Open Letter to Marc Maron, Day 28 (on why I like lying to myself)
…And in that home, as she paces its many rooms, filling them with this and that, rearranging the furniture willy nilly, throwing the occasional dance party, losing the vacuum and forgetting to do laundry on a regular basis, investigating what she’s lost under piles of dust and junk left behind by others, she will somehow stumble into the hiding place of that one need even greater than a home of her own—a voice of her own.
Over the weekend I came up with the perfect plan for getting some exercise into my life. Three days/week I’m up at 5-5:30 so I can pray and journal before I head to my standing breakfast meetings. So I figured it would be easy peasy to get up at the same time on the days I don’t have meetings and use the extra time to exercise. The alarm went off at 5:30 and I promptly turned it off and set the timer on my phone so I could have 30 minutes more sleep. At 6:00 I set the timer for another 30 minutes. There’s a possibility that there was yet another 30-minute reset but I can’t quite remember. What do know is that when I finally got out of bed I had left myself no time to exercise and barely enough time to journal before I had to shower and get ready for my day.
As I was thinking about how I could get myself out of bed to go write poetry with a friend two days but couldn’t get up to exercise, I thought, “It’s because you’re lazy.” Which I’m not. And I realized as I started to think more about it that “It’s because you’re lazy” was my short-cut, easy answer. Tagging myself with a this-explains-everything adjective was an elegant way of short-circuiting any deep thinking about my resistance to exercise.
I’m absolutely positively not a morning person. And the fact that I can get out of bed to pray for at least 30 minutes and then journal for at least 30 minutes before getting in the shower is a major miracle. So I think trying to add another 30-60 minutes to that prep time was overburdening the self-talk system I have in place to get me out of bed so I could do the first two.
And while that partially explains my reluctance to answer, if I make myself push deeper, there’s actually something else at play. I’ve been there, done that. I’ve successfully lost weight by watching my food intake and exercising so many times and ended right back in the same overweight place so many times that I’ve run out of ways to make myself believe this time will turn out any differently. There is the possibility I will finally figure out how to maintain a healthier weight and exercise regimen this time, but when it comes probability—to borrow from a popular movie franchise—the odds are so not in my favor. It’s not just a physical effort to get myself out of bed in the morning to exercise, it’s an emotional one of the Sisyphean variety.
But is not actually the moral of this particular story. I’m actually more interested in the names I call myself—lazy, spoiled, selfish—so I can get out of drilling down to the scary subterranean parts of myself where my motivation for doing or not doing X, Y, or Z actually lurks. It’s easier and vastly more comfortable to fall back on even the most unflattering characterizations of myself rather than have to deep dive into the ish that’s really going on. It’s easier to believe and reinforce the stories I’ve always told myself at the point of failure than it is to try and understand the reasons for that failure cause one reason begets another reason which begets another reason until I’m excavating a whole effing cavern of neurosis or grief or fear or whatever that I’ve never explore before. I know you’re expecting a rah rah ending, but come on, that ish gets old. This would probably be a good point to remember that practice what you preach is not a bad goal to work toward. Sigh.
Speaking of being overweight (I knew we’d get back here eventually…)
To be continued…