I’ve been worried about myself. My weight continues to creep up. I’ve been drinking two to four glasses of wine (or gin and tonics) nearly every evening. Sometimes more on the weekends. Walking, yoga, and meditation have been sporadic. I’ve been sleeping more and am back to needing a hoist to get out of bed in the morning. I’ve neglected myself to the extent that I hadn’t had my teeth cleaned in nearly a year. When I finally forced myself to go for a cleaning a few weeks ago, something happened that has never happened in my life—my blood pressure was high: 143/89. Compare that to one year prior: 106/60.
I’ve been excusing my lack of self-care telling myself I am entitled to fall apart due to the losses I’ve suffered and the tremendous amount of stress to which I’ve been subjected. I’ve written about it ad nauseam and frankly am a bit sick of myself. For the uninitiated, a brief recap:
- I began this blog five years ago when I was dating, and briefly engaged to, a huge twat—an emotionally abusive narcissist (not my first) I called Mack. In September 2011 I gave him the boot and set upon a course of healing from the damage he’d done. I was making great strides and had rebounded from the depression when…
- My eldest brother died suddenly in April 2012 from alcohol-related liver disease at age 56. While he’d been drinking himself to death off and on for years, it seemed sudden because he was found dead in his home.
- As I struggled to cope with the loss of my eldest brother, my father, who had mixed dementia (Alzheimer’s and vascular), was getting worse. In September 2012 he fell out of bed and hit his head on the nightstand due to disorientation. The injury would require emergency brain surgery, following which he would die at age 83 in hospice one month later on October 18, 2012, while I and the hospice nurse held his hands.
- Once my eldest brother and father had died, I decided my remaining brother, also an alcoholic, wasn’t going to die, too. So, two months after my father died, I arranged an intervention. My brother agreed to go to rehab and got sober. Three months later, in March 2013, he was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia and died at age 52. Eleven months after my eldest brother had died. Five months after my father had died. I call this the death trifecta.
- During this period I was forced to interact with my sister and her husband, from whom I’d been estranged for several years. The estrangement occurred when I confronted her after learning that her husband, my brother-in-law, had molested their youngest daughter (now an adult), my niece, years before. I demanded that she tell me why, when she found out what her husband had done to their daughter (her daughter had finally told a school counselor), she hadn’t left him. We didn’t speak for many years, until the dying began. Having been forced to interact, we’ve made tentative steps toward reconciliation and healing. Something I had never dreamed was possible. Nor desired.
- In June 2013, my mother nearly died from deep vein thrombosis following a minor surgery. A vena cava filter inserted after a hip replacement years ago saved her life. She’s recovered and has been living at an assisted living facility, having now accepted she will not return to the home she shared with my father for thirty-five years. In the meantime, she too has been diagnosed with dementia, which is slowly taking its toll. She had a scare in December (possibly a stroke) and spent two weeks in the hospital and rehab. On Christmas Eve I picked her up at the rehab hospital and took her back to AL, where she was reunited with her very charismatic cat.
- I have been managing my father’s business (run by my brothers and father for the past thirty-five years until their deaths) from afar, which has been kept afloat after the loss of the three principals by two loyal employees. Other than social security, it is my mother’s sole source of income. In light of her depleted savings (assisted living is expensive), it is important that the business remain viable, even if not hugely profitable.
- I was my father’s executor, and I am my mother’s executor. I’m also her power of attorney. Which means I pay her bills and work with the realtor to sell her beach house in Galveston, and eventually, the home she shared with my father. I put her car on the market. Manage her insurance renewals. I order her incontinence supplies, cat food, and litter. I’m the point of contact for AL, her doctors, and physical therapist. Managing my mother’s affairs is like running yet another small business.
- As my day job, I practice law as a civil litigator for BigLaw. I abhor it. Since the dying, it is utterly meaningless. Except the money, which is allowing me to plan my escape and begin again.
So that’s 2011 through 2014 in a nutshell. And here I am, fatter than ever with high blood pressure and probably depression (again). And the drinking, while not technically alcoholism, is not serving me well. It’s time I stopped wallowing and employing coping mechanisms that are negatively impacting my health.
It’s time for Desperate Measures.
- A few weeks ago, on a lark (even before my blood pressure reading), I signed up for a month of health coaching. This coach is not a diet or weight loss coach, but a HAES (Health At Every Size) coach. My first meeting is on Wednesday.
- I signed up today for the 100-Day Sober Challenge over on Tired of Thinking About Drinking. (Yes, I buried the lead in this post.) This was an even more impulsive move. Until last night, on January 2, 2015, I had no plans to stop drinking. Cutting back, perhaps. Not drinking during the week, perhaps. But not stopping altogether. It occurred to me this morning, however, as I read a handful of posts on sober blogs I follow, that I’ve been secretly craving what they have for quite some time. It’s not about the not drinking so much as it is about renewal. Rebirth. I want what they’re having.
While I write this post on January 3, 2015, this is not a New Year’s Resolution. It’s just that the stars, and my thinking, have aligned with the calendar. Also, the sun has come out today for the first time in what seems like weeks. Stepping outside and feeling the sun on my face conjures up images of a phoenix rising from the ashes. And so I am off for a walk to my new favorite spot where a family of deer lives. I hope they peep out for a visit.