i don’t know how to make depression funny anymore.
i’m not sure i ever did, but i really don’t now.
i don’t have it in me to pull forth the effort to blather on about my hair with funny turns of phrase.
though it does look wonderful, don’t get me wrong. i went the perm route. i look fabulous. i’ll tell you all about it later, when i’m done being all melodramatic. (gotta fit that in, too.)
thing is, it’s not an overwhelming sadness or intense social fear. jsure, those pop up with the regularity of the wonky j in my words, but they’re not it. “it” is more of an ugh, mixed with a quivery chin, sprinkled heavily with some meh and topped with dissatisfaction. it’s a poor little rich girl complex and the guilt that brings, plus the actual bad shit that’s actually real and the actual health shit that’s actually shitty.
but here’s the big difference: i think i’m legitimately ready to do something about it, starting with the empirical, the tangible, the right-here-before-me-i-can-fucking-do-this part: my body.
and so we come to real reason i finally got myself to write again: my Namaste Manifesto.
Once upon a time there was a little girl with freckles who lived life in ALL CAPS, badgered her big sister and dressed her little brother in flowery frocks and lipstick.
Once upon a time there was a little girl with pigtails who knew that her big, handmade Lincoln logs were better than your stupid ones from the store.Once upon a time there was a little girl with green eyes who agreed with her mother that pie crusts were just too hard and, besides, the ones from Kroger were just as good and took far less time and cursing to make.
Once upon a time there was a little girl who wore a tutu around her head and called herself the Queen Mum sitting down for tea with Elizabeth, BearBear and Mrs. Symie.
Once upon a time there was a little girl whose body did what she asked of it, mostly, and the worst consequences were ant bites, skinned knees and stitches in her side from running too soon after lunch.
* * *
I remember her. But the thing is, I don’t remember her as ME. I remember a lot of things I DID and a lot of things I WATCHED and a lot of things I touched, tasted, felt, smelled. But I don’t really remember being in that little body and throwing it around and watching/feeling it doing what I asked it to do.
What I remember is being fat.
Now, I wasn’t. I was never a gangly skinny thing or toned and ripped, but I wasn’t fat. I wasn’t even big until a few years ago.But I thought I was. I cannot remember a time since I began to judge my body when I did not find it lacking. Worse yet, I cannot remember a time when I did not measure my own worth without my weight or dress size or squishiness as a (negative) part of the equation.
Frankly, that’s bullshit.
I’m hysterical. I’m pretty. I’m fun. I’m damn smart. I’m good at a lot of things. I drink a lot of water. I grow vegetables, care for animals and volunteer on at least one project a year, if not long campaigns of do-good-ery. I bake a mean homemade twinkie, give good back-scratches and love with all of my heart, an organ I’m convinced takes up most of my internal body cavity.
The shitty thing is, I can’t take my body out of it. But I realized: I don’t have to. Sure, I have to stop body-shaming and beating myself up about it – that’s not a new realization or decision, and it gets easier to do with every step of every moment of every day – but a corollary there is that I often find that in attempting to lower the focus and negativity I place on myself about my body, I minimize the importance of my body overall.And that’s the real bullshit.
Whatever my (your) beliefs may be at any given time, this is the vessel in which my spirit / soul / mind / consciousness from parasitic alien life forms travels around this earth. Maybe it’s just a vehicle, but it’s the one I’ve got and I’m not going to get another one, no matter my preference for the bionic.
* * *
Over the last year and change, I have struggled with myself – with my self-esteem, my hairdos, my communications skills, my family’s crazy, my crazy, my boyfriend’s crazy, moving in with said wonderful boyfriend, not killing the selfsame boyfriend, not killing the selfsame boyfriend’s family, my health, my lack of health, my skin’s propensity to manifest every emotion I’ve got in one dermatitial form or another, my body’s comfort with inflammation and open wounds, my unemployment, my underemployment, my wonderful employment, my schedule, my volunteer work, my religion, my nail polish color, my pants size, my stretch marks, my eyebrows, my clothing, my lack of clothing, my music, my writing, my loving – and in so doing, I feel pretty confident stating that each time I take an inventory, I like what I see more and more.
So, with just the obstacles of my life as my guides, I am becoming a person who is more patient, thoughtful, kind, honest and loving. With the fights and kisses and eye-rolls that are part and parcel to my relationship with this amazing man, I am becoming a better partner, lover, friend and mate. With the rollercoaster of a connection I have with my mother, I am becoming a better daughter, helper and gardener. With the lifeline I hold to my pregnant sister, I am becoming a better sister, aunt, friend and confidante.
While all of those trials have also taught me I’m probably a bit borderline, definitely living up to my dysthymia, major depressive and generalized anxiety diagnoses, usually prone to panicking but always good in a physical crisis, they’ve also brought me this moment, wherein I know with a certainty I find confusing that I am the one who has to be in charge.
It seems so simple. Fuck, I can even admit that it IS simple. That just doesn’t make it easy.
So I’ve decided the way to remove body-shaming from my equation is to remove the shame.
To be continued.
The fascinating thing, if I can back away from the emotions themselves, is how I describe them.
Choking, drowning, smothering, pushing me headfirst into a cement curb – these aren’t experiences I’ve ever had – thank whomever – and I don’t physically lose the ability to breathe, see or live.
And yet, the phrase “moving like molasses in January” was coined, it seems, for days like today, when talking myself into hanging up three tee shirts, putting on shoes or taking a towel off the floor are herculean.
I don’t feel desperate, gasping or broken. I am not so sad I can’t see, but I’m the physical embodiment of “been down so long, down don’t bother me.”
Down would be nice. An improvement.
The worst part? I’m in love. I’m madly, happily, disgustingly in love.
I’m making progress on life goals I let lie dormant for too long.
I sleep next to the person I want to spend my life with. Sister mercy, I want to create other people with this man. From scratch!
I am (what feels like) spitting distance from really tackling my chronic maladies and beating them back into the hell from whence they came.
I even lost three pounds.
And yet, the prospect of doing the laundry – which I have always enjoyed (that’s another why-am-I-psychotic post) – overwhelms me, sends me into the corner of the only sweatshirt still big enough to be comfortable and leaves me begging the dog for affection.
But they do say what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and while I’d slap the cliché off the face of whatever bitch actually came up with that phrase, I can’t help but hope it’s true.
I could use some strong right now.
Do you despair over the things that make you happy?
I do. This is mostly because I’m an idiot.
There’s a little bit of maternal sense in there. (Thanks, Jane.) I mean, I wouldn’t agonize over something that didn’t matter to me, and I’m (finally) mature enough to make That Which Makes Me Happy a main focus of my life and my energy.
Except, of course, money. Universe, we’re still in a fight about that whole “currency” bullshit. Don’t think I’ve forgotten.
But I kill myself, deep in my cold, little heart, about love and writing and music and food and will I ever be able to do any of them right? And does that matter? And surely it must, because otherwise why would anyone of any sense whatsoever spend so much time so freaked out?
And with that logic leap we understand exactly how it is I came to be an idiot.
And now for a break in the regularly scheduled navel-gazing:
I thought maybe it might could perhaps be fair or kind (or inane?) or useful (or something) to tell you what happened and where I went and what I did.
During the months of May, June, July and August of the year of our lord (whose?) two thousand eleven, I:
- Taught young chilrens between the ages of three and eleven music all day every day at a camp in this fair city of HotFuckingLanta;
- Learned what it is like to be in pain and still function, not (or at least rarely) giving into the indulgence of suffering;
- Filled my days with the worries of babes (and the silencing of my ovaries) and my nights with laughter and tears (yes, always tears);
- Remembered that “holy” is how you treat someone else and “god” is what it looks like when you love;
- Discovered that Marietta’s full of dumb people who play trivia with Jesus and Dunwoody’s downright cutthroat;
- Learned that “leaning” means a lot more than Old Noah Webster ever intended and leads to things like heart-shaped earrings and late-night phone calls;
- Weaned myself off narcotics (mostly) and developed a healthy Benadryl habit;
- Bought a new toothbrush to set beside a new sink, where there’s a “my” side of the bed and a jug of my favorite coffee creamer (such an embarrassing vice!);
- Decided I might actually be good at that whole teaching thing and found people who agree to write me checks and ask me for curricula;
- Looked at my hands and realized just how much I like how they look when they’re entwined in someone else’s;
- Found a someone else; and
- Maybe – just maybe, might could maybe – have fallen in love.
Skipping right over that and hoping with all I’ve got it won’t terrify him that I wrote that here first, let us focus our attentions back to the lint in my proverbial belly button and analyze why I – the most aggressively forthright person I’ve ever known in any capacity – might be too anxious to say “love” out loud, but willing to cavalierly announce it here, in a space I feel I no longer inhabit comfortably, to all and sundry.
We know I’m not afraid of hearing my own voice. Ahem.
And we know I’m strong in my conviction that that which is felt must be shared.
The royal we, of course.
And – VOICE CHANGE! WOOT! – I’m pretty sure I could stand it if he didn’t say it back. After all, I know what I’m talking about and he might not.
Mine is a place of power, and yet.
Let me agonize some more, fair gallery! What if I’m bad at this? At love?
I think it might be what I do best – I love love. Lord, how I love it. The idea, the music, the smells, the tastes, the schtick and the expectations and the ridiculous standards we hold ourselves to!
But what if I’m no good? Who’ll tell me? How will I learn? Is it enough? Am I?
Is the way to your heart through your navel?
March 17, 2009.
That’s the date I last saved my iTunes library.
Two years ago.
That’s the last time I let music be an integral part of my life.
Memories are important, people. Mmhmmm.
And step by painstaking step, y’all:
January 17, 2011.
I stepped back into the intersection of Judaism, Youth and Music – and was begged to never leave.
February 24, 2011.
I took the reigns back from illness.
March 24, 2011.
I signed my name on the dotted line to write, teach and record music for little Jewish children.
April 1, 2011.
I prayed. And laughed and kissed and talked and shrieked.
April 5, 2011.
The music began to play.