Running away is laborious, and yet…it burns no calories. That’s too bad considering I’ve done more running away than exercise the last eight months. As a blogger of personal things, it’s often difficult to know what to keep and what to give away. I offer, as personally as I can, the following as a way of explaining my infrequent postings. I framed it within the lyrics of the song “We All Need Saving” by Jon McLaughlin. Thanks for sticking with me.------------------------------------------
Come on, come on. You have got to move on. This is not the you I know.
Last week found me sitting on the deck of my former house with my former dog gazing at my former gardens. A me I don’t know very well yet started crying. She was missing her gardens between her fingers; she was missing her life.
This isn't real. It's just all you can feel. And that's the way that feelings go.
A friend told me months ago that until I learn to live within the space of my new life with the same strength and determination with which I lost weight, I would be forever grasping for and holding on to bogus and temporary securities.
That pissed me off.
“I haven’t lived alone in 30 years!” I argued. “I’m doing the best I can. What more is there to it?”
“You have to let it maul you,” he said.
“Well I’m sorry Mr. I’ve Been Alone for Four Years, but I don’t want to be mauled by loneliness,” I retorted. “It hurts and it’s scary.”
“Exactly,” he sighed. “But in time, the mauling becomes a scratching, and that scratching a gentle touch, and it won’t hurt as much and you’ll be stronger.”
While I didn’t have a definitive “Ah ha!” moment that led me to lose weight, I definitely danced around the idea for a few months until that One Thing happened: the photo of 300-pound me with my daughter on her 20th birthday. It opened my eyes to see the real me, inside and out…the “you” I got to know.
Last week on the deck was the One Thing necessary to “start the mauling.” After the first round of tears, I got up, went to the garage, found a pot and shovel, walked to the end of the garden, and dug up one of the chives. I put the pot in the Jeep, gathered my things, and started driving home.
When the cloud in the sky starts to pour and your life is just a storm you're braving, don't tell yourself you can't lean on someone else, cause we all need saving sometimes.
I cried for 20 miles before calling Mr. I’ve Been Alone for Four Years.
“Yup. But you’re not alone. And you will be OK.”
I don't know why it has to be this way and I don't know the cure. But please believe someone has felt this before.
I’ve been around this block. I remember trying to be “OK” in a new life and failing miserably. It was 1983, after my husband died. Following the funeral, friends and family returned to their homes while I had to move out of mine. The farm was my in-law’s business, and without Bruce, I didn’t belong there.
One week after the funeral, I sold our livestock and grain.
Two weeks after the funeral, I gave away Bruce’s clothes.
Three weeks after the funeral, I moved in with my parents.
Four weeks after the funeral, my breasts dried up like an old cow’s, and I nursed our 1-month-old daughter for the last time.
I weighed 200 pounds and I felt as big as it looked when its two large zeros glared back at me from the Diet Center scale three months later. My friend Lisa was marrying Bruce’s best friend in the fall and I was in the wedding. As an incentive to lose weight, I ordered my dress a size smaller. Diet Center promised fast weight loss, which was perfect since I didn’t want to spend all summer on a diet. The faster I looked normal, the faster life would be normal.
Fifteen minutes at Diet Center, I was stripped of a week’s pay and put on an 800-calorie per day “meal plan.” I met with a “counselor” every day who weighed me, gave me a pep talk, and sent me home with vitamins. It didn’t matter that after one week I was dizzy all the time or that I was constipated and my skin was dry. I lost 20 pounds in 4 weeks and my bridesmaid dress zipped up like skates on ice. I quit Diet Center and celebrated with a Dominos pizza.
I spent the rest of the summer trying to get back the life I knew before 200 pounds, to shed grief like a snake sheds its skin. But the more I searched for Bruce in every man’s eyes, a thin body in every sandwich without mayo, and some peace in a bottle of 80-proof something, the less normal life felt and the more weight I gained. A month before Lisa’s wedding, the zipper of my bridesmaid’s dress wouldn’t move past my waist.
Back at 200 and too ashamed to admit it, I told Lisa I couldn’t be in her wedding because it would be too hard without Bruce. Sitting in the back pew in the same church I was married, I realized I hadn’t lied. It was hard without Bruce. All of it – the wedding, losing weight, raising a baby, living alone. As the bridesmaids walked down the aisle, I was crushed by jealousy. They were smiling, which I couldn’t do, and wearing the dress I couldn’t wear. I knew if I cried I’d draw attention to myself and then I’d be “Poor Lynn” all over again. I hated sympathy almost as much as weighing 200 pounds. Once everyone was safely up front, I did the only thing I knew to do. I left.
Remembering all of this 28 years later…that’s how I know this time – like the last time I lost weight – has to be different. I can’t leave. And no diet, no man, no distraction, no amount of lying to myself is going to save me, either.
I write this not for sympathy, but rather to say that no matter what we lose – weight, love, gardens, sanity, money, friends, knowledge – running away cheats us out of the mauling, which in time – I truly believe – becomes a scratch and then a gentle touch until finally, we become who we are meant to be.