Friday, July 31, 2015

The Biggest Little Ballerina

 “Rubenesque: the word for masterpiece curves. Screw you, unsalted rice cakes.” -Christine Heppermann

Over 75% of my life I have been overweight. The euphemisms thrown at me weren't necessarily soothing. I have been called fat, plump, chubby, cuddly, hearty, healthy and someone even dropped the word fluffy once like I'm somebody's pet.
When I was too old to hide behind my mother's skirts I would beg her to let me wear my hair down instead of the usual ponytail or braids. People would always be distracted by that part of my appearance because my hair was long, thick, and curly and if my father hadn't been a barber I would have let it grow down to my ankles as long as it kept comments away from my physical stature.

My Parents wouldn't let me take dance lessons. My mother was raised in a strict church that called it a sin. Sometimes I would pull down the shades, close the door and twirl around the room. My brother caught me dancing once, and he laughed and said I couldn't be a ballerina because I was too fat. He didn't tell my mom that he found me dancing but I believe getting in trouble would have hurt less than his words that would forever haunt my conscience. All I wanted was to dance ballet like my cousin Nicole who was everything I wasn't including thin. Whenever I was spotted climbing trees in my Sunday dresses or making mud pies, my mother would ask why I couldn't be more like Nicole. However, now that I was showing interest in something that Nicole was doing like dancing I was told “No”. I dared not bring up the subject again out of fear of a lecture pertaining to what is and isn't a sin. I just couldn't understand how a beautiful form of communication could be sin so unbeknownst to my parents I found a friend who lived nearby and was taking ballet. I gave a quarter every time she taught me what she learned in class.
Pretty soon I began to realize that dancing wouldn't have made things better, but worse. Even if my parents would have allowed it; I would have stuck out like a sore thumb. I would have been the center of attention, not for my hair or my dancing but because I would have been the biggest little ballerina.

I stood in front of the bathroom mirror trying to brush the red dirt from my new shorts. My legs were covered in stinging welts, some were bleeding and I had two big blotches of blood caked with dirt and grass that clung to my knees. I slowly removed my shirt and with tears clouding my eyes I saw red teeth marks on my chest and I cried. I wasn't crying because I was in pain. I cried because there was evidence that I had been violated, that it had really happened and it wasn't a nightmare. I starred at the mirror at my chest and immediately felt shame because it stuck out slightly. A fat girl problem mocking being an early bloomer but I was only six years old. I didn't tell anyone about the violations but I wished I did because it occurred many times afterward.

In school I discovered how much I hated other kids. Their mean and cruel taunts pierced my confidence and gave me a new hatred for my last name. I was easy prey and became a loner but not by choice. The boys in my neighborhood that lured me into the woods to beat and rape me promised not to tease me as long as I continued to let them touch me. I still hate myself for allowing it. I still can't forgive myself for not telling. I would go to bed crying every night praying and asking God to please stop the knotting pain of guilt in my stomach and to please not send me to hell for my dishonor. The knotting pain wouldn't go away and I ripped the pages of my diary into tiny pieces and buried them in the back yard because I thought I was dying and I didn't want anyone to read about what a bad girl I was.

In high school I was still known as the fat girl but I now had the camaraderie of many others. I was still a loner but had a few friends. My friends thought I was funny and they liked my stories of misfit teens and my poems that made fun at the expense of world problems and situations. I also sketched uncanny likenesses of my teachers and sold them for a dollar a piece (five bucks if you wanted darts to go along with it). Being called the fat girl lost some of its sting. I'm not sure if was because there were others like me or I just got used to it.

People who are overweight don't want unsolicited advice. Guess what. We know we're fat. We live in homes with mirrors.” - Al Roker

Sunday, May 31, 2015

At the end of Lonely Street is my genetic dead end.

Not married. Not in a relationship. No prospects on deck. It's almost laughable as I remember my little girl self planning out my wedding and naming my future children. I had everything planned except one thing... the husband. But why worry about that at such a young age? I have plenty of time to find him. Many years later and I'm contemplating my future. Loathing all those fairy tales I read. My knight on his white horse (Proverbial of course) has yet to find me and to be perfectly honest, I haven't actually tried very hard to find him. I've romanticized this idea for so long I'm afraid my reality will always pale in comparison. Why ruin that? 

I'm not about to go into my daddy issues. I plan on keeping this shorter than War and Peace. I do have issues with men. I don't trust them very much. I have many reasons. Most of those reasons come from my observance of my peers.

 Ruby Gillis says when she grows up, she wants to have a line of beaus on a string and make them crazy for her. I'd rather have one in his rightful mind.There are some things in this world that even I cannot hope to understand. -Anne Shirley Anne of Green Gables.

I'd watch my friends in middle and high school breaking off into pairs, splitting up, crying, angry, then pairing off with someone else. I found the whole thing dizzying and kind of silly. I had one friend in particular who would flirt and tease and have several guys vying for her attention and I realized this infatuation thing wasn't for me. I dove into my art and writing and the few guys that I did temporarily pair off with was just so I could say that I had that experience. I was never boy crazy. I would look and lightly flirt with no intentions beyond that and found the whole thing tedious. I'd listen to the other girls giggle out vapid fantasies of their dream date or guy. I'd roll my eyes. How I became so cynical at such a young age is odd.  Then again odd seemed to be my specialty. I was the weird kid and the fat kid so being that type of overachiever didn't solidify dates in my calendar. Most of my guy friends were gay so that didn't help either. 

So I guess I'm stuck listening to my biological clock ticking slower everyday. As I care for my aging mother I wonder who's going to do this for me? Will I be the little old lady they find weeks later that died alone? I'm reminded of a quote from a television show I watched called the Torkelsons. 
"What's the wrong way to eat spaghetti?"

I know I have a large extended family and a large family on my fathers side (My grandmother Essie had 16 children) but they are scattered or far away. Have I been picky too long? Has my depression played a part or maybe my sexual abuse as a child? The multiple facets of every human soul wants some kind of connection. I look at my friends and peers that are married with children and I get a pang. I'm not sure if it's jealousy or just simply loneliness. 

To Do List:
Get a big table. 
Invite people over. 
Serve spaghetti. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

I'm short. Pass me another soapbox.

A riot is the language of the unheard - Martin Luther King Jr.

Okay, here goes the media again detailing several unruly uprisings of riotous brown people. That's right!  I said it! No shame.  However, the media fails to mention the many peaceful displays of protest. Haven't heard of any of those? Me either. I had to research them. I guess peaceful doesn't get ratings.

Hmm... where to start on this juicy topic? Where not to start. Lets face it, the lean and hungry are scrounging for morsels but left with the proverbial rice cake. Meaning large in size however tasteless and full of unsatisfying air. That's the ballad of the oppressed. This abandonment of your own nation holding up a surplus of that American pie just out of reach and ever so often allowing a crumb to fall leaving them starving and still reaching. This my friends create an uprising. This inequality causes riots.  I do not condone violence. Brutality only adds more pain to this already bruised nation. But when are you going to start listening, America? Put down your tablets, smart phones, and programmed ideas of what you've been told to think. People are wounded, misunderstood, and aching to be heard.

Those flocking to social media spouting their outrage over the riotous "thugs" only serves to polish their privilege badge. It serves no purpose. If a hungry child comes to your door do you read them a cookbook and send them on their merry way only satisfying your conscience instead of their bellies?

Think all "riots" are the same?  Check this out via The Young Turks

The plight of a people, your people America has been shouted from the rooftops and mourned in the graveyards. Open your ears, hearts and minds!

It's still not easy being brown in America.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Standing in the Misunderstanding

Having mental illness is a constant reminder that you will be misconceived on many levels on any given day. Sometimes this direct assault on your person will be in a way that you were not expecting and sometimes it is sadly familiar. Regardless of the invasion of your integrity you will experience a plethora of emotions.

For example I was pleasantly surprised to receive snail mail from an old friend. The fondness quickly faded when I opened said letter and saw hand written on the top of a devotional text “I thought of you when I read this”. The text was about Legion. For those of you unfamiliar with the bible Legion was a tortured little soul called so for being possessed with many demons. Great! Now I'm thought to be demon possessed. Audible sighs escaped my lips throughout the day as I thought about the mail I received.

The stigma of mental illness stands pretty strong on it's own without the help of those you consider friends and family feeding said monster and causing the drizzle of depression or whatever you might be experiencing to turn into a level 5 storm or hurricane. Now, knowing the person she is I know it was not meant to come from a place of malice. In knowing that doesn't mean I wasn't crushed and downtrodden by the assumption. Trying to stand in the misunderstanding of my mental illness is where the trial begins. I originally crawled and slid on my belly through many levels of hurt. I wallowed in anger, tumbled in despair, and was engulfed in self doubt. I bobbed and sank in this flood for days until slowly I realized that A.) this collapse was not beneficial, B.) this does not help with the understanding of mental illness, and C.) I'm pretty exhausted with wrestling with all of this.

I started with a letter to myself. Explaining how it was okay to feel what I felt and even how it was okay to wallow. I explained that no matter what, there will always be misunderstandings and how when I fall into them to pick myself back up and stand even when I'm still hunched over from hurt. My standing in this is not only for me but for the millions of others that deal with this stigma on a regular basis.

I know there are ideas and thoughts in every community that strengthens the shame of having a mental illness but I can help with that understanding by talking about it and not being ashamed. By explaining my situation and my thoughts and feelings because no one can fully understand until they have experienced it.

Finally I wrote a letter asking to meet and talk with this person. I have made notes, set boundaries, and set my intent for this meeting. So as not to fall back into the emotions that do not serve my purpose. I ask that you set some time to stand in the midst of a misunderstanding. Stand in love and kindness. Stand in your truth. Stand in who you are.

Stand and grow.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Battle scars

Okay so January 2015 is missing from my blog because I was in the hospital. I was there for 4 ½ days and while there January bled into February so this is a winter baby of sorts. My posting for January was unfinished and after coming home I didn't see the point of posting it for January when it was clearly February and... you get the point. Anyway, I'm back and who knows what will come flying off my fingers into the world of blog land so hold on tight this will be a bumpy ride.

WARNING: This post has info that may be triggering. If you have an addiction to self injury or any self injurious behaviors, this months blog may cause problems for you. Proceed at your own caution.

My addiction to hurting myself (Yes, that's right. It's an addiction) is a struggle that is more than just an every day reality but has morphed into this monster. I mean, think of the ugliest color one can imagine (Go on. I'll wait ) now imagine that it's clinging to every inch of your being, not just your body. It's thick like tar and when you think you've scraped some off you turn to scrape some more off and it grows back solidified and more tenacious. It crawls from your mouth, leaves its dark seeds on your pillow at night to sprout heinous ideas of yourself through your ears and into your brain and no matter how much you try it trickles and spreads it's tentacles around you and you become this drunken marionette under it's power. That my friend is what an addiction is and it sucks putrid hose water!

I am a burner. I burn myself with many things. Usually a candle and a bobby pin are involved. It's very ritualistic and I think that my OCD may contribute to that aspect. Yes, I feel it. Yes, it hurts. I'm not in some type of trance when It happens. It becomes it's own leech like creature that craves me and I'm at times too weak to resist. That has happened recently and I try hard every day to avoid falling down that rabbit hole. This time I tried to tell myself that it wasn't that bad because I burned the words “HELP ME” on my arm. I was after all asking for help in my own twisted little secret way. It wasn't as bad as the other words I'd done in the past. Just grab a thesaurus and look up the word worthless and assume all those and a plethora of others have been singed on my abdomen, arm and thigh. I wear a lot of long sleeves when going through those times.

I'm not sharing this information in hopes of gaining pity. I don't want it. I have enough of it.
That's the difference between pity and compassion: Pity just feels sorry! Compassion does something about it.”- unknown

I challenge you whether your pity is being wasted on yourself or someone else, be proactive and expand yourself. I plan to do that today. Showing compassion for the self is a difficult thing for me. Baby steps are the process. It also helps me to show and be more compassionate towards others. That's important to make this world better. Before you think I've gone all rainbow colored glasses on you, know that this is my oath to personally make my world better for the people I love and care about and that process includes (gulp) self care. Now I shall wrap this up and rub healing oil on my self inflicted wounds because that is how I would care for a friend.

Pity and friendship are two passions incompatible with each other” - Oliver Goldsmith

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Am a Masterpiece. I'm Just Still a Work in Progress.

I received an e-mail asking if I would write more about my problem with self injury and my eating disorder. I was also asked about if I remember what started it and if I look back is there something I could have done to stop it or if I can use that information to help me stop now.

Well, here's my take on it...

My self injury started around fifth or six grade. One of my brothers had a soldering iron and I had had a horrific day. I remember thinking I somehow deserved the bad day and the idea of the iron popped into my mind. I, one way or another came to the conclusion that I had to use the soldering iron on myself. I guess as some type of penance. I recall being of a younger age breaking my own toys because I didn't deserve them or making myself sit in my closet (I was afraid of the dark) for reasons I no longer recollect. I just remember feeling that I deserved the punishment. I guess I'm not sure when the “I'm a horrible person and need to punish myself” feeling started. I've always been very sensitive and causing disappointment or anger to anyone was more painful than any spanking I received. Emotions hurt me deeper than anything and I found the best way to cope with emotions was by injuring myself. Physical pain was something I learned early how to cope with. It was easy to switch my brain to focus on the physical stuff. That horrible day after school I burned marks on my abdomen and went to my room to sit with the physical pain. Giving my brain a break from the tsunami of emotions crashing in my skull.

I'm not certain I would have (because communication in my household was not something that happened) talked to my mom about what I was feeling and there was no way on God's green earth I was taking this information to my father (our relationship was a complicated one) It's never easy being the weird kid but being the weird kid and the fat kid (check it out! I was an overachiever) made things more difficult.

As far as the eating disorder, that started around 7th grade. I remember shoving my fingers down my throat after lunch. I had already convinced myself that I didn't deserve lunch. Why? Not sure, had something to do with not having many friends like my brothers. Someone sat at my lonely little table. I was busy sketching in a notebook. They said “Hi” offered me a french fry. I accepted then felt enormous pangs of guilt after I started chewing. I excused myself to the restroom and the rest is history. The purging started because I failed at my limitations. It was meant to undo something I didn't deserve. The eating disorder seemed to become a part of the self injury and they would ebb and flow and sometimes replace the other as a coping mechanism.

I don't see myself doing anything to change that behavior that happened because it has already happened and not having a time machine makes that even harder. I just have to keep working on me. I'm always a work in progress so don't expect perfection. That stuff doesn't exist.

Which reminds me, as we embark on a new year we expect the invasion of new gym memberships, diets, and a plethora of other promises that will soon be broken and abandoned. The habits that we promised to leave behind were indeed released but left nearby. These things are easily picked back up (we as humans are creatures of habits) We dance around the fact that the habit has been released letting our brains fill with magical sugar plum fairies. We look but don't touch. We become those people we use to roll our eyes about. We have well planned schedules, meals, even family time is outlined in details. We have control of our lives, finally! Then February rolls around and we hit the snooze button too many times and have to skip devotions, exercise, time with our creator, etc. It's easy to fall back into the soft cushy arms of laziness. It beckons us to rest. We've done so well all last month. We deserve a break. So we do. We gather up our former patterns. We only released them after all. They are still there. Releasing is not enough. That's right. I said it! You can release anything. It may fall behind the bed or land in a corner with the dust bunnies. We tempt ourselves with this now forbidden fruit the very thought of it causes a craving, your mouth waters, you try to resist, and before you know it that decadent habit that doesn't serve us is back. Chill! You're human. Get back on track to being a better you. We all trip and fall.

The greatest glory in living
lies not in never falling,
but in rising every time we fall.” 
― Nelson Mandela

So this new year, arise!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Sweet in the Sour

This holiday season is known for spending time with family. Those moments can be joyful, dreadful or a nauseatingly sickly combination of both. For every high there is a low and with sweet comes the sour. There is an opportunity in most situations to turn the setting on its ear and find the joy in the sorrow. Hold on! Don't worry, I haven't turned into some glassy eyed Pollyanna. I'm about to get honest. I have found myself in plenty of situations where I've sat marinading in the sour. I'm human and prone to have occasions where I pout, or sit with arms folded the inside corners of my eyebrows wrinkling downward at the thought of not getting my way (and that's just yesterday). But today I'm going to share something that happened over 10 years ago.

I once worked in an office that was in the refrigerator section of a warehouse that supplied grocery stores. I worked the late evening shift and I was the only female there in the evenings. The men who worked in the warehouse pulling orders off of pallets and stacking them in big trucks for shipping would come in to get their orders from me. It was a very eclectic group of men but like most environments they would break off into groups like high school cliques and have some varied reason to argue, spew profanity, or hate each other for varied reasons. One evening it became particularly toxic. Racial were slurs flying through the air like shrapnel. This particular evening was the war between the American's and the South Americans. Visual daggers, obscene finger language, and verbal assaults were growing and I honestly thought at one point there would be actual physical altercations. On my dinner break I left the warehouse to get out of that noxious cloud of negativity. Driving around trying to clear my head was futile and the days events flooded my mind. “Okay God, what do I do?” I said as I made my way into a grocery store parking lot. At that moment I remembered something my Grammy said to me regarding an incident with family over Thanksgiving. “When things get tense, and people start to act ugly, bring out dessert. It's hard to argue with sweet deliciousness in your mouth.” I smiled then sighed realizing I hadn't the time or a kitchen to make dessert and I was certainly unprepared to spend a wad of (non-existing) cash. I dug around in the bottom of my purse looking for any change then proceeded to dig in my pockets. A crumpled up five dollar bill and some change was all I had and I seriously doubted that was enough to feed the masses. I found myself wandering around in the 24 hour grocery for several minutes when I saw a basket with discounted items. As I rummaged through at the very bottom was a bag of miniature lollipops. I pulled out the bag realizing it was residual Halloween candy. The bag was pretty big so even if it was fifty percent off I may not have enough funds. I took the bag to the register for a price check and was pleasantly surprised that I had exactly enough. Divine order. :-) 

When I arrived back at the warehouse things were not any better so I made my way back to the office with a plan. As I handed someone an order I also handed them a lollipop. Before long the whole place was quiet and I walked out into the warehouse smiling as the men were driving their pallets around loading and unloading items with little white sticks protruding from their lips. Little pacifiers of sweetness to plug up the raging sour.

So this holiday season when your Aunt so-and-so gets a little sour. Cut her the biggest slice of cake and relish in the sweet quiet. (Unless of course she's diabetic, then there would be that awkward moment when she realizes you're trying to kill her) That's not exactly what I had in mind. ;-)

Recognize the sour and replace it with the sweet.