The true intention of this blog was to write about me, as I relate to my daughter. These stories are my legacy to her.
When I was little, I loved nothing more than pouring over my own baby book and asking my Grandma or own Mama about the stories on the pages. I loved knowing where I came from, the House That Built Me. But I really loved hearing the stories from the mouths of those who lived them. I have always been an avid collector of stories. For years, I've loved reading obituaries in newspapers. It's not morbid. It's me wanting to know about people. I began writing other's people's stories in high school when I joined my school's paper. I was an editor of my college's newspaper. I read at least 2 novels a week. I read 12-15 magazines a month. I devour stories. I honestly believe blogs and Twitter and even Instagram were made for newshounds like me. I recently "Liked" a new Facebook page called "Humans of New York" where a guy simply photographs strangers on the street in New York and pauses to see what they have to say. I eat that shit up.
So this blog is comprised of my stories for my daughter. It holds more truth than anything else I've created in my life. It might be more than she bargained for, but at least she'll know who I was, and at least I'll be unapologetic for it- all of it.
There has been a topic floating around in my brain for awhile now, and little pieces of what I wanted to say or illustrate started to form just this week. Anyone who knows me knows I love The Today Show. (When I was very young, 3ish, I wanted to be Dan Rather when I grew up. I simply adore the news) The Today Show is journalism at its best. It's delivered in the morning, served with a side of sexy and grace, and as the years go by, so do its anchors, but I remain stoic. I loved Katie Couric. I loved Meredith Viera. I loved Ann Curry. And if (when) Matt Lauer leaves ... oh hell no. I won't even go there. Anyways, last week they debuted a new series called "Love Your Selfie" which is a word play on the social media/pop culture reference of posting your own photos to various streams of publicity. The series went deeper though to the very core of Loving Thy Self, and finally gave me the last bit of whatever it is I needed to write this down for my own girl.
I have spent years ... decades even, hating my body. Not hating myself, there is a very distinct separation of the two. But- one can argue that hate positioned toward one piece of yourself will inevitably lead to letting it seep into all the other parts you find just OK. Do you know what the very first thing I said to The Dad when he asked me to marry him was? (well, for clarity, I said Yes, then I asked if we could go to Maui on our honeymoon and he said Yes) I said to him ... "I am going to go on the South Beach Diet now!" He was still on one knee and kinda just blinked and said, "OK?" That is a sad girl right there on one of the happiest days of her life. That was over ten years ago.
I hated my body in high school because I had to wear two sports bras when I practiced and played sports. I hated my size 10 feet. Hated my acne.
I hated my body in college when I started feeding it alcohol, nicotine, and shitty garbage food and stopped using it for practice and play. I hated it for needing so much sleep.
I hated my body when I graduated four years later, I hated it for being a size at the very end of women's charts in the stores I had always loved- mainstream stores at the mall I was nearly sizing myself out of.
I hated my body when I wedding dress shopped, and I only wanted my own Mama and mother-in-law with because I didn't want any of my girls to see what size I had to order. I hated that I thought they would even remotely care.
I hated my body when I had to have surgery to repair it- ovarian cyst removals, breast reduction, heel surgeries to repair bone structure issues. I hated my body when it took me six months- and what was really only a blissful, clueless six months at that- to conceive the Lil' Dude.
I hated my body when my caffeine withdrawal headaches during pregnancy made my cry most of the first trimester. I hated the stretch marks that lasted to infinity. I hated that I took that body and its amazing baby-growin' skills for granted. I hated my body for not being able to go into labor itself.
I hated my body for three years YEARS IN ALL CAPS of infertility. My infertility. Only mine. I hating ending other's people's dreams with my body. I hated the stirrups, the insurance, the confessions, the pharmacy, the explanations, the endless hoping, the acupuncture, the signs, the no booze-no-gluten-no-caffeine-no-effing-kidding- gig I embarked on. I hate that the only emotion I remember from that entire stint, is hate.
Hate is such an effing waste of time.
Two years ago, I went to see a tattooist alone. I curled onto my side and had him spend two hours drawing a lone blackbird on a branch on my ribs right underneath my heart. I had him write, "Hope is the thing with Feathers" right onto the body I had always hated. I didn't care my entire torso was exposed to this young, fearless kid, right in that expansive studio. He asked me my story with the tattoo and placement. I didn't cry when I told him I was there at age 32 to start taking back all that hate and letting some love in. He stopped working, and commended me and thanked me for letting him do this job he loved so much, because of clients like me.
A year ago I joined a real gym. I funneled all that hate into something useful.
Hate is such an effing useless emotion.
I steeled myself through various training tools. I made myself present when my trainer- a male, no less, recorded my weight, BMI, and body fat statistics. He made me say them out loud. He made me own them. Never again, he said. Never again, I repeated. I took my first real yoga class. Namaste, bitches. I set my alarm for 4:50 to get to Spin. I wear a heart-rate monitor so I don't do anything mindlessly. Chug water, chug life. I can list the caloric content of every single food item on the planet. That doesn't mean I hate myself. I finally don't. I make no apologies or excuses to my daughter when she asks where I am going, what I am doing with my time away from her. Empowering me means I'm empowering her. I fill all my feeds with the honest people who motivate me. And I stopped all that hating. All those decades of being my very last fan ... done. All the mirrors and sizes and scales and photos- no more hate. I wore a bikini publicly for the first time in my life last fall on a girls' trip with the girls I have loved since pre-puberty ... Who have loved me through all my stories. No hate.
She's six. Right now, she has endless amounts of energy and long, thin legs. She asked us this weekend if she could join dance. That's a separate post for another time. She knows what's healthy and what's reserved for special occasions and treats. She goes to sleep each night and wakes up each day thinking she is the most awesome person on the planet. She loves herself to the core of her being, and with everything she's got. She's her own biggest fan and promoter. She is quintessentially, what every human should be. Born thinking she is only amazing and worthy and capable of such greatness.
And when the day comes where she thinks she has something to hate about herself, I will be armed. I will not let that word define her life the way it's defined mine.
Over my (ridiculously strong and ever-evolving) dead body.