Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why Your Relationships Didn't Work

Someone I know recently posted a meme on facebook that is completely right and completely wrong, all at the same time. I agree with the statement in the post; I completely disagree with the apparent intended message of the meme.

This meme is spot on and oh, so wrong.
Here I am, walking into your life to tell you what you need to know about that moment, that future moment, when someone will walk into your life and make you see why it never worked out with anyone else.

If you are ever going to know why it never worked out, I know exactly who the person is who is going to make you see why.

It's you.

One day, at some point in the future, the you whom you are becoming is going to make you see why it never worked out with anyone else.

I'm 100% confident in this assessment.

And I'll even tell you why: you are the lowest common denominator in all of your failed relationships. You are the reason it never worked out.

Now, I'm not blaming you. I'm not shaming you. I'm not placing you at fault.

I'm sharing a simple and incredibly powerful truth. You are the reason your relationships have not worked out. And all of those people with whom it didn't work? Well, they are the reason their relationship with you didn't work out. And the person who will one day walk into their life and make them see this is their own future self.

I know this because I've spent some time thinking about my relationships and why they haven't worked out.

There was my first boyfriend, from junior high. He was a lovely boy. It didn't work out because I was twelve. I had no idea who I was and frankly had no business being in a relationship in the first place. The relationship didn't work because I was too young to be in a relationship.

I had a couple of relationships in college. I was immature, unhealthy, and totally incapable of engaging in emotional intimacy. These relationships didn't work out because I was not ready to be in a relationship. I had no idea how to relate to other people. I didn't know how to even relate to myself and be authentic.

In graduate school I had a relationship that didn't work out because I had different life goals from my partner and because my expectations for a relationship differed from those of my partner.

My most recent relationship didn't work out because I know my worth and I am not willing to remain in a relationship with someone who does not treat me with respect and who is not interested in meeting my relational needs. This relationship didn't work out because I was not willing to accept being in a relationship with someone who rejected me when I shared with him my deepest needs.

I'm incredibly fortunate that not two days later my best friend gave me a call and asked, "Can I meet that need? Would it be okay if I affirmed you in this?" She's a total rock star.

When that last relationship ended, I cried myself to sleep that night. Not because I was upset that it was over. I cried because I had shared intimately with my partner and been rejected and rejection sucks. I knew, in spite of my tears, that I would be perfectly fine, quite happy in fact.

This is why: I would rather be content in my singleness than lonely in my relationship.

In each of these relationships, I am the reason they didn't work out. As a young woman, I was too young, too immature, too distrustful, too unhealthy.

As a healthy, trusting, mature woman who is only interested in healthy relationships and (if it should happen) an emotionally intimate romantic relationship; I am not willing to be in a relationship that does not meet my needs, with a person who does not share my goals or who treats me with disrespect.

I really like the choices I've made most recently: dignity, respect, health and self-love.

Those are my choices, no one else made those choices for me.

The same holds true for you and the choices you've made.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Coconut Kind of Day

Having made coconut cupcakes today, I had things leftover and no real plans on how to use them. The great thing about coconut cupcakes is that I used a white cake recipe and simply substituted coconut milk for moo milk in the recipe. White cakes also uses egg whites. Lots of egg whites. In fact, it's the egg whites sans yolks that keeps a cake white rather than yellow.

So, in addition to half of a can of coconut milk, I also had five egg yolks just sitting in a bowl.

I decided this was the ideal day to make a coconut cream pie.

While the cupcakes cooled, I blind baked a pie crust. I used to make the best pie crust in the world, but being gluten-free means I've moved away from baking with wheat. This is sad, because gluten-free alternatives lead to a much more delicate pie crust, and I rarely have any interest in fighting with it. Thank the good Lord for frozen gf pie crusts!

For the filling:

1 2/3 cup whole milk
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp kosher salt
5 egg yolks
1 Tbls butter
1 tsp coconut extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Mix the milks together.

Mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Add the milks and whisk to thoroughly combine. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thick and bubbling.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until lightened in color. Slowly whisk in the hot milk mixture.

Return the milk and egg mixture to the saucepan. Return to medium heat and continue whisking until mixture begins to boil again, whisking constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in butter and extracts. Fold in the coconut.

Cover the surface of the coconut custard with plastic wrap and chill.

When throroughly chilled, transfer custard to pie crust. Feel free to top with whipped topping and toasted coconut. Refrigerate overnight. It's delicious.


Once the cupcakes were cooled, I poked holes in them and then infused them with a coconut simple syrup. I frosted them with a coconut buttercream and rolled them in toasted coconut.

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Fat Girl Rant

My body is not a canvas on which you are allowed to paint your hopes and dreams, fears and insecurities, curiosity and envy.

My body is a sacred temple, subject to the will of the divine and to my own will only.

Why do I have to tell people this!? Why do I have to explain it to anybody?

And yet, I am reminded on a fairly regular basis of this simple fact: I live in a world in which women are not granted bodily autonomy or bodily integrity. Rather, I live in a world in which women's bodies are treated as public property and subject to the stated views of any and all who happen to see them.

I was reminded of this rather strongly when a woman at work, whose name I do not even know, asked (yet again) where I was in relation to my weight loss goals. As if it's ANY of her fucking business.

But there it was, that message, loud and clear: Your body is not yours and you have no right to maintaining boundaries concerning it.

Without really thinking, I answered honestly, "I'd still like to lose another 100 pounds."

To which she responded that this was ludicrous and I couldn't possibly be serious, it wouldn't be healthy.

Being tired and NOT wanting to invest any more energy AT ALL in this conversation, I simply answered her, "I'm not interested in being healthy. I'm interested in weighing 87 pounds. I know that doing so will result in my starving to death, and I'm okay with that."

The reality is, I am presently in no danger of starving to death. Furthermore, I do not know that I have the dedication to fully commit myself to doing so, even if I were within reach of such a goal.

While there are plenty of problems with a woman who stands 5'10" in height wanting to weigh 87 pounds, the reality is, a lot of those problems are a result of living in a world that treats women's bodies as objects for consumption.

They are systematically abused, broken, destroyed, policed, and no body is ever good enough.

When women aren't being overtly abused (beaten, molested, raped), women are being told that their bodies have to meet very specific standards which are ever-shifting and impossible to achieve.

Women are always either too fat or too thin. The online response to the winner of the television show, The Biggest Loser, amply demonstrated that this week. Not only do we treat all obese bodies as sources of entertainment (regardless of when or how one cheers on the competitors), but at the end of this season, the winner was subject to a significant online response when viewers felt she had lost too much weight and was no longer too fat. She had become too thin.

Women are always either too tall or too short.

Too young or too old.

Their hair is either too long or too short.

With too few highlights or too fried looking.

I could continue, though I'm sure others can fill out the list as they see fit.

The reality is, we live in a world in which women are granted neither bodily autonomy nor bodily integrity; a world in which women's bodies are not permitted to be their own; a world in which women are pressured constantly to be different than how and who they are because women as they are are never enough.

Some women go crazy trying to meet these ever-shifting, impossible-to-attain standards.

If all of this wasn't bad enough, you have the added pressure, when it comes to weight loss, of being an inspiration to others. As if this is some huge privilege and not a colossal fucking burden.

Because when people make your body their inspiration, they are seeking to make your body responsible for their accomplishing their goals. Every bite of food, every workout cut short, every time you do not work out until you collapse in exhaustion, you are one step closer to failure, and then where would they be?

It's too much pressure. Rather than leaving me feeling complimented and my efforts appreciated, their focus on my body leaves me wanting to eat less, work out more, and grow thin enough to disappear completely. Maybe then, my body will no longer draw their attention.

What does leave me feeling appreciated and complimented is when people remark upon my dedication and efforts;  when people tell me that they are proud that I committed to making healthier choices and continue to dedicate myself to those changes.

But my body....

My body is nobody's business.

My body is not a canvas on which you are allowed to paint your hopes and dreams, fears and insecurities, curiosity and envy.

My body is a sacred temple, subject to the will of the divine and to my own will only.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pizza Pinwheel Meatloaf

Hands down, the best meatloaf you will ever eat....

1 lb ground beef, 93% lean
1 lb Italian sausage
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
2 eggs
1 15oz can of pizza sauce, divided

1 lb shredded mozzarella
1/4 lb pepperoni

3 slices smoked provolone

Preheat oven to 425* F

Mix beef, sausage, oats, eggs, and approximately 5 oz of pizza sauce.  Combine thoroughly.

Cover your work surface with a piece of plastic wrap, at least 20 inches in length.

Place meat mixture on the plastic wrap and pat out to a rectangular shape, approximately 9 inches wide by 15 inches long.

Cover the meat with shredded mozzarella.  Keep mozzarella within 1 inch of the edge of the meat. Top with pepperoni.

Beginning on the 9 inch edge, roll up the meat, jellyroll style, finishing by pressing the meat together at the end.

Place meat roll in a 4 x 9 inch loaf pan. (I placed the upside down pan over the meat roll and used the plastic wrap to assist in inverting the whole thing).

Top with remaining sauce.

Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350*F and bake for another 60 minutes. Top with smoked provolone during the last 15 minutes of baking time.

Remove from oven and allow to sit for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Patience and Uncertainty

Isaiah 63:7-9
Hebrews 10:2-18
Matthew 2:13-23

*****

I am not a particularly patient person. I'll be honest with you, most of the time, I want an answer, a result, a plan, the enactment of said plan, and I want it NOW.

Someone, somewhere, once said, "Instant gratification takes too long." I completely resonate with that.

I want to be the best at everything I attempt. I do not mind working hard for it. I enjoy the effort and attention required to improve in and truly master a specific skill or skill set. But I want the pay off for today's AND tomorrow's hard work to have been handed out yesterday.

And if I'm totally honest with you, and myself, this impatience isn't rooted so much in a desire to "have it all" or even to "have it all NOW." It's a desire for certainty, stability, settled-ness. I want there to be no surprises. I want there to be no chance of fluctuation. I want to know so that I can deeply rest and relax in what is rather than having to constantly worry about whether or not....

This leaves me deeply in awe of the Holy Family and other characters in the story of Jesus.

Advent is a time of anticipation and waiting. Expectant hope is the undercurrent of the season. And it's beautiful. But I'll be honest, if I had been chosen as the mother of Jesus, it would have driven me crazy.

"You, a virgin, will bear a son," Mary is told. There is no timeline given for when Mary would conceive.

With a first child, Mary may not know what to expect during her pregnancy.

Marriage to Joseph surely looks different now that it did just moments before that fateful, celestial visit. This is assuming, of course, that Joseph will still have her.

All kinds of promises have been made about who Jesus will be -- "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end" and "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul, too."

Crazy big promises about who Jesus is and who he will be. Again, no indication as to how and when these promises will be fulfilled.

And yet Mary, we are told, ponders all of these things in her heart (Luke 2:19). She accepts this uncertainty, seemingly, with grace.

The Magi, we are told, had a two year journey.

Having seen the star and knowing what it signified (though we are never told how they came by this particular knowledge) they travel to Jerusalem in search of Jesus.

After speaking with Herod, the local ruler, they head toward Bethlehem in accordance with Hebrew prophecy. Again the star that alerted them to Jesus's birth guides them to his very presence.

Two years from the time the star appeared until they completed their journey and Herod, realizing that he had been outwitted, ordered the slaughter of all boys in Bethlehem and its surrounding areas. Two years they waited, traveled, searched before finding the answer. Two years before they could bow down to worship the incarnate God.

I often wonder if they knew it would take them two years. And I wonder if they ever had doubts on the journey or just thought about giving up and going home, particularly when there seemed to be no end in sight.

And then we have Joseph. Joseph who is told not to divorce Mary, who is carrying a child that isn't his. Prior to this angelic visit, I imagine there was some uncertainty in Joseph's life concerning his relationship with Mary.

Joseph who was told in a dream that this child his wife is carrying would "save his people from their sins." Joseph who obeyed, though he likely had no idea how or when this promise would be fulfilled.

After this, because of the census, Joseph packs up his VERY pregnant wife and moves their family to Bethlehem for a time. We are not told how long the census took, but with all our electronic devices and organization options and systems for sharing information, the U.S. Census today takes months of labor. It is not then inconceivable that 2000 years ago the census of the entire Roman Empire could take the first two years of Jesus's life and then some.

Then, Joseph is warned in a dream that this child he is raising, who isn't even his, is in danger and that he should move to Egypt until the danger has passed. Joseph is given no time frame for how long he will be in Egypt. He is just told, "Stay there until I tell you."

This isn't like going off to college! When you go off to college you know that you'll be living in a town for four years. You know that you'll be investing in relationships with your peers for four years. You know that at some point, you might get a part-time job to help with expenses, and you'll be doing grunt work at low pay for four years.

Joseph moves his entire family to Egypt with no idea how long he'll be there. Should he invest in building a business or find bit work where he can? Should he jump into a social life and start building relationships right away, or hold back a bit in case he's moved again shortly? Should he buy a home or rent? Contact relatives in short order to tell them where he is, or wait it out?

And then at some point, we are not told how long after the move to Egypt, Herod dies and Joseph is visited by an angel, yet again, in a dream, and told to return to Jerusalem. So, Joseph does.

Joseph shows an unfailing obedience to God. He does things that most people would find crazy: marrying a woman who got pregnant with an other's child DURING their engagement; moving to Egypt in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT; returning to Jerusalem with no warning. He does it all at God's promptings. He must have EXTRAORDINARY trust in God.

What's more, every act of obedience Joseph takes is in accordance with prophecy.

Now prophecy is an interesting thing. Prophecy, even Old Testament prophecy, is not so much a foretelling of the future, but a continual call to God's justice.

When the prophet Hosea wrote "Out of Egypt I called my Son" it was a remembrance of God's deliverance from oppression.

What the prophet Jeremiah wrote --
A voice is heard in Ramah,
     weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children 
     and refusing to be comforted,
     because they are no more."
it concerned the slaughter of Israelites when they were overthrown and taken captive by the Babylonians. It is a call for God's justice in the face of oppression.

When Isaiah wrote  --
This is what the Lord says--
     the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel --
to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, 
     to the servant of rulers:
"Kings will see you and stand up, 
     princes will see and bow down,
because of the Lord, who is faithful, 
     the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.
he wrote of a man chosen by God to redeem his people; one who would be despised and abhorred for a time, but worshipped for eternity; the ultimate promise of justice for the oppressed.

But prophecy is not destiny. We all still have choices. We all are granted free-will.

Mary had it. Joseph had it. Even Jesus himself had it.

Now, something you may not know about me is that I have a deep love of the Harry Potter book series. There is a scene in the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, in which the nature of prophecy and justice is discussed.

Harry, in a conversation with the headmaster of his school, is told this:
If Voldemort had never heard of the prophecy, would it have been fulfilled? Would it have meant something? Of course not! Do you think every prophecy in the Hall of Prophecy has been fulfilled? .... Harry ... Voldemort made a grave error and acted on Professor Trelawney's words! .... Don't you see? Voldemort created his worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do! Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back! [Voldemort] heard the prophecy and he leapt into action, with the result that he had not only handpicked the man most likely to finish him, he handed him uniquely deadly weapons.
This seems to parallel a number of characters in the bible. I'm just going to bring to your attention a few:

Pharaoh's oppression of the Israelites was ended by one who was raised in his own household -- Moses, but not until after the Passover and the angel of the Lord brought death to of all of Egypt's firstborns.

Herod who heard the prophecy of a great king who was born to rule the Jews, responded by calling for the slaughter of the innocents -- all boys two years of age and younger.

Satan who, wanting to be like God, turned against his creator and brought about the downfall of all humankind, separating us from God, bringing spiritual and physical death to our lives, making us slaves to sin, and oppressing our very spirits.

The Lord who used Moses to deliver Israel safely from Egypt; Joseph who following the instructions from an angel of the Lord, fled with his new family to the safety of Egypt; Jesus, the very Son of God and Son of Man who has shared in our humanity so that by his death, he would break the power of him who holds the power of death -- that is, the devil--and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15)

Moses, Joseph, even Jesus...any of them could have said no. Moses tried to, ultimately choosing to obey God but with his brother Aaron at his side. Any of them could have been satisfied with their place in life and said, "No," to God. Even Jesus!

Jesus, who was made like us, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

But it didn't have to be that way. Fully human. Free will. Jesus could have said, "No." But he didn't.

Jesus's birth into strife and slaughter is reminiscent of the Passover and the pascal lamb slaughtered for the salvation of Israel, foreshadowing the death Jesus would suffer for the salvation of all humankind. A promise with no timeline for fulfillment, but once Jesus said, "Yes," it was certain. Jesus said, "Yes" to God and God's plan of salvation and when he did so, his crucifixion became a certainty. Still he chose to obey. Still he chose, everyday, to walk that path.

I'm no fan of road trips though I make several of them. I'm no fan of open-ended plans. I'm no fan of "the journey." I want to get there, where ever and whatever "there" might be. I struggle to trust the process. Will it all end terribly? Will it ultimately be as good as expected? Will I EVER arrive?

Uncertainty when all I really want is stability. Perpetual change and chance and risk when all I really want is safety.

I like to imagine I'm not alone in that. I like to imagine there are others like me who want to know, unequivocally, that it's going to be okay, that the journey we are on is going to turn out good, that we are on the right path, and to know how long we'll be journeying this particular path in our lives.

And I imagine there are those, whom I may never understand, who think the uncertainty of the journey and the element of risk is half if not all of the fun. After all, there are Marys and Josephs in the world who hear the voice of the angel of God and respond without question.

Trust. Obedience. Placing their hope in God. Finding certainty and security in God alone. And why? So many risks that are asked of those who believe, who trust, who respond in obedience.

It reminds me of another great work of literature, C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia. Having learned about Aslan, a lion and the Christ-figure in the series, Susan asks Mr. Beaver, "Ohhh.... I'd thought he was a man. Is he...quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion." "Safe?" said Mr. Beaver. "Who said anything about safe? Course he isn't safe. But he's good."

Whatever journey you're on this Christmas season, whether you love the uncertainty of the path before you or you hate it, remember that God is faithful and loving and above all God is good. Trust in that, and when you are called to do crazy things, to risk big, to give it all for Him, remember that you have a choice. I hope you choose to trust God.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Promise of Being Thin

The promise of being thin is that I will finally be
     sufficient
     finally be enough
     finally be good.

The promise of being thin is made when people exclaim:
     "You're so pretty now!"
     "Look how beautiful you've become!"
     "You'll finally get a man!"

The promise of being thin is that everything will finally go right.

It is a promise made by those who remark:
     "It changes your life!"
     "It feels good, doesn't it!"
          (Never a question; never room to disagree)
     "You must be so happy."

The promise of being thin is a promise of perfection
     so amply demonstrated by glossy magazines
     with their airburshed models--
          their skin flawless,
          their eyes big and doe-like,
          their hair does not thin or go limp
               with lack of sufficient nutrition,
          their proportions impossible--
     altered by Photoshop.

The promise of being thin is a promise of being
     in control
     strong and impervious
     untouchable.

The promise of being thin is a promise that
     the stars will align
     everything will fall into place
     and for one shining moment that stretches into eternity,
          perfection
          enlightenment
          beauty
     will be mine
     and life will not hurt.

If I can just make myself small enough
     the pain I carry in me will shrink as well.

If there were less of me to be hurt
     I will experience hurt less intensely.

If I just make myself small enough
          (by any means possible)
     maybe I will no longer feel
          a constant surge of electricity crackling beneath my skin;
     I will no longer feel
          fire burning between my outside and my in;
     I will no longer feel
          as though shards of glass are embedded in my bones
          and protruding from my joints.

The promise of being thin is a lie.

It is the only thing I swallow guilt-free.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dehydration, Chronically Low BP, and Hot Tubs

So about a week ago, I decided to quit therapy. I have been going every 2 weeks, working on my food and body image issues. This amounts to about $70 a month. As I am in the process of joining a gym for $38 plus the cost of gas (as I can't force my work carpool partner to hang at the gym for 1-2 hours a day) each month, I thought it might be prudent to cut costs elsewhere. Also, I thought I was doing okay.

I have finally come to the conclusion that I'm kind of fucked up. I can deal with that. I have major body issues, and because of that, I've decided that I will never choose to be physically intimate with anyone. I have accepted that this is what my future holds, and I'm mostly okay with that. Having come to a place of acceptance in this, I've experienced a great deal of peace in general and less frustrations in my friendship with TB.

So, no more need to discuss the issues because they are what they are, and I'm pretty sure I can live with them. I can live a totally sexless existence, just me and my body issues. No more therapy. I have one date left on the books, and I was planning to break up with my therapist then.

All that changed this morning when I went to the gym.

It started out like a pretty typical day. I mixed up the hours and got to the gym with my mama and my younger brother an hour before they opened. So, we headed to the store for a bit and I sipped coffee while they ate breakfast.

I had forgotten my water bottle, but I figured since we were at the store anyway, I'd buy a coconut water and take it with me. I forgot to buy the coconut water.

When we got back to the gym and they were open, we got in and headed to the locker rooms. I was getting changed into my work out clothes, examining different parts of my body, pointing out my fat lumps to my mother, complaining about the wrinkly, sagging skin. This is what I do every day in my head when I look in the mirror.

Having dressed in work out gear, I took my mother to the weight room. "I'll be back in 45 minutes to an hour," I told her as I headed to the track.

I walked 1 mile on the track as a warm up. This particular track has 3 lanes, 1 running, 1 walking, 1 passing. The walking lane requires 14 1/2 laps to complete a mile. I had just finished my 14th lap walking and as I anticipated the start of my run, I literally giggled uncontrollably for the last 1/2 lap, I was so excited to be running.

I moved into the running lane and completed the 16 1/2 laps for 1 mile.

With a stitch in my side, I moved back to the walking lane and walked 7 1/2 laps. I thought to myself that I probably shouldn't have had 2 cups of coffee immediately before working out, as I was certain that was the reason I had a stitch in my side.

Moving smoothly back into the running lane, I completed 16 1/2 laps for my second mile, and then shifted back to the walking lane for the final 7 laps that would complete my second mile walking and effectively cool me down.

Then, I headed to the weight room. I forgot to get a drink of water.

After half an hour on the machines in the weight room I was starting to cramp a bit in my legs and I was feeling a bit nauseous. "Oh!" I thought. "I forgot to drink anything." Spying a water fountain, I immediately walked over and took a few sips. I finished with weight about forty minutes later.

"Okay," I told my mama and brother, "I'm ready to head to the pool!" I was about to throw up, so I headed to the water fountain again for a few more sips.

Once in the locker room again, as we changed into our swim suits, I once again examined my body. I explained to my mother that I often look at my abdomen and all the loose, wrinkled, lumpy skin and it reminds me of high school, back before I knew I was gluten intolerant, and I used to bake breads. "It just reminds me of bread dough. I'd like to cut it off, knead it until all smooth and elastic, shape it into loaves, and pop it in the oven," I said as I poked around at the little pockets and squishy lumps.

We showered and headed to the pool area where my brother was already doing laps. "Oh, sugar cookies!" I exclaimed. "I forgot to take out my contacts." I'm utterly terrified of losing a contact in the pool. "I'll be right back!"

I stowed my contact in their case and headed back to the pool. I did ten laps. Front crawl, breaststroke, front crawl, breaststroke, front crawl, back crawl, breaststroke, back crawl, front crawl, back stroke.

Now, having unusually bad menstrual cramps today, I decided that having cooled down sufficiently in the pool for 15 minutes, it might be nice to spend some time in the hot tub, with one of the jets massaging my lower back. So, we headed there next.

I turned on the jets and stepped in. My mama complained that it was too hot, but I thought it was perfect. My brother remarked that it was quite warm, but I still thought it was perfect.

We're all talking and having a good time. I share a little about my body issues and start to tear up. "Hey, M," my mama says, because I'm not looking at her. I look over. "You know, I love you no matter what. Testiness and all!"

"I'm only testy because I'm over training! I'm not eating enough to account for all the exercise and my body is constantly screaming, 'I'm starving! Feeeeed me!' and I'm screaming back at it 'Shut up already!'" My brother laughed at that. But seriously, body, you're not starving. If you're hungry, eat those lumpy fat stores!

After 10 minutes the jets shut off automatically. I hopped up to restart them, thinking, "The sign on the door limits it to 15 minutes, so another 5 should be fine!" I felt a bit dizzy getting out, but as I have generally low blood pressure anyway (typically 98/52), and I get dizzy nearly every time I stand up, I didn't think much of it.

Another five minutes in and we all head out.

This is when I knew I was in trouble.

This was more than dizzy. I was hot and though I'd just gotten out, my skin was almost immediately dry. I leaned against the wall and asked my mama to hand me my towel. She did, and I remember thinking, "I just need to sit for a minute." I started to bend my knees, and that's when it happened.

There were bright blinking lights and I did not know where I was. I was confused because I had no reason to be in a place with strobe lights going, and I'm not sure where I've come from, or where I am, or how I got here.

I can hear voices, distant and garbled as though I am at one end of a tunnel and they are at the other. "You need to say something so we know you're okay," I think I hear my mama say.

This is so out of the ordinary, all I can say is, "What?"

Then, I remember, we're at the gym. I didn't feel well. I wanted to sit down. But, I'm lying on the floor.... "Did I pass out?" I ask, unsuccessfully trying to open my eyes.

"Yeah," my brother says.

"Actually," my mama responds, "I think you had a seizure."

"No," I tell her, "I'm sure I just passed out. I'll be fine."

"Your eyelids were fluttering and your muscles were twitching. This was more than passing out," she says with motherly authority. Fluttering eyelids. Well, that explains the strobe light effect.

"Should we call an ambulance?" my brother asks.

"No," I tell them. "I'm sure I'll be fine. I'm just really dehydrated. Could you get me some water?" I ask my brother, finally opening my eyes and sitting up.

He runs to get me a cup and a pitcher full of water. He returns with four gym staff in tow.

I'm sure I'm blushing 100 shades of red, though I cannot feel the heat of a blush in my cheeks. I can't believe I passed out at the gym. This is so humiliating. "I'm fine," I tell them. "Really. Just a bit dehydrated. I'll be okay in a minute." I can't make them out clearly, just three men and a woman.

"Are you sure?" they ask.

"Yep. I'm just going to take a few minutes and drink some water. I'll be fine soon!"

Three of them leave, but the fourth refuses to go until he's sure I can walk out on my own. This is really embarrassing, feeling foolish for forgetting my water bottle and passing out because I got a little dehydrated.

After most of the water and about five minutes, I stand up. I take a step and then another and try for a third. The entire room is engulfed in white light. "Nope," I whisper, as I fall against the wall, the room going gray and then black as I slide to the floor. I'm not out for long. I can hear them asking if I'm okay. "Yeah," I say with my eyes closed. "I just need another minute."

I drink more water and rest for another 5 minutes. In the meantime, an older gentleman comes in and uses the hot tub. I try to stand up once more, and immediately, the room is engulfed in white light, fade to gray, I'm against the wall, black. I'm sitting there frustrated with my body.

"You need to lie flat on your back, put your feet up high against the wall, get blood to your head," the guy in the hot tub says.

"Oh, genius!" I mumble. My mama has gone to the showers to get changed, trusting my brother to care for me while I recover. We did not expect it would take very long.

"Don't let her get up for at least another five minutes," the hot tub guy says as he leaves. "You've got a bit more color," he remarks. "When you stood up before you were white as a sheet. Stay down this time!"

"Thanks," I tell him, still hugely embarrassed as he heads out.

We wait 20 minutes. After five, I still knew I wouldn't make it up. At ten, I asked for a bit more water. By 15 minutes prone, I tell the staff worker (who I am to see clearly now, and who is remarkably HOT) that he should have brought a book, because I'm sure it would be far more entertaining than "all of this" as I indicate my ridiculous position on the floor, feet against the wall.

We spend five minutes just talking. In my typical fashion I asked him questions (or interrogated him, as TB call this habit of mine).

At this point, I feel well enough (finally) to stand. Rather than feeling hot and dry, I'm starting to feel comfortable, almost cool, and I can feel the wetness in my hair and the hem of my swimsuit's skirt.

I stand up, and I'm immediately worried. Why can't I see anything clearly!? What happened!? Oh, right. I took my contacts out before jumping in the pool. Goodness, I'm a moron. I'm certainly my face would be flaming red if I were capable of blushing at this point.

Showered, dressed, mobile, we leave the gym. I grab a coconut water and protein bar at the grocery store. I am better.

When I get home I google complications from dehydration. Yep, sure enough, it was seizure. Involuntary muscle contractions and loss of consciousness. Thanks, www.mayoclinic.com! Thanks, mama for recognizing what was going on!

So, that's that. I've changed my mind. I knew I'd forgotten my water bottle and I knew it wasn't wise to work out without having one on hand, and I did it anyway.

I knew I wasn't feeling well. I knew that wanting to throw up was a sign that I was dehydrated, but I ignored it to push on in my work out. I pushed until I felt shaky and dizzy standing up and then only paused long enough to take a few sips. I needed so much more at that point.

I continued to push, despite the fact that my muscles were burning and cramping and I knew if I had had anything in my stomach at all, I would have thrown up, and still I didn't stop, because all I could think about was, "I just need to finish this set, this machine, this lap, and I can tend to my body after."

I continued to push, ignoring my body, telling it to shut up and do what it was told, pushing it to perform one more, ignoring it until it fell silent, until my thirst was forgotten, until I had a seizure. And I thank God that I was in the process of sitting when it happened, because otherwise, who knows how hard I would have hit my head on the wall or the floor if I'd fallen farther than I did.

After I got home, I rested for a few minutes before my next engagement today. As I headed out again, I thought about my plans to quit therapy. "I'll be fine," I said to myself.

"Oh, really?" I asked myself. "You just had a seizure. That's hardly fine."

"It happens!" I argued back. "It's totally normal. People get dehydrated. It's a common complication. I'll just be more careful next time."

"Normal? Really? Normal? There's nothing normal about having a seizure because of dehydration from over training. There's nothing normal about having a seizure at all. What's more, forgetting 'normal' as a subjective term for just a moment, there's nothing HEALTHY about having a seizure or even passing out."

I wanted to argue back. I really couldn't.

I guess therapy will have to continue.

And I'm going to put a water bottle in my gym bag as soon as I get home. If I can remember.