Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Uncle Mike

That week or so after my birthday was wonderful: I was feeling great, I was on track, I was looking at life in a more positive way.

And then my uncle died.

I didn't crumble right away. In fact, the day I learned of his death, the day I set out for the drive to Pittsburgh for his funeral and the day after I returned, I still went on my scheduled walks. While in Pittsburgh -- by myself and in a very fragile state -- I managed to stick to my food plan for the most part ("for the most part" because I ate some of my aunt's homemade biscotti).

It wasn't until after I returned that I fell apart.

My dad, who passed away in 2007, was one of seven children. He was the oldest, and his death, while sudden and unexpected, wasn't unexpected, if that makes sense. He lived a hard life and did a lot of damage to his body. He suffered many demons -- most I believe brought on by his time in Vietnam -- and, as a result, his family suffered, too. He was 63 when he died, but I think we lost the real Carmen D'Abruzzo decades before.

My Uncle Mike was the youngest boy. He was quiet and hardworking. He wrote poetry and loved the Three Stooges. He would drop everything to help you if you needed him. And he doted on his wife and daughter. He was 57.

His death hit me hard. My heart ached, not only for the loss of a wonderful man, but for the family he left behind. I also was faced with going to the same funeral home, the same church, the same cemetery and the same hall where my father's services were held. And my grandmother's. And my grandfather's. I spent so much energy just trying to hold myself together.

When I got back from Pittsburgh, I noticed that my attitude, my spirit had shifted. I tried to summon those good feelings I had for that short time between Oct. 29 and Nov. 3. But I was spent. I didn't walk at all that week. And by the following weekend, my eating was out of control once again.

Three steps forward, five steps back.

I still haven't gotten out of this dark place, and it's not just affecting my health. At work, every task is taking me three, four times longer than it used to take me. I can't concentrate. And I'm all over the place with my train of thought. It doesn't help, I'm sure, that I'm taking on more duties at the moment. But whereas I used to be able to work at home even after my shift, now I just crash.

It's the vicious cycle -- when I walk and eat well and get a lot of rest, I feel great. When I don't, I feel awful -- but so awful I can't even think about walking or eating right or getting proper sleep. That's why those days at the end of last month were so precious to me. I was feeling like I had the momentum to go all the way. Now I'm back in that place where I can't see a beginning.

I still have my neatly marked calendar leading up to October 2014 detailing the walks I need to get in and the weight I need to lose. While it didn't take me long to get off track, I still have 11 calendar pages left and that's not nothing. I'm praying for the ability to get out of this hole -- once again -- and embrace the good and shoot for the moon.

I'd like to think I have one more angel cheering me on.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Journey Begins With a Single Step

Happy November, everyone!

The start of my 40th year has been really nice. I spent my birthday around some of my favorite people and was gifted with messages of love from precious friends. Typically, I dread getting older, but this year, I embraced the 39 years because it meant I had 39 years' worth of memories and experiences, and I know I would not have met the people I've met if not for all 39 years. Instead of grieving over the friends I no longer hear from, I made it a point to remember the really great birthdays shared with them in the past. I've come to accept that some people are only in our lives for a short time, but that doesn't take away from our time together. And along those lines, I know that this time I'm spending in D.C. is fleeting, so I try to embrace every moment with these friends while I can.

Depression sometimes takes me into such a deep hole that I can't see how blessed I am. So I truly appreciate those times when I'm outside the hole -- when I can look around and see the people who have accompanied me on different parts of my journey and feel the gratitude I have for them.

The start of my 40th year has also been nice because I'm focusing on making it good. Taking it not just one day at a time, but one moment at a time. Trying to make better choices and view situations differently.

I know it was probably a little jolting to see me return to this blog after such a long time -- and after watching my scale go up and up each time I checked in -- and see that I've chosen such a daunting goal. It's hard to explain why I want to do a marathon. But this 2009 blog post sums it up pretty well. I just love running long distances. And I miss being able to run for hours and feel good. It is truly not about the race but about the journey.

The journey would begin with simply getting out the door and enjoying small walks. A month later, maybe adding a minute of running to those walks. Watching myself be able to run a tiny bit more with each 3-miler. Giving myself very modest weight-loss goals (either 1 or 2 pounds a week) and meeting them by eating the proper fuel my body needs. Increasing those distances on weekends, but not by much. And being realistic about my history, asking myself "Are you on track?" as each month passes, and accepting what it means if I am not.

It's a journey I look forward to. I honestly could not care less about the Marine Corps Marathon medal. But, boy, how I can't wait to run throughout this grand city and beyond.