Hating the Girl in the Picture…

Earlier today I was searching for my choir on Facebook in hopes of finding the poster for our upcoming concert.  Finding the page, I also found a picture of the group that had been uploaded from our recent retreat.

There I was: front and center.  And I was huge.

I stared at the photo for several minutes feeling sick to my stomach.  Feeling disgusting and ugly and awful.

When I see a picture of myself like that I have a visceral reaction of pure disgust.  It is instant and it is uncontrollable and it is awful.  I hate myself in that moment.  No matter what else is right in my life I have an instant feeling of being the most undesirable, unsuccessful person in the world.  I see every failure, every moment of sadness, hanging off my skin in disgusting globs.

I wonder how anyone else can stand to look at me.  I instantly start planning: stop eating, juice fast, try running (again).  DO SOMETHING.

All of this happens in the first 60 seconds or so.  Then I take a deep breath and start to calm down.

  • I remind myself that I spent the winter swimming.
  • I remind myself that my steps count has increased every month for the past 4.
  • I remind myself that I eat out far less than I used to.
  • I remind myself that I am TRYING to live the best life that I can.
  • I remind myself that, for whatever reason, this is HARD for me and I don’t have to hate myself for that.
  • I remind myself that my value doesn’t come from being thin and pretty.  

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Those 60 seconds are an improvement.  It used to be hours, days, that I would feel worthless.  It used to be all that I could think about.

I’ve started following Ashley Graham and several body positive people on Instagram in an attempt to rewire my brain and what it thinks “normal” should look like.  I tried to look at that picture from the retreat and list the things I liked about it.

I’m realizing that this is going to be a life long journey.  I’ve done all the diets I care to, I’ve bought too many clothes that are “going to fit in 10 pounds”.  This part, the rewiring so that I don’t hate myself, seems to be the hardest part.

And if I’m honest?  I don’t want to be this size.  I hate it.  I don’t know that I’ll ever accept it.  I might always have those moments of hating myself.

I’m also not sure that my body will ever look much different than it does now.

It isn’t an easy place to find peace.

Am I the only one struggling here?

 

Home Sweet Home?

After 4.5 months of living in the spare bedroom(s) at my parents I have finally returned home.  It was wonderful to be at my parents, a good chance to hang out with them, but it’s nice to be back in my own space.

That being said, there’s a problem.

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Over the summer, only a couple of months before I moved, I got a new upstairs neighbour.  A noisy new upstairs neighbour.

She’s an elephant.  Honestly.  It’s the only explanation.  I can literally feel the couch shake when she walks directly overhead.  She has parties on her deck until late at night.  She gets up for work at 4:30 am and slams dresser drawers, clomping around, until I am wide awake and stressing about my own early morning.  She does this repeated tapping (tap, tap, tap, tap, tap) again and again.  It might be elves making wooden toys for Santa’s shop?

It was making me crazy before I left and now that I’m back it’s making me crazy again.

This sounds like an exaggeration but: it’s ruining the peace of my home.

It makes me feel trapped and panicked.  You have to understand that I don’t process noise the same way most people do.  There is no “ignoring it” for me.  It gets under my skin and causes anxiety.  It makes me feel like I am going to cry, or yell: more likely both.  My heart starts to race as soon as I hear the first footstep when she arrives home and my whole body tenses, waiting for the next noise (and the one after that and the one after that).  Last night it took about 30 minutes for my heart to stop racing after I crawled into bed.  It’s galloping away again now that she’s home.

I feel trapped because I love my home and it’s the best I can do.  I can’t afford more and most likely never will.  I will always live in an apartment.  Or a townhouse.  Somewhere with shared walls and ambient noise.

I always pictured a house with kids running round a backyard. That isn’t a reasonable expectation here.  Fine.  I’ve adjusted the picture in my mind of what it’s supposed to look like.

But I don’t know how to handle the noise.  I don’t know what the solution is.

I don’t know how to get rid of this feeling of being trapped.

Speaking to her directly might be the best first step.  But, frankly, it could go badly and make the situation worse.  (From what I’ve heard I’d expect it to go badly.)

I’m going to look at insulating the ceiling better.  I currently have the sound on my stereo turned to 25… I never used to put it above 15.  I have white noise playing directly next to my head as I sleep.  I turn it up each time I hear anything.

There aren’t choices available to me beyond finding ways to cope.  I can (and probably will) write letters to strata.  They’ll write letters to her.  I doubt that changes will be made.

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(Sample letter I found online…)

I don’t think that the Strata Act has much ability to police unreasonable ambient noise.  I think it’s going to be more and more of an issue as more and more people live in high density housing.  Though maybe I’m just one of the few crazy enough to really be made crazy by it?

I’m spoiled, I know.  I know.  But I can’t handle this.

So, friends, do any of you have an idea?  Anything that has worked if you’ve been faced with this situation?

But… It Isn’t Even My Country…

Anyone else feeling a little bit helpless?

This week has felt surreal.  Everyday I watch the news and see the latest from our neighbours down south and I am shaken.  I am surprised again and again that these things are really happening.  I am terrified for Muslims, the LGBTQ community, and women.  (And those are just a few examples of the communities for whom I am afraid).

I feel ineffectual because it isn’t my country.  It wasn’t my election to lose.

So why do I feel so upset, so impacted?  It’s not my country.  I’m not being threatened.

But I feel dirty.  I feel wrong.

I considered going to the March last Saturday but didn’t because I was getting over the flu, I was cozy, I was reading “I Am Not a Slut” by Leora Tanenbaum and that felt feminist-y enough for the day.  I regret not going.  I feel ashamed for not going.

I’m not going to make that mistake again.

Remember a few months ago when I posted this?  I talked about my own “grabbed her by the p*ssy” moments.  I made this proclamation:

Hilary is going to win.  I have too much faith in humanity to believe otherwise.

 – an idealistic me, two months ago

Hilary didn’t win.  Hilary lost.

And so did the rest of us.

It’s not my country and what the hell can one person do anyways?  I didn’t even show up for the damn March.  Who am I to talk?

I can’t keep quiet. Here’s where I plan to start:

  • I am going to write a letter to my MP and the immigration minister demanding that Canada provide asylum to those displaced by the travel ban.
  • I am going to be vocal in my support of increases to our funding to international groups that provide abortion-related services.  I am going to let my local MP know that this is something I want to see our government acting on.
  • I am going to talk about what is going on.  I am going to be vocal in stating that it is wrong.  That it goes against everything I believe in. I am going to make sure that my elected officials know that I expect them to stand up against this.

So much of what I plan to do relies on my one little vote, my one little voice.

It’s small, perhaps ineffectual.  But…

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I’m carrying around this feeling of dread.  This sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that something has gone very, very wrong.  That things are only going to get worse.

I always say that I am not a political person.  I don’t think I can hide under that rock anymore.

Let me know friends. What can I do?

“You’re Like Home To Me…”

Did anyone else fall hard into the Carly and Evan romance this season of Bachelor in Paradise?  I did.  I couldn’t help it.  I like Carly.  Her commentary on all situations in the house is so funny, sometimes I fast forward through the episodes just to listen to her sum things up.

Evan, on the other hand, is a bit of an odd one to place.  He’s just so… geeky.  Nothing like the other men that tend to be on the show.

(Don’t get me wrong, geeks are totally my thing.  Guys, if I ever call you a “geek”, it probably means that I’m in love with you and want to get in your pants.)

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As one of my friends summed up Carly and Evan’s relationship: “They’re two charmless people who are somehow charming together”.  While I’m not sure that they are entirely charmless on their own (see comments above re: geeks) they certainly are better together.

And I’m not even gonna lie guys.  I may have shed a tear or two watching their final scene together.  How pathetic am I?

Listen, I know that these shows are total and complete bullshit.  But they are such well done bullshit.  I have them on in the background while I cook, or write, or dust.

(Totally kidding. I never dust).

I enjoy watching these shows.  And I do think that we can take some gems from them once in a while.  Carly and Evan are one of those gems.

I don’t believe in happily ever after.  But I really hope that Carly and Evan end up finding it.

Their relationship followed a different arc than most on the show.  Remember a few weeks back when Carly was all “Ew, Evan, ew” and then threw up after their kiss?  Remember when she suddenly realized that, through their friendship, he had gotten under her skin?  Remember when she realized that they were going to be great?

Their relationship probably started in the best way that a relationship can.  Friendship, getting to know one another, before you start looking forward to all that the future might bring.   Slow, steady and then all at once.  Or slow and steady followed by more slow and steady.  Carly and Evan were a little bit odd.  But I got them and I think that, probably, lots of viewers did.  Their oddness didn’t matter.  Because it worked for them.

Each relationship in our life is and should be unique unto itself.  It doesn’t matter what it is “supposed” to look like.  It matters what works for the two people in that relationship.

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Carly said: “Evan makes me feel like I can be any way I am.  Look any way I am. … He makes me feel so beautiful.  Like, inside and outside.  I’ve never felt like that.”

She told Evan: “You’re like home to me…”

Isn’t that how we all want to feel if and when we find a partner?

(I need to stop watching the Bachelor.  

Wait.  

Nick Viall is the next Bachelor.  

Yeah.  I’m so keeping my cable to watch that go down.)

On the other hand…

I wrote a big long rant about dating, love and men the other day.  And I stand by everything that I said.

I forgot to mention something though.  Dating, love and men?  They are totally awesome.

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Here are some reasons…

  • Getting dressed up.  There is nothing like getting dressed up for a date and knowing that you look good.  Feeling confident and comfortable in your skin.
  • Buying a first date outfit.  Because every self-respecting single gal will have a killer first date outfit.
  • Butterflies!  Remember butterflies?  I know that they are simply hormones and lust gone amock.  But they are gone so quickly.  There is nothing like the feeling of that first few months in a relationship when you are constantly fluttery.
  • First Kisses.  (See above).
  • Phone calls until the wee hours.  Before you get practical and decide that sleep is necessary.  When excitement is sustaining you.
  • Late nights… Um.  You know.
  • The first time you exchange those three little words and you feel like your heart is going to burst from fear.  And happiness.

Dating, love and men are more wonderful than horrible.  There are feelings in those early days that cannot be replicated later in a relationship.  It is  moment to savour and to enjoy.  To soak up.

There are a million little milestones and one gets to enjoy them all.  And maybe we all hope that this is the last time.  But that heady feeling of falling in love?  It’s something to look forward to.

 

You Better Thank The Gods…

A good friend of mine went on a date this past weekend.  It was with a promising prospect though she had already identified that this person might be a bit too obsessed with nutrition for her.  (We discussed this possibility over a very grown up dinner of pancakes).  This is a woman who is in extraordinary shape, she really humbles me.  She runs marathons and bikes and swims.  She leaves me in awe.

As they wandered on their date the man began to ask her about her fitness regime, questioning her about supplements, nutrition, eating plan.  He asked if she was happy with her body and she replied, honestly, that she was happy with how strong and capable her body was but that, like anyone else, she had parts of herself that she was less happy with than others.

Her date then leaned over and poked her tummy.

I think that the most amazing part of this story is that this man is still living and in possession of all his important parts.  I think that I would have become violent.  I am in awe of my friend even more now.  She has restraint.  Major league restraint.

My body is voluptuous.  I fluctuate between a size 12 and 14 and I’m 5’5″.  My bra is an E cup.  My hips are big and I have a tummy.  Stretch marks map my thighs.

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This picture came up in my Pinterest the other day.  I hope I do not get in trouble for using it.  It was just too perfect.  Click here.  

And if I get naked with you?  You better thank your lucky stars.  

Last year I bought the first bikini I had owned since I was 18.  It was high waisted and covered the bottom half of my tummy.  But my rolls hang out when I wear it and I really don’t care.

We, none of us, are perfect.  And when we are dating we need to find someone who can look at our particular imperfections and love them.  (Or at least see past them).  Loving someone is about being with them.  Grumpy morning mood, matted morning hair, your inability to make conversation until after the first cup of coffee has sit in.  It’s about smiling at my inability to check the mail more than once a month or the fact that I brush my teeth in the shower.

My body isn’t my favourite part of myself.  I am overweight and I am not strong.  I have issues with pain and chronic illness.  The past few weeks have seen me with several migraines and an inability to sleep due to pain.

But it’s just one part of the whole.  And I try really hard to love it.  And no one else has the right to comment on it.  No one.

So, if I get naked with you?

Get on your knees, thank the Gods, and make it worth my while.

Otherwise?  Stay home.

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And never, ever, poke me in the tummy.

Ramblings on… Ick… Love.

I’m so frustrated and disillusioned with men and dating and love in general.  I don’t think that I’m looking for anything that rare or unusual.  I see people with it all the time… And sometimes I want to shake them and ask… What did you do right?!  TEACH ME YOUR WAYS!

Sometimes I get mad about the fact that I spent almost 13 years investing myself in a relationship that crashed and burned so spectacularly that even the most innocent bystanders ended up singed.  I get mad at the girl I used to be, the choices that I made, the mouse that I became.  I get mad that, at 31, I’m trying to figure out dating and love and having all these experiences that I should have had in my twenties.

I get mad that I don’t have any idea what I’m doing.

I get mad that I’m not completely satisfied being on my own.

I get mad that I’m mad.

 

It seems whiny to me that I’m upset by this.  That I’m frustrated by my seeming inability to get it right.  After all: I’ve barely been single.  What do I have to complain about?

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Maybe it’s disillusionment.  I did everything that I was “supposed” to do.  I don’t think that I asked for too much.  And it was a disaster.

I know that there are lessons in all this and I’ve spent the last couple of years trying hard to learn them.  I know that I am a stronger, more independent woman than I was.  I like myself for the first time.

I don’t need a man.  I own my home, I have a career.  I pay my bills and have enough money leftover for dinners out or craft supplies, or whatever my current priority is.  I’m busy to the point that I have to schedule blocks of not-doing-anything time.

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And, if we’re being completely honest, I always have men in my life.  Companionship is never a problem and I enjoy this piece of dating.  Getting to know someone, the excitement of a first kiss, these are all good things.  (And if I want sex?… I can have good sex.)

The thing is, the sad thing is… This isn’t enough for me.  If I was on the other side of my life, if I’d had the (good) marriage and the babies, this would be enough.  It would be great.

But I haven’t had those things.  I haven’t lived the life that I want.  I’ve been gently accused in the past of only wanting the “white picket fence” because that is what society taught me I should want… Well… Fuck that.  I want it.

And maybe I’ll never get it.  That doesn’t mean that I will stop trying.

It seems to me that, for the men I’ve known so far: I`ve easy to want.  Just not enough to want to keep.  Eventually someone will want me… And will want to keep me.

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I should probably mention here that my heart is currently wrapped in so much protection it would take an expert to find it.  Let alone make it beat.  My big, soft, heart-on-my-sleeve has hidden itself away and I don`t know how to find it.

My point here?  I’m single.  I’m not entirely happy with that status.  I’m not entirely sure that I want to change it.  I’m not entirely sure how to change it.  I’m not entirely sure that I should change it.

I have no idea what I’m doing.  Someone get me a map!