I Promised Her I Would Take Better Care of Myself
I’ve had an issue with food since I was about three years old. One of my earliest memories is sneaking into the kitchen, peeling away the gold foil on the stick of Blue Bonnet margarine and biting into it with reckless abandon. Yes, this is a true story. When you are left home with a schizophrenic mother while your siblings are off at school and your father is at work -- well, you find comfort where you can. Apparently, at three, you can find solace in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
I can’t remember at what point I turned to the Blue Bonnet -- was there not enough food in the house? Was there no one to feed me, and did I just eat what I knew wouldn’t kill me (at least not immediately)? Or did I just think fake butter was the bomb? I don’t know the answer. All I know is that I remember it, and I remember feeling ashamed about it. Even at that age, I knew it wasn’t right. Even the three year old me knew to cover my tracks. Can you imagine a mini me smearing teeth marks off of a whittled down stick of margarine, trying to make hard right angles with my chubby toddler fingers? Completely tragic.
I bring this up now because I am 36 years old and I still have that three year old lurking inside of me. Though nowadays I’ve graduated to butter and hiding my affection for the creamy goodness seems a bit like blasphemy. Lord knows that I’ve tried to overcome my compulsion with food -- therapy! antidepressants! think positive! therapy! perseverance! meditation! acceptance! meat! therapy! gluten-free! CABBAGE! You get the picture. Nothing has stuck -- which is really a nice way of saying that I’ve failed at this healthy living thing.
About a year or so ago I decided to embrace my weight and practice extreme acceptance despite what the scale said. For the most part, it has been working. Ask anyone, I am happier and more confident. I am a stronger, more resilient person. Life is truly so very promising right now. I feel blessed, blah, blah, blah.
But -- my body doesn’t feel good. There’s a disconnect that’s happening with my body versus what is happening with my soul. My soul wants to run a marathon, but my body is only equipped to take me to corner coffee shop. Surprisingly enough, these layers of flesh that I once hid behind are now actually hindering me. Not just an annoyance, but actually IN MY WAY. Much to no one’s surprise, this ass is not going to act as a flotation device should I decide to zip line over the Amazon river.
I’ve been thinking (and obviously not writing) a lot about what my next steps in my life should be. I’ve lost my way a bit. I’ve shifted around some commitments. I’ve been making the things that are directly in front of me (work, family, dinner, laundry, sleep) a priority and not leaving any time for, as Stephen J. Covey would say, “the important, but not urgent” things. It’s hard to find the time. But then again, maybe I don’t really need to watch that episode of Glee.
Last year, before my Aunt passed away, she made me promise that I would take better care of myself. She told me two things in the hospital before she died: She said I was beautiful and she told me to take better care of myself. That’s it. THOSE were the words she wanted to convey to me before she passed away. Apparently, I never was a good listener. Or maybe it’s that things take a very long time to sink in.
On the downhill slope of the year two thousand and ten -- the year of flagellating -- I am finding that it’s groundhog’s year. The year of repeat. This fall, instead of my aunt, I find my father’s body of 72 years beginning to break down on him. It seems the years of working rotation shifts in a mill to support his kids is coming home to roost. We haven’t had a good relationship, and it’s hard to reach out and open that closed door. But isn’t this what daughter’s are supposed to do? Suck it up? The answer always comes back to “yes.”
Life seems so fleeting right now. I am exactly half that age and time has gone by so quickly. I have big dreams. What do I want the next 36 years to be about? What about my legacy? I definitely do not want to spend it talking about how I need to lose 50 pounds.
That, I know for sure.
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