And the Resentments Just Keep on Coming

When I was doing my step work, I remember writing letter after letter after letter about how and when I was “wronged” and how I felt about it.  As with most people, that was probably the most cathartic work I’ve ever done (the jury is still out on the sexual abuse therapy).  Pouring all of that out onto a page and then talking about it with my sponsor was liberating.  I gained so much freedom during that time.  I was cleansed.

What I didn’t realize was that the work of dealing with resentments is an ongoing thing.  Step work is meant to help you heal and also to give you the tools that help you live in the world without the crutch of alcohol.  (I almost typed “like normal people” in that sentence until I realized that nothing could be further from the truth…everyone deals with this shit.)  I think that’s why people go through the steps many times in the program.  The work is never really finished.  Life goes on and we go on with it.

I’m thinking about all of this because I’m dealing with a whole heap of resentment that has spent the better part of the last year rolling around in my head and belly and making me sick AND I don’t know what to do about it.  Unlike my former resentments, this individual is still alive and on the fringe of my life.  I see her and speak with her from time to time and every damn time it feels like a knife in my gut.

I’ve prayed about this – a lot.  I’ve discussed it with the hubs and the boys and my daughter and I still can’t seem to let it go.  I’ve written emails pouring out my feelings only to delete them all before hitting send.  I thought just by writing it down I’d be able to release it into the universe and let it go.

Not so much.

Here’s why I’m struggling.  Old Sherry would have had no trouble calling a “meeting” and talking about it woman to woman, face to face.  I’d spill the venom all over her and then wait for my apology.  If it came, great, we could repair our relationship.  If not, good riddance to bad rubbish.  I didn’t care if it hurt the other person because I knew how healthy it was to clear the air and confront my issues head on.  If we couldn’t do this then we didn’t need to be friends anyway.

Yeah…I know.

I never stopped to think that, perhaps, the pain I was inflicting was exponentially greater than the pain I was feeling.  I never stopped to think if the carnage and collateral damage was really worth the price of my uncensored honesty.  I just knew that I was in pain and, being a balls to the wall bad ass, I had to confront it and drive it from my soul.

But now…hmmm…now I’m in recovery.  Now I’m learning that feelings are just feelings and they should be honored within my soul rather than banished (read…stuffed down).  Now I’m learning to weigh the cost of bringing this issue from May of last year into the light of this slushy, cold February.  What purpose would it serve?  She’s not even aware that the issue exists and she’s happy – why in the world would I ruin that?  Shouldn’t I be the bigger person and let it go?  Why do I feel like talking about this with her would be akin to punishment?  Do I want to punish her?

No…I don’t want to punish her.  I don’t even think I want an apology because apologies are hollow unless filled with the why.  What I want is to know why.  Why did you behave this way?  Why did you hurt me?  Was I being punished?

What I do know is that I’m sick to death of thinking about it.  Sick to death of it creeping it’s way into my head and making me cry.  Sick to death of dealing with an issue that, on the surface looks petty and unimportant but in my heart feels like a lead weight that is tethering me to the past and won’t let me go.

Being a grownup sucks sometimes.  When I was a little girl and my feelings were hurt, I would go to the offender and say, “You hurt my feelings.”  Then that person would say, “I’m sorry.”  I’d say, “Okay, you want to play?”  And just like that, we’d move on.

I would really like to move on.

Namaste

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A Magic Wand

While on the way to work this morning, the local radio station I listen to posed this question to its listeners…”If you had a magic wand and could change one thing about your significant other, what would it be?”

Rather than listen to the calls, I (being the glutton for punishment that I am) turned down the radio, turned to the hubs and asked him, “So…what would you change about me?”

Every man reading this is now saying, “NOOOOOOO do not answer!!!!  It’s a trick!  Go back!”

But my hubs has been on the planet and lived with me long enough to know exactly how to respond.  Begin with clarification.

“Is this what I would want to change about you or what you would want changed about you?”

But I am not so easy.

“Either.”

To which he wisely responded, “Well, there’s absolutely nothing I would change about you because I think you are perfect.  But if I could change something about you to make you happy, I would remove the excess weight you worry about because I know how much it bothers you.”

Dude’s good.

Then he said, “Isn’t that what you’d do if you had that magic wand for yourself?”

I started to reply, “Hell yeah!” but instead I paused because when given all that power and only one wish for myself I want it to be the right one.  So I looked at him for a moment and said that no…that’s not what I’d wish for.

I would wish for peace of mind.  I would wish for the ability to accept myself the way I am and for who I am inside.  I would wish for the ability to see myself the way he, and everyone else who loves me, sees me. 

Because it’s really not about the weight.  Sure, it’s about health but it’s more about just feeling good about who I am and how I’m perceived by the outside world.  For some reason it still matters to me and that is more troublesome than this excess weight will ever be.  And do you know how I know that?  Because when I WAS thin I didn’t know I was.  I was always obsessing and worrying and talking about my fucking weight.  It was always on my mind.  So waving a magic wand is not going to get to the root of why this weight bothers me so much.  It’s not going to give the the peace I so desperately seek.

I grew up with a mother who taught me that we are how we appear and that smoke and mirrors were better than substance any day.  She taught me to judge people based on their appearance and that if they were overweight (which she was every day of her life) then they were lazy and sloppy and not as good as us.  Wait…what?

Danger Will Robinson…that does not compute!  (Most of you won’t get that TV reference.  It’s an old thing I assure you.)

So even though I’ve grown past that kind of thinking when it comes to others, I still think it about myself AND I believe that others see me that way as well.  So I’m embarrassed that I look this way.  Humiliated to be seen in the “plus” size section of the stores.  Reluctant to invest any time or energy into my wardrobe because really…what’s the point?  I’ll wait until I’m “skinny” again and then all will be right with the world.  Like the tag in the back of my jeans tells the world what kind of person I am.

Bull-fucking-shit.

I am well aware that society has a predjudice against those of us carrying some extra pounds (check out airline seats if you don’t believe me) and that there are people in the world who do judge other by what’s on the outside but they aren’t the kind of people I would hang around with ANYWAY.  So why do I give a flying rat’s ass what they think? 

Because it’s how I was programmed.  I’m not hard-wired that way but I’ve been loaded with faulty software that now has to be uninstalled.  A complete reimaging (pun intended) is in order.

One thing recovery has taught me is to question everything that is instinctual to me.  That most of what I was conditioned to believe as a child is crap and that it fucked with my head royally.  That issues I uncover can seldom be fixed from the outside and that I must dig deep, turn over rocks and pick at some old scabs to get to the root of the problem and start the healing process.  This is no different.  This issue is not going to be fixed with my April challenge, a new diet, a new hairdo, more exercise, a better mirror or a magic wand.  The only thing that’s going to change this is hard work on the inside.

It may be time to seek some outside help.  I think I’m coming to a real turning point in my recovery.  It feels like I’m ready to make some real strides in my mental health and well being.  I’m not sure how that’s going to happen but this feels like the right path.  Making this decision feels like…an exhale.  Like a “Finally…I can move forward.”

Namaste

Me Through the Decades

From the first moment that Cinderella tells little girls that we need a man and his money to save us (although I’ll say this, Cindy worked her ass off), to the barrage of ads and articles in Vogue, Glamour, Cosmo and other “women’s” magazines that bombard us with examples of how we should be rather than who we are (or have the potential to become), we are led to believe that something in us is missing.  That we’re not perfect just the way we are.  That we need to change.

Batshit.

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s during the Women’s Liberation Movement (yes…it was a thing…a very important thing and it deserves its capital letters).  The Movement told me that I could be anything I wanted to be…which was good.  They also told me that Disney was trying to keep women in their “place” with their spanking clean fairytales of Princes and happily-ever-afters.  Then they told me (well…not me, I was only a kid) to burn my bra and let the girls hang free.  They ALSO told me that the work world had a glass ceiling which meant I’d never make it in a man’s world without a fight.  This was very confusing to young me since I really, really liked the concept of happily ever after, the women on TV shouting and burning their bras were very scary, and no office had glass ceilings or you’d be able to see up every girl’s dress which the nuns at St. Thomas Moore told us was a no-no.

I did, however, take away some very good lessons.  I learned that just because it had never been done by a woman didn’t mean I couldn’t do it if I wanted to do it.  But what if I didn’t want to do it?  What if I had something more, um…traditional in mind?  Well then I should do it anyway…you know…for the good of women everywhere.  It was my job to break down doors and bust through barriers for womankind all over the world.  I was a trailblazer!  No pressure.

Just for the record?  I never burned my bra.  No one was ready for that nonsense.

I spent the 80’s denying what I wanted out of life and what my gut told me I should be doing.  WAAAAAAY down deep (way, way down deep…did I mention it was way, way, way down deep), I wanted to be a mom first and an English Literature teacher second.  I wanted to create the kind of home I’d always dreamed I’d have and make high school kids love literature the way I did.  That didn’t happen.  I took a job in the banking industry because it was a man’s world (while teaching was women’s work) and I vowed never to have children because it would get in the way of my career and I’d probably just fuck them up the way my parents did me.  So I would take one for the team.  What did I know?  I was just a snot nosed twenty something who thought she knew everything and was going to set the world on fire one man at a time.  Hey…I earned that “FemiNazi” nickname! (And the “Funnelface” one but that’s another post entirely.)

Then the 90’s came around and all of a sudden I was in my 30’s, and a kinder, gentler woman emerged.  I had children and began questioning my career choice, finally settling on teaching within the banking world.  That’s about when my confidence headed south along with my ass and my breasts.  I had children and became the best mom ever (I have a mug AND a t-shirt that says so) but I was starting to think that being a mom and having a career wasn’t going to work (pun intended).  My job required travel but how could I be a good mom if I traveled so much?  The stay at home group said I was the devil incarnate and that my children were going to grow up to be neurotics who would prey on the normal people in their Stepford neighborhoods and torture guinea pigs while sucking the life out of the Maytag repairman with their tales of how bad their mama treated them.  The career women wondered why I refused to travel on my children’s birthdays and questioned my commitment to a job I was only doing until the Lottery Gods finally decided it was my turn to win.  Oh…and by the way, Vogue and Glamour and Cosmo said I was fat and my clothes were ugly and that I shold give it up anyway, 30 somethings were so last week!

Finally my forties arrived and while it was a tough time for me (my drinking got really bad then and my own mother – living with us at the time – tried to kill me by just being herself), it was also the time I started to question those “other women” and so called “friends” who were constantly giving me advice about my life. 

Let’s start with all of the women who, because they couldn’t figure out how to do it all, thought I couldn’t either and had the balls to say so!  Like my stay at home mom “friends” who were frustrated by talking to kids all day and secretly wondered if their husbands were sleeping around because they were BORING and therefore found joy in tearing me down because I had a life outside the home. 

“I am so sorry you HAVE to work…that must be awful.”  Well no…I actually really love my job and oh…are those the same yoga pants you had on yesterday? 

“But what will the kids do when you travel?  How will they manage?”  Well they have a father and my mother lives with us so I’m sure they’ll muddle through somehow and how come your kids are always eating at my house…oh that’s right YOU DON’T COOK even though you’re HOME ALL DAY. 

All the while I was feeling guiltier and guiltier about not being there for them, even though they were happy, well adjusted kids who everyone loved and got great grades.  The truth is that I would have LOVED to stay home and be boring (no really…I would have) but I couldn’t because WE COULDN’T AFFORD IT so give me a fucking break and back the hell off.

Then there were my career women “friends” who hated to be at home because their kids were brats and their husbands were assholes so they threw themselves into their work and made their co-workers miserable instead of their family.  THEY decided it was a good idea to question my devotion to my job because I actually liked spending time with my family and would do anything to be with them more.  How about you lighten up a little and pull that Blackberry out of your ass and lend some support to your fellow women rather than tearing them down?

Oh and by the way, now Vogue and Glamour and Cosmo said I was really fat and my clothes were still ugly and I was peri menopausal and cranky and I couldn’t remember how far to tighten my bras because I didn’t know where the girls were supposed to be on my chests and my shorts had to be worn down to my knees otherwise my ass cheeks were peeking out.  (And you wonder why I was cranky.)

But now?  Now I’m in my fifties.  I am through menopause, sober and guess what…I don’t give a Jack Keebler what anybody thinks.  I love my job and I love my family and I love being sober.  I’m softer and squishier than I used to be and my kids could care less.  My husband still thinks I’m sexy.  My grandchildren like me this way (“I love you Grandma Sherry…you’re soft.”).  Vogue and Glamour and Cosmo still say I’m fat (as well as that damn nurse in the doctor’s office) but I’m more concerned about not dying like my mother than whether or not I’ve got a thigh gap. (Really?  With all the problems in the world we’re not focused on daylight between our thighs?)  Besides…I cancelled all of those subscriptions years ago.  They could say what they want about me but I’ll be damned if I was going to pay for the priviledge!

I’m looking forward to my sixties.  I don’t care if they are the new 40’s or 30’s or what-the-hell-ever, for me they’ll just be my sixties. I’m also looking forward to another round of bigger and better “I don’t give a fucks.”

Namaste