Yep, those are my feet on my scale, in my bathroom, just now.
There are one hundred things I need to do tonight, but I saw that this week’s prompt was weight and as a person with a blog that explores body positivity, I couldn’t let the week go by without writing something. I can’t promise it will be thoughtful or coherent, but here goes.
I’ve struggled the last week or so with lethargy, sadness, inertia, frustration, futility. I know that I’m extremely lucky in the fact that I don’t struggle with depression and mental illness in as stark and painful a way as many people do, including many of my friends and family. I also realize that I am in a privileged position with parents that love me and a decent job and no kids to support and the list goes on and on.
Um, apparently the work I’ve been doing with my therapist to just have feelings and not constantly apologize for them is currently on the fritz.
Be all of that as it may, occasionally I do find myself wading around listlessly in a tangley, murky place. Usually, the factors that play into this are overwhelming projects at work, money (which I’ve never been good at managing and now that my house is needing major repairs, my lack in this area is glaring), a few certain draining friends, sometimes family obligations, and historically, a sense of feeling worthless because of my weight, and directly because of that, the fear that no one will ever desire me. Usually when several of these things are piled together is when I start to lose my way a little.
However, and most importantly for the purposes of this post, the last two items on that list are NOT a factor in this current bout of malaise.
WORRYING ABOUT MY WEIGHT AND ASSUMING IT EXCLUDES ME FROM BEING DESIRED IS NOT A FACTOR IN MY CURRENT MELANCHOLY!
I’m not sure I can convey how wonderful it feels to write that sentence.
Worrying about my weight and how worthy it made me has been a fact for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, six or seven or eight, my mom told me that if I walked around with my stomach sucked in, it would build my stomach muscles so that I would look skinnier. In fourth grade, I would sit at my desk holding my legs at tiptoe on the floor so my thighs didn’t rest against the chair and look fat. I was not a fat kid. I was not an overweight kid. But I was a sensitive kid.
My mom, also not really fat, just heavier than she had been before getting pregnant with all four of us, was obsessed, depressed, anxious, etc and while I know she didn’t mean to, she passed that right along. It came from her mother, who got it from her mother – an often retold anecdote in my family is how my great-grandmother would regularly greet my dad with “You’re getting a little hefty there, aren’t you there, Charles?”
When I was about six, my mom was curling my hair and she had a very soft wool suit jacket on. I was rubbing it over her belly admiring how it felt and she kept telling me to stop. I kept doing it. Finally, after the third reprimand, I said “But it’s so…round.” she dropped the curling iron and ran out to the living room sobbing. I can distinctly hear her telling my dad what I had said. Of course what I had meant to say was “But your coat is so soft” what I wish I had said was “But you’re so pretty, mom”
Granted, she had four kids under 6, it’s possible that my comment was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. But I remember it. It was part of a whole world, a whole universe of comments and gestures and fad diets that she participated in, a whole concept of thinness that carried so much weight.
I was home visiting my family for about ten days recently. My brother got married. It was a wonderful and beautiful and happy occasion. The whole time I was there, my mother didn’t mention my weight or my “health” even once. This is absolutely unprecedented in my lifetime. I chalk this momentous non-occurance to two things:
1. My mom has slowly, over the course of a few years, lost a decent amount of weight herself. She’s not as thin as she was in high school, but I can tell she’s feeling more comfortable in her skin. Because weight has always been important to her. Seeing her blush and smile when a handsome older friend told her she looked like she’d lost 30 pounds, that she looked great, was lovely.
2. Because of this blog, and Sinful Sunday, and this community, I am better able to stand up for myself around my weight. I am more confident. For example, I brought three dresses home for the wedding. I’d taken photos of myself in all three and liked how I looked in all of them. I showed the photos to lots of people, asking which dress they liked best, not ashamed to share what I looked like in a photograph. Knowing (Believing it in my heart) that I looked great in all three.
I’ve becoming pretty adamant about letting people post any photo they have taken of me (public me, clothed) on facebook or other social networking sites without verifying that I look “thin enough” in them. I have a very attractive friend who insists on reviewing and deleting ten photos before allowing anyone to share the fun time we are having out. I hate it. So when mom took some photos of me and my nieces and nephews laughing and wanted to post them on facebook I said “of course,” without even looking at them. She said “Don’t you want to approve them first?” (She is also a diligent verifier of herself in photos) I said “No, people just want to see what a fun time we are having.” What I meant was “I want people to see what a fun time I’m having and I don’t care if they think I look fat in this photo”
And yeah, sometimes, I see myself in that photo and I cringe. I don’t like the way I look. I feel like I loom so large over everyone else but god dammit, I am smiling, and that is what I want people, that is what I want myself, to see.
Also, not a sidenote, I have learned over the last couple of years that I AM desirable sexually, even though I am not thin.
So, all this to say, that feeling like shit the last few days, and not having my weight be the low fog that hangs over all of it? That is a revelation. That is a miracle.
When I started this blog, I wasn’t sure how personal I was going to get. I wasn’t sure I could. And I’ve never been much more than a half-hearted journaler so exorcising feelings through writing is a bit new to me. But in the 30 minutes it’s taken me to jot this down, I feel 100 times better than I did when I sat down. Seeing it in print. Knowing that there might be one or two people who relate. It makes me feel better.
There are sure to be some brilliant posts at Wicked Wednesday this week with a prompt like “Weight”.