Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Body (Acceptance) Challenge

It's no secret that I, just like other women, suffer from bad body image and insecurity. Some of us use it as fuel to mold us into a societal size 6 (or lower), some of us wallow in it and pick at the things we don't like until they become mountains in our mind, and some of us learn to just go with what we've got and love it anyway.

For awhile I was part of the first group. I dieted, eating only salads and drinking only water or sports drinks and still only managed to be 158 pounds. After the first didn't work I became the second; I ate and ate, feeling sorry for myself, gaining more weight, stretch marks and giving myself bad acne with the sweet and fatty foods I kept consuming, making my weight balloon to 175, the highest weight I'd ever been.

Now, I'm in the third camp, and floundered with where to start, until I came across an article on how to feel more confident in bed. One of the items listed is to do chores naked, which, as I'm home alone a lot, I could do. And so, two weeks ago, I started doing my chores and morning and evening routines in the buff. At first I was embarrassed of my body; the stomach isn't flat and has stretch marks, the skin isn't perfectly clear, so on and so forth. I couldn't even look at myself that first week, but I kept at it. And now this week, it's like a lightbulb went off.

This is the only body I've got, and for all intents and purposes, it's fully functional. A lot of people can't say that. I have two strong legs, and a very strong back, and a mighty quick brain, and some people can't stand on their own, can't bend or stoop, can't make good decisions. I'm built how I'm meant to be built at this moment, but I could always be better.

So I started doing more; I started doing at least 30 minutes of cardio a day, in addition to light weight training and simple muscle exercises. The first week of the "working out" aspect of my body acceptance challenge is down, and my weight (which had ballooned to 171) is back down to "normal" at 165 but loving my body, and learning it has made me recognize I could do better than that. I don't expect to be what my BMI says I should be (about 120 pounds), but I could settle at 150 and be happy, and so that's where I'm shooting. I don't want to be extraordinarily thin, or a size 6; I want to be happy and confident in myself and if I could get there (and stay there)? That would make me happy.

I learned portion control when someone bought a box of fried chicken and sides into the house. Where I'd normally take a three piece dark, and almost half a plate of sides, I took one piece, a small handful of fries and a small glass of sweet tea. I've learned to opt for the healthier snacks, as the sugary ones make me feel sluggish if I have too much; seriously, a pack of mini-donuts made me mad because I wanted them so bad but just couldn't bring myself to eat them with a couple of ripe bananas sitting on my countertop. I'm learning to take cues from my head and not my stomach, which is a lot harder than it sounds, but makes you feel a lot more proud of yourself.

Speaking of, having a support system is important. Tarzan told me once that if I were to lose weight (or stay the same or gain) he'd love me anyway and think I wasn't bad to look at. Put to the test with the body challenge, he's been there every step of the way, encouraging me when I don't think I can do anymore or go any further. He's there when I want to give up, letting me know I can do better. He's there, letting me know he's proud of the changes I'm making for me, which a lot of people wouldn't be there for.

The big thing to take away from the body challenge is that it doesn't end. Whether you want to exercise or not, whether you want to do chores naked, or not, you have to keep going. Even when it gets hard and even when you're tempted with fattening, succulent food, remember your goal and what you're trying to accomplish overall: confidence. Have at it!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Musing: Feelings

1) Sometimes I feel like I am drowning. Like there is not enough air, and that more and more weight is being put on my person. I'm a small person, but I carry around so much weight that nobody seems to see, or that people see and don't seem to check that is all my own, just like everyone else. Instead, I sometimes feel like I'm drowning, with no floaties, and more people, more weight, more things keep pulling me down. But I keep swimming. I keep fighting the undertow with a smile. I don't know why.

2) I fall apart. All the time. In my car before work, in my car after work, but for my full ten hour shift I keep it together. I take payments, I make arrangements, I excel. For ten hours straight I am competent and sure, I am precise and also nice...and then I fall apart. None too many people have seen me fall apart. Three. In 21 years three people have seen me fall apart. And those people have also seen me pull myself the f*ck together and get back to life, because it doesn't pause, there are no time outs and I have stuff to do. I fall apart and put myself together again. Every day.

3) I'm not all dark and twisty. The two previous, prevalent emotions may make you think so but I'm not. I laugh, all the time; I read some where that the people who laugh the hardest, who laugh so hard they cry, have known pain so that the joy is sweeter so maybe that's why. I still love listening to music, reading books (some I've already read), I still love driving with the sun roof open and the music blasting. I still love and enjoy so many things, things that distract me from the dry land drowning and the falling apart. I'm still a happy person, underneath everything else.

4) My boyfriend brings me joy. I sometimes get randomly mad at him for making me love him so much because before him? I didn't know I could feel like this, I didn't know I had such insane, beautiful, terrifying depths (also for him comandeering the left side of my bed, even when he's not here...just saying). He doesn't talk or say as much as I do, and he takes more time to think, but I adore him. I think he's wonderful, stubborn, sarcastic, funny and way too opinionated but I just adore him. Not like Jesus walking on water, but like a guy who has the key to a very tricky, very stubborn lock that leads to a room of new, exciting and super dope things. Yeah.

5) When the bad outweighs the good, when the hurt crowds around and beats up the joy, I become quiet and a bit more withdrawn. The ones closest to me sometimes take it personally; it's not as if I'm not there, but I'm not. I'll be on the phone with them, I'll be sitting in front of them, looking right through them, keeping me together. But even in doing that, I hear them, I hear what they need from me and do it without question. I don't know why, but I am always a safety net, even when I feel like my own net has holes so big I can fall through, even when I don't feel safe. So even when I'm falling apart, drowning on dry land, feeling the joy and the love and the abyss that threatens them, I am there for the people who I sometimes let be there for me. And then we start back at one, where the weight...and the lack of air...

I don't write as much as I used to. I don't know how to put into words every feeling, every thought and I don't want to as it makes them real. It makes them have weight and add more onto my little buoy of a soul that's already so weighed down. I am tired, and I fall apart but I put myself back together. I'm a strong person, a quiet, deeply feeling person. And how I feel about that is usually ambivalent but...usually? It sucks. But my eternal optimism, my belief that because I am good, and try to be better all the time, makes me believe, just like Nana says that trouble don't last always.

Don't forget to feel. It weighs you down, it hurts sometimes, and other times it's really amazing. Don't forget, in keeping yourself together by unloading on others, don't forget to check their baggage too, and if you love them (or even like them remotely) help them unload where you can. Above all, keep calm and keep moving; never ever stop moving. Take some steps backwards to assess, sprint a few yards forward and just... When you stop moving, you stop trying, and you never want to stop trying. Be the resilient kid who keeps building, even when they're running out of blocks, because that kid? Innovative. That kid? Will make something where there wasn't anything before. That kid, is going places. And so are you, kid.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Letter to a Heartbreak Revisited

I thought about you yesterday. Not for too long, and not too deep; in all honesty, it's the first time you, the actual person, not the act you did, crossed my mind since I left home. I guess I found something better to occupy my time. No guessing about it; my life isn't ideal but damn it's beautiful.

W often told me after everything happened that you told her you released me, that you felt bad about it all,  that you saw where I was heading and weren't ready to be there for me in that capacity. And that's bullshit. You said that all the time to me too, with your hand on my knee, with a smile and a wink; mixed signals don't mean you let me go - it means you were keeping your options open and for awhile I was content being an option, even after you hurt me.

The last time I wrote you I said I forgive you, but couldn't forget what you did or forgive the way you did it and so far that's been true. The insecurities I earned, like battle scars through loving you when you didn't deserve my love, have crippled me a bit. Don't misunderstand and think that I'm ashamed of the scars, because I'm not; they're a reminder to me, to any guy thinking he's got a flawless girl, that I'm not flawless. They're also a reminder that I can still grow and be better than what I allowed you to treat me.

The guy I'm with now, the man I love, is having to deal with the baggage you dropped on my shoulders. He wants to help me relieve the pressure, pick up a few of my bags but I won't let him; it's not his burden to carry, and palming it off to him is unfair. I've been working through my fears of being abandoned, my fear of unfaithfulness, my fear of not knowing the future, I've traded all those for happiness with him which is so hard when I remember, like a ghost limb, what happened last time I thought I was in love.

This time though, I know I am. I worry a lot, but that worry doesn't stop me from opening my whole heart to him. So I guess I didn't learn as much as I thought I did from you; I still love with a full heart, with abandon and fearlessness hoping that, with taking this leap, he's there to catch me. I'm glad of that, that your presence didn't change who I am deep down, just made me reassess who deserves those parts of me.

I wondered how you were doing, if anything had changed with you. Did I want to know enough to ask W about you? Not even, but that childish part in me wants to rub my wellness in your face. Guess I'll never really forgive all the way, and that's okay. You don't need my forgiveness to live your life, just like I don't need your ghost to live mine.

I guess I'm writing this letter to finally let you off the hook, to finally let myself off the hook for a mistake I made almost three years ago. We're all just in this thing trying to find people to make bonds with, build bridges and castles and dreams with. You weren't the one to build anything with, you had a hard time building for yourself let alone wanting to build, or being ready to build with someone else. I hope you live well, I hope you find love, and I hope you treat her better than you treated me. And I hope I never have to run into you ever again.