I stole a book from the library called “Will I ever be good enough?”. It’s about healing from the emotional wounds of having a narcissistic mother. (spoiler alert: I will never be good enough in my mother’s eyes- but I must learn that I can’t define myself through her eyes- because she has the permanent opposite of beer goggles.)
Since my daughter was born, I’ve made great strides learning about what a ‘normal’ mother is- what a loving mother feels, says and does. Through blood, sweat and anti-psychotic medication, I think that I’ve finally become a loving and responsive mother.
There is another item in my never-ending attempt to figure out how the world works, that I have been feeling needs to be addressed: What does a real woman look like? What does a healthy mother look like? Does she have a six-pack (abs) and run half-marathons on Sundays? Does she skip dinner only to eat chocolate bars once the kids are asleep? Does pick at a lettuce and celery dinner each night? Is it okay if her thighs jiggle a bit when she dances with her kids?
Is it enough for me to make a fool of myself at an adult dance class once a week and try to eat healthier choices and smaller portions (to save up for a cupcake)? Is it enough if I only go to yoga when I’m not exhausted? or if I just do a few pushups at home instead of a crossfit workout? Or should I push onward until I can fit myself into a cardboard cut out of my ‘pre-kids’ body? or better yet, my post-kid, meal skipping, processed food fearing, OCD exercising body?
Now, context is important, last year I was clearly overweight (not fishing for compliments). I was eating all of my emotions and then having dessert too. I was also on meds that helped me gain extra weight and was generally unhealthy. I was also depressed. I mean manic. I mean depressed. I mean…
So, I don’t propose that my efforts this year to get healthier and fitter and lose weight have been excessive or disconnected from reality. There is reason for my efforts towards a body goal. The problem is, how will I know when I am there? How do I know when I’ve succeeded at getting control over my body weight?
I guess this ties into a larger issue (of course) of me figuring out who I am emotionally and also physically. If I am unstable (in body and mind), is that okay? Can I be healthier some weeks than others? How do I know when it’s been enough hunger? enough exhaustion? enough unhealthiness? How do I know when I’m skinny enough? when I’m fit enough? Will people tolerate my presence if I stop shrinking?
I watched Lily Myers’ poetry slam video, Shrinking Women (I’m clearly too busy at work) and this line really struck me. I hadn’t thought about how much guilt is wrapped up in food:
Nights, I hear her creep down to eat plain yogurt in the dark, a fugitive stealing calories to which she does not feel entitled. Deciding how many bites is too many. How much space she deserves to occupy… a circular obsession I never wanted.
Full disclosure: I’m eating a piece of 2 week old birthday cake while I write this post. xoxo