But, I'm not feeling grateful today. Or, at least, I wasn't. I woke up feeling sorry for myself and hopeless. It's the death thing. It's hard to get around. Death is shitty. The mere fact of it is shitty. Surviving the death of someone you love so much is shitty. Grief is shitty.
And it's actually hard to teach a Movement Meditation class while you're feeling so sad and self-pitying and while every other day of the week, you're allowing yourself to eat compulsively to stuff down your pain.
And who cares? Who wants to read some sad blog about some sad woman who continues to struggle with such basic life lessons? No one, is the answer.
And, I'm going to be 40 next month. FORTY. And, all I want to do is delete this blog from the cyber-universe and pretend it never existed. I should. That's exactly what I should do -- so, why can't I?
I hope that anyone who knows me can say that I am not a person who has ever made a big deal about getting older. I mean, I like to make a big big deal of birthdays but I've never been uptight about getting older. Actually, until I turned 30, I actively looked forward to growing older. I felt like I was 30 when I was 10 so 30 felt like I had finally caught up to myself. 35 pinched the teeniest bit but I still had a I'm-going-to-be-a-bad-ass-grown-up-woman-like-Susan-Sarandon-and-Diane-Keaton kind of attitude. But, Forty!? Really? When did that happen? How did I get here?
My mother turned 40 when I was 4 so I don't remember a big deal being made of her 40th -- though, I hope there was a big deal made of it, if that's what she wanted. I can't imagine she didn't. My mother loved parties. She loved gatherings. She was a born hostess. She loved entertaining people and being entertained. When I was younger, I didn't think I was much like my mother in this. I think my low self esteem and my bad self image kept me from seeing myself clearly. The truth is, of course, I am exactly like my mother in this. I thrive on gatherings. I get energy from the buzz of people all around me and if all of those people are people that I love enjoying themselves, eating food that I've cooked or drinking drinks that I've made -- all the better!!
I've heard that the true definition of an "extrovert" is someone who recharges their energy by being around other people and an "introvert" is someone who recharges their energy by being alone. So, I know that's what happens for me. Being around other people energizes me, gets me thinking, gets me happy, gets me going. I think the same was true for my mother.
So, I've been thinking a lot about this stupid blog. Why do I need it? want it? do it? don't do it? I think, in part, this blog is a virtual party. Boy, it's been a sad party lately -- but it's still a party. I mean, it's my virtual way of "entertaining" or "hosting."
What I want for my birthday is this: For every person I love in this world to come to my house every Sunday for the rest of my life and have dinner with me. We would need a kind of biggish table and lots of bottles of red wine. More than a couple of you would bring your guitars so we'd have live music. More than a couple of you would make everyone laugh all night long. More than a couple of you would engage everyone in discussion so deep, we'd have to dig ourselves out at the end of the night. More than a couple of you would have to bring cards so we could play euchre. And the sight of you all, together, with me, would give me every ounce of energy I need until next Sunday.
Whenever I assign a "turning point" essay in one of my composition classes, I get a hefty number of essays about a high school acquaintance that died in a car accident and about how that changed my student's life because it made them realize that life is short and we should live each day to the fullest. But they stop there usually. As if living each day to the fullest meant something specific. But it doesn't. Does that mean we should all go out and shoot heroin into our eyeballs? Does it mean we should eat pizza until we want to vomit? Does it mean we should do nothing all day every day but sit and color with our five-year-old daughter while we listen to our ten-year-old son play his electric guitar? Does it mean we should meditate endlessly, do yoga endlessly, run/swim/bike endlessly? The thing is -- and what my students maybe want to say but don't exactly know how to -- living each day to the fullest isn't really about what we do or don't do, it's about how we be, how we are.
When I woke up this morning feeling sorry for myself and being mean to everyone, I was not living my life to the fullest. When I can't find it in my grief-stricken, pea-brain to be grateful for the many ridiculously huge gifts I have in my life, I am not living my life to the fullest.
Every person that I love in this world will not be coming to my house every Sunday for the rest of my life to have dinner with me. Of course, the thought is absurd. But writing that sentence makes me so sad. I miss you.
The fact is, I have not been well. I have not been taking care of myself. I have not been living my life to the fullest. I have not been cooking or eating with love. I have been cooking in sadness and eating in sadness and moving everyday in sadness. Everyday, I try to do a little something right -- but it's not enough. And, don't tell me, as you have so many times to give myself a break. The problem is, I've been giving myself way too much of a break. I don't need more slack. I need a little tough love.
A new, yet dear, friend of mine told me recently that when her grandmother passed away, she wouldn't let herself eat sweets or drink soda for several months. She loves sweets. These were great pleasures in her life. She wouldn't allow herself to have that pleasure, that happiness, she said, because she felt guilty or she felt like she couldn't allow herself to be happy. She remembers when she was finally able to eat sweets again and the joy that filled her and the peace she knew she had found with her grandmother's passing. Her grandmother, she knew, would want her to have that happiness.
In a way, my friend was punishing herself after her grandmother died. We all have different forms of self punishment, I believe. My mother punished herself by not eating chocolate. I punish myself, I now realize, by hating myself; by doing things like compulsively overeating and not exercising that make me hate myself. Hating oneself, if one is taught correctly at a young age how to do so, is a habit of mind that if you've ever broken comes back to you quickly in moments of distress. I am in distress. Self-hatred is the easiest thing in the world. But I have broken that habit before. And I will do it again. Some days, I feel like I'm close then other days come along.
My mother would not want me to hate myself. My mother wants me in the kitchen, cooking with love, eating with love. She wants me to go for a run, for a swim, for a walk, for a bike ride. She wants to come with me. My mother wants to be at my table on Sundays when I gather with all of the people I love in this world. My mother wants me to celebrate my 40th birthday. My mother does not want me to delete the blog because this blog is, for now especially, the place that reminds me of all of this. It's my Sunday table surrounded in love.
And, sometimes the love has to be tough. Mitch would tell me to stop punishing myself with food -- not in those words -- but he would. He would tell me to train for the indoor tri coming up on my 40th birthday. He would tell me that if these things make me happy, make me capable of handling life's problems, make me love myself then I should absolutely do them. Mitch would tell me to live life to the fullest by being grateful for what I have and loving myself and others. If I sat in front of Mitch and cry-babied about how sad I am and how I just don't know what to do, he'd roll his eyes, he'd tell me he loves me and he'd say, "you know what you have to do." So, okay, Mitch. Okay, Mom. Let's do it.
Back to cooking and eating with love and gratitude.
Vaya Con Dios