“At most, there are two kinds of dysfunctional families: those who don’t talk enough and those who talk too much.” Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation, 1994
I grew up in the first kind and married into one of each. Visits to my first in-laws featured late-night, alcohol-fueled rants of the George and Martha “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” variety.
So then I went back to what I knew: silences and conversations about things that matter not at all. Which is how we all find ourselves now tangled in the dilemma of my increasingly fragile in-laws’ daily care. No one discussed it when it might have been productive to talk.
One thing I’m sure of and that is that I must care for myself, no matter what! Failure to do so means almost immediate weight gain and feeling like do-do as I slowly slide down the slippery slope of sloth (I just made that up). I cook willingly for my in-laws, but it has to be food I can eat without ballooning up like a sea elephant. I will keep up with my exercise. I started tai chi this week and have promised myself I’ll start Weight Watchers next Tuesday. I need help with the last 16 pounds and with thinking of what I’m doing as a healthy lifestyle, not deprivation or punishment.
This afternoon’s three mile walk: Honeybees abuzz in the Carolina jasmine and little peepers peeping up a storm in the ditch next to an empty chicken house at the 1-mile point.
I never hear these happy frogs without remembering the trail ride we took here on the farm a few springs ago, down the hill behind our house to a creek and ditches teeming with the hormone-riddled jokers. Who knew a towering Thoroughbred, when hearing surround-sound peeping, would turn himself inside out? He did, but our daughter managed him very competently. (Had I been the rider, I’d have turned inside out with him. She thought it was fun when he lost track of one of his feet and tripped over it.)
I need this 6 days a week to nudge me away from depression (anger turned inward?), anxiety, longing and food which is such a quick, easy fix.
“I’m always trying to get back to some imaginary somewhere,” says Wurtzel in Prozac Nation. Me, too. If I just have this fistful of graham crackers now, instead of waiting and spending my 1,000 calories at dinner out tonight, I’ll feel better, lighter, happier, less encumbered, the way I felt when I was a kid.
Aha! That’s where the imaginary part comes in. If anything, I was more miserable when young and the reality of eating these graham crackers is that I’ll feel fat and frustrated, not good about myself, the way our daughter did when she got that lovely, frisky gelding back in line.
*Not necessarily metaphorical.