Uncles

So I have three uncles who I am close[ish] to. They are pretty great. And the truth is there is really no one in this world like an uncle.

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I tell each of them they they are [one of] my favorite uncle[s].

But the truth is I wouldn’t be the same without them:

  • They are your parents’ siblings. Basically they love your parents unconditionally, but they also have known them at their worst. In a nutshell, they are realistic about who they are. So you can call a spade a spade without having to sugarcoat it or risk the other person hating your parents. With an uncle you can gripe about your parents, they will agree and they will still love them because they are their siblings. My dad is a pretty intense individual. It has been really healing over the years to have my uncles validate those feelings of not being listened to, being invisible, or not being able to participate in a conversation. At the same time, they’ve helped me to realize that it isn’t personal. It is just the way he is.
  • They truly want your best but aren’t personally vested in how you turn out. The truth is, we are a reflection of our parents. So as much as they strive to be open minded, our parents are inevitably let down or disappointed in some of our decision. Uncles have a much more detached vision of our lives – they love us unconditionally and want our best, but it is easier for them to be open minded. This makes them great sounding boards.
  • They are family… We share the same DNA so they are often like-minded and it takes a lot less effort to explain oneself.
  • They are FUN! Some of my greatest memories are with my uncles. The cool thing is your parents trust them unconditionally if you are in their care, but in reality maybe they shouldn’t. 🙂
  • You can’t overstay a visit. They are family so you are always welcome and it is never weird.
  • They make holidays so much more bearable. They understand the dynamics and can be a great and supporting presence.
  • They truly value your opinion. My uncles are some of the greatest listeners, but it isn’t only because they care about me. They actually want to hear what I have to say.

I truly admire my uncles. I have a unique relationship with each of them, but I trust them, I can be myself around them, and I am truly loved by them.

I’ve shared with each of them to varying degrees about my personal life. They aren’t scandalized. They don’t press. And they don’t gossip.

They love you for who you are, and expect nothing in return.

 

 

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Healing

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. (What’s new?) This healing process is a funny thing. It is more circular than one would ever expect…

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This week one of my student’s had surgery for a torn meniscus. It brought memories flooding back of when I had an operation on my ankle in high school – the terrifying feeling of coming to and crying for no reason, the fear of moving, the fear of tearing stitches, the drowsiness of Vicodin…

Whenever anyone follows my blog, I take a minute to check out who they are. I wonder who is this person out there who reads my rambling? What is it about my experience that they are holding on to? I know that feeling, of finding someone who seems to touch on something I am experiencing – the beauty of empathy.

Some of the eating disorder blogs are triggering for me, not because there is anything wrong with them – on the contrary, I respect their honesty. But the truth is that at my point in this journey there are some things that can lead me down a slippery slope. I want to be recovered – BUT the truth remains that my eating disorder was a comfort. It is a coping mechanism and as much as I never want to go back, it also always holds a promise of escape, of what it promised to give me (yet always falling short of its promises.) It also often can trigger fear.

One blog in particular that I read this week brought back a lot of memories. Memories of going to the hospital, doctors, and therapists. Memories of L saying to me, “You need to eat better before we have a problem.” And my response without missing a beat, “We already have a problem.”

I’m sure many would tell me, don’t go back there. You don’t need to revisit that place. But the truth is, I need to. I need to go back and let it heal. Just like when my ankle was healing, I would need to look at the scar, bend the ankle, test its strength… so too I need to examine the eating disorder – look at its impact, test where I can still feel it… It is part of the process.

My therapist once told me, “Just because you have talked about something once, doesn’t mean you won’t need to talk about it again.”

Healing comes when I can look back and remember and it doesn’t hurt any more.

“Whoever wishes to heal man must see him in his wholeness and must know that his ultimate healing can only be God’s love.” -Pope Benedict XVI

It took me a long time to get to a point where my relationship with God could meet my healing and recovery process. In my master’s program now as I delve into the philosophical, theological, and scientific understanding of the person, I am amazed to see how interconnected our entire being is – spirit, soul, and body. All I hear God saying to me now is, “Let me into your healing. Let me touch your hurt. Let me hold you.”

The pain is still real. Yesterday was a great day. And it made me realize how hard I’ve had to fight for the last month, how much effort daily living has required for the past few weeks. The good days help us realize the strength we have had and motivate us to carry on.

After my ankle surgery, it took three years for me to stop wearing a brace on my ankle to run and play basketball. I was healed but was gaining strength. Still on the occasional day that I walk off the side of my shoe, my heart immediately begins to race with fear.

I know that as I continue to heal, the daily pain will become less intense… and then less frequent. With time, it will be less and less until it is the occasion flare up which is quickly resolved.

The truth is now when I run the ankle that was operated on is stronger than my other ankle. And I know in time, this part of me that has struggled, fought, and conquered the emotional pain that drove me to an eating disorder will be stronger than ever before. Sure I have a six inch scar on my ankle – it will never go away. The scars of my eating disorder will never go away, but I will no longer bear them with fear but with pride.

I’ve always said there is only one thing I would tattoo on my body. (And the truth is I don’t think I ever would, but if I did it would be this symbol.) And if I don’t tattoo it, I am sure I will hang it on a necklace or bracelet and wear it with pride.

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When the days are hard, it is easy to feel like I’ve gone back to square one. The same happened with my ankle, I would hurt it and fear that all was undone. In reality, no matter what happens, how badly I hurt my ankle, it will not be hurt in the same way. So too, this girl may be hurt again but never in the same way. I’m not completed healed yet, but I’m well on my way. I will need to go back and look at those scars in the process, which is what I intend to do with this space – to see them for what they are: signs of triumph, symbols of a struggle conquered, and witness to a pain that was suffered and overcome.

“Jesus has awakened great hopes… He has shown the face of God’s mercy, he has bent down to heal body and soul.” -Pope Francis

Conversations

“Hang on guys, let me get me things out of the back of the car.”

“Why do you have so much stuff?” -M (age 5)

“Because I have a lot of things. This present is for your baby sister.”

“Is it a surprise for us?” -D (age 4)

“No, not this time. I’ll bring you a surprise soon.”

“So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

“A football player.” -M

“A dad.” -D

“I want to be a football player.” -M

Perhaps we hadn’t heard him.

“Me too. A football player.” -D

The power of persuasion.

“What team?” -M

“Michigan State.” -D

“Me, the Steelers. I practice every day so I’m the best.” -M

“Where did all the snow go?”

“It melted!!!” -D

“Do you think we will get more snow?”

“No!!” -M

I’m thinking he is thinking about his football training.

“What is your favorite season?”

“Winter, Fall, and Summer.” -M

“Easter!!!” -D

“Well, Easter is in the spring.”

“So, I like winter, spring, summer, and fall.”-M

 

Why I love the rides home from school with little ones. Their world is a whole different place… full of dreams, a different perspective, and potential…

Waiting…

Dear Woman Waiting for the School Bus,

I see you there every day. You stand at the end of the driveway. It isn’t a long driveway. It is a quiet street. You stand in your long black coat, staring down the street. The street curves and you stare towards that curve, waiting for the bus to appear.

You are there every day. You don’t move. You don’t turn as I pass you by. Your stare is unwavering. You aren’t on your phone. You are motionless.

I’ve always wondered whom you wait for.

Today I saw a little girl get off the bus and run to you. You took her hand. You walked back to the house with her. That is one lucky little girl.

I just want to let you know that you impress me. I love seeing you there. The contrast of the loneliness of the waiting and the joy of the little girl are impressed upon my memory.

Life will go on, but I know that little girl will always have that memory. She doesn’t realize why it is so special. She is used to it. But as I drove by today a tear slid down my cheek.

Thank you for loving her so much,

N.

Walking Takes Too Long

So there is this challenge out there: 2016 miles in 2016.

Yeah, not happening. I could probably drive 2016 miles. (Ok, I’ll drive way more than that.)

But I would like to break 1000 miles in 2016.

Which, thank you El Nino, global warming, or whatever you are… I’m feeling much more optimistic about after 92 miles in January! I got in three really good long outdoor runs – wrapping up the month with 10 miles this past Saturday.

Marathon training officially begins in March. So I’m trying to steadily increase my mileage so I’m ready to start training. That means – getting to bed earlier, so I can get up earlier… Not doing too great on that front.

My first waking thought this morning as I stared at my alarm was, “I should be in my car right now.”

So sleep has become a new goal. (Which also means leaving work earlier and not procrastinating on homework… which means being more productive during the day… which has me wondering why I’m blogging right now!)

I’m excited to train for the marathon, but having to put this much thought into my running is a little frustrating. I don’t like planning to run or calculating how far or how fast. (But I do like adding up the miles at the end of the month!) This process of getting ready for this next marathon is already teaching me so much about myself… about forming more self-discipline in my daily life, about knowing when on Sunday I need to just nap on the couch and leave the to-do list to collect dust on the kitchen table, about pursuing a goal every single day… because if I want to qualify for Boston than everything I do does count.

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“I’ll never know how far I can go unless I try.”

In January I made it up to at least 2 miles each day. (Meaning I also managed to get myself out of bed five minutes earlier than previous months.) Except Thursdays, for some reason Thursdays must have been hard to wake up.

By the end of February I want to get up to 3-5 miles a day and add more cross training.

Here’s to the trip along the way!