When I was a kid, I would get suckers, stickers, pencils, and stamps from the doctor or dentist any time I had a good check up, or suffered through a shot or any other little bout of pain. It was the reward; the thing that makes it all ok at the end, and made me feel a lot better, especially if I was hurting.
I grew up a little, and continued to be rewarded. I survived another year and had a birthday, so I got cake and cookies and could choose where we went out to dinner. If I got a good grade, I picked the meal for the evening, or even a fun place to go with my family. Everything was met with a big reward, mostly in the form of food. It was easy, and delicious, and gave my family and I reasons to try new places and indulge.
Getting older, I continued to reward myself. Finished that paper? Ice cream. Done with finals? Beer. Went to the gym for 15 minutes? Cheeseburger with fries. It was some ass-backwards reward system that I fooled myself into feeling ok about, which I’ve finally snapped out of.
I still, occasionally, reward myself with something that is completely outrageous compared to what I had to do to “earn” it. Usually it comes in the form of “I ran a while today, I can get a full cup of frozen yogurt with chocolate syrup and brownies on top,” or something similar.
And I did that again today. Hardcore.
But this time, it didn’t come with some sort of physical fitness…at all. This time, over-rewarded myself for minimal effort. Ever since I was little, I’ve had trouble sitting still whenever medical things are shown/discussed. I’ve never had a problem with paper cuts, or even the time I ate concrete after a really poor rollerblading-related decision when I was 10, but I could never handle medical diagrams, or…well…I don’t want to talk about it.
This nausea has extended, specifically, to getting blood work done, where I pass out, and go into what looks like a seizure, but it’s not. It’s something that I just deal with; and to me, it feels like a short little sleep. Today, I had to get blood drawn, and I warned everyone around me what was going to happen. The nurse let me talk to her, well, at her the whole time, in hopes that it would take my mind off things. It was the first time I had a nurse with the same problem as me, and could actually sympathize and try to get me through it.
Wait, how does a nurse, who draws blood, have this problem, too? Yes, reader. I felt the same. She apparently stopped having this problem once she had children. Something to look forward to, I guess.
In any case, I was talking, and waiting. Waiting for the feeling of the blood rushing from my face and the inevitable blackout. Then, I felt her take off that weird large rubber band thing and put the cotton on my arm. I had never felt that before. I had never been awake for the whole process before. I talked through the whole thing, and didn’t pass out. For the first time ever. In my life. Ever.
Now, for most all of you, this is no big deal. For most of you, you’ve probably watched this process happen. For me, this was an actual, accomplishment. An accomplishment that deserved a reward.
Of course, it had to be a big reward. It was ice cream. I can’t even remember the name, but it involved marshmallows, chocolate, peanut butter, and cookie dough. I also skipped my 4 mile run. As a reward, of course.
And so begins the cycle. I rewarded myself for doing essentially nothing by continuing to do nothing. Yikes. I drove home, ice cream in hand, blasting some music in my car and feeling good about myself. As I continued to lay around, I became more angry about my choice. I’ve done this before, beat myself up for one small choice I’ve made.
But, I’m writing this post so that I’ll stop. One ice cream and one missed run will not ruin me. It will not set me back, it will not suddenly make all my pants too small and my shirts too tight, or inhibit me from running a half marathon in two weeks. One ice cream is not a setback; allowing it to defeat me, or open the door to more unhealthy choices is.