This started as a short post on my Spark People account, because a quote inspired me. But it apparently opened Pandora’s box in my brain, which flowed out through my fingers. I’m profoundly grateful for that. Since it touched on so much of what I’m struggling with and finally beginning to see my way through, I thought it was good to repost with some minor changes here.
“What screws us up most is the picture in our head of how it was supposed to be.”
Well…if that don’t just sum up much of the pain I’m in right now, I don’t know what does.
My niece just shared that quote with me from a friend of hers and it just…settled somewhere in a still-broken, hard-healing place.
Most of the time, I put forth a great front of acceptance – with my body, with my relationships (ebbing as they mostly are right now), with where my life in general is, with my eating habits. “Don’t look back; you’re not going that way” is one of my favorite quotes that I recently came across. I try to live it. I try to keep on truckin’. But there’s still this part of my brain, my heart that’s all “but it wasn’t supposed to be this way…”
And then the quote from “Despereaux” comes back to me: “Nevertheless. It is.”
It is. This is what I have. This is what has happened. In some shape and form, this is what I’ve helped create my life to be. And by constantly, sometimes subconsciously, falling back on the “but…” I’m hampering my own damn efforts to move forward and live a fulfilling, happy life. This limiting line of thinking pushes the locus of control outside of me and onto some external flaw in fate. Really, it’s my own damn hamartia and I need to fix it.
On a related note, a friend recently posted another quote on FB that hit home:
“The difference between dreams and reality is discipline.”
Pinterest agrees, but with different, though still poignant words:
“Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most.”
Personal discipline has long been a struggle for me. Ever since I was a child, I had trouble limiting myself and my parents didn’t set a good example, nor did they use any method of consistent discipline. Eventually, my babysitter realized I wasn’t washing my face or brushing my teeth at all so she taught me to do that. I was probably seven or so. I didn’t learn manners until I was in my teens and by then it was a battle. Food was such a weird thing. I had the quintessential grandparents who forced food in our mouths from the second we walked in the door to visit, no matter if we were hungry or not, but I also had family who was constantly worried about my “baby fat” becoming real fat. I was never shown what good eating and exercising habits were; I only knew I was doing something wrong when I was told I was doing it “too much/little.” However, I was never told where the line was between “too much/little” and “just right.”
And my role models were less than stellar: my father still exists on a diet of (per day, 10-20 cups of) tea, 3-4 Entenmenn’s donuts, a burger or friend chicken, and peppermint hard candies. After work, he used to add LOTS of liquid bread.
My mother was gone by the time I have most of my formative memories, and by the time I moved back in with her in my mid-teens, the damage was already done. And the term “comfort food” became a staple in our house to heal the pain we were both trying to heal from, thus adding to the damage.
Truly, I’m not trying to blame all this on my parents. But as I watch my great nieces on a regular basis and am actively involved in teaching them manners, healthy eating habits, exercising, hydration, pronunciation, the pitfalls of consumerism…I realize how involved and important parenting is, and right from the start. I’ve also read a few articles lately talking about how addictions are learned very early on, as is self-esteem, self-respect, and so many important traits that we NEED to grow up well adjusted and above all healthy.
So, instead of saying that it was my parent’s fault that I’m fat or that I lack discipline, I acknowledge that I wasn’t given good foundation to build a healthy, stable home in myself. That doesn’t mean all is lost. But it does mean I’ve got to stop whining that the foundation is cracked beyond repair and how unfair that is. It’s time to tear the fucker down and start over.
In my brain, in pretty much all of our brains and hearts, I think, there’s a voice that says: I was supposed to have the perfect, loving, helpful parents. My marriage was supposed to be amazing, stable, sexy, loving, and last forever. I’m not supposed to be this fat. I should’ve “made something” out of myself. Add your own; I’m almost certain we all fight this voice at one time or another.
The work begins now where I have to erase that tape that keeps playing in my head and deal with the reality of Here and Now.
Reality tells me many negative things:
I’m overweight. Yes, I have medical issues at work, but in reality, it’s also the fact that I think somehow eating a slice of cake AND a cupcake bigger than my head is a good life choice. Because I’m depressed. This is not disciplined.
I’m out of shape. Prior to joining the Y and starting to work my ass off, I hadn’t seriously danced or been active on a regular basis in 15 years. Yes, I danced with my burlesque troupe fairly a few times a month, but that so does not make a disciplined and healthy exercise routine. The past two weeks or so, I fell off the wagon HARD.
I’m getting divorced. The divorce papers came and all the momentum and positive self worth I’d been building up crashed to hell around me. My marriage wasn’t “supposed to” end like this. It wasn’t supposed to end at all. And it was made clear to me that my personality was no longer liked, nor was my body. So what did it matter? Clearly I’m not to be cared about so why not just go for quick, easy fixes to the pain. Because the pain? It hurts a whole lot more than I was ready for.
I’m unemployed. Social worth is very often derived from your value and accomplishments as a worker. Why else would my sister be literally working herself to possible death at a job that is making her very sick? Why else would we choose to spend so much time away from our families at jobs that keep demanding more and more and giving us less and less? Why is what we make and what we do the mark of who we are? Why is being a workaholic touted as not only acceptable, but a goal worth reaching for?
I don’t have children yet. Even though I really, really want them and thought I was going to start having them this year.
What’s happening now is my brain and my heart are mourning what was “supposed to” have been. The “dream I dreamed in time gone by” that life killed. That is a pretty depressing thought to get stuck on. Which means I have to work my ass off to not stop there. As John Lennon and other people said (attribution is muddy) “life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”
It’s time to work for some new dreams. Which is scary…both to let go of the old and also to try and figure out what to do next. But I’m supremely fortunate and I really MUST continue to remember that.
I live in a beautiful house on a freakin’ lake. I’m surrounded by family that loves and supports me. Though I’m further from them now, I still have a bevvy of friends who also love and support me. I may not have children, but I get to exercise my maternal muscles taking care of my nieces on a fairly regular basis. I’m making new friends and connections and will find a new job and purpose in life. Getting divorced has opened me up to bring healthier, happier love into my life. I’m a member of a wonderful church and YMCA to exercise both my spirit and body. My sister helped make it possible for both of us to partake in the new Loser Takes It All challenge at the Y. 8 weeks of exercising, personal training, and seminars on how to make your life healthier. With prizes!
Now I need to go forth and tackle some things that I’ve been avoiding because they didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to. It’s gonna suck a bit, but it’s going to be worth it. Feel free to quote me.