Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Man I Loved

Over a decade ago, before I remarried, I met a man who would become one of my closest friends. He lived a couple hours away from me, but that was no roadblock for us because we felt like kindred spirits from the start. We dated, he moved here, and were in a relationship for about two years. I think looking back over all my relationships in life, he was one of the two closest to my heart. I could share anything with him and we were so similar in many ways. He was just a sweet, giving man and he treated me so well. In the end, we did go our separate ways and lost touch. A couple of years ago he got back in touch with me and we rekindled a friendship... not on the same level of intimacy as before, but as dear friends.

He was a large man... about 450 pounds when we first met. Because of this, he developed some serious health problems, including diabetes and several heart attacks. This year, he passed away. It was hard for me to cope with, even though we weren't living near each other at the time. Somehow, all the memories of our closeness flooded back and I felt the deep loss of no longer having him in my life. I still do.

If you've been reading my blog lately, you may have noticed a lot of talk about potato chips. I mean, I've always liked them, but I feel almost addicted lately. I've been eating them a LOT more; in fact, I think I have eaten more chips and dip over the past two months than I have in three years prior! A bowl a day, almost. And it was such a draw of *need.* Almost emotional. And yesterday it dawned on me what the potato chips are really about.

They're about a man I loved. They're an emotional throwback to the days I used to take my kids and drive to visit him, and we'd have friends over and sit around the table playing board games and eating chips and dip. One of the first times I went to see him and he broke out the potato chips, I offered to make some dip. I made that kind where you mix sour cream with onion soup mix and let it sit in the fridge a while. When he tried it, he said "Wow, this is great! I can't believe you can make such a good dip from those two ingredients!" So I made it every time I went up there, and often when we were together. Yeah, he and I ate a lot of chips and dip together, playing games, laughing, listening to music, and talking about all our hopes and dreams.

We talked about having a child together. It was something we both wanted. But after two years together when he found out he was unable to father a child, the relationship fell apart for us. He was depressed and disappointed, and I was upset. We both had shared our dreams of wanting a daughter, and it seemed now it could never happen. We grew apart. Eventually he was in a relationship with a woman who had a young daughter, and I remarried and had my own little girl.

Now that he's gone, I think about that closeness we once shared. It was a very unique, trusting relationship based on true friendship. I sometimes felt like he was my twin in a male body; we often knew what each other was thinking.

It's no secret that I have used food before to feel closer to my loved ones who are gone. I used to eat certain foods that I remembered my parents eating, or that reminded me of people I used to share those foods with. I've tried to be aware of those feelings and consciously choose *not* to eat, say, a Tastykake when I am missing my mom or a Reuben sandwich when I wish my Dad was still alive. Instead, I have worked on feeling the feelings and finding other things that connected us when they were alive, like certain music or activities or looking at old photographs. I've even written letters to them sometimes, telling them how much they meant to me. It's a better way of processing than just eating stuff to feel those old feelings again.

I didn't even realize what I was doing with the chips until now. It dawned on me yesterday when I was thinking about my (two) past relationships with very large men, and why they were as big as they were, and why they never lost the weight... and why I was so comfortable with them. I think it was because I relate, just like I relate to the people on that reality TV show, My 600 Pound Life and shed tears for them. But that's another post for another day. Anyway, I thought about all we shared, and how much I missed him, and found myself dishing up some chips and dip. I stopped. "Wow," I thought. "I am using chips to feel closer to him. This is not healthy." And then I sat down and thought about all the other, more meaningful things we shared:

a love for my sons
the Garth Brooks concert we went to together
playing board games on lazy Saturdays
Holiday traditions
watching old movies on his projection TV
the desire to be open, to be kind, to make a difference
how he helped me get a German Shepherd puppy that I always wanted
the front porch of my house that he built for me
and so many, many memories.

I can feel close to him by listening to our music. I pulled out the dusty board games that I have rarely played since he left, and started playing Scrabble again with my kids. I look at my dogs now and know he re-opened that door for me, and every time I walk down the stairs of the front porch I smile a little as I remember him out there working with his hammer and saw, happy because he loved doing things for me. I can honor his memory in a way that doesn't cause me harm... without food... so that I do not meet the same weight-related fate and early death. I can remember him, without potato chips, and learn to mourn in a healthier way.



14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lyn,

Just wanted to say how much I loved reading this post - it is so open and sweet. I'm sure this man adores knowing how much you loved and appreciated him. What a blessing to have had such a wonderful relationship. I'm so sorry that he passed away.

I think that he would be really proud of you for taking care of yourself and choosing to make your health a priority.

I believe in you, Lyn!!

Thank you for sharing.

Mary

Blods said...

Sorry to hear you have lost another close friend, very difficult so soon after your other friend's passing. Glad you were able to see what was happening on the chip front and that you are now able to control the urge to eat and are using other positive strategies to remember the good times you shared with your friend. Take care of yourself, thinking of you Blods xx

Winner at a Losing Game said...

One of the best posts you have written. I know you have refrained from sharing personal details, but this really speaks to a lot of us. It is meaningful and insightful. Thank you.

Deb Willbefree said...

This is such a poignant post. And healing for you to catch the subconscious connection between the memory and the chips.

I have a question, tho. You said this man died THIS year. Is this a different man from the friend who died in the fall of 2013 or did you mis-type or am I just totally confused?

Deb

Lyn said...

Deb~

Different friend. The two of them were the closest friends I have ever had. My best friend Dave who died in 2013 was never obese, and oddly enough, I don't think I have ever eaten a food to feel closer to him since he passed. Our relationship had almost nothing to do with food. I listen to music or go to certain places to remember Dave. Funny how very differently I mourn the two of them.

Anonymous said...

He sounds like a lovely man. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

This post has helped me. Thank you.

Diana said...

Lyn, I've been reading your blog for a long time and for some reason, this post really touched my heart. You opened up and exposed your soul, something you don't often do at this level. Your friend sounds like he was an incredible person, and I can feel how much you loved him. I can only imagine how much this loss has affected you. Recognizing this is your first step in moving forward, which you're doing. I know it's not really a consolation, but you are so fortunate to have had this man in your life. Not many people are lucky enough to find their soulmate.

You're going to do much better now that you've recognized what's been going on in your subconscious. I know how one unwise food choice can lead to more of the same. I've done that many times in my life.

I wish you the best on this journey. It's not easy, but it's possible. You've had many successes at this weight loss game, and you know what to do. Take care of yourself Lyn, and God bless you. You're an amazing woman, and even though I only know you through this blog I feel like you're a dear friend. ~Diana

Karen said...

Great counseling topics. If and when you are ready. You can choose to learn new habits and behaviors. Not easy, but very valuable if you desire a health outcome.

Loss is hard. Can't control, but you can control how you respond.

16 blessings'mom said...

This made me cry. I'm so sorry for your loss. You are an amazing woman, and I wish I could give you a big hug.

You are a very good writer, by the way.

Della

Anonymous said...

Tough post to write. I like the idea of doing other things to think of him.
Maybe you could give up chips forever for him.
Not sure if that makes sense.
But instead of eating them in memory of him, give them up in memory of him. Every time you want them, think of him and say no, I am going to refuse those today in honor of your memory.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, your post was really touching. It sad when you have such a great and soulful relationship, that it has to end this way. But you have many ways to remember him

Kira said...

Beautiful. There is a pace to your writing when it comes from the heart, like this, that is just so lovely.
That said, I'm sorry for your loss.

Pol said...

Hey Lyn. I'm really sorry about your loss. It really sounds like you two had a special connection but the "method" you are using in this moment to bring his memory back is just hurting you and damaging your health. The time you spent with him will not be erased and I think is great that you found out how you are remembering him, but maybe it's time to let go of that way, since it's just repeating what you've been doing.

I see that you miss your loved ones a lot and that is pretty devastating, but maybe there is a way of learning to live with that. I don't know. Maybe you could try something new like meditating, or taking a yoga class, maybe reading a book about the topic, or talking to people who have lived similar experiences, something to break the routine.