Sunday, October 17, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

national coming out day

I posted my story last year. Here's a link if you would like a refresher, or if you haven't read it yet.

Ironically, my youngest and I were talking about coming out this evening, while she bathed and I washed her hair. I am out to everyone, except for most of the people I work with. Small center, small staff of seven people, and I'm just not sure that my supervisor would get it - I think that my co-workers would be accepting. But I haven't yet taken the risk, and I'm not sure when - or if- I will. I may be able to find work in the public school system next fall, and they all have strong anti-discrimination policies.

Last year, only my parents and my sister, of all my family members, knew that I was a lesbian. Last year I was a lesbian without a partner - which made things a wee bit safer. Thanks to national coming out day, my facebook status and the link I posted to my blog, most of my extended family and a few of my unaware friends learned a bit more about me. And my girl has met my family a few times now. I lost facebook friends, and it hurt for a bit. But then I realized that if they can't accept me for who I am, then I'm really not interested in sharing my life with them anyways.

happy days to all of you

Sunday, October 10, 2010

canadian thanksgiving

Americans celebrate at the end of November, but in our cold, northern climate, our harvest celebration has to be held a wee bit early. So this is the weekend...I've been cooking up a storm, and I'm not even hosting a dinner. There's something about this time of year that draws me into the kitchen...the sights and smells of my local market, the thought of all that lovely food simmering on the stove. Yesterday I baked bread (which is something I love to do) and roasted a beautiful organic chicken. The weather here is beautiful - sunny and warm, and the leaves are at their peak of colourful beauty.I would post a picture, but I have no camera - it's the one thing I lost when my bag was stolen that I haven't been able to replace. I miss it :(

My girl is sitting across the table from me with her laptop up - it feels so good to be sitting with her in these morning hours, working and surfing away. In a few moments we will pack up and head over to my parents' place for Thanksgiving dinner...she's still getting used to the informality of our gatherings. M was thrilled to learn that she could wear a Pink Floyd t-shirt to a family dinner...what I didn't tell her was that I almost wore mine (she bought it for me two weeks ago) and then changed my mind. Both of us showing up for a family dinner in matching t-shirts would be a little...much.

I am so thankful today, for many things. For the shelter and healthy food that I often take for granted. For my amazing family. For work that I love. For two beautiful children who are both going to make a difference in this world. For my gifts. And for my girl. Whether or not you are celebrating today, I hope your day is as full of sunshine and love as mine.

Friday, October 8, 2010


It’s my third anniversary today.

I’m not married. This is not my coming out story. This is a story about my lifelong struggle with weight. I was a chubby kid, a chubby young adult, and severely obese after I turned 35. This is not a story about failure, or lack of willpower, or laziness.

Lazy people don't get college diplomas while raising strong-willed toddlers on their own. Lazy people don't work full time. Lazy people don't go back to university at the age of 35 to get a degree because they never had the chance when they were younger.

So many people equate excess weight with laziness, failure, and lack. But most of the time, weight gain happens because of metabolism, genetics, and emotional dependence. People that are more than 100 pounds overweight have a lot of difficulty losing the weight, for a number of reasons. Metabolism works against them.  Exercise is sweaty and uncomfortable, and you can't do enough to make a difference. Some people are able to overcome the odds and lose the weight through diet and exercise alone.

I was not one of those people. Diets didn't work, even if I adhered to them faithfully. Going to the gym turned me into a sweaty, breathless mess after 10 minutes. I felt horrible about myself, and I was slowly losing control of my June of 2007 it was just a few little warning signs. I had slightly elevated cholesterol, High blood pressure, knees that ached when I climbed the stairs...those were the physical symptoms. What I never talked about was the depression and unhappiness I felt all the time.  My dependence on food was depression-driven, was sending me into an early grave with a waistline that successfully hid the real me from the rest of the world. Food is addictive, as I discovered after surgery, when I had lost my seemingly harmless crutch. It makes you feel good, and it alters your brain chemistry without affecting your ability to drive a car, or function at work.

I made a decision. On October 5, 2007, I had weight-loss surgery in Las Vegas. I wish I could remember more of my Vegas vacation – the kids had fun. After my 24 hour stay in the hospital I didn’t feel like doing very much other than watching television. I couldn’t eat to stave off boredom anymore, and never will again.

I've lost 130 pounds over two years. I look and feel completely different than I did two years ago. My chronic pain is gone. I've gone from a size 26-28 to a size 14. 

I didn’t have surgery to look better. But I do.  And now that the shock of looking in the mirror and seeing a complete stranger has passed, I like what I see. It was tough at first.  Why, suddenly, were people talking to me, on bus and in line at the grocery store?  And why wasn’t I worthy of similar treatment before my surgery? After all, I was the same person underneath, just more …exposed. I simultaneously treasured and abhorred the invisibility that obesity offered. If I no longer had my weight to hide behind, how would I cope?  Why didn’t I enjoy sex any more after surgery than I did before?

Weight loss surgery changed more than my weight. It was a catalyst that forced me to confront issues that I had never dealt with. It forced me from my place of safety and out into the world, where I finally realized that my problems with sex were not a lack of drive, but a lack of desire for men.  The surgery transformed my body and my life in ways that I couldn’t have anticipated three years ago, when I checked into hospital for a now-routine, laparoscopic procedure.

It's not a choice everyone would or should make.  But I credit that decision with the happiness that I have today. I am living a completely different life than I expected – apart from the partner who supported me through the process.  I came out as a lesbian within months of the surgery.  I am comfortable in my body for the first time in my life.

 And I wouldn't change a thing...

Monday, October 4, 2010

this inquiring mind wants to know

Many of you already know that I was bullied as a child and a teen. Some of you witnessed it. Some of you experienced bullying alongside me. Those of you who have only met me in this space may have read my stories, or other blog posts about my experiences as a child. The thing is, I am not finished writing about them. I may never be finished...those memories still permeate almost every story I write, in one way or another. They creep into my consciousness when I least expect it. They shaped me, in both positive and negative ways, into who I am today.

Like most people, I am appalled by the recent rash of bullying-related suicides. We live in a society that permits children to hate, that condones violence and name-calling because someone is different in some way. But I am guessing that many of my readers, for a variety of reasons, were also bullied as children. I think that even those who were identified as bullies were bullied in some way, by other groups of people, by family members, by the system itself. If this experience is so common, why is it perpetuated, generation after generation? Why is it somehow codified into our education system as "rites of passage" or "hazing" or "initiation" or "freedom of expression" when the very act of singling out an individual or group because they do not conform to an arbitrary standard causes known and lasting damage? Can cause children, who should be safe and accepted for who they are to take their own lives?

Today I want to hear from my readers. What are your stories? Were you bullied as a child? Did it, indeed, get better? I want to start a conversation, and see where it takes us. I allow anonymous comments, so if you are too shy to identify yourself, please leave a comment anyways. But be warned: bullying will not be tolerated in this space.