I participated in Ali Edwards’ Day in the Life for the first time this year and loved it. I’ve been on a crafting and scrap booking bender lately and I love it. Crafting is happy place therapy for me.
This was an enlightening project for me and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. There was something engaging and very introspective about taking photos and documenting the day, minute by minute. During dull parts of the day I had a fun project to focus on and just doing something different helped me have a better day than normal.
One of the most interesting parts of the project was finding beauty or something worth photographing in so many places. Noticing the trees starting to bloom, feeling the breeze in my hair, even looking at the shiny paint on the cars in the parking lot brought me joy.
I am full of gratitude for the colors in the world around me and the unexpected beauty and richness of my life.
I expected to be dissatisfied or bored with my photos and notes, but instead I saw how full my life is. I was worried that my day would look dull or I would be discouraged when I compared my photos to others who did the project. But actually, I felt less envious of others and was surprisingly happy with how my photos turned out. I did some slight staging of things and I did take and delete lots of selfies- but overall, I think this is a good peek into my life. There is more clutter, more driving, and more sitting in my routine than is reflected here.
By chance, this happened to be an interesting day; I got sent on a fun errand for work, actually had a new recipe planned for dinner, and the house was surprisingly clean. A Day in the Life is such a change of pace -documenting the everyday minutiae instead of big events. It allowed me to be present in my life, to search for the magic in the mundane.
By the end of the day I felt tired and full. I had inhabited my body, not just my brain. My mind was full of words, colors, textures, and light. I felt grateful, humbled to be given so much, and content to live my love-filled life.
Ironically, my post “Weight is not the issue. Waiting is the issue” has been waiting on a follow up post for over 6 months. It was so easy for me to write that first part; sometimes when I am writing I feel like things are just pouring out of me. All I have to do is put pen to paper (finger to keyboard?!) and the words will come. Emotions become phrases and I can hear the writing gods’ “random word” that Emerson told us about. But the second half of my weight story is proving to be difficult for me to verbalize. I have several drafts started… but none feel right. Perhaps it’s my perfectionist nature or I’ve just been too busy lately, but I suspect that it is because I don’t know how the story ends. I’m still living the second half and dealing with my disordered thinking and warped sense of self on the reg.
Do you know someone who is a recovered alcoholic or a former drug abuser? These people often say they are still recovering years later, many of them would say they will always be in recovery. It’s the same for me. (Sadly, I’ve found that often people are more open to discussing drug abuse than they are eating disorders.) I’m doing very well now, but it isn’t something that comes naturally to me- it’s work; a continual process. And, now that I think about it, since I have been wrestling with my body dismorphia for almost 20 years… it probably will take me a while to come to grips with everything. So, I am giving myself permission to move in with my blog and not feel like I have to write that post before posting new things. So let’s put a pin in this topic and move on to something fun:
October Dress Project 2015
I really enjoyed the challenge of my first ODP last year and was surprised by the catharsis of the project. Many things are different this year, but I am excited for the challenge. I’m less than 2 months into my new job which requires me to dress more professionally and walk about half a mile a day in various weather.
After much deliberation, I chose a navy sheath dress. It’s very different from last year and the high neckline and distinctive piping are already proving challenging. It’s a thicker material, so tucking in or rolling up isn’t really an option. The other dress I was considering was more comfortable and versatile, but it was pretty similar to my 2014 dress. I hope I didn’t make the wrong choice!
On Oct 1, I wore the dress with a white cardigan and wedges- kept it pretty simple for the first day- and my boss complimented my “professional look” with a kind smile. He literally wrote the (hand)book for our employee dress code so I felt like that was a great compliment. He might think I took the compliment too seriously since I’ve been wearing the same dress every time he has seen me since then. Let’s see if he (or anyone else) notices…
What was that? You think I am too nice? Well, hon, you must not be from the south. You see we have this thing here that we call politeness.
No, I’m not surprised you never heard of it. You thought I was just being myself this whole time we’ve been working together, but I’ve been trying to teach you a lesson by my example. See, my mama didn’t raise any fools and she didn’t raise any brats either. I may be acting nice, but the thoughts I am thinking could raise blisters.
Just because a thought pops into my head, it doesn’t mean I have to SAY it aloud. That’s what we call tact. It may seem like a novel idea, but it’s how polite society functions. You should try it sometime.
Of course, you can be a bully like Mr. Manager over there. Lordy! That man would cuss you out as soon as look at you and tell you it was for your own good! But does he get respect? Not on your life. My mama and her sisters taught me that you’ll get more flies with honey than vinegar and it holds true to this day. And it’s especially more true if your a woman, more’s the pity. But we women have a special kind of power and we must be judicious with it. We need to at least let the men THINK they are making some decisions around here or they will get outta hand.
But really, sugar, being called “too nice” isn’t always a bad thing. Too nice means you can catch them off guard. I may seem soft and kind, but I’ve got a backbone of steel. I will take just as much crap as I want and then I will be good and done. Don’t you worry. I am not foolish and I don’t lack confidence. I will answer a question honestly, but not harshly. I won’t tryto mislead you, but I may try to soften the blow for you.
Have you ever hear the phrase, “you won’t like me when I’m angry?”It worked for The Hulk but it can work for a Southern gal just as well. You may not be real fond of me when I am being “too nice”, but trust me – you will not be happy once the tides have turned. I’m here to tell you, missy, that hell fire wouldn’t warm up a belle when she’s flipped the bitch switch. You’d do better to say on the right side of Southern gal.
But you know what’s so great about me? Unlike some people I could mention, I don’t have to be a bitch all the time. Isn’t that nice? I can hold my tongue or think of a clever way to change the subject. I can even pick my battles. Best of all, I have a personality- and it’s multi-faceted at that! What a wonder!
So next time you are thinking that I am being just too nice to someone, just you imagine what I am thinking about them but not saying. Now double it.
Now, imagine what I am thinking about you. ::pauses, raises one eyebrow:: Oh, it’s worse than that. As my pal, William would say, “I’d challenge you to a battle of wits; but I see you came unarmed.” Give that a few minutes and it’ll sink in.
Now you have yourself a great day, sweetie. Thank you so much!
For me, Jesus is vibrantly alive; I hear his voice, I can see how he is orchestrating my life, and my soul is comforted by the presence of his spirit. In many ways it is the most intimate relationship possible; communication is occurring on a spiritual level. As much as I love my husband, my daughter, and those I am closest to; our spirits don’t communicate with each other in that way.
Of course, everyone’s relationship with Jesus is different but most of the time, if I’m not told differently, I assume people who tell me they are a Christian have a similar relationship with God. But lately, it seems that is true less and less. Many of the people that I grew up with are turning away from their faith. Those kids I sat next to in Sunday school for years are now denying the existence of God. To me, it is confusing and heartbreaking. I’m filled with a churning grief that is almost a physical ache. And often I don’t know how to respond.
I do not hate these people; I do not want to slam a door in their face or even erect a barrier between us. In fact, I am afraid of being judged and found wanting. As my father-in-law says, “Most of the time I feel as spiritual as a plunger.” I worry perhaps a friend saw my sin, my depression, or my bad parenting and they knew I wasn’t being Christ-like. Did this help them turn away from those teachings we grew up with? I realize this sounds self-centered, but as Christians we are taught to do everything unto the glory of God and that His presence in us will draw others to him. Then when I see the exact opposite happening in my own life, it is devastating. I feel disappointed in myself and my lack of spiritual fortitude.
Well, this is awkward.
Another huge issue for me is my own unbelief. All Christians struggle with unbelief or doubt at times. I have gone through seasons of my life -sometimes even years- when I feel disconnected from the Lord and full of doubt. When I have a friend who outs herself as an atheist, a big part of me wonders if she is going through a similar season. And, to be very honest, sometimes you feel like your friendly atheist has made some excellent points and all your doubts coming flooding back to the surface.
When I found out a friend was no longer a Christian I was full of questions and worries. I grew up with Jane* and I love her. She’s the same person she always was but now she doesn’t believe in God anymore? How can this be? She sat beside me in church hearing the same teaching I did, we spent our teenage years praying for each other in youth group, we pledged that “true love waits” together, we cried together, and worshiped together. Or at least I thought we did. Was she lying to me? When did this start? Was she doubting her faith when she was praying for me when I was struggling last year? Was she just acting or bowing to societal pressure this whole time?
So much of my identity is wrapped up in my relationship with the Lord. When I found out that Jane had rejected Him, it is shocking because I feel like she is rejecting part of me, and in some cases, her upbringing. I grieve because the person I knew has changed. I still love her and want to have a relationship with her, but there is awkwardness to overcome. I want to say, “Jane, do you remember that when I went forward and received prayer at church? It was terrible and wonderful at the same time. I felt so embarrassed when I cried and my nose ran and I was shaking as you and the others were praying for me. I hated for anyone to see me that way. I hated to make myself so vulnerable, but I knew you understood. Do you still understand or do you look back on that time and pity me and revile my weakness?”
One close friend told me that his realized his unbelief was a bigger deal for me than it was for him. It sounds funny, but it’s true. I still believe that those who haven’t accepted Christ will not enter heaven, but he doesn’t. I’m worried about his soul and the lack of spiritual guidance he is giving his children, but he isn’t. Since he is in control of his own life and is responsible for his children, he can do what he wants. I will still love him, enjoy his company, and let our kids play together. And I will pray for him, grieve for his loss of belief, and will try to show him the evidence of my faith in my daily life. He is a wonderful father, a loving husband, and a truly supportive friend. He gives great advice and has a quirky sense of humor that I love. I don’t want to offend him or make him feel shunned. I don’t want to make him uncomfortable or judge him, but I do want him to question his unbelief enough so that he turns back to the Lord. It’s a difficult to find that delicate balance and I often feel woefully under-equipped. In fact, I know that I cannot make him change his mind. Only the Lord can.
I can understand why, but how?
As a mom and a wife I am unable to do things in my own strength, no matter how hard I try. And believe me- I do try! Many days I only survive because the Holy Spirit guides me. I am comforted to know that this Earth is not my final home. No matter how bad I screw things up, no matter what my failings as a parent, wife, or friend, I know that heavenly resolution is waiting. Sometimes the only way I can get my depressed and anxious self out of bed is to remember that my focus needs to be on the eternal. Things will never be perfect on Earth, but the Lord has placed me here for a reason.
Following this train of thought, I wonder about my friends who don’t have the Lord in their lives. How do they make it through the day? How do they have the strength to be the mom their children need? How do they stay married? I doubt they would say they have everything figured out or that they are better than me. They are taking it one day at time as well, but I cannot comprehend how they are still functioning. This raises all kinds of confusion within me. I am less a capable woman than them? I am just trained to be dependent on the Holy Spirit because of my upbringing and beliefs? Are they failing miserably and not telling anyone? Am I a horrible person with unfathomable depths of depravity that I need help overcoming while they are just normal functioning people?
I don’t have a great closing paragraph to put here and the post feels unfinished. But in these real life situations that I’ve mentioned, there is no perfect ending either. The truth is that I don’t know what to do. I’d rather err on the side of being too accepting and accommodating. After all, I don’t want to be one of THOSE Christians.**
*not her real name, ovbiously
**a light hearted joke, even more obviously
If you would like to read what someone on “the other side” has to say. Check out my friend Lori’s*** post.
I love this so much. Excellent!
In my first post, Before, 3 years ago, I said “I’m not to After yet, but I’m closer to After than to Before.”
I now weigh 117 – 120 pounds (depending on the day), and standing at 5-foot 6-inches, that measurement means that After is very, very here. But, before you congratulate me, dear readers…if I have any…and dear friends and family who I know follow this blog… I have to come clean with you: I don’t feel like I’m at After. I’m terrified of being at After. And, I don’t like that After is here.
The tagline of my blog is “uncovering myself one pound at a time.” For most of this blog, I’ve spoken strongly about how my relationship with food and myself was what caused my weight struggles. I stand by that. The thing is, the symptoms have resolved faster than I’ve been able to…
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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…..
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?!
One 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.
* 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.
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.