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And Now I Know How Joan of Arc Felt

Monday, June 28, 2010

My parents just left. They visit here maybe once or twice per year or so.

And ... I have to be the bigger person.

It is not bad. No, not really. No, no.

But it -- eh, you know -- the dynamic does not change and now, as they get older, I find I lace it with considerably more guilt than I did when I was in my twenties and thirties. Here they are, staring eighty in the face, and I am staring at fifty, and guilt just pushes up, like some unwanted, demented weed.

I think some of it, on my part, is the heat. And PMS. And the routine being disrupted, even though I invited them in. Of course this wasn't unexpected. But we, y'know, we have our routines. Our routines differ from what they were a few years ago but we still have them, and want to follow them.

Oh and another thing is that I've had a boatload of restaurant meals and very little exercise. Yeah, that'll add to it all.

And then -- oof -- politics.

I gotta say, I truly hate talking politics. I am online a lot, and it is a large topic of conversation on the site that I manage, and I mainly steer clear.

Include me out.

And, of course, that was dredged up this morning. Why don't you care? Why aren't you more active? Yadda yadda yadda.

I do care -- I just don't want to rehash it. The world's problems aren't going to get solved here. All we're going to do is piss one another off. Enough, already!

Gaaah, just listen. I'm starting subtly, I'm being ignored. I get more vocal, I'm being ignored. Finally I out and out say -- I.Don't.Want.To.Talk.About.Thi

Okay, now it stops, but not before a last, parting word.

God. Just quit it.

This is done less than an hour before they depart, hence it not only looms large in my head but also helps to color the visit.


And, neither do they. Life isn't all sweetness and light, and I am totally okay with that, but just let the damned thing go for a weekend.


We went to Maine over the weekend. World's fastest LL Bean shopping spree. I was a whirling dervish. Inexplicably, I was only given 20 minutes. I actually got 4 things, tried them on (there was a 5th that fit but I didn't like how it looked on me, so I threw it back) and purchased them. I should submit that to the Guinness Book of World Records or something. Tank top, shorts, pair of jeans and a yellow hoodie. Right now I'm wearing the 1st 2 as it is pushing 90 degrees here.

So ... that was the chief reason for going to Maine. Pretty scenery, to be sure. Something to do. I know they get bored silly at my house but what can I do? Mr. J works, I have blogging (I should say: I work, too!) and we don't give a damn about any movie that's out right now. Air conditioners are not in the windows although that could be changed if need be. Museums and restaurants aplenty here, plus scenery is not too far away.

But, it's getting harder and harder. For Mr. J and I, it is easier. It's almost like the ease has been sucked out of the earlier generation.

And, Maine. It has some emotional connections for me. Not just because I attended Summer camp there as a teenager. It's also the place where, in 2007, I almost fainted in monster heat. And I could tell, the thoughts were -- if you weren't so goddamned fat you wouldn't be in this predicament.

Well, I was. I was goddamned fat.

I'm not any more. And I talk about it plenty, but I am also a bit tired of that as well. Not as sick of it as I am of politics and, no, I am not sick of you, fellow Sparkies.

But I am tired of what is the internal dialogue. The one where I say, well, I used to be this way. I'm not any more.

I need to let that go. It's done. It's over with. Can it come back? It's certainly possible. The chiefly annoying and unfair thing about weight loss is that it never really ends, you never really stop and you can never really slide without major massive freakin' consequences.

I don't think my parents are watching me, eagle-eyed, to see if I'll fall. There are people who do (those people should occupy one of the seven circles of Hell after death, so far as I'm concerned). There are folk who mentally rub their hands with glee.

Oh, I TOLD you she couldn't do it. Stupid fat girl. Never thin for long. Always fat, already fat again, don't let that appearance fool you! She can't be this way permanently. Leopard, spots, you know the drill.

I guess this post is a real downer, and I'm sorry about that. I am, yep, there's that ole guilt again. Why am I complaining about this?

But, bottom line, it is also my own fears bubbling up to the surface. It is also seeing thirty years into the future. Who do I want to be? The one who still walks every morning, or the one having trouble getting up off the couch? The one who climbs stairs with no problem, or the one who huffs during the ordeal?

So, it is guilt. It is imagination. It is fear. It is some sorrow, knowing what was before. And can never be again. And I know what is coming, the hard decisions that will have to be made. I fear I will not have the courage to make them.

Hence, if I leave with you with any takeaway today, what I can say (and some of this is the heat talking -- oh, look, it's 90, oh joy) to you is the following:

Perpetual dieting sucks.

Parking far away when you just want to be closer sucks.

Drinking water all the time sucks.

Cardio, whether you want to do it or not, sucks.

But not doing those things sucks even more.

And at some point, I hope you all live long enough, and you'll see the consequences, one way or the other.

Extreme old age sucks.

All we can do is make it a long time before we're in extreme old age, regardless of our true birth dates. And, when it does come, to make it suck as little as possible.

Thanks for reading. I suspect I'll be more cheerful next week.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Sorry to be late to the party! Yet another 50 something with parents closing in on 80. Seems to be catching...

    There is something VERY unnerving about spending time with the folks who were around when I incubated such a fat, insecure person as I was. Completely understand your jitters!

    Politics has never been a prob though as we all swing on the same liberal, progressive branch. Except it can be a bit depressing commiserating about the current state of affairs...!

    3678 days ago
  • no profile photo CD3248497
    EHHH you doesn't have a downer blog every so often?!? So you are scared and it's normal. You just have to learn to let go of those fears. Look how much you have accomplished in your life, and not just weight loss. Weren't you scared, but you did it.

    3685 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3688 days ago
    Big hugs!!
    3688 days ago
    Family dynamics, gotta love it. The more you think things have changed the more they stay the same.

    You must have set a new record getting in and out of LL Bean in 20 minutes, that place is huge. While in Freeport you were very close to an agility trial and a small all breed dog show.
    3688 days ago
    Let's be one of those healthy Seniors...okay?
    3689 days ago
  • no profile photo DIASTER
    Oh my. My daughter and her kids just left, I just ate a quart of ice cream with chocolate syrup, a hot dog, pretzels etc. etc. Maybe it is just the stress of family even with total love, but as you said routines are disrupted, feelings are on the surface etc. you want the visit to be fun and perfect, but life is real
    Since our visitors are gone lets get back to what we know we are suppose to be doing, hey we have 6 months before the next visit, politics and a crying 5 year old will both change by then, and we will be lighter and closer to goal.
    3689 days ago
    I'm so confused - because you mentioned guilt many times but I'm not sure what you've done - omission or commission - that you should feel guilty about.

    You know what, I've spent many months (from about February until last week) struggling with the urge to eat at night, struggling with how to fit in all my exercise, struggling struggling struggling and watching my weight slide up, punching it back down some, slide up again, lather rinse repeat. And I figured I was just consigned to this forever.

    And then suddenly this week I do not have the urge to binge. I'm fine. I'm not even hungry when I eat the same restricted calorie levels I did last year at 100+ lbs above where I am now. And I feel fine. And the weight is sliding off again. Fast. You could knock me over with a feather. Because I didn't think it would get easy again. it just didn't seem possible. But it did.

    Maybe it's wackadoo hormones. Maybe it's because I've been kayaking a lot lately and improving and feeling good about that. Maybe it's because I'm enjoying not only the kayaking but the company of my partners in crime. I'm not even sure I care why exactly, but I have to say I'm relaxing into it like a hot bath after a long strength training session, LOL. I'll just ride it while I can. And when things get tough again (as I imagine they probably will sooner or later) I'll go back to the struggling.

    My hope is that you will also soon have an inexplicably easy spell, to catch your breath, relax, get your bearings and your feet back under you, and just BE.
    3689 days ago
    Welcome to 50s. Isn't it fun?

    First, the only way I ever resolved anything with my mother was after she died. I realized it was her problem not mine. I also realized I can choose to be who and what I want to be. Why am I lifting and lifting hard? Because that is ME. I don't have to hear her anymore and I got rid of the inner parent a long time ago.

    It's a pretty sad statement my worst nightmares I have at night are my mother is alive and I'm telling her she's dead and to go away. It only happens in times of stress. Think hard parents about what you do. You don't want to make yourself into your child's worst nightmare. btw two books that came in real handy was "Recovery of Your Inner Child: The Highly Acclaimed Method for Liberating Your Inner Self" [DO NOT DO THIS WITHOUT A THERAPIST unless you are one] and the other was David Burns "Feeling Good"

    Next politics? Lord my sister and I could kill each other. I simply say "You know all politicians are stupid and none of them are doing the job they should be doing today. Did Danny get his lights in?" Or other favorite topic of hers like how we both hate Penn Dot. End of politics. For others I simply say "I don't discuss politics. It's against my religion." Stops them dead. Never have to tell them I'm an Atheist. Right now Politics is an area of Hate not of constructive action. It's time to let the hate go. If you don't answer if they keep out after that, the conversation is one sided and they'll get the message.

    Next, yep. It's the 50s. I did grieve what wouldn't be but it wouldn't be. And that's ok today. It made me what I am and you know what? That ain't shabby at all. In fact, it gave me my best friend, myself. Sure I still feel twinges. But all in all? It's ok today.

    Seriously? Read Burns at least. All those things are what we create and the stories/thoughts we tell ourselves about ourselves. It takes time to change the stories but it is soooo good when we do.

    And find something you love. Really love. Mine is weight lifting and I would do a LOT for that and it is no chore. Well except Cardio. Cardio does suck.

    Change your mind, change your life. Just ask Nick who has no arms and legs
    3689 days ago
    Jeeze are you sitting next to me having this conversation. Jeeze. I will resist blogging all over your page about aging and having a full fit life.

    Your thoughts about weight gain again are unnerving. I lost 20 lbs last year on Spark and put 10 back after my episode with cancer and surgery and treatment. I am not getting the good feeling of success back. I am stuck, and don't want to be. My impression is that many people who lose do not keep it off. I have not gotten anywhere near my goal and your blog is reminding me how risky it is to be going in the wrong direction even for a bit. I do think Spark is an answer to that. Thanks Jes for the motivation today. And always.

    3689 days ago
    It will all pay off in the end
    3689 days ago
    You are really on to some things here. In particular, you're aware of what needs to be let go. Many of us stagger around for YEARS not even knowing what we're carrying. Good for you! I am reading a very good book that addresses some of what you describe here (the past as a source of guilt and remorse, the future as a source of fear); perhaps you've already read it, but on the off-chance you haven't, it's "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. Don't let the first chapter put you off.

    Ok, and secondly, I need to go download some Smiths. I'll do it right now. Thanks.

    xo emoticon emoticon
    3689 days ago
    Wow, there's so much here to comment on.

    First, I am with you on not discussing politics! The only people I discuss politics with are my husband & my mom - most of the time we agree, and when we don't it's never a divisive kind of thing. I won't talk about it at all in general.

    Second, I don't think you can underestimate how much this kind of heat can affect your mood - and your patience.

    Which brings me to my third comment. I, like you, am staring at 50 with parents staring at 80. I live close enough to them to spend an afternoon and nothing more. But once per year, we go away on a 4 to 5 day vacation with them....and I am sorry to say that I lately leave feeling very guilty about some encounter, usually toward the end of that time. Why can't I just be the bigger person all the time? After all, when I was a screaming infant or a tantrum-throwing toddler, I am quite certain they were. I have to try harder at that. It's so much easier said than done.

    Finally, how did you get only 20 mins at LL Bean store???
    3690 days ago
    Poor baby. Make sure you get your rest, raspberries. Can you have them? They help what ails you. I can only complain about over enthusiastic 4th of July revelers who have started in JUNE for craps sake, no parents to worry about here.
    3690 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4749243
    Well. Wait till you see MY downer of a blog. I've misplaced my sense of humor again. Wish I were 50 again--times were good (remember my bike picture? I was 50 then.) 62-63 has been a bummer to say the least. Losing hope here.

    I used to love politics--still can get riled occasionally, but mostly have no oompf. Need a new lease. Where? How? Who to see about it?

    My parents died young. I've watched all my friends deal with losing theirs later. I feel for you.
    3690 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/29/2010 12:48:32 PM
  • JLITT62
    Oh geez, my parents are coming for a short visit in a couple of weeks and I'm trying to figure out just what to do with them. They are in their 80s -- Dad will be 85 next year -- and they don't move so well anymore. So anything that involves walking is out.

    Then there's the fact that my Dad has to blast the TV to hear it despite his hearing aids, and I don't even like how loud my husband plays it. And usually manages to screw something up because he couldn't possibly ask for help.

    They do at least like movies, and so do I, except for the fact that usually they've seen everything in creation.

    Oh, and did I mention my husband will be on a business trip then? Which shouldn't really matter, they are my parents after all, but a buffer and some help is always welcome.

    Feel any better yet?
    3690 days ago
    I can relate to a lot of what you wrote. I also do not like to talk politics. It's either too divisive or seems too much like jumping on a bandwagon. Politics also seems to bring out the worst in people. As for the visit with your parents, I also think I understand a bit of how you feel about having to be the bigger person. I enjoy visiting with my parents but feel relieved to get back to my usual life when they leave, or more often when I leave them (they rarely visit us here). The dynamic can be strange for an adult trying to relate to parents who may still think of you as their child.

    As for the heat, maybe it's time to put in the air conditioners. emoticon

    Hang in there! emoticon

    - Karen

    3690 days ago
  • KAYBEE37
    As they say ... better out than in. I'm so glad that you were able to get all this out. It's very healthy to be able to express all this.

    I am sorry that things didn't go better with your parents' visit. Lots of things you wrote struck a chord with me, but I wanted to comment on two in particular. First off, the heat. To me, that makes EVERYTHING worse. When the temperature is not a factor, I still struggle with eating better and exercising and maintaining a positive outlook. But when it's miserably hot, those things become nearly impossible. I hate it when it's so hot. I go into a kind of summer hibernation or state of lethargy. It makes it so hard.

    Secondly, politics. I am totally with you. I really do not like to discuss it. If I'm with like-minded people then I can discuss it for a little while, but usually I'm with people who feel the opposite way, and they somehow all manage to suddenly sound like lawyers while I can't get my views across in a coherent way even though I feel strongly about them. I would much rather not discuss politics at all. But sometimes our relatives and friends don't let that happen!

    Anyway, I my heart goes out to you for this post, and I hope that it doesn't take you too long to regain your equilibrium from all the stress you've had recently. I hope that this week is much better for you. Hang in there!
    3690 days ago
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