With two months of 2018 behind us, I thought it would be an appropriate time to update you on my year so far. I’ve dealt with a lot of changes lately, some of them good, some of them bad, and some of them bittersweet.
The good. In the beginning of January, I flew to California to spend a week with my writing tribe: Josie Brown, Eileen Goudge, Francine LaSala, Samantha Stroh Bailey, Jen Tucker, and Julie Valerie (see pics below). I call them my writing tribe because we are a group of seven authors (“the Beach Babes”), but the friendships we share are about way more than our professional successes. We are friends, almost sisters, in the truest sense of the word. I feel so comfortable around these women, just being me, because they truly “get” me and, not only do they accept me for who I am, they adore me. I don’t have to try to be their friend. I don’t have to worry about saying the right things and when I say the wrong ones, they always know the sentiment came from a good place. I’m simply myself and it’s amazing—the way it should be. The trip came at the perfect time as I’d just said goodbye to another friendship (the “bittersweet”) and even though I knew it was for the best, I was struggling with self-doubt. This person lashed out at me for being unsupportive and selfish. I’d never been in a position before where my friendship skills had been questioned, and even though my version of the facts didn’t match hers (and she ignored my suggestion to talk about it), I was stung by the accusation. The Beach Babes reminded me of the value I add to all their lives and reassured me of the kind of friend/person I am and have always been. As hard as it is for me to let go of the past, I wasn’t happy in the present for a very long time. I spent way more time stressing, walking on egg shells, and trying to say the right things than I did having fun, feeling supported, being kind to, and simply put, “being liked.” At the very least, friends should like and be kind to each other, right? I consider myself lucky to have plenty of people in my life who truly enjoy and seek out my company, who take interest in my life as well as appreciate the attention I give to theirs, who don’t let the opinions of others sway their feelings for me, and who see the good in me while accepting my imperfections. Those are the relationships I should nurture and so I am. I’ve been spending time with some old friends I didn’t see nearly as much as I should have over the last few years and I’ve made a lot of new friends as well. I’ve signed up for two writer’s conferences this year, attended several really fun events for book nerds like myself (see pics below of R.L. Stine and Judy Blume), and I’m more comfortable, authentic, and content in my personal life than I’ve been in a very long time.
The “I’m not ugly” – With a small part of my social calendar now open, I’d really like to fill it with a healthy, happy, mutually satisfying committed romantic relationship. My luck with men has been so bad lately, it’s getting kind of ridiculous, but I keep trying. I met someone in early January and I thought we hit it off. We texted while I was in California, and when I got home, made a date to go out again. He got sick and we rescheduled. He said he was still sick. I told him to let me know when he was feeling better, he said he would (and assured me he was not giving me the gentle blow-off—yes, I asked! I’ve been at this too long to play games) and then…radio silence. Since I’d already initiated contact several times, I cut my losses and moved on. I’d only met the guy once, but I was hopeful—not for our future nuptials, obviously—but for a second date. I’ve been on two other dates where we laughed, talked, seemed to share a physical attraction, and then crickets. I had nothing vested in either of them, but can’t help but wonder why they didn’t want to go out again. They obviously liked my profile and pictures (yes, both were online) enough to meet in person, my photos are current and I was my charming and engaging (and humble…) self when we met so…what? Is it me or is it them and what they’re looking for? I remember the days when my second date ratio was pretty much 100%, so to find myself a one-date-wonder now is disheartening and giving me a complex. I actually had to ask a third party if I looked like my pictures because I was afraid I was uglier in person. I’m not ugly!! Ugh. The struggle out there is real, people, but I’m not giving up. I will write my own happily-ever-after eventually.
And then there’s the bad. I’ve never had a very sensitive stomach. Sure, I got a belly ache if I ate too much. I’ve been hungover to the point of major puke-fests, and I’ve experienced food poisoning two or three times. But basically, I’ve eaten whatever I wanted without issue. This all changed last July. I know it was after Independence Day because I had gone away with some friends and ate and drank like it was a religious experience. But shortly after, I became bloated to the point of acute discomfort. I couldn’t sit at work for more than a few minutes before needing to get up and walk around. During lunch, I’d find an empty office and sit cross-legged on the floor while eating because it was the only position remotely comfortable. The bloat led to back pain and I did yoga poses, but there was no relief. In the shower, I would bend over and feel like I needed to push a brick out of my stomach. I was in pain literally every waking minute of my day aside from when I was exercising or sleeping. I got full after only a few bites and found myself losing weight, something I didn’t consider a positive since I wasn’t trying and my clothes were falling off. I was so afraid. What if I had stomach or pancreatic cancer? People thought I was overreacting, but who wouldn’t under the circumstances? I went to a few doctors and had tests done—CT scan of stomach and pelvis, stool sample (just…gross!), and cervical/PAP exam. Everything was fine. After discussing my symptoms and eating habits with my GI doctor, she suggested I try the Low Fodmap Diet because it seemed like I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (“IBS”). I’d always thought IBS was about constipation or diarrhea, which I experienced occasionally, but I had no idea that acute bloat, cramping, and even lower back pain were common even with normal bowel movements. (Sorry for the TMI…) Still, I was grateful it wasn’t life threatening, thanked my doctor, and told her I would try the diet. I won’t bore you with too many details, but it’s a diet that eliminates certain categories of foods that trigger the pain and discomfort of IBS (lactose, fructose, and wheat flour are some of them). The idea is to remove these triggers, reset your body until you have significant relief, and then reintroduce each category one at a time to see what sets off your pain. It is a long and lonely process, and one I’m still working my way through. I’ve failed several of the tests so far, which does not bode well for my future eating options. I joined a Facebook support group with a coach who walks us through the testing and provides us a forum to commiserate. The good news is that when I follow the diet, I feel so much better. I haven’t felt 100% since I’ve been afflicted by this condition, but on a good day, I’m 85%. Today is a good day!
But although this condition isn’t life threatening, it’s been life changing for me. I’ve always considered myself a foodie. I live to eat. My social life has always revolved around going out to restaurants, which since I’ve been on this diet, has caused me so much stress. What used to be a no-brainer fun night out can often be depressing, and I worry about annoying my dining mates with my dietary restrictions. I’m often hesitant to instigate plans out of fear that wherever we go will require me to go off the diet. I can’t share small plates and appetizers with the ease I used to, and I need to first check a menu has something on it that I can eat before I confirm plans. My friends have been great about it. They say they are with me for the company and so wherever we eat is fine, but it makes me feel very high maintenance (something I’ve never been, at least with respect to going out) and sad to know that I will probably never be able to enjoy food the same way unless I want to suffer for days afterward. The condition appeared so suddenly and I hoped someday it would disappear just as fast. Sadly, I was informed there is no real cure for IBS and it’s a chronic condition that doesn’t go away. I try to be thankful it wasn’t worse, but I feel as if I’m mourning a life that no longer exists.
To end on a bright note, I’m scheduled to do a reading/signing in Connecticut on March 23rd and the lineup is amazing. I seriously do not feel worthy to be in the same event as Jamie Brenner, Lynne Constantine (half of the duo who wrote the bestselling The Last Mrs. Parrish), Fiona Davis and more, but am thrilled with the opportunity. The release of The Boyfriend Swap was probably my most successful to date and with it has come increased sales of my other books—finally. I’m not even close to being able to quit the day job, but a dreamer can dream.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief insight into the private world of Meredith Schorr, but I must get back to writing my next masterpiece!