Friday, August 16, 2013

The post about the reason I spent the majority of my life morbidly obese

The reason I will run 23K this Sunday even though I'm already anxious
about it.

Ok, I don't know if this is the real reason or just another excuse.  I had a A-HA moment during my long run last weekend.  When you're running alone for 2+ hours, weird stuff pops into your head.  If you've been reading my blog for a while, you may remember that I was adopted.  I was adopted as an infant.  Right from the hospital to my forever home. Other than the family I grew up in, I have never known any other family until I was 39.  That is when I met (some of) my birth family.  I am half Ojibwe and half...I'm not sure. My adoptive mom always said that my birth mother told her I was half French Canadian.  So let's just go with that even though when I met her, my birth mom said she didn't know who my father was.

Anyway during my long run, I was thinking about my two moms.  My birth mother and my adoptive mother.  I was thinking about how much the mother that raised me has influenced my parenting style today.  She definitely had a positive impact on me, but also made me think about what I would do differently as a parent. Then I thought about how I was told I was adopted.  It happened when I was 6.5 years old.  It was one of my older brother's friends who delivered the news to me in a very mean and spiteful 13 year old boy manner. It was along the lines of "You know this isn't your real family right?  Your real mom didn't want you. And this family could give you back any time..." Now keep in mind I was likely bugging the crap out of him and he came from a broken home.  I hold no ill feelings toward him.  He turned out to be a lovely man.

Anywho, back to me.  So I went crying to my mother who was less than thrilled with the news that was just delivered to me. She went and talked to that boy's father if I recollect and I'm sure he got in trouble.  She admitted that I was not a baby from her tummy, but told me I was a baby from her heart.  Here I thought I was half Polish and half Scottish only to learn that I was Metis (half Ojibwe and half French Canadian).  I mean, my parents probably should have told me from the get go that I was adopted.  I looked very different from my fair skinned, fair haired family.  But when you're 6, it just doesn't register.

In set the anxiety.  What if Wayne was right? What if my parents sent me back to...I had no idea where that would be.  I know I started hoarding food, binging and putting on weight by my 7th birthday.  Is this the reason why?  I was always an anxious and scared child.  Not just about the adoption thing, but about death as well. My parents were older than other parents.  My mom was 39 and my dad 40 when they adopted me.  I remember calculating in my head how old I would be when my parents passed away.  Part of the fear of them passing while I was young was that I would have no where to go.  Who would take care of me if they died?  None of the extended family I'm sure since I was not a blood relative.  This was a non-issue, but try telling that to a 7 year old. This shit was real to me.

I would fake being sick from school so I could stay home and be with my mom.  I mean if she fell sick or something, I should be there with her.  And I also wanted to spend as much time with her as I could.  In my young head, she was dying...and real soon!  I think that I may have turned to food at this time for comfort. I was the only member of my family with a weight problem.  Everyone else was average size.   My parents were loving people, but we didn't share worries.  We bottled up everything inside, which is something I still do today.  Maybe if I could have talked about my fears, I would have felt more secure and not relied on food for comfort.

I may be onto something, or I may be completely full of it.  I learned I was adopted just before my 7th birthday, and I started gaining weight when I was about seven.  One thing may have something to do with the other.  I always search for answers as to why I'm a binge eater.  I think that understanding why I binge will help me stop the behavior.   As an adult I continue to struggle with anxiety.  There are some nights where I just lie awake and stare at the ceiling. I worry about everything from Julien's happiness, to finances, to work, to the drunk that lives across the street with his young family. I need to learn to let go of stuff and stop letting things eat at me.

A couple of months ago a family member that I haven't had contact with since after my mother's death (ten years ago) asked me for money via a message on Facebook.  I (very nicely) rejected her request and was attacked via FB message and blocked by her.  It really threw me off and continues to bug me to this day.  I know I over extend myself to people and they take advantage of that.   That's my "inner fat girl" rearing her ugly head.  As a morbidly obese person, I did whatever I could do to keep relationships.  When you're about 300 pounds, friends are not plentiful.

Even now I feel like I put way too much effort into relationships and get nothing in return.  Time costs nothing and there are a lot of people in my life that can't even give me that.  I'm surrounded by people all of the time but I always feel lonely.  My mom and I were very close.  She was someone I could always count on and I never felt alone when she was alive.  She took care of my emotional well being because I always had someone I could talk to.

Julien is starting to get anxious about death and separation.  He's started asking me a lot about death.  This conversation started by him asking about who my mother was.  My mother loved her grand children and when she died, I felt a bigger loss because my future child(ren) would never have the opportunity to know her.  That still makes me sad today.  I know she would have been really close to Julien.  So Julien is asking about my mother and I'm explaining to him that she has passed away because she was very sick and can never come back.  So then he said, "so if you die mommy, there won't ever be a Leigh anymore?"  This broke my heart because I could see the panic in his face.  All I could say to that was even though I won't physically be here after I die, love lasts forever.  Last night he told me that he would love me forever. Even after I was dead.  Made me smile through my watery eyes.

I have no control over whether I get in my car tomorrow and am in a head on collision with a drunk driver. But I do have control over what I put into my mouth and the choices I make for my overall health.  That is why I choose to follow as strict Paleo as I can.  That is why I continue to run and train for a marathon even though I don't always feel like it and on most days my feet and my body hurt.  That is why I encouraged my husband to run and eat Paleo with me. Without us, my son has no one.  I owe it to him and myself to be the healthiest version of me I can.  I need to be around for him for as long as I can.  I know first hand how hard it is to be motherless at a young age.  I will do everything in my power to prevent that from happening to him. He continues to be my inspiration every single day.

Just because I need a laugh right now.


  1. I have two cousins who were adopted. I thought my aunt and uncle handled it very well. Each year they celebrated "Happy Chosen Day" where they celebrated the day that Mike and Linda were chosen out of all the other children to be theirs. Sometimes I look at my past and consider some of the hateful things there and try to just tell myself that that was the best they could do at the time. I know each day the battle has to be fought all over again it seems but we can win that battle each day, every time. As adults we need to understand the terrors and worries that children Julien's age must deal with. The communication lines are open and he feels free to talk to you and I think you answered him very well and with words that were a comfort. I don't know if you include God in your life but there's a source of strength and comfort there that we all need. Take care.

  2. Leigh- it's very good to look back and examine the why's and connect the dots. Great way to accept, remember, and go forward with your own life and as a mom.

    Ditto on the Paleo eating and being there for my kid. I'm a single mom (shared custody), and I want to be there for my daughter. Being active, going on vacation, seeing her grow and be an adult- it means the world to me.

    So glad that you have your diet dialed. It's the best way to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually and even financially well - IMO.

    Kudos to you for being able to work things through... Karen P

    ps, I love the cat photo- so funny.

  3. Oh Leigh! That was a tough life. It's amazing that you are able to share such private things with total strangers. Julien is asking questions that are totally age appropriate. Don't worry. Some kids are more emotional and some are less. I remember my friend crying her eyes out of fear that her parents might die. My kids on the other hand were less troubled. My son badly misses his grandpa, but knows that Victor is right there in his heart.

  4. Beautifully written post Leigh! You're a keeper that's for sure

  5. you never know the un-taken road. what if that boy did not tell you that your family would return you? you will never know and thinking about what if s make one anxious. I always think about the reason why I binge. It may be a sexual abuse by a stranger when I was 6, the abuse by my parents and my brother beating me all the time, but thinking did not give me the answer yet, unfortunately. I recommend "t
    The Gabriel Method" book. He tells about reasons of bingeing and how to overcome it.

  6. While I wasn't adopted per se, I was raised by a single mom and later by a stepfather who adopted me. I was always told that my bio dad "didn't want me" and also felt that my stepdad considered me a real PITA and would've preferred that I not be around. That stuff with mess with a kid's head! I became abnormally close to my mom, worried over her health, etc. such as you describe, and she had plenty of illnesses to worry over. I was an anxious kid who became an anxious adult and though I didn't turn to food until later in life, I found plenty of other unhealthy emotional fixes. Thank you for sharing your story as it helps to know we're not alone in this crazy imperfect world.

  7. Great post. I look back from time to time and try to make peace with my childhood and pinpoint where it (the weight) all came from..It can be cathartic. Keep on Keepin on - as always you continue to inspire me (hill repeats yesterday) Thanks!

  8. You will be around for your son - you are doing exactly the right thing. My grandson who is 7 is also asking the same questions. It is really hard. How hard it must have been for mothers to give up their babies for adoption - and how hard for adoptive mothers to have not had their own. I'm so glad you had a lovely relationship with your adoptive mother.

  9. I am an adoptive parent and a Poonie. I really appreciate your post. My spouse and I are like your mother and father older than most of the parents of our children's peers. Both of our children have known they were adopted since they were around 4. We have always been open about how we became a family and we celebrate it in our daily lives through continuing to fondly remember and talk about their life story. Your post gives me some insight into the experience of adoption from the child's point of view and some ideas about how to help my beautiful children feel secure in this world that was thrust upon them. Wishing you peace and love in the knowledge that your family loves you and always will.

  10. I think many of us can identify with this post. Not in the sense of being adopted, but how our family relationships affect our lives. I was the youngest child in a family of 5, my mother delivered two others who died, and had 4 miscarriages, so if all had survived it would have been 11. By the time I came along, I always puzzled over the fact everone else had a second name, when I asked my mother why I didn't , she replied ,you are lucky you didn't get a number. Sounds funny, but it did impact me. I left Ireland at 16, came 3,000 miles away,and when I did go back, my mother was almost like a stranger. I made up stories in my mind about what a wonderful family I had, almost believed it, but it set the stage for my goals for my family. I raised 4 children, now have 10 grandchildren, and we have the family I visualized. I still grieve for the family relationships I didn't have, but made my own vision come true. Still, I have always been like you, regarding trying too hard to make everyone like me, still tend to feel on the fringe of things. Most people would never believe that, as I am a very good actress, but the life of making sure I never got in trouble, stay out of the house away from all the stresses, doing everything to get acceptance has affected all areas of my life. Leigh, your mother obviously loved you, and you are now doing all the right things you need to be there, but you need to relax and enjoy your son and your life, you deserve it and so does he. As you can see, many of us were not adopted, and it is no guarantee for not being screwed up by the adults in our lives. All we can do, is make sure we don't make the same mistakes. Love and heartfelt prayers go out to you.

  11. Thank you for sharing such a personal story. The way you have decided to face life head on and lose the weight you gained, both for yourself and for your son, is admirable. How wonderful to have him as your biggest fan :)