When I begin to feel the coming of the black dog I know I must do certain things to minimize the dark cloud settling over me. This is called self-care and people with depression have their own litany of remedies and action items to employ when the black dog comes sniffing around. For me it is getting outdoors, calling friends and writing. Manicures and hair cuts also help and occasionally some retail therapy but mostly I know to reach out and stop thinking and start doing. I know this. I practice this. But every once in a while the black dog gets the jump on me and I am struck down and feel him laying on my chest. I struggle to breathe or even think. And sometimes I just lay there for a day or two until he quietly slips away or moves to a far corner waiting to see if I will feed him.
Tonight I called an old friend and hung out with her and her soon to be daughter in law, ate Chinese food and swam under the moonlight in her pool. I also played fetch with her dogs and go caught up her life and mine. It was going fairly well until the subject of the guest list for the upcoming nuptials came up and I found out that my daughter (close friend of the bride to be) had black balled my boyfriend from the event. I’m beyond angry and sad and disappointed and hurt. It is one thing to not want to get to know him or acknowledge that I am in a serious committed relationship but to engineer this drama because she isn’t comfortable???? Who will I dance with? Who will I sit with? How dare she?She has got to learn to grow up and accept the new normal of mommy’s life.
I got up early and hit the bricks…..or concrete as it were; walking around the streets of my boyfriend’s parents hometown. It is perfect for walking as the streets are pleasantly Vermont and the traffic is sparse and it is quiet. that is part of the appeal of walking for my main form of exercise. I don’t wear headphones or listen to music preferring instead to listen to the various bird song, the chatter of squirrels running around and the sound of the wind in the leaves. Today was not much fun as it was misty when I began walking and then the rain got heavier so that by the end of my 45 minutes I was in a pretty good rain. It was then that the metaphor of walking in the rain and relationships came into my head.
Walking in the rain is a lot like a relationship. It may start out sunny or just a bit misty but sometimes you get caught suddenly in a deluge and your instinct is to stop walking. But if you are already at a steady pace another instinct is to keep walking and accept the rain as part of the journey. The key to walking in the rain is to keep your head down and only look at the next few feet of pavement. You are looking for dips and lips and anything that might trip you up. Then you briefly scan up ahead for a more long term view but then it is back to one foot in front of the other. That also keeps your raincoat hood covering your face much better. Years of Girl Scouting taught me that there is no bad weather just poor clothing choices and my waterproof raincoat was doing the job but my sweatpants were not. Neither were my sneakers. Another thing about walking in the rain is puddles. Some puddles are so big you have to go around them, some are huge and you have to pick the best path through them and some puddles you can just jump over. Relationships have puddles- some are big, some are huge and some you can just skip over. The trick is knowing how far you can jump and sizing up the puddle beforehand. Sometime the puddles are hard to see and sometimes the puddles are deeper and wider than expected. Those puddles can swallow your shoe and leave you wet for the remainder of your walk. And that is uncomfortable. Oh, and another thing if you have a pebble in your shoe-shake it out before you start your walk, start fresh without old pebbles of previous walks or in this metaphor previous relationships. Not very easy. Sometimes I feel like my shoes have shattered glass in them and I don’t know it until I start walking. It is hard to shake our your shoes once you are moving. It breaks your rhythm and throws off your pace. Often it makes your feet bleed and you can’t go on. I’m still shaking out my shoes from a lifetime of defeated attitude and loser mentality. Learning to walk with confidence and conviction that I’m on the right path is so damn hard. My pace may be slow but I’m going to keep moving. Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride.
So the pain continues and the hurt seems endless. He seems clueless about how much pain I feel or doesn’t care. It’s all good as long as he is happy. And apparently he is so happy that he is willing to throw away three years of being together. The changes in our relationship may prove to be fatal. I don’t know. But I’m already tired of crying and not feeling important enough to have an opinion. This is much harder than I imagined and I don’t see any benefit for us as a couple. But maybe that is it. He doesn’t really want to be a couple anymore. He wants to be fully single again and open to all the adventures of being a handsome, sexy, single guy with a job, hair and teeth. A rare rare thing on the dating scene. He can have women from 21 to 99 why in the world would he want to settle down and be with just me. Right now I don’t even want to be with me.
Up early and out the door…….long pounding walk with the tapes playing at full volume: nothing tastes as good as thin feels, small portions satisfy me, such a pretty face what a shame, do you need that extra roll?, if you weren’t so fat we could buy you cute clothes, you’ll never lose weight after menopause. You use your fat to protect yourself from not being liked-what would happen if you were thin and still no one liked you? Push those feelings down and eat to keep them down. Inside my fat body is just another fat body. I don’t even have a pretty face…….. and so on and so on.
It is a week later and my heart is still broken and I’m still unsure of what to do and I feel so sad and overwhelmed. I’ve lost 17 pounds of the the unhappiest weight in a long time. Maybe he will still want me to be his girlfriend if I lose weight. Maybe this will all blow over. Maybe I’m just not cut out for this after all. Will I lose everything if I can’t adjust and put a happy face on? Why do I feel so disposable and marginalized? Is it just the energy of of a new relationship or is he going to break up with me? What are his expectations? Can he really do this? What is her motivation? Does anyone care about how I feel? do I matter anymore? Why do I feel so sick to my stomach all the time? Is this normal? Will I survive this? Is this going to make us a better strong couple? Or am I just fooling myself? Maybe if I was thinner…………………………………….
The bashful sun has finally shown its face again today and while still rather chilly for April I am reveling in the healing rays. I am a much improved and feel hopeful and energized. I have lost nearly 12 pounds, met with a new counselor and reconnected with my boyfriend. He is off this weekend to see his father who continues to decline in health and I have filled my Saturday with an outing with my daughter. We are still sticky at points and she is under so much stress that I worry about her constantly.
Work has settled into the mad dash for the end of the year with only 8 or so more weeks to go. I’m up to my neck in end of the year paperwork and meetings and juggling it all to get it done.
Our planning for our trip to Iceland continues. Henry has booked a car and we are scouring the internet for a good route that has us circumnavigating the island and seeing as much as possible! the days are long and sun filled but we are mindful of overdoing it. Happily we both drive standard transmission so we saved on that and can switch off without any fuss. Thank you Daddy for teaching me how to drive a stick. (So many Americans do not have this skill-such that when I went to have my oil changed none of the mechanics could advance the car onto the lift except for one grizzled guy!) I want to go whale watching and he hasn’t yet decided what is his must see. The planning makes me feel warm and happy. I always do well with something on my horizon to look forward to.
On to summer and better days!