Thoughts & Memoirs

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Different Lifestyles

          I'd like to pause again from my story for a moment and take a look at lifestyle and culture. Although we were head over heels in love with each other, and had many things in common, our families had different lifestyles. The schools I went to offered many field trips, from elementary through high school; we went to Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Williamsburg, the Baltimore and Washington zoo and many other places. The ultimate trip was to be taken in the tenth grade to the United Nations in NY. However the class before my tenth year behaved so badly the trip was canceled by the time we got to the year my class would have gone.
       Along with all the field trips, my mother took us to the Smithsonian Museum when ever we had the extra for gas. We would load up very early in the morning, pack a picnic lunch and go for the day. It was less than a 2 hour drive, parking was free if you walked a mile, and all the museums were free. We would run from building to building delighting in our favorites, walk back to the car to get our lunch and eat it on the lawn in front of the Jefferson Memorial or another grassy place shaded by a tree.
         Of course there were the camping trips I talked about earlier in another blog, and the Civil War grounds at Gettysburg. My sisters and I loved running over those grounds, climbing rocks, looking into crannies and imagining we might find a long lost soldiers affects. There were many trips to historical areas close enough to make day trips, as well as day trips to amusement parks. We went to Glen Oaks and Fairyland, and Dutch Mills. I’m hoping I have the names right, this is from very young days.
       I’m not sure about my husbands childhood days, he never spoke much about them, except that they went crabbing on the Eastern Shore at Rock Hall, and took vacations that were over night and did not involve camping. He was also a Boy Scout. When we started dating he went camping with us and fell in love with it, so that part of my life incorporated into our marriage. I had a great love for theatre that came from watching plays on TV. I also loved Ballet, thanks to Ed Sullivan. One of the biggest influences on my young life was the historical areas. If there was a sign that said Historical Area, my mother would stop and we would look. Later in our marriage when we traveled back and forth across the nation from military base to military base, my husband would call those signs, hysterical areas, because I would insist we stop and see, and he rarely wanted to unless it was convenient to stop because it was lunch or a potty break was needed. Throughout our marriage one of the greatest arguments we had was when I would ask why we never got to go to museums or plays and why we never did the things that my creative soul longed for. I loved camping and all that went with it. But I dearly missed those elements that developed and enhanced my creative nature. I’ll discuss this as my story evolves.
       In addition to my love of the arts, the greatest difference between my husband’s lifestyle and mine was in the kitchen. We ate differently in my home; a sandwich was 2 pieces of bread, 1 slice of lunch meat and 1 slice of American cheese. We never had take out that I can remember, never had sub sandwiches or pizza. For me pizza was a delight ordered at the Boardwalk in Ocean City by the slice, as a vacation treat. Food treats for my family came in the summer when the horse drawn farm wagon would travel down the alleys, the driver singing, watermelon, cantaloupe, strrrrrawberries.
       Fresh peaches made the best homemade ice-cream and when we bought them it was for a special family occasion and everyone came, all our maternal aunts, uncles, grandparents and all the kids. Watermelon was fresh, huge, and sweet, the driver always ready to cut a plug to prove he had the best. Cantaloupe filled with cottage cheese made a light refreshing supper on a hot summer night long before air-conditioning was in every home. My mother would can fresh fruit and vegetables so we would have them in the winter, food not filled with chemicals. IMHO, the watermelon found in the stores today along with many fruits and vegetables are styrofoam in taste compared to real locally grown produce. In my memory the seedless frankenmelons can not compare to the sweet juice seed spitting watermelon I remember well into the 1980’s. What happened to our food quality America? Why do we accept what is sold today as food?
       When I started dating my husband I was introduced to pizza as more than just a slice had while on vacation, and subs, I had no idea such a yummy food existed, fried oyster subs, Italian subs, and so many others. In my husbands home a sandwich was made with several slices of lunch meat, and other deli cheeses and you used Kaiser Buns and other rolls. Everything tasted so good. I had no knowledge about nutrition and calories, or body types. My husband could eat anything well into his 40’s and never gain an ounce, all I had to do was look at something and it went straight to my hips. I started gaining weight while pregnant and gained weight all through my marriage.
       I struggle with obesity today and although I am educated and understand nutrition and portion size, I know what to eat and what not to eat. I still can not make myself lose this weight. There are articles that talk about why, marriage is to blame for women’s weight gain and divorce for men’s weight gain, in some articles;

Even more evidence supports a link between childhood abuse and obesity along with other health issues.

Every article I read talks about the connection between childhood traumas and obesity, showing indications that Childhood physical abuse may have an impact on the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, through dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and subsequent increases in peripheral cortisol, that have been linked to abdominal obesity (36,37). (ii) Physically abused children may eat as a form of coping with their childhood traumas and this pattern may continue into adulthood. Indeed, one study (15) reported a significant impact of neglect on central obesity, despite controlling for childhood obesity. (iii) The increase in size associated with weight gain in physically abused children may serve a protective mechanism against further harm.(Bently & Widom. 2009.
I think one of the reasons I studied Human Behavior and Psychology when I went to college after my divorce in my late 40’s was not only to learn how to help others, but to understand my own issues and behaviors. I believe that obesity is a systemic issue that involves more than just abuse in childhood; I believe this is an ongoing effect complicated by a lifetime of issues, lack of education and our societal behaviors and treatment of what is considered acceptable and normal. We are a nation of bullies when it comes to the fat kid or adult validated by a media that glorifies abnormally thin women.
       My husband is not to blame for my weight gain, but the pressure to join in and not be different from those I love added to my obesity. My greatest hope is that as I write my life story; apply everything I have learned over the years. I will find the key and unlock the door to healing and weight loss without the drastic and invasive surgery that scares me to death. I know Bariatric surgery has worked for many, but it has harmed many too and there has got to be a way to a healthy body, a healthy mind and a healthy life without cutting body parts away. A doctor once told me obesity was an addiction, that our brain chemicals behave the same way with food as with drugs. I believe he is on to something here. It takes a system of support and love to beat an addiction and when family members enable or sabotage the struggle of any addict, the battle is so much harder to win. I live with a room mate who is my greatest enabler. So to my room mate I ask, please help me, stop killing me, and to myself I say, stop blaming others and just do it.
        In writing about the different lifestyles my husband and I brought to each other. I think about people around the globe who live with different lifestyles, some of those lifestyles we find delight in sharing with each other; others bring out the worst of our nature and behavior. Suspicion and gossip rule over education and tolerance. We don’t have to live this way. Isn’t it time to say…Enough is enough?... My story is for me, and I hope through it to help not only myself but others, others who are tired of living a life that could be so much better. I have all the tools I need, I just have to find the key to enact them.
       We as a world have all the tools we need and its time to enact them. Stop the disservice and hatred at every level, from enabling an obese loved one, to global apathy and war.
       One way I’ve found is right here on this Internet with social networking, blogging, etc., if something belittles, judges, gossips and serves no one other than to incite anger and hatred. Don’t share it, don’t pass it on, and don’t display it. Seek only those things that enhance life and serve through love. Speak your mind and your opinion without belittling, negative caricaturing and stereotyping others. You can display dissent by saying I don’t like this or that without attacking anyone or anything. You can point out a difference without being a bully. You can have a peace rally where peace actually is the foundation and is present , rather than hatred of the other side being evident through angry display; you can support patriotism without spewing in hatred that anyone who is not exactly like you is not a patriot. You can realize that we are all human and we all have not only our good side, but a shadow side as well. We can forgive ourselves and each other when we allow that shadow to voice itself.
Find your voice dear readers.
Please forgive me for pontificating with this blog. I feel so strongly about communication and mediation without violence.
with deepest respect.

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