Hey yo fish, your mother wears combat flippers.
I remember a span of, like, a decade where I didn’t fall down. I guess that was my 20s. Even when I was drunk, which was a significant portion of that decade, I don’t think I fell down. Or maybe I don’t remember falling down, but in my book, that is just as good as not falling down*.
Seems like I hit thirty and suddenly I can’t stay off the ground. I am constantly getting wrong on my feet and feeling myself teeter a little bit to a scary angle. And one time a few months ago I fell down while holding my baby! I mean, full on building-implosion-lookin’ falling down while trying to keep my child’s skull away from the ground. I didn’t even trip over anything, really. Just forgot how to walk. Is this because my brain is malfunctioning? Or because I am too big for my bones?
A couple of months ago we were in Memphis at the old house and it was raining out. I just wanted to get from the car to the front door. But somewhere along the way as I jogged along the path, my legs started going in different directions and gravity kicked in and I went to my knees. Er, knee. Just the one. Ray glanced me from the car and told me later that he thought I was Tebowing out there in the rain and didn’t think much of it. Which sort of tells you how insane he thinks I am, but I digress.
And then I did it again today! But let me set this up for you. “This is some Final Destination stuff!” said Rich, the cook at work.
I was walking from my car to work (a lively jaunt down a long parking lot, down some stairs, across 11th, down the sidewalk, and up an ALWAYS WINDY Porter) when the strap on my fancy work-appropriate flip-flop broke in the middle of 11th. I scrambled to untangle my foot from it and retrieve it from the street before anyone fleeing the Gulch for lunch plowed into me. And then, absent the same kind of red-hot embarrassment that might have flooded my veins had this happened at any point in my teens or early-to-mid-twenties, I strolled back across 12th. Lopsided, of course, because I had just one shoe on.
Luckily I had a pair of shoes in my car (a by-product of my supreme laziness when it comes to fully unpacking my car after a roadtrip), so I went back to retrieve them. The pavement was hot on my feet but I kind of secretly love that so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I put on the other shoes — light brown wedge heels if you care or enjoy extraneous information — and hoofed it back across 11th and into the office, sweatstache prickling the whole way.
Fast forward to dinner time, when I made my way down to the cafeteria. It began as a normal trip to the cafeteria, and ended with one step in a slightly greasy area of the floor near the hot bar, at which point my legs — completely unsupported by my cute little patriarchy-approved wedge heels — went in different directions. I couldn’t stop it. It was a force of nature. I Tebowed, and I nearly crushed my face on the corner of the big metal hotbar. My arm flailed ahead of my big dumb body and slowed my momentum, luckily. All this happened, of course, in front of Rich and some other fella I see down there regularly. They were horrified, of course, and were nice enough to wait to laugh until I cracked the first joke.
BUT WHAT IS WITH THE TEBOWING, BODY?!
I mean, I guess it’s better than faceplanting everywhere I go.
* Oh god, how could I possibly forget Tebowing in the liquor store?
I’m no good at being social anymore. Last night I went to a cookout and struggled with my own crushing awkwardness all night, unsure of what to talk about with the people I have known for a long time. Maybe it’s the sobriety but I feel like a fucking drag, like my presence is too heavy and kind of rude to bring into what’s supposed to be an atmosphere with levity.
The other night I got a text from an old friend, asking me what I was up to, and I thought initially he had texted me by accident. I’ve been holed up a long time, I guess, and I know it’s only temporary but it’s a tough pill to swallow, feeling like I should keep to myself but knowing that’s an awful cycle to get into and stay in.
I had a hormonal hissy-fit yesterday while making a third batch of test cupcakes. I had piped in the colored filler and was ready to top them all off with the canned frosting I bought a week ago, when I realized the can was deliriously lighter than it had been the last time I had used a mere week ago on my first test batch. The top was messy and full of icing, and I couldn’t find three of the five piping tips. I knew my dearly beloved boyfriend had used the icing for something, but I didn’t realize just how much he had used until I piped two cupcakes’ worth of icing and poof! the container was spent. There were 10 more cupcakes to go and I just fucking lost it. Yelling, slamming cabinets, throwing the canister down, woe-is-me-ing — the whole dramatic crazypants bit. It just felt so incredibly insulting and defeating to have busted ass and run around town all day getting the ingredients and tools needed to finally make these mothereffing cupcakes work, and then to run out of got-danged frosting THAT I JUST JUST BOUGHT, without being able to finish the batch. I don’t know what dear boyfriend has been putting frosting on. He told me something very lewd but I am almost positive he was kidding. Almost.
Anyway, it was my first double-over-in-heaving-sobs moment since very early on in this pregnancy, when I was bona fide batshit crazy for about a month and a half. I’m not beating myself up about it too much, though, because, you know, feh. And I hope this will serve as a “I am just going to get crazier so please think before you do ANYTHING that might annoy me” warning to darling boyfriend, who really should fortify himself against the hurricane of insanity that is about to come ashore.
As for what non-pastries are cookin’, this week I should be sheltering a baby that’s as long as a bell pepper or a sweet potato, depending on which food metaphor-producing newsletter you prefer to believe. It is very difficult for me to imagine something that size inside of me (no jokes, please), but I suppose I see how it could fit in there and be relatively unobtrusive. I just have to accept that my organs are no longer contained solely within what I’m used to thinking of as my torso, which is a real loopy thing to think about.
Since that first unmistakable bloop, I’ve felt faint twinges and flutters here and there, but not much where I thought, I know what THAT is. More question marks than exclamations so far. But something’s happening in there.
Today we had a big, important ultrasound. Sweet potato was cooperative (more or less), and we found out the sex. I have to keep mum until Monday night, when we’ll be going to Saltillo to visit my family and bring them each a sex-reveal-cupcake-o-gram. I am getting tired of saying “gender-reveal cupcakes” because it’s actually the sex we will know (gender is so much more complicated than the bits between your legs), but every time I talk about the cupcakes, I don’t feel like getting into that discussion. Tamara suggested I just start calling them Sex Reveal — Gender Is a Social Construct — Cupcakes, which I think is a great idea.
Today’s ultrasound found that I’m measuring almost right on track — about three days ahead. Sweet potato is a hefty 8 ounces (average for 18th week is nearly 7 ounces), and I’m pretty sure it’s because that big ol’ head is housing a big ol’ smart brain, which is slightly heavier than a less smart brain, because knowledge is very heavy. Probably.
All the organs are there and we’ve got a nice, complete spine. Sweet potato was pretty lethargic during most of the exam — the tech said (s)he was probably dozing — but started squirming there toward the end with a few more vigorous pokes. We saw that little heart just pumping away (143 beats a minute, yes I asked) under that translucent skin. I cannot explain how unbelievably weird and amazing it is to see that. I looked over to see Ray beaming at the display monitor. I think it gets more and more real for him the more we get to glimpse what’s going on in there.
I am so relieved to finally be able to use pronouns (even if I will be avoiding using them online for a few days) and to think about practical things like nursery stuff and registries and names and preschool and college plans and whatnot. Oh god, it’s all happening really fast, but sort of in slow motion right now.
I got lost in it for a while there. It was without question the most brutal trip into the stuff I have ever weathered. I didn’t think I would make it out. There were times when I actively hoped I wouldn’t. The mind is a funny thing sometimes. My mind is a funny thing always.
I’ve backed away from the maw. Life has more in store for me than the darkness. I am too eager to lose sight of that some days.
I feel like I have been waiting for a Jell-o mold to set up for a really long time. I peek into the fridge periodically and poke at it, then go about my business for a while. Then I check back again. It’s never going to set up, is it?
Just a friendly request to PLEASE PUT THOSE LEAVES BACK ON THE TREES WHERE THEY BELONG, AND STOP LEAVING THEM ON THE CURB. Lately, it has been noticed that great heaping bags of sweating leaves have been piled up at the edge of your yard on the curb and left to sit for days at a time. While we understand that some loss of leaves is natural every autumn, it is frowned upon for leaves to continue to fall into the new year, and for you to bundle them up and leave them bagged and abandoned on the curb. Not only does it detract from the uniform tidiness of the rest of the block, but by leaving your trees bare, you are subjecting your home and your neighbors to an increased level of sunlight, which can both bleach roof shingles and cause skin cancer.
It is a well-known fact that there are “trees” living on the blocks just north of us that never lose their leaves, except for when they spit out those brown needles that, when they accumulate in great enough numbers, can cause a person in house shoes to slip and fall and moan unattractively and unsuccessfully for help. On numerous occasions we have been duped by these brown needles of death, and the city has been notified several times of the danger they pose to unsuspecting busybodies creeping through neighborhoods at night to sift through trash bins. If your trees are losing their leaves so fully that you are still bagging them once January rolls around, it is advisable that you take a look at how you are caring for these trees and perhaps change your tree-care habits.
We take great pride in our neighborhood and hope you will join us in our effort to uphold leaves as inherent parts of trees that should never be neglected enough that they want to fall to the ground and be stuffed into plastic bags and left at the curb. By returning these leaves to their rightful places on the branches of your trees, you’ll be doing your part to help keep our neighborhood looking great!
Thank you in advance for listening to a bossy-ass piece of paper, which was certainly not made out of any tree-related products.
(Background is here.)
The responses I’ve gotten to what I wrote about Charlie Brown’s Sad Thanksgiving for Fatties have been really interesting. Whole lotta solidarity coming from the ladies re: the weight crazies. I’m so thankful that there are people who will reach out to connect about such a very personal issue. BUT. I hate that the need is even there. I hate that there are other people fighting this same fight, routinely winding themselves into knots of shame over how much space they are taking up in the world. I want to make it go away for you, and you, and you, and you. All of you.
I talked to my dad last night, and he told me he hadn’t meant to upset me so much by his comment. Which, yeah, I know, which is why I had initiated the apology sequence by leaving him a note last Friday morning saying as much. And then he went on to ask me if it had been “that time of the month” and when I said “it’s always ‘that time of the month’” meaning I am fucking crazy ALL THE TIME HAVE YOU NOT NOTICED THE GENES YOU ALL GAVE ME, he told me not to wear my feelings on my sleeves. Which is an interesting thing to tell a person who comes from a family of passive-aggressive people who often feel slighted at the least little thing.
I had a bit of a meltdown yesterday right before Thanksgiving dinner. Everything had been going more or less okay; I got up and on the road to the parents’ as early as I could, since my mom had texted me the day before, telling me to hightail it early since I’d be trying to outrun bad weather. I was flying solo, as Ray had to work that afternoon. That sucked, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I couldn’t get my mom to answer the house phone or her cell, and she hadn’t answered my “need me to pick anything else up?” text early that morning. My brother was at his girlfriend’s house in Arlington and so couldn’t track mom down for me. Dad was at work so I didn’t even bother calling to bug him. Finally I got my sister on the phone and she told me that mom was having a bad day and still in bed, so she was getting the turkey ready for its broth bath. Her first time taking the reins on the turkey dinner. We assessed what else we’d still need after my grandmother’s and aunt’s contributions (dressing aka stuffing to all you yankees, yeast rolls, macaroni and cheese, green beans, banana pudding, butternut cake, etc.) and I stopped off at the Lakeland Schnucks and heaped a cheese plate, couple of sodas, salad fixins, and two pomegranates into my basket. I cranked up Girl Talk and car danced my way to the house.
Things were going fine. I was in a good mood. I knew mom felt bad but she was coming around and getting ready, and my sister had the kitchen under control. I made and stored the salad, peeled a pomegranate, and went outside to take pictures of the horses as a storm blew in and we waited on the family to assemble.
And assemble we did. It got hot in that house with all the people and heated surfaces working and the outside temperature not quite cool enough for an open door to make a difference. I went into the bathroom to put my hair up to get it out of my face, and came back down to survey the kitchen to see how else I could help. My dad looked at me with a squint in his eye and said, in front of everyone, “Lindsey, are you gaining weight again?”
And, obviously, the answer is yes, by every observable standard. Yes, world, I have gained weight. I lost a couple dozen pounds several years ago by drinking only water (okay, and a glass of wine a night), cutting out all fried foods, fast foods, and sweet foods, and consuming no more than 1,100 calories every day, while working out and burning at least 1,500 calories a week. It was a fairly fucking miserable diet but I got used to it and it felt great to watch the weight fall off. I had foot surgery and stopped working out for a while since it hurt to put any pressure on it, and got out of the habit. I started letting crap food back into my life the day of surgery, when I went and ate at Soul Fish and allowed myself some French fries. Etc. And in spectacularly human fashion, I have allowed those pounds to creep back onto my bones over the past four years.
So. Back to dinner. My eyes grew wide as saucers and I said something to the effect of, “Yes, I have! Just like everyone else in the world at some point!” Bitchin’ comeback. I’m known for my wit.
And you know that feeling you get in your gut, like it could almost be accompanied by falling string music and that camera trick where it seems like the background and the foreground move in opposite directions while you stand still in the middle? I had a smirk plastered on my face while my brain raced and raced to find somewhere safe to put what my dad had just said, because it was just a bullshit, one-off comment that probably meant nothing and so what if I had gained weight? Haitians were dying of cholera and starvation as we spoke and lava was swallowing up Indonesia. And yet my brain, my useless fucking brain, could not find a place for that comment, and in fact blew that comment up on the jumbotron inside me and all my senses’ attentions were directed to it. They stopped their happy little holiday bopping and looked up at it, and all I could feel was shame and failure. Shame and failure. Shame and failure. The muscles in my face seized up and I sat there until my aunt moved away from the oven so I could back up my chair and go somewhere, anywhere, where could I go? It was storming and cold outside by then so I just went out to the carport and wedged myself between my sister’s car and the garage door and had myself a moment. A long one, I guess, because my sister came looking for me later because it was time to eat.
I played like I had been on the phone out there in the cold and not sobbing like a fool, and I rejoined the family to a chorus of “where were you it’s time to eat what’s wrong are you sure you’re okay” and then my dad said grace. And my mom hugged me and asked me if I was okay, at which point I lost my shit and ran off to the bathroom like a drama queen. I had to get it out of me, let the heaving get done. I shooed both parents who tried to talk to me through that door and I was in there for an hour. On the floor. Unable to coax myself off it or out the door. How could I possibly go downstairs and put food in my mouth when everyone had just been made acutely aware of the fact that I am more of a fatass now than I was at the last Thanksgiving I got to attend a couple of years ago?
And I know it’s overly dramatic and completely irrational and I’m ashamed to even write about it. There is a horrible shame cycle to body-image bullshit and in general I try to not even indulge those neuroses. Publicly. But they are always with me. Always. I’ve clearly got a demon that needs exorcising. I don’t really know why what my dad said hit me as hard as it did, except that his statement comes bundled with a lot of baggage and I unpacked it there on the spot and it fucking leveled me.
It leveled me because I know how I look. I have to look at me every day, get this body into and out of clothes every day. I know how it has changed and I fucking hate it. I don’t think my dad has any idea how much I hate myself, how so many moments of every day are spent wrestling with very deeply rooted self-loathing, because I keep quiet about that stuff. I can’t imagine that he could have any idea about the kinds of things I say to the mirror when no one else is around, the way I will spit insults at every dimple in my flesh, every crease, every shadow. I know how narcissistic that sounds and is and I hate myself even more for getting tangled up in this ridiculous web that I KNOW is a farce. It’s my silent shame, and it is with me always. My dad saying what he said to me — after I had gone to the bathroom to put my hair up, which is something I do reluctantly these days because I always feel like, with my hair up, you can see too clearly all the extra flesh on my face — just gave a voice to all the toxic shit that swims in my head every minute of every day. It confirmed my fears about how I appear to other people and it labeled me a failure in front of my entire family. Because, you know, fat = failure. According to popular sentiment.
I know he didn’t mean to set off that insane chain of reaction in me, and I feel genuinely awful that he feels so awful about accidentally hurting me. I spent the entire night in seclusion. After my initial shame had subsided enough for me to want to leave the bathroom then bedroom, I was overcome with embarrassment and just wanted to disappear. And yet I couldn’t make my apparently too large body disappear. I could only hide.
I am fucked up about my body and always have been. I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I remember being in middle school and attempting to see how many days I could go without eating when a boy I had a crush on called me “lumberjack legs.” (For the record, two days.) I think most women will tell a similar tale. We all want to try and act like we have risen above it but body consciousness is a quicksand. Secretly we want to look great but as though we don’t spend any time worrying about how we look. That’s the ideal. I can be a bulldog of a feminist all day long but when I close my eyes at night, I don’t want to wake up ugly and unattractive. And I FUCKING HATE THAT ABOUT MYSELF. I have tried to squelch that part of me but it comes back bigger and stronger every time I try to put it down.
My dad has said something like his comment above to me before. I remember we were riding in the car together on the way to Jackson. We were talking about relationships. I don’t remember if Phil and I had broken up or what, but I remember my dad pretty much told me that I was lucky Phil had stayed with me as long as he had, considering I’d gained weight after high school. I remember the sting I felt when I heard that. I love my dad so much and I wouldn’t trade him for any other father on this or any other planet (that fact is well documented here on this blog), but he has never quite understood that there are some things that are better left unsaid.*
And so every time I prepare to make the trip home to see the family, I look at myself in the mirror and I get nervous about what they are going to think about how my looks have changed since the last time they saw me. I am getting older, my jowls more pronounced, my thickness everpresent. If I am not pretty enough, and just slim enough, I am not good enough. Of course they don’t think that way but this is what I have internalized, what I have made myself believe.
But here’s the thing. I grew up in a family of thick people. We are all overweight or have been for most of our lives. I never really learned how to eat well; I maintained a general pickiness throughout my childhood that allowed me to eat crap food. I remember one time when I was really young that we had Brussels sprouts with dinner. I didn’t want mine because I was generally leery of green things, but my parents tried to make me eat them. I got a little bit down and then made myself sick. And I got in trouble. But I didn’t learn how to like things that are good for me. I didn’t learn how to use food as fuel. I like fatty things, sweet things, buttery things, cheesy things, breaded things. Carbs. Lord god, carbs. And of course, these things are fine in moderation. But when they are the only things you like, it is hard to moderate.**
My palate has gotten more sophisticated as I’ve gotten older, but I’m still not where I need to be and I know it. I think about it every effing day, every time I pass a reflective surface, or feel the folds of my skin touching, or hide my face from my boyfriend when I laugh because I’m afraid he’ll suddenly see all the imperfections I see and decide he doesn’t love me anymore. What sent me over the edge Thursday is when someone else copped to noticing.
I’ve got a lot of work to do. I probably need a head shrinker to help me comb through some of this, but I’ve been reluctant to pursue that route. Obviously I need to get back to exercising because it’s good for me, but frankly I am busy lately. Insanely busy with a weird, backwards-ass schedule. (“Make time!” sings a chorus of self-righteous demons cruising for a punch to the mouth.) I will make time. I’ve done it before. It was not easy. And it’s interesting because even though I have all these fucked-up body issues, I don’t have particularly bad self-esteem. I mean, I genuinely know that I deserve to be loved and appreciated, and I think I am worthy of love and appreciation. And I think I am more or less an attractive person, in spite of the extra trunk junk and the crazy in my brain.
But obviously even if I lose the weight again, I am still going to need to get that self-hatred poison out of my head. It doesn’t want to go away, no matter how many hours I spend on the elliptical.
* Dad, if you ever read this, or if someone ever reads this to you, know that I love you dearly and I know you didn’t mean anything by either of these things you said. I forgive you, and I’m sorry I made you feel horrible.
** I appreciate your kneejerk desire to comment or e-mail me diet or nutrition or exercise or whatever tips, but I don’t want them. This post is not a solicitation for advice or a chance for you to prove that you have slayed the weight-maintenance beast by imparting your wisdom. At the risk of coming off as a total asshole here, please keep your concern trolling to yourself, please and thanks.
… that every time someone hurts me, I get to put a little karma coin in the bank, which I can cash out later to go on an emotional holiday.
That makes no sense but it’s the only fucking thing that keeps me in the game sometimes.