April 23, 2015

The Waiting Year

Calling it what it is: I'm just trying to keep my head above water until the semester is over. Right now, everything is overwhelming: piles of work to grade, final exams to make, grades to calculate. On top of that, I've got a little boy who's turning two in just two weeks (how did that happen so fast?!), so there's a party to plan for him (small, but my mother-in-law and one of my brothers-in-law are coming, so there's cleaning and shopping to do). And a week later, my husband is moving a thousand miles away.

Last night, there was an awards ceremony at the University for student organizations. The club I advise won Student Organization of the Year, one of our players won Student Leader of the Year, and I won Student Organization Adviser of the Year. It's a tremendous honor, and I was so happy during the ceremony that I nearly cried. My focus was entirely on the group of students and all we'd accomplished this year.

Then, everyone parted ways, and the photos started to hit social media. And there's no truth colder, no pill tougher to swallow than tagged photos that you didn't take yourself - no angles or poses to hide your reality.


Don't get me wrong - I'm genuinely happy in this picture, more so than in most pictures I've taken of myself for the past few years. I'm full of love and excitement and pride here. But it hurts to see the visual impact of how I've chosen to treat my depression. How far I've come from my healthiest self.

The rules in South Carolina say you have to be separated for a year before you can file for divorce, barring severe/serious situations. So I've taken to calling this The Waiting Year, and I'm hoping to use this separation to reclaim my life, to rediscover the hobbies and interests and parts of myself that I love but have let take a backseat in the past few years.

I have to. Right now, I feel as close to rock bottom as I did five years ago in a similar situation.

I know so, so well what a difference a year can make. I went from this


to this


in just one year. From unhealthy to considerably healthier. From couch potato to athlete. From depressed to doing life.

And I know how quickly I can reverse it as well. I went from this



to this


in just one year as well.

It's not just the waist. It's the smile. Muted. Forced. Just all-around exhausted from everything. There was a baby that year, and a new job, and three moves within fifteen months. But the dust settled, and I still didn't lose weight. I gained it, even.

There are dozens of reasons why, most of which are excuses. I had postpartum depression, moving depression, relationship issues ... and instead of talking it out or working through it, I ate. Pizza is cheaper than therapy. Burying feelings is easier than confronting them. Somewhere along the line, I forgot that cheaper and easier don't necessarily mean better.

I'm trying not to put specific pressure on myself. I start off well enough, but then the thoughts come: Last time you had lost X pounds by now! That kind of negative talk just frustrates me - it's hard enough to quiet the voices that want us compete with other people, we shouldn't have to also compete with our past selves. I'm looking at my summer and fall schedules for work and figuring out how I can make it to the gym regularly and still rest, relax, enjoy the summer with my son.

I don't know if getting my body healthier will save my marriage, or if it's something that can/should be saved. I do know that I am not my best self when I don't take care of myself, and that I haven't properly taken care of myself for a long time. I don't know how to take care of myself anymore, at least not within the confines of this relationship. It's as unhealthy as I am (or as we each are, I should say - neither of us has invested in the relationship, or in our individual selves). So whether the distance brings us closer together or gives a definite answer to what we should do ... I suppose we'll see.

A year can make an awful lot of difference.

April 9, 2015

Goal setting

Earlier this week, my husband came home from work and announced that he'd given his notice - his last day isn't for another five weeks, but given the nature of his position at the university and the fact that they're coming up on a busy season, he wanted to give them time to sort out what will happen when he leaves.

The bigger take from this story is that his last day at work is Thursday, May 14. On Saturday the 16th, he's packing up a rental car and heading back to Chicago.

It's surreal. I knew to anticipate endings soon, but this means my entire life is going to be very immediately different. With a thousand miles between us, I'm going to be assuming all the responsibilities; with no family and few friends for hundreds of miles, I'm already anticipating feeling overwhelmed.

But I'm not the first person in a situation like this, and I won't be the last.

In an effort to make sure that I fill my time with healthy activities that are good for my mind as well as my body, I sat down the other day and made a list of thirty things I want to accomplish before I turn 30. It's a pretty intense list for only a little over a year and a half, but I want to make sure that I keep myself focused on healthy habits and activities so that I stay out of trouble and avoid doing things that hurt me just because I want a quick release from whatever is bothering me at the moment.

Things I want to accomplish before I turn 30
Write a letter to myself to open on November 20, 2016 (my 30th birthday)
This will be the first thing, and I hope to finish it this weekend. I want to write down everything that is worrying me right now, everything that stresses me out these days, and where I hope to be in a year and a half.

Write (and self-publish!) a book
I enjoy writing, and I think that the next year or so of my life is going to be transformative in so many ways, even beyond the changes in my relationships. Besides wanting to get started on some sort of memoir, I've been working on a book since January, more of a diary-like collection of poems. It's not much of anything yet, but I enjoy working on it every day, and I am enjoying seeing it come together.

Find a secondary source of income (part-time job, online work, etc.)
I have a part-time online teaching job lined up for Fall, and that will help a lot with getting myself to a better place financially. I'm looking for other online work, too, so I can stay busy and stay out of the kitchen.

Save up enough to take Noah on a real vacation (not just visiting family)
It doesn't have to be anywhere big and fancy - could just be a weekend getaway somewhere - but I want to be able to do something just-the-two-of-us.

Save up $2000 in my emergency fund
Money is going to get very tight very soon, but I want to try my hardest to curb what I spend on unnecessary things. (Ordering pizza when I am too lazy to cook is an unnecessary thing.)

Add to Noah’s savings account
Didn't put a set number here - just want to make sure I keep adding to his savings. I have been doing online surveys for Nielsen since last summer at $15 each (1-2 a month), and since it's extra, I put it right into Noah's account. It isn't much, but it's something that will help him out when he is older.

Potty train Noah
This scares me! He is excited about the potty and curious about it, and I am equally as terrified about not knowing what to do - besides the whole process of potty training, there isn't going to be a man around who can show a little boy what he is supposed to do. So I feel like being able to get this kiddo out of diapers and into undies is going to feel like a huge yes-you-can/you're-gonna-make-it-after-all victory.

Take Noah to a zoo
A simple one - there's a zoo a few hours away, I want to take a trip there. A day trip that is all about Noah and his interests!

Have professional family pictures taken
I want to be confident enough in myself to have pictures taken of me and my little boy. Not only to preserve the memories of right now, but to have something to show him when he is older. My siblings and I don't have any family pictures with our parents.

Go to the doctor for a checkup
I haven't been to the doctor since I was pregnant. It's the usual anxiety: I don't want to go because I don't want to hear what they have to say about my weight and the fact that my losses/gains have been so extreme over the last few years. Especially since now I am going to be all that Noah has here, I *need* to make sure I am taking care of myself.

Get back to onederland
Even if I don't get all the way back to under 200, I want to make serious progress. No more of this down-two-up-three nonsense. I feel better at a lower weight - and I feel better when I am actively trying to eat better and move more. There's no reason not to make progress here.

Be in control of my eating disorder, instead of letting the disorder control me
This is a big one. I have been binge eating a lot since moving to South Carolina - I've been burying my anxieties and stresses under food, instead of allowing myself to work through my issues. Gotta face my stuff instead of stuffing my face.

Run a 5K / Run a 10K / Run a half marathon
I used to love to run, and then my husband made a series of terrible comments and I stopped entirely. I miss the kind of joy that came from accomplishing a running goal. I can't guarantee that I'll be ready to run a half by my 30th birthday, but I'd like to at least be training for one.

Try yoga
So many of the amazing people I love and admire keep recommending yoga. I found a few DVDs online of yoga for larger bodies, so I hope to check those out soon.

Get a massage
Something to get rid of all this tension!

Buy myself flowers
To treat myself well, not just worry about if everyone else is taken care of.

Plant herbs/vegetables
Hopefully this will inspire us to eat more veggies, plus teach Noah about responsibility and how to care for something.

Read 20 books
I have so many books on my Audible account that I've purchased but haven't listened to yet. I have fallen into a bad TV habit since moving to South Carolina and I want to spend my evenings doing something more intellectually stimulating.

Cook my way through a cookbook
I know, it's cliché. But I think it's a good idea to keep me trying new things and to get myself out of my comfort zone a little!

Make a new friend
Unfortunately, most of the friends we made down here are through Matt, so I'm starting from scratch a bit as far as friendships go. I have one really amazing friend here who has a son a few months younger than Noah, so we talk a lot and our boys have a great time together. I'd like to keep reaching out to people, though, and keep trying to make the best of the situation (and location).

Sell my wedding ring and buy a ring with Noah’s birthstone (emerald)
This is a tough one. I never really liked the ring Matt picked out - a triple wave with blue and white diamonds - though I understood why he chose it, and loved him for that. I haven't worn it in a very long time, mainly because I gained too much weight and it didn't fit. I would like to instead get a ring with an emerald, for Noah's birthstone.

Go on a date
This is maybe a controversial one. I am not in any rush to find someone new - right now, what I feel more than anything is broken, and I want to heal and be all by myself with Noah for a while. I need to fall back in love with me before I try and let someone else in, and it's going to take a lot of work before I can trust someone again. So I guess that when I say "go on a date," what I really mean is, "move forward, don't be a complete shut-in, put yourself out there, and be open to what may happen in the future."

Find an inspirational quote and work it into a piece of artwork for my home
Nothing in our apartment looks like it's mine. My personality is not expressed at all in our current household decorations. So, I want to make the space more personal, and I want to be able to see a positive mantra every day, first thing when I wake up.

Create paintings/artwork for Noah’s room
Noah's room is also really empty! I have paint, I have canvases. I want to make his space a fun and colorful one, too!

Explore church and my faith
I actually started going to church about a month ago, at the suggestion of an interesting new friend I made while playing Words With Friends, of all things. I've mostly enjoyed it so far, though I still have a lot of questions. If nothing else, I like the fellowship. I like being surrounded by people, and I like having a place where I can sit and think about what's going on and not be judged or laughed at when it moves me to tears.

Forgive Matthew
Self-explanatory, for the most part. I feel very, very hurt right now, and I have a lot of anger that I internalize and suppress with binge eating. I want to work through the situation and be able to emerge with a sense of peace about the relationship. It was meant to be, but it wasn't meant to be forever. I want to be at a place where I'm accepting and okay with that.

Reconnect with an old friend
I've lost a lot of myself in the last few years. I've retreated back into a dark, depressed place where I want to be alone and don't want to reach out to anyone, and my friendships have suffered from that. I have a devastatingly large number of people I've distanced myself from.

Actively pursue a new job
I don't know what I want, but this isn't it. I want to make progress and figure out a new job, or a new career entirely. Either way, I want to find happiness in this part of my life too. I used to love teaching, but I don't anymore, at least not right now. I'm hoping to do some serious work over the summer to reassess how I approach my classes while I am here, but I also want to open myself up to new options and possibilities - other places, other fields. The sky truly is the limit for me right now.