I had a talk today with a couple that Scott and I have gotten close to at the church I've been attending lately. He's a retired minister, and was the bishop of the particular denomination we attend. She raised five children, including a set of twins, and they spent much of their life in South Africa.
They are two of the wisest and most loving people I've ever met.
I got a lot out of the talk. I really do a number on myself with my negative thought processes. I get into this swirling, sucking, eddy of despair of negative thoughts. And I really believe the thoughts.
I wanted to write down a few notes.
I did not create that thought. I used to have a bumper sticker that said "You don't have to believe everything you think". I loved it because I found that some of my thoughts were not really things I believed. And it's true. We think a lot of things because we were taught them. I need to evaluate and manage my thoughts. A good thing for me to do if I'm spiraling is get out of it by doing something else - listening to music I like, or watching something funny or reading something meaningful. One of the best things I can do is spend time with a friend. That almost always changes my state. A phone call can do it.
I feel inadequate because I am inadequate. That sounds like a negative thought, but it isn't. I feel 'not good enough' or inadequate because I compare myself to whatever I think perfect is. But I AM inadequate. Humans are not perfect. What a freakin' bummer that is to me. But it makes more sense to accept it and move on. When I don't accept it, I end up wanting to give up.
I'm in the middle of the hurricane years. I'm working a high-stress, full-time job, raising two kids, one with dyslexia, one who's 12 going on 30, trying to make my marriage satisfying, running an internet 'fan club' (geek!), playing in the band at the church (super geek!), trying to catch up my reading and comedy, living with MS, trying to cook something for my kids that doesn't come out of a box once in a while, and living with my stupid-ass negative thinking. That's enough to make anyone cry uncle. Or just cry. Or anyone's uncle cry.....My wise friends today said they called that part of their life 'the hurricane years'. It's always a crisis. It's a rough time. It takes a lot of energy for me to also try and take care of myself - yoga, exercise, decent food, healthy spiritual practices. I fall down all over the place. I know.....if I would just take care of myself, I'd have more energy to do the other things. Easy to say. I have been rebelling against it for two years now.
I did not tell Peter and Lisa my secret today.
What's my secret? My secret is that nearly three years ago, I did get good at taking care of myself. I ate incredibly healthily (that can't be a word), I exercised a LOT, I did "Trish Yoga", I meditated. I looked fantastic. I felt fantastic, physically. I made a mistake. I started buying into my own hype. What does that mean? I was getting a lot of positive feedback from people, especially men. I got close to someone. I didn't have an affair in the traditional sense of the word. It was certainly an emotional affair. It wasn't the first time something like that had happened to me, but this time it caused things to come to a head.
It gave me the confidence to decide to leave my marriage. We'd been struggling and I wasn't happy with how things were. I had the idea that I wasn't supposed to be so unhappy. I moved out. I moved out of my home - my kids home. I ended up living across the street. I somehow knew enough not to get into a real relationship with the guy. I had a nagging sense that I would just recreate the same thing I already had, only much worse because I would then be divorced, with children. And we did think we were getting divorced.
There were some things I liked about living apart. There were things I really didn't like. The biggest one was living with my kids for 50% of the time. That just wasn't going to work for me. It was enlightening to see how much more I liked Scott when I wasn't living with him.
I also started a radically new job during this time. Still at the university, but out of my comfort zone. It was a big promotion, but I was no longer the expert. I was going to have to learn how to do the job.
We went to a therapist together to talk about how to get divorced. We both read a book called "Spiritual Divorce". That book is a masterpiece. It helped both of us see what our own roles had been in our problems. We got to a point where we realized we still loved each other, we just didn't really know how to live together.
I gingerly moved back in about 5 or 6 months later.
We've made a lot of progress, and we continue to work at it. I don't want to be divorced. I wouldn't mind if being married was easier for us. It makes me sad sometimes, how hard it is.
My secret is that since about the third month of our separation, I stopped taking care of myself. My training stopped, the yoga stopped, the crappy food habits were back, the diet pepsi was back.
What do I gain from not taking care of myself? One major thing is, I'm a lot less attractive. My body is not as buff as it was - at all, really. I don't have to worry about whether I'm going to attract or be attracted to some guy. I can just take the easy way out. I don't have to worry about whether I'm married to the right guy because nobody else would want me. Scott only wants me because of our history (is what I tell myself).
What else do I get from not taking care of myself? Avoiding disappointment. See, if I'm not putting so much energy into my health, I can't be disappointed when MS flares up, or I get a bladder infection.
I scared myself by moving out. I took a huge risk in doing that. It made me look and feel unstable. I am much more afraid of taking risks now. Why? Because, I tell myself that moving out was wrong. I shouldn't have done it. I was a bad girl.
So, what was my mistake? Was it talking to a man? Was it doubting my marriage? Was it letting myself get too emotionally involved with someone else? Was it moving out? Was it getting healthy and in shape in the first place?
I think the actual mistake was letting myself get too emotionally involved with a man who was not my husband. I think what I am doing now is punishing myself for that. See, if I don't get healthy and in shape again, I don't have to do something unreliable and unstable again. I can't control what happens to me when I'm like that. When I'm depressed and getting chubby, I've got much more control over myself. I deserve the life I get, if you will.
I am miserable when I wake up in the morning because of what I lost - my healthy body, all the benefits of exercise, my love of yoga, the possibility that I could have the relationship of my dreams, being a much happier mother. Now, yoga represents something I am afraid of. Vegetables are not my friends. I'm not sure moving out was a mistake. Because I moved out, Scott and I moved a lot of our relationship out of the shadow and into the light. I don't know if I can fully believe any of it was a mistake, because all of it seemed like it had to happen to us to get here. But that might be a horrible rationalization. I'm not sure what to do with all of it.
So, after the talk today, I saw that maybe, totally maybe, I am doing this to myself, and I can stop doing it to myself.
Don't let your life be driven by fear. I believe that with all my heart, yet I think that is exactly what I'm doing. I am afraid of taking care of myself again. I might not be able to live with the consequences.