I am pulling old Christmas decorations out of storage, boxes that haven’t been moved since the moment they were placed there seven – or is it nine – years ago when we first moved to these apartments. My sense of time is iffy at best and I never quite know what events fall where on the timeline. Sometimes I worry that I will accidentally tell the same story twice to a single person and use different years each time and they will think I am a liar. This is unlikely, as people don’t pay as much attention to detail as we fear they do, but if that did happen, well – as my sponsor says, it’s not my business what anyone thinks of me.
I bend over to pick up a box, carefully reminding myself right after I have straightened up to lift with my knees and not my back. I feel not quite a pain, but a bit of pressure there. My aunt asked me earlier why I didn’t use the handcart to transport many boxes in one trip. “This is my cardio today,” I replied and that is true. I have come to resent my old definition of cardio, counting down minutes on the elliptical obsessively, always telling myself I need to go a little bit longer or it doesn’t count. I have attached it in my mind to a dark chapter I don’t like to revisit. One day, I will have to work on letting that go, as it’s not the elliptical’s fault I punished my body (though it wasn’t really my body, it was never about the body, it was the core, the inner self, the me-ness I hated, that I wanted to shrink and disappear) but until then I will find other ways. I have taken a liking to walking outside. All that is missing is a pup to walk with me. I am thinking of joining a dog walking service.
I officially quit my job at Academy last week, after already being gone since September. I didn’t take leave with the intention of it being permanent, but here we are. I will miss my co-workers so much – but once I had made the decision all the turmoil that had been swirling around inside settled. My dust storm of doubts and uncertainty soothed. There is so much that is still to be uncovered going forward, but there is peace, not fear. How interesting and beautiful to not fear the unknown. This is a new experience for me.
I place another box on top of a pile that I have stacked and let myself drop down into a forward fold, feeling the release in my lower back. I do this a lot these days. Mostly at home, but sometimes the urge comes to me in other places. The other day it was randomly in the canned vegetable aisle at the grocery store. My body is asking, and I am learning how to listen. One thing is for sure, I will not miss being tied to a desk eight hours a day. I think, quitting my desk job is a Christmas gift to my body. I feel the difference. I look forward to continuing to unwrap this gift.
The other day I weighed myself and saw the highest number I’ve ever had in my thirty-five years. I immediately messaged a friend to tell her about it. I wasn’t looking for assurance or advice, but more falling into the routine of an old habit – using my weight as a weapon against myself (just like the elliptical was a weapon, just like binging and purging was a weapon) but as I do this I realize I don’t want to. I don’t want this war anymore. The peace I found with letting go of something that was no longer meant for me – my job – has extended to this as well. And just like that, the number I saw on the scale lost it’s power. Another new experience. Also interesting, also beautiful.
And this – this is why I stay. Why I will always stay. Because I can be full of fear and turmoil, at such a dark and bleak point that shapes start blurring together and I can no longer tell my left hand from my right. Then two weeks later, I discover the healing I didn’t know I was heading towards. It’s not a straight line. It’s never a straight line.
Today I set down my weapons. Sometime, in the future, I will pick them up again. I don’t know when, I don’t know how long I will hold them, but mostly likely I will. And then I will hold myself hostage until I set the weapons down again. This is what I get to practice – picking them up, setting them down again. And again. Again.