been easy.

As for the ex and the way things ended, well, you are far more mature about things than most. I may give him credit for breaking it off in person, but everything he did after that? Duuuude.

And, just because, boooo-steee-aay. :-)

Not Bob
Jun. 11th, 2009 10:48 pm (UTC)
I, for one, am really glad you got to go through this, even if it was a painful start.

I celebrate you.

( 18 comments — Say something )


'stina is, surprisingly enough, a lawyer from Houston, Texas who rambles about quite a number of things.

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