…And…

11 08 2016

The genesis of this blog was a challenge to myself to make and keep in my mind and heart a connection between my own struggles with weight and the growing numbers of people in the US who were living with food insecurity, if not outright hunger. It began with a profound moment of humility – what right did I have to live a gluttonous life while others starved?

Over the first couple of years, Jenion became a repository of self-revelation: what I was learning about myself in the process of awakening to and changing my life. As I lost weight, I also shed many self-deceptions, delusions, limiting beliefs. In each post I tried to share as honestly and completely as I could what I was learning, discovering, or feeling. Sometimes, it was painful to share. Sometimes, it was joyful. Always, it was as honest as I could make it – what I was experiencing without glamor: shame, vulnerability, binges, loneliness, gassy bloating. (I also shared good and positive insights and experiences!) A number of people, you perhaps, resonated with those posts. I heard from people who felt I’d put their own experiences or feelings into words. Sometimes, people called me brave for sharing so openly and for uploading photos of myself on a scale each week, in order to hold myself accountable to the truth of my choices.

Eventually, my posts shifted again. I had made many changes in myself and my life – and I wanted to keep those changes going. My posts, at least to my mind, shifted toward positive self-talk and inspirational messages. If I look over the past several years of Jenion, key words like perspective, love, openness – pep talks and rainbows – show up quite a lot. There wasn’t less honesty, but there has been less personal sharing – which is a very fine distinction when one is writing a blog that purports to be about truthful self-discovery. I began shying away from the “warts and all” philosophy I originally brought to Jenion. I became less brave.

Why was this the case? In part, I didn’t want to let everyone down. I began to feel like I wasn’t living up to the promise of those early years of awakening. Shouldn’t I be happier? My life, my self, had changed for the better – wouldn’t it bum everyone out if I didn’t continue to express the inspirational joy those changes wrought? I had taken some risks -wouldn’t my friends and family worry more if I wrote directly about how I was struggling? How could I fully share my feelings of failure or depression or anxiety without offering an uplift in the end? That would depress everyone. It would depress me.

Yesterday, I came home after a day at work where every five minutes brought another crap-bomb detonation. I came home after a painful first visit to a physical therapist for shoulder pain. I came home after a disappointing workout at the gym, where I barely managed an elevated heart-rate (in part because I am taking medication which actively prevents an elevated heart-rate).

Who am I kidding? I’m already damn depressed.

I sat at my computer and typed into Google: menopause and…Even before I typed in the word I intended to use to complete that phrase, up came a list:

anxiety

depression

fatigue

hair loss

headaches

You get the idea, even without reading the entire alpha listing of symptoms. Throw in weight gain, fear of death, existential anger, and an incredibly divisive political climate tearing families and friends apart…and you have the picture of my life right now. The difficulty is in parsing out which of these symptoms is physiological in its genesis, which emotional or psychological. This distinction is probably only academic – the real question being: what can I change and what do I just have to find a way to manage?

I never intended Jenion to become a blog about life as a middle-aged woman coming to terms with what that means. As an “elevator speech”, that sentence sucks. Perhaps that’s why I’ve contorted so many posts to end with some kind of hopeful upturn, even when it felt falsely peppy. What I did intend Jenion to be – an unflinchingly honest account of my own quest to be a better person, life a fuller life, make some kind of difference in my world (and if that helped anyone else in their quest in any way, that would be great) – got a little off track. I love Jenion; I love posting once a week – in some ways, it has taken the place of a journal. But I love it most when I speak from my heart, not from my self-delusions. If that doesn’t feel peppy and uplifting enough for anyone else to read, so be it. For those prone to worry about me: I’m ok, just struggling with this ordinary thing called life. Just like everyone does.

In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

–from “The Layers” by Stanley Kunitz

 

 

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5 responses

11 08 2016
allisonj81

I feel you on this – so much! When I moved to Texas, I did it because I knew it was what I needed for myself; it was what I needed to help my life move forward. I was struggling where I was at, big time. My life was stagnant and, even though a lot of people doubted me and thought I was crazy, I needed to shake things up in a big way. So I did, and it was good – I don’t doubt or question my decision. But I still struggle. I never thought that I would be magically healed of the depression I’ve always struggled with, or that all of my issues would suddenly disappear. And yet, I feel this shame from letting anyone know that I struggle; that there are days when I am so lonely or anxious or depressed… I don’t want people to worry or doubt or judge… Because I know I’m fine and that it’ll pass. So, all of this to say, I feel you 🙂 and I think it will be helpful to hear that someone else feels what I feel sometimes.

18 08 2016
jenion

Wow, thanks so much for sharing this! I think sometimes we get a skewed view of how happy we SHOULD be because what we see from others, mostly through social media, is their best, curated moments. So we start to feel that our whole life should be as good as other people’s curated ones. And that just isn’t reality – even for people who don’t struggle with depression or anxiety on a regular basis! I think its wonderful that you took the chance to change your life! I’ve always been proud of The Allison!

18 08 2016
allisonj81

That means more than I can say. 🙂

11 08 2016
katielookingforward

well thank you for being honest, its okay to forget the peppy, i put it in, but mostly because i need to hold on to the optimism, but its always good to know that others are there, and know how much things sometime suck.

18 08 2016
jenion

Thanks so much for commenting – I know, it helps me to hold onto it too. Sometimes, I’m writing mostly to keep myself on track!

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