Being Ourselves

Years ago, someone referred to my mother as eccentric, and I didn’t like it. I knew she’d hate the comment. Was she eccentric – I don’t really know. She was my mom.

However, it occurs that, regardless of my late mother’s status, I am pretty eccentric, myself. I just caught a glimpse of myself at work, with my hair sticking straight up and my clothes covered in cat hair. No matter how many lint brushes I use, I am ALWAYS covered in Rebecca’s long white hairs.

So, a 53 year old cat lady who lives alone, in an apartment over her brother’s garage…You get the picture.

All my life, I’ve been so tough on myself – why couldn’t I be normal? prettier? happier? thinner? nicer? more successful? And why on earth couldn’t I be more like everyone else?

I thoroughly convinced myself that, quite simply, I sucked.

I tried not to ‘suck’. I pretended. But it was (literally) like trying to fit a size 18 into very skinny size 2 jeans. It just didn’t work and it just didn’t fit.

I have made a commitment to myself to let myself be myself and to just let myself be. I am who I am, cat-covered clothes and all.

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Eating When Not Hungry

As part of keeping a clean relationship with food, I try my best only to eat when I’m actually hungry. Almost always, that’s possible.

I’m sure this can be a little off-putting. Friends will ask if I want to grab a bite to eat, and I’ll say I’ll have coffee, but that’s it. Because I’m not hungry. Happens often enough. If anyone’s bothered, I figure that’s their problem – who cares what I eat? Or don’t. I’m there for the friendship.

However, dating is a whole different issue. You don’t want the guy to think you’re a weirdo, right off the bat. So, this morning, for the first time in years and years and years, I ate breakfast.

I don’t eat breakfast, because I never wake up hungry. I hate the morning, drink too much coffee and grunt until about noon. I’m ever in the mood for food until at least 11 am and even later on the weekends.

But this morning, a new friend met me at the DMV at 7;30 am to renew or licenses. And then of course, he wanted breakfast.

Grunt. I can’t tell you how many days I spent wondering if I could just get coffee without making a scene. And for a few days, that was my plan. I even considered (okay, I know I’m not completely well) telling him that I had a stomach ache, so I’d only have to get tea. (Not my beloved coffee, since I’d allegedly have a bad belly.)

But, after meeting him this morning, I changed my mind. We laughed our way through the DMV (a mob scene first thing on a Saturday morning), and it was actually fun.

When we got to the diner, I really and truly didn’t want him to think I was a weirdo, uptight and difficult, And so, I ordered and ate food.

Turned out fine. I won’t continue eating when I’m not hungry – not good for my head. But it’s good to know I can do it uneventfully.

Addendum: If you do think that my approach to eating is weird and restrictive and still disordered in some way, know how very, very sick I was. My current habits keep me happy and healthy and properly nourished.

Food and the Funeral

My friend’s funeral was the saddest thing I have ever attended. Weeping loved ones packed the church. Even the minister could barely keep it together.

Her parents spoke of her beautifully. All hearts broke for her father, remembering his beloved youngest child.

Her mother lovingly described my friend as a baby, a child, a teenager and a devoted young mother. Gulp.

Her mom also joked about her daughter’s famously picky eating habits – how as a teen she’d only eat Caesar salad, deviled eggs and pumpkin pie.

After the service, we adjourned for refreshments, where they indeed served Caesar Salad, deviled eggs and pumpkin pie, in honor of of my dear friend and her quirky palette.

I thought to myself, when I die, what if they served the only things I ate during my picky (anorexic) teenaged years? My poor guests would get diet coke, black coffee and a salad, with dressing on the side!!!!

Good grief!

I

A Funeral and My Hair

After years of bright sunny highlights, I dyed my hair red last Wednesday and don’t really like it. When I look it the mirror, I look darker, drearier, older and definitely less sexy.

I’ve allowed this to ‘color’ my life (I know, it’s ridiculous). Last night, I was out with a nice guy and my friend, Jen, who is younger, prettier and has better hair than I. And yes, I pouted jealously each time he directed a comment to her.

Jen is also sweet, funny, brainy and cheery – always a delight. Hmmm, why did he prefer her to the pouty, pissy, cranky, envious redhead?!!! Clearly, it was about the hair……….

Today, I’m going to the funeral of a young mother who died with everything to live for – a beautiful daughter, a wonderful partner and a fulfilling career that was just taking off.

I’ve already had 24 more years than she will ever have on this earth. How dare I waste one more minute worrying about my hair color, which – of course- can be changed back at any time?!!!

My friend at work is a woman of deep and certain faith. When someone dies, she tells us not to be sad. That its a joyful time – the dead are absolutely in a better place – at home with God.

She and I often hold different beliefs. This time, I’d like to think she’s right.

Skinny and Sick

As a kid, I loved magazines, television and music. I wanted to look like every model and actress and rock star, particularly the really, really skinny ones.

I envied women like Susan Dey (Laurie Partridge), Pamela Sue Martin (Nancy Drew) and Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac. If only I had their lithe bodies, I knew I’d be happy.

Come to find out, years later, that they either suffered from anorexia or cocaine abuse or both. What I thought was natural and aspirational was actually serious illness.

I thought of this a couple of weeks back when I had the flu and tonsilitis. I couldn’t eat because it hurt too much to swallow. Whatever I could get down, got thrown up anyway because of the flu.

After a week of this, I’d definitely lost weight and slipped into pants that hadn’t been fitting. Of course, there were compliments – “wow, you look great.”

It’s all from sickness – the weight loss AND the thinking.

Would I have Become Anorexic if..?

Why does someone become anorexic, I’m not sure – there are various schools of thought. However, I wonder if I would have become anorexic (and later bulimic) if it were okay to be fat?

I know for sure that I was born a compulsive eater. I over-ate from the day I arrived. Once I put food in me, I wanted MORE. Eating became my answer to everything – fear, sadness, loneliness, anger, confusion….. It didn’t matter – I ate. Compulsively.

As a kid, I grew quickly and tall. Each time I’d get chubby, I’d spring up several inches and look somewhat slim again. Until I stopped growing. And life got really sucky and I ate even more. I got fat.

I became the fat awkward kid who got teased at school. No boys wanted to date me, and boy did I want to date boys. My family, so focused on appearance, wanted me thin. My family also wanted me to be happy and believed a woman, in our society, can’t be fat and happy and truly accepted

But what if fat hadn’t been bad? What if I was excepted at school, asked out on dates, and encouraged at home? Would I have stopped eating and gotten so sick?

We’ll never know, because I hated being teased, wanted to date and was told to diet at home.

Of course, once I stopped eating and started losing, the compliments stormed down upon me. What if they hadn’t? What if no one had cared either way? Would I have still believed it was absolutely paramount to get and to stay so thin, no matter the consequences?

Again, we’ll never know. But I do wonder

Naturally Skinny

Once again, at my fabulous friend, Karen’s. Her nephew and her cousin share one thing in common – they’re naturally skinny and try very hard to gain or at least maintain their weights.

Karen’s nephew specifically eats a lot of fattening food, even when he’d rather have vegetables. Otherwise, he gets super thin and everyone bugs him to try to gain weight. It really bums him out, and he wished everyone who leave him alone and stop commenting on his weight.

I’m sorry – I’m sorry, I’m really, really, really trying. Really.

After years of practically (seriously) killing myself to be skinny, it’s so hard to have any compassion.

I’ll work on it.