After the hubbub dies down, you are once again a mother. A dream come true. Every wish you’ve wished for the last four years, every sacrifice you’ve made, all to assume this mantle of responsibility.
It’s a big one, and it puts you in an uncomfortable position: one of power.
Power is a rocky concept. Nearly everyone who had it over you abused it. So you’re left with a thousand ways not to wield it, and few examples of how to. Read more …
Stop being a fat woman in your head. Just stop.
How many episodes of “My 600-lb Life” do you need to watch before you realize that nearly every single person still feels like a fat person even after they lose the weight? How many of these people still try to stuff their faces after surgery, even when they physically can’t? It’s in your head. And until you stop being a fat woman in your head, you’re not going to stop being a fat woman in your body.
You made strides this week: you did sit-ups without any excuses. You took a walk, and resolved not to look to see if anybody made faces or watched you or judged you.
It doesn’t matter if they judge you. It doesn’t matter if they give you a high-five for “finally getting off your duff” or if they scowl at the fat chick weighing down their health insurance premiums. It doesn’t matter if they ignore you. Read more …
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December 10, 2014
Ghosts assail you from every direction. Ghosts of bad decisions, of limited options. Ghosts of oppression and doubt. Memories bumped up your anxiety in the night…and the day, and the twilight and the dawn.
The husks of poor coping skills lie everywhere, tripping you as you try to walk through the memories with your head held high. But like smoke, the higher you hold yourself, the more you choke.
Life sucks sometimes. You’re not always going to make the right decision. The dog-and-pony shows sometimes require more than a stiff upper lip—sometimes they require every ounce of your strength. Your internal strength. The strength you have to realize when you’re making your life worse for yourself. Read more …
Today was big. Aside from the fits of crying punctuating your day, you stood strong in the face of a big fear.
You are not your mother.
Although you have some of the same challenges, you face yours differently. Where she fell before them, hoping they would not sweep her away, you stood firm. No, more than that: you ran at the problem and gave it the finger.
Sure, the finger looked suspiciously like unpacking Mom’s old dishes, washing them, and using them for dinner, but it was “the finger.” Read more …
Fight. Once upon a time, when you wore scabby knees like a badge, you raised your fists at nearly everyone who dared tell you your place. You fought, you scrapped, you rebelled. You argued, you stood up, you questioned. Where is that fire, Jennifer? Where are the coals that, once breathed upon, will roar up into the red-headed inferno you once were?
I know she’s in there. That tempest, that revolutionary. Though your arguments’ resolutions migrated northward to your brain, your hands still itch to fight. Your chest still burns to scream. When did you decide you weren’t worth fighting for?
In front of you lies success. Read more …
Remember this heady feeling of success? Of the stars aligning just for you? It’s been a long time, but there it is. You have plenty more work to do, more work than you think is even possible to do, but it feels wonderful. This is the feeling you chased in college, when you’d stay up all night completing three chapters’ worth of work, when you’d bust out an essay in an hour, when you’d help the English Department’s Darling edit her work.
There’s no destination called Success (except in New Hampshire and Arkansas.) Success isn’t somewhere you get to eventually. Read more …
November 4, 2014
Optimism. It’s a quality you claimed to have. You lied. Optimism is the belief that things will turn out OK. You tell people so, and you believe it for them, but you’ve never believed it for yourself. I know your secret, Jennifer. You’re not really an optimist.
You know what gives you away? Fear. Optimism eradicates fear. It cancels fear out. Fear means looking for trouble. It isn’t logical, it isn’t sensical.
Don’t pretend fear is an acknowledgment of risk. Nor does eliminating fear mean turning a blind eye to risk. You’ve done that before and it’s bitten you. You’ve done the opposite, too, calling your fear “risk”, as if it made it valid. Read more …
I know you beat yourself up at night. You could have done this, you could have done that. You should do this, you should do that. Ten thousand voices of advice ring in your head, saying opposing things, saying nothing. And all that remain from the conflagration in your skull are the hollow ashes of guilt.
You are not superwoman. Some days, you’re hardly more than a slug. And you know what? That’s really OK. It is. Do what you can do; you’ll never be a Type A personality. You’ll never be someone who just go-go-goes. You’ll never even be neuro-typical.
And can you imagine what it would be like to lose your gifts? Your atypicality is your life. It’s the soft place you explore when life is too rough. Read more …
Eat another slice of pizza. Go on, I dare you. How are you any different from your mother? Fat, stuffing your feelings down with food. And I don’t get it, Jennifer, I really don’t; you’re fully aware of the pain you went through. You’ve catalogued every bit of it you can remember. It’s done. It’s over. It can’t happen again. Yes, the world is a dangerous place and all kinds of victimization can happen, but you know you can survive it.
Well, you can eat it.
A strange memory floated in on the heels of another; a story about Super Seal led to thinking about the blankies. Two of them. One Mom told you about, and the white one.
You ate them. Read more …
Enough with the platitudes. If you’re going to change your life, how are you going to do it? What are you going to do today?
Today you are going to finish the household maintenance chores. All of them. You’ve been doing great: keeping up with the laundry and the dishes and cleaning the fridge and the bathrooms. You’re going to keep that up today.
Today you’re going to unpack another box, and put stuff in its proper place.
Today you’re going to work on your book, Scales.
Today you’re going to work on your business. Read more …
You want so badly to be hard on yourself, to talk sternly, to beat yourself up.
You made a mistake. You acted out of desperation instead of intention, and it bit you. But you ACTED. So you’re not going to beat yourself up about it. You’re going to learn. You’re going to grow, and you’re going to deal.
In the long run, your mistake doesn’t even matter. Not even a long run: a month. In a month, it won’t matter.
You won’t beat yourself up. Read more …
You’re afraid. Look at you, posting about the upcoming changes in your life as if you would accept them with some kind of grace.
Hell, no. You hate when change is forced on you. You hate authority. You follow every rule but resent, resent, resent.
What do you call this past week? Burying your fears in “looking toward the future,” a.k.a procrastinating. Hiding. Trembling with weak knees and an even quakier writing hand.
What, you feel exposed? Why, because you put your soul out there in public and can’t take it back? Read more …
Next week your life will change. Whether it changes in the direction you want isn’t up to you, but how you author your own story after the change is. Perhaps you will collapse in despair at the news, perhaps you will sigh in relief. What matters is not that moment, but every moment after.
Will you stand up and fight for your dreams? Either answer could imperil your goals. They could be subsumed by others’ needs, or they could waste away as trifles. Read more …