Keep Your Silly Superstitions. Your fears. Your insecurities...And I'll keep mine.

I made a joke recently about how “the lucky number 13” was bound to spawn some kind of superstitious crap this year. Last year it was the Mayans; 2011 was the non-Rapture—twice—remember that?

For 2010, I’m not sure about the doomsday theories, but that year was my slow climb out of hell.  August was my first breath of freedom, but planning and final dispatch of the then-husband was a year’s long ordeal. I would have been confused and disoriented without an incessantly needy spouse to tend to (insistent as he was to be the center of my universe, it seemed I was no longer under his gravitational pull), had I not been so focused to take one-day-at-a-time in an effort to lose weight. This weight I had packed on in an effort to hide myself from the world. I started at about 290 pounds, a clumsy size 24 and uncomfortable in my own skin.

The next year began, I was lighter by 20 pounds, and 2011 was my year of self-discovery. I had hit my stride in my weight loss and it was no longer a struggle as my new lifestyle including vegetables and exercise became second-nature. Instead of a New Year’s resolution, I made a pledge for my 29th birthday that by my 30th birthday I would fit into a size 13.

The completion of that pledge mattered less than my journey toward myself. Who I am and what do I want out of life. I started blogging in March at the encouragement of a long lost friend. Seemed like a way to keep in touch with a slightly inappropriate old crush actually—of course I was in!

Regardless why I got started, my blog helped me flesh out the reasons my weight piled on to begin with. Many may focus on the act of writing or the experience of sharing the contents of one blog post or another, but so much more occurred in my own head after I hit “publish”.  I have attempted to write much of the rest down, or rewrite old posts, but perhaps those insights are mine alone for the time being.  

This act of digging in one’s own psyche had various unintended consequences. I was conqueror of the world one week and, at the slightest comment, deflated into a pit the next. I finally found my footing when I realized my emotional state rested in the hands of others. But upon removing control from the hands of others, I didn’t know what to do with it myself. I wanted to make myself happy but didn’t know how. Empty contentment wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t that good, either. There was no fun in Purgatory.  I needed a shrink.

Shrink had and gone, mother kicked to the curb in the process, 2012 was my year of running. My size 13 by 30 pledge became 13 miles by 30. I slogged my way through a personal half marathon on my 30th birthday, then had a much more fun experience in an organized race a few weeks later. I ran the whole thing. I was so happy. And to think I almost didn’t go because I had no one to be there with me when I finished.

From there I ran 13 mile runs about once a month until summer, when I had to take a break to build a patio. I wowed my coworkers with talk of my patio that I built by myself just because I wanted it. They were quite impressed and I was happy to host my daughter’s birthday that fall, knowing I had a place to have it.

But I believe the patio and the birthday party may have cost me time in marathon training. I had pushed myself, but had no real plan or training regimen. I was trying to balance too many things. Then my mother inserts herself after a year’s absence and I’ve toppled over. My training runs went undone or uncompleted.  I had the opportunity to switch my marathon registration from a full to a half, but I was hoping for a miracle.

The miracle I guess I got was that a former coworker was running the same race. When I approached the halfway point in lap three, about 16 miles in, my body rebelled against me. I believe if he had not been there, I would have either been an emotional wreck for quitting, or continued putting one foot in front of the other until I dropped to the ground. Instead, as I walked toward the officials tent, I focused on talking with him when he finished and how much I would enjoy that.  

He was an awesome help in putting my “failure” in perspective. The following week I signed up for four half marathons between now and St Patrick’s Day—because I know I can, running with people is more fun than running alone, and medals are awesome. Seems as much as I wanted friends to watch me succeed, they are best able to cushion me when I fall. I didn’t understand that until just now, because really there are no miracles. We create the meaning to the circumstances of our own lives, usually after the fact.

Then New Year’s came and I’m standing naked in my bathroom, about to shower. An itch under my arm has the palm of my hand rubbing the top of my breast to feel a hard knot that shouldn’t be there. I’ve been wrestling my boobs into sports bras for a year. I know this isn’t right. A numbness washes over me to protect myself from a freak out that can’t be addressed for a day or two anyway. Besides, I have no one to freak out to. Perhaps that’s a good thing.

So as 2013 stretches out ahead of me with a not-a-cyst-having-an-ultrasound-next-week lump in my breast, my greatest fear to overcome is finding myself in a position to ask for help. I lost 100 pounds with no help, built a patio with no help and dared to run a marathon. I ousted a miserable husband. Kicked my own mother to the curb for my own good. But I’m still a divorced mother of a 4 year old and aside from the impersonal “can you watch her tonight” requests, the last thing I want is for….people to care about me.

Huh? Wait…what?

The prospect of cancer and chemo and death doesn’t scare me. It’s people who are messy and unpredictable and unstable and volatile. They may care about you to the ends of the earth but they could just as easily make it all about satisfying some martyrdom complex of their own accord. The last thing I want is for the Jesus Freaks to get wind of this. But that may happen simply because I don’t want it to. Then I’ll have to be polite when they say they’re “praying for me” when it’s to soothe their own guilt for their good fortune of dodging the proverbial bullet.

These are my insecurities regarding questions I don’t have answers to. But something tells me that because they exist and because I have plenty to learn still about people and myself, I have a strong hunch that’s exactly what I’m going to get this year.

Or because I’m putting it out there, the tumor is benign—possible lumpectomy—end of story.

But that all would be stupid superstitious crap, wouldn’t it? Perfect for 2013.

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Comment by Marlene Dunham on January 5, 2013 at 9:45pm

Well, I must say you certainly sound like a very strong person.  Congratulations on all your accomplishments and good luck on the breast lump.  Here's hoping for benign.  But keep writing & keep us posted.

Comment by Forest Green Magazine on January 5, 2013 at 11:40pm

This sounds like a record of extraordinary accomplishment to me. ("16 miles in"?!?!? -- that's not my idea of a failure. For me, it would be more like The Impossible Dream.) Even your most recent challenge is an opportunity to learn new things about yourself and others. I'm not praying about it, but I am paying attention. I'll continue to watch for your postings. Be well!


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