While I’m taking some time away from blogging (ie. spending my days at the library & swimming with my kids), I’ve asked some of my most awesome friends, & blogger friends to step in & guest post.
I am so excited for you to meet some pretty spectacular people!
Everyone in this series is someone I either know personally &/or have developed an online relationship with over the years.
Today’s post is from a friend from my college days–Deja.
Deja is a poet. I mean, a real life, published poet. As in, being a poet is her career.
(How cool is that?!)
Deja & I met over a decade ago in college.
We went on a creative writing & hiking tour to England. I was surrounded by some brilliant & gifted writers, Deja being one of them. There I was, feeling like a total poser (I am not a poet, coupled with the fact that I was very self-conscious about my writing skills), but I totally connected with these people & still stay in touch with many of them.
The thing I love about Deja’s writing is that because she’s a poet, she has a way of creating vivid & interesting images. This lends itself to multi-layered writing that is fun & interesting to read while at the same time thought provoking without being cliche.
Not only that, so much of what she writes about (family life, relationships, being a woman, & all that those things entail), are issues to which I can absolutely relate.
Like any gifted writer, she puts words together in a way that distills often hard to understand feelings, mixed emotions, & difficult experiences. Her words will make you feel more alive, more in tune to what really matters.
Today Deja shares thoughts & insights about how body hatred is not only boring, but gets in the way of being fully present. Excellent body acceptance tips at their finest.
(And really, who hasn’t experienced that fat fat, fatfatfat inner dialogue at some point or another?)
Take it away Deja.
My husband Sam and I took our five-month-old baby, Henrietta, to the Boston Museum of Fine Art.
In a new exhibit in which everything was blue and white, we took Henrietta out of her stroller and I snapped pictures of Sam showing her the art, which she seemed to enjoy, though I’m sure we interpreted her most meaningless coos as that enjoyment.
In a particularly lovely part of the exhibit, after I’d taken a few pictures of Sam with the baby, I asked if he’d take some of the baby with me. I held her up, put my face against her soft cheek, and smiled.
Sam took our picture, over and over again he took our picture, the whole time saying how beautiful both of us were, as if we were supermodels. I stepped toward him to take a look at the pictures, and he was proud to show me, and my day was ruined.
I looked fat.
No, I looked enormously fat.
I had thought I was wearing my slimming knit black dress, the one I wash and immediately wear again. But no, there I was, my hips the size of lumpy beach balls.
We kept walking around in the exhibit, and Sam was in this near-deliriously joyful state, a state I had shared before I saw the pictures of me.
We kept walking, and I kept half-participating in conversation, but inside I was playing pinball in a minefield. I was nearly dizzy, the negative spiral was so powerful.
Internal dialogue sample:
“Who do I think I am, walking around being this fat, asking Sam to take a picture? I want a do-over. Maybe if Sam cropped closer. That was such an unflattering angle. I should ask him. I should ask him to go back and try again, and leave my butt out of it this time. I should lose a million pounds, is what I should do. I should have stayed home. I’m too big to leave the house. I wonder when Henrietta will realize she has a fat mom. I shouldn’t eat lunch. I’m going to eat just a salad for lunch. ‘Just a salad, for me, thanks.’ That’s exactly what I’ll say. I’m so fat. Fat fat fat. Fatfatfat.”
All of this interspersed with attempts at a kinder dialogue:
“You just had a baby,” I would think. Two which my brain would say, “Yeah, but isn’t that free pass running out? She’s nearly five months old. You should have lost something by now.”
And you know what the real problem is?
Let me tell you the real problem with my internal dialogue while we were at the museum.
It was boring.
Profoundly, absurdly boring. So boring I want to punch something that I’ve spent so much of my life swimming in that brain space.
I was at one of the loveliest museums in the world.
I was with my gorgeous, happy, wonderful baby, a baby for whom I suffered to get her here safely. I was with my husband, who’s so in love with my brain that he wishes I would talk to him more than I do.
And we were walking around in this incredible blue and white installation involving wood structures and weird pottery and paper flowers and faces hiding in the walls.
And what was I thinking about?
I was thinking about my big rear end.
I live with my rear end, and trust me: it’s the most boring thing in the world.
I’ve been angry about this for days, which is honestly progress.
Because this is my declaration, my official rejection, my decree that those thoughts are entirely unwelcome in my head.
I don’t want to reason with them. I don’t want to talk myself out of having them. I don’t want to speak with a therapist about them. I don’t want to placate them with restricted calories or a vigorous workout. I don’t want to replace them with positive self-talk about how pretty I am. I want to tell them they’re boring, and I want them gone.
I have too much to do, too much interesting stuff to think about and love and be passionate about to spend even a second thinking I’m fat. It blocks my relationship with God.
It distracts me from beauty, and really, there isn’t a single thing in my life that’s more bent on destroying me.
And it devastates me that we live in a society that breeds these thoughts, a society that can’t go three minutes without telling us about a new diet or a low-calorie snack.
This isn’t my decree that I’m going to stop trying to be pretty or worry about my clothes and hair. A certain amount of that is necessary to my sanity.
He thought I was gorgeous there, looking through the camera-phone at the same pictures that ruined my day.
He thought I was gorgeous just after I had the baby, when I was even mushier and weaker and more harried than I am now.
He thought I was gorgeous—no, the word he used was sexy, he thought I was sexy today, when I was washing my hands after mining a booger out of Henrietta’s nose, just after I’d shoveled us out of eighteen inches of snow and I was sweaty and my hair was pulled back into a greasy ponytail, and I was about to pull his birthday cake out of the oven.
I was wearing a pair of his workout pants, and one of my maternity t-shirts, and I hadn’t showered yet, and I was way too busy to think about how I looked doing any of it, and he leaned over, kissed my neck, and told me I was sexy.
When I scoffed, he said,“You don’t believe me, but it’s true. You’re the sexiest woman I’ve ever seen.”
Further must-reads from Deja:
- On Pictures & Memories & Bodies
A look at our ever evolving self-perceptions.
- An Icon of Fame & Beauty
How motherhood makes us feel sometimes.
Nature has a funny way of getting us to think.
- On Being Too Sensitive: A Water-Aerobics Follow-up
I thought this one was funny (though not sure if it was intended to be).
- Fearful Things
Thoughts on being a staying-at-home parent for the first time.
- The Mean Voice in My Head
We all have one.
Deja Earley is a poet and a writer of creative nonfiction whose work has been published in a variety of magazines and journals, including Utne Reader, North American Review, and Arts and Letters.
She is married to writer Sam Ruddick. They have one daughter, the lovely Henrietta Plum.
She blogs at dejavuearley.blogspot.com.