No Ode to my Plus Size

 

There are a series of things I have to talk about to lead you into my point for this post–and I wish I were a smooth enough writer to be able to just take you though it without saying “I have to talk you through some stuff”–but I’m not smooth enough. So there’s that.

I want to start with a spoken word poem I listened to the other day. I adore spoken word poetry. I watched/listened obsessively my junior year of high school, and I still have my favorite performers/writers that I keep up with, but this one I just stumbled upon on Facebook. It’s called “Ode to my Bitch Face” by Olivia Gatwood. And it’s a damn good poem, 10/10 recommend. But I want to point out something she says before she begins the poem:

“I’ve been doing this thing lately where I write Odes to things I think I’m supposed to feel ashamed of, which is largely how shame works. We think we’re supposed to feel it–we’re told we’re supposed to feel it–about the way that we live and act and walk and speak and dress and are and then we feel it because someone else told us to–it’s not an organic feeling, really.”

Before I saw that video, Induction happened.

A new group of Initiates were inducted into the fraternity this semester. I didn’t have a black dress (the required attire for Induction) so I had to go shopping for one.

I thought that I was being a realist when I grabbed a size 16 and went to the dressing room.

I ended up needing a size 18.

Now I’m on Spring Break.

Tomorrow I’m taking a day trip to the beach–my only trip to the beach during this break. I haven’t worn a bathing suit in at least a year, and I know I’ve gained weight (hence the dress debacle) so I decided to go buy a new bathing suit.

I tried on one and immediately quit. I decided on a t-shirt and shorts.

The only tops my size covered my stomach. I was grateful for that. I didn’t want anyone to see the stretchmarks on my tummy. It had a secure chest area and a flowing abdominal area. I tried a bottom in an XL. Refused to get a bikini style, so my only other option was shorts. They got tight in weird places, stretching over my wide hips but billowing over my less thick (though definitely still thick) thighs.

I almost burst into tears in the dressing room. I almost decided not to go to the beach.

So it’s almost 11PM now. There is no way I can find a bathing suit before I leave for the beach tomorrow.

And in a last ditch resort, I Pinterested some outfit ideas: “plus size beach style”

Every single thing I saw was long, and billowy, and covered all my unsightly bits (and, my, are there many).

I started to wonder why I am expected to cover all those bits, or why I want to. I started to wonder why I hate the way I look standing next to my Boyfriend.

I wonder if I’m actually unhappy with how I look or if I’m ashamed because I’m expected to be.

There will be no Odes to my Fat Rolls or Stretch Marks or Cellulite. There is no happy ending to this, because having that thought didn’t change my shame.

My shame doesn’t disappear just because I’m not sure if it comes from me organically. Tomorrow I will still not want to expose my body. I will still not want to see pictures of myself. I will still not want to see videos. I will still suck in when a photo is being taken. I will still wonder if my Boyfriend has just settled when he could find someone so much prettier.

There will no Ode to my Plus Size.

-HH

Working, not Breaking

So I had a bunch of things I was thinking about writing about while I binge How to Get Away with Murder on Spring Break. Then there was a scene in this episode where Annalise (Viola Davis) is in an AA meeting. And I thought of my father.

My Boyfriend and I got into a fight  a few weeks ago. It’s the closest we’ve ever come to breaking up. I’ll explain.

We were at a party, surrounded by people with whom I was having tension–his friends. I was surrounded by alcohol–a thing I have so many negative feelings about that I work to process every day. My Boyfriend, while he knows about them, doesn’t get it. He hasn’t had the kind of experiences I’ve had with alcohol. I’m happy he hasn’t. But that can make things difficult.

The party became too much for me almost immediately. I couldn’t handle it. I walked home alone. Try as I might, my brain wouldn’t stop. The panic felt overwhelming. I was alone, with my brain running in circles it hadn’t gone in quite awhile. And I tried to let him have his fun, I did, but I couldn’t.

So I called him. Told him I needed him to come home. And he was drunk on the other end, I could tell. But he loves me, so I figured he’d come back when I told him I needed him.

He didn’t.

Or, I mean, he did. Like three hours later.

And we talked about it the next day. I got mad, he apologized.

“I should have come home,” he told me.

But when I demanded to know why he didn’t come home earlier, he couldn’t give me anything worth anything. Because “I was playing Beer Pong,” just doesn’t compare to “My girlfriend needs me” in my opinion.

“It’s going to take time for me to forgive you,” I finally said. “You’re going to have prove yourself to me.”

Weeks later, we were riding home to Spring Break. And for some reason, that night crossed my mind. And I turned down the radio.

“I’m not meaning to start a fight, but I told you it was going to take time for me to forgive you. And I think you deserve to know that I haven’t forgiven you, yet.”

And he got mad. When I tried to grab his hand, he pulled away.

“That was weeks ago and I think there’s a bigger problem if you’re still holding on to it.”

And I laughed. “With me? Oh yeah, definitely.”

I think maybe we probably almost broke up again, in the car. Which would’ve broken my rule, so I’m glad that didn’t happen.

“You picked beer over me,” and I hate to admit that my voice broke when I started to yell, but it did. “And a lot of people have picked beer over me, my entire life.”

He got quiet. And all the anger I had felt from him before changed.

All the anger in me shifted. “I’m not angry at you. I’m scared. That that’s going to become normal.”

When the fighting is over, we always ask each other. “Do you have anything else you want to say?”

Normally it’s nothing big. Quiet I love you’s. Hand kisses. Hugs and I’m sorry’s.

But this time it smacked me.

“I didn’t realize that it was about more than just me.”

I always know about the things that make us different. Like he’s Catholic, and I love writing. But I forget about the bigger things that make us different. I think he usually forgets them too.

Alcohol, to him, means a fun night. Alcohol, to me, means my father forcing my sister to drive his car when she was twelve, while she was crying. It means my father dragging my mother through a verbal slew so awful I can’t believe I ever trusted one awful thing he said to me about her. It means my mother throwing her wedding ring out the window at 3AM. It means broken doors being replaced five times in ten years. It means broken windshields from my mother’s feet, scratches across my stepdad’s face, holes in walls (and ceilings and cabinets).

So we’re working on it. I’m working on realizing that I have no reason to believe that my Boyfriend is like my Parents. He’s working on realizing that I didn’t grow up like him.

We’re working, not breaking.

I kind of, maybe, definitely want to marry him.

Pretty sure the feeling’s mutual.

-HH

Icosahelpme

My friend Cameron wrote about the girl she was in high school not too long ago, but I (as usual) was late to the game reading it, and only got to it just now. I really liked Cameron’s post. She talked about her edges being softened as she opened her heart to God. It made me feel good reading it.

There aren’t a lot of things that make me feel good, right now. There are moments, yeah, and days, even, where my edges don’t feel rough and my brain doesn’t feel like it’s going a thousand miles a minute. But I feel like I keep trying to climb my way out of a hole that I’m actually, accidentally, digging for myself, somehow.

So there’s that triangle of balance that’s not actually a triangle, right? Where the expectation is that you only have to balance Social Life, Grades, Sleep–but the reality is that you have to balance Family, Friends, Relationships, Grades, Money, Sleep, Health, General Ability to Feel like a Person. I wish life were as simple as a triangle.

It’s probably something more like an icosahedron.

I keep trying to find a thing that feels like it can create balance. Right now it feels like if one thing is wrong (and something always is) then I’m turned inside out, or sideways, or backwards, or upside down. Nothing feels small. One thing feels…colossal.

I remember this feeling from high school. This burned out, End of World feeling. I remember being stressed about my grades, my future, a boy, friends, family, my body, money. I remember thinking that One Day I was going to be not quite an adult yet, renting a house with like seven of my friends just off campus, going to class, kicking ass, and taking names.

I guess that’s why I need to quit daydreaming because One Day is Now, and it’s definitely Not That.

I’m not saying that Now is bad. I love my Boyfriend (so much, it’s kind of gross). I love my friends (they aren’t plentiful–but what they lack in quantity they make up for in quality). I love my family (I’m going to be an aunt!). I love my classes (which sounds like a lie–but I really, genuinely do). But I still feel like I’m missing something.

It makes me wonder if Jesus is the answer, the way Cam talked about.

And I shit on my Boyfriend about his religion, a lot. So I’m sure when he reads this he’ll expect something harsh or rude or insincere.

Because frankly, religion makes me uncomfortable. The idea that an Omnipotent Being is Judging me is terrifying. Mostly because I’m already pretty busy judging myself. Likewise, I think the rules are dumb. I don’t think any God will love His children any less for not believing in him. What a narcissistic dick, amirite? But, further, I don’t think any God will love His children any less for loving someone of their sex, or for not identifying their Sex with their Gender, or for eating Meat on Fridays during Lent. I don’t think God gives two shits about whether or not you come up to me and talk to me about Him, I really don’t. Because you know what I think God cares about?

I think God cares about how you made me feel when you walked away. Or how you’ve made anyone feel ever.

I don’t think God cares about things we do that don’t actually hurt people. I think God’s got bigger fish to fry, if you will. Like perpetuating Love. Like perpetuating Happiness. Like perpetuating Change. I digress.

My God doesn’t really fit the mold of any religion I know. Every God I’ve heard of has these arbitrary rules. Every God has this Black and White way of looking at things: Did you follow all the rules? Heaven. Did you break any? Hell.

But if God made us, then doesn’t He know we’re not Black and White Creatures? Does one action really define a person?

I hope not. I am not a bad person, by any means. But that doesn’t mean I’ve always done good things, either.

But I don’t think stealing a rubber pencil from the library in elementary school means I can’t kick it with the Big Guy Upstairs. That’s just me, though.

-HH

Changing X

I am not happy.

Well, that’s not true. I’m happy now. But for the past week(s), I have not been happy.

Every single thing felt like it weighed a thousand pounds. Even the smallest of stresses felt like life-ruiners, and for the past few weeks there have been plenty of small stresses.

My Boyfriend’s friends may or may not like me as a human being. He nor I can tell anymore. It’s been the cause of a lot of tension between us the past few days, but I think today I stopped letting it get to me. People, sometimes, won’t like you. I’m learning you have to deal with that.

My Boyfriend, however, has bigger problems with his friends disliking me. Mainly, that his friendships are suffering because of it. I’m letting him deal with that on his own. Another thing I’m learning is that you can’t control anyone.

You can control yourself, though, right?

So I haven’t been happy.

“I don’t think Old You would like how You Now views the fraternity,” he told me the other night.

As much as I didn’t want to admit it, he was right. But I can’t change the fraternity. I can’t change who dislikes me, or who thinks I should not have a leadership role, or generally the actions of anyone except myself.

So I’m changing my actions. I’m trying to put out more of what I want from the fraternity. I’m trying to remember that all I can do is forgive people and accept them and love them and respect them, and hope for the same treatment in return. It’s been hard. Like, really hard.

But being miserable gets old quick. Being angry is exhausting. Refusing to take responsibility doesn’t actually make you feel better about anything.

So I’m thinking about dropping from the fraternity. But I’m changing what I put into it, first. I’ve decided to put in more hope, confidence, positivity.

I’m reminded by the tattoo on my ankle every day that getting stuck in a rut is the last place you want to be. Changing X changes Y so, assuming that X and Y have a direct relationship and the change to X is a positive constant, I can only go up from here. So I’m changing X.

I found a Bible verse I like. It’s short, sweet, and to the point:

Stand firm, and you will save yourselves. -Luke 21:19

I’m pretty sure the context has nothing to do with saving yourself from your own Self Hate Hole. But faith isn’t One Size Fits All, right?

Yes, I do switch translations of Bible verses depending on which one I like the most.

Also, it’s my Boyfriend and I’s anniversary. Congrats to us for surviving four months!

-HH

Joy Cometh in the Morning

Today I ran for an Officer position within my fraternity and I lost. I sat through the rest of Executive-Board voting, I got into my car, and my Boyfriend (bless him) suffered through me going through a flurry of emotions as I finally got to voice my grief at the loss.

And for a minute I really wanted to fall into my hole of self pity. I remembered a post I wrote awhile back, which started off with, “I am not the girl who gets.”

I wanted to reaffirm that. To kick myself while I was down and convince myself that the Universe has just decided that I do not deserve the things I want, and that my fellow Brothers do not find me capable.

But I didn’t. I cried because I was disappointed, because I was mad, because I was frustrated and bitter.

“I wish I had never gone up there,” I told my Boyfriend.

And when I was nominated for a position to be voted on next week, I couldn’t even stop my response. “I don’t want to do that again.”

Because I don’t. I am not beaten or bruised or broken, but I am not willing to get up there for something that I want again. Right now, I don’t think I want anything enough to get up there and fight for it.

My pride is shot, my confidence even lower than before. And it will be picked up (I hope) but not tonight.

Tonight I will eat my feelings and be a little angry. Tomorrow I will get up and be better.

I found a Bible verse that I quite liked that’s kind of my motto for the night. Since I’m trying out this whole faith thing, I guess quoting Bible verses is a thing I’m into now.

…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. – Psalm 30:5

-HH

God is Love, Apparently

So there’s this video circulating the internet. It’s a three year old girl answering questions provided to her from her mom.

“Last question,” the faceless voice speaks. “What is love?”

She’s quiet for but a moment before responding. “God.”

The mother stop-starts. “What?”

“God.” The girl says again.

There’s silence. My boyfriend, with his arms wrapped around me in bed as we watched the video, quietly responded. “Wow.”

I couldn’t see his face, but I could hear it in his voice; there were tears in his eyes.

The video finished playing in the background, but I got caught on his visceral response.

Before that moment, I have always rolled my eyes at videos like that. Always groaned at people’s sentimentality and dramatization of faith. Before that moment, I was not a person who entertained  ‘God.’ My resolve on ‘God’ was always firm; ‘God’ did not exist.

For the first time in my life, watching him respond so quietly but emotionally, I had a thought I have never had before.

I want to know that. I want to know God’s love.

It made me feel weird. Mostly because I meant it.

It took  me over a week to say that to my boyfriend. And even then, I don’t think I said either of those sentences aloud. I was not ready to discuss those feelings.

Last night we got into it a little more. My Boyfriend, a Proper Catholic, responds to my question of, “Why do you think God gives us cancer?” with “I think cancer is something we have to deal with because of Original Sin.”

And–no. If I’m going to have a ‘God’–if ‘God’ is going to be real–then my ‘God’ isn’t going to be the kind who decides that twelve-year-old me has to watch my grandfather’s body decimate, be in so much pain that he cannot remember who I am or how to function on a basic level, all because Home Girl Ate the Apple.

“My God will not play favorites.” I declared. “I have to believe that my God is not involved in every day life, because if he is, then I have to believe that everyone is being helped. And because I know everyone isn’t, I have to believe he isn’t helping anyone.”

“He helps you because you ask for it,” My Boyfriend argued.

“Do you decide only to help someone because they ask for it?” I countered. “Do you only open the door, return the twenty dollars, grab the heavy boxes just because someone asks for it?”

I waited. He didn’t respond.

“No. You don’t. You help regardless.”

Later I asked if he was mad at me for arguing with his beliefs. He shook his head. “I just feel like I don’t have the answers you want.”

I laughed. “You don’t really have answers at all.”

I guess I’m okay with that. I think, maybe, part of this is figuring out that I’m trying to find the answers that work for me. That faith isn’t ‘One Size Fits All.’

In case you were wondering, the video ends with the mother in tears.

“Why are you crying about that?” The girl smiles.

“You blew me away with that answer. I asked you what love is and you said ‘God.’ God is love. Oh my word.”

Oh my word, indeed.

-HH

P.S. I know I’ve been slacking on the writing. Balancing Boyfriend, Schoolwork, and Fraternity without dying usually means my default De-Stresser is Sleep. But writing this felt good. Hopefully it’ll come back to me.

Summer Bite

Today I want to go on a roadtrip. Driving to class this morning, I put the window down and yelled about how it’s a beautiful day. My Boyfriend agreed.

The air felt fresh and the sun just a little too hot, hinting at the bite of summer.

The Morning Agreement is that my Boyfriend gets the Aux cord on the way to school. Whatever song he was playing, I felt like my father would’ve liked it.

“I miss my dad today,” I said. And he squeezed my leg.

So I want to go on a roadtrip:

To the house where my Father died. I wonder if it is still half-empty with things that no longer smell of him. I wonder if the pool room has been overrun by spiders and lizards. I wonder if there are still CDs lying around, a drawer full of koozies, an ashtray in every room, a pair of my stepmom’s glasses in every drawer. The green-clothed chair with wooden arms. I wonder if it will still feel empty when I walk through the door. I wonder if the house has been condemned.

To the gas station we frequented as kids. We would take late night drives to it for cigarettes (for my father) and ice cream (for me, my sister, and my father). He would never have shoes on, my dad, and he’d peek through the window panes of the building, “If it’s the right lady, she won’t care. But if it’s the one who doesn’t like me, we’ll have to go back so I can grab some shoes.” And we’d giggle.

To Duffy’s. I’d beg for a burger from Duffy’s every time I saw my dad. The fries are delicious.

To the Chase bank our dog Buddy got loose by once. We had two dogs–Buddy and Angel–and somehow Buddy had escaped off his leashed. It was late at night. We called for him and laughed.

Today I want to drive to the beach, or to a lake. I want to feel water on my toes, hear it run along land. Today I want my brain to stop feel like it’s running too slow. I want to each oranges from my grandmother’s backyard. Today I want summer.

Normally I do not remember good things when I remember my dad.

Today I remembered. Today I wanted. Today I missed.

-HH