18 Months Later: If you change nothing, nothing will change.
2 years ago I used to fantasize about a better version of me.
The fantasy me would be healthier both mentally and physically.
She would be happy, she would take joy in life. She would be running again. She would laugh more. She would be stronger, dignified and have self belief and self respect.
I wouldn’t be stuck in a dead end relationship where I wasn’t getting my emotional needs met. I wouldn’t be constantly wondering about the validity of said relationship because I never felt valued.
I would fantasize that the man I was with and loved so deeply would step up to the plate and be that person I wanted him to be.
I imagined a me that either had a better dad and by better I mean a dad that is not narcissistic and victimizing, but one that wasn’t manipulative and just a genuine person floored like the rest of us but ultimately good.
When I was in my early twenties and really at the start of my anxiety and depressive journey when I fantasied about a better me, I didn’t even refer to the better version in the first person. It was so far removed from the current me, that I referred to myself in the third person.
As time went on and my confidence grew in small ways a shift happened and in my fantasy I suddenly started to referring to myself in the first person and my ideal me was not just one with more money (because I assumed my problem in life was financial because that’s what my dad kept putting me down for not having a better job that paid more.)
My fantasies evolved with me, and looking back what I hadn’t realized at the time was that I was actively achieving some of the things I was fantasizing about doing/being.
I cut ties with my dad.
This was a huge decision, softened by the fact that my sister had done the exact same things decades before me but still huge. At the time the gravity of that was literally in the act of cutting ties with him but, I understand it differently now.
I had kept my relationship with my dad going because despite everything he put me through I still wanted him to be the father I had needed the dad I wanted.
I had been holding on to the idea that he would change and he would be that role model and not a narcissist who continued to make me feel bad about who I am because I’m not who he thinks I should be.
I cut ties with dad because I let go of that dream.
Finally understanding that no matter how much I wished things could be different they never ever will be and he will always be a bad person.
I needed to let go for the sake of my sanity.
18 months ago I hit rock bottom
It had been about 6 months since cutting ties with my dad and in that time I had begun to remember a lot of things that I had suppressed for so long.
I think they had been suppressed because it was the only way that I could still spend time with my dad without constantly shouting ‘how could you?!?’
Particularly surrounding the multiple times he told me he wanted to kill himself which was usually in conjunction with me pointing out floors in his personality, or when I wasn’t doing what he wanted me to or believed his lies.
In those first 6 months I got myself into some states over the memories and it’s really when the drinking started to spiral.
At the same time my relationship with my boyfriend was going down the pan because we wanted different things out of life but most importantly we were speaking two very different languages emotionally and that had after over 2 years of us, finally taken its toll.
I had reached a point of blurriness, drinking heavily and feeling sorry for myself when the light bulb moment had occurred.
I had been immersing myself in the TV show ‘Being Human’ not only did I identify with being on the fringes of society in some ways but also, the OG vampire and the new one are nice to look at.
When one of the characters was asked what the definition of madness was.
A couple of hours later I was reading an article (completely unrelated to the tv show) and that very same definition cropped up again.
Ultimately I did not want to be sitting in the living room in my flat in the dark cradling my dog and a bottle of Malbec in 3 and a half years when I turn 40. In fact I realized, I didn’t want to do that for a second longer let alone in 3 and a half years time.
At the time the plan had simply been to start running again, to be able to run the Brighton Marathon 2020 which was the goal I had set and thanks to Covid19 yet to achieve, and to go on the 30 day sugar detox as a way of cutting out alcohol without actually having to tell people I am cutting out alcohol.
The things I have achieved since are exponentially greater and to my mind demonstrates that you can do anything when you set your mind to it.
I have taken 8,819,123 steps
I have ran 860 miles (469 of which are just in 2020 alone)
I have lost 85lbs
I have dropped from a BMI of 33.4 to 21.7
I have dropped 6 dress sizes
I have been sober for 14 months
I have been vegan for 10 months
In the last 2 months I have broken my own running PB’s for 5k, 10k and half marathon without even intending to.
My resolve has been tested considerably in the last 3 months and its in overcoming our difficulties that measures our success far more than the achievements.
1 week before the lock-down I was told my dog has an inoperable soft tissue malignant tumor a week after this we had to self isolate.
Living alone is wonderful when you’re allowed to leave, and I found no human contact incredibly difficult. Which on its own was tough but add the fact that I was suddenly coping with the news that my dog is dying was crushing and I struggled not to feel lonely and isolated but I still did not once think of picking up a bottle of wine.
18 months ago either one of these issues would have caused me to spiral and get drunk every night to numb the pain, and the fantasies of a better version of me would have been stronger than ever.
But not now. I don’t fantasize about a future me, a better version, the best version of myself because I am that version now.
I am happy, I do take joy in life. I am a runner again. I laugh more and mostly at inappropriate moments. I am stronger, dignified and I have self belief and self respect.
One thing I also realized was I had spent a lot of time wishing my then boyfriend would step up and be the person I needed, when actually that was for me to do for myself.
I put a lot of expectations on him and actually I didn't always appreciate him for who he is.
I projected my own shortfalls on him sometimes, and even though we will always speak two different languages on an emotional level and therefore inevitably we would have split up, we may have had more good times than bad, had I have not laid that expectation on him.
I have not always enjoyed my own company in this lock-down, largely because I really like talking and Flash now actively pretends to be asleep when I start talking to him.
I started cleaning, for something to do and in the first 2 weeks of lock-down alone I deep cleaned the oven twice and the freezer was de-iced thrice. I re-organised my wardrobe, sharpened all my coloring pencils and I even did some dusting.
Though my oven has never been cleaner and my ornaments have never been shinier, it is nice that I evolved beyond the cleaning phase.
If we do have a second wave and go into lock-down version 2.0 then I know, we all know we will be OK because we’ve already done it. Plus I might come out of the lock-down 2.0 with a six pack like I had when I was 14.