Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The random blues

Today I changed 6 times before going to my company Christmas party. I see these people every day (and have for over 3 years now).  They know how great I am at my job, and even compliment me on my ability to coordinate 1,000's of events in a year, and on my ability to burn a hole verbally through someone trying to screw me out of a signed contract. Why tonight was I so worried about how I looked around them when I'd already spent 8 hours with them, and they know me and who I am?

I have had anxiety most of my life. Sometimes it really doesn't bother me. That took a lot of work to get to a place where I could say that happens. Other times it's just there giving me light stomach cramps all day. Little anxiety pangs. The stupid jerks. I wish they'd just leave me alone. They have been back for a few weeks, totally not my favorite thing. I'm not even sure what triggered them again. Dana's recent post about depression made me think about this some more.

I tend to feel insecure when I have anxiety or depression feelings. My depression/anxiety has never been such that I needed medication (aside from some herbal supplements when it was at its worst), or that I needed a hospital, except for once. I promptly took care of it with 2 years of therapy and have felt amazing ever since... until now. I can feel it creeping back in on occasion. It usually presents itself like this... (this is its most noticeable form)... I get really hungry, go to eat, and my stomach starts to feel too bloated to eat and feel a tiny shot of adrenaline in my system. This really just feels like little nausea waves or butterflies.

Ugh... I hate that. It really is a bitch. It makes excitement feel like a bad thing, because they feel identical. The biggest and best events of my life have had anxiety attacks in them because I got so excited and happy that my body gave itself an anxiety attack. Those for me are just really uncomfortable stomach issues, coupled with negative thoughts. Yay. I hate those. My wedding day I was late to the ceremony because I couldn't get off the damn toilet.

I can't figure out why right now I have the insecurity and anxiety. The past 2 months being married I've really blossomed with my creativity in looks, and my ability to feel beautiful from within. And all the sudden lately I just feel like I'm thinking too hard to be pretty, or look right. I think I may always battle this stuff. I'll have to fight it off, enjoy the peaceful times before the enemy tries to fight it's way back in. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works. It challenges you to control your thoughts, and not let them control you. It really makes you feel like you can conquer anything, when you are able to succeed with it. It healed me completely. I had over 12 months of completely anxiety-free life. Before therapy it got bad enough that I had it for around 24 hours a day for a few months.  Dana was right in her post. It really is crazy what people are carrying around with them and they never show it to people. All I have to do now is remember everything I learned and did when I was fighting off the anxiety/depression before and I'll be fine.

But... if there were a miracle drug for stomach aches and butterflies, I'd sign up in a minute.

how mountains kept me alive

I remember a Saturday afternoon pressing blobs of cookie dough down onto the pan as my old friend Nate sat in my kitchen.

"How have you been, Dana?"

"Actually," I started, "I've been having a rough time lately."

"Well," he chuckled, "a rough time for Dana is still pretty darn amazing, right?"

"What?" I asked abstractly.

We moved on.  I didn't feel like sharing the reality of my sorrow with him at that time.

Earlier in this blog, I shared my triumphant story of defeating bulimia.  A triumph indeed.  I wouldn't trade my freedom from that beast for anything.  Honest.

But when the act of binging and purging subsided, and when the dust settled, what was left was an illness--an illness that I had been using bulimia to medicate.

What's it like?  Gosh, I don't know.  I guess the one in ten American adults who experience it do so differently.  What's your story?  Share it, if you would.

My life is great.  I mean, really great.  I grew up with intelligent and responsible parents who loved and still love me.  I have the BEST friends a human could ask for (and an inordinate amount of them).  I landed a job doing what I adore and have vibrant, creative, exciting, affirming students (sure they're a pain in the ass sometimes, but that just adds more spice to this life-o-mine).  It has been one adventure after another.

Sunday morning I woke up and rolled out of my bed to kneel and say my prayers.  I stood up, threw my pillow back onto the bed, made my way to the bathroom to brush my teeth.  Then like a train it hit and I didn't even make it through the doorway before I was on my knees and sobbing.  Feeling and thinking things I won't share here.  Why?  I don't know.  Nothing.  Everything.

I have scribbled in a journal from six years ago the words "You have to find something to make you live" with a picture of a tree next to it.  It was something a modern dance teacher had said once in class.    I didn't think so much of it six years ago.  I just liked it.

Sunday morning I stepped outside to rain and mountains and something inside of me said "Let us keep living.  It's worth it so long as there is rain and mountains."  I agreed.  So here we are.  Here I am.

I started counseling (again!) in March 2010 at BYU and resisted medication but finally consented (for the first time) in March 2011.  It helped.  I didn't feel dead or passionless like I feared I might.  I felt, functional.  Capable.  Stronger than my despair.  Lows would still hit, but they weren't debilitating.  A year and a month passed and my insurance was up.  A week or two later, so was my medication.  I didn't want to be on it anymore.  I didn't want to be on it forever.  I had a great summer filled with races and adventures and moving to a new place, a new job.

About a month ago depression came back.  From 7:00-2:30 Monday-Friday (and 'till 4:00pm on rehearsal days) I play games/have discussions/make magic with my teenagers.  They make me laugh, and I feel alive.  Then I come home, run, shower and wish I could disappear.  I cry almost every day.

I can see how this all seems incongruous to both those who know me well and those who are only loosely acquainted.  Poor Nate didn't know any better, and how could he?  I'm Dana!  Dana the bubbling, excited, energetic, expressive, runner, aerobics instructor, previous member of her university's sketch comedy group, leading teenagers through goofy warm ups, baking cookies for the entire universe one church/school function at at time, and posting stickie notes that say "Stop fixing your bodies and start fixing the world!" on bathroom mirrors.  I am FILLED with life, and yearning to live, so fully and so well.  Perhaps this makes it all the more unbearable.  It's difficult to share your pain with others because something in you believes that they depend upon you to be happy and well.  But maybe it isn't this way?  Maybe they'd rather hear the truth--that a woman can be full and empty, sick and strong--that she can be vibrant and broken all at once.

How does this relate to bodies?  As previously stated, my life is wonderful.  I really have no complaints.  But depression is not about that.  I don't understand why it happens, but it is not something that more prayer, more work, and more service dissolves.  There is an imbalance in this beautiful body of mine, that makes it hard to carry on.  You give your diabetic her insulin, why not medication for all the sick?  Let us keep the diabetics alive.  Let us keep the depressed alive.

I know too many beautiful humans who are depressed, and I want them to stay.  It might help them to know that they are not alone.  It might help you to know that you are not alone.  We can overcome a lot of things in this life, and I would love this to leave me.  It's important to understand that Paul asked God thrice to remove his personal "thorn in the flesh" (and depression IS a thorn in the flesh--body, heart, and mind.)

Response?

"My grace is sufficient for thee."  (Note: not "I will take it away in time." or "Someday you will be healed.")

I have insurance again.  I guess the Prozac and I will have another go.  I don't want to be on medication.  But I want to live, so here goes nothing.  Here goes everything.

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's my number--by Brooke W.

I am endlessly grateful that I am healthy enough to donate plasma when I have the time.  On top of feeling like a productive member of society, giving plasma is a calm, easy hour out of my day when I do homework or read.

There is one part of the screening process that I don't like.  First thing that happens when I walk into the screening booth is I give my full name and my social security number.  I can deal with that.

Then comes the scary part.  "Step on the scale, please."

I don't keep a scale at home because it is so easy to become obsessed with weight.  That one three-digit number can haunt me.  A number that seems so much higher than I have been told it should be.

Who decided weight was a good indicator of attractiveness?  I never felt very attractive standing on a scale.  I don't recall meeting too many people who felt healthy or happy while standing on a scale.  Some days I peek at the number.  Other days I focus on other things in the booth so I don't see it.  But really, it's just a number.  

I don't want that number to have power over me.  I'm not ashamed of my number.  I feel healthy, and after all, it's a number.

170 is just a number.  It can be divided by 1, 2, 5, 10, 17, 34, 85, and 170.  It is the maximum check-out possible in a standard game of darts.  The roman numeral is CLXX and its binary representation is 10101010.  It is an even number.

It is my number, it fluctuate, and I'm not going to be embarrassed by it any more.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Male Body Image Issues

Everyone has body image problems to varying degrees, at least sometimes. While I think that our culture is most ruthless regarding the messages it sends about women's bodies, and so it's fitting that much of the conversation about this issue focuses on them, I also know that as a man I sometimes hate my body, too.

That's why I really appreciated a recent post by a man who confronted this issue head on. Fair warning, the article is centered around a couple of pictures of him nude, but they are honest and pure, certainly not pornographic. (I feel like this blog's readership is not generally the squeamish type about that stuff, but I do want to let people know what they're in for before they click.) The post is titled I’m Stark Naked: Deal With It and it's quite short, check it out.

One of the things he said stuck out to me: "I will not get into the things I’ve done out of self-hatred and shame and fear over the past decade or two. I will not repeat the deflections and lies I’ve said to women who’ve told me my body is sexy." I'm not good at accepting compliments in general, and I've definitely had experience with not being able to really believe that people I've dated truly thought I was good looking.

Man or woman, body shame stinks. You don't have to post nude pictures of yourself on the internet to get over it, but try to start to get over it in some way. Next time someone compliments your body, agree! Take time to look at your body and love it as real. See it as God sees it, or your lover sees it, or your parents saw it when you were born all chubby and funny-shaped and naked--in other words, see it as beautiful. At least try. I am.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Psoriasis--By Elise Silva

It’s that time of year again.

The time of year that my skin starts drying out, that the large dry spots start showing up, and also, the time of year that I get to cover up with long sleeved shirts and warm pants.

I was diagnosed with psoriasis as a young child. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the skin. As with any autoimmune disorder, my immune system attacks itself—and this is manifest through large, red, itchy, flaky patches that cover my body.

Psoriasis comes in all shapes and sizes. For some people, the patches are large. For some, it only shows up in the folds of their skin, for yet others, it shows up as small, itchy pox. You can get psoriasis on your scalp, under your finger nails, and it is also linked to painful arthritis symptoms.

What people don’t often talk about is the fact that no matter what the psoriasis looks like, one of the common symptoms among many sufferers is low self esteem, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

Why? Perhaps my story can illustrate: a few months after I was first diagnosed I had an itch on my side. I lifted my shirt up to expose a bit of my torso, and the little boy sitting beside me in class pointed at me, shouted “ew!” and asked to be moved. I didn’t know I was supposed to be embarrassed about how I looked—I knew it was uncomfortable to have my whole body itch and bleed, but I didn’t know that I was supposed to hide that from the world.

I learned my lesson that day and started to do just that.

I was a pre-pubescent girl who was already ashamed of her body. I was embarrassed to swim because parents would look at me funny—as if I was going to infect their kids with my disgusting skin (psoriasis is genetic—not a communicable disease). I was embarrassed to wear shorts because someone might ask what those spots were on my knees. I was embarrassed to itch my scalp for fear that my psoriasis would flake and cover my shoulders. I was afraid to be noticed. All I wanted to do was cover up as much as possible and disappear.

And so my formative years were spent doing just this—hiding in the background, pretending I didn’t have skin problems, and using harsh topical creams and sometimes painful light treatments to control my own body. I’ll admit it: I did battle depression and low self esteem as a result.

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized I wasn’t the only one hiding. People hide for all sorts of reasons—many of them related to their bodies. What I realized, especially through my teaching career, was that hiding isn’t worth it. When I turn my back to my students now to write on the board I force myself to forget that they might be looking at the back of my arms and those pesky spots. Instead, I focus my attention to what I’m writing, where I’m going, and what I’m showing my students. Because what I’m showing is significantly more important than what I hide.

I decided not to let myself be covered any more.  


Discussion Questions:
·         What do we hide, and why?  How can we overcome the need to hide and “show” our bodies (insecurities and all) in productive ways?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

There's Only One Thing To Do When The Internet Calls You Fat


Lindy West at Back Fence PDX from Back Fence PDX on Vimeo.

Lindy West is a hilarious, smart, beautiful, and powerful writer... and speaker, as it turns out. She blogs at Jezebel and in this talk she recounts a series of events that came about when the Internet discovered that she is fat.

It's a very powerful story of insecurity, courage, empathy, redemption, and good humor. I very highly recommend it.

[just a heads up, there is some crude language in a few spots, but the overall message is stunningly Christlike so... don't worry about it.]

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

skinny--by Kate Savage

“Nobody loves the head of a dandelion. Maybe because they are so many, strong, and soon.” - Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

My jaws don’t shut. It’s Grandma Virginia’s jaw, chin skewed to the side and teeth gaping, no corn on the cob for this one. The dentist assistants saying ‘Okay, now you can close your mouth. Close your mouth. No, like this.’ When they brought the problem to the attention of my parents it became a family joke. ‘We knew you couldn’t shut your mouth!’

They tried to fix it when I was eighteen, a clean double-jaw-break. The surgeon botched it, left me shatter-jawed and wired-shut for three months. 

While my face puffed up blue and purple, the rest of me melted away. You can only drink so many Ensures in a day: my weight dipped into the double-digits.

I have always been small. Always worn the clothes that friends have grown out of, like I’m a five-years-back echo of their current, full-bodied selves. But with a mouth finally forced shut, I became less than skinny. I became a ghost. I would look at my hollowed-out face in the mirror, my flat chest and the sharp lines of the bicep on my sharp arms, and up would clamor two voices: one saying ‘oh no oh no oh no what have they done to me’; and the other saying ‘Whew. Finally.’

This is what I never wanted to confess: that there is something delicious about being a ghost. About being hardly there. About being so thin that you know nobody could ever think you ought to be just a bit thinner, not even in your upper thighs, not even in the pocket of skin between your boobs and your armpits. 

Becoming a ghost taught me to hear this background noise of disapproval: an ear-ringing of body-hate, woman-body-hate, which I didn’t know existed until I caught a kind of silence. 

But even 90 pounds and mute I knew it would be back, I’d be shamed again by some new tactic to make me hunch up under my old embarrassment just to be here bodily, to be taking up space that could probably be better used with somebody -- something else -- anything -- I’m sorry.

It took my body a time to reassert itself, even once I could chew. I went to the ocean with my boyfriend at the time, and started turning blue instantly, the waves pushing me around when everyone else could hold their ground. He said it was cute.

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“Mothers visiting a class at the Seminary in the early thirties were so shocked at the sight of a pupil drawing a heart, arteries and veins on a blackboard to explain the circulation of the blood, that they left the room in shame and dismay. To preserve the modesty of the girls, and spare them too frequent agitation, heavy paper was pasted over the pages in their textbooks which depicted the human body.”

-Emma Willard, founder of Troy Female Seminary

I first noticed the sex workers of Chimaltenango, Guatemala, from a tourist van with an all-female troupe of undergraduate students. They had heard this place was infamous for prostitutes, and, stuck in traffic on the winding streets, the girls in the van fought off boredom with a game: pick out the whore. 

And there they were, women in tube-tops, mini-skirts, heels, leaning against dusty stone walls, flirting with men, pushed up against old cars in the hot and dizzy streets. With each new finger-pointing--that one!--the van rocked with laughter. Especially over the women whose bellies extended over the front of their jean mini-skirts, who had wide arms and full faces. Those were the ones that really cracked up the well-manicured, first-world girls in the van. The edge of blame in their laughter at fat prostitutes: Lord, all those tortillas. 

In that hot laughter, you could almost forget that all the sex workers of Chimaltenango, thin and thick, had been screwed over. You could forget that, statistically speaking, the majority of the white women in the van had surely themselves been screwed over. That we could have struck up our own giggling bets about who among us was most likely to have been just as desperate, and just as used, as the cheapest whores of Chimaltenango.

At the time of that terrible ride, I was just the sputtering feminist-who-doesn’t-get-the-joke. I still haven’t drummed up a good retort, some pitch to win the van over to solidarity with the prostitutes and against the forces of commodification, alienation, patriarchy and poverty that create the modern sex industry.

All I have, even now, is the question: what makes the women so laughable? 

The laughter in the van feels like a kind of prudery. As though maybe my culture, the culture of billboards and magazines, is the height of puritanism. We only stop mocking when all the real bodies are covered up and shut out of the way. A Victorian lady couldn’t show her legs: a modern woman can only show legs that have been lasered to have all the hair and veins removed. Surrounded by silicon sacks, a carbon-based breast isn’t worth the adspace. Don’t even get started on <shudder> aging. Worse than simply ugly: the nonconforming female body is ridiculous. That one!

Maybe the best way to finally outlaw real, human, sexual bodies is to replace them with purified simulations. We’ve got our own heavy paper to paste over the indecent materiality of flesh: only ours are printed with porn. Behind that heavy paper, the punishment and shaming of women’s bodies -- of our breasts, our thighs, our asses -- hasn’t let up, in all these centuries, for a second. 

And that’s also the odd truth of even bodies that meet the specifications: of course fat-shaming is real, and its cruelty saturates everything. But it’s just one, particularly-vicious head of a woman-hating hydra. Here's the testimony of the skinny kid: the message to be ‘smaller’ won't end with love-handles. We're supposed to keep starving ourselves clear out of particularities, out of our own loud noises and awkward, irreducible ideas.

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In the decade since the surgery, my jaw has reverted. Open again, uncloseable. I stay up late talking to my roommate about how black southern culture admires “thick” women, and being skinny is like needing glasses: too bad, but some people can make it work. Sheri Parks, writing about the cultural construct of Strong Black Women, asserts “Ferocity was not imposed on the black woman; it was taken away from white women.” It hits me because I’m that white woman, the Little White Woman. Little White Women have bigger houses than women of color, and all we had to do was cashier our strength, and try to look skinny.

Sojourner Truth talks over my shoulder, no matter which way I turn my head: “Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman?” 

I think: They took everything from her, and then they took her from me. Me and the women like me, trained to be the good, nice women who don’t disobey and don’t take up space. Bodiless, as much as possible. Purified out of the arms that can plough and plant.

I don’t want to flip over dichotomies, draw a new, reversed rubric for passing as a non-ugly woman. Instead I want ferocity, a sisterhood of the ferocious. Where we love the bejesus out of each other, out of the stubborn bodies we bear without coercion. And where the first Rite is taking up space. Look at me! Look at my arm!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

moms stay in the picture--two articles submited by Heather W.

Here is the ORIGINAL article, written by Allison Tate.

And here is a RESPONSE article on the same website.

These are incredible.  Thank you for sending them my way, Heather!

I love the point that Tate brings up in the first--how mothers are SO present in the lives of their children, but documentation might indicate otherwise.  Moms stay out of the picture, not because they don't want to be there, but due to shame regarding their less-than-perfect appearance.  I have memories from a very young age standing next to my mom in grocery stores and seeing celebrities in bikinis on magazine covers "How these hot mamas lost that baby weight!"  "Back in a bikini in only 6 weeks!"

Women are not only expected to (and far too many without the support of a spouse) create, carry, birth, and then rear children, never mind cleaning, cooking, education, employment, finances, and church/school/community obligations.  They are expected (oftentimes it seems, primarily by themselves and other women) to look smokin' hot while they do it all.  No wonder we have so many moms breaking down!

As always, I am in no way discouraging health or taking care of oneself.  But, as always, this discussion is not really about that, is it?

Let send the message to our sons and our daughters, our girls and our boys, that moms don't lose their voice, their worth, and their PRESENCE in our lives when they go grey, or don't wear makeup or cute clothes, or gain weight, or lose weight, have frizzy hair, or when their bodies take different and unexpected turns.

Get in the pictures, Moms.  And don't wait for tomorrow when you lose that weight, color your hair, and stop breastfeeding.  We love you and need you today.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

She Bop--anonymous


Oh…so that’s what that song was about. 

I am a good girl.  I am a Mormon girl.  I served a mission and am committed to living a chaste life.

I also used to masturbate. 

And still do.  On very rare occasions.  

Did I mention that I’m a girl?

It doesn’t seem quite right, does it?  Perhaps it seems as odd as men on this blog admitting they had an eating disorder.  Masturbate.  What an unfortunate word.  It feels dirty just typing it.  Masturbate.
 
I never exactly did the porn thing.  I do remember watching racy scenes from R-rated movies alone in our family’s den when I was around ten or eleven and touching myself.  I would do this off and on for a few years.  Alone in my room just before I fell asleep or right as I was waking, my thoughts would turn to sex and I would masturbate.  I didn't think about it, nor did I ever talk about it…it was just something I did, from time to time. 

Once a friend asked me as to how I got over it. 

Here’s the thing.  It just sort of went away. 

Here’s the other thing.  I never knew I was masturbating. 
 
Growing up in a culture where many parents/responsible adults can’t have much conversation past the initial BIRDS+BEES101 with children and teens regarding sex and intimacy, you’re left to receive the bulk of your education from sexy soap opera scenes, innuendos in pop culture, and dirty jokes told on the playground.  I grew up believing that masturbation was something guys did.  They had penises, and they jacked off.  I had no penis and therefore, could not masturbate.

I never became obsessed with masturbation and I remember by and by just kind of sensing that it wasn’t something that was great for me to do.  Something in me just kind of said, “you should stop.”  

So I stopped. 

For the most part.  

Years after the fact, I found out that was I was doing was, in fact, masturbation.  I was shocked.  But it was all done in ignorance, so I could easily let it go. 

In watching so many of my male (and some female) friends struggle with pornography and masturbation in a church culture, I cannot help but to wonder if all of the guilt has exacerbated the problems and encouraged addiction.  I’d have to do my research, but while SO many men look at pornography, it seems that addictions come up most frequently in the lives of those who adhere to a strict faith tradition.
 
Please don’t misunderstand.  Pornography is devastating and dangerous.  It dulls the spirituality and sensitivity of those who engage in it.  It promotes violence, and rape.  It damages and taints our views of women, of men, of bodies, and most destructively, of all that is supposed to be beautiful and fulfilling and intimate in sexual intimacy.  I would encourage any who struggle to seek help and freedom.   

In the same breath, it’s not a matter of IF the men in our lives will view pornography.  It’s a matter of when.  So how could we frame these encounters to help our men (especially our young men, and women as applicable) understand that while pornography is wrong, they are still good, and human, and have so much to look forward to in a healthy sexual relationship with their partner?  Pornography will not assist them on their journey to these things. 

Urges and desires and curiosities—these things do not make us mutants.  As Mormons, we understand that the human body is more than “a thing fit only to be tortured and contemned”.  These urges are rooted in a desire for something really beautiful and eternal—complete intimacy.  Love, acceptance, and unity expressed in physical oneness representative of commitment and loyalty.

(I have plenty to say about sex for a virgin, eh?  I have older sisters.  They talk.)
I can’t help but to wonder if perhaps some of these problems would go away if children and teenagers didn’t feel so ashamed of their sexuality, and instead understood the profound positive reasons for keeping your thoughts clean and your life chaste.  Perhaps if we had a more open dialogue parent-to-child, teacher-to-student, we could get the facts straight at a younger age about what really is so great about sex in a committed and healthy relationship.  Perhaps we would feel less of a pull to satiate our curiosity with dirty jokes, racy scenes in movies, and pornography.  Perhaps we’d have a clearer understanding of “the real thing.” 

Though I no longer masturbate (for the most part), one thing no one tells you is that as a woman’s sex drive does not (as I once assumed) peak in the teenage years.  Rather, once she graduates from high school, she’s looking at a solid decade plus in increase of drive.

Actually...there isn't much of a conversation about a woman's sex drive period.  But I imagine that's for another entry on this blog.

On the rare occasion it does occur, I don't beat myself up for it.  I recognize that I am a human, and I am a woman who has a sex drive.  And this is not something to be ashamed of.  It was, in fact, God-given.  And dear parents, teachers, and leaders--I know you are doing your best and your intentions are so good, but not acknowledging my sex drive, or your sex drive, isn't going to make it go away and ensure chastity.  I think it creates more problems. 

I let it go.  Move on.  Try to keep my thoughts clean not out of fear, but out of respect for myself and my future partner. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Scary Beautiful--stolen from Gregory N.

Go HERE and watch THIS.

Unrealistic, uncomfortable, impractical.

Hmm...sound like anything else in our lives?

I mean, these are hideous, but what if they weren't?  What if society told you they were fashionable, stunning, and a must-have for every woman?  What if these were beautiful?

How far are we willing to go in our pursuit of beauty?

Monday, October 15, 2012

If I'd only known before...

There is a book on my bookshelf that I've read and re-read several times since I purchased it a few years ago. It's called, "If I'd Known Then", by Ellyn Spragins. It's women in their 20's and 30's writing letters to their younger selves, giving advice and encouragement. It is something I've wanted to try myself, and also something I've wanted to read from other people too.

I think we should start a series of these letters, on this blog. So send them in anonymously, or send them to Dana and she can post them. I'm sure we all can think of something to write ourselves, even if it's just:

"Dear 12 year old me, when you kicked that boy in the kneecap and made him cry because he was saying mean things about your family... you made me proud. Your family is the most important thing to you in life... thanks for knowing that even as a kid. :)"


See? It's fun!
---

Here's my letter:

Dear 16 year old Lana,

In Autumn this year, you're going to realize something about a certain boy you think you love (as if you even understood it back then). He's going to ask for more than you're prepared to give, and when you say no, he'll dump you within 5 seconds of your answer. You'll be crushed that someone could not mean any of the feelings they said they had, but it will teach you more about life than you knew before. I know you don't believe me right now, but you will say no because you're tough as nails and nothing keeps you from forging your own path. Not even your mom can convince you to do what you don't want to do, so I just want you know that I'm extremely proud of you for sticking up for what you think is the right decision for yourself. You'll waiver a little later when you meet other people, but it will only remind you of your tough choices that you made and make you stick back to your decision even harder later.

You're tough, and even though life seems to run you ragged and torment your emotions during this time of your life, you are funny as hell, and you have more going for you than most of the girls who you envy. They will just get married and get fat before you've even started your program in your bachelor's.  Sometimes you'll be jealous they have someone, but you'll never be jealous that they got fat so young. I know, I know, as an adult that shouldn't be where my mind still goes, but it does, and I know you'll understand what I mean by that. What I'm trying to say is, you have more going for you than you ever realize. Comparing yourselves to these girls that seem to have everyone after them, big boobs, and amazing style to boot will one day not have those things because they took a different path than you who always tried to be different. One day someone awesome sees you as the best thing since Neil Armstrong landed on the moon!

So don't fret my dear, it's the ones that seem a little weird and unpopular in high school that get the cool lives later. Just think about all those nerds that invented Apple, or all those gawky girls that end up as supermodels, and listen to your mom. She said you'd get a lot of dates in college. Mom knew what would happen no matter how much you rolled your eyes at that. 

Oh and also, stop listening to that stupid pop/rap music, it makes you dumb. As much as you think it's just music, it makes you sound like a slut when you sing along and you end up acting like an idiot during that phase of your life. Have some class, girl. Stick back to your No Doubt, your indie bands, and your classic rock station, you end up reverting there anyway after you get sick of all the mindless music that is produced by talentless people. 

Oh and please don't stop drawing when you get to college. You lose the skill, and you had a good one... and I miss it.
 
Anyway, hang in there, and I'll see you when you're older!

With a lot of love,
Older Lana
---
Ok, mine was a little lecture-ish but yours don't have to be. Anything you want to say to yourself, just do it. It's really fun to read over later. 

I can't wait to read all of your letters to yourselves! 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My self esteem and my new marriage.

I always looked at the future being when I'd feel better about myself, but I couldn't seem to feel better about myself in the present. So how would my future ever be anything but the present it presently was?

I know, that sentence really is a little too much isn't it?

I will explain.

I recently got married. As in, 28 days ago. Can I just say it's been a blast? It's been a month of discovery, plus the 2 months of prepping for it in our short engagement. (REALLY SHORT). We dated for 2 years though so there was a good time frame of getting to know each other. Right before we got married, I was nervous and scared that I wouldn't be a good wife because I knew what my mind was capable of doing for the bad. I knew all the things I had thought about myself over the years, not being good enough sexually, not being pretty enough, etc. Now I was worried about all the stuff I had to do as a wife! I was so worried I would disappoint him... even though he'd never led me to believe he had expectations like the ones I was putting on myself. I wondered if after we got married, would the good I was supposed to feel about myself just be there?

Funny story is, it is here.

I know, we're not supposed to let someone else dictate our self esteem. Trust me, after 2 years of regular therapy sessions with the most wonderful lady I've ever met, my husband doesn't completely dictate how I feel. It wasn't always easy for me though. I came from a family of beautiful people, who all started as ugly ducklings in one way or another. All my siblings are amazingly talented, attractive people. We all had awkward phases in junior high or high school, and all of us have been outcasts before, including myself, (see my letter to myself HERE). Throw in a father that bailed to find another woman to hang out with instead of his family, and the stereotypical girl with daddy issues was created. I spent a lot of time with boys, men and friends that I allowed to walk all over my self-esteem. When I met my husband, I'd had this string of men cycle through my life that in one way or another showed me I wasn't good enough, physically, sexually, mentally, or some other way, and took huge chunks of me with them when they bailed.  (Such a stupid thing I allowed to happen)

A small tip for you girls out there dating guys like this: If a guy tells you, "If we get married, my wedding gift to you would be new boobs, because you'd look better with a huge rack", dump him, and kick him in the balls so much he needs testicle replacements, don't continue life with him in it.

So my husband came in to the picture after I'd successfully removed all the friends, and men from my life that would treat me like that. My self esteem was at an all time high, but it was new and fragile. I was really honest with him about where I stood in life, and in how I felt about myself.  The coolest thing about that is, while I half expected him to be just like all the other jerks out there, he proved he was a man more worthy of me than anyone else. He was extremely patient, uplifting and kind.

So in a way, he does help my self-esteem. I say, never let people dictate how you feel about yourself, but if they are good people who always try to build you up... LET THEM BUILD YOU!

Marrying him has made me feel completely wonderful in my skin. I feel more beautiful naturally, because of how he respects and treats me than I ever have. It's like being married to him is home. I'm so grateful that my awful string of men led me to him, and not to another douche bag. I feel like with him, I can try anything and not be afraid to fail, because he will support me in what I want to pursue.

He told me the other day, "With you I feel like I can be successful at anything."

I always wanted to be that for someone too, but I was such a mess of a person, I wasn't sure I'd be able to be someone else's positive foundation. It's true what people say, you can't  love someone else right, if you can't love yourself. When you start to love yourself, you can love others properly. Those people that say these things are so right. We should all listen to them more.

If you're stuck in a self-esteem mud pit, I promise there's a way out. Figure out what it is that brings you down, and get rid of it. If it's you and your awful thoughts about yourself (like it was for me), do what you have to do to stop the negative. It brings more positive into your life than you'll ever know. If you are doing the negative talk, you know just how much you can destroy yourself. Wouldn't it be great if you could take that powerful ability you have to ruin your day, and turn it around and use the same power to make yourself feel amazing?

Get rid of the negative thoughts, friends, influences, significant others, and start to LIVE!

One of my favorite things I've had since I was a kid is a picture of Jesus saying, "The greatest gift I could ever give you is if you could see yourself the way I do." Each of us are divine creations, and if we could see the masterpiece that we are, we'd never think negatively about ourselves again.

I'm just really grateful that I finally have a man in my life that sees me the way I need to see myself.

It's only natural that such a great guy would be so good
lookin', right?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Born in Blood--Anonymous

Blood. It’s an unavoidable part of life. I get a paper cut, there’s blood. I stay up too late, my eyes get bloodshot. Children are born in blood. Men die in blood every day. I wish I could die in blood for 3-5 days every 27 days or so.

It’s torture. Women in tampon commercials dance and swim and run and jump as if it weren’t killing them. I don’t dance or swim or run or jump for 3-5 days straight once every 27 days or so. It’s a bloody hell, and I mean that in the most literal sense.

I beg my body to stop. I can literally feel the lining of my uterus separate from my insides and it feels like death. I spend those 3-5 days moving from the bathroom to the bedroom, trying not to exert myself for fear of an upswing in the the pain levels. I avoid sharp knives for fear that I might not be able to take it anymore and perform a very dangerous hysterectomy on myself.

I beg my body to leave me be. I don’t sleep for at least 1 of those nights. I don’t sleep well the other 2-4. I toss and turn and beg God for a release from the constant, sharp, stabbing pains.

On the worst days, I beg my body to give me death.

I beg it to be fertile so I can have a break for 9 short months. I beg my OB to give me something to help, but he can only offer birth control. I find that to be counterproductive.

I beg my body to free me from my bloody hell. To no avail. I beg my it to stave off the pains for a month or two. I try to take comfort in the early-onset menopause I’ll almost certainly inherit.

I love my body--with the exception of about 3-5 days every 27 days or so.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Today I Ran, Because I Can--Adele

I actually went to the gym today. Most of the time my gym membership is more like a Monthly Donation to the Charity of Planet Fitness. However I've noticed that I feel best when I've been active, and my job has me being a little less active than usual lately, so I decided it would do me good to go. Going to the gym is sometimes more loaded an issue for me than it "should" be. Oftentimes I feel like I need to get in shape before I can go to the gym to work out.....y'know what I mean? I'm still navigating the unfamiliar territory of Exercise for Enjoyment.

But today was a good day. Although I hadn't been running -- ahem, jogging -- in FOREVER, I managed a mile...and it truly felt so good. I normally hate jogging on a treadmill, but today I tried to focus on my body - the feeling of impact as my feet hit the surface, the sensation of my muscles working together in my legs...it wasn't easy, but for the first time is a very long time, it was joyful. I wasn't consumed with self-loathing as the activity jiggled the excess on my backside. I didn't compare myself to the other runners on the machines on either side of me. I just ran. And I enjoyed it. Because my body is imperfect, but it can do some amazing things. And I'm grateful for it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

some words on skin--anonymous

I have really terrible handwriting.  It swoops and cuts and floats off lines and really only I can read it, which suits me just fine because most of the time it looks like I’m taking scrupulous notes at work on like “Being your own Brand” or whatever corporate silliness is being presented, I’m more likely writing stuff like ruminations on “Why Am I Not A Wizard.”

My handwriting is unreadable to others.  People have compared it to Arabic and to runes.

I like the rune comparison, though.  I taught myself the futhark (the rune alphabet) when I was younger, and wrote notes to myself best I could in that simplified encryption.  Runes were sigils of protection and magic and meaning, from the Germanic word “to whisper.”  Runes were made to be carved into surfaces that were hard to cut; like stone.

Skin is not as hard as stone but it still dictates marks the same way—quick long jagged lines, leaving red marks and little white susurrations of scars. 

I am covered in these scars still, several years after the original lines were written, by me.  Most are in places I can easily hide, but not all.

I have been judged and questioned and avoided because of these scars.  People ask weird questions, too abruptly, too loudly.  People’s eyes flicker to them and flare and then go hostile and cold, and this hurts more than any cut ever did.  Sometimes people don’t say anything to me but I find out they care later.

People read these and read them in a way that I feel is wrong. 

This is not a venue for a discussion of self-harm.  I will say that I am not embarrassed or ashamed of my scars when it’s just me.  Considered on their own merits I actually think they are quite pretty.

I know people consider self-harm to be such a terrible inscrutable thing, but to be honest it wasn’t, for me.   A lot of people don’t understand that people do that sort of thing because it actually makes them feel better, and most of the times the things they are trying to feel better from are far more frightening and gruesome.  There are better coping mechanisms and no one should do it—but anyway, not the venue. 

The really cliché stuff about all that is true though, in that it’s annoying that the really really bad stuff in my life did not leave anything visible, anything people can judge me over.  I mean, old news to anyone with any sort of emotional trauma, but there you go.  People only see the scars, which is to them a discrete semiotics of instability and madness.  Which I mean that's how humans work, and I know that, and yet.

To me these lines across my body are barely even memories anymore--the side effect of seeing them everyday translating into a kind of semantic saturation where the marks are meaningless.  However. The scars are what people can see and thus read and thus interpret, the pale lines of a linear and incarnate echolalia of anger.  The other echoes, the real echoes, of voices and actions that still seep and bleed unhealed in my subconscious—those are things that are hard for me.  Not these stupid lines of broken code.

So even though I am intellectually fine with scars, sometimes they become one more way I am marred and one more way I am alienated from my body, and one more way to alienate others from me.

I know I shouldn’t let it bother me.  But every so often I get very very sad, especially when I see how otherwise lovely people react and the barriers it sets up between myself and them.  Otherwise wonderful people have a lot of hostile or contemptuous or pitying reactions to seeing self-inflicted scars.  Or they get scared because they don’t understand it.  It’s easier to think someone is crazy than that they were in pain or deal with things differently than you.

Part of me—more now than it used to be—part of me just wants to be all DEAL WITH IT (EXPLETIVES) but while there is strength to be gained from those trains of thought, it’s not a solution.

A part of me wants to treat it like the nonissue I kind of feel it is.  But life isn’t like that.  People care about really stupid stuff.  I learned (maybe too late) to keep most parts of myself to myself, even though let me tell you I have been around the weird block and I’m actually probably the most boring and nowadays stable person ever.  Seriously though.  My facebook feed can basically be summed up in the phrase "work, amirite?"

But still "cutter" is used as dysphemism for crazy, weird, unfit, overemotional, etc. person. 

And then most of me wants to retire into solitude as a hermit with long sleeves who won’t have to worry about any of that messing things up when trying to make friends or date or whatever.

I don’t know what to do.  I want to accept that I am still lovable with these marks but it is very hard at times.

Some people have adopted scarring as a for of self-expression, forming elaborate patterns and beautiful designs through a process rather wonderfully called “scarification.”  Red and white whispers on skin.  Owning--being--your own brand.

A scar after all is nothing but healing.  It is what makes you whole again.

Scars should not be frightening or confusing; they should be triumphant.

I can’t smooth mine away and they are set, ugly and gorgeous and knotted, with victories and losses.  I can’t take back what happened or what I did.  And mostly I don't want to.  Without my scars I would not be me.  I would be some other, some more insipid pale iteration of myself.

So far I am just trying to remember that when I read fear or disgust in people’s eyes, and try to remember that if they can read my arms and legs wrong, maybe I am reading their faces wrong, even though mostly I think I am not.

(I also try to remember that life is too short and also it's waaaaay boring to have so many superficial issues with yourself, but that doesn’t always help, does it?)

I will say this, though: that if you see someone with scars, don’t balk or think they’re crazy or think you know what they mean.  Unless you’ve written in that language, you can’t speak it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

I am a child of God--by Jessica

I could go on and on about my personal journey with self image, self confidence and dealing with my weight but today I will spend only a moment on that subject. I will say I have looked at my thighs with utter disgust, contemplating a way in which I could cut some of them off. I have counted calories, I have worked out just because I wanted to be thinner and wanted to fit into a pair of jeans. I have checked myself out in the mirror to check if I looked good enough, if my curves were in the right places and altered my posture to accentuate certain parts of my body. I have looked at those close to me with jealous eyes hungering after their perfect legs and toned arms. I have thought that bulimia wouldn’t be that bad. I have been very foolish.

Through the past years I have began on a journey of seeing and understanding my body from Gods perspective. This journey accelerated in April and now I can honestly say that 95% of the time I LOVE my body. When I look in the mirror and I see a spectacular creation, a healthy, vibrate and energetic being and that being is me! What a miracle I am! Yes there are images and messages everywhere telling me that in order to be happy I need to be a size 2 or less, weigh 130 pounds, have a perfect face and toned muscles and wear sexy and sassy clothes, but to honest I don’t care. I am a size 8 and weigh 150 pounds, I am strong, healthy, I can run, dance and be playful at any moment and I am so happy that my body works.

How have I gone from wanting to cut off my thighs to loving my physical appearance? First off it is a daily conscious decision that I make. Yes, I make it every day. Daily I choose to love what I see in the mirror. Second, I have been educating myself about my creation, who created me, why I was created and what does my creation has the potential to become. I was created by God, I am a child of God and do know what a child of God has the potential to become… A God! How liberating. Every time I look in the mirror I see a God in training.


God created everything about me spiritually first and then physically. I am a complex being spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. Everything about my physical being has God’s signature written on it,` I just have to look for it.

I have become picky with what I allow into my being. I have filtered out the elements of my life that were encouraging me to see my body an object; TV shows, blogs, movies, images, songs, and people. I am on an important journey I want to fulfill my destiny and become a God and I can not afford to allow elements into my life that will distract me from my goal and leave me feeling of less worth.

The most recent change I have made is the way I dress. When I get ready for my day instead of looking at my wardrobe and trying to wear something that will make me look cute, hot, skinny, attractive I look for items that complement my character, my personality. I am a vibrant, energetic, animated and happy person so I try to dress according to that. I wear color, I love layering colors and adore accessories. Now when I look in the mirror I see me, my personality and character radiate and I am beautiful. When I pass my reflection instead of looking at the way my jeans fit or if my tummy is flat enough I ask myself “do my clothes allow my light of Christ to shine?”

My last thought is inspired by a remarkable friend; she challenged me to have a captivating heart. I have been thinking about what my heart looks like, is it captivating? Is it kind? Is it honest? Is it true? Is it thoughtful? Is it virtuous? Is it Christ like? I have been trying to focus more efforts on what my heart looks like and to see past the shapes, sizes and clothes of others and see their hearts. If the first thing we saw was our heart many self image problems would cease to exist.

We are all children of God and we can become a God. Let’s not waste our time letting external factors tell us otherwise. If you don’t believe me get down on your knees. I dare you to ask God if you are beautiful. We are God’s GREATEST creation. Instead of thinking negative thoughts towards your body seek God, seek goodness, seek light and seek truth within yourself. You are full of glorious reminders that you are a child of God and that you are indeed beautiful. You have so many reasons to celebrate yourself!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ignoring Eating Disorders in Boys and Men

I thought this was an important article about how for a long time (and to some extent still today) we have thought of eating disorders as virtually solely a women's issue. While my understanding is that women are affected by eating disorders more often than men, as this article points out there are a lot more men than one might think that are in the same boat. The end of the article raises an important question: how much does our desire to think that men and women are inherently different blind us to problems that actually harm both genders significantly?

What thoughts do you have? I've certainly appreciated that the posts on this blog about ED have included a few from men.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Liz Hurley accused of sexualizing youngsters with new bikini line

THIS really gets my blood boiling. 

But.  I'm open to hearing different opinions.  What do you think?

Go HERE and checkout the swimwear lines for kids--for a first hand account.  They have two age groups--under 8 and 8-13.  I am sure this is not the ONLY line of swimwear like this out there for teens and I'm not trying to demonize Elizabeth Hurley.  I just find so many things wrong and disturbing with these images.  I'll express my feelings below soon. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mormon Modesty: We have to do better.

It's a popular topic, but I never get tired of thinking/talking about it.

read this.

Thoughts?  Discuss.


ED Talks #19: It's Not Really a Problem?--by Erica

It probably started after Matt broke up with me in 2010. Wow, that's almost two years ago... a lot of time and baggage since then. I had been so confident that this was the relationship that was going to make it. He fit the bill in so many ways that I ended up overlooking some important character traits that were even more important. I am a loyal person. I am also dedicated to success in whatever I pursue. This was not a recipe for success in this relationship. I also had a special communication with the Lord earlier that year. I embarked on some life changes for me and I had the distinct impression that if I implemented those, essentially this would be my year (2010). You know, to finally get married. It was not. And I think what made the breakup truly devastating was realizing that what I had felt to be a significant promise in my life - one I could rely on - completely disintegrated in the breakup. For the rest of that winter, I was pretty darn depressed on a fairly consistent basis. It's something of a miracle that I managed to complete my thesis, teach, and work my other job too. I know that some of those people really helped me pull through and keep slogging forward, especially my sister in law. I spent many a morning watching kids at her house while she slept (night shift nurse schedule). Those sweet kids were a therapy for me in many ways, and the sisterly talks she and I had together also helped keep me glued together.

That summer I took off for my dance tour, finally feeling back to normal with my life, emotions, goals, and future. I graduated with my Master's degree and went to the temple to receive my endowment. I moved away from Provo to SLC and began looking for a job while living with my grandparents. It was a great and exciting time. I loved getting to know my grandparents better and I liked being in a new environment. I went to the temple weekly while searching for a job. I was definitely on a spiritual high. I made a few initial friends, got a job thrust into my lap (something I will not take in the future ... jobs require some time to consider before diving in), and felt very productive and useful. People needed me, I'd moved beyond the concerns of the previous year, or so I thought, and I soon settled myself into a new home in South SLC with fun roommates. It was about the time of the move that things began to get interesting again.

1. Let me go back a little for this first thing that got interesting: food. While dating Matt, I learned that he was extremely image conscious. Since we were a couple, that image now included me. It was his influence that got me to buy $80 jeans from the Buckle. Granted, I love those jeans and think they were totally worth it. But.... It was because/for him that I  bought my first bottle of real perfume. I thought about whitening my teeth because he'd commented on my funny white spot in one of my front teeth. And for whatever reason, the semester we dated was one where I lost a fair amount of weight. I ran with my roommate fairly consistently and was eating more protein (thanks to him feeding me!) and for one reason or another, I lost a few pounds and some flubby inches. I wasn't trying to lose weight or achieve a certain look... it just happened. Matt noticed and said something to the effect of "keep it up." That was all. But that was all it took, I guess.

During the stressful moments of my life, I have taught myself not to turn to food. Did that one summer, gained weight, immediately vowed to not be so self-indulgent. So when we hit a rocky patch in October? Didn't eat very well. Not that I avoided it, but the anxiety left me in knots and I had no desire for food. A friend mentioned that I looked too skinny and we went out to dinner. Things worked out with Matt (for a bit longer) and I regained my appetite. Then we broke up. I honestly don't recall food being a thing at that point, although I remember not indulging in a pint of ice cream like many recommended. The ensuing "dark months" included me eating fairly regularly (I think). That was another benefit of tending my niece and nephew-- lunch! And sometimes I ate breakfast there too. I doubt my own meals were particularly healthy or interesting, but I don't recall that being part of my breakup process. I was nominally exercising through the occasional dance practice or extremely sporadic run. The dance tour happened and I felt pretty normal, if not even a little flubby, but that's just because we usually dance so much we lose weight on tour. We didn't that year, but it wasn't a big deal.

Step a few months forward to SLC. I loved living with my grandparents and eating 3 regular meals with them. I even whipped up some grub once or twice! There was a time when cooking was a relaxing and fun outlet for me. For whatever reason though, once I moved to my new apt in South SLC, food changed. Part of that was practical: I was about drowning teaching 1st grade and spent my lunch hour working on grades or lesson plans or preparation of some kind. For a while I packed a sandwich to eat.... as time progressed that dwindled. I also stayed up late working on class stuff, so I'd sleep in and hardly ever ate breakfast in the kitchen. It was always a car meal. For a great portion of the teaching year, my typical breakfast was however much cereal I could stuff in my mouth during the 12 minute commute, a granola bar for lunch. I brought fruit snacks or a cheese stick or a banana or an apple to help supplement lunch, but my meager desk treats didn't do much to bump up the caloric intake. Dinner was my only real meal and to my credit I generally ate well. Or at least a good portion. Like a box of Pasta Roni. Or a lot of homemade stroganoff. Or.... well I still wasn't cooking a lot, but I always ate dinner. I also ate out more during this time (fell in love with the Cafe Rio Pork Salad). The stress of teaching and the lack of nutrition made me shed even more weight and inches, so much so that I could tell I was wasting away a bit. I like being skinny. But I like being healthy too. And I knew I was flirting with danger.

I tried talking to people about it a few times. But I also rationalized that since I knew what I was doing, it wasn't really a problem. I just needed to work on being better with my diet. I never felt bad about eating a lot of calories in one sitting and I didn't avoid foods. I just didn't eat much while I was at school. I remember consciously choosing to stop and buy hamburgers before my weekly dance practice, though, so I would have protein and energy to get me through the night of rehearsal. Thanks, Sonic.

I didn't exercise particularly much while teaching school. I didn't have the energy. Aside from my relatively easy dance rehearsals through December, I did virtually nothing. I would have rather been working out and eating more to keep balance that way, but my way was easier and fit better into my stressful job. I also started dating someone at the start of the new year. He thought I was great as I was. I mentioned this food thing to him once or twice. He'd had friends with eating disorders in the past and was pretty caring and concerned. I made more of an effort to do better, since I felt like he cared and was holding me accountable a little bit. But in truth, things didn't change all that much. And then we got engaged. I'll admit, I worried when I heard a side-effect of birth control is weight gain. I didn't begin a wedding dress diet - I'm not stupid! that would have been a bad, dangerous idea - but I was very aware of what I was eating and what I looked like. I wasn't eating enough still and I was too skinny to wear several of my work pants anymore. The ones I did wear all looked baggy on me. I felt a little bit sad thinking of my lost leg muscles. I've always liked my lovely dancer calves and knew they weren't as strong as when I'd been working out and keeping them up. A friend at work mentioned my weight loss, but it was mostly a comment in passing.

And then he called off the engagement. (So much for all those things he said in the past about love and etc....) I did not want to eat, but I had immediately camped myself in my other brother's house and his wife made sure I ate. She even sat by me and talked to me... although I think that was more to monitor my eating than anything else. I distinctly remember when food finally tasted good again. It was about a week after the pronouncement. I never went back to sleep at our apartment again, just to pack it all up and move it out. I can't imagine what would have happened if I hadn't been around people. Still, I got a flu bug within a few days and that sure doesn't help you with food. I literally languished on my grandparents couch, with not so much energy to even sit up properly. It took supreme effort to get up and move around. My sis in law stopped by (the grandparents were out of town traveling) and made sure I had some good sick food. But aside from expelling most of it, those 24 hours marked a huge decline for me. Didn't hardly eat, had a lot of liquids, but my body was wasted. I returned to finish the last week of teaching and felt utterly lackluster. I remember being outside one morning in the heat for quite a while... I hadn't eaten breakfast that day and there were a few moments when I thought I would pass out. My body was physically and emotionally spent.

Returning to my home (out of state), I remember feeling weak for a while. A jug of milk felt heavy to me. I'd feel shaky after hefting it. I didn't trust my ability to lift heavy objects or perform much actual physical labor. Meals at home are delicious and guaranteed to make you feel better. Those worked their magic after a week or two. I went walking with my mom some mornings and recall progressing from feeling weak the first few days, to gradually feeling almost normal. Since then, you ask? I still don't work out much, if at all. Okay, I don't work out. I love eating a nice big lunch and small supper with the grandparents. Breakfast is still a struggle for me, but that has more to do with planning my wake-up times better. I think I have put on a few pounds... being at home definitely added 2 or 3. Interestingly, though, when I went to visit a dear family friend I hadn't seen for about a year, her first question was, "Are you eating?". The answer today? Yes, I am eating. But the last many months are a different story and I wonder if their effects are permanent or not. Or if they're good or not. This is one thing I have dealt with the past year on my own. These are the facts, not even the psychological exploration of the issue. I'm not really sure what to think or do, but I feel different -- better-- since writing all this down.