I am Officially *Fucked*

Why?

Because yesterday, as I was going along minding my own business, I suddenly felt a *pop* and a *gush* sort of like a big blister breaking. The next thing I knew I was soaked.

I was working out. Had just finished a decent ride. Did I pee myself? I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and I was covered in yellowish gunk. My wound was oozing, literally draining yellow gunk.

Ok, I didn’t panic. Not yet at least. The wound never fully closed and had been cauterized twice. Maybe all this exercise was aggravating the adhesions? I called the surgeons office and we went through the checklist: no pain, no fever, regular appetite, bowel movement (the day before as this was still morning) etc. Nurse calls back after speaking to doctor and tells me keep the wound clean, bandaged and the surgeon will see me in the office on Friday. Ok, I can live with a little bandage til Friday no biggie.

But then I’m making dinner and serving the kids when I feel it again, another rush of fluid. I had a light grey T-shirt on so I see it getting soaked. Run into bathroom and remove bandage to find fluorescent green gunk. I’ve seen that color before and want to die on the spot. The kids hear me moan and upset but don’t want to know cause they’re eating. Change bandage call surgeon after hours.

Surgeon baffled but believes he knows what it is and it’s not good news.

An enterocutaneous fistula (ECF) is an abnormal connection that develops between the intestinal tract or stomach and the skin. As a result, contents of the stomach or intestines leak through to the skin.

I hear him trying to tell me it’s going to be ok when I can hear the gears in his head turning that we are in for a ride. Cat scans ordered for tomorrow. No immediate urgency unless I develop fever and pain.

I’m going to save the grossest details because it’s nasty. But basically when I don’t go to the bathroom some will leak out of the wound because the bowel had a leak and found a way out through the wound. Once I go to the bathroom normally the wound doesn’t leak much.

I spent the night googling and reading and I’m fucked. Even the surgeon told me to prepare for another difficult surgery.

I was supposed to start my job Monday.

I am out of my mind with so many thoughts. I literally can’t think straight right now.

I suppose we will know more after the surgeon.

Awakening

Career.

This has been the hardest piece of the puzzle to begin to piece back together.

Funny, because I thought it would be easier than mending my broken heart and mind because it’s where all my strength and confidence stem from. But that isn’t the case.

I didn’t even begin to pull myself together with any seriousness until January into February. I worked closely with the outplacement group and I committed to a once-a-week call with my coach. There was always homework, and while sometimes I didn’t do it until right before the next phone call, I always did it. I surprised myself by finding the coaching supremely helpful in getting my thoughts organized for the job search. There were definitely high points.

I started looking but never fully invested myself. If I was truly networking, it should have been a lot harder than it was. I was taking the easy way out.

There may be a reason for that.

In 2016 when I lost my previous role, I had a dream that everything was going to be ok. I would find a fabulous job and I would hire my own team. The role would just come to me. And…it sure did. Just like I dreamed. I thought I literally found my dream job.

Fast forward to 2018 and the dream job had turned into my worst nightmare. I truly cringe when I think about the year of 2018 in that role. I so desperately wanted to prove myself, prove to my boss he was stupid for letting me go, prove to myself I wasn’t the dumb kid and was worthy of my title. I didn’t realize how badly his snide comments had damaged my normally confident work-self. That hadn’t happened to me before. Work had been my safe zone where I knew I performed. I knew I was good and I knew I could learn and adapt to any challenge thrown my way.

By the time I left that role I was emotionally crippled with the trifecta that year: breakup, job loss, and kid issues. It couldn’t have gotten any worse? Or could it? I took myself to Mexico with a death wish…so, yes, I made it worse.

In any case, I digress, I was explaining why I don’t think I properly invest in my networking. My 2016 job came to me out of the blue, as the two roles I held before that. I never worked “that” hard at networking. Things seemingly fell into my lap.

But this time I didn’t have a dream that told me things would be ok. This time there was no vision or confidence that I would secure my next best role. This time I was scared.

So the only thing I chose to do was to work on myself. The job search became mostly neglected. I set myself up financially to make it though the summer and had started to accept I would be out of work that long. I didn’t drop the search entirely, if there was a low-hanging fruit I picked it. I didn’t chase anything.

And, it happened organically, again. The same way it did before. Someone who knew me and respected me told someone else I was looking for a role and would be perfect for their open role. I had a couple interviews. I secured a full time freelance role. It’s only a 6 month role for half my salary but anything is better than unemployment. The company is on my top 5 list to work for. The department lead knows me for many years and likes me. It was a great opportunity. There are also some full time career roles I’m in the midst of – very similar to my last. Part of that frightens me because it’s hard to imagine jumping back into a frying pan full of hot oil, but the other part knows I am made for those roles and they come few and far between. I’m trying to remain on the positive side and see how they pan out.

So, back to work Monday I go. Am I ready? Probably not. I’m still way too tired all the damn time. My brain isn’t firing at full speed just yet. But I’m going to need to make it work as I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

9 months was a long recovery period. I never thought I would have this time in my life but I am glad I had as much as I did. Time to refill the coffers and get back to reality. The challenge is keeping the peace and balance I have found inside myself when the world is spinning out of control around me.

Steps Forward and Back….the Dance of Depression

When I initially set out to create a habit, I was a bit stubborn, determined and a lot bored. I have so much time on my hands, excessive amounts of obsession and depression that I knew I had to do something or succumb to another black hole. My goal was to see if I could break the behavior in 90-100 days and set myself up for real and lasting change.

The one commitment I started with was to ride the Peloton Bike EVERY day. I was going to make that investment worth it come hell or high water. I also really wanted the Peloton Tread and told myself that wasn’t happening until I could prove to myself I was going to use it consistently . The cost of $$ investment was too high to make a frivolous decision. Based on what I knew about myself, 30 or 60 days wasn’t enough. Nor was a 3/5 day a week commitment. Nope, I was going gangbusters on my own ass.

Shit, if I could obsess over Tony for a year every day I should be able to commit to taking care of myself in a positive way for 100 days. At least, right? And maybe, just maybe, a new obsession could replace the Tony obsession. A new focus. The right kind of focus.

May 11th was 90 days from my start on February 11th.

I did not ride the bike for 6 days in that 90 days. 2 from a hospital stay, 3 from a stomach virus and 1 I have no idea. I did do “something” Peloton related those 6 days, even if that meant a meditation. Those 6 days bug me and piss me off. I should allow some leeway but it only makes me feel I can’t commit to anything sometimes. I am forgiving myself because I did realize this past week, when I had the stomach virus, that my body REALLY needed the rest. When I finally did ride again, I rode stronger. Also, I suddenly started to bleed – now I don’t know if it’s a period or not but it would sure explain the utter exhaustion combined with the stomach bug. I get blood tests next week – I’m at my full 5 month mark since my last infusion. I’m banking on a massive drop in iron because I’m having trouble just getting out of bed and I truly can’t find energy within myself.

Once the activity started I realized I was capable of more.

I am learning that healthy habits are what’s going to get me through life. If I do right by myself every day as a way of life, and I fall off the wagon, it doesn’t matter. One day, one weekend or maybe even a week to allow myself space either physically or mentally isn’t going to make me gain back the 75 pounds I lost. What made me gain over and over and over during the past 18 years was the fact that I allowed myself to keep failing. I did not have a healthy habit I was committed to.

For instance, in the past, one cookie on a Friday would mean I could eat a whole box before Sunday. Mid week I could eat poorly again because I had already eaten the cookies. The behavior was a loop and a very bad one. That’s gone.

Now, I eat a cookie if I want a cookie. I drink. AND I watch what I eat all the times in between that and I feel just fine. Every day doesn’t need to be a food party. I am still learning what my balance is, but now clearly have a better relationship with good and healthy eating and make better choices. Eliminating most carbs has removed the carb cravings. I don’t struggle to avoid foods that are not good for me. I have actually lost the appetite for most of my old fatty food choices. They just no longer appeal to me, as if I have lost the taste of them entirely. I also just make better choices for myself and don’t allow myself to feel penalized when I go off. Now I understand healthy eating habits. I almost don’t know why this felt so hard before (yes, it helps that I can’t eat much in one sitting so making better choices makes sense).

I’m off Keto now because my body wasn’t responding well with all the working out. I needed more protein and carbs. I’m working with the nutritionist to find the right balance for that.

So I’m 90 days in and heading towards that 100. I’m contemplating what happens post 100 and what makes sense for me to maintain once working again. I’m speaking with a nutritionist and many trainers about constructing the best “road ahead” for my goals.

That all sounds good, right?

But, and there’s always a but……There are two immense things I struggle with.

One is “encouraging” self-talk. Being my own cheerleader. Congratulating myself. Egging myself on. Encouraging myself. I don’t know how the people who do this (all over my Facebook and Peloton groups – here on the blog too – Maggie is a master ❤️) do it every single day. Are they for real? How can anyone be so positive and encouraging? Do they have a book of positivity quotes? Do they really wake up and make gratitude lists? I want to learn how to do this as I believe I am mostly a critical person (hello, Virgo trait). Not just do it but BELIEVE in it, drink the koolaid, buy the farm.

I chose one thing to try: every day I post my exercise achievements. I was always annoyed by people who did this so have no idea what prompted me to do so, but it seemed easy enough. An unexpected side effect is a lot of my friends congratulate me and encourage me – and many tell me how I’ve motivated them to start their own journey. Two have even bought a Peloton! I guess I realize that if my exercise posts are annoying they can skip over them, but many seem interested. I never expected anyone to care. People are really happy to share their own fitness journeys and tips as well. I use this for my mental well being – it’s like having cheerleaders. I am my own worst enemy with all the positive self talk – – and I do realize this is what coaches and trainers and support groups are best at – reminding you to do your bets every day! I try so hard to be encouraging for others but find it tedious…I wish I could tap into all that positivity consistently. Maybe I should do a 90 day positive energy journey next? I really feel like this is a key to unlocking something for me. What if I HAD to be grateful, satisfied, and positive for the next 90 days?

I have a few platforms on which I can do this. I can help young women with career roles, I can participate as an admin in a Peloton Facebook group and support others along their journey, I can start a gratitude journal. I will just need a place to vomit after I spend the day smiling and performing – at least in the start. I truly don’t know how people wake up and make a choice to be happy. I listen to these coaching mantras and they make sense – but they don’t make me cry and evaluate my life and affect me the way they do many people I know. Church also doesn’t have that impact on me. I have to figure this piece out – the part of me I want to put into the universe to grow and make better.

The second one is my absolute fear I will give up. Why? Because I have ALWAYS given up in the past. I don’t give up on obsessing over Tony so clearly I can obsess where my brain wants to -but obsessing about my exercise and health? Welp, that’s partially how I ended up in Mexico in the first place. Although I had legitimate reasons this past week for not exercising to my normal capacity, I feel immense guilt and worry that every day I can’t is simply going to lead to another day I don’t want to. I’m worried that if I can’t get my iron for 2 months or so (which is highly likely to happen, thanks insurance) I will allow myself to remain exhausted instead of pushing through. And once I stop for too long, all that hard work disappears.

When your body is depleted it’s so hard to get your mind to work. I’ve been sick and tired for so long, so very long, that the thought still crosses my mind that all this is just too hard, too much work and I’m tired, really tired of trying so hard just to wake up every day. Will positive self-talk change this? Will more exercise? Will better body acceptance? Will falling in love? My kids treating me better? Self-acceptance? When this exhaustion hits, the depression grabs hold of the thought and runs away with it….and that is ALWAYS a fear.

Strange Days

I am beginning to wonder if thinking of Tony is cyclical. Maybe hormonal related? Or maybe it’s the empath in me. Whatever it is, I am sure it’s some kind of strange intuition because I’m not sure I can believe things are just this random.

I believe Tony is most likely still employed at Peloton. I bought the bike last summer to feel closer to him. Stupidest reasoning ever, but there’s the truth of it. I can’t even make sense of it. I barely rode in the beginning and he didn’t ride at all – he just worked at the corporate HQ.

When I had my last break of texting his wife in early February, I also made the decision that if I didn’t absorb myself into something else that I was going to slip right back into a massive depression. The bike is very expensive and it was sitting there. It was an easy choice that was healthy for me.

And then, in typical Madeline fashion, I became obsessed. This is a good obsession and keeps me focused and healthy. I feel fantastic after so many months of a sedentary and disabled life.

I didn’t think about Tony when I chose to invest my energy in the Peloton, somehow he became less the reason for the bike. I joined several groups for support and quickly joined the Peloton cult. I check in with members every day, ride in a group, and have made friends that I will be meeting in person this weekend. The community is so supportive its insane. I chose to buy into it. (I acknowledge I need to write a post about self-talk….a whole bunch of thoughts have been bubbling up lately).

With that said, there was one ride an instructor called Tony’s name in a shout-out. I can guess this instructor and Tony have become friends. It sucked for a day or so and started me thinking about Tony’s participation in Peloton (because he wasn’t a rider when I bought the bike).

Late last week, Tony has been in the forefront of my thoughts again – which never bodes well. I want to speak to him so badly and have to argue with myself consistently. There is no good outcome from reaching out to him. There is no reason to reach out to him.

Of course it never stops there with me.

Once I started to think of him more consistently again, the thought occurred to me he may be participating in the same Peloton event that I am attending this weekend. Then nausea started to set in. If I were to see him, and possibly with his wife, and certain he would ignore me – it would probably debilitate me and ruin my entire Peloton community weekend.

Then yesterday, I was in the city and was “this close” to taking a class at the studio when I decided to head home instead. Thank goodness my feet took me home because, I took that class on demand later in my day and who was at the front of class: Tony. Same instructor, Tony’s kind of music, and he was seated right at the front of class where you can see him on video most of the class. Of course the instructor also shouted him out and spoke to him.

I didn’t feel sick this time. Instead I worked up my best time ever and sweat mounds of sweat getting through that ride cursing the bastard for sitting there in his life. Knowing he’s back into his perfect life and marriage and just feeling angry. The anger fueled me and I got a personal best record for the ride. I wasn’t done. I went down to my treadmill for another hour-and-a-half and did some walk + run classes to continue my sweat.

If I had bumped into him at the studio, it would not have gone well. His last words to me were “my last impression of you is an asshole. Congratulations”. He means it too. I crossed the line with his wife and his wife told his kids – his worst nightmare come true to look bad in their eyes. I know him well enough to know he doesn’t forgive, certainly not a threat to his family. I am the one who hurt his family and he will always think of me that way. I am sad about it, but that’s my own doing.

This is why I think it’s some strange intuition in me. I started thinking of him and suddenly he actually manifests.

I don’t think he will be at the event this weekend, but as a sort of protection, August is going with me to the Saturday evening cocktail party and concert. It was a last minute decision when I heard from August again and I hope I don’t regret it. He’s about to be thrown into a pool of Peloton crazies and I don’t care. As long as he’s on my arm if Tony should be there.

Tenuous Hold on My Goals

I don’t fool myself that I have my goals in hand. My self-talk is still amazingly good at letting me off the hook for bad habits.

After all, look at all the shit I put Tony through a year after a break-up and him telling me it’s never going to happen again. I still stalk his absence on social media, convinced one day he’s going to unblock me and be curious about me.

If I could figure this one piece of me out, I am sure I would be in an infinitely better place than I am today as well as have much better control of myself in the future.

But I haven’t figured it out.

As much as I have committed to exercising daily, more days still tend to be a struggle than not. When I look back at each week I can see a slow decrease the past 3 weeks. I have felt it tapering off and I know my hold on this commitment is tenuous at best.

I am doing all the right things: I rest when I need to. I hold myself accountable for tracking food and exercise every day. I am in support, training and nutrition groups as well as working with a nutritionist. I literally have moments of high-highs and equal moments of low-lows. I cannot seem to create the pattern yet. I thought I was almost there, I thought I could taste real, lasting change and it’s started to slip right out my grasp the past 3 weeks.

I am obsessed with tracking my numbers: number of steps in a day, week and month. Number of miles. Number of calories. It’s the one thing I can rely on to “prove” my progress in a way and ensure I don’t slip up. This is how I know exactly how much I’ve slowed down. I want it to be a science in a way – something I can control so that, in the future, when I take “days off” or “rest days” I have concrete targets in mind to achieve for the month.

I haven’t given up, just slowed down. I am just terrified that slowing down too much means eventually quitting as I have done so many times before with my physical health. But why isn’t the fear of failure stronger than the mindset telling me it’s ok to give up?

It is NOT ok. Not anymore. I had my moment of quitting life. I almost succeeded at quitting for good but God had other plans for me. I have other plans for me (though I’m unsure what they are yet!). I’m done quitting and ready to continue investing. But, I haven’t built my habit. I haven’t ingrained it in me yet.

I’m writing because I don’t want to stop. I need to continue. I promised myself 90-100 days straight no holds barred. I promised myself I would make my goal weight and get stronger. The side bonus to that was fitting in the smallest size clothes I can ever recall and feeling the muscles growing beneath my skin with normal movement. By the end of my 90-100 days I expect I will see true muscle definition. I’m praying that once I’ve checked all these wonderful boxes and once I see the muscles and see the results, my mind will make the switch from “this isn’t important” to “this is my priority !”

My job at the moment is working out. I’m lucky I can get it in any time during a day or night. I’m praying that my 90- 100 days corresponds with a job offer somewhere and I can take my newly found fit mentality and being that energy into a new role and really start life over again.

I’m terrified of losing this mojo. It’s still so much effort for me most days even at 79 days in. I’m very close to that 90-100 mark, very close, and it feels like this should be more solidified than it is – which is why I’m worried.

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.