Monday, January 29, 2007

Working through emotions

I had the strangest thing happen yesterday (Sunday) morning. I woke up about 8 a.m. and thought, a bit excitedly, "I should get up and go for a walk!" So I did. I was amazed. I have never woken up and thought about exercising with happy anticipation.

You know how some people get a runner's high after a lot of exertion? I am a very emotional person, and I think I get an endorphin rush from exercise even if it's not a huge amount of exertion. I mean, I walk a decent length, at a quick pace, but this isn't like I'm running 5 miles. I get a real emotional boost from a walk as long as it's for 15 minutes or more; my hour-long walks leave me pretty ecstatic.

When I got home, I was being silly with my husband, and he said, "I think you should take a walk every morning. It seems to put you in a good mood." He was right that it helped boost my mood. Unfortunately, due to a medicine I take, it's very difficult for me to wake up in the mornings in time to make it work, much less get a walk in beforehand.

My solitary walk turned out to be a good thing in more than one way. As I walked, I thought about a situation with one of my sisters, a sister with whom I do not have a close relationship. Though she only lives a couple of hours from me, my sister and I don't see each other often; she and I are very different personality-wise, and we, to a pretty great extent, value different things in life--or maybe look at the things we value with different perspectives.

A few weeks ago, this sister and I got into an argument over the fact that she has refused to come to holidays with our family for a couple of years. Whether she comes to holidays with our family is her choice, but she had chosen to bad-mouth our family on her blog--saying things about us that weren't true--and that really irritated me. In the course of our argument about it, she ended up saying, basically, that she thinks I don't deserve someone as wonderful as my husband--that I mistreat him. You might be able to imagine how hurtful that was, and her statement was basically out of left field; it was completely random and outside the argument we were having. Also, my sister has met my husband only a few times (four?), and I have never done anything but joke around with him and be loving to him in front of her, so I don't even know what she is talking about. My husband, knowing how her statement would upset and worry me, was completely horrified she had said that and assured me it wasn't true. He reminded me that my sister has been in bad shape emotionally for a couple of years and that I shouldn't let her depression/anxiety/social issues get me down. While I understood what he was saying, my feelings were still horribly hurt by what she had said. My sister chooses to see many people around her in as negative a light as possible, but I hadn't fully realized I was one of those people she viewed through her black lenses. Since the argument, whenever I have thought about her, I have felt a dark place in my heart--a place of pain and anger over her statement.

During my walk, I was trying to understand why she would have said what she said to me. Then I thought about what it would have been like if the situation were reversed. Around the time I met my husband, my sister (who had married at a very young age) was recently divorced. I was recently out of a relationship where I had been engaged. Both of us were, to an extent, floundering, though I had the advantage of a good college degree, so I did not experience the same level of financial stress my sister did/does. Then I met my husband, and I'm sure to my sister, from her distant perspective, it looked like my life instantly changed into a sparkling one. The fact is that my husband has always been wonderful at assisting me in my quest to be the best person I can--but the only change that happened in a short period of time was that I felt unconditional love from a wonderful man. The rest of the changes in my life (getting my finances straight, moving to a new city, getting a job I loved) happened in relation to him but not just through him, if that makes sense. But in any case, here I was, a few months out of a bad relationship, in a new relationship that allowed me to grow as a person, and with a boyfriend who was very attractive, extremely intelligent, funny, and madly in love with me . . . and who, when he finished his Ph.D., would be able (if he so desires at that time) to make a lot of money. Then he proposed after we had been dating 9 months, and we married after knowing each other about a year and a half. Had the situation been reversed, if it had been my sister meeting my husband, how would I have felt?

Envious. Very envious. I would have been happy for her, but I would have wondered why my life couldn't take the turn that hers had. I would have wondered if I was bound to end up alone while she had this great guy. I would not have extrapolated that into "and I wouldn't treat him like she is--I wouldn't mess that up!" But I guess that has been her reaction to the envy I now see she has probably been feeling. I am certainly imperfect in my relationship with my husband, but I think nearly anyone I love or have loved would tell you I will go out of my way to make the people in my life feel cared for. My husband is, of course, no exception to that . . . as he would tell her, if she had ever asked him.

My understanding of my sister's potential reaction may be accurate or not, but if it is her reaction, understanding how she might have gotten to the place to say such a hurtful thing to me makes me feel better about the situation. Of course, I can't call her and say, "Oh, I realized you're probably just deeply envious, and I would be too," but I can think about the situation now with compassion for her instead of anger.

Once I realized that on my walk, I decided it was time to head for home.


~~Midnight Raider~~ said...

That is the great thing about exercise! It's my favorite time to think things through. Something about the activity--or maybe the endorphins--seems to open my mind... giving me some of those "Ah ha!" moments! I use exercise time to think about work, my marriage, my friends, my parents, my personal challenges... I come up with a lot of solutions while running through my neighborhood!

Purl_Princess said...

Wow that was some walk you had. I'm glad you could work some stuff out.

Michelle said...

Great job on getting up to go for a walk! Dontcha love endorphins? :) Keep up the great work!

I'm Fat said...

I need someone like you to motivate me on my walks. You go girl!

Lori said...

I'm just impressed that you took the time to see how things could look from your sister's perspective. It doesn't make what she said any less painful but it helps you understand things better.

Sometimes just walking or doing something like that clears your mind beautifully. Congratulations.

the veggie paparazzo said...

Midnight, I'm definitely rather enjoying the walks and the clarity they offer.

Purl, your cupcake photos are killing me! I don't know how you have those up and avoid eating a cupcake every day. ha ha. ;)

Michell, thanks for the support.

I'm--I find that the way the walks make me feel has motivated me, but that only happened once I got past walking the first few times and getting in gear for it.

Lori, my sister would tell you I just like to argue, but that was the 12-year-old me. I do find the world runs more smoothly if I try to take into consideration that other people's perspectives will give them different thoughts and reactions than I have.