Today is the second-to-last day of 2013. In 2011, my mom fought (and won!) a battle against cancer. In 2012, I spent most of the year working on unraveling my marriage. In 2013, I got divorced. Therefore, although I am all for a clean slate, I am having trouble looking toward 2014 with anything other than a little bit of suspicion. What do you have in store for me, 2014? Can I maybe get a little bit of a break, here?
It’s that time of year when there is talk of New Year’s Resolutions. Lose weight. Stop smoking. Exercise more. Save money. Drink more water. Volunteer more. Pay off debt. Go back to school. Have a baby. Run a marathon. We all have things that we want to do. Some of these resolutions are more realistic than others. But we all tend to look at a new year as a fresh start…a new beginning. All that stuff that we didn’t like about our lives or ourselves in 2013? It doesn’t matter! It’s a new year! We can be different (better!) in 2014!
For the past couple of years, my resolution has been a blanket statement. Every year, I have resolved to Get My Shit Together (or some variation of that theme). And my version of doing that means that, if I met with success, I would be 50 pounds lighter and out of debt. Those two things have been my focus for a very long time. Weight loss has been a focus since I was in high school, to some degree. Obviously, there were times that I was less “serious” about it, but it has always been there. And the debt thing is like an albatross around my neck that has been weighing me down since soon after I got out of college and made my debut in the Adult World. Working for nonprofits while continuing to live like I was a college kid being bankrolled partially by my parents’ generosity means that almost fifteen years after graduating from college, I am still working on paying off some credit cards.
Those of you who have been reading my words might have noticed that I have not lost 50 pounds, and I am not out of debt. And for a long time, I blamed my lack of willpower. If I were just strong enough, I could resist the cookies and the fast food and the ice cream and the candy. If I were just strong enough, I could be aware that I have plenty of grey t-shirts from Old Navy, and buying another one was not necessary. I can see now that I was looking for happiness (or at least a lack of sadness) in the wrong places. When faced with strong emotion, I was eating because I didn’t want to feel it (or maybe didn’t know how to feel it). When eating didn’t work and the self-loathing kicked in, I either ate some more or soothed myself by perusing the Old Navy website and adding to my already large wardrobe or by prowling the aisles at Target and coming home $100 or more poorer.
While it is a step in the right direction, I think, to have insight into what you are doing and why you are doing it, it turns out that it takes a lot of hard work to bring about changes in these behaviors. I have been, for the past year and a half, struggling with food as much as I ever have. After my dieting “success” (although I can see now it was compulsive dieting at work) and loss of 75 pounds, the numbness eventually wore off and the binge eating started up again. I would say that was probably in April of 2012. I can still remember the day that the dam opened up and the food started pouring in. I remember sitting in my therapist’s office and “confessing” to her that I was binge eating (it is one of the few times I have cried in her office, actually). And since then, I have gotten “back on track” or “back on the wagon” multiple times. And I have detailed some of those times in this blog.
I can’t resolve again this year that I will lose these 50 pounds. I can’t resolve that I will pay off all my debt. I feel like doing that is just setting myself up once again for a fall, and I want to be kinder to myself than that. But I have learned about some things that I think can help me be more mindful with my choices. I can resolve not to eat in the car, or while standing in my kitchen, or while sitting in front of the TV. I can resolve to use a cash only system for my grocery and spending money, with the idea that once the cash is gone, the spending is over for the week. I can resolve to continue my early morning gym workouts and to keep going to yoga on as many Mondays and Thursdays as my schedule allows. I can resolve to make soda a weekly treat instead of a daily one. I can resolve to say no once in a while when I feel like work is getting too hectic and I am getting pulled in too many directions. And I can resolve to keep showing up in my therapist’s office for our bi-weekly appointments, knowing that even if I am not taking care of myself in other aspects of my life, I am at least giving myself the gift of caring about myself enough for that.
How about you? How are you going to be kind to yourself this coming year? Any big goals you are working on?