Friday, January 17, 2014

I Realize I've Misplaced a Lot of Myself

I realized Thursday evening while inspecting a random smear of strawberry yogurt on my jeans that I really couldn't remember when I had put on clean clothes. Was that a fresh smear, or not? Was it really strawberry yogurt?

I could remember showers and clean underwear. Wardrobe changes for church and workouts, but just everyday clothes, no.

Unless I plan ahead, most mornings I just grab whatever I've had on the day before. The dogs and children don't care and they will quickly turn anything that is actually clean into something covered in wet paw and nose prints, and smears of everything from strawberry yogurt to snot and poop. If I aimed to stay clean I'd be undergoing a wardrobe change every hour or so. Most days I look like I'm ready to star in an episode of "What Not to Wear."

The amount of clothing in the hamper this morning says that I've changed clothes occasionally or it's been a really long time since I did laundry. The basket of clothes from which I pulled the clean jeans, tank, and long-sleeved shirt argue that it hasn't been that long.

The fact of the matter is that having abandoned a nice wardrobe when I decided to spend my time with dogs and children, the cleanliness of my clothes stopped being a priority. When things that I had really given some thought slipped off the radar, the state of my wardrobe became a non-issue altogether.

So I've put on clean clothes, that was fairly easy. At the same time, I really have to start paying attention to the things that mean something to me.

I used to exercise, not only for weight management, but for health. I was self-motivated and rode my recumbent bike a time or two a day. Between DVDs and YouTube, I could grab a PiYo or Zumba session any time. I keep a 30-day Ab/Squat challenge on my refrigerator and was midway through repeating it for the second time in December when along with Ethan it sometimes feels like I lost myself. I can't motivate myself any more. I do go to class a couple of times a week, but that's support and companionship as much as exercise. Even then, a song can trigger an emotion that will have me slipping down the stairs to hide out in the restroom while I regain control of myself.

Aside from high intensity workouts, I used to walk lots of dogs almost every day -- health and really bad weather were my only excuses -- and I really enjoyed it. The dogs enjoy it and it is good for the mental health of everyone involved. Now just a slight chill in the air, and face it, it is January, will be enough of an excuse to send me back into the house most mornings. I miss it, yet I haven't been able to convince myself it was worth the effort more than a couple of times in the last month.

While I used to aim to eat healthy, now food is just something that I eat, when I can muster up an appetite for something. Cravings generally haven't been for what I know is good for me, but it seems its either eat what I want or nothing. While that may be balancing out (I wouldn't know as I also haven't resumed a relationship with my scale, but my clothes aren't changing in their fit, but then again if you wear them a while -- oh, who knows), I don't have any numbers to be sure and skinny isn't the same as healthy.

I vaguely wonder if a day at a beauty salon/spa would make me feel better, but my hair hasn't been professionally handled in almost five years and I went shampoo free a year ago, so I don't imagine it would handle the shock well. Although I know the gray ages me, the thought of maintenance to fight it is too daunting to even begin. At the same time, I've never had a manicure or pedicure and with the dog wrestling of a typical week and the random acts of gardening that even now are likely to crop up, my nails are a wasteland. A massage might feel nice, but at the same time it would create that prolonged period of quiet that I've worked to avoid the last month, so it's questionable.

My poor husband is another topic. While not Ethan's father, he did love and care for him, which is more than his birth father managed to do. He cannot touch my grief, however, but tries to support me and tell me that it's OK to feel as I do and work my way through it. Still, between our schedules and my general lack of self motivation, I feel he's getting short changed in a lot of ways that I need to start correcting.

What little energy I have most days is exhausted on three small girls who hit Ma's house wide open. They are completely devoid of any care for my physical appearance, emotional stability or level of energy. They are a great tsunami of need and self absorption (like any small children) that sweeps everything away just for a little while. They are my daily salvation because I can't give myself much slack in dealing with them -- it's not an option. With them I have to be fully alive and alert, no matter how much coffee it takes.

In other words, I'm all to hell and I know it.

At the same time, I've found that finding out what is wrong is often the first step to fixing it. Just as I have to recognize a problem, facing it head on and evaluating it helps get me moving toward correcting it. That's the plan here.

I've cocooned myself in my home with three little tyrants and one noble knight for a while now. I may not emerge a butterfly, or even one of those not quite pretty gray moths, but I don't think I can keep tolerating the person I'm letting myself become.

The sky is blue and cloudless and I think there are dogs waiting for me as soon as the sun tops the trees. Seeing me bundled up in sneakers with leashes in my hand will give them a joy they deserve for always being there. I think walking down the road and back may be the first steps back to finding me.

Not the same me, who still thought life would eventually work out and prayers be answered, but a version of me just the same. A me who realizes prayers are answered in ways we don't understand and that we will never, this side of heaven, know the meaning of the faltering steps in this journey we call life.

1 comment:

  1. Good morning, Angela... Please remember to be kind to yourself as you are grieving, and in fresh grief at that... Please remember to love yourself, reworn clothes and all...

    I 'd like to share two of my favorite posts with you, if I may...somehow I think they'll hold meaning for you... You are in my thoughts...

    Yours in healing,
    ~Annah Elizabeth

    "When Life Gives You Lemons"

    "Heal It Your Way"