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.
I’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.
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.
Then 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.
I 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.
Today 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.