Safety Pins And Scotch Tape
“Mom, why are you always so stressed out?!” Dylan huffed at me one day. He was in the fifth grade and I had snapped at him when he asked for a ride to a friend’s house.
“I’m not ALWAYS stressed out,” I shot back, “I just have things to do other than shuttle you around all day. I have a life you know!”
It was just a five-minute ride down the hill.
Dylan was right I had become increasingly edgy. In my heart I wanted to be Carol Brady, smiling sweetly at my kids' mishaps while offering a warm cup of cocoa and a hug after a hard day at school, but more often than not, what was coming out of my mouth was more like Rosanne Connor, “suck it up deal kid because life is hard.”
But why? If I were to believe my own Facebook posts, I was a forty-four-year-old woman, happily married to a rock and roll insurance agent who owned a thriving business. A mom of two adorable kids, who was fulfilling her dream as a health coach. We were financially stable, lived in a comfortable home, our families were healthy, we traveled to tropical places and enjoyed premium seats at major sporting events. Not to mention I had the luxury of playing tennis every day, and had one hell of a shoe collection. My life seemed pretty perfect so what did I have to be so stressed out about?
Keeping that illusion alive. That’s what.
At that time I was unaware of my rapidly growing eating disorder, mostly because I was so focused on the secret that continued to plague my heart and my mind. I was embroiled in a marriage that was very unhealthy. I was becoming increasingly aware, after many years, that my husband’s lifestyle choices were becoming unbearable for me.
Life in our house felt unpredictable and unstable to me. My husband and I were often at odds, and although we didn’t argue much, we had perfected the art of cold shoulder. After twelve years of marriage we had reached a stalemate about his drinking. I thought he was out of control and he thought I was trying to control him. I felt crazy. It was causing me to lose sleep, my patience and my appetite. It felt like a big ball of anxiousness had taken up permanent residency in my gut making eating seem unbearable. Some days it felt like I was holding myself together with safety pins and scotch tape. I found relief in distraction.
I’ll do an early run, get the boys up, fed and off to school, meet with my clients then go to team practice. I'm volunteering for the school auction/ the class party/the fun run/the team fundraiser and then I have an hour before Dylan gets home from school. Hmmm, I think I’ll rearrange the living room furniture, dehydrate kale and make homemade mac and cheese for the boys but I don't have the ingredients so I have to go to the store. After I help Brennan with homework I will I drop Dylan at lacrosse then I can write my newsletter. I need to clean out the fridge, organize the linen closet and then I can squeeze in a power walk before bed. It’s not like I was the President of Microsoft or a brain surgeon. I was searching for things to keep my day packed. I could very well have spent an hour sitting on the couch, reading People magazine and watching Dr. Phil (two activities I used to love), and of course, the boys would have preferred boxed mac and cheese any day. But I wouldn’t sit still. I couldn’t.
Slowing down meant I would have to face discomfort, in my home, in my heart and in my body.