Resetting My Mindfulness

I am self-destructive.

You wouldn’t know it to look at me because I’m not classically self-destructive. I’m not a big risk taker. Never was one for drugs. Not much of a drinker anymore. I’m not going bareback in any rodeos, if you take my meaning. I wear my seatbelt.

My self-destruction comes more in the form of apathy and neglect. Which makes it hard to detect sometimes. Because some days it’s too much work to give a shit. Some days are meant to be tossed into the trash. Some days you’re just supposed to say “fuck it” and drive on without exercising or properly hydrating and eating like a raccoon raiding the dumpster behind McDonald’s.

Okay, you’re not supposed to, but you do.

Okay, maybe you don’t, but I do.

And sometimes these days blend together to establish a kind of norm and one day something comes along to rattle the cage of my existence and I realize, holy shit, I’m slo-mo blowing up again.

The really tricky part about this is that sometimes this self-destruction focuses itself on one smallish aspect of my life so I really don’t notice it until the behavior sprouts little roots that burrow into my existence and then that weed of destruction becomes even harder to yank.

For example, right now I’m having trouble with my eating habits.

What I mean by that is that I’m eating by habit. I’m not eating because I’m hungry. I’m eating because I usually eat at this time of the day. Managing my depression leaves me somewhat routine dependent, so I do tend to do things at the same time most days. I get up at the same time, exercise at the same time, shower at the same time, eat at the same time.  And while this is very useful, it also leads to mindlessness. It leads to eating my snack at three because it’s three and not because I’m hungry.

More troubling is my response to realizing that I’m doing this.

It’s nine o’clock. Time for my evening snack. I’m not really hungry. Oh well. I’ll eat it anyway.

What? No! Bad self!

Aside from the fact that eating when I’m not hungry isn’t a good idea in general, I also have a couple of digestive issues, including GERD, so eating when I’m not hungry is EXTRA not good. It’s particularly distressing that my response to this is, “Oh well,” and doing it anyway.

This behavior is tied directly to the apathy of my self-destruction, the neglect of my self-destruction, the utter not-caring-about-myself of my self-destruction.

So, I must be mindful. I must reset my behavior back to mindfulness. Depending on the situation, it can be quite a task.

In this case it means doing the thing I absolutely loathe: tracking everything I eat. I’ve written before about turning food into math and the guilt that comes with it, so there’s some natural apprehension that I’ll become obsessive about every food particle I put into my mouth. However, this time I’m approaching it a little bit differently.

The point of this very conscious food tracking isn’t to restrict my calories, but to be aware of what I’m eating, when, and why. The point of this is to be mindful about my eating. The point of this to reinforce the idea that I don’t have to eat a snack at three o’clock because it’s three o’clock.

The point of this is to re-educate myself on LISTENING to my body.

And then responding with something better than an apathetic, “Oh well”.

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Those Self-Destructive Weeks

mushroom cloudI have a bit of a self-destructive streak that I try not to indulge actively. It’s not a seriously overt thing, really. I don’t take risky gambles with my life like challenging biker gangs to duels or riding a unicycle along the edge of a cliff or attempting to bake. I just actively don’t care about myself.

I did it again last week.

Most of the time, these self-destructive days, or in this case a whole week, aren’t planned. One thing sets it all off, like lighting the fuse on a string of fire crackers, and I’m just like, “Fuck it.”

What set me off last week was a Cubs playoff game on Monday night that went into extras. The regular nine innings didn’t get over until midnight and four more innings were played after that. The game didn’t get over until quarter til two in the morning. Had this been the regular season, I would have bailed long before midnight as I was looking at working both day jobs the next day. But this is the playoffs, man. If the Cubs would have won that night, they would have clinched the NLDS. It was important that I stay up and watch this game, grown-up obligations  be damned!

But they didn’t win. They lost. And I didn’t go to sleep until 2:30 that morning.

Fuck it mode engaged.

Because I knew I wasn’t sleeping Tuesday night either because I work until midnight for floorsets, if I’m lucky. I got out of this one late. And then had to drive home. Another two in the morning bedtime.

These two sleep-deprived nights were used as an excuse to self-destruct for the rest of the week. It was the excuse to eat like garbage, to continue to not get adequate sleep (except for Wednesday night when I slept a solid 9 hours because exhaustion couldn’t be beat), to drink way too much coffee, to not exercise (outside of my hour-long walks; somehow I still managed that), to drink more beer than I should when I shouldn’t, to basically just wreck myself.

And I knew that’s what I was doing, too. I knew that I shouldn’t, but I did it anyway. I looked at it and went, “Well, I already started this shit show on Monday, so I may as well just finish it out.”

I don’t recommend this tactic. By Sunday night I was feeling like hot garbage and eating Tums like they were my favorite candy. I also didn’t like myself very much for not hitting the emergency stop on like Wednesday. I admit that I could stand to loosen my grip on my control issues once in a while and let things flow, but this is not one of those issues. I wasn’t particularly thrilled about not being able to get my shit together in a timely fashion and instead just gave in to the chaos.

So, this week comes what I like to think of as the hard reset.

This week I have to go to bed at a decent hour (this is an ongoing struggle of my life, though, so…). I have to mind what I eat closely so my gut can recover. Ditto minding the coffee intake. I have to make every workout. I have to put off finishing that six pack. I have to get back into the regular, boring-old groove.

Build myself up again in time for the next spontaneous combustion.