This week has been really tough emotionally, and as a result, I’ve ended up eating almost nonstop. And since I’ve been basically broke, that means eating stuff like potatoes (less than $2.50 for a 5-lb bag), white bread (less than $1 for a big loaf), store-brand frosted flakes cereal (less than $2 for a big box), and so on. I’m up at least four pounds from last week’s weigh-in. At least, that’s what my home scale showed day before yesterday, which was the last time I even cared to step on it. What’s happened that my emotions have taken such a nosedive and led me back into destructive eating patterns?
For the first time since 2002, I’m spending the third weekend of September at home, alone.
Every year since 2002 on the third weekend of September, I’ve attended the American Christian Fiction Writers national conference. This year, I was asked to serve on the conference committee, which was the group that determined which workshops would be offered at this year’s conference—including the Early Bird all-day session with Don Maass.
I had an absolute ball at the conference last year; however, there are a lot of bitter memories connected with stuff that happened right after conference—such as learning that my crit partner I’d gone up to spend several days with before conference and was staying with the night after conference before returning home had decided while we were at conference (and sharing a room with our third crit partner) that she didn’t like me—thought I’d been misrepresenting who I am for the two years we’d worked together, or something, and made my last day in Minnesota as miserable as possible; most of which I didn’t even learn the truth behind until several weeks later when she and our other crit partner “dumped” me.
I know what you’re thinking: Bitter much?
Yes, actually, I am. I thought I’d put this behind me. Thought I’d forgiven them. But the melancholy over not being able to go to conference this year has dredged up all of those hurt feelings from last year, and the two combined have not led to a great frame of mind for me this week. So I’ve been wallowing in feelings of being left out (ah . . . those feelings go much further back into my childhood) and knowing that the person who hurt me so badly last year is there, having a wonderful time, while I’m not there simply because the money didn’t work out this year—the first year I had books out and could have participated in the mass book signing event. The year I had friends and acquaintances e-mail me to let me know they were bringing their copies of my books for me to sign only to have to tell them I wasn’t going to be there. The year I had a couple of people contact me to see if I wanted to share a room. The first year I was going to get to experience what it would be like to attend as a published author instead of a wannabe.
How is it fair she gets to be there and I don’t?
I keep telling myself that it’s better I’m not there because I have a book due on December 1 and another one on February 1. Or that I have a couple of freelance projects sitting here that I need to get turned in by the end of the month so I can pay rent and utilities next month without having to borrow money from my parents yet once again. Or that there are a lot of other people, published authors even, who aren’t at conference this year with whom I’ve been communicating while everyone else is there—whether in directed-topic discussions on the ACFW e-mail loop or just regular back-and-forth discussions in a published-author group I’m in. I would be missing out on those opportunities if I were in Denver. (Well, since I usually take my laptop, I probably wouldn’t be missing out on much.)
When I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to be able to afford to go, I’d just gotten home from my trip to Denver in July for ICRS. I figured since I’d just been there, seen a bunch of my writer friends, as well as met with my agent, not getting to go to ACFW wouldn’t be so hard on me. But reading everyone’s blogs and Tweets and FB updates about preparations and packing, their excitement waiting at the airport to catch their flights, whom they saw in the hotel lobby once they got there, and little tidbits and/or teasers from the first couple of days has not helped in my effort to remain positive and happy for everyone who could go. All I keep thinking about is, If I were there, I’d be doing X right now.
Have I mentioned it’s rained here every day for almost a week? And that it’s forecast to rain every day for at least the next ten days? Not helping with the outlook!
What could I have done to prepare myself for this week? Well, having something fun planned for each day would have been great—of course, that usually takes money, and since I’m flat broke, as I’ve already mentioned, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. But there are other things I could have done just to get out of the house: go to the library at Trevecca to work every day; go to Barnes & Noble—or Borders—and work in the cafe and have a skinny latte for the price of those carb-loaded food items mentioned above; go walk on the indoor track at the community center (for FREE) or go ahead and do the exercise programs I’ve been recording off of Fit-TV (for FREE—or at least as part of the cable package I’m already paying for); volunteer at Second Harvest food bank to get my mind off myself and my own selfish desires and onto people who’re a lot worse off than I am; WRITE (I’ve only managed a few hundred words in the past two days); invite a friend over for a movie day or something; ANYTHING to keep myself busy and have something to look forward to instead of just wallowing in self-pity for a week.
So how can I redeem the rest of the weekend? Well, I’m going to shower, get dressed—in something more than the knit-pants-and-T-shirt uniform I’ve been wearing all week—grab my spiral notebook, and drive down to the Borders in Brentwood and, after perusing the store, sit in the cafe and enjoy a latte and see if I can write at least five full pages (about 1,200 words). Then, I’ll come home and watch my LSU Tigers romp all over the boys from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Geaux Tigers. Tomorrow, I’ll do two things: first, I’ll make myself get up out of bed and go to church—at the Episcopalian church downtown where I’ve been meaning to go for quite some time; then, I’ll go to Weight Watchers, even though I know my weight will be up and it’ll feel like punishment on top of everything else I’ve been feeling this week. But if I don’t go and get that reality check, how will I ever break this destructive cycle?
Starting Monday, I’m putting myself back on a schedule. I’ll be getting up, getting ready, and having breakfast at a reasonable hour (instead of sleeping until 10 every day) and then by ten o’clock each day, I’ll drive over to Trevecca with my laptop (but no internet card!) to get those freelance projects—and maybe some writing—done. Since all the TV shows start their new seasons this week, I’ll set goals for myself to get a certain amount of work done—and words written—before I allow myself to watch any of the new shows. And I’ll do at least one thirty-minute exercise video each evening. And by so doing, I should be able to shake myself out of this funk and get back to a healthy, positive frame of mind.