A Bad Marriage Is Fattening
Can a bad marriage really be fattening? Yes it can! In my own bad marriage I went from 125 pounds to 275 pounds 20 years later. This is the story of how my unhappy marriage made me fat — and how I divorced my husband and moved on to a happier new life.

Emotional Residue

Helloooooo out there in cycberspace.  Is anyone reading me?

Long silence.

Just as I thought.  No one is reading me except my son, who really has no interest in what I’m writing about, but is doing it out of loyalty to me, my cousin and my sister-in-law.  I have a loyal readership of three.  Which is a start.

So I’m curious.  Was anyone disappointed that I didn’t blog yesterday, January 4th?  Okay, I’m just checking, because I felt terribly guilty about not being able to blog.  But I have to be realistic.  There will be days when I won’t have time to blog due to my life and the things I have to get done.  (Please understand that I do have a life outside of blogging.  It’s a small life, but it’s my life.)  It’s certainly not the glamorous life I envisioned for myself when I got my Master of Fine Arts Degree in Screenwriting from UCLA in 1976.  Back then I thought I would write all these wonderful screenplays for women and that Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand, Sally Field, Bette Midler, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Glenn Close and Goldie Hawn would all be my best friends.

I fantasized that they would come over to my Malibu estate that was designed by my brilliant and world famous architect brother and we’d sit out on my deck, overlooking the ocean, drinking Margaritas while we chitchatted.  Then would come the real reason for their visit.

“Oh, Joanie would you write a screenplay for me?  You know no one is writing screenplays for women anymore and you’re such a good writer and so funny.”

Ohhh, flattery will get you everywhere with me.

“Of course Meryl, of course Barbra, of course Sally, of course Bette, of course Diane, of course Susan, of course Glenn, and of course Goldie – I’d love to write a screenplay for you!  Of course, of course, of course!  Don’t fight over my writing talents, girls, there’s enough screenplays in me for every one!”

Dear reader, not only did I never make it to Malibu, I never had my brother design my dream house.  Paul did not want to go through the steps required to build a custom home so I have never lived in a house designed by my brother.  Lastly, none of the above named actresses are even aware I exist.  So much for my glamorous life and my best friends.  But, hey, whose life turns out the way they envisioned it would?

So yesterday, January 4th I was dealing with my small life.  I had to go to my dentist and get my teeth cleaned.  This is a monthly obsession with me because I develop tartar very quickly.  I even have all my monthly appointments set up in advance for 2010.  Like clockwork I will be in the dental chair once a month at 11:00 a.m. to have the dental hygienist clean my teeth.

Why am I so obsessive when it comes to my teeth?  The answer is simple.  I don’t want to lose my teeth.  I want to have my pearly whites for the rest of my life.  I don’t want to have to wear false teeth later on in life like my grandmother and my father did.

So why am I not this obsessive when it comes to losing my weight?  The answer is simple.  When I go to the dental office to have my teeth cleaned I don’t have to do anything but lay back in the chair, close my eyes and let the dental hygienist do her job.  It’s not that easy when it comes to losing weight.  No one can do it for me.  I have to do it for myself.

I just got an e-mail from my sister-in-law.  It reads, “Are you running behind?  No January 4th?”  Bless her heart.  Someone does care that I didn’t blog yesterday.

My sister-in-law told me about a book called, “AN ALCHEMY of MIND” by Diane Ackerman.  There are two pages in the book that address what I am writing about in my blog, how the stress from an unhappy marriage affects you mentally and physically.  On page 157 in “AN ALCHEMY of MIND” Diane Ackerman writes, “The brain determines behavior, but the reverse is also true.  Trapped in a bad marriage, anyone’s mental and physical health suffers.  The unhappily married of both sexes suffer a much higher incidence of everything from heart attack to gum disease.”  On page 158 in “AN ALCHEMY of MIND” Diane Ackerman writes, “A fifteen-year Oregon study found that women who felt they had less decision-making power in marriage were more likely to die.  During marital discord women’s bodies seem to absorb more hostility and negativity than men’s.  They’re more prey to congestive heart failure, joint pain in rheumatoid arthritis, immune and endocrine system problems, high blood pressure.  Especially for women, marital stress can be corrosive.  No one knows why.”

Here is research showing that a bad marriage is detrimental to one’s health.

So you see, dear reader, there is proof.  I’m not just a woman who got fat in an unhappy marriage and am now trying to blame my being fat on my ex husband.  And I’m sure I’ll find more as I continue to research this subject.  But I don’t need medical proof for myself.  I know with every amount of certainty in me that my own bad marriage changed me both mentally and physically.

In April of 2010 it will be ten years since Paul and I parted.  I thought that the weight would surely drop off now that we were no longer together.  But what started out as a defense mechanism, to numb my feelings and not feel the pain in my unhappy marriage, has now become a habitual behavioral problem my registered dietitian once explained to me.  It’s what Diane Ackerman was writing about.  The brain determines behavior, but the behavior can also determine how the brain thinks.

There is emotional residue from an unhappy marriage or relationship that doesn’t disappear just because the marriage or relationship has ended.  Especially in a long-term marriage or relationship.  This emotional residue can linger long after the marriage or relationship has ended.

“Tell me, Paul, why did our marriage end?”

“You know why it ended, Joanie.  You had this crazy dream.”

“What crazy dream?”

“You wanted to be a writer.  What makes you think that anyone cares about what you have to say?  You go into a bookstore, there are thousands of books written by people much smarter than you.  I kept telling you, ‘Give up the dream, Joanie.  It’s never going to happen.  You’re never going to get published and what would you answer?’”

“I’ll never give up my dream of being a writer, Paul.”

“You were so stubborn.  Anyone else would have given up the dream a long time ago.  They would have accepted the fact that it wasn’t happening and moved on with their life — but not you.  You insisted that you were going to make it as a writer.  That’s the reason I left you, because you were hopeless.  You refused to accept reality.”

“It was my dream.  You always knew I wanted to be a writer from the first time you met me.”

“It was your dream, Joanie – not mine.  Every dream has to have a statute of limitations or else it becomes an obsession.”

“There is no statute of limitations on my dream.”

“I know.  And that’s why I left you.”

But the truth is that is not why Paul left me.  The truth is simpler than that.  Paul left me, dear reader, because he never loved me.  And that is the truth.

4 Responses to “Emotional Residue”

  1. That is an ending I didn’t expect. Good luck on your journey. And no guilt on the missing a blog posting…it is your blog- you can do whatever you darn well please. 🙂

  2. Emotional Residue … interesting. In different ways there is likely a truckload of emotional residue that led me to be my size. Yes, I ate every bite. Willingly. But it did begin after a period of great pain. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading more. As you cannot blog daily, I cannot read daily. But I’ll be back! Keep writing. You really are a very good writer.

  3. […] a comment » Recently I read an interesting term … Emotional Residue. I could fill a page with the emotional residue floating around in my head. The losses I have […]

  4. Wow you are living my life. I’m glad you could get out and move on with your life.


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