Guilt Burger

Today has been a busy day – getting ready for the week ahead and I still have lots I want to do. I really enjoyed my weekend, spending time out at my parents farm. I re-learned some of those lessons your mother teaches you but as a teenager, you ignore…only to find out later what great advice it was.

I have a lot going on in my life right now. Most of which, I’ve brought on myself and I am excited about. However, there are those moments of overwhelm when I can’t seem to catch my breath. Where I feel lost and alone and those voices begin again…

There was a time in my life – well, truthfully, it was all the time; where I would seek solace in food. I was the girl who ate the entire box of school fundraising chocolate almonds secretly in her closet, never having to actually sell a single one. I was the young single mom who made cookies for her son only to eat half of them myself when he wasn’t looking. Had a bad day at work? I’d stop and get chips and dip and gorge myself on them in front of the TV.

Thankfully, I’ve also always been fairly active, so I never became VERY obese – but I did become unhealthy and overweight and exhausted all the time. Most of all, the solace I sought never did come. I would eat and eat and all I would feel was more guilty, more ashamed, more ugly and most of all – still sad, overwhelmed and alone.

Enter stage right…the person I am today…now I am slowly learning to seek comfort elsewhere. In my family and friends. In running. In writing. In doing what I love. But there are days; there are moments like today…

I feel inadequate. I feel like I am a bad mother. I feel like I’ve let my best friend down. I feel like there is so much to do that I’ll never get it all done. I don’t even want to look at the list because the panic rises in my throat every time I do. Waves of negative feelings crash down all around me. No one helps me get the truck unpacked. We’re out of milk again. The kids will complain that all there is for lunches are vegetables. He sits and sits and plays his stupid game. If I had that kind of time, I certainly wouldn’t be wasting it like he does.

I leave the pot of beets simmering on the stove and the squash in the oven. They’re all sitting around, so the house won’t burn down while I’m gone; if they’d even freaking notice. The vegetables need 1/2 hour anyway. And so I drag my butt to the grocery store. As I drive, grumbling, I remember that my credit card doesn’t work since I’ve completely forgotten my PIN for some very strange reason (it’s the card I use ALL the time). Shit! I guess I’m only getting the milk because that’s all the cash I have.

Traffic is slow because it’s holiday Monday and everyone is driving their freaking trailer’s through town. Why the hell does the store have to be a left turn off the damn highway? I see a sign ahead of me, past my turn….A&W…2 Mama burgers with cheese for 5$. I can get two AND get milk. I have a twenty…and so I drive to the next left turn. No wait there…interesting….I grab my burgers and turn right to the CO-OP.

I sit in the parking lot, feeling like a criminal, and eat my burgers. One after the other… It will make me feel better, right? I will forget about all that I have to do. I will stop resenting my husband’s leisure time. I will forget about my feelings of inadequacy. Right? …Right?….RIGHT????

As I sit, I search the parking lot for vehicles I recognize – making sure no one sees the girl who preaches healthy eating chowing down on a cheeseburger…GUILT…I smugly eat a burger that I don’t have to share and I remember the lattes and breakfast he made for me this morning….GUILT…I feel each piece sliding down my throat and remember how good I feel when I run. I’ll have to wait a while before I will feel like running as this sits in my belly…GUILT…the bunch of bananas and a few apples for my kids’ lunch cost as much as these burgers and now the money is spent…GUILT…

By the time I swallowed the last bite of those burgers, I did not feel any better. I felt soooo much worse. My heart was heavy and my shoulders drooped with my shame. I’m sure the cashier wondered about my lack of my usual friendliness. I berated myself. I kicked myself. I hated myself. I climbed back in my vehicle to head for home, beating myself up all the way.

A young man sat on a motorcycle beside me, waiting to turn left while I waited to turn right. He was very young – about the same age as my oldest who I’ve been failing as a mother for this week. His motorcycle was a shiny Harley Davidson – a small, simple one that I guessed he’d saved and bought for himself. His skateboard was strapped to the back and he wore a camo shirt and he had eyeglasses. I thought about his youth and his excitement to be there on his bike. I’m sure his mother worried about him being on that motorcycle. But he didn’t care. I could see the smile on his face. He didn’t care about the traffic. He didn’t care about how much he had to do tomorrow. It seemed to me that he didn’t have a care in the world.

Instead of resenting this boy as I turned away from him, I found myself there with him. I found myself remembering all that I’m thankful for. Remembering all that I’ve been given. All that I’m capable of. I remembered that it’s all in my control – that I control my reactions and my attitude. No one else. Just me. The more I sit and bitch and moan, the worse things always become. The more burgers I eat, the worse I feel. I know what brings me joy. I know what gives me hope. I know that each of my failures have always, ALWAYS taught me something important. No cheeseburger ever taught me a damn thing.

I composed this post in my head as I washed the dishes and felt grateful for them. Yes, I am grateful for dishes. I had to share this story with you. We all have guilt burgers. Each one of us has something that we do to ourselves to help us deal with the pain and the hurt. Each of us is capable of so much more. We just need to figure out what it is that we can find our comfort in. It’s not easy. But then, what in your life has been easy? Hasn’t the hard stuff always made it worth it in the end?

Thankful just to be breathin’

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