Lean On Me (Germs and All)

There is an alternative title to this post…I almost called it “Taking One for the Team”, which would be equally meaningful and true.

Early Friday morning around 4am, out of the complete blue, I woke up feeling like absolute crap—you’ve all been there, I’m sure of it. You’ll recall the nausea, the aches and pain, the impending doom of knowing relief is going to have to come in the form of two outcomes, neither of which are appealing or lovely or mentionable. The flu. It sucks. This year in the fall I got a free flu shot because of my auto-immune disorder. I had never had one before but I figured I would get it since it was free and also just to see if it would work. 3 days after I got that shot I got the worst flu EVER. But everyone told me that was normal; it was just the flu shot building some kind of immunity, so I rolled with it. This time though? This time I was pissed right off. And in denial of some sort, because I think I put too much faith in that silly little vaccine. It’s not magic, people. I learned this the hard way.

Anyways, stubborn girl that I am, I went to work, worked for 2 hours, threw up at work, and went home. Tried to sleep, couldn’t sleep, visited the restroom, shivered, sweated, visited the restroom, tossed, turned, visited the restroom, repeat all of the above.

And then? And then I cried. Hard.

There are perks to my pretty little historical country cottage…I love that place. I love my solitude. But when I am sick? When I am sick I don’t love isolation.

My phone broke on Wednesday night and I haven’t been able to use it since, and my internet has been down since the beginning of January, so I started to worry a little when I took my temperature and found it was 102.6 and climbing slowly.

And that’s when I cried, when I realized I had no way of getting in touch with anyone…not that I wanted an audience or anything, but isn’t it nice to know that your Mama’s cool touch to your forehead is only a whimper away? Isn’t it nice to know that someone, anyone, is in the next room when you feel like you are dying a slow death? (I’m dramatic and I know it)

During my big cry in bed that afternoon I decided to pray that someone would come to me…I felt so alone and even though I know I’m never really alone, I still really wanted someone to come to me. And you know what? Someone did.

I had just drifted off to sleep when I heard my screen door open, and there, like magic, was Thelma and her husband Hutch (obviously those are just fun names). They were “in the neighbourhood” and decided to come check on me, even though it was almost 10pm and even though they live in Chilliwack. I am a lucky girl.

Even though I really didn’t want to go and even though we knew I probably just had the flu, Thelma took me to the hospital because I hadn’t had a thing to eat or drink in more than 24 hours, and also since I had that ulcer around Christmas that never really got taken care of.

And Thelma REALLY truly took one for the team, you guys. She was my voice and my pillow and my sister and mother and friend all wrapped into one. She took me on, germs and all. It’s amazing how quickly you realize you have allowed someone into your life for real when they can recite facts about you and your medical history and your life to a complete stranger without even having to get confirmation from you. I am blessed to have friends such as these. Truly blessed.

As yet another doctor was asking us questions, Thelma brought up the bulimia…she was so gentle and tactful and my heart almost burst when she protectively put her hand on me and said boldly, “But I know her. And I know this isn’t about her wanting to throw up”.

Those three little words, “I know her”…they mean everything to me.

My dad is in town and I saw him yesterday and it was really good. But sadly some people thought that I was avoiding him by making myself sick, which is the exact reason I didn’t mention on facebook that I was even in the hospital. It makes me sad to know that my dad’s feelings were hurt by that. Getting the flu is no one’s idea of a good time, so it’s crazy that someone would translate that into “she was avoiding something potentially awkward”. I could have made up something better than a visit to the ER.

Anyways, it doesn’t matter now. I’m feeling better and I saw my dad, which I will write about later this week.

Shout out to Thelma (also known in the real world as Nikki) for letting a raggedy sickie lean on you. And for giving me many reasons to giggle that night, even at 2:30am in a cold and scary place.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all who are sick right now, which I know is a lot of you…we need to fight through the rest of this stupid cold and flu season!

Stay warm and drink lots of water, friends 🙂 And as always, know you are loved!

~C

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Stretch Marks

Friends,

As much as I would love to just forget this past week, brush it aside, skim over it, I just can’t. It wouldn’t be fair to do that, because it would be as if I was denying myself the chance to grow, the chance to change, the chance to be proud of these new stretch marks I have acquired.

Part of my decision to stick with this blog (oh yeah, did I mention that?) is so that I can keep being true to myself. I love the emails you have sent about needing to write for me, not for anyone else. And that’s true. Having an “audience” tuning into my thoughts and sometimes even my secrets makes me vulnerable and sometimes causes me to think harder about what I should and shouldn’t say, but it’s not a reason to stop writing. So I won’t stop. But as I renew my subscription, I need to keep in mind that this is my diary screaming out loud. These are my thoughts, my dreams. And sometimes my thoughts are gonna cross the line between “publishable” and “not-publishable” and I will just have to accept the consequences of that. I can’t be afraid anymore.

On the topic of consequences, a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down and basically tell the whole story of my journey with bulimia from the beginning. I haven’t done that in a long, long time. As my friend patiently sat beside me and asked me questions I have forgotten the answers to, another piece of the puzzle snapped into place.

Christina+Consequences don’t go well together. At all. We clash big time.

When I was in the last few years of high school I got really good at getting myself out of trouble. I remember clearly Nicki being so frustrated with me because we would BOTH get grounded for something and yet I always found a way out of it and she never did. It’s like that with traffic tickets, too. Somehow I just find a way to sweet talk my way out of sticky situations.

And with bulimia, it was the same way. I made shitty choices about what to put into my body, and instead of accepting the consequences (of weight gain, etc) and digesting like a normal human being, I threw up.

But I don’t want to do that anymore (I mean avoid consequences). I want to allow myself the privilege of growing and changing and hearing hard things about myself. I don’t want to see those things anymore as getting “in trouble”.

It won’t be easy and I will fail many times. But I think I’m okay with that. I want to be okay with that. I want to realize and learn and accept that life goes on. It doesn’t end when I make mistakes or fall short of goals or other people’s expectations of me. And I want to embrace fully this gift of grace we’ve been given. Amazing grace.

On my very first shift at Pillow Pets back in November, I made a big mistake…I gave a customer her bag and let her go before checking to see whether her payment went through or not. It didn’t. I felt literally sick to my stomach, and although my “boss” (it’s hard to call her that because she is also a dear friend) was gracious and kind about it, I still fretted (unnecessarily) all weekend long. And you know what she said when she found out how worried I had been? She said, “So do you actually think you are better than the rest of us, then?”…I said no, I don’t, and she said, “So how come the rest of us are allowed to make mistakes then and you aren’t? Are you not just as human as the rest of us?”. Hmm. That kind of kicked my butt. I tried paying for the lost Pillow Pet but she didn’t let me because this is life.

This. Is. Life.

It’s messy. It’s complicated. It’s hurtful.

(I’m trying to remember where I was going with this….)

Right.

Today I had a gut-wrenching conversation with someone I love. And no amount of coconut oil (or whatever it is that pregnant women use on their growing bodies) is going to smooth away the stretch marks that that conversation has left. The damage has been done. My heart, my emotional skin, has been stretched to the limits. Some people think stretch marks are beautiful. Others find them repulsive. For me, they tell a story. A story of love and loss and countless years of growing and loving and living. So I’m gonna embrace them. Because they are mine.

A mark for every breath I have breathed. Every tear I have cried. Every song I have sung.

~C

All I Can Do (is love you to pieces)

For some reason, this month I just don’t have much to say. At least not to the world. It’s a been a quiet month. A good month, but quiet. But I do miss this space…this blank box where I get to write down whatever I want to.

Sometimes I try too hard to be something that I’m not…and I don’t mean in a bad way, as if I am trying to be a hippy or one of Charlie’s Angels. But sometimes I do try too hard to have a different voice when I write. Which is probably why I have been so conflicted about whether or not to renew this page. I’ve been focused too much on what isn’t happening with it rather than what is. And no matter what, you are reading it and I have heard from enough of you through email to know that you care and have been touched. Thank you.

This week will most likely be inspiring some substantial posts…I have a very special “meeting” tonight, a coffee date with a friend of mine on Wednesday that I haven’t seen in a long time, and last but not least…

a reunion with my dad.

So basically, by this time next week I will have seen my father in person for the first time in…um, like 6 years? Geez, I can’t even remember. I was in my early 20’s, anyways. Do I even need to say that this is a really big deal?

So hang in there. Bear with me. One of these days the ink will flow with fervour once again and we can enjoy each others company. I’ve missed you.

But for now, please do know that I love you to pieces.

~C

Renewal

Yesterday afternoon, as I spent wasted time catching up on my facebook newsfeed, I came across this funny status update from a friend of mine…

Jane Doe: is at the spa watching her eight year old get a face massage. Creating a monster? I think so!

Oh Jane Doe, I know how you feel. Because after two WHOLE weeks off (okay, okay, besides still working at Pillow Pets), I am now realizing what all the fuss is about where taking time off is concerned, and I think it spoiled me. It’s not like I wasn’t still almost as busy as usual, but a break from littles and from a very repetitive routine was awesome. Totally awesome.

I feel rested and was definitely ready to go back to work today, even though I will miss the rare mid-week visits with friends and sleepovers on school nights.

And although I still have a long way to go, I am slowly learning that renewal is really really important and I intend to get better at taking care of my health during this new precious year we have been given.

On the topic of renewal, my one year anniversary on WordPress is coming up, and soon I will be receiving an email from them asking me if I want to renew my domain address and continue with christinachantal.com…and friends, I have turned this over and over in my head in the past few months. There are still a few weeks before I have to decide, which is good, because I just don’t know what I want to do.

~My writing gets me in trouble sometimes…I don’t often want to take back things I put out there, but sometimes it happens…I hit ‘publish’ without adequately proof-reading and end up saying the wrong thing or unintentionally hurting people by being too hasty. That kills me. This page is supposed to be a safe place; a place where people can come and know there is someone else out there trying hard to live a good life.

~Another problem I am having here is a lack of feedback. When I first started writing, my posts were extremely raw and put me in a vulnerable position, and as a result people freely commented and seemed to enjoy connecting with me because I try really hard to be real. But lately, especially the past few months, that feedback just isn’t there and it’s a little discouraging. I have never been one to comment on other people’s blogs which is why this is a little hypocritical of me, but I am going to start trying harder to make other writers know that what they say matters. It is hard to put something so heartfelt out there and feel like it fell on deaf ears. Having said that though, I know you’re out there and that means a lot to me.

~Also, I will say this carefully since I don’t have this person’s permission to freely write about this…in the fall I “met” an incredible guy on eH, one I connected with on as many levels as possible without meeting face-to-face. We exchanged limitless emails weekly and began to build a good friendship and I truly enjoyed our interactions and reading what he had to say. One day on a whim, I decided that he knew enough about me on paper for me to take it one step further, and I thought it would be a good idea to give him the link to my blog. After all, he had given me the link to his webpage and since I thought he knew me pretty well I didn’t see how it could be a bad thing. 12 days went by before I heard from him again, and honestly I had already come to terms with the fact that he had changed his mind about me…until my phone pinged with a message from him. Reading his email was hard. It was heavily laced with grace and kindness, but there was a bottom line: he didn’t think he could pursue me, and my history was the main reason. My heart ached, friends. Not because of him, not because I was so attached to him. After all, I barely knew/know this man. But because I felt a bit robbed. When I started writing I had no idea that there would be consequences like this; the consequence of “losing” someone I care about. And I know fully that it is what it is: when I was in my early to mid 20’s I struggled with an eating disorder, and that’s not gonna change whether I write about it or not. But still, it makes me wonder if I should have been as honest as I have been. So there’s that to think about.

Regardless of what decision I make for christinachantal.com, there is one thing I know for sure: I will NEVER stop writing. When I was in grade 8, my English teacher would reward us for pages filled out in our journals, and it was then that I became addicted. I never used to go a day without pouring out my heart on paper. Going to Staples to buy a new pen was a huge thrill for me, and although that has shifted slightly to the addiction of typing, my passion remains: I love to write. I need to write. I just don’t know anymore if the things I say are the things you want to read.

So for now, for the next few weeks, I will wait for that email from my friend, WordPress. Until then, please know that you are loved and that I love that you are out there. Even if I decide not to renew, I sure do appreciate the fact that many of you have journeyed with me thus far. WordPress tracks all traffic and commenters, and there are some of you out there who have outdone yourselves, especially when I was still on BlogSpot. Thanks for being my cheerleaders 🙂

Love,

~Chris