Dream Journal: Wearing Pants and Taking Out the Trash

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Lately I’ve been making a real effort to do good, healthy things, mentally, physically and socially. I’ve been exercising a lot, which I’ve never had much success with before. But I finally came up with a system that is complicated enough to satisfy my OCD tendencies, without being overwhelming, and that I can do in my room where no one can see me. A few days ago I added in a lovely month-long posture improvement routine with stretches and yoga poses that I rather like. I’m finally enjoying exercising for the first time in my life and it’s great. I never, ever thought I would.

I have also been doing a good job of looking at the world more positively. I’m a terrible pessimist, and that‘s a really difficult habit to break when you end up being right so much of the time. But I’ve gotten into the habit of seeking out and finding little things throughout the day that make me happy. Golden Shining Moments is what we called them in high school. Every week, each kid (and teacher) had to tell the entire group of fifty or so people one good thing that happened that week. It was very difficult for me at first, but also very embarrassing if I couldn’t think of one with everyone staring at me and waiting. So I learned how to find those moments. Or even to dream them up and make them happen. Over the years, I stopped doing it. But now I’ve started again.

I am very much an introvert with a strong tendency toward isolation. I lose touch with people very easily. But recently I reached out to one of my sisters and to an old friend and have been corresponding with them. And I’ve been going downstairs to interact with my roommates more. They are really very lovely people. I adore them. One of them has been cooking like crazy during this whole quarantine thing, just out of boredom. And it turns out she’s a fantastic cook! She and I both like to eat the same sorts of healthy foods like fresh salads, and stick to mostly meat and vegetables. She also totally respects my efforts to experiment with intermittent fasting and to try to avoid grains altogether. But I keep changing my fasting schedule, trying to find one that will work for me. I haven’t found it yet. (I am not the easiest person to cook for.) Her husband is very much into having bread and rice and potatoes with every meal. Not “or,” “and.” Unfortunately, I have some sort of compulsive addiction to grains. If they are there in front of me, I am incapable of not eating them. I try. I really try. But it’s like my will is not my own. It’s terrible.

So in her efforts to please us both, my lovely chef of a roommate has been also making rice on the side for her husband. And he makes french fries to go with every meal. And he has a baguette with it too. And inevitably, I also have been partaking of these things far more than I ought to. I wasn’t worrying about it too much. I wasn’t beating myself up about it. But yesterday I tried to put on a pair of pants that I could wear a few months ago and I couldn’t even come close to getting them on. I know it’s a pandemic and all and everyone seems to be gaining weight due to being stuck in the house all the time, but that’s really not the direction I want to be going with my health. I also can’t afford to be buying new clothes. So it was a very disappointing realization, considering all the effort I’ve been putting into bettering myself. And suddenly everything that had previously seemed so doable became quite overwhelming.

As a result of all this, and of eating too much delicious food for dinner, I had nightmares all night. Not interesting, exciting, fighting-off-an-alien-invasion type nightmares. The really, really boring type. A friend of mine had asked me to take out the trash. But for some reason, rather than just taking it out to the curb, I had to take it to our old high school. So I ran into lots of people that I knew and had to stop and talk with them, and somewhere along the way, I turned my back on the can and it disappeared. Some well-meaning janitor had whisked it away, thinking it belonged to the school. Not wanting to disappoint my friend by losing his trash can, I went searching for it. I looked and looked. I asked everyone I could find that might know who would have taken it or where it might have wound up. I looked at every trash can I saw to see if it was the right shape and size and color, with the right markings, but to no avail. 

I felt like a failure and a disappointment. Even though I was trying to do something good, I had botched it up miserably. In giving in to the social pressure to make polite conversation with old acquaintances, I had lost track of my main goal. Just like the social act of eating with my roommates has distracted me from my attempt to stick to a healthy diet. I felt overwhelmed and defeated in the dream, as in life.

So today, I’m going to shake off that defeated feeling and take back control of my food choices and eating habits. My chef-roommate really is extremely supportive and will absolutely work with me on this. Before the lock down, when restaurants were still open, we would often go to the little rice place around the corner for take-out. She knew of my rice addiction and she would quietly fill a bowl with meat and vegetables just for me, and then whisk the rice out of sight. It’s one of the kindest, most thoughtful things anyone has done for me. I am quite sure that she would be willing to do something similar now if I ask. And one of these days, I will be able to wear those pants again. They are nice pants.

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