Contemplation

images-4

This morning I went to Pilate class in hopes that someday I will be able to bend down and touch my toes with my knees straight. I tell you this with some embarrassment, my face a hazy red even as I write this confession which when spoken aloud might sound something like, “Dear Father. Forgive me for I have sinned. I am guilty of gluttony. Of sloth too. Oh, I forgot to mention acedia. Definitely acedia. Maybe, I should thrown in a little wrath at my lack of impulse control too. Help me!”

Unfortunately, these vices are just the ones that come to mind within 5.2 seconds of the thought. Yes, paying someone to exercise with me feels somewhat tawdry and on the edge of something shameful; like eating a pint of ice cream all by yourself  or having sex in a public place and getting caught with your pants down. In a world dominated by inequity it is the definition of gross irony.

In many other countries I would not have this problem of trying to stay in shape. I could easily be starving. Or walking down to the river to carry water up to my hut for cooking numerous times per day. Maybe I would be journeying five long miles each way to school so I could get an education. Or perhaps I would be picking through trash in a giant garbage heap in an effort to survive. There is no doubt I would be in shape because I would be working from sun up to sun down in ways that tax all your muscles as well as your spirit in order to get the job of survival done. Skinny in these parts of the world is more than just a desire to satisfy cultural “ideals.” Instead, it is a mandatory state that naturally occurs due to too little food and too much work. A choice concerning body image is not found anywhere in the life equation for so many women.

No, this is not the LIBERAL WHITE GUILT that so many speak of. It is witnessing firsthand the back breaking work that is required of so many of millions of people throughout the world on a daily basis. It is trying my hand washing hundred of dirty diapers used in an orphanage in Ethiopia. It is laying brick in a hamlet in Mexico.  It is trying to teach students without the necessary materials. Or laying pipe for fresh water in a remote village. These are the things that have shown me how little I know about hard work, suffering, and how much a dollar means to so many. More importantly, they remind me about the privilege of choice which I possess and I rarely think of as I go about my busy day. A choice that vast numbers of people do not have about what their day brings. Suffering instead of starvation, bombs, vicious gang rapes, and of having to beg in the street for pennies. These are the things of which I know nothing and of which too many know too much about.

So I hop into my car and drive the four miles to my pilates class contemplating the size of my butt and the state of the world, both of which are loose and somewhat saggy. And as I do, I find I have mixed feelings about this life I lead in which I have the luxury of contemplation and not the burden of shoeless feet. And I  begin to wonder about the travels of “the other/my sister/ my fellow human being” as we both make our way down these two very different roads that we both call life and what I can do to help.

images-6

 

 

 

 

 

Weight’s Burden

*This has been an incredibly hard piece for me to write because it puts a lot of my own faults and flaws out there but I believe in being honest in my writings and telling my story through my lens whether it be right or wrong*

 

My weight has always been a sore subject with me. When I was a child I was average, not overweight nor underweight.I was just right.Yet, it was never enough. I wanted to look like the popular skinny girls. The ones with legs up to their elbows. The ones you could almost see through because they were so paper thin.

In my early 20’s I was underweight weighing in at 111 while being over 5’7″ tall. Of course, everyone thought I looked fabulous, myself included, with my bones sticking out the way the media says that women are suppose to look; when in reality my health was suffering. But I had a lot of attention paid to me by the opposite sex so it appeared to be a fair tradeoff as far as I was concerned. Like=skinny. Love=skinny. Sex=skinny, so that is what I would be. Only it didn’t last.

Then several years later, I became pregnant and gained 60 pounds and B told me that he didn’t really find me attractive. He made it clear that overweight women did nothing for him. I remember thinking even then how fucked up this was. I remember thinking whatever happened to loving a person for who they were and not what they looked like. I remember feeling that I had to look like some centerfold to be loved by him. I felt resentful and angry which lead to over eating which lead to being over weight which lead to a fucked up thoughts of him having to prove he loved me because I was heavy.Do you love me now? became the challenge. Do you accept me now? became my battle cry. And no matter how much he tried to prove his love/acceptance I wouldn’t believe it because I knew how he felt about fat women and, well, I didn’t love and accept myself either…so how could he?

For years I dieted “for him” and for years I was in a never ending cycle of gain/lost. And when I lost I was mad at B because he paid more attention to me than when I was heavier and I was wounded because of it.  How screwed up is that! Yes, I know… pretty screwed up! Why can’t you just love me for who I am? Yet, he did but I couldn’t believe it because with those few words said years ago about not finding me attractive created a pit from which I chose not to climb out of. A pit that I gave up and into. Wrapping my body around it like a blanket to keep me warm. Anger and resentment piled up and so did the pounds. I was miserable. So was he. Making love in the day light soon changed to making love with the curtains drawn so no light could enter the room.

Finally, I decided that I was tired of looking the way I did. Feeling the way I felt. Joints aching due to the excess poundage, surgery too. I had admired women who felt good about themselves no matter what their size and wished I had confidence in my body and myself. I wished that was like that too. But I was not no matter how I tried. So I slowly began to lose weight but I still wasn’t very serious about it. Until I saw this scan:

Body

A scan of a 250 woman vs a 120 pound woman. And I could see how the bones of the leg were being impacted. The white fat around the heart, intestines, and in the brain. And that was all it took…with one look at that picture I realized that being overweight was no longer an option. And this time I have lost weight ONLY for me, myself, and I.

In the past 8 months I have lost 30 pounds. And over several years prior to that I had lost 30 pounds. I now set little realistic goals for myself and today I reached the one I had set to reach before I turned 56. Yeah for me!

In retrospect, it is sad to me that I wasted all those years being unhappy with my weight and not doing enough about it. It is one thing if you are accepting of yourself it is another if you flog yourself because acceptance is not in your vocabulary. I wish that society just celebrated all women for who they are instead of what they look like, perhaps, I would have internalized that and loved myself despite of my weight. But I will never know. What I do know is that being miserable about my weight made me miserable about many parts of my life in general. That it is not B’s fault that I chose to overeat and that punishing him and myself for words spoken so long ago was harsh and unnecessary. And that something that was solely under my control was put back on him many times over our 30 years history. And if I am totally honest I am not sure that I would find my obese spouse sexually attractive either.

This unwanted “I might want a divorce” journey has forced me to examine all areas of my life. This work to discover the authentic me has proved humbling, exhausting, painful and eye opening. I have discovered some things that I really didn’t like and needed to change and some things that are pretty terrific about me. And I am still journeying…to where…I am unsure. But one thing I know is that I feel better about myself in all areas of my life because I have finally internalized the fact that the only person I have to impress or lose weight for is ME. It’s all for ME. ME. ME. ME. Finding my own importance has somehow flipped the switch and finally allowed me to reach my goals both in regards to my weight and in other parts of my life.