I have these goals for this year. Generically, I’ve resolved to “get shit done.” This is part of my recovery from my latest bought with depression, which had me taking children to school and coming home to sleep the day away. Now, I’m not putting down naps. I love naps, but this wasn’t healthy napping. This was napping to avoid my life.
But I have energy now. I have desires again. Desires to get up and human! One of my passions has always been writing. I started writing my first story around 9 years old, after being inspired by Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly series. The last one ended shortly before motherhood began.
Being the year of getting shit done, I need to write again. That feels right. Apparently, these days, if you write, you do it on a blog for others to read, and that’s craziness. But I’m being open, since I don’t even know what I’m going to write about. One day, the “This is me” blog came blasting out of my head on my way back from my morning gig of chauffeuring children, and suddenly I’m writing, again.
Here’s where it gets hard, though. Not long after just beginning, I wake-up in the middle of the night, and my bulimia story, from illness to recovery, is playing out in my head. As much as I want to go back to sleep, I can’t stop narrating it. After 2 hours of tossing and turning, I get up and reluctantly grab pen and paper. I don’t know that I can post all of this. I don’t know why it’s coming out now. It was a lifetime ago. Do I really have to tell this? Can I tell this? Is it right to tell this?
Later, I look at the different pieces of the story, and I still can’t answer those questions. As the days and weeks go by after that night, I just feel more and more nudging to take up this “shit.”
“Lesson one” is the first piece that I’m gonna put out there. We’ll just see how this goes.
Lesson one, womanhood is fully of catty comparisons, and I don’t measure up.
I was a late bloomer. I had a friend, Mel; she was not. We were about 11, and my dad had started his first ministry job. Mel’s family attended the church where Daddy was hired, and there was another girl there our age, Allie. It quickly became the routine after Sunday service for the three of us to spend the day at one person’s house.
We all lived outside of town. Our Sunday afternoons were mostly spent romping through the woods, making up adventures as we went. After a couple Sundays of this, the parents decided it best to send along play clothes. After all, we weren’t inside having tea in our church dresses, we were outside exploring!
I recall the first time I had to undress in front of them both. I had wanted to slip off to the bathroom. Allie thought that was silly. She and Mel where quickly in their bras and panties and opening up their bags to get out their shirts and shorts. I wasn’t even wearing a bra. I didn’t need one. Now, having two sisters who were, at this time, in college, I was used to seeing women in their underwear, but these weren’t women, they were little girls like me. …or so I thought.
I turned my back to them and pulled off my dress. I quickly grabbed my tee shirt and brought it up to cover my chest. Please don’t look. Don’t notice. They noticed. Of course, they noticed. They laughed. They gasped and declared “oh my gawd” and questioned if I even owned a bra. I don’t remember if I owned an unnecessary bra.
That part wasn’t important. What was important was I was learning. I was learning what happens when you do start to become a woman. You compare. You judge. You belittle, and I was flawed, right here on the outside for everyone to see. Five minutes ago, I had no idea. I naively thought I was okay the way I was. Everyone else has probably noticed, though.
Let’s just go play, I wanted to say. It seemed like an eternity that they examined and compared, occasionally giggling in my direction, assuring me that I’d understand one day. They were a part of something older and wiser, but I was still just a baby. So, I just gathered information on how this woman thing works.
Lesson two, you cannot accept a compliment.
Any positive on their body was met with a self-deprecating comment. Mel, we learned, had already started her period. She had her womanly curves. When that was noted, however she bemoaned them. Allie was a taller blond who did gymnastics and cheer and any other activity her mother could manage and then brag about. She had a long waist and a tight, athletic-looking abdomen. I thought her smooth belly looked perfect. There was no donut of little-kid pudge around it like mine. Nonetheless, she declared that her stomach was bulging from eating lunch. But it wasn’t, and my average-size body suddenly felt awkward.
Eventually, though, I’d mature, I reassured myself. Then, everything would be okay again. I was sure of it. Once I became a woman, I wouldn’t have to be ashamed of my body. This churning in my stomach will leave, and I’ll once again hold my head high.
But of course, that didn’t happen. What happened was too much, and that was not acceptable either. What happened was a roller coaster of weight gain and loss before I ever achieved a nice smooth belly like Allie’s, and it came at a great emotional cost. What happened was more and more shame until I found the solution. Bulimia. A way to fade away so no one could see me. No one could judge me. It would be so much better than feeling the pain of exposure. ….and maybe that’s why I have to expose my story.
“Life is pain, Highness” –Wesley, Princess Bride