Revenge body

As part of my attempt to reclaim myself once again, I’ve returned to crossfit after being MIA for approximately one year. I had always read about other people’s experience with crossfit and they’re declarations of how it “saved my life” and other such testimonials. They were down on their luck, lost a loved one, depressed, obese, you name it.

When I was in the thick of my divorce haze, lost and wandering aimlessly from one day to the next, I wanted to be one of those people. I wanted it to keep me on track, give me a reason to get up in the morning, make me want to take care of myself like everyone was telling me to do. I wanted it to be my religion.

Basically, I wanted it to save me.

It didn’t. Plain and simple, it really didn’t. If anything, it became one more thing that I was failing to do well. Up until the Thanksgiving before everything disintegrated in my marriage, I had been pretty regular and worked hard enough to feel good about it. I looked forward to going, not only for the workouts but for the people that I saw and talked to. It was a sense of community that was all mine and I loved the feeling. I was never a truly committed crossfitter, eating strictly Paleo and working on my kipping pull-ups while I kept track of my time on Fran with determination to beat it, but I was “good enough”.  Enough to keep me coming back with the intention of someday getting better at some of the challenges or lifting heavier. I may not have been achieving washboard abs or a killer muscle up, but I was happy.

When my world turned sideways at that time, nothing looked or felt the same. The things that brought me joy, made me happy and feeling like I was accomplishing something each day, all seemed to melt into the background. There was a fuzzy haze surrounding my brain, making even the simple things overwhelming.

I couldn’t do the math.

It hit me one day as I slogged through a set of lifts, and realized that I could not figure out the weight percentages, or remember how many reps I had done. I just stared at the bar, and then at my phone app, willing them to tell me the answers. The math, simple fifth grade style math, was suddenly more than my brain would allow. It wasn’t just irritating, it was disappointing and depressing. I was trying so hard to focus, to take my mind off of my “real life” and escape for only one hour, and it was all remaining a blurry mess.

I went home and cried. Then I sent an email telling my trainer that I needed to take some time off and would hopefully be back in time for summer. I was gone for a year.

I worked on myself from the inside out during that year. First being turned inside out from the ugliness of my divorce and dealing with the deep depression that I could no longer ignore. Then, when I could think more clearly after the divorce was final, and I had moved into my own home, I was ready to go back and try it again.

I was more than ready this time, I was excited. I was looking forward to finding “me” once again. And that “me” loved crossfit, and the people in my gym, and the friends that accepted me as the “worlds okayest crossfitter” (I have the t-shirt to prove it) I was ready to do the math. And I was ready to do my best, to commit to the process, and just bring the best version of myself to the gym. No judgement, no expectations. I just wanted to be in my happy place.

The funny thing is how some people have perceived my intentions to return to crossfit. On a few occasions I’ve heard the comment, “oh you’re working on your revenge body”. My ‘revenge body’? I find that an odd way to describe my reasons for going back.

I have thought back to the times, many times in fact, that I worked my ass off to look good for my ex-husband over the years. Honestly, I don’t think I ever really did it for myself over the last twenty years. I told myself that I was at the time, but deep down there was more at stake. I was always hoping that if I could somehow be more of what he wanted, (mentally, socially and physically) our relationship would improve.

Maybe I just wasn’t sexy enough?

Maybe I was letting myself go and didn’t even realize it?

I did Atkins for over a year, lost twenty pounds and fielded compliments from various people – friends, family, neighbors – making me feel great about myself. I had to buy new clothes to fit my slimmer figure, I had more energy, and I thought I was on the right track to reclaiming that girl that he was attracted to years before. It went mostly unnoticed.

Other times I have worked my ass off doing bootcamp classes, running 5k and 10k races, keeping a diligent food diary and eating low carb – just to look good for someone who rarely ever made plans for a “date night” with me, much less took any real notice of my changing body or the effort I put into it. I was part of the scenery.

The last time that I worked diligently to be the best physical version of myself was before the spring that he was offered his latest promotion. We went on a spring break family vacation that coincided with his company convention for a week. I even went out and bought a stunning navy lace dress, the clerk said it fit me like it was made for me, just to wow him at the opening cocktail party, so sure that he would be blown away by my transformation from frumpy housewife to hot sexy wife that he would want to cut out early just to have hot hotel sex with me.

Instead, he barely remembered to introduce me at the cocktail party (as usual) and left me to my own devices over dinner, sitting at the opposite end of the table, to help him entertain his clients that attended. I smiled, made conversation to keep clients entertained, and did my supportive spousal duty for the duration of the night. And later that evening, when I asked him if he was ready to go upstairs to our room, he chose to stay in the hotel patio area drinking with his colleagues and clients until 2am.

I went up to our hotel room alone. Once again.

The remainder of the week was pretty much more of the same. The kids and I were an accessory for his trip, part of the window dressing for his many colleagues and clients to appreciate him as a family man. Nothing more.

So, a revenge body is not what I am going for by any stretch of the imagination. What revenge would I enjoy with a rockin’ hot body now that we’re divorced? I’ve had that body more often than I care to remember during our marriage, and it didn’t make a single ripple in our relationship. It didn’t bring me any more satisfaction, or love, than my regular body did. If anything, it made me more miserable because nothing really changed. All of that work, all of that effort, and nothing really changed in the end.

I had tried to do it for someone other than myself most times, assuming that I would reap the benefits, he would finally love me the way I truly wanted him to love me.

He would see me, notice me, appreciate me. But he never did.

Not this time. This time I am doing it all for myself, without worrying about who will notice or appreciate the work that I put in to get there. There is no one I am trying to impress, to lure, to attract. It makes me happy, that’s my only goal. I plan my days around my workouts now, I look forward to them and to seeing the friends I have there. I am ready to be the best version of myself for myself.

This time, it is only about me. And maybe that is the best revenge?

 

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Every day memories

We tend to wait for special days, holidays, family celebrations to pull out the fancy stuff, the expensive things. Sometimes there may be a feeling, niggling in the back of our mind, that maybe whatever we are doing just isn’t “special” enough to celebrate with the good stuff, would our mothers or grandmothers approve? So we resort to our everyday basics, saving the good dishes/linens/crystal for the truly special times. A better suited time.

But too often, a better time only happens once in a blue moon, or sometimes not at all. This is not a post about “life is too short”, not really. But it is something to consider, to remind ourselves, and something that I’ve been leaving myself open to recently.

According to various studies – and my therapist – there are about four or five highly stressful experiences in life that are common to most people:

  • marriage, divorce, death, buying a house and losing your job.

I’ve covered a few of those over the past year. A couple were even at the same time!

2016 was not my friend.

But now that I’ve come out on the other side of it all, my world has come into sharper focus. Colors are brighter, smells are stronger, the whole world is more vibrant and pulsating with possibility. I feel lighter, happier, full of appreciation. Fully aware.

I feel as if I’ve been reborn some days, as cliche as that sounds.

I appreciate so many things, everyday things, so much more now. I feel comfortable in my own skin once again, and it’s been a very long time since I could honestly say that. And this new attitude, or awareness, has led me to see my life and how I live it in a whole new light. I’ve started to let go of a lot of the usual expectations and instead have  decided to let the tide take me where it wants. It’s not giving up the fight so much as it is just not fighting the magnetic pull any longer. Following my heart, giving myself permission to not ask for permission, being open to more. Finding the joy.

Listening to my soul.

So, with this new enlightenment, I’ve drifted away from conventional ideas of only celebrating when it’s the “right time”. Everyday is the right time if you reframe it in your own mind. It’s your experience, and your chance to make memories any way you like.

After moving into my house, my first ever all-my-own house, I was putting away the dishes, glassware, the pots and pans, and I noticed how much I love my china. I kept it for this very reason, after considering the idea to give it away or even leaving it behind, fearing that bringing it into my new home would only be an ugly reminder of a twenty year mistake, but for some reason I just couldn’t let it go.

I chose the pattern twenty years ago because it spoke to me, it gave me a warm feeling deep inside, and twenty years later it still does. Oddly, it didn’t remind me of our wedding, or the broken promises and disappointments that I’ve encountered over that time, instead it reminded me of family dinners and Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sitting at a big table with a group of happy, smiling people, that I love with my whole heart, laughing and enjoying each other. Special days. Days filled with love and joy and thanks.

And then a thought occurred to me, why should’t I feel that way every day?

Why do we have to wait until November or December, or a birthday or a graduation, to feel that warmth inside and appreciate the closeness that creates happy memories? Everyday that you gather around a table with your dearest loved ones, and maybe even a friend or two, is a special day. If you’re honest with yourself, you never know how many of these you will get over the course of your lifetime, why not appreciate them all?

So, instead of putting the fine china away in a cabinet somewhere “safe” to be retrieved for a special occasion, I put the entire set in my kitchen where my everyday dishes “should” go. My kids questioned my placement, almost panicked, asking what we would eat dinner off of on Tuesday night without “regular” dishes.

And then I unpacked the crystal and did the same thing.

I will no longer drink wine out of the “everyday” wine glasses, much as I love them too, only saving my crystal for a special occasion or “company”. Instead I will celebrate every sip of cheap red wine in my beautiful crystal glasses and feel special each time.

I will pour wine (maybe a better grade if you’re lucky that day) into the same glasses for my friends and family, and serve them my famous meatballs on the same fine china when they come to visit, too. Appreciating the moment, the shared experience, without worry about chipped dishes or broken glasses stressing me out, but instead relishing the happy memories being made out of our every day life.

I would love to know that when I die, while my children are cleaning out my house, they will come across the china and crystal and any other “special” things I’ve acquired along the way, and be able to say “remember how we ate off of this china every day in mom’s house while we were growing up? Just sitting at our wooden barn door table in the kitchen, eating spaghetti or meatloaf, and drinking wine or milk or whatever, but we ate it off of the china and drank out of our crystal glasses…on a Wednesday!” I want them to treasure those china plates and crystal glasses for the shared warmth of memories that have been etched into them. I want them to have everyday memories of us as a happy, loving family.

Happy memories without a special date attached. Happy just because. Every day memories of living our lives fully, and connected. Sharing love and laughter.

Just every day memories that make us special to each other.

 

 

Officially official

Our divorce is officially final, our court date was scheduled right before Christmas (it came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes or bags!) the gift that keeps on giving.

Who could ask for more?

Standing before a judge, seated high in his chair behind a big desk, in a small courtroom with what appeared to be pews behind us – I know that they weren’t, but it still had somewhat of a church quality about the whole thing – we were now declaring that our marriage was officially over. We were asking permission to get divorced.

Permission.

The last time we stood before someone in a robe on an elevated altar, and made a promise, was the day we were married over twenty years ago. A declaration witnessed by our family and friends, sitting in pews. I couldn’t help but notice the comparison, the irony of it all.

My soon to be ex-husband stood on the other side of our two lawyers, staring stoically toward the bench, but with an emotional look on his face. Eyes tearing up, a look of fighting back emotions, trying not to cry?

Not me.

I answered the questions with a firm voice, head held high, confident. This was not the time to replay the happiest moments of our past lives together, in a slow motion Kodak commercial. This was not the time to mourn the severing of our bond, to express regret. That time had passed, the moment was gone. It was officially too late.

We walked out separately from the courtroom, my ex took a seat in the lobby area. I said my goodbyes to my attorney, thanked her, turned on my heel and left. I didn’t cross over to say goodbye to him, or exchange a look to connect. I felt a twinge, an almost magnetic pull towards him out of habit, but I ignored it. Nobody gave me the rule book, or the “etiquette of exiting divorce proceedings”, beforehand.

Should we shake hands? Hug? Such an awkward moment.

Oddly, it felt good to walk out of the courthouse that day. I felt lighter. Happier. The sun was shining brighter, the world came back into focus. I could breathe. Suddenly, there was promise of better days. A sense of freedom. Relief. Is this how it’s supposed to feel?

Probably not.

As I drove away, I turned the radio up and smiled, heading down the road to my new life. An open road on all sides. It was mine now, completely mine.

 

Right kind of happy

I can’t help but replay so many things over and over again in my mind; memories, conversations, sweet moments from the last twenty plus years of our life together. Some days they barely cross my mind, I keep busy with the day before me and the demands of my regular life, but most days they invade my space like a dark shadow creeping in behind me. We were happy once, weren’t we?

It’s hard not to look back and wonder. Question. When did it begin to crumble? Was it always this way and we chose not to see it? Were we clinging to an ideal that we thought we could create, when in reality it was never meant to be? Were we ever, ever truly happy?

I have to believe that we were happy in the beginning, and at many points along the way, but was it the right kind of happy? I’d have to say no, it wasn’t.

It was happy to fit with someone else, happy to belong to the crowd of pairs surrounding us, happy to find someone out there that wanted the same things out of life and had similar dreams for the future that we could work towards together. 

The happiness we had was more like finding that great job. The position is one you dreamed of, the pay is good with hope for a better future. You get along with the boss and the people in the office, so each day gives you something to look forward to. But you don’t “love” the job, it’s a good fit and it gets you what you want out of life. It’s not always ideal, but it also doesn’t suck. You’re happy, for the most part. It will have its rough days, but it will pay off in the end.

But we were missing something. We weren’t completely, perfectly matched. We negotiated, made sacrifices and plotted our course together the best we could. But it became more difficult with each change and each move. It was no longer the great job we had expected, it was becoming “just a job”, with no real return on our investment of time and resources. We were trudging along, waiting for that “big promotion” that would bring us back to that excitement of our first days. Hoping that it would get better in a new location or with new experiences. Starting over again and again, only to realize that we had basically made a lateral move with a few new perks.