Yesterday, I decided to let myself go. Around noon, on a gloomy Sunday, I opted to pour myself a stiff brunch cocktail – a simple screwdriver made with a bit more vodka than I probably should have – and I sat at my laptop and played a little more of a video game I bought about a month ago. As time passed, my video gaming turned into sending out messages to fellas that I’ve been meaning to contact for some time, but for whatever reason, had not. Eventually, I fixed myself another drink, and started to text Ray about the remainder of our day. I was tipsy, but as it had been a really, really long time since I’d allowed myself a bit of indulgence, it felt good. I meandered my way down to Ray’s, where I promptly took a little nap while he finished up his ballot for voting.
The plan was to hit up our favorite little bar here that has one of the best happy hours (and most affordable) that we’ve ever seen. $2 cocktails and $2 snacks meant a couple of drinks and a couple of pretzels between us. We then moved on to a cute little tea house just up the street a bit, which was absolutely adorable, and some place I definitely want to return to. After tea and some light snacks, we made our way downtown to a drag show, something we both have enjoyed in the past, but hadn’t had the opportunity to see in a long time. It was a pleasant experience all the way through, really.
What stuck, however, was the conversation that he and I had over the course of our afternoon.
It’s no secret that since meeting him, and starting my bus driving job, I’ve fallen off the wagon of health and fitness that I’d been on for some time. I found myself diving into exercise and strength training as a way to cope with anxiety and all of the troubles I had in my personal life. It was an escape. It was a means to an end in that I could possibly garner more attention from the fellas I was seeking to date if my body was in better shape. Nothing’s more basic than initial attraction, but that connection factor is solely based upon looks (like it or not), and I knew that I needed to at least look good. I needed to at least appear like I had my life together, when nothing could be farther from the truth. When I was living in that dark, cold house with the ex, without a job, and without a whole lot of hope and optimism, I struggled really, really hard to at least keep up appearances. It was my Yankee training coming through in spades. I learned really early in my life that even if you have nothing and your whole personal world is in chaos, you never, ever let on that this is the case. You put on a veneer and smile and fake your way through the day. You never want to be an emotional burden on anyone, and you certainly don’t want people talking about you or pitying you. Pride is huge, and pride, for me, was always and forever based on outward appearances. Looking good = everything is fine, even when it’s not.
The conversation Ray and I had yesterday surrounded the health and wellness of our lives. He knows that he needs more activity, more exercise, in his life. He’s mentioned his yoga that’s fallen to the wayside. He has also voiced a concern about my health too.
He knows and recognizes that we both have put on weight and are not as active as we should be. He is concerned about my cigarette smoking, which I’m loathe to admit is still a thing in my life. The way he delivered these concerns about my health, though, resonated in a way that has never happened in my life before.
My previous boyfriend had been really callous about my body shape and his judgement towards how I looked. He blatantly called me fat, saying that he thought I’d be further along with my fitness goals than I had been upon my arrival here in Portland, Oregon. I took that insult, that deeply-cutting punch to my self image and self esteem, and turned it into the thirty pounds I lost in the time I was stuck at his house. I used to run miles and miles and miles out of rage, out of resentment, just to prove him wrong, especially after he ended things with us. I hit the gym hard, with a routine that was exhausting, but was definitely giving me the physical results I had wanted. I wasn’t doing it for myself, though, even though I’d tried to convince myself that I was (and kept touting my progress across the social networks, and even here on this blog). It wasn’t the first time I’d been called fat, or unattractive. It wasn’t the first time that my body shape had come in between me and a person with whom I’d fallen in love. My reaction has been practiced over and over again, too. I’m well versed in exercise out of spite, rage, revenge, and to prove the other person wrong. I did the same with Thomas. I did the same with Nathaniel.
With Ray, though, something is very different. With his concerns, they’re not coming from a place of judgement or resentment. They’re not shared out of spite or bitterness. When he told me that he’s concerned about my weight, and that he really wants me to give up the cigarettes, it wasn’t out of judgment or anger. Honestly, and for the first time in my life, he told me these things because he actually cares. It’s real. This whole thing. He wants me to be a healthy and vibrant part of his life because he actually loves me, and actually wants me to be the strongest, happiest, healthiest person I can be. This is a very, very far cry from everything I’ve ever experienced with regards to judgment of my body and state of being in the past.
Going forward, there may not be many days where I “let go” and allow myself to indulge in alcohol like I did yesterday. Going forward, I am resolved to make smoking a thing of my past – again. Going forward, I’m not going to go running because I’m angry, or I’m going to ‘prove him wrong,’ or because I’m feeling worthless. Going forward, any actions I take to improve my overall health will be because I want to improve my life as well as the life I’m now sharing with a person who really, honestly, and truthfully cares about my wellbeing. It’s all different now; it’s a new reality.
I feel like I’m re-learning how to live my life and I embrace this kind of change. I’ve needed it for quite some time.