June 1, 2016

I am tired of being brave

A few years ago, as I got ready to wrap things up and leave California for good, I found a poem that I immediately loved. It was about the death of a loved one, but I understood the grief very intensely at that point in my life. At the end of the first stanza, the narrator says "It is June, / I am tired of being brave." I felt that. And I still do.

May was a hard month for me. I started at 304, got as low as 302 and as high as 309, and really just hovered around the silly decade for weeks and weeks.

The last few weeks have been very high and low. Good workouts, some great meals. Then days spent in bed, and binges. Lots of sweat, lots of tears. My semester ended, we had difficult company, lots of personal stuff. Just very hard and emotionally very heavy.

Sometimes, I get tired of being brave.

I'm hopeful about June, and trying to do my best. This should be it - the divorce, cross your fingers, should be done this month (as long as there's no more feet-dragging from my husband). But it is unlikely that he will have to come back to South Carolina for it, so that's a big relief. No more visitors for a while - that should help me get back to a good place mentally. Also, I start teaching a summer class on Monday - a little extra money, and something to keep me busy. I'll work in the office in the mornings, teach for a few hours, have an office hour after, then hit the gym before getting Noah at daycare. It will be nice to be busy-ish ... not as much as during the school year, but not a completely blank daily schedule either.

My goals for June are simple, but effective:

Staying off the scale is a big one. I want to just make good choices and not focus on this one measure of progress. I felt great about what I was doing, how well I was eating, etc., until I got caught up on the scale not moving for days at a time. I saw 302 about a week ago, my lowest in a year or so, and then struggled to move through a weird mental plateau. I don't know why I can't push past that barrier into the 200s. Maybe just fear of history repeating itself, and thinking it's easier to be unhappy and fat than have to experience all the emotional and physical changes that come with getting down to my healthiest size.

Going to bed early and drinking only water are also seemingly little things that make a huge impact. We had diet soda in the house from when we had company in early May, and I drank some in the last few weeks - it always throws me off. Just water, and more sleep. I need both.

And writing in a paper journal - I don't blog nearly as much as I used to, mostly because I feel like my day-to-day is so boring. There are very few breakthroughs or major non-scale victories like there were the first time. Almost the only things on my mind these days are body image issues, depression about my failed marriage, wanting to be the best mother I can be and feeling like I am constantly falling short, and at some times, crippling loneliness. It doesn't always feel right to share here, but I need to clear my head of the thoughts so they don't swallow me whole. So I've got a notebook and some nice pens, and hopefully that helps me process what I'm going through - instead of binge eating to try and numb the feelings.

It's not the June 1st report I wanted to give, but it's not a complete relapse, either. It's a new page on the calendar, a little fresh start. I'm ready to give it everything I have.

May 23, 2016

What you lost

My brother and one of my sisters sent Noah a wonderful surprise box for his birthday. Among the birthday treats and new clothes was an envelope for me, small but bulging at the middle. I opened it up and read: "To start replacing what you lost…" Taped inside was a flash drive.

I thought it was a kind gift, but didn't immediately register what she meant by it. But a few hours later, sitting at dinner with all our guests, it suddenly clicked, and I gasped. My heart felt incredibly full - this was the greatest gift I could have possibly received.

When we got home, I got my son cleaned up and off to bed, and let the family socialize in the living room while I retreated to my home office to plug the drive into my computer. I was right: here, on this little piece of technology, were thousands and thousands of music files.

Flashback to probably about a year and a half ago now. My husband was supposed to be watching our son, but the toddler wandered into my office and started tapping and banging on the computer, pushing and clicking whatever he could reach. Later, I went to make a playlist for a car ride, and an error message kept popping up. In however many unsupervised clicks, my son had okayed the message I kept dismissing to reformat an external hard drive, erasing it completely.

My stomach sank. There was no back up … this was the back up. My computer had died a few years earlier and we had managed to save the hard drive out of it, turning into an external and keeping it safe until we were able to find a new computer.

I'd had my dad's hand-me-down computer for only a few weeks, and had only barely started the process of copying files. So pretty much everything was gone. Some text files, papers I'd written at various points in my academic career - those were safe. But 15 years or so of pictures were gone, and as many years of collected music.

Losing the pictures was heartbreaking, although we were lucky that we hadn't saved any pictures of Noah directly to the new computer. They were on Matt's laptop, we had those safe at least. But my senior prom, my adventures from college, grad school in Chicago, all of my weight loss progress pictures, my year in California ... vanished. And that was a hard pill to swallow. I'm lucky, again, that I have so many pictures on Facebook or posted to blog posts - it's not everything, but it least a few images can be retrieved.

But the music ... that was devastating. When the computer died in 2012, the music wasn't completely lost, but it was inaccessible. I did my best to fill in the silence with my partner's music collection, but he was picky about letting me use his computer (for reasons I found out later). Drives were either silent or narrated by NPR news reports, which are informative but get very old very quickly on multi-hour car rides.

But now, I've got music again - my music. It's not everything, but it's a beautiful start. And I think that receiving it so close to the one-year anniversary of being on my own was extra meaningful: when he moved out a year ago, reclaiming the noise in the car was one of my first victories. Silence without tension is a beautiful thing, and to finally set the radio stations to ones I preferred in the car I'd been paying for for a year and a half was liberating.

I have struggled so much the last few years with my identity - figuring out who I am and what my best life is (and navigating the path to that best life), and standing as strong as I can when big things get tossed my way. I don't think I realized how closely tied music was to my identity until I lost it all. I've always been so in love with music. Whenever I was up late working on projects or papers in college and grad school, there was a soundtrack. Almost every minute spent at a gym or on a running path or in a race had music streaming through earphones. The greatest company I had during my profoundly lonely and complicated year in California was playlist after playlist of songs. There have been so, so many changes in my life, but the consistency of having my music collection has always helped me feel home.