I was in a bit of a rush, sailing through a department store searching for something to wear to an event I will be attending Friday night. My eye is consistently drawn to the same lines and colors so it seems like it should be easy to shop, but I wasn't feeling great because I have gained weight and this does not make for a fun shopping trip.
But I persisted in spirit and mind because I get to have clothes that I feel good in no matter my size. A woman came up to me and said, "My daughter, she's chunky. She has, what do you call it? A muffin top? Do you think this would fit you?"
Hmm.....there aren't too many ways to interpret this other than I am most certainly chunky too. But in a moment of personal growth, I didn't let this send me running away without a purchase. Instead, I said, "You are a brave woman buying clothes for your adult daughter." I purchased my clothes and never really answered her question.
It's been a weird year, a difficult and trying one. I have ushered my family through a lot of uncertainty. My husband's ego was tested time and again in various work places. My daughter was diagnosed with a difficult but treatable disorder, my son is in the pit of puberty, and the things I tried to prioritize fell away. Often I felt like a bit of a puppeteer struggling to keep one hand talking to the other.
I put my family first. I took in the world as the sensitive person that I am. I ate my way through a lot of pain and tried to walk and talk and journal and listen to my husband and my friends and my children and last but not least myself, and then I ate some more.
My oldest brother is an alcoholic. He earned his 3 year chip for staying sober. I felt I earned some chips too in this last year, but mine were potato and chocolate. And as different as my life looks from Kelley's on paper, I know we share a common core. We are anxious about the world around us, it affects us deeply, and to cope we have to find ways that sometimes soothe us. Thankfully and with true grit, he has recovered and has taken to walking, walking, and walking some more, and chugging diet Mountain Dew. It might not be the real prescription for long term health, but when you think of the alternative I'd say he is doing quite well.
I'd venture to get that many of us numb ourselves. It could be with food or exercise or the internet and in doing so we get carried from one moment to the next. I am not dumb. I understand real addiction. I am not risking my life or someone else's with my extra piece of chocolate. And when I have made these attempts at escape, I was admitting to myself that sometimes the pain was too great.
Through my attempts at soothing and healing, I have gained some padding. My dog was recently hit by a Fed Ex truck and the vet said her extra weight saved her. Her legs are not crushed and her liver is not damaged because of her padding. Maybe my padding saved me. Instead of thinking I was careless, I am choosing to see it as being full of care. It was me trying to so hard to keep it together and failing late at night when the lights were dim and the house was finally sleeping. Sometimes, in order to hang on, you have to let go.
I did not let myself go. Instead, I found a way to stay. And despite what I gained in pounds, I didn't lose a single friend, a child, a husband, or an animal. In fact, I have stronger relationships and feel deeper love for everyone in my life. I have lived through some terrible things and I have been witness to some terrible things and yet I have held on. I have risen to the occasion and I am still here.
It would be easy to suggest I am over-thinking, but this is me. And part of being me is trying to figure things out. I don't need any more health tips regarding coconut oil or the natural drug, exercise. I know! We all already know. And I am growing because I can look back at this year and see myself with loving eyes. I had coffee and tears with good friends. I read stories with my babies and shared tense and loving conversations with Big Man. I had too many hugs to count and comfortable silence when the talking was done. I took a chance and tried some new things like meditation and writing for healing. Yes, I had too much of this and that, but what I had was just right for the moment I was in.
I am still thinking about that woman and what she said to me and what I hope she doesn't say to her daughter the next time they meet. What I hope is that she pulls her in for a long hug and whispers into her ear, "I am so glad you are here."
That is exactly how I feel. I am so glad I am here.