This Journey’s a Beach

at the beachI wrote this while sitting on the sands of Point Pleasant Beach, NJ yesterday…..

I had been looking forward to today. I love this beach, boardwalk, shops and everything about it. I had hoped Hurricane Sandy’s damage had been minimal and the people of this town were thriving. I had plans. I wrote it down, I thought I was ready for it. I was going to be here by 6 am to watch the sun come up over the water while I smelled the salt air and briskly walked the boardwalk back and forth. I was going to prepack all my food for the day and be cutely creative. I was going to wear a 2 piece bikini and rock it like I never thought I could do.

But by Friday night, my “oomph” for my beach day simply left and I wondered if it was worth the trouble at all. I had started to get the car ready. Then a phone call came in. Then an emergency came in. Then various phone calls from family members, my ex-husband, my daughter and others with all their individual dramas had me up until midnight and no closer to being ready. I was going to go to bed early.

I was gonna, I was gonna, I was gonna….and it was all GONNA go down the drain.

I hate it when I think I have something perfectly planned and then it goes to crap.

I was emotionally spent. The past few days I’ve had about 4 hours of combined sleep from phone calls, drama filled events and my own brain racing about my future. I had a very unplanned high calorie snack…and then some.. and then hated myself for it. I started crying. I wondered if I could do anything right. What if “they” could see me.  You know..the THEY that are always there from our past, our present, our mistakes and in our own head.  Questioned my value as a parent. Hated my aloneness and my life at that moment in time. I knew it was sleep deprivation and sugar talking. I listened to one more vent on the phone from the ex-husband with my eyes closed and wishing very bad things. Then Katie texted me telling me that she was sorry… for the texts and calls I was getting. And she told me how much she loved me. I cried some more and felt…I don’t even know if I have a word to describe the soup I felt in my head. (See, I describe things with FOOD!)  I fell into bed, unpacked, unprepared and hoped I’d hear my alarm at 5 am. And didn’t really care if I didn’t.

I did hear it. I hit the snooze. I got up and laid down again. I got up, dressed and put on jeans and a t shirt. Changed into a tank top and capri’s. Pondered the bathing suit that was hanging on my door still with the tags from the store hanging on it. No. Not today. Not in the mood. Still didn’t know if I was going to be able to get out the door and head to Jersey. My cat, Stella, meowed longingly at me as if to say, “You’re leaving me.” I snapped at her. Told her to just leave me alone.

I looked at the clock, shaking my head. I should have been on the road by now. I didn’t even have a full tank of gas in the car yet. I quickly and half heartedly grabbed my insulated bag and threw in a couple apples, a couple of yogurts and quickly stuffed 2 raw bell peppers with deli turkey meat and low fat Swiss cheese. It didn’t look cute, creative and only slightly palatable. I stuffed them in plastic baggies, grabbed a few ice water bottles from the freezer (I always have some in there), threw it all in. Consulted my list I made earlier in the week of what I wanted to take. Food. Towel. Chair. Tablet for writing,(I call it my i-tablet, I have pen, I have a tablet…i-tablet) a book I’d been trying to read for months. My reading glasses and some pens. I’m good. What more do I need, I’m a gypsy.

I looked at the kitchen and remembered my die hard rule that I always told my daughter, Katie. You don’t party or go out until all dishes and the kitchen is clean. I forced myself to wash the dishes and the mix of culinary disaster and food porn from the night before. Did I really eat all that? What the hell was I thinking? I don’t even remember MAKING THAT. Oy. That’s how it happens when the stress and emotions kick up and you’re on the phone and next thing you know you’re mixing sugar free pudding, fruit, cereal, frozen yogurt and other things in there. God knows, there could have been meat in there for all I remember. Not there’s anything wrong with meat. It just reminds me of binge drinking, it’s the same frenzied physical response. You just DO, you don’t think.

No weigh in today. I can’t face the scale today. It’s already blaringly obvious I’m up. Why beat myself over the head with it? I’ll do it tomorrow, maybe. But no later than the next day. I already felt like shit, didn’t need to reinforce it. Today, we’re going to try to cleanse the brain and restore my faith in life and humanity….and sleep.

Got on the road, begrudgingly got gas (ugh, gas prices) and hit Route 309 south. Immediately after getting on the highway, a car flew right past me, beeping. I was puzzled. I didn’t cut them off. Guess he’s in a hurry. Another one flew past me. I really didn’t care. I looked down and saw I was going about 7 miles under the speed limit. I didn’t care. Traffic was fairly light. They can go around me.

Why was I even going? Well, my sister, neice and a friend were meeting me at the beach and were expecting me to be there. That was really my motivating reason, I still felt apprehensive and down on myself for a lot of things.

I turned on the Sirius XM radio and put on my favorite electronic dance music to raise my mood. Like a psychic fortune cookie, a song by Skrillex came on called Bangarang. Katie hates this song, but I’ve always loved it and always loved how it raised my mood and it was coming to the rescue. I smirked… a little. I was getting my mood back.  When I got on the Jersey turnpike and saw the sign that read “Shore Points Exit 7A”, it finally became a full blown smile.

Soon I was crossing the bridge into Point Pleasant Beach and smelling the salt air. Already I could feel my brain being scrubbed of the negativity. I pulled into a very close parking spot at 7:48 and grimaced slightly. So much later than I wanted to start. But I was here. Now. Let’s rock and roll. I paid for my parking permit and started walking on the boardwalk before my sister called me. I looked around and saw the other walkers, runners, bikers, skateboarders (did I leave anyone out?) We were all out there wishing each other good morning. All ages, all colors, all body shapes and sizes. All of us in harmony doing our thing before the beach opened up for swimming. Nobody here knew I totally screwed up the night before. They didn’t need to know and they didn’t care. We were all out here TOGETHER.

Then it hit me… like it usually does… this whole thing was like my journey at times.

I started out feeling like garbage and so angry at myself for letting life and people get to me. I really didn’t WANT to do it, but people were counting on me. But the more you force yourself to clean it up, get in there, get serious and just DO IT right… it gets better. It gets good.

I met up with the group and I had already had several miles in on the pedometer. We set up our spot on the beach and it wasn’t a day of girlie gabbing. We were all there to purge ourselves of the yuck that was in our brain. This was a sisterly commune of taking in the vibrations of the sea and letting it wash us clean to start our week again with new life. I slept off and on for several hours (yes, I so needed that). I ate the food I brought. I didn’t feel like swimming but I wanted to get some sun. So I stripped down to my underwear knowing it could pass for a bikini and did just that. (Always wear pretty stuff in case you need to strip down! Like Mama said, always wear clean…and pretty… underwear… ok MY Mama didn’t say that but I AM saying to wear pretty underwear. Sigh…this is getting tangled…). After I woke up from a second nap and had lunch, I immediately starting doing some writing. I hadn’t done this in months and my brain was choked from lack of expression and it was screaming out my thoughts.

A guy on a trike even rolled past trying to get us to buy ice cream, soda and other crap. Nope, not tempted. I’m prepared… and so grateful that I was prepared.

I felt so clean in the brain again. I could think. I could process. I could laugh. The nightmarish conversations from the night before didn’t seem so bad. I didn’t hate myself anymore. I didn’t consider myself a bad parent, a loser in love or a food junkie that couldn’t quit her habit. I was me. In all my glory, perfectly flawed. Like that old photograph in the cracked frame, it’s got character and it just wouldn’t be the same if it looked brand new. That’s me. A few wrinkles from time and laughing. A few cracks from stress that make me… me. And I’m ok with that. I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s why there’s different FLAVORS of tea! Yup, these are the thoughts that roll through my head.

We stayed well past sunset and I parked several blocks from my sister so I trekked down to my car. Thought about extending my parking and staying another couple hours or into the starry night on the boardwalk…but thought, no. My time here today is done. I’m tired and need to get home to prepare for my week. There will be other days.

On the way back, my “trusty” GPS really goofed and had me jump off the New Jersey turnpike early. If I hadn’t been tired, I probably would have questioned it and gone with my gut. But since I had no coffee today (believe it or not), I found myself in the back streets of Freehold,NJ. Lost. Really lost and turned around. The GPS got totally screwed up because there was massive construction on the turnpike too. So finally I stopped in at a franchise hotel and talked to a very nice check in clerk who gave me simple directions to get back to the turnpike and told me which way I should be headed. I didn’t panic. I didn’t yell at my stupidness and go all fifty shades of Pam’s Profanity. I just stopped. Breathed. Thought it out and asked for help.

Yeah…. You know it. So much of this day, like our journey. We will plan things out. We will think we got it all going right and then there will be roadblocks and stuff that falls in our path. Keep calm. Ask for help when you need it. It’s all about keeping our head. Like I tell my kids, nothing good comes of anger. We will make mistakes. We don’t know how to fix things if they never break. We don’t appreciate good times unless we have some bad. Life really is a roller coaster.

One day at the beach can wipe out weeks worth of damage. Sometimes we just need to take a little break from life, step back and then jump right back into the fray again.

Sometimes we start out for different reasons.

Sometimes we don’t even want to start out.

Sometimes we just don’t feel like it, but we gotta go through the motions.

Sometimes we get lost.

Sometimes we cry.

Sometimes people are going to pass us and we will feel sluggish and a failure. Keep on. We all have our own pace.

Sometimes…well, most times… it really doesn’t matter what THEY think. But what do *I* think of myself, my actions, my words?

But sometimes….we come out at the end feeling quite different and ONEderful.

and when I walked in the door, Stella meowed at me. I petted her and said, “I’m good now. The bitch just needed the beach.” And she meowed in agreement.

Categories: Weight Loss | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “This Journey’s a Beach

  1. Thanks Pam. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy and can beat myself up better than anybody. You make me feel better. The beach always restores my soul. Julie

    • I find the sea air so invigorating. That and the lovely sound of the waves lapping the shore and the gulls crying. It was the best naps of my life! :) And yes, we are our own worst enemies. We know our buttons. We know just how to “get” to us. We gotta stop that. But it’s one of those things we work at EVERY DAY!

  2. Good Morning Ms Pam…I am not that close to the beach that I can do what you did…but it was wonderful to read your heart. Thanks so much for sharing…it makes me feel good to know the thoughts I have are not abnormal and I too can really “tear me apart” and know I am supposed to love me…my run away place is the woods here in the Smokie Mtns…walking trails do wonders for my soul…I just love to go to the woods. I needed to read that this morning. Re-gather myself and re-focus and you so much helped me to do that. I sat there and breathed in that lovely salt air with you too…thanks for being real. Have a great day & week. Linda

  3. I don’t think I have ever commented like this before but here goes! Pam, this is wonderful and somewhat like an experience i had this past week. A week ago we went on vacation with our 2 daughters, sons-in-law and four grandchildren. We do this every year and I was really excited. Planned everything down to the last detail! I Packed my food for the trip over and took my lunch into McDonald’s with me when we stopped for lunch. It was a first for me and I was nervous but so excited to be OP and doing this for myself. Had a great week and I was sad to see it end as I am every year. This year was especially sad with my oldest granddaughter’s health issues and the unknown. We packed up with less regimentation than the trip over. I know the trip very well and knew I could make it home with just a couple of snacks. I knew I could do this! I did not even consider the unexpected. That is a big mistake. How many times have i gotten in the car and taken a book or my knitting–just in case–usually I just end up bringing them back in the house and wondering why I bother to lug them around. My answer–I am prepared! AHA! Why can’t I translate that to my eating??? from now on I will. On the way home, my husband asked if I minded if we took a detour and stopped at his brother’s flea market. (MY first mental uh0h!) Being a good sport and knowing it was not far out of our way I agreed. My brain said, “Oh boy, the best doughnuts in the world are waiting at you sister-in-law”s table along with cookies, brownies, etc. and my stomach began rumbling. We got there and I left my money in the car knowing everything was for sale. Of course, she offered my my choice–free because we are family! I would like to say I was strong and said no thank you but I was weak and ate a doughnut. Hers are the very best. I was strong enough to eat just one and nothing else. I passed up her offer to take one or two in the car for the ride home! We began our journey home and I was able to rationalize that it was only one doughnut! We came through a city that was celebrating its 250th anniversary and traffic was rerouted. An hour later we were back on our way and had no way to get to the eating place we usually stop at. the one that has the best salads! By now my husband is really hungry and since he is a hypoglycemic (diagnosed), it is important for him to eat. A double whammy asI had not planned for him either. i thought I knew what the trip held and I thought I could handle it! We traveled awhile and exited to a small town. In the parking lot of a restaurant, my husband asked if there was a Subway nearby. The man he spoke with said it was in the town about ten miles back but there was a nice pizza place up the street with great subs. I guess by now you know I was kicking myself up and down! Hubby HAD to eat some protein so to the pizza place we went. I asked for a veggie sub and asked the man if he would use just half a sub roll and put the veggies on that. He looked at me for a minute and I guess he decided I looked normal and said “Yup”! I ate it with a knife and fork and a glass of water. Did not eat all of the roll and was quite proud of myself. It wasn’t the best answer maybe, but it was the best answer I could figure out in a less than perfect situation. I did not let it drive me to binge as I would have done in the past. I felt good that I made the best decision I could–even if someone else had made a better decision in the same situation. I am learning! I am taking baby steps in the right direction. I felt good about myself! And then it hit me! Like the road trip, we plan our route but then we take a wrong turn or get in a detour or somehow get off the route we planned. What do we do? We turn around and go the right way or we stop and ask for help. And so it is with this journey. When I get off the planned route, for whatever reason, I need to turn around and get right back on the route or I need to stop and assess the situation and try a different route to get back to where I am going. Best of all I can reach out for help not wallow in the moment and let it lead me to a binge. We do not apologize for turning around on the road so we should not apologize or feel like failures if we turn around and get back on our plan for the day.

    Thank you Pam, for giving me the courage to try so many new things–including writing this post.

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