Love, Loss, and What I Wore

When I was about 13, I spent the whole summer with my friend Jessie – roasting ourselves in the sun on a dock by the Columbia River, an open bag of Cool Ranch Doritos close by and a Rick Astley tape in her boom box. Heaven. I got sunburned over and over again and whenever it was really bad her mom would dig this yellow backless halter top out and put it on me and then slather my back with Noxema.

I haven’t talked to Jessie in years.

I still think about that halter top.

When I was five I had this pair of red strappy jelly shoes, with sparkles. God how I loved those shoes. You know how sometimes you have shoes so gorgeous that when you put them on you catch yourself not being able to stop just staring at your feet? My red jellies were my first shoes like that. They were sass, in a shoe. My best friend Jenny lived next door to me and her mom wouldn’t let me wear my jelly shoes in her house because rocks were always getting stuck in the jelly soles and I’d track them into their house. Jenny moved away and then we moved away and I haven’t heard anything about her since I heard from my mom that she got divorced.

“Things don’t always work out.”

In high school, my parents made me go on a college visit to Northwestern even though I really didn’t want to go there. I wore a black tank top, cut off jean shorts, black fishnet tights, black Doc Marten boots, and lots of eyeliner. I think my hair was in two buns. I didn’t really fit in with the rest of the visiting students, but I did look hot. I still have those boots in the back of my closet, even though I never wear them anymore. My mom bought them for me the first time that I got a B in Algebra. I had to work really fucking hard for that B.

I’ll always keep those boots.

My mom had this fair isle sweater, a wool one, from LL Bean, with holes in the elbows. I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Something about the holes in the elbows made it seem really authentic. Then my parents got divorced and I never saw it again.

I wonder if she threw it out when she moved away. I’d kill to have that sweater today.

The first time I ever lost a whole bunch of weight was when I was in high school and that fall my best friend Andrew and I went to homecoming together. It was my Junior year but it was the first school dance I’d ever been to. My stepdad and I went shopping together downtown and I got a long black dress with criss cross straps at the Jessica McClintock store. I fucking loved that dress. Everyone that saw me in it that night said “wow” and even on Monday people told me in class that I looked good. I probably weighed about ninety pounds that day.

It was the first time I’d ever felt beautiful.

When I started to lose weight again two years ago at first that dress was my goal dress but then I had to have a come to jesus with myself and tell myself that fitting into a shrine of anorexia, much less one from Jessica McClintock circa 1992, was no goal to have.

I threw it out.

In the 6th grade, my whole class went to Outdoor School, and we were away from home for a week. My mom packed for me and she packed one pair of jeans and two pairs of the same pants – pink corduroy with patch pockets and elastic waists. I wore the same pair of jeans every day for seven days.

A part of me has never forgiven my mom for those two pairs of pink pants.

For my fourteenth birthday my mom took me and all of my friends ice skating, at a rink in Portland, and I wore a drawstring tunic top and a pair of those tights with the lace on the bottom. And no other pants. Weird. But not as weird as the fact that my mom was wearing a button down blue oxford shirt and my friend Lillian came up to me later that and said “Your mom’s not wearing a bra.” Sounds like we were all making good fashion decisions that day.

Mr. E and I went on our honeymoon in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, in a little tiny town in the Dominican Republic. One of the people staying at our hotel was a girl with dark bronze skin, a perfect tiny body, long dark hair, and a bikini the color of a Dr. Pepper can. I’ve been looking for that bikini since the day I first saw it on the beach.

If anyone knows where I can get ahold of a dark cherry doctor pepper red bikini, let me know. I need to be wearing just the right thing when I tell my skinny assed sister laws to shut up about their fat stomachs in my body disparagement free zone.

Rewards

I just think it’s funny sometimes because at times I have so little motivation to lose these last ten or seven or six point five or fifteen pounds that I have to lose and so I often set up these little reward systems for myself like everyone else in weight loss ville does and I tell myself that when I get to my goal weight and I am finally done then I will go get some really really really REALLY expensive jeans but unfortunately part of that plan is flawed, and the part of the plan that is flawed is unfortunately really the main point of the plan because, hi, at no time in my life have I ever had a random extra two hundred or more dollars to spend on one freaking pair of jeans, reward or no reward, weight loss or no weight loss. Where is the free reward system? That’s the one I need to sign up for. Can’t reward yourself with food, can’t reward yourself with overpriced jeans, what the hell else is there? The whole time I was growing up (here’s a clue to my screwed up psyche) when I finished a math problem I got a chocolate chip. If I can’t have chocolate chips and I can’t have overpriced jeans then what the hell is there?

God, sometimes you just have to throw up your hands and write a run on sentence about it. I think I will just have to Offer Up this whole freaking suck ass week and be done with it.

In other news, I am unnaturally excited about X Men 3 coming out tomorrow. I’m not like an X Men nerd or anything. But it looks cool and also, I just gotta laugh at Hugh Jackman’s hair. Damn, it’s truly awesome how stupid his hair looks.

Clarification

I don’t think I’ve been really upfront, for some reason, about where I’m at with the whole weight loss thing right now, and so maybe that makes my last post kind of confusing.

So here it is.

I started out at around 180 pounds. A very unhealthy 180 pounds. I ate my dinner in front of the tv every night. I ate too much at every meal. I thought low fat triscuits were healthy even though I ate them a box at a time. I never exercised. I smoked. I bought fruit and vegetables all the time but I always just let them rot in my refrigerator. I ate out constantly and mashed potatoes were my favorite food and everything had sauce or ranch or cheese on it and I had to down Maalox and Zantac all the time because my stomach was constantly fucked up.

When I decided, finally, that I wanted to lose weight for real, I had to change my whole entire life, every part of it. I did it one day at a time, and I lost 60 pounds, and my life is a million times better now. I love that I’m a runner and I love how I eat now. I feel so much healthier. But I don’t feel better about myself.

So no, I’m not giving up running. I’m not giving up eating chicken breast and strawberries and watermelon and salad and fresh fruits and vegetables. I want to do that stuff MORE.

What I want to give up is feeling bad about myself because I’m not skinny enough. Although I try not to get into numbers here, I will tell you, because it makes more sense if you know, that right now I weigh 120 pounds (I’m 5’2”). I’m not fat anymore. But when I see pictures of myself or when I look in the mirror, I still see a fat person looking back at me. Especially when I am around people who intimidate me. The logical part of my brain knows that I’m not fat and that I will always be a short curvy girl and I’ll never look like a J. Crew model, but the crazy part of my brain, the part that I hear the loudest, tells me all the time that I really need to lose 5 more pounds and then I will look better. A lot of the time, I feel like I am still a little chunky at this weight – but if I lose ten pounds then I will be skinny. THAT’S what I would like to give up. I would like to give up feeling bad about myself because I’m not bony.

And I’m not posting this so people can tell me how awesome I am or that I don’t need to lose any more weight, that’s not my point. My point is that I tried to feel better about myself by changing the number on the scale and that hasn’t worked, so I’m wondering out loud if just losing more weight isn’t the answer. And then I thought that incontrovertible evidence like pictures and size 4 jeans were the answer, because I obviously can’t tell for myself when I look ok. But now I wear a size 4 and I still feel fat and when I see pictures of myself I don’t feel better, I actually feel worse.

I read something yesterday on a body acceptance web site that said that your ideal weight is not the one that society tells you that should be, it’s the one that you can maintain while you live a reasonable life. All I’m saying is that I agree. I want to live a reasonable life. One where I am a runner and I weigh 120 pounds and I eat healthy food I love, and one where when I look in the mirror, I like what I see.

Loser

I love nothing more than photographic evidence. I want to see the before pictures, the after pictures. I find random pictures of myself from two years ago, shoved in the back of desk drawers, and I think – wow, how could I not see that I was fat? How could I be in such denial? Or I come across pictures of me now on the digital camera, and when they flash up on the computer screen, I hold there, staring, intent, looking for proof. Thinking, ok, am I skinny now? Am I ok now?

I never know. I always need more incontrovertible proof. I need more pictures.

So they finally posted the pictures for the half marathon and of course I was so eager to see them. More evidence. Proof that I am not a fat, bloated loser.

The pictures are terrible. This has been verified by an independent witness. I’m not making this up in my deluded, body dysmorphic mind. The pictures are TERRIBLE. I look fat, bloated, puffy, red faced. Not at all like the ass kicking name taking runner I felt like that day.

But what if the pictures didn’t matter?

What if I said to myself…Who cares about these pictures? That’s not how you normally look, and they don’t change what you accomplished. They don’t make you fat, and they don’t make you thin. They don’t matter. Don’t let them change how you felt that day. What if I said, Self, you do kick ass, and you don’t give a shit about those crappy pictures!

Woah.

Think of all the other things I could stop caring about.

What if I stopped working on myself all the time? What if I said Who Cares to all this crap, and just let it be? What if I said, you know what? I’m going to feel shitty around my sister in laws this summer, and I’m never ever going to measure up to them, because I’m just not as pretty as they are, and I’m not as skinny as they are, and nothing I order from J Crew and nothing I don’t put in my mouth will ever change that fact. What if I just admitted that I am going to feel bad about myself around them, some of the time, because they are thinner than I am and they are prettier than I am, and I just…let it happen and moved on? What I gave myself permission to feel bad, and then I just…let it go? Instead of working on not feeling that way, what if just…gave up, and felt that way, and owned it, and moved on? And then I left and I took extra careful care of me for a few days, and then I didn’t feel that way anymore?

It’s liberating, this idea. To stop trying feel ok, when you’re probably going to end up feeling sort of bad, no matter what. To stop trying to win, to be the best, when you just aren’t. I mean, it’s someone else’s game and it’s a game I won’t win. Someone else made up the rules. I’m not the thinnest, I’m not the prettiest, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t change that. I am not the winner of this contest, but I’m not gonna let anyone, including myself, make me feel bad about it anymore.

I am tired of losing. So I think I might just admit defeat, and stop playing the game.

Princess Nebraska No More

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll always be a princess.

But we are finally, finally, finally, finally moving to California.

This day has been so long in the making, I’m not sure I really believe it yet. Kind of like when we first moved here, most of the time I didn’t even think about it, but I would have these random moments around town where I would think “Holy crap. I live in NEBRASKA.” Now in line in Target it just hits me and I think, to myself: ‘California.” And the other day I was shopping for shorts and I realized that instead of feeling like I need to spend 45 minutes in American Eagle to soak up some fake California vibe, soon I’ll just be there, soaking up the real thing.

Every day I get more and excited. There’s just so much I’m looking forward to. Ready and cheap access to fruit and vegetables, cheap and quick flights to Hawaii, a three hour drive from my best friend, the San Jose Rock and Rock Half Marathon in October. Sunny days.

Mostly, I just can’t believe that I’m finally going to be right where I feel right.

I’ve also been eating like there’s not a fat girl trapped inside me just waiting to get out and I am here to tell you that ends today. I gave away my Perkins banana nut muffin and I gave away the batch of oversized chocolate chunk muffins I made and I’m drinking tea and eating yogurt and I intend to leave this town on a high note, lighter than when I arrived.

Taking A Minute

I ran my second half marathon this weekend. I’m already looking for another one. I feel like an asshole for saying it but I am officially addicted to running. People always say this will happen eventually if you stick to running but I always thought they were full of shit. Nope. It has happened to me.

The run went really really well, although my time (2 hours and eight minutes) was exactly the same as my first half marathon time. Weird. I was bummed that I wasn’t faster, but I felt MUCH better both during and after this race. So even though I didn’t improve my time, I have obviously improved my conditioning. Next time I’ll work on my speed, and my confidence. Before this race I was terrified that I wasn’t going to be able to finish because I had to spend so much of the winter training on the treadmill, and so I didn’t have as much confidence in myself as I should have had going into it.

I should have started farther forward, in a faster pace group, because I spent the whole race trying to pass people who were running waaaay slower than I was, and I am NOT a fast runner. I think that really slowed me down, especially in the all the parts where there wasn’t enough room to pass and you just had to run slow.

More than anything, it was a ton of fun. I’d run another one next weekend, if I could! The only thing I really hated was the carb loading. It stressed me out to no end to have to eat things that I feared would make me gain weight.

My next goals are to lose my last ten pounds of fluff and become a lean mean running machine, to increase my hill and hot weather running stamina, and to run another half marathon in September. But more than anything I’d like to increase my confidence. I’d like to work on that little voice in my head that tells me I can’t do it, that I’m too slow, that I’ll probably look fat in my running pictures, that everyone else is faster than me, that I trained so much and it didn’t make any difference, that I get too nervous, that I’m not good enough. I want to turn that voice into a confident, loving, encouraging, proud of me voice, that tells me that I can do whatever I set my mind to.

I doubt myself so much. I’m always looking to the future, trying to improve, trying to get to perfect (even though I’m staring to suspect there’s no such thing). But I just ran 13.1 miles, and I am someone who two years ago couldn’t run for one minute. I remember running for five miles and being stunned at that number. I remember thinking I could never run ten miles. But then I did it and I moved on and those things seemed not as impressive, because well, if I’VE done them, then how hard can they really be?

The reality is that anyone can run ten miles, anyone can run a half marathon. But anyone didn’t. I DID. And I am going to take a minute to be proud.