Currently…

I am having so much trouble finding things to write about in this space.  I think the problem is because I started this blog telling stories about big events, that I look at it in that vein.  There just aren’t a lot of big things (except for my impending grandmotherhood, which is still impending and not here yet) going on day to day for me these days.  I still haven’t gotten the knack of transitioning this space into a stream of consciousness, write about daily life, whatever strikes my fancy type of place.

But in my fitness blogging, I came across a blogger who had put some writing prompts out.  Maybe that’s what I’ll try for now, until I get my footing of writing about my current days, even when nothing seems like a big enough deal to write about.

So, thanks to Running with Spoons for this blog prompt.  🙂

Current book:  None.  I’ve been so terrible about reading anymore.  I am in a book club, of sorts, but we hardly ever choose books to read and we get together, if we’re lucky, twice a year.  The real readers who were the impetus behind the group forming have all moved away, and now it’s really just a social thing.  I don’t have a lot of time to read these days either, so most of what I am reading amounts to blogs on the internet.  And reading is one of the things I love!  OY!  Must find a book and time to read it.

Current music: I just downloaded a few new tunes for my race playlist:  Peace by OAR, Glowing by The Script, Classic by MKTO and Ain’t it Fun by Paramore.  I’m actually paying more attention to current music because of my bootcamp classes.  Before I was filling my playlist with slow, angsty music that really didn’t do much to get me moving.

Current guilty pleasure:  Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  I liked me my OC girls and my NYC ones but never got into the truly over the top BH ladies until this season.  Now I’m freakin’ hooked.  Dammit.

Current nail color:  clear and chipping.  With the amount of work I do on the computer my nails never really can get very long; they’re right on the edge at this point.  I go in phases with the nails.  I bite, they get short, I get a manicure, I like the way they look and feel, they grow.  Rinse, repeat.

Current drink:  fruit flavored tea.  I’m back on the weight loss train and trying to fill my belly in the afternoons with something other than plain water.  Also helps with the bone chilling cold here in the northeast.  Peach is really my favorite right now.  🙂

Current food:  my newest favorite thing that I’m eating is tortilla pizza for lunch.  It’s easy, you can put anything on it, and it’s healthy.  Feels somehow more filling than a salad, but that could be my salad bias.  Somehow salads just make me mentally go blech.  I eat them but they are never my first choice.

Current obsession:  started my half marathon training today.  Yes, you read that right.  Me, who has never been athletic in her life, has signed up for a half marathon after two and a half years of dragging my slow self through 5Ks and 10Ks.  It’s the next logical step for me.  I know I’ll never be a fast runner, but for me it’s about completion.  Not many people run, and even fewer complete much more than 5 miles on a regular basis, so I really want to reach this milestone.  I am sure the next three months will be spent researching, talking about it, reading about it, and generally annoying the crap out of everyone about it.

Current wish:  that my grandbaby would get here!  My daughter in law is due on Friday and the waiting is killing me!  I’d like to travel to be there if at all possible, and the logistics of that get dicier every day with having my two younger kids involved in all sorts of activities.  So I’m hoping for a safe, healthy delivery sooner rather than later.

Current triumph:  seriously cutting back on my wine habit.  I was drinking 2+ glasses a night, more on the weekends.  I managed last week to drink only 2 glasses on two days out of the seven.  That was a big deal!

Current bane of my existence:  teenage girl drama.  My daughter is truly testing my patience.  I want to love her and share things with her and she is truly unpleasant to be around these days.  It’s so hard to figure out how you can love someone so much and still dislike their behavior so intensely.

Current indulgence:  new iPhone.  Best Buy was having a deal where you basically turned in your 4s and they gave you a 5s for free.  I wasn’t sure I needed one but now I’m very glad to have a spiffy new phone.  🙂

Current procrastination:  finalizing sponsors for the 5K I plan.  We have to close them out asap and I haaaaaaaate approaching people for money.  Hate it.  But it’s so necessary to making the race successful.  I have two more to deal with and six days to do it.  Must not put off any longer.

Current blessing:  work!  I have more and more website jobs which i am truly excited about.  I love the work and I’m learning something new with each project.  Also, money.

Current excitement:  grandbaby!!!!!  Can’t wait to know if it is a boy or a girl, what its name is, what he/she looks like, and hold the baby!  I can’t wait!

Current mood:  content.  Other than the teenage girl drama, things are going well right now for us.

Current link:  MyFitnessPal.  With me trying to lose weight again, this is my most used link these days.

So that’s where I am currently.  🙂

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No More Waiting

I spent this morning looking for therapists.  Well, doing work on a freelance web design job that came up quickly and needs to be done quickly, and looking for therapists.

It kind of feels good to be honest about it, frankly.  I think I spend a lot of time projecting to the world what I want them to see.  People tell me all of the time that they find it hard to believe how insecure I am; they only really find out if they become a close friend.  Most people see me as someone who is organized, intelligent, confident enough to stand up in front of the whole town and speak their mind or boldly walk up to their favorite rock star and ask for a job.

They don’t know what goes on in my head.  I don’t go around talking about it.  A very few people know the stories that I have shared here on this blog.  That I grew up in an exceedingly dysfunctional family.  That I had a brother who spent a great deal of time under psychiatric care.  That I too spent years in therapy trying to figure out to break that cycle.

I never really thought I had, of course.  I knew that when my husband and I got down and dirty in our fights the despair felt black and all encompassing.  It’s true that I have actually attempted suicide several times since I’ve been married.  I know who I am.  I know where my mind goes.  My strength isn’t that I have grown beyond those impulses; I think I have finally accepted that they will always be there.  My strength has to lie in the desire to push back against those impulses when they come, and to try and lessen the amount of times they come.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt this badly.   I remember feeling this way after my third child was born.  I was overwhelmed and frustrated by my husband’s work schedule and my inability to be able to manage the house, the three kids, the burgeoning duties I had working for a rock star.  I went to my doctor then, asking for help.  He suggested exercise rather than drugs.  Not that I wanted to be taking the drugs anyway, since I was nursing and all, but I thought it was a pretty cavalier attitude for an OBGYN who should have known how serious post partum depression can be in a person with depression and anxiety in their background.

The other time I remember feeling this blackness, although not to this level, was a few years back after I ran for elected office and lost.  It feels silly now to type that sentence, actually.  But there was something about this small town I live in, feeling as if the entire world was against me, didn’t want me, didn’t find value in me.  My husband was out of town at the time, and I think that was when I truly started drinking alone at night when he wasn’t home.

And frankly, I have been self medicating with those drinks ever since.  Drinking away the sadness, the pain, the frustration, the paralyzing feeling I have when it comes to what is wrong in my life.  When it all becomes too much, when I am sad or hurt, I pour myself a glass.  There have been nights when I have drunk a whole bottle by myself here at home, which is horrible to admit.  It’s easy enough to do when it seems so culturally accepted; it’s sort of a joke that moms drink their wine at playdates, at night, whenever.  It’s easier to pour a glass than to work on what’s really going on in my head.

But it’s time.  I can’t keep going on like this.  I can’t be this unhappy.  I can’t keep showing my children that it’s OK to live an unhappy life.  In everything else in my life, I see a problem and I lay out the steps to fix it.  And one by one, I complete the steps until a goal is accomplished or a problem is solved.  This has to be the same.

The alternative is simply not an option.

I Don’t Have a Problem….Do I?

So, the drinking.

I never was a huge drinker.  Only socially.  I wasn’t one of those girls who went to parties in high school and got wasted; so much so, I thought the parties depicted in movies like “Sixteen Candles” were just Hollywood figments of someone’s imagination.  It wasn’t until I got on Facebook and reconnected with some people from high school that I found out that those parties did happen, I just never seemed to snag an invitation to one.

I drank a few times to excess in high school, and college, probably less than you could count on two hands (but probably more than you could count on one).  I was a mother, I was a serious student, and then later I was taking care of my mom.  It just wasn’t something I had the time to do.  But eventually, as I lived on my own, I gained an appreciation for the warm, fuzzy feeling that a few glasses of white zinfandel could give me.  It became my drink of choice, which was a fine step up from the Zimas and wine coolers I had been drinking.

My husband introduced me to drinking wine with meals at home.  I’d heard of people who did that, but it certainly wasn’t an experience I’d had growing up in my solidly American lower middle class household.  Hell, sitting down all together at the dinner table wasn’t exactly a common experience for us, much less pairing alcohol with it.  But he grew up in a European family, and they all drink, all of the time, every night with dinner.  It became a ritual I enjoyed several times a week, this having wine with dinner.  Sometimes even a before dinner drink, on the weekends.

But it wasn’t until recently that my drinking took an uptick.

First it was my one girlfriend who offered wine at her pool in the summer. It seemed completely awesome to enjoy a crisp chardonnay on a summer day by the pool.  And the more she extended the invitation, the more it seemed completely normal to have some.  And frankly, with my son on the spectrum and my husband traveling a great deal, it was a welcome respite from the stress that was laced intricately throughout my days.

Then it was my husband’s cousins.  They moved nearby, the only family we have within hundreds of miles.  So we would often exchange dinners; once at their house, once at ours.  Back and forth.  Their kids and our kids would play out of the way while the adults talked in the kitchen. And drank.  And drank.  And drank some more.  Before long it was common place for us to go through three or even four bottles of wine in an evening between the four of us.

The drinking became more and more common place in my life.  And so one night, when R was out of town, I opened a bottle of wine at home.  I used to joke about how pathetic it was for someone to drink alone, but here I was doing it.  I poured a glass of Cabernet while watching television in the evening.  And then after the kids went to bed, another.

Before long, I was looking forward to the drinking alone.  I liked the way the glass felt in my hand, the pretty color of the wine, the taste of it.  And too, the warmth and comfort of it.  These days, I drink a glass or two most every night.

I can’t decide, though, if I have a problem with that level of drinking.  My grandfather died of alcholism, and I know it lurks there, in my DNA.  I don’t feel like I can’t live without it or I have to hide my drinking.  But I also know that I probably drink more than most of the people I consider my peers.  It’s something I think about, sometimes.  It’s hard to know what is normal, what is acceptable, what is typical.   I suppose it varies.

For now, I’m just trying to be aware of it.

Meanwhile, it’s five o’clock….and we all know what that means.

Kidding!  Well….

Trying Again

When I was younger I thought that being thinner would solve all of my problems.  I would be instantly surrounded with friends, boys would want to go out with me, and my crazy life would somehow find order and purpose.  It’s a struggle I have fought my whole life, this inner dialouge I have with myself about my weight.  It is very true that you can figure out right away where I am in my head on any given day by looking at my waistline.

I was never really heavy until I got married and started having more children.  I gained weight with my second pregnancy, miscarried, but kept those extra ten pounds.  I gained even more with my third pregnancy, and lost about half of it.  By the time my fourth pregnancy rolled around I set an all time high water mark for myself.  Another cross country move and sedentary days spent updating websites and answering emails didn’t help.

When I stopped working on websites so much, and the kids started preschool, I found myself with a little more time to think about my health and my weight again.  I lost 35 lbs following the Weight Watchers plan, and finally felt good about my body again.  I went to my 20th high school reunion in a black Calvin Klein dress and didn’t, for once, worry about how I looked.  I knew I looked great and spent the evening not once worrying about whether or not my but looked too big.

It was a fabulous feeling that I didn’t choose to value.  Over the next few years the weight has slowly crept back….ten pounds one year, ten pounds the next, and in this last year, another ten.  I am slowly working my way back to that high water mark, and very frustrated with myself.  And while I no longer peg my self worth to my weight, it is true that I find myself just feeling frustrated; I know what to do, I’m simply choosing not to.

And there’s the drinking.  I know that I am drinking too much these days, more than I ever have in my life.  It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I would pour myself a glass of wine every night with dinner, whether or not I was sharing the meal with family and friends or if I was eating alone at the kitchen counter.  I drink daily at this point, sometimes more than one drink a day.  And out with girlfriends?  Forget about it.  I hold my liquor, and then some.  It’s not only bad for my waistline, but it worries me because I know my paternal grandfather was an alcoholic.

So today, in My Current Life, I’m going to try (again) to take back my body to a healthier place.  I started the Couch 2 5K program this morning, and while I sweated and ached and pounded out the minutes unhappily on my treadmill, I do feel better now.  I’ve been told this is a great way to start back into an exercise program, because it slowly builds your pace and your stamina.

I celebrated my 41st birthday over the weekend with great meals, great friends and great food.  I know that my weight doesn’t make me a more likeable or better person…but it sure would be nice to celebrate number 42 next year feeling less self conscious and more able to embrace the positives in my life.

Hurricane

So, it’s hurricane time where I live.

My daughter asked if I had ever been through a hurricane before, and the answer is a solid “no”.  I grew up in Michigan, the land of snow and construction.  It gets cold there, but you don’t get hurricanes.  I’ve always been fascinated by them, riveted by weather reports about them, and somehow Z and Melinda both picked up that high alert to weather systems that I have.  I watched the forecasts for Katrina for days out, thinking about how I would prepare if I had somehow been in that path.

I am now.

We were on vacation last week, unbelieveably on a cruise ship in the Atlantic, being chased by Hurricane Irene.  The ship diverted from some ports and steamed up North more quickly than expected, giving us long, lovely days at sea that seemed blissful and calm.  All the while we watched the news feed from New York and realized that when we arrived home to Connecticut, we would be sitting squarely in the bullseye of a forecast hurricane.

Now you Gulf Coasters are probably chuckling at the hysteria being created by us East Coasters by Irene, but to be fair, we don’t do this that often here.  I certainly haven’t ever seen anything come on this course in the nearly 7 years I’ve lived here.  We’ve seen some tropical storm force type storms, but a real hurricane, with sustained winds over 12 hours or more?

Yeah, we’re not used to that type of thing.  Nor’easter, no problem.  But this?  We’re all kind of freaking.

So I went to the grocery store as soon as we arrived home from our lovely trip.  Just like you see on TV:  shelves emptied of bread and bottled water, long lines at the check out.  Batteries were the stuff of dreams, emptied from their end caps in every area of the store.  Mostly, people being nice and generous with each other. But a frantic look in everyone’s eyes as they grabbed peanut butter and granola bars off the shelves and into their carts.

R went to the hardware store in search of a generator.  Four stops later, he gave up, and reported the batteries were a pipe dream where he’d been as well.  A girlfriend posted on Facebook that batteries were still available at the adult toys store half an hour away, but no where else.  We chuckled, but it’s a little creepy.  Newscasters are smartly asking people to prepare for days to a week without power, which is daunting but honestly the right move.  We’ll be filling up our water pitchers and containers later today (many people around here have well water, which means they lose water with power….we don’t have a well, but we’re still going to make sure we have water available just in case).  We’re pulling in everything from outside.  I’ve done the groceries.  The biggest job is the basement; if the power goes out we’ll lose our sump pump, and likely get water in there.  With eight to twelve inches of rain predicted for our bullseye location, we have to get everything up off the ground or in plastic just to be safe.  We have gas in our cars and cash in our wallets, and we’re ready.  Last night, we made Hurricane drinks from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe and cooked food from the freezer in our attempt at a good old fashioned Hurricane Party.

Otherwise, we’ll be hunkering down, charging our batteries and hoping for a miss.  As the sun comes up Monday morning, we’ll know if we made it through unscathed or not.

A Blurry, Boozy Mess

“Should I go get him and bring him back?” I asked the group assembled around my sister’s patio table in her backyard.

We were days into my trip to Michigan and it had been a mostly tense experience.  The kids were having a blast being all together, but my sister and my brother were trading jabs so often that sometimes I felt like ducking my head as they flew across the room.  I’d responded to the tension by stocking up on alcohol and my father did the same.  This had the desired effect of relaxing us, but also had the unwanted effect of loosening our tongues.

Since I didn’t see my brother and sister more than once a year for the most part, it meant that we hardly ever progressed in our relationships.  We always fell back into the same old comfortable routines; my sister would complain about my brother to me and tell me stories about his latest bout of irresponsibility.  I would either become peacemaker or co conspirator.  My brother would respond with his trademark biting sarcasm, and I would respond in either of my two usual ways with him as well.

But throwing my father into the mix was putting lighter fluid on the already smoldering family dynamic.  And this evening, we’d sat around my sister’s table trading unsavory family stories.  These were the hard ones, the ones that my kids didn’t even really know about because they were so awful and so personal; their eyes grew wide as the stories rolled off our alcohol sweetened tongues.  It was finally too much; my brother stormed away from the table and into the house to sulk.

“I don’t care if you go get him,” my sister answered.  “He gave as good as he got.  He just is mad that the stories are true and he looks bad in them.”  She was right of course; my brother was very good at applying a double standard to his own and other people’s behaviors.

“Let him be,” my father agreed, taking another sip of his whisky.

“I can’t,” I responded, the peacemaker coming out.  “We’re here five days, and I don’t want one of them to be ruined by this kind of ridiculous childishness.”

I went after him into the house, all ready to smooth things over.

“Get out of here,” my brother growled at me.  “You owe me an apology for what you said out there.”

I mentally replayed the conversation in my head.  “Don’t be like this,” I said, trying not to engage.  “You know it’s all talk out there.  Just come back out and try not to let your anger get the best of you.”

“No way.  You guys are all making me look bad in front of Dad.”

Ah, there it was.  And before I knew what I was saying, the words came out of my mouth:  “Well, you are doing a great enough job on that all on your own without any help from us.”

I could see the red rise in my brother’s face.  “I’m not going out there until you and our sister give me an apology.”

“Well, you’re not going to get it,” I answered evenly.  “We’re telling the truth out there, and sometimes the truth hurts.  If anything, you owe us an apology for the fact that these stories even exist.”

He glared at me.  “I have made up for my past mistakes a long time ago.”

I swallowed hard.  “You will never, ever be able to make up for your past mistakes.”  A million images of our angry life in the ruins of my parents’ divorce flashed in front of my eyes.   When he’d hit me.  When he’d stolen from me.  When we’d locked up our possessions in padlocked bedrooms.  When he’d tried to break down my bedroom door.  When I’d had to be sent away because his shrinks told my mother he’d probably hurt me if he was left alone with me.  It was a buzzy, blurry mess in my head.  I started recounting these memories out loud, one by one, until I was screaming so loud my throat hurt.  “You can never fix what you broke in me!”  I yelled so loudly that the entire neighborhood must have heard.

My brother walked out of the room and I crumpled onto the floor in tears.  How could I have possibly thought coming here would be anything but a disaster?

Life Without Tom

“Can I come over?” I asked my girlfriend Fran, staring blankly at the message on my computer screen.

It was three months after Tom had started treatment.  We’d seen him three times, the last time just two weeks ago.  He’d seemed better, less dependent on his oxygen machine and able to actually greet us at the door for the first time.  His hair was returning a bit, even, a lighter shade of coppery brown instead of his usual much darker brown.   We were encouraged for the first time after a visit to him, that he just might come out on top of this thing.

But the messages started flying via email a few days ago; had anyone heard from Tom?  I had talked to him after my appearance on TV during our latest budget battle; he’d called me to tell me a job well done and laughingly called me “The General”, the name he’d dubbed me with in our previous work together on our town budget.  No one seemed to have heard from him via email lately, and there was word around Town Hall that he’d been readmitted to the hospital.  No one seemed to know anything concrete.

It was therefore a complete shock when our new first selectman sent out a mass email announcing Tom’s passing earlier that day at Yale New Haven hospital with his family gathered by.  We hadn’t seen it coming; he seemed to be getting better.

Fran could hardly spit out the words in response to my question; she was in shock, same as me.  I wanted to be with her and my other friends who had known Tom; R just wouldn’t get it.  He liked Tom well enough, had had several conversations with him, but didn’t really understand why all of us were so attached.  He couldn’t tell stories about Tom, talk about our late night strategy sessions or our shots of tequila or how different he’d looked after treatment.  “Come over now,” she mumbled mostly incoherently into the phone before she started sobbing.

R said nothing but gave me a sympathetic squeeze and handed me a bottle of wine as I raced through my tears and out the door.

I couldn’t believe he was gone.  I just couldn’t believe it.   And as we all sat around that night, toasting Tom and telling the stories that I’d craved, we all asked the same question:

What would we do without him?

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