Since the big wraparound desk became my work area, I like to come home and open the curtain directly in front of where I sit. That window looks over our front porch and directly onto Spring Street, which is just a couple hundred feet from where I sit when I draw and paint.
Today, as I was opening the curtain, there was a man walking down the street. He was actually lumbering, it's not just a description novelists use when they get tired of saying "walked" all the time. I admit, my first thought was, "Oh, I'm glad I opened the curtain in time to see a skeevy guy walking past," which sounds super judge-y (and it is) but I live in an area where skeevy guys do walk past the house a lot, so sue me.
This guy stopped after he passed my house, turned back, and started walking through the short patch of grass leading to my neighbor's house, which directly faces my house. It was then I realized he was my neighbor and had for some reason had just walked past his own house mistakenly, and after a moment, I guessed from how he was walking that he was quite possibly drunk.
It's 3 in the afternoon. He is weaving toward the small porch of their house and unsteadily reaches a hand for the handrail. There seems to be a lot of extra care in how he places his feet on the steps, as if he's not entirely sure where the steps are, or if they are even there to begin with. He fumbles with the doorknob for a second and then opens the door and disappears inside.
I realize I am clutching a paint tube and holding my breath.
I realize as I breathe a sigh of relief that I was holding it for him, in case he fell over or something.
I realize that if he has enough going on in his life that being drunk and walking home at 3 in the afternoon was an option, then maybe my own "stuff" ain't so bad.
Maybe he wasn't drunk, maybe he just has really bad equilibrium and sense of direction. But I'm gonna go with drunk on this one.
After my silent breath-holding helped get him into his house, I could focus again on what I was supposed to be doing, which was working on art and coming up with this blog post. How meta of me, right?
We All Have Our Guilty Habits, Mine Is Food As Comfort
I don't drink. I used to, a little. Just enough to enjoy the fruity or chocolatey drinks. But after a while, I found alcohol only made me really tired, and I was basically spending unnecessary money to put myself to sleep. So I quit drinking entirely somewhere around 2010. I have never done drugs, or smoked cigarettes. That's not to say I don't have my vices.
I eat. Or, I used to eat to deal with life. Bored, sad, content, stressed. I would eat. It started when I was eight. I went from being a skinny twig to being chubby and awkward. When things in life were scary or weird, sweets and carbs were comforting and safe. Food was a friend when real friends let me down. I could count on food to be there when other people didn't have my back.
It wasn't a good way of coping. I was extremely overweight a couple of times in my life. I always told myself, "If I was only skinny, things would be so much better. Life would be easier."
In 2012, I lost 76 pounds. I was skinny.
Life never got easier. In fact, some of the hardest things that had happened to me in life happened after I lost that weight. Staying skinny was incredibly hard. I was stressed out, anxious and no longer able to turn to my life's best friend, food. Eventually, it got to be too much, all that pressure to stay skinny and still cope with the chaotic things that were happening. I gained some of the 76 pounds back, gradually, over a couple of years.
I was angry.
Angry that all my life, I was sold the illusion that skinny equaled happy. That life was so much better for skinny people.
I had just as many shitty things happen for me when I was skinny as when I wasn't. I felt like I had been sold magic beans, or a car that fell to pieces as I drove away. I had been let down yet again by the lifelong friend I had thought would be there for me. Food had betrayed me. I believed that if I no longer had to rely on food to make me feel okay, things would be better, but they weren't. I was unhappy with food and unhappy without.
Nobody tells you this. Every weight loss lie is sold with the same conviction: be skinny and be happy. Nobody says that life still hurts when you're skinny. Because that doesn't sell pills and diet food.
So I come back to a man walking home in the afternoon, possibly drunk. I can only judge him for his demons if I am judging myself for mine. He struggles to say no to a bottle, and so do I. Mine just happens to bear a different label.
Can You Relate?
Let me know in the comments if there is a particular habit you've tried to break and how it's going...