Archive for December, 2010

One Year Later

December 31, 2010

Exactly one year ago I was getting ready to leave Lake Placid Brewing Company and walk back to my motel room with my belly and my growlers full of beer. I was feeling good about all the hiking and winter camping I’d been doing for the previous several days. I was also fat and unhealthy and depressed.

I haven’t had much experience with depression. Up until about two years ago, I’d spent my whole life being annoyingly happy. So while I was sitting there at the bar in Lake Placid, I was in the middle of something I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand why I didn’t feel like myself, or why I wasn’t doing the things I needed to do in order to get better.

It didn’t help that I was sick, and didn’t know why. I wouldn’t discover the allergen sources in my apartment for another month or two. So all I could do was sit there and drink my beer and try to feel happy about the invigorating hikes I’d taken and the breathtaking beauty I’d seen. But I wasn’t happy. Not only were those hikes pathetic compared to my previous vigor, but they didn’t change my fundamental feeling that I didn’t know myself.

I’m probably about forty pounds lighter than I was that night in Lake Placid. And I’m vastly more healthy in both mind and body. I’m in pain over the death of an old friendship and over difficult family interactions. I’m sad. But it’s me. I’m in pain. I’m sad.

I feel like myself. I know myself. It feels wonderful. So I’m sitting here feeling that. I’m feeling how much better off I am than I was one year ago tonight. I’ve gotten better. And if I’ve gotten better, than I can keep getting better.

Happy New Year!

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I could use some help.

December 31, 2010

OK, so it’s been a month since I’ve posted. That’s because I went off the wagon around Thanksgiving. Everything was going OK, I was getting back on track, exercising, planning to limit my holiday eating and drinking to the holiday itself, and the next thing I knew I was lying in the mud and the wagon was trundling away into the distance.

I had a troubling conversation with my sister when I visited the family home for Thanksgiving. We had a blowup, and I said a lot of things that I’d been keeping inside for over a year. It felt like I’d just been operated on: like I’d had a deeply encysted mass removed. It could have been lanced with minimal pain a year before, but the delay necessitated a much more invasive procedure, and it was my fault. I’d repeated my family pattern of not talking to the person I was angry at. I’d kept my anger inside, and it hadn’t hurt anyone but me. It was a perfect example of what Mark Twain was talking about when he said

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.

Then, nine days before Christmas, I had another unexpected blowup. This one was with a dear old friend. I’d had a falling out with him about a year before, and told myself I was done with him. But I’d been holding onto hope for a reconciliation, which led me to reestablish contact with him around Halloween. Things seemed OK, but then… well, the details don’t matter.

I no longer have any hope of a reconciliation. I’m in pain and I’m sad, but I also feel lighter. The weight of hope has been lifted. I’m mourning for a dead friendship.

Between my sister and my ex-friend, I’ve been in pain and I’ve needed comfort. So for the last few weeks I’ve been giving myself a break for falling off the wagon. Whenever I’ve had the knee-jerk reaction to beat myself up, I’ve been taking a deep breath and telling myself that it won’t help. If I need this right now, then it won’t do any good to despise myself for it. I have to just pick myself back up when I can, and start walking.

All this I knew. But something new occurred to me today — or rather a recurrence of an old thought. Remember when I wondered whether I was punishing myself? Well, what if my falling off the wagon isn’t just about my need for comfort? What if it happened because I no longer like myself enough to treat myself right?

For a long time I was troubled by the way my friend treated me, but I failed to set limits on his behavior. If I had done so, maybe I could have set us on another path; maybe our friendship wouldn’t be over now.

I got angry at my sister, and I used my perception of the way she was treating me to fall into the same dysfunctional family pattern I so loathe. Then, when I finally confronted her about the conversation that had troubled me a year before, I blew up instead of treating it as an opportunity.

It seems that, without a clear knowledge that I deserve to be treated well, I don’t have the willpower to treat my body well. Since around Thanksgiving I haven’t liked myself all that much. Maybe I’ve been treating my body badly because I’ve had no reason not to.

I’ve made mistakes. I have regrets. But I’m not a bad person. I don’t deserve to be treated badly by anyone, including myself. I understand all this, but I need to internalize it.

Tomorrow will be the first day of 2011. The holidays will be over. Holiday eating and drinking will be over. And I will be back on my diet.

So as of tomorrow, there will be no reason for me not to make daily entries in this blog. If you notice that I’m not doing so, could you please check in on me?