The period after we moved into the dream house was one of confusion, pain, and rapid change.
At the gym, I was constantly injuring myself. Even though I was consciously trying to rehab my body and correct for kinetic chain imbalances, I was still overdoing the cardio and training past fatigue. It got to a point where I was embarrassed to show up to work with yet another back/shoulder/arm/etc. injury.
Within the first month of moving, my amenorrhea abated, which should have been a cause for celebration. The “problem” was that my body had reached a level of body fat that would allow for proper reproductive function. It also meant that my chronic, hormonal acne increased along with the increase in estrogen in my body. I also started to put on more weight, due to the change in hormones and decreased activity as I compensated for, rested from, or tried to rehab each new injury.
I was still staying out until all hours, still working full time, and still trying to rock a high-protein, low fat diet that would work miracles and turn me into a model. (Although I was lying to myself, as my diet came to include increasingly high levels of carbohydrates–from 30 LifeSaver mints during each of my shifts to multiple servings of dry cereal or a couple of pieces of Ezekiel bread before bed, among other things. My meals became more frequent and my portion sizes were growing bigger. I felt like I couldn’t eat enough to abate my hunger.)
This was a recipe for disaster.
Things also started going downhill with my roommates. I stopped going out at night, because I felt the old anxiety creeping in. Work became increasingly stressful as well, because I was under pressure to get an upcoming promotion–if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent, since my student loans were sucking my bank account dry. The more anxiety I felt, the less I went out. The less I went out, the more anxiety I felt when I actually had to deal with people. I was starting to fall into the same patterns that sent me running for my apartment at the end of each class at Columbia. The spider theory was working in reverse.
The anxiety and the resulting depression and moodiness was off-putting to my roommates, to say the least. This was not the girl they signed up to live with. Now, that said, it’s not like they didn’t earn a fair amount of moodiness from me–their joking verbal “abuse” (that was ever so endearing when we first began to hang out)* started to lose the jocular tone, and I spent most of my time off passive-aggressively cleaning up after their messes in the kitchen and feeding the dog when they forgot. I hoped that the increasingly angry thoughts I was thinking as I furiously scrubbed their week-old dirty dishes, took our their trash yet again, or sat through another retelling of why I was a worthless human being in comparison to them would somehow reach them when they saw the sparkling clean house and heard my silence, and they would repent and stop being disgusting.
Turns out, it didn’t work that way.**
Tensions started to run high in the house, and I confined myself to my room more and more often. My home had become something of a battleground, and work was no longer my haven. Not only was I juggling several stressful roles for not quite enough pay to subsist, but I also had to see my roommates there each day.
I finally had to concede that moving in with my coworkers was a bad idea.
That I couldn’t handle the stress at work.
That I wasn’t going to be a bikini model.
Something needed to shift.
And then my company issued their summer Wellness Challenge.
I strapped on a new pair of running shoes and the entire course of my life changed.
*Part of why they say girls and guys can’t be friends is, I think, implicit in the fact that beyond the sexual component of relationships there’s a mismatch in the way we speak with/to one another. And as (platonic or sexual) relationships mature, our way of communicating doesn’t always align. In other words, being told I was stupid/annoying/worthless didn’t provoke any warning flags because “my boys” (as I thought of them) always followed it up with a laugh, a hug, or an invitation to continue being a part of their lives. And I, not being aware of my own habits in terms of choosing friends, laughed and then moved in with them. But when it came to matters that they weren’t equipped to brush off with a joke, they no longer had the means to effectively communicate with me–and I didn’t have the coping skills or the gift of hindsight to communicate back. So we’ll just say that things went downhill, and there’s no one to blame. It just was what it was: a learning experience.
**Another lesson learned: passive-aggression is just a cop-out. I was too afraid to communicate how I felt when they made me feel disrespected and “less-than” (again, an old, ingrained habit), so I just bottled it up and got angrier and angrier. Eventually my anger started to bleed out into our everyday reality, and they reacted by either ignoring me or blowing up at me–which, in turn, ratcheted my anger up. Passive-aggression, so I’m learning, is useless.