Today I took myself out to lunch at our local Wendy’s. It has been three and a half years since the last time I ate there.
Wendy’s was the nearest place for lunch when I was still working at the Terrible Job. Back then, I went there most days for lunch. The last few weeks before I quit, I’d sit at my table furiously eating my spicy chicken sandwich and fries and looking at Facebook on my phone. I mean that I was actually furious. By the time my lunch break happened, I would have already had a lousy day and it would have been about six hours since last eating anything. As hungry as I was, I never finished my meal either. It was during the time period that I was restricting my food intake–sort of an act of aggression but directed at myself. I’d eat about half my food and then angrily throw away the rest of it and drag myself back to work.
Yes, I was quite a mental mess by then.
Since today is Sunday, I knew I would not run into any former customers or former co-workers. It would be safe for me to eat there.
Growing up I was of the mindset that I had to go where I likely would be treated badly. I didn’t really have a policy of avoiding troublesome people. Well, often enough there was no other option. I was a kid, I had to go to school. Going to school involved walking on public streets. I was just a kid. What else was I going to do?
Some unhappy kids skipped school, did drugs, got into fights. Those did not seem like good options for me.
As an adult, I kept up that habit of staying in bad situations. Often I volunteered for such. Then came the day when I was at the end of my rope and I decided to go home from the Terrible Job. I promised myself I would no longer do things that were sure to end in trouble or unhappiness for me. No longer do I tolerate toxic people or situations. Sure, it limits where I can go at certain times of the day in this small, crappy town. But this is my little gift to myself. I no longer participate in my own victimization.
Today it is Sunday. I can go to Wendy’s if I want.
I ordered my spicy chicken and fries. I ate until I was full. I people-watched. It felt so normal and safe. It felt like taking back a little bit of my life, but on my terms. No self-judgment or self-criticism. Nobody prying into my personal life. No having to explain anything to anyone.
It’s really hard to basically start life all over again but not moving away to do it. Old habits and old distractions and old dangers are everywhere. I am new, or at least I want to be, and I am surrounded by old. It has been a very good exercise in letting go and learning how to be detached in a healthy way.
I can do this thing.