Sunday, April 10, 2011

Unexpected discoveries

I've heard the saying, "be careful what you pray may get it", many times.  Also have heard people talk about receiving long awaited or prayed for outcomes and "gifts" only to discover they also had to accept whatever came along with the coveted state.

My past week began with my post about beginning again...again; how never quitting this endeavor toward health, leanness and wellness was at the top of my planner.  I did have several good on plan eating days, but by Wednesday was beginning to feel the vague stirrings for some Brach's Jelly Beans and other verboten edibles.  I'd re-entered battle with my compulsive food thoughts...countering them with the voice of reason in the usually futile attempt to NOT ACT ON THE FOOD THOUGHTS.  I actually ate something late Wed. afternoon that would absolutely have led to more food, if not a binge.

And then the dog began evidencing serious symptoms around 6 p.m.  Roughly 7 hours later my son and I tearfully held and caressed Lou as he passed from this realm into the next.

And my appetite has yet to return.  The long desired indifference to food as anything more than mildly pleasurable but essential nourishment for which I've prayed and yearned finally arrived.

I didn't eat anything after 6:15p.m. until a small dinner Thursday - my stomach was gnawing - almost painfully, but the thought of swallowing anything was repulsive.  That was as unheard of as the previous day - Lou refusing a fried wonton strip from the carry out that #1 son had just brought in, which became the first alarm that something was wrong.  In the 11 years we had Lou, he NEVER didn't want food.  He was his mama's baby :) (mama being me).

Friday was similar - I couldn't eat breakfast (other than coffee); I ate a smallish salad for lunch at work, and when food shopping after work I began to feel shaky and lightheaded so grabbed a small bottle of pure orange juice to get something in my system.   Had 2 slices of pizza for dinner Friday with sonny boy and went to bed.  Yesterday I began to want to eat a little more - a breakfast with AA buds after an early meeting, a black cherry Chobani around 3, and then a foot long hot dog and diet coke after a Costco run with my neighbor and close friend. Also had some roasted peanuts from the shell before going to bed.

This morning after my meeting a couple of errands, I did suddenly feel hungry, so fixed 2 strips of bacon, an egg plus 1/3 c eggbeaters, and a Fiber One English muffin and I feel stuffed.  This is all really weird for me, and I know full well it won't last.  Like Lou, I never met a food offering or a meal time I didn't want, unless I was laid up with stomach flu or something.

So not surprisingly, my weigh in this morning showed a loss.  I was 213.8 last Sunday, this morning 210.  I was actually surprised it wasn't a bigger loss, but not disappointed.  What I do feel is the desire to keep this current foreign mentality of eating because I need to, not because I want to regardless of hunger.  Partially because I want to keep moving down the scale - duh.  But also because I don't want to eat down my feelings of grief and sadness over losing our youngest family member (though in dog years, he was the oldest).

I answered a condolence email this morning from one of my sister in laws.  I told her I was quite overwhelmed by the depth of grief I'm feeling, but that it was honest, true, real and therefore as much of a gift as was Lou's presence in our family for 11 years.  Prior to responding to her email, I'd been on the phone with my dear friend (with lung cancer) Lisa, confessing that I've never experienced grief like this, despite having lost both parents.

I didn't experience it because I was so emotionally shut down - even at age 11 when my dad died (for all sorts of emotionally laden reasons), and then with my mom's death when I was 23.  By that time, I'd discovered the remarkable effects of booze as balm to whatever was ailing me in any given moment.  I was caring for her at home, and the night she died, I was drinking.  I wasn't drunk, but definitely anesthetized, and I stayed that way at some level for many years.  Food as self medication probably tamped down some of my feelings about mom as well, and definitely played a role in my dealing with my father's death.

I've discovered that this blogger has never dealt purely, genuinely and from my heart with loss before.  Never felt the starkness of life without a loved one.  So while the pain of losing Lou is acute, I see I'm fully awake to my heart, my soul and my humanity in a way I didn't even realize.  And that is a huge gift to me.

I couldn't squelch my tears when they come now if I tried - and believe me that I've already tried.  The've come when I walked into the local WAWA (convenience store) 3 days in a row now, and in many other "inconvenien"t places and moments.  No amount of deep breathing or redirecting my thoughts is sufficient to block their flow.  And I'm not interested in food, so it isn't serving as grief deterrent.

It's occurring to me as I write that maybe the food disinterest, my long yearned for state of being, is not an answer to my old familiar request; rather another component of being able to feel fully and deeply this sad loss of our Lou.  A gift, but not in the way or for the reasons I've wanted it. 

And it makes me feel very rich.


  1. I don't know what to say..but I really understand what you mean. I feel your grief for Lou. When you are ready , there is some dog out there just waiting for that love. That love is a blessing.

  2. Leslie, I am so sorry for your loss of your beloved Lou.

    FWIW, I completely understand about the grief, unexperienced you mentioned. I'd never considered that I might have been shutdown BEFORE it happened, not traumatized because it happened. Interesting points.

    Grief is interesting, for sure. I'm going through a bit of it and trying to "lean into it" rather than distract from it. As you so say, it is a gift. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  3. Sweetie, I firmly believe that by fully feeling and living through your grief now, instead of burying it, is for the best. It will help you recover sooner. As hard as it is now, it's the healthiest way to grieve. You clearly know that, too.

    I again repeat my sorrow at your profound loss.

  4. "I've discovered that this blogger has never dealt purely, genuinely and from my heart with loss before. Never felt the starkness of life without a loved one. So while the pain of losing Lou is acute, I see I'm fully awake to my heart, my soul and my humanity in a way I didn't even realize. And that is a huge gift to me."

    Wow, Leslie... this paragraph about floored me. So deep, so true. You've helped me understand some things... my Dad died a few weeks ago, and there's been some heartbreaking stuff going on in the family since then. Reading your insights here have helped me... thank you.

    I'm so glad you had Lou in your life; what wonderful memories to cherish. I'm sorry for such intense pain at losing him. Big hugs to you, Leslie.


  5. this (post/process) is interesting on so many levels

    the fact that you equate things to food/fat and also AA always gives such a great perspective, to your writing.

    It probably is the same (on some level). But we consider the labels (food/nonfood and alcohol or drugs) so differently.

    Your take on the fact that the feelings exist and are so strong. And then your feeling the feelings (verses drowning them or stuffing them down) was something I appreciated pondering this afternoon. You made me think with an added twist.

    Again - so sorry for you loss. But thank you for sharing as you work through this all.

  6. You know, there is something about a dog dying that is different sometimes. When Abby died my father was still alive and well. But a dearly loved grandmother had died, as well as all of my other grandparents and some friends.

    But when Abigail died, I felt a grief that was deeper and more painful than I had ever felt before. So did my husband. He commented on it.

    I think a dog who loves you, you truly give him your heart in a way that it is given to no other. So no defense has been built up to cushion the pain you feel when they're gone.

    (We have an automatic defense built up when it comes to people once we've been fractured by those who are supposed to be trustworthy and aren't.)

    I do understand that that sounds rather dramatic when referring to a dog, but it is nonetheless true. I grieved the death of my little dog for a long time. Years later, I could still spontaneously shed a tear. Ha. And now the tears flow as I remember the day she died.

    At any rate, I can say that when my father died suddenly a few years later, the grief was real and keenly felt. I remember a few weeks after he had died (and I was still crying about it) thinking that at least I could mourn for someone other than my dog. Weird, huh?

    Crapl. Now crying about my dad. okay, then.

    Moving on. I understand about the peculiarlness of losing ones interest in food. I've only had that occur a few times. I could probably name them all, it's so rare. One was when my son fell off of his skateboard breaking his leg and fracturing his skull. spinal fluid leaking out of his ear... Yep, no appetiet then. Just a cement block in my stomach for days. (It's been 15 years, he's fine.)

    Total lack of food interest is a curious event for some of us. And, yes, it does pass.

    As far as the weight loss goes, it may have been more w/out the salf from the foot long hotdog and Diet Coke. :)

    Hugs, Leslie.


  7. It's really amazing when you feel grief, raw and unanesthetized by alcohol or pills, for the first time...painful, so painful, and yet you realize that you really are working through it, bit by bit. I'm so sorry you lost your sweet Lou...your grief is a testament to how big a part she played in your life.

  8. So sorry your special pet has gone forever. I suggested to another blogger that as soon as she felt able to begin making a memorial of some kind. It might be writing a few short stories about life with Lou or it could be a craft project. We all need something to distract us in a healthy way and something that will bring back happy memories.


  9. I can entirely wholly and utterly relate to this.
    For me the only way to work through was writing.


  10. I'm really so very sorry for your loss my sweet friend....but absolutely thrilled for what you've gained. I'd write more but I'm still at work!!

  11. I am so glad you are able to write about your feelings Leslie - and true that this is the first time you've been "sober" through a traumatic event. Hoping every day gets a little better for you as you go through your grief of the loss of your beloved Lou.


  12. I am so sorry for you loss Leslie. Prayers for your comfort and healing of your heart.

  13. I'm sitting here crying over my keyboard. Beautiful post and comments too. It's something I need to prepare myself for that I can't even imagine. There's just something about dogs because they love us fat, skinny, drunk, sober, whatever. I believe dog heaven is the best place on earth. Lou is probably eating tons of fried wonton strips as we speak. Take care my friend!!

  14. Hope you are doing well!!

  15. Thinking about you today!!!!!!