I really thought that toward the end of summer and early fall I was going to feel all excited and motivated with life. I was going to have a ton of energy and lots of ideas and the type of focus that I have had in the past. Instead I feel like a wet blanket is draped over me and life has nothing of any real joy or value to extract.
Intellectually I know this isn’t true. I haven’t been a self-help aficionado for so many years to give up on this world or myself. I’ve invested literally hundreds of hours of my life either watching Oprah or talking to Laurie about Oprah – I’m not about to throw that all away now.
So what’s the first step in getting out from under the cloud layer and back up where I can see the sun in my heart? As hard as it is for me to face for some reason, the very first step is to get my health and fitness under control. I eat too much, I drink too much, I don’t drink enough water, and I really REALLY don’t exercise enough.
I do sleep enough – sleeping is my super power, I have never ever had trouble sleeping for which I am deeply grateful. I know people that struggle with insomnia and I know that it’s like putting ankle weights on to get through the day.
The biggest struggle with my weight is that I was never heavy in my youth. I didn’t really get heavy until around 30 years old and up to then I was super skinny. So basically my skinny self got trapped in a fat body and the struggle to get back out has been tough – and y’all, he’s grumpy as hell.
I thought I had to subscribe to the latest fad diet or become a weight lifter to get skinny again. And for 20 years that hasn’t worked. I’ve had a few months here and there of being my normal weight but it never “sticks”.
One factor that has contributed to this is that up until around 30 I was DIRT poor. As a kid I would often go to bed hungry, and if you think your family is going to always be there for you when you are in survival mode think again. We were homeless for a couple of years when I was in jr. high and at one point an aunt let us stay with her and she SCREAMED at me if I touched her food. Y’all, I was literally starving but heaven forbid I touch her bologna.
Any who, as an adult I had the money to live on my own and I often worked two jobs to make that happen. That was always paycheck to paycheck, happily. I was actually pretty proud of myself for being to accomplish so much with no education or parents to fall back on.
Then by the time I was in my early 30s both Mom and Dad had died, the fragile framework of a “family” that Mom managed to cobble together fell apart, and I was as alone as I could possibly get. Siblings sort of split into smaller groups like high school clicks, but the accident that they all blamed Mom & Dad’s divorce on, the one that was nothing but a burden to their mother, he was left on his own. (That’s me btw, in case it wasn’t clear.)
And honestly, that is exactly the same feeling I’m having right now. One of my best friends, and certainly one of my longest running friendships, decided in August that I was no longer of use to her. Unless I was helping her with her own issues, or driving her all over the city to run errands, or professionally designing her entire home renovation without asking for any compensation except our friendship, I was worthless to her. So she threw me away, just like my siblings did when I was around 30 (and my parents did, but they died so I can’t really give them a hard time about that).
I was very very alone for several months and it’s all kind of coming back to me now how I handled it. Besides a LOT of sitting alone and crying, I started to focus on my self and my self only. I no longer had to worry whether or not my dad was going to approve of me, or my mom was going to shame me for not living the way she though I should, or my siblings were going to invite me to their wedding, or their Christmas, or their __________.
Fun fact: I have seven siblings and have never been invited to one of their weddings. Not once. And some of them have been married MULTIPLE times.
Now I’m alone again and have that same feeling again. Looking back maybe I can see how I handled it because I came out of it pretty well.
I wrote a novel. That was pretty fun. It wasn’t good enough to get published but I enjoyed writing it so much! I also transferred at work to a job that I really wanted. Now normally I would have stayed put and wait to be promoted and work super hard. But instead I took the steps to move to a different department and get a better position. I made that happen!!
I kind of adopted the attitude that I no longer had anything to lose. I was single, recently orphaned, shunned by my closest living relatives and I was in Dallas, TX of all places with no real friends.
Maybe that’s the key. I no longer had ANYTHING to lose by using my time to write a book, or apply for a promotion in a different department. There was nothing left to lose and that is what got me through!
Just a few months later I met the love of my life and we moved in together. That was the moment when life started to actually have meaning. I was no longer afraid of losing my family from a place of desperation, but was excited to move together into the foggy unknown that we call the “future”.
We just celebrated our 18th anniversary and it’s been THE best years of my life. So when I say I’m alone right now it’s not quite as intense as the period to which I referred earlier. But the wet blanket feeling is very reminiscent.
When we got together is also when I started to gain weight. You see, there is something very powerful about not having enough money to eat more than one can of Spaghetti-Os per day or when right after high school I was roommates with one of my brothers and all I had money for after paying the rent, etc, was to eat ONE sweet potato per day, and when he found out I was using his Shedd’s Spread to top it he sat me down and made sure I understood that that was unacceptable and to stop immediately – going from that to having enough to pay the bills and have some LEFT OVER?! Y’all, seriously.
It’s hard to stop yourself from eating out – and eating a LOT – when you’ve literally be deprived of it all your life simply because of money.
So even up to today it is hard for me to resist the urge to eat burgers every day for lunch BECAUSE I CAN.
Coming back around to overcoming this wet blanket feeling though it’s time to get my health and fitness under control. And first on the list is wanting healthier choices. I’m going to need to explore in my heart what healthier choices I would choose over unhealthy choices.
What can I have for a healthy lunch that is so tempting and so delicious that Five Guys seems trite and unappealing? Because self-imposed food restrictions just activates the scared little boy in Jr. High that didn’t know if he was going to eat that day.
Until I figure that out I can drink lots of water every day. That would make my inner skinny boy happy.