In keeping myself honest, I have to say I did pretty good yesterday. My sugar intake was at a minimum, and I did some stand-up paddleboarding and slogging (slow jogging. What I do cannot be classified as running.) I did however have two diet dews and a half bag of chips. And after finishing my slog I was so shaky and craving sugary sweetness I ate a protein bar long after I should have that put back every calorie I had just expended and more. Moving on…
I live in Montana. One of the biggest and least populated states in my country. How? Not really sure. Growing up in the Midwest and spending the bulk of my adulthood in the Southeast, Montana was never on my radar. Yet here I sit. I landed here due to a temporary travel job that was supposed to last six months. Three and a half years later, I guess I’m staying. Why did I start a travel job? D.I.V.O.R.C.E.
I won’t go into a long drawn out horror story about that, but I will say it has been the defining moment of my adult life. When I was fourteen, my family moved me away from my hometown and that changed my teen experience and my early adulthood. I was behind the times. I didn’t know how to make friends and I was undateable. College came and went with more dateless nights, but a few more friends. Then came the real world, which was full of more career uncertainty, moves, and datelessness. So at the age of thirty-three, when I met my now former husband, I was very closed off and hardened. He, being the charming bastard he is, softened my heart, then broke it into a trillion pieces, smashed the pieces into the ground and danced a jig on top of them for good measure. I did help grow him up and advance his career, which his new wife and the woman he cheated on me with and abandoned me for appreciates greatly, I’m sure. Not that I’ve ever been thanked.
Divorce is so commonplace anymore but man, did that hurt. Unbelievably so. I’m astounded at people that quickly bounce back and move on to the next mate within months or even days. I just shut down and when I couldn’t stand to be in the same town as “them”, moved away. Sold or gave away everything, rented out my home, left behind all of my friends and loved ones: out. I needed fresh air and a fresh perspective and to just GET AWAY. I had no idea that would mean living in Montana, spending holidays alone, traipsing across western landscapes with just my dog as company.
It is unbelievable in the best way possible sometimes. This country is stunning with endless adventures available. It is also unbelievable in the worst way possible at times. What if something happens to me? Who is my Emergency Contact? Worse yet, what if something happens to my loved ones far away? I’ve missed funerals and get-togethers because the logistics and expense of trying to be with my ‘people’ is just too great. And that guy I used to be married to left me in one heck of a financial pickle when he skipped out of my life, making it hard to handle big unexpected expenses.
This is not how life was supposed to be. If someone had told a sixteen year old me that at forty-three I would be divorced and childless with no financial security and no friends or family nearby, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have found the nearest tall bridge to jump off of. This isn’t the dream. I had my punchcard like everybody else, where’s my man? Where’s my silly smart-ass kids? Where’s my white picket fence? Where’s my holiday parties and birthday parties and soccer games and church potlucks?
All of that being said, while I am at times stunned at the route my life has taken, I’m not a bitter angry person. Complaining about the way things have turned out gets me nowhere, I know that. Being angry at anyone or disappointed nonstop or depressed because of the way things didn’t turn out only makes me miserable, nobody else. In my daily life I’m generally pretty happy-go-lucky, pretty easy-going, because really what can anybody do to me, pretty silly and fun. I like to make people laugh, I like that I’m thought well of, I steer clear of drama. I don’t let people get close to me, so I have many a Facebook friend that I will undoubtedly never see again but am happy to entertain from a distance.
But I want to change all that.
I have worked in Nursing Homes for the past five years. I see what people treasure at the end of their days, and it isn’t their ‘stuff’. It isn’t their looks, or their health, or their finances, that stuff is long gone by the time they come through these doors. It’s their ‘people’. Whatever that may look like…and I will have no people if I don’t make some changes. To be fair, most of my friends from back in the day are quite busy raising their ‘people’, and don’t have the time or the money or the energy to make a long trek to be where I am. So it has to be my job to get to them, and I’d rather take solo vacations, thank you very much. My parents won’t be around forever, my sisters have their own things going on…my only hope is to get nice gifts for my niece and nephew so they will make sure I have a nice room at ‘the home’ when the time comes.
WHY AM I LIKE THIS!?!??! I keep people at arms length. My family is easy to be around, three or four times a year if I’m lucky. My friends, it would take energy I just don’t seem to have. It is never easy. I’m not social, and because I don’t like myself very much it’s hard to just let go and enjoy and not feel like a complete failure. Meanwhile they’re jealous of my ability to travel and freedom to do what I want, and all I can see is their successes and children and spouses and sink lower into my stupid self. Ugh.
The easy answer of course is to just change my thought patterns. Quit thinking these dumb thoughts or worrying about what anybody else has and get over myself. But as we all know, well as most of us know…just isn’t that easy. I do the best that I can to be a happy positive person on any given day in the midst of some very real heartbreak and struggle. Most days that’s just the best I can do. I get in my car after a long day of work where I have been happy and fun and encouraging and I sink into the reality of my situation and I’m spent. I have no kindness left for myself. The self-abuse begins.
Or I could just move back home…home? Where is that, exactly? My two sisters and my parents all live in different towns, none of which I lived in before I came West. Where do I call home? People ask me where I’m from and it confuses me. Originally? Most recently? That isn’t as easy an answer as it should be. So I stay where I am, until such time as I feel led to change my geographic location. I know not what else to do.
That guy I used to be married to? I won’t bring him up very much. He has affected the path my life has taken to be sure, but now it belongs to me. I take full responsibility, and I don’t give him credits or debits over what I go through day to day. He is part of my story, how I got here, but where I go from here is up to me.
And I have a lot of work to do yet. Still taking baby steps, one at a time, and this is my therapy. I know what I need to do, in most respects to making changes, it’s the getting there that is the struggle. But I know struggle. We are old friends. And at this point I embrace it and keep moving forward.
In very small, calculated, meandering steps.
I’m really digging the new blue toenail polish. So I’m one-for-two on going new directions! The sugar intake is still low, but dang it if my roommate didn’t just come home with a carton of birthday cake ice cream.
Not today, Satan. Not today.