Sunday, May 28, 2017

I'm feeling 41

Lately, things are different.

Men are absolutely going out of their way to assist me.

What are you looking for?

Can I help?

Can I get you that?

Oh let me!

It's nice. Doors are opening that didn't open before. Literally, men hold the door for me all the time now.

Honest to God, I can't figure out if it's because I've lost weight and now look "acceptable" enough for them to be nice to, or if it's because I'm old and their mamas raised them to respect the elderly.

I mean, I know 41 is not old and is definitely not elderly. Frankly, I feel better than I ever have in my life and that's the truth. I can run for miles, I can Zumba for hours, and I can do crazy, silly things like box jumps and burpees. The bags under my eyes don't lie though. I'm a middle-aged mother.

I keep seeing pictures of my high school friends and their boyfriends or husbands and I think, "Oh my God, why is she with that guy! He's so old!" and then I'm like, "Oh crap. We are too." I'm twenty-four years out of high school. The boys I went to high school with are men now and some of them are men with gray beards and beer bellies.

It's...a bit jarring. If my nieces and nephews start dabbing (the dance one, not the drugs one) I totally know what they are doing (and I know it's both a dance and a drug thing) and probably will even join in. I'm way too old to join in and I feel pretty strongly that I'm not supposed to this stuff.

I don't know.

I'll take the help though. If anyone wants to reach things off high shelves for me or open jars or hold doors, I always appreciate it.




Sunday, May 21, 2017

Quiet

If we are friends on Facebook, you might have noticed that I haven't been on much lately (or maybe you didn't notice, which is totally okay). This has been mostly on purpose.

I realized recently that I was falling back into a pretty ugly depression and an even uglier cycle of anxiety. One reason, of many, was Facebook. The drama, the arguing, the meanness, and especially the people who take it way, way too seriously.

For my own sanity, I had to peace out. Not forever and not completely (my LuLaRoe group is very important to me), but being mostly off of Facebook has been a very pleasant thing overall.


Except being off of Facebook didn't really solve the problem.

I was talking to my husband earlier about that designer who had weight-loss surgery and how she went to the doctor because she was having some health problems and ended up hospitalized for some other health problems and how she made the decision to have this surgery and people were being really, really mean to her about it. Seriously, these same people who are shouting angrily, "MY BODY IS NOT YOUR BUSINESS" are somehow making this poor young woman's body THEIR business and saying all this really mean, rank horrible crap about her. It's very upsetting to read.

I told Jason all of this in great detail and likely in a very animated fashion. He listened to all of it and then he said, very kindly,

"Babe, this has nothing to do with you."

Well I KNOW that, and of course that's what I said. I know it has nothing to do with me, but I just feel so BAD for this young lady and it's...

None of my business.

I didn't say anything else because, well, what is there really to say? My husband, (again very kindly) said to me,

"Do you think that maybe you get yourself so spun up about things that have nothing to do with you so you don't have to deal with the things that are really bothering you?"


Um.


Yes.



Yes. Yes. Yes.


It's easier, you know? It's so much easier to feel sorry for this woman than to worry about my changing relationship with my son, or the fact that I feel stuck in my career. It's much less taxing on my soul to say something like, "I wish those women weren't so mean to her!" than it is to accept that some people in my life are really, really mean to me and I've just dealt with it for years. It's so much less painful to think about her losing weight than it is to think about my husband losing his memory. This woman, who I will never meet and who has way more money and probably more love in her life than I do, was an easy substitute for this huge, gaping hole that I've been trying to fill up with working and running and trying so hard to fix people and things around me. It's not just her either, I've been very sad/angry/upset/hurt by many, many things online and in the news lately and it's just exhausting. Spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes physically exhausting.


I don't want to ever become a person who doesn't care about the plight of other people. Let me rephrase that a bit...I WILL never become a person who doesn't care about the plight of other people. Still, I have to agree that children who need mentors (and milk and hugs) and veterans who are living under bridges are a bit more needy than a lady who is getting mean comments on the internet. Of course I don't want people to be mean to others, it's part of the reason that so many people brand me a "special snowflake". Meanness is never okay, but I do think that part of being in the public eye, like so many of these people are, helps you develop a thicker skin. This lady has publicly said she's happy about her decision, and that's all that matters.




So where do I go from here? I don't know. I honestly don't.

I just know I have a lot to work on.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The least of us

Something has been bothering me for a few days, so I'm going to talk about it. 

The other night at my exercise class a lady who is not part of the class came into the building where the class is held. She was obviously having some issues.

She wasn't wearing any shoes, but more than that she just...looked unwell. She had apparently checked herself out of the hospital next door. She said she was waiting on a ride. After using the restroom she went back outside and then she sat outside talking to herself. One of the ladies in the class called the police and they said they would come check on her.

It was pretty clear to me immediately that she was mentally ill. I am no doctor and I'm not trying to diagnose anyone, but...I've seen this. Up close and personal. This lady was in the midst of something pretty awful and she was not handling it well.

When I left the building that night she was gone. I sat in my car and shed a few tears before I drove home. 

That night when I came home I went through my usual evening routine. Dinner with the family, after dinner coffee with my husband. We talked about the lady, because my children are grown up now and they've also seen mental illness up close and personal. The people I live with understand me and how I feel about this. They get it. My husband and I prayed for the lady together, but it felt like...I don't know. It didn't feel like enough, I guess. It felt hollow almost. I mean, I'm not a trained professional in the area of mental illness. I'm not a doctor, not a nurse. There is really nothing I could have personally done to help that lady and the person in my class who made sure she got help was doing the exact right thing. 

Still.

I couldn't sleep. I picked up my phone and thought I'd mindlessly waste some time on Facebook. As I started scrolling through I saw this posted as the status of someone I follow:


"Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'"


Read that. 

Now read it again.


So many times so many of us look at what's happening in the world and we say something like, "Oh that's really sad for that person. I'll pray for them" and then we move on, go on about our business, and...nothing. We might pray, and believe me when I tell you that I am a huge believer in the power of prayer. Huge. I pray without ceasing for things big and small. Some people think that's funny or weird or whatever, and that's okay. Prayer for me is a dialogue and it's extremely important to me. I've become a bit skeptical of what many people consider religion, but Jesus? Oh I love my Jesus. I talk to my Jesus. I listen. I think. 

I pray. Oh, I pray. 

Praying is not enough, y'all. It's not.

I was put on this earth to do more than just pray, than to do more than just stand by. I was not put here to be a "Not me". Oh, that bill will affect millions of people? Well, it won't affect me so I don't care. Oh that decision will cause people who are already poor and the least of these to lose out even more? Well, I'm not poor so I'm not really going to worry about it. Oh, because of this kids won't get to go to college? Oh well, my kids are going to college so it sucks to be them. Not me. Not me. Not me.


Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.


We can't say "Not me". 

We simply cannot.



I know mental illness is a tricky issue, believe me. I know. I've been very open and honest about my own struggles with anxiety and depression, and while my issues are very different than what the lady in my story above is dealing with, they are still mental illness. There is no shame in me as I type this, it simply is a part of who I am just like my green eyes and my fabulous hair. There are other people in my life who suffer in far worse ways than I do, and I don't pretend to know what it's like for them, but I do know what it's like for their loved ones, because I am one of the loved ones who tries to navigate that slippery slope. 

I also don't know what it's like for some of the mamas in my exercise class, who send their boys out into the world every day and pray they don't get shot. I know these women, and they are good, hard-working, kind and loving women who have good, hard-working, kind and loving sons. It shouldn't have to be justified though, no one should have to worry about their child being shot in the street. I am currently able to pay for all my medications and not worry about also having food and shelter, but there were times in my life, many times, that I would have had to make a terrible choice. Not because I'm lazy or didn't work hard. I've always worked hard and I don't really think anyone who has ever met me would call me lazy. I was in a bad situation and that can literally happen to anyone. Literally anyone, no matter what color they are or if they are rich or poor or a Christian or not a Christian or any combination of literally anything. Human beings are complicated. Not everything goes according to plan, no matter how hard you try.

One of the best things I've ever realized in my life was that not everyone was like me. That seems really simple, I know, but I honest to God was probably in my thirties before I really "got" that. One day I was talking to a friend about something in my life and she looked at me and very bluntly said, "You know that's not normal, right?"

I swear to God, I didn't know. I really didn't. (Thank God for good friends who will tell you the truth, by the way)

Not everyone is like me, and that's really okay. Is it fair? Not really. Does it suck? Yes, sometimes. 

Listen, I know I am one person and can't fix all the problems in the world. I know you are one person and you can't either. I really believe though, that if we all would take a minute and start thinking about the least of us, then things could get a whole lot better. I don't care if you are a Christian or not, being a good person is not exclusive to Christianity (and, sadly, many of the people who loudly declare themselves Christians are not what I would call "good people" by any stretch of the imagination). We all need to do better, all of us. 

I honestly don't know what I could have or should have done differently for that woman. What I do know is that the next day I called a local agency for kids and asked if I could volunteer and they said yes. I cannot change the world and neither can you, but every one of us can do something. 

There have been times in my life that I have been very poor. I was a single mother. I was depressed, alone, and hurting. I look at some of the people I meet and I see myself in their eyes. They are alone, they are depressed, they are hurting. They may not show it the way I showed it, and that's okay. It doesn't mean they aren't real people who are deserving of a chance. It doesn't mean that I'm any better or worse. It doesn't mean anything except that if you are not currently depressed and hurting and in need, you should do everything in your power to show compassion and grace to those who are.

That lady who came wandering in is someone's daughter. She's probably someone's sister. Maybe someone's mother. More than all of that though, she's someone. She's a human being and she deserves every bit of dignity and respect that any of the rest of us do. Whether she is rich or poor, despite her health conditions, despite what she may or may not have done in her past. She's a person and she matters.




Please don't ever be a "Not me". 


Please.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Do no harm

I'm making progress. A lot of progress.

It's funny, I guess. Everything seems to be clicking all at once. I don't know if it's because I've finally become open to it or what, but it's kind of lovely and wonderful that so many things are starting to make sense.

Honestly? I think it's because I keep saying "no".

That sounds weird to me, and it looks weird when I type it. I've always been a yes person. Yes, I will take on more. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I will be the one to sacrifice.

I still do that, by the way. I'm not perfect about it, but I still give up a lot for the people I love. Love is a worthwhile venture.

For others though? It's become easier to say no.

It's become easier to say, "I don't like this person and I don't have to have them as part of my life". It doesn't matter if they are a co-worker, or related to you somehow or anything. You literally don't have to be friends with anyone for any reason, and realizing that (or perhaps accepting that) has made my life much...I don't know. Easier is the wrong word, because it's never easy, but the word that keeps coming to my mind is softer.

Realizations are sometimes painful too, and unfortunately I've recently realized that there are people in my life that I've been wasting a lot of time and energy on. People who really aren't good friends and a few that really aren't even good people. That sucks, frankly, and it's especially hard when I think about the efforts I've put forth for them over the years that were never returned, never appreciated, and never even warranted. There's also the longing. The painful, awful longing for the things that you'll never have. It's always been more about what wasn't there than what was and that's a kick in the crotch that no one wants.

It's okay though. I don't have to be a soft place to fall. I don't have to be a shoulder to cry on. I don't have to listen to complaints over and over when the person will never make any effort to change. I literally, 100% don't have to do it, no matter who the person is, and it feels amazing. I have people who love me and who are good, decent people. They are enough.

I am enough too, despite what some people think, and that's very comforting as well. Understanding that sometimes when someone has a problem with you, they actually just have a "heart" problem, well. That can be very freeing.

It's actually okay to take care of yourself. It really is. If you don't, things are going to suck forever. So if someone in your life is toxic think about how you would feel if that toxic person was trying to force their way into your child's life. Or your husband. Or your best friend. Or whoever you personally care about. Wouldn't you do anything to keep that from happening?

You deserve no less. It's not selfish, not even a little, to kick those people to the curb.



I'm kicking my friends. Kicking hard.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Forever

I very distinctly remember how painful my divorce was.

Weird, right? It happened a very long time ago and a lot (a LOT) has happened since then. I don't remember a lot of things about my ex-husband (I recently struggled to remember his middle name, yikes) and I've been thankful recently that I had a few pictures because my son was asking questions. The pain I remembered was a surprise.

The memory is quite different than actually going through it, though. I very vividly remember feeling like I would never be happy again (I also recently remembered some very vivid dreams that I had while pregnant that I would marry a quiet man with a beard who would make me very happy. So. Weird). Although it's still kind of crappy to think about those feelings, I'm really kind of glad I did. It wasn't forever.

Nothing is actually forever. That's comforting.

I have well documented anxiety and I used to get myself through webinars at my job by telling myself, "At 2pm this will all be over". It felt less painful that way, less like an obligation or something to fear. It just felt like another part of my day. Do this now, check it off your list, and then you'll be okay. Now that I've become more comfortable with my job and familiar with the products and tools we use, it's just like breathing. The fear, the anxiety, the worry...none of that was forever.

Although I already knew this, good things aren't forever too. I mean, wouldn't that be nice? I would dearly love if weight loss was one of those things you only had to do one time and once it was done it was done forever. You didn't have to slog through the day-to-day maintenance to keep yourself in check. The actual weight loss, while not fun, is at least interesting. People have questions, people want to know what you did and how they can do it too (although they often get mad at you when you tell them, so that's kind of hilarious too). Maintenance is boring. It's mundane. It's nothing sexy or exciting. It's just life.

Still, I find it oddly comforting to know that the "happy" doesn't last forever either. Your pet won't live forever, you can't eat twelve cakes, there will always be a new customer to have a webinar with. Nothing gold can stay, Ponyboy. Appreciate what you have right now. Keep going to Zumba and running those races. Insert inspirational saying here, if you so desire.

I was on Facebook the other day and a girl in one my groups was saying she had so much weight to lose and it was going to take her so long and she just didn't know it was worth it. I didn't understand that because presumably you are going to pass the time anyway, right? Why not try to be your best? In five years you'll be five years older either way.

So many people I love are dealing with some painful crap right now and I hate it so much for them. It sucks, completely. No way around it. 

It's not forever though. I have proof.