The Ending

*Something of a spoiler alert – if you haven’t seen LaLa Land yet (holy wow, who hasn’t seen LaLa Land yet?) But if you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to skip this post, cuz I tell you the ending…….*

 

I bought the LaLa Land DVD when it came out recently. I haven’t watched it though. The Princess and I did see it when it was in theaters, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it again. Here’s why – the ending still haunts me. I still haven’t been able to decide if I liked it or not. And since we’ve kind of been in an emotional place in recent months, neither P nor I felt ourselves in a place to be able to handle it. Heck, the music is enough to make me cry.

I did really love the movie, but that ending…..Did you like it, if you saw it? I get it – it’s more real life than most movies. We don’t always end up getting forever with that one person who was with us during a time we’re becoming, we’re discovering, we’re learning about ourselves. I had one of those – a boy I dated right out of college. I was starting my career, really figuring out what I wanted to do with my life, and I was making plans. Turns out he wasn’t supposed to be Mr. Forever, he was just Mr. Right Then. It took me a few years to figure that out, and I don’t regret that one minute. He encouraged me in so many ways, helped me grow and learn. And we had some amazing adventures together. He was there for me at a pivotal point in my life. But we both ended up married to other people, and that’s as it should be. Spouse is my Mr. Forever, and has stood by my side through things I don’t know that other boy would have been able.

My deal is this – when I go to a movie, I don’t tend to want reality. Hello! I’m there to escape reality. That means the boy gets the girl, and the girl gets the boy, and it’s forever. Amen, and pass the popcorn. I had NO CLUE I was going to get a dose of reality at the end of this movie. For real – who puts real life at the end of a magical musical? It was like a punch to the gut at the end. It took me weeks to recover. I think that’s a big part of why the music still gets to me.

P and I talked about it. We both kind of go back on forth on whether we liked it or not. What’s your take?  Should it have had a happy ending? Or did you consider this a happy ending after all? I mean, she is married with a beautiful child, and is a successful actress, but she’s not married to the guy who helped her get there, the guy who stood by her side as she worked towards her dreams and began to see them realized. There still seemed a certain sadness, a what if, to her at the end. And he definitely seemed sad, even if he did fulfill his dream of having his own jazz club. I didn’t walk away with an “everyone is fine” feeling. I’m leaning towards it not being a happy ending, and it making me sad.

Just a little over-the-top

I will admit – I’ve been emotionally over-the-top this week. The littlest thing seems too much. The tears have been so close to the surface, and have overflowed more than once. The frustration tolerance level is at an all-time low, spilling out in some angry, testy words. Exhaustion isn’t helping the situation. I feel scattered, forgetful, slightly detached but then overly engaged at the same time.

I am not handling well the things that come with getting older, at all.  Seriously.  It’s bad. I have been blessed with some pretty decent genetics – neither of my parents’ faces show their ages. The wrinkles aren’t too bad. But yet, I see the difference in how my face looks now, as opposed to how it used to look. Spots have appeared. Lines have formed. I could handle all of this gracefully if that were it for signs of getting older.

I had my yearly visit the other day. When the nurse asked me to step onto the scale, I closed my eyes, told her I wasn’t looking, and asked her not to say the number out loud. This, this is the thing I’m really not doing well with. My doctor, as the endocrinologist said earlier this year, confirmed it’s just normal for women of a certain age to gain up to ten pounds. TEN POUNDS!!!!!!!! What. The. Hell????!!!!!!!!!

I think I’ve covered before my body issues. Now, I’m a small person. But I have struggled with body image since I was nine years old. Those negative words formed in my brain from a very early age. Most mornings lately start off with me saying horrible things to myself about myself. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a good place with this. It’s been particularly bad this year, with five pounds gained since January alone, despite the fact nothing has changed in my diet or activity level. Nada. Zero. Zip. Not one single difference. I almost never eat sweets. I don’t drink soda. There’s minimal dairy, very rarely do we eat red meat. Breads, when consumed, are whole wheat/whole grain, as is the pasta. Portions are watched closely. Yes, there are cheat days, and yes, there is wine. But that’s nothing new from the last ten years. And yet, five pounds on, and those are pounds that I can’t get to go away.

When I was a freshman in college, I gained the freshman fifteen. When I came home the summer after my freshman year, I hid in my room the first month, until some of that came off. I didn’t starve myself, but I exercised compulsively, and ate almost nothing. I was in a deep depression because of my unhappiness with my body. When I developed an ovarian cyst, and an ulcer, and lost not only that freshman fifteen, but ten more besides, I was happy, but looking back at pictures from Christmas my sophomore year of college, I realize how ill I looked. The look on my Daddy’s face when I got home from school that break should have been a clue. But in my desire to be skinny, I didn’t see it. This is the place I’m coming from though…this is what I’ve carried with me most of my life.

I feel myself going back to that depressed place. Getting dressed every day gives me anxiety. What if my pants won’t button? What if the shorts that fit last month are now tight? What if that button on my shirt won’t button or gaps? I can’t stand to look in my bathroom mirror. I get angry and sad every time I get on the scale. And when I think there could possibly be five more pounds to be gained, as the doctor said, I throw up in my mouth a little bit with stress and anxiety. I am uncomfortable in my own skin, but I don’t really remember ever being comfortable in my own skin, except when I was unhealthily thin.

And these are the thoughts, the internal battles I try to hide from my teenage daughter. Lord knows I don’t need her thinking this is okay and normal.

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Four hours later, after a Pilates class, and eating my favorite Panera salad for lunch…..

I thought about ditching this entire post. It probably sounds a lot whiney, especially when I say that while I’m totally unhappy at the moment with my body, I’m not willing to make any extreme changes in my diet. I won’t be going vegetarian or vegan. The 21 day fix extreme was tossed a long time ago.  Paleo isn’t for me. And, as you’ll read in a post next week, we don’t do GF/DF/Anything-else-F in this household.

I don’t like seeing myself in the mirror. Clothes shopping has become fraught with anxiety, and I won’t go shopping with anyone anymore. I’v realized it’s probably time to ditch the bikini for the mom-tankini.  I’m never going to look like I did when I was 25.  I try to like my body, and I do give it credit for all the incredible things it’s done…give birth to three babies, run 7 half marathons, survived one knee and one shoulder surgery, and carried me through successfully and pretty healthily for over 40 years. Do I love my body – not in the least. I’m not comfortable with it. Will I continue to fight the good fight against age? Certainly. Will I give up my wine, occasional piece of French bread, cheat days, once-in-awhile pizza/filet mignon/pasta alfredo? Never! Do I know I need to come to a mentally healthy place as well to accompany my physically healthy place? Totally yes. Will I still sometimes whine and get depressed about the dumb number on the scale? Likely.

If you’ve stuck with this post for this long, thank you. Thank you for letting me process this all out, and have a complete mood swing within the space of it. My God made me. I shouldn’t disparage what He made. My husband still thinks I’m attractive, so who am I to disagree? For those women who are in my current boat, soldier on. For all who have stared down an eating disorder and won, bless you. This stuff is hard.

Why I posted that picture

As I’ve shared before, I’ve been struggling mightily with negative self-talk, self-image, and self-esteem probably more than any time since I was just out of college. There’s something about this 40+ age that throws the body into chaos. In spite of a regular, strenuous workout routine, and watching (most of the time) what I eat, not only is weight not coming off, it’s moved around, and keeps creeping up. It’s frustrating, defeating, intimidating. I’ve been working hard to a) overcome the negative thought process, reminding myself daily that I’m healthy and b) do what I can to maintain rather than focus on losing or gaining and c) keep a good attitude towards it all, especially when the Princess is around.

Yes, I ran a half marathon on Sunday. Do you know I still “felt fat” when I was done? I mentally chastised myself for my post-race lunch, once I’d eaten it, in spite of the fact I’d just burned about 1100 calories.

I’m particular about the pictures I post on social media of myself, and those others may post of me. Like most people,  I want the most flattering pictures posted. But Sunday, I posted a photo of me and Big Man following our finish. I didn’t like the photo. I didn’t look my best – all sweaty and gross from just running 13.1 miles – and the angle wasn’t all that great. My hair was pulled back in a pony, with a headband. I’m not pretty or cute when I run – it’s all about function (although I did make sure to match my headband to my shirt and shoes). I looked at the photo before I put it up, and cringed. But I posted it anyways. I needed to post it, for myself, and because that moment was bigger than how I feel about myself.

I’d done something not everyone does – I’d trained for, and run, a half marathon. And I’d run it with my 15-year-old former 26-weeker. And I am a healthy person, darn it. I posted it to remind myself healthy doesn’t equal rail-thin or skinny. Healthy equals me taking care of me. Healthy is mental as well as physical.

I still fight the battles, almost every day. I try to push back against the thoughts of “If you eat this, then you have to do that,” or buying into extreme diets and exercise plans that focus on numbers rather than the whole person. I posted that photo to remind me I am okay. I don’t have to see a certain number on a scale to be a healthy mom/wife/woman. The moment that photo was taken wasn’t about me fighting an internal battle, it was about sharing something incredible with my son. Finishers

In my own skin

I’ve had self-esteem and self-image issues since I was about ten…never happy with the way I looked, always dissatisfied with the number showing on the scale or the tag of my clothes, even when that number was pretty dang low. I’ve fought to find peace with my body. But just when you think you’ve found a decent, survivable place, you realize how easy it is to be sucked back to that other place, the  one where a number means so much.

Let me put this out there…I’m healthy.  I have been described as “fit” and “sporty”.  I try to take care of me. Exercise is a normal part of the weekly routine. I am getting ready to run my seventh half marathon. But I am also of an age weight naturally creeps up. Nothing has changed in the eating or exercise regimen.  I even asked the endocrinologist when I saw her a few weeks back. This is “normal”. So why then is it so hard to me to take? Why do I find myself back in a near-obsessive place, somewhere I haven’t been since college? I am uncomfortable in my own skin. There are clothes in my closet I refuse to take off the hanger, for fear they won’t fit any longer. I’m continually fidgety, tugging and pulling at buttons, waistbands. That sounds like I gained ten pounds in the last few months….I have not. It’s three pounds, but the fact I know that exact amount is  my own little indicator where my head is.

While I’m struggling with all this, I’m trying to preach to my daughter that value is not found in the number on a scale, nor the number on the tag of her jeans. I need her to not face what I’ve gone through for so many years. So I don’t talk about how I feel about myself right now in her presence. I won’t weigh myself when she’s home. I put away the two programs I had used in the last few years trying to lose pounds. Keeping it inside me isn’t helping me, but letting it out wouldn’t help her. This is hard.

I’m trying to focus on just being healthy….eating more salad than bread, more veggies than pasta, and so on…..watching portion sizes, but also trying to model moderation, allowing “cheat day” once a week, acknowledging that sometimes you just eat the cookie. I fight with myself constantly over wanting to see a certain number, but then knowing that to achieve that number, and maintain it, I’d have to basically never look at a piece of bread again, and life is too short to live it in constant denial.

I’m struggling here, friends. Logically, I know where I am, know what I’m dealing with, and I know I need to model health for my daughter,  a good outlook, a good perspective on self-image. But then I see that number, and I panic. You’d think by this age, I’d have left this all behind twenty years ago. And yet the battle rages. I’m a woman, but I’m also a mom. So my dissatisfaction with self takes a backseat to the need for her to have a healthy outlook on  her own self. That means putting away my anxiety over what the scale shows, any negative self-speak on my appearance, any obsession with what I’m eating or not eating, and living in a positive, healthy way.

Giving myself a seat at the table

I had a work dinner last night, and as I sat there at the table, surrounded by successful business women, I began to feel I didn’t belong. Honestly, I’d tried to get out of it at the last minute, that feeling of less-than surging throughout the day.  Not one of the women was treating me as if  I didn’t belong, and I realized it was the voices in my own head telling me I was out of place. I took a deep (internal) breath, contributed what I could to I could to the conversation, relaxed, and ended up having a great evening, leaving for home feeling empowered and lifted up. As competitive as women can be with each other, its usually our own selves putting us down the most. This particular group of women is all about lifting each other up. As much as I thought I hadn’t wanted to go, I’m so glad I went.

Why do we let those voices in our heads even get through? I’ve written before that we are our own biggest bullies. (You can read that post here ). I still completely believe that’s true.  Those voices in my head, my own negative talk, is louder and meaner than pretty much anything anyone has ever said to me. And I was saying a LOT of negative things to myself yesterday and last night….a ton of negative things, comparing myself to others, and negating any success I’ve had in my life. On the way home from dinner, I was repeating those comparisons, all the negative things I’d been thinking, and made myself come up with a counterpoint to my own negative speak. It went something like this:

  1. “I’m not a VP of this, CEO of that…I don’t own a company, nor do I make million dollar deals.” Well, guess what? I successfully work part-time, manage a crazy household, take care of myself, volunteer in multiple organizations, and have three pretty decent, smart kids. Do I sometimes look at the women around me who have all those letters after their names and wish I’d made some different choices in my life? Duh, yeah. But the lack of letters after my name does not equal a lack of success. It’s just different success.
  2. I have friends who can hike twenty miles in a day, ski down the scariest of mountains, do triathlons like it’s nothing, run marathons multiple times a year…friends who aren’t afraid to get out on the open water in a kayak or on a stand up paddle board…friends who mountain bike crazy courses. I hear that voice in my head telling me, “You can’t do that…you won’t ever do that….you’ll never be that adventurous.” Well, voices, I’ve run six half marathons and I’m training for my seventh. I’m not fast, but I’m out there, and I do it. Not everyone can say that. I’ll probably never win a race, but I’m in the race.
  3. The voices say, “Your house is a pit. Look at this house…they have kids and their walls aren’t dinged up, their carpets aren’t stained, their windows aren’t covered in fingerprints or dog snoodles.” Yeah, well….my kids live in a happy home that doesn’t tell them to only drink juice in the kitchen. They do ride their skateboards up and down the front hallway.  The back bedroom (supposedly a guest room) has essentially been taken over by their video games and computers. Our couch is more comfortable than it is pretty.
  4. The voices say, “Look at that blog….it’s been around half the time of yours and it has ten times as many followers as yours, they have so many comments, so many likes, and you have like 5.” Then I remind myself I don’t write this for the glory. It is amazing and awesome to engage with other writers, but this is primarily my therapy. I do write with the hope my words, my honesty in what our family faces will somehow help someone else. But I don’t write each post with the thought it’s going to go viral, nor that I’ll get 100 likes, nor that I’ll reach 10,000 followers by next week.
  5. The voices say, “You’ll never write that book.” Yep, I may never write that book. But then again, I just might. The fact is, I can. It might completely suck, but someday,  I just may do it. I’m working on that courage factor.
  6. The voices say, “You suck at this fundraising thing. Look at that team…they’ve raised twice what you’ve raised in half the time.” Then I remind myself it’s not about the total, it’s not about the recognition. It’s about who is helped by every penny we raise. What we do, what we’ve done, makes a difference. End of story. That people continue to support us twelve years into this continually amazes me.

Shutting down those voices takes practice….daily practice. The trick is to not let them get louder than the positive voices in your head. I keep telling myself to not let the negative speak win. I have a feeling I’ll be working on it forever, but I will keep working on it. I’m giving myself a seat at the table because yes, I do belong.

Sporty?

When we went zip lining in Hawaii, there were two other moms besides me on the excursion. One mom seemed super adventurous….she was talking about all the other places she’d been zip lining, all the places they’d been hiking, rock climbing, and so on. I looked at her in awe. I am not that adventurous. The other mom was nervous as heck. Afraid of heights, not fond of the helmet messing up her hair, not a fan of the bug spray and sunscreen we all had to put on. She was super nice, just not athletic, not any kind of adventurer.

We were about halfway through our excursion of 8 zip lines. The less-adventurous mom and I were talking, cheering Little Man, as well as her terrified-of-heights teenage daughter. She turned to me and said, “Well, you’re sporty, this should be easy.” I couldn’t help myself from laughing out loud. You see, I’m much closer to her than to the other mom in the group. I don’t know I’d ever consider myself “sporty”.  I don’t like to get dirty. I tolerate the sweat when I’m running, but I’m not a big fan. I love to watch sports, but I’m not really one to get involved in playing any of the games. I’m terrified of any baseball, softball, soccer ball, basketball, or football flying at my head.

I’m an admitted princess, a priss if you will.  That’s just who I am. Or am I? Someone called me sporty.  I can hold my own on long runs. I can hike good distances (if it isn’t raining or snowing). I make an attempt to ski, even if it is just on the bunny hill. I’ll go camping (in an RV), have hiked through a stream/shallow river, and have even gone cave-tubing. Heck, I guess if I can go 16 days without getting out of a hospital bed (and all that entails) maybe I’ve earned the right to be called sporty.

Either way, her comment made me giggle. I would normally consider myself the least sporty person I know. But maybe, just maybe, I may qualify.

Giving ourselves grace

I am a perfectionist. I have been as long as I can remember. And I’m not patient with myself. Throw a little OCD in there (self-diagnosed…lol), and there ya go. That’s me.

So, I started that new job two-plus weeks ago. I officially took over last week. I did train with the last person to hold the position and she has been a HUGE help. But it’s on me now. There’s a learning curve. It’s basically a new language for me. I do feel a tiny bit overwhelmed, a wee bit lost. I’m afraid there are balls up there I’m going to drop because I’m not completely aware of their existence.

I texted the Spouse yesterday and told him I suck. He laughed at me. I’ve made a few (that I’m aware of…I’m sure there are likely more I’m unaware of at this moment in time) simple, small mistakes, but mistakes nonetheless, this week. Stupid mistakes from trying to be ultra-efficient and moving quickly. They’re making me crazy. I’ve been beating myself up for two days. I am of the firm belief they’re going to see me as a totally incompetent lackwit.

But why is that? Why can I not give myself some grace? Why would I afford more allowance to my friends who have started new jobs, and not for myself? It’s weird working again. It’s all new all over again. There’s a lot to take in, new routines to develop, new systems to learn. That’s not going to happen overnight, and yet I won’t allow myself the grace of a little time to settle in and not be perfect right out of the gate.

I do need to remind myself to slow down. I’m so used to doing what I do quickly, but then, I know what I’m doing. I have this part down. With something  new, I need to remember to take it more slowly, be efficient, but be thorough, ask for help when I  need it. I put it on the white board above my computer until I get it through my thick head…”Give yourself grace.”  I think it’s a good reminder for all of us.