Life nearly changed drastically for me a couple weekends ago. My husband, whom I love and loves me with every fiber of our collective being, nearly left me for a couple days. We were fighting, saying things that hadn’t been said before and were hurtful and only partially true and he threw up his hands and yelled, “I give up!” and he walked out the door.
The problem that sparked the fight isn’t important. It’s the underlying tension that had been building for months until the fight that’s important. He left for a couple hours and came back to pack a bag and shower, and then leave. While he was sitting there in his underwear, I begged him to listen to me. He did. We talked. I realized some truths.
Truth 1: I’ve been miserable for a long time, with my career, with my health, with my weight.
Truth 2: Misery loves company, and mine was trying to suck Mike down into my quagmire of loathing. I hate me and I was trying to get him to hate me too. It nearly worked. I would come home in a horrible mood from work, from traffic, from worry, and I would yell at the kids for getting in my way when all they wanted was to play with me. I would yell at him for avoiding me by escaping to the man-cave (basement) to watch TV or to the tub or to bed early. But who wants to be around a grinch? He was merely fleeing Medusa hell bent on making him miserable too.
Truth 3: I have some serious life restructuring to do.
The thing is, I have tried in the past to ‘fix’ myself. I went to therapy and it helped me deal with my issues of doing anything/everything to gain acceptance from people. I need to remember the lessons taught there. But there’s a lot I want to change. I’m not going to dwell a whole bunch on the reasons for the desire to make changes. I can get trapped in the hamster wheel of why things are the way they are. If you’ve read here (or my other previous blogs) for any time at all, you’ll know that I’m not happy with several things.
1. My career. Unfortunately I’m kinda stuck there. I can’t quit, can’t find something else in my area (already tried), am financially unable to take any kind of pay cut, and don’t have time/resources to return to school. This is on the back burner. Things won’t always be like this, and for the sake of my family, I need to stick this out for now. It could be lots worse.
2. My health/weight. These things go hand in hand. I am almost exactly 100 pounds overweight. This results in triple chins, fatigue, self-loathing, ill-fitting clothes, emotional eating (and that hamster wheel is more like barbed wire) and an inability to keep up with my kids. It sours my mood, strains my relationships, and I don’t want to be this person anymore.
3. My general attitude. It’s poor. I am cynical and while I like helping people, I suspect the worst of people. I need a new outlook.
So! While Rome wasn’t built in a day, it was eventually built, and I can make some changes a day at a time to restructure my life and get the most out of it. My husband has been supportive, and we’ve teamed up on things to help get our marriage back in the swing of things (it didn’t swing that far out, but it’s never been bad enough that either of us wanted to stay somewhere else for a few days. That’s scary). It’s amazing how the little things make a difference. If I’m doing a chore around the house, he helps keep the kids busy and out of my hair. If he’s tired then I make dinner. I have decided to start with the things that I can immediately control, namely my fitness level and caloric intake.
Over the last couple of weeks I have begun to do some research into food and ways to eat healthier, and in that vein I’ve discovered a desire to eat more locally, sustainably, organically. Given that we’ve got some financial troubles, I don’t know that we’ll be able to jump in all at once, but a little at a time, a step at a time, is a place to start. I’ve been listening on audiobook to Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle book and it’s official: I’m a hippy granola convert. I’ve discussed with Mike starting up a good sized garden in our backyard with strawberries, tomatoes, squash and cucumbers, broccoli, even asparagus and blackberries and more. I’ve borrowed more books from the library on cheese making, and on canning. My father grew up on a farm and knows how to make anything from scratch and how to can, so I can remember homemade strawberry jam in our pantry (and in fact, this spring, he canned some on a visit to our house and I have a couple more jars of yummy red goo for toast and sandwiches) and him making pickles when I was a kid. I love pickles. Since his canning experiment this spring, I have some jars and a big canning pot to boil the jars for a proper seal. I can envision rows upon rows of jars of tomato sauce, whole tomatoes for stew, potatoes, beans, and all kinds of stuff. I’ve borrowed books about gardening, composting, soil composition, and I’ve studied seed websites for the idea of germinating my own seedlings in the late winter. I like the idea of heirloom seeds to preserve crops that are dying out due to genetic tampering and pesticides and saving seeds for exchange with other gardeners scratches an anti-establishment itch I’ve always had. I’ve considered buying a share of a CSA (community supported agriculture) crop from local farmers, but around St. Louis, they sell out fast. I don’t believe any spots are open for the 2010 year. I even found a lamb farm and considered broaching the subject of a CSA for undyed yarn. There are a few on the web, but they’re not local, so there are shipping dollars involved there. However, I’m not opposed to looking into it more, since the farmers are not giant factories but small, family farmers and it helps them to keep going, farming, running their businesses.
Also along the health lines, I’ve decided to apply for a reality show on NBC called Losing It with Jillian Michaels of The Biggest Loser fame. I doubt I’ll get picked, but they have to pick someone, right? I might as well try for it. Basically, the premise is that she comes to your house and helps you and your family figure out a way to prioritize things, make healthy decisions, lose weight (if that is your goal) and reorganize things for a happier life. I am a prime candidate for that. My sister is going to help me with my application video and then I’m all set. You never know, right?
But I’m not waiting for a show to make improvements. Last spring, I started running. I stopped because my bum foot was bothering me. I was going to rest for a week, and that morphed into the entire summer and into the fall. That stopped today. At lunch, I ran half of the time and walked half the time for a mile and a half on the treadmill at work. Oh, I didn’t mention that my work has a work out facility? State of the art? Free weights AND weight machines? A racquetball court that can be retrofitted with a net for wallyball? An aerobics room complete with mirrored wall and a TV to play DVDs? Showers? That I haven’t been taking advantage of every week for the last 8 years I’ve worked here?
See, this is another reason I’m not keen to leave my job. Now that Mike is helping with the kids’ transportation after school and daycare, I may actually have time to use these facilities after work. Or if I can get him to take the kids to school and daycare in the morning, I could do my workout first thing. For now, I’m running at lunch on a treadmill. When the weather warms back up and I’ve had some time to get used to running without horking a lung through my nose then I plan to run outside. I’ve even got dizzy daydreams of running in a race. Maybe.
But in the last couple of weeks, just the act of looking into making changes has given me some hope. Just the idea that a little at a time can be enough if I can keep it up. I ran today. For half an hour. And I walked some of it. I sweated. I put on a sports bra (hate that uni-boob thing, but love that I don’t get smacked in the face) and running shoes and moved my fat around in ungainly and unsightly ways. Hopefully, if I do that enough, there will be less fat to move around. Maybe one day I can run without my belly flopping along with my boobs. Maybe I can even put the treadmill on incline. Maybe I could get a bike and go bike riding with the kids and Mike next summer. Get one of those trailer things.
The thing is, I have plans. I haven’t had plans for a long time beyond what Mike set up for us to do with his family. I want to be better, instead of wallowing around in my own misery, bringing everyone around me down. Maybe, with some happiness and stability at home, and progress towards my weight goals, my career won’t seem so insurmountable. Maybe I’ll have the energy to stay up late when the kids are in bed and do some writing. I’m letting my dreams wake up again. Someday is not so abstract to me anymore. Someday has become Any Day Now. I’ve begun.