I’d say I know it’s my grief, but I don’t know that. I have no idea what this is, or what’s coming, or when. What I do know, is that all my losses have prepared me for this. So have the years of showing up for myself whether I felt like it or not. I wish I had a choice, and I suppose I do, but I know too much. I know that if I don’t deal now, I’ll deal later. I know that if I pile on a bunch of old behaviors that don’t work anymore that I’ll only add shame and remorse and regret on top of the already oversized mountain that is sadness. No thank you.
My body image has been the worst I can remember in a long time. I have fleeting moments with frequency, but they are that: fleeting. This? Is not fleeting. It’s like a fucking wet blanket on me from the time I wake up, until I go to bed. Intellectually, I know that I am not a big person. My weight has been within 2 pounds of today’s weight for months – and it is not a lot. My pants are the same size, and they fit the same – and they are a small size. My strength has increased, and my shape has changed because I show up at the gym to do exactly that. But it has been manifesting as something else lately, and despite the objective facts in place, my eyes still tell me otherwise.
My eyes tell me that no matter what, I’m not enough. My eyes tell me that despite my consistency and discipline, it’s not enough. My eyes tell me that it doesn’t matter, that I don’t matter. My eyes tell me that this – my body – is controllable, and if I can control this, then I will be OK. I will be safe. That I won’t hurt anymore. And it’s not true. My eyes are not only blinded by pain I’d rather not feel, but delusional into thinking that what I do see needs to be changed or that if it is changed, everything else will be.
Thankfully, years of NOT listening to my eyes has given me the awareness that despite the very real sensation that my eyes are accurately seeing Alison, they are not seeing her at all. Years of NOT engaging in changing my body, food, or training to meet my emotional terrors has given me the ability to not engage right now. Yes, the thoughts are freaking raging, but I am not bending. In fact, I have scaled down my training. The last few days I have listened to what I imagine is my body signaling me that Christmas is going to be devastating. The last few days I have honored that my body and brain do not want to push, and so I have not. I’ve adjusted my food only to meet my energy demands, as cutting food right now would only guarantee a binge on Christmas, and a binge on Christmas doesn’t bring Matt back. A binge on Christmas (followed definitely by a purge) doesn’t make my parents feel less sad. A binge and purge and why not a 6-mile sprint along the NCR does not change the fact that my little brother isn’t here and is never going to be here in the flesh for Christmas again.
So, I don’t listen. I share how I feel, but I don’t change what I’m doing. If I was reacting to my head, I wouldn’t be able to do this. I wouldn’t be able to lean in or pause long enough to acknowledge that those were even options for me. I wouldn’t have any tolerance for the days that I feel “normal”, and the days when I think I’m normal and then it comes out of nowhere. Like today. Today I am not “normal” anymore. I had a good start, but as the work emails piled and the demands rose, and I had to be on camera – I lost my “normal”. And then I started to think …
Christmas is coming. Whether we want it to or not. I’m trying to stay here, a few days before, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard to look ahead and wonder what it’s going to be like.
What I do know? Is that we can handle it, even if it sucks. We can also handle it, even if it doesn’t. I have never once been given an inch more than I could handle, even if it didn’t seem fair or appropriate or within my scope of handling. The same is true for my family – we are going to be OK. We have each other, and Matt would want us to be together and smiling through our tears, creating new memories and new traditions. He’d want us to be showing up, not hiding. He’d want us to be laughing a little bit, driving around to see lights, hanging ornaments, and wearing red. He’s here. Just not the same as he used to be.
Hang onto yours tight, and please – don’t forget to tell people how much they mean to you. It isn’t assumed that they know.