The following is an email I sent a few days ago to a friend:
Last night, Mike was off doing his own thing (downloading music 2 floors down from me and the kids) and the kids were in tears and screaming because I finally put my foot down about them sleeping I my bed and giving myself some alone time, and I was ready to cry and pull my hair out, and I ended up giving in, which only reinforces for them that they’ll get their way if they throw a big enough fit. Which is what happens when Mike tries to give me a break and put them to bed for me. Unless they’re just wiped out, they both end up back in my bed at some point, usually with Daughter in tears and demanding to be held and rocked. She’s only 2 and I remember Son having these kinds of needs when he was her age. But man, it’s trying.
I’m coming apart at the seams. I get no break; we’re not that stable financially though we’re better than we were, but it means I can’t afford retail therapy and I can’t afford a shrink, and I can’t even afford to get my fucking hair colored. I’m miserable with my health and my weight, and despite the Babysitter of Awesome letting me bring the kids earlier so I can work out before work, I’m having a hard time dragging myself out of bed at 5 am to get them there by 7 so that I can work out. It’s a vicious cycle. I come home and it’s all kids, all evening long. Baths, stories, bed, I knit while I try to get them to sleep in my bed while we catch up on shows on TV, but they’ve started bickering over something, a toy, the covers, who gets to lay next to me, something. I knit as much as I can (maybe an hour) before I can’t stand it anymore because I constantly have to stop to readjust the covers from their fighting/jumping/flopping all over, or get someone a drink, or help someone brush her teeth, or help someone with her pull up so she can go potty… My knitting gets interrupted, my reading gets interrupted, they follow me all over the house, and I can’t even play the fucking piano without them coming over to plink on the keys with me. Most of the time it’s endearing but lately, annoying. Last night, I put them to bed (together) in Son’s bed and Daughter screamed her head off and Son was crying too, accusing me of things like, “You just never want to snuggle with me AGAIN!” After the third time putting her back in bed with Son, she came in to my room gasping and hiccupping and desperately saying, “I sorry! I sorry! I sorry!” over and over, so we can add worst mother ever to my emotions. I am so tired by the end of the evening fights that I go to sleep later than I wanted to feeling awful and so when my alarm goes off at 5, I can’t get up right yet. So then I’m late dropping the kids off, and late to getting to the gym at work, so I can’t work out fully before I have to shower so I’m not late to my desk. Then by midmorning, I’m stressed out again over learning another job and waiting forever for my replacement to be found and hired. I feel so bad about things that I just want to fucking eat. Eating is comfort, but it’s the reason I’m fat. It’s the reason I feel like shit. So I fight it until I can’t anymore and I give in and spend my last dollar on vending machine shit and then beat myself up for my weakness. Then I just want to eat more to feel better again. Then I’m done with work and on my way home for today, and then it’s kids, and dinner, and baths, and bedtime… Lather, rinse, repeat.
I hate my temper being so short but I can’t find the time to get away by myself for a couple hours. I hate the way I feel emotionally, physically, and temperamentally to Mike and the kids. I’m running out of gas and I seriously need to recharge my batteries, but I don’t know how.
BUT! I want to go to the vending machine so bad right now, except instead, I got out my Ziploc of edamame and have been snacking on that instead of wasting money on empty calories. I’ve broken the food/self-hatred/food cycle for the last ten minutes at least.
Things are better than they were when I wrote that email, but it gave me pause. Something’s gotta give, and on some days, it feels like its my sanity that’s the weak chain link. I don’t know what the answer is, but something occurred to me, with the help of the friend to whom I sent that email. I’m letting these things be a reason to not take care of things, bitching about the sad and trying circumstances and yet doing nothing to change them. I’m playing the martyr, and I HATE martyrdom when it’s not justified. I was all ‘woe is me’ while stuffing Cheezits in my face. Not going to help matters in the least.
I fully admit to having an unnatural attachment to food, to emotional eating, and to eating as a form of self-defense. With a bit of sketchiness in my past, food became my comfort, and frankly, I’m wondering if I’m understanding all of the causes of my comfort eating because the period of time in which I gained most of my extra weight does not coincide with the event I thought was the sole reason I go to the food trough in time of hurt.
I’ve started to keep a food journal and document not just what I’m eating but what I’m feeling before, during, and after to show my feelings, what may trigger my overwhelming need for food in the wrong quantities and wrong times. I’ve also started thinking about eating better not as a whole picture but a puzzle. Each piece of the puzzle results in a single decision. Taken one decision at a time, one good choice after another, I could make an overall very healthy puzzle, if I’m not concerned about the whole picture, not concerned about making sure I have everything for the foreseeable future planned to the T. I need to get it through my head that to be a successful lifestyle change, I can’t flip a switch. It’s a day at a time, a decision at a time. Baby steps can lead to big changes.
The other thing that my friend helped me see was that I need to be selfish to pull this off. I’m so used to putting myself last, so that Mike can go out with the guys, so that the kids get what they need, so that things are taken care of. I’m lucky in that I have a husband who is not allergic to housework. In fact, he’s cleaner than I am, so our home is a product of both our efforts. But Mike and I disagree on some things regarding food, namely what’s healthy. I want to cut out processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, and buy organic meats as much as we can. He starts to draw the line there. We can’t afford organic, he says. I say we don’t need meat every single meal, and that if I can find good recipes that don’t have meat in them, he’d probably be pretty happy anyway as long as he’s fed. And then it would also make the meals with meat not only more anticipated, but tastier because it’s better quality meat. But he’s not ready to take the step to eating less meat. He grew up with meat every meal (so did I, but I’m more open to change right now) and hasn’t wrapped his brain about feeling full without a meat included. But I have, so why do I have to eat like he eats to get my own health? Sure, our budget has some restrictions but again, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing just yet. A few choices here and there can start the process.
I need to be selfish in asking for workout time, too. Luckily the Babysitter of Awesome has stepped up to the plate here, but on days like today, when I slept too long through my alarm because of the up late thing again, I’ll have to be worth it to myself to ask for some yoga time when I get home from work. I have to be more demanding for things like when I ask for something, like asking Mike to blow up my balance ball ~ three times…in the last two weeks ~ that I follow through when it doesn’t get done. When he was training to try to join the local police force, I most certainly helped him not only keep the kids out of his hair, but we all went to the track with him and I timed his laps so he’d know where he stood. Sure the kids were bored and hanging off me like monkeys in trees, but he needed me so we all went.
Recently, another friend has needed some help and advice. I’ve spent hours talking with her, trying to do my level best to be a good friend, a good listener, and be a valuable sounding board and safe landing spot for her in a trying time. I’ve got another friend who has been dealing with something difficult for months now and I’m always happy to talk to her when she’s upset, or even just wants to talk about anything other than the big elephant in the room. And yet another friend came to me for quick advice on something and I’ve availed myself to her through email. Another has opened a bridal shop and I was there for her grand opening, offering to photograph her dresses when they come in, tweeting about her shop and commiserating with her when she realized she’d have to get a part time job to pay for some of the opening expenses she took on since deciding to forego a small business loan. I’m a generous person, and I try to be kind and caring, treat people as I want to be treated, and be a good friend. I try to be a safe place for my friends to be selfish when they need to be because everyone needs to feel important at times, especially if they’re dealing with stress and hard to handle things.
It occurred to me that the kindness I show others I should maybe show to myself too. I should take myself seriously, stop with the “can’t” thinking and give myself some priority over stuff that can wait. If I treat people the way I want to be treated, why can’t I treat myself that way, too? It’s a good question, one for which I have no answers. But I think I’m going to find out.