Veg Out

I was so hopeful this year when I signed up for a CSA.

My first delivery was super exciting.  I'm going to take a picture of every week's box.

My first delivery was super exciting. I’m going to take a picture of every week’s box.

I thought it would inspire me to cook, try new recipes, try new foods.

I started out strong. I ate veggies, made salads, froze what I didn’t use. I also repeatedly tried to turn kale into something edible in the form of Massaged Kale Salad. Repeatedly this failed miserably. I made Utica Greens. Not so good as the restaurant.

Massaged Kale was sooo good at that retreat I went to.

Massaged Kale was sooo good at that retreat I went to.

A big success were Beetnik Cupcakes. Not exactly the health food I envisioned when I signed up for this program.

Yummy!

Yummy!

Tuesday nights soon became dreaded. They were now dedicated to figuring out how to freeze the cache of veggies for the week. I would be up till midnight chopping, braising, baking veggies so they could be frozen.

Chopped, cooked, braised , ready to freeze.

Chopped, cooked, braised , ready to freeze.

When I could no longer keep up I started giving away veggies. First I took bags of veggies to work. I walked around and asked my employees first if they wanted any. Everyone took something, even the guy that I’ve never really seen eat much of anything but 5 Hour Energy, Mountain Dew and muffins. He says “I’ll try a cabbage” as he takes a squash. Then I would leave the remainder in the break room with a “Please help yourself, I’m overrun with veggies!” sign.

Next I gave a whole box to my Little Sister’s family. I left a week’s box on a friend’s front porch. I made another feeble attempt to start using the veggies. I baked some fennel, nibbled a roasted beet, made pickles, had Delicata Squash for dinner, made some more Beetnik Cupcakes for work, found the mason jar recipe for salads.

Mason jar salads for lunch

Mason jar salads for lunch

Refrigerator Pickles.   Really very good.

Refrigerator Pickles. Really very good.

Then giving up again I gave two boxes to a friend who is out of work. And this month I cleaned out my fridge and took every last veggie on vacation with me to the Outerbanks with my family. What didn’t get eaten I threw away before I came home. As the months have gone on I’m ashamed by the amount of food that simply rotted in my fridge.

So tonight I forget to pick up my second to the last box on my way home as I have for the past month. I will retrieve it tomorrow and try to find some use for the veggies I will get that are meant to feed two people for a week. Next week when I pick up that final box it will be a celebration. Maybe it will be left on someone’s porch…..

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Craving Security

Its been a long time (if ever) since I’ve been in a romantic relationship where I felt secure with full commitment from my partner. For years I was with a guy who lied to me and made me feel like I deserved it. From a secret match.com account to emails from women whom it was clear he was or was trying very hard to have a relationship with to being arrested for solicitation to condoms showing up in the wash to outright telling me he was with someone else. I know he was not faithful even when he promised me he was. Its was not paranoia. Its fact.

A male friend is bewildered that I am in this relationship for two years with a guy who tells me he’s not in love with me. My friend tells me that this guy is yanking my chain pretty good. He tells me that I’m a catch and shouldn’t put up with a guy that tries to keep me guessing. When I tell a female friend that I’m not sure I wouldn’t try online dating again if I’m ever single again. She says from what you’ve told me you will be single again. But what do I think?

I’m beginning to think its all about security. TG says he “feels like I think of him with exclusion of all others”. But that he is “not there with me yet”. And I think yes that is how I feel/think about you. I listen to him tell me of his thoughts and analyze himself. I can justify his baggage, after all I come with my own fairly heavy load. But I crave having the feeling of a partner whom I feel thinks of me with exclusion to others. I wonder what is that like. To be secure that my partner is more interested in keeping me than making the next conquest.

Then today I see on the history of my computer that TG has used it to stalk the Facebook profile of one of his crushes-yet again from my computer. And I feel disrespected. It seems he’s obviously lost to me if he can’t resist looking at her one stinking morning from my computer because he’s forgotten his tablet. I haven’t said anything to him. We’ve had this conversation already so what is the point. He probably wants me to find it, he must know that I will look. He has already labeled me as jealous once, which I corrected to be suspicious.

So today as I struggle with feelings of dissatisfaction in my relationship on the level of commitment my partner has to me I wonder often if I’m too suspicious because of my past. Am I damaged and not able to trust someone? Am I expecting too much from my partner? Am I being unfair to someone who is honest (I think) with me.

I remind myself about what my counselor has said to me before. If it bothers me, I’m not expecting too much. If it hurts me, then its not okay. If I don’t like it, I don’t have to put up with it. There’s always a choice and I should respect how I feel.

But its hard to give up on someone when you see so much potential, so much to like, so much to love. Its hard to find someone you are comfortable and compatible with. I cherish the time I spend with him. I try to decide is this enough? Is this as good as it gets?

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Another Flashback

Today I was sitting in a long line of cars waiting to get into our local mall. When coming up in the other lane, straight at me, clear as day I see a man driving but looking angrily at the passenger and screaming. I see the passenger, a woman, making herself as small as she can against the passenger side door with her head against the window, obviously frightened and crying. Then as they are going by me I see the man lean over and start punching her. I didn’t have to see the whole scene to know what was going on. I’ve been there. Probably a hundred times or more. Helpless in the car with an angry man driving and pounding on me, grabbing my hair and slamming my head against the window. My left upper arm has been punched so many times that the blood vessel under the skin stand out red when I’m in the shower.

Maybe she lingered too long in a store. Maybe she wasn’t walking fast enough or straight enough for him. Maybe she got excited to see someone she knew there and stopped to talk and he found something to be embarrassed about that encounter. Maybe he thinks she looked at another guy in an inappropriate way, talked to a stranger she shouldn’t have. Maybe another guy looked at her appreciatively and her man blames her for showing off or looking available in some way. Maybe its none of these things. Maybe he had a bad day. Maybe he had a run in with someone at the mall and she either tried to intervene or maybe even did nothing but she’s just getting the rest of his wrath because she’s a safer target than the stranger. Maybe he’s just tired and cranky because he didn’t want to go to the mall after all, even though it was his idea. Or maybe its just the way he is and he would have been angry and abusive on the ride home from anywhere, from doing anything just because he felt like it.
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My heart began to pound. I actually looked at the car in front of me and tried to figure out if I had enough space to do a U turn and go after them. That was my first thought strangely enough. When I realized what I was considering I thought what can you do? Exactly nothing. Then I started to panic and cry. I felt that helpless feeling that I knew that woman was feeling. Just remembering all those car rides that turned into another venue for abuse with no escape. I think he saved it for the car because I had no where to go. My normal reaction was to evade him if I could, flee, get out of the house and drive away until things calmed down. Then there would be the endless texting, phone calls, hanging up, voice mails, me begging for him to calm down and let me come home. Sometimes when I was told could come home the doors would be jimmied so I couldn’t open them even if I had a key. A screw driver or crowbar wedged into the crack under the door or at the side is surprisingly enough to keep someone from opening a door. Maybe with a lot of force I could have but what would that have gotten me? A broken door and an angry man inside. When I was finally allowed to come home with hours more of my life wasted begging to be allowed into my own house my heart pounded and I stayed alert to make sure it wasn’t a trap like it sometimes was. Pins and needles, walking on eggshells is not enough to describe my level of alertness. I was like a highly trained Navy seal heading into a dangerous mission. Alert, focused and ready to defend or run.

So this afternoon I shed a few tears for this woman who probably feels like she is the only person to ever go through this. And I wish there was a way I could reach out to her and explain that she’s not alone, that there is no shame in asking for help, that she doesn’t have to feel responsible for this man, that she is not responsible for his behavior, that she deserves to be happy, loved and respected. But I can’t. They are both long gone and anonymous. And I wonder how many people saw me in that situation. What did they think? Did they understand what was going on?

And tonight I send positive energy to that woman hoping she can find the strength to leave.

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Values

I once had a boss who had a list of 37 rules he lived by. In the normal course of the day you might be having a conversation with him about work or life and he would say “This reminds me of one of the 37 rules.” And he would share the rule and then launch into how it was related. Generally I would laugh uncomfortably when one of the rules would come up. And sadly I can’t remember a single one of his rules.

Now as I sit here thinking about boundaries, what’s important to me and what I’m not willing to compromise on, I remember the 37 rules. The 37 rules were basically his values. What he lived his life by. At some point he had taken the time to define them, commit them to paper and memorize them in order. Perhaps that grumpy man was onto something….

Now I ponder what should be my rules to live by? I want to get them on paper, so I can remind myself, study them and become them. It seems like a simple task but I’ve been sitting here scratching my head with a blank piece of paper in front of me for an hour.

Who the f@$% am I?

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Triggers

I’ve often heard other victims of domestic abuse, ex-military or other victims of violence or emotional abuse talk about triggers. “That song is a trigger for me I can’t listen to any station it might play on.” or “Driving past that place is a trigger for me so I loop around it.” I never quite understood what they were talking about until this weekend.

TG and I were hiking in the Adirondacks this weekend. We crossed over a bridge that I was arguing we walked past not over on our way up the mountain and he was insisting we had crossed. Arguing means disagreeing and not much more. Suddenly he yells fiercely at me, words I don’t understand. I jump, my hands fly to my face, I’m shaking and think ‘there’s the monster’ and start to quietly cry. All of this I see as if I’m standing there watching myself. I have a look of terror. All of this takes a few seconds but its in slow motion. Then I realize that he was trying to scare the hiccups out of me. I’m shaken, he apologizes.

It was the sudden, unexpected lashing out that got me. Its worse when its someone you trust. I was emotional for about an hour but the more I thought about it I decided it was a good thing. I can react to being treated unfairly instead of being numb. This will save me from getting involved with another abuser. The feeling that its not right will keep my perspective clear.

The hiccups did disappear.

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Looking for a new dream

I’m still slowly working my way through Carolyn Bushong’s Loving Him Without Losing You. I’m up to a section called Create A Vision. I’m supposed to imagine my life the way it would be if it was perfect. Imagine my fantasy life. I’m struggling.

Most of my adult life I survived by visualizing how I wanted my life to be. Its what kept me sane. I visualized a life where I was in charge. I visualized a life where I had the freedom to do the things I had wanted to do for years like hiking, volunteering, getting together with friends, attending social activities, cross country skiing, trying new things without my motives being questioned or being humiliated or being outright forbidden to do something. I visualized a world where I wasn’t held responsible for everything that went wrong in someone else’s life.

Meanwhile I was living the exact opposite. I allowed a man to dictate what I would do with my free time. I allowed him to humiliate me into submission. My memories are fading but I try to hang onto them. One that comes to mind is when I acquired a pair of rollerblades in my twenties. At work we had a reward program. If you were written up by colleagues for good work you were awarded points that you could accumulate to ‘buy’ things from a prize catalog. I remember accumulating my points to buy a pair of rollerblades. Finally I had enough. I sent in for the prize and waited anxiously for them to arrive. They came and I was nervous and excited. I put them on and practiced in the basement. Then I graduated to the driveway. I remember him first trying to humiliate me into giving up. “You look so stupid. You can barely stand. You are going to break your neck. Who do you think you are? Do you realize you look like a fool? You are just about the most awkward person I’ve ever met.” Then when that didn’t work it turned to rage. “YOU ARE SUCH A FUCKING STUPID BITCH. YOU ARE GOING TO BREAK SOMETHING AND THEN WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? DO YOU THINK I WILL HELP YOU? HA DON’T EXPECT IT. YOU ARE A FUCKING EMBARRASSMENT.” I felt utterly alone. It was easier to give them up. I was already a little afraid and very unsure of myself and this harassment only made me more self-conscious. So the rollerblades were set aside and eventually given away. Of course this only led to more put downs and another pile of evidence that I was everything he said I was and wasn’t. “I told you that you couldn’t do it. You’re so stupid for even thinking you could.”

Finally I made a plan and achieved that freedom that I had visualized. Next I started doing all the things I’d only talked about doing in the past. Including rollerblading. It took a lot of energy to push aside all that negative force that was placed on my brain. But I did it. So now that life I imagined IS my life. I am independent, I try new things all the time, I get to hike regularly, I’ve become a decent xc skier, I volunteer for causes that are important to me. I have a full and rich life.

Now as I try to visualize my fantasy life, I come up empty. I’m unsure if that means I’m living my fantasy or if I’ve become complacent. Isn’t there always room for improvement? Its been two days now that I’ve been trying to figure out what my next dream should be. Sure I have a bucket list of things I want to do. But none of them seem like dream/fantasy material. They are simply more things I want to try, places I want to see, experiences I want to have. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a big life changing dream or fantasy like in my past. Maybe its just the sum of all the things on my bucket list. Maybe I’m just not in the same place that the readers of this book would be in. I’m just not sure. I’m going to spend some time over the next weeks just thinking about what my next move is in this world.

But perhaps my life is pretty darn good and I am livin’ the dream.

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Tonight I Wallow

Last night it was confirmed for me that my boyfriend is basically in the same emotional place regarding me as he was 10 months ago. Hint: Its not a place any woman wants her man to be. He’s not in love with me. Though he says I’m ‘the one’. He’s sure of it. Then he says that there will always be a part of him that will be ‘dissatisfied’. He still thinks about other women from his past. The ones that got away…
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I myself have been guarded since a brief separation in March. I did manage to distance myself from him emotionally as a defense mechanism. I wanted to continue to spend time with him because we do get along very well, he’s honest (I think), we are compatible in most things. We have fun together and I look forward to spending time with him. But I don’t feel secure. I feel as if at any time he might flit away after some beautiful, young thing. Maybe all middle aged women feel this way. Maybe its a product of the way I lived so many years. Having my very being squashed and knowing my guy wasn’t faithful. Or just maybe my instincts are dead on…

I wonder what its like to feel so loved that I don’t think every time plans change that maybe he’s off with someone else. I hope to find out what its like to be loved by someone enough that they won’t want to jeopardize losing me for a fling. I wonder what its like to feel so secure that I can look into the future and see what it will look like.

So tonight I skip my exercise class and I wallow. But tomorrow I will get up, resume my routine and return to the world where I resolve not to waste one more day of my life in misery because of what someone else thinks I am or am not.

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