May 26, 2011


When I run along the lake, I don't take my phone because there's really no purpose, and there's nowhere to put it anyway - the zipped pocket of my running pants is full of my ID, my bus pass, my health insurance card, my apartment keys, and a couple of dollars just in case. It's a nice reprieve - no phone calls, no texts, no Twitter ... not that my phone is usually blowing up with incoming messages, but still, I like stepping away from it all for a couple of hours.

I get home, take off my running shoes, turn on the hot water for a shower, and check my phone to see what I've missed. Usually it isn't much, but the other day, there was an odd voicemail from my father:
"Hi Mair, it's Dad. I wanted to talk to you about something, I will call you back later when I get a chance, um, I want to be able to talk freely, and, uh, um, I need to go outside or something - which I'm doing right now, I'm calling you from my truck. But, uh, I'll call you. I'll talk to you later. Bye."
I wasn't deeply concerned, per se, but his tone of voice was pretty revealing. When he called me back a few hours later, we ended up talking for quite a long time. He's frustrated with the situation at home, and he talked about driving out here to stay with me for a while. I lightly pinched the part of my hand that supposedly relieves stress and got very quiet for a minute to gather my thoughts.

All of my family members are very different, but something we all have in common is that when the going gets tough, we tend to flee. The problem with this is that while a change of scenery can make you feel temporarily better, it isn't an actual solution. Vacations are nice, but eventually you have to head home; moving halfway across the country can be great, but your troubles will catch up to you, no matter where you live. Biting my lip, I told my dad he was welcome to come stay with me since I am not working right now and therefore wouldn't have all the same issues that I had to deal with when my mom was here. I told him to also keep in mind, though, that this was a band-aid, that his frustrations with the family situation wouldn't be solved by coming out here, that all the problems would be waiting for him when he got back. It would be better to try and work things out as best as he could and not just run away for a while.

He agreed, but I'm still not quite sure where we ended up on the subject. I hope he doesn't come out here, for a few reasons. First and foremost, because he's physically handicapped and simply driving across town is something he shouldn't do all that often, but a nearly 900 mile trek? Dangerous, for himself and for everyone else on the road. And second, because these issues need to be talked about, not just ran from.

This is precisely the issue I'm having with my mother right now, with whom I have not spoken in nearly a month. Something I included in the letter I wrote to her a few weeks ago was my frustration at not being able to talk openly about our family issues. Because in addition to physical flight from issues, we emotionally flee situations, staying quiet and pretending things are fine when really, they are far from it. Again, a bandaid - the wound is still there, needing to be treated, it's simply been covered up.

Something I have been striving for since beginning my weight loss journey is honesty - with myself *and* with others. It was always so easy to justify daily binge eating because I wasn't honest with myself about having an eating disorder. Even outside of the realm of weight loss, I haven't always been an honest person - for example, if you meet me on the street and ask me my name, you are likely to get any of a thousand responses not including Mary. I don't like feeling vulnerable, and so telling a stranger that my name is Helen gives me a strange feeling of protection. My identity is safe - I must be safe, too.

I don't want to lie anymore. I don't want to hide. I want to deal with my issues and make peace with them, not lie and pretend they don't exist or that they aren't tearing me apart. (It brings back to mind a Geneen Roth quote: If you don't allow a feeling to begin, you also don't let it end.)

And so with that, I'd like to share an award that Ellen gave me earlier this week. I can't begin to tell you what this means to me, not only to receive it, but to get it from Ellen. It seems like no matter what stage of my journey I find myself in, I can find comfort and understanding in Ellen's posts. Her honesty inspires me incredibly: she doesn't gloss over the struggles of life in maintenance. I like hearing that it's going to be tough sometimes - because that's the truth, and so I can prepare a little and brace myself for when that becomes my life as well.

I'd like to pass the award on to Amy - I read dozens of blogs by people at all different stages on their journeys, and I am completely inspired by Amy - she writes not only about weight loss, but life and love and family. Her honesty and emotion never fail to move me, and her comments are completely invaluable to me. There are so many bloggers out there that I wish I could just walk next door and hug and cry with when I'm feeling down and out and motivation is at a low, and Amy is certainly one of them.

What about you? What are your non-flight ways to cope with stresses and anxieties? Who inspires you lately?


Ann said...

Mary - you are so strong and so wonderful to be able to objectively look at this situation - and life - and see what you've done, what others are doing and what you WANT to do!! I always tell myself, "i won't die. This actual thing (feeling, event, action) is not going to literally kill me. I will be FINE." And things are never really as bad as my mind imagines them to be. I know this is SO tough, but stay strong and "create" the person you want to be!!! You can do it, look how far you've come!!!

Jessica said...

I am the complete opposite. I hate running from things. I want to hash it out and hash it out NOW! Tommy is opposite of me...he wants to be alone, and then forget about it. During our 4 years of marriage we have really had to learn to compromise as we work through situations.

Amy said...

awwwww thank-you!! That brought a tear to my eye!! The feeling is definitely mutual and I'm completely flattered by the fact that you find me inspiring! I really hope your dad sorts out his stuff at home, and maybe he can call you more often for advice. Did your mom say anything to you after you gave her the letter?

I find when I'm stressed I get really indecisive! I can't make decisions to save my life when it comes down to it. This is exactly why I'm paying double rent in July...because my lease was up July 31st, the one weekend of the year I ABSOLUTELY cannot move and I waited and waited to see what I should do and when I asked to stay until September they said someone was already moving into my apartment in August. Such is life! So while you fly - I freeze!

timothy said...

bravo i'm glad you're standing up for you! even if you don't always get the result you want honoring your own beliefs is a must...........and i agree amy is fabulous!

Hungry Girl Fan said...

I hope everything turns out okay with your father. My family is very similar, and never wants to talk about any issues that might arise. If my Mom and I have an argument, the next day it is as though it never happened and we move on without addressing the problem. Luckily, my husband prefers to talk about things instead of hiding from them, so he is helping me deal with my problems rather than run from them.

As for how to cope with stress - running is my favorite method. I blast the music on my Ipod and just run. One of my running buddies once told me "you will never regret running, but you might regret NOT running". If I am ever not in the mood to run or work out because I am stressed or depressed, I remember those words and just go for it. I feel better every time.

Myndie said...

WOW..sounds very similar to my family growing up. I haven't really talked with my mom in months. So sorry you have to deal with it too.

Thankfully, my husband and I talk about everything in a respectful manner and because of that, we've never argued or felt the need to run from the problem. We run to each other to deal with problems life throws at us.

I love to go to the parks and walk/jog on the trails to cope with stress. I find such peace being with nature, away from the stresses of the world.

Sarah said...

Great post! The feeling of wanting to flee is quite strong with me when things seem too hard for me to handle.

You can't run away from yourself though and it's sometimes our perception or even reaction to things that is the problem. You know that saying "Where ever you go, there you are".

Unknown said...

Posts like this is precisely why you deserve awards like these. Not only are they honest, but the truth that rings from them is something everyone can relate to. I'm preparing a post for tomorrow on living with anxiety disorder and so I know all about fleeing when the going gets tough. Planting your feet firmly in the ground is so hard when every other inch of you wants to run away, but you're right - running is temporary and our problems always tag along no matter where we run to.