Yesterday Glen spent hours digging up saplings of not-insignificant size around a tree by the garage. Years ago he'd brought home quite a collection of rocks from a hunting camp in Georgia. Please don't ask me the specifics of this. Anyway, I really have no idea what he'd had in mind for those rocks but he'd set them around the tree and yesterday, besides digging up the saplings and assorted weeds, he also spent time unearthing the rocks that time and weather had mostly buried. Needless to say, this was a hell of a lot of work. His back hurt so bad last night that he was worried about how it would feel today.
However, he felt pretty good this morning whereas I felt like I'd been hit by boards. When he asked me what I'd done to cause this pain I said, "I lived." Then I said, "I watched the boys do gymnastics." And I limped off to get some coffee.
Anyway, I did not do much today. I took a walk. A barely acceptable walk. But when I got home I thought, "Hell, you did it, Mary. It's okay."
And it was.
I have to wonder if my need to suffer physical discomfort or pain to make me feel okay with myself has to do with the realization I had yesterday about always feeling as if my body is my enemy. This need I have to push myself is real and constant. On the days when I don't do anything physically demanding I feel guilt and shame. I can remember all of the years that I dieted, sometimes in a healthy way, sometimes in a definitely NOT healthy way, and the guilt and shame I'd feel if I ate something I had deemed forbidden. This might be as ridiculous as a tiny piece of leftover cheese toast crust that one of my children had left on a plate.
And I can remember it all starting when I was about six or seven. I was obsessed with the thickness of my thighs when I sat down in shorts or a bathing suit. I'd look at other girls, often skinny little things, and my thighs even then seemed to me to be enormous, gross, fat blobs that were sickening.
I was called fat by classmates from second grade on. I was taunted, I was bullied. My grandmother's friends, many of whom I loved, would give me presents like jump ropes, hinting that if I just got a little more exercise, I'd slim right down! That's what they called it then- slimming down.
And I loved to eat. Food was definitely not just sustenance to me. It was pleasure and comfort. I think now, too, that I was just born with an appreciation for delicious food. It was not so easy to overeat or eat the wrong things in my house in those days. Well, we did eat a lot of bologna and white bread sandwiches but my mother could make a can of Campbell's vegetable soup serve as dinner for three- her, my brother, and me. Desserts were rare.
Thus began my interest in cooking and baking. Which has never left me and as you know, continues to this day.
But I am not sure at all where my body shame originated. Why did I look at my little girl thighs with such self-loathing?
Look at this picture.
Now in truth, I did get chubbier as I got older. I did not slim down until I was in the sixth grade when I had a serious parasite issue in my left foot. How crazy is that? I had to get worms in my feet to get thinner?
Of course there was more to it than that.