Wednesday, July 14, 2010

190: Kentucky Life

As I edge downward towards 190 pounds, I am taken back to the first time I ever hit that weight on the way up. It's funny how the numbers or the melting pounds seem to release old memories and revisit past experiences; perhaps it is part of the process of letting go... of both the weight and the past.

I was 23 years old and had reluctantly moved away from a town full of friendship and support to a little place in the country two thousand miles away, in Kentucky. My husband had found a job there, so we sold many of our things, packed what remained, and toted our two small children off to a new world. I'd been accustomed to mountains and snow and a certain way of living in our farmhouse; we'd had an acre garden, some chickens and sheep and goats, and lots of space for our babies to grow. We moved to a rental house in the woods, sight unseen, so that my husband could begin his new job. It was a tiny place, very secluded and silent. When I turned on the water to run a bath for my baby the first evening, the water was brown. I let it run for awhile, trying to see if it would get clearer, but it didn't. Two inches of water in the tub looked almost as thick as chocolate milk. "I can't bathe him in this," I said. "We can't drink this." So we didn't bathe for a few days, and then rented a hotel room just so we could all shower.

That place just wasn't going to work out for us, so we quickly moved to a little apartment. Then we bought a trailer and put it on a rental lot covered in tall grass and surrounded by fields of corn. We mowed the grass, built stairs out of cinder blocks, and moved right in... along with the giant roaches and a whole lot of ants. I'd get out of bed in the night to use the bathroom and roaches would be on the blankets and scattering across the floor. To top it off, I was pregnant with my third child, due just 17 months after the second.

It was a whole new world for me in other ways, as well. I'd drive down to the little local grocery store and go inside, where dirt-coated children (not my own) ran through the aisles barefoot with nothing on but a diaper and grubby-looking men would reach out and pat me on the behind or even reach towards my breasts as I shopped. They'd look me up and down and give a lecherous smile, their teeth stained from chewing tobacco. I told my new friend, who was also pregnant with her third child, that I was going to breastfeed my baby; she looked horrified and responded, "Oh no, I would NEVER do that, these belong to my husband!" as she clutched her breasts.

It wasn't all bad. In fact we had a really good time there for the most part. We made friends at church who invited us for dinner often, and we got all the riches of the south: fried chicken, greens, cornbread, biscuits and gravy, macaroni and cheese, deep fried okra, and chocolate cream pies. It was always a feast when we went for a meal. And there were so many pit barbecue stands all over the place, where whole hogs roasted over wood and coals in a pit in the ground all day, to be served up with coleslaw and beans and corn bread for $3 a plate... RC included! Our friends were kind and generous. Hospitality was a given. We had good times, despite living in a tin-roofed trailer with no shade trees, no air conditioning, and 100 degree heat.

We had our issues in the marriage, though, and I also knew I did not want to raise my children there and stay forever. So I ended up leaving with the two little ones and driving back 'home' 2000 miles by myself. I moved into the dark, small basement of a friend, where I lived with my 1- and 3-year-olds for a few weeks until I had my third baby, alone. A friend came to the hospital with me, but my husband was still in Kentucky. Just before I delivered that child, I weighed 190 pounds.

All this weight since then... 88 pounds... didn't come on until much later in my life. I didn't get significantly over 200 pounds until 1998. But when I see these new numbers... getting closer and closer to 190... I remember how I felt back then. I remember the isolation and the joy, the friendships and the pain. I can feel the sweat dripping off my brow as I pushed a stroller with two children in it to the park in the sweltering heat, and I remember the crunch a roach makes when you step on it barefoot in the night. I recall the two thousand mile drive with my babies in the back and my pregnant belly sticking out so far it touched the steering wheel, and how I used to have to take a shower in the tiny basement shower stall with my toddlers sitting at my feet and my newborn in a car seat in the bathroom, because I couldn't leave the little ones alone in the basement with the wood stove burning. I remember my husband coming, finally, weeks later, bringing flowers, reaching to hold his weeks-old son for the first time. I remember the hope, the devotion we both had to making changes and making the marriage work. And things were wonderful for awhile.

We moved back into our old farmhouse and life started over.

Life is always starting over, isn't it?

Every pound I lose feels like both a step into the past and a step to a healthy future. Every day I learn something new about myself and let go of something old. It's a beautiful thing.

I said goodbye to Kentucky so many years ago. I said goodbye to that husband, too, and now I am saying goodbye to the many pounds I gained during that time of my life. But I still have that sweet little baby I delivered, who is sixteen years old now and still lights up my life. With goodbyes comes new hellos. Hello to the body being uncovered as the fat melts away; welcome to the changes and the newness. Welcome to the happiness that comes with growth.

Scale says: 193.

30 comments:

Lori said...

It is strange how different the same weight feels when you're going down the scales rather than up. At 177 on the way up, I felt huge and dressed to cover up the mounds of flesh I perceived in the mirron. At 177 now, I'm loving showing of my new svelte (almost) figure and finding cute clothes to wear!

Debbie said...

Okay you made me cry, what a moving post. You have done great on your weight lost journey and your journey in life. Congrats..

seattlerunnergirl said...

Lyn, you have lived such an interesting life. I hope you know how much we all enjoy reading your memories as you recount them on your journey to a healthy weight. Keep up the great work, and keep the stories about your life coming!

Laura said...

You amaze me. It's just like your weight loss journey, where yeah, it's tough, but you did it. You made your life. It brought tears to my eyes though, reading of what a hard time you had.

Lanie Painie said...

Lyn, thanks for sharing another piece of your amazing story. The mere mention of roaches sends me flying back to my childhood. I haven't dealt with all that yet.

Lily Fluffbottom said...

These are the cycles of our lives. What an amazing contrast a decade can make, aye? I really love your reflections back at life, and I enjoy seeing how much you've grown.

Kim said...

What an amazing post! Your efforts and successes are to be commended and applauded (and I am not just talking about the weight loss...every aspect of your life!). You are amazing and a true inspiration to me and so many others!

Splurgie said...

What amazing experiences you've had. I admire your bravery to keep going during the rough times. Always putting your children first. Now it's time for you.

Anonymous said...

ok. i don't think you ment to make Ky sond as bad as you did but being from ky you have really hurt my feelings.
I don't think it mattered where you where. I think th timing and the situation were the issues.
You can have horrible water where ever you go. I am also sure kids are also dirty in California and New York as well. they are after all kids.
An well as for the my breast are my husbands......dumb is world wide.
I am happy for your weight loss and growth but I am hurt by your post. I am so mad i can hardly type.
Good luck with things....I have to go wersh my bloomers on the porch before paw gets home and wants his victles.

Mom to the Fourth Power said...

Wow, that was SO beautifully written. You really have a gift. I felt like crying with your heartaches and laughing with your joys. I so like what you said:

"Life is always starting over, isn't it?

Every pound I lose feels like both a step into the past and a step to a healthy future. Every day I learn something new about myself and let go of something old. It's a beautiful thing."

Just SO true. I have a hard time letting go of my past and I keep re-living painful events. I torture myself. I hope to overcome that so I can move on to greener pastures! You've had an incredible journey and have so much to give!!

~Margene

Vegemommy said...

This is such vivid writing, I can feel your experiences myself. Author a book Lyn, it's totally within your reach. And, you are so right about the journey of life...weight loss....all of it!

McCulley's said...

Thank you yet again for your inspiration.

Vee said...

I'm from Louisville, KY now living in Colorado. I was surrounded by heavy food all of my life, and struggled with my weight all of my life. I still love the foods I grew up with but can't stay near them or my family because it hurts my health.

I'm glad you did what you needed to do for you. It takes courage and a lot of strength (and I'm sure at least some crying) to get through situations like that.

Good job. Vee at http://veegettinghealthy.blogspot.com

Sweeter than Sugar said...

I agree with "Vegemommy" about the book; I was thinking exactly the same thing myself. You have that gift of making the words float off the paper (or screen perhaps I should say ;) ) and come to life. Thank you for sharing.

Lyn said...

Anonymous from KY~

I absolutely mean no offense to Kentucky. It was a beautiful state with very friendly and hospitable people. This post is not *about Kentucky*... it is about a stage in my life when I reached a certain weight. I happened to be living in KY at the time. It could just as well have been any state, any country. I hold no bad feelings towards your lovely state and hope you can see the intent behind this post.

LHA said...

I had a similar, but less intense, initial response to the description of life in KY as "Anonymous" expressed in her comment. It is always unfortunate when life in this state is portrayed as it often is in movies, television and other media. I just cringed a little at the hillbilly sterotype that is so often perpetuated.

That said, your post was beautifully written and was a moving expression of your past experience. You have overcome a lot in your life, and your journey is inspiring many others, myself included. Thank you for sharing such a poingnant, thought provoking story of change and redemption.

Lyn said...

LHA~

thank you. When I moved to KY, one of the locals told me that I had come to the "armpit of Kentucky" and that the rest of the state was not as "backwards" as the small town where we were living. In fact it was fairly common to see elementary school kids spitting their tobacco juice on the ground, and I had a sweet friend who told me she'd gotten married at 13 to a man is his 20's. It *was* sort of the stereotypical, hillybilly type experience; another female friend there thought I was not a good wife because I did not sit beside the tub and wash my husband's hair and his back. I am positive it isn't like that everywhere! It was just my experience that year in that town. Still, just lovely people, so kind and would give you the shirt off their backs!

South Beach Steve said...

Lyn, I have read your other replies about KY. I have to say, the post rubbed me wrong a little bit too. That being said, after I took a breath I realized you weren't attempting to beat up on KY. Just for the record, I have traveled much of the US, I have seen rednecks and hillbillies, as well as sophisticated people all over the place. I have seen uneducated and educated all over the place. There are some really, really rough places in KY. No doubt about it, but there are also some really rough places in IN, IL, OH, WV, CO, TX, OK, NE, HI, CA, FL, and every other state I have been to. I happen to live in a very highly visited, touristy part of KY, that still has backwoods charm. I love it here. Again, I realize you weren't pin-pointing KY in the post, it just initially rubs Kentuckians wrong when the stereotypical KY (which happens to really exist) shows up somewhere, when those of us who live here know it isn't all this way.

Lynna said...

I had to laugh at your description of your experiences in Kentucky. Girl! What town was that! (Don't answer that.) I grew up in Lexington. Admittedly, it was city and not country, but I hope readers won't think your experiences were typical of most Kentuckians. Most I know are purty normal folk! "They belong to my husband." Can't quit laughing. :)

Julie said...

Well written! Thanks for sharing!

Erin said...

Firstly, I think your post was amazing...thanks for sharing a bit of your journey and conveying so eloquently the compassion you now have for the girl you used to be. Secondly, I think people who are honing in on your descriptions of your life in KY way back when are missing the point of the post. It was alien to you, it was difficult for you, and it was how KY was FOR YOU. This post was not about them, the state of KY, or the stereotypes that come about from snapshots of certain realities...no, this post was about your journey and your reality and it was absolutely a stunning glimpse into the life of an unhappy young wife and mother. Thanks for sharing.

Tammy said...

I just love the way you tell your stories Lyn...you have such a gift for writing. :)

Shannon said...

You are an unbelievably strong woman. I think you should seriously consider writing a book about your life. YOu have overcome huge obstacles and are still doing so. You are great inspiration!!!

crone75 said...

Your posts always inspire me. You are a marvelous writer with such a depth of understanding and wealth of experience. I hope you know that your "escape" would make a great book.

Deanna - The Unnatural Mother said...

Welcome the change, I like that and am stealing that for sure. I love your mental strength, and thank you for sharing it with us.

Steelers6 said...

Woo hoo 193!!

Annie said...

There is an award for you at my blog! http://annieweighsblog.blogspot.com/

Hanlie said...

I truly believe that we store memories and emotions in our fat cells... And when we release the fat, the memories and emotions get released again.

Thank you for another fascinating glimpse into your life. You really should write a memoir - you have the experiences and the writing ability.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, this was beautiful. You are such a gifted writer. Thank you for giving me so much to think about from this post!

Jane

Anonymous said...

What a beautifully written account of what you went through so many years ago. I too cried reading this. I agree with Erin that the people focusing on the stereotypes about KY, totally missed what this entry was about. Thank you for sharing this. I felt as if I was there with you, and feeling that pain too. What an inspirational blog to read as a fellow Medifaster.