Weight is not the issue. Waiting is the issue.

Part One

I’m much fatter than I would like to be. I’m also much shorter than I would like to be. And I wish my skin wasn’t bluish-white, and that I didn’t have to wear glasses. But,  I can’t worry about that right now. I’ve got living to do. I need to snuggle my daughter, make love to my husband, and laugh until I cry with my friends. I need to dance to loud music, cook dinner for my parents, and write a letter to my grandpa. I must read, listen to comedy podcasts, and dance terribly. Yes, I need to keep myself healthy so I can do these things for as long as possible. But I don’t need to wait until my body is perfect to do them.

When I was 7 years old Wal-Mart didn’t have Ariel panties in my size. I hated my body and couldn’t wait to grow up a bit so I could look better.

When I was a 12 years old I hated my round, curvy body and longed for the day when I would hit my teenage growth spurt and become beautiful.

When I was 16 I decided that I was a late bloomer since I hadn’t really gotten any taller since the 5th grade. I told myself I didn’t have time for dating; because I was 100% sure that no one found my ugliness attractive.  I hated my body.

When I was 20, I decided that even though I wasn’t beautiful, I knew enough tricks to make most people think I was attractive. I hated my body, but I dressed “correctly” for my body type and was a perfectionist about my grooming. I usually took at least two hours to get ready to leave the house. Prepping my armor of tumbling curls, glossy lips, and smooth hairless features. Underwear to smooth the bumps and very uncomfortable, but very cute, shoes.

I became the most feminine girl around. Pink was my favorite color, I worshipped at the altar of accessories, and I did my utmost to avoid sweating. I practiced my facial expressions in the mirror and didn’t allow myself to feel things in public that I thought made me look unattractive. No crying, no being angry. I even practiced eating and drinking while looking in the mirror to make sure I didn’t gross anyone out by, you know, acting human and all…yuck!

I can’t remember when I wasn’t worried about the space that I was taking up in the room. I never wore things that were too flashy or make up that was harsh, because I wanted to be seen as small, delicate, feminine, doll-like. I folded in my arms and legs in when sitting, I constantly sucked in and posed. When my personality did break through, I would be embarrassed when I laughed too loud or said something too opinionated. For years, I was waiting until I looked good enough to live the life I wanted. I thought, “No one wants a loud, flashy, big girl for their friend or girlfriend or daughter.”  Being overweight was unattractive and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone by being unattractive. After all, my number one purpose in life was to look good. I even tried to tamp down my personality a bit and sometimes acted dumber than I actually was.

I didn’t have a terrible life, but most of my brain was concerned with how I looked and how fat I was compared to others in the room. I would walk into a room and strategize where to sit or stand based on the weight of the other people. My goal was to be near someone bigger than me so that I would look smaller in comparison.

When my magic growth spurt didn’t happen in high school, I took matters into my own hands. I took diet pills, I limited myself to less than 100 calories a day, and I would see how many days I could go without eating. Then when I lost control of my body and allowed myself to eat, I would purge. Once I was on the bingeing and purging cycle, my secret life ramped up whole new level. Not only did I have to look good and keep my socially approved personality going all the time, I would I have to keep the secret of my eating disorder from everyone.

I would spend 30 minutes sobbing and vomiting in the bathroom, mentally berating myself the whole time, then look in the mirror and be disgusted. Not with what I had made myself do, that was a necessary evil, but with how I looked. Bloodshot, red-rimmed eyes with purple-red busted blood vessels around them from the force of vomiting. Dry, scaly skin with sores in my mouth, bloody gums, and terrible breath. I carried around a little kit of eye drops, toothpaste and make up to repair the damage. I worried about my teeth and my nails looking bad because of the stomach acid that splashed on them, but I didn’t stop. Because I was in control of my appearance now and I was thinner than I had ever been. I was enjoying living my life and I didn’t want to stop.

As horrible as this may sound to an outsider, it made sense to me. In my mind I couldn’t live the life I wanted and be overweight. I wanted love and respect; I wanted to have fun and act crazy sometimes. But I didn’t want to be “that fat girl.” I felt like I owed it to the world to look good all the time; it was part of my job as a young woman, even if it meant killing myself to get there.

And I was killing myself, physically and emotionally. I keep these secrets for over 12 years. I had severe depression from the self-hate and the belief that if I wasn’t attractive 100% of the time people wouldn’t want to be around me. I had anxiety attacks because I  worried someone would find out my secrets and try to stop me from  purging. I panicked when I thought I wasn’t doing something right or behaving perfectly. I tried very hard to not let anyone see through the mask and to please everyone all the time.  I kept up my façade very well, my mother didn’t know, my husband  didn’t know, my friends who had known me for 20 years didn’t know.

But eventually things began to crumble.

To be continued…..

Free Writing #1

I watched a super interesting documentary yesterday called “Women aren’t funny” and it made me feel so frustrated. Women ARE funny… of course, it shouldn’t even be a question. But after watching the documentary, it appears that most people don’t think women are funny. Or if they are funny, they aren’t attractive and/or they had possibly been molested. (Yes. I’m not exaggerating, that is a real theory.) After watching it I looked up podcasts that feature women and subscribed to several that seemed promising. I want to do something to help out  all those funny ladies out there who -like me- are hilarious and have a va jay jay. Did you know that those things are not mutually exclusive?!

I-cant-believe-i-still-have-to-protest-this-shitOne of the podcasts that I’ve been enjoying is The Dork Forest and it’s full of funny women and I like hearing about other people’s hobbies and crafty things. On one episode Janeane Garofalo was talking about how hard it is for women to find roles or if roles are available they are looking for a “new girl” someone young and attractive, a new face and body for men to interact with and daydream about. It feed into the frustration leftover from Women Aren’t’ Funny and wound up getting angry. Why in 2015 are we still dealing with these issues!? While on the surface it appears that things are getting better and we are closer to true equality than ever, with just a little digging the truth comes to light. Women are still considered to be secondary to men and to inherently have less worth. It really makes me angry and, very ironically, it makes me feel powerless to affect change.

I’ve decided I don’t really care if I become “that girl.” The annoying one that talks about feminism and brings women’s rights into every conversation. If I continue to try to please people all the time nothing will change. You’ve been warned.

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Breaking News: Depression is depressing

* This post was originally written on June 27, 2010. *

I have been on an anti-depressant since college. Finally, I was able to admit that the depression was taking over; more than I could handle on my own. The medicine they put me on really made things seem level. So, I was missing out on the super highs, but also not dealing with the super lows. Comfortably numb and a little flat. Turns out that’s not so great, but recently, I have found myself wishing for that pleasant numbness to return. help pills

Lately, my chest has been tight with churning raw emotions. I feel so full of bad feelings, all swirling together creating a kind of sadness-fear-dread-panic-guilt mix that makes my heart pound and my guts clench. My mind is twirling the situation over and over. What can I do, how can I make this stop? Do you ever feel like life if just to much muchness?

A few weeks ago when we got rid of our dog, Gracie, I felt this way. I was sobbing the whole car ride and couldn’t have felt worse if we were taking her to the slaughterhouse. In reality, she has a great new home with a friendly sibling-dog and loving owner. But at the time I felt so overwhelmed but the burning, aching, tear of sadness that it almost overcame me. If my soul could speak she would be screaming, “Ow…Ow…OWWWW!”

Sometimes life just seems too hard, too much to deal with, more than I can handle, more than I want to handle. When I feel this way it’s like I’m ready to cry, “Uncle!” “Stop these bad feelings, stop the pain, stop the depression, stop, stop, stop!” I contemplate running away or sleeping for weeks on end. Both seem inviting. Anything to escape, anything to not have to deal with all this crap.

Here’s the deal- giving away your dog is sad, but it shouldn’t bring you to the brink of insanity. However, I feel like I am just barely holding everything together, if one tiny thing happens all the pieces of me tumble to the ground and shatter. I am working so hard, every minute of the day, keeping things together. It’s exhausting.

So! So? I don’t know. I don’t know where to go from here, I don’t know how to stop this cycle. I am just hanging on for the ride and the ride is becoming my life and my daughter’s first year. It really sucks.

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Baby Love

It is so easy to dwell on the hard parts of being a parent. The bad days weigh heavily on me, while the good days slip by unheeded. But there is something magic about a baby, that I never knew until I had Piper.

Sometimes when I am changing her diaper, she reaches to the side and arches back on the changing table to grab at something. Her smooth little body looks like a crescent moon with a tight little butt in the middle. When she does that she is so beautiful and flawless that it pulls at my heart. I am taken out of the hurry, hurry, hurry, clean, clean, clean and transported into a perfect moment. I run my fingertips down the silky curve of her side and my breath catches in my chest. “Oh, Pipey, Pipey. I love you so much, too much, with all my heart and body. I love you till it hurts me. I LOVE you.” I forget that I am rushing somewhere, I forget that she is fussy, I forget that I’d rather not wipe up more poop. For just a moment, everything is right with the world and I don’t want to be anywhere but there with her.

When Piper was a newborn, I was surprised by how much I loved her. She had put me through a hellish nine months, but still there was that magic baby thing. The day Piper was born a new kind of love was born in me. A love that is almost too much to bear, strong enough to take over mentally and physically. A kind of animalistic love that made me want to lick her and smell her; trying to consume everything tiny thing about her. Powerful love, life changing love, gut squeezing, heart healing love.

 There is a tiny bud of an idea that I have. If I love my child this much, does God love me this much? I am His child. I know the Sunday school answer, but does it really apply to me? It sounds like Pharisee-ish false humility, but I often feel that God doesn’t love me or want to help me day in and day out. I am too dirty and too broken. I am a failure when trying to live up to my standards and I have fallen woefully short of His.

But I don’t stop loving P when she isn’t perfect. I know the Lord doesn’t stop loving me, but it is a hard concept to internalize. He loves me more than I love Piper. He thinks I am beautiful just like I know she is. This feels wonderful and terrible at the same time. Most days I feel about as beautiful and worthy of love as a moldy turd.

In the evenings, after a long day wrestling with P, I hold her and try to rock her to sleep. She is usually crying and sometimes I am, too. I am exhausted. My brain is tired and my body is aching. I have come to the end of the end of myself. Then I cry out to the Lord and He is there with us. His presence is strong and I know He is in the room. With Piper nestled in my neck and the Lord’s strength and love pouring out on us, I know I can make it another day.

I go all day drawing on my own strength and when the well is dry, there He is. Ready to quench my thirst with living water. Maybe I should give it up earlier in the day and turn to Him before I am a my breaking point. But I don’t feel I have the right; what if He turns me away? What if He says He will help me if I stop screwing up so much?

It’s only when I am out of options that I seek the Lord. I just realized that maybe I should make seeking the Lord my first option! What if I turned to Him first thing in the morning!? Sounds like a wonderful idea, why haven’t I thought of it before?

I know in my head that God is love and he has forgiven me. But in my heart, I have a hard time accepting that His love as unconditional and unfailing and it is for me. It is amazing to me how He is revealing Himself to me through Piper and my relationship with her.

*This was originally posted on  April 28, 2010. I’m moving some older writing over to this blog. I’d love to hear what you think! *

Free Writing

I read a blog recently that talked about free writing. It’s the idea that you just start writing, don’t over think or over explain what you are trying to say, just say it. I have always loved the idea of free writing or stream of consciousness writing. Just putting words on the page and seeing what comes out. It is the truest and purest form of writing and/or exorcism for me. I also love the term free writing because it makes me think of writing to BE free. So often I have thoughts and worries piling up in my head, swirling around, and dragging me down. If I take the time to write myself out of my head I feel so much better.

I struggle with wanting to be perfect, to write a perfect journal, and to record my life with Piper in a beautiful and meaningful way. But so much of the time I don’t do anything because I can’t do it perfectly. I read a silly quote today, it was actually referring to veganisim, but it works for me on many levels. “Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything!” Good advice for me and also it sounds rather Dr. Suess-like, so there’s a bonus point.

So here we are. I am not doing a perfect blog post. I am not living a perfect life. But I am going to try to do something. Anything is better than nothing.

 

If you are interested in free writing: http://extraordinary-ordinary.net

 

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ODP Summary (a.k.a My Manifesto)

I’ve successfully completed my October Dress Project and I couldn’t be happier. I got a little bored and frustrated at the end, but I stuck it out. I’m not sure if I will do it again, but I learned a few things about myself. It took a bit of bravery for me to participate in something that drew attention to my body and I have to say that I feel a more comfortable in my own skin now.one of my more funky looks While I did get comments on a few of my outfits- especially the last 4 days when I wore some wackier things- no one really noticed or cared what I wore or how I looked. This is something I need to have tattooed on my forehead or at the very least engraved on my mirror. I am the only one that cares how I look. My husband and my mom think I am beautiful and my friends often have compliments for me. But I am the one that makes a big deal out of my physical appearance. For years I have hated my body, my face, my shape, my height… and the only thing I have gained is depression and bad habits.

Stop the hate, Kate, it’s self-destructive and it benefits no one!

Besides some self-love, the best lesson I learned from my ODP was to stop waiting. In the immortal words of Sound Mound (watch until 3:30, worth every minute), “It’s never too late for now! “ Time to stop waiting and do it now, wear it now, have fun now. When I was a preteen I loved to go crazy with my clothes and accessories. I carried a hot pink Minnie Mouse lunch box, loved to mix and match bright colors and patterns, and always had at least two colors on my braces (usually corresponding to the month of the year: red and green Christmas braces, black and orange for Halloween). One time my teacher asked me in front of the class if I knew I was wearing two different earrings. “Of course,” I laughed! One was a hot pink crescent moon and the other was a blue star. Stars and moons match, right? (Gurl, my style was the bomb in the 90s. Side pony tail with a hot pink and turquoise scrunchie? Wicked! )

Somewhere along the way I stopped having fun and started feeling obligated to be beautiful to look at. I believed that I could be anything I wanted, I could do anything I set my mind to. But I should look good doing it. You can change the world, but there’s no need to look ugly while you go about it.  You can be president of the United States, but you better do it while wearing heels and lipstick. I bought into the objectification myth; the myth that being beautiful is the most important and the most POWERFUL thing a woman can be. So often as women we are told that our appearance is our currency. It may be true that you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but I’m hunting eagles and the flies are just a nuisance.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be beautiful or even wrong to take time to look good. But what is wrong is believing that our looks are the best thing we have to offer. For so long I’ve felt that because I am overweight or not the most beautiful girl in the room, I don’t have the right to say what I am thinking or to act on my ideas. I put myself in the place where fat and ugly girls “should” be- the sidekick, the funny friend, not the main character in my own life.

Here’s what I’m learning: when I focus less on my physical flaws I can appreciate everything else I can offer.

When I’m not estimating the weights of the other women in the room, I can brainstorm and share my ideas in a meeting at work. When I’m not making myself feel like I need to be feminine and delicate and not take take up too much space, I can make jokes and laugh loudly and have fun. I’m not here to be a pretty face for you to look at or a curvy body for you to desire. I am here to be myself, to have strong loves and overwhelming emotions that spur me to action, and to be missed when I leave the room.

Before: Good Morning!

After: Two hours of primping later

Renee Engeln says that you cannot chronically monitor your body’s appearance and also be fully present in the world. I’ve decided that participating in my life and the lives of those that I love is worth so much more than looking good all the time. I’m choosing to be present and to be real. And if my soul is so filled with love that joy shines from my eyes, my smile lights up my face, and compassion comes quick and often- I will be gorgeous.

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October Dress Project: Halfway there

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By the time I post this I will be over the halfway  hump. October is going by super-crazy-fast and I am so happy that decided to participate in the ODP. There’s only been about 3-4 days that I haven’t worn The Dress for at least part of the day and all but one of those days were spent in my jammies cuddled up with a heating pad. (Boo!) A few of my friends view it as their personal entertainment and question me about my look everyday to make sure The Dress is still there. So here’s another list of things I have learned thus far:

1. I have WAY too many clothes. I have only repeated one or two looks in almost 3 weeks. I think it’s time to downsize my wardrobe. Also, why do I have so many pieces of clothing that I don’t like and/or are unattractive?  Less clothing means less money and less laundry. It’s a win win! Part of the ODP is to become aware of consumerism in your life and I have  realized that I’m buying into the consumer worldview. It pains me to admit that I have bought  2 or 3 pieces to go with my dress this month, but I’ve bought things that I love and that I can use in multiple ways. However, it speaks to my shopper mindset that my first reaction is buy new things and not try to shop my closet. This is something I definitely want to work on.

2. Sneaking creativity into the daily grind brings me great joy. So often I feel like my days are just a giant to-do list and I come home to sleep and then begin again. It’s a small thing, but putting together a new outfit each day  has given me something creative to do. Before Piper was born I prided myself on being able to pull together inventive outfits with the things I had in my closet. Somewhere along the way, I stopped taking the time to do this. It’s been fun to get back in the groove.

3. I’m making peace with my body. For about 75% of my life, I’ve hated my body. This is something that I still struggle with and hope to overcome eventually… but the going is slow and often painful. Seeing other women post their not-perfect ODP pictures has been encouraging to me and I’ve been enjoying the positive feedback I’ve gotten on social media and in person.  Many times I feel there is a disconnect between my brain and my body. Subconsciously I think ,  “Brain is good, body is bad.” Choosing to focus on the parts of my body that I do like has been helping. Also, I’ve decided that I don’t need to wait until I am thinner or tanner or taller or younger to have fun with my appearance. I keep repeating to myself “Perfection is the enemy of good.”

4. How I feel (and therefore act) towards my body affects Piper. For better or worse, our daughter’s body images can be shaped at home. As the self-appointed queen of girliness, Piper often focuses on how pretty she looks and what other girls are wearing. I want to be an example to her and I’ve made it my goal for her to never hear me say anything negative about my body or criticize anyone else’s bodies.

I’m enjoying the project so much and I am surprised how quickly the time has gone by. I’m gearing up to get in some more creative outfits before the month is done and I’m thinking about a project for next month. Any suggestions?

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October Dress Project Update

DSC_0254My ODP has been going well. I skipped a few days when I was working outside and when I was doing a service project at Friendly Chapel, so I worn the dress about 9 days total. My only issue I’ve run in to that since my dress is black and has a flared skirt, it looks a bit formal at times. I’m planning on trying to tuck it into jeans tomorrow for casual Friday, so maybe that will give me some new options. Even though I’m only on day 9, I’ve had lots of opportunities for self-reflection and evaluation. Here’s a few things that I’ve discovered.

1. It’s fun to break out of my (non)fashion rut. Outfits that seemed a little out of my comfort zone got lot lots of compliments and I found I enjoyed mixing it up a bit. After the first couple of days when I felt self conscious, I’ve really enjoyed wearing fun things and feeling put together at work.DSC_0272

2. No one notices that I am wearing the same thing. I’m going to get rid of some clothes that I don’t really like and repeat my outfits that I do like more often.

3. Being plus-sized doesn’t mean you have to be matronly or unattractive. Instead of waiting until I lose weight to wear fun clothes, I am doing it now and loving it. In fact showing a bit of leg and wearing simpler pieces that flatter parts of my body that I like has made me feel more attractive and confident.DSC_0243

4. It’s worth spending a small amount of time to look good. I feel like since I had Piper (5 years ago!), I’ve felt like everything else is more important than me. I don’t think I will ever go back to spending two hours getting primping like I did when I was a teenager, but if I take the time to pull an outfit together or throw on a few accessories I feel better all day.

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October Dress Project: Day 3

faceFeeling kinda ugly and depressed today, I decided I my bathroom selfies weren’t doing me any favors.  I planned to put on some make up and fix my hair and maybe add some accessories before taking my dress picture tonight. After all, I might have gone to work looking unattractive, but I didn’t want the whole internet to see me looking that way! But then I had a wonderful conversation about beauty, make-up, and how society sees women with my sister-in-law (and friend!), Julie. We talked about how we feel less than perfect without make-up and the unrealistic standard of beauty that is worshiped in our society. We talked about feeling so self-conscious when we were teenagers that we wouldn’t even go to the corner gas station without a hair and makeup session before hand. I’m glad I’m not like that anymore and I don’t want to ever feel like I am less than because of my physical appearance.

So my pictures today are what I really looked like after work. I straightened my clothes a bit and fluffed up my hair with my hands, but nothing else. I didn’t even edit the pictures. Hello, world! Judge me for being overweight, unfashionable, pale, or whatever you will. But my worth doesn’t lay in my looks or anything you can see with your eyes. My identity comes from He who is greater and who lives in me. It comes from my kind heart and my take charge attitude. It comes from 31 years of living, loving, and learning.  double selfie

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