disappearing act

I have no doubt that my childhood influenced my decision to go into teaching. I wanted to be a positive influence in the lives of children by fostering a nurturing classroom environment.   So, it made sense to me to specialize in Early Childhood Education. This gave me the platform to help young children establish a strong foundation not only in their education, but also in their lives.

I didn’t start out as an education major though.  At first I was going to major in sociology, but had no idea what I wanted to do in that field…maybe social work.  But at every family get together when my answer to the dreaded question, “what will you do with a degree in sociology” was met with disapproval, I was discouraged from pursuing a career in social work.  Because there’s not enough money in it, it’s hard work and depressing….they would say.  Ironically, people try to dissuade would be teachers with the same argument.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s this: it’s not always about the money.

I spent  a total of 20 years working in the field of education as a tutor, a substitute  and a classroom teacher.  For the first four years, I was single and dating.  My fifth year of teaching was very eventful! I married Mr. Hines during first semester and discovered that I was expecting during second semester.  My plan was to wait for five years before having children.  I wasn’t ready to be a mother, but I had decided long before I ever met Mr. Hines that I would be a stay-at-home mom.  So, I resigned at the end of that school year, and I was so upset about ending my career so soon. So upset that when I sat down to tell my boss, she thought I was going to tell her I had cancer. :) (Perhaps I  should have been a theater major.) But, I had really gotten use to life as a teacher.  It’s who I was.  The birth of my daughter changed all that.

I think any pregnant woman feels insecure about the inevitable weight gain.  It didn’t help when someone said, “You went from being a svelte bride to having a pregnant belly.”  I held back tears as I smiled and nodded in agreement.  By the end of my pregnancy I had gained sixty pounds.

After I gave birth, my hypothyroidism seemed to spiral out of control, even though I was being treated.  I spent the next ten years in a battle against depression and weight.  I realized that my identity had shifted from being a teacher, to being thin.  In my mind, I had to be thin to be pretty.  I told a friend at the time that I felt like the real me was hidden under 3o or 4o pounds.  I did not recognize myself in the mirror, and  I did not feel sexy AT ALL.  This did a number on my sex life.  Poor Matt.  The doctor told me to wait six weeks after my c-section; the usual orders. I waited for three months, and even then I felt obligated because it was our anniversary ,or we might still be waiting….LOL!  Just kidding.

It took two years, but I lost most of the weight I gained from pregnancy, only to gain it back after about a year.  I  have been overweight ever since which has been about nine years now.  I’ve tried not to put my identity in my physical appearance.  Some days I’m successful, others I’m not.  I’ve worked at accepting my curves and telling myself that my weight represents a different phase of life: I’m not twenty something anymore.

I remember when I first began teaching, I would look around at the other people driving to work and be struck by the blank stares and the bored looks on people’s faces.  I believed then, and believe now, that life is too short to be stuck in a job that is just a job.  I was so sad at the idea of dreams lost.  I wanted those people to quit and pursue their passions.  But, I know that kind of thinking is idealistic.  I guess I’m an idealist.  And that idealism drives me to fight for what I think reality should be.  It is a lonely fight.  I know the world can’t be perfect, but I can’t stand the idea of  settling with status quo if you’re unhappy with status quo.  It makes me want to shake people by the shoulders and shout, “Wake up!”

I am not content sitting idlely by, and I don’t want others to be either.  And that brings us to last Sunday, Mother’s Day, when I heard that still, quiet voice inside of me saying, “Rise up and walk!”  In my Mother’s Day Out series, we’ve been talking about being all that we are created to be.  I feel my weight is hindering that.  So, it’s time for me to shake myself by the shoulders, wake up and take responsibility for my weight.  I will tell you that it is not like me at all to talk about this issue.  I resolved a long time ago not to be the girl who always complains about her appearance.  I didn’t want to model that for my daughter. But I did want to be forthcoming with you, my readers, in the hopes that someone can identify with my story, and hopefully be inspired by it.

A couple of years ago, I was sitting in the teacher’s lounge having lunch with some of my colleagues.  As we were sharing how our day was going, we found that all of us had dealt with our share of misbehavior in the classroom that morning.  I said to my colleague, “I’m not happy for you, but I am glad to know that it’s not just me.”  That sentiment is true in life too, I think.  There is comfort in knowing that someone has gone through, or is going through, similar circumstances.  There is peace in knowing ‘you’re not the only one.’  I have literally felt my fears, stress and anxiety give way to calm at the realization that someone understands because they’ve ‘been there.’

I’ll share more about ‘where I’ve been’ next week. I  hope you’ll join me.

Until next time,

Sharon

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After 17 years in an elementary classroom, Mrs. Hines retired from teaching to pursue her passions: decorating, writing and homemaking. While her formal education is in teaching, she discovered her talent for design at a young age and is a self-taught decorator. Mrs. Hines' DIY spirit has earned her appearances on the show Deals which airs on the Live Well Network. She continues to teach and inspire on her popular Lifestyle blog, Mrs. Hines' Class. Homemaking is Mrs. Hines' first love. So, when she isn't decorating or writing, you can find her at home watching television with Mr. Hines or trying to keep up with her teenaged daughter.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this story it can’t be easy for you to do. It is brave.

    Cynthia

  2. I can definitely relate to what your dealing with. I have had a battle with my weight for almost all my married life. I have lost 40 pounds twice and of course gained it all back. I always felt insecure with myself when I was heavy. It wasn’t until very recent that I have come to the realization that I am who I am and my weight is not my identity. I just want to be the person God has made me to be. I too have recently been diagnosed with hypothyroidism so along with the Fibromyalgia everyday is a challenge. That is why I have started my own blog, I am definely not blessed with your gift in being a writer but I can express my gifts through creativity!!
    Thank you for sharing!

  3. You’re right, Cynthia. It wasn’t easy and really appreciate your encouragement.

  4. Thank you for sharing. I cannot imagine living with both hypothryoid and fibromyalgia. I’m glad you’ve found a way to express your creativity through your blog.

  5. Sharon, my story is a little different. I was pregnant at 19 and had to ahve a caeserean too. That was 43 years ago so my scar goes up and down. THAT put an end to bikinis and me feeling sexy for MANY, many years. My husband is the most wonderful guy who loves me as I am. Now I have a new problem: I don’t recognize the face I see in the mirror. I seem to have aged ALOT in this past year and it isn’t pretty. I feel rotten so try not to look in the mirror much anymore. I don’t feel like ME anymore. I don’t know who this new person is. Sorry to ramble. Didn’t mean to write an epistle here:):) XO, Pinky

  6. I am so glad you shared. I really appreciate your candor and honesty. And I’m sorry that you don’t feel like you. Fortunately, you are still Pinky. And the Pinky I know is beautiful.

  7. Katherines Corner says:

    I feel you my friend. I send a hug…, I have hashimotos ( thyroid disease) I had radiation treatment on my thyroid. I no longer have one and have been battling weight issues for the first time in my life over the pat two years. I have gained 40 lbs! I was a size 6 now I wear a 10-12 and I am very unhappy about it. In addition I have other health issues and I am menopausal. My metabolism has all but ceased completely. Thank you for sharing sweet Sharon I know this must have been a difficult post to write. Hugs and wishes for a beautiful week! xo

  8. Awww, thanks for the hug! I’m sorry you’re having to experience so many changes in your body at once. I know that it can be very discouraging and sometimes consuming. I hope you have lots of energy and feel great this week. xo

  9. Lorraine says:

    Thanks for talking about this Sharon. I think that too often Christian women are admonished to never speak about being distressed over their appearance. After all God loves us as we are and thinking about that is practically a sin…right? But, we live in a world that is VERY VERY focused on appearance and performance. Unless we can keep ourselves in a little bubble, it’s not unexpected to feel self conscious and unpretty…..and fairly often too. I have been working hard at self-acceptance but I still avoid mirrors and really HATE photos of myself. I get discouraged by these feelings and have to work against them daily. Everyone has insecurities and doubts about SOMETHING and so many more people have REAL disabilities to work against every day. I think it can be an an encouragement to others when we share that we have the same feelings about our appearances….we aren’t alone in the struggle to put the world behind us and the cross before us.
    Blessings, Lorraine

  10. marymags79 says:

    Oh goodness, yes… I can relate. I’ve struggled with weight and body image issues my whole life. I’ve gained and lost and gained and lost so many times that I’ve stopped counting. I had no choice but to accept that because I have a debilitating and degenerative illness, I’m no longer physically able to exercise in a way that’s beneficial. I’m also trying to come to terms with the totally out of whack hormones and weight shifts that come with metalpause. :~( I completely understand what Pinky meant when she said that she doesn’t recognize the face she sees in the mirror. I see someone completely different, too. I try very hard to maintain a positive attitude and most days I succeed to an extent, but things like losing one of your children and being diagnosed with a chronic illness all in less than a year, can change who you are at your very core. And those changes have a way of manifesting themselves outwardly… in the lines on your face and the furrow in your brow. Sorry. I don’t mean to come across as a whiner. I see the blessings too. And there are many. His grace has kept me afloat when nothing else could and I pray every day that It always will. I just wanted to reiterate that none of us is really ever alone. As women, we have the strongest and best support systems available, right at our fingertips. And you, dear lady are helping to spread that message through these posts. Thank you for sharing your soul so honestly and compassionately, Sharon. Blessings, Mary

  11. In no way do you sound like you’re whining. I’m so glad you shared your story! My heart breaks for you over the loss of your child. And I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with a debilitating disease. I’ll tell you what, I would never have guess that you had suffered such a difficult year because you are always so pleasant, encouraging and cheerful! Thank you so much for being a part of my support system!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Last time, I ended by saying that I’d share more about where I’ve been.  Here’s the deal: there comes a point in time that the past is no longer a part of our story, at least not the part we share when we are getting to know each other.  If we’d met twenty years ago, I would have shared the heartache of watching my parent’s marriage being torn apart.  Fifteen years ago, I’d have told you all about the ex-fiance who turned out to be my stalker.  And as recently as last summer, I would have expressed the disappointment in lost dreams and in an unexpected change of plans. And the funny thing is, those incidents were  in the past.  But I carried it with me as though it were a part of my identity.  ”Hello, I’m Sharon.  My Dad had an affair, my ex was a dangerous conman who used to stalk me, and my husband and I barely survived when he lost his job.”  Traumatic moments do influence who we are; who we become, but when there’s something new and better to talk about, why dig up the past? […]

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