bunt sign

Thursday, July 13, 2000

I'm trying not to lapse into bad habits, but when I feel a little down, the easiest cure is to do something I've sworn not to do. Usually it's junk food, which I know is best avoided if I want to maintain my tenuous grip on physical well-being. Sometimes it's alcohol, which I should steer clear of, especially when I'm alone (as I am most of the time). And I should never give in to too deep an examination of my own life, because I never come out of that exercise feeling better about myself. When I look into my mind, I don't see the confident, competent person I try to project.

My nature is to be reserved and withdrawn, and even though I know I should take steps to get out into the world more, I don't know of any way to force myself to do it. The older I get, the easier it is to realize that this is something about myself that just isn't going to change. And, frankly, the easier it is to justify it. I've seen the record of failed attempts get longer as the years have gone by, and I know the toll these failures have taken on me.

What I want out of life has changed. I had modest dreams once. Growing up, I never thought that I would spend most of my life living alone. I didn't think making friends would stay as hard as it was then. I thought I'd overcome the awkwardness, the stammering, the embarrassment I felt every time I was asked to speak up because no one could hear me. At twenty, I thought, "At least I'm only twenty." At thirty, I thought, "There's still time." Some time in the succeeding years I lost that sense of possibility and replaced it with acceptance.

My dream is no longer to become someone, or to get something. Now I know that I'll never be the party guy. I'll never be at ease in large groups of strangers, or even large groups of acquaintances. I'll never be the center of anyone's world, and I'll never be the person people seek out to be with. If there's a crowd, I'll be on the fringe of it, or in the next room (or the next county). In public places I always have to find a wall to stand against, because I feel too exposed in the middle of the room. Even if I'm with only two other people, the conversation will be between them, and I'll be the barely-acknowledged ghostly presence. It's no reflection on anyone else; it's all on me.

And I know I'll never be rich, or famous, or smart enough to make myself rich and famous. I'll never be brave enough or confident enough to make a life-changing decision. I'll continue to settle for a job I don't particularly like, because it's easier to trudge along in the ditch than to climb up and find the road. Who knows where that road leads, after all? I could get run over up there. Down here it might be muddy and dark, but at least I don't have to face those demons. If the path is worn and narrow, I just have to follow it. I don't get to decide which direction to take, but at least I don't have to decide which direction to take. There's only one direction, and the only destination is the end, or as far as I can make it.

I bought ice cream at the store tonight.

No, that's not a non sequitur. It's really what I started to write about. I was going to talk about how it's no good for me to make a resolution, because I can always find some reason to break it. All it takes is for me to start feeling down, and I've given myself whatever excuse I was looking for to lapse into bad habits.

I've mentioned before that about ten years ago, I lost forty pounds. I went from 175 to 135 in a few months. I was sitting alone, waiting for a friend, when I could suddenly feel the roll around my middle. It took me two weeks more to start dieting, but I stayed with it and kept all but about five pounds of that weight off for six or seven years. Gradually, I gained another ten, and then a little more.

In February of this year, I started feeling that extra weight again, and I put myself on a strict diet. I had two Slim-Fast shakes and one meal per day, and that's all. As long as I didn't slip even once, I wasn't tempted to indulge my appetite. It worked, I lost the twenty pounds I wanted to lose, and then the next thing I lost was the discipline to keep up the regimen.

I'm feeling sloppy and lumpy again, but I just don't have it in me right now to resume my diet. I know I should, but I've been struck down by the blues, and when that happens what I want is more food, not less. Worse food, not better. I haven't sunk so low that I've gone on the all-doughnut diet yet, but I did buy that ice cream tonight, and I also managed somehow to acquire a tub o' cookies. And an eighteen-pack of cheap beer.

So I'll pig out for a week or two, trying to lose the blues, until this stuff is gone. Then, I promise, I'll start the diet again. I'll eat fruits and vegetables until my eyes and ears bleed, if that's what it takes to make my body feel fit for human habitation.

Beyond that, I won't make any promises. I don't know if I'll feel like making other changes that might make me happier with my life. Probably the first thing I should promise myself is never to read the first half of this entry again. It's a pretty accurate picture of how I feel tonight, but it isn't necessarily the whole picture. My dreams may be more modest than they were when I was twenty, but every so often I take a peek out of that ditch and think that maybe, just maybe, I should make a run for the other side of the highway. For now, even a peek is a leap forward from where I've been most of today.

Two flavors of Dreyer's Dreamery, actually: Galactic Chocolate Swirl, and Sticky Bun.

previousbunt signemailnext

Latest recommendation:

SecraTerri, FootNotes, July 13, Drinking My Lunch

Other recent recommendations can be found on the links page.
Subscribe to the notify list.

My body's aching and my time is at hand,
And I won't make it any other way.