One of the most consistent praise of my work as a journalist and an academic researcher is my ability to find the unique perspective, to take the story and look at it through every imaginable angle to find the most compelling way to tell the story. I can confidently say this ability is one of my gifts.
Of course, I brought out that gift after I posted last night.
I actually put the words, “non-scale victory” into my search bar and read nearly a dozen articles and blogs. Unfortunately they all were your standard NSV faire–more energy, looser clothes, increased confidence, decreased symptoms of a slew of medical conditions and other bits of similar awesomeness. I am by no means downplaying any of those victories but that “Ah ha” moment just was not coming to me.
I went to bed answer-less but on time which is its own victory.
My first thoughts were filled with how empty all the suggestions felt. Luckily, it was early morning and I had the new quiet to help me process.
Slowly, I started to replay several conversations I have had since my husband and I came home and some embers appeared.
- I came home with TEN POUNDS of bloat…and…it was nearly all gone in less than 24 hours. This has been a persistent struggle my whole adult life as even a normal amount of salt enters my bloodstream but this time it was different. Hummmmm.
- I took my new, expensive shoes with less than 10 miles on them to hike around in the red clay and silt. The old me would have never done such a thing for fear of ruining them. The new me does not want to wash the dirt off. Because as I rather glibly quipped to a friend, “I see a chick who loves being covered in red dirt.” Hummmm.
- Then there is the matter of all the NSVs I named above. I was rocking all of those on those rocks. People, I went hiking! Sure, it wasn’t far in any one stretch nor was it up steep terrain but I went off-road, got dirty, and felt my soul recharge through my soles. Hummmmm.
- There was also the, “I have to come back here” moments. We did not take every side road through the park so we left some of it unseen. Even typing that sentence fills me with “I have to go back there” feelings.
- I did something really brave and scary on one of the hikes. For now, it is a secret but it’s fairly huge for me.
- As my hubs and I were driving, I had one of the most revealing epiphanies. From my earliest memories, I have wanted to be an athlete but was never afforded the opportunity. There are many reasons I plan to explain through another post but very basically those dreams were never supported by anyone who would have been in a position–ballet teacher to parents–to foster them. Looking back, I was only a child so I had no way of taking them for myself so I can look on all the memories with a bit of perspective. More later about this one. Promise.
- This morning another thing hit me. I always gain weight in February. Really. How do I know? I have recording every mouthful and movement of my body and the scale for over 10 years. The data doesn’t lie. Does it make any sense to me? Of course not. But on this last day of February 2014, I nearly missed the significance of not gaining an ounce. Not only have I lost weight this month but I have lost weight this week even in the face of 10 pounds of bloat and eating way too many things I normally would not.
However, none of these things really felt like “the” thing. Sure, I can tick them off and explain them and even work through each of them mentally and emotionally but they just didn’t have the right “click” I have been looking for. They are plenty celebratory in their own right and as a collection but the feeling of rightness is missing in them all.
My gorgeous daughter has an opportunity of a lifetime to participate in an in-service for professional photographers taught by one of LA’s finest. She will model for each of the participating photogs and be sent home with a full portfolio of their best work. The booking photographer had not seen or met her but hired her off of the recommendation of another photographer. In the modeling world, this is huge! The only catch to the session is she needs to provide her own wedding dress. No big deal. The thrift stores here generally have an excellent selection so we moseyed on down this morning and the first dress she tried on was “the one” partially because it fit her like it was tailored to her body and it was only $50. For a “starving” model and her momma, the price was certainly welcome.
However, as I zipped her up and she turned around there are just those feelings of seeing your child, your baby girl in a wedding dress. I assure you I will be the proper mess of a human being when the dress is for something more than dress-up.
Then I noticed it.
The lower bodice and the skirt are strikingly similar to a peachy-orange formal I owned when I was a few years younger than she is now but nearly the same size. You see in my youth I participated in The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, a Masonic youth organization. Our attire to every meeting was strictly formal. At 16-years old, I had a collection of gowns. The peachy-orange one was a favorite because it made my waist look so tiny. As my daughter clasped her own hands around her waist and exclaimed, “Look at how tiny it makes me look.” I bubbled and blurted, “I know…I know.”
In my head, however, I was silently screaming and crying as the memory of my own waist alternated with hers.
It occurs to me had I had at least one decently, functioning parental unit perhaps I could have grown-up a lot more Emily-esque and a lot less like the “hot mess” a dear friend described me as yesterday. You see I was raised by my grandmother and step-grandfather, then step-grandfather and step-grandmother who was hell-bent on insisting I was now her daughter, while still having regular contact with my mother and occasional contact with my father but there was not a “parent” in the lot of them. My grandma tried but she was gone from me way too soon. I know the collective dysfunction affects me still partially because at 44-years old the behavior endures. The stories, the horrors. But I digress.
Standing there fluffing the train, I thought of something a friend in my carb cycling support group said. She cried this week during a class at her gym about the anger of what she has become and who she has to leave behind as she moves forward.
The idea that maybe this week isn’t about “Woot, Woot” moments already crossed my mind but standing there with white satin in my hands and orange chiffon on my mind I felt the “click.”
I am not sad.
I am angry but more because of how many times I have tried, begged, and pleaded with a doctor to please help me fix my thyroid when it turned out to be Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and complications from PCOS. Because of those specific diseases my body does things I cannot make sense of or figure out how to work around. I do not mind, not one single bit, about the work required to reclaim my body. In fact, most of the time I love it. But, when I put forth the effort and my body just sits there saying “meh” to the things I do it’s hard. It frustrates me to no end.
I have screamed.
I have cried.
I have thrown a royal hissy fit.
But standing there today with my daughter I did not feel any of those.
Instead, I am insanely proud of her. I also know more now than anytime in my life I have the potential to be her–not a copycat so some desperate plea to regain my youth–but because once upon a time I was her. I never appreciated that girl I was, the one with the tiny waist.
For the first time in my life, I feel confident I can have a tiny waist AND be okay if I still have thunder thighs. I think I can look in the mirror and appreciate the woman looking back at me.
We didn’t buy the first dress. You never buy the first dress, right.
A great cup of Jasmine tea is sunshine in a cup so I went to the place with the best tea.
The next place we went was the bridal shop in hopes of finding a last season gown for a steal. When we explained the reason for the purchase, the very nice ladies offered to sell her a gown for what they normally rent. Depending on the gown it was 50-percent off the sale price.
The only discount dress in her size is Audrey Hepburn-esque. Stunning!
Just for fun, I tried on a baby doll style. As I kept formal wear sizing in mind, I picked the one that looked right and headed for the fitting room. I was nervous and hopeful as I slipped it on. I could tell instantly it was the wrong size.
IT WAS TOO BIG!!!!
My daughter said she could grab a good two inches!!!
This size 22 dress was way too big. If I weren’t holding my phone the way I am, it would have slid down.
When I married my husband three years ago, I was in this same dress shop trying on a satin gown. That 3X dress was comfortably snug.
Best celebration ever!
What I learned today…
Uncommon moments of pure joy often come from the most common moments of life. I am so glad I was out living today.
Like my support group friend, I encourage you to actively look for your own moments, your own ways to make this journey your very last.
I would have been THRILLED if this dress I had no intention of buying fit, but because it did not I found a moment.
TWO EXTRA INCHES OF FABRIC…un-freakin’-real.