I officially lost it this week.
Physically & emotionally, I just can’t take it anymore. I don’t have the time to take care of myself, and I just end up feeling worse and worse every day. I started to come to this conclusion at therapy on Thursday, and then was able to express it to my co-workers on Friday morning. It seems we all had been feeling similarly, knowing that we can’t operate at this pace for two more months.
And just when I was starting to feel okay about work, and that I had a chance to figure out what I needed in order to stay healthy & sane, I got a phone call from my mom. Not only did she tell me news about my brother that I didn’t know, but she started talking about emotional issues from the past that I just wasn’t ready to address. I’m so used to her only operating in fits of rage and melodramatic episodes, I was stunned by her calm tone of voice discussing my feelings. I have no idea how to tell her where my feelings come from without being hurtful or lying, even by omission. I wanted to call my therapist immediately after she called.
I was so confused by her call, but then I had to fake it through work on Saturday. Everything seemed okay, but when J was driving me home I had to tell her, and then I just lost it. By the time I was back in my apartment I was shaking, and realized that I wasn’t going to make it out tonight without calling my brother and seeing what was really going on.
I called the house and my mom picked up, but my brother was in the bathroom at the time so I talked to her about the weather, football, & home restoration shows for a few minutes. My brother got on the phone and he sounded better, but slightly agitated. Turns out the news my mom had told me was not the complete truth, but what he told me didn’t help clarify anything, it just made everything more confusing. He seems hellbent on beating this, and didn’t seem to want to talk about what would happen if this treatment doesn’t work.
It’s hard to connect and be supportive for someone when they don’t reach out to your advances, and you don’t want to push the issue and force them to talk about something unpleasant. I feel so helpless & confused, since I feel as though I don’t have all the information, and I can’t be there in person to possibly connect to my brother in a better way.
Part of me wants to ask for the doctor’s email, in an effort to get the truth from a source who actually knows something. Is that an invasion of privacy? And will she even be that forthcoming with me, who she’s only seen twice?
Meanwhile, my own health is failing. My back/ribs still aren’t getting better after weeks of rest, but I start PT this week, so hopefully I’ll be able to start running more regularly. I finally scheduled an appointment with an allergist to work out my (seeming?) food allergy issues. My skin still flushes and breaks out, I’ve had stomach cramps for over a month, and my mouth is parched most of the time. At this point, I’m praying it is celiac and that she doesn’t come back and say, “well, it must just be stress, because you’re fine.”
Today I get to see some friends who have nothing to do with work, which makes me happy. I’m still pretty raw, but I know that getting out of the apartment is good for me. And once I get home, I need to make a schedule for the week and figure out when I need to exercise, sleep, veg out, and work. Things may only get tougher, and I need a strong support network in place for when they do.
I had a writing assignment this week for the first time in years. Since I applied to culinary school, maybe? It was an application for a food-related grant, and since the qualifications were very general, I figured I would go for it and ask for a grant to start taking nutrition classes.
From their website, I got the feeling that they were looking for world-changing projects involving starting a farm and having underprivileged youth and homeless people earn a living by working it. Me, I just want to take a class. I was going back and forth about applying at all (“I can’t write well, this is crap” “They’re never going to go for this, it’s too boring”), but the more I started writing, the better I felt. I finally settled on “what the hell!” Maybe it is too boring for them, but that’s okay. It felt good just writing it (and then heavily editing it when I realized the word limit said ‘2500 characters’ and not ‘2500 words’) and seeing my thoughts expressed in a coherent way. I do want to take nutrition classes and help people discover better mental & physical health through cooking. I want to spread the good news of radishes & quinoa! The need is clearly there, why shouldn’t I get a grant?
Today, after spending a big chunk of time looking at all the pictures of me posted on facebook, I realized that I am invested in how other people see them. Do I look fat? Bad skin? Should I cut my hair short again, since it looked so cute then?
And then I was able to come out of that feeling and say to myself, WHAT are you doing? You’re never going to be able to open up to other people until you just accept that you are what you are. And that’s okay. Losing weight or getting scars removed or a new haircut won’t change you. It might make you more confident for a short amount of time, but all those demons that nip at your heels will still be there.
This is me, and I need to spend my time on focusing on loving ME. I won’t be able to fully love or experience unless I can love and accept myself first.
It’s sad, but I’m not really looking forward to the arrival of my college friends this weekend. It’s not that I don’t want to see them - I do! They’re amazing women and all so different. But the visit seems built on my shame. I couldn’t afford renting a beach house, so they’re coming here. I can’t afford anything, so I won’t be going to see shows or have fancy meals. But most of all, it’s the boring discussions of lifestyle that will get me down. How people have nice furniture, vacations to exotic locales…really anything that isn’t the borderline poverty I’ve dealt with for the past four years makes me sad & ashamed.
I think back to the girls we were in college - I was so vibrant, so uncaring of what others thought. I was still depressed at times, too, but I had the luxury of being surrounded by people who cared about me at all times. Now, I have few friends and even fewer close friends. And we’ve all changed from those girls we were in college, as you never think you will when you’re twenty-one, but of course you always do. We discussed all moving to the same place and raising our kids together. We never thought there would come a time when maybe we wouldn’t want to live next door to one another.
Similar to a weekend encounter I had with another friend, I feel like I won’t be able express myself fully around them. Because they don’t understand this utter desperation & isolation. I don’t have money, which means I don’t do things. I don’t do things, which means I don’t have much to talk about, which makes me ashamed. As I continue to not do things, I get invited to less things, which means I lose friends in the process. And then I continue to be isolated and ashamed, creating a vicious circle.
When I’m around (most of) the people I work with, they get this because they’re in it too. They know that it’s really freaking hard. And at least when I’m around them, I don’t feel so ashamed. I still have the feeling of “man, this sucks” but at least I know I’m not alone.
Around my college friends, I’m alone. We all have worked hard in different fields, but theirs are more lucrative. And they started out ahead of me anyway, with parental support (financial & emotional) and a better understanding of what they were getting into.
But here we are, 10 years later, as very different people than who we once were. It’s the beginning of many a reunion movie….
I just finished the Hunger Games trilogy, and I liked it. However…the last book made me want to grab a red pen and edit. Why do we get simple paragraphs of exposition for events that would be more interesting if we saw them unfold? Why do so many of the supporting characters lack any backstory & depth? Basically, I really wish the book was told in third-person instead of the first person narrative.
And this morning, I read that David Servan-Schreiber had died. And it was like a weight had been dropped on me. Reading his book gave me hope for cancer survivors and all people suffering from chronic conditions. It was realistic - he emphasized that sometimes, the cancer is going to win no matter how much you focus on your diet & stress reduction, and that it’s not your fault if that happens. But he talks about all the positive steps that all of us, cancer survivors or no, can take to lead healthier, longer, fuller lives.
More than anything, this article made me realize: your brother is going to die from cancer. Maybe not now, maybe not in ten years. But eventually, he will. Probably when he’s too young. And no amount of me teaching him to cook kale and stop eating absurd amounts of red meat will stop that.
So what do I do? Keep being a health advocate anyway, hoping that it will extend the quality of people’s lives, even if it doesn’t add more quantity?
First off, I’m thinking that the best use of this space is for general mental processing. I’m a much better conversationalist and I retain more information when I have to process it in writing.
This week started off promising, and then quickly descended into illness once again. I went to my doctor, who must think I’m some sort of hypochondriac, who gave me pain meds and told me to come back in two weeks if I’m still not feeling well. I don’t think this pain is muscular, but I can’t say for sure that it’s shingles either. I do know that I’m incredibly frustrated by being sick so often. I can’t do the things I want to do! My apartment is a mess, because I’ve been so tired. I’m not eating well, since I’m either not hungry or too tired to cook some vegetables as opposed to eating a Luna bar.
It distresses me to be less than 100% productive at work, also. Especially because I really need to make it clear that I need a raise. It’s hard for me, because I don’t WANT to run a company. But sometimes I feel like things are not going to get done unless I oversee everything, just because I’m the “organized one.” And then, I get hyperinvolved and don’t have the time to pursue my own dream.
I need to create my own space, to be 100% in work mode at work and 100% off when I’m at home. I think letting myself be controlled at work leads me to be lazy and just follow. When in reality, I like being in control and leading. I can be a leader at work and not let it consume me. I think I get angry with the tedium, which leads me to binge eat and choose unhealthy behaviors.
This fear cleanse has been good for taking the time to really experience emotions that I normally ignore. I need to recognize anger, fear, frustration and notice them when they appear. I don’t need to be a nag or a complainer about the whole thing, but I do need to ask myself the questions, “what is this emotion? why am I feeling it? can I do anything to overcome this emotion?”
I think I do need to take the step to make a vision board. It sounds so cliche in my head, but I’m the kind of person who needs a visual aid to help remind herself why she’s getting up at 6 am to go running. Because I want to feel good! Because when I feel good, I can give to others. I am more outgoing and friendly and FUN.
Take space, recognize emotions, and take action.
I had a realization today that my parent’s relationship with money has strongly informed my own. Interesting what happens when you take the time to think about why you feel a certain rising anger & jealousy whenever money is discussed.
My mom was discussing a project that she and my stepdad are undertaking involving photographing a certain type of sailing boat. But the conversation was framed as, “J, today I met the richest person I have ever met in my life. He has a HUGE house, and a yacht, and property abroad and…” Ok…”And they just couldn’t have been nicer! We met his kids and they were so polite, and they let us stay alone, on their property, with their boat! They trusted us to lock up and everything!”
So, Mom, you were expecting them to be impolite jerks? All rich people are horrible, evil people, taking away your hard-earned money to pay for their Jaguars?
But here I am, jealous of my friends, most of whom make more money than me, have less debt, and have the financial support of their families to fall back on. And as I try to tackle a new chapter in my life (Chapter 8, Social Skills and their Application to Men), I feel trapped. “I can’t go on a date because I don’t have the right clothes.” “I don’t have the money to go out enough, so I seem boring since I don’t know anything about my neighborhood.” “I don’t do enough stuff to talk about on my dating profile.”
Even thinking about dating people more well off than me makes me angry. I don’t want to be angry! I want to be nice and open and friendly! But someone talking about their trips to Paris and Rio and, oh, don’t you go out to restaurants all the time since you’re a chef? How do I answer these questions with grace and tact and not have to repress the surging jealousy inside of me?
This, however, is a catch-22. I don’t go out because I don’t have money, but if I did have money, I still would have my small-ish circle of friends. Ergo, not many people to go out with.
But it’s summer in the city: time to get creative! This is what I’m good at, right? I now have the time and the proper attitude to go out there and do things!
There are many free events to go to. I don’t drink that much, and I’m getting over my fear of being the non-drinking/non-eating one out at a bar. And what have I been doing this year besides figuring myself out? Why not continue to clarify those things I like, dislike, and want to learn more about? Not only to fill out my online dating profile, but so I can feel more confident.
This month’s thoughts:
Spend money WISELY. Meaning, in a way that benefits both my physical and emotional health.
Practice extroversion. Initiate a conversation with someone new. Introduce myself first. Plan an event with friends, or even with distant aquaintances!
Be mindful of the moment. What do I feel RIGHT NOW? Am I hungry, or eating out of boredom?
Ready, set, go.
After a week in which I gained a pound and a half (which I knew was coming, due to the stress, illness, and doughnuts involved in that week), I came back from Boston recommitted to my health. And this week, ate well, exercised, all that. Yes, I ate some cookie dough yesterday. But other than that, I was good.
And I gained 0.2 pounds. ARGH!
Granted, 0.2 pounds is fairly negligible. And I feel more muscular, so I’ve probably just done some body recomposition in the meantime, losing fat and gaining muscle.
But it still makes me frustrated.
Plus I woke up with a stiff neck, which hasn’t happened in years. Did I sleep in some odd way? Use too many pillows?
So it’s time to reconnect with my goals. Why do I want to lost weight?
*I want to be healthy and feel good. I’ve been in a great mood for the past two weeks, and I’d like to continue that feeling.
*I want to be confident with my body. I want it to be strong & lean, able to run long races and do full pushups.
*I want to be free off anxiety and the digestive upset that comes with too much sugar, dairy, alcohol, or meat.
My newfound assertiveness seems to be paying off in many ways - convincing my dad to sell his rugs, getting my prescription extended - so I need to transfer this assertiveness into my dealings with food. Don’t be afraid to say no. Be prepared with healthy foods. This is MY life and I get to decide the terms of it.
It is unbelievable the joy I feel at being in this new apartment. Yesterday, I was so productive in unpacking and getting stuff done. I was NEVER that productive at the Y, and I think a big part of it is the lack of sunlight. The sun poured in the windows and I unpacked almost everything. I’ve still got a bit of reorganizing and filing to do, but things look purty darn good right now, considering I’m still without some major furnishings. But everything will come together in the next few months, and I’ll have a pretty bitchin’ apartment.
First thing made in the apartment: bran muffins. Of course. I didn’t want to go out and buy too many new ingredients, so I found a recipe that used things I already had. I based it off of Heidi’s Bran Muffin recipe, with many substitutions. What did I learn?
Bran muffin dough tastes pretty nasty. I only made twelve at first and considered throwing the whole mess away until I tasted a completed muffin. Not bad! Lots of edits to be made, but hearty and nutty.
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups oat bran
3/4 t. kosher salt
1 1/4 t. baking soda
2 T. organic unprocessed sugar
1 1/2 cups 0% Greek yogurt
1/2 cup molasses
3 T. olive oil
1/2 cup almond milk
2/3 cup chopped apples
1/3 cup chopped almonds
Dry get mixed together, wet get mixed together, fold, add apples & almonds. Bake at 435 for 15 - 20 minutes.
Next time I’m only going to use the almonds - they added a really nice contrast in texture and brought out the sweetness in the flours. The apples didn’t really add much and seemed out of place. Maybe some almond extract next time too? MMM.
Also, the original recipe called for a light honey instead of molasses, and me being stubborn and not wanting to buy honey, I just used molasses. I think these would be much improved without the dark, slightly burnt taste of molasses. Plus I didn’t have enough yogurt (original recipe calls for 2 cups), so I added almond milk in at the very end. Next time, I think I’ll do 2 cups of almond milk plus 2 T. of vinegar as a sub for the yogurt.
The main thing I learned is that no matter how hard I try to screw up a recipe, I can still make something out of it.
Now, onto savory things! Hooray kitchen!
This week did not start off very well.
We decided not to go into the kitchen on Monday, so I had grandiose plans to get a bunch of admin work done. Did that happen? No. I spent the day in an epic state of depression. I imagine it was brought on by seeing my mom and her making me think about things I usually have the luxury to ignore. Or at least not confront on a daily basis.
I spent the day moping, rewatching Jane Eyre on Netflix, and trying to heed my therapist’s advice to feel my emotions and not try to ignore them. I ended up taking a nap, and felt more refreshed afterwards. I even managed to get a short workout in before meeting J for our RadioLab date. I thought getting out of the house would be enough to cure me, but I ended up staying up late and not getting enough sleep.
So then it’s Tuesday and I’m tired, cranky, and depressed. I eat everything in sight in the kitchen, making myself feel emotionally and physically gross. Thankfully, I had my first real shift at the co-op at 6, so I had the opportunity to blow off steam while stocking kale. I felt better afterwards, and then made a point to go to bed on time and be READY on Wednesday.
2 am, I wake with a start. My stomach had that feeling that it was going to go nuclear at any time, but I just had to wait it out. I drank some water, walked around…and eventually started sweating, feeling clammy, and proceeded to have some of the worst vomiting, etc. I’ve ever had. At one point, I thought I was going to have to call someone and go to the hospital.
At last, I thought it was over and layed back down, only to get up an hour later for another round. Then, finally, I was done. I texted my co-workers to let them know I wasn’t going to make it in to work that day.
So right now, even though physically, I still feel awful, I’m much better emotionally. I skyped with my brother briefly, I grabbed some gatorade and rested. My horoscope said that this week was going to be like this special garbage dump in Portland - one that’s mainly a trash heap, but has this special place where people come to exchange items that may be junk to them, but treasure to someone else. Certainly having my body purge itself of everything I recently ingested feels like a dump. But on the positive side, it made me realize that my routine is important, and I need to stick to it if I want to feel good.
This weekend I’m going to start moving some of my smaller belongings to my new apartment, which will be exciting and a good way to push the reset button. I’m going to have my own, private space, to do with whatever I want. I can have people over! I can go running in the park! The possibilities abound.
So thanks, garbage dump. I have found a nugget of good in you. Let’s just make sure I keep this nugget and use it daily.
I made my first goal in Weight Watchers! I lost 5% of my body weight, which was 8 pounds. It took 8 weeks, which is the usual rate for healthy weight loss. But I’m so happy! For the past two weeks I was in a standstill - gaining some and then eating a crapton of unhealthy food last Sunday. But, I’m beginning to see certain patterns emerge that are becoming more helpful in my journey.
1. Hydration is key: I’ve always known that if I get dehydrated, I get headaches and don’t feel well. I hadn’t realized that I am one of those people that needs to stay SUPER hydrated. Drinking lots of water keeps me focused, alert, and less likely to eat mindlessly. I’ve also seen the importance of lots of fiber + water, and how that combination keeps me full and happy for a good portion of the day.
2. Take your time: As much as I loathe waking up early, when I do, I have the time to sit down and have a big, slow breakfast. I usually don’t eat much dinner, so it makes sense that I should have a big breakfast, especially after working out in the morning. When I’m rushing through the morning and just have time to shovel cereal in my face, it often doesn’t register and I’m hungry again at 10 am. I’m still working on getting up earlier - I’ve stopped taking Klonopin to see if this will help me be less foggy in the morning.
3. Always have a plan: As you may know, I love lists. I love planning! But sometimes I’m just too tired, too lazy, too hyped up on sugar to make a plan. But it’s so important to my success! I’ve gotten much better at prepping all my vegetables on the weekend and planning out meals for the week. And it’s a vicious circle - if I keep up with my sleep, don’t eat a ton of sugar, and keep myself emotionally healthy, I’ll make time to meal-plan. If not, well, the downward spiral begins.
4. Protein & Probiotics are your friends: Similar to water, I really need protein and fiber to keep me full. This is a basic truth of nurtition, but I hadn’t been hit over the head with how different it makes me feel. Having almond butter, low-sugar yogurt, and high-fiber cereal keeps me going. Somehow I thought I couldn’t eat more than one yogurt in a day…but it seems my stomach will allow it, and all that protein keeps me full. Also, even on days when I’ve eaten quite well, I’ve had some tummy upset issues. Yogurt & kombucha seem to help balance things out, and at the very least, give me some sort of placebo effect.
I’m going to try and up my training this week. Instead of just doing Jillian’s 20 minute workout, I’m going to either combine two of them together, or go for a run afterwards. Recently, I’ve been working out in the evenings in addition to my morning workouts. It feels great, but I feel like showering multiple times a day robs me of some precious time. Plus, I’m going to be making up a bunch of co-op shifts this week, so I won’t have the time or the energy to go for an evening run.
I’m really proud of the progress I’ve made - both physically and mentally - and I know it has all come about because of my hard work. Let’s keep it up, shall we?
First, apartment: I’ve decided a definitive yes, after hearing rational advice from J, my mom (surprisingly), and my therapist. I looked at the place again this weekend, it’s still great, I tell the guy I want it…and he says, well, let me know next week. I have my checkbook, buddy! Let me sign something, anything! I think he wasn’t entirely convinced that I wanted to take the place, so he didn’t have the paperwork prepared - because it’s rent-stabilized, there’s a ton of documents involved, at least for him. I told him I’d love to have an April 1 move-in, and he seemed cool with that, so I think we’re good? It’s hard to say for sure when I haven’t signed anything and no money has been exchanged. So there’s still residual housing angst.
AND this is the weekend I got to meet Steve Holt, the friend of J who she’s convinced I should fall in love with. There was so much buildup for this that everyone at work was making fun of me, and I was going right along with it, convinced that we were going to end up hating each other or something.
First off, I’ve been introduced to people before in a setting-you-up sort of way, and it has NEVER gone well. I get all geeked out and have overblown expectations and am even more awkward than usual. This is the first time I was like, “eh, whatever” and just went with it. Sure, I was still awkward, but I didn’t care if he thought I was flirting with him or if he thought I was boring. I just went with it. During part of the evening when we were talking, I had the thought, “You know, I like this guy. Not OMG LOVE but he’s a good guy, and this is good practice for me.” I feel bad referring to any person as “practice,” but it’s true for everyone. You only get better at flirting and socializing and having sex if you DO IT. And I did! OK, so I’m a terrible flirt, but still, I’m a great listener. Baby steps.
But it got me thinking about men in general, and the types of guy I’m attracted to. If this guy lived in NY, I would be jumping in head first. J was spot on with her matchmaking instincts. But he doesn’t live here, and he seems very passionate about his work in the city where he lives. And I kept thinking about him later. This is going to sound incredibly creepy, but I thought, “I could grow old with this guy. I would be okay waking up next to him for the rest of my life.” And I don’t specifically mean HIM, but someone LIKE him. I meet so few single guys in general, so it’s a new feeling to me to think, “hey, there’s a guy I’d like to date.” The older I get, the more I realize that I’m quite particular when it comes to friends, and more so with guys. I have few CLOSE friends, and I like when conversations go deeper than the general small talk. I also have friends that are just fun…and that’s it. And somehow, I feel like I’m outgrowing the “fun” friends. I can’t drink that much anymore, and I’m okay with it, but I went to a party tonight where I just felt so OLD. There were a bunch of young-ish cute guys there, but I wasn’t really attracted to ANY of them. And I think it’s because they were the cookie-cutter law school type who I often come across and dismiss. Granted, I didn’t talk to most of them, but even in introduction…I don’t know. Somehow, I’ve come to the conclusion that I should only try to date men 34 and older.
So much of my life has been marked by pain or struggle, and it effects who I am today. Around my close friends, I feel like I can talk about these things and they can offer advice, or tell stories from their experiences, or offer support in some way. With the fun friends, I feel like I’m ruining the party when I talk about a struggle I’m having or something that’s not the usual banter.
What’s the take-away?
Having an apartment to myself will making dating easier, or at least less embarrassing.
Having high standards is okay, especially if I’m content being single.
Knowing what your standards are is often the hardest part.