It’s the last day of the Month and at the present moment I’m looking at myself in the mirror and asking “What have YOU done?”. This constant soul searching is quite draining. But literally.. I’m on the treadmill in my basement that faces a mirror and I’m staring at myself. Seems pretty vain but it’s right there. It’s hard not to.
My hair looks good today. I washed it yesterday and it always looks best the day after that. My natural waves are clinging to each other in ringlets, loose and fluffy-ish on top with tighter spirals underneath. I straightened my hair for years and years trying to fit an ideal that was established by goodness knows who. Fashion people somewhere? Rich people? Skinny people with equally skinny hair. It’s just not natural to spend so much time trying to shape yourself into someone else’s picture of perfection.
I can say that my life is tremendously better now that I’ve gone ohh-la-la-natural. For one, I have more time now that I’m not spending an hour with a hair dryer and fat-barrel curling iron every time I wash my hair. And the other is that it’s liberating to not give a fuck what people think. The bonus plan is that I actually think it looks better this way. Yeah, I’m totally digging that “I woke up like this and so what” look.
I really wish I could say the same about my stomach and butt. But improving one’s self takes time and patience and the best changes don’t happen overnight. I still wake up everyday thinking about my weight and food and what I might strategically eat today and when. I’m constantly mentally calculating what I ate and drank yesterday and what that did to my number. You know the one… on the scale.
The first thing I do when I get out of bed in the morning is pee and strip naked and step on the scale. The second thing I do is go to my closet to put on workout clothes and pick up my phone (which I keep in the closet overnight and not by my bed) and log my weight in my Fitbit app. These are such routine behaviors for me at this point that I feel like something is wrong if things don’t start that way.
When I say “improving one’s self takes time”, I’m not talking about working off excess pounds so that the stomach is flatter and tighter. I’m talking about feeling ok with my shape the way it is now. Accepting my body and not being so highly critical of myself. It’s about not letting the dominant thought in my head be about how I look. I did it with my hair so I can certainly do the same for the rest of me. Right?!
I can’t actually see my stomach or butt from the treadmill. That’s probably a good thing. I can see my eyes and I have slightly smudged mascara because I didn’t wash my face before going to sleep last night. I basically walked into the bedroom, pulled the sheets back, crawled in and went to sleep. I slept straight through to 6am when Jim’s alarm clock went off.
I got up this morning and cooked him breakfast and sat on the couch and chatted while he ate. I clutched the cup of hot tea from two days ago I reheated in the microwave while the salmon was waiting to be turned over in the skillet on the stove. I can’t even waste a cup of tea.
When he’s done eating he gets up and kisses me goodbye and heads out the door for work. And there I sit, in my workout clothes holding the cup of tea that I’m not drinking again and I think, “this is my life now”. I’m not sure how long I sat there before I got up.
Yesterday I insisted that I was going to go to Jazzercise despite the fact that i didn’t feel good. It was a mistake. I did it and then spent the rest of the day feeling worse. I napped instead of going out to lunch with a friend and I wouldn’t let go of the internal argument of whether it would be better to rest and relax and recover or push hard through whatever it was that had a hold of me. Some strange, sneaky unwell feeling that didn’t have a definition.
When my daughter says she doesn’t feel good I ask “does your head hurt? Is it a stomach ache or cramps or do you feel nauseated? Do you have aches and pains you can point to or body parts you can name? Can you describe it as sharp or dull or throbbing?”.
What if the “ache” is a heavy heart or worried mind? What if you have anxiety of known or unknown origins? What if the sky is too big and it all just feels like too much or worse, that it doesn’t matter at all how you feel?
What if that girl you used to know finally died of the cancer that crept through time and sank it’s teeth in her bones, leaving behind two babies who will only ever remember their mom as a person fighting for her life for them. They won’t know the 20-something strawberry blonde, full of life, who hung out at Billy Frogs with you on Fridays after work, laughing at stupid things and drinking terrible cocktails and splitting nachos.
Or .. What if that other girl you barely know was raped and wrote a poem about it and posted it on Twitter? What if you wanted to hold her up and give her strength but you didn’t know what to say?
And what if that other girl you know really well because you have given birth to her is getting ready to fly away and the world she’s flying into is wrought with terrible things and terrible people and you can’t protect her from any of it?
You can’t stop time and you can’t keep bad things from happening and you sure as hell cant unmelt the polar ice caps or save all the creatures of this world from meeting their doom because human beings are incredibly selfish and sometimes only think about things like how their hair looks when they wake up in the morning.
You just can’t. But you might feel better if you write about it. So you do that, hoping that it will. “Hope is not a strategy”, but it will have to do today. Today on this thirty-first day of May.
Peace and Love,