When I was growing up in Florida I used to sit on my parents’ back porch and watch the afternoon showers roll in. First the sky would darken; the humid, stale air would give way to a cool breeze. The wind would pick up a little bit, kicking around the previous day’s lawn clippings. A few drops of rain would fall after that, and then water fell from the sky in sheets so thick I couldn’t make out the trees ten feet away.
The sound rattled in my chest. I watched the rain and thought of absolutely nothing. It was blissful. The day had been so dreadfully humid and then, minutes after thinking that the weather could not possibly get any more awful, there was a reprieve.
I feel like I’m being prepared for a change.
For some reason I thought the story above was a perfect representation of everything going on in my life. I know I’m still at the beginning part—perhaps the very beginning part, perhaps the part where I’m all pissed about the weather without realizing it’s about to rain—but I am as sure as anything that everything that has happened to me and to Jason is happening for a reason that is bigger than ourselves.
It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up a Bible on a day that wasn’t Sunday. I haven’t prayed for direction, purpose, or peace in months. I was content with not sharing my fears and dreams because addressing them, naming them, seemed messy and like such work and I could not be bothered.
Instead of nourishing myself with good, wholesome foods, I quelled anxiety and depression with sugar. I found comfort in french fries and ice cream. I ate because I was bored, because my soul was starved, because that’s just what I did.
I distracted myself.
I watched so much stinking TV. I reread books instead of learning something new. I talked to friends and read the internet because being alone with my thoughts and feelings was unacceptable.
For a long time I wasn’t bothered by it. I lived my life without any real direction or desire to better myself. I loved God but wasn’t in pursuit of an authentic relationship, not because I didn’t feel like he couldn’t handle my shit, but because I was afraid that I couldn’t. Coming face to face with everything that I had been bottling up was scary, so I hid in some cookies and watched mindless sitcoms until I could handle things.
I am not better for it.
Every step forward I’ve made has been undone by my own inability to understand that I am worth it. I did a Whole30 and felt great and then allowed a piece of news to unravel me. I felt confident in our decision to adopt until the doubt crept in and swallowed me whole. I have been too reliant on myself to fill in the blanks instead of allowing on the Author of my life to march before me and make my path straight.
You know what true friendship is? The first time you toot in front of her and you get kind of embarrassed and she says “Eh.”
After I farted she told me a story of how her son got poop on a cracker.
Moral of story: if you’re going to float an air biscuit in front of anyone, make sure she’s a runner with a toddler. No bodily functions phase those types of people.
Other moral of story: don’t eat dairy if you know it makes you gassy, regardless of whether or not it’s on delicious (and free) pizza.
Sometimes I feel like everything is out of control.
Then I think “Derr. Everything is out of your control, Self.”
I guess, in the grand scheme of things, everything is out of my control.
The little things feel out of my control, too.
My hair, for instance.
I’m in the process of growing it out. I’ve always wanted long, flowy hair.
Right now my hair is a mess of layers and my bangs are in my eyes, not quite long enough to tuck behind my ears and too short to fall effortlessly to the side, regardless of much I blow dry and straighten.
This morning I was fighting with my hair, threatening to just bobby pin it up and out of my face so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.
I almost cried because of my bangs.
It wasn’t about the bangs.
Of course it wasn’t.
It was about adoption and how we haven’t even started the process and I feel overwhelmed by it. It was about how open-ended it seemed because we don’t have a timeline because we can’t set up a timeline because Jason has to finish school first and even after he finishes school we have to save money and we can’t save money right now because we have to pay for college and why is adoption is expensive. It was about how Jason and I are officially the only one of our close friends that aren’t pregnant and/or parents and it’s isolating and I hate it and this wasn’t how my life was supposed to be and why why why.
I’m usually very happy and optimistic.
I’m a very laid-back, “only you can choose your attitude” type of person. And I believe those things. I cannot choose my circumstances, but I can choose my attitude towards those circumstances.
In order to break through to having peace about a situation, there is often a muddy, murky mess to wade through first. The emotions are big and scary and regardless of how much I want them to be shiny and easy, this is going to get a bit messy, I think.
I’ve been quite sad over our lack of baby-making abilities—-the number of women with child/having a child seems unusually high, or else I’m just more aware of it—-and I’ve taken to soothing myself with sugar because that’s how I roll.
I’m glossing over the nitty gritty for self preservation’s sake. The short version: it’s been really fucking rough.
My health goals had been side-lined in favor of eating M & M’s for lunch, the consumption of which began a pretty immediate downward shame spiral from which I’m just starting to emerge. Logically I understood that a lunch of M & M’s would not make Jason’s sperm magically grow back, nor would it lift my general outlook and make me a less bitchtastic person, but in those moments I wasn’t thinking of the long-term; mostly I just wanted to numb whatever it was inside of myself that ached.
For a few weeks I kept my feelings to myself. I didn’t want Jason to feel like this was all his fault. He didn’t choose to get a cancer that would leave him probably infertile, but I try to be sensitive to the fact that he might feel guilty and I didn’t want to compound his negative feelings. (The permanence of his infertility is yet to be determined; it could correct itself in years or it could not. He’s had two semen analyses so far and they’ve both come back negatory on the sperm front.) A few nights ago we talked about it: the unfairness and the horrible feelings and the jealousy and anger and the loss. And it helped. Having an ally in these shit-filled trenches soothed my broken heart in a way that sugar never, ever did.
Danielle’s wedding is best summed up in pictures.
Garrett’s wedding is best summed up in words. (If you want to see some pictures, check out the wedding’s Instagram feed.)
I only cried once during the ceremony, while I was walking down the aisle with Jason as part of the wedding party. I took one look at my brother standing there, ready to get married, and promptly lost my shit. If Jason hadn’t been holding on to me I would have just sat right down in the dirt and cried out of sheer happiness.
When I left Florida Garrett was 21 years old, full of piss and vinegar with a penchant for beer drinking. He stood up there on his wedding day in a dark grey suit and I hardly recognized him. He was a man ready to get married; he was sure about her. I felt a surge of pride when I saw him and I so desperately wanted to give him a hug. Instead I wiped the tears off my cheeks and remembered to smile.
His eyes welled when she walked towards him. He looked like he wanted to run to her, to swoop her up and carry her towards the officiant just to speed the process along. They exchanged their vows–the two of them were so full of emotion that the air was thick with it–and when it was over they were husband and wife, just like that.
Both weddings were special to me for completely different reasons. Danielle has been one of my bestest best friends since I was 15 years old. It was a reunion and a party and there was lots of fun and silliness and shots and dancing. Garrett’s wedding was sacred in a way that I was not familiar with; he added another member to our family on Saturday, and I felt nothing but joy.
The time is currently 7:30 a.m. I have been up for five hours and twenty minutes.
We set an alarm for 2:30 but I was up and at ‘em at 2:10. I took a shower and made breakfast (some leftover ground beef and scrambled eggs; a coconut milk smoothie) and was running on fumes and half a cup of coffee for a while little, and now I’m sitting in the middle of the San Francisco airport and feel a little bit like I have a hangover. I’m moody and the PA system is too loud and these lights are too bright and GET OFF MY LAWN.
I’m drinking some green tea, though, so I hope to be fine once there is caffeine inside of my body.
Awesome things so far:
+ we managed to cram all of our clothes into one suitcase, which clocked in at 48 pounds. We win at traveling!
+ free airport wi-fi
+ I got to listen to a woman read a Dr Suess book about dinosaurs to her son so I learned some things
+ my tea is awesome and it was free since I brought the tea bag from home and just got a cup of hot water from the coffee stand.
Not awesome things so far:
+ gym yesterday + cramped plane today = sore ass muscles
+ Jason just went to charge his laptop, leaving me to watch our bags which would ordinarily be fine except I have to pee now.
+ I am hungry and the only thing to eat in this terminal is a really green banana and some pastries.
Before there was a Whole30, there was me and my food issues. They had been a part of my life for so long that I didn’t realize how burdensome they truly were until they were gone.
The fixation on a specific food.
The eating so much of that specific food I felt like maybe my guts were going to explode.
The inability to pass by anything processed and sugary, regardless of how much I just ate.
The discontent I felt at myself on a near-constant basis.
The first few days of my Whole30 were rough. The cold-turkey quitting of sugar, breads, and baked goods gave me headaches and made me moody.
“This sucks,” I thought on an hourly basis. “I miss so many things.”
It did suck.
And then, at around day 8, it stopped sucking.
I felt great. I felt like I had boundless energy. Each time I said no to an off-limits food, my sense of accomplishment soared. I stopped thinking about everything I couldn’t eat. They didn’t matter. I was eating real, nourishing food. I was being kind to myself in a way I’d never been before.
It wasn’t all fun and games and feeling great. There were times when I didn’t want to cook anything. There were times when I really wanted that ice cream or cookie or glass of wine. There were times I just wanted it to be flipping OVER because thirty days can feel like forever sometimes.
Mostly it was good.
I lost ten pounds and nearly nine inches. I lost my dependance on sugary lattes and learned to love tea. I gained an appreciation for a well-roasted chicken thigh and honed my grilling skills. I tried weight lifting and began noticing definition in my arms where there was previously just fat parts. My collarbones came out of hibernation. I can do two real push-ups.
It wasn’t a perfectly compliant Whole30, but it was exactly what I needed.
I no longer doubt my ability to say no. I feel confident about myself and almost feel excited about seeing what else I can accomplish (maybe a whole three push-ups!).
I feel free.
Yesterday for breakfast I had coffee (with coconut milk) and oatmeal. Oatmeal is not Whole30 (coughcoughgrainscough) but, when faced with the choice between absolutely nothing in my stomach for four hours or oatmeal, I went with the oatmeal. The other option was banana bread. Or starvation.
I thought we had more hard boiled eggs but there was only one. The level of disappointment I felt to learn we were out of eggs was a little bit crazy, actually. Disproportionate to the situation, I think. Because I nearly cried.
Over the past few weeks eggs have been my safeguard against hunger. They make any bit of leftovers more substantial. One night Jason and I had no meat taken out for dinner so I scrambled some eggs, sauteed some asparagus, and said, “If you have eggs, you have a meal.”
I was standing at the fridge, a mere 10 minutes before I had to leave, with only one hardboiled egg to my name. I ate it, of course, and then drove through the coffee stand to get some oatmeal. There wasn’t time for anything else.
I felt okay after the oatmeal. Kind of jittery (because of the high that breaking the rules brings?), but no other symptoms were detected.
Today will consist of going to the gym, grocery shopping, dog park, and doing the laundry because FLORIDA VACATION IN SIX DAYS WOOOHOOO!! and all of our laundry is in various states of clean in every corner of our bedroom.
We are adults. How does it get this way? Ugh.
Less than ten days remain and I’m quite impressed with myself for sticking with it for this long.
Last night I had a culinary mishap that ended with me pouring dinner down the garbage disposal and making a second dinner out of whatever we had in the fridge (broccoli, leftover chicken thighs, mushrooms). It wasn’t delicious or a feast for the eyes, but it worked. Sometimes food just needs to be inside of me regardless of what it looks like.
I took my dress to be altered today and was told by a professional seamstress that it should zip but the zipper is catching on the fabric. Translation: “It’s not you. It’s the dress.”
Music to my ears.
We leave for Florida in 9 days. I feel ready.