the last post?

I started this blog as a writing prompt. I finished the assignment a week later, and was done.

then, my friend Michelle wanted a sequel on the fat camp debacle. my social worker friend Priscilla said people need to hear this. two other gal friends, Sandra and Deborah, said they love my stories with a capital WOW, and told me to keep writing. Valerie, who’s a writer, hasn’t said anything - except she’s busy, and doesn't get to read it much. hmm. that’s generally a clue- when people say nothing, there’s usually a takeaway: A) they’re jealous or B) they don’t like it, and don’t want to say so.

Hint: it goes like this. you know that outfit or haircut you just got? and you run into someone afterwards, and they just stare at you, dumbly? heads up. silence speaks volumes.

David, one of my best guys, likes my posts about death and dying - pretty much his favorite topic. this from his 30 years of being a caregiver- it never gets old to him. he’s totally prissy about other stuff though. like feelings……FYI. I don’t post anything I haven’t recovered/ healed from. don’t you worry! my friend Courtney was in a bit of shock and horror on my first hospitalization/eating disorder post. I think she thought it was currently going on. She wished me well.

Holten, my friend from childhood, is my biggest fan on facebook. truth be told, he may be my only fan. My friend Frank, Loves my writing and Loves my voice on the podcast - with two capital L’s. he shared it on his fan page, (he’s a little famous), and it blew up - meaning, it was shared a zillion times. obviously, people were getting value from the post, or just trusting Frank.

my friend Cathleen subscribed, but is completely off the radar. hello? earth to Cathleen. am I being ghosted?

I was gifted recently by a school friend, with the comment “insightful,” after I wrote my post on dying. she lost her son. wow. there’s no easy way to say those words, that doesn’t carry some pain. I can’t imagine. I think of her, and her bravery. I hope my post gave her something.

my friend Mary, who I hadn’t heard from in years showed up and loved my writing with another capital L. she insisted I give the Moth a go! (a speaking platform). My neighbor Sharon likes my sense of humor- but she’s always nice.

lastly, my friend Kim. she’s the best. she reads them all, and tells me to “trust my feels.” this was in response to a bit of a heavy piece i’d written when my mother attempted to murder my father. yes. that happened. I took the post down later, so I don’t know if you saw it. it was a good piece, and no one died, don’t worry, but I wasn’t sure if people wanted to hear that kind of stuff. this is what I mean about the blogosphere as one dimensional. red pill people- take the blue pill- and talk to me. (that’s from the matrix if you haven’t seen it).

I have no real “why” for keeping this blog going. unless I have a revelation. not like in the Bible, but something…

Lisa loved the shorts bit way back in the beginning. grasping for straws here… I remember the nice thoughts, the gratitude, the 3,000 views in less than 2 months, and this with me having no idea how to boost google search optimization. those international views? very cool. still, I don’t know. should I keep on? it’s kind of a one way street at this point.

I want to thank my unknown subscriber… you made my day, cuz I figure you signed up ‘cause you actually like reading the blog. that’s a grand thing, so thank you.

for those I never heard from? I get it. I’m shy too. I know… can you imagine? a lot of you read this, and don’t subscribe. so how does a person know - said person being me- if i should continue?

bye for now

paulina

do you think about dying, much?

I don’t, but I had an extraordinary experience with death, at my father’s bedside - I wasn’t close with him, the opposite, really - there was that bit of perversion and mad men all wrapped up with male ogling and the generic step on women mentality. you know the type: they think women are to be seen and not heard- (and you thought that only applied to children)- women have nothing of import to say, it’s a man’s world, we’re just there for the care taking, to be demure, and always, look good.

this was part of the reason i began my obsession with weight. it felt safer to be fat, and I wondered, would someone love the inside me if I had a bunch of rolls? as it turned out, no one would. when I was thin, when mistaken for a model, I was able to attract all the bees, who droned on about themselves, as I quietly hung on every word. no one seemed to care how I felt, or what I thought. this was my normal, and this was depressing.

I won’t go into any creepy details about how inappropriate my father was, or how much a lunatic my alcoholic, housewife mother was, who played her signature role to a tee. yes, it’s a classic, dreadful, dreary saga. maybe, someday, it’s worth the telling. what I know now is, the more I dwell on anything depressing, the more life I give it. back in the day, a therapist would work for years on this rehashing. did it do any good? well, it gave the analyst a living, and you certainly got someone to feign interest in your life - as long as you paid.

I’m not a big proponent of the couch. casting or otherwise. but back to dying.

unbeknownst to me, my father lay comatose in a convalescent home, pumped up with morphine, till the last days, weeks, and moments of death. I got a call one day, and was given this news. I hung up and thought, hmm. that’s interesting. do I have any unfinished business with my father? yes, all that therapy had gotten through a bit. I’d grieved and been angry and forgiven and so on. I called his room and asked to have the phone put to his ear. i’d heard that comatose people can hear you, so I said goodbye, and that was it. I was good. he was slated to die in 24 hours. how they come to these numbers I’ve no idea. in any event, I certainly wasn’t going to drop everything and race off to bid him a jolly farewell. several days later, I had a realization - he wasn’t going to die until I showed up. slowly, as slowly as I could, I gathered my things and set off on the four hour trip to the hospital.

as I rounded the final hill, I got a sense of urgency to not tarry and go straight there. when I arrived, the troops were assembled. the second wife, my brother, all his best friends, dutifully gathered and murmuring quietly. it was a rather stinky, convalescent home and I’d no intention of staying more than a moment. looking at him lying there, motionless, i felt nothing, really. I was turning to say my goodbyes, that I’d come back the next day, when I distinctly heard a voice tell me he was going to die in 15 minutes. I stepped out of the room. I’d a previous engagement and was running late, so I rescheduled. ever the responsible one. when I went back in, no one was paying a bit of attention to old hank. I sat in the folding chair next to his bed and wondered what to do next. with our history, I was not want to be affectionate, but I had the idea that patting his hand would do. with that gentle gesture, I told him it was ok to go, that I would let his second wife see the grandsons, and acknowledged he’d done the best he could, rather generous on my part, and he died. if I’d a camera I could’ve snapped a picture of his spirit, his essence, leaving. it was that clear. I turned and told my brother to get the nurse. no one else had noticed a thing. she came in, took his pulse, and told me what I already knew.

I left a few minutes later. it was a carcass after all, at that point. walking to my car, I distinctly heard my father’s voice, asking for forgiveness… I’ll never forget it. I realized god, or whoever, along with my father, had orchestrated this. he was sorry and he’d asked for the opportunity to tell me so. it was rather a miracle.

from this, I learned to not be afraid of death. that was the second gift.

you can never be too rich. or too thin.

the truth is: you can be too thin. the too rich part? that’s complicated.

have you noticed? money has the ability to draw people to you, especially if they want a handout, or need to feel secure- you’ll get the check, right? for a minute, you may be ok with that. you can buy love, but in the end, it leaves everyone empty. money itself, is nothing. it’s you - you and time - that bring value to life. that’s the real transaction. the security thing? that keeps people in unhealthy relationships.

I’m good with money. the saving part. the not spending part. it’s important to know, though, when to let it go, to let it bring you happiness. I’ve watched people get lost in thoughtless spending, get in boatloads of debt, and suffer, and complain, and agonize, and do it all over again. after they declare bankruptcy.

That inheritance? people wait forever to get it, and are so fear filled, they try to steal it from others. this breaks the family. the fact is, the family was already broken - it’s just no one took the time to notice.

people get weird around money, and give it powers it doesn’t have. they’re afraid to say they’re scared, or broke, because they don’t believe the truth will help, so they just fake it, and you get caught in the crossfire.

the greatest courage is asking for what you want. the greatest courage is admitting when you’re lost.

I used to believe it will all work out, but you know what? sometimes it doesn't. here’s the thing. being honest, with yourself and the people who matter, lets you start from a place that’s real.

and that, that is priceless.

the experiment- trust yourself

if you’ve read the blog so far, you now have the skinny on me. you’ve seen I’ve failed at life, sometimes quite dramatically, in a host of arenas - health, relationships, addiction, and of course, money - the usual culprits. you’ve also seen how, at the 11th hour, when the shit gets a little too real, I’m able to pull myself up and out of every single situation and ride off into the sunset - so to speak. it’s true. no matter what’s happened, I’ve always found a solution - my own happy ending. I’m not saying it came easy, or fast, (though if I’d been a bit less stubborn, it would have), but keeping an eye on a solution, this is when time, and things, get the opportunity to right themselves.

you have to trust your instincts.

you really are the only one responsible for you.

I don’t have lots of patience for people who choose to stay stuck. it’s too painful. time is too precious. some people find me a bit too straightforward. if you want a nice, handsy, hold approach, that’s pretty much what you’ll get… someone holding your hand! there was a time I thought that’s what I needed, but as you can see, it didn't do me a bit of good.

remember, it doesn’t really matter where you started from - it’s more important to know where you want to go.

trust

no one can help if you choose to stay stuck, and frankly, honesty is in short supply these days. not because we’re bad, or ridiculous, but because we’ve forgotten to trust - trust ourselves. that’s the key, the missing ingredient, to everything. how to make impossible, possible.

when I was lost in the chaos of an eating disorder, miserable and depressed, it wasn’t because I hadn’t tried. I’d tried dozens of things, but nothing worked. not even god. god didn’t help at all. of course, I didn’t think god was on my side. I believed god was maybe on your side, but not on my side. that’s how deep a wound can cut, and how deep the lies we tell ourselves, day after day.

doubled up with cold, in a dreary, woolen coat i’d wound around me twice, i sat numbly in front of the dietician, in a psych ward, surrounded by the drug infested playground that was Langley Porter hospital. I knew I was there because I was useful to them, for a new drug trial they wanted, which I wanted no part of- but they’d no use for that part of the equation.

when she somberly explained why I wasn’t losing more weight, that my metabolism had pretty much shut down, to save me from myself, that my constant state of freezing was due to the same biological caretaker that took such good care of my body, putting energy in the few places I needed, so I wouldn’t die, that my hair falling out and everything else going wrong, that wasn’t giving me the waif like figure I thought I wanted, well, she said, that energy may be time limited.

i heard her drone on, about vitamins and nutrients, and all at once, I had a deafening realization. the state i’d put myself in had nothing to do with thin, thinnest, or prettiest. it had been my steady, desperate way I’d hoped someone might notice me. see me. really see me, and hold me, really hold me, and love me. but the thinner I got, or the fatter, the people around me kept disappearing. I was too much. too much. then I felt something, like a shockwave in my heart. the hidden hope i’d be rescued, I knew, would never happen. even if it had, I’m not sure I could’ve let anyone in. my capacity for worth was so tiny at this point, I may have fought it like a tiger.

this realization, that endless suffering and isolation would cause someone to rescue me, and no one had, was the moment I knew for certain none of this was working - it would never give me what I truly wanted.

it was then, I was done.

i’ve never been brave

it was weird, incredibly strange and surreal, and yet in another kinder, weird way, it felt safe. you don’t have to think much when you’re in a treatment program. it’s like kindergarten - with a lot more rules - rules to wake up, rules to go to bed, lights on, lights out, meal times, group sessions, and of course, visitation hours. that is, if you’re lucky enough to have someone come visit- someone you actually want to see. let’s face it, most people here were not in the most functional relationships. addiction does that to you. it’s such a downward spiral, it tends to drag everyone down with it, because there’s just no room for anyone else, and so, it becomes all about you, or me, as the case may be.

I kept losing weight because I was in such a controlled environment, until I couldn’t lose anymore. my body rebelled. it knew I was starving to death, and a body wants to take care of you. so every calorie that went in, stayed in.

the scariest part were the drugs. hospital drugs. I didn’t know or understand prior to checking in what a teaching hospital was, or what that meant. this is the place where interns “get their hours,” where they “learn on the job,” and all the patients like me that were in the eating disorder wing, me, and my not too merry band of misfits, whose biggest pranks were smuggling in laxatives and cigarettes, or making it to the bathroom when a nurse was out of earshot- we were the lucky consumers of all the drugs they were testing.

there was just one thing I knew for sure. drugs, for some reason, terrified me.

the treatment plan...

day one:

after being interviewed and assessed as a person with a serious eating disorder, I was checked into the psych unit/ eating disorder program. why a psych unit? this is where the treatment program lived - inside the four walls of a psychiatric hospital. was this scary? not yet! this was a voluntary check in - this time. not to get too far ahead, but there would be more than one stay in the psych ward/ eating disorder unit.

on the previous highlight reel was information my two bulimic/women friends had shared prior to check in - they let me know i’d lose boatloads of weight while in this very treatment program, as it was nearly impossible to binge there. all the patients food was weighed and measured, and if it wasn’t meal time, it was generally kept locked up. music to my ears.

there wasn’t much known about eating disorders at this time, but because anorexia or bulimia are almost always accompanied by depression, it was a neat and tidy add on to the hospitals psychiatric program - and billable insurance… so as the heavy metal doors clanged and shut behind me, I was soon to meet my merry band of misfits.

this is what I discovered.

people who struggle, who wake each day unhappy with their lives, or their bodies, or themselves, are some of the strongest people in the world. why? because they don’t quit. they wait, sometimes quietly, sometimes loudly, for a miracle.

a miracle can come in many forms.

because I’d landed in this hospital, because I was desperate, and yearning for an end to the unhappiness and sameness I was stuck in, when the nutritionist/dietician, the same nutritionist/dietician i’d previously brushed off, who was barely my age, who was once again seated calmly in front of me, in her very proper work attire, legs crossed, arms cradling my file, told me something - words i’m sure she’d said to others - but that moment, and those words, it cracked the stuck thing inside me. I finally understood why I was doing what I was doing. those words changed my life in that moment, and with them, I found the ability to change.

but that all happened in part 2.

how do you change?

there may be pieces missing, but I don’t care… i’m back. back from the long, terrible years I lived in a pile of self help-ness, that never helped, because I could never figure out what was wrong, so i could fix it.

i’d gone to college, and quit college, and moved to Hawaii, and wanted to be a singer, and had a zillion jobs, and started and sold businesses, and got married, and had babies, and got divorced, and became penniless and homeless - then I worked triply hard to make a pile of money to hide the shame of that, and lose it all because of the shenanigans on wall street.

someone once said it was god’s money. that may be true, but still, I tried to hang on. i used every ounce of creativity and desperation I could muster, until somehow, i made things happen. banks who trusted me gave me money, at a time when no one got loans. friends loaned me money until i was able to fix and repair and sell the house that had been without windows and doors for a year, and pay it all back.

I was $1.7 million dollars in debt at the time the world was upside down in the recession, and people were losing homes front, right, and center. I was finally able to sell the house i almost lost four different times, to pay off all the money I borrowed, and then i cried. the guy who bought it told me he made as much in one commission check as i’d made from the fifteen years of hard work that got me to that point. i’m sure he meant no harm, but it cut deep.

of course, there were the bad relationships, the ones that can break you, faster than a broken economy, that really mess with your head. i left them all as well. there it is again - that same old question: why did you stay?

here’s my answer: I stayed, because i didn’t know i deserved better.

you deserve better.

it's over

back by popular demand. my voice. on the podcast.

#relationships… past the expiration date.

be forewarned - if you find swearing offensive. there are, indeed, F bombs.

p.s. this is the “before” podcast.

there’s always a happily ever after. that’s how I roll. I believe in happily ever after. I just had to learn it’s up to me - to make it happen!

podcast recording. press the white arrow.