“Enough”

I read some of my old journals the other day. You know, the kind where you use a pen and write words on paper. (I believe that’s considered retro now, that’s how old I have  become.) Entry after entry I talked about how I needed to lose weight. The pages were filled with body hatred and self-loathing, interspersed with boy drama. But the idea that I didn’t deserve love because I wasn’t thin, the notion that if I couldn’t get to a certain weight, nothing in my life would ever work out, was ever-present. It made me so sad to read. Because essentially I’ve spent my entire life feeling bad about my body.

I’m a week away from 40 and still haven’t figured out how to fully accept my size. I have wasted so much time and energy on this. I’ve been on every diet. I’ve been fatter; I’ve been thinner. I’ve gone to therapy. I’ve tried everything except self-acceptance. I would go out on a limb and say that one of the biggest regrets of my life is that I’ve never been able to look in the mirror and say, “I’m beautiful.”

The biggest bullshit lie I’ve ever swallowed is that thin equals beautiful. I’ve spent a lifetime unable to love myself or feel worthy of being loved because I am not thin “enough.” This message is delivered to us pretty much everywhere we look. I’ve found it reinforced in the media ad nauseum and in my relationships, particularly with some of the men I mistakenly chose to give my heart to. The guys who said I’d be “really hot” if I lost weight (but they’d still have sex with me) or who claimed they didn’t know what they’d say if a friend of theirs commented on my size (no one ever had) or who casually mentioned over dinner that his friends looked down on him because he dated me (because of my body) (I never met these friends and assume they were imaginary). I could go on but I don’t really want to fall into a shame spiral this early in the morning.

When I turned 30, I quit smoking. I was an “occasional smoker” I’d say, but then I was smoking on breaks at work and on my drive home and at parties and after dinner and well, I was a smoker. But on my 30th birthday I gave it up, finally, after many failed attempts. I thought about how I wanted to become a mom and be around for as long as I could for my kid I’d someday have and so I quit.

For my 40th birthday I’m giving myself another gift: I’m quitting body hatred. I’m not going to stop working out or eating vegetables or taking care of my health. I’m just going to drop the ridiculous guilt and shame cloud that I’ve lived my entire life under. My problem hasn’t been not knowing what to eat or how much to work out. Rather, I’ve been stuck in my body loathing, operating from a place of hate and embarrassment rather than self-love. It’s just that, you guys, I’m tired of feeling less than because I weigh more than someone told me I should. I’m fed up with it defining my worth. I’m over the bullshit and done living out the lie.

Happy birthday to me.

Walking Around in My Wrongness

The only control is surrender. -Daily Om

Lately (my whole life?) I’ve been really struggling with my need to control everything- how I feel, how others feel, what happens next. I’m simultaneously hyper-aware that I logically cannot control these things while knowing that I am, indeed, feeling the strong need to be in control. I’m at that crux where I know a thing I’m doing doesn’t work for me/my life but I don’t know yet how not to do it.

I am very uncomfortable in the crux.

I’ve been a hiatus from therapy for a couple weeks. I left my last session feeling like I didn’t know what I wanted from our sessions. It was a rough hour where I spent a good deal of it avoiding my therapist’s eyes and emotionally beating myself up. I’m wrestling with a lot of internal stuff that I can’t eloquently explain. There are things about me, characteristics or faults, that work for me in certain circumstances but also bite me in the ass a lot of the time. Sometimes I get in an indignant rage saying: THIS IS WHO I AM! THE WORLD NEEDS PEOPLE LIKE ME! People who are not carefree, who don’t even understand that state of mind. People who will take the lead when everyone is faltering. People who will organize chaos. People who want to feel useful, not get the free ride. People with fierce loyalty and an unwavering sense of fairness. In many instances, I don’t mind these qualities in myself. Hell, sometimes I’m downright proud of them. But they also exhaust me. I put too much of myself into situations that don’t necessarily require it. I often feel under-appreciated and many times, unlovable.

I am extremely uncomfortable knowing people don’t like me or are unhappy with me. It’s a very triggering place that makes me feel small and all my shame comes bubbling up. I spent a good deal of my childhood wondering what I did wrong. When I couldn’t come up with an answer from any adults, I assumed that just being me was the problem. Did you hear that? BEING ME WAS WHAT MADE ME WRONG. That’s a hell of a pill for a kid to swallow. And yet, I did. I made the pill and I swallowed it whole.

So here I am, on the precipice of turning forty, and I’m still feeling that wrongness about myself. I can name multiple situations just this week where my feelings of shame and wrongness have overtaken me. Old stuff, new situations- doesn’t matter. I can and do let them all walk over me. Oh I talked too much about my wedding and hurt people’s feelings who were not invited (I was called self-absorbed, among other things) so I felt (still feel!) like I did something wrong by finally being happy. Oh I showed up for my dance studio trade shift to find a new crew member was there to do my job so I was left with no work and feeling like I didn’t belong, that I wasn’t wanted. Oh I saw something about an ex on line that made me question everything he’d put me through for years so I felt like a chump, a fool, and easily forgotten. There are deeper stories to all of these but I’m afraid to share them in detail. You know, because I’ve convinced myself I’m so wrong.

I’m in a beat up place, you guys. I’m a total hard ass so I don’t expect I’ll ease up on myself very readily. But I needed to say this aloud, with witnesses. I walk around in my wrongness and that’s just wrong.

Trying Hope & Worthiness On For Size

Sometimes I forget I have cancer. Like, hours will go by and I didn’t think about it. Those hours are a liberating while they exist but when I remember, I feel a metaphoric gut punch.

So that’s probably why I’ve been operating in a closed off mindset this past week. I’m not really allowing myself to feel anything about my cancer or my upcoming surgery. I’m on auto-pilot. It’s almost like I’ve settled into this new normal in which I am a person who has cancer. It’s still weird to say, “I have cancer.” It feels a little like cheating because I’m not sick outwardly. I don’t feel like I deserve to go around claiming it when there are people hooked up to chemo, losing their hair, battling fatigue and puking and not being able to work or play with their kids. I know I said we shouldn’t compare our worst things and here I am doing just that. I never said I wasn’t a hypocrite.

The surgery next Wednesday isn’t scaring me like last time probably because it’s a known thing to me now. I know where to go, what to expect, trust the hospital to deliver great care, and understand the process. I wouldn’t say I am looking forward to it but more that I want to move through this next part of surgery and recovery to get to the results part. As much as I am terrified of what the results will be, I have to face it.

But still, I’m having trouble really feeling hopeful. I feel like saying that out loud is a total jinx but it’s my current truth. I learned growing up that hoping just got you hurt. I’m trying to learn that you can hope and still get disappointing news and that doesn’t mean the hoping was hopeless. Does that make sense? Hope is a powerful tool to keep ones spirits afloat. It gives lightness to a heavy thing. It’s important to have, especially when shitty things are happening but the hardest to grasp when you’re in the muck of all the shit. I’m working on this daily though I don’t know if I’ll ever be “good” at it.

Another thing I’m not sure I’ll ever be “good” at is fully grasping that I matter to people just by being me. Take a look at this:

Cards of love and encouragement.

These cards that hang in my meditation room are a constant reminder that people care about me. Each one lifts my spirits and makes me pause to consider how I’ve been living under false assumptions.

In therapy, I work a lot on my sense of self-worth. I’ve operated under the notion that I had to do certain things or behave in particular ways, and hell, even look certain ways (thin) to be worthwhile. I’ve struggle with feeling worthy of love pretty much my entire life. And then the doctor finds some cancer in my cervix and WHAM! I’m flooded with love from friends near and far, friends that I only known through the internet, old friends I haven’t spoken to since elementary or high school who somehow remember me so clearly and so fondly – all which forces me to look at myself in a new way.

Sometimes I feel like Stuart Smalley with my “gosh darn it people like me!” realization. Other times I joke that this must be what attending your own funeral is like. I know it’s morbid but seriously, when else do you get to receive this kind of outpouring of love? It’s bigger and deeper than any birthday celebration.

I’m trying to digest all this. That I do impact people in a positive way. That I do matter to people (some of whom I’ve never met in person). That I am important in this world just by being little old me. I hate that I had to get cervical cancer to learn some of these important life lessons but I’m grateful nonetheless to be able to see myself and the world with new eyes and a more open heart.

I will always have fears, but I need not be my fear, for I have other places within myself from which to speak and act. -Parker J. Palmer

Speaking Truth, Facing Fear

One of the things that is hard about changing yourself is that you have to figure out how to be in relationship with people in a new way. This can prove to be especially challenging when it comes to relationships that have been around a long time. If the changes you’ve made upset the general make up of the status quo in the relationship, you’re going to need to have a chat with them. Or, you could just avoid the relationship. Which, telling you from experience, will only work for a short period of time and then you’re probably going to have to suck it up and talk.

You see, I have this mental list of people I need to have a sit down with. A Relationship Summit type of talk if you will. Because I no longer feel like I can comfortably exist in the confines of the relationship without speaking up about the truth of my feelings and my heart’s hope for the future of our relationship.

Am I looking forward to doing this? Um, no. Absolutely not. I’m pretty much postponing it for as long as I can and/or avoiding any deep conversation with these folks. I figure I will a) eventually get so uncomfortable, I will be forced to do it or b) they will call me out on being weird/different and I can’t lie my way out of it (Note: I am a terrible liar) or c) I find my bravery and just do it. C would be preferable.  Now if I could only find my bravery.

This weekend my mom and I had lunch. I will admit I was anxious about it because from my perspective, my mom and I have not been getting along for a couple of months years. Lately, I’ve been avoiding having any one-on-one time with her in an effort to keep a hard conversation at bay. I didn’t want to hurt her. I didn’t want to get hurt. Blah, blah, blah. I had a lot of reasons but really it all boiled down to fear.

My relationship with my mom isn’t one I go into here very often. She reads my blog (hi mom) and for the most part, I’ve found it easier to talk about my other parent, the one who passed away 19 years ago. I’ve spent a long time in the throes of my grief over my relationship with my dad and it’s just recently that I feel a sense of acceptance and peace with it which I guess is why I now feel like I can face my relationship with my mom.

Basically, my mom and I have some deep stuff to work out and there was no way it was going to get better or we were going to have the closeness I (we) want without a heart-to-heart. I’ve spent most of my life putting up a barrier between my family and me as a way of keeping me safe because I didn’t feel emotionally safe in the family. I acted like I had it covered, that I was strong, that I didn’t need anyone when in truth what I wanted and needed was the exact opposite. I have come off as angry and ferociously independent to the point that it has alienated me from them. My mom has given me space because she didn’t know what else to do. To her it seemed like that is what I wanted and that I didn’t like her or being around her.

The last thing I wanted was space. I can admit that now and did so to my mom over salads at a restaurant where hits from my high school years played over the speakers and I tried to hide that I was crying from the other diners.

I didn’t want that space. I wanted my mom to see I was hurting and stuck under a burden of pain that I didn’t know how to give voice to. My mom did the best she could in a difficult situation. I can empathize with her, especially now as a grown up trying to have a successful, healthy relationship with Mr. Darcy. Through tears we managed to talk through some very difficult subject matter. I really can’t recall ever telling my mom that my feelings were hurt before- maybe when I was a kid but not as an adult. But there I was, saying it, while “Tainted Love” played.

The thing is- I want to have a good relationship with my mom. I want us to enjoy each other. I don’t want to waste any more time being angry about stuff that can’t be changed. It turns out I just needed my mom to hear I was hurt and for her to acknowledge it and say “I’m sorry”. I don’t know if I could have had that conversation any earlier as much as I wish I hadn’t wasted time being mad or feeling hurt. Everything happens in its own time, right? I’m just grateful that we took that first step towards healing. I hope we can both continue to work on our relationship and have fun together again.

I’m pondering the other conversations I need to have and trying to work up the courage to start them. If I ultimately want closeness with people it’s going to take me being vulnerable and brave. I’m going to have to speak up. I’m going to have to acknowledge my feelings and my behavior. Because if I really am different, than this is part of the new me.

Body Hatred > Self-Love: Changing the Equation

It was a culmination of things that lead me to this place.

This place where, for the past two weeks (and counting), I have been subsisting on only lean protein, certain veggies, some fruit, non-fat, plain yogurt, and green tea. I’ve been in detox mode. Or as I call it in my mind, “fuck this fat” mode. And yes, the vulgarity is important.

I’m totally pissed off- at myself, at my fat, at my inability to just accept my body as it is and be fine. The truth is I AM NOT FINE and I spend way too much energy thinking about how unattractive I am because of my fat. THAT IS NOT OKAY. I’m sick of it- that way of thinking, that way of being. I’ve tried to embrace the reality of my chubby self. I dress it up and put on a brave face. I already eat healthy and work out 5 days a week. And yet I am still heavy.

What. The. Fuck.

So I decided that I had to DO something because I am not good at just sitting back and letting life happen to me. I’m a person of action. And so, inspired by a blog friend, I picked up the 17 Day Diet book and have immersed myself in the process. It’s very similar to South Beach which I had a lot of success on before I met Mr. Darcy. Remember when I dropped 30+ pounds? Well. Uh. I gained 25lbs of that back. And that realization made me crumble in a pile of my own self-loathing. I could tell clothes were fitting me differently but then I bought a scale and the truth of it could not be denied. This is not the first time I’ve had to take a very hard look at myself and my body.

There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to put this here- admit to my fatness like it’s some secret. The feeling of vulnerability in confessing that I am depressed about my body and my inability to keep weight off and the fact that I can’t seem to truly accept this part of myself is off the charts. But I know a lot of you struggle with this same issue and like all the other personal stuff I share, I figure sharing this might help some of you.

At work my co-workers are intrigued and/or appalled by the food I am existing on. Some of my naturally thin co-workers have never had to diet and having to give up certain foods seems unfathomable to them. “No bread?! I would die.” (I’ve heard this.) “Why are you doing this to yourself?” to which I asked, “Have you ever been fat?” A look of horror flickered across his face. Don’t say the word fat! Don’t admit your fatness aloud! No one wants to talk that bluntly about it.

It’s my fat and I will talk about it if I want to.

If you have never been fat, you don’t get it. There is probably something you might not like about your appearance but if you’ve never been overweight you do not get why I am doing this. That’s what I want to tell them. Eat your Wendy’s cheeseburger and fries and be thin and don’t worry about me. I am taking care of me.

That’s the hard thing about sharing your “diet” with anyone. There are so many opinions. How you should do it. What worked for them. You’re fine the way you are. You should just. . . FILL IN THE BLANK. I am not asking for advice because I am having yogurt and fruit for breakfast, okay? I’m just trying to get a handle on my relationship between my mind and my body. It’s really complicated and not easy but I am hoping it pays off. I would like to use all that brain-space and energy for more productive things than self-hatred.

I have done a great deal of really hard work on accepting myself. I’ve had a lot of success in every area but this one. I’ve reached rock bottom when it comes to my body hatred. I want to look in the mirror and not be full of judgment. I want to walk in a room and not worry about what other people are thinking about my size. I want to be free from the self-loathing. I’ve got shit to do and this? This is taking up too much time in my life schedule.

 

 

 

Find An Open Hand

When everyone has gone to sleep and you are wide awake
there’s no one left to tell your troubles to.
Just an hour ago, you listened to their voices
lilting like a river over underground
and the light from downstairs came up soft like daybreak
dimly as the heartache of a lonely child.

My father would awake in a lonely chair out in the living room most nights, all of us in our separate rooms having long since turned away from the sight of him slumped and slack-jawed, drunk and vacant. Sometimes I would still be awake when he made his way from the living room to the bedroom. I’d hear the door to the hallway open and he’d stumble along in a vodka-induced haze, still struggling against the dark that he was not yet accustomed to but had to live with daily, even in daylight.

There was a rail that ran along the middle of the wall and he’d slide his hand along it as he made his way. My bedroom was first and I would often lie there listening to him, the hand dragging, dragging, until he’d get to my door. Sometimes he’d pause there, hovering, waiting, and I would hold my breath. And when he’d move on, I’d feel a mix of relief and deep despair.

I missed my dad long before he passed away.

Other times I’d still be up reading in my bed and I, with heart racing, would reach over to shut off the light at the first sound of the door opening. I’d lie there in guilt and darkness and sadness. The weight of it heavier than 1,000 blankets piled upon me.

The times I didn’t turn my light off, he’d catch glimmer of it slicing under the door and would give a gentle knock before cracking the door open. He’d search the room with his one eye with the tunnel of good vision for my shape.

“It’s late, you should go to sleep.”

“I will after I finish this chapter.”

Silence.

“Ok.”

The distance between us felt the expanse of the Grand Canyon in my heart. I don’t know how else to convey the cavernous sorrow of that situation.

If you can’t remember a better time
you can have mine, little one.
In days to come when your heart feels undone
may you always find an open hand
and take comfort wherever you can.

This memory arose from the ashes during a conversation about comfort. I’m not particularly adept at finding comfort in others. I spent a lot of time in my bedroom during all that turmoil listening to music, reading poetry, writing in my journal. That’s why people can now say to me “you’re so good at expressing how you feel in words” – I am in writing thanks to all those years of my journal being my place of refuge.  I may be an extrovert but there are big parts of me that are introverted, that only feel comfortable entirely alone. My tween/teen years weathered more than just the regular hormonal angst. The cycle of alcoholism that whirled our house into its destructive tornado left me at a loss for solid footing.

So cry, why not? we all do
then turn to one you love
and smile a smile that lights up all the room.
Follow your dreams in through every out-door
it seems that’s what we’re here for.

I forget about Father’s Day. I was 18 the last time we would have celebrated it and I can’t recall what, if anything, we did for my dad that day. He wasn’t living with us. I barely talked to him. I feel so sad thinking of all the memories we didn’t get to make because his alcoholism took center stage. I feel so mad that I don’t have a dad, that my dad stopped really being my dad years before he died. The times when I did have him are so distant in my mind, those memories are hard to grasp. I know my dad loved me the best he could. I just can’t stop wishing life had played out differently for him so I could have had more time with him, maybe hugged his frail body again, held his rough, tanned hand, looked into his gray blue eyes and said, “I love you”. And he would have replied, “love ya, too”. I just know it.

***

Lyrics from Deb Talan’s song “Comfort” which was the only thing I wanted to hear after my therapy session last night. Thanks for writing that song, Deb.

Move in a New Direction

I have been bitten by a bug.

The dance bug that is.

First there was Nia which is more martial arts-inspired than dance but there are elements of dance routines and music blaring during the class. Then from Nia came Zumba. I LOVE ZUMBA. It is the most fun I’ve had working out in a long time. I am dripping in sweat, red-faced and smiling at the end of class. I have never typed those three things in the same sentence before. Woah.

I have always loved dancing. Even as a kid, I took ballet, though I have no idea if I was any good. But I really did look adorable in my pink tutu. I used to choreograph dance routines in my bedroom. Sometimes my sister and I would put on shows for our family and friends. I was, of course, always the lead because I was born bossy. (Sorry, Dokey.)

But then I stopped dancing in public. I let body shame take away something that brought me joy. I worried too much what people would think of me if I was out on the dance floor. In my twenties, I took a few partner dance classes- like salsa and rhumba and swing- and enjoyed them but it’s not always easy to find someone you can dance with well. Like I said, I’m a strong leader and I should publicly apologize to all the men who tried to dance with me then. I will say though, my sister and I, we really could cut a rug. When swing was big back in the ’90’s we would go wherever we could to dance and we were pretty good.

So here I am, years and years later, loving dance again. Specifically dancing solo in a class full of (mostly) women to tunes that vary from Bollywood style to hip hop. It feels good to be in my body. Yes! I just said that! And I mean it. It feels good to move in this body. I don’t spend that hour looking in the mirror cataloging my body’s flaws. I’m too busy grooving. I’m too busy sweating and trying to keep up with the fast-paced routines. I’m too busy having a good time to care if I look fat. Because the reality is, I am fat. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy exercise, enjoy my body moving, be healthy and, goddamnit, feel sexy.

I saw this video and I’ve shared it out but I want to be sure you get to see it.

“Constantly worrying about your reflection and criticising your body, shape and size is an act of violence against yourself.” (Thank you, Feministing)

I want you to think about loving your body right now in this moment as it is. I want you to give it a try. Because if we all try? We will have a positive change on the debilitating negativity surrounding women and their body images. Do it for yourself. If you can’t do it for yourself just yet, do it for your daughter, your sister, your mom, your friend.

The Shame is a Sham

(The thoughts & feelings expressed in this post are reflective of my own personal experience and in no way are meant to speak for any and all overweight people.)

I read this great article on Friday. Actually, I read it aloud to Mr. Darcy as he drove us to the symphony.(Where neither of us fell completely asleep. We were just resting our eyes. Sincerely!) You should totally read the entire article but here are some snippets for context:

I have wanted to change this body my whole life. I have never wanted anything as much as I have wanted a new body. I am aware every day that other people find my body disgusting. I always thought that some day—when I finally stop failing—I will become smaller, and when I become smaller literally everything will get better (I’ve heard It Gets Better)! My life can begin! I will get the clothes that I want, the job that I want, the love that I want. It will be great! Think how great it will be to buy some pants or whatever at J. Crew. Oh, man. Pants. Instead, my body stays the same.

And this:

My question is, what if they try and try and try and still fail? What if they are still fat? What if they are fat forever? What do you do with them then? Do you really want millions of teenage girls to feel like they’re trapped in unsightly lard prisons that are ruining their lives, and on top of that it’s because of their own moral failure, and on top of that they are ruining America with the terribly expensive diabetes that they don’t even have yet? You know what’s shameful? A complete lack of empathy.

She says this great line: “Shame is a tool of oppression, not change.”

Can I get an AMEN?

I am grateful to Lindy for writing this article because she stands up for me, for herself and for all of us who are struggling to accept our bodies in a society that repeatedly bashes us over the head with “You are not good enough because you are fat” messages. I will probably get some flack for saying this but it feels true to me- fat oppression is the last allowable “ism”. Because all of us fatties made ourselves fat and it’s our fault for being fat and how dare we continue to be fat. And P.S. You are gross to look at.

Eating too many cupcakes is not the root cause of fatness. It goes much, much deeper than that. But we’re too busy shaming overweight people to see it or really do anything about it.

And yes, I said we. Because I’ve totally drank the Kool Aid.

I once read a blog post from some girl that stated that it’s gross to see two fat people dancing. That it was funny to her but not in a ha ha way where we’re all laughing. No. In the way that she is making fun of the fat people. Because how dare they move their fat bodies to music and force other people to see their chub rolling around a dance floor. HOW DARE YOU BE A PERSON, FATTY!

What. The. Fuck? I should have tit-punched that girl. I wish tit punches could be delivered electronically.

That is one small example in a mountain of examples I could give you where I come across messaging that America’s belief system is that fat people are horrible, lazy, disgusting people who should be ashamed. Who should fix themselves. Please, immediately, because fat is not nice to look at. MY EYES!

I have spent a lifetime absorbing messages that have forced me deeper into shame. I was ten when I can remember going on my first diet. I would work out in my room and not eat pancakes and walk around in a shroud of shame and sadness because I believe AT TEN YEARS OLD that I was not a worthwhile person because I was chubby.

I was not born believing this. I was taught this.

And then for the next 27 years I let the shame shape my perspective. I bought into it. I swallowed the messages. I agreed with you (the proverbial you that believes fat people are less than) that I am gross and unworthy. Your plan worked! And yet, wait, uh. . . Why am I still fat? OH RIGHT! BECAUSE SHAME IS NOT A WEIGHT LOSS TOOL.

Is being overweight unhealthy? To many degrees, it can be. So is eating a diet full of refined sugar. So is having a smoking habit. So is excessively drinking alcohol or coffee. So can  excessively exercising. We all do fucked up shit to our bodies in some way or another. And we tend to do these things from an emotional place. I know many thin people who eat crappy diets with no nutrients and who never exercise but they are deemed as “okay” because they are thin and thus, they pass.

I am so fucking done with this mentality. I’m done supporting people (myself included!) in the negative dissection of our bodies. The withholding of love until we get to a certain weight. To putting off doing things because The Shame is saying we can’t until we weigh X amount of pounds. I’m sick to death of hearing women tear themselves down about every supposed imperfection. So you have stretch marks. So you have some back fat. So your thighs rub together. So what? Where did you hear the message that you are not good enough, not pretty, if you have a flaw? Go back to that place or that person and say “shut the fuck up”. Because THESE THINGS DO NOT DEFINE YOUR WORTH.

I am telling myself this more than I am telling you this. But I bet you need to hear this too.

This is not an easy thing to do. To face the messaging and not get swept up in the mentality of being less than. But if we just sit by and complain about it but don’t speak out, how in the hell will it ever change? Women didn’t get the right to vote because they discussed it in passing over tea. Segregation didn’t end because some white guy in power was all, “This is wrong”. Gay marriage will one day be legal because people stand up and fight for it.

Please don’t be passive. You have a voice- use it. This is not a problem fat people need to solve. This is a problem we all have to work together on because it’s an attitude shift. If you hold ideas about fat people, where did they come from? Question the fatism.

We can all be radical if we start loving ourselves and our bodies.

They’ve told us it’s impossible. But it’s not.

A Common Heart

Last night I swallowed another truth about myself.

I see the world in negative, in what is wrong, in what needs to be fixed. I walk into a room, a situation, a relationship and notice what is not right rather than what is. I focus on what was not done rather than what was done. I never actually feel “okay” about anything enough to relax and enjoy it thoroughly. I generally expect to be disappointed and so. . . I usually am.

I would like a new self-fulfilling prophecy, please.

I do not know how to rest easy, sit still, feel satisfied, savor the moments, be at peace inside myself. It is exhausting and I am fed up. But I don’t know how to feel or be otherwise and so I’m in that place between knowing and change where I dangle between feelings, raw in the rough patch of change.

I am not completely callous and constantly displeased. I’m speaking in generalizations in an effort to succinctly convey my struggle. I can see the other side to all of this. I see effort, attempt, and good faith. I sense the feeling behind an endeavor even while I weigh the “mistakes” against it. I push and pull between the two and what comes out of my mouth is usually thinly veiled disdain, possibly couched in a sense of jest. Messages of “you do not measure up” which really should read, “no one could ever measure up to the impossible standards I’ve set for myself and those around me- good luck with that!”

Lately (the last six months) I have been struggling to not completely give in to negativity. I’ll admit I’ve failed pretty miserably. What happened six months ago? Oh right, Mr. Darcy moved in.

That was a big, huge, monumental change in both our lives and since then we’ve been struggling. The more we’ve struggled, the more knotted up we got, the more knotted up we got, the harder we fought to untangle ourselves out of the tangle of bullshit until we’d fatigued ourselves. Our struggling became labored. Our energy lacking. And there have been moments when I curled into myself and said, “I can’t do this” only to hear myself say that and like an athlete in that final sprint to the finish line, have found a modicum of energy to rally anew.

I am attempting to own my shit. I am saying this publicly because maybe you or someone you’ve been in a relationship with has struggled with seeing lack and error rather than effort and love. I am talking about this because I am ashamed that I have contributed to Mr. Darcy feeling like he’s not good enough. (He is very good. More than enough.) I am putting this out there because realizing you’re doing something that hurts someone you love is step 1 and step 2 is jumping the divide between knowing you must change and actually behaving differently. Because I want to get to step 3 where I’m living the shift in my consciousness and am truly, happily participating in a healthy relationship.

Knowing why I’ve done this isn’t enough. Learning to behave differently is my love in action.

“If you place two living heart cells from different people in a Petri dish, they will in time find and maintain a third and common heart.” -Molly Vass

 

Planting the Past (1)

A few weeks ago the Universe did what it is wont to do and gave me a sign that it was time to plant.

My routine changed that morning. I was driving in the opposite direction I usually go to run an errand before work.  I was at the light waiting for a break in the cars so I could turn. My eyes drifted to the random people walking down sidewalks and then I caught sight of a familiar frame. He was walking across the street, sipping a coffee drink, in shorts and a baseball cap. I wasn’t sure at first but you don’t date someone for a year and a half and not recognize their gait.

He was with her, his new live in girlfriend. I know this because we have mutual friends and news like that travels. When I heard, sure, there was a bit of a tug at the corner of my heart he used to occupy. Not because I wished that had happened for us but because we used to talk like it could have and I’m a sentimental fool prone to melancholy. But the tug was fleeting because my heart has a full-time tenant named Mr. Darcy. Besides that, I’m long since passed the what ifs where this person is concerned. The clarity with which I know that we are not for each other is crisp and undeniable.

For a long stretch of time I was bitter and angry. I used his toothbrush to clean the grout of my kitchen counter. I threw away things that reminded me of him. His name would come up in conversation and a dark place inside me would bubble with righteous indignation. How dare he exist! How laughable, really. How ego-centric of me. And yet the thoughts persisted and the bitterness lingered. I knew it did not serve me. I knew I wanted to be over it, free from it. But you can’t force the moment when you are struck with readiness to forgive and forget.

Like on a bright summer morning when you take an alternate route to work and run into your ex with his new love on the street that divides your shared neighborhood like an equator. Because in a city of 563,374 people you are bound to run into him. The Universe has a sense of humor, after all. And the Universe, ultimately, wants you to feel free, wants you to be your best self, and you can’t be your best when you are twisted up inside with old anger and hurt.

I watched him cross one street then turn to cross headed directly into my gaze. My eyes darted from her then to him. I wondered how this was going to play out. I didn’t turn even though there was an opening. I held my breath and watched it unfold like a scene from a movie or a music video except there was no soundtrack playing.

He was looking around and that was when he saw me seeing him. It’d all be projection if I were to say what he felt, what emotions crossed that face I used to know every detail of. He looked at me looking at him and then reached to take his new girlfriend’s hand as they kept walking and he kept looking at me. I smiled mostly to myself to see that not that much had changed and then finally turned my car away from him and that moment hanging on Broadway and E. Thomas between traffic lights.

I let The Fella go a long time ago but that day, I planted what used to be, what could have been, all the hurt and the disappointment. Because we tried and we weren’t right for each other. Because I’m not angry anymore. Because I hope he’s happy. Not in spite of how he hurt me but because we once loved each other and I’m grateful for whatever brought me to where I am now. Because now is exactly where I want to be.

This is how I tend to the garden of my heart. I till. I plant. And something beautiful grows from what once caused me pain.

“There was no pot of gold, hardly a rainbow lighting my way/But I will be true to the red, black and blues that colored those days./I owe my soul to each fork in the road, each misleading sign./’Cause even in solitude, no bitter attitude can dissolve my sweetest find/Thanksgiving for every wrong move that made it right.” -Thanksgiving, Poi Dog Pondering