The Riddle of Me: Self-Image

Whenever you’re obese it’s incredible how aware you are of every inch of space you take up. I was always painfully aware of my size. Whenever I’d have to squeeze past a table in a restaurant or push myself past bodies on an airplane to get to my seat, I was filled with an agonizing embarrassment and self-hatred. People were judging me, most of them just avoided looking my way but some would let contempt hang on their faces. I always avoided eye contact. I lived inside my own mind, constantly tearing myself down, and never paying attention to the world around me. I could never separate who I was from what had happened to me. I was too pliable, like extremely depressed Play-Doh.

I was jealous of all the other human beings that could hide their insecurities or bad habits. I would look around and imagine some to be compulsive gamblers, pathological liars, or maybe just awful people, but they looked normal. They looked healthy. I couldn’t hide how bad I was at life. I had to wear my shame every second of every day. I was a binge eater; I couldn’t cope with my emotions or the challenges life threw at me. I would hide, eat, lie about my emotions, and sink into my depression. I never imagined my life could be any other way. I was just made this way and I didn’t have the determination or hard work to make it better.

What a harmful lie I was feeding myself. What a harmful lie that was fed to me by others.

I hated my body and mind in every sense of the words. It was like being held hostage by my bad habits and choices. No improvement, no education, no growth. I would sit for hours every day and imagine what it’d be like to run again, to eat healthy balanced meals, to pursue education and knowledge, to be loved and to love myself. Those “dreams” would consume my thoughts. I now realize when I reflect, I never believed I would be better. Honestly, I think I was just waiting for an excuse to end it all. I thought that being happy and healthy was never in the cards for me. I spent years of my life never moving towards my goals while simultaneously hating this world that never made me someone that moved towards their goals. See my point?

I chose to be a victim. I chose to always victimize myself. That was my self-image.

When I thought I’d lost everything. I had nothing to hold onto.

So, I set fire to those thoughts.

One of the worst things that ever happened to me in my life, losing two people who were more dear to me than myself, it changed me. It changed me for the better and it made me open my eyes. I now feel like I see with such clarity what the world is, what life is, and more importantly what the possibility of a life well lived is. Stop putting expectations on yourself for tomorrow, stop putting expectations on your loved one’s behavior, stop putting expectations on your life.

Pursue goals, dream, hope, but never be anything but grateful. Once you realize how lucky you are to even exist. You can start to appreciate how short, scary, and beautiful life is. Stop ruining it by overthinking. Stop hating yourself. Embrace who you are and pay attention to your thoughts. You are in control, your choices and how you choose to allocate your time determines who you are.

Stand on the frontier of life. Push yourself and everyone around you to be better. Don’t choose to be less than what you could be because the people around you are fine with standing still. I will never let another human being on this earth tell me what I can or cannot succeed at.

Set the example. Impress them. Encourage them. Inspire them.

Stop being complacent in a life you’ve made for yourself.

Today, I am about as different from the person I was 4 years ago, as I am to a stranger on the street. My thoughts, my habits, my reactions and interactions, they astound me daily. Whenever negative and harmful thoughts pass through my mind, I no longer let them control me, belittle me, and dictate what my day will be like. I recognize them like a bird flying by in front of me, I acknowledge them, and then let them go. On to the next thought, the better thought, the more productive thought, the wonderful thought.

The best example I have is that instead of letting my thoughts and emotions consume me. I merely reflect them. It’s like being a mirror inside of yourself. The voice that answers to “I” in my head is constant. That is what I consider “me”. I am not the sum of my memories, thoughts, and other people’s behaviors toward me. I am the mirror, so I merely reflect it.

People’s behavior around me no longer offends me or hurts me. I don’t take responsibility for it. I can only be truthful and direct with my words and intentions and let the pieces fall where they may. If someone is rude or does something I don’t agree with morally or socially. It’s no longer dramatic or stress inducing. I merely remove myself from their company and continue to pursue my own happiness. I hold no ill-will towards the people who are no longer a part of my life. I wish them every joy and happiness. I just know that there are some human beings that will only harm my progress or add chaos to my life. I no longer have the time or the patience to fight with people. It has made me a more selfish, productive, and happier person.

I make a choice to dwell on the positive, helpful and true. I choose to reject or move from the unhealthy, false, and unhelpful thoughts. I strive for my mind to be filled with ideas, curiosity, fascination, love, truth, and hope.

I’m constantly pushing myself to be better every moment. I’m looking for ways I can challenge myself and improve. When I look in the mirror, I no longer focus on every part of myself I want to change. I look at my eyes and contemplate their complexities and colors. I marvel at how they show me the world and my body, how they let me perceive the universe around me.

I look at my arms and instead of hating the flab and their shape, I stare at them and marvel how far they’ve come. How strong they are, how much they help me throughout my day, throughout my life, how much I’d miss them if they were disappearing. I stare at my stomach and I marvel at what’s under the skin. The intricate organs, fluid, tissue, the constant activity that makes it possible for me to be here today. I marvel at how one day hopefully; I will grow a tiny human. I can be moved to tears with the slightest thought of how incredibly my entire body is. I see the “magic” in myself now. I have changed my mind about this life.

I hated this journey for so long because I only reflected on how bad I had let things get for myself. My health, my body, my emotions, everything was a wreck. I’ve now realized how lucky I am to have been through everything I have. The loss, the weight gain, the pain, the suffering. It has given me the gift of perspective. The gift of self-love. the gift of confidence.

Nothing lasts in this life. I choose not to grieve over what I have had and lost, I choose to embrace what is around me. I choose to look in the mirror and not only feel peace, but love. I have such a clear view of who I am, what I’m capable of, and what I want out of this life. It’s similar to the feeling of falling in love, except I’m not depending on anyone else for this euphoria and purpose. It’s me.

Now when I’m in public, traveling, dancing, existing. I no longer apologize for the space I occupy. When I stand, I feel my strength. I am confident. Losing weight does not make you a better person. It will not fix your life. Your size is insignificant in comparison to your life and happiness. Let weight loss be merely a side-effect to a balanced life, to a balanced you. Love yourself and the rest will follow.

So I guess what I’m saying is it all comes down to you. It all comes down to your choices.

What’s it going to be? Do you want to start loving being you?

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A bundle of insecurities

 

When I was thirteen or fourteen, my mother took me to the mall to get some new summer clothes. I managed to corner her in Abercrombie & Fitch. She kind of hated that place, so of course, I was desperate to shop there. I knew I needed tank tops, jean skirts, and flip flops. Everyone was wearing it. Cue eye roll.

I saw this tiny, white, tank top that I really wanted to try on. It was tighter than anything I’d ever worn before. I felt so confident in it. I don’t remember how much begging I did, but my mom finally caved and I was off to enjoy my weekend in my new favorite new top.

So I was in the lobby at the cinema in Oklahoma. I was there with three or four of my friends and I was feeling so good about myself. This summer was going to be different. My two front teeth were finally symmetrical and grown in–it took a while. I didn’t have a bowl cut, I was athletic and happy. I was cheering at the time and I was always moving. My skin was clear and my braces were off. I felt trendy and unstoppable. When the boys walked in, I stepped forward and waved. I had zero chill.

“Oh my god, Devon. Look at your arms.”

I genuinely remember thinking this boy was going to compliment me, but after studying his face I steeled myself for the blow. He wasn’t flirting. He was going to humiliate me.

“They’re massive. Gross! They’re bigger than mine. Wow. Look at this.”

A numb, crawling feeling washed over me while everyone laughed. I muttered something about his arms and melted away. I sat through the movie, I sat through pizza afterward, but when I went home I cried in my mother’s arms. I never wore that tank top again.

From that day on, every time I look in the mirror, every time someone snaps a picture of me, every time I get dressed, I stare at my arms and I hate them. I wear sweaters to cover them, I avoid having them exposed at all costs, I even crop them out of photos so I don’t have to see them.

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It’s so easy to pick up these insecurities as we go through life, huh? An offhand comment from a spouse that hits just right. A coworker who makes a jab and tells you to lighten up. Or even a parent that catches you at your weakest moment and knows exactly what to say to make it worse.

These things happen and they suck. All of us, at one time or another, have been embarrassed, have been humiliated. And most of us have embarrassed and humiliated other people, maybe on purpose, maybe unintentionally.

The reason why this is important when it comes to weight loss is that those voices are usually the ones we give the most attention to when we look at ourselves, when we try to grow. I’m sure you can’t recall all the times someone told you how cute you looked or how beautiful you are, but I bet you can remember when someone called you fat or ugly.

The bad news is that even when you are at your goal weight and have your “perfect” body. You still feel it. You still remember. That’s part of the beauty of the human mind. It feels like you don’t get to choose what replays in your mind the most. Some of the most amazing moments I’ve had I can’t remember clear enough, but some of the most awful things that ever happened to me are just sitting there in HD. Ready for my viewing pleasure in the blink of an eye.

Recently, while reading Siddhartha by Herman Hess, I had a small but important ‘aha’ moment about my journey. Every second I dwell on those thoughts, every time I force myself to become smaller out of insecurity, out of fear, I’m losing. I’m losing time, I’m losing happiness, I’m losing me.

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You are not the sum of what has happened to you or what you have experienced. You are so much more than that. Your life is precious and wonderful, and it’s so short! It goes by so fast and we spend so much time dwelling on the past or putting expectations on the future. We lie, cheat, drink, lie, and self-destruct just so we can get away from the bad in or around us. It’s a crazy waste when you think about it.

I’m making a choice not to do that anymore. I’m making a choice to be present every second I possibly can, to be grateful, to watch my husband smile, to push myself forward; to learn everything there is to know about this crazy universe, to stare in a mirror and find myself as beautiful as the beauty I see around me, to not give the people who hurt me power over me. No matter my size, no matter my situation, because what matters is that I am happy, and the good news is that happy is a choice.

Definitely the more cheerful choice if you think about it.

 

 

A new approach to thinking

After everything that happened to me I knew that I didn’t want to just survive anymore.
I wanted to thrive.

I wanted to change my daily habits, my emotions, and my ability to handle stressful situations. I wanted to stop regretting bad interactions where I lost my temper or got too upset. I wanted to be able to listen better and get a better grasp on my thoughts.

So it started a journey – and that’s how I found what was a key for me to live a better life. Being mindful.

“Mindfulness is simply,
being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different.
Enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes. (which it will)
Being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way. (which it wont)”
– James Baraz

Mindfulness for me, is putting space between your thoughts and your actions. After dealing with grief, I realized that if I took the time and the effort to realize not only the content of my thoughts but then started to question those thoughts. I could start to have more control over my emotional state. It changed my personality and my life. Some people, of course are naturally good at this. I definitely wasn’t born with the ability to do this. It’s practice

The reason I’m bringing this up and why I thought it was important enough to share is because it can help you maintain better relationships, build better habits and ultimately give you a better quality of life. A lot of people think self-help is silly or arbitrary but in my opinion it should be one of the most celebrated tools in our culture. There are so many options and so many ways you can take easy steps to feeling happy. 

I can honestly say, while being completely cliché that I learned to love myself. It’s not constant and I’ve had some lows, but in the last 2 years 90% of my days end with me being proud of the progress I’m making into the person I ultimately want to be. That means a better wife for David, a better mother to my children one day, and especially a better daughter, sister, friend, and human. The lower you feel, the higher the climb. 

I had a fear of death so bad after everything happened that I couldn’t breathe or function at the idea of anyone else dying around me. I was killing myself with food and I couldn’t walk 20 feet without feeling winded. I didn’t want to live. I didn’t see a way out. Those feelings of grief, anger, and self-hatred were painful and constant. They would crush me and consume my thoughts. But I beat it, I learned that I could change and that if I hadn’t experienced such grief, I wouldn’t appreciate everyone and everything I do today. 

I do not have control over losing anyone around me or losing my own life.
All I can do is love with everything I have and do my best to be kind.
Every action I have has ripples, it sets things in motion.
One quick unkind, unthinking, act can have powerful consequences.
Your kind acts have even more power.
You can create change. That’s a great power and we all wield it.
I have to be present and account for how fleeting my life can be and I still have to
choose to be grateful.
I have to turn the negative things that have happened to me into knowledge and strength.

Learn to pay attention to your moods. I highly suggest journaling feelings, events AND food together because you start to see patterns. When I have a day where I’m eating a large amount of carbs, meats, and sodium I usually feel not only sluggish and bloated the next day but depressed as well. Bettering yourself isn’t selfish and seeking professional help or guidance through books, videos, medications or friends is NOT crazy or “weak”.

This world is stressful, hard, and messy. You should give yourself the tools to live the best life possible and have healthy relationships with the people around you. Figuring out that there were consequences to my eating habits made it easier for me to change my diet and my life all together. If you take the time to pray every day I suggest adding in some mindfulness exercises and take time to analyze your thoughts and feelings and think about your expectations for your day, yourself, and the situations you’re dealing with.

I don’t want this to come off preachy and I’m not trying to tell someone how to live a perfect life. I just want to get it out there that it’s entirely possible to have more control of your thoughts, emotions, and actions then you do right now. It helped me to better set up boundaries and I learned to have normal expectations for the people around me. It’s easy to be selfish because what you’re thinking and feeling is YOURS but every person on this planet has their own problems, agenda, thoughts and emotions to contend with. You can learn to be a better version of yourself simply by having healthy boundaries, expectations and understanding for everyone around you.

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Imagine the next time you’re arguing with your spouse/friend/family member that instead of falling into the same repetitive negative patterns of screaming or losing your temper, you instead start to see things you didn’t see before. You start having revelations about people you’ve known your whole life because you start to realize why they are the way they are. You start to feel empathy and understanding for the other person and as a result your responses are not only said with confidence and kindness but you’re capable of clearly communicating how you’re thinking and feeling. Your mental health shows in your ability to cope with stressful situations. You have the ability to change how you deal with tough situations. I think one of the greatest quotes to emphasize this is:

“My mind begins to seem like a video game. I can either play it intelligently learning more in each round, or I can be killed in the same spot by the same monster, again and again.”

-Sam Harris

That quote brought together everything I’ve been learning not only about myself but other human beings in the last few years. You can be better. You can learn from the things happening to you and create change. Hitting the lows I hit and being able to fill my mind and soul back up with positive and empowering messages have changed my personality and the way I interact with others. Every human being on this planet is struggling not to feel alone, angry, and scared. It is our duty while we are on this earth to minimize the damage we do to others and especially, ourselves. If you’re suffering from a short temper, harmful thoughts, angry and sad feelings. I just want you to know that you can feel better.

Enjoying your thoughts is an incredible thing.
Being happy with your own company is crucial.

Since educating myself through books like the ones below. I have a new respect for myself and every life around me. A lot of people say that it’s amazing how happy I am considering the grief I’ve endured. I didn’t just have the ability to be a more cheerful person. It takes practice. I learned the coping skills I needed through therapy, knowledge, and healthy relationships. No matter what trial is going on in your life I have full confidence that you can not only handle it – but you can learn from it and it can help you be a healthier and more fulfilled person. 

 

It doesn’t matter what kind of childhood you had, how old you are, what religion you practice or who you voted for. We could all strive to be stronger, wiser, more empathetic people. If you can learn to enjoy your own company and be proud of not only the decisions you made, but the words you spoke at the end of the day – Why wouldn’t you?

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Stay cheerful

  • Dev

Losing weight, losing friends

Something I wasn’t prepared for on my weight loss journey is the cruelty it would bring out in the people around me.

When I was obese, people either stared at me way too long or not at all. I couldn’t possibly be a real person with real feelings. I was automatically labeled many things. “Lazy, gross, sad, pathetic, glutton.” Some of those were true, but buried underneath layers of fat I was still a person. A person with dreams and desires like anyone else, but I always felt ashamed.

I was used to being avoided, or judged when I was big, but I wasn’t prepared for the reaction people would have to me when I started losing the weight. It felt nice to get noticed again. It felt amazing to move from a girl who looked obese and sickly to a girl who looked curvy and athletic. I thought my enthusiasm would be infectious. It wasn’t.

There are going to be people in your life that don’t want you to better yourself. It may not even be malicious, but fear is a powerful motivator. A lot of people don’t lose weight and don’t purse their dreams because the people around them make them feel small or incapable. When I started to lose weight when we lived in Oklahoma, I actually had people mocking me for trying.

Are you gonna enjoy that salad?”
“We’ll see how long this lasts.”
“Why don’t you just love yourself?”

It took me a long time to realize the real problem. A lot of my friends were very overweight, even heavier than I was. They were taking me trying to improve myself as an attack on them. Maybe I should have tried harder to talk to them about it. Maybe I should have voiced how I felt. But I didn’t. Instead I just distanced myself, hung out with a couple close friends and made the gym fill up my spare time. I don’t think I dealt with it the healthiest way. I don’t even know what the healthiest way is. I just know that you don’t have to let people make you feel bad for wanting to change.

If there is one thing I’ve learned through everything it’s that you have to be enough. It may sound cheesy and a lot of people may say it, but you have to live with yourself the rest of your life. Positive thinking is so crucial.

You have to realize that your thoughts are incredibly important and being aware of them is the key to changing how you feel. Are you being negative? Are you being positive? Are you being cruel? There are times that I can actually stop and realize how awful I’m being to myself. All those voices telling me that I’m not enough, I’m alone, my husband doesn’t find me attractive.

Everyone has those thoughts, but you have to rise above them. You’re the one that is going to have to make the choices every day to get yourself to a better place. Whether that is towards weight loss or just a better you in general.

At any time, you can make your situation better.

Surround yourself with people that love you and add to your life.
But do not expect or demand them to make you happy.
Once you start depending on yourself to start bringing joy into your life you’ll wonder why you didn’t just do it in the first place.

Stay Cheerful

Dev

My journey with grief

This is not the most cheerful post, I promise almost all of my other posts will not be like this. But this story is what made me who I am and a big part of what drove me towards a life of positivity and wellness.
Thank you. – 

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In November 2013 I was furniture shopping in Tulsa, OK with my then boyfriend, now husband, David. We were having a good time, laughing with each other as we argued about a recliner with a loud floral print. I loved it, he didn’t. I was excited to be picking out furniture with him and to learn what he liked and disliked. Soon I’d be moving into a new apartment and living on my own for the first time. I’d have my own space and I could make it into whatever I wanted. But the momentary escape from my grief was ending. The pit in my stomach returned, before turning into the kind of full blown dread you can feel in the back of your throat. It was time to go back to the hospital. My father, brother, sister-in-law, and extended family would all be there, waiting for my mother to die.

My mother had been sick with rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and the heartbreak of losing her second child. Her “sweet boy” as she had called him over and over again. My big brother Matthew had died in a car accident 3 months earlier. One reckless stranger, one split second decision later–he was gone. The 16 year old driver of the mini van had hit Matthew head on and ended his life. My brother died that day along with several children from the minivan, who hadn’t been buckled into car seats. Matthew was 30 years old, attending radiology school, and had only been married for two years. He would have been a wonderful father. Every wonderful memory from my childhood has my brother’s radiant smile and warm presence. The world was a better place with him in it. 

The day Matthew died was the day my mother started slipping into her own grave. I couldn’t get her to eat or take her medications. Sometime in October she started having severe neck pain. Doctors stuck her with injections, put her on medications, and told her the arthritis was slowly crippling her. I remember one day in particular, where the pain got so bad that she told me she didn’t want to live anymore if the pain didn’t stop. I went to bed that night and thought: “God wouldn’t do this to me. I barely survived losing Matt. He couldn’t take my mother, he wouldn’t.” But I felt no comfort.

One morning in early November, I awoke to my mother’s screams. My 12 year old nephew was staying with us. I didn’t want him to be scared so I told him to stay in his room as I dialed 911. I tried everything to keep her calm but she was delirious, screaming “help me” over and over. I didn’t know what to do or what was hurting her. I remember feeling numb and helpless. Not knowing what else to do, I gathered her medications so the doctors would know what she was taking and how much. But when the paramedics arrived, they took one look at her pile of medications and the delirious state she was in, and dismissed it as an overdose. I remember the tone of contempt in his voice. The lack of urgency and lack of compassion. But they were wrong. I tried to tell them, but they brushed me off and assumed I was trying to save her embarrassment. For several weeks prior, I had been giving my mother her medications. I had timers set for the different pain and arthritis pills and wrote down every time she took a dose. I kept her medications in a drawer in the bathroom–somewhere my mother couldn’t have crawled to on her own in her weakened condition. At the time I just wanted them to help her, but my cheeks still flush with anger when I think about how ready they were to jump to the wrong conclusion.

I followed the ambulance to the hospital. The doctor quickly realized this wasn’t an overdose. The sense of urgency that I was feeling was finally shared by the medical staff. Realizing their error, the paramedics wouldn’t even look at me one their way out. I sat in a tiny plastic chair outside her room in the ICU for hours. Nurse after nurse and doctor after doctor went into her room. After awhile, my mother stopped screaming. They had given her pain medication and stabilized her. I like to think from that point on until the second she died, at least she wasn’t in pain anymore.

The source of her excruciating pain was an infection in her neck that had gone on too long and spread into her bloodstream. She was septic. The doctors did everything they could but nothing worked. After weeks in the hospital watching her slowly becoming paralyzed the doctors finally looked me in the eye and told me that my mother would die. I spent day after day with her in the hospital. She smiled when I walked in the room and laughed when I made jokes about needing a margarita. My beautiful radiant mother was trapped in a body that was failing. The last days of my mother’s life she was on a morphine drip surrounded by family, friends, and nurses whose only goal was keeping her as comfortable and as happy as they could.

 The night before she died I made a spontaneous decision to go back up the hospital in the early hours of the morning. I knew she’d probably be asleep but I just felt like I needed to sit with her awhile before we went back to the house. When I walked in I was so surprised. She was more alert then she had been in days. She smiled ear to ear when David and I sat down next to her bed. She didn’t seem scared, but I think she knew what was happening. At this point she was paralyzed from the neck down, she could only whisper a few words if I put my ear to her mouth. There was an urgency to her saying how much she loved me, she couldn’t hug me but I could feel the affection coming off her in waves. She was saying goodbye. I whispered in her ear that I would be okay and that it was okay to let go. I told her how much I loved her and what an amazing mother she was to me. David held me as I cried for hours that night. I felt like I would never be happy again.

The next morning my father, brother and his family were already at the hospital when I woke up. I called to check on her and they said she was unconscious. My dad said it would be anytime now. There was that dread again. I remember the panic I felt at the idea of watching her die. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to see her take her last breath. I was scared.

When David and I walked out of that furniture store and reached my car, my heart dropped. I looked at the sunset in the beautiful Oklahoma sky and I realized my mother would never see another one. When we were two minutes away from the hospital, my dad called. I was driving so David answered it. I knew right then. I knew it in my chest before my brain told me what had happened. David tried to keep an even tone, too even. He said “Alright, we’ll be there in a second.” I just had to park the car, I just had to stay calm, I just had to breathe. I couldn’t. By the time I turned off the engine I was losing it. “She’s dead, is she dead? She’s dead.” I cried, I wailed. The pain I felt was something I had never felt before. It was the kind of feeling that makes you feel like you’re drowning, like the air around you can’t keep you alive one more second. The fuzzy warmth in your ears and the coldness that numbs your toes. I had built my life around that woman. A woman who loved me fiercely, a woman who left a hole in my world when she left. I am an incredibly lucky girl to have had a mother and a brother who taught me what true compassion, love, and humor add to this world. A part of me died the day my mother did, but a larger part of me learned how to survive. I remember when I walked into that room and I saw her laying there that I thought I could wake her up. I kneeled by her bedside and I was shattered. I didn’t know what was left of me after they were gone. I was angry at the world, I was angry at myself, I was angry at everything.

The months after my mother’s death it seemed like I was walking a tight rope. With a smile plastered on my face and a gaping hole inside myself I made the decision that I wasn’t going to let this kill me. Whenever you lose someone people like to talk to you like there is some formula for grief. Everyone thinks they understand and everyone wants to help. It took me awhile to figure out how I could deal with the grief. It never goes away and it never gets easier. It hides under your bed like the monster from your childhood. One minute you’re in the present and thinking about groceries, or the weather. The next minute you’re curled up in a ball in the restroom with your arms around your knees falling apart. 

I wouldn’t have made it without my husband, my father, my brother, my friends. But especially my step-mother. A woman who patiently waited to be apart of my life stepped forward and gave me every ounce of her love without expecting anything in return. I am lucky to say I have been given two incredible mothers in my life.

I wanted to share this because I want people with pain and grief to understand that it does not define you. There are going to be good days and bad days, but the truth is most days are filled with both. You can lose someone you love but still find a moment of happiness in a furniture store. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Life is short and fleeting and so many of us spend all of our time stuck in the past or obsessing over the future. That’s when time runs away. After I lost my brother and my mother I still had to get on a scale and face the fact that I had ballooned up to 275lbs. When I think back to being at my largest after losing everything. It was because of those dark moments that I found the light. Me, my happiness, and everything I put into this world is that light.

Grief is a very lonely journey. No matter how much someone could empathize with me, my loss was my own. Matthew and my Mother aren’t here anymore. I can’t call them to tell them about my day. They didn’t see me get married and they will never meet my children. Those parts are hard. But it’s not as hard as coming to terms with the fact that their love is gone. The love I had for them remains but their love that surrounded me vanished.

In that void, I had to step up and start loving myself. I had to love myself enough to stop binge eating, I had to love myself so I could be a better wife for David, I had to love myself because they would’ve wanted me to. I know how strong I am now. I know what I am capable of. I know that whatever life throws at me, it’ll have to put me in the ground before I ever quit. I will be on this earth treasuring every moment I had with those two amazing people and being thankful that I got to call them my brother and my mother.

I’m still here and I’m still cheerful.

Dev