March 26, 2015

Tears

Already thirty minutes late, I just now got an email from my independent study student saying he isn't feeling well and won't be coming to my office today. I've received nearly a half dozen similar emails from students so far today, likely since they have an exam this afternoon.

*sigh*

The rest of today (and every day lately) is crazy, so I'll use the time for some updates.

It seems like lately, I get into a good streak for five or six days, then get caught in the undertow of a wave of feelings and anxieties. I'm in good company - everyone keeps saying that a divorce is one of the most stressful events of someone's life, so I'm not alone in feeling overwhelmed sometimes. That said, what is critical is how I react to stresses. I simply cannot allow food to be my drug through this - for my health as well as for my wallet. I've been trying to write offline, trying to paint and be creative, trying to reach out to friends and family instead of raiding the fridge or pantry.

Some days, it works. Most days, even. But it's those rare occasions when even the most positive and uplifting message feels like it isn't enough - that's when I need to look deeper, look wider, look at the bigger picture. If hunger isn't the problem, food cannot be the solution.

This leads to a bigger source of anxiety: the craving I have, and have always had, for a normal relationship with food. Watch any movie or TV show, read any book. Someone has a bad day, they don't want to cook dinner - they go out to eat ... and it's always comfort food. A breakup? That's a pint of ice cream, or baking cookies. My issue is, I don't stop at one - one cookie, one meal, or even one day. I enter a binge cycle, and I get frustrated and angry with myself for not feeling in control of food situations, which only makes it worse. By the time I work my way out of it, I've gained weight, I feel bloated, and I am even less happy than before.

Yesterday, we had a fight. A real one. A big one. Like we've never had before. It got ugly very quickly - yelling, name-calling. The complete opposite of the first few days, where we maturely agreed and decided on things. But more people know now, and everyone else's opinion on our situation is starting to influence both sides. We really lost our tempers. I put Noah to bed, went to Target for diapers, and ended up sobbing in the frozen food aisle.

I think I forget that sometimes, the most powerful and helpful thing I can do for myself is to simply cry. Release the feelings, flush out the stress and the anger. Allow myself to actually feel my emotions, rather than try to bury them under food.

Last night, as I browsed the aisles for something for dinner, it hit me. For the first time since telling Matt that I wanted to end things, I cried. Really cried. Maybe it was realizing that I said hurtful things that I can't unsay, even if I apologize. Or realizing that this is serious, that this is over, and that the next few days, months, years are going to get tougher before they get any easier. That I'm going to have to be the strongest I've ever been.

I fight the urge to call myself a failure. Right now, everything seems worse off than it was 5 years ago. I've regained all but 45 pounds of my initial weight loss, my relationships haven't been satisfying, my marriage failed. I'm a mother to an amazing little boy, but even that causes feelings of failure - since experiencing my parents' divorce, my main goal in life was to make sure that never happened to my children. He's so little, he doesn't have a clue yet about what's going on. But he will someday. And I don't want him to hate me for the decisions I knew at the time were what had to be made.

As I left the store, I got a phone call from my cousin Sarah, and as always, she had brilliant, gorgeous advice for me. This is your life, Mary, she said. There's no right or wrong answer. True learning comes from failure. This is not the end of your journey - if anything, the book's starting to get good again! 

As always, she's right. It's not the end of my story, just the end of a chapter.

When I got home, I put the food in the oven, and gave Matt a hug. I told him, I'm sorry I said those things, I didn't mean them. I was angry. I'm overwhelmed. I'm keeping my emotions bottled up when, now especially, I need to find ways to let them out. I don't hate you, I never did. I'm just frustrated, and trying to do what is best for all three of us.

We held each other, and we cried. I wish we could have made this work, I really do. I loved him once, and he'll forever be an important part of my life because of Noah. But I know that it's not a healthy situation right now, that we aren't healthy people right now, that what initially drew us together isn't enough to sustain a marriage.