Cutting my hair has brought my insecurities to the forefront of my mind.
When my waves go the wrong way and make me look like Roseanne Barr, I focus on my mistakes and my faults. I catastrophize. I am flubbing everything up.
I have weirded out during every possible social interaction lately. And instead of chalking it up to mishaps- I have declared myself a fat friendship failure. I’m deep diving into the realm of disgust with myself.
It started small. I’m talking simple stuff- like, saying hi to the woman I want to partner with in a photography venture. This awesome woman is a professional photographer and I bizarrely randomly approached her with the idea to help me become a birth photographer and instead of shunning me and flipping her gorgeous long chesnut hair, she said “Yes”. I run into her and we have on masks and are hurrying off to whatever motherly and or work activity we need to manage next, I wave but she couldn’t even see my smile. I was awkward and maybe acted busy instead of getting over my insecurities and thanking her for even considering helping me. It would have been the perfect opportunity to solidify my intentions of becoming a birth photographer- which is a dream but instead I ducked for cover. I’m so weird.
I thought I had plans to meet up with another friend for a kid oriented walk about in the forest. It turned out she was busy with a friend who has a husband and a son just like herself. This tiny situation sent me into a tizzy of wondering if she likes me at all. I bet I am that friend that sucks the life out of all their friends and I barrage them with all my problems and stories and suffocate every conversation with me me me. I decided I was that person and I needed to become a recluse in order to rid the world of my ghastly attention seeking behaviors.
The next day when the friend texted to meet up- I bowed out. I wondered, should I tell her my fear that for the past 48 years I have been the person everyone dreads being around? Or should I just hide or wait to see if I feel more sane a different day in the future- say this Tuesday? I’ve always preferred Tuesdays. I texted back nonchalantly a non- committal blah blah so she didn’t feel obligated to tromp around the woods with Mim and I. I rescued her from my own company.
A third friend asked if I had any hand me downs because she was collecting for a refugee family. Of course, I do. My condo is always needing a Marie Kondo. I gathered three bags and stated that I would be by to drop off on Saturday. But on Saturday, I did Mim stuff and forgot until about 8:00pm. Mim and I hopped in Pepper and found her big Victorian house in the pitch black of the November early evening and drove down her longish driveway. We placed the bags on her front porch and I didn’t knock. It seemed rude to knock at 8pm. She could be in her jammies watching Netflix with her husband. So we got back in the car. It took an embarrassingly long time to get the car turned around in her driveway. There was a dumpster for the remodel and beautiful old trees and a large bay window surrounding my car. I reversed. I went forward. I reversed. I went forward. Sometime during my cha cha cha, my friend and her husband came out looking concerned about the strange car in their driveway. Peering into my window, I realized my flub. I should have knocked. I rolled down my window and greeted her warmly so she wouldn’t think I was one of those reverse robbers who leaves hand me downs on front porches. She warned me that I was awfully close to the dumpster. I agreed. I continued my car dance and she and her husband walked back up to their front door with their arms folded and their shoulders scrunched.
I saw a quote about we have two ears and one mouth and that ratio is purposeful. I need to listen. I need to listen more than talk.
I got my hair cut. A lot. It is cute enough. But I lost or at least, temporarily misplaced my two space buns that I wore daily. They were a security blanket. And now I am naked. I’m stripped of my signature. My wrapped up ponytails on either side of my head were childish and “alternative” compared to the average middle aged woman hair do. But I love it and feel my buns are me. Getting rid of them- exposes my body. The buns made you notice my hair. The buns are gone. You might notice my fat.
When I cut my hair, women complement me tons. They say “your hair looks great. I love your haircut. ” But what they mean is “Thanks for joining reality. The space buns were denying your age and now you have accepted your fate.” When I hear the complements, I smile and say thank you. And I cringe. Being seen makes me uncomfortable. Look at my outfit. Look at my glasses. Look at my silly kids doing silly things. But don’t look at my body, my self, or my hair.
It is okay to say that I am fat.
Fat isn’t inherently bad.
Fat baby thighs are the best.
A fat rosebud is a beauty to behold. A really fat peony or a really fat hydrangea- those are dreamy.
I prefer fat old people rather than the really frail ones.
Fat dogs are adorable. Fat cats are the only kind of cat I find cute.
I am fat.
I addition to be an awkward socializer, I’m fat. Adding fat to any quirk is a deal breaker. Unless you are a movie star and you are fat and funny- which is cool, but you will never be seen as desirable. If you are fat, you have to be perfect in every other way possible.
A skinny person can be lazy and sloppy and still admirable. A skinny person can eat doughnuts and still be lovable. A skinny person can be dumb and attractive. A skinny person can post (on facebook) pictures of every meal they ate on vacation and be absolutely likable. A skinny person cna drape their legs all over a sofa, but a fat person needs t take up as little space as possible. A skinny person can bound into a room with excitement and gusto but a fat person has to walk gentilly so as not to draw attention to their space in the world. A skinny teenager can wear tight cut offs and a crop top and no one is offended. But a fat teen wearing the same thing would be sent home from school and berated by society for wearing the exact same outfit. A skinny adult can wear work out clothes and a messy ponytail all day long and be seen as the epitome of womanhood. But a fat girl can’t.
I think I hear something. A voice with a New England accent. I bet it is my mother in law. I imagine her excusing her son’s dalliances. “She is really overweight. She totally let herself go after the fourth child. She never put any effort in to her appearance. No wonder why he wandered.”
Double standards. We know all this. It is old news. I can turn all this around in my head and in my heart and speak truth to power.
Any size is beautiful.
My body is a wonder.
I curse Gwyneth Paltrow and her goop. I hate that Oprah can’t even be proud of her body as it is. Our society’s obsession with weight and appearing thin is not only discriminatory and disappointing- it has contributed to my daughter and many others not getting the evidenced based care they need for their eating disorder. Not only am I emotionally triggered by our fat phobic society, I am petrified of my daughter dying. Thinking about my own weight and my family’s experience with body issues is so complex and fraught. And fucked up. To untangle that mess may not be possible in my lifetime. And to heap trouble on top of trouble Walt is totally weight conscious. He doesn’t even eat a piece of his children’s birthday cakes. So downright absurd.
When I feel my body. My skin is ultra soft. My arms are smooth. My stomach is a pillow. My thighs are a comfortable lap. There is nothing wrong with me. I am healthy. I am vibrant. I am lovable.
I’m not an afghan hound. I’m a cuddly frenchie. We can’t all be svelte and angular. Some of us are plump, buxom. I know how to love myself and I know how to refocus my brain on wisdom and not self hatred.
And I’m probably not the worst friend in the world. I am not shunned and eternally solo. The truth is I’m insecure and nervous. The person who was my best friend for twenty years, lied to me and disrespected me and betrayed me and so I am afraid I’m not good enough. I realized this fact three years ago and I’m still meandering through this beautiful meadow of life looking for emotional land mines. I could focus on the shame that this causes me. Why am I not over this whole twenty year marriage break up?
I’m afraid, I’m not lovable.
I can swear off men. I can swear off dating. And I will for quite a while longer. I’m still angry and hurting and kavetching like I’m on a grief exercycle. But the truth is I’m afraid. Maybe I’m unlikable. And if I am fat and awkward, I will never be loved.
I think deep down using my *wise mind— I am lovable. I am beautiful. I am a giver of light – not a taker. I am a wonderful mom. I have lovely handwriting. My heart is miraculously pumping blood all over my healthy body. I voted. I am learning to be a listener. I take good photographs. I can soothe babies with colic and tantrumming toddlers and surly teenagers at the very same time. I am striving to use my gifts to help others- I am freaking trying so hard. I am many many good and lovable things. But. BUT. My view of men is—– None of them will notice these qualities in me because I am fat. I see that I am neglecting the beauty and humanity of millions of white men by saying that but I could be right.
(I say white men, because I am white. I had dreamed about dating older black men. Like the guy on Grace and Frankie that dates Lily Tomlin but 10 years younger or this artist that I admire, Cedric Smith who’s paintings are divine and his appearance is diviner. But I had this experience listening to a group of Black women and I understand the cultural grossness of Black men choosing white women to build lives with so I no longer want Cedric to fall in love with me- well, a little bit I do. He is fine- which is how I described boys I crushed on when Top Gun was playing at he theater.)
Right now and for the foreseeable future, I don’t want to date or have a relationship or make anyone else a sandwich or see their naked feet. I can keep up my guard- which is more formidable than the barrier Trump constructed around the White House (the People’s House). I can continue to work on me from the inside. I don’t need a man’s approval. I don’t need attention to know my worth. And I can write about being lonely when it is Saturday night and Mim and I are strolling the aisles of Homegoods. Again. I can write about flubbing up small talk. I can write about suffering through yoga moves that feel impossible in this bigger body. I can tell you all my truths- the outrageous and the sage. Maybe tomorrow, I will force my shorter hair into some rubberbands. I might not have space buns but I can have pig tails if it makes me feel less vulnerable for a day. Or who knows, I might notice my shorter tendrils curling up like Meg Ryan’s and tell my reflection she looks so cute today.
*Wise mind is a concept from DBT- Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Infograph below is borrowed from an anxiety workbook available on www.blessingmanifesting.com