Sunday, August 23, 2015

Healthy Relationships

I don’t know if I will ever have a healthy relationship with food or my body.  I can’t remember a time when anything about that part of my life has been normal.  I cannot fathom what it would be to look like in the mirror and not be filled with disgust.  Similarly, I don’t understand what it is like not to rethink every meal I’ve eaten (not unlike the way I replay in my mind over and over the most recent awkward thing I said).

Even in losing 100 pounds, I always felt like my body was never good enough.  While I raved about how great I felt (I did), I still secretly hated the way my body looked.  My boobs sagged, my stomach needed tucked, my skin was still covered in the turquoise mountain ranges of stretch marks.  After regaining the majority of that weight back (due to the unsuccessful rounds of fertility treatments), my body disgusts me.  I look back at my thinner self, and I can appreciate it now.  But never in the present – not ever.

In Good Company: Healthy Relationships

With food it’s always been the old anxiety causing game of guilt and shame.  From early adolescence to early adulthood, I starved myself until I finally broke down and ate something, which was immediately followed by purging.  Even after that cycle was broken, food has always held some sort of weight over me (pun not intended).  For a while I used food as a means of defiance.  Then I used it as an obsessive tool to become healthy.  Most recently I have found myself binging.  I have somehow had myself convinced that because I am no longer purging, binging isn’t really a problem.  Except it is.

I berate myself daily because I will never be pretty enough, fit enough, or thin enough.  My hair will never be smooth enough or curly enough.  My skin will never be free of lumps and bumps and landscapes of stretch marks and scars.  My boobs will always be long and low.  My arms will always be flappy, my thighs wide and full of divots.  My nose is bumpy, my chin is fat, my cheeks too full, my skin too patchy, my fingers too long, and my moles too abundant.  My stomach is the recipient of most of my hate.  The way it bulges out and hangs down disgusts me.  The way it spills over the tops of my pants is repulsive.  If Mr. B accidently brushes my torso, I become nauseous and shrink into myself.
I have a day of stress and I eat.  And eat.  And eat.  Not salads.  A shameful amount of empty calories and sugar and carbs.  I raid the cabinet containing Little K’s snacks and then am ashamed when I have to deny his request for a granola bar.  I am never full in these moments – never satisfied.  I can eat a week’s worth of calories in one sitting and still need more.  In a society where a woman merely mentioning she is hungry is shameful, binging is downright reprehensible.

In Good Company: Healthy Relationships

I always thought that being an adult would make these things easier.  Maybe it’s the addiction that runs through the bloodlines that created me.  Maybe it’s my tendency to reside in my anxious mind.  Maybe it’s the daily battle to not let depression swallow me whole.  Maybe it’s my need to control all the things.  But it’s not easier.  In fact it’s more complicated.  Because I am someone’s mom, someone’s wife, someone’s employee.  Regardless of my self-hatred, I have to keep myself together even when I am falling apart.

I feel like people likely laugh when they see me enter a vehicle donning a CrossFit sticker.  They probably scoff when they see me in Yoga pants.  Or, more likely, they don’t see me at all.  I am surely as invisible as I feel.

Often, when I write like this, I am the target of criticism for not being funny enough or upbeat enough.  But I always try to be authentic.  I need to be genuine.  And real life isn’t always rainbows and daisies.  I am certain we are all fighting our very own battles – and in the grand scheme of things, maybe hating my body and having too much food at my disposal isn’t the worst possible thing.  But if we present ourselves in a way that glosses over the hard stuff, then what is the point of writing about life anyway?

If I had a solution, I would share it with you.  But I don’t.  Life is much more complex than simple questions with definite answers.  I don’t know how to stop stuffing my face and hating this vessel in which I live.  I’ve been waiting for this period to pass, but it hasn’t.  But I have faith that it will – certainly not permanently, but at least for a while.  And a break from the clouds to see the sun shining in the turquoise morning sky every once in a while is all I really need to keep climbing toward wellness.

In Good Company: Healthy Relationships

Thank you for keeping me In Good Company.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Dear Miss Kindergarten

Dear Miss Kindergarten,

Tomorrow I’m handing over to you my baby.  Oh I know he’s not really a baby anymore, but he is my baby.  In my mind I still see him as a premature newborn, defenseless, hooked up to so many machines, unable to breathe on his own.  The first day of Pre-school was tough, Pre-k was tougher – but I have been in complete denial about the beginning of this school year.  Kindergarten changes everything.  I have seen other little ones enter as babies and exit as big kids.  I am giving him to you to help him learn and grow, but my heart aches.  I know when you are done with him, he will have grown up more than I thought possible.

In Good Company: Dear Miss Kindergarten

I trust you, Miss Kindergarten to have patience with Little K’s sassiness.  To love him, not in spite of, but because of his many quirks.  To encourage his creativity, to feed his love of learning.  To laugh at his silliness, to correct him when he’s naughty.

In Good Company: Dear Miss Kindergarten

I trust you with my baby, because it is time for him to begin growing up.  I want him to develop the wings he need to fly from the proverbial nest that will make him not live in my non-proverbial basement until he’s 30.  He needs Kindergarten; his thirst for knowledge and engagement is more than I feel I can feed and grow.  So many moms brave the world of home-schooling (kudos to them) – but I would be doing him a huge disservice if I chose that route (math and geography make me sweat).

I would love to be able to tell you that teaching my precious one will be easy, but I am no liar.  He will test your patience.  I love him so much that I could have easily chosen to hold him back a year if I wasn’t afraid I would kill him.  I kid.

In Good Company: Dear Miss Kindergarten

He talks non-stop – when you tell him to be quiet, he will whisper at you.  He is incredibly sarcastic (which is basically like knowing a second language).  He will move at the pace of a snail’s constipated stools if he is not interested in participating in an activity.  If he is overwhelmed, he will shut down.

He is also incredibly sweet.  He will tell you he loves you and offer you hugs.  He will likely come to call you “Beautiful Miss Kindergarten” and tell you he thinks you smell nice (or he will possibly tell you he doesn’t like your perfume if he doesn’t, because he’s an expert at honesty).  His facial expressions make it impossible for him to fib.  He loves his friends something fierce and gets his feelings hurt easily.  He finds joy in music and dancing as much as sports and playing ninjas.  He loves the Jayhawks, all super heroes and stuffed animals; art projects and swimming.

While he typically needs things to be orderly and in their proper places – I apologize, in advance, for the amount of germs he will spread because he will not keep his fingers out of his mouth.  He chews them when he’s bored and bites them raw when he’s nervous.  Oh, you know of a home remedy that will make his fingers taste terrible and he’ll keep them out of his mouth?  We’ve tried it.  Yep, that one too.  And that one.

I also apologize for the amount of wiener-handling you will witness.  To answer your question, he probably doesn’t have to go to the bathroom.  He just likes to keep one hand on it all the time, like a little compass guiding him through life (which, to be honest, might not be far removed from his life ten years from now).  So for now I remind him often that his wiener isn’t a handle.  Also you might have noticed that our family isn’t mature enough to call it anything other than a wiener – sorry about that.

In Good Company: Dear Miss Kindergarten
Wiener holding game on point.

Please know that Little K is an only child, but he doesn’t know that.  Our dogs are part of our family and he will tell you with certainty that they are his sisters.  You may even overhear him explaining to his friends that he has one black sister and one black and white sister – we happen to be very diverse.

In Good Company: Dear Miss Kindergarten

So dear, sweet Miss Kindergarten, who is impossibly adorable and somehow younger than me (how did that happen?), I thank you in advance for taking care of my baby boy.  For helping to shape him into the man he will sooner than I know it be.  Thank you for being one of the most important influences in his school career, thank you for choosing to teach.  Thank you for dedicating far more than 40 hours out of each of your weeks to planning, and teaching, and caring, and wiping tears, and tying shoes, and sharpening pencils, and explaining, and correcting, and laughing, and encouraging, and loving.

In Good Company: Dear Miss Kindergarten

I will leave you with a poem that reduced me to tears, but helped me to emerge from my denial and accept the importance of this new beginning for Little K:

{First Day of School Poem}
Author Unkown
He started school this morning,
And he seemed so very small.
As I walked there beside him
In the Kindergarten hall.

And as he took his place beside
the others in the class,
I realized how all too soon
Those first few years can pass.

Remembering, I saw him as
He first learned how to walk.
The words that we alone made out
When he began to talk.

This little boy so much absorbed
In learning how to write.
It seems as though he must have grown
To boyhood overnight.

My eyes were blurred by hastily
I brushed the tears away
Lest by some word or sign of mine
I mar his first big day.

Oh how I longed to stay with him
And keep him by the hand
To lead him through the places
That he couldn’t understand.
And something closely kin to fear
Was mingled with my pride.
I knew he would no longer be
A baby by my side.

But he must have his chance to live,
To work his problems out,
The privilege to grow and learn
What life is all about.

And I must share my little boy
With friends and work and play;
He’s not a baby anymore —
He’s in Kindergarten today.

In Good Company: Dear Miss Kindergarten

With a thankful and aching heart,


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