About two weeks ago, my husband and I were having the same conversation we've had a hundred times before. It had something to do with finances (I hate them), our jobs (I LOVE my job, but it's much more fun now that I'm per diem and I don't feel like I'm stuck in the movie "Groundhog Day"), and our overall happiness.
Let's pause right there.
If we skip back 5 months to June, I was literally playing russian roulette with my eating disorder. Unbeknownst to me, my esophagus was already torn halfway through and had I continued down that path of depression and denial I would not be sitting here sipping my Earl Grey tea and listening to my country tunes on my headphones right now. I was doing what so many people do every single day just to get by. Hell, I was PROUD of the fact that I was able to keep going. I was proud of the fact that I hadn't completely collapsed yet. It's like someone who puts 200,000 miles on a car. Shit, yeah that's impressive! But if you're not getting that thing serviced regularly it's going to croak and you are NEVER going to get it going again. I wasn't suicidal. I was just exhausted with living. Everything took SO. MUCH. EFFORT. It got to the point where I couldn't get off of the couch. I couldn't play with my kids. I hated myself because I wasn't the mom I wanted to be. I wasn't the wife I wanted to be. I wasn't alive or dead. I was somewhere in between. Just waiting for someone else to decide for me which way it was going to go.
That was me.
So my husband and my doctors sent me to ED rehab. And they made me open my eyes and LOOK at what I had been doing to myself. Every single time I indulged in one of my ED behaviors was another time I was pulling that trigger. Click. I could no longer detach myself from that aspect of my life. When it was my secret and my secret alone, I somehow managed to disguise it as part of my everyday routine. I hadn't thought of it as an ED for over a decade. Eating disorders were for teenagers and super models, and I certainly did not fit into either of those categories. So I kept on using those behaviors. Click. Click. Click.
Then they took my gun.
It took every single day of those 7 1/2 weeks for me to stop fighting. I don't know who I was fighting, exactly. Some days it was myself some days it was my treatment team. Most days it was ED. There was so much anger that I had held on to and I had no idea what to do with it. Thank god for giving me the gift of being able to express myself through writing. If I didn't have this as an outlet I don't know what would happen. It sure wouldn't be pretty!
Once I had stepped down from residential and was working my way through the partial program, and then IOP and my case worker hesitantly began to bring up going back to work my initial response was "of course I can do it - do I look weak??"
There. There is one of my major MAJOR character flaws that I will grapple with for my entire life.
It's not about showing everybody how strong I am or how much I can take on without breaking into a million pieces. I played that game already. All I got was one foot in the grave and 2 months away from my kids.
How about we try something completely new?
I've always wanted to be a cowgirl. I dreamed of owning a ranch out in Montana and marrying the Marlboro man and drinking Moonshine and rocking in rocking chairs while listening to crickets on the front porch and looking at the clear, wide open night sky that went on forever and just....enjoying being alive.
I'd never enjoyed being alive before.
Ever since I've gotten home from the hospital this summer I have been much more aware of the little happies. My son's toothy grins. My daughter singing under her breath without even realizing it. The one hour of quiet I get to myself at night to just take some me time. Be that reading, or writing, or just sitting on the couch watching my husband slay zombies on his awful video games. Those are only a few of my happies.
We are moving.
In order for us to be able to continue living in this slower, less pressured lifestyle, we are going to need to sell our current home. The mortgage is too large for one person's salary. I have also always thrived in wide open spaces with a lot of sunshine, and our current home can be quite dark and is practically on top of the neighbors. I want our kids to have space to RUN and YELL without someone scolding them or giving them dirty looks (unless that person is me, of course.).
When my husband gave me the go-ahead to set up a meeting with a realtor just to see what the house would sell for, I knew that was my one and only chance to get our wagon packed up and headed out west...ahem, north.
The realtor came first thing the next morning, we had a long talk about prices of properties in the area (looking good these days), how long places were staying on the market (2.5 seconds), and a quick chat about Earl.
I figure if we are going country, the least I can do is give my husband a proper hillbilly name. Poor, poor Earl. Within 72 hours of him saying he might entertain the idea of someday moving to a bigger house up north and selling the house down here, he was coming home to myself and the realtor tunneling through cabinets trying to hide things in every nook and cranny available while Graham happily roamed the living room yelling out the occasional "cooooo-kieeeee!" and being rewarded with a teddy graham tossed over the baby gate. I know I'm not supposed to be driving myself into the ground here, but DAMN you should've seen the before and after of this place. Before you say it, no. Absolutely not. Not for one second did I say "well now that it's all cleaned up I don't even want to move!"
Get the horses hitched up, Earl and stop your whining.
Most people would probably have wanted their spouse to do a good 50% of the hard labor with a job like this, right? Um, no, not me. I asked Earl to handle the porch and the pile of trash in the backyard. I literally assigned everything else to myself. Washing the window frames? Me. Scraping the gunk from the kitchen backsplash thing with a butterknife? Me. Transforming the diningroom from something you'd see on an episode of Hoarders into something you'd see in Better Homes and Gardens.....Me. (And the realtor, of course.)
I'm not upset about this fact at all - I am doing this 100% willingly. I went into this entire project knowing that it was MY idea, MY baby, MY dream. He can't see it yet - he is anxious and worried and I don't want to put more on him than necessary. He still has to work fulltime until we find a place and relocate. I want to make this transition as easy and seamless as possible for every member of this family - my husband included.
Earl was born to be a cowboy, you know.
It's so funny to me, because he was never meant to be a city-boy. He likes the quiet, he likes things to move slowly. He likes nature and he takes pride in doing things on his own (even though he grumbles while he does them.) He doesn't need very much to make him happy. If you asked him, he'd give you some sarcastic response about how he's never happy. That's just Earl. He's a little crotchety. Don't mind him.
So here we go. Onto new things. Big dreams.
If all goes well, in about two months or so we should be one state north of here. I will be able to enjoy watching my family enjoy life. My kids will be happy because their parents will be less stressed out. Earl will still be Earl, but that's what we love about him and we wouldn't change him for anything.
I'm living each moment of each day like it could be my last because 5 months ago it almost was. I could have wasted so many moments being utterly miserable.....and for what? More money? Money to what? Pay a mortgage? For a house that I'm not even really happy in? That just sounds utterly ridiculous, doesn't it?
Jesus Earl, put your damn pants on and pack up the kids. It's time for us to go home.