January 5, 2018

the "e" word

My wife has asked that I stop referring to her as "my wife" and start calling her by name, so meet P.J., the woman full of win and awesome who has been by my side for 11 years and counting.  Sometimes, I look at her and think, "OMG, we actually get to be together.  It worked out."  I still get butterflies in my stomach at the idea.

She has one serious flaw, though:  She knows me really, really well.  Infuriatingly well.  Like how I will do something if someone says I won't do it, just because.  And how I have to do everything the hard way.  And how my patience with inanimate objects extends three seconds and if anything pisses me off more than twice during that time, it gets flung across the table/room/yard/parking lot/random large public place. She knows me.


We were discussing all things weight-related recently.  I lost 70 pounds after my gastric bypass, even though that's not why I had it.  I had really bad reflux, so bad that my lungs were getting scarred and my insurance company was all "pfffft, don't even worry about the paperwork, just go get operated on, we got this."  I definitely had the weight to spare, though.  And something really weird has happened in the interim.


I like what I see in the mirror.  


I like my jaw line, something I always hated before so deeply that I wouldn't turn sideways and look at my face.  I like my haircut.  I like ... (deep breath) ... I like myself.  In my own skin.  I don't feel the existential guilt for not taking care of myself that I used to feel.  I don't have to leave lists lying around of reasons to lose weight.  I like my clothes.  I like how I look and feel in them.  I'm not skinny now, just ordinary.  A size 12.  And I like it.


"Oh fuck," I said to P.J. one evening.  "That means I'm vain, doesn't it?  I'm vain.  What do I have to be vain about?  That's so not me."


"No, dear," she said, "you're not vain.  Please.  You're the last person who would be vain.  You're allowed to like yourself."


Allowed.  Um, that idea still isn't fitting into my head.  Most of what I do and think is done without my own permission.


But the weight has been creeping up.  Just a smidge, not even double-digits.  Enough to make me nervous, though.


"I have to do something.  I know I need to stop eating at night.  And cut back on the crackers, and all the carbs, really.  I know I need to have more protein, and hydrate more.  There's plenty of stuff I should be doing."


P.J. shrugged.  "Any combination of that would work.  The carbs definitely need to get scaled back.  And, well, there's always the 'e' word."


I was still thinking about protein.  The 'e' word?  "Eggs?" I said.


She raised an eyebrow.  (I hate her for this.  I wish I could raise my eyebrow like that.)


"Emetics?" I said.


She put her head down on the table into her folded arms and laughed.  I was genuinely confused.  Why was she laughing?


Oh.  That.


Exercise.


I laughed along with her.


And laughed and laughed.


Exercise and I have the kind of relationship you have with that one person you went to high school with and friended on Facebook during your first three days of having an account and looking up everybody you've ever met, that you then feel obligated to keep up with but really don't want to because you have nothing in common, even though they're all enthusiastic and you're not, so every time you interact, you want to get away as quickly as possible and then avoid them.


You don't hate the person.  You just want to know they're out there doing fine, without you.


I don't hate exercise while I'm doing it.  I just hate the idea of it, the approach, and the whole general concept.  Kind of like Doritos.  I hate them until I eat one.  Then I want the whole bag.


I don't just have a walking track less than a mile from my house.  I have a complete gym in the same building where I work, and a whole lunch hour during which I could use it on a daily basis.


And I have an elliptical machine in my house.


And I have a set of those stretchy bands for weight training in my office desk drawer.  


I did open them and take them out of the box.  I think that counted as a workout.


This one time in my twenties, I belonged to a gym for a year.  I paid my dues and everything.  I actually went to that one.  It was a YWCA, where all of the older ladies with droopy stomachs and wrinkles went to swim in the heated pool and use foam workout equipment underwater.  I liked it there.  I never once saw anyone in the young, hip, fit, trim, Spandex-wearing category.  I fit in.  And swimming doesn't really count because it's fun.


I exercised while I was in the psych ward after my attempt last year.  I participated in all of the "learning to take care of yourself" sessions with the treadmills and stuff.  I really hammed it up, Ms. Super-Compliant, but only because I wanted to get out and go home.  Thirty minutes a day pretending to be a rat in a metabolic lab experiment was worth it.


But now ... now that I have so much to lose if I let things slip, I recognize that I'm in need of an Attitude Adjustment.  It's important.  Really important.  


I told all of this to my therapist this week.  He knows me too well, too.  My life is full of smug people.  I told him all of the things I know I need to be doing.  Like not eating after dinner at night.


"So you're going to stop eating after-dinner snacks at night?" he said.


"No," I said.


"But you just said you need to do it," he said.


"I know," I said.  "But I don't want to."


"Why not?" he said.


"Because I want to eat."  I am nothing if not brutally honest.  Except when I'm hypomanic.


He stared at me and blinked.  I stared back at him.  We changed the subject.


I didn't eat a snack that night.  I e-mailed him and told him that I didn't eat a snack, just so I could tell him that I didn't.  So there.  Take that.


And I didn't eat one last night, either.


And today, I ceremoniously performed my semi-annual 15-minute visit to the treadmill upstairs, during my lunch.  Just to teach him a lesson.


It's all out of defiance, or stubbornness, or being told I can't or won't do something.  I told him I won't, so he thinks I won't, so I'm going to, just to show him.  I have a creeping feeling that all of this constitutes harnessing my strongest assets.  My inner child could have her own reality TV show.


But it's working, isn't it?


Oh.


My therapist knows me way too well.


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