“Lord, watch over me. The sea is so wide and my boat is so small.” Mexican prayer.
So I’m going through a bit of a tough time, that is, my life just seems like a continual drama. That could be due to my birth week, apparently the week of drama in the greek zodiac calendar, but to a certain extent, it’s because I like it that way. Objectively, nothing too horrible has happened to me, but I’ve experienced my life as a constant crisis, for far too long. Ever since I stopped getting praised at every step, ever since I had to decide for myself what was praiseworthy. My values are trying to come out, and it seems only through acting almost in opposition to them that I find something hard and hit my hit, finding something real there.
I’ve gained about 20-30 pounds in the past year. Because I used to weigh myself five times a day and even in my healthiest times, weigh a lot more than the average woman (140 is the smallest I’ve ever been in my life and was not sustainable for me; I tend to weigh about 200 pounds and wear a size 12-14 when I’m feeling pretty good; I’m 5’10”), I have tended to avoid the scale so I don’t have an exact number. I am really bothered by this. I know that my overeating is very much emotionally motivated, and that when I’m usuing all my willpower on other things, I tend to let go when it comes to food, as a way of treating myself or to keep holding on to whatever it is I feel I have to do. So it is symbolically and literally a weight I carry from my sufferings, maybe a little self-indulgence, delusion, and loss of faith. I am trying to lose weight, or rather get healthier, but in a fairly gentle and sustainable way. Because I can’t do anything else at this point, and I don’t want to.
I look at pictures of myself before gaining the weight (which really happened over the course of a few months- it wasn’t really that gradual of a creep I’ve held pretty steady to the current level of chub for a while now) and I remember how fat I felt. I was not. I was normal and healthy looking. I could have lost a little weight but I was still within a normal range. I look at pictures of myself when I was much thinner, in high school, and remember how fat I felt then. And I can still see in my mind’s eye my stomach after a big meal when I was 140, when I could actually see most of my ribs and was only eating a few hundred calories some days, and remember how fat I felt then. At a certain point, you just give up because you feel you can’t win. That’s when you really lose, or gain, as in my situation.
I’m starting to jog again, and I’m looking for a job. I have failed at securing a full time career track non retail job previously, and despite my increased experience and qualifications. I still feel like a phony, like someone is going to see right through me, and a lot of times I can only se the reasons why no one would hire me for a job I would actually want to do. I’m not talking about something beyond my experience level, I’m talking about just getting stonewalled, because there is something wrong with me and the world sucks and it’s like dreaming of going to high school naked I guess. WIth jogging, I’ve noticed that I probably haven’t come close to my physical limits. I am not in great shape, and I can run at least .8 of a mile around my development without stopping, and I could probably run more. But running is 60% mental and 40% physical. It’s not physical fatigue or laziness, it is literally what my father told me, “Can’t means won’t.” If I don’t think I can, then I will not. I don’t actually know what my limits are. I want to run a 5k in a month, and I want to get a job. Can I? Only I can decide.
My ambition is a part of me, maybe not quite so dear as my quirky sense of humor or my mandolin shaped hips, and it has pushed me to be better and do better. It’s hard to imagine myself without that driving force that has animated me to do a lot of great things, which I feel defensive about when I think someone is criticizing me but deride the shit out of when I talk to myself. And sometimes I just decide the goal is stupid, or not worth the effort. Sometimes I avoid setting goals so I don’t have to be disappoited when I fail, and to help give myself a running start when I start hating on myself. Like getting straight As in business school, which I kind of loathed at times and often think was a horrible decision. Or, when I was 140 lbs, feeling like I needed to eat even less not to gain weight and become a pudge. Or when I was 170 lbs and needed to wear that bikini, and didn’t realize how far I’d come from a 12 year old child of 224 the day she started weight watchers. Or when i was in my size 12 skinny jeans last year, looking great if not the thinnest person in the room, and felt that since I was never going to be thin without starving myself might as well have the extra cookie since it’s been a rough day. And o, might as well have another since yeah, this is just the way I am.
I’m like a boat always always rowing into the horizon. Not even totally sure I’m going to like what I find there, but just knowing I have to keep on rowing, because if I stayed where I was, there would be no peace and I would be missing out on whatever was just beyond my eye’s reach. It’s not an entirely horrible feeling- it’s what makes people climb moutains and invent lightbulbs, I think- but it’s just so sickening. I get seasick sometimes, or rather over exerted and need to puke over the side, but I just have to keep on rowing, kowing that I need to move or I will drown in self loathing, and with every push forward I keep enough adrenaline to keep goign on, and life would be worthless without the adrenaline.
But then there’s the boat, where I actually am. And the ocean, where I am always gonna be. It’s all boat and all ocean. I’m not really going to find that much different on the other side. I’ve been to several countries, some pretty dreamy, and it would be wrong to say it’s all the same, but it would be DEAD wrong to say that it’s all about the destination. The person you bring with you is as important to your happiness and having a good time as having money and friend and stuff to do.
Sometimes you stop seeing the boat, and stop seeing the ocean. ALl you can see is yourself. Paddle paddle paddle. The same boring drama, but the same drama you need to go forward. But wherever you go, you are still going to be in the boat, on the ocean.
Until you die, and you aren’t.
Which is the one thing REALLY out of your control.
So what are you going? Keep hating on life and paddling like a maniac? Keep hating yourself for getting discouraged and not paddling? What are the options, really?
Theres’ really only one option, but it has to be your choice- you don’t get it by default. You can be here now.
Paddling, breathing, being in the boat, being on the ocean, being yourself, just existing.
And the truth is, happiness is availabel with every breath. I can still be happy at 230 lbs with no boyfriend, no job, a ton of student debt, living with my parents, and in fact, some moments, I actually am. Even though I feel like I screwed up my life sometimes, I can still be happy. Happiness is not a prize. Happiness isn’t really something you have to work to deserve. Happiness is not about happily ever after. Happiness is not about winning, achieving, etc. Happiness is something you have to carry within you. Happiness is realizing that it really will be ok, even if nothing comes to pass as expected, even if you’re single, even if you never have children, even if you never capitalize on your “potential.”
Happiness isn’t about slackng though. It’s about being, including being in the race, in the ocean, in the paddling, knowing you are your only competition. You may never outpace your expectations, but you can still get somewhere.
And wherever you go. There you are.
Life is like a box of chocolates.
Salted caramel, sea breeze, and a little honest sweat- it’s all the same thing really.
No job is going to make me happy, no size is going to make me happy, no guy is going to make me happy. Not even a baby, or a muffin, or living in France for that matter.
No siree. You can only rbing yourself with you.