Friday, August 31, 2007

It's a Fat Girl's Name

“What kind of name is Clair?”
“It’s a family name.”
“It’s a fat girl’s name.” - The Breakfast Club

I think my name might be a fat girl’s name too. I was thin my entire life. Then I met my husband and gained some comfort weight. Not a lot, just enough to be a bit cushy. Then we moved and I quit smoking. And I gained more weight. Then I found myself miserable and with no friends and no professional life to speak of and I gained more weight. Then we had our son and I gained yet more. Then we had our daughter and well, more was gained. And then I found an amazing group of really supportive women and was well on my way to losing quite a bit of weight and then my life exploded, again, and it all came back and then some.

This subject is acutely painful for me to write about. I have internalized and emotionalized my weight and looks to the degree that it actually makes me scooch around in my seat uncomfortably. I cannot, will not, say how much I weigh or my size out loud. To anyone. Ever.

My entire life, I was almost always the thin and pretty one in whatever group of friends I was hanging out in. I at least blended in with all the other thin and pretty girls. Now I stand out as the “fluffy” woman who constantly makes fun of herself as an attempt to overcompensate for how uncomfortable I am in my own skin. This is not me. Not even necessarily how I look, but how I look at myself. I mean I’ve never been what you would call nice to myself, but now, there is some true self loathing going on. I look in the mirror every morning and cringe. Every time I eat something, even if it’s something really good for me, and think I should just stop eating entirely.

I’m starting to worry myself. I play it all off nonchalantly most of the time. But when I get honest with myself about it, this is not healthy. In any way shape or form. I haven’t been to my yearly exam yet because I don’t want to get on the scale and have my doc look at me like I’m a walking time bomb Twinkie. I’ve thought about cancelling my cardiologist appointment so that I don’t have to have him look at me with genuine concern. So I don’t have to explain. So I don’t have to have them pity me or judge me.

So I don’t have to pity or judge myself mostly I think. Because I do that every minute of every day it seems. I don’t need to set myself up for a special judgment session by going to see a doctor.

My sorority (yes I was in a sorority) turns 100 years old this year and they are having a big shindig at my college to celebrate and I so badly want to go. I’ve not been back to my school for 7 years, I would love to see old professors and see all the friends who are going to be there and who still live around there. But I probably won’t go because of how I feel that I look. The last time any of these people saw me, I was thin, confident and successful. Now I’m large and anything but confident and successful. Going to see them all and pretending like nothing has changed not only sounds painful to me, but rather impossible. And that makes me sadder than I can tell you. I never thought that I would feel so badly about myself that I would miss an opportunity to see people who are important to me.

I have to do something about this. I cannot hope to find balance and happiness in the rest of my life if I don’t change how I look at myself. I have to learn how to be nicer to myself.

So writing all of this is a big step in and of itself. I’ve never written or spoken about this topic from an objective, honest perspective. And it’s taken me a week to work up to it. So here I am laying it on the line. I don’t have any answers or any goals to speak of. I just wanted to get it out there. Take that first step towards being able to take action. To make this different. To start feeling different. To learn how to be nice to myself. To perhaps start to see myself as others see me already.

Friday, August 24, 2007

By Request

I said this first sentence to a friend of mine some time ago and she asked me to turn the sentence into a blog here you go...

My parents took me to Hawaii when I was in the 6th grade. The two things I remember most about that trip were getting to chew on sugar cane every time I turned around and always having a parrot on my shoulder.

Being the sophisticated 12 year old that I was, I would always order Shirley Temples at every restaurant we ate at. Well in Hawaii instead of just a cherry on a plastic sword, they served cherries on a piece of sugar cane. I thought it was the most marvelous thing ever. Well, next to the parrots. You see one of the biggest tourist gags in Hawaii is getting your picture taken with a brightly colored parrot sitting on your shoulder or arm. The birds do really sweet things like give you “kisses” which actually translates into being alarmingly afraid that the bird is going to snip the end of your nose off or give you a new ear piercing. But I thought it was just about the coolest thing ever. So I always posed for the pictures and my parents never bought even one. By the time we left I was positive that thanks to them I had racked up the worst tourist karma ever.

Twelve is an awkward time to go on vacation with one’s parents. Especially when said twelve year old has recently decided that nature is no longer even in the realm of cool. I grew up going camping and fishing, essentially being totally enthralled with all things outdoors. I loved nature, I even liked bugs. But when I hit 12, as my mom puts it, it was like some strange pre-pubescent alien took over my body and who I was pre-twelve simply ceased to exist. I started wanting to wear make-up. I asked to go bra shopping (even though I didn’t really need to wear a bra until much, much later). I started disobeying my parents both secretly and directly to their faces. I started noticing boys. I started using gel in my hair and not minding being in dresses.

I look back at that time now and it was no wonder that my parents had no clue what to do with me. And to top it all off, I did just about everything within my power to ruin that family vacation to Hawaii. I was rude and melancholy. I didn’t want to go see the frickin’ rain forest. I didn’t care if I saw one stupid waterfall the whole time I was there. All I wanted to do was lie on the beach, suck on sugar cane and if I had to go anywhere, please put a parrot on my shoulder.

I remember walking through some of the most gorgeous scenery looking at my feet. I remember my parents waking me up well before dawn to go see a sunrise on top of a volcano and I stayed in the car the whole time until they drug me out just in time to see the sun peek over the horizon. My god it was amazing, but all I was thinking about was when I got to go back to sleep. My goodness I was a brat.

So we are getting ready to go on our first family vacation in a couple of weeks and I’m so nervous. Granted my kids are only almost 4 and 15 months, but believe me when I say the 4 year old is already truly skilled in the art of attitude. I guess that I can see now that my parents’ disappointment in that vacation and me was two fold. Number one they were disappointed that their sweet little girl was such a holy terror. Number two they were disappointed that the vacation that they had so painstakingly planned turned out to be not so much fun for me.

I desperately want my family to have fun on our vacation. It’s really important to me that everyone has a blast and that fond memories are made. Even if 20 years from now my husband and I are the only ones who remember them. I want my kids to have their sugar cane and parrots.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Surely, not me?

We live out in the country. Sort of. I mean we are actually only about 10 minutes from all sorts of big box civilization and mini marts galore, but there is only one row of houses between us and acres and acres of farmland. It’s one of the reasons we moved out here. Even though I knew that no one would come see us, or at least not without a lot of arm twisting and cajoling. But I love that when it rains I can smell the alfalfa fields or that I can hear the cows in the distance. I love that we can see the stars so clearly and I love that we still get that small town feel.

Mostly I love being so removed from all the ugliness of city life. There are no horns honking. There are no tires squealing. There is very little base thumping and vibrating my children across the floor as the driver slowly ambles past the house in the attempt to make sure EVERY living creature has heard the magnitude of his stereo. No crime. No accidents.

That is until tonight when we were on our way home and all of a sudden were brought to a stop just minutes from our front door because Flight for Life had landed in the middle of the country road we were on. I’ve never seen so many flashing lights in such a small space. My heart stopped and I felt the blood drain from my face as I realized what was happening. When we were allowed to pass after the helicopter had taken off we drove by a single car that had smashed into a very old and large tree. The car was almost cut in half. I almost threw up.

My husband is a claims adjuster for a large insurance company here and I’ve forbidden him from talking to me about the claims he gets everyday. My mother was in an awful car accident when I was in the 8th grade that almost killed her and since then I am the person who actually looks the other way when I have to drive by an accident. Even to know I’m driving by it makes me feel sick and like I should run home and call every single person I love to make sure they are ok. Tonight, the first thoughts in my head were “its ok, my family is in the car with me.”

I am one of those people who have chosen to live in the bliss of false belief that “things like that don’t happen to me.” My family will always be safe. My children, or anyone else I love for that matter, will never be stricken with some sort of horrible illness. My house will never burn down. And it is most definitely a choice. Because I know that things like that happen to people everyday. People I know have had these horrible things happen to them, and worse. A good friend of mine from high school just lost her mother last week to a heart attack. This was a woman who battled and beat breast cancer THREE times. And then out of the blue, she dropped to the floor and died. I KNOW these things happen. But I have to make myself believe that by living out in the country, or driving the safest car, or eating organic foods that none of them will ever happen to ME.

And tonight for a moment, that illusion was challenged. But as I sit here writing this I can feel that veil of ignorance softly dropping back over me, and I welcome it. The comfort it brings and the familiarity of denial. Because while the realist in me screams that I should prepare for the worst and always take precautions, the part of me that believes that my children will always be happy also foolishly believes that by maintaining this ignorance that that will somehow make me exempt. Exempt from the pain of fear and loss. Exempt from the loneliness of watching someone you love suffer.

And so I will go to sleep tonight secure in the knowledge that my family is safe and that surely, bad things don’t happen to me.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Double Up

I can’t sleep. Well actually, I don’t know if I can sleep or not, I haven’t tried yet. Don’t want to. I feel like maybe if I stay up late enough I’ll be able to figure this out. Figure out how to make things better. How to rewind to Wednesday morning when everything seemed like it would be a good day. And then everything went to hell and a hand basket.

See here’s the thing, it appears that I’m in the process of losing another friend. Because I opened my big, fat mouth and questioned the way she treated me. The bitch of it all is that this time, this friend was also my boss. And I’ve spent the last two days in the clarity that pure anger and frustration brings. And then I woke up this morning sad and muddled. The anger is dissipating and the frustration is burning off, leaving sadness and confusion in its wake.

I don’t know what to do now. I know that I should write her back. At least to say, I don’t know what to say to you right now, but I hope to soon. I feel like I am going to throw up every time I think about it. I can’t remember a time when I literally had no clue what to say to someone who was dear to me.

I know that I should probably sever my professional relationship with her in an effort to preserve our friendship. But there is a part of me that wants to be selfish. I want to preserve it all. I want to work with a friend. I want to do THIS work. I don’t want to be left out of this business that I put my heart and soul into for the past 5 months. I may not have invested any savings or 401k’s like she did, but I put everything else I had into it.

And so now I wonder whether I am more sad to lose a friend or to lose something that I put so much of myself into. Am I more worried that I won’t be able to make ends meet without a job or that I won’t ever feel that way about work again?

Where the anger really resides is that I really didn’t do anything wrong. Not that I’m saying she did, exactly. But that the fury still burning comes from the fact that I helped to build this business and it became a part of me, and now that she has decided she doesn’t like what I said to her, she’s cutting me out of it. Entirely. Which is her right I suppose as she’s the owner and I was just hired help. But she doesn’t get that. She doesn’t get that she wasn’t the only one banking their future on the success of this business. She doesn’t get that this was important to me too.

And so it’s really a double loss for me. A friend and a purpose. And that just sucks. Really, really sucks.