This is what I thought yesterday: I thought, today is the day I'm going to start going to the gym again. I am certain that no one recovers from sadness until they go back to the gym: Endorphins, routine, self-control, these are all the pieces of getting back to normal.
I have said, every day for the past week, that today is the day I will go to the gym. But this is the day when my ex-husband sleeps over. It’s the day I am supposed to be at the farm. I am supposed to wake up with the farmer's arms around me, roosters crowing in my ears.
Instead, I wake up freezing, because the ex keeps my house much colder than I do. I wake up with the kids voices in the air downstairs, clamoring for breakfast. They sound so sweet and fun but I promised my ex I would hide in my bedroom until they kids go to school. It's his time with them, and if I stop hiding, we would have to parent together, and if we could do that then we'd still be married.
So I am sitting my bedroom, I am hungry. Not hugely hungry because, in a stunning example of the unfairness of life, I lose my appetite when I have been dumped, so I am very thin with no one there to see it.
It'll be another 45 minutes before I can go downstairs. I am hungry enough that I eat one of the chocolates the farmer gave me as a parting birthday gift. That's right. He gave me presents while he was dumping me. I have to bite into seven before I find one I like, and I lay in bed in between bites in case I have to cry, and then I bite four more to find a second one of the kind I like, and then there are broken chocolates strewn across my bed.
I am not crying, though. I think I am past that. I am looking for solutions.
I tried reading but I realized that the book I'm reading, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, is not actually about Pakistan, but about how men choose land over women over and over again. How could I be in the middle of this book the week the farmer dumps me? The world aligns itself in shockingly horrible ways.
When the kids are gone, I traipse downstairs and take four showers. I think this might be an Asperger Syndrome thing (a sensory integration thing). I take scalding hot showers in order to organize my thinking.
A good consequence of not being with the farmer: I could never get the water hot enough at his house.
I put on clothes that are sort of clean. I use a baby wipe to clean off places on my jeans that might reveal that I have not washed them since Thanksgiving. I drive into work because this is what one does to resume a high-functioning life.
People at work do not say anything to me like, “Sorry you got dumped and seemed to have stopped working.”
I spend the day thinking of things that are totally inappropriate to write and then putting them in my Brazen Careerist group, because it’s small enough that it feels like my living room.
Ryan Paugh, our community manager, calls me to say that he thinks I need to start having someone look at what I post in the group before I post it. Later he says, “I think you need to stop posting stuff in your group for today.”
I go to the coffee shop where I usually cannot stop eating bagels, and I am excited that I have lost my appetite. I play a game with myself. I stand in front of the bagels and ask myself if I want one. I don't. It's fun. I order a bagel and sniff it. Usually that's enough to send me over the edge. Today it makes me nauseous. I bring the bagel to my table and tell myself that suffering is interesting.
I tell myself I need to make a plan to go to the gym. I look at my to do list and nothing looks pressing except that I am supposed to be redesigning my blog.
There is an email asking if I want to have a forum for people to talk about Asperger Syndrome. I reply that I want a forum for people to talk about how I am going to marry a farmer and move to a farm. Can you use a blog as a dating site?
Oh. Wait. That's how I got in this mess.
I answer another email. About a business idea. I tell the person that the problem with most business ideas is not that they are bad, but that they are not big enough to be funded. You have to be able either to fund your own business, or to show that you can have $100 million in revenue in five years.
I send this email ten times a week. I tell myself that I need to write a detailed, clear email about this and copy and paste it every time someone asks me about getting funding.
I need a copy-and-paste speech to run through my head every time I think I'm going to the gym and then I tell myself maybe I'm not going to the gym.
I tell myself maybe one more day.
That feels bad. Like I'll say that forever.
I tell myself in an hour.
But I've told myself that ten times.
I tell myself the gym will only work when it's part of my new routine.
But I know that I will not get a new routine til I know I can get to the gym.
Everything is chicken and egg. And then I have to tell myself not to think about how the farmer helped me and the kids incubate chicks last summer. The farmer is so fun.
I go back to the office. There is a shower in our building. I consider stopping there and scalding myself before I go back to my cube. But then I'd have to reapply makeup.
At my cube I try to think of what I could do that would be sort of work but would not be too taxing. I remember that my favorite positive psychology Ph.D., who wants to remain anonymous on this blog, said I could call anytime.
I call her to ask what I should say to the kids.
I call her from the hallway of the office. I have to do this because there are five offices with doors in our company, and I don't have one of them. I am hoping that people think I'm going to the hallway to make a highly sensitive call about the funding for the company or something. But I'm pretty sure everyone knows that I'm making some sort of personal call.
My favorite positive psychologist tells me that I have to frame it for the kids that I make the decision. She explains that people who are optimistic in life perceive that the locus of control is with them. “Show your kids that you decide. That you are deciding what's best for you and the kids.”
I do not go to the gym. I know myself well enough to know that eventually, I'll get myself back to the gym. I have been going to the gym since I was fifteen. That's just who I am.
Then I pick up my seven-year-old at school. I give him a donut so he will associate taking control of your life with sweetness. And I tell him that I have decided we will not be moving to the farm any time soon. We can still see the farmer. We can still visit the farm. But we need to decide what's best for us. And what's best for us is to continue our fun family life in our house.
He says okay. He has frosting on his lips.
I feel like I am believing what I'm saying and I start to say it again. Reinforcement.
He says, “I know, Mom. Did you bring me milk?”