Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Babies, rainbows, butterflies, and body image

So, my trip to Colorado. It was an amazing and new experience for me, spending that much concentrated time with my nephews, and I feel like we really bonded. When they lived nearby, the most time I ever spent with them was a couple of days, and then not the ENTIRE couple of days. Sometimes just for a couple of hours. But this past week was Total. Nephew. Saturation. And it was Truly Awesome. Yes, it was noisy and sometimes chaotic. Yes, I suffered some mild anxiety at being surrounded by people 24/7 for days at a time – including my parents. Yes, I collapsed into bed every night thinking how crazy my sister is to have, on purpose, three boys under the age of 6, but also acknowledging how very blessed she is, and how very blessed we are to have them in our lives. I was talking to BT about my trip last night, and I found myself getting teary-eyed talking about them, especially the baby, the Coopinator. Somehow I began talking about how I thought by now I would be the one with a family, with kids, and how that may not be in the cards for me after all. To which he gently pointed out, but you have your nephews. Yes, yes I do. And I love them like they’re my own, now more than ever.

But it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Last week I often found myself weirdly uncomfortable. I was very conscious of what and how much I ate. I drank mostly water. I realized at some point that I always kept my arms covered, and even caught myself sucking in my stomach. WTF??? Well, it finally hit me, days later. After being with BT, actually, because I was feeling a bit body conscious, read into that what you will. I realized I was ashamed of my body last week, ashamed in front of my father. I’m sure it would horrify him to know that I picked up on this, because I know he would never intentionally hurt me, but I felt like I was picking up distinct disapproving vibes from him about my weight. In my mind, I could hear him whispering to my mom, “She’d be so pretty if she’d just lose weight…”, or “Why doesn’t she DO something?”, or “I just wish she’d take better care of herself.” I heard all these things in my mind, not because I’m neurotic or paranoid, but because I have heard my father say these very words about other overweight people that have passed through our lives. My whole life, I have heard him speak these words, I have cringed at them, felt anger towards them, protected friends from them, rejected them, and now, felt their unspoken, cosmic force being directed at me. I hesitated to write about this, but it just keeps nagging at me. I realize my dad might read this, but I’m speaking my truth. I felt the disapproval, and it hurt. But what I also realized is that my harshest critic is myself, and it always has been. I could say my body has gained weight over the years rebelling against a certain ex-husband, ex-boyfriends, the status quo, whatever. I have even considered that it happened as a subconscious rebellion against my father, like I’m trying to prove to him that people who are overweight are worthy of love, he MUST love me, no matter what I weigh, so there. But that’s not really the heart of the matter. The truth is, if I was truly comfortable with myself like I pretend to be, if I had truly accepted that fuck it, I’m going to eat what I want, life is too short, blahblahblah, well then I would not sense or even care about such disapproval. He is merely channeling the disgust I feel for myself. I am more disappointed in myself than anyone else could ever be for me. I have let my own body down, I have let it go, I have rebelled in a self-defeating circle resulting in self-loathing. Ok, not “self” loathing, but “body” loathing. I am not my body, I just live inside it. But I am gravely uncomfortable in this body. This is not the way I am supposed to be, and the truth is I will never learn to accept this shape as mine. And by acknowledging this, I am acknowledging that I must do something about it or I will never be totally happy.

But. And this is the important point. But I must do it for me, and only me. Not for the sake of my dad; not for the sake of all the hot guys out there who will want to date me if I’m skinny again – in fact I will just hiss at them if that happens. I must transform my body so that I feel comfortable in my own skin again, so that my outer appearance matches my inner one. And I can only do this when I am good damn and ready, as an old friend used to say. I am getting there, Internet. I can see the healthy me inside there whenever I so much as glance in a mirror, that’s why I can never reconcile what I see with how I feel. I don’t picture myself like this, I picture myself the way I was my whole life until my body started harboring pain and letting it build up and internalizing others’ opinions of me. I need to let go of all that shit and just do what needs to be done, for me.

And for my nephews. I’d like to chase them around in the park someday without feeling like I’m trapped inside someone else’s body.

I’m sure this ‘epiphany’ has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the whole week revolved around FOOD, noooooooo.


Crazy MomCat said...

I have struggled this week as well and I really understand where you are with all of this. It is a rough path to get to where you fully love yourself in life and I haven't made it there yet myself. But, know there are a lot of friends out there who love you just the way you are, and so now it is your turn to do the same.

matthewstoryteller said...

Ah, girl, I could have written this same thing myself. Well, except that you relpace the hot guys part with hot girls. But, jokes aside, I know exactly where you're coming from, and you're not alone.

Just remember one more beautiful thing about those nephews of yours...
They see you as just Aunt Lisa, and love you unconditionally and totally, regardless of size, shape, color or creed. Cherish them. :)

Oh, if we could just be as children sometimes...