Honest Guilt

I’m a big girl.  I try to be okay with it, because apparently I don’t hate it enough to make the huge life-changes I would need to make in order for me not to be a big girl.  For me, it would be more than working out on a regular basis ( although that does make a big difference ).  My body needs more help than that, and I know — I worked out like crazy for a couple years.  For me, it would mean making huge changes to my diet.  And to be frank, I don’t want to do that.  Yet.

But there’s something new I’m discovering about my perception about myself.

I hate to eat.

I love food.  I really do. I like cooking it, I enjoy amazing meals just like everyone else.  But more and more often these days, I feel guilty every time I open my mouth.  I know where the guilt comes from: it comes from knowing what I could do, what I should do to be healthy…and then not doing it.

I know I’m supposed to love my body.  I know it’s within my power to change it if I really don’t.  I’ve been told all the do’s and dont’s of eating, exercising, and body image, told them over and over until I could probably hold a very educated dialogue with health professionals.

Women are told so much about how to feel about themselves, about how to take care of their bodies.  But in my case, it simply comes down to two factors: a stubborn laziness and a reluctance to change my diet and cut out some of the things that I really love.

I don’t have an out-of-control weight problem, but I do suffer from self-esteem issues.  I am beginning to make changes to keep myself under control.  But I want to be honest with those other girls out there like me, the ones who feel a little like a bad person every time they eat something other than an apple: I know how you feel.  We’ve got to get past that — the guilt, the poor body image, and the laziness.  It’s hard…all three of those things require changes to the way we think.  I know, I understand, I’m going to try harder too.

If we want to slim down, we know how to do it.  There is so much information about healthy living out there, adapted for almost every lifestyle.  And if we want to be happy with our bodies as they are, than we need to embrace ourselves, truly focus on things that we love about our bodies.  I usually start with my eyes.

But no matter what, it is time to let go of that guilt.

I am really interested in hearing stories from other women who might be reading this, but please be sensitive and encouraging.  I know I don’t always make the best food choices: I’m a rational adult and I’ve heard it, just like a smoker as heard all the reasons why they shouldn’t smoke.  I’m trying to change.  But I am hoping to hear stories about courage and health.

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Totems

In the days after my brother died, my concept of what was sacred radically changed.

I know I’m not alone in this.  There’s a phenomenon that happens when someone close to you has been lost.  The things that Luke liked, the things that Luke loved, the places he went, became special to me.  I ritually went to Taco Tuesday because he did.  I listened to the music he listened to.  I adopted hot pink as a favorite color because, perhaps only satirically, it was his.  In the weeks after he died, I looked for any way to honor him, to experience his life for just a few moments.

Eventually I realized what I was doing.  I was creating what I eventually called totems.  I was making the things Luke liked HUGE in my own life, like the beautiful giant wooden totems.  Maybe I was trying in some way to feel close to him again.  Maybe I was trying to get to know him better post-humorously.  Or maybe I just didn’t know how else to cope with this huge hole in my life.

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It didn’t last, however.  I used to cling to things like Taco Tuesday and Taylor Swift music with an almost religious fervor.  I didn’t know what else to do, I didn’t know what else I could really hang on to.  But the thing is, and no offense to any fans, that I don’t really enjoy Taylor Swift music.  Luke loved her and I tried to ( seriously, I downloaded all of her music ), but I just didn’t.

I love Luke and I still appreciate the things that he loved, but I don’t cling to them the way I did at first.  I can’t make myself like the same things he did, and to do so would be unhealthy.  But I can think back on him stuffing his face with carnitas tacos or singing Taylor Swift at the top of his lungs with a smile on my face.

I was in the totem stage for a while, and I think that’s pretty normal.  Some of his things are still a little sacred: I have a jacket of his that I will probably keep for the rest of my life, just to remind myself how big he was.  I don’t want to forget those bear hugs.  But for the most part, my insistence on making anything Luke associated with a part of my own life is now behind me.

Be patient, be patient, be patient.  That’s what I’m learning about grief.  To be patient with yourself and to recognize that sometimes you need little totems to comfort you, and sometimes you can let go of those totems and that’s okay too.  Being patient with your emotions as you traverse through grief is the best thing you can do for yourself.