Thursday, March 24, 2011
Someone like LaQuisha.
Someone who "appears" to have it all together, though I know for a fact that she doesn't.
Someone who seems always one step ahead of me.
One kind gesture.
(Damn, kind gestures)
I have this bad habit of migrating toward certain people's Facebook pages. I look at their pictures, what I imagine their life is like, and end up wishing mine were different.
My friend Sierra tells me, "It's not so bad to compare yourself to others, just compare yourself to the right people. I recommend people from high school who never grew up. Those are the people you should look up on Facebook!" She's wise.
We (and I mean "I") spend a lot of time comparing ourselves to the wrong people. Also, we tend to compare their best to our worst. True dat.
My friend Rachael called me today to say she had just finished my book.
She called to say she was proud of me.
She called to ask how I was doing.
She called to laugh.
She called to tell stories.
After we talked for 40 minutes, I felt like I had spent 37 of those minutes smiling/laughing so much my face hurt. It reminded me of a greeting card I sent her a few weeks ago. There's a few sheep on the cover. One of them has a bow tie around it's neck and it reads: "No one here thinks I'm funny."
I think Rachael may very well be the funniest person I've ever met.
Rachael thinks I'm the funniest person she's ever met.
It's a good thing we're friends.
Good people like Rachael remind me that I don't need to be someone else. Because if I were someone else, who would be the funniest person in Rachael's life?
No, I need to be me. If anything, so I can hear her cackle so freely and then catch her breath as she smiles on the other end of the telephone.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
But just enough that in a month or so we--most Americans--will all be over it.
The day of, I glanced through these pictures and began reading the comments at the end. Everyone sounded shaken. Desperate. Rocked. Their methods of expressing that were all so different:
"If I pray for the Japanese people will God be mad because I go against his wish (tsumami)?"
"I send my condolences to Japan. But am I crazy for thinking it's crazy that all of these people are sending prayers to Japan, when after all, it was their Christian God who leveled it in the first place???"
"Forget about the praying. This is nature and this is how it is. The Japanese know this and that's why it is such a great and wealthy country. Because the Japanese don't raise their arms to heaven and complain to the Lord; they immediately take a shuffle in the hand and clean up the mess and start over again. That's the Japanese spirit."
"After something like this happens, people are praying? I'm sorry, but that seems backwards to me."
"This is like Armageddon will be when God destroys all the wicked & churches that are not teaching about Gods government the, Kingdom of God, we all pray to come. Thy Kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus cleaned out the heavens & now we pray for him to do the same on the earth. Amen."
"Really? proselytizing at a time like this? Tacky."
"God doesn't save people...strict building codes do."
"God Bless you all.... United States of America.. Mother Earth is very angry at us all. Massive and widespread catastrophes such as this will be worse and worse now until 2013. Is this the end??"
"They get it by fishing for sharks, for all marine exploitation and pollution that trigger these failures giant bunch of people ... this is called karma of nature..."
"The Japanese people are predominantly Buddhist, Shintoist, or both. Why would you pray to Jesus to help non-believers? Why would you not think this is their just deserts for denying god? The evidence of his concern for non-believers is everywhere. Every time he allows an African child to be raped and murdered, or a newborn girl in China to to be thrown into a river, His concern for the non-elect is made clear. He has none. Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." You should expect no help from Jesus in Japan, but don't worry, there's no evidence that Jesus has done anything for anyone for about 2000 years, so don't take it personally. Any positive effect a Christian attributes to his or her faith is simply the result of self-hypnosis. Good people will flood to your aid and rebuild your country. Some will believe in god. Some won't. It has nothing to do with it."
"So obviously you must believe in God if you are blaming Him. But your anger is sadly misplaced. This happened because of the earth's Pacific Rim shifting, not from a vengeful God. Since He is a loving God He has watch over many. We should continue to ask His protection & care over those affected. Please reevaluate your anger- it robs you of a cherished relationship."
"May be now the Japanese will stop killing Whales. I'm having Sushi tonight and praying for Japan with each bite."
"This is geology not theology."
It's people like this, people who comment on on-line photographs and YouTube videos and anything else, who regularly make me wonder: why.
What exactly are these people trying to accomplish by duking it out on-line?
Who do they really think they are going to reach/convince by starting cat fights here?
If I've learned anything from on-line commenters, it is this: Using a bunch of exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????!!!!!!!! to emphasize a point, actually de-emphasizes whatever you just said and makes you look foolish. And thirteen.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
"You want me to rub your legs so you aren't as sore tomorrow?" he asked.
Awkward silence. "Ummm, well...that would probably feel great. Yeah, it would be good if I rubbed my legs so I don't cramps or anything."
He looks at me with that look, like: I know you're avoiding something. He replies, "So you're going to rub your legs? That's good."
"Yeah, maybe. I just...I just think there's a difference between you rubbing, say, my shoulders. And rubbing my legs. You know?" I trip over my own words trying to avoid the topic entirely. "This is weird. I'm weird."
He assures me, "You don't have to explain."
"No, I kinda feel like I do. I...um...there are certain parts of my body that I would feel more or less comfortable with you touching. Or seeing. Or acknowledging." Pause. "Do you know what I'm trying to say?"
So went the conversation, which resembles plenty of other conversations we've had, that always end this way: I can spend the rest of my life comparing my thighs to models with entourages of personal trainers and digital photo editors, or I can be satisfied with what I've got.
I long for satisfaction.
People have looked upon the very legs I criticize and thought, If only I had her legs...
I know this because I've done this, too. I've vocalized a compliment to a women whom I envy, only to hear her say say, in utter disbelief: "You must be confused! My body? My ass has more craters than the moon."
It seems we're all just apart of this vicious cycle, where we all want what everyone else has, but never believe the compliments we do receive and are never satisfied with what we have. It's a sick cycle.
Tonight, Jeremy and I played a board game with a couple-friend of ours who are recently married. When I first met the lady-half of this duo, I'll admit, I suspected she had an eating disorder solely because she's so thin. My assumptions took flight until I realized: nope, she's just naturally a size zero and quite skinny. She's probably the thinnest adult-woman I've ever met. Yet, she's healthy. And that's just what her genes dished out.
As we played games, it was Jeremy's turn and he went to draw cards. I watched as her husband put his hand on her thigh. She quickly removed it and said under her breath with a disappointed face, "They're flabby."
My jaw nearly hit the table. Let me repeat: This is the thinnest adult-woman I've ever met. Yet...
This is an "ah-ha" moment. The ding, ding, ding resonates in my ears. The Universe is trying desperately to teach me something and I can either acknowledge it or reject it: Our personal satisfaction has nothing to do with size of our thighs, or the amount of our paycheck (you fill in the blank), and everything to do with the amount of self-acceptance we grant ourselves.
Yesterday, my friend told me that recently, she was standing naked in front of the mirror, and realized, "Hey, I'm not too bad. I think somebody could love me." She recollected the story with pride and a smile on her face, as if she just found out there's no such thing as Santa Claus.
That lie, that overwhelming falsity, has been overturned, kicked out, sent packing. I am so proud of her and told her that it's true: she isn't bad and people do love her. I know she'll fluctuate back and forth between love and loathing, she's human. But these moments are important. The moments when truth reigns and light shines.
I wish I wasn't that girl.
The girl who thinks way too much about how she compares.
The girl who avoids letting her boyfriend touch her legs for fear that he might realize she's not super-model material.
The girl who vacillates wildly--depending on the day--between: "I love you, self" and "I hate you, it."
For what it's worth, my thighs are still freaking sore. I kicked my own butt. These legs--whether they resemble tree trunks, pudding, cottage cheese, Swiss cheese, or any other kind of cheese--are mine.
These legs learned to walk.
These legs played hop scotch.
These legs have hiked mountains.
These legs enable me to dance and play.
These legs play pony with my little cousins.
These legs run fast breaks on the basketball court.
These legs carried me to and from Cambodia, safely.
These legs run endless miles training for a half-marathon.
These legs hold me up and give me mobility and strength and agility and grace.
The beauty of running on a treadmill at the YMCA is multi-tasking. Doing so has caused my weekly TV watching to increase by 100%. Since coming to college, watching TV just doesn't often make it into my schedule. But if I can run AND learn, all the better.
Now not ALL TV helps me learn or be better informed, in fact this morning, I spent WAY too much time lusting over the AB Rocket (which will definitely change my abs and my life!), the AB Roller (same effect), Cindy Crawford's new beauty line called "Meaningful Beauty" with some new, wonderful ingredient that will probably make me look JUST like her, and lastly, Sensa, this shakeable powder stuff that goes on all of your food and "magically melts" away the pounds.
There are good things on TV. Like last week, I spent an hour on the History channel learning about eggs. Yeah, that's right. Like from chickens. It was fascinating.
Oprah's new OWN network also has some interesting shows I've been checking out. One of my favorites is "What Would You Do?" which pays actors to set up ethically challenging encounters in public to see what people will do. The whole thing is recorded and some people are questioned about the decisions they made or didn't make.
Such as this scenario, public hazing. Watch it here.
This portion was already intriguing, then they turned the tables and saw what would happen if the same thing was happening to women.
I was shocked. I was SURE that people would help the women the same if not MORE than they helped the men. I was wrong. I was shocked that the men sat and watched the show with a grin on their faces. I was shocked that women didn't step up to help these girls.
The conversation at 2:50 goes something like this:
One man says, "It was entertaining."
Nobody said that when the guys were being hazed.
"Was there a bit of sexism involved here do you think?"
"Definitely. 'Girls Gone Wild' sorority style."
One "hazed" girl concludes: "You kinda hope for the knight in shining armor, but there were no knights and certainly no shining armor."
Public conversations such as this make me more keenly aware of just how much I talk about this subject: the situation of women. I can't seem to get away from it and I don't want to either. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a movie that no one else has seen or they flat-out do not want to see. I spend a lot of time talking about the movie and convincing people that they MUST see it. But often they don't. It's not their problem. Well then, who's problem is it? Are we only concerned if it's our daughters or our friends?
It's easier after all to pretend like atrocities such as physical and emotional abuse, female genital cutting, sexual slavery, date rape, gang rape, incest, molestation, child abuse, eating disorders, and inequality just aren't happening.
But no matter how much we say it or want to believe. These things are happening. Every day. Period.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Revisiting my book for an hour each week has been insightful. Every week I get to sit down in a sound-proof booth, put on headphones, take a few deep breaths, and just read. I get to slow down. I get to stop long enough to take a time-out and enter another world.
Sometimes I mispronounce my own words, stumble, and have to start over.
Sometimes I read a sentence and realize: I didn't write that, the publisher snuck it in!
Sometimes I finish a chapter, shake my head, and think, Oh, girl! Take a few deep breaths. Sometimes she annoys me and sometimes I wish she wasn't me.
Today I read chapter 33, entitled, "Chinese New Year."
This chapter reflects on a song I had written the year before about pain. I had re-read the lyrics and was feeling stagnant. It reads: "I wish I could report improvement, but I don't feel it. The words were true to me then; they still are. So after a year has passed, why don't I feel better? I'm still fighting the same demons every day. I have been living with this eating disorder for nearly two years. Amidst different opinions on the topic, some say I'll never fully recover."
Most of the time when I read my book, I look at that girl with pity and am so glad to be somewhere better. Today when I read my book, I recognized her all too well.
Lately, I've felt slippage. I've felt overwhelmed with ED behaviors sneaking back into my life. I've been scared. I've been afraid to be left alone with myself in a room for fear of what I might do. Reading this chapter today reminded me: I've been here before. In fact, I've been here several times before.
The girl who wrote that chapter was two years into an eating disorder.
The girl who read that chapter today is now approaching five years.
The girl who wrote the chapter was frustrated that she wasn't "fixed" already.
The girl who read that chapter today knows that healing comes slowly. In baby steps.
The girl who wrote that chapter felt hopeless and pessimistic.
The girl who read that chapter today took the cue from the girl who wrote it, and decided, yes, decided, that history need not repeat itself.
It need not, but it could.
Our fate, I do believe, is not formed by chance or fairy godmothers. Our fate is determined. By choices. Day-by-day. Week-by-week. We are living, breathing products of our decisions. Of our beliefs.
"Will I apologize? Or save face and pretend I wasn't wrong?"
"Will I ask for help? Or preserve pride and suffer?"
"Will I continue tearing myself apart with this addiction? Or will I consciously choose another path?"
An Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
1. I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
2. I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it. I fall in. I can't believe I'm in the same place, but it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
3. I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there. I still fall in. It's a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.
4. I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
5. I walk down a different street.
Does anyone else watch this and feel sad?
Does anyone else see this and think we've got serious problems when women are starving themselves thin only to walk up and down a runway in shoes that hold no function other than breaking ankles?
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
"Although the very notion that hatred leads to love and that torture leads to relaxation is absolutely insane, we hypnotize ourselves into believing that the end justifies the means. We treat ourselves and the rest of the world as if deprivation, punishment, and shame lead to change. We treat our bodies as if they are the enemy and the only acceptable outcome is annihilation. Our deeply ingrained belief is that hatred and torture work. And although I've never met anyone--not one person--for whom warring with their bodies led to long-lasting change, we continue to believe that with a little more self-disgust, we'll prevail."
-From Women Food and God by Geneen Roth
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
If my room is a mess, there's a good chance that my life is too. My room has spent most of this semester in shambles. The last few weeks have been rough. My head's spinning: What's wrong? What's happening? Why can't I manage this like I did last semester? What's wrong with me? How can I fix this and make it all go away? I've spent a lot of time somewhere else, wishing I were someone else. I haven't been present much.
Like last night, without warning, without planning, I ate everything in the kitchen that my body dislikes: peanuts, wheat/gluten, and milk. I had blood tests done six months ago that confirmed slight allergies and intolerances to these foods and was advised to avoid them because my body doesn't like them. I've been avoiding them, not because I "should" but because I wanted to. But last night, all I wanted was cheese. And cookies. And peanut butter. And bread. And ice cream.
I know after five years with an eating disorder, I don't really want cookies. What I want is fullness. To feel complete. To feel whole. To feel satisfied. To feel like I am okay. Balanced. Peaceful.
To attempt to fill my emotional bank, I'm using food. That's like putting ice cream in your gas tank. It's just not going to work. It's the wrong kind of fuel. Yet, I try. And try. And try. Because part of me wants to believe that reducing stress, feeling good enough, beautiful, and whole can be accomplished with ice cream. It's so much easier than meditating, learning to accept myself, and taking deep breaths.
Starting over is downright hard.
I called my friend, Sierra, and told her I was not going to stop at Taco Bell on my way home and order everything that had cheese in it.
I called my friend, Rachael, and chatted and asked for prayers.
I texted Jeremy, and told him I was not going to throw up.
When Ashley asked, "How are you?" I answered her truthfully.
I put on a skirt today, because wearing sweats would only have encouraged my, "I'm a slob" inner-dialogue.
I'm writing a blog about my "dirt", because I firmly believe that silence is pain's best friend. Shame can overtake me if I let it. So instead, I choose to share those personal demons that feel huge and hairy, because they look much less intimidating in the light of day. I've gained nothing--not one thing--from pretending I'm a super human without struggles. I'm just not. No one is.
My room and my mind need some serious cleaning.
It may take weeks or months for this moment--this clutter--to be manageable. To find peace again. The end goal isn't a clean room or a stable mind, the goal is acceptance amidst the garbage. The goal is that I will be able to accept this moment, whatever it is and stay standing.
"Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amidst the storm." -Unknown
Saturday, March 5, 2011
This post is direct from the Spectrum Blog. It made me smile. Bwah ha ha!
The Top Ten Reasons Why Men Should Not Be Ordained
This bit of thoughtful humor comes from The MENNONITE REPORTER, "Fly on the newsprint" by Ivan Emke (with acknowledgement for inspiration to Rosemary Radford Ruether.
1. Their physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as picking turnips or de-horning cattle. It would indeed be "unnatural" for them to do other forms of work. How can we argue with the intended order that is instituted and enforced by nature?
2. For men who have children, their duties as ministers might detract from their responsibilities as parents. Instead of teaching their children important life skills like how to make a wiener-roasting stick, they would be off at some committee meeting or preparing a sermon. Thus these unfortunate children of ordained men would almost certainly receive less attention from their male parent. Some couples might even go so far as to put their children into secular daycare centres to permit the man to fulfil his duties as a minister.
3. According to the Genesis account, men were created before women, presumably as a prototype. It is thus obvious that men represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.
4. Men are overly prone to violence. They are responsible for the vast majority of crime in our country, especially violent crime. Thus they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.
5. In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. Thus his lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinate position that all men should take. The story also illustrates the natural tendency of all men to be either unwilling or unable to take a stand. From the Garden of Gethsemane to football locker rooms, men still have this habit of buckling under the weight of the lowest common denominator. It is expected that even ordained men would still embarrass themselves with their natural tendency toward a pack mentality.
6. Jesus didn't ordain men. He didn't ordain any women either, but two wrongs don't make a right.
7. If men got ordained, then they wouldn't be satisfied with that; they'd want more and more power. Next thing most of the Conference leaders would be men and then where would we be? No. The line must be drawn clearly now before it's too late.
8. Many, if not most, men who seek to be ordained have been influenced by the radical "men's movement" (or "masculist movement"). How can they be good leaders if their loyalties are divided between leading a church and championing the masculist drive for men's rights? The tract writers haven't pronounced on it yet, but the masculist movement is probably profoundly un-Christian.
9. To be an ordained pastor is to nurture and strengthen a whole congregation. But these are not traditional male roles. Rather, throughout the history of Christianity, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it. Women, the myth goes, are fulfilled and completed only by their service to others. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination. But if men try to fit into this nurturing role, our young people might grow up with Role Confusion Syndrome, which could lead to such terrible traumas as the Questioning Tradition Syndrome.
10. Men can still be involved in Church activities, without having to be ordained. They can still take up the offering, shovel the sidewalk, and maybe even lead the singing on Fathers' Day. In other words, by confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the Church. Why should they feel left out?
Here are the seven questions that I asked in my survey of forty women:
1. When do you feel the most beautiful? Is it something you do or someone else?
2. What is the most extreme/silly/ridiculous thing you've done/bought/tried to attain beauty?
3. In your opinion, how important is it for you to look/feel attractive to your significant other? And, why is this important?
4. What does feeling unattractive or fat or ugly look like? Feel like? When does it happen and why?
5. Do you ever struggle with comparing yourself to other women? If so, how and why do you/we do this?
6. The "men are visual" mantra gets preached and sometimes pressures women into working hard at keeping their man interested and excuses promiscuity. How do you balance this with your other qualities and not let "being pretty" be your main goal?
7. Essentially, I want to know: How do you honor your beauty without letting it define who you are?
Here are some statistics:
A new study found that the average woman spends the equivalent of five days in front of the mirror each year. The survey of 1,000 females also found that in total women use enough lipstick each day to draw a line from London to New York, along with 880 gallons of foundation and more than 16 million sweeps of a mascara wand.
Forty percent of women reportedly claimed that they wouldn't leave the house without makeup, while nineteen percent would spend less on food rather than cut down on beauty products. And one in four women reportedly consider makeup an essential, not a luxury, while fifty-three percent of women said that the recession had not affected their beauty buying habits. According to the study, women splash out an average of $1,034.47 per year on beauty products, totaling more than $68,055.37 in a lifetime.
The average woman will spend 8 years of her life shopping.
A recent survey that looked at the dietary and lifestyle habits of 4,000 women, found that the typical woman will go on roughly two diets every year, with each diet lasting an average of five weeks, which adds up to 104 diets between the ages of 18 and 70 and a whopping total of roughly ten years spent dieting.
Over a lifetime, may women will spend 58.4 days removing unwanted body hair.
Dove conducted a worldwide survey that found only 2% of the world’s women describe themselves as “beautiful.”
What if the same women were asked, “What percentage of women in your life would you describe as ‘beautiful’?” That number would be much higher, like 80-90%. We often believe better of others than we do about ourselves. We also usually see others more clearly. The other 98% of women who do not think they are beautiful are being called beautiful by someone else.
For more links to some of these studies and others, check out the YWCA’s resource for “The Consequences of America’s Beauty Industry on Women & Girls.”
We have a beauty distortion epidemic on our hands. We’ve all been frustrated with the current status of “society,” “culture,” and “the media.” These are all abstract, ominous titles without a face. Who is “society”? Who is the dreaded “media”? I may never meet the people responsible for spreading garbage that becomes main stream, but I do know one thing, I can only control myself. I am part of society. So while it may feel small, my decisions can end up creating what we call “culture”.
Author G.K. Chesterton was once asked by The Times to contribute an essay answering this question: “What’s wrong with the world today?” He answered in two words: “I am.”
If I continue blaming the situation on “the media,” then I never have to take the blame. Gandhi had it right all along, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
I wish to see more women calling themselves “beautiful,” because they are. So when people pay me compliments, I will not argue with them. I will say, “Thank you,” then I will believe them.
I wish to see women spending less money on beauty hoaxes and cheap thrills that will never: “Eliminate 10 pounds in 10 days!” or “Decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles instantly!” So I will stop buying them. I will challenge the belief that I need these things to feel beautiful. Because I don’t. I already am.
I wish to see greater acceptance for women of all sizes. We don’t spend years trying desperately to change our shoe size, why the infatuation with the number on the back of our jeans? So I will resist the urge to join the conversation when women start bashing their bodies.
I wish to see less unhealthy infatuation with the number on the scale. That number tells me nothing about my actual “health” and what I’m really looking for the scale to tell me is if I’ve been “good” or “bad.” Cancer doesn’t weigh more. Diabetes doesn’t either. Olympic athletes hover high above their “healthy” BMI because muscle weighs more than fat. So I will continue to avoid the scale to save my health.
I wish to see women who recognize that men are not animals. Men can control themselves. Women are not to blame for a man who abuses her. Women are not created to be merely entertainment or eye candy. So I will not pretend as if men don’t have choices and emotions just like I do.
I wish to see women who honor their beauty without letting it define who they are. So I will appreciate what I like about my appearance, and I will appreciate what I like about my spirit, knowing that these are both wonderful traits that make me: me.
Thanks to all the women who let me pick their brains on a somewhat sensitive topic.
Your courage inspires me and propels me forward.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
I just know it is.
Why am I so sure?
Because everything always turns out all right.
Now I'm only speaking for myself. That doesn't mean that life is peachy and always hands out rainbows and cupcakes, but when I look at my own situations:
when he died and we thought we'd never be able to cope we did
when that teacher or that test threatened by sanity, I passed or at least finished the class
when that girl hurt me so badly, I wanted to scream, well, she has no power over me now
when that boy took my heart and stomped on it, I kept breathing
when that car hit me in traffic, all worked out in the end
when that awkward conversation felt like it would never end, it did
when that eating disorder threatened to end my life, it didn't
"You are stronger than you think," hangs in my room as a regular reminder.
You may find it to be true that . . .
when that (pick your struggle):
threatened your (pick your victim):
and you swore you just couldn't take it any more: you did.
And you will. And we do.
We take one deep breath.
And then another.
And then another.
And then another.
Until we realize that no, this will not be the end of us.
And it never will be.
This gives me hope that in overwhelming situations where I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, or the silver lining, there is one. Why? Because there always is.
This too shall pass.
You are stronger than you think.