Sunday, August 11, 2013

Two Steps; or, Unlearning

This week was a tough one. As is so obvious, it almost does not need to be said, change is hard. When faced with the same set of circumstances it is likely that we will respond to them the same way each and every time. I did that this week. I had a minor emotional setback when I learned that some people, who were not very nice to me, and, in fact, cost me on so many levels as to remain forever uncountable (especially emotionally & professionally), were living  by all accounts a happy ending on par with fairy tales and Disney films.

I don't really know why people do what they do; every time I feel I have finally figured out human motive, people do things that I cannot figure out at all. This week a woman I went to graduate school sent me an email (out of blue, we are not friends) updating me on people from my past. It read as an indictment of my past mistakes. And, buried in the middle was a little nugget of gossip that brought back worlds of pain and humiliation. I was overwhelmed, struggling, and finally went under. At the core was jealousy and bewilderment that someone could feel the need to send me an email that was essentially salt on an old wound. A salty shower that felt intentional.

The pain was only part of this story. It was my reaction that is the topic here. You see, I am not living my ideal life. I am struggling with money, health, and happiness. A quicksand of depression that does not need stoking by past "frenemies." I could not control the message, but I lost control of the even the things within my grasp in the way I responded. I fell back on my standard coping strategies: Eating and spending money. Coping strategies that have in some sense led me to be in the situation I am so desperately fighting to get out of. At the end of the week I am two steps backwards from where I was a week ago. Money carefully hoarded is spent, and spent in ways that cannot be undone. Healthy eating and exercise were abandoned and replaced with the emptiest of calories masquerading as comfort.

But really, while for a few days the binge-fest numbed me to my pain, it didn't solve anything. The marriage of a past flame to his mistress was not undone. My life didn't improve. Past wrongs remain wrong, past wounds are still scars, all is as before. Except my little nest egg is smaller, my road to health and exercise a little longer. This lesson to control my world in the face of emotional attack is a hard one. One that is more about unlearning a lifetime of using food and money to numb me to the world rather than just dealing with the pain, than it is about change.  This lesson is important because I cannot predict what people will do, but I can control how I respond to them.

Oh, and I can delete emails, instead of reading them. 

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