The Journey is Never Straight.
I have been, from an objective perspective, on a bit of a winning streak for about the past 7 years. To be fair, it’d be hard to look at any upward movement from where I was and not see it as a positive streak. But in the past 7 years, I’ve really flourished both professionally and personally. No longer a habitual drunk or smoker, I have published papers, won grants, extricated myself from a toxic marriage and entered into a wonderful relationship. I’ve become physically fitter by running thousands of miles and I even completed a marathon.
The odd hiccough, like buying a house that I’ve ended up hating, is really kind of minor by comparison. And yet it is so easy for me to focus on the negatives. For example, in the past month I’ve put on about 10 pounds. This is really depressing to me. Weight control is going to be critical for me in my life. Yes, I’m shallow about looks and such, but in my case, weight control is about diabetes and strokes. Both run in my immediate family. And I am personally insulin resistant, which means that diabetes is almost certainly in my future no matter what I do.
But maintaining my weight is the best way to keep from turning the corner. For that, diet and exercise are the solution. I’ve got the exercise. But I am having the devil’s time controlling my food intake, and I need to find a better way. There have been times in my life when I was better about it, and they’ve been correlated to times when I had a relationship with food that can be described as more spiritual, and in many ways probably provably wrong from a how-I-thought-about-it perspective. But I don’t much care about being correct if I’m 16% body fat.
The other bad thing about feeling fat is it risks the reactivation of my disordered eating, which has never been a “problem” from a physical health perspective, but is decidedly not one of the basic features of a poster-boy for mental health. Like my depression, my eating disorder has mostly resolved spontaneously with the onset of sobriety, but it’s still there, and like my depression, crops up occasionally. I’ve never really written about it and I’ve only ever mentioned it to one psychiatrist, who didn’t seem concerned. But I can feel it percolating in the background.
But yesterday on the train I watched as a man drank four or five shots of lousy cognac mixed with warm coke zero, pouring furtively so as not to let anyone notice how much he was having. Everything about what he was doing was achingly familiar to me. I lived in those clothes for a long time. It’s an ugly life. And I am free from it now. I still have a lot of switchbacks on this road to negotiate. But I am not alone. And I am not lost.