I blame Daylight Savings.
There is a lot that one woman can do with an hour. When you just *snatch* that away from her, life gets a bit cahRAYzee.
I seriously cannot believe it has already been a week since I posted the introduction to my nameless book, which I am now referring to as my ‘Bookloree’. Other blogs were written on the back of my workout splits, in my daily notebook, and on grocery receipts but somehow they didn’t make it to the blog.
Se la vie!
Today the story picks up right where I was – in a place of confused, quasi success. If you haven’t read where I set the stage, you might want to do that first.
Happy reading and don’t forget to be amazing!
~ ~ ~
Living in Canada for over a decade has made me love sweaters. Although, it is more of a survival tactic than a fashion statement. Once upon a time when I was a teenager and lived in Washington State, I loved autumn. The change of the season was gorgeous. In Alberta, one day it is hot summer and then next it is snowing and all the leaves fall off the trees within 24 hours. Autumn is more of a day than a season here. The subarctic tundra stays at an ambient temperature of -20 Celsius for a four or so months straight every winter. So in reality, my sweater collection is an attempt to not die from exposure.
This particular day, the one and only day of autumn had come and gone a few weeks previous which meant the sweaters were out in full force. I was wearing a black, cashmere cowl neck sweater when my husband looked across the dinner table at me and stated, “Maybe you need a personal trainer.”
Had I not been dead tired from my 11 hour workday of managing projects, completing payroll, being yelled at on the phone by customers, and dealing with staff issues topped off by a business mixer where I was required to smile and nod like a bobblehead doll, I probably would have smacked him.
I was too tired to put up my usual barrier of self-righteous indignation. Instead I made a noise of agreement as I slumped over a bowl of macaroni cheese I had attempted to make better by adding enough freshly ground pepper to make a small town sneeze for weeks.
My rational mind knew he was talking about my need to stop being a workaholic and take care of my body, not how much muffin top was spilling over my skirt. Fat was something I spent most of my teenage years and half my twenties being. I easily fit into a size 8 suit and could run 10 kilometers without much effort; a huge accomplishment for a woman who, a few years earlier, weighed 70 more pounds and couldn’t run a city block without having the ambulance on standby. Back then I thought a balanced diet was a bag of Doritos with a side of grapefruit.
My life looked great from the outside with its important job at the head of a boardroom table, nearly 10 years of marriage, weight loss success story, a funky shoe collection, and hobbies which I had no time for. In actuality I was dying the slowest, most painful kind of death possible; a death of mediocrity and passionless survival. The purpose of what I was doing was lost on me, despite the rest of the world telling me I had arrived.
When you arrive, you die. I would know since I was doing more dying than living.
Something needed to change and all my hard work to date had resulted in success the world applauded but in reality it was an unraveling sweater, one thread pull away from complete disaster. Or maybe the sweater had already unraveled.
If I was honest with myself, I was already coming apart at the seams.
The carbs were doing their magical work of making me sleepy and agreeable, “Fine. But it has to be a man. I am not going to pay money to have some cute shrinking violet try to tell me what to do. Are you ok with me training with a man? An in shape, arse kicking man who could probably snap me in two? Is that what you really want?”
It is possible the carbs were making me surly, not agreeable.
“I want you to be happy. You aren’t happy.”
I jabbed at my fluorescent orange pasta and snapped, “I am happy. What about me doesn’t seem happy? How is this not happy?” My hand flopped around to emphasize my point.
A concerned look, which I decided to interpret as 100% agreement with me, crossed Jon’s face. “I go to the YMCA in the morning and do things. I am fit. I am successful. I am fine.”
“Ok… But your fine doesn’t seem so fine.” He said.
“Fine then. I will add another thing to do to the growing must-do-to-be-an-amazing-woman list, but it may mean these gourmet pasta dishes come to a screeching halt. Is that what you want?” I emphasized my sarcastic comment with arm waving, wide eyes, and head shaking.
My martyr complex was out in full force.
God has equipped every man with a life saving device known as silence and retreat. My husband pulled the emergency switch by turning on the TV in the office and shutting the door.
“Fine. Shut me out.” I muttered to myself. “First tell me I need to lose weight and then walk away. No problem. I have it. No problem at all.”
Except I had more problems than I cared to admit to. The first one being that I talked to myself out loud. After filling my stomach with radioactive carbs it seemed rational to wash it down with a very large glass of red wine. After all, it has been a long, hard day. I deserved it.
While the dishes soaked, I sat in the living room staring into nothingness. My body quickly relaxed as I gulped down my overly full glass. Drinking a big glass before bed ensured 3 to 4 hours of sleep before the anxious thoughts of work and self loathing crowded in. A few blessed hours of my brain being turned off before I found myself up at 2:47 am emailing clients about their projects, following up on staff tasks, or drafting proposals.
Sleep was a commodity I did not have.
Stumbling to bed, I remembered the dishes in the sink. Apparently they were being moved to tomorrow’s have-to-do-in-order-to-be-an-amazing-woman’ list.
~ ~ ~
Mornings are equivalent to the Apocalypse for someone who hates themselves and their life. Sneering at an alarm clock that continually bleeds time no matter how much pent up angst is spent on it every 9 minutes makes for a poor start to the day. The 4-inch plastic cube withstood more abuse than is even reasonable. After four or five snoozes and my pleading prayers to have Jesus come back RIGHT NOW went unanswered, my feet always hit the floor. My German farming heritage would not allow me to call in sick for the day, besides I am pretty sure my lifetime supply of sick days were used up in the eighth grade in an effort to avoid lunchtime shunning by the pretty girls and comments on my ‘size’ from the freshman football team.
Squaring my linebacker shoulders, I made my way to the closet.
Suits, shoes, and purses spilled out of my closet. My self-medicating habit of shopping made choosing an outfit in the morning more difficult than it needed to be. I looked over at my husband who was sleeping peacefully and his comment came back to me. I want you to be happy. This is what happy looks like, right? Kneeling down to dig through my cache of fall boots, pain grabbed my heart. Raw honesty about my unhappiness filled my soul and tears started to stream down my face. Salty tracks of pain leaked out of my eyes and a silent wail escaped my mouth. A trembling hand covered my mouth and I wondered what the point of my life was. Twenty? Thirty? Forty? How many more years of this? I stood in front of the open closet and saw bars instead of clothes. Trapped. Trapped for a lifetime in corporate ladder climbing. Claustrophobia set in and my constant companion, anxiety, welcomed it with open arms.
Boots, suit, fabulous jewelry, and a designer handbag were thrown onto my body. Eating peanut butter toast on the way to the YMCA, I wondered what would happen if I kept driving down the highway, how long it would take before I ran out of gas? What would be at the end of the proverbial road?
Suddenly my sensible brain kicked in. I live in the Canadian prairies, so most likely nothing other than a farmer’s field and a roaming herd of cattle would witness my great act of daring. There were better ways to stick it to the man than find myself stranded with a 2,000 pound beast named Dolly.
But what if there was another chance at life? A life where I was happy and not stuck in a suffocating life sentence of fake smiles, strained marital communication, and dissatisfaction with every aspect of who I was.
What if I was happy?
The usual routine of driving in the dark, pretending to be excited to be alive in the morning in the midst of fit women at the YMCA, and getting ready for a day of meetings was done without feeling.
Allowing myself to feel was like choosing to gouge my eye out with a dull spoon; lengthy and painful.
The cheery hello that escaped my lips as I walked into the bullpen of desks at the office surprised even me. Heads remained bent over their work and a random hand waved acknowledgement in the direction of my voice. My fashionable shoes made unfashionable noises on the brick floor as I made my way to my office and dropped off my purse and coat before getting coffee.
Were there really only 5 days in a work day? How does Tuesday feel like the 28th day of the week? Most likely because the last day I didn’t work the whole day was 29 days ago. Coffee helped, at least a little bit.
While the Nespresso machine gurgled, I thanked God once again that I worked with nearly all men. No one noticed or seemed to care that my face was puffier than a blowfish after a head on collision.
Sobbing first thing in the morning before you have a cup of coffee will do that to you.
Deep breaths, coffee, and answering a few hundred emails should bring me back to normal sooner than later.
My desk overflowed with project files, planning tasks, and partially completed budgets for overdue proposals. After what seemed like an eternity communicating complex technical issues to clients who thought the Internet magically worked all the time, 10:00 am rolled around.
Coffee break time.