Shut My Brain Off, Please. Obsessing.

Not sure that I ever shared this but the therapist I was with at the end of last year diagnosed me with OCD.

I had never been referred to as OCD before so spoke about it a long while. My x was a clear OCD and son is S2. They have the kind of OCD that relates to unseen germs, repetitive habits or people touching their things etc. Theirs is pretty physical obviously when you know them a little while. I was surprised, but not shocked when we spoke about my ability to obsess over things not going the way I want them to. I obsess on the thoughts and feel the need to take action.

We covered all the basic steps of how to circumnavigate the debilitating repetitive ruminations and how to break the cycle. I have actively engaged in doing this. I consciously stop when I begin to ruminate and distract my mind. When I cannot distract my mind, I engage in physical activity. I amp up the activity to higher heart rates where all I can concentrate on is the activity if I’m really struggling. This has worked well (enough) most times.

But, my killer time is bed time. When I lie down to sleep and my mind begins unwinding, it always (and I do mean always) unwinds right to Tony. I started bedtime meditation to help with this, so that I have to listen to the guided meditation and put away the rumination. Again, this mostly helps. Last night was a killer.

As I normally do, when I am obsessing on something I start researching how I can help myself. I found a simple technique I’m going to try this week. Ask myself some questions.

The first step when I get so stuck in a loop I can’t stop ruminating has always been to acknowledge that I fixating on something negative. This part I have down pat. I have a series of answers lined up, such as:

Remember he doesn’t want you

You deserve better

He is a liar and a cheat and you don’t want that

Generally, on a good day, I can stop there. But on a bad day or night, there is another voice that’s says:

How did he get on with his life?

What is his marriage like now?

Is he happy? Or would he just lie some more?

What happened after their DDay?

What did he say about me?

As you can see, none of that is relevant and doesn’t require any answers. It’s none of my business and he’s not my concern.

So, when I get here, my new tactic is to use this technique which involves asking yourself a series of questions and then answering them. The technique is simple and quick, requiring only a minute or two of my time: (pulled from Psychology Today)

Wherever you are, ask yourself the following questions.

  • If I had to guess, what is the exact temperature now (inside or outside, depending where you are)?
  • What is my body temperature like now? Do I feel a little cold, a little warm, or perfectly comfortable?
  • If I don’t make any noise, can I identify every single sound that I hear?
  • Outside, what is in the sky? Are there clouds? How would I describe what I see in the sky?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how hungry am I?
  • If I could choose any dish right now to eat, I would choose….”

I’m sure, you got the idea. The value of this exercise is to distract my mind from any obsessive or upsetting thoughts and feelings I’m stuck in and to redirect my thinking to specific, tangible distraction-based questions by using my senses.

I can come up with my own questions.

The other method that I had researched a while back, but also don’t think I mentioned, is Mel Robbins “5 second rule.” This was so simple I actually didn’t try it for a while thinking it would never work but it does! I had initially read about this as related to how to put something into action, rather than stop action, but the theory works in reverse: (taken from MelRobbins.com)

What do you do?

Just start counting backwards to yourself: 5-4-3-2-1.

The counting will focus you on the goal or commitment and distract you from the worries, thoughts, and excuses in your mind.

As soon as you reach “1” – push yourself to move.

This is how you push yourself to do the hard stuff – the work that you don’t feel like doing, or you’re scared of doing, or you’re avoiding.

That’s it. 5 seconds is all it takes.

If you don’t act on an instinct within that 5 second window, that’s it. You’re not doing it.”

Rather than push myself to move (as above), stopping and counting down when I deep in rumination in order to refocus my thought is like an active recovery stage. It forces me to concentrate on the count and then move into a different thought.

I believe all the work I did with the therapist was good and showed me a lot of ways I can help myself while I can’t afford therapy. Putting these small changes into action isn’t difficult – the difficulty lies in repeating the techniques over and over and over until I’m no longer ruminating.

Frankly, sometimes I say to my mind “go ahead and obsess and lose sleep and get yourself upset because you’re too stubborn for me” I make myself crazy.

I have to think of some questions to ask myself that are simple, don’t require more hard thinking (like work thoughts) and would absolutely distract me.

On Being Thin

Sorry this story meanders a bit…I felt like I had so many bits to piece together….

It’s strange to write this, because I have been thin before in my life. At the risk of offending someone I have this belief that people who grew up thin have a different mindset than those who grew up heavy. I have always seen myself as a thin girl who did damage to herself by allowing herself to become fat.

I was thin, active, muscular and healthy thought my childhood and into my teens. I developed around age 15, a late bloomer, but didn’t start putting on weight until 18 due to hormonal issues (I’ve always had problems!)

I do not have a fat girl screw the world mentality. I’m not angry at all the thin girls and models. I do not have a love me at any size mantra. I wanted to be thin again. I felt better in every aspect of my life and I remember that feeling. Sure, there were times in the 180-200 pound range over the last 7-8 years in which I felt great too, but most of my adult life was over 210 pounds and I never had the confidence from my physique I felt I needed.

Perhaps, as with everything in age, we savor things as we get older. I want to live out my life thin, healthy and strong. I wanted to live in the feeling of being comfortable in a thin body.

I do find it very strange to be thin once again after 20 years. I don’t recall feeling like this, except around my wedding (when I was too thin).

My body has lost all its shape. My rib cage and hips are much more narrow now than they were in my teens into 20s. My college years were plump with ugly hair 🤣. I found a bit of physical positivity by 22 and was married by 26, so there wasn’t much time in there to really enjoy my newfound body positivity. I don’t think I paid enough attention to myself back then. I just don’t remember much about my body other than mostly being unhappy with it my entire life for one reason or another and always struggling to “get back to thin” after I turned 30.

Generally speaking, even when I was thin I still had abdominal scars from childhood surgeries as well as stretch marks as my breasts developed late and large

I read this is common for most woman, regardless of age, shape, weight or height. What a shame we waste so much time when we are young.

Anyway, I am thin now. People say too thin because I lost all my fullness. Nothing on me is round or shapely anymore. My bones come out in my neck and back. My shoulders are thin. I sort of see what they see, I look older. I don’t care much. I like being thin.

My closest friends as ask how I feel about myself and I tell them I feel fine. They think I can’t see how thin I’ve become. They ask me to stop losing weight.

I went for a full girls day of day shopping for the first time ever. My friend spent the time in each store with me to try on everything. She helped me pull an entire Spring into Summer wardrobe together on a pretty good budget. I was able to determine my size in various brands. I was much smaller than I had anticipated and a little shocked how my body had changed since December. My shape is settling in now.

It felt amazing to try clothes on. I could try on anything I saw that I liked. That’s never happened before. Things fit properly, even around my chest. Clothing looked good on me. Like, really good. I could wear my beautiful shoes with beautiful clothes now and make a striking figure.

I’ve been waiting to feel like this my whole life. I don’t think I had enough confidence in my 20s pre-marriage to feel powerful when dressed. I don’t even think I had identified my style. When I’m dressed I forget about the scars and hanging skin (other than that horrible chicken-skin under my arms, ah well, I’m working on that!) When I chose clothing I liked and saw things look good or not good on me – I was able to have choices. I was used to was to accepting whatever fit well enough and covered my flab which was limiting and expensive when I dressed well. This was actually enjoyable to see things flatter me and I loved trying on inexpensive clothing to compliment more expensive pieces to curate my style for the first time in my life.

Looking at myself every day in the mirror didn’t prepare me for the shopping experience. This was definitely a NSV (non scale victory) ranking up at the top. I truly enjoyed what many women have down their whole lives and I have shied away from.

Knowing I have the base to work with encourages me to keep working on my fitness and diet – I don’t feel defeated that I’m exercising and eating well with no results – I can see the results now. Yes, it started with surgery -but the last month or two have been my personal effort to hit my goals.

I’ve dropped a bit of weight quickly recently, most likely as my body was shocked from the exercise, lack of period, and the hospital visit and was holding onto water weight. I’m down to a solid 145 lbs now and would be happy to stay put here for good.

I don’t see what others might see – I don’t see “too thin” at least not yet. I don’t intend to drop more weight internationally. My goal was always 145-150 pounds and I believe it looks fine on my 5’8″ frame. I’m mostly a size M or 8. I believe as I continue to work with my weights and cardio I will develop muscle and look toned and that should help.

Surgery wasn’t a permanent fix. I still have my entire life ahead of me to maintain. I can’t allow myself to drop the new habits I’ve created, ever. Surgery gave me a tool, and a very powerful one, but it can still be mid-used. My goal is to always pay attention to myself now and create the body positivity I have been missing for so many years. Unfortunately, it was not a good trade-off getting thin at the expense of horrid scars and crippling sickness – but it’s done, I hit that reset button for better or worse – and I want to enjoy where I am without worrying about being “too” anything.

Once again in my life “I’m not right” for people. I know they are looking out for my best interest, but constantly hearing “you are disappearing” or “everyone thinks you’re too thin” just reinforces my old belief that I’m still not “good enough” for anyone.

PS: the photo is of the famous 1960s model Twiggy. She was 5’6″ (short for a Model) and weighed less than 100 pounds at times – so, no, I’m not that thin!

PPS: Here’s where I want to be (in my sexy dreams!). What’s scary is the poster writes “145 lbs sounds like a lot”. People really don’t understand women’s weight numbers as compared to appearance

68 Days of Me

68 days of commitment. I have worked out 68 days in a row and committed to improving my health and strength, and hopefully, as a by-product, my flabby hanging skin.

This week has been terrible for me. It’s the first week I just DON’T want to do it. It’s taken me nearly half the day to get off the couch. I even napped one day which I haven’t done in months (I try and avoid naps at all costs as I’m afraid one will lead to many). I found myself not doing anything in the mornings and then getting on a struggle bus to convince myself to do something on the afternoon.

Could it be because my son is on Spring Break and I’m out of the morning routine? Could something collapse so easily? Or is this just my psyche trying to win the war and push me back to lazy?

So far, the urge to shrug it off hasn’t succeeded.

I realize that anything, and I do mean anything, can screw up my day. I am so used to having allllll my time and a little schedule that I can manage. But as soon as you throw in any appointment or conflict, and my brain says: no workout today, woohoo!

But the fact is – I feel better after a workout. I have started running – which I really can’t believe – with a program called None 2 Run. I completed my second week and I actually enjoy it. It’s not easy for me, but I feel really good after my effort. I can only Run 45 seconds at a time right now, over 10-15 intervals, but that’s from nothing. I am thrilled with my progress.

I just wish my brain would stop sabotaging the one good thing I have accomplished for myself in many months. I need to create a pattern that I can find time and energy for a workout even when I’m working, I can’t continue to allow the sabotage to happen so easily. At some point I have to work again and before I do, I want the exercise routine to be ingrained and never to be replaced or erased.

I read the book Ann recommend called The Power of Habit and I notice that all of the health and fitness instructors I follow on social media also tout habit as the cornerstone to any healthy exercise regime. While everyone has different quotes on how long it take for a habit to stick, the book suggests (from their analysis) that its a minimum of 66 days to create a habit and potentially even longer.

I tend to agree with this because, at 68 days in, I THINK of exercise as something I WANT to fit in every day. No day passes without the conscious effort to exercise. However, my brain hasn’t programmed itself to say “this is a requirement, no day SHOULD pass without exercise.” If there is a way I can navigate around exercising, my brain is actively looking for it. For instance, last night I didn’t even start until post 8pm. That’s the latest yet. I was home all day. Just that one slip makes me nervous because it eeks in and then affects me the next day and the next. I still need to work on my self talk.

I want to form this habit. I am privileged that I CAN move the way I can and that I have my health back for the most part. I am getting stronger and I love it. I repeat to myself that it is no longer a negative – I can no longer say “I hate working out” – because that kind of negative self-talk is damaging. I reframe that thought into “I work out to feel good and become stronger.” I have to get the thought solid in my head that when I say “I don’t want to” or “I don’t have time” that I am really saying “I don’t care about myself”.

No one is going to care for me if I don’t start working on improving my physical, mental and emotional self. I need to keep reminding myself of that. I need to stop saying “it’s not important” and always say “I am very important” until it’s not a forced decision. Until it comes naturally to WANT to take care of myself, first. Sitting on the couch being some sort of vegetable isn’t caring for myself.

So, 68 days in, some days come easier than others. Some, like this past week, are still forced out of me. When I really feel like I “can’t” I tell myself just to do a light, active recovery day. If I still feel like I “can’t” after a light active recovery, then I don’t. But honestly, most times I find once I get past the initial hurdle of getting started, the energy comes with the sweat and I can go on to do a decent workout.

I need to set my intention to change. I have thought about making a vision board. I think they are kind of hokey, but I’m willing to give it a try.

68 days more than I’ve ever done before. That’s some accomplishment. I need to keep reminding myself every single day that I’m doing the best thing for myself.

I Just Realized I’m Scared

Oh, I’ve just had a moment full of tears.

My tears don’t come easily these days. I know it’s the meds. I know those meds keep me pretty clamped down emotionally. I hate it but know it’s critical right now to keep me from any more Trixie antics.

At least I know when the tears come, they are very deeply seated emotions rising to the surface.

For the first time in a long, long time I cried for myself and not for Tony.

I had a date yesterday, which was lovely, and I will write about him, but we hit on two subjects (thankfully very briefly) that struck me so hard that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them.

The first was my own statement that I’m beginning to realize I am most likely undateable to the caliber of man I’m attracted to. That’s because I’ve been out of work for 7 months with no job opportunities in sight. I realize that’s very scary to a divorced man who may have had a family and wife who already took most of his livelihood

The second was his statement, that I come across as disinterested. He is right. I’m not only disinterest but detached. I’m sick of the dating game and all its nuance.

I had the gut feeling when we touched on these two subjects that I should be exploring this a bit more. That’s when I came to the realization that, at the core of these feelings is a feeling I am not accustomed to having: I’m scared to death.

I’m scared of so many things that the tears don’t stop as I write this.

I’m afraid I won’t find a job.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to find another “Tony”.

I’m afraid I will fail again at work and in relationship.

I’m afraid to leave home now that I’ve established routine for the boys.

I’m afraid my body is so ugly now that I can’t have sex.

I’m afraid of the continuous persistent feeling of being demotivated and absent.

I’m afraid of losing the material things I have gained.

I’m afraid I don’t want sex because maybe I’m in menopause. Im terrified of losing my sex drive but it’s gone for certain at the moment.

I’m afraid I’m going to give up the one healthy routine I have created because every day is still a battle of will to get moving. Even after 54 consecutive days.

I’m afraid of not being good enough – the core belief I have struggled with my entire life. I have failed at all my relationships and my recent job. I’m not what anyone wants because I am so broken.

Am I bitter and mean? Have my insides curdled? Have I dried up?

Exercise helps, but now I exercise to chase the boredom demons away and don’t do ANYTHING else. Sure it’s good for me, but it’s all I accomplish now. I joined all sorts of Peloton activity groups and cheer people on – a false attempt of motivation – are people really able to use these groups as springboards for motivators in lieu of having a real support community (physical people around you, not a virtual community) ? I try to immerse myself in their positivity, I put on the virtual game-face and join the challenges and activities, but I don’t FEEL anything.

I feel unhinged from everything. Floating.

I am still an empty, demotivated, decommissioned human.

I have been trying to move away from that place. Trying so very hard. But when I took a good look at myself from the outside, I realized that – even though I don’t spend all day on a couch – I am no different than I was back in November after coming home from the hospital.

All I’ve done is dress up an empty vessel – put on a game face – trying to fake it and hoping I make it.

The couch has now become replaced by exercise (ok thats positive ) but there is nothing else driving me. The deep abscess within me feels like an endless black hole of nothingness. I thought I found the edge and was pulling myself back over it, onto solid ground. But I’ve realized I haven’t. I don’t know that I’ve ever been truly scared before. Scared to move, scared to feel, scared to believe in anything ever again – myself included.

Exercise and Activity- STREAKING!

A note: I had been writing this post before I was hospitalized….so in the spirit of positivity and creating new habits, I kept the upbeat tone, even though we hit a pretty big wall 😫

………………………………….

I’m doing it!

I am crushing my exercise goal!

I’m obsessing over MYSELF! I try to focus on myself and my well being for a few hours every day. I have noticed that I have better endurance than I expected, I’m still very flexible, but my balance and strength are gone. So, I focus on something different every day and try to keep going.

I want to look in that mirror and love my body for once in my life….I am really unsure I can ever get there, but I can work to make it look even better clothed! And I have my sisters wedding in November to work towards!

I definitely achieved my goal to go from entirely sedentary to active!

I pay attention to the Peloton trainers and I can now better understand which muscles I should be using during floor exercises. They also have great bike mechanics rides to teach you better and stronger pedal strokes. I am definitely educating myself this time around so I can do well for the long haul and not a quick win. I also make sure to stretch every single day as well as learn a few yoga poses.

I have been making sure I get to that 10k steps a day. The ONLY way for me to do that in my current lifestyle is to get an active walk in. The good news is that this counts as exercise for me because I have to walk a minimum of 45 minutes on a normal day to get those 10k steps – if I was working, I would be closer to 10k without any exercise.

I can see progress!

Week 1: average of 3400 steps/day

Week 2: average of 8600 steps/day

Week 3: average of 10,535 steps/day

Week 4: average of 12,106 steps/day

Week 5: average of 11,636* steps/day

*colonoscopy this week so one day only had 3k steps so really not bad!

Week 6: average of 8200* steps/day

*Friday/Saturday of this week I was in the hospital so there were less than 500 steps each day. I also took off the Fitbit upon returning home Saturday so missed some steps. All in all, still better than where I was even 4 weeks ago!

I “agreed”‘with myself that every day must include a ride on that damn expensive Peloton bike. I bought the bike because Tony worked for Peloton and I (as crazy as I can be) thought it would remind me of him (yea it does and now that’s just another hurdle to overcome – talk about bad purchase decisions!).

Straight days of Peloton Bike:

– 19 days streak 1

– 19 days streak 2

Days where exercise is more than 60 minutes per day: 31 days

I have exercised every single day from 2/11 – today, minus the 2 hospital days where I meditated (which counts as mental and emotional exercise, right?!)

I’ve learned I still hate exercise, but am committed to starting every day. Once I start, I can keep going for some time. I should reframe that a little (very little) …. I hate getting started. And I hate working to exhaustion. I love the sense of accomplishment and energy after a work out. That’s the piece I want to get addicted to.

I am finally at a point where I can start pushing hard on the bike. I am literally dripping with sweat and my heart rate is peak zone. I can only do a push ride like this every other day. I think I have also, for the first time, discovered the “runners high”. At one point in two rides this past week I felt a surge of energy and push and don’t know where it came from and suddenly the pain in my legs disappeared and the struggle wasn’t as heavy. It was a pretty amazing feeling and I can see why people would chase it.

However -I still think I would rather take out my vibrator!!

As mentioned, I have to supplement my steps with a minimum of 30-60 minutes on the treadmill. I do some Peloton tread classes, but mostly just challenge myself to achieve more calories or a better time. I’m afraid of committing too much on the tread that my legs will be too weak for the bike. I like the tread so much better than the bike and wish I owned the Peloton tread but mine is doing its job and it’s probably over 15-18 years old. That Peloton tread is a very expensive proposition. I’ve told myself if I can really use the tread every day perhaps that can be my gift for myself when I get a full time job.

I work a small 10 minute body weight routine on my core every day. My core is weak and my form sloppy, but I persist. In the beginning I could not sit up from lying or lift my legs up off the floor while lying on my back. While I can’t see or feel the strength, I can see the difference in my capabilities for the core exercises.

I switch off light arms and legs. I purchased some nice light weights (up to 15 lbs) for various exercises, a floor mat, yoga blocks and kettlebells. Amazon Basics has a great series of inexpensive weight equipment for light home training. Since I really have no muscle tone, this should satisfy for some time.

I mean, I can’t even hold a plank for 30 seconds yet, never mind mountain climbers and burpees!!I’m sweating in a hollow hold. I have a long, long way to go!

But hey, now I even know what those exercises are and how to do them!

Here’s my favorite result, when I stretch (which I actively do after every ride and walk) I can feel form and muscle! 6 weeks and my very old muscle memory is working magic, especially in my legs. 6 weeks ago (this is no lie) the loose skin on my legs made noises from flapping around my bones. It was gross. It’s not all tight, but that ugly noise is gone. I had 20+ years of way too much weight on my body so chances are my skin never fully recovers even if I get decent muscle tone, but the same way I love to feel a mans strong muscles, I’m thrilled to finally be able to feel my own strength.

Sitting in the hospital for 2 days messed with my head big time. It was like I fell backwards in time to when I was so completely broken and weak. I probably could have done some exercise the day I came home but chose to rest so that the next day I could really put in the work. I know I probably imagined this, but I thought I heard my things making the jiggly noises after missing just two days.

There you have it – 6 weeks in of full-on dedication. I have all the time in the world and I’m going to stop wasting it.

Body Dysmorphia

Let’s just get this straight up front – I’m not griping. I’ve lost a ton of weight! But a couple things happened this week that pushed back on my ability to see the loss instead of the disfigurement.

We all have a little body dysmorphia, some are just worse than others. I have never been happy with my body. Scars from many years of surgery and most of my adult life spent obese, it’s a bit hard to see the rewards of major weight loss, but I have been focusing on the weight loss rather than the dysmorphia.

I started at 214 pounds pre-Mexico. Since 2013 I have swung between 185 (lowest weight in 2015 with blood clots) and 225 (highest weight in 2013 before deciding to divorce) and normally stick right around a range of 195-205 pounds. At 5’8″ the higher range is too heavy for me. I don’t look good and I don’t feel good. My eyes get small from too full a face and I can’t bend over or cross my legs. I know how to diet and lose weight but the problem was maintaining a weight loss once I achieved it. Over a period of 4+ years (where I logged weight very consistently) I had a 20-30 pound swing up and down every year. It was uncontrollable and unhealthy.

I’ve always said my weight is like and elevator, always up and down and never stationary for long.

My target for personal weight loss was always to achieve a stable 170 pounds. Never got there for all the years of trying post my mother’s death. For surgical weight loss my target was a firm 150 pounds with a potential for 140 depending how I looked at 150.

One of my closest friends just told me my face was too skinny and I need to put weight back on in my face (can your even do that? Is that a thing?). My sister in law saw my scars and screamed out loud that I need to hide those away as they were scary and she was sorry I was gonna frighten anyone away with those when I start to have sex again. Those were not the only comments, just the worst ones.

At first I wanted to smack them both – after all I’ve been through and they know I’m an emotional wreck, they make negative body comments. I know they mean well. But, really?

Then another thing happened, as I was exercising I looked down the front of my shirt and couldn’t believe the ugliness of the excess skin hanging weirdly from my middle. This prompted me to get undressed and look at myself in the mirror – naked is very, very tough now. But I hadn’t been paying enough attention until right now. My skin hangs everywhere. I even got into some “positions” or angles a man would see my from if we were having sex, and I was horrified. I didn’t realize the way the skin was hanging in my midsection. Then my boobs and ass….they just lost all their luscious, round curves and hang flat. My poor ass has terrible cellulite. Compound some seriously ugly scars to this loose skin and it is, actually, frightening. Then I get upset and wonder who will take me as I am without grimacing?

I look really good in clothes. I feel better with more narrow hips and legs. I sit easily and cross my legs with no problem. I’m no longer out of breath for no reason. I went from an XXL to a Medium in most things. Overall, my confidence is raised because I look very close to the way I want to when I’m dressed. It’s the naked part that just hit me hard over the head.

I always weigh and measure on the 20th of the month, so today was a weigh in day. I weighed 152 today. A total of 62 pounds gone.

This month I dropped 1.5-2 pounds. My weight loss from surgery pretty much slowed in Jan/Feb so, while I was hoping to hit my goal in March, it doesn’t seem like I could drop those last 2 pounds this month. I will be damned I don’t get under 150 and stay there a bit. Not when I’m this close to my adult goal weight.

So I am *so close* to my goal I can taste it. I dropped to 149 pounds for my colonoscopy and it was a little thrill! Now that I’m on liquids again for a week, maybe I will drop it this week. I’m going to get there. BUT, now I’m looking at my wasted body and getting upset. I’m trying not to. I don’t know if the loose skin would bother me quite as much if I didn’t have such massive scars (partially which hold my stomach skin by adhesion to the muscle underneath so it’s a very weird look).

I am trying to remain body positive. Having to reveal myself during sex is going to be tough, much tougher than anticipated. I also realize that I’ve been actively disengaging from the dating scene because I’m getting in a funk over being sick (or even being down and out for a few days the last couple weeks) and not wanting to explain my medical marvel of a history to anyone.

How to Become a Morning Person?

How many of you are Morning people?

God knows, I’m not and never have been. I remember when my kids were small fighting through the cries to sleep a little longer, then ignoring the tugging at the side of the bed and making them crawl in with me. I created another generation of late sleepers and these boys of mine can sleep later than anyone I know!

My kids literally do not want to speak in the mornings. They want zero attention and need to be left alone. If they are awake at the same time, they will eat in different rooms with varying light patterns. One likes it dark and warm, the other likes the morning light from a soft couch and a bit cooler. When I say “Good Morning!” I get grunts of acknowledgement and I’ve learned not to push.

I hate waking up early. Anything before 8 am feels like death to me. And most years of my life I have had to be up somewhere between 530am – 630am. My favorite work years were when I could sleep til 730am and take an 830am commute. Yes, I was late every day but my industry gets a late start.

730am feels like a magic number for me, not too early and manageable. I’ve been taking my youngest to school every day just to get this habit going again. I’ve been tracking along my sleep cycles on Fitbit.

I’ve been reading a lot about habits and how the most effective people in this world have very specific patterns. One of them is the 5am wake up call. The thought of that literally makes me gag. But, no matter how many articles I read, one of the core foundations of successful people is early rising.

Ugh.

I’m just starting to work on healthy habits – any healthy habit that I feel I can build and STICK with.

So back to that morning thing…it’s been about just about 2 months that I’ve woken up with the kid and got him to school on time. I feel less internal argument with myself to rise now that I’ve convinced myself it’s a “mom at home” requirement. My older son appreciates that he doesn’t need to drive his brother to school anymore (he did it for 3 months while I was sick) and will do it as a favor for me when I can’t without any arguments. This habit has clicked over to automatic thinking. I read something that said adjust habits slowly, so now I set the alarm clock back 10 minutes. I don’t need the 10 minutes BUT my goal is to eventually train myself for a normal work routine again so I don’t find it overwhelming when the time comes (because EVERYTHING still feels overwhelming to me). So far, so good. The small adjustment hasn’t affected me and the same article mentioned I shouldn’t change my go-to-sleep time, only my wake-time.

I fear I may never be a morning person, but I do believe if I were just to grab an hour or two more in the morning, I could develop a better work/life balance once work kicks back into gear. I’m afraid that the good habits I’m developing now would disappear as I have the ability to basically craft my entire day around my exercise.

Let’s see how the small steps go!

Denial

You know when you get little glimpses of awareness that you’ve hit on an idea but can’t quite uncover it? I noticed this has been happening more often for me as I seem to be coming up from complete apathy to less apathy. The smoke clears for a moment, I have a thought, and I try to pursue that thought in the hopes of some personal enlightenment. In the wake of Tony-textacle, something struck me the other day – unrelated to Tony’s infidelity in his marriage – but my x’s behavior in ours. Then I recalled this same thought occurred to me post Bobby.

Strangely enough, I know more about Bobby’s post D-day than Tony’s. I didn’t even realize Tony and Kelly had a D-day in July until last week. Bobby told me everything about his recovery plan post D-day, until he hit the point in recovery that he needed to acknowledge I couldn’t be a part of his life. Tony lied to me for the past 7 months, maybe in an effort to “keep the enemy closer?” Who knows. When I realized Tony had been creating even more lies within his marriage, a little thought bubble popped up to say “do you recall saying he was more like your x than you wanted to admit?” And I got a physical sensation of being ill. It was as if my mind had buried that reminder so deeply that it created a physical sensation as it was dug up again.

Tony did, in his marriage, exactly what my x did to me upon discovery: lied more and denied what actually happened. The next stop on this this reality train is believing that Tony was also lying to me (haven’t fully accepted that yet).  I also repeat: does it even matter?  Nope, not really.   Not my marriage.

I read an article about Hiding in Denial and the flashbacks were not pleasant. When I uncovered my x’s infidelity he turned the entire situation around on me and my need for control. He wasn’t going to give up a female friend. He wasn’t going to allow me to monitor him. He may have crossed a little line, but he was in control and would manage the situation on his own. If he gave up his female friend that meant there was admitting to guilt and he wasn’t guilty. The article went on to describe that until someone admits they have a problem, no changes in outcome would be expected.

“Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that created it.” Until I can change how I see the problem (and the problem is me, what I’ve done, and what I’m capable of) I will never be safe for my partner. Until I can accept the reality of my own defects of character I’ll never get where I’m going. If the right help is attained, we can find hope as well as a plan to find movement and clarity for both spouses.”

So, while I initially started thinking about Tony, it led me backwards to my own situation with the x, and then further into understanding myself. I have been programmed to accept liars into my life. This has become my defect of character and I allow it to continue by actively looking the other way.  Consistently burying my cues.  I keep accepting a “less-than-I-deserve” behavior in hopes that the other person will change.

Of course, they never do.  And I have become thoroughly practiced in being obstinate about forcing a change, obsessed with their change, instead of gracefully getting up and walking away from their behavior.  I allow some else’ bad behaviors to validate my own bad behavior.

I don’t stop.

With Tony I got the behavior I was seeking from my x. At some point Tony admitted his shame and his ownership for creating the mess we were all in. This was very close to the time he spoke to his wife. I believe that, up until that point, he was as authentic as he could be. He was horrified with himself and his actions and for the further mess he would be creating. I never got that from my x. Not even close. Never even an apology until years later – and it was one of those “I’m sorry if my actions hurt you but I never really cheated” kind of back handed apologies. I think that period of Tony being so genuine is what kept me holding on even longer, he couldn’t be that honest in his marriage so there was hope for us yet (idealized thinking). It wasn’t until his wife told me he was calling me a liar that the truth of it all struck me – he went right back to denial as it was a much more comfortable place to be.  But I shouldn’t have gone with him.  I should not have been around for his mistakes and lies to his family.

I have been holding on to my own denial. The thought that hope exists where it had, in fact, been extinguished 2 years ago in April ’17 when Tony chose to stay in his marriage. I am very good at this since I had a 22 year marriage where I was hopeful for around 18 of those years because I was gaslighted and weak. I keep allowing others, men in particular, to control my life. First my father, then a husband and then two affairs. If I don’t stop trying to control and manage my pain instead of acknowledging and accepting it, to really understand it, I am never going to break this cycle.

(You can go back to re-read the article Ann sent me here, and start to see how that played into what I had already started to think about my habits)

I actually believe that things do happen for a reason. I started to uncover these old perceptions of myself back in this post, and slowly other markers (such as Ann sending me the article) showed up along the way to highlight that I was on the right path to my own little self discovery.

While it may have been the worst way possible to uncover my own truths, sending Tony’s wife the information helped to uncover something I had buried and continue to recreate. I know it will always be viewed as malicious, that I would hurt someone who never hurt me and I understand that point of view. But somewhere in this narrative I needed Tony to accept the truth, my truth I guess, and this felt like the only way I could achieve it. What happens next in his life is his. His anger at me is because of discovery, because I upended that perfect scenario of life he worked so hard to create.  I’m sure some it it is because I hurt Kelly, but the bigger part of it for Tony is because he is uncovered as a serial cheater and liar and loses his prized possession: his outward face as a good and honorable man.  I have to own what I did, it was wrong and I haven’t yet learned how to control this terrible, horrible piece of me that wants others to hurt when I hurt.

Stick with me as I dig deeper, I appreciate all of your insight.