she picked them for me
but I’ve yelled so much lately
I don’t deserve them
Lucy has been vocalizing a lot the past few days. And this morning, she said something that sounded a whole lot like, “Ma.” I grabbed my camera and tried to make that happen again. No dice. But! I did get a few beautiful baby smiles on video.
I used to have panic attacks.
They started during my junior year in high school and went on for nearly a year. Two or three times a week, about an hour after I’d fall asleep, I’d wake up gasping for air. My chest would hurt and I’d feel dizzy. Once, I even lost consciousness and ended up in the hospital! I still don’t understand why they happened. At the time, my doctor seemed to think it had something to do with stress. So, he helped me devise a relaxation routine that included music, stretching and guided imagery meditation.
I always started my relaxation routine with a song I loved: Book Of Days by Enya. It was the same song I listened to when I went running.
Yes, I used to run.
“Really?” ask the skinny people choking back laughter.
“Yeah, like when you were 8 and they made you run laps in gym class.”
Um, no. I was 16 and vain and trying to attract boys!
Anyhow. I hadn’t listened to that song in a long, long time. Years, even. Then, I came across the CD last week. I transferred it to my iPod and a few nights later, after everyone else was alseep, I gave it a listen. You know, for old time’s sake.
It was amazing. Within fifteen seconds, my body began to relax. From my feet up to my face, I started to feel all warm and liquid. I closed my eyes and for the next two minutes, I almost believed that if I opened them up, I’d find myself in my old room. I relished the sensation. But when the song ended, so did the feeling. I was back on earth.
The next day, as Julia played and I sat stranded on the couch breastfeeding Lucy, I flipped on What Not To Wear. I’ve caught bits and pieces of a lot of those kind of shows – What Not To Wear, Clean House, Ten Years Younger – while breastfeeding Lucy, because they’re one of the few grown-up shows I can watch without fear of Julia walking in and seeing something inappropriate. Like Mankini.
The woman on the show was talking about some horrible thing she’d gone through and how she’d been hiding out in her body, under unattractive clothes, as a result. And I thought about all the people I’ve watched lately, coming to terms with their bad habits and baggage and how they all answered the question, “How did you get to this point?”
And then I looked down at the fat bubbling up over my pants and asked, “How did I get to this point?”
I thought about the 16 year old me that I’d glimpsed the night before – the girl who was having panic attacks. Over what? My hair and make-up and whether or not I was skinny enough to wear that strapless dress to the homecoming dance. In all fairness, there was more going on than that, but the thought that I was having stress-induced panic attacks then is laughable, because two years later, we learned that my dad was sick and I learned what stress really was.
It was fattening.
When my dad got sick, it was sort of horrific and sudden, so much so that my mom developed post-traumatic stress disorder. I drank my way through college, as you do, and graduated fifty pounds heaver.
Less than a year later, my friend died. I gained twenty more pounds.
Six years after that, my failing marriage finally succeeded in failing and by then I’d gained so much weight, I’d quit counting the pounds. I wouldn’t even get on a scale. In fact, I hadn’t really looked at myself in a mirror in two years.
Now, when I look in the mirror, I can’t help but feel as if I’m wearing my past. My father’s illness, my divorce – they hang on me, literally weighing me down.
I’d always assumed the weight would come off when I reached that “acceptance” stage of grief and got my certificate of completion. Not that I thought that I would wake up one day and, like magic, the extra pounds would be gone. (Athough, that’d be nice considering, in my mind, that’s how I put it all on. I just woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and called my mom, “Hey, did you know I was fat? Yeah? For how long? Because I just now noticed.”) I did, however, think that one day I’d wake up with the will to make them disappear. But that day hasn’t come yet.
I’ve been spending a lot of time, lately, wondering why.
That is all.