Active

Have you lost weight?

Oh, thank you, thank you! To an overweight person, particularly one not satisfied with her size, the above statement is probably the greatest opener you can use when you haven’t seen someone for a few months. I had the joy of hearing it yesterday, and even tho the scale stubbornly refuses to move (beginning to wonder if it’s broken), I felt uplifted.

My brother said I looked thinner because I was wearing my hair pulled back.

…Um…thanks for the honesty?

Tho I’m still not thrilled with the thickness of my body (that’s the problem, really – not the bulges or cellulite, but the thickness of my torso), I’m buoyed by my growing strength. 3.65 kilometers on the cross trainer. Go, baby, go! Did a little look-see online for cross trainer info. Apparently, that machine is supposed to mimic stair walking without the joint stress. I disagree. It’s more like walking through sand than it is walking stairs. Nonetheless, whether it’s walking stairs or walking through sand, 3.65 kilometers is impressive.

Let’s see that extra flab stick around NOW!

Need to head out today and find an ugly pair of pants at the charity shop. Keeps slipping my mind. Less than two weeks to curtain up; you’d think I’d remember! But, well…I had to send out a request to the director to please cue me in on Sunday’s dress rehearsal time and address. I’d think THAT would be something easy to remember, too, but seems I’m wrong. So I guess I can cut myself some slack. If the director can’t remember to inform one of his actors about a scheduled rehearsal, I can’t be blamed for forgetting to find an ugly pair of pants I’ll probably never wear again.

Also need to do my hair. Just gonna buy a cheap temporary color to cover the grey. No money for salon treatments. I’m even contemplating cutting it myself because it’s just out of hand. I’ve enough hair on my head for two people.

Got the second letter for my bro out to the publisher. Now it’s the waiting game. Gave them a whole chapter to look at. Hope I did well. Think I did.

Find I have to check my FB account every day for comments from my uncle. That famed social network just doesn’t work very well. I’m supposed to get an alert any time someone comments on my posts, but I find I don’t. I get a lot of alerts for groups I never said I wanted to join but somehow got into anyway. Found another comment, this time on a rather positive article about the Dutch agriculture industry. My uncle’s statement was: great, but what about overpopulation? I dithered for a moment – yep, actually had DOUBT – before I hit delete. Although there was nothing in his statement that I found offensive, it was coming from him – and as I said before, that fact colors everything out of his mouth. But what really tipped it to ‘hit delete’ for me was what I realized was very typical for him: that sideswipe comment that doesn’t really address the issue raised, but instead belittles the original statement or argument by attempting to distract and redirect to another issue HE wants to argue over. That, I take issue with. And that’s something he’ll never understand.

Right now, between the work outs and the upcoming performance, I could care less. Hit delete, then ignore. My focus is coming down to a pin-point. Forgetting what day it is, forgetting about language, forgetting about anything other than rehearsals and my role. Had a passing thought about writing the other day, and laughed at myself. Not gonna fall into that trap. I’ve set myself up for a masterful performance, and I’m not gonna blow it by losing my head in another story. I know who I have to be: her name is Wendy, and she is SO not me.

It’s just for a few more weeks. I know there’s another performance at the end of October, and I’ll need to keep the role fresh. But that’s later. Right now is right now, and I’m counting down to the first curtain up.

…Just a little obsessed. I know. But this is me using my obsession towards a goal. I know what I’m like – that one-track mind once I’ve taken hold of an idea. Perfect. Be Wendy. Not 24/7; don’t think I could stand myself to go that far. But keep her close. Once in a while I ask myself ‘what would Wendy do in this situation?’. I see things through her eyes for a moment. It serves to underscore our differences.

She is passive.

I’m active.

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A Nod to Vanity

Forgot for a few days to check with the theatre group about all those pictures. Signed in and found the above, set as THE advertisement for the play.

Yes, that’s me on the left.

After all my moaning and thinking I wouldn’t even MAKE the promotional picture, here it is. Just me and my acting partner (there’s 8 of us in the cast). Can’t help but feel it’s a nod from the group, here’s the people you really want to come and see. Popped a note off to the director’s girlfriend, who did the poster, and thanked her for all her work. Yeah, she’s got PhotoShop and yeah, it’s a simple posterization of the original photo with a few words thrown over the whole thing. Nonetheless, I know what it’s like to work on the behind the scenes – often a thankless job. So I thanked her, and told her I was really jazzed and honored.

So far, no reply.

I’ve thought about using the pic as the desktop for my computer. I probably won’t; that’s more than a nod to vanity, that’s an outright leg-spread.

Can I say, though, that I’m more than pleased to see this picture of myself and say I DON’T view myself as fat? Maybe I’m not a stick, but I’m not a balloon, either. Photographic proof. I have this bad habit of hanging my sister’s body off my head in my mind – obese. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been around many full-length mirrors. Maybe it’s because my mother treated me as a mini version of my sister: matching clothes, hair, and even (reputedly) naming me after her.

But I’m NOT my sister. Nor my mother. That’s a unique person in that picture. Truly unique.

One other thing. I usually don’t pull my hair back from my face like that. Since I was 15, my bangs generally hang low over my face, half obscuring it. It makes me feel safe. Hidden. But I like the way I look with my hair pulled back. It’s open, inviting. Friendly. To me, that looks like someone you could walk up to and begin a conversation. Ask for directions. Comment on the weather while waiting for the metro.

Am I finally seeing myself the way other people see me?

Got to the gym for exercise. Feel much better for doing it. Blew all the calories I burned by buying and eating several fancy little cakes. I know! I know. Counter-productive. And it’s an old coping mechanism. But I have to admit, the past few days with the memory of feeling good, performing well, and now the picture…It’s brought up a few things for me. More than a few things. In fact, it’s brought me right back to my formative years. That frightened and angry kid. Frightened because I half believed my mother, and thought maybe I wasn’t good enough. Angry because I knew it wasn’t right. You don’t do that to someone you care about. So I turned to that old comfort: sugary treats. I’m not proud of it. But I can admit the truth.

And the pic threw me. Got too excited after seeing it. Too wound up. Set my head off on that manic streak again. I allowed it, again. In fact, I vow to do it completely different from the manner I was brought up. Acting wasn’t something that taxed you, and if you took time off after performing you were lazy and weak. That’s not true, of course. And it drove me to many unnecessary illnesses while growing up. Now, it’s an automatic down for several days. It’s an automatic assumption I’ve caught something and need to fill up on vitamins, juice, and hearty food. And the manic thoughts…let them come. They vanish, eventually. Fade back into the half-dreams I console myself with as I fall asleep. But they are not wrong, and I am not wrong for having them. Nor am I wrong for being so wound up after performing that I can’t sleep. Many performers go through that.

I feel bad for my parents, on some levels. They were small, provincial. Their worlds were tiny. My understanding of that brings compassion: they didn’t know any better. I recognize they did the best they could with the day to day. Still angry over the outcome, though. Won’t make any bones about that.

This is all so new. Feeling good about me, and what I’m doing. Taking care of myself while feeling good about all of it. Reaching new levels of understanding. Feeling like I’m letting go of some stuff. Does the past matter now? It gives me a certain perspective. And that perspective colors everything I do. So, yes. But also no. My mother’s doubts, her lack of support and self-centeredness…that’s melting into the background.

I’m not afraid to look in the mirror these days. I see ME. Still beautiful, still vital, always talented.

That kind of talk would have meant a sharp reprimand when I was a kid. Vain! Don’t be vain! There’s always someone better than you, more talented than you, funnier than you. You’ve nothing to be vain about!

But a nod to vanity isn’t always a bad thing, either.

Right here, right now

The script is out. Finished the A4 formatting, checked the entry page, wrote a short intro letter, and clicked send. No more thinking.

As usual, I was hit with a wave of manic energy afterwards. Bad enough my brother mentioned it was affecting him. I headed to the gym.

Think I might have turned the corner on my weight issue. Think I might have dropped some excess weight without quite knowing it. I mean, I wear sweat pants almost 24/7. It’s hard to judge where your body is when you’ve always got elastic waisted pants on. But I caught a few glimpses of myself that didn’t make me look wider than I am tall. A few sidelong looks where I thought gee, my stomach doesn’t stick out as much as it used to. And, hallelujah, I’ve found my collarbones again. Don’t even have to sink my chest in to see them – I can just stand there as usual and out they pop.

The house is pretty clean, thanks to my bro helping me on Sunday. I felt bad for a fleeting moment; he did the hoovering and ended up in a sweat because…well, it’s hoovering. Means you gotta move all the furniture and get underneath. It sounds like an easy job, but it isn’t. And I reminded myself of all the sweaty hours I spent cleaning this place, and the last one, and the one before that – and suddenly I didn’t feel so bad or guilty for allowing him to take on this tough task. Sometimes I think my bro needs to be reminded that hoovering sucks, that doing the dishes every day can make you lose your mind, and that housework doesn’t just get done all by itself.

No rehearsal Monday. The director bowed out with a sore throat. More than happy about that; I’m over anxious about staying healthy and my number one freak out is being exposed to other people’s illnesses. No rescheduled date yet.

Strangest thing this morning. Two strangest things. One, my hoodie is missing. It’s not in my room nor the living room, and I was just using it yesterday. Two, my coffee cup is missing. Gone. Non-existent. Had to use a secondary cup, not my normal one (didn’t feel right). Can’t for the life of me figure out why someone would come in, grab my hoodie and coffee cup and split. But I’ve been up and down this tiny place and see zero sign of either of them.

Finished reading the book on the Night Witches my director gave me. Need to make some notes. The bibliography lists several sources to check on for factual info. I’m well pleased with the info provided in this book. Gives me a good grounding on the groupings within the military and how they work in such a strict hierarchal system. And I’m beginning to see the play. Found my main character the other day. She’s still developing, but I caught the first glimpse of her. Beginning to know some of what the characters will face in the play. It’s big – and exciting. The setting I’ve chosen to write about allows me to bring in as many famous flyers as I want. It’s a strong skeleton, and I’m pinning my ideas down with factual points – dates, names, deaths.

First, tho, finish the US formatting for the current script. Get it out to as many places as I can find, because I think this one is a doozy. Do my Dutch homework. Keep getting to the gym. Keep following through on my commitments. Keep myself focused and busy in the now, not the past, not the unwritten future.

Right here, right now. This is where you make the change.

Working on it

The rain that’s been promised for days is pouring down the window. Supposed to go out in that. Get the shopping done. Pick up a few things. Head to the gym.

Ugh.

What I’m NOT supposed to do is open up the script for more work. Buried my head in it for eight hours yesterday. Take a breather. Do some of the shit that doesn’t get done when I write. Don’t want to, naturally.

The script is almost ready. Prepping up a lighting and sound effect list; don’t want someone to pass over the story because they think pulling it together is too much work, so I’ll do it for them ahead of time. That’s a pain. Page references are needed for cues, which means prepping and running a PDF to check where things fall. And I’ve got to do this for A4 and US paper size, so twice through it. Bugger the US, anyway. Just HAD to change standard paper size by a little bit here and a little bit there – ONLY to make sure things got fucked up between countries. I swear it.

Began a food diary. Been having extraordinary gas. I mean…I could always belch. But now! Duck or run for cover, because the blast of my burps will throw you across a room. Upshot is, I think I have irritable bowel syndrome. So, the food diary. Keep a record, and look. Is there any link to what I’m eating?

Writing down everything that I consume also drove one other thing home for me: I don’t eat much. Two small meals a day. Thinking I might have to eat more often, and try to keep something in my stomach during the daylight. Great. Now all I need is an appetite.

How can I consume so little, yet still be so fat? – Or am I really someone with THAT skewed of a body image? Looking at myself in the mirror…all I see are the fat bulges on my thighs, the tire around my stomach, the bat wings on my upper arms. Old, and fat. Flabby. I know I’m not as heavy as some people. Yet…I can’t let go of calling myself fat.

Sometimes I wonder if I am really crazy. So crazy I can’t acknowledge how crazy I am. I wonder if some of the hateful things people have yelled at me over the years are true: if I am as bad as they claim I am, if I am a liar, delusional, and so far gone it’s impossible to even talk to me. It’s a frightening thought – that outside of me, I am viewed as a nut job. That my vision of the world is so colored, so WRONG that I can’t even make out what the truth is.

…Then I remind myself of my history. The whole narcissist shit. The family: my mother, my sister. The entire set-up to accept partners who hit me, who raped me, who treated me like a dog.

And I don’t want to blame the narcissists all the time. I want to acknowledge that I had part in it: I caved. I let them beat it out of me. On some level, I allowed it.

It’s hard to trust myself or other people.

But I’m working on it.

Boot Camp

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Another day wiped out.

Swimming was tough. Pulled up with a cramp in my calf the size of a golf ball. Just too much after the gym. One woman approached me as I clung to the side, massaging my leg – alles goed? Ja, I replied without even thinking that I was speaking in Dutch. From there we proceeded to talk for 10 minutes, back and forth, in English when I didn’t know the Dutch. Rolled out my new words – lidmaat and lidmaatschap (member and membership) – when I spoke about the gym. Handy to have new Dutch words to go along with my new activity. Makes it easy to incorporate the words into my vocabulary.

Came home and almost died. Ended up sleeping in my chair for an hour, completely exhausted. Then I had to eat because I’d used everything up. Spent the afternoon in a haze that only the pain in my biceps could cut through (ow). Ten hours solid sleep last night, and I’m still a little wobbly today.

My brother is encouraging me in this exercise regime. He’s very serious about buying me a bike next year. I’m a bit anxious about that for a lot of reasons. Like, it’s got to be a three wheeler because I can’t ride a regular bike well and if I fall I’m fucked. But I’m a little ashamed (okay, a LOT ashamed) of having to ride a three wheeler. So I want it, but I don’t. I think it would be fun to get on a real bike and make my way around the city, around the parks, around all the areas I can’t get to right now because they’re too far to reach by foot alone. But once again, something I could use ends up being expensive. A three wheeler is bloody three times the price of a regular bike. Argh! Bad enough I’ll go through heebie-jeebies once in a while just riding it because I’ll be afraid I look the fool. Then you got to add in the factor that my bro will pay a LOT for me to ride it and look the fool, so I’ll feel obligated to ride it and look the fool often.

Oh, I hope I’m not as embarrassed about it as I fear I will be!

Realized something yesterday. My legs are rather long. I carry my extra weight around my thighs and butt, so I generally see myself as wide and rather squatty. But my torso is the short part of me, not my legs. I guess I have been dropping weight; how else could I have realized this earth shattering fact after only 50 years in this body? One tiny shift of perception and I went from wide and squatty to long with some extra weight around the middle.

Sometimes walking around in a partial haze is a good thing. For instance, this morning I had occasion to post an article to Facebook. That led me to the actual site so I could log out. And there sat my uncle’s comment, waiting to be answered. I clicked it, typed, and posted,

“I find it difficult to believe that an admitted sexual predator and obvious chauvinist WOULDN’T enact laws that affect my body. After all, to Trump, I’m just a pussy to grab.”

That is not something I’d normally write to my uncle. It IS, however, what I think. This morning I guess I was just punch-drunk enough to put it up. There ya go, uncle. My full honesty. Like it? Wanna ask another question?

Go on and poke the bear again.

I expect today to be topsy-turvy. Still haven’t heard from the theatre group. I imagine my day going something like this: breakfast and shower, dishes, head to physio. Pull my head together, pack a bag, head off to the language café. Discover while at the language café that yes, the theatre group will meet tonight and I’m more than welcome. Grab a cold sandwich dinner at the Uni, get about four tokes on a J, then head in to socialize with the group. Find the director, stumble my way through explaining about the script, and finally hand it off to someone. Laugh. Enjoy. Over think. Come back late on the metro and set my alarm for class in the morning. Toss and turn. At last, sleep.

Now, since I’ve put that out there, I’m certain I’ll get something else thrown back at me.

Fun, fun.

I’ll admit to having some pretty wild sexual fantasies lately, all involving my very cute physiotherapist. He’s a nice fantasy to have! Safe. Just something I think about now and then. Something that makes me feel alluring and desirable. A friend suggested I hint around to see if there’s something there. Part of me has actually been thinking I should try that. The other part (the part that’s winning so far) is terrified of doing that and coming off as one of those aging women who delude themselves into thinking they’re still desirable to younger men even tho the guy they’re fixated on isn’t interested. *shudder* Goddess, save me from that fate! No, my very cute physiotherapist has to be a bit more upfront and obvious for me to take a risk like that. In the meantime, imagining some kissing and touching – even some fucking – is a safe going-to-sleep activity.

Takes my mind off the boot camp I’m putting myself through. And make no mistake about it: this IS boot camp. Body, mind, and spirit. I’m asking myself to go further than I think I can and do more than I know I’m capable of. I’m testing my limits, finding where I’m at, and working at strengthening myself. I know it’s gonna hurt. I know it’s gonna be hard. It already does hurt, and it already is hard.

Thank Goddess I’m a bit of a masochist. Gotta love boot camp.

Taking control

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Talk the talk, walk the walk.

Got my ass in gear yesterday. Down on the floor for sit-ups. Dishes. Rolled up my sleeves to tackle a few big jobs only to find the hoover was stolen away by my brother, who insisted on running that machine, moving the furniture, and helping to an extent that surprised me. I was damned angry to just sit there as he did a number of things I couldn’t help with because (as I’ve said before) this place is rather small. Later, as I scrubbed down the tiled walls around the stove I realized there was more than enough work for two to keep busy with.

Upshot is the kitchen sparkles and a small problem I was having with the washing machine is now fixed, thanks to my own patience and fortitude. Had half of an hour of feeling damned good about the house, the work, and following through on my commitment to myself. Even tho that faded, it gave me hope for myself. I can pull thru this.

Doing my best to remember that this morning. Another have to get up morning because even tho I feel bone tired I just can’t stay in bed any longer. The lines in my face from this constant tired feeling are deep grooves and ruts. I see them every time I get a glimpse of my face and they fucking horrify me. Something inside me insists on repeating that there’s no place in society for old women, that no one wants to see us or hear us. Certainly I can attest to a drastic change from how I was treated at 20 to how I’m treated now. Not all of it’s bad. I no longer have to fend off males left and right, no longer have to dodge groping hands, sweaty palms, seeking slurpy lips. But I’m often left standing, waiting, while everyone else gets taken care of first despite the fact I’ve been waiting longer. At a certain age, women become next to invisible. We’re not seen because no one wants to see us. We are just lumped into these faceless, moving bulks. Female bodies gone all wrong; we are no longer supple or nubile, and therefore deserve no attention. Put ’em in a corner, let them cackle amongst themselves. To be old and a woman is truly to be ignored.

Aren’t I the happy camper?

Oh, who the fuck am I kidding? I was ignored when I was twenty and all the attention was focused on my boobs or trying to get my pants off.

Men suck.

Does not help that I’ve heard some bad news from a friend of mine. I feel bad for her, I’m angry at him, and I’m frustrated that there’s little to nothing I can do from way over here.

Positives. Let’s scramble for some because I’m getting pretty bleak.

Delighted to say my orthopedic shoes are feeling great these days. Found out by accident that simply using thinner socks has solved any crunched feeling in my toes. Been wearing them for 9-10 hours at a time in the house. I think I’m ready to try taking them out for a walk. During my mopey times I’ve had on more SpongeBob Squarepants and feel encouraged by the dialogue I understand. A few more episodes and I may catch all the words to the opening song – btw, I DON’T know the cartoon in English, so anything like the lyrics to the song is an unknown to me, as are the character names. I’m watching sans subtitles, doing it all by ear alone, so bully for me. And thanks to my perseverance with the washing machine I can do laundry again (good thing; stuff was piling up). My sit ups were slightly less horrible than the last time I did them, so I feel I’m getting stronger.

I’m doing well. Really well, and anyone who wants to tell me different is just trying to unsettle me.

That includes me.

The substance that is my brain has come to a decision. Dutch is not an easy language to learn. In fact, my last teacher told me it was one of the more difficult languages on the planet. Not THE most difficult, but pretty damned hard. And from what my poor ear can hear, there’s plenty of lax speakers wiling to tell me how to pronounce something or cobble together a sentence. My brother tried to correct me on some word the other day, claiming his friends have corrected his pronunciation and I was doing it wrong. Yet, I KNOW the pronunciation rules for the language, and the sounds my brother tells me to make do not correspond to the letters in the word. And this is coming from someone I was in class with, someone I heard repeatedly get corrected on pronunciation while I was nodded to, told I was doing it properly, and praised. All this back and forth is only serving to confuse me. I’m ready to go back to my computer exercises, the new book I have, and continued practice on my own because I think I do better that way than having a hundred different things shoved at me by people whose opinion I don’t trust. That decision feels solid under my feet, and I’m sticking to it. Mr. New Teacher gets one more chance to not be a putz and then I say goodbye. There are two lines he can’t cross. One, the first thing out of his mouth better not be ‘did you buy the books I told you to buy?’, and two, he’d better not tell me to just read about the answer the first question I ask. Either or both of those happening will result in me nodding, packing away my things, saying it isn’t working for me, and leaving.

As an old woman I may not have my looks anymore. I may not be important in society, or have a family that cares about me or anyone who even listens to me.

Doesn’t mean I don’t have my dignity. And I’m laying claim to my dignity right here and now. No more confusion, no more angst over my new class.

I’m taking control.

Self reliance

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Life is shit: Day 2.

I had a good long time yesterday to figure out if my bro asking me earlier this week to meet his comic-geek buddies or his forgetting he even asked and just leaving the house was worse. The balance tips, depending. Right now it’s on the worse side, as in addition to simply being forgotten I’ve now got a load of other shit on my back that feels like everything that’s being said is no, I really don’t give a shit about you. I know this is my skewed perception mixed with poor communication. I KNOW that. Doesn’t feel better.

Made myself leave the house yesterday. Went to a bookshop downtown to search out these ‘holy grails’ of Dutch my new teacher is pushing at me. Found them. Looked thru them. As soon as I saw ‘subjective infinitive’ and similar terms I put them back on the shelf. Nothing there I don’t already have in half a dozen other books – as I suspected. My eye wandered down the shelf and there I saw the book my last teacher told me to buy. I picked it up and spent the money without hesitation; I TRUST my last teacher. I do not trust my current teacher. And I realize that, more than anything, is my problem: I don’t trust him. I don’t trust what he says, I don’t trust his recommendations, I don’t trust his answers. Not only do I think he doesn’t know what he’s doing, I think he doesn’t care.

I’ve got plenty of not caring in my life right now. Don’t need an additional hour and a half of it each week.

Spent an hour watching SpongeBob Squarepants in Dutch. Felt pretty good about myself as the more I listened, the more I caught. I’m getting it, I thought. Then I received a phone call about volunteering for this local festival and the dude must have used every single fucking word I don’t know. Had to ask for English, and by the end of the short conversation my language confidence went right thru the floor. The rest of the night and this morning I’ve felt I’m just never gonna get it. It’s too much. I’m too stupid. A part of me keeps telling myself that it’s the work I’ve been doing on my own that has caused so many people to tell me I speak well and they’re amazed I’ve only been studying for a year. I CAN do it. Maybe my progress will be slow. Maybe I won’t do it the way other people do it. But I can learn it.

Can’t convince myself of either side of that argument. I’m just ping-ponging back and forth.

Today is loaded with work I hate to punish myself. Not gonna mince words about it; the days I hate myself most are the days I clean with a fury. My dad used to tell me I was work horse and what do work horses do? Drop dead in their tracks working, that’s what they do. I don’t burn myself, I don’t cut myself. I work. Hard. And I don’t stop until I DO hurt myself.

Oh, fuck you, fuck you, and fuck you! You being anyone who judges me over that behavior.

At least I can admit it. And do my best to NOT act on it. But I’d be lying if I said my cleaning sprees are anything other than a way to self harm.

Well, that’s an ugly truth. As with most things right now, it’s not sitting comfortably.

Having a very difficult time clearing my head enough to do anything. I feel stuck. Everything is telling me about this horrible self image I have of myself: fat, old, loud-mouthed, ignorant, unattractive, acidic, angry, and simply not nice. And yes, take that and make sure I don’t become it. Use the lessons learned to be something different. But my insecurities make it hard, and the more I worry the more difficult it becomes to not act out, not strike in anger, not become that which I hate most.

I’m not drowning yet, though. For every hit I take, I’m still getting up and trying again – though my recovery time lengthens with each punch. That worries me. The fact that it’s getting harder and harder to just keep trying. But, you know, sunshine and lollipops. Shifting my focus from the punches to every time I stand back up. Or trying to.

Finding the inner peace to move forward when it seems like everything is piling against you is a struggle that words can’t express. Every single time I’m here I remember that. Every adage I’ve ever spouted comes back to haunt and taunt me.

This. is. temporary. Do I hear myself? It will pass. Your learning curve will take another jump. Your bad self image will fade and be replaced by something stronger. Right now we’re in that place where we can’t see any progress. It’s scary. Damned scary. But we are making progress because right now just continuing is all the progress anyone could ask for. Don’t give up on me. Don’t give up on us.

The promises we make to ourselves are the most important of all to keep. And of all the things happening right now in my life, it is the promise to myself to keep going that is NOT temporary, NOT shifting. I like myself; I hate myself. I feel good; I feel lousy. But thru it all there is one line of steel, one thing I keep falling back on time and again: my promise to myself to keep slogging thru. No matter what.

Time is temporary, shifting. Circumstances change. People come and go. Policies shift. Friends betray each other, lovers fall out of love. My emotions may never be stable.

I, however, continue. I am the one constant in my life, my own Northern Star.

Time to rely on me.

Sometime between 5 and 50

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Long, long ago, stairs were fun, an unexpected slide from one level to another all there ready to bump down on your butt. Then stairs got scary, especially the ones that are simply hanging steps with no backing, like the stairs down to my parents’ basement. ANYTHING could have stood behind those stairs to grab a little girl’s ankles. Now stairs are something like a medieval torture apparatus. They still hit me in my butt, just not nearly as fun as when I used to slide down the steps. No. Now I feel the pull and burn. When did this happen? I ask myself. When did it go from fun slide time to torture exercise?

Sometime between 5 and 50.

I planned to sleep in this morning. My hard walk and stairs climbing yesterday left me utterly exhausted by evening. Ten p.m. and I HAD to say goodnight or just let myself fall asleep in my chair. But by 5 this morning I was tossing and turning, coming to enough to realize I had a full bladder, and coughing as my nose seemed to clog up all at once on me. So up to pee, to blow my nose, and to do something other than tussle with my bedcovers.

Today is my new language class. Would have liked to go in fully rested, bright eyed and bushy tailed, but no. It’ll be the usual: slightly out of it because I was up too early and jacked up on caffeine. At least I’m too tired right now to worry about whether or not I’ll like my new instructor, whether I’ll get along with the other student, etc. etc. Screw all that. My goal is reset to simply stay awake and alert for the entire lesson. Not even to speak Dutch; just bleeding stay awake. That’s a real step down on ambition.

It’s been hard to not feel cut off or like a shut in. I’m either hiding from the sun and heat or resting from exercise most days. Outside I hear the world going on: traffic and children, dogs and trains, music and life in general. I feel too out of it to even try to go out and be part of it. Keep telling myself in another week or so my energy will rebound and I’ll get more energized post work-out than exhausted. It’s hard to get there in the meantime. Hard to allow so much to slip by outside my window without even getting up to look. Not that I’d have the energy to lift the curtain to look even IF I got up out of my chair.

Doesn’t help that my posts don’t get much notice. I’m NOT fishing for comments or likes here. I’m just making an observation. Somehow having over 100 followers yet having no one comment on my posts just serves to underline my isolation right now. I’m screaming at the abyss. Perhaps that’s fitting. Maybe all our deepest nightmares are personal and can’t be easily understood by others.

Or maybe I’m just being a wanker.

Discipline, discipline, discipline. My feet are set on this path, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to change directions NOW. Part of me is unsettled by knowing that female doctors have told me to get out and walk (or climb some stairs) for quite some time now but as soon as I heard it from a MALE it got cemented into my brain. Maybe it was just the right time, right place. Maybe it wasn’t. I tend to think it wasn’t. Deep down, I’ll admit to finding my physiotherapist very attractive. It’s utterly silly of me, I know, and I would NEVER act on it or mention it to him. Yet I find a part of myself wanting to be attractive to him – and I wonder if that part of me makes me cling onto his words more than my other doctors. Am I really that shallow? I’m afraid at least a little bit of me is.

Whatever. I’m exercising like I should. Watching what I eat. Writing even tho I fear no one gives a damn. Wishing I was 20 years younger.

…I’ll just let that last statement pass me by……Goddamn, it’s a long train…….

*sigh* Right. I am what I am. Can’t make any progress if I can’t accept where I’m starting from.

I’m out of shape, but not obese. I’m not 30, but I’m not 70, either. I’m not fluent in Dutch but I’m not a complete ignoramus. Middle of the pack in just about everything across the board. Just where I said I was uncomfortable. Damn! I wasn’t kidding about THAT. I am VERY uncomfortable here.

Fitting, perhaps, that I feel alone right now because I’m not in competition with anyone. That’s different. With my brother NOT in my language class, I’ll just be me with no one to compare me to. Without my sister here to reinforce my negative body image I’ve no bloated walking mirror to look at and see myself as fatter than or slimmer than. I don’t know that I’ve ever done this. It’s all stripped down and right at the core it’s only me. How fast I choose to move, how quick I can do things all on my own. There’s no markers in my life to tell me if I’m making any progress. I’m not allowing them. No scales or measuring tapes for my body, no tests to measure my understanding or language comprehension. I’m just floating in the goo, waving my arms about and not having any idea if I’m making any progress…because everything I learned to judge my progress on was based on competition. It was always the grades, the scales, the amount of money in your bank account that defined me as a person. That’s what I grew up with. That’s what I’ve been trying to shake since day one.

I’m not sure when I learned that lesson. Probably sometime between 5 and 50.

Put in the time

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Day 2 of changing my life.

Up early. Coffee. Shoes on, out for an hour walk. Back home. Dishes, tidy up. Language drills for an hour. Down on the floor for half an hour of sit ups and leg lifts, topped off with moving my arms for as long as they can handle it plus two minutes more. More cleaning, mostly to prevent myself from smoking like a chimney. Evening fresh air, no more than a jaunt around the block yet so much more than I’ve been doing.

I don’t really want to do any of this. But I do it anyway. It’s filling my time, strengthening my language skills, and getting to all those hard to clean places in my house. Two days in and I feel it’s useless. Keep reminding myself this method WILL work, it just takes time. And as I tell myself every day, time is something I have in abundance.

Got a taste of summer in yesterday. Back to the lake in the evening to check out a beach festival. Man, you could have bottled the day up to drink it down in one go. It was all summer. The heat was high, the breeze just right. There were swimmers and sunbathers, BBQers and drinkers. Found the festival was one of those high class things I’ll probably never go to; when one of the lines on the entrance lists a €300 purchase price I figure it’s just out of my league. Had dinner at a cafe lining the promenade. Walked around. Got some sun. Maybe someday I’ll be able to afford going to the actual event rather than skirting around the sidelines.

Focusing on the external lately. Do, don’t  ponder. Take action. Part of it is because I hope that all those do-gooders are bloody right and getting up to partake in life will stave off any deeper depression. Part of it is avoidance; when I keep busy out there I don’t think about what’s going on inside me. The last part of it I put down to simple fear: do now, before it’s too late.

Had one of those weird body image things again. I put on the new clothes I’d bought and looked at myself in the one full length mirror I have in the house. I saw an old woman body. Not a slightly heavy body, but an old woman body. That was perhaps the most disturbing image I’ve had of myself. And it’s the reason behind the fear part of my current actions. A few more years of living the way I have been and that old woman body will set in and become permanent.

Got three emails I need to send out, all in Dutch. Been stalling on it. Not sure why, other than sending out my messages will somehow make things real. Like if/when I do it, that’s it for my English lifeline. I’ll be letting it go. Using my Dutch only. Silly of me, I know. This blog isn’t going to turn into a fully Dutch thing. But it’s an obstacle in my head, nonetheless. One I’m both excited and nervous about getting past.

More language is getting through to my brain. It’s slow, and still partial, but I’m beginning to hear it even when a native speaker doesn’t slow down. I hate the delay in translation. But I’ll give it to the Dutch; haven’t yet met someone who isn’t happy to slow down, wait, and end up just as pleased as I am when I do catch what they say. I sense another learning jump coming up. So close on grasping the use of ‘om te’. So close on naturally using proper grammar in basic sentences. So close on catching those odd sayings every language has that if literally translated make no bleeding sense whatsoever. But of course real life isn’t my computer drills. Seems no matter how much I work on basic conversational exchanges, once I’m out in real life no one says the simple stuff first. So I get all the nuanced language thrown at me every day – the subtle variations that make up real conversation. Argh! For every victory in understanding it seems I have to go through half a dozen embarrassing times of total incomprehension.

I feel shame over my ignorance. It’s unwarranted, I know. Every single Dutch speaker I’ve met who knows how few language classes I’ve had is impressed by my progress and clarity. I try to remember that. My tendency – even my WANT – is to say I’m confronted by continual failure. That is a LIE I’m telling myself. Yes, I have many times I don’t understand what’s said to me. I’m also having more and more comprehension. I’m making progress. Almost every day I get one aha! moment. It just takes a lot of aha!s to become fluent.

All it takes is time. Back to that four letter word.

Gods, when did time become a curse? Perhaps that, more than anything, shows I’m aging. Or finally growing up.

As usual when I make a decision to alter my own reality, I have high hopes that I’ll be able to sustain this. Keep going on the basics I’ve set for myself no matter what. While skeptical over my chance of long term success due to failed attempts I’ve already been through, I do carry the hope that I’ve learned from my past failures. That this time I can do it.

I’m asking myself to try.

None of this will stop the topsy-turvy world I find myself in. None of it will make me feel good about myself every damned day. That much I can guarantee. All I want is to stop wasting time. Stop blaming this or that, and just get on with it. I want better language skills? Then put in the time. I don’t like the fat around my belly? Put in the time. I want friends, happy days, help when I need it? The answer’s the same. Put in the time.

Isn’t it funny

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Funny how a little water leaking from my eyes will drag my ass out of bed faster than anything else. Now that I’m fully conscious (or a damned good imitation of it) I can’t even begin to remember what might have made me cry. No big things going on in my life at the mo. No ugly memories in my mind. Just…water leaks.

Headaches, too. Or the same one. Never really know, and half the time it feels more like I have one long headache that just gets interrupted now and then. I went to sleep last night with a raging headache coming on. Thought okay, I’m getting a headache from being tired, perfect time to head to bed. Even took a pain relief pill to make sure I slept long and well. But I didn’t. I didn’t sleep ‘long and well’. The headache plagued me for a quite a while as I tried to drift off. And now it seems like sleep was just one of those temporary interruptions. The pain is creeping back.

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One more thing to bitch about: my back. Still stiff. Still occasionally hurting enough to make me suck my breath in. Been out walking, but it seems walking irritates the area. For hours after a 30 minute stroll the section around my tail bone feels grouchy. Tender, aching. Then it goes cold/hot, like I applied one of those mentholated balms (my favorite time ’cause at least it doesn’t hurt). Finally it ends up with just a deep ache that no massaging or paracetamol can touch. Lovely stuff, and SO much fun to live thru.

Today is scheduled to be a scorching hot one, and I made plans to sit under a plastic cape and get my hair done in the peak of the afternoon. If my hair didn’t look so damned raggedy I might call it off or reschedule, but damn! I just look too scruffy. My biggest dilemma, as I mentioned to a friend, is to find something to wear. It’s got to be (1) cool enough so I don’t pass out, (2) something that won’t frighten little children when they see my cellulite, and most importantly (3), something that won’t let the sweat around my butt soak thru so it looks like I peed in my pants (or skirt) while waiting for my hair to get done. That’s a tall order for my wardrobe.

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Will I EVER get over my paranoia in public? I’m okay if no one looks at me but as soon as I catch one glance my way my head goes nuts. My fly is undone or my hair is frizzed out or I’ve got a bugger stuck on my face. That’s always what I think. It takes a lot of courage to walk around thinking that you might have something really WRONG with your appearance. I do it every goddamned day. Some days it’s not that bad. Most days it’s hell on wheels. I’m constantly trying to make sure my pants zipper or button isn’t undone without making it SEEM like I’m checking my fly. That’s a tough one. And if you saw me, you might mistakenly think I’m a narcissist as you see me surreptitiously check my reflection in every reflective surface I pass. I do it because I’m paranoid, not because I think I look good. I’m looking for that open fly, the bugger on my face, the fly away hair that looks like a rat’s nest, the piece of spinach stuck in my teeth. And I see women heavier than me, women who wear shorts that let their large thighs hang out and women who wear sundresses despite their sagging upper arm skin. I envy their confidence.

But hey. I said I needed to take that first step, and I am. Doing my best to stick to my back exercises and gentle walking until I feel better. That could take some time. I regret now a fall I took some twenty five years ago. It was icy, and I landed smack on my tail bone. I think I cracked it, but of course I did nothing – no health insurance to cover it at the time and I was young. Never gave a lot of thought to long term pain. Don’t know that I would have cared at the time, anyway. But I think that was the beginning of my problem. Me of now would go back and slap the me of then for not going to get it checked. Then again, there would be a lot the me of now would say to the me of then.

I’ll probably be able to say the same thing about the me of now in twenty years.

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…Ugly honesty…been considering death a lot lately. Not suicide, just fading away like any normal old person. Really thinking about consequences of my smoking. Every time I’m there – no matter how afraid I am – I know one thing: I don’t want to outlive my bro. Sorry, but that’s the basic truth of it. I’d rather die first. If I could live beyond him without going homeless it might be another matter, but I don’t think I can do that. I think if the worst should happen I’d be out on the streets. There’s a little money coming in here and there, but not enough to support me. I don’t need to be old, in pain, AND homeless. Besides. My bro is my last link. The last reason I’m here. He’s made me promise I won’t kill myself as long as he’s alive; we’re in this together.

Ugh. So that’s probably it; the reason I woke up crying. I got that on the edge of tears shit right now and it’s so damned incongruous to the noise of the garbage truck outside it’s almost comical. Ha fucking ha.

Isn’t it funny.

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