Binge

I am a binge-er.

I binge on most everything you can think of (except, maybe that…I’m too busy bingeing on dreams of sleep to that to a binge-level).

I binge-watch TV. Netflix? It was made for me. I used to binge-watch Gilmore Girls and Grey’s Anatomy and Friends because I had those series on DVD…but NOW?! Now I can binge-watch EVERYTHING. Whole seasons, whole series one show after another after another after another after another – there is NO END to how much I can binge, and all without changing a single disc or getting off the couch. DREAMY.

Truth.

Truth.

I binge-read. Books, blogs, gossip, magazines – I devour the written word. Some of it is escapism, which our dad would get SO mad about when I was younger, and some of it is pure curiosity (hello, how does Brangelina do it??). But most of it is an unadulterated love and comfort with the written word. Bad day? Read. Bad week? Read. Scary thoughts? Read. Lists won’t shut up in my head? Read. Want to be awed and transported and thrilled and moved? READ. And I can read a whole book in one sitting. When I was growing up, our mom would buy me books specifically for vacations at the cottage, telling me not to read any of them until we got there. I’d always have them read before we even got in the van to make the drive. I limit how much I read now, because an adult stuck in a book all day and all night long does not a good parent make.

I also binge-surf, which can lead to trouble with watching children. There have been times I’ve been scrolling through a Pinterest rabbit hole and realized someone has been calling my name for a minute or so. Tricky. Luckily, I hear screaming through all of the project- and recipe-wishing.

But the biggest binge that causes the most problems for me, is binge-eating.

I am the queen of drowning my sorrows, my boredom, my anger, my anything-feeling in food. And more food. And more food.

GET IN MY BELLY.

GET IN MY BELLY.

I can eat 2 1/2 pounds of chicken wings in one sitting…after eating a whole meal. I can eat a whole bag of Oreos…after a whole meal. I can eat a whole bag of M&M’s…you know, the bowl/party size…in one go. I can totally eat a whole loaf of freshly baked bread, or most of a batch of cookies, or a bag of chips, or 4 chocolate bars (Snickers, Wunderbar, KitKat and Coffee Crisp), without breaking a sweat.

Do I feel like crap afterwards? Absolutely. Am I consumed with guilt and shame when all the food is gone and my belly aches and my head hurts and I know (I KNOW) I’m going to have a sugar/food hangover the next day? Yes. But does that stop me in the moment? When I’m hurting or unhappy or ridiculously craving crap after eating well all day? Nope. Not one bit.

Because I feel like there is something missing inside of me. I feel like there’s an empty cavern, aching to be filled, and so I do. I fill it. With all the food.

Of course, this is why I am chubby. This is why I am overweight. This is why my butt has more jiggle, and not in a Kardashian way, but in a dear-god-think-of-the-chairs kind of way. And it’s the reason that I feel like crap more often than not.

I had it under control after my miscarriage and after Isaac was born – exercise and healthy eating and sleeping and hobbies filled my time and space between parenting and housewife-ing. Not only was there no time or energy for binge-eating, but I filled up that empty hole in my face and brain with endorphins, friendship, and fulfilling activity. I lost 30 pounds. I was fit. I felt fantastic. And I wasn’t tempted as often and when I was, I wasn’t sucked into eating all the food all the time.

But this May I ran a half-marathon…and it was really hard and it took a long time to recover from it mentally and physically. I took a break from running and exercising for about a month…just in time for me to severely roll my ankle…twice…and lead me to be unable to put any weight on it for weeks. Which lead to more laying around, hating life, and wishing I were anywhere but on my couch.

So the hole in me grew…and grew…and the monster inside that wants all the chocolate and crap food started screaming again, demanding to be fed, demanding to be noticed and heeded. To answer the cries, I did what any smart person would do. I caved. I gave in. I fed it all the food in the world.

Now, my pants are tight. And my back has more rolls. And my arms feel flabbier. And the hard as rock calf muscles in my legs have been replaced by marshmallows…literally.

I sank. I’m sinking. I’m drowning in the itch for the binge, for the feeling of being so full I can’t move and something else hurts instead of the hurting that started it all.

I refuse, though, to go down without a fight. Refuse to let the monster and hole consume me. I don’t want to be that person again. I don’t. I want to be strong, and fit, and enjoy food, not look at it like a means to an end. I want treats to be treats and not the regular nighttime ritual. I want sugar and chocolate to be the exception, not the rule. And I want to stop feeling like all the food in the world must be eaten.

So, I’ve started doing things a little differently.

I’ve stopped buying crap. No more chocolate-bar or chip or junk-food runs after the kids are in bed. What we have in the house is what we have in the house, and since I don’t buy all the bad stuff during our regular grocery shop, there is no more crap here.

I’ve replaced eating with drinking…green tea. At night, when the craving to consume the world comes over me, when my stomach is desperately trying to convince my brain that I’m STARVING even though I just ate a good meal, I turn to drinking a cup of tea. Not only is it good for me and calorie-free, but it gets me all warm and sleepy, perfect for going to bed (unlike the sugar and caffeine rush from chocolate and crap I’d get from binge-eating).

And the big one? I’ve started MOVING again. I’m walking in the mornings. I HATE how I feel while I’m doing it – I ran over 21 km, people! A walk shouldn’t kill me. But, I don’t make the twice-daily trek to school anymore (which racks up about 4 km while pushing 25-55 pounds in a stroller), and I don’t go running anymore, so, I’m walking in the morning, with the goal of running again in September (giving my ankle plenty of time to really heal before I start pushing it). I’m resentful of how far I’ve fallen, but I know that getting it back little by little is the only solution.

Now, I need to know – do you binge? Or do you have magical self-control? And if you do binge, what are your tips and tricks for keeping your head above the water? Because I know at some point, I’m going to want to put all of the things in my mouth again…and it will be SO hard to say no.

~ Julia

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How to survive weird work hours

Along with having pretty random jobs, I have also had pretty random hours for shifts.

At one point doing school portraits full-time and working at a gas station part-time I would be up for hours on end and sometimes days with only small naps in between – and let me tell you, that doing an overnight in any kind of work is hard, and requires certain key things in my opinion. So I give you my…

Four Must Do’s to Survive Weird Work Hours!
1. You must find something to keep you AWAKE: I am talking caffeine people! I know this one is pretty self explanatory, but honestly, I used to go for the energy drinks, and still in a pinch I will pick one up if I really need the boost, but you can crash with energy drinks, especially if you are not used to drinking them. Coffee. Tea. Whatever is your thing? DO IT. Keep those beverages coming!
coffee
2. Sustenance to keep you from the overnight shift hang-over: The first time you EVER do an overnight your brain feels so funky the next day, I find that you can counteract some of the funk the next day by drinking plenty of good fluids and eating healthier options throughout the night so your brain doesn’t feel quite so bad. You may be depriving your body of sleep and depriving it from a routine that you have been in pretty much your whole life, you should not deprive it in other areas when it is in it’s hour of need.

3. Always have a task: The trick here is to not think about the fact you are up, you think about what you can do next. I find I can process and do more things in the middle of the night than throughout the day if I just stay on task and keep moving.

4. Have some awesome people to work with: Whenever I worked overnight at the gas station, my boss would be in super early in the morning, and she was awesome. Even the guys delivering fuel in the middle of the night were awesome. At one point I even started recognizing the middle of the night regular customers. It helps that even in the job I’m in now when I work evenings, I still get to hang out with some awesome people.

Now these are my must do’s when I work weird hours, what are some of yours?

~ Andreah

When opportunity tackles you

This is definitely long overdue, and with everything that has been going on, I definitely do want to mention this. Our Brother (in-law) gave me an opportunity.

Ben plays Aussie Football. In Ontario. CANADA.

Now I have never heard about Aussie Football, I have never ever even heard about this sport before, and I am not even going to attempt to explain it to you.

What I can tell you is that it is an intense sport to watch, and I am betting an even more intense game to play.
DSC_4709I have known that Ben has played this game for the last year or so, and when I got an email from him, I was shocked, and super excited and touched by the opportunity he presented to me.
DSC_4939.1Ben sent me an email asking me if I would be interested in coming to his games and taking photos for them, the only thing he wanted to make sure is that I knew it was free.

Like that would stop me.

Honestly, I have not been able to touch my camera. I have gotten camera shy.

I don’t think my photos are any good, and I don’t think that I have any talent whatsoever, so it has scared me.

DSC_4730

It has scared me to have a camera in my hand, because what if I let someone down?

However, Ben has given me an incredible gift. He has given me a new kind of opportunity to put a camera back in my hand and get back to my passion and the thing that I love.

This blog is dedicated to you Ben. You are an awesome Big Brother, and I cannot thank you enough for getting me back to what is so me, and something that I have missed so much.
DSC_5006.1THANK YOU.

You should go over and check out more photos, and the game/players over at The Grand River Gargoyles website! If you are in the area for games as well, go check them out! They are great players and a great team and deserve a ton of support.

~ Andreah

Wonderful world of work

So there a couple things you should be 100% aware of when it comes to me… I am not normal. Working in an office environment is not normal for me.

This is so more me.

This is so more me. (Photo credit to UCS and their photo of their studio, which makes me miss college and the studio that I got to use there.)

I have never worked in a normal office environment, and I never thought I would ever be working in a cubicle, let alone being excited about it. I am more the type to have weird, in-between jobs that you never even thought someone would have, and I have had quite a few of those…

Have you ever heard of someone working in a turkey farm? Or know of anyone putting away books at the wee hours of the morning?

No? Of course not. Because no sane person decided that they would deal with turkeys, or put away heavy books at warp speed (or as fast as humanly possible) at 5 a.m. Besides the point of this post though, this is about my job now.

This is the most normal job I have ever had. I work roughly 8 hours a day. I come into work, use a punch clock and then punch out when I leave. I have never had a job like this, and although I have never seen myself in this kind of job, there is one thing I love about this job.

The people are AWESOME.

All of them are so unique, and I have made so many new friends that I can hardly count them all. Even my supervisors are awesome and very helpful people and my manager is really funny and nice.

Now, I haven’t told a lot of people at work about our blog at all, so I am so not trying to butter them up through this. It is just nice to be able to like the people you work with and work for. I have found some really good friends in my colleagues while I have been here, and although I am not going to mention any names, they know who they are and they know (from me telling them on a constant basis) how truly awesome and sweet they are.

They make it easier to come into work on my bad brain days because I know I will smile at least once from something ridiculous someone says or does, or that I say or do, and at work I am one of the more random people.

I am truly blessed to not only have a job but have a job where I actually get along with and like the people.

I know this is just a temporary position, but for the time being I have a found a place in the company full of awesome people, and that works just fine for me.

~ Andreah

She’s 6

It’s been hard to find the words to express exactly what this year has meant for me and my oldest baby Sophie, the one with the looooooong legs and the fascinating brain and the crazy sense of humour and the incredible compassion for all living creatures, especially her tired, worn-out, crying mama (there’s nothing that brings a girl to her knees like a 5-year old rubbing your back and telling you it’s going to be okay). She’s turning 6 this week and I’m struggling to pinpoint exactly what made this year different from the year before.

Crazy tall kid. For our family, of course (she's still one of the shortest in her class.)

Crazy tall kid. For our family, of course (she’s still one of the shortest in her class.)

She’s in her second year of school, so that’s not new, but how she’s handling herself there is different since she is in the oldest grade (she’s a Senior Kindergartener now) and her teachers tell me she’s all about helping the younger kids, the Junior Kindergarteners, figure out the rules and talking to them when they’re crying for their parents. It’s such an oldest sister thing, such a me thing, to be a mother hen, that my heart at once is so proud and aches that her childhood is slipping away in the service of others. You give a bit of yourself away every time you reach out to someone, and it’s not a bad thing, but the fact that she’s starting so early makes me worry about whether or not she’ll have anything left for her when she gets older. It took me forever to find that balance – I hope her path is full of as much compassion for herself as it is for others.

“Don’t I look so adorable?” Yes, Sophie. Yes, you do.

She’s still a diva, a fashionista in training, who staunchly believes still that ‘flat pants’, or leggings, the pants that sit flat against her legs, are the only ones that make her look beautiful. She’s stunning. There is nothing that girl can’t put on with her hair and her ridiculous blue eyes and her tiny nose that doesn’t look pretty, but you can’t reason with her. Sophie is only pretty when she’s got her flat pants on. And if she can’t wear those, the tears and gnashing of teeth and stream of self-loathing that follows is irrational, heartbreaking and frustrating as all hell. There are only so many times you can say, “You are gorgeous no matter what you wear.” before it turns into you yelling, “You’re wearing the ugly jeans so just get dressed already!”

So pretty. But only in flat pants!

So pretty. But only in flat pants!

She’s trying so damn hard to recognize letters and print like a pro and read a book unaided. She’s not there yet, but this year the Valentine’s took waaay less time to print and the word recognition is coming faster and more furious, and the pages of her printed letters and numbers have littered our house to the point where I toss them out because there are SO MANY. She’s always bringing home a book she’s made, or showing me that she sees her name or wants to know if the random letters she’s printed say anything. She’s trying SO HARD. I can’t wait for the penny to drop for her, not only because things will get read a lot faster, but also the pride she feels in the tiny steps she’s been taking will turn into a full-blown mind explosion of excitement. I can’t wait.

This face times a MILLION when she finally reads in a stream without stopping.

This face times a MILLION when she finally reads in a stream without stopping.

She’s thoughtful. SO thoughtful. And not just in kindness, but in thinking through everything you say and connecting it to other stuff that has been said or that she’s seen. We’ve been watching Full House on Netflix as a family. Sophie is by far the most interested in it. We were listening to the radio the other day and the radio host was talking about how they have guest DJ’s every week. Sophie immediately stopped colouring and looked at me. “Did he just say D.J.? Like Full House?” And thus began a 10-minute conversation about the difference between Full-House DJ and a radio DJ. Tricky stuff.

Such good sisters...except when they're SCREAMING at each other.

Such good sisters…except when they’re SCREAMING at each other.

But again, none of these things are glaringly new or crazy insane. We’ve had a relatively quiet year here with Sophie. She’s gone to school, made new friends, is often at our neighbour’s house to play with another girl her age, and generally we just manage her fashion meltdowns and lippy-ness (her wit and smarts get her into trouble more often than not). And the more I think about it, about the year that was for her and me and us, I kind of feel like I cheated her. I’m so focused on Lillian and the war that we are waging right now and getting her ready for school and I am trying to keep Isaac from killing himself since we’ve firmly landed in the climb-everything-and-conquer-it stage, that I’m really not handling Sophie much at all. Really, the only things that Sophie and I do together are get up, read, get dropped off at school, get picked up from school, and then negotiate our way to dinner and then bedtime. It’s so…removed and hands-off. I don’t worry about her going pee or poop everywhere anymore. Generally when she climbs things it has zero impact (unless it’s a fire hydrant…then a nice, blood-spouting hole appears in her chin). And her temper tantrums are usually dramatic friendship woes (that are normally fabricated by her) or rages against the disgusting pants that flair on the way down and don’t hug her legs.

All grown up. *sob*

All grown up. *sob*

I was told when I had her, 6 years ago, that the time will fly quickly. That one day she won’t need me as much and I’ll miss the time when she does. And in truth, I can’t believe it’s been 6 years. I can’t believe she’ll be 6. But, I’m so busy being needed by Lillian and Isaac that I’ve missed missing her needing me as much. It makes me want to grab her and really relish in her independence and her sauciness and her laughter and her crazy thinking. And it makes me worry that maybe I’ve failed her. Maybe in not being there for her, even if she doesn’t need me, I’m making her feel unloved or like she’s drifting away from us.

Not too old to sit in a foam chair and watch a  movie with her siblings.

Not too old to sit in a foam chair wearing fairy wings to watch a movie with her siblings.

But then yesterday she curled up with me to watch DJ hang out with Kimmy Gibler, and I loved the feel of her weight and warmth and her hand and arm crooked through mine. And today, when we walked across the parking lot of a doctor’s office, she grabbed for my hand without me even asking, just as I was debating whether or not I should ask her since we’ve been walking independently across streets on the way to school now for months.

Wearing new birthday flat pants, shirt and purse. STYLIN'. She says she's "fancy." I can not argue.

Wearing new birthday flat pants, shirt and purse. STYLIN’. She says she’s “fancy.” I can not argue.

And then, just like that, all is right in the world again.

To my eldest, my tallest (for now), my sauciest – happy happy birthday, my love. 🙂 I’m excited to see what this year brings us and how far you’ll go, even if it is further away from me.

Love, Mama

~ Julia

5 Things I learned being a little sister

I have learned that being a little sister is not always the joy ride that most people expect, and that you tend to learn things differently. So, here are my 5 things I have learned from being a little sister.

It is NOT always about you.

Granted, some people are going to tell me differently, and some people when they have their youngest child it really is all about them, but not for me. I have a problem of putting everything and everyone first in my life before my own well-being, and sometimes my own welfare. I am not the little princess of the family, but I do know that as a result of me being born last I was raised a little differently than my older siblings.

You will get blamed for a lot of things.

Growing up sometimes (i.e. not all the time) I would get blamed for the actions of my older siblings, knowing full well that they did the incident. Sometimes I took the blame, but other times I would fight tooth and nail that it was not me! And yes, of course, I got to blame my older siblings sometimes, but 7 out of 10 times they wouldn’t believe me anyways!

I was a horrible younger sister.

I really and truly was a terrible younger sister. I would not listen to my sisters when they were in charge, I would go behind their backs when I didn’t like what they were doing and call mom, I was a huge tattle-tale, and, frankly, I was a huge pain in the butt. I always whined, always cried, and just was not a nice person growing up. I am still learning to be a better little sister, but I know I still have a ways to go before the whiny child side of me is gone for good.

You have built in friends.

I did not have a lot of friends growing up, and spent a lot of my time alone, but I knew when my sisters were home and they were not busy with their big sister homework that I could spend time with them, play, and get into some small amounts of mischief.

You will always have them.

I know that no matter what is going on, if all my friends get mad at me or hate me, that I will still have my three sisters at my back, in my corner, fighting with me and for me when I need them, and when I don’t need them I know that they are my silent cheerleaders for whatever I may be going through.

This sums it up... Love you guys!

This sums it up… Love you guys!

I may not be the best little sister ever, but hey, I am a little sister, so at least I survived the childhood part!

~ Andreah

Find the balance

I can’t find it.

And by that I mean my balance. I can’t seem to be able to juggle everything that my life is holding right now, from friends, to family, from work to Joe. I am in a constant state of flux and it is driving me crazy!

If only I was this talented.

If only I was this talented.

I should be better at this! I know I am giving myself no time whatsoever to go from no job to full blown job, from having friends who I would go see to friends I live with, but for the life of me I cannot seem to get my footing!

I know this isn’t an upbeat blog, but right now all I have in my brain is the fact that I am fighting tooth and nail to make sure I can get everything I need done and sorted and I am losing a war with myself right now.

I am trying so hard that I end up getting worse at the balancing act.

But then again, think about where I have come from recently. We moved from Peterborough and left behind a life that me and Joe had built because we couldn’t sustain everything that we needed for a basic life, to our mom’s house where we then picked ourselves up further to live with our friends, and although I love it, and am happy…moving 2 times in 6 months? It’s a little much.

I just want to find a moment where I can have a little breathing room, just to relax and be able to say okay, I can have this break and then I can keep going, even for a day would be nice. However, that is not how life works, and no matter how hard I try to make sure I have the balance, I feel like I am losing.

I know that everyone goes through times like this in which the balance is not there, and it becomes harder and harder.

In the end though I know it will be okay. Because if it’s not okay, it’s not even close to being over.

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~ Andreah

The Roomie Awards

I have lived in a lot of different cities, and in those different cities I have had a lot of roommates, I counted it up and in total I have had a whopping 18 roommates. That is a lot of people I have lived with that aren’t family.

So I am going to give Roomie Awards to the people I currently live with! I live in a house with Joe and three other people, so I sat them down and had them nominate each other for things, and when we all agreed, here is what we came up with:

The winner of the BIG CHEESE/CHIEF AWARD is… Justin.

No I don't know what is happening behind the tree.

No I don’t know what is happening behind the tree.

It tends to be that whenever we are sitting around with nothing much to do, Justin comes up with stuff. He also is the main person of the house. He tends to also be like the big brother of the house and is always there to lend a hand when needed or just help out.

The winner of the SMEAGLE AWARD is…Ponee (a.k.a. Josh).

Isn't he a strange one?

Isn’t he a strange one?

Josh is a little strange, a little weird, and sometimes really annoying, but he knows this and owns it. Josh can also be really helpful and a good guy when the time calls for it. He also takes the guys harassment on a daily basis, and doesn’t really care that much about it.

The winner of the HYPERACTIVE AWARD is…Hanna.

She's so Pretty!

She’s so pretty!

It has been said that if we got a hamster wheel big enough, we could run the house off her energy. She is an awesome girl, an amazing friend, and just a little *cough* a lot *cough* crazy energetic! She is an overall amazing person, and a real best friend.

The winner of the SPEDCIAL AWARD is…Joe.

Handsom isn't he?

Handsome isn’t he?

I did not nominate Joe for this one, and yes the ‘D’ is really supposed to be there. Joe has the uncanny ability to get himself into the weirdest of situations, which makes sense as he did ask me to marry him!

The winner of the FUZZY/DINGO AWARD is…Cleo!
Cleo is the house puppy. She is adorable and crazy and is always up for snuggles.

The winner of the JELLY BEAN/BUG-EYED AWARD is…me.
Screen shot 2015-04-09 at 9.18.55 PM

This one was a weird description, but I am going along with it. Hanna said that I should get the Jelly Bean award because I am so colourful and random. Justin says that I get the Bug-Eyed award because I always have an interest, I am always doing something, and it is never the same thing. Ever.

I have had so many experiences living with people of all walks of life, and this one is just a new adventure. With all new good people…even if they all are slightly crazy.

~ Andreah

1997

Julia’s mother-in-law and the Sisterhood’s second mother, Dianne, joins us again as a guest blogger. We are in awe of her strength in surviving her abusive marriage and we are inspired by her bravery in sharing her story out loud. 

Story will inspire

This is a story that has lived within me for several years, actually for almost two decades. This is a story that few have ever told, but if you know it, the story must be told. It’s a true story, one meant to inspire others, not one meant to elicit pity. Pity is not what I needed; strength and inspiration – that’s what I was looking for.

It started a long time ago, when I was a young girl. I met my sweetheart. We were very young, 14 or 15. Circumstances would lead us to marry others, but circumstances would also bring us back together. It’s at that point that the real tale begins.

I believed, like so many young women, that the man I would marry would hold me dear in his heart. He would cherish me, guard me, and protect me. Never would he harm me. I believed that whatever faults I saw, things would be okay because of the underlying truth: he loved me. This was at a time when I believed that people would change for the better, or I could help them change.

My childhood sweetheart was raised in a Christian home, believing in God. His parents were blue-collar hard-workers. I remember his dad in particular. He worked shift work at the tire factory in Kitchener. He landed his job during a time when an education was not necessary to maintain a steady paycheque. At the end of a long day, he would come home to deal with a busy household comprising of five children and a sickly wife. His reward was a cigarette and a beer.

My husband grew up and followed in his dad’s footsteps. He was uneducated. Times had changed and as a result, my husband had difficulty holding down a job. As it turned out, the love of my life was plagued by demons. He believed that he was not worthy of any of life’s treasurers, certainly not love. Because of this, one beer became two, became six. Soon the motto was: “24 beers, 24 hours in a day, not a coincidence.”

I was a master at justifying anything. “He drinks because he worked hard, he drinks because life is so busy, he drinks because…” There were a thousand good reasons to drink, and there were no good reasons to drink. He drank copious amounts, but beer was his drink of choice. I discovered that if he drank spirits, he was more difficult to handle once he was drunk.

Now when I say, “more difficult to handle,” what I really mean is he became violent, physically abusive. As it turned out, he was more violent with spirits, but that didn’t stop his temper when he was drinking just beer. Remember, I was good at justifying anything. I would say things like, “He only drinks on the weekend “(lie), or, “If he drinks beer, he doesn’t get too violent” (another lie). I would console myself by saying, “He doesn’t hit the children,” something that eventually became another lie. I even tried telling myself that others didn’t know. Others knew. They knew and didn’t know what to do.

Friends and family would watch in horror as I sported new bruises. There were so many battles fought over the course of 12 years. So many times I wondered what I had gotten into, how could I change things, could I ever learn the rules of living with him? I knew this was a dangerous situation, ready to go off at any minute. If I said the wrong thing, said something with the wrong tone, served something for supper that wasn’t up to his liking, there would be hell to pay.

After one particularity disastrous birthday and Father’s Day, I went to church with bruises on my face, neck, arms and upper torso. Not cleverly-disguised bruises – these were big, purple, angry bruises. The next day at work, someone asked me what happened. I told them I ran into a door. Looking at me, you knew I would have to run into the door repeatedly to get these bruises. Bravely, I told the lie.

I remember this weekend clearly – it’s the weekend my babies watched as I was choked and beaten. All I could think of was getting away with my babies. I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t have money; I just needed to get away. It was also the weekend I made up my mind that things would change.

I started dreaming of schemes, trying to figure out how we could leave the home without bringing on another beating. I didn’t care about the things in the house, they were just things and I could earn money to get more things. I envisioned so many scenarios. Maybe he would go away for the weekend and come home to an empty house. Maybe he would be involved in an accident and I could become a grieving widow…problem solved.

One thing I wanted to keep sacred was my relationships – they were few and far between. I didn’t want other people burdened with the mess I had gotten myself into. I wouldn’t ask for help. I had been virtually cut off from family, so I couldn’t ask them. This is very typical of an abusive relationship, isolate the victim.

It was almost two years to the day before I finally had enough. With no plan in mind, with little cash resources, we left. We left and made a stand…NO MORE! I didn’t care if he kept everything in the house, he would never touch any of us again. Never again would we live in fear. There would be no more angry voices in my home.

It was the scariest day of my life…EVER. But, it was like being born, a new day with new hope. It was refreshing to get up in the morning and know that I was in control of all that was before me. If something went wrong, I would be responsible for making it right. I also knew that I wouldn’t depend on someone else; there would be no more disappointments.

If you are a victim, you will know when you’ve had enough. It takes a lot of courage to leave; it takes a lot of courage to stay. Make plans, but be prepared to move at a moment’s notice.

Your friends are watching you, they want to help but don’t know how. They can’t believe that you would stay where you are, but don’t know what it’s like to walk in your shoes.

If you know a victim, be their support. Don’t judge someone for remaining, you never know what you would do yourself. Be an ear. Protect the children; give them a reprieve in the chaos. Have a moving truck and plenty of strong, young men on standby.

Remember to protect yourself. Once you are free, never look back. You will second-guess yourself for a long time. Your memory will play tricks on you. You will think, “Was it really all that bad?” I have a crack in my jaw that hurts sometimes; this reminds me that yes, it was that bad.

The bible doesn’t say “reconcile and forget,” it simply says “forgive and forget.” Forgiveness does not mean the renewal of the relationship; it is the power to let go. Reconciliation is forgiveness with the expectation of a continued relationship. Don’t kid yourself – there is no expectation of a continued relationship.

Your ex-partner will be angry. They will plead. They will promise to never hurt you again. They will try to convince you that it never happened. Stay strong. Find your friends again. Cry, laugh and cry again. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Be reborn. Rejoice in the day.

I’ve survived. My children have survived. It was 1997, so long ago, but only yesterday. Scars will heal. We will be okay.

~ Dianne

If you are someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is hope and there is help. You are stronger than your story, braver than you know, and a survivor through and through.

In Ontario, call 1-866-863-0511 24/7.

In Ontario, call 1-866-863-0511 24/7.

Call 1-800-799-7233 in the US 24/7.

Call 1-800-799-7233 in the US 24/7.

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

Working to a better me

I am not the biggest fitness guru in the world, not even in this sisterhood, but I do have a few things that I love doing as I work my way to a better me.

1. Hot Yoga:
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I have Toni to blame for this one. I didn’t think I would like it at all. I thought I would hate the heat, and just hate the fact that my body can’t do all the yoga poses. However, the first night I attempted this I felt so calm and at peace with my body and myself afterward I knew it was love. I love my body for all its largeness, but know it can be better. And now I can listen to my body better than I have in the past.

2. Crunches:
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I have a love for them. I can do 96 of them in a row, which I am pretty damn proud of myself for. For this I have to thank my old burlesque teacher, Miss Sassy Ray. She is wonderful, and showed me that no matter what size you are, you can dance, crunch, and wiggle with the best of them.

3. Eating Better:
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Less fast food, less junk overall, and just trying to put more veggies where there is too much starch. This one is hard because I live with so many people, with varying likes and dislikes, but I have found ways to sneak in the healthy stuff.

I am not the best at being healthy or treating my body well, but I am on a road leading to a better me, and working on a better happiness for who I am, what I look like, and my size.
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~ Andreah