― Eleanor Roosevelt
What a difference an extra few weeks makes in getting beyond the hurt of losing a relationship with someone you love. In breakups past, I would, typically, retreat into my own little world of self-pity and/or look for validation from another man. I would hide out in my house for months on end– avoiding friends and social situations. I would eat myself ‘happy’ while watching endless hours of Degrassi: The Next Generation — crying my eyes out because I so got what those poor kids were feeling. Oh, stop smirking– you know you watched the show, too……
This time, however, I did nothing of the sort.
Of course I was sad. Of course I felt betrayed, used, and unimportant. Of course I attempted to salvage what I could of the relationship– but, truth be told, was not exactly certain what it was I was attempting to call a relationship. Instead of succumbing to the pain of losing him, I decided (after about a month) to stop wasting my time attempting to define my self-worth by the man I had on my arm, but, rather, just define myself. Finding a relationship no longer interested me. Men, in general, no longer interested me. (Women did not interest me either. Just clarifying.) The only thing that interested me (besides my children.. duh) was me. My emotional health was pretty much at the top of the list. I needed to make myself feel whole again. I needed to figure out what drove me to make some of the decisions I made. I needed to understand why I always felt to blame when a relationship failed. I needed to know why I allowed so many people to so easily use me as a whipping post, a doormat, a short-lived fling. Why did I think so little of myself that I continued to accept it as normal? My physical health was also thrown in there– mostly on a dare. I knew I needed to take better care of myself, but honestly, I didn’t care. I knew I was fat and out of shape. Again, I really didn’t care. I knew I was setting a terrible example for my children– and this, I did care about, but was too fat, out of shape, sick, and tired to do anything about it.
I had no idea where to begin with my emotional baggage, so, as I have previously posted, I began writing down all the negative things that entered my mind. I wrote down my fears. I wrote down my worries. I wrote down my frustrations. And then I threw them out. Everyday. After about two weeks, I began to see a pattern of when the negativity would strike, or when I’d begin feeling overwhelmed. Once I knew when the shit fan was going to start spewing, I challenged myself to step aside. I did not always get out of the way in time, and sometimes, I didn’t even attempt to move, but in the end, I did come out smelling a lot closer to a rose than in previous encounters with the fan.
I started to see that it isn’t a bad thing to be as giving and caring as I am– but it is a bad thing for people to take advantage of me. I started saying ‘No’ to things that would simply be unreasonable for me to accomplish. I stopped inviting the chaos, and, although it was still chaotic, it had become a lot more manageable. I asked for help. That was a HUGE accomplishment. Even greater, however, was when I actually accepted said help. I accepted invites to go out with friends–male friends included. I stopped worrying what other people thought when they saw me, and told myself if they didn’t like what they saw….. they could stop looking. Their decision. It’s amazing how freeing that concept was!! Suddenly, it felt like the dark shit-cloud that had been following me for the last decade began to dissipate. I even bought myself a new dress. Anyone that knows me knows I absolutely despise trying on clothes.
So, with my burgeoning self-respect in tow, I set out to tackle the physical health portion of my relationship with myself. This was probably more difficult than the emotional baggage, because, well, let’s face it–I hate exercising. I started out with short walks on the treadmill my dear friend gave me. The walks (and sometimes jogs) were great. They were also easily skipped because I had no one to hold me accountable.
So I accepted a challenge.
This challenge was supposed to be—- 180 days to transform my body into that of a Victoria Secret model. Yeah, I have no idea. Didn’t I just type a paragraph or so ago that I started saying no to things impossible for me to accomplish? Whoops? But, don’t worry! I knew the 180 days was unreasonable, so the challenge was changed. Apparently, since I had agreed to participate in my very first 5k in 19 years and totally wasn’t keeping track of how much time I had to train (procrastination ROCKS!), I had absolutely no idea it was only 39 days away. I’m sensing some invited chaos.. haha! I weighed my options– I could quit before I even get started, or, I could put on my big girl undies and do the best I could to get as ready as 39 days allowed. Good thing I bought new undies!! 🙂
Since I have been blogging, a few of my friends have mentioned to me that they are inspired by me– that I have motivated them to begin taking control of things in their own personal lives, that I’ve given them the courage to start working out or eating better. One of these friends, Colleen, asked me if I’d be free to walk with her in the mornings. I agreed. We have a track the high school uses for football/track/etc right by our houses, so we decided to meet there. Four times around is a mile. Easy enough. It was only the two of us for a day, though. Day two brought Tracey. Day three or four brought Jennifer. Week two or three brought Kelly. And, every day we go, we either meet someone new, or get talking with the ‘regulars’. Most of us walk 5 days a week– Some more, some less. Some days I’m way ahead of the pack– other days, they’ve been there for half an hour before me, and have already done a mile or so. It all equals out in the end. Some days I jog a lap or two. Most days I don’t. I want to do more jogging. The point is, we’re out there moving.
Turns out, though, that the physical part is totally intertwined with the mental part, and we’re not as alone in healing and moving on as we might think. Our morning walking crew turned into the best support group ever! We’d talk about our problems, relationships, kids, jobs, job searches, family dynamics, and anything else that came to mind. Being able to bounce ideas off of another person–someone not directly involved in your everyday life– is amazingly therapeutic! It may have started out being a little bit overwhelming knowing I was part of a larger reason these other women were out there– I could barely be my own motivation, how could I be someone else’s– but, it has morphed into gratitude that they’re out there with me listening to me, offering suggestions and feedback…. or a hug. A sweaty hug.. but a hug nonetheless! They have been so helpful to me in getting past the hurt and rejection and loss of my relationship. I hope that they know that they inspire me just as much as they say I inspire them.
So, that 39 day challenge? Yes.. I completed it– mostly! My friend Michael and I signed up for the Junetienth Race– knowing I’d be walking most, if not all, of it. I convinced another friend, Darryl, to walk it with me– and thank goodness he agreed!! I set my alarms— but NOT for Sunday!! Thankfully, Darryl didn’t give up attempting to wake me, or I never would have made it there! He and I walked together– well, ok.. he walked normal.. I attempted to keep up with his 5. something ridiculous mph pace!! Sheesh! Plus, I guess since walkers are slower, they made us take a shorter route– 2.1 miles instead of 3.1 miles. We completed our walk in 31 minutes and a few seconds– and we felt as if we cheated!! We crossed back into the main path as the runners were approaching the same area. haha! The looks we got were priceless! There was one wonderful woman who cheered for us… “YAY, WALKERS! Good job!!” That was nice of her! 🙂 And, I beat Darryl because the finish line official said it had to be “ladies before gentlemen.” Snicker– I beat him with chivalry. Awesome. All in all, it was a great time– I received a shirt with registration and a trophy for finishing third in my age group. I felt bad accepting the trophy– but hey, it’s all good. The whole point of this race was simply to create and achieve a goal. I did that. For the first time in I have no idea how long– I didn’t quit because things didn’t turn out the way I had originally planned. I’m proud of myself for that.
So.. what’s next? Well? I don’t know for certain, yet, which one it will be– but there WILL be another race in 39 days or so. I think 39 days has become my official time frame for things. I have Michael to thank for that, too, as he is the jackass that challenged me in the first place… 🙂
What kind of goals have you set for yourself? How long have you given yourself to complete them? Do you have any tried and true methods of sticking to a plan or working towards a specific goal? I’d love to hear them!