Saturday, 8 September 2012

Big Girl Shoes

There seems to be a notion that when life gets tough, we need to put on a strong face, pull up our trousers, or wear our big girl/boy shoes and face the world. What a nasty notion! Sometimes, I think we need to avoid the shower, wear sweatpants that are too big and feel sorry for ourselves.

OK, maintain your personal hygiene - but enjoy those sweatpants, because nobody can take you seriously when your ass looks like that.

Every day is a little different, and a little bit the same it seems. I wake up and I have coffee. Usually, I have breakfast but sometimes I forget. I play with my son, I work out. I shower. Sometimes, I even go out into the world and socialize! Even though my life without J isn't that different than it was when we were together - especially since he worked away - I always feel this void.

I had a confidence when I was with him, false or otherwise, that people actually noticed when I went out. That went away for a long time, but last Sunday I think it came back. FINALLY!

Last night, after supper, after having worked out already for an hour, I put on my running tights and shoes, grabbed a sweater, the stroller and my Mom and went out for an hour long walk. Had I been on my own, I might have run for part of it, but we walked and we talked. And even though I tried to express some of my feelings to her, it was pretty useless.

My Mom really loves me. I know this because she puts up with my ridiculous life, supports my decisions, and sometimes she even throws words of encouragement out there. In spite of all of that, my Mom has never been depressed - and if she ever has, she's forgotten what it's like. "Get over it", "Forget about him". As if it's that easy.

She's also never been through a separation. She and my Dad have been together since the Stone Age. She didn't have to face people who'd celebrated their wedding and tell them the news, she never had to raise a child by herself, lose friends to "picking sides". I did, and I'm living through it every. single. day.

While sometimes I'm a little tempted to sit under the blankets with a glass bottle of wine, let my hair get a little greasy and wear sweatpants two sizes too big and watch sappy movies with a box of Kleenex, I've found that putting on my Big Girl Shoes has been significantly more therapeutic.

When we're sad, we have a few choices and I've tried them all. The first path was feeling sorry for myself. That was a bust. The second path was hiding my feelings - worst decision ever. I had a total meltdown. The third path has been picking up the pieces, and fighting to get my life back.

Since January, I've learned that no one else is going to take care of my happiness and my health. Sure, there are lots of people who are concerned about it - but I am the only person who can take the reins in my life. I am the only expert on me.

While I'd like to think my Big Girl Shoes look like Carrie Bradshaw's droolworthy heels, they're more like beat up Toms or a fuzzy pair of Uggs, but they're helping me take the steps I need to take. And that's fabulous enough for me!

Next time you're feeling overwhelmed, try this:

Sit on the floor in a quiet room, legs folded and eyes closed. If you can't sit on the floor with legs folded, sit upright in a chair, knees together, ankles together and feet on the floor. Tilt your head side to side, forward and back, and return to center. Take several deep breaths. Think of what makes you happy. Visualize yourself strong, happy and healthy. Smile. Hug yourself. Open your eyes and look in the mirror. You can get there. It may take baby steps, it may take many steps... but it's a path worth every step, and you can guarantee that there is a lesson for every step of the way.

Friday, 7 September 2012

The First Step

Any time I have ever run into a brick wall an obstacle, however big or small, my entire family always suggested taking things "one step at a time". Being of the overzealous type, I stubbornly figured I could leap over things without consequences. Admittedly, I have come back like a bad dog, tail between my legs and brokenhearted many, many times.

"She has to make her own mistakes," they would say, "Live and learn". Looking back, I feel like shaking myself for continually making the same mistake over and over. I am my own worst enemy most of the time, but I'd like to think my ability to see this counts for something.

A year ago, I walked down the aisle, made promises and vowed vows in front of God, family and friends. Today, I'm sitting alone in my bedroom, separated from my husband and feeling like I can take over the world. The first few weeks were horrible. I lost my appetite, my zest for life and I felt like a ghost of myself. My son was the glue that held me together.

One day, in the midst of feeling sorry for myself, I had decided to clean up the TV room. Plates were piling up, the floor was unswept, coffee mugs were everywhere, toys on the floor. It turned into a clean up of my entire house, one end to the other. In the process of cleaning, I came across a box filled with Wii accessories and games - namely, Zumba. I stood like a bump on a log staring at the game. He had bought it for me. I thought seriously about throwing it out, but decided to put on some tights and a sports bra, and give it a go. I fell in love.

The following week, when I went to the grocery store I stocked up on eggs, fresh vegetables, milk, and tofu. I had fed my broken heart enough crap. It was time to treat my body right. And guess what? It helped me heal.

As I lost weight, I gained confidence and respect for myself. I felt strong, jubilant and alive again. The best part? I could turn on Zumba, blast the volume and just dance. Sometimes my son joined in, sometimes he watched and other times, he ignored me altogether. I fed my body the way I fed my son and my stomach aches lessened. So did my heartaches.

In the midst of our busy lives, it is so easy to put our health and wellness on the backburner to attend to the "important" things, like our careers and our homes. We work towards strong, healthy, caring relationships with our partners, our parents, our children anad our friends - but what about with ourselves?

I loved J very much on our wedding day, and a part of me always will. Were it not for our relationship, inspite of it's many downs and fewer ups, I would not have F. I would not have become the person I am today. While I am wary of saying our marriage a mistake, I am able to say that we were both trying to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. I don't believe we were ever meant to be together, but we tried. Am I sorry we got married? A little, but what I'm really sorry for was forgetting who I am, who I want to be and what I want and need from life.

The first step towards getting yourself to where you want to be does not have to happen from a dark place, like mine did. The first step might seem like the biggest one you will ever take, and it will feel that way, but as you make your baby steps, you'll find them growing as you grow and transform into the person you want to be.

Me, 20 pounds down in April. Now, in September I am down 38 pounds and feeling amazing!
Be strong, stay positive and love yourself.