Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Summer That Wasn't

I've heard this outgoing summer referred to as "The Summer That Wasn't," or some such variation on that theme, from several people.  I'm one of them.

Summer for me is usually a frenzy.  In addition to the normal chaos I endure of working multiple jobs, summer also involves yard work, gardening, cleaning out the closets and changing out the seasonal clothes, and throwing a party or two.  Then there's the preparation for, participation in, and recovery from the Infringement Festival, that 11-Day art and music insanity that happens every summer from the end of July to the beginning of August.  And then I try and throw at least one more gathering before fall settles in, and in between I can be found grilling and eating outside in my fantastic yard that has been groomed by the aforementioned yard work and gardening.  It's nonstop from May to September.

Somehow I usually make it work.  I plant my garden in late May or early June, right around the time I throw my annual Birthday/Memorial Day/Welcome Summer party. By the end of July I'm usually swimming in Roma tomatoes (which I use for my sauce), green beans, banana peppers, and jalapenos, all of which are my standards every year.  I'll also try my hand at something else, usually, like broccoli or squash, just to see if I have any luck with them. I always plant flowers in the front bed, and have perennials that pop up in the back perimeter beds.  A few years ago I planted a whole mess of stuff and have spent the last couple summers seeing what grows and assessing what I can pull and what I should plant more of.  Or at least that was the plan.

This year I planted everything way later than I should have.   It was after July 4th that I even got over to the nursery to buy my plants, and the selection wasn't great - although the prices were fantastic.  I was grabbing $5 flats like nobody's business.  I decided I'd do a variety of flowers in the bed in the front; impatiens, petunias, dahlias, gazanias, and coleus for filler around my hostas and shasta daisies that are already there and come up every year.  I planted a few containers with more petunias, dahlias, and red and green coleus.  And then I did my little pots on the front steps with my favorites - Gerbera daisies.  In the back I skipped planting the perimeter beds, since they were way too overgrown to deal with anyway.  The trumpet vines and columbine and morning glories had completely taken over, so I didn't even bother.  In the vegetable plot I planted mostly San Marzano and a few Roma tomatoes (because San Marzanos were the only sauce tomato the first nursery had, and the second one had only a few Romas), some green beans, banana peppers, green bell peppers, yellow squash, pumpkins, and some cauliflower and broccoli.  I ended up pulling all the peppers because they just died of rot before they even fruited.  The tomatoes have a blight and aren't producing.  The pumpkin seems to be dying even though there are lots of flowers on it.  The yellow squash is doing okay, and the green beans have produced a couple meals' worth of beans.  As for my flowers, despite a nasty neighbor making a comment to another about how I "shouldn't bother because they always die anyway," my garden is actually the prettiest and healthiest I've ever seen it.  So maybe planting later is the trick for the flowers but not the vegetables?  Or it could be that we've just been deluged with one of the wettest summers on record, which flowers tend to enjoy.

But getting back to the beginning of summer.  It started out with a strange juxtaposition of emotions.  I got a job offer at the end of May and I accepted.  I started in my position as the Production Manager and Graphic Designer at The Public (Western New York's finest alternative media source).  I was overjoyed to get the job, and three months later I still love it like a fat kid loves cake.  It's EXACTLY what I want to be doing, with a publication I can get behind, run by like-minded people who are close to my age and all-around awesome folks.

But right around the same time I started my new job, I started falling into depression and experiencing more frequent than normal anxiety attacks.  This made things pretty difficult, as anyone with GAD and depression can well relate.  But then the decision was made to postpone our wedding.  Many factors went into this decision, and it wasn't what I wanted.  HTG had actually been pushing to change the date for awhile, but I stood my ground and continued to plan as I had been.  And then one night in a spectacularly dramatic episode, I relented, but offered the caveat that this would not happen without a great cost to my emotional, mental, and physical health.  Not to mention the financial repercussions of breaking/altering a contract.  Sure enough, we lost money, but more that that - I lost my fucking mind.

Ten months of planning - meticulous, detailed, constant, obsessive planning while sticking to a budget so tight it squeaked - down the drain.  I had my dress, all our vendors were hired and contracted, the venue was booked and deposits had been paid on most.  We had our rings.  Save the Date cards were done and addressed and stamped.  My shower had been scheduled, booked, and invitations had been ordered.  My dining room was filled with bins of supplies for centerpieces and favors and decorations.  I'd spent one night into the wee hours making shower favors and messing up my kitchen in the process (because I, of course, have to make homemade candles with found objects instead of just going to Party City and buying a bunch of ready-made favors).  I was angry.  No, really.

I WAS ANGRY.  There really are not words for the level of anger I felt about this.

And I told HTG this.  I said, "Fine.  We can move the date, but you need to know this much: I will spend the next year POUNDING YOU with anger, resentment, and any other negative emotion that arises from this situation.  I'm not saying it's right.  I'm not justifying or making excuses; I'm just telling you how it is.  If you can't handle it, walk away, because I am not happy about this AT ALL." I told him that I would place the blame for ANYTHING that went wrong squarely on him.  If someone can't come to the wedding next year who would have been able to make it this year, it'll be his fault.  If it is beautiful on our original date but rains next year, it'll be his fault.  I'll be drafting divorce papers in my head as I'm speaking my vows.  If something goes wrong with my dress - his fault.  if someone dies between now and then who should have been at our wedding - his fault.  And on and on.

And for the entire summer I felt as it my soul had been crushed.  I couldn't get past it.  I literally SEETHED with anger, resentment, bitterness, and vitriol.  And when I wasn't seething, I was crying.  At one point I called the entire engagement off.  I just couldn't see the point.  "Hopeless" is not even the word.  It was more like I just saw zero point in any of it anymore.  I was completely drained.

So the whole summer went by with this shit hanging over my head.  I canceled my June party, never rescheduled,  and never even really did any grilling or spent any time in the backyard (although there is a yellow jacket infestation partly to blame for that as well). I made it through Infringement, thanks to my dear friend who was staying with me the entire time and kept me moving.  I might not have been as actively participatory otherwise.  But beyond that, the summer disappeared under a cloud of mess. My depression deepened, my anxiety flew off the chain.  My house, which has always been pretty untidy to begin with, fell into Hoarders-level messiness.  Just filthy.  The bins of fall and winter clothes that should have been taken down to the basement are still half-filled and scattered throughout the dining room and bedroom.  The summer clothes and shoes were never fully unpacked.  It became a vicious cycle.  Depression and anxiety fed the mess, the mess fed the anxiety and depression.  And then, because this is technically still a weight loss blog, it's important to mention something else that was being fed - me.  Badly.

The stress eating reached an all-time high.  Ice cream, cookies, fried food, pizza.  Anything I could stuff into my little stomach is what went down the gullet.  I ate until I could eat no more, until I was doubled over in pain from overeating (which is an altogether different type of pain when you've had WLS).  I didn't care, I just wanted something to do besides feel how I was feeling.  I spent the whole summer eating my pain.  Harkening back to that line about how WLS is a tool and that we don't have surgery on our brains, it's true.  The impulse to overeat, to medicate with food - it's still there.  I don't think it'll ever go away.  And here I am now, 40 pounds heavier than I was just a few years ago, and much of that is in direct correlation with this tangled mess in my head.

I'm coming out of the depression now.  Perhaps because it is fall, and fall is my favorite season.  Maybe it's because we got the show back on the road with the wedding and came up with a new date at a new venue that we like even better than the first one (who was screwing us big time, but that's another post for another time).  Our relationship, which suffered a great setback as a result of all of this, is stronger than it's ever been at this point.  I'm still resentful about the date change, but my anger has given way to annoyance, and maybe by the time our original date has passed, it will no longer faze me.

Summer 2017 is over, and it never even really happened.  At least not the way I'd hoped it would. But all I can do at this point is shrug my shoulders, shake it off, and venture forth into the next season, the next chapter, the next challenge.   What's done is done, what's gone is gone. Life seems to have forward motion once more, though I wouldn't call it a steady roll just yet.  It'll take me a long time to untangle this web, to clean up this mess. There are more things on the horizon that may prove challenging over the next few months, but I have to remember that eating badly is not going to fix, change, or alleviate any of that.

I'm thinking that since they're one of the few things that represent success from this summer, perhaps this next chapter should start by enjoying some of my home grown green beans.  :-)

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