I saw an old boyfriend when I was in Chicago. We went to Gibson’s on Rush Street for lunch. The Eggs Benedict were scrumptious and the chocolate mousse cake to die for.
Budanyway, he reminded me of the one time in my life I was overweight and how shocked he was I was able to take it off. (I’m not particularly disciplined and virtuous. If cigarettes and pills had calories….)
Two things contributed to my weight gain of forty pounds at the age of 48.
I’d been taking Zyprexa for a while. (You really don’t need another reason.)
And my meds were no longer effective in helping me sleep, so after a year without significant rest, I drank ten to twelve Cokes a day to stay awake at work. That’s like how many pounds of sugar a day, right?
My old beau asked me what I did to lose the weight. I told him I worked out 2 ½ hours a day, five days a week for four months (70 minutes aerobic, 20 minutes hitting a punching bag, 40 minutes doing weights, twenty minutes lunges, squats, and crunches). I didn’t eat much. Mostly peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nothing else.
Here’s a strange thing.
I’d been 5’-6 3/4 “ all my life. Every doctor appointment confirmed this was my precise height from sixteen years on.
After I lost the forty pounds, I went to a doctor. The nurse measured my height.
I said, “You mean 5’-6 ¾”?
She said, “No. You’re 5’-7”.”
“No way. I’ve been five-six and three-quarter all my life.”
She measured me again.
And 5’-7” I’ve stayed for the last twelve years per the nurses at every doctor’s appointment.
The only thing I can figure is that all the working out and stretching somehow straightened my posture and spine to bring me up another ¼”.
I was delighted. I love when something good happens that’s supposed to be impossible.
Around the time I grew taller, I read an excellent paper on PTSD that used the term “encapsulation” to describe a PTSD symptom. It brought back a memory.
One beautiful summer’s night when I was twenty-eight, I stood out outside my apartment in Chicago’s Old Town, waiting for my friends to pick me up. The sun was nearly set. There was a breeze off the lake. I stood on the pavement and felt suddenly strange. I didn’t have the words or a concept for it back then, but now I can say I felt encapsulated—as if I were trapped inside an invisible, weightless container that removed me from directly experiencing my existence. My senses had been involuntarily put at a remove. I couldn’t snap out of it. This feeling came and went as the years went by.
I think now it was a combination of derealization (the world seems unreal) and depersonalization (detachment within from one’s mind or body or being a detached observer from oneself. Dreamlike.) I’d get triggered by something and slip into this remote state.
Both the ideas of being encapsulated and impossible growth inspired my book Nicky Chase: Man in a Fish Oil Pill. (I’m plugging something new!!!)
It’s a short novel written in the first person, which tells the story of me finding a tiny man in a fish oil pill and how Jack and I helped him break out of it and grow into his full stature. It’s a metaphor for the experience of PTSD and its healing. I think literally two people have read it. Impossible I know.
There’s true life stuff in it, too, about Jack and me when we lived in Chicago and my dear uncle Roy when he was still living in his house on the golf course in AZ. He died a week ago Friday at the age of 100. I feel so fortunate I was there with him when he took his last breath. I know he is on the links with my dad every day—on the other side.
I’m happy to say I do not feel encapsulated anymore. For better or worse, my senses are rarely at any remove. In fact, most of my blogs have to do with releasing the energy of overwhelming feeling.
Ode to the Cotton Bug IV
Oh Cotton Bug, Oh Cotton Bug,
I came home last night and found you were gone.
I thought the whirling, swirling, twirling carpet-cleaning machine took you to the Eternal Cotton Fields.
I can’t say I shed a tear.
I might’ve even said, “Good riddens.”
Today around eleven a.m.,
there you were again
crawling up the side of my white couch.
It wouldn’t be so bad if you were encapsulated.
I could set you on the cocktail table
to watch the last 37 episodes of the Kardashian show
in your little, plastic bubble, which I’d puncture with tiny holes so you could breathe and still experience something of existence–however removed.
But this is an impossible thing.
I gently picked you up with a Puff’s tissue and sent you whirling, swirling, twirling down the drain.
Goodbye Cotton Bug.