Mothering Myself

This morning I woke up in my hotel room, feeling rested and calm. I stretched one foot out to the right, one arm out to the left, sliding them along the crisp white hotel sheets that I would never have to heave out of the washing machine.  The smile spread from the corners of my mouth all the way to my ears while my eyes stayed shut. It was beautiful. I’d gone to bed at 9pm and my watch informed me that eleven hours had passed between. Eleven. Deep sleeping hours!

For the good of our souls, sometimes just need a break from all the relational roles we carry.(2)

I woke, packed up my things and prepared for the day. I’m down in the hotel bar now having a coffee before I meet the beautiful Sarah, in person, at last. She’s an all-time favourite blogger of mine. The coffee was made for me by a barista who spoke about the complexity of the bean with an earnestness. I smiled at him, but thought about how I will not have to stack that cup in the dishwasher, or refill a kettle, or check the expiry date on that milk.  Just drink it.

I am such a fan of Sarah, as a writer and a person. Meeting her is very important to me.  I can’t wait to wrap her up in a big hug of thanks. To enjoy food and conversation with her and Annette from I Give You the Verbs! Dear Kate had to go and do some very exciting new work stuff, but you can check out her blog here (next time, Kate!) After our bloggy brunch, Miss Annette and I are lighting off for the Yarra Valley for a girls weekend. We’ll take the meandering way, and she promises that I can stop and take pictures to my heart’s content along the way.

Sarah, Annette and Rach
Sarah, Annette and Rach

This trip to Melbourne is something I’ve been longing to do for years. A chance to revisit my past, reconnect with people I haven’t seen for years and finally meet some I’ve been talking to online for a long time. But even more than the gorgeousness of all that, this trip, for me, is all about respite. I just needed to take some time out from all of the ‘adulting’ and be me, on my own, for a bit. The Rach who isn’t looking after anyone but herself, just for a few days.  I need to mother myself.

I need to stretch out, on a big big bed, all alone. To stand next to my soul sisters and spread my arms wide to the sky. To sleep and wake when I feel like it. To please myself doing anything I feel like doing; compromise free. I’ve explored, I’ve shopped, I’ve chatted and I’ve been blissfully quiet. I’ve drunk wine, I’ve taken a trip down memory lane at my old boarding school, I’ve eaten anything and everything I feel like eating without a single bite being cooked by me.

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It’s been gloriously selfish and deeply important for me to do all that.

When you become a mum, you don’t know that you are becoming something other than an ‘individual’. It’s something you have to learn. And once you have learned that by heart, there won’t be respite for a long, long time. My kids are now 8 and 11. The teenagers are now 17 and 18. The family has grown to a point that I’ve been able to set them up to manage their lives without me for a few days. The hubster is doing a stellar job with them. Their schedules are all being met.

I could probably have done this earlier, but I wasn’t internally strong enough to push for it. Sometimes, even with great families, it does take pushing for it. You have to fight for yourself the way you’d fight for your brood.

Respite is something we need to fight for as women, as givers, as mothers and wives. For the good of our souls, sometimes women just need a break from all the relational roles we carry. Freedom to just be ourselves, to turn the nurturing inward. To have a rest from all of that responsibility.  That’s what I’m doing.

I highly recommend it.

It might not be a trip to Melbourne. Maybe, if you have one, it’s a visit to your Mum’s place. Or camping in the spring, all alone. Or a solo movie. It might be a journey to see your cousin, or a drive down winding country roads. Find your respite, sisters of mine. I promise it will feed your soul and bring you joy.

It might be easier than you imagine to make it happen.

Go on.  Tell yourself to have and break and then, for goodness’ sake: go do what you’ve been told!

Battle On!

Every time I use my wallet, my younger face peers out at me from behind my cash card.  She’s looking pretty sparky, slender and saucy that girl. Where did she go?

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I remember having that photo taken for my license.  I felt like crap that day.  How is it I look so alive and alert?  Sickness becomes me.

Or, it did.  In my younger years.  It isn’t doing much for my aesthetics right now.

I have gained about 20kg since my intestines stopped doing what intestines are supposed to do.  I guess I am a lucky one.  For many dysautonomia patients, gastroparesis results in an endless cycle of vomiting.  Getting weight to stay on is such a battle for these patients. In contrast, my body just hangs on to my food, just in case.  Food can check out any time it likes, but it can never leave! My body has attachment issues. Just in case I might be plunged into an early ice age.  I’ll have a blubber suit to keep me going.  Or maybe my fatness is necessary for comfort.  I do spend a lot of time reclining; I’ve got built in cushions, right there on my tush.  See, I comfort eat far more than the energy I spend in a day.  Some days, there is just no answer to all the questions, other than:  cake.  It is a feat worthy of recognition that I can eat despite constant nausea.  A very special skill. Can think of others I’d rather have, but I got that one.

It’s not that I hate this size.  I don’t.  It feels sort of round and comforting being like this.  And I have great boobs thanks to the extra layers.  That is a nice addition.  Being heavier has also helped my blood pressure.  I don’t experience as many significant drops as I used to when thinner. Nor do I think other women this size shouldn’t be this size.  It’s a hot look and you can rock it.  I just feel like I am outside of the range of healthy for me. And that isn’t helpful when I’m already dealing with dysautonomia’s dastardly deeds.  My whole body aches and I find myself wondering, do I ache because I am carrying all this extra on my frame?  I am so fatigued and I think, if I weighed less would I feel more awake? So I make a new set of plans to lose weight.

And every plan; every new scheme or wonderful approach skips through my consciousness having a bit of a giggle.  Mocking me.  Eat raw, go sugar free, carb free, fat free.  Tee hee.  Why is healthy eating so high maintenance? Is that how skinny people are so skinny?  They are out hunting and gathering from obscure little boutique organic food stores, parting with three times the readies (how pricey is healthy food!?), and then assembling delicate quinoa salads, standing up at their kitchen counters.  That is a lot of energy to expend for one little meal. And from whence cometh their satisfaction?  Food is one of my most beloved joys.  I’ve lost a lot of them this decade.  But food, glorious food.  It has loved me good.  Stuck by me, and in me, and on me, for the duration.  I really don’t want to break up with food.  I love it!  But I fear I must.

My body doesn’t do a good job of absorbing nutrients.  That’s why I get iron infusions.  But as my gastroenterologist wryly pointed out last appointment, it’s doing a good job of absorbing fat.  Thanks Doc. I had noticed all by myself.

So I am embarking on the battle of my own bulge.  Wish me luck.  20kg is a long way to travel.  At snails pace.

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WEGO have been reviewing health myths and misconceptions.  It just popped into my newsfeed this morning.  How timely!   So I thought I would share the top 5 with you.  Myth 3 has given me a focus.  I am going to work out  my BMI so I have a definitive goal.  (Here is a handy calculator.  If you know your height, weight and age, it will do all the maths for you!) It’s a lot less daunting than the weight goal and will keep me focused on the health benefits of weight loss.  Here’s the little graphic that tells me I am obese.

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  • Myth 1: “I should be able to lose weight fast.”
    • Truth: The National Institute of Health recommends only a 1-2 pound weight loss per week as a reasonable goal.
  • Myth 2: “Being heavy is just an aesthetic problem.”
    • Truth: Obesity is recognized as a disease by the AMA and is considered an epidemic; obesity is the root cause of life-threatening conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
  • Myth 3: “People whose BMI is over 30 need to get it below 25 to see any real health benefit.”
    • Truth: According to the CDC, losing even a relatively small weight, such as 5 to 10 percent, is likely to provide health benefits, such as improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugars.
  • Myth 4: “If I take a product for weight loss I will lose weight without dieting.”
    • Truth: Prescription medications for weight loss should always be used in conjunction with diet and exercise to help you lose weight.
  • Myth 5: “Losing weight is my responsibility, not my doctor’s.”
    • Truth: Your doctor is your partner in health. Being overweight is a health problem just like any other–you don’t think controlling your high blood pressure is just your problem, and neither is maintaining a healthy weight just up to you.

If you are a Dysautonomia patient, are you struggling to maintain weight, or struggling to lose?
I’d love to hear how it goes for you.  Wanna join me in my endeavours?