I’ve been blogging for almost 3 months. I have noticed a lot of changes in that time. I am getting so much more comfortable with speaking up for what matters to me and figuring out who I am after a lifetime of putting on a stage production called “My life as it’s been dictated to me by everyone else.” I spend less time on social media admiring everyone else’s life and more time enjoying my own life. I’ve had no problem dropping people on social media who never were real friends or who have somehow hurt me and I thought I had to still be friends with them. It’s been great to realize that I have complete control over my life.

It’s also been great to not react so emotionally to everything and just doing what I think I should do, not what I think everyone wants me to do. It’s been hard and slow sometimes, but totally worth the effort and time invested. I am worth all of this effort.

This week will hopefully see me starting a new habit in the form of working out. It was something I loved in the past but I was in so much pain from many overuse injuries. I have been resting for way too long at this point. I am sure I will feel some pain, but hey, I think I can get through it now. I also want to work a lot more on strength training as well. That’s not something that I generally found interesting in the past, but I have spent a ton of time researching how much better strength training is for long term health that ridiculous amounts of cardio, which is what I used to do.

I am learning to appreciate these good days because I know I will still have bad days ahead when I am not sure how I can keep going. I hate those days. Thankfully they are less and less of my time now, but it still happens. I am hopeful that I am learning how to handle those days better but I never know for sure until those days return. Maybe I just have to endure those days to know how good the good days really are.

What’s even more interesting is that the more I change, the more I stay the same…the same as little Zander was all those years ago before he was forced into hiding. Little Zander liked football and didn’t care what anyone thought. Little Zander just lived the way he wanted to in the backyard, in his room, and with his little brother. I feel myself getting in touch with that person again. I used to love football and followed it very closely. I decided that I wanted to watch tonight’s game with my team playing. They’ve been my team for over 20 years now. Right around the same time I had my breakdown, I gave up football. I used to watch almost every game every week. But then I stopped because I felt like I should. It felt unhealthy to me. What I realized today while talking to my wife about it was that I took away the only outlet I had for my anger. Football was a release for me and I stopped watching cold turkey. And then I broke down completely. Damn, I never put all of that together.

Watching this game I feel something growing inside me again, like a connection to myself that I haven’t felt in a long time. It was also a connection I had to my dad. He taught me everything I know about the game watching on tv. When I was older, he took me to the college games in our city. But what really, really sucked was when we spent Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house and the men went into the living room to watch football while the women went into the kitchen to clean up. The women also cooked the food and prepared it for the table. The men showed up at the table and then walked away from the table. My brother and I hung out with the men watching football until I was about 8 or 9 years old. Then I was forced into the kitchen to dry and put away dishes. The super NOT fun part of that was my grandmother hassling me about every single dish or piece of silverware that I dried. “Is that actually dry? Is that a drop on that glass? Don’t put that silverware away wet.” The constant criticism made me cranky. And why the hell was I suddenly forced into the kitchen to do work? I didn’t mind helping take things to the kitchen for cleaning, but why didn’t all the grown men help with the damn clean up? OR the set up? Why did they just lounge around and do nothing? This was one of the catalysts that made me resent my father. I wanted to watch football with him like at home and hear him make all the calls before the refs announced them. I wanted to bond with him over football, which my brother didn’t really care for.

It’s no coincidence that my dad and I are getting closer again and I decided to watch football in the same week. Maybe leaving football behind was also a way to reject him and close down our connection when I was really mad at him. I was mad at him for a long time. It felt like he just didn’t actually care about me. And in my mind, rejecting something we shared was a way to reject him. I have done a lot of things to “get back” at him for not being the father I needed. I am learning how to see that and I don’t want to punish myself by cutting off things I enjoy. I am only hurting myself and not doing the right thing with him either. I should be communicating with him, not just shutting down. This is a poor way to deal with the pain. I need to focus on healing from the pain and moving forward, not punishing him.

I am changing. I am growing. I am becoming the person I was always meant to be.

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