Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why I'm Done With The "F" Word

You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed.  And you are beautiful.  -Amy Bloom

People often say that ' beauty is in the eye of the beholder ,' and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder.   -Salma Hayek

The older I get, the more dissatisfied I get with my body.  No matter how thin I am, I always feel like I should be thinner.  Or my hair should be longer.  Or shorter.  Or maybe I should be more tan.  Less pale.  I've never thought of myself as a superficial person, but when I think of my flaws, I certainly feel like there is so much of my physical self that I'm unhappy with.  I don't know why this is.  It seems to me that most women become more confident and less critical of their bodies as they age.  Not me.  After each of my children was born, I had a goal weight that I tried to get down to.  Breastfeeding helped me tremendously, and I always achieved my goal.  And it wasn't even hard.  And once I was there, at that magic number which I had arbitrarily chosen at some point along with way, I expected to feel a sense of accomplishment.  True happiness.  To feel complete.  Worthy.  Beautiful.  And each time I reached my magic number, I found myself just as unhappy with my body as I'd always been.  So I'd decide that if I just lost five more pounds, then I'd be happy with my body.  But I wasn't.  And I'm still not.

I have never really looked at my post-baby body with any feeling but dissatisfaction.  I don't see it as the amazing vessel that it is.  The body that grew from a little baby into a strong, healthy woman.  The body that carried me through a young marriage, a lonely divorce, and then led me into the arms of my soul mate. The body that conceived, carried, and gave birth to three marvelous little beings.  The body that fed each of those children all on its own for the first year of their lives.  The body that has given as much of itself as it can to those people ever since.  The body that survived those early years on little sleep.  The body that plays horsey, chases, flips, tickles, twists, and swings until their hearts are content.  The body that worries everyday over the impact of every decision.  The body that cuddles them, soothing every hurt.  The body that carries the burden of creating fulfilling lives for those children all upon itself.  The body that loves the people around me and lives to make them as happy as they can be.  The body has yet to fail me, no matter how much I ask of it.

Instead, I look at this body, and I tear it apart.  Every single day.  I see curves and lumps, where I want there to be muscle and bone.  I see wrinkles and sags where taut skin ought to be.  I see the stripes from carrying three large babies in a small frame.  I see the skin that has never quite gone back to the way it used to be.  I see the effects of nursing those children, how little of what I used to be is left.  When I sit, I feel my skin spill over my jeans in a way that it never did before I carried my children.  And with each flaw I pick out, I call my body the most hateful of words.  Usually just in my head.  But sometimes aloud.  Ugly.  Disgusting.  Fat.  Sometimes I spell it out, F-A-T, just so my girls won't know what I'm saying.  The way I talk about my body is not the way I would speak of anyone else's.  I teach my children that it's not nice to call people names, or to say someone is fat.  But I do it to myself every day.  

The people I love don't see me this way.  My husband loves the way my body looks.  My children often say I am cool, or pretty, or nuzzle up to me and tell me I'm soft.  They see me and my body, and they love what they see.  They don't see flaws;  they see a woman who loves them and gives herself to them and comforts them.  And they think that woman is just right the way she is.  I know in my heart that my body deserves more respect from me than I'm giving it.  My body is an incredible vehicle in which to experience my beautiful life.  And it is mine.  No one is going to respect it, if I don't respect it first.  I have to do it for myself,  and I've got to do it for my girls.  I know that they will treat their bodies the way they see me treat mine.  And I want them to like themselves, to love themselves.  Their whole selves.  Mind and body.  Today is a new start for me.  The day I start to see my body through a new set of eyes.  The eyes of my daughters.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Most Useless Place

{originally written in August 2012}

Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
-Dr. Seuss “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”

I find myself here lately.  At the waiting place.  Waiting for quiet time to write.  Waiting for it to cool off before I run.  Waiting for my baby to sleep through the night.  Waiting for my body to bounce back.  Waiting for tomorrow to start my diet again.  Waiting to wean my baby, so I can get a new tattoo.  Waiting to finish up one project, so I can move on to the one I just started.  Waiting until my house is just right.  Waiting until I’m thin enough.  Waiting until my hair is long enough.  Waiting for my 2 year old to outgrow the “trying twos”.  Waiting {or making my children wait} for me to finish up my long list of today’s to-do’s before I take the time to play with them.  Waiting for the perfect setting to be with my husband.  Waiting to call myself a writer until I am a published author.  Waiting to make new friends.  Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting.  Waiting to be happy.
When I was a little girl, I had a very clear picture of my adult life and how it would be.  It was neat and tidy, crisp and clear.  I had my perfect children, upon whom I doted and spent every waking {and possibly non-waking} hour cherishing, never yelling, never becoming frustrated, never wishing I could run away for a day, just to have a few unbroken moments to myself.  I saw myself happily married to my dream guy, the perfect husband, naturally. He was romantic, playful, a good provider, a perfect father.  Life would be perfect.
The things that are missing from that perfect picture are obvious to me now.  What qualities did I hope to bring to the table?  What things would I, myself do to create my own happiness?  Or would I simply wait for everyone around me to make me happy?  
I refuse to let my happiness be determined by others.  And I refuse to stay at the waiting place.  It’s lonely, and it sucks the life out of life.  Because you can’t live while you’re waiting.  You have to live actively, aggressively, passionately, purposefully.  Or not at all.  
Today, I chose, not to wait, but to live.  Tomorrow will bring it’s own roses and thorns, whether I anticipate them or not.

|| popular posts ||