I Am That Girl Now

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Warning: behavior mods can be addictive

Last night was such a good idea, all around, and I'm proud of it.

It turns out that my Hub is not as dead broke as he thought he was, and to celebrate this fact (and deal with our twinned exhaustion), he bought us dinner. Mine was two rolls of mediocre sushi that we picked up on the way to the El; his was a calzone, as per usual. I made myself a wacky-ass dessert-- fried banana (next time, broiled banana, as frying it without oil means that it fuses to the pan and must be scraped off), topped with homemade peanut-butter sauce.

I ate dessert first, for no particular reason other than I wanted to make it immediately and see if it worked, and then I wanted to eat it before it got cold. It wasn't bad, by the way; I could have used half the peanut sauce, easy, because the banana gets mushy and sweet enough on its own. I ate the mediocre sushi second, put down the chopsticks, got up and went immediately to brush my teeth, signaling the end of my food for the evening. Done.

I poked around on the internet for a while, but eventually the aching white noise of exhaustion overtook me and I curled up on the couch under a blanket, only vaguely listening to the TV in the background. I think I ended up sleeping for two hours, one of those hammer-hit sleeps where I come up for air every twenty minutes or so go think "Guh..." and register the existance of the universe for a moment before I go under again. Around 9:30 PM, I came up for air, noticed the time, kissed my Hub good night and stumbled off to bed. He came in a moment later and did a sweet little ritual of tucking me in and making sure all the alarms were set (I'm certain that, if it had occurred to him, he would have checked under the bed for monsters, too-- he's cute that way), and then he went to finish watching his show before he came to bed.

I created an Excel file to check off my accomplishments, as geeky as that is. I'm actually sitting here and plotting out ways to change the file, and other quick tasks that I could add to it. My one rule that I'm applying is that in this file, everything has to be Things I'm Doing For Myself, because I find that those are the things I get around to last. I can't believe I'm in the position of having to train myself to take care of my own needs, but there you go.

There are some things in life that make me operate better, like regular maintenance does for a car. Eating right; drinking enough water; brushing my teeth; getting regular exercise; getting enough sleep; getting some writing done; getting some introspection time; getting some attention from my boy. If I get these things, I am primed to operate at top efficiency, and anything that messes with me is pretty much by definition beyond my control.

The biggest thing has to be sleep. That's number one, now. If I don't get enough sleep, then I'm too tired to be bothered doing everything else. When I thought about it, the one big reason that I got stuff done in the morning and no other time of the day is because by the time I get home from work, I have no more oomph-- I get grumpy, I put things off, I decide it's not important, anyway. And then I get stressed because I never get anything done, and because I'm so tired and so much is placed on my little shoulders and blah blah pitycakes. End result: nothing gets accomplished and, more often than not, I have yet another reason to go put random placebo-food in my mouth rather than admit that my sleep deficit has fucked me over.

I'm really good at getting stuff done in the mornings, which I suspect is because when I skimp on sleep, my body uses up all the energy on being awake for the first twelve hours and then trails off after that. Mornings are booked solid, though-- I mean, literally, I can't think of a minute in there that isn't busy. Any further projects, self-improvement, and behavior mods will require evening time, and evening time with any energy attached requires more sleep. If I can't manage eight hours of sleep every night, I'll just have to start with three nights a week. It's an improvement.

And you know, I really do want more self-improvement. I want to start taking baby steps toward making my evenings productive in a personal way. Most of all, though, I can't resist another round of behavior mods, because, as Maggie said once, it's just the gamer in me coming out. I'm this way about everything that I get involved in; I just want to fix, and tweak, and level up, and find the right combination of moves that will get me the result I want. It's the same mentality, with the added, intoxicating bonus that the results I get are mine in real life. For a woman who spent most of her teens and early twenties feeling completely out of control of her own life, the discovery that I can reshape myself is amazing. It's like I found this set of magical tools and now I just can't... stop... playing!

I love it. I do. I love that this process has helped me develop a very clear sense of my core self versus the orbital parts-- the things that I can change without affecting who I am. That division isn't where I thought it was, and a lot of things that I thought I was powerless over, or that were too valuable to my sense of self to change... well, they've gotten changed or pitched. I can make myself into whatever I want to be, I can learn to like-- and even prefer-- things that I never liked before, I can teach myself new habits that I'd always assumed were something you either got in childhood or never got at all.

Some of my friends find this obsessive behavior-modding to be very weird. I spend a lot of time checking out the inside of my own head and tinkering with it, like a mechanic tinkering with a car, and they find that to be very weird, too. I just think it's fun, and exhilarating in a way-- I mean, this is some serious power. It's hard to get interested in a video game anymore the way that my own head interests me; sad, but true, I have too many games on my shelf that I've only half-finished.

Re-shaping my body comes in a close third to behavior-modding and head-shrinking; I mean, DUDE, today I half-knelt to pick a piece of paper off the ground and my calves stretched to let me do it, stretched at least an inch further than they could just a month ago! I walk like a normal person now, instead of up on my toes-- I did that, I worked out what muscles had to do different things and where the balance should be and what muscles needed to be stronger and which tendons needed to be more flexible, and I worked to build that flexibility and that strength and I watched other people walk and I built my own gait, dammit. I did that. I lost 60 pounds (and it is 60; I re-lost the 10 that came back in the 3-month chocolate disaster and only fluctuate up and down about 3 pounds' worth these days); I built up my stamina and speed so that I could run 5K in less than 30 minutes; I did yoga three times a week for a solid year to become more flexible than I've been in my entire life. (Now I just gotta catch up on building muscle, and it'll all be good. The Meg Trifecta.)

By those standards, I firmly believe that I will be able to change, diminish, and darn near banish my stupid binge-eating disorder. I CAN. It'll always be lurking, but I have the tools, I have the talent, I'm gonna change the way I deal with things and build a ton of new habits and lock that sucker in a cage so tight that if it ever breaks out you'll KNOW I'm having a bad day.

::thumps fist on desk:: So it is written, so let it be done. Might take years and years, but hey, time passes either way, right?


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