For obvious reasons, I’m reflecting a lot on my health and what the future and my aging looks like. This reflection has inspired me to not have one sip of alcohol in 4 days. This is a big deal because I had cut back to one hard seltzer (If you’ve not tried them, they’re only 100 calories and only 4% alcohol. They’re basically alcoholic LaCroix) every night before bed. I’ve also not hit the drive-through for french fries in over a week. I’m not counting calories or anything, but I’m listening to my body and eating when I’m hungry instead of when I’m stressed or bored. I’m trying to walk more.
All of these are very minor things but y’all? They take SO MUCH ENERGY.
You just don’t know how dependent you are on unhealthy coping mechanisms until you try to give up those unhealthy coping mechanisms.
And I probably would have given up and gotten french fries last night if A) It wasn’t raining and B) Mom lived anywhere close to a McDonald’s. So my success is not entirely owed to willpower. It’s also built on convenience and bad weather.
Practically speaking, I am well aware that I use unhealthy methods to cope with sadness and anxiety. I have seen it since I was a smoker. But I really do not deeply understand how interwoven those instincts are with my every breath until I try to give them up. I’ve been dosing myself up with benadryl every night now to try to induce the calming effects of that one hard seltzer. This is two-fold because I’m allergic to Mom’s cat and every early Spring blooming tree, so I also need the benedryl, but it also takes the edge off in the way hard seltzer normally does.
I’ve been remembering how exhausting it was to quit smoking because basically every second of every day I had to be in FIGHT mode as I was resisting the urges to smoke and I was just drained of every other instinct. I intentionally quit on Christmas Day because Eliah was going to his Dad’s for a week and I could just wallow in my misery and not take it out on him. Donnie and I won a trip to Nashville over that stretch of time and he remembers it so fondly and I remember just being miserable because I kept seeing people smoking and wishing I could join them.
Changing habits is emotionally draining and I’m remembering all of that now.
But I also see how stressful things look when you dealing with chronic high blood pressure or renal stress or any of the other things my Mom is dealing with right now. I can barely keep my shit together during allergy season, if I had that many other things ailing me I’d be an anxious mess and since I have unhealthy coping instincts, I would just be adding to my health problems with more unhealthy habits. So I’m seeing a greater motivation to try to change my habits before I have to keep long lists of pills and blood pressure data points and worry about creatinine levels and…and…well, you get the point.
It is also easier to break bad habits when you are already out of your routine. I’m not in my town half of the week where I can easily plan my life around McDonald’s or alcohol. I’m at my Mom’s half of the week where I’m running on HER schedule so it’s easier to break those reflexes since there aren’t the environmental triggers here.
It’s a shift. Hopefully for the better and in the right direction. I’ve always just replaced one bad coping habit with another. Maybe this time I can rewire the coping deeper and turn inward more often.
I mean, a lot can change in 6 months, and that’s how long my Mom will be without a license so that’s how long I’ll be here half of every week. Maybe when it’s all over she and I will both be better off.