As of yesterday I am 18 pounds lighter than I was a month ago. I have been getting nice comments here and there from people who have noticed. And I have had several people ask me what I have been doing. I know they are expecting a simple answer like, Zumba, or a Paleo diet, or a pill. But it’s a lot more complicated than that. The following was written as a response to someone who asked me what I have been doing because she genuinely wants help to let go of some weight herself.
As many of you know, I had my heart-broken about a month ago. At first I was sort of soul-sick. Everything I considered eating made me want to cry or throw up. Looking back, I don’t know if it was a psychosomatic manifestation, or if the whole experience actually thrust me into a mindful place where I was finally listening to my body about what was good and what was bad and how much was enough.
The “sick” part only lasted about a week or two. But when I realized that I was letting go of the weight along with letting go of the relationship, I decided to make it part of my new plan. Part of what life was going to look like moving forward. Part of loving myself and taking care of myself. I have to say that the mental work has been the biggest aspect of it. Because I am hungry a lot, but for some reason, this time the hunger isn’t winning.
I’m working very hard on everything that looks like loving myself and taking care of myself. I have been doing a lot of nice things for myself – even if they are impractical. I look in the mirror and tell myself how beautiful I am. I spend time telling my body parts how much I love them. I tell my tummy – one of the places my body has been holding onto extra weight – that I appreciate the protection it has given me, but that I am okay and I can take care of myself. That it’s safe to be thin. I tell it that there is enough of everything. We don’t have to save up and be scared of not having enough. We can let it all go. And good stuff will come.
I have adopted a few mantras. My body is wise. It knows how to take care of me. My body can fully digest and use all of the food that I give it. And it will let go of all of the food that I do not need. I’m being as mindful as possible about every move. Telling my body that I want to take care of it and asking how I can before I eat anything.
I also have some goals that are related weight, but not directly about weight. I have a vision of living fully and loving fully that will require me to be in better physical shape and strength in order to achieve it. I imagine hiking through hills I’ve never seen before with people I love – experiencing that beauty together. I think about swimming in a little natural pool that has a waterfall flowing into it. And I’m there with someone who loves me intensely. Who wants to play with me. Who wants take laps around life with me. I imagine rowing a boat down a river. Rock climbing, jumping off of rocks into water. All sorts of outdoor fun. Connecting with nature in a physical way.
As for what I am doing – on the outside, the motions I am taking – I have been preparing and eating smaller portions. I have been trying to eat a lot more protein. I haven’t been eating fast food or eating out at all unless there is a social reason to do so (about once a week). Almost everything I’ve eaten has been something I “made.” But even that is a bit of a misnomer. Most of what I have been eating has been raw. I made it by cutting it up. I suppose if it were a diet it would look most like a Paleo diet.
I’ve been avoiding dairy aside from fat-free Greek yogurt. I have been limiting processed carbs almost completely. But I haven’t really eliminated anything completely. I had some garlic bread Friday night. I had some sour cream last night. But just a little bit. Just the tablespoon that is a serving. I have also forgiven myself, and told my body that I trust it to take care of me every time that I have decided to eat something that I would have, in the past, considered “bad” food. Like a sucker, or a cocktail, or some cheese.
I’m kind of counting calories. I’m picking things with fewer calories when I shop. I’m adding up how many calories are in what I’m eating at each meal. (Which is easy because I’m eating less-processed stuff.) But I’m not really adding it all up.
My doctor said to shoot for around 1000-1200 calories a day and for 60% of it to be protein. I’ve probably been hovering around 1000 for the most part. I definitely haven’t hit 60% protein even once. SO it’s a lot of little things. And I’ve been drinking like 60 ounces of water (or so) a day.
And I have been thinking almost constantly about what it means to take care of myself – all day. Every time I eat. Sometimes it means I’m going to eat a 15 calorie sucker. Sometimes it means I am going to drink 20 oz. of water before I eat anything else. Sometimes it means eating lettuce first. Or spaghetti and meatballs without the noodles. Today it meant trying a protein shake that turned out to be AWFUL. But the point is to love myself with my food. Which means I don’t really have a plan.
This meme has been circulating around Facebook for the past few weeks. When I saw it the first time I thought it was awesome and just shared it. I quickly thought I was good to go in this regard, and thought, “Yeah, I do things that make me happy every day.”
The next few times I saw it, I slowed down a little more. I thought what are those things I do every day that make me happy. I thought of a few really easily. Petting my puppy, eating…anything, hugging the kiddos at school, cleaning off my coffee table so that the living room is clean when I come home from work.
But then I realized I was doing it backwards. I was thinking of the things I did every day that made me happy instead of thinking of things that made me happy and trying to find a way to get them into my life every day.
When I thought about it in this direction I couldn’t even think of what to put on the list of things that make me happy. I can easily make a list of things I do every day and let you know if they make me happy or not, but honestly, I have been working so hard for the past few years that I have really given very little thought to what things make me happy that I want to add to or enhance in my life.
So I’m working on a list of things to try to see if they make me “happy.” And trying to figure out which things are worth trying to add to my life on a daily, weekly, monthly, basis. Any ideas for things to add to my to try list?
“I know, it’s kinda crazy.” I replied.
“Man, I thought I would be married by now,” I said with a sigh.
“Me too,” she said.
I let out a quick, soft laugh.
“I mean you’re amazing. You’re beautiful, funny, smart, caring…”
She went on. And it was so sweet of her.
I had breakfast with my best friend from college this past Saturday morning. It was great. We talked about all sorts of things, probably most notably my love life, given current circumstances.
She was sweet, she listened — and she made no judgement whatsoever about it all. Which I appreciate so deeply.
I know I did a lot of things during the relationship that most girls say, or think they would never do. Heck, I probably thought I would never do some of it either. I honestly faced some of the hardest choices of my life during this pairing. And you know what, I’m glad I did.
Now I know for sure, when it come Crystal, love wins out. Pretty much every time. I can see the beauty and wholeness of the people in my life even when they are behaving like the lowest versions of themselves. But I know the truth. And I can hold the truth about that person in that moment. And that truth overcomes a lot for both of us at that moment. I can have the deepest levels of compassion and empathy for people who are doing things that hurt me.
Up until this point I don’t think I have been very great about doing that for anyone, especially myself. I know I’m getting better at it. And I know that I need to love and accept myself fully, and that will draw in someone who loves and accepts me in the same way.
So, if this last relationship is an indication of how I feel about and treat myself, then I’m doing pretty good. I was always incredibly comfortable with him. So, comfortable with myself? Great!
I was very grateful for him at all times. I had a deep desire to get to know him better. I wanted connection as often as possible. So, same for myself? I would hope. I think maybe. Yeah.
So, the next relationship? Well, I’m working very hard to take care of myself currently. I hope that means I will attract someone who does the same and will want to, and be willing to, take care of me. I’m always working to slay my dragons and exorcise my demons. So, hopefully, he will do the same, and his past won’t hang over him like a shadow. He won’t be defined by his pain. But he will have dealt with it. Confronted it and learned the lessons there.
I’d like him to be someone spiritual so that he can respect and understand that aspect of my life. Someone who has dine the work to become a version of himself that he not only loves and accepts, but is proud of. Someone courageous. Someone who likes his life, or who — at the very least — is working to make it better.
Someone who wants an adventure…wants THE adventure. Of life. Of love. Of me.
I really just want to get close and share and build something — create something — together. Even if I am too old to have kids by then, I want to make something together. Something that can grow.
Man, I thought I would be married by now.
So Tuesday night I got all of my work done before I left the school. I didn’t take home any papers to grade. Which is a good thing really. But it also sucked. Because I was home alone with nothing to do. Okay, not nothing. I have food in the fridge that I could cook up, or a closet that I could clean out. Or…well, I’m like any adult, I always have something I “could” do.
But I was overwhelmed with loneliness. I cuddled with my dog a little. I thought about what I could do, or how I could spend my time that would be more useful. I tried to find something on the TV to distract me. I even tried to talk to some strangers online — but all they wanted to talk about was sex and I so can’t deal with that right now.
As I wrote yesterday, “I guess what I’m saying is that I feel lonely without Rick around, and I’m not sure what to do about it. I want to really connect with other people on a deep level, but I’m not sure how to do that. At the very least, I’m out of practice. How do adults make new friends?”
And I want to fall in love again and stay that way. I want to commit to one another and create a life together. But where the heck am I going to meet a guy? (And every time I think about that, my brain still says to me: a guy like Rick.)
So, I have been thinking about my situation, and I sort of realized that it is going to take some major engineering in order for me to meet some new people and have some new experiences. I need to get out there somehow. And I think I need my friends to help.
I put a post on Facebook about it and I got some great responses.
“Okay everyone, Crystal needs some fun and some changes. If you haven’t seen me in a while and you miss me, or you never got to know me very well, but you would like to get to know me better I am open, ready and available for deeper friendships with all who want to try. I’m interested in new experiences and great times. Let’s have some fun.”
31 great responses to be exact. So I have some plans — that’s a start. Some social engineering for myself. I think I need to meet some new people. I know I want to reconnect with my old friends. I also want to find a way to enjoy my alone time again — rather than just wanting to have Rick around. And I used to enjoy my alone time a lot. I would take myself to movies, out to eat, all sorts of things.
So, of course, the big question is how. How can I invest in, and deepen, my current friendships? How can I create new ones? Seriously, how do adults become friends? I know a lot of folks meet people at work, but what if it doesn’t work out and then you have to see that person at work every day? Ick.
Well, I want to go new places with new people and make new friends. New friends who know amazing single guys that they can set me up with. Well, eventually. I am so not ready for that yet. And I don’t want to put myself in the position.
Tuesday night I got to go on a walk with a new friend who already feels like an old friend. Last night I got a good dose of healing at a prayer meeting, And tonight I’m taking care of myself by drying fruit and grading papers — and going to bed really early.
This weekend I have a breakfast with an old friend, plans to get my nails done, and a ladies night in the mix. And tomorrow night I’m making dinner for my parents. I’m pretty excited. Which reminds me, I had better go make sure my apartment is as clean as I’d like it for my parents to visit. Here I go.
And I’m interested in any ideas you all have for new experiences and new people. I think I’m still itching for a small dose of adventure.
I have been working really hard for the past few years and a lot of my friendships have fallen away.
And a lot of them didn’t get to come back to life this past year because, between Rick, my family and my first year as a teacher, I didn’t make room for them.
Rick was my best friend this last year. That’s really the way I like it. I want to be best friends with my significant other. In fact, he was one of the few people outside my family that I spent much time with. It’s not like I was turning down social engagements left and right in order to hang out with him…that’s not how I roll. (Although, I did skip church on weeknights quite a bit to be with him.)
And honestly, being a first year teacher, I probably wouldn’t have seen much of anyone — besides my family — if he hadn’t been coming over to my house. ‘Cause no one else was coming over to my house, and I sure as heck didn’t have the energy or the time to go much of anywhere.
And last year (2013-2014), well I was in graduate school.
And the year(s) before that (2011-13), I was a working waitress. Which means that I worked most of the times that my friends were playing.
And the year before that (2011-2012) I was working two jobs to make enough money to pay off credit card debut and save up to start my own business.
Oh yeah, and then I started my own business in there somewhere too. And ran it.
So, for the last four or five years, my friendships have not been as deep as I might like. And I haven’t been spending as much time with my friends as I would like. And honestly, I had myself busy enough that for the most part I didn’t even notice.
I am lucky enough to have a couple of great friends living in the same apartment complex as me. (You rock, Dee, Cameo and Lauren — and now Annalise.) Without them I know for a fact I would not have been able to make it through the past few years. It would have been lonely-city for Crystal. And probably depressed-city too.
I can imagine slipping slowly into a lonely depression fueled by ice cream and bad TV that would have led me to start getting the proverbial lonely-woman cat companions. And I hate cats. Well, I don’t love them. And I’m allergic to them.
But I’m not even completely happy with those friendships, because I would like to be closer to those ladies as well.
And there is a deeper truth surrounding all of this too. Honestly, I think I have been a little scared to make new friends. I had a few weird friend things happen over the previous years that have made me a little gun-shy.
For a long time, I was investing in people who would ultimately leave. This goes as far back as 2005 when I was working at the Air Force base nearby. I’d get close to people, learn all their stories, meet their families, come to love them and spend a lot of time with them, and then they would get deployed or reassigned.
Suddenly, I’m alone on Friday nights and I have no one close to me. And, unfortunately, I have been awful at keeping up with long distance relationships. (BTW I miss you Kim.)
But the Air Force kiddos were not the only ones who left. A long list of them got married and then moved away. Or moved away and then got married. Or had babies and fell off the face of the earth. Or I started a friendship and it never quite materialized. That has happened a lot — I think because of how busy I have been in the past few years.
So, I maybe have developed some fears of, I don’t know, abandonment?
This gets even more tricky because, around 2009, I had a major life change. Or that’s when the change started. I’ve moved past the religion I was raised in. And as I’ve written in this blog, I’m not just Christian anymore. I’m really loathe to hang out with my Christian friends because I don’t want them to try to convert me. The truth is, I’ve been converted.
So that cut a lot of people out of the mix too.
I guess what I’m saying is that I feel lonely without Rick around, and I’m not sure what to do about it. I want to really connect with other people on a deep level, but I’m not sure how to do that. At the very least, I’m out of practice. And how do adults make new friends? I think I’ll leave this here for now and write a post about that for tomorrow.
I hope this is the beginning of a long life full of self-realization, joy and healing. As I have told you before, I believe that you deserve all good things. And I see you with them. I know because of some of your personal pain, and things in your past, that finding and enjoying some of those things will require some hard work. But I know you can do it. I see you doing it. And I see who you are when it is all done. And you are beautiful.
I see you.
I believe I see who you really are. The full, healthy, healed version of you that loves yourself and the world around you. The version of you that yearns and plans for the joys the future, and learns from the past. You’re a bright light and a wise soul that is waking up. I recognize it. I know from experience that waking up can be painful. But I also know that it is worth it. And I want to assure you of that at this point on your journey.
I see you.
I can see you going through the pain and allowing yourself to fully experience the light, joy and peace on the other side of the dark experiences. You will do the work. You must. You’re compelled and you feel it through all of the distractions – no matter how many you give yourself. You feel the pull. I see it.
I see you.
The Universe has a lot incredible things in store for you. I see some of them. It’s more than you can currently hope for or even imagine. So dream big. Many of the gifts, the Universe is holding out to you with anticipation, and just waiting for you to reach out and claim for yourself.
And you will. I believe – I have to believe – you will.
I see you.
I have seen you on the edge of your darkness, looking out for the possibilities that you feel are there. But afraid – not quite seeing the outline of the shore you are hoping for – that if you pursue them, you may not be able to reach them. But I want you to know it’s safe to jump in. You’ll have to kick. You’ll have to pull. You’ll be tired and feel out of breath at times. But the shore is there and you are getting stronger as you swim for it. I see you on that bright shore.
I see you.
Up until this point you have been afraid to let go of the pain. It’s been there so long. It has defined so much of who you have believed yourself to be up until this point. But it isn’t who you are. You are an ancient, a sage. You are one of our teachers. One of the gentle souls that can heal others just by being who you are meant to be. You hold truth that can touch us all.
I see you.
I have told you these things before and you have said, “I hope that’s true.” This is my urge to you not to stop at hope, but to believe. Believe it. And do the work as if you believe it is already true. Because you deserve it all.
I see you.
You have asked me to let you go, and I am doing that work in the knowledge that the Universe has amazing things for both you and me – whether we create them together or find them on our own. I trust that you will go, do the work, and create something beautiful for yourself. Something strong and joyful that you are immensely proud of. As I leave you, I assure you that I will do the same. The things I gave you while we were together, I gave fully and they are yours to keep. What you gave me, I accepted fully and I will keep it close to my heart.
I see you.
I see you happy, and light and smiling. I see you feeling your purpose and knowing that you are fulfilling it a little at a time each day. I see you calm and wise and taking care of yourself and others. I see you easing the pain of others and teaching compassion easily wherever you go. I see you creating amazing things easily. Things that will outlast us all and continue burning and moving and growing long after you have set them to spark, to spin, to seed.
I see you.
A friend of mine with some first-hand experience with alcoholism – his dad was an alcoholic—mentioned that my situation sounds like my alcoholic using a new relationship as a drug. He’s not the only one who has mentioned that.
He and I were e-mailing about it over the last few days and here is one of my responses that he called, “one of the most beautifully cohesive incohesive things,” he had ever read. And it pretty much sums it up, so here you go:
Yeah, I think that’s what’s going on – the “new person as a drug” thing. And I hope it isn’t what’s going on because I don’t want him to postpone his recovery. But I hope it is what’s going on because then he doesn’t really care about her more than me – he is just using her. But I hope that isn’t true because he is better than that.
But maybe he isn’t really better than that, I just think he is and I’ve been deluded this entire time. Ugh.
And topping it all off is my jealousy and hurt.
And maybe she is an incredible person and they will help each other get and be sober, and they will develop a deep and abiding love. And on some levels I totally want that, because I want the best for him. But I also want it to fall spectacularly apart and become this incendiary thing that shows him how incredible I am and makes him want me instead. (And maybe burns his eyebrows off.)
But also, at this point I don’t know if I want the relationship back the way it was. He was improving and that was exciting and I was happy. But if he could do this, then he probably isn’t as healthy as I thought. And probably not as healthy as I want and need to have the fully-realized relationship that I want. That’s so hard to write because I really was incredibly happy.
And I really do want him back. All of the incredible things about him that I got to share and experience this past year. But I also want more out of a relationship. And truthfully out of myself. I was worn out and weary frequently over the past year – as a result of being burned out pretty fully during grad school the year before. I wasn’t planning for the future as much as I would have liked. I was tired and resting…resting in him to be specific.
And I want the version of him that I see the Universe begging him to be. The sober, happy, ready-to-move-on-and-create-something-beautiful Rick. And I feel like he is so close to being that. Like six months of hard work and love away. And if that’s the case I want him to come find me and woo me like crazy in six months.
Unless, of course, I’m completely in love and ready to marry the man of my dreams. Oh the dilemmas of my imagination.
And maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it is going to take him ten more years before he’s fully capable of experiencing life on the level that I am. So then it’s better if I’m free. I just don’t want that to be true because I want him to be happy whole and full of life. And I want to be right. And I want to be with him.