The negative side to taking care of yourself

Nobody told me about the negative side to getting back into shape. No, I’m not talking about chaffage. Get yourself some talcum powder, weirdo.

I’m talking about releasing toxins. I wasn’t prepared for this level of toxicity. My rational brain recognizes this is probably a natural part of getting healthy, but my immature brain wants to throw things and break windows.

I was at a coffee shop this morning and the coffee guy got my drink order wrong. I saw it, went to grab it anyway (I don’t care, really), and he snatched it from my hand.

“Oh. I just noticed I got it wrong,” he said and sighed loudly. “I have to make it again.”

Do you know what I said back to him?

“I’m sorry.”

As I took my morning walk, I got really irritated with myself. Why did I apologize?

Then I really started to chew on it.

I’ve spent the better part of my adult life shrouded in a constant haze brought on by daily mild hangovers. I’ve stopped drinking for long periods of time in the past, sometimes brought on by weak finances or sometimes because I was spending a lot of time alone and I don’t drink cocktails when I am alone.

Like any good Irish Catholic, I prefer to hold my insecurities and anger until I’ve had a few cocktails, at which point I will pick a fight, cry to myself, or laugh with my friends until everything negative is shoved back inside that little Thom McCan shoebox tucked in the back of my brain closet. By the time morning rolls around, that shoebox remains safely nestled inside a blanket of metabolizing booze, processed meats, and midnight pizza. Contents unknown.

With this healthful lifestyle, I see it more accurately as contents under pressure.

I have a friend who told me years ago that I tend to take my emotions, write them on pieces of paper, crumple them up, and toss everything in the back of my car just before I drive away. But, she warned me: One day that pile of paper would smack me in the back of my head if I came to a sudden stop.

Well, she was right. If you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor, once the booze and meat melted away, that pile of papers and that shoebox flung themselves at me and all those contents spilled all over the floor. Add that disaster to a week alone in my thoughts, and you, my friend, have a recipe for one heck of a meltdown.

Every slight, every betrayal, every apology I have ever offered when it was completely unnecessary–it’s all coming back.

My morning walk today barely even registered through all the mental conversations I found myself having with people I haven’t even spoken to in years. “No, you’re being selfish!” I screamed in my head. “Why am I apologizing when you’re the one who’s being a dick?!” I shouted.

Groom is really good at withholding apologies. Mostly because he rarely needs to apologize. And, when I’m demanding an apology from him when my feelings are hurt, he typically looks at me with barely concealed amusement. He’ll acknowledge that my feelings are hurt, but he’s not going to apologize just to make me feel better.

I want to be able to do that. I have apologized to so many people for things I didn’t do, because I want people to feel better.

When I see a friend having a bad day, I try to empathize and understand. I’ve had friends say mean things, cutting things, dismissive things, selfish things. You’re having a bad day, so I shall tread lightly. I’m comfortable in that role. I’ve always contended that the submissive and yielding being in a relationship ultimately has the most power. When someone who always says yes finally says no? That’s substantial and powerful.

But, I was shaken down to my very foundation this winter. Unsettling work betrayals, watching colleagues succeed without acknowledging my involvement, being blamed for a friend’s own unhappiness, getting passed over for jobs that fit me perfectly, having friends break plans at the last minute when I needed them most, my dog dying.

I’ve been hoping for Elle Woods’ endorphins, but instead I’ve been saddled with a crippling booze- and cheese-free clarity. All these emotions and unacknowledged slights coming back at me, they’re making me paranoid, irrational, and very very angry. I do not like it.

I’m a happy drunk and a jolly fatso. I’m starting to wonder whether the world would be better served if I went back to riding the Diabetes Express to Heart Attack Land. At least we’ll all be laughing and having fun when I have that stroke.

Sarah Devlin

About Sarah Devlin

Sarah Devlin has been writing about the recreational industry since the late ’90s but ironically can’t run, swim, or bike a mile.