Starting Over: Part 1
Saturday, May 07, 2011
I’ve re-gained almost all the weight I lost.
Here’s what happened. I maintained my weight -- with a few ups and downs -- from when I lost it in 2008. But this winter, I injured my back (a disk problem) and was flat for several weeks. That was not the issue, in itself.
In fact, when I came back home (I was unable to do much besides lie in bed and so was cared for by friends) I was slimmer than before the injury. When you're depending on other people to feed you -- and you're physically miserable -- you don't eat as much. At least that was my experience.
It's my state of mind and habits of eating *after* I came back home that created the problem. Before the injury, I was doing belly dancing, African dancing, yoga, and walking -- and thought of myself as a healthy, flexible, sexy, mobile person. Well, as sexy as you can be in your 50s. :)
The next minute after the injury I was unable to do anything that I had done before, not even walk without shuffling. Even as I slowly got better, I was having a LOT of anxiety because I wasn't sure how completely I would heal. Unhelpfully, I even had physical therapists telling me, well, you're just getting old, you have to expect this. They suggested that I change activities -- like why don't I take up walking on the treadmill and the like. A horrifying, deadening thought to me. I’m sure she thought she was being “just realistic,” but to me it felt like a death sentence.
It's not that I was completely incapacitated. After all, I could walk, drive, tie my shoes, sit, and so on. But I couldn't move the way I used to – I wanted to feel the pleasure of stretching my spine, the pleasure of moving hips and shoulders independently from one another, and more. I’m not describing it very well, so I Googled around to see if I could find someone more articulate than me about what it feels like:
“The beat of the music when it first starts sends tingles through me as I get excited about putting the steps to it for the first time. I feel free when I dance as nothing else matters.” www.dance.net
I know that's "advanced" moving -- but it's what I want. And I started to have thoughts like: Who am I if I can't dance or do yoga? It's part of my identity -- part of the way I see myself -- part of the investment I've made in myself -- part of what makes me attractive to men (and I'd like to be in a relationship again).
And suddenly, it felt like it was gone. I'm well aware that nobody gets out alive and we take nothing with us -- not our houses and not our dance moves -- but I was not prepared for it beyond the abstract.
Now: I am starting to dance and do yoga again, but my back is not the same as it was. I am much more cautious, I still have some minor pain, and I still have some numbness. I am hopeful for a full recovery – but I really don’t know.
Keep in mind that this occurred in the context of my relationship and work situation. I was approaching the two-year anniversary of my separation from 20-year-relationship. And work-wise, I have been a consultant trying to create a stable life after having had “regular jobs” for my whole working life-- not so easy.
So: A lot of change and instability and worry and fear were very present, even before the injury . And while in some ways I was relieved to know that I was not alone – many people stepped in to help me during this time, including my ex – the injury made me feel even more vulnerable.
The injury created problems for me physically, which created problems for me in my emotions and mind. (And yes, I know that lower back problem are metaphorical for “what’s behind us,” and “survival,” which means that perhaps the emotions and thoughts caused the injury, not the other way around.)
Either way, you can guess what happened when I came back home and could control (or not) what I put in my mouth: I started overeating. Junk food and lots of it to deaden the anxiety and the worry.
In three months, I gained 17 pounds.
I am now faced with starting over…with the embarrassment of having “failed,” the worry that my middle-aged skin will be in even worse shape than before, etc.
But what is there to do but plunge in again. Questions I will need to wrestle with:
Perhaps this time the key is to work with emotions as they come up?
Write morning pages so as not to ignore emotions?
This is what I will need to figure out.
Thanks for listening.