Friday, March 29, 2013


Thinking about forever...

I've been doing a lot of that lately, having conversations with coworkers and strangers about what they think forever entails and what they hope to accomplish with it, if there is anything to accomplish from such a fluid idea. And so far, I haven't gotten the most thought provoking answers from anybody, but I have surprised myself with what I used to think, and what I think now.

As a kid, forever was something I knew didn't exist. In the movies, the "forever after" part came when the movie was over, so, forever meant the end to me in the sense of "okay, this is over now." Forever was what I said when things were taking a really really long time. Forever is what I said when asked by my friends how long we would be friends. Forever wasn't a tangible thing, it wasn't an actual thing, it was just a word you said to symbolize a really long time, or until the end.

As I got older, my idea of forever was tainted by bad experiences. My family was supposed to be together, forever. I was supposed to be friends with the people I met in high school forever. I was supposed to go to college and get a degree and a good job that would last me forever. Forever became one of those childish things, in my mind, that I no longer had the time or patience to ponder and believe in, kind of like love (because as that point, I was sure I'd be single forever). It wasn't possible, forever. It was just something people said, like "Congratulations" when a woman becomes pregnant (even though that's what she's essentially designed to do) or "I'm sorry to hear that" when a person gives you some bad news about themselves that you either could really care less about or don't know how to respond to. Forever became a filler word without meaning.

And now...I've worked around to thinking about it again, to believing in the possibility of forever. I could say that it's because I'm with a partner whom I love deeply and can't really see a life without now that I have him. I could say it's because I've been best friends with the same person for almost four years now which, for a military brat and a loner like me, is super impressive. But the truth is, it's me.

I feel like I have changed for the better through understanding myself and what it is I want. I feel as though time has done me the service of providing wisdom and insight that I didn't have before. Forever was a fallacy, a dream made up by Disney and parents who wanted you to believe that "happily ever after" was true. But it can be; it's a distinct possibility that happily forever after does exist. The question becomes, how much work are you going to put in for it?

Are you going to let every step back steal your joy? Are you going to let some ex-douchebag ruin your potential happiness with someone else, let alone yourself? Or are you going to believe that joy is possible? That dreams don't die, they merely change? That forever isn't just a word people say?

That's what I'm working towards, the possibility of finding what my "forever" is. Is it moments where I find myself smiling despite myself? Moments where I'm with the ones I love? Moments where I'm left alone to contemplate nature, and humanity and God? I believe that forever is in those moments, the laughing until I can't breathe with best friend W, the arguing over fictional casting of a comic book movie with best friend Tony, the walking in the rain with Tarzan. Those are pieces of what I want my forever to look like, but it's not promised to me. I have to work to make those moments happen, organically or otherwise. I have to understand that the pursuit of happiness is just as important as the happiness itself. I can't be afraid to find out that my forever isn't what I thought it would be, but that it's exactly what I need it to be.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Shame On Me (For Being This Size)

Not to quote the untalented rapper of this quarter, but I'm different. From the way I think, the things I read, the way I dress, I just don't seem to fit in with my peers (or even much my elders) and I've learned to be perfectly okay with that.

What I can't find myself being okay with is that people seem to want me to be less than what I already am, want me to revert back to that pre-high school train of thought that says because everybody else feels a certain way, I have to feel the same way.

For instance, I woke up today and perused my Twitter and found someone I follow, a very talented woman, fat-shaming the entire hell out of another woman for a really brave picture she took of her stomach. The former couldn't understand why the latter was so bent out of shape; she was only stating her opinion, the opinion that the latter's body was utterly disgusting, and what did she (the big girl) expect anyway? It's Twitter, it's rude and obnoxious and gets off on shade, drama, and slander, and this girl, the bigger girl, should've known better and been ashamed of her body enough to not post it.

(I'm reminded of a quote that says there's a special place in hell for women who aren't kind to other women, but I digress...)

I staunchly disagree. Firstly, who is anybody to shame anybody for something as superficial, something as ever changing, as how they look? Looks is one of those things that fade with time, but beauty is one of those things that grows as you grow, that develops out of your kindness, your creativity, and your wisdom. Beauty is an intangible, but it's really noticeable when you don't have it as it seeps into your personality, into your words and actions.

Second, and most important, anyone can take pride in how they look, whether they are traditionally attractive, or not. To tell someone they can't like how they look because it goes against how you think they should look, or how you yourself look is ugly. So what if someone's bigger than you? So what if they think paisley and floral prints are in and you don't? Let them do them, and you continue to do you, such is the wisdom of time; whatever someone else does, that doesn't directly effect you or your way of life, is them and should remain such.

Fat shaming is one of those things that makes me mad. I feel like I'm fat. Those who see me often and know me tell me I'm not. I eat whole grain, nuts and berries, love fruit and vegetables and have drastically cut down on my fast food intake. I've started walking and running after my shifts at work and even started a small weight training regime. I still weigh one hundred and seventy pounds, size 14, and I get discouraged all the time about it.

Standing naked in a mirror, I can't look at myself straight on for more than three minutes; any more time than that and I just want to crawl into bed and hide away my body. It's been this way since I was maybe twelve or thirteen and puberty hit, and I've been working ever since to become accepting of my shape. Some days, I'm there - I look at myself and think that I'm beautiful, inside and out, and I just smile and go about my day. Other days, I look at my stretch marked skin, bigger hips and thighs and just sigh and shake my head, pinching the fat in the mirror and feeling sorry for myself.

I shame myself. I don't need anybody else to say "shame on you for looking that way." But...why should I feel ashamed? I'm doing everything I know how to do to stay healthy. I'm keeping both my mind, and body, sharp and trying new things everyday to make me feel better about myself, whether it's standing in the mirror (and not picking myself apart) or getting rid of the super oversized (and super small clothes) that haunt my closet. I'm doing for me, I'm concerned about me; I don't need a stranger being faux concerned about me or my weight all under the premise that I don't care for myself when, if they knew me, they'd know I really do.

Folks find me attractive. Other folks don't. Neither of that really matters as long as I find myself attractive (well, me and Tarzan anyway). And most days, I do. And from what I can tell, he does too. And the day anybody else's opinion truly matters will be the day I say f*ck it and order me the biggest, baddest, bacon infested burger and start the damn downward spiral. But between me and you, I hate beef burgers, don't like pork bacon, and feel fine about me. And I refuse to be ashamed about that.