Why did you stay?

“Not all wounds are visible.” — quoted on HealthyPlace.com

Why did you stay?

Why did you put up with it?

Why did you go back?

If you let someone treat you like that, then you got what you deserved.

If you stayed, then you let it happen.

These are all things that people I love and care about said to me or asked me following my final ousting of my ex in Sept 2014. And this attitude is exactly why I kept things a secret for so many months in the first place. These are the exact ideas that make it so easy for psychological abusers to maintain the grip on the mind of the person they are abusing — because even society makes them think that this is all their fault. Those who are abused already feel it is their fault, and these types of attitudes from others in their lives validate those feelings, and in many cases, drive them back to their abusers. I mean, if you are getting negative attention anyway, why not just stay with the person who has been inflicting it for so long, right?

So, what is psychological abuse? Here is a semi-textbook definition:

Emotional abuse, mental abuse A form of mistreatment in which there is intent to cause mental or emotional pain or injury; PA includes verbal aggression, statements intended to humiliate or infantilize, insults, threats of abandonment or institutionalization; PA results in stress, social withdrawal, long-term or recalcitrant depression, anxiety
Let me give you my definition of psychological abuse. Here is a diary entry from May 21, 2014:
This morning, I am a bitch and a whore. He’s insulted my weight. He’s threatened to break my television and smash my laptop so he can teach me a lesson — because I need to learn. He has threatened to choke me out and black both of my eyes.
Why?
Because a thunderstorm rolled in at 3:30am, and it began raining in our open window. I closed the downstairs window and woke him to close the window upstairs because my knees are bad and the stairs are steep. Instead of coming back downstairs and going back to sleep, he spent the next hour insulting me, threatening me and talking about what an “inconsiderate fuck” I am because I didn’t take care of it myself.
This is my fault. Why didn’t I just go upstairs and shut the window myself? He’s told me over and over not to wake him up. Why am I so stupid?

I am strong, independent woman. And yet, in the confines of that relationship, I believed that I was weak. I believed that I was always wrong, whether I showed it or not. And, I believed that I wasn’t being abused. Do you know why? Because he never hit me. Reut Amit wrote a great piece about this phenomenon in her article, “He Never Hit Me.” Amit talks about all of the things that she went through with her partner who never hit her. But does that mean he never abused her? Of course not.

I have heard the same thing. I have been told that my abuser was not abusive because he had never hit a woman, and he never would. But he would punch holes in the walls when he got angry. But he would throw things in my direction. But he would call me a bitch, a fat ass and a C U Next Tuesday. But he would tell me how it was all my fault that he acted that way.

I believed him. I believed for a very long time that if I just walked on egg shells, didn’t bother him when he was sleeping, let him sleep until noon, didn’t bother him about being gone all the time with his friends, etc — then everything would be fine. I could fix this…I could fix him, and it would be better. I was just too sensitive. I was just too fragile. Everyone fought like this…not just us. For a long time, I didn’t tell my friends or family what was going on, because I didn’t want them to hate him. Then, when he left the first time, I told them everything, and he did hate him…and then I went back to him.

The cycle was pretty simple — he would leave for a month, and then we would start to talk, and he would come back for a week, promising me the moon and the stars. Within 4-5 days, the promises were over and the abuse continued like it had never stopped. So, I would throw him out again. Each time, it would be a financial strain on me, and usually, it would be in the form of funding his trips to move back to NC or needing to fix things he broke. My friends and family would embrace me when he left, and stand in disbelief when I let him come back. It put a strain on my relationships with everyone, especially my kids, who didn’t know what to think about the entire situation.

Now, I am finally out of that cycle. I have moved on. It has been a month and a half since he left, and there is no chance that he is coming back. I sold my wedding dress and my wedding rings. I’ve started filling out the paperwork for the divorce. It is really happening this time. And, I am starting to find my strength again. I am starting to enjoy work again. I am starting to write again.

Do I love him? Yes. But, I love myself more now. I know I can’t save him, and I know that I can’t save myself when I’m with him. That is why he had to go.

But, in his eyes, this is all my fault. He was never abusive. If he were abusive, where are my scars and bruises? That is how he sees it. He thinks that his actions are normal, that they are okay…because he never hit me.

Repurposing and Rediscovery

I knew this girl once. She was funny and bright, with this crazy smile that looked like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.

Cheshire Cat

This girl focused on her career and every aspect of becoming a writer. She published anywhere she could. She loved getting the praise and awards for a job well done. No…she didn’t just love it. She craved it. She knew that it made her a better writer. Then, she graduated from college, and moved on to see her name in print every day as a journalist. She poured over her own stories and the stories of others to hone the craft of news writing and improve it, trying to become the best journalist she could be.

Her are some pictures of the girl from her college days:

Gypsy Halloween Pensive Tabby Suspicious TabbyTabby

See! Beautiful, suspicious, pensive and full of potential! And that first picture really shows the smile!

Then, that girl ceased to exist. Her light went out. She got into an all-consuming relationship with a man who would do everything in his power to build the girl’s confidence in herself — everything to make her crave his praise. She became addicted to it. Then, that man did everything is his power to kill that girl’s identity and squash her sense of self-worth, so she would be completely dependent on whatever praise or love he decided she deserved that day, week or month — which wasn’t much. And she stayed. Like everything else in her life, she tried to be the best wife she could be. She knew that he loved her and praised her every day before, and if she just tried a little harder, she could find that man again, and she would get her identity back.

That’s not the way it happened though. Down the rabbit hole the girl went, and she disappeared…for a long time. But, she is back today. Hello everyone…You can call me Tabs. :)

I have sat in my house for three weeks, talking to friends and family about the situation I have endured, and this morning, I’ve decided that it is time to start rediscovering my identity as a writer and repurposing my life. I used to be completely career-driven. Then, when I met my husband, my career didn’t seem important anymore. But, what I didn’t realize was that being a writer is who I am, and without that hunger to write, I feel empty. So, today I write again. It feels good to be back.

 

Tabs today – Oct. 4, 2014

Tabs 1

See! She still has that smile!

Tabs 2

 

Putting it all into perspective

“Your flesh is not a reflection of your soul. So when you look in the mirror, remember that your light outshines your flaws.”
D. Antoinette Foy

 

In 2012, I started a blog called “The Way Back to Me,” and it talked a lot about my life and my drive to lose weight and regain my health. Then, in 2013, I decided to actually buy the domain name for “Call Me Tabs” and start a new blog. For awhile, it was all about life in general, and later it became more about the discrimination of a fat woman in society, especially when a fat woman is going through the process of planning a wedding.

Once 2014 hit, I did not blog for a long time. I felt like I didn’t have much to say, and I was depressed a lot of the time. I started to realize that maybe, just maybe, my lack of energy, my aches and pains and stomach issues did have something to do with my weight. Then, in April, I landed myself in the hospital with bronchitis, the same day my sister landed in the hospital with elevated liver function. After three days of steroids and breathing treatments, my doctor told me that I needed to lose weight if I wanted to see life after 50, or possibly even 40. I still tried to stay true to my “health at any size” beliefs and had no idea how much life was going to change in just a short 45 days.

A month and a half after that hospital visit, my sister passed away. Her body was having issues with food digestion, and it had caused her to lose a lot of weight. I realized, as I watched her body shut down and then pass, that health at any size is a ridiculous notion. Obviously, at less than 90 lbs, it is impossible for an adult to be healthy. Obviously, at almost 400 lbs, it is impossible for an adult to be healthy. That is just a fact. If you are 400 lbs, and you start eating healthy and exercising, your body is going to lose weight. So, saying health at any size is not true — because if you are healthy, you would not be that size — your body will begin to shrink or grow, depending on your side of the scale.

Losing my sister has been an eye opener to me, as I’ve said in previous blogs. When you are faced with your own mortality after losing a sibling so young, you really start to put your life into perspective. What is important to me? What do I cherish in my life? What do I want to do in my life?

The answers were easy: My health is important to me. I cherish my family, and I want to stay with them as long as possible. And, I want to enjoy my life with energy and zest. I want to thrive, instead of just surviving, no matter where I am planted in this world. So, for the last thirty days, I have been logging into MyFitnessPal and keeping an accurate record of my food — my calories, protein, carbs and fats — every day. I’m also keeping track of my exercise and weight loss. When I initially weighed myself, I was already two weeks into the process, and I weighed 387 lbs. Last week, I weighed 373, and I’m not sure what I weigh right now. But, my mobility has improved exponentially already. I do not get winded just walking in the grocery store. I actually have the energy to get up, clean my house and cook for my kids now. My feet don’t swell up every day now, and I just feel better.

So, from now on — this is me. I am happy with myself, and I love my body. I love my body enough to keep it healthy and take off the weight that is holding it back. I’m actually starting to love myself — and I never thought that would happen.

Week 5:

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The woman who ate fast food too much

Every day, people go through drive thrus or sit down to eat at fast food and other restaurants all over the country. That is their decision, but their body is craving the fatty, greasy, cheesy food-like products. These products do not provide any real nourishment to our bodies, but they sure expand the waistline.

Now, can I fault those people? Of course not — I was one of them until July 1, 2014. I would swing through a drive thru to get a coffee in the morning, and then maybe head through a drive thru with the kids for dinner. Sometimes, I would sit at a cafe all day, eating a sandwich and soup while I worked on my articles for my freelance job.

I was addicted to the sugars, the fats and all the other “good things” that they put into the foods you get at all of these restaurants, just like everyone else. And like I said in an earlier post, I could eat upwards of 2200 calories of that stuff in one sitting! Not to mention, my bank account was meager because of all of this activity. I searched my bank records from June 1, 2014 to July 1, 2014 and found out that I had spent $818 in one month on going out to eat. That’s insane! I could have completely remodeled my entire living room for that much money.

So I decided on July 1 it was time to change the game. I decided to go an entire month without eating at any restaurant. This meant that I would forced to prepare all of my own meals — something I hadn’t done in a long time. This also allowed me to start working better foods into my diet, some of which you’ve seen in previous articles. Along with this, I also stopped drinking coffee, soda and other sugary drinks.

These changes, paired with regular daily exercise, have led to a weight loss of 14 pounds off of my frame in the first two weeks. What was once 387 is now 373, and I don’t plan on stopping now!

 

 

Fearful Tears

“Tears are words that need to be written.”
Paulo Coelho

This is my story. It is not always a happy one, nor is it always sad. But, there are always tears.

When I was 17 years old, just a few weeks before my 18th birthday, I met the love of my life (at least, at that time). He stayed that person for me for a really, really long time. In some ways, he is still. I had two children with him; we have a history. But, after half a decade or so, the sad times were more prevalent, and the happy times were not so happy anymore. At that point, it was time for both of us to take our leave from the relationship. Tears were shed by both of us, but I don’t think either one of us did much looking back after that.

I was single for seven years. And, to be completely honest, they were some of the most successful years of my life, so far. I went back to school and graduated. I started a career. I even fought for a job I wanted, and I got it. Everything was right on track. I don’t remember too many tears during that time — unless stress took over.

When I was 33 years old, I met a man who I thought was the true love of  my life. He had many flaws, some that were not easy to overlook, but I did — who doesn’t have flaws, right? At the time, I was sitting at 300 or so pounds, and it felt really nice to meet a man who didn’t try to get into my pants or play some game with me. We only knew each other a couple of months before he proposed, and we married two days after our one year anniversary. Then, the flaws that each of us thought we could overlook started to come out. Everything changed, and every day, you could cut the tension in our house with a knife. We both know that one misstep could set off a blowup. Finally, we came to the tipping point, and we separated. The tears flowed every night for the first two weeks, but there is no going back now.

Now, I sit here at age 34, reflecting on the last 16 years of my life. I have loved one man, and I have tried to save one man. I love and continue to raise two wonderful children. I love my family, and mourn the loss of an important member of it. But, where am I in all of this?

I don’t have any identity anymore. I have been someone’s daughter, girlfriend, wife or mother for my entire adult life. I’m tired of the tears. I’m tired of holding onto a man because I feel like I don’t have any identity without him. I’m tired of the fear that I feel when I’m leaving a relationship. I’m done with all of it. I’m starting to realize that maybe the love of my life shouldn’t be another man. Maybe…just maybe…the love of my life should be me.

Tabby’s Picture Project!

So, if any of you are on Facebook, you will notice that I have been putting up pictures of my food lately. I swear, this is not to make you hungry or annoy you. I take the pictures to A) remember recipes and food combinations and B) to keep a record of how my food is changing over time.

Here are some of the pictures I’ve already shared:

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It’s not all perfect, but I’m getting there. And most importantly — it’s made at home, and most of it is not highly processed.

 

Now on to the reason for this post:

I figured that it would be fun to also keep a record of my face as it changes throughout this process. So, every week, I’m going to take a picture of myself. It should be interesting to see the differences.

I’m on my fourth week now. Here are the pictures from the previous three weeks and today:

Week 1

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Week 2

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Week 3

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Week 4

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Now it’s time to continue on with the day! :)

 

 

Saving, Slimming and Satisfying

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is Day 20 of my journey to a better, healthier life. I am seeing a few changes here and there — my energy level is way up, working out is more fun than I thought it would be, my clothes aren’t quite as tight anymore and I just feel better. That is the big thing — I feel BETTER…better than I’ve felt in a decade or more.

I have set a goal for myself, and I think I can hit it. I was 392 lbs in April when I went into the hospital. I am now 380 lbs. By Dec. 31, 2014, I want to be 299 lbs. Then, my next goal will be the following New Year’s Eve when I will attempt to hit 199 lbs. It is going to be a fun and fantastic year and a half! I’m starting to get the exercise side of things down, and I’m really focusing in on the food I eat. For me, it isn’t just about eating when you’re hungry. It is about eating the right food to fuel your body, and not always listening to those feelings that called out for junk food because I was sad or bored.

I getting my taste back for fresh, healthy, well-prepared food. I’m enjoying cooking more than I ever did before. And why am I discovering all of this? That is probably because of the July challenge I set for myself. I made a decision to not eat anything from a restaurant, including fast food and pizza, for the entire month of July. My kids and I are also buying less processed food. Instead of buying things like Banquet Family Sized Salisbury Steaks, we’re making BBQ chicken in the Crock pot. We’re eating more seafood and fish. And the salads — forget about it! I’ve never been a salad fan, and now I usually eat at least one salad a day. You can ask anyone in my family; I’ve never been a fan of veggies. Now I can’t get enough!

A side bonus to cooking everything at home? I am not spending $20-$30 on dinner each night. There was a time not so long ago that my ex would go out to McDonald’s, and I would get a 20-piece nugget, a large fry and a Big Mac, and eat it all by myself. Now, the thought of that makes me physically ill. But, when you eat your feelings, and you’re stressed out every day, you need a lot of food to medicate. That exact McDonald’s meal, including a large sweet tea, has 2210 calories and 112g of fat. That is more than I eat in an entire day now. On a typical day, I eat between 1,600 to 2,000 calories (75g or less of fat) and burn over 1,000 calories by swimming 45 minutes to an hour. As I said above…the thought of putting that into my body all in one meal makes me physically ill now. I can only imagine the damage it has done to my body over the last 30+ years.

So…no more fast food. And, after this July project, we’ll see about healthier options for dining out. Even those options will probably be visited sparingly, to save money. But, all in all, the best reason to eat at home is because the food is just better, and I know what is going into it. I can’t wait to visit farmer’s markets in the area this weekend, and I’m excited about going apple and blueberry picking with my kids. I really want to make sure they are included in these new food choices. They were a little hesitant about the switch from cow’s milk to almond milk, but they seem to have even taken that in stride!

It looks like I’m in for a wild ride in the next 17-18 months. I’m ready for it! :)