A few unrelated thoughts came together when I woke this morning: Yo-yo dieting, credit cards, my lack of discipline and my long distance spouse are all symptoms of my trapped life’s struggle.
They are convenient, allow me to buy things I need in the moment, but they are bad for me and keep me in a financial rut. One of my 2014 decisions was to cut all the use of credit cards. But try as I might not to use them, I’ve discovered how many things I’ve subscribed to that automatically charge my account and shock the hell out of my budget calculations. Expenditures that I forgot were coming. For example, I thought I’d paid off one card for good and yet here is a 99 dollar charge. Hosting fees. Yeah… I guess I kind of “need” to keep that. Now if I would finish and relaunch my website to make it worth the expense…
I’ve been back and forth with the same five pounds for well over a year now. Can’t get past that rotten five-pound loss to get ONE SINGLE DIGIT closer to my goal of a total of a ten pound loss. When I am one digit from what I view as the speed bump on the scale, I over eat and gain two back. Which for some reason means I will likely over eat for two more days, gain 3 more pounds and there ya go… I start all over. Last night I was HUNGRY but I did not eat. This morning I woke up hungry and I still am. If I can remain hungry for one solid week I’ll notice the numbers on the scale drop. But that’s not the trick. Staying hungry for two weeks is the trick. The fait accompli would be to stay slightly hungry for a solid month and more, throw in daily exercise and Voila! Then let’s see what that bastard of a scale has to say.
But will I? Hmm. It’s so simple. Daily effort. Daily steps. Inch by motherfecking inch.
And then there’s writing (slash) career. Yes, let me be honest with myself for one minute. I have no career because I have never put my entire effort toward this goal. I have never, with unceasing effort, day in, day out, repeated the act of pumping out pages of work. Nope. And it shows. I have been a mom, which, yeah — I know — everyone says is the hardest job in the world and it is, because the nature of the job is that the mother’s personal goals and needs (career, money, hair appointments) are always dead last in terms of importance. But now? Now that I “know” my children’s long-term survival and well-being count on whether I acquire a back bone? I need to switch it up.
Not quite. I have settled into a stagnant, maddening, situation and nearly every day for years — even before his departure to La La Land — tolerated it because it was easier than facing the truth. (“Situation” defined: waiting for him to return, holding hope for him to “come through” with his own career, the constant state of lack and loneliness). I have repeated these phrases or similar for two decades: “but he’s a really good guy.” “He loves us.” “His heart is in the right place…” All of which are true — but — I’m starving here. We are starving here. It’s the kind of starving that makes me do stupid irrational things like, go adopt two more cats, plus two more cats. It’s the kind of starving that encourages me to seek comfort in a bottle of wine, eat greasy, salty or sweet comfort foods. It’s the kind of starving that sent me to see psychologist after psychologist to ask only one thing: “What’s wrong with me?” And though it is not my long distance spouse’s fault, the imagined security of marriage has prevented me from seeing my oldest daughter at college, from developing friendships or from driving a mere 10 miles outside of my town for fear the vehicle would break down, stranding the kids and me on a single lane highway to nowhere. It has prevented me from living my life — this waiting.
And meanwhile, I let the writing go to the bottom of the list of importance. The one thing I could do simply by making the time to do it — I let go. It is no one’s fault but mine.
I have not spoken to him on the phone for two weeks. He calls everyday to speak with the kids (and me). Before this, For over seven years, we spoke to each other daily (via phone) and of course when he came home to visit. Now I’ve stopped talking. It’s connected to my failed diet attempts, my reliance on credit cards, my poor discipline as a writer, my lack of gumption as a filmmaker. But refusing to talk to him, as difficult as it is, (trust me, it’s difficult) seems to help. I’d like to say this clarity is something new — but it isn’t. I’ve tried to face facts before, many times. Always for the same reasons. 2010, after my grandmother died, the sorrow woke me then, too. He isn’t going to do it. He isn’t going to change, improve his own life or fight for his family. I told him I wanted a divorce. But I love him, so we found God, Joel Osteen and tried hope again. This past year, it was my father’s heart attack that opened my eyes. My spouse flew in, offered support and comfort – and it was good. I was so grateful that he came home, that he was with the kids, was here to see my dad, to see me. Grateful my spouse came home. Isn’t that proof that he is a great guy?
I don’t know — even now as I write this my heart struggles. I remind myself: My life depends on my choices. I control the action. If my life was a screenplay I would see immediately the problem. The story is not controlled by the antagonist but by the choices the protagonist makes. There is no story unless the protagonist drives it toward her GOAL.
I am saying with my forced silence, I control me. I control my time. I control my thoughts and emotions, not him. I make the decisions for myself, our children. Let me remind myself: November 7th 2006. That is how long it’s been. That’s how long he’s been gone.
Within that time, had I not been such a coward, so weak with excuses and dependency — had I written even two pages a day, where would I be now? Had I written, committed to my own goals and vision, daily, in spite of the circumstance — where would I be? Maybe I would save our marriage. Maybe.
The road is still there. It’s not route 66 and if it is, it’s closed for a good reason. There is always another road that will get me from here to there. I have coffee in the thermos, I have the map — now I just need to buy the car.