CNF: Revision of Child-Like Dreams

Note: I decided to revise the Child-Like Dreams essay from my reflection assignment for University. I felt that due to the overwhelming reaction from my peer reviews – how everyone seemed confused and stated it was all over the place – that this would be the best course for growth and revision. I’ve completely reworked the idea of the piece so that it focuses on one topic and one reason for change. I changed the tone and wrote from the heart. I hope you all can understand this one better than Child-Like Dreams. 

 

New Title: Gratitude

In 2018, I almost died during childbirth. My waters had broken at 15 weeks pregnant and I had been told by every doctor that the baby would die. They told me there was nothing I could do. I took to research, as I do with my novels, and I discovered support groups tooting the slogan ‘Where There’s A Heartbeat, There’s Hope’. I decided to try and see if I could make it further along with the pregnancy. When I was 19 weeks my water broke again and I went into labor. I’ve written about those moments on my blog, on Youtube, on Facebook, on Twitter, everywhere that I think could help other women who have gone through the same experiences: sharing my tale of pain, fear, terror, and eventually anger, regret, distrust in god, and self pity and how it translated to healing, trust, optimism, honesty, and more. What I never wrote about is gratitude. 

Sometimes, there are small moments that truly change our lives. When thinking of an event, that was the catalyst for change, I thought of so many that I piled them all into one essay. As peer reviews were correct in saying, it felt disjointed, much like life itself, and I knew that further reflection was needed. Through introspection, I was reminded of gratitude and what it does for your soul, how it heals your heart, and how it can change your life.

After my near death experience (the placenta had been stuck because I didn’t fully dilate; I began to bleed out on the table, and had to be rushed to the OR for surgery) I sunk into a deep depression. My adoptive mother, who had always been a killer of hopes and dreams, had abandoned me in my time of need. Saying ‘you expect too much out of me as a mother’ when I simply wanted a phone call after losing another baby. My guy was dealing with his own grief, and being filled with shame, I didn’t want to hurt him with my pain. My friends were all having healthy babies, even the ones who hated children. My coworkers pelted me with “I’m sorry”s and “you’re still a mom”s and “at least you can have more children”s. There was no happiness, no baby, and nowhere to turn. 

Then my guy said the same thing he had told me after our first pregnancy loss. “You need to find something that you love and just do it, I’ll help you do anything you want but you’ve got to get out of bed.” At first, I was angry and I lashed out at him. “You don’t understand. She was healthy! She was healthy and my body killed her, failed her.”

I remembered my child-like dreams. I remembered what I always wanted to be. A Writer. Not just a writer but a professor. As a child, I would daydream about standing in the front of the room, at University, with a messenger bag, students with open minds about creative writing, and a notebook filled with ideas and inspirations from all walks of life. I dreamed of having a cabin where I could escape the world, and its tragic intricacies, and write novels. I also wanted an apartment in the city where I could live when doing readings and signings at bookstores for all my bestselling works. Boy, wasn’t I ambitious.

I laughed when I told my guy about this dream I had since I was seven and how it had been derailed by all of those who told me ‘writing isn’t a profession’ or ‘writer’s don’t make any money’. I laughed when I said “How funny would it be if I actually went back to school. Enrolled at University over ten years later. Got my degree, went to graduate school, became a professor, published articles, books, and went to signings and writer’s conferences…”. I laughed. It was incredulous because I was a broken, motherless woman who couldn’t get out of bed. Who still hugged her empty belly at night and smiled during the phantom kicks. Who had no money and hadn’t written in a year. 

“Do it, then,” my guy said. A slogan for the man, if he ever had one. He’d always been supportive of my hopes and dreams. Always pushing me to be better than I am. Always right there when I’m too afraid to just jump in. 

“Ok,” I remember saying. Not in agreeance, but in a snarky way that accompanies an eye-roll and a long sigh that says ‘you aren’t even listening’. Later, I took to research, as I always do, and discovered that with grants, light loans, and a structured schedule I could afford to go back to college and finish what I started. I could enroll: get my degree, go to graduate school, become a professor, publish articles and books, and go to signings and writer’s conferences and, and, and… Then I got out of bed. I took a shower. I made myself, and my guy, a huge breakfast – which I hadn’t done in a long while. I cleaned my apartment and took the pain medicine that helped my body recover. Then, after fighting myself over the decision, my resolve won. I enrolled.

That time, when I almost lost my life, was one of the hardest I’d ever endured. I wanted to keep that inside me, that anger and pain and shame, but I couldn’t. I was grateful for the change. How it woke me up inside and gave me renewed passion about writing, literature, and all things “words”. Gratitude let me know that I am much stronger than I thought. I didn’t need a toxic family to remind me of what I’m not. I didn’t need coworkers to feel sorry for me. I didn’t need to hide my pain from my guy, he was healing too and that was something we needed to get through together, again. I didn’t need to feel ashamed for what my body failed to do. I needed to make myself happy and do whatever would help me achieve that.

I was grateful for what came out of a hard time. I was grateful that I was finally back on track with my childhood dreams. That my soul was no longer crushed. Now, years later, I write this essay for an University course assignment with a smile on my face, with journals piled around me filled with writings from the last few years, and my healthy, sleeping baby in my arms and I feel gratitude. 

I Ate Vanilla Zingers in the Parking Lot of the Gym

Heya,

I’m trying really hard to stay focused on my dream but I am not disillusioned by this new plan to lose weight. I know that just because I decide I no longer want to be fat, or have left over baby flub, it doesn’t mean that I will suddenly have all the will power in the world to do what needs to be done. I haven’t before now, it’s not a matter of ‘just do it’ as some say. You have to work toward that level of resistance (in my head this is with a french accent…why?)

Yes, I’m dancing my way around the fact that often times I have low self control. Very low. Oh man. Those who follow me on Twitter saw that, when my guy left for work the other day, I posted:

Today:
I will not eat Tony’s Oreos.
I will not eat Tony’s Oreos.
I will not eat them in a box.
I will not eat them with a fox.
I will not eat them with a mouse.
I will not eat them in a house.
I will not eat Tony’s Oreos, I say.
I will not eat them, I should pray.

 

I can’t believe he just left them on the table without any explicit instruction for me NOT to eat them. They stared at me ALL DAY. I ate one, then two and then I held off. I felt really proud of myself and the fact that I didn’t stuff my face the moment he left. But….then he got home. He didn’t eat them. Of course my first thought was “yes, now I can eat a few more”. I ate five more. The next morning I ate two more while packing my bag for campus and also my gym clothes. I was so happy, while crunching on Oreos, that I found my gym lock, not noticing the irony of it all. Then I left for school.

On my way home, I stopped by Dollar General. I meant to just buy some things for Naomi, for bath time, but what I ended up doing was getting Reese’s Cups to “pay” Tony back for eating his Oreos, a package of vanilla icing Zingers for me, a box of chewy LemonHeads (that are currently sitting opened on my desk as I write this) for me, and a bag of hot fries (still unopened) for me. I did get some rubber duckies for Naomi so it wasn’t a complete failure. I barely got into the car before I’d broken the small packet of Zingers open. I said I’d just eat one, I thought, there’s no need to eat all of them in one day: Three come in a pack. c1901804-909d-4ef4-a207-aa528c9b422b_1.813601c84ba0677a6a8527b1f21c61fa

So, the gym is only about 5 minutes away from where I was and only about 5 minutes from my house. I thought I had the self control to wait but nope…I ate the second one in the parking lot of the gym and as I ate it I felt guilty. I’d said ‘in this new year, I want to take my weight loss more serious than I ever have before’ but here I was, shoving unhealthy food down my throat. I only just noticed at a free personal training session, last week, that although I’ve been doing a good job in the gym I haven’t been working out nearly as hard as I should be. I haven’t been exerting enough energy or sweating nearly enough. I guess you could say I have forgotten how to work out?

Anyway, so I paused when I got out of the car because there was a guy in the car next to me. I’m not sure if he saw me stuffing my face but I felt really embarrassed. So much so that I snatched my bag out of the car, slammed the door and made a beeline to the front of the gym. I’d been caught by some guy who was probably a health nut, who never ate a Zingers before a work out, and I felt like I might cry. I said I would take this seriously!

I changed my clothes and got up to the machines. The moment I hit that treadmill, it was as if another me took over and I went hard. I added more weight than I had previously. I hit both legs and upper body, and I even got in some cardio. I ran a bit. Hit the cycling machine. I didn’t take long breaks between sets, keeping everything hot. I felt motivated to work out, if not for the fat – to just get the Zingers out.

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Does it make you feel some type of way to know that hours later I ate that last piece of Zingers? I’d worn this cute sweater to campus, that I got yesterday for $4 from a Ross sale, and I was feeling beautiful. Despite that set back, I had worked my ass off in the gym, sweated out all of the shame and self- pity (yes, honey. I’m the queen of pity parties). I was back on the high of life and before Tony could see me, I scarfed down that third Zingers and promised myself I wouldn’t eat the hot fries in the same day. I’d hold off. And I didn’t.

A part of this whole meditation and being in the moment thing is that I have to let all that ish go. Yes, I felt ashamed and embarrassed but that was then and this is now. I can’t dwell. I must move on. I know I will mess up again but I also know that tomorrow I will be back in the gym, moving toward my goal and that is what matters. That I don’t give up.

After a much needed 2.5 hour nap – my guy let me sleep a little long as I needed it more emotionally than physically, I cooked a health(ier) dinner for Tony and me. Fish and pasta. And Naomi had a bit as well. She’s now able to eat on her own and is learning to pick up foods (it’s so cute). I felt happy to see that even though I didn’t have the level of self control, yet, that I wanted, I was making sure Naomi was fed and trying different things. All in all, it’s been a roller coaster of a day.

But that’s the journey, right?

 

 

Good Readdance,
Jade