PTF – Episode #16 – New days by E Jill Riley
If you have ever been tempted to tell me I am full of hot air here is your chance. I am overweight by 70 pounds, the weight of a full helium tank. A whole tank. Or, you could tell me I’m bananas because I am 187 bananas overweight. I am overweight by the weight of an average sheet of drywall and an entire bushel of corn.
I have always been conscious of my body and overly conscious of my weight, even when I weighed too little. Four years ago when my journey with psychotropic medications began I never imagined it would affect this part of my life. 70 pounds later and its a daily battle not only to be emotionally balanced but also not to lose my mind over the fact that I am considered obese for my height.
Peace with my body weight and shape eludes me. Even though I work out 3-5 times a week, hard, at the gym and am in the best physical shape of my adult life I cannot be satisfied with the way I look. I’m frustrated that I’m working so hard and its making such little result in my appearance.
The funny thing is I remember when I was underweight, because of a borderline eating disorder, and I thought then that I was still over weight.
This body image thing is a bigger issue than our scales and our mirrors. Its something deeper, internal that drives our perceptions of who we think our best self is.
I take better care of my body, soul, spirit and mind than I ever have. My artistic and spiritual life are rich and growing. So why can’t I be satisfied? I think it is because I measure myself by the wrong mirror. The current image of what it is to be successful does not include being overweight. Advertisers struggle to portrait what a “real” woman looks like and yet we so often compare ourselves to movie stars and fashion models who’s job it is to be in shape.
Being a size 5 and in shape is not my job. My job is to be healthy and being healthy includes my mind. So I need a makeover for my mind. The makeover is really an attitude adjustment. An accurate mirror would tell me that I am healthy, I am strong, I am creative, beautiful and talented. I will work hard to tell myself that I am not my body weight. I am so much more than that.
Will I continue on my quest to lose some bananas? Absolutely, but I will also try really hard not hate myself in the process.
PTF – Episode #15 – Depression by E Jill Riley
The teens play this game called “bigger and better”. The teams are each given a a small object. They begin going door to door, calling on the poor neighbors to exchange the team’s object for something bigger and better. Each neighbor searches through their rummage pile or garage for a contribution. At the end of the allotted time the teams reconvene and judges decide the winner, based on their final items. Years ago when the teens were playing this game one group came home dragging a treadmill! Tonight it was a 10×10 carpet, a barbecuer, giant teddy bear and two extra kids!
Sometimes western culture is just a giant game of bigger and better. From the start of our “i want” stage in life we keep trading up; better toys, smaller electronics, better relationships, bigger careers, better houses, bigger toys etc. No matter how much we get or how perfect it is that satisfaction is temporary, so we trade up.
When we trade our vehicles for something bigger and better we try to hide the scratches, the dents, the paint chips. We want to camouflage the high gas mileage and the electrical malfunctions because in the material world this translates to less value. I bought into it, into the lore, the lie that my won value is related to my perfection, as if I should be judged, assessed and monetized like an object.
I am not as confident as I used to be. Something about being mentally ill and needing to be taken care of by so many professsionals, not being able to care for my children, of living in solitude, losing career, relationships and independence has dampened my confidence.
I can feel the stilling of the jello that has been my confidence. I can feel it quickening like slow cure cement into something strong, like a bone graft that becomes stronger than the original bone. To succumb to the weight of a tragic childhood, diseases that have affected friends and family, the loss of loved ones, the suicides and unexpected tragedies I have witnessed, would be a tragedy. To deny their impact on my life would be an even larger one because that would be to refuse the grace that has been gifted to me to survive.
Much is put on being a “survivor”. We like the idea of the warrior who fights against the odds to conquer the foe. However, it isn’t being a survivor that makes me strong or confident. It is the ability to point to the wounds that stand witness to my pain and say “it still hurts” or “I need help” that takes me from the game of “bigger and better” and puts me square in the lap of love and grace.
I’m not that mom. I wish I were. If I were that mom I would make my children breakfast, lunch AND dinner. I would do their laundry and be gracious about taking things to the school when they forget things at home. If I were that mom I would stay up late with them while they finished homework and maybe even help them with it. That mom would attend and enjoy all of their activities, sitting in the front row with a camera at every one of them. But I’m not.
I’m the other kind of mom. I’m the mom who numbered the children because it seemed easier than trying to remember their names. I’m the mom who hardly ever remember their friends names. And Lord help me if I ever need their serial (social security) number. I’m the mom who told my children the ice cream truck was a music truck so they wouldn’t ask for ice cream every time it came around. I’m the mom who taught my children to do laundry and gave them assigned days to do it, so I wouldn’t have to. I’m the mom eats their treats out of their stockings and easter baskets. I’m the mom who says good night to them, leaving them to figure out their homework on their own.
I’m the mom who loves to let the kids bring as many people home as possible to eat all my food. I’m the mom who likes to build fires for them so they can sit around and talk and listen to music. I’m a mom who loves to work and sometimes forgets to take care of pesky things like food and cleaning because I’m engrossed in my work. I’m the mom who let’s the children all pile on top of me which they see as an act of love and not aggression, just so they know I enjoy them. I’m the mom who says I need to run errands and hides at Target for an hour. I’m the mom who was good at providing activities for the kids to do but wasn’t so good at playing with them.
No matter what kind of mom we are there is always somebody to compare with who seems to do the job better than you do. But no matter what I’m the mom God gave to these children and they love me. And I love them, even though I forget their names.