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Sometimes Reality Sucks. That’s Reality.

This is going to be deep. I’m a blogger, it’s what I do. If you don’t want to share my emotional journey with me stop reading right now, this isn’t going to be a light-hearted or happy blog post.

imagesI’m angry at myself. I feel guilty. I’ve made some decisions that my family is about to dramatically pay for and I am not as confident as I once was that these were the right decisions or that I am going to be as successful as i thought I was. In the last year I’ve made decisions based on the future that I want and that I feel I deserve that have literally put my Family nearly $50,000 in debt. I have pretty much signed away any hope of us owning a house in the next 5 years because I was so passionate about a dream to help other people achieve the same weight loss success that I have that I got caught up in dreams instead of reality.

This stuff isn’t easy for me to write about right now. I feel like I am giving up on a dream that means more to me than anything because the reality of the situation has finally set it. Let me explain a little, back in May, when I realized that my insurance was going to cover the majority of the cost of my plastic surgery I saw an opportunity to use the remainder of the loan I had taken to pay for it to use as a down payment on a house. I talked to a mortgage broker, they told us that it wasn’t going to happen for several months because we had too many new accounts open. I felt horrible. For the first time, we were in a position where we could buy a house and we couldn’t because we had too many new accounts. And those new accounts, those were my fault. Because I had taken out the loan to pay for my plastic surgeries and had just taken out a loan for a new car, and that car of course, was something I decided to buy based on what I believed I needed for the business that I want to open as a personal trainer.

van-gogh-quotes[5]This all spun out of control on me so fast. As I reflect on it I just sort of blink and go wow, why, why did I let this happen. I took out that loan to cover my plastic surgery in January. I had my first plastic surgery in February and though my insurance did cover the surgery, between additional hospital visits due to complications, our $5000 out-of-pocket max got met very quickly and then because of the complications and my recovery taking a bit longer than we expected I ended up having to use part of the loan funds to supplement my income while i was out of work for 8 weeks which was about another $4000 and of course there is the extra expenses that occur when you are laid up like I was, convince food, bandages. By the time all was said and done, when I went back to work in April I’d blown through $10,000 of the $20,000 loan that I had taken out for the plastics. When I took on that loan payment I did it knowing that the cost of the payment was going to be hard to cover at first, but would balance out at the end of the year when the 6 year loan that I had on Jason’s truck ended in September. The skin removal surgeries were so important to me that taking on that $400 a month payment to get it done was well worth it to me.

But of course, right before my surgery, right after I had taken out that loan, my car blew up and I was forced to buy a new car. I didn’t really even have a lot of time to figure out what car to buy and I knew that my goal after plastics was to start a business as a personal trainer that worked with pre and post op bariatric surgery patients to help them be more successful in their weight loss. I also knew, that I wanted to focus on being a mobile trainer, I wanted a business that I ran out of my car, going into people’s homes and working out with them in environments that they are more comfortable in. So I made the decision to look at buying a car as a business decision. I knew that it would become a tax deduction for me later. It was a commitment to my future, one that my family and I were willing to make. And now it was another $275 a month we were taking on and suddenly we’re 40,000 in debt.

At this point, I was still realistic, I was still functioning in the real world and not riding on some high hopes of childhood dreams and goals. I knew that the things that I dreamed of, a successful business as a persona trainer, owning a house, enjoying my life, I knew that they were all attainable, but they were going to take me some time, I was a late bloomer.

Dream big- motivational wallpapers- motivational quotesThen something happened, I started realizing some of my dreams, I started seeing that I might really have a future doing something that I love and I feel so passionate about. My friends believed in me so much that they encouraged me to start writing letters to people asking for help, they believed that my story was amazing enough that someone would really want to help me help other people. I wrote some letters. Hell I’d written letters before. I’ve written letters to people like Oprah, Dr. Phil, Ellen DeGeneres, Dr. Oz, Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper some more than once. There was a time that I believed that my life story and the abuse that I endured and the fact that I got through it made me special. I don’t even mean that in a cocky way, I just mean, that there was a time that I honestly believed that my story of survival was something that would help others struggling to get through the same sorts of things. There was a time, that I really felt that if someone like Oprah or Ellen or Dr. Phil got their attention drawn to my story they would see that I had the potential to help people in a way that others might not because I have a story that they can relate to in one way or another.

You see, that’s what it was for me. As stupid as it sounds, the moment that I knew that weight loss surgery was a viable option for me and that it was something I could do, was the moment that a man who once weighed as much as I did stood in front of me and told me his story, told me how he did it, and for the first time I realized, if he can do it, I can do it. It’s always been that way for me, most of the struggles that I have battled in life, I have gotten through because I had a role model or someone who in some way inspired me to do it. When I was a teenager suffering from mental illness and needing to break away from the cycle of abuse that was being perpetuated through my family, it was my high school sweet heart and his Mother taking the time to teach me that what I was going through wasn’t normal and showing me what a non-dysfunctional family was like as well as the example that my Aunt had set for me by getting distances from the family and starting her own life elsewhere that encouraged me to seek to do the same. When I was in my twenties and I ended up with medical diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder and it landed me in years of therapy, inpatient hospital stays, and struggling to get well so that I could live a normal life; it was Rosie O’Donnell, and Roseanne Barr and their ability to deal with the same illness I had that I looked to as my hero. When I had survived all that and first started to try to tackle taking on losing the weight my heroes were the very same weight  loss heroes I had since I was the little fat girl sitting in front of the TV while my mother watched TV. Oprah, Richard Simmons. As a 420 lb. morbidly obese person that dreamed of losing the weight I looked up to people like Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper and, of course, Chris Powell.

When my letters didn’t get answered my friends decided that maybe, if they could get a few people to notice me, someone would want to help me meet my goals of wanting help other people in their weight loss journey. So next we launched an online fundraiser on IndieGoGo.com in order to try to help me raise the money to start my business. ( That fundraiser failed miserably) They asked me to list absolutely everything that I thought I needed, and my friends set out to start helping me fulfill that list and to try to get people involved in helping me meet my goals. My friends called everyone, local companies, banks, any company that they could think of that was weight loss related. In fact, it was one of those phone calls that lead us to the OAC and lead to me attending the OAC Convention in October.

Attending that OAC event was expensive for me. No lie. The cost of the convention, the airline ticket, food while I was there, taxi’s getting to and from the airport. It wasn’t cheap. But my family looked at it as a business investment, an opportunity for me to meet people and for me to learn a little more about myself and try to figure out exactly where I am going with my business. I am completely thrilled that I went. It was a life changing moment for me and it taught me a lot about what I want to do with my business to help the WLS community.

A lot of exciting things have been happening for me since October. I got that letter from Chris Powell that really made me feel special and recognized and made me think I could be someone really special in this community, someone who could motivate people through my own weight loss success and help push them to achieve theirs. I won’t lie, I fancied myself the Chris Powell, Jillian Michaels, or Bob Harper of the WLS community. I started thinking, if I just focus on this more, if I give a little bit more to it, if I invest a little in myself and believe in myself that I can turn this into a successful business and make a career out of it that I will love and that my Father would be proud of. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not giving up, someday this will be a reality. I’m just starting to be realistic, and starting to realize that I’m not going to be famous.

Favim.com-36311I don’t even mean this to sound emo and macabre, though I know it is coming of that way it’s not my intention. It’s just, that as we tried to buy a house again, and once again I realized that our inability to do that had to do with my decisions to invest in my career myself. When the numbers were on paper and I truly started to realize that I literally put my family $50,000 in debt and robbed of us the ability to own a home for probably another 3-5 years, I started realizing that I have to be more realistic.

I’m no more special than any other survivor out there. So I’m an adopted kid that grew up in a dysfunctional family that abused me so badly I developed one of the most amazing self-defense mechanisms ever to escape it. I’m the victim of child molestation and teenage date rape. I did my druggie phase. I did my mentally ill constant hospitalizations, suicidal, self mutilating phase. I did the sleeping with men to try to feel loved phase. I did the abusive relationships because I hadn’t broken the cycle phase. I smoked, and I tried to kill myself with everything from pillows and knives as a kid to pills and food as an adult. I’ve got a typical survivor story in a world where we actually talk about these things out loud now.

I’m a typical weight loss patient. I had gastric bypass, I followed the rules. I’ve lost the majority of my weight. I became an exercise junkie and now, to try to help me make sure that I maintain my weight loss I try to be a little voice in the big world of the internet that might help someone else maintain theirs.

There is nothing amazingly special about me, and that is probably why despite all the letters that I have written, nobody has ever felt I was noticeable enough to help me see any of my dreams. The fact is, I’m not Jillian Michaels, I’m not Bob Harper, I’m not Chris Powell, and I am never going to be. And all this time I am investing in some pot shot hollywood dream of being someone like that is silly and it’s starting to sink my family into a financial pit that I just can’t continue to put them in.

It’s time for me to give up on those unrealistic dreams and just hang on to the reachable ones. I will get my certification and I will either attempt to start a small business on the side here in Oregon or I will end up using that certification to work as a Personal Trainer in some established environment and I won’t quit my day job, even though I hate it, until I know that I can at least make what I make now working as a Personal Trainer somewhere and maybe, now that the plastic surgeries are all done once I do that, I can start digging my family out of the hole I put them in and start to pay back the two and half years of sacrifices they have made in order to help me lose my weight, get my life back and be healthy. I owe them that before I ask them to sacrifice another two years helping me achieve some pot shot dream that nobody but me really believes I’ll achieve anyway.

DREAM-motivational wallpapers- motivational quotesToday I am discouraged. I see the financial state of my family and suddenly all the wind has been taken out of my sails. All the things I was so excited about and that I believed were possibilities are suddenly shadowed by the fact that I’ve drastically hurt us financially to get this far.

I don’t know where I even begin to fix this. But I know one thing. I’m going to be more realistic and that’s going to mean focusing on the things that I believe I can actually achieve. So this is going to have to happen in baby steps. I have plans in the works for some things that should lead to me being able to start working as a personal trainer as soon as July of 2013. I’m going to try to make that happen still. But other than those commitments, I won’t be able to do anymore. I’ll be in Vegas for the WLSFA Meet and Greet. I’ll be at the OAC Convention no matter where it is. But I’ll be on a really strict budget and I won’t be going to anything else. I’ll be working with the OAC on advocacy, I’ll be studying for my CPT Exam, but I won’t be under anymore delusions that I’m going to be someone really big with it. I’ll treat it like what I should have from the beginning, a side job that maybe someday will turn into more. I’ll be realistic. I hate realty. But the reality is if I don’t want my family to end up bankrupt without a chance of owning a home ever, I have to stop shooting for unrealistic goals and reaching for the attainable.

I’ve had two years to focus on losing my weight and having my plastic surgery and being able to ride on credit while I got to heal, do it again and basically just really enjoy my journey. Now it’s time to get back to working a 8-10 hour day at what I have been successful doing for years and put my family and our finances first. I’ll devote my free time to my dreams and my volunteer work and remember that really that is all they probably are … dreams and volunteer work.

I hate it when your weight loss journey takes you to a place you don’t really want to be. I wish I was still in my 20s and that I had found the life I wanted to have and the dreams I wanted to chase a lot sooner. I wish, that I could shake this feeling that I have, that no matter what I do, in the end I always end up feeling like I am missing out on my life and my dreams because I’ve paid such a huge debt to my abusers. Even though I am over being a victim and I am all about taking my life back, even if i am realizing I might have to do it more slowly than I like, it never takes away the resentment I feel towards those people. I’m not sure anything ever will. I just won’t ever let it consume  me and in this case, that means not letting my resentment for them continue to allow me to make irresponsible decisions.

There will be a lot of “I can’t afford to do that.” in my future as I throw away the credit cards and stop allowing myself to borrow my way to happiness.

I guess that means there might be more time for blogging too!  Welcome to reality Pandora. Maybe I should change my website name to Desperately Seeking Sanity, because sometimes it feels like that’s what I’m really after.

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14 Responses to Sometimes Reality Sucks. That’s Reality.

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  • Joy Muller says:

    Hey girlfriend, Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream, you can do it!” and I believe that! Yes, you might have to realize that your dream will take some time to achieve but don’t EVER give up on that! You don’t have to be famous to have a positive impact on others’ lives. The moment I met you, you had a profound and positive impact on me! Keep on keepin’ on and you will get there! Yes, it might have to be a “side” thing for now. But now is not forever.

  • I think that is exactly it Joy. I have to get over my desire to be someone like Jillian Micheals or Bob Haper or Chris Powell and just be me. I have to trust that being me is enough and believe in the fact that I can inspire and motivate, just like you said, I did for you. I need to stop devoting so much time to trying to get people to notice me and help me and just focus on what I can do realistically.

  • Waning Woman says:

    hugs honey. Hang in there. You are more important than you know

  • You’re very important, I look up to you, you’ve done amazing and will continue to. Don’t ever give up. There are many things in your post about your past that I can relate to. You’re a success to me. You are special, every one is.

  • You guys are so supportive and it is so wonderful. I do hope that you understand that I am no giving up, I’m just starting to be realistic. I just ordered my textbook for the CPT test from the Cooper Institute yesterday, I still plan to be on track to start my business as a Personal Trainer in July. I am just starting to realize that I’m not likely going to be famous doing in. That I’m not going to be Chris Powell of Jillian Micheals of the WLS world. I’m not ever going to be that famous writer who’s life story makes a New York Times Best Seller list, and I’m starting to realize that investing 8-10 hours a day in trying to chase those unrealistic dreams rather than just staying focused on the realistic one of becoming a Personal Trainer that works out of her car, her home, doing it on the side and not as a full fledged career trying to be someone famous whether online or off, isn’t a very productive adventure.

    I love you guys. I realize that I am special in my own way, just like each one of us is. I just mean when it comes to my life story, my weight loss story, I’m just another abuse survivor taking her life back. It’s a very common story in the world today, and nothing special in a media world that really only cares about you if you do something horrible.

  • Dagny says:

    Hi, I wrote you last month. I got my certification last year and have found clients through word of mouth, connecting with people using social networking, and through the gym where I used to train. It’s do-able, it’s a relationship business. I go to my clients and they buy their own equipment since they need to use it at home. I also work using email and Skype with clients who find me through my website.

    I chose the certification I went with based on which one gym owners told me they require so if you think you might want to work at a gym for awhile, check out a few and ask if they require a specific certification for their trainer hires. Plan on about three to four months of study. You’ll need CPR certification and liability insurance after you’re certified but it’s inexpensive.

    It doesn’t have to be complicated. Good luck!

  • Dagny, I remember you writing me back when I was trying to decide what certification I wanted to go with. You’re right it doesn’t have to be complicated 🙂 I doubt that I will work in a gym environment… I have a very clear idea about the business I want to start. I don’t really want to work in a big gym because I am more interested in focusing on working with people with BMIs in the 50-60s, Pre-Op Bariatric Surgery Patients, Early Post Ops, and other Malignantly Obese People and you usually do not find these clients in a typical gym environment.

    I just ordered all my text books from the Cooper Institute and I’m planning on three months of studying and hoping to take the test in April 🙂 I’ve heard alot about people doing online training session via Skype lately, it’s a pretty neat idea actually, I dig it 🙂

    • dagnykight says:

      You posted that you might work in “some established environment” I assume just to make some money for awhile so I was simply suggesting that you make sure you’d have a good chance of being hired.

  • Pandora says:

    Dagny, you’re totally right, I did imply that I might have to work in some sort of established environment. I see what you were referring too, and you know it’s funny. In alot of ways it is sort of like me facing the fact that I was morbidly obese. It was alright for me to wrap my head around it, but when others made it a reality for me I was very self defensive. I find the same thing to be true so far of this personal trainers thing, I DO NOT WANT, like, really do NOT want, with every fiber of my being to work in a membership gym environment, like I REALLY do NOT want to do that and yet, I keep trying to resign myself to the fact that I may HAVE to do something like that in order to get experience to reach the actual goals I have of working with the morbidly obese and pre-op and early post op bariatric surgery patients. But every time someone else mentions that option to me, whether it is my own personal trainer or a PT friend like yourself I am very defensive and resistant to it. I feel like it’s sort of like I am being pat on the head and pacified and told I will be good at what I want to do someday when I grow up and can fill my CPT big girl pants. It’s a totally silly reaction. Does that even make sense. Maybe one of my therapist friends will come in and help me understand my own behavior in this fashion. (Hint Hint: I’d appreciate the insight here… in fact I think we just found today’s blog post.)

    • dagnykight says:

      Maybe where you live there are nothing but big box gyms but personally, I’ve never set foot in one. The gyms I’ve worked with are single-location, independently owner operated. The gym I’ve been associated with the longest is strictly for personal trainers to work with their clients. I also go to a specialty kettlebell studio. The only “chain” gym I’ve worked with is Jon Hinds’ Monkey Bar Gym.

      I don’t know you and I don’t want to offend you but my impression is that you either way over-think things or you make decisions based on minimally-sourced information. I see your posts are moderated. OK with me if you don’t want to post this. It isn’t really any of my business but blogging tends to invite comments.

  • Dagny: There are a few things I’m going to address here.

    First, yes, my experience with the gym environment here in Portland as well as what I experienced as a morbidly obese person living in both LA and Central California are with big gyms. I’ve had a membership to a certain big gym for so long that I am grandfathered in at a price of $49 a year verses the monthly prices that most people pay now a days. And my experiences in those gyms, as an overweight person, were never good. I would go to the gym during the middle of the night just to not be seen or be embarrassed by my size in the normal crowd of people that were there during “normal” hours.

    Now I did go and search out a Personal Trainer that worked in a private environment, and there are some of those ( very similar to what I strive to do myself ) but my Trainer for example runs her business out of her home, her garage is converted into a gym for her clients. I have never set foot in, heard of, or had any experience with an independently owned gym that let Personal Trainers come in and work with their clients, ideally something like that would be great, in fact I have talked to my own Personal Trainer about her dreams of opening her own space that would do something very similar and sort of rent out space for other Personal Trainers the way hair salons let you rent stations as a hair dresser.

    I’ve talked to several Personal Trainers and you’re the first that has even mentioned working in a situation that is somewhat close to what I just described. In fact, I had been warned by most Trainers that I spoke with that most gyms won’t let you you train in their facility at all unless you are working directly for them. That is part of my huge resistance to working in a gym environment, because I’ve been told by several other Personal Trainers that it is hard to work in a gym like Bally’s, 24-Hour Fitness, Golds, Crunch or anything like that, if what you really want is a private training business because if they find out you are working towards that on the side or anything they will terminate your employment.

    If I was presented with the opportunity to work in a situation similar to what you mention, in a privately owned gym where I get to bring in my own clientele and I can offer them an environment they are comfortable in with equipment that can handle their weight capacity, I would jump all over the opportunity. I’d even consider working in a big gym environment IF it was in the capacity where I got to set up a weight loss specific program that worked with the morbidly obese and set the precedent of trying to actually make them comfortable in a big gym environment.

    Am I an over thinker? Yes that is probably an accurate assessment of me. I tend to be the type of person that takes an issue, puts in it a little box where I can remove myself from the situation, analyze it, spin it around, see all the different possible outcomes, possible problems or complications, and try to pave the way for the end result I want to get. I like to define that as driven, realistic and responsible. I am far too OCD and far too much of an over thinker to as you suggest, “make decisions on minimally sourced information”. Quite on the contrary I tend to have more information and do more research than the normal person. I mean how long did it take me to decide what certification I was going to go with, how many programs did I research, how many professional Personal Trainers did I speak with before making that decision?

    As for my blog being moderated. First posts on my blog are moderated to make sure you don’t post advertising spam, and to stop idiots from coming in and making weight biased and uneducated or nasty remarks like “Hey fat ass, here is an idea, STOP putting food in your mouth.” Not to monitor someone like you posting comments, I’m sure you found after your first post there was no more wait on moderation approval for your comment. I encourage people to comment and converse with me and I’m pretty open about when I’m wrong. It may very well be that because I don’t have my actual certification yet and I haven’t started looking for employment that I have missed the privatized independent gym ownership part of this industry and that I won’t absolutely hate working in an established environment as much as I think I will.

  • Pandora says:

    I’m sorry if I wrote too much! I tend to be a wordy person that’s why I have a blog 🙂 I do appreciate all your feedback and input and a lot of what you say and your suggestions have made a lot of sense to me.

  • Pingback: Emotions Surfacing With Too Much Time to Think | Desperately Seeking Slender

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Author of Desperately Seeking Slender
Jaime "Pandora" Williams

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