Melissa Newman-Evans has a new fan in me.
– the Goddess
A few months ago I was feeling like I was taking it from all sides and I felt very vulnerable. There were days that a sideways look was enough for me to want to dissolve into a mess of sloppy tears. It only lasted for a couple of weeks, but it got me thinking about how I treat other people and how we don’t always realize that an off handed remark or a kind hearted jibe might be all it takes for someone to reach their tipping point.
In high school I was known as the sarcastic one. The one who always had the quick retort and shut down a bully quickly and efficiently. I didn’t realize how “good” I was at this until I got to university and people who I barely knew from high school would come up to me and say hi and that most of all they remembered my sarcasm. Even now when catching up with old friends on Facebook they often mention my sarcasm, not my humour, but my sarcasm, as the thing they remember most about me. Of course for me the sarcasm and biting humour was a defence mechanism, a way to defuse someone before they could attack me with comments about my weight, but regardless of the reason for it, the end result was that I was mean to people. I was mean to people who might have been acting out because of their own struggles and I was mean to people who were likely innocent bystanders hanging around the “cool” kids as a way to survive the social minefield of high school.
And so a couple of months ago I decided to be kinder, specifically I decided that I would put a pause button on my mouth. Before saying the funny and generally well intentioned sarcastic remark that springs to mind I’m going to take a beat and consider the outcome of those words. If it’s someone with whom I have an easy banter and an understanding with then perhaps it’s fine, but I don’t always know the kind of day someone has had and maybe my off handed comment is the last straw for them or maybe they are the kind of person who feels very deeply and my comment, said for my own amusement and forgotten seconds later, might stick with that person for a long time to come.
Granted it’s just a little wit, it’s not like I physically hurt these people or orchestrated a smear campaign, and we know from our legal system that different crimes have different punishments so there is a sense of one crime being worse than another, but whether I point out someone’s shortcomings or I kick them in the shin I am being mean.
A few years ago a friend hurt my feelings. When I finally spoke to her about it her defence was that the same action had hurt someone else’s feelings more deeply and somehow I was supposed to be thankful for that. Recently another friend who is struggling with some personal issues sent me an article and wanted confirmation that he had never been as mean to me as the man in the article was to the author. While my instinct is to protect him because he is emotionally vulnerable I have to admit that I was disappointed and hurt. He wanted me to assure him that even though he’d been unkind that it was not so bad because he had been less unkind than someone else.
What both of them failed to comprehend is that there is no equivalent of the Richter scale on these things. You can’t say well I only got a 0.2 on the Meanter scale, but that dude, that dude lemme tell ya he was a 0.8 with aftershocks, that dude is MEAN. There is no spectrum of mean, rather I think of it like a toggle switch, on or off, mean or kind.
I’m not saying that we can’t express our feelings or that we can’t make a joke, I’m just saying that we need to own our behaviours and if we are mean we apologize and we make amends and we don’t try to deflect blame and responsibility by pointing to those who are “meaner”.
– the Goddess
It might surprise you to know that I have about one hundred partial posts drafted. Sometimes I get distracted, sometimes I’m looking for the perfect quote or I’m trying to find a photo to add and sometimes I just feel that my writing isn’t up to snuff and I pause to find my voice. I’ve been sorting through my draft folder and I’ve found some interesting posts that I will be working on in coming weeks. For now there’s this:
– the Goddess
Valentine’s Day is upon us. For some it’s a day of fun and frivolity with the person they love and for some it’s a stark reminder that they are a singleton in a world that favours coupling. Most years I’ve been single on Valentine’s. I’ve talked before about how the people who love me were clear that no one would ever be romantically interested in a girl like me, so I just let the day go by and bought silly cards for friends or for my parents. My father always sent me a Valentine, sometimes my mother does, and for a long time I just accepted that that was my fate. You, however, do not have to accept this. You do not have to be in a relationship to be a whole, beautiful, wonderful person, but you also do not have to live your life alone because people tell you that no one will love the fat girl.
A few months ago I got my heart broken. Actually it was broken several times during our four year roller coaster of a relationship, but I was loved and I did love. I am a fat girl and someone loved me. The very fact that someone loved me and made love with me reinforced for me that indeed there are people who love women like me. We need role models. We need to see that, despite the opinions of many around us, we are lovable.
Today I found adipositivity.com. There are hundreds of photos of fat people of various shapes and sizes in various poses and states of undress. Depending on your workplace this may be NSFW, so please do be careful, but what I truly loved were the Valentine pictures. These are pictures of of fat people and their lovers. In reading the description of the Adipositivity Project the point is to show people of size and promote acceptance of all shapes and sizes. Perhaps if more of us see that people who look like us have lovers and do love and are loved then they too will be open to finding love. I often joke about being oblivious to flirting and romantic interest. I’m not actually oblivious, I’ve just spent a lot of time ignoring these behaviours because I assumed people weren’t interested. Even now, several dates and a few boyfriends later, I can still be very insecure when meeting someone new and starting a new relationship. The same old insecurities rise up and I have to fight tooth and nail to push them back down. Pictures like the ones on adipositivity.com are not only for the education and enlightenment of the average person. They are for the above average person, like myself, who needs to see herself and her beauty though a different lens.
– the Goddess
Today Tess Holliday (Tess Munster), a 5’5″ woman who wears a size 22, was signed to a major modelling firm. She started the #EffYourBeautyStandard movement and now she is the largest woman signed to a firm. It would be nice if that distinction didn’t have to be made and we could all just acknowledge that this woman is drop dead gorgeous, but this is still impressive.
Take a look at my new Pin Up Girl:
– the Goddess
I bought a scale.
I haven’t owned a scale in nearly ten years. Part of me didn’t want my self worth to be tied to the numbers I saw every time I stepped on and part of me just couldn’t bear to see the numbers period. The problem, however, is that it’s the easiest way to keep track of my current efforts to get fit. I can rely on my clothes feeling looser and me feeling better, but sometimes before there is a noticeable change I’ve gained a few pounds and I want to keep a closer eye on things and the scale at the gym is out in the open.
I ordered the scale from Amazon and it arrived before Christmas, but it’s still in the box because despite what I just said seeing those numbers do intimidate me. Today I found this and I think I will post it on the bathroom wall so I can read it while I weigh myself.
– the Goddess
Imma just leave this here for you.
– the Goddess
I’m sitting here pondering just how I’m going to make it through work tomorrow while I suffer through the symptoms of a bladder infection. In case you haven’t had the pleasure, symptoms include nausea, painful urination, and an overwhelming urge to urinate despite having just done so. There are other possible symptoms like malaise, fever and lower back pain, but they tend to come a little later and hopefully after a night of being up (and down) several times you will seek medical attention. Say frequent and painful urination and your doctor will whip out her prescription pad faster than a gunslinger at high noon. I’m also sitting here pondering the fact that I have no problem telling you the ins and outs of my urethra and by association my other bits and pieces, but I have kept secret the fact that for the last ten months I’ve been seeing a psychologist.
The truth is my dad died nearly 5 years ago and I didn’t handle it very well. For the six months I went into Wonder Woman mode and I held it all together. I cancelled accounts, dealt with banks, contacted family members, stayed in touch with his friends, hired people to do reno work on his condo, bought and schlepped building materials, ripped up carpet, and kept all the balls in the air. And then one day I just stopped. i stopped opening my mail, I stopped paying my bills, I stopped seeing friends, I stopped going out, I just stopped. By the time I worked up the courage to even talk to friends about my need to speak to a professional I had gained 90 pounds, I had ruined my credit rating, and I was emotionally paralyzed. I went to work each day, I was functional, but that was all I was. Most people didn’t notice, some would try to cajole me into doing things and some flat out admonished me for not keeping up with bills, especially when the money was in the bank. I couldn’t find the energy and I couldn’t find the words to explain to them that just getting up and going to work each day usurped all of my strength. Just holding it together enough to do laundry and feed the cat was a struggle. By the time I finally contacted the Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) offered through my employer I was so low that a friend had to keep on me for months just to pick up the phone. As it was I found an email address and used that and even then I couldn’t pull it together to respond in a timely fashion and the EAP provider sent me a list of therapists and then closed the dialogue. Eventually the fog started to lift and my good friend kept pushing me and I found a therapist.
I was never suicidal, but when my father died unexpectedly I suddenly understood how someone could do it. I always thought of it as a selfish act, an abandonment of one’s loved ones. I always wondered how one could leave his or her children especially if they were very young, but the despair and physical pain of grief enabled me to see how some of us could see it as the only way to end suffering. Today Robin Williams chose to end his suffering. I knew that he had issues with substance abuse and depression and somehow today I was surprised and yet not surprised. Often the funniest people in our lives have the darkest thoughts. Twitter and Facebook are lit up today as people hear and respond to the news. People are posting links about Mental Health Awareness and where to seek help. They are talking about mental illness and so, inspired by their efforts, I decided to tell you about my struggles in hopes that if you need some assistance today will be the day you reach out and clutch that helping hand.
If you’re in Ontario, Canada then you can contact the Mental Health Helpline http://www.mentalhealthhelpline.ca/
If you are not in Ontario then it appears if you type “Mental Health Helpline” and enter the name of your town or city you will find people eager to assist you.
– the Goddess
This weekend I was supposed to go to the beach on the Toronto Island, but I was thwarted by rain, high temperatures and humidity, and a report that the water quality of Lake Ontario might be a bit dodgy. How I look in a bathing suit however was not going to keep me from paddling in the water and feeling the sand between my toes. In fact I’m quite proud to say that I’ve been doing a lot of swimming lately and much of the apprehension I once felt has melted away. I can’t say that it’s all gone, but I can tell you that I barely give it a moment’s notice these days.
Recently this has been making the rounds on Facebook and a friend also posted a related blog post from a parenting blog and I even made it one of my 40 Challenges to go to the beach and be seen by the world in my bathing suit. I haven’t yet attempted a bikini, in fact I don’t own one, but it’s something I’m thinking about. As the boyfriend pointed out I already show off my legs and hips so why not the tummy? How could that part of me be any more or less offensive to those who are going to take issue with seeing me in a bathing suit? And quite frankly if they take issue, well apparently life is pretty good because there are a lot of things to worry about in this world which are way more important than the dimples on my knees.
– the Goddess