Moving On

Jared said it was probably after Porter was born. I think he’s wrong– I think it all started happening earlier than that. Β I think it happened after the miscarriage.

I was really only trying to think back about the when and why of that whole situation because I think it was about that time that I stopped caring about myself. I cut my hair off. I stopped doing my daily yoga. I stopped thinking it was worth taking care of myself.

I think I know why. I think I didn’t start thinking of myself as defective until that miscarriage. And so much has happened since then that, when taken in isolation I could maybe be shaken off. But when they all pile up inside my mind, there’s so much that tells my vulnerable brain– tells my brain in error– that I’m defective.

I’m not defective. I know that now. I’m human.

It was relatively little things, like yoga. Like my religious use of lotion. Like drinking absurd amounts of water. Like that yogurt smoothie for breakfast and nothing else. Like watching what I ate. Like sucking my stomach in (what little stomach I had then). Like tending to my feet to make sure even the bottoms were moisturized. Like occasional professional pedicures. Like professional haircuts instead of home butcher jobs. Like reading A Course in Miracles.Β Like meditating. Like being utterly religious in observing my 9 PM bedtime, so that I could be up before the sun rose, as early as 4:30 AM some mornings. It was a daily walk. It all mattered– every bit of it. It was my self-care, and it kept me grounded.

It was a million little relatively superficial things that, when added up, kept my mood relatively stable, kept my weight under control, and kept me feeling good about my body. This was my self-care routine for years– from college clear through the move to Grinnell in April of 2005, and beyond, at least for a little while.

It must not have all gone out the window in an instant, because I remember doing the yoga at least occasionally when I was pregnant with Porter.

But then it got hard to even breathe, and it all seemed like so. much. work. not. worth. it. I sold myself short. I was depressed, yes, deeply so, and so everything was hard, but I was so wrong about thinking it was not worth it. Because in doing so, I was telling myself that I was not worth it. And I absolutely was.

It makes me sad that my kids don’t know a mom that truly takes care of herself. It’s probably been twelve years since I consistently tended to myself. That’s my kids’ lifetimes. Β I deserved better than that as a new mom.

I’m doing what I can now to change it… starting back my liberal lotion use, and I’ve done yoga four days in a row. Except for tonight being a late night, I am trying to get back to a regular sleep routine. I’m trying to eat better and get a little meditation in. I’m taking baby steps.

Twelve years is a long time to not care about one’s self. All I can say is, I care now and while I can’t reverse the damage, I can pick up the pieces and move on.

It’s Time

It’s time to get serious about self-care. I’ve been half-way doing it for a long time now, but I can’t afford to do that anymore. I can’t afford it for myself or my family.

Jared reminded me this morning… there was a time when I was militant about my 9 pm bedtime. I also got up early in the morning and did 45 minutes of yoga every day, religiously. My weight was down, my moods were relatively even (even in the days before medication), and in general, I was happier from day to day.

Granted, these were the pre-kid days, so self-care was much more a given than an afterthought at that point. But we are past the baby days where everything is an emergency, so there’s no reason I can’t get back to those days again.

It isn’t even about weight loss, though I hope that would be a side effect. It’s about being a happier person. Sure, I journal, but I think I’ve been doing that at the wrong time of day. I tend to journal first thing in the morning which is fine. But currently, I do all my self-care things in the morning (and skip exercise altogether most days) and then at bedtime I don’t do anything to turn my brain off. And my brain, for sure, needs help turning off at the end of the day.

So…bedtime at 9. No screen time after 6:30 pm. Water first thing in the morning, followed by yoga, before the household is awake.

That’s a good starting point. Hopefully, in a month I will have good news, that I’m being successful with it and it’s making a difference.

Bonus: I cleaned up my desk. Cleaner workspace= happier Caroline, too. Yay for changes.

Skipping to the Good Parts…

(Because I can and because, predictably, I’ve gotten bored with the project. I’m skipping around with the transcription. The “I Love You” anniversary is coming up, which makes me want to talk about it and get to that part of the transcription.)

(So, a synopsis…partly for brevity’s sake and partly because I’ve discovered the chat transcripts end with July. πŸ™ Makes me sad. Jared may have them stashed away on one of his ancient computers, but for now, I don’t have them. Here’s the short version: )

(Jared and I talked through July and August 2003. Things were as serious as internet dating can be without actually having met someone in person. I was head over heels and hadn’t even met Jared yet. )

(Meanwhile, Jared was in the process of moving from Lincoln to Grinnell, as he’d gotten a new job. Β Here’s an excerpt of the email I wrote him the week he moved: )

From: Caroline Ellison <C’s Email>
To: <J’s Email>
Subject: > : D <
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 2003 22:54:14 -0400

…I’d like to meet. As soon as possible. I want to know what your hand feels like, just as you described wishing for the other night. I want to feel your arms around me. I want to take that long walk, and I want to see the quaint little town you’ll be living in, and the adorable little house on Main Street that we both seem to be taken with. I want to see a few of the thousands of expressions your face takes on throughout a single day. I want to reassure you that not only are you “enough,” as you put it, but that you’re more than I’ve ever hoped to dream for. I hope that I am enough for you.

(I had season tickets to the Fox that year and had enjoyed taking a variety of friends to shows all summer. The end show of the season was Les Mis. I’d already invited another guy when I got the tickets months previously and I told Jared this, not really looking forward to my company for the evening, as it was sure to be awkward.)

(Other guy was a not-at-all-good-for-me guy that I’d been seeing for five years, on and off, at that point. A ridiculously older-than-me guy who’d lied to me about his age when we met in 1998 because he knew I’d never “date” him (hard to call it that in retrospect) if he’d been forthright to begin with and, at age 18, I’d been naive enough to not realize he couldn’t possibly be as young as he claimed to be. (He claimed to be 26 in 1998, and fudged it by a lot of years, if that tells you anything. Not a good guy and the age thing is the tip of the iceberg.) He came in from Tampa to see the show, which was Saturday, September 13, 2003. The show was amazing, the company predictable with one caveat: he was ready to talk about marriage. Out of the blue, that conversation came. I hadn’t seen him in months, we hadn’t been talking regularly, and if he’d brought that conversation topic to me oh, even four months prior, I would have been all about it despite the unhealthiness of the relationship. However, this time, I knew where my heart was and for once, I was no longer pining away over that man. I told him it wasn’t ever going to happen. He met and married someone younger than me eventually.)

(But as I said, the show was absolutely stunning. And, well, my screen name on that dating site was “Cosettecie,” after all, so Les Mis was pretty fundamental to the roots of my new relationship with Jared.)

(So, that’s the context of what was going on in September of 2003. Jared moved, I went on the awkward outing to the Fox with the not-good man, and then, I decided to see if there were tickets available for the next weekend, September 20, because it really was an awesome show. And, I wanted to see it with Jared. I think the arranging for that must have happened on the phone, because there’s no email record of it. Except: Β )

From: Jared Price <J’s Email>
To: Caroline Ellison <C’s Email>
Subject: Did I mention…
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003 8:56:07

…that I’m excited about this weekend. *blushing*

> : D <

jared

To: <J’s Email>
Subject: Re: Did I mention…

As am I. > : D <

Caroline

From: Jared Price <J’s Email>
To: Caroline Ellison <C’s Email>
Subject: Time…
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2003 13:53:37

Caroline,

It looks like I’ll likely not get home until sometime around 8:30 to 9:00 (your time) tonight. πŸ™ I’ll see if you’re around, but if you’re not, I will understand. Talk to you soon.

jared

p.s. I’ll be airborne in 26 hours. πŸ˜€ Β > : D <

(He wouldn’t be home until late because he had to drive an hour and a half after work to an outlet mall to buy a garment bag for his suit. πŸ™‚ Β )

From: Jared Price <J’s Email>
To: Caroline Ellison <C’s Email>
Subject: πŸ˜€
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2003 10:25:43

See you soon! > : D <

jared

(The > : D < was the way you made an emoji on Yahoo! Messenger to make a hug. Except there were no spaces between the characters and I hate the emoji that has come of those symbols since those days. So we now put spaces between the characters. Jared showed up with a gift that first weekend he came to see me: a palm-sized rock with that symbol engraved. It still sits on my dresser.)

(Mushiness happened. I picked him at the airport after telling several friends and my parents where I was going and what route I was precisely taking to the airport. It was, indeed, confirmed love at first site.)

(I took the day off work and dragged him all around my favorite haunts in ATL. We went to the show. We held hands. We went to Panola Mountain before he left for the airport on Sunday, where he told me he loved me for the first time. He surprised me with that. I told him I loved him, too. That happened this precise spot, except picture it still green in September, instead of mid-November as the picture shows– I took the photo in November 2012:)


From: “Caroline Ellison” <C’s Email>
To: <J’s Email>
Subject: Thank you. > : D <
Date: Sun, 21 Jun 2003 22:00:21

Jared,

Thank you so much for this weekend. I don’t know how else to say it, other than to say thank you. There are so many emotions that I’m experiencing right now that I simply can’t put into words. However, I can tell you that the feelings of serenity and stability have not vanished even though you’ve gone home.

The future is a much brighter place now that you’re in my world. I only hope I can return the favor. You’re an amazing man. To think of the seemingly random happenstance that brought us together is the frightening part now… though, to tell you the truth, I don’t think it was random at all. I think everything happens for a reason in due course. Though our time has to be separate for now, I know it is also for a reason. If something else is meant to be in the future, then we’ll find a way to overcome it.

I do miss you already, but I can still feel your arms around me, and your lips upon mine. I’ll savor those feelings for as long as I possibly can. I love you. Thank you for making the world a better place.

Love Always,

Caroline

From: Jared Price <J’s Email>
To: Caroline Ellison <C’s Email>
Subject: Always…
Date: Sun Sep 21 (printer screwed up the date printing. Don’t have the timestamp.)

Caroline,

The pleasure of the weekend was mine, indeed. >:D< I hope that you are sleeping as soundly as I suspect you are. I dropped you a quick IM, and called, though nobody answered. Zzzz… Happy Dreams. > : D <

Day by day, and over this past weekend, moment by moment, I am continually amazed to have such an amazing, wonderful, beautiful woman in my life. As I sat in my seat on the plane, I could feel your hand on mine. I can, even yet, feel the gentle touch of your lips. I can feel the strength and surety of your embrace.

I do love you. I don’t anticipate getting tired of saying that anytime in the future, either.

I’ll hope to catch you tomorrow, even if only briefly. Sleep well, deeply, and know that my thoughts are with you.

With all of my heart,
jared

> : D <

Wed 9 Jul 2003 6:02:07

From: “Caroline Ellison”<C’s email>
Subject: So so early in the morning… πŸ™‚
To: <J’s email>

Good morning, Jared!

For about a week, my schedule has been off-kilter because I’ve been sleeping way too late, but I decided to get back on track this morning, so here it is 6:15 am (my time), and I’m already (almost) conscious. πŸ™‚

Let me say once again how much I’ve enjoyed our time talking together; it really does pass much too quickly! It’s not difficult to see why you end up acting as “counselor” to many of your friends, as you seem to have a gift for putting people at ease (which is doubly amazing, given that all of our conversations have been through the sometimes cold veil of a keyboard).

It occurred to me that the note I sent with the smile at [dating site we met on] said something about asking me about what I pictured us doing on our first date, and I’d never actually said what exactly that was. Well, the truth is that I had absolutely nothing in mind at the time. πŸ™‚ However, for my part, it really wouldn’t matter what the activity was, just so long as there was the freedom to continue in person the conversation we’ve started online. Given that stipulation, I think visiting a park would be nice. πŸ™‚ Of course, I’m certainly not discounting the distance between us. Only daydreaming…

Hmm… well, I suppose the night was long enough for me to come up with a few more questions. Of course, always feel free to not answer anything you’re not comfortable talking about.

You said you’d never really had a pet before Murphy came along; what made you decide to make the plunge in becoming a “parent?” And now do you ever wonder how you got along without him? πŸ™‚

Tell me a little about Lincoln. It boggles my mind to think of more land being the only thing within easy driving distance!

I hope you have a fabulously productive (yet relaxing) day!

Sincerely,
Caroline