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.