Saturday, October 4, 2014

Meg's Musings: My Story

Well, let’s be honest right up front. I’m not very funny. Not gonna lie to you, I get a kick out of myself sometimes, and I’ll have you rolling on the floor if I tell you about all the ass-backwards foolishness I get into, but that’s more like “I wore my shirt inside out today and started a fire in my kitchen” and not so much like “I’m so damn funny-cool that you’re stuck between a laugh and a full-fledged crush”…. That’s Steph’s role. I like to think that I’m quiet and contemplative, but that probably had a louder ring of truth in past years. I’ve come out of my shell….like a lot. Somewhere between marriage, divorce, sickness, and BAM, recovery, I figured out (..ha…yea right… still FIGURING out) who I am. Life got crazy there for a hot second, but I found the door marked Exit and I took it in a hurry.

This is Why I Fight
Let me say this very loudly. My marriage did not work, but you won’t hear me say a damn word against him. I'm not discussing that. Truth is, I had a ridiculously terrifying past long before I met him, and it scarred me in ways I can’t begin to explain. So take it or leave it, love it or hate it, it made me a person who does not have the ability to stay when the gut says to go. But understand that when I talk about the deepest scars of my past or speak out about the long-lasting effects of abuse and the dark clouds that have followed me, and other women like me, long after we have gotten away, (which I will, because come hell or high water I will find a way to help other people in that way), I am NOT talking about my ex-husband. Got it? Rant over, moving on (story of my life).

So that was the big road block of my past, and it cut me off from a lot of roads that I would like to have – and that I should have – taken. It cost me a lot of years, friends and family, nearly cost me my life, and led me down some ill-chosen paths, but it gave me a lot, too, and not just some horrible memories and a lot of bad dreams. It gave me a heart of steel, and a spirit of resilience. It took me a long time to bounce back, and most people who know me well would raise an eyebrow if they heard me say that I’ve bounced back, but in my mind, I did – I’m a survivor. And now I’ve got a beautiful set of metaphorical boxing gloves, because I’ll be damned if that didn’t make a fighter out of me. So, you want to know what my fight song is? Well, I’ll let you know when I figure it out, but I do know that I am tough as nails, and I’ve got a hell of a lot of fight left in me, so I am back.

My Life Back Home: Family, Faith and Football

So I’m going to back up just a bit and stick with me, because this story is good. My mom is a beautiful little lady who, if you asked her what she’s done with her life, would probably consider that question for a second, and then she’d hit you with this killer smile and give you a really meek version of, “well…not much, really. My husband is the one who has really done things with our life.” She really believes that, too, by the way, but it’s a damn lie. The woman is tough as hell, all 98 pounds of her, and the proof is in the pudding: she survived cancer four times. Four. I’m not good at math, but I can count to four, and that’s far too high to count when you’re throwing around the Cancer word. It started when I was three, and she was twenty seven. I’m twenty seven. The idea of having cancer at my age is unfathomable to me, but that’s when it all started. So I grew up with this frighteningly real understanding of life and death and the overwhelming presence of fear. You know, when you’re three, you need your mom more than you need like, I don’t know…air? So that fear is a pretty devastating one, and they did everything in their power to protect me from it.
They did a pretty good job, too. When Dad took her to get her “cocktails” (chemo), I would stay with my nanny or with our neighbor, Nancy. And in both of those houses, I started a life-long journey of taking refuge in something that never failed to make me feel alive: sports. You know how you have those people in your lives who dominate the realm of your childhood memories and shaped your life in ways you can’t quite describe and won’t ever forget? That’s what Nanny and Nan were to me, and for that matter, that’s what sports were too. My nanny’s husband was a coach, and in the days before they had kids, she and I spent a lot of nights just the two of us, visiting the field house or sitting out at the football field or beside the home team dugout in the spring. 

Dad and I used to go over to Nan’s house for Monday Night Football every week, and in the days when Troy Aikman was reigning king of Dallas and the Saints had all our love but not a winning season in sight, I was hopelessly devoted to both. Yea, I know… Saints and Cowboys? Oil and water. Not exactly a football boundary that you want to straddle, but hell, I was a kid. Cut me some slack. I had one foot in both worlds, and I stood over that New Orleans-Dallas equator like a champ, because I was a Saints-lovin’ Cowboy with a penchant for the dreamy Texas quarterback. But you get what I’m saying, right? I bet for about two minutes there you forgot that I was telling you a story about my mom having cancer, didn’t you? See? There it is. Escape. Safe place. That’s sports. And it's kind of a standard of living in our family. In fact, if I haven't heard from my family all week, I need not worry -- a New Orleans gameday is just around the corner, and that's as much about family as it is about pigskin.  Now try telling me that it’s just a game.  It was a part of my life as early on as God and family were – just part of who I am.

The Door Marked Exit

Speaking of who I am… Steph said it better than I can, so I’ll just second what she said about teaching. I loved where I worked because I had some badass friends there. Case and point, the creator of this blog. But, like I said: door marked Exit. Found it. Took it. God is good. So I’m living in Texas now, and I’m a writer, which so far means that people ask you to undertake these crazy cool, amazingly interesting research and writing projects, and then they actually pay you for it. I mean, really…. Life is good. I moved to Houston with the intention of working on my Ph.D., but then, enter…. Life? Fate? Opportunity? I don’t know what you’ll want to call it, but I got the call of a lifetime, for me at least. I’m writing a book about baseball. Let’s get back to that later.

My Journey to Health & Fitness

So my journey to health is like a love story in reverse. I had this crazy fast metabolism all my life. You know how they say to appreciate the good days before they’re gone? MAN I wish I would have soaked up every minute of that and stored it up like a little chipmunk for later use. I was tiny. And I loved food. Wait, hold up. You need to re-read that a couple dozen times because that’s how much I like… Really. Love(d). Food. I could associate food with every emotion or occasion in my life. Bad day? Cheesburger, please. Stressed? Tacos. Rough morning? Pancakes. Homesick? Sloppy Joes. Seriously, the list goes on and on. I’ll save myself the tragedy. And then, of course, there was my old buddy and nemesis: Jack Daniels.

But then, I got sick. I’ll talk more, eventually, about exactly what happened to my body and the insanely intricate roadmaps your hormones take to try to restore balance to an illness-ridden system. But for now, let’s just go with that. I got sick. And every part of my body felt the reverberating effects. All of a sudden…whoa…excuse me? Food like…..has stuff in it that makes your stomach swell up and your jeans get tight? … the hell? When did that become a thing? My metabolism got SLOW…. Like, what’s slower than a snail? Megan’s metabolism. So I tried to ease up on the calories, eat clean. Nothing. Then, I got so sick I couldn’t workout anymore. Bummer, since that was way cheaper than therapy. And then, a lot of “stuff,” one thing after another  – new teaching career, wedding, marriage, divorce, and then, those damn people who wanted me to be happy, they made me start confronting the past – insert STRESS, killer of all that is good.  So I traded in my washboard abs and buns of steel for…. Well, a lot of flab. Ugh. And I went on wallowing in that for a couple of years or so, and then woke the hell up, shook it all off, got my ass back to the gym, left Louisiana and a lot of bad memories behind, found this amazing doctor in Houston, and long story short….. I got better. And in the process, I got 20 pounds lighter…. And counting! I found this great new gym, small and intense, and got myself into a badass training regimen. I can’t play Zydeco music on washboard abs yet ;-) but it’s a work in progress.
On the left, clearly, I was still (very) sick. Check that progress on the right, though! Better by the day

My Fight Song

Steph had a brilliant idea when she started talking about her fight song. I spent a lot of time thinking about what my fight song would sound like. I’m one of those lone souls whose spirit is constantly adrift – new roads, new experiences, and new lessons to learn everywhere I look – so it’s always hard to say exactly where my life is going, but I do know this: It didn’t go where I thought it was going, and I’m damn grateful for that. So I’m not sure where I’m headed. But I can write. And I have a story. It’s not a pretty one, and I’m not always a pretty person. But they say it’s always darkest before the dawn, and I’ve decided that it’s time for my sun to rise. It took me eight years to fight my way back to the surface, and there are so many women out there who have been down that tortuous road, women who, right now, are resigning themselves to the fact that they will never find their way out. I need to get to those women, and I need to help to pull them up to the surface. This blog is my warm-up. It’s time for my sun to rise. 

- Meg

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