More than a third of Americans are overweight and losing weight can be a long, difficult path for many people.
This is her story.
It's so hard to admit that I'm not truly happy with the weight I am at.
Even harder to try to sign up for something that might help me get to the place I want to be. To admit to someone that I need the help.
And then harder still to get rejected. No. Wait. Not even rejected. Ignored.
That kind of sucks. A lot. It makes me sad. I'm trying to be happy for those around me who were picked. I'm trying. But I'm bitter. It's not easy to be honest about that. But when someone like me needs to lose a whole lot of weight, and someone like them, the chosen, needs to lose, oh, about 20-30 lbs?
I feel like it's unfair.
Of course I get that they want to do this. It's why I do. Did.
I wanted to feel better about myself. I wanted the numbers on the scale to mesh with who I believe I am inside. I get why they do too. Honestly it makes sense. But for the program to choose people like them, not people like me? The ones who really need it for so many more reasons. It kind of stings. More than a little. A whole lot.
Burns. Brings tears to my eyes each time I see someone new picked. They don't need to lose weight, I think. And that's not fair. Not cool to say that. It's jealousy. Coveting their opportunities. I know it's not the way to be.
But I don't care.
Just this once I want MY break. My chance to get to that inner self and let her shine. In the meantime I'll pretend to root them on. Be happy for them. I am. Sure. Let them get to where they need to be. While someone bigger, someone like me struggles on my own. It's okay. I'll get there eventually. Just not with the help of someone who knows I need it.
And I don't blame those chosen. It's the chooser's fault. They are who has failed me. Maybe it's my own fault for hoping that I'd be picked. I don't know.
I'll just wipe away the tears and move on.
We all have letters we'd like to send, but know that we can't. A letter to someone we no longer have a relationship with, a letter to a family member or friend who has died, a letter to reclaim our power or our voice from an abuser.
Letters where actual contact is just not possible.
Do you have a letter you can't send?
Why not send it to The Band?
When I talked to you two nights ago, I meant what I said: I miss you. I can't convey just how much I mean that.
There are so many things unsaid between us. I've been thinking really hard about us for months. I was going through some family letters that my sister had saved, and I found a letter I had written when you and I were dating. I was STUNNED by what I read in that letter.
I'd forgotten all about it.
You were the first man who ever told me he loved me.
I feel badly that I didn't feel the same way. I loved you immensely... but not the same way. I know it broke your heart when I ended things.
When we first met in 8th grade, I couldn't stand you! Soon, the mutual hatred for our science teacher bonded us and we started to get along. By the next year, we would talk in the halls. Sophomore year, we had many classes together, and I could finally see how much fun you were! That summer, I found myself missing you.
Then came Junior year of high school.
The chemistry between us was immediate as soon as we saw each other again. It took you a couple of months to work up the nerve - I'll never forget what you looked like when you asked me out. Your eyes that day are forever ingrained in my mind.
Quite honestly, it was one of the sweetest, most romantic moments I've experienced.
So much of our short-lived relationship was sweet and romantic. I can still feel the spot you kissed me on the cheek that day at the pet store. The night that you told me you loved me was very special.
But things were different between us. As my friend, you would do absolutely anything for me. I never doubted that. Over the years I'd remembered that, as a couple, how selfish you'd been. Looking back, I can only recall one incident - and it's highly possible that was all my fault - I remember being pretty bitchy that day. Maybe I was hormonal and took things the wrong way. Even if you were being selfish that day, maybe you were just reacting to my behavior.
After that day, though, I began feeling as though things were coming to an end between us. I'd watched you go from girlfriend to girlfriend for a long time. It felt like you were getting restless and ready to move on.
I broke up with you before you could break up with me.
I cried for days.
You didn't talk to me for six months.
That was the hardest part. You meant so much to me and you wouldn't even talk to me.
Eventually, though, I got you back. It had to have been so hard for you when I did fall in love for the first time. You were right there to pick up the pieces when that relationship ended.
You went out of your way to take care of me. We were so, so close back then. Everything was so comfortable. My most cherished memories from high school involve you.
We graduated, life took us separate ways, and we drifted apart. We'd cross paths now and then. The biggest change, though, happened when I got married. He was jealous and controlling. I wasn't even allowed to invite you to the wedding.
I missed you.
After a few years, I began daydreaming about finding you. Three or four times a year, for five or six years, I dreamed of you. I secretly started looking for you. I must've sensed that my marriage was about to end, and I needed My Rock to help me through it.
The timing was odd. My marriage was ending and you were just a month away from your wedding.
I'll admit, when you told me things weren't going well and you were debating an annulment, I was thrilled. I didn't want to share you. I wanted things to be the way they were. Just you and me getting into trouble, talking all night long.
Thankfully, you and your wife worked past those rocky few months. In my post-divorce insanity, who knows what kind of decisions I'd have made? I might not have been open to the idea of a relationship when my sweet husband came along. He and I are so great together; I can't imagine my life without him. Your wife? She's adorable and I love her. I'm fiercely protective of her and I want to see your marriage succeed.
The problem is, there are things that remain unsettled between us. They're not the kinds of conversations that would be appropriate for a married woman and a married man to have.
I'm sorry I took you for granted all those years. It took me more than a decade to realize that you did everything you did for me because you loved me. I've seen so many things I wish I could ask you about, but it just doesn't seem right.
I don't know if it will ever feel appropriate for me to tell you "I love you."
Maybe I don't in the way that you loved me all those years, but I do. You've always been the most caring and loyal friend to me, and I'm so grateful that we both have spouses who understand our friendship. I know I'll never have to lose you again.
I can only hope I've been half the friend to you that you've been to me.
Every once in a great while, someone comes along and changes the way you feel about life, the world, the secrets of love. This is that story, told my own way, with hope and confusion and frustration all around.
My story begins seven years ago; a number I've checked and rechecked this past week. Seven years ago, I was working at a retail-type job with a boy I fancied but barely knew.
It was adorable.
We laughed and flirted and created all sorts of giddy cuteness. Quickly, this coworker and I began dating, but not before I made friends with a customer of ours, Steve. I remember the very first conversation I ever had with Steve. He’s that kind of friend.
There was drama from the beginning.
My coworker and I were each being kicked out of our houses, both seeking roommates, so we moved in together, a process that forced us to become exclusive. Hard not to in a one-bedroom apartment, which was all that we could afford.
Steve, believing he was simply helping me move, helped us move. Steve became friends with the two of us, laughing, having fun being included. He helped us keep our cars on the road, invited us to family parties, and found ways to show me that he had my back - no matter what.
We - The Three Stooges - worked together at a nightclub a few nights a week. I’m sure I was quite a trip – 20, female and not exactly scary. I had my team, though. Who cared? Those were the good times - I felt amazing.
So it started. No, rather, it continued.
Steve and I - from the moment we met - were smitten. We were those people. Meanwhile, I was still dating my coworker. We'd had a fling – though it didn’t feel like a fling – Steve and I, the first time my coworker broke up with me. Alas, Mr. Coworker and I still shared a one-bedroom apartment, our reunion was inevitable.
That reunion changed so much of my life.
Steve, my coworker, and I all worked together, at another retail store. This was the place I earned the nickname "Girly Eyes." Oh, how my eyes twinkled!
Everyone knew. It was hard not to. Even my coworker. The jealousy, the tension, felt GOOD. My coworker knew about the fling. He'd known it would happen.
Then I turned up pregnant – a pregnancy that occurred during my reunion with my coworker. I knew that Steve wasn’t the baby’s father, but oh did I wish he'd been.
I still look for pieces of Steve in pictures of that child.
That son was placed for adoption at birth, and my coworker and I moved across the country. We weren’t happy together, but it was the best I had.
When I moved, Steve was in a pretty bad position himself.
His fiancee was pregnant, still married to - and living with - her ex who was a police officer. Her ex didn't know he wasn't the DNA match for her growing pregnancy. I didn’t know this until later, but we were both living in hell.
One day out of the blue, Steve called. He was now the father of a beautiful little girl. My heart grew that day just as it did when I'd birthed my son. There was a certain pride in his voice I’d never heard before. He finally loved something more than himself. I desperately wanted that baby to be ours.
My joy was hard to hide; news did not make my coworker nearly as happy. The news was hard to share, my coworker was (understandably) biased against Steve.
I had my own frustrations with Steve – for a long time he was the boy no one could pin down: he was here and there and everywhere. Full of fleeting truths and whatever it took to get him what he wanted, still giving me the butterflies. When he had a baby, he wanted a family. Oh that ache - I knew that ache. Steve's voice told me that he did, too.
We talked occasionally that year. I bought clothes for his daughter but couldn't bring myself to send them. He didn’t get to play Daddy anyway, another complication that broke my heart.
We’d talk about his daughter, my son, how much we wanted our kids to be ours. He became one of my best friends, someone that understood what many others couldn't. I'd been dating my coworker for four years by now and I was still unhappy.
Steve and I spoke as often as I could steal the time away. Steve split with the mother of his child and the baby went with her. We fell out of touch, both hurting, both scared.
The next summer we reconnected.
I'll never forget the feeling of the sun on my shoulders, the laughter in the air. We'd talk for hours. We'd daydream, talking about we wanted from life. We talked though his break-up with another woman he'd loved.
We talked about my son, the heartbreak for a child I don't know; likely never will. We planned to meet each others children: he'd meet my son through our open adoption, I'd meet his daughter during his weekend visits. Our friendship glowed.
That, I think, is when I really fell in love.
Contact waxed and waned awhile. I visited home and got a tour of Steve’s new house. I took a third wheel with as I knew I would never leave the state if I didn't.
There were sparks when we touched. He was magic. I was strong; stronger that I could've imagined. I left without a single thing to feel guilty about - I was still dating my coworker, unhappily as ever. He'd previously cheated on me; I didn't want him to feel the way I did after he'd done that.
The desire, the possibilities, the hope - oh how I can still taste them.
We finally split, my coworker and I, in a manner he deserved - leaving in a police car. Meanwhile, my spark with Steve grew forever stronger. He owned my heart, a heart more broken than he realized.
See, my coworker had been abusing me for years. I didn't know how to ask for help from a friend; how to accept the love, how to heal.
Here it was again, dancing in front of me: what was I going to do about it?
Like an idiot, I did nothing. I planned to move - I quit my job, lined up a new one and rented an apartment. The plan, however, was to move home to be with my coworker. What an idiot.
I was in love, yet couldn't shake a bad habit. Looking back, it was probably my last chance.
The move fell through. Time and again, Steve's asked me to move home; to start OUR family. For two years, I've seriously thought of it.
I said something to him, during that first fling, that I tell him now, when he is beyond the walls I built around my heart. "Don't tell me that," I say, "or I just might believe you." It's true. I've given him the chance to wiggle out of our relationship, but he always comes back; still meaning it.
Now here I stand.
He is engaged again. We've both lost all contact with our children - six months apart in age. I'm still oh-so far away.
Last week, my phone jingled.
A text, from a number I cannot forget. Like always, we picked up where we left off. There was no dancing around it this time.
"Marry me" and "I love you." I'm in a relationship now; one that's winding down and away. One I cannot stand to fight for anymore. How does Steve manage to show up when I need a reminder that someone loves me?
Then it happened.
His fiancee found out that he was talking to me and threw a fit. Apparently, he tells women who've never met me about me. Whatever it is that he tells them, they feel threatened.
I can't begin to blame her. His ex, the mother of his child, tried to get Steve and I together when they split. It's obvious. I had to play the friend card; to act like he hasn't held my heart for many years. My skin jumps at the thought of him, yet there I was, telling her how proud I was that he's finally settling down.
That’s what a friend does, right?
I decided upon that I'd have a new role as his friend.
But I'm in love with him. I love the idea of us with a future together. I'd been entertaining the daydream of moving back for years.
But I can't.
Right now, my job is to be his friend, to support him as he he starts a new chapter of his life. They haven't set a date, I don’t believe he will marry her, but (for now) I need to be supportive. For now, love means being bigger than myself.
I say that, I mean that, yet you haven't seen the way my face lights up when I hear his voice. The "girly eyes" are certainly not gone. I simply know that no matter how in love with him I am, no matter how in love with me he professes, right now this is what we are. Friends.
Maybe, maybe one day I'll get to live out our daydream.
After all, he told me (again) that he's not putting a wedding ring on a woman's finger until it is my finger.
Grieving the potential loss of a dream is as real as experiencing the loss of a loved one.
This is her grief:
I'm 33 years old, with multiple chronic illnesses and chronic pain, which play a role in this post, but are stories for another day on Band Back Together.
Night sweats are the story of the day and a new, uncomfortable symptom I've been experiencing. Night sweats are uncomfortable because, well: Ew. It's freezing cold, but my legs are clammy and sweaty, and all of the sudden I can't sleep with pajama pants on anymore.
The sweat is a feverish feeling, the kind that makes me roll over and take my temperature at three in the morning. I never even get the thermometer to a normal body temperature.
In the larger scope of my symptomology, and given the fact that it
1) doesn't physically hurt
2) isn't disfiguring
3) is the worst at night, when I can lay without pants, it wouldn't ordinarily be a huge concern for me.
Except, what do we most often hear that night sweats are a symptom of, ladies?
Here's where you laugh at me because I'm only 33 years old, and that's some paranoia you've got going on there.
Yes, when I did some research, it turns out that hot flashes tend to be experienced in your upper body during menopause, and that there are a million more likely (for me) reasons that night sweats have begun:
New medications (check), the presence of autoimmune conditions (check), thyroid or hormonal issues (check), certain infections (maybe?), issues surrounding The Pre-Diabetes (perhaps), cancers (hope not), just because (sounds like me), and early menopause, which is, of course what I am fixated on, because: NO.
I can't automatically assume that these new symptoms aren't some weird new manifestation of whatever autoimmune ruckus my body has decided to participate in this month. Not when you consider last month's allergic reaction rash to... nothing in particular, or June's random mouth sores, or November's numbed fingers. I can't put anything past the chaos of is own wacky configuration of unexplainable, largely-untreatable, chronic illnesses.
My mother began menopausal symptoms early - her doctor didn't believe it was menopause because she was only 35. It took another ten years before her symptoms became intense and life-changing, but her random symptoms began in her mid-thirties.
Both of my grandmothers, on the other hand, showed no such early menopausal proclivities - one of them had her four babies between the ages of 25-38 and the other started at 23 and didn't finish until she was 46! And why this is the first time I've actually done the math on that is a whole 'nother thing to think about.
Still, it's a concern.
It's a concern because I still want babies - as unrealistic and far-fetched a pipe dream as that may seem to anybody (including me) who sees how I struggle to get through my life right now. I still want kids, some day. And the idea that some day might not happen is pretty freaking devastating.
I had a near-breakdown a while back while discussing children with one of my sisters; just started bawling, because I know there's a very real chance that this may never happen for me, given that I seem to be getting sicker, rather than better. Plus, I don't ... date or have relationships or do anything besides survive, most days. Not having kids is something I may have to learn to accept.
It's very difficult to accept that having a life-long desire for a baby, that having more than enough love for a child, having the longing for a ten-year-old freckle-faced firebrand of my own, is not strong enough to overcome not having the physical health for a baby. The financial stability for said toddler. The energetic wherewithal for the freckle-faced firebrand.
It is a bitter pill, and it's combined with so many other bitter pills that I just... I can't.
It's not that I'm giving up on all of those hopes, not yet.
It's that I feel like that door is being closed for me - by time and health, by money and relationship status, by living at home, by being able to work or drive, by all the other nameless concerns that I have. I don't know what to do about any of it.
In the meantime, everyone I went to school with, or am related to, is pregnant. Or nursing. Or trying to conceive. Or complaining that their one year-old won't crib train, or their 8-year old won't clean her room.
And instead of doing any of those things, I'm battling my own skin, my lungs, my pain, squeaking out a (smaller, sometimes heartbreakingly so) existence as best I can manage.
I want nothing more than to be there with them, to feel only empathy instead of the jealousy-tinged empathy I feel right now. Oh, to have teething to complain about (she says safely from her child-free side of the fence.).
I don't know how to fight this particular battle, or even if it's winnable. It's just there: something on my mind at almost all times.
There should be a word for the specific kind of lonely you feel when you long for a child and can't seem to have one. It's like being homesick, but for a home you've not yet lived in. For me, it's a spiritual version of my fibromyalgia - a psychic sensitivity to touch, an all-over heartache that appears incurable.
Without tooting my own horn too much, I'm an exceptional Auntie - all my godchildren and nieces and nephews would agree, I hope. I'm good at spoiling and sleepovers; I rock at finding the missing sock or remembering who got to sit shotgun last time. I don't bypass any of the necessary time-outs or disciplining, and I've always got the newest book to read or game to play.
I make weekly phone calls, Facebook tags, "what's news" texts to check in with The Littles in my life. But - even though I've helped raise some of them from the day they were born - at night, most nights, they go home to their parents, and I say good-bye.
And when they leave, their parents decide whether or not they can watch TV or have an iPhone when they're ten; whether they should play soccer or ballet or both; what their family's holiday traditions are and when they can visit their auntie. That's okay - that's how it should be. But wanting that for myself? Wanting to be the Mom, not just the Auntie, is... overwhelming right now.
Do you, The Band, have any advice for her? Any tips for coping with this anticipatory loss?
I think you've really done it.
You know, pushed me away.
You asked me to bring you back if the military changed you, but I can't. I can't bring you back if you don't hear me. You lock yourself away from us. Whenever there's tension, you shut down, as if that makes it better.
Some days, I don't want to get out of bed, I admit it. I'm so overwhelmed by the feelings eating at me; I'm so overwhelmed. But I do, I get up, because his smile depends on that.
It's not the movie... it's the effort.
Why, why, why do you make promises you don't keep?
I remember bringing that movie home. This time, I wasn't as excited, because you'd promised to watch the last two movies with me. You didn't. Something told me, this one might be the same - you might break that promise. Tentatively I asked, and your reply was that we "should watch it early, otherwise you'd pass out."
I asked once, but it was too early. Before I asked a second time, I had this pain in my body; this shiver, the cold; the cold of rejection. I don't think I can be rejected again and again and again without something inside me breaking.
I suppose I already knew the answer - you'd reject me; postpone the movie to another night, but that wouldn't happen because we'd fight. We'd fight because you don't understand me; because you are blind to my heart.
It's not the movie.
It's lots of little pieces that create a bigger picture - a picture that's slowly crumbling. It's not the games either, it's a lot of little times that you promise, reject me, then promise again. Suddenly, you can't promise - you're tired.
I'm trying so hard to understand you - are you trying as hard as I am? Sometimes, I feel like you're not; like you've given up.
I didn't think I'd ever experience jealousy. I do. Just not the "other girl" kind of jealousy - the, "I see what I need but can't have" jealousy.
I think you've done it.
You know, pushed me away?
I won't ask again - it's not worth the battle. The feelings aren't genuine - not if you don't want to.
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