Stuck in conversation with George

It’s taken me a while to think of a title for this post.  I feel like, particularly recently, my head space is in up and down, mostly negative states, but also very revealing–So much clarity.  This is where I’m at though.  I can’t deny that.  This is a massive part of my journey.  In fact, the most important part, and I’ve been struggling deeply with this pain.   I don’t particularly have any friends named George, but I wanted the title to at least present as a little more positive than the rest of the post, so I decided to give my “emotional pain” a name.  George is a good name. 

This has been a time of serious grief, sadness and overall pain for me; not just for the major events I’ve just faced, but a lifetime of heartache that I haven’t allowed myself the opportunity to really grieve or work through without tearing myself down in the process.  I’ve placed so much shame and unworthiness on myself.  Instead of knowing how to parent myself through chaotic events, I allowed a side of me, an enabler, to grow stronger.  If it felt bad, my enabler would say, “it’s okay, have that piece of pizza or cheesecake, smoke that cigarette or have those 3 or 4 glasses of wine.”  How cunning this enabler became. 

I’ve had weight issues most of my life.   Although I was a thin and athletic as a child, the weight problems started while my mother was in and out of the hospital going through cancer treatments.  I guess I was around 10 or 11 when it became noticeable.  I was just a little chubbier than the other girls.  I was 12 years old when she died.  I remember people bringing casserole after casserole to our house.  Our fridge overflowed with them.  From out of these events my addiction to food was born.  I’ve spiraled between thin and fat (mostly fat) ever since.  I don’t think I’ve even recognized myself in a mirror, or in pictures (and those are the worst at giving you a reality check), in 10 or 15 years, maybe more.

Throughout that time more life-altering events occurred–hard, heartbreaking events, and George got fed.  George grew stronger and gorged himself whenever possible, and my addiction festered.   What a lie, a joke I played on myself for so long.  As if food was my comforting friend and my fat a wall of protection from everyone around me.  What cruel deceivers.

I suffered what I believed to be a fairly major rejection this past week, but one that I needed to happen, and the timing of it was quite perfect.  Honestly, I set myself up for it, likely intentionally.  I’ve noticed I tend to do that when things in my life are askew, which is all the time.  I basically acted like a complete, desperate jackass.  I always created an awkward atmosphere around this particular person, which had more to do with everything I’ve been going through; but, it wasn’t something I ever communicated to him.  I know my awkwardness made him uneasy.  Luckily, the rejection forcefully knocked me back into reality.  Though it was a crushing blow to my fragile ego and amplified George’s existence, it ultimately was the exact thing I needed to push me into recovery.  I’m not saying I’m cured or have it all figured out, but for me, the past week or so has meant 10 thousand steps in the right direction–extremely painful, yes, but necessary.  Adversity truly is our greatest teacher.  Everything in life is Teacher, remember that!

Decoding Annie Parker Review

They changed the date of the movie to May 19th instead of May 22nd.  I went last night for the screening hosted by Casting for Recovery (or CFR –, an organization that provides fly fishing retreats all over the US for breast cancer survivors of all stages.  You may ask, fly fishing?  But it provides a gentle activity for those who have limited mobility in their chest and upper arms due to breast surgery.  Pretty cool actually!  I can see how good this idea is as I had to do physical therapy after my surgery.  CFR was founded in Vermont by two women, one a reconstructive surgeon and the other a professional fly fisher.  I may apply and learn to fly fish.  Why the hell not–looks to be a totally fun, Zen-like, tranquil experience.

I was worried I might cry at parts of the film, with it matching so closely to my own experience, and I was having a bad day emotionally yesterday anyway.  I didn’t cry though, and actually laughed at a number of moments.  I wish more people would see this film, just to have a better understanding.   Starring Samantha Morton and Helen Hunt, this film is based on true events.  “Decoding Annie Parker tells the life affirming story of two remarkable women; the irrepressible Annie Parker, a three time cancer survivor and the geneticist Mary-Claire King whose discovery of the breast cancer BRCA gene mutation is considered one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century,” (taken from 

I related overwhelmingly to so many parts of this movie, specifically to what Annie Parker went through.  I laughed at the parts where she constantly gave herself breast exams–checking for lumps.  While watching a movie with her husband or at the dinner table with friends.  You can become obsessed with “feeling yourself up” on a highly frequent basis when you know BC runs in your family or find out you have the gene mutation.  I thought, omg, that was totally me too!   I almost felt this was my story and I’m glad such films are being made and recognized today.  It creates so much more awareness around the reality surrounding women with BRCA mutations.

They had a question and answer session afterward with a genetic counselor and a hematologist/oncologist.  I sat quietly and listened as several questions were raised about genetic testing for BRCA mutations, new drugs on the market, statistics and family histories.  While listening to the questions asked and feeling a majority of attendees were of the general population (meaning not having and likely not remotely in danger of having a mutation like mine), I realized at that moment how fairly unique I was.  Not that anyone wants to be unique in this way, of that I can assure you, but it is what it is.  One woman asked what the ratio of having a BRCA mutation is in women.  In the general population (excluding the Ashkenazi Jewish population) it’s 1 in 400.