Aren’t there just certain things in this world that we feel we have to be grateful for? And doesn’t it usually take a minute to come up with a reason why? Because, right off the hop, frankly, they pretty much suck big-time?
Taxes …because that means we have an income.
I went to visit my mom recently. It’s a guilt-ridden exercise when she’s had a rough, rough year and I’m the best part of a day’s drive away.
I think she was happy to see me.
Knowing her as I do, she likely even gushed a little when she told one of the nurses, who I’ve come to know a little by now, that I’m her baby. When she’s feeling better and in a good mood, she likes to tease and be a bit silly. So, apparently, she added, “but she’s getting up there!”
I laughed when the nurse told me. Because it’s true. I am.
There’s something about the passage of a full half century that makes you question where exactly you’re going and what you really want. A crazy and sometimes erratically wide-ranging barrage of thoughts that go through your head when you come to the realization that you’re staring down the back half of your life.
When mortality, it seems, is just suddenly all up in your face.
She’s dealing with complications from diabetes. I cannot pretend to even begin to get what she’s gone through.
It’s also been quite the rollercoaster for those of us that love her.
And then one day, when – I am sure – a most well-meaning friend did their best to console me after hearing an update about the whole ordeal by saying something along the lines of it was simply just too sad. Adding nearly as an after-thought, especially because it was all totally preventable.
And it actually doesn’t really matter for present purposes what their best intentions were, how they sincerely meant it or what it says about their own belief system and wounds crying out to be healed…
It’s about how I heard it:
Those words stayed with me, swimming in a super-sized, sugary sweet, steamy soup of shame.
As it triggered my own issues around food, dieting, emotional eating and body image.
Just over two years ago now, I was in a right state about my body. Isolating myself and really taking myself out my whole life so as not to display this shape to the eyes and judgments of the outside world. Desperate to return to my all-too-short-lived glory days of making male heads turn. Adamant to not see the number on the scale at the doctor, because I already knew from the number on the tags in my clothes that it would send me into a full-on tailspin. Terrified of fruit. Hysterical and nearly inconsolable when my guy dared invite me on a nice dinner date, because how could he be so freakin’ thoughtless and unsupportive?
That was my rock bottom. In that area of my life, at least.
I got help.
I’ve since quit dieting, and I am happy to say that I am not nearly so crazy around food anymore. Yes, there’s been some rebellion and plenty of fear, but, oh, the world of possibility that has opened up to enjoy life and people when you’re not so tightly controlled and restrictive.
I am still looking for ways this body wants to move that are no longer all about punishment and submission, but fun and enjoyment. Walks with my best four-legged girl are a good start.
The time I wasted obsessing about exactly when and what my next meal would be is now spent considering questions like, how can we women truly love and accept ourselves when we still hate our bodies?
Are you sure overthinking isn’t considered exercise?
I’m coming to understand the answer to be body-acceptance.
My mom dieted – and then with the diabetes, very closely monitored her food – well, for as far back as I can remember. I can vividly recall going to weight loss meetings together when I was in grade school.
And be it some combination of the multiple times she’s now had anesthetic, the painkillers, the stress and/or simply her advancing age, my mom is now also… well, confused.
It’s a word I just took for granted would never become part of my reality, but “dementia” has started to get thrown around.
Perhaps I’m just listening differently, but I find she tells more stories these days. Or I’ve sometimes witnessed her answering the nurses’ questions about her life. I don’t always know if those words are 100% her truth or not, but I sometimes notice they’re somewhat tinged with regrets or have to wonder if they’re slightly embellished by the hopes and dreams that she can realize with her creative imagination.
Sometimes it makes me just ridiculously sad, for what I still don’t know about her life.
And it makes me even sadder when I have to wonder if she was ever really happy.
Am I projecting it back on to her, or is it her behavior that I went on to model?
That I… she… we would finally be happy when we were thin?
Since I’ve been back, I don’t know that I”ve ever wanted to diet again so badly in my life. If I follow my fear, that’s exactly what I would do. If I choose love instead, I will recommit to this new way of thinking and treating myself.
I feel I’ve barely started down the path of this particular healing journey myself, but if you can relate, I would highly recommend you do a social media purge of all the diet and exercise and photo-shopped “motivational” images that really still just contribute to making you feel more shitty about yourself than anything else. If you’re anything like I used to be, I suspect a closet clean-out might be in order, too.
Here are some of my particular current favorite anti-diet and body positive pages to begin to fill your news feed with instead. In no particular order…