Monday, January 21, 2008

Who am I becomming?

Tonight, Richard led a chat about Peace in honor of Martin Luther King. It was a rather profound subject for me, one of self revelation.

Of course, he turned the concept of MLK's peace around to a discussion of inner peace. "Are you at peace with yourself?" he asked. And my immediate response was "no." I have all sorts of issues in my life, some of which make me very upset.

He asked us to rate our level of peace on a scale of 1 to 10. I gave myself a 5. I was going to give myself a 2, then realized almost immediately that I wasn't being honest. I've been at "2," I'm not there now.

As the chat went on, I thought about what was upsetting me. Family. I can't really do anything about it, right? Not really. The people who I am unhappy with are struggling with their own demons. I have removed myself from the situation, at least for now. I have not removed them from my life, nor do I intend to. But like they taught us in "Junior Life Guards" at Camp Lakota way back when I was in my early teens, when you're dealing with a drowning person, the first thing is make sure they don't get a grip on you and drag you down with them. That's not going to happen. Not anymore.

Then, there is the other thing. Richard's "Sweating To the Oldies" DVDs came out at the beginning of the year. Pleased that my picture was picked up on the packaging, I was even happier that his "Love Yourself and Win" motivational program was a bonus disc inside. We filmed it in September of 2006; I was proud to be a participant.

The thing is, though, that I was horribly ill at the time of the taping. Only a month out of medical crisis stage, my participation was questionable right up to the very day. I must have driven them crazy with all of my special requests to make that appearance happen. I remember asking to have a later call time than the rest of the cast because of fatigue; permission granted. They allowed me to lay down on the sofa in the lobby when everyone else had to be in place in the studio, only requiring me join them at the times they were actually filming. And I was allowed free access to the facilities in deference to my medical situation, despite the fact that nobody else was allowed to leave except at specified breaks.

It was hard. In fact, looking back I have no idea how I got through it. I talked about "Practicing Patience," a subject with which I am intimately familiar, given my situation. I remember how weak I was... Richard had to help me up the stairs onto the stage, and then down again at the end. They told me, after my segment filmed, that I could go home, but I chose to stay. I was so weak that I was only able to sit up in my chair by leaning on the table next to me.

And after the filming was done, I went home, went to bed, and was too tired to come out of my condo again for a full week. No exageration.

My recollection, though, was that I had done pretty well in the interview. That I looked OK, even though Adele later told me that in my picture with Richard (taken right after we were finished), my body looked great but my face was awful. That it was clear how sick I was. I didn't think about it again after we were done with the conversation. Until this past weekend.

Well, the DVD came out, and I finally got a copy. I was about to put it in my player when Eric unexpectedly showed up, so we watched it together. Or should I say, he watched it. After the first 10 seconds, I couldn't look anymore.

Everything about that go-around of illness came flooding back to me. I looked absolutely awful, like death warmed over. Moon faced (from ultra-high levels of steroids), and almost incoherent. I turned my face into the pillow on the sofa and cried. Eric insisted that I didn't look so bad. "Just bloated and nervous." But he is looking through the eyes of love and also, this matter falls in the same category as "Does my butt look big?" so I wouldn't expect to get a bluntly honest answer.

Later that evening, I went over to my good friends, Sandy & Christiane's home and brought the DVD with me. We played it; they reacted with horror. "How could he have filmed you in that state?" was their question. "Why on earth did you do it?"

Well, Richard was pressed and I certainly wouldn't blame him. And I try to keep all commitments that I make, regardless of my personal situation. Poor Richard... the emphasis of this recording was about living well, feeling well, and looking great, and he had ME on there like a zombie from hell. I have been so upset about it.

I couldn't pinpoint exactly what I've been upset about. Certainly I'm not upset with anyone in particular. Nobody is to blame here. Not Richard, not me. But I've been bordering on a level of hysteria all the same. The person in that DVD was not me as I really am...

So fast forward back to tonight's chat. As Richard asked question after question. As I reflected on the answers, I realized that most of my responses belayed a level of security and lack of anxiety that I don't think I've ever felt before. And then it came to me as an epiphany.

I don't need to be upset about the DVD. It is what it is. Richard had the power to edit me out... to edit somebody else into that place I occupied had he wanted to. There were a number of people who participated that day that did not end up in the can at all. Any one of them could have been put in my place, their comments cut and paste to sound like they were answering my questions. So if there is damage done by the way I looked and sounded, it was by choice.

And even though I hate the idea that the 'monster' who appears on that DVD will probably haunt me for some time to come (people are ordering that set and watching it), I did nothing for which I can feel anything but pride. I have lost weight. I looked like what I was at the time. Somebody who had just survived yet another round of near-death experience. Who, had I been at my old weight and health level, might not have made it. I made it through that day as a symbol not of illness, but as a testament that anything that does not kill you makes you stronger.

Am I completely at peace with myself now? No, not really. There are many things which I would like to resolve.

I'd like to be healthy, once and for all.
I'd like to lose the 7 pounds left from the holidays, and maybe even a little more than that.
I'd like to have my surgery done and over with, and be able to walk without pain.
I'd like to be financially stable, and maybe even a little bit affluent.
I'd like my life to mean something, rather than just be a day-to-day existence.

Without these stresses, though, I may not feel compelled to evolve and grow. And that is paramount over all other things.

And when I look at what I do have, what I have achieved, physically, mentally, and emotionally, I realize that I am more at peace with myself than I thought. Maybe an "8." Things could be worse.


Anonymous said...

oh sweety you have come so far, and still continue to strive and go further...I am so proud of you because you haven't given up..You have given me the best gift a friend could give and that is to not give up on myself but to try again. I love ya.

Doll Creelman-Migliaccio said...

Laura, although we have just met (at least in cyberville) I am inspired and moved by what you've been able to do and what I know you will do in the months to come. I have not seen the new DVD so I cannot comment on how you look. I feel your pain and send you positive healing energy and prayers for you...You are you! Special, wonderful and caring. Thanks for being who you are.

With love and care,

hot tamale said...


I was there, my two cents are this, you ARE amazing. You are a trooper, you are strong. You have important info. to share with the world, sick or came across wonderfully. Im sorry I did not congratulate you sooner, I was too busy licking my wounds from ending up on the cutting room floor! I knew I sucked and that confirmed it! So I do what I do best, beat myself up. I sure wish I could learn from example and just move on and realize food is NOT making me feel any better. Hopefully it will sink in someday. Meanwhile, I lean on my successful friends and hope their motivation and determination rubs off on me.
(((Laura))) You mean so much to so many people and I for one, dont see you in the same light you see yourself. I think you rock Sista!!
love ya

Vennie said...

Honey Bunny, maybe my eyes are going bad but frankly I don't think you looked THAT bad on the video. You look different now, but then so do I. Yeah, people who know you well will probably realize you weren't feeling at your best that day. But since most of the people who will see the video don't know you personally, what they will see is a success story, someone who lost a tremendous amount of weight and has kept it off. What you had to say was important and needs to be heard. In fact, I need to pop that video in again and listen to both of us!!! (sigh)

Love you, sick or well, thick or thin, come what may.


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