NOT AT ALL RIGHT

Yes, it has been a long time, over 5 months since my last post.  With all the changes taking place in my life, I simply did not take the time to write.  More on that later.  Right now, though, I need to vent about an incident that just occurred.

As many of you already know, my husband and I have moved away from Coronado, up the California coast to Ventura.  We are still in the process of doing our best to settle in.  That is also a story for another time.  This morning, though, I was taking my walk.  It was not even early because it was so cold last night, I had to wait until it warmed up a bit before leaving the house.  Not that the house is warm!  Anyway, I was walking one of my longer routes that takes me down Main Street and out to the bike path along the Ventura River Estuary and to the path along the ocean.  As has always been my habit, when I see someone passing me from the opposite direction I say, “Good morning.”  I think it is simply a polite thing to do.  I am not looking to engage you in conversation.  I am only acknowledging that I see you and that it is morning.  After I made the turn onto the beach path, I said ‘good morning’ to a guy on a bicycle.  He then proceeded to start yakking at me.  I did not slow down or respond to him and I have no idea what he even said, nor did I care.  Little did I know that he followed me.  Didn’t know it until I went to cross the street to go up and over the 101.  I wasn’t scared, but I was pissed.

He then continued to follow me at a distance.  I did not turn around because I didn’t want him to know that I knew he was back there.  After a few blocks I was able to look back when I crossed another street.  My main concern was that he not know where I live, so I started zig zagging on blocks.  I ran when he was unable to see me to put even more space between us.  I eventually wound my way around to my house and, again, made sure he was not able to see where I live before crossing the street and going up the driveway.

I came in the house and told my husband what had happened.  And now I’m telling all of you.  My questions are:  Which part of I-am-completely-ignoring-you-and-anything-you- have-to-say-to-me do you not understand?  Why do you think it is okay to follow someone who has clearly NOT engaged with you in any way other than to be polite and say good morning?  What gives men (I know this is a huge generalization here, but my experience has been it is men and not women) the ‘right’ to harass someone who is clearly not interested?  Do I have to be a bitch in order to get my intent across?  Now, given my history, this is an even bigger deal than it might otherwise be.

Part of the reason we left Coronado was that I continue to not feel completely safe.  I do understand that it wasn’t Coronado who attacked me, and I was able to go back to loving living there again.  And yet, there is still a part of me that was hoping a new place might, just might, allow me to feel safe like I did pre-sexual assault.

I am not saying that the guy this morning was anything other than a normal person, BUT I wanted nothing to do with him and he was ignoring this.  Is it kinder to tell someone to ‘fuck off and leave me alone?’  Okay, maybe not in those words, but why should I have to specifically spell it out?  I have been accused of being a stuck-up snob because I don’t speak to people, and yet when I do, I am followed.  I have also been told that I seem to have a shield around me and a look on my face when I am walking that says, ‘don’t fuck with me.’  Most of the time this works at keeping unwanted attention away, not always though.

So, is my only recourse to not speak to anyone ever when I am out walking?  Is it okay to say good morning to women but not men?  I seem ‘damned if I do, damned if I don’t’ in this situation.

BIG CHANGES ARE A COMING

Change is a part of life.  Sometimes, though, it seems that changes happen so fast and furious that it’s hard to maintain any kind of balance.  It feels, at times, like the world is even spinning faster than ever.  We want everything right now.  We ask or pray for something in our lives and do not understand why it doesn’t instantly manifest.  Some changes are welcome, some not so much.

My life has been changing in huge ways for the last several years.  Since there seems no way around this, I’ve decided to embrace it.  So my word for 2017 is CHANGE and my phrase is EMBRACE CHANGE.  I think my biggest change I encountered last year was getting married, which was/is a wonderful thing.  I am happy to say that I am finally in the perfect (perfect for me) relationship and married to the right person for me.  Still, going from single, living alone to married and suddenly having someone around all the time is an adjustment.  Not a bad thing, just different.  Luckily, even though my husband and I both work at home and we live in a pretty small house, this has not been an issue.

One change I’ve been wanting to make for a while now is figuring out a way to combine both of my blogs since I find trying to write two completely different ones impossible. I never wanted to have A Little of This That and the Other (www.alittleofthisthatandtheother.blogspot.com) be anything but a happy place to share my work and that of my friends.  At Long Last Heard, this site, was about my sexual assault and to a larger degree,  my past life and how I got to where I am now.  The two sites are extremely different.  After my wedding I came up with a new domain name and a ‘plan’ to have only one blog/website.

I still have not figured out when I want to launch it, though I will tell you the new name:  Exactly the Same but Different.  This is a phrase I have used for many years and in talking with a very good friend, it was obvious that this was the new name.  Because my life now is exactly the same as it always was, but different.

Another HUGE change that is coming in the next few months is we will be moving.  Egad, just writing the word here gives me the willys.  I have lived for almost 15 years on Coronado and the idea of leaving all that is so familiar to me is a bit scary.  Truly, I know that leaving will be a good thing and Jim and I need a house/space that is ours and not just mine that he moved into.  It is good and it is frightening at the same time.  We are even contemplating leaving San Diego altogether, which also adds to my anxiety.  Again, I know this is a good thing, it just doesn’t always feel like it is.

Hence, my desire to EMBRACE CHANGE this year.  Change is good, right?  I am going to keep saying this to myself until I believe it.

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VERY MIXED FEELINGS TODAY

Five years ago, on Saturday the 24th of September, my life changed in ways I could never have predicted.  And though my life now, 5 years later, is amazing, the road to where I am now has been challenging.  Understatement of the year.  All in all, for the majority of the time, I am happy, healthy, newly married (in May) and ‘completely’ healed from my attack.  I have to put completely in quotation marks because I am not sure I will ever be completely over what happened.  That has been very apparent this last week.  Physically I have been a bit of a wreck.  My body seems to understand what my mind is incapable of grasping:  my attack is still stored in my cells, in the muscle memory of my physical self.  Well, crap.

On Monday I decided I needed to know exactly when DCD was being released from prison.  According to my calculations it should’ve been right around now.  He received a 6 year sentence and has to serve 85% of it, less time served at sentencing, which was 317 days.  When I put his name in the ‘who’s in jail’ web site, I got nothing.  I remembered he had used another name, looked through my files to find it, put that name in, and got the same result…not in the system.  I thought I had signed up to be notified when that happened, but, it turned out, I had not.  Crap, again.  So I called the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to find out his status.  The officer I spoke with asked for his prisoner number, which I did not have.  He asked if I was the victim.  I told him I was.  He gave me the number I was lacking and told me where he is now housed and that he would not be getting out any time soon.  He also suggested I call the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services to find out more information about his release date.  I did this and that’s when I found out I neglected to actually sign up to be notified when he would be released.  It’s not that I am afraid he will come after me once he is released.  I simply want to know when he is out.

Life does go on, and as much as I’d love to never have had this happen, it did.  The following quote pretty much sums up how I feel about it now:

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We all get to choose how we react to what happens to us.  I choose to see it as a blessing, and to share my ongoing, ever-changing story.  My hope is that I am making a “difference by being the difference.”

A BETTER THIRD WEEK

Just a quick update…

I am definitely feeling better, though still haven’t had the burst of energy I’ve been waiting for.  I am still sleeping a ton more than normal, too.  It’s all good, though.  If I really think about it, it took me pretty much 55 years to get my body into the state it is currently in, no matter the reasons behind it, and realistically I cannot expect to be all better in just 2 or 3 or even 4 weeks.  Of course, that doesn’t stop me from expecting it.

I saw a friend yesterday I had not seen since we started The Whole30 and she noticed a difference.   Said my skin looked really good.  That must be the bone broth I drink every morning.  I also ‘convinced’ her that she should be doing it as well.  Since she was just diagnosed with carpel tunnel syndrome, eating clean on this program will most likely help her out tremendously.  Even if it doesn’t exactly cure her carpel tunnel, she will at least still be wheat, sugar and processed food free, and that’s a very good thing.

Because I am still having a lot of hip pain and wasn’t sure if I should really be walking/stretching/playing tennis/doing yoga or just resting, it finally occurred to me that my pain was probably being caused by my old walking shoes.  When I used to walk 60-90 miles a week, I was very good about replacing my shoes every six months.  Lately, I’ve not been so good.  Plus, I’ve been wearing the shoes that have absolutely no support.  So yesterday I went to Road Runner Sports and got myself analyzed on their ShoeDog machine.  I already knew I had high arches, but, dang, when I stood on the blue pad that records the bottom of your feet, the only thing that showed up was my toes, the pads that my toes are connected to and my heals…nothing in between.  I have an extremely high arch, which basically means any kind of non-supportive shoe is probably a bad idea.  It also explains the hip and IT band pain I’ve been suffering from.  So I got new shoes and custom molded arch supports.  I walked this morning and what a difference!

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As far as the eating goes, no cheats.  Sure I miss some particular foods, cheese and yogurt the most, but I see no point in eating them until we start the reintroducing process, which we may not even do.  I mean, why ‘gum’ up a clean system?   I can already tell that dairy is probably not my friend.  Bummer!  Really, nothing is off-limits expect the crap we shouldn’t be eating anyway, so I haven’t felt deprived in any way.

A CHALLENGING SECOND WEEK

And by challenging, I mean it SUCKED.  Not in the food sense, but when I thought that my nonsense (itty, bitty cold) was cured in one day with the cherry bark syrup, I was overly optimistic.  And while it is true that I spent the entire day Saturday in bed/resting before I got the cherry bark, and that I woke up Sunday morning feeling all better, after I wrote my update on Monday morning I started feeling worse.  As the day progressed, my nonsense came back with a vengeance.  I never felt horrible, just blah, like I needed a lot of sleep.  And don’t even get me started on the weather we’ve been having.  Okay, relatively speaking, it has not been terrible, but it has been much cooler than usual and we had (true, much-needed) rain.  None of that, though, is good for my mental heath, especially when I am feeling so crummy.

I thought I would be feeling better doing The Whole30.  I do, however, realize my body is going through a major transformation, what with no sugar, no dairy, no sugar, no alcohol, no sugar, no wheat or grains, no sugar and no processed foods of any kind, especially the kinds with added, you guessed it, sugar.  I just didn’t know it would be so difficult.  What is also even more clear to me is the fact that body has not been the same since my assault.  It’s nothing major, a lot of small things, but added altogether, it’s a lot to deal with and accept.  And this is with intense therapy and a huge desire and effort to not let my attack change me.  The best intentions, right?

As if to add insult to injury, Sunday morning at 3:02AM I was awakened with a shooting pain down my right leg.  Now I’ve had back issues for, well, ever, but I’ve never had anything like this before.  I got up and stretched and hung on the inversion table, but nothing was helping.  I got back in bed and tried to sleep.  No such luck.  I could only be on my back for a few minutes before I’d have to turn to my left side.  Then in a few minutes that would become unbearable and I’d have to turn on my back again, where I would only last for a few minutes…you get the picture.  So I got up to take a shower a little after 4AM.  The funny thing was, it did not really hurt to move around.  While in the shower I decided to wash my hair and shave my legs, just in case I ended up spending the next week in bed with my back out.  It did not really feel like it was going to go out, but never having experienced this kind of pain, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.

When I got back in bed, I googled ‘sciatica’ on my phone, decided that it was probably that, and slept fitfully, in pain for the next several hours.  After consulting with a doctor (my mother, as it happens) and a couple of people who have had to deal with sciatica, we decided on the best course of action, which was really no action at all.  I was advised to take 3 ibuprofen and 1 Tylenol, move as much as the pain would allow, and basically, allow it to rest.  So I spent another entire weekend day resting.  I am sensing a pattern here.

This morning I woke up and realized I had had no pain in the night, at least not the shooting down my leg kind, and I slept half-way decently.  I am still in need of much more sleep than normal.  I guess that’s okay.  It is also dawning on me that I may need more than the 30 days to clean out all the built of whatever that has accumulated over the last 4 1/2 years.  And, really, I guess that is okay, too.  Just like with most everything, I want it now, I want the results yesterday and I don’t want to have to wait a minute longer than I think it should take.  Yeah, and how’s that working for me?  Clearly, it will take as long as it takes.

The good news is, as they say in The Whole30, I have been completely compliant for the last two weeks.  No slips, no forbidden foods;  only good, whole, real food.

 

DAY 3

Okay, so it’s only day three of the Whole30, but I want to share some of what’s happening so far.  Although we haven’t been following the 7-day meal plan exactly, nor are we really supposed to, we’ve been very compliant with what we should and we are not allowed to eat.  No dairy, no grains, no processed food of any kind, no alcohol, no sugar…does this seem harsh?  Really, it’s not.  There is so much real, whole food available, if you just take the time to look.  For example, this morning I had a mug of bone broth, which I made myself (!), and an omelet cooked in ghee (this is butter with the milk part removed) with chicken and spinach.  I had an orange and strawberries on the side.  It was yummy and filling.  If anything, I cannot really eat all the food they recommend in a day, but that’s another story.

One of my reasons for doing this ‘diet’* is I am in a lot of physical pain from inflammation.  I never understood what this meant before now.  And I still do not totally understand it, but I know I have it all over my body.  Enough is enough.  To me physical pain is far worse than emotional pain.  Once the emotional part of my healing from my sexual assault was complete, my back went completely out.  I spent 96 hours not moving at all.  When I was finally able to get out of bed and start the process of moving my body again, the pain was, at times, overwhelming.  I remember thinking at the time that as difficult as it was to go through, I’d rather spend another 14 months in intense (mental) therapy than to spend another 96 hours in physical pain.  And while my physical pain these days is not acute to the degree it was then, I am still in a lot of pain.

Several years ago, I suffered an injury at the gym to my elbow, and ever since, I’ve had pain in it.  Your elbow is not exactly a part of your body that can be easily rested. You kind of use it every day, no matter what you are doing.  And my hips, boy, do my hips ache.  My legs, too.  The weird part is they do not hurt when I am using them, like walking or playing tennis, but at night, I wake up in pain more nights than not.  I try not to take ibuprofen all the time, for obvious reasons, but sometimes the pain is just too much and I have to take it.  When I was listening to IT STARTS WITH FOOD (by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig), it suddenly occurred to me that my body is full of inflammation, and that;s when I made the decision to do something about it.  I do not have to live like this and have no intention of living this way for the rest of my life.  Enter the Whole30 program.

According to WebMD,  “Inflammation is a process by which the body’s white blood cells and substances they produce protect us from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses.  However, in some diseases, like arthritis, the body’s defense system — the immune system — triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign invaders to fight off. In these diseases, called autoimmune diseases, the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. The body responds as if normal tissues are infected or somehow abnormal.”  It goes on to say, “When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body’s white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues to protect your body from foreign substances. This release of chemicals increases the blood flow to the area of injury or infection, and may result in redness and warmth. Some of the chemicals cause a leak of fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling. This protective process may stimulate nerves and cause pain.  The increased number of cells and inflammatory substances within the joint cause irritation, swelling of the joint lining and, eventually, wearing down of cartilage (cushions at the end of bones).”

So what have I observed so far?  Because my body is healing and detoxing itself, I need a lot more sleep than normal.  I’ve been sleeping 10 hours a night, which is so unlike me.  I normally need just about 7 hours to feel good and be well-rested.  I am honoring and listening to what my body wants, though, and it is saying sleep more.  So more sleeping it is.  I’ve noticed I am crabby, too, with an underlying headache.  This is due to my withdrawal from sugar.  As I’ve said before, according to experts, getting off sugar is harder than getting off heroin.  I believe it. And it is just as hard not to relapse, which I’ve done more times than I like to admit.  Just to be clear here, I am addicted to sugar, not heroin.  But just as being addicted to an illicit, illegal drug can rule and ruin your life, sugar, in its own way is just as destructive.  Some of the problems with sugar are: it increases insulin and contributes to obesity and diabetes, it can deplete essential minerals from the body, it can lead to food allergies, it can weaken your immune system and it can increase your risk of cancer.  Do any of these possible effects of sugar sound like a good thing?  I don’t think so.  The time has come to break this habit once and for all.

Yes, it is still very early in this process, but I am very hopeful that, once I get over the hump, the benefits of eating clean and not putting poison into my body will override any desire I have to slip again.

Stay tuned…

 

 

AN ACCIDENTAL REWIRING

Turns out our brains are a lot more elastic or plastic than was originally thought.  The old thinking was once you reached a certain age, your brain was, for lack of a better way to say it, set in stone.  The neurons were thought to migrate to predetermined locations in the brain.  Once there, they performed only certain functions.  New research has shown that it is possible to change our brains.  This is good news.  No, really, this is great news. We are no longer necessarily stuck with a brain that does not work for us, and by this I mean that when I accidentally rewired my brain to crave sugar and carbs and other things that are not good for my overall health, I have the ability to change it, to rewire it again.

After my attack 4 1/2 years ago, to help me feel better, I started eating cupcakes and macaroni and cheese and soft pretzels and rolls and, well, you get the picture.  In 2010, for the most part, I stopped eating bread and pasta.  And even more importantly, I stopped eating most processes sugars.  No coke, no more of my beloved (sad, but true) slurpees, no sweet tarts or jelly beans.  Or if I did have a treat, it was not very often and I never went overboard.  When I was sexually assaulted in September of 2011, that all changed.  I was doing my best to heal and part of that, unfortunately, involved self-soothing, which took the form of eating comfort foods.  Over time, my brain changed, and through the long process of healing and reclaiming my life, I inadvertently created another problem, though it has taken several years for me to completely understand exactly what I did.

I’ve always been a huge reader and though I enjoy fiction tremendously, I also love inspirational, self-help-type books, too.  Since I am always working on improving myself and my life, I am pretty open to most books that encourage that.  I am also a life-long athlete and, as I’ve written about before, after my attack, I went from walking 60-90 miles a week to zero.  Luckily, I found yoga a couple of weeks before my attack and I was no longer able to walk outside alone.  Still, not having that outlet for stress release and staying in shape was a huge loss.  HUGE.  So, I was on the lookout for books to, perhaps, change my life.  I read (listened to, actually) Grain Brain and Brain Maker by Kristin Loberg and Dr. David Perlmutter, Wheat Belly by William Davis, Use Your Brain to Change Your Age by Dr. Daniel Amen, The Wisdom of Your Cells by Dr. Bruce Lipton, The New Sugar Busters by H. Leighton Steward, Morrison Bethea, Sam Andrews and Luis Balart, and countless others.  While all were good, and some I’ve even listened to more than once, and all had good advise and wisdom to pass along, I still was not ‘getting it.’  I might try out a few of the suggestions, but nothing stuck for long.

A walk with a friend a couple of weeks ago ended up supplying the missing link, so to speak.  Just in passing he mentioned It Starts With Food by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig.  I cannot tell you now what it was he said that made me go home and check if the book was available on audible.com.  It was, and I got it.  From practically the first sentence I realized this was the book that was going to literally change my life.  I finally got it.  I also knew that I needed the actual book to refer to.  At the bookstore, however, I ended up with their followup book, The Whole30, subtitled The 30-Day Guide to TOTAL HEALTH and FOOD FREEDOM, which is the one I really needed.  This book explains the entire program and how to accomplish it.  It contains recipes, tips, hints and, basically, a blueprint for (my words) a new life!  And today starts that 30-day trip.

I will be chronicling my journey here, partly so that I am accountable and partly so that others may, hopefully, be helped, as well.  I keep hearing from people who have done the Whole30 that it is hard, that you always end up ‘falling off the wagon’ at some point.  While this may be true, I am confident that I am truly ready for the changes that eating clean will bring about.  I am so ready to be clean of my sugar habit.  I’ve spoken about it before and the trouble I’ve had with kicking the habit.  Like I just said, I AM READY, and this, I think, will make all the difference.  Will I never eat something that is less than perfectly healthy again?  In all likelihood, I probably will, but once I have rewired my brain to crave healthy, whole foods again, a slip or, rather, a conscious choice to eat something that is less than ‘good’ will not result in disaster.  It took a long time to wire my brain to want a cupcake once a week.  Likewise, once I am where I want to be with regard to food, one soft pretzel or martini will not create a new, unwanted neural pathway in my brain.

We all always have a choice.  My choice is to eat clean to reset my brain and hormones.

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If you would like, please join me on this journey.  We can help each other along the way.