Sometimes our weight loss journey requires a rewriting of our story. We live years affected by the past, time affixed to those memories. Self-limiting beliefs prevent us from returning to the person we once were before the interference of parents, culture, and our own selves veered our direction away from our life purpose. Pleading for an exit, aching to release painful hearts, and wanting to heal, the rewrite from whom we have become readies itself for action and new intention. Forgiveness, self-worth, and self-love are the keystones of this healing, dormant and waiting for liberation. Rewriting your story awaits your penmanship. The following recounts my own review and rewritten tale.
At six pounds, nine ounces, pulled into life by a medical vacuum, I entered the world alone as my mother lay asleep medicated beyond consciousness. Whether my troubles began at birth remains uncertain. The story my mother tells is that my independent ways and means committee of one for survival began early, refusing to take her hand to cross the street. My, I-can-do -it-MYSELF attitude, precluded her from controlling me, and the battles began. I fought and argued defiantly, knocking my opposition with every opportunity, voicing my opinion, and needing to shout my truth. I cried, yelled, and screamed no matter the cost or punishment, yet was depleted from exhaustive disputes and angry tirades that left me alone, sad, and despondent.
The catastrophic conflicts created isolation; my father’s role as referee, indirectly and passively declaring my mother the victor was mainly to separate us from irrational fights over control. My two sisters remained hidden from our mother’s wrath, as I drew all the negative attention. Seventeen years of arguments and anger left me with disdain, contempt, and rage toward the woman that bore me. Cruelty, limitations, and condescension poured out from both of us that inflicted horrific scars that lined my heart by the time I escaped to college.
Yet in reviewing my childhood woes and weary beginnings, oddly there were sparks of joy, happiness, and exceptional optimism that lay between battlegrounds of destructive behavior. Incredibly uplifting, a respite from the malaise were times away from home: school, sports, playing basketball in the driveway, riding my bike as far from home as possible, and traveling parentless to summer overnight camp, a teen tour, or an international high school exchange program. Escape and reprieves established friendships, athletic team opportunities, an academic foundation, and an optimistic attitude towards life.
My spin of any negative situation to a positive was typical, and evident to friends as unusual. In retrospect, anything or anywhere was an improvement from home. My happiness, optimism, and unique perspective about life made me unusual from peers. Others’ opinions of me rarely had any effect upon me, declaring me a rare teenager. Unaffected by emotional teenage drama made me a good listener, objective, and impartial to the normal human melodrama that plays out in life. Rewarding emotional release from stress at home during these reprieves were ceasefires from the warzone.
Conversely, my mother’s opinion jarred great resentment and I lashed out with fury. My self-esteem, deeply affected by age eleven followed a negative, painful, emotional path. Utilizing food to numb the pain and control the uncontrollable, I began the dieting roller coaster where food as fuel was a foreign concept. Active summers away from home enabled normalcy with food; the weight seemed nonexistent until my return.
Additionally, there were uplifting, calm, sublime moments in my childhood. My mother’s compassion, empathy, and love for me when I was ill were notable. Truce-filled vacations as a family were memorably peaceful. Those moments encompassed some building blocks of love beneath the surface that would prove imperative for a healed, positive, and mother-daughter relationship later in life. Her uncanny ability to forget the past quickly reduced punishments she ordered. Pretending arguments had not occurred resurrected immediate peace soon after. Her optimism lay like fresh clouds, free from the turmoil, happy to relinquish any of yesterdays anguish for today’s new possibility. The sun seemed to brighten everyday as if the prior hours vanished as the clock ticked forward.
I recall my mother’s morning routine, arriving in my bedroom announcing, “Good morning, Morning Glory. Time to rise and shine!” She would raise the window shade without warning with a chipper attitude, and smile as if turmoil hours never transpired. Her ability to forgive the past, start over, or pretend it did not happen, was our normal. I recently researched the morning glory flower, to discover a flower that rises each day anew, only to die by the setting sun. From its root, another newly fresh Morning Glory flower appears for its turn to live for the day. My mother emulates this peculiar flower, each day independent from the next. Her optimistic outlook was contagious, and perhaps we each died a little each day, only to resurface anew the next.
Also moments existed when her assumed hatred of me reversed, periodically blossoming. I recall meeting my high school boyfriend’s parents, and excitedly sharing with my mother, “I think they really loved me.” Her response still echoes loudly, “What’s not to love?” That phrase I heard on several occasions, ensuring that she loved me deeply in a somewhat convoluted heart that needed mending as much as my own. That message furthermore raised hope that love between us lay dormant, ready for a future awakening.
Lacking self-worth from constant shaming and a shortage of unconditional love, translated into lousy relationships with men, promoting a series of poor choices. Food consumed to numb emotions resulted in yo-yo dieting, arriving into a relationship thin, and fat by the time I was heading for the door. Relationships included the ex-con, the abusive partner, the law student whose priorities did not include me, and the man who was married to his mother. The common theme, I did not deem myself worthy of better.
My story I had written lived and languished with deficient self-worth, self-love, and forgiveness; I dumped myself like trash into those relationships. To release shame, guilt, and access forgiveness toward my mother, and me, I toiled emotionally to clear the dark clouds from my heart, accept the past as it was, and resign myself to a new, uncluttered future. Yet the repetition of dreadful, ghastly partner choices accumulated over a dozen years, until one fateful evening I rewrote my life story.
Months from reaching thirty years old, my fiancé moves into my apartment and our wedding invitations find their way into 300 guests’ mailboxes. A thunderstorm one night soon after eliminates the lights, the air conditioner is silent and unresponsive, and sweat pours from my brow as the temperature reaches 85 degrees inside. A slight breeze eases through the open windows, flashlights and candles provide dim lighting enough to see one another, and battery-operated fans sputter in a few corners to allay the discomfort.
A laundry basket of clean clothes sits by the bed awaiting organization; clothes lay in a chaotic, unfolded, unraveled, and wrinkled existence, representative of their owners. I begin folding the garments, my shoulders lifted, neck muscles clenched, back aching, thinking about how my life had become hopeless, unhappy, and hectic, yet again. I contemplate the many hands in the pot, planning our approaching nuptials, the continuing arguments with my new roommate, soon-to-be lifelong partner, and the answering machine message from his mother, “…HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY NOW! I was in a car accident because of you, from all this stress. And I hope you’ll be calling your dying cousin, Milton, during his last dying breath, to tell him why he wasn’t invited to your wedding…”
My insides unfold, unravel, and wrinkle, unable to imagine continuing to live like this. When did my life take such a turn, deteriorating to now? Then I see it, the lonely, white, silk blouse, looking shattered, damaged, and destroyed. Although I had purposefully not placed the delicate, graceful, gentle beauty with the rest of the dirty laundry, here it sits wilted, crumpled, and tattered. My heart sinks inside, relentlessly saddened by not one, but now, the second silk blouse destroyed by the man who claims to love me, care for me, but shows consistent disrespect and inconsideration for all that I am.
The greatest heartache is his persistence to defend the woman who gave him life, yet who tortures him emotionally with daily, phone calls. Her crass comments, sarcastic bellowing, and snide remarks, are symptomatic of her latest voicemail, sticking the metaphoric knife deeper than usual into us.
Looking at the disintegrated garment in my hands, sadness flows into disbelief, then into anger and resentment. My life feels like a made-for-TV movie where a monstrous mother-in-law aims to destroy her son and the woman who took him away from her. Yet he agrees, in his words, “It’s all for the best; she means well.” I am not sure anyone would believe the true story, but it would be entertaining enough for ratings.
My anger is boiling; words bubble at the mouth, foam begins to spew as the first letters of words form, “Chuck! You did it again!” Tears begin to tumble to the floor. I am exasperated that we are about to have the same argument over a blouse, about the money wasted, his lack of consideration, his disrespect towards me through his actions. Feeling irritated, I wonder why a repeat performance is in play. The scene, lit up by candles mysteriously dims my ability to see him well.
An angry, I-have-been-interrupted-again voice echoes from the other room. “Whaaaat?” This is not an inquiry, but a what-now, what-have-I-done-now, I-hate-my-life-too response.
“You did it again. How could you do this to me again? It’s ruined. My silk blouse is ruined. You threw it in the laundry and then in the dryer. Why don’t you have any respect for my things? I hate this. I hate this!” I even know in an instant, this is not about the blouse. So much deeper within the wrinkles of our lives are the creases that bury our true feelings, our childhood baggage, and the interference of our mothers, hidden beneath the folds of a crumpled, silk garment.
Yet the yelling, shouting, arguing begins, as if a repeat chorus takes hold of our prior night’s conversation. This time, it is set among the dark, open-windowed apartment, where our eyes cannot meet nor see the truth beneath the insults, the anger, the sadness, and the tension. We know not how to stop this freight train from running through our living room. The shouts are loud, enormously edged near violence, threatening, demented. Words fly like sticks of dynamite, “I hate you. I hate your mother. Fuck You! I don’t want to marry you. You look like you are mad enough to hit me. Do it! Get it over with! Make me leave you! Just GET IT OVER WITH!”
A tirade of words, exchanged under a foundation of aggressive, disturbing, and violent emotions, and I sink to the floor, my feelings reverberating throughout my entire being. Adjusting into a fetal position, I sob uncontrollably, sadness pouring from my pores. My heart literally aches, heaving cries of disbelief that my life experience is repeating itself. Recurring, anguish-filled words exit my mouth, picturing the prior dozen years pass before my eyes: “I hate my life. Why is this happening to me again? Why me? I cannot go on like this. I must make a change.”
Yet as quickly as the words leave my mouth, I realize there is no escape clause for the painful life I have chosen. I have gotten myself into this broken-record, like a piece of a song scheduled to replay itself repeatedly, searing itself into my head. Again, I feel stuck, uncertain how to change the course of my history that feels written in stone. There is no bright light to guide me away from here.
As my mother always said, “You made your bed, and now you have to lie in it.” I see the disrespect, the lack of self worth, the anger, the sadness, and the dysfunctional mess at each relationship’s finale. I hear my voice whispering now, “How do I get out of this one? Help me. Please help me. Help.” But my body feels disconnected from the source of the sound. Not a soul hears my pleas; I sound crazy whispering the words aloud within the empty room. Chuck has retreated to the bedroom. Each of us is alone to sink within our sorrows from our relationship gone awry.
Then the shift hits the fan.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! A heavy pounding comes from the door. Disrupted, stunned, and silence interrupted by the sudden thunderous sound, my sobs, my whispers in the silence, and my despair take an immediate break. Chuck returns to the room, hearing the loud, intentionally wanting-to-be-heard pounding upon our apartment door. We both look at each other with uncertainty. “You better answer it, I cannot,” I whimper.
“Who is it?” Chuck checks the peephole as we hear the answer.
“It’s the police. Open this door immediately. We received a call about a domestic disturbance coming from this apartment.” The loud, masculine voice is stern, heavy, demanding, and startling.
My heart is racing now, aware that our loud words had listening spectators, and someone has called the cops to investigate the alarming sounds, the disturbing words, and the potential violence one would suspect. I whisper to Chuck that I will be in the other room. Behind the bedroom door, I listen closely to the conversation.
“We got a call saying there was a disturbance from this apartment,” a commanding voice announces.
“Yes,” Chuck confirms. ”We had an argument. We are fine now.”
“We have to see that she is okay. Where is she?” From the inquiry and his concerned, dutiful words, I know I must make my feet move. My limbs are heavy, but my courage pushes them forward, making my appearance in front of the vocal officer. Another male police officer walks behind him, motioning Chuck to another side of the room.
I walk with my head down, my feet moving cautiously, appearing disheveled I suspect from the concerned look upon his face. His expressive eyebrows furrowed with lips pierced closed, my reddened eyes perhaps reveal my pain, anguish, and distress as I look up and our souls connect. He pauses possibly to reflect and contemplate the situation at hand, sizing me up. His broad shoulders exhibit a strong physique, but his eyes reveal a compassion I crave desperately.
“Are you okay?” he asks with concern.
Shakily and trembling, I softly and slowly speak, “I am okay. We just moved in together. We are supposed to get married in six weeks.”
“Hmmm.” His deep-set eyes seem to connect for just seconds with mine, when the following words come at me like a wave of wisdom. There is a moment of silence, stillness, a stoppage of time when, “You may want to rethink that” drops from his lips like a revelation. They reverberate, as if hanging in the air, resting upon my heart, as if the disordered, jumbled letters of my life have untangled into “You may want to rethink that.”
As the door shuts behind the short visit, I sit down, descending deeply into the couch, and cry, conscious of the severity of our argument, dirty laundry aired to the world, shame of my life leading to this miserable moment, and attune to “You may want to rethink that.” The deep, concerned, compassionate voice echoes repeatedly, simply, yet wisely. In the form of a uniformed officer, a messenger of strength, protection, and authority, arrives to help when I called, needed, and requested it. In search of an exit strategy, a superhero wearing a blue uniform, a messenger spoke words from his heart that I hear intimately now.
His visit feels timely; I sense a shift occurring. The fan sputters in the corner. Slow motion emanates throughout the room, an energy coursing through the train wreck, healing its passengers, and bringing everyone to safety. Suddenly, I know that everything is going to be okay. Like a domino hitting its rectangular, black neighbor with white dots knocking into the next, words quickly connect through my mind, “cancel the wedding, escape this relationship, shift your life, release the pain, free and forgive yourself, unconditionally love yourself.”
Until now, cancelling the wedding seemed insurmountable like a freight train venturing off the tracks, momentum too strong to reverse direction. This is a messy proposition, hundreds of guests receiving invitations within hours of the police visit, deposits paid to caterers, cake makers, photographers, videographers, florists, a band, and a location reserved. An expensive mess to meddle with, no simple solution to execute reversal, and yet, my life is on the line. Spending it with the wrong man constitutes an extremely, poor choice. Like the many errors in judgment, again I needed to right the wrong.
This vision of rethinking my life felt God-sent, my mind suddenly at ease. Relief unravels the tension as Operation Wedding Cancellation, I declare it, aligns itself with my life. My parents, experiencing the greatest financial sacrifice, support my decision, loving me more than I ever recalled prior. Suddenly everything shifts, like a lever lifting the veil that blinded my vision. The wedding train needs immediate work stoppage, retiring it from the tracks indefinitely. I board the next train to find a new direction in life, worthy of unconditional love. Revealed is a destiny calling me toward fresh horizons and finer, peaceful pastures.
I see my life unfolding after this warped train is removed from its tracks, informing the guests, sending back engagement gifts, the ring, and the quintessential details related to this life-changing train wreck. Suddenly I feel free, yet wondering how I led myself upon this unsteady, relentlessly painful path. How unworthy have I felt repeatedly in all the years of my life?
Weeks later with the silence, stillness, and safety felt within, the work to terminate the wedding completed, Chuck removing himself from my life entirely, I am driving down Route 290 on my way to my aunt’s for a Rosh Hashanah celebration. I decide to skip the traditional services at the synagogue, figuring anything I have to say to God can be said anywhere, anytime. Yet as I drive, I contemplate my life, new beginnings, and opportunities for change. A full life shift needs action, a change from the way I view my life and myself. Cancelling the wedding felt like dodging a bullet. Feeling relieved, saved, and reborn, a reinvention of “me” is necessary.
Then something happens quite curiously, giving me time to pause. Although I know my gas meter appears empty, I typically wait to fill up the tank when its level is just below the given line. The phrase, “E is for enough,” my father’s expression, comes to mind, his running joke that there exists enough gas to reach the gas station. Yet the engine sputters, I press the gas pedal with greater gusto, but no acceleratory reaction occurs. In disbelief, I pull onto the shoulder of the highway.
Taking stock, I realize I am safe, happy, and content while contemplating my predicament. Necessary cell phone calls made to AAA and my aunt’s to share my plight are complete. My mother’s response, “That used to happen to my father all the time … Be safe … I guess we’ll see you when you get here.” I imagine my grandfather sitting as I am now waiting for help to arrive. Without cell phones years ago, a slightly different scenario must have played out, but the metaphor, “I’m out of gas” still rings true. Imagining my grandfather watching over me, keeping me safe, I wonder what he would think of me now.
“I’m out of gas,” I state the obvious aloud, aware at how accurate this statement equates to my life. I was running on empty, looking to fill the tank. Yet as I contemplated more, the message came into full view. I was living without a full tank of love, for myself, for others, for the world at large. Without self-love, self-care, self-exploration for healing, forgiveness of the past, I was struggling to live in the present. As I am discovering and understanding the “sign,” I feel the stillness, the mind chatter floating away, and a space of peace full of love descend upon me. Then intuitively I visualize and know the right action. Everything is suddenly at ease, flowing, gentle, and kind.
All relationships are resigned to befall the effects of my unstable childhood should I choose not to change. I instantly recall one relationship at seventeen where one man shared with me a glimpse of unconditional love, but without loving myself, running on empty, I was out of gas then, too. Twelve years later since that beautiful connection, I sit in the shade of the freeway and realize that unconditional love for me must arrive before I can reciprocate to others.
Thinking about such love, and how it presents itself, I imagine the years of not feeling the love within, and a voice instantly infiltrates my heart. I hear it quite loudly, as if the voice enters my soul, “I am love. Love is I. I am the love that has evaded me.” Then as if a memory pervades my thoughts, I hear the words echoing from my mother’s voice loudly, clearly, undeniably, “Good morning, Morning Glory,” said with love, light, and laughter, welcoming me to a new day dawning, the past deadened and a new life awakening. Yet even louder, I hear her kindness deep in the recesses of my heart, audibly connecting with mine, “WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?”
My story rewritten at a three-decade turning point set the pace for my future. I discovered forgiveness, self-love, and shame resilience, altering the course of my path. Life is not happening to me, but I am happening to it. We have the power to transform our lives along any path. When you know that life has directionality that orchestrate from one’s heart, it is easy to play a grand symphony. Rewrite your story, play your tune anyway you choose; it can always be altered by listening to your heart, and changing your song. Rewrite your story; change the course of history in your life. We are all worthy of a happy tale.