Monday, March 29, 2010

Letting Kate speak for me

Suspended in Gaffa
by Kate Bush (who has provided me years of mentorship of which she is comnpletely unaware)

Out in the garden
There's half of a heaven,
And we're only bluffing.
We're not ones for busting through walls,
But they've told us
Unless we can prove
That we're doing it,
We can't have it all.

(I want it all) *

He's gonna wangle
A way to get out of it.
She's an excuse
And a witness won't talk when he's called.
But they've told us
Unless we can prove
That we're doing it,
We can't have it all.

(I want it all) *

(I want it all) *

We can't have it all.

(I want it all) *

"I caught a glimpse of a god, all shining and bright."

Suddenly my feet are feet of mud.
It all goes slo-mo.
I don't know why I'm crying.
Am I suspended in Gaffa?

Not 'til I'm ready for you, *

Not 'til I'm ready for you hoo hoo-oo-oo *

Can I have it all.

I try to get nearer,
But as it gets clearer
There's something appears in the way,
It's a plank in me eye,
With a camel
Who's trying to get through it,
Am I doing it?
Can I have it all now?

(I want it all) *

I pull out the plank and say
"Thank ye for yanking me back *
To the fact that there's
Always something to distract."
But sometimes it's hard
To know if I'm doing it right.
Can I have it all now? *

(I want it all) *

Can I have it all now?

(I want it all) *

Can I have it all?

(I want it all) *

I can't have it all. *

"We all have a dream...maybe."

Suddenly my feet are feet of mud.
It all goes slo-mo.
I don't know why I'm crying.
Am I suspended in Gaffa?

Not 'til I'm ready for you,

Not 'til I'm ready for you hoo hoo-oo-oo

Can I have it all.

I won't open boxes
That I am told not to.
I'm not a Pandora.
I'm much more a like a
That girl in the mirror.
Between you and me
She don't stand a chance of getting anywhere
(I want it all) *

Not anywhere at all

(I want it all)) *

No, not a thing.

(I want it all) *

She can't have it all.

"Mother, where are the angels? I'm scared of the changes."

Suddenly my feet are feet of mud.
It all goes slo-mo.
I don't know why I'm crying.
Am I suspended in Gaffa?

Not 'til I'm ready for you, *
Not 'til I'm ready for you *
Suddenly my feet are feet of mud,
It all goes slo-mo.

I don't know why I'm crying.
Am I suspended in Gaffa?

Not 'til I'm ready for you, *
Not 'til I'm ready for you hoo hoo-oo-oo *
Can I have it all now? *

I hope you'll check out the song at http://tinysong.com/eWYy

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Instant Presence (another Bad Mom post)

A few weeks ago I gave my kids a tool. Sometimes I've thought of it as a weapon.  It's changed our relationship.

I work hard at parenting, especially since it draws on two of my glaring natural deficiencies - patience and calm.  I'm often a great parent, sometimes exceptionally incredible, and occasionally, I'm Monster Mom.


She yells. Yes, I do. Sometimes I yell. Sometimes I growl GRRRR and sometimes I roar AAAAARRRGGGH!

Even the most deviant, defiant of children may find themselves terrified, in over their heads, past a line they didn't understand but soon will.

I can hang my head in shame. I can apologize. But I can never take back the video of my face, distorted and angry and flying at them, that they will carry in a special place in their subconscious to remind them that there is something about them that is unlovable.

The last time it happened, a few weeks ago, I talked with each one later that night.  It went essentially the same with each.

Mommy was pretty mad, huh?
A little scary?
Maybe a little?
I'm sorry.
I love you, even when I'm mad.
Sometimes when I'm mad, I forget to be loving.
I'm sorry.
Next time, if mommy yells or you feel afraid, could you help me?
Next time if mommy yells, you could say "Mommy, you love me!!" (I exaggerated and stretched this out so it was a bit pathetic and funny)
Can you say that back? I'm monster mom and I'm yelling at you "stop doing that!" What can you say?
... Mommy, you LOOOOVVVE me!!

We practiced a few more times. I wondered what would happen. Here's what happened.

The very next day, I was getting upset with the pace. I'd been sharp, increasingly impatient, and finally, exasperated.  I repeated an order for the tenth time with full vehemence, and Blaise's little face crumpled into tears. He hiccuped a few times, stuttering over the words, and out burst an accusation and question, "Mommy, you LOVE me!"

Instant presence. I was not angry, upset, anxious about anything except what he needed in that moment. "Of course I love you!" I rushed to him, hugged him close. Sabine watched from her chair a few feet away. 

Later that same day, I snapped at Sabine. "Mommy, you LOVE me!" she cried, giving voice to all humanity's primal need. My heart opened.

Okay, so you get all that, but you're thinking - that's going to get old really fast. Maybe you aren't. But that's what I was thinking. After a day or two of "mommy, you LOVE me" thrown out for everything from a "no" to candy to an admonishment for impoliteness, I started to wonder.

But here's the thing. Every time they said it, the truth is that I've been starting to get impatient, upset, irritated. Every time. I may have been technically correct and they may have been misbehaving, but my tone and my approach were not as respectful as they could have been. And taking 4 seconds before continuing the learning moment to smile, look the child in the eyes and say "yes, I DO love you," has helped me get the outcome and message across every time.

So it does kind of get on my nerves, because I have to face myself every time. It's been such good practice.

Two more things.

1) I worried this is putting my responsibilities for my behaviour on my kids. Maybe a little, but my observation is that it actually empowers them, gives them permission to call me on my bad behaviour in a safe way. I must never, never betray it.

2) This morning, Blaise and I had a huge blow out. Or, he blew, I mostly held it together, with cracks and chinks where the worst showed through. We worked it out. We moved on. And then...

Tonight, after I told him a story and I lay down for the "big hug," he kissed the top of my head, put his hand on my head and said, "Mom, I love you. I love you even when I'm mad. Mom, when I'm yelling at you, you could say, "Blaise, you LOVE me."

And I said, that's such a great idea. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you.

Friday, March 26, 2010


And I’m running, only a few strides ahead of my two captors. Dirt under my bare feet, lots of hard stings to ignore. She calls out,

Honey, why are you running?

He shouts,

We’re trying to keep you safe!

I stumble; they gain ground. His hands grapple my left shoulder, knocking me off kilter. Her fingers catch in my hair, yanking back my scalp. My foot catches a dip, I volley for balance, and they are on me. We are a heap of bodies on the ground.

We sit up clumsily in the dirt and glare at each other; an isosceles triangle of discontent. To my left, she brushes off her arms and head very gently, lovingly, as though she were her own prize pony. She wrinkles her nose at me, affects a teasing lilt with a put-on smile.

Where are you running to, anyway?

Where do you think you could possibly go that would be better than here?

The wind whips my hair into my eye. The sting! Through squinted, watering eyes I see the despair leaking out from behind her face. She knows she should let me go. She will die if she lets me go. Dusk progresses. She illusively recedes just slightly behind the thickening wall of dust. She shouts plaintively,

If you have to live here on this declining, dangerous rock for another 50 years or more, do you really want to risk this life?

Because at this point, it’s unlikely that things are going to get better than this. In fact, it’s very likely that…

Her words are garbled in the weather, but I hear them.

To my right, he shifts his weight and stands.

She's right.

Oh, surprise, surprise, you agree.

Not only are things not going to get better, they are likely to get worse

I’m tired, and damn it, he’s earned my belligerence. Yeah, yeah, what she said. Original.

His withering glace-by barely acknowledges my presence as his eyes and shoulders roll upward. He heaves a sigh, laces his voice with disdain and he lowers his eyes to meet mine, level.

So what are you going to do? Anything? If you were going to do something significant, you would have done it by now.

His words are one with the shards of dust pecking my face.

I look around. The wind sucks my breath and I can’t clearly see more than a dozen feet in any direction. Where we’ve come from is just visible – the shape of a house shining through advancing dusk. I start to feel afraid that if we don’t head back, we won’t find our way.

But I was running, I don’t want to go back.

They are both standing now; their stances betraying confidence in their combined capabilities. We’re all still a bit out of breath. She looks distracted and sad, but she often affects distraction to avoid being party to unpleasantness. He’s dead set on me, advancing to force me back or allow him closer.

I feel the need to defend myself.

What do you mean, “would have done it by now?” I’m not that old. I have at least 25 years of work left in me.

In that body? Besides, at the pace you’re going, you’ll surely be dead before you’ve had enough “development time” to make any big difference in the world.

He harrumphs in triumph, once again exposing the consequences of my undisciplined nature. The successful hit emboldens him, and he fires off a round.

Face it, you’re too slow. You meandered down paths when you should have picked a way and committed to it.

When you had perfectly adequate protectors to teach you how to be safe in the world you disdained them. You had to figure it all out for yourself.

You never achieved financial security – you’re one job away from a significant dip in lifestyle. You haven’t achieved ownership of your own time.

You’re thirty-eight years old and still only adequate at providing safety and protection for yourself, let alone all these other people you’ve acquired.

You had all that time, and you wasted it with your eyes closed, denying yourself in pursuit of comfort. Now, you’re soft. You’ll never be happy less comfortable and you’ll never have a big impact.

I let myself slump a bit. Encouraged, he continues,

You can’t understand meaning or consciousness with the tool you have –it’s a good brain, but come on. Get over it.

Settle in and do some work. Make whatever small contribution you can now and quit whining.

He’s right, of course. I feel defeated. I have no choice but to go back with them. His voice becomes a sing-song.

Accept where you are. Move in increments. Narrow your scope of influence. And you will be happy.

He’s exasperated with me. Resigned. But not angry. He looks a bit pathetic, his eyes running in the wind and his rough, red cheeks slightly sagging. He turns his palms upward to encourage trust.

I feel cautious, but I step toward him. His voice softens.

I know I drove you all those years with a sense of potential greatness, the capacity to affect wide-scale change, but it’s time to let that go. You didn’t work hard enough. You didn’t pay enough attention. The time is gone.

The best you can hope for now is to be an excellent mentor as you co-develop with your kids and work to stay ahead of them.

He is so serious, and his tone has become so soft and loving that I melt into his arms. He is a giant. He holds me firmly and awkwardly, inspiring my tender heart. Then he says,

I had high hopes for you once, but you know, you haven’t done too badly. Not bad at all. This can be a comfortable life.

As if in response, a gleefully musical, sardonic laugh, just a single exhalation of mirth, tickles behind my left ear. I whirl around, half-breaking our embrace. No one.

My heart beats faster. I am consumed, compelled by that laugh. I breathe deeply, and my lungs sting as the laugh’s pulsing, musical vibration pulls them more open, clamps them more closed. My ribs sing with the joy of true expansion.

I am left hungry, wanting. I close my eyes, shake my head.

I want to settle back into that big, comfortable hug but it’s awkward. I feel irritable. That stupid, sleek, right-on sexy laugh has lodged open a small part of my mind that says, hey, wait a minute.

Ever-alert, she sees me falter and instantly we’re forehead-to-forehead, her arms wrapped around my shoulders and her soft, soft fingers under my hair, playing with the tiny strands at my nape. Her breath is warm, sweet strawberries in spring. In all the world there is only Me and She. Security radiates from her in warm, cooling waves.

Shhhh, She guides me to the ground and crawls behind me, then sidles up until her legs and arms are around me, her torso pressed to my back, her chin resting softly on my head. She is bigger than me, warmer than me. She is Beauty, and I Love her. She Loves me. Me, all flawed and broken. Me without more effort. Me. I am of her and safe to Be. When she speaks, her gentle, soothing tone delays her meaning.

There, now. You know he’s right.


I stiffen.

Now, now, hear me out.

My ears ring with the wind. My strength ebbs and I drop my head. She gently catches my forehead in her two palms, her fingers massaging up into my hairline. I whimper

All this striving, for what? You thought it was money, and that certainly would have been nice, wouldn’t it?Freedom? But you didn’t find a path that led to money.

That’s okay, you did your best. You didn’t commit to a crazy path. You hedged, you balanced, you built effective contingencies, and you even made some bold moves to preserve yourself.

You’ve come so far, and you will be a good wife and mother. Because of you, this man and these children will reach heights they could not without you. The power of your energy concentrated on this little family could change the world, you know.

Her forgiveness and acceptance are a balm. Then she says,

I’m proud of you.

The laugh that startles my right ear rings with melancholic mirth and unspoken accusations of half-kept promises. My heart strains forward as though the sound calls my absolute essence. I am over-the-moon, beyond in-love with the unseen laugher, who is my only true joy and reason. And is not here.

Her embrace feels suddenly constraining, her radiant protection thickening into cloying stickiness. I notice how hard the ground feels under me, the wind scraping my numb hands, the drip of my nose. I pull away from her and stagger to my feet.

I feel incensed. Emboldened, I want to whip like the wind. I'm so mad I could spit, and I do. The wind blows it back and I don’t care. I'm livid that the voice dares make itself known this way, only to retreat. But I turn it on them.

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? What makes you so sure that I don’t have greatness in me? I can do this. Maybe I can do it all!

She looks up at me, surprised and puzzled. He just shakes his head sadly and holds his stance, ready to take me back by force if necessary.

I look around me. All is chaos of wind and dust, but through it the shape of the house still beckons with its light and its peace.

Then I hear, reverberating, joyous and without doubt of welcome,

I’m calling!

My heart finds its rhythm in the resonance of this voice. It consumes me. The voice is mine, inhabiting and speaking in every cell of my body. The world closes into a pinprick the size of the universe and I hear only,

The power of you can light all the lamps in the world.

Infused with tenderest appreciation, urgency and sincerity, tinged with admiration, I cannot mistake these words for idle compliment. They feel like a hard-won message, truth wrested through trial and offered to me as a token of most devoted love.

The wind abruptly switches direction, throwing me off balance. The voice becomes an urgent whisper emanating from my core, through my organs, muscles, bone, flesh, aura and bursting into the world,

I love you. Pay attention.

The wind drops. The residue of that voice coats and tingles my skin, but I hear nothing. And then, shuffling. My former captors watch me, warily.

Dust still mills around the ground, but the air is clear. Dusk sits on the cusp of night, but I can see the details of my house, and shadows of buildings and activity in the distance.

I walk forward, and throw an arm over each of their shoulders, hugging them to me. They are smaller than me, and seem reassured by my presence.

We walk back to the house together.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Discipline & payoff

My children are playing together, building a creative field to meet minds. This recent phenomenon cannot be taken for granted – any second, it could deteriorate. I listen for the signs: over-excitement, the same phrase repeated several times with increasing intensity, and words like can’t, don’t, but. Those words infect and break apart their shared field. When both have willingness, they often overcome them, so I'll avoid intervening.

So far, there is only one word they have yet to overcome for themselves: No.  When I hear No, I don’t delay. Left to its destructive nature, No can turn a normal day into a nightmare of recurring blowups, touchy feelings and general impatience. The No virus can infect moods for hours. It must be diffused. As fast as I can, I inject a question. A question depressurizes the vacuum No creates. It could be any question. Most often, I ask some variation of “what do you need?”

Our family engages in ongoing practice to remind and help each other keep negating words out of our home and, eventually, thinking.  It’s not just semantics – it’s being more honest. Negating words mean nothing. Absence. Their only meaning is not being what they negate. Naming that factor creates opportunity to deal with it. Without the tool of a negating word, the mind must look a little further to find and name what has been negated, and communicate it.

Here are the words we focus on primarily:

Don’t: I’d prefer
Can’t: Having a hard time
But: And
Shouldn’t: Could  (should also becomes could)
Want: I’d like
Not: Might be
Hate: I wish
No: I need or I’m afraid or Why

No is the most difficult. Sometimes the answer is no. In that case, we use it appropriately by attaching an "I need" explanation and, whenever possible, and helping to identify options that could be yes. We expect the children to use No that way as well – I’d say their capabilities are close to my own.

This discipline has helped our family enormously. When I correct my children from this point of view, I take responsibility to let them know what is expected, instead of being left to decipher expectations from what is not permitted. I harbour great hope that enforcing this discipline now (they are now 2 & 4), when they don’t know better than to adopt it, can help them avoid many of the thinking traps that held me imprisoned as a child. (I require this kind of long-term optimism – it keeps me going, so please avoid poking a pin in my balloon).

Today, I've been writing for an unprecedented 16 minutes, and there has not been one blow up between them. I feel the shackles of baby house arrest beginning to loosen. The discipline is paying off.  Spring is coming, my babies are becoming kids, and maybe, just maybe, I can steal back a bit of space for me me me. Soon, soon, soon.

(as I typed that, I heard them trampling closer, and they surrounded me, shouting over each other happily to share their game, each trying to hold my eyes, absently clawing each other out of the way. Back to it, mom)

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Banish facts to make our lies true
Limit facts and understanding
Trust that it's all for good
Fail to try
Fail to try to see
What will make me change me (please don't ask me)

Easier, easier
To join our arms and march as one
Our eyes closed
Our eyes are closed yet we
We guide each other

Trust it will get us somewhere
Trust it will get us there (where?)
Anywhere that it's easier
Easier, easier

(when I have the melody captured I'll see how to share it here)

Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm no poet (Déjà Vu)

If contentment seems a worthy goal
You really should pursue it
To me it feels so passive
The wind just blows right through it

No sheep am I
Content to find contentment as an end
That’s what they want, it’s harder
To tell enemy from friend.

We all are one, I’ll hold that true
If it eases conversation
But one of what? Why should you know?
Or assume some good intention?

If all is order, all is chaos
We can only muddle through
Choice by choice I pick my way
Perpetual déjà vu

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I put the entire cookie in my mouth.

It almost fills my cavity – large, intact, foreign – and my heart speeds against my ribs as I close my lips. Manifest anticipation.

I close my eyes.

I crush it gradually, my teeth grinding layer by layer to stretch out the stimulation of crunching and flood my mouth with intense, pervasive taste. I press my tongue against my palate and suck, slowly undulating the flavours toward my throat, delaying and extending the moment of swallow. Melting chocolate chips are the leaping joy of running salmon in a river of satisfaction. My head buzzes, I taste with my entire body, nothing else exists.

And then it’s done, only the sticky-sweet aftertaste coating my tongue and tingeing my saliva. My breathing slows. My essence settles heavily into my cells.

For this moment, at least, a short respite from anxiety.

Except, it's not. Because immediately I'm asking myself, why did you do that?


Monday, March 8, 2010


As some of my twitter friends will know, I’m writing a novel. My tongue is slightly in cheek as I state that, since my writing is more like collecting. I rarely have more than 20 minutes in a row to realize I can go write, get to my computer, have a sudden spark of brilliance, type it fast, wish I could edit, and hit save before running back to active duty. Most of my writing is tweet-like in nature, whether or not I post it to twitter.

But one thing I can do in a short burst is blog. I find essence in writing about ideas, exploring and analysing themes outside the story of my shoestring novel. When I get a chance to write, I look back over my snapshot thoughts for inspiration, and often I get a page or two cranked out in my 20 minute opportunity.

I spend blog time exploring themes that appear in my fiction. So far, the themes I’ve blogged appear in my life and experience as well my story, but as I continue down this writing path, I find it difficult and awkward to qualify what is me and what is stretched and kneaded by the context of my first-person fiction. There are times when I’m not even sure where the line is. As a writer I’m fascinated with, and inspired by, the swirl of the universal when I hit my stride.

Aren’t we all a bit of a fiction, here online? We can be our best spirits if we choose, because we have the time to carefully consider what we say and think. We can find our points of connection anonymously and reach out with little fear, since rejection in this forum stings less than in real life. Nothing I blog could ever capture the fullness of my life and experience – it’s altered even by the writing. If I play with it, turn the kaleidoscope slightly or amplify the volume a little, am I betraying the trust of my readers?

I need to know, because I’m reaching a point with my blogging where I’d like to explore more, play a bit with the lines of thinking from a more story-oriented context. I feel that I can only write what is in me to write. Still, it’s possible that some of what I write is outside my immediate, right-now experience, even when written in the present tense, first person.  I might be internalizing someone’s story as I imagine it from my own context. I might be exploring a realization I had years ago to relive it for my work. It all sounds like me, because it all is me, but it’s also more than right-now me. Does that bother you?

I guess I’m asking permission to blog in a free-flow between “reality” and “fiction,” though both terms remain relative.  Do I need permission? No, but I’d feel freer if I had it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Control and the Journey So Far

Control is important.

We must all practice and strengthen behavioural control until we can keep emotional responses from resulting in behaviour that harms ourselves or others. From there, further development amounts to electives in the program. Depending on the level of influence a person desires, required control levels slide on the scale. Increased influence generally results in increased prosperity. Many people devote their lives to applying behavioural controls that permit them to meet expectations that may or may not deliver what matters to them.

I have, for the most part, achieved a level of behavioural control that lets me have an above-average level of influence when among fellow humans in the social economic environment. Without being charismatic, I still inspire serious consideration. My lifestyle is not extravagant, but I never wonder if I can pay my mortgage or buy food.

I crave significant improvements – smoothness and grace I haven’t mastered, the convenience that more money could buy.  But when I consider my energy and time, and what matters to me, I feel that I can focus on incremental improvements over time, and devote more energy to higher leverage practice.

Over a period of about ten years, I deliberately reduced the amount of energy I spent on behavioural controls through experimentation and practice.  My goal was to liberate resources and focus them on thought controls. I believed (and continue to believe) that strong, permeable and flexible thought frameworks will take me closer to merging my behaviours with my pure self, reducing the need for active behavioural control by providing effective alternative pathways for my attention and energy to flow when churned by unreasonable emotions.

I focused on things like presence, negative language, identifying assumptions and judgments, stretching my imagination, seeking myself in others and others in myself, compassion and forgiveness.  Thought control and the frameworks I built supported me to start exploration and healing at the source of unproductive thought patterns without damaging my tender self too much. Actively practicing behaviour and thought control reduced the effort required over time, like any practice will. Healing further supported me by leveling the extremity of my responses.

About five years ago, I felt I had cleared about 84.5% of my worst emotional blockages (I over-estimated). The ones left require a lot more time and energy to tackle, and they don’t get in my way very often. When I considered my energy and time, and what matters to me, I felt that I could focus on incremental improvements over time and turn my energy to higher-leverage practice.  I felt ready to mentor. I decided to have children.

Bringing my children into this life showed me that my behaviour controls may work fine in limited settings, but still need a lot of work when pushed hard. I resisted this backwards movement, resented having to redirect my resources back to basic behaviour and survival learning to meet the increased expectations. It’s just not as much fun for me, and my ego likes to think I'm beyond it. I felt pretty petulant about the whole thing. And then I chose different thinking.

I had developed my thought frameworks to the point where they were ready to support accelerated behavioural and thought learning once I decided to flow with the need. I am not the parent I want to be. But four years in, I feel that I have achieved an above-average level. I require more practice and control than I like, but when I consider my energy and time, and what matters to me, I feel it's time to turn a larger portion of my energy to higher-level practice. I feel compelled to do so for myself and the world, and these maturing humans I'm mentoring will demand it.  The problem is, the next level isn't about control.

Learning what that means may take the rest of my life. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I'm not fat

I’m not fat.

I’m stating this up front because I can’t stand the thought of all the filters clicking into place, dulling your impressions of me through the lens of someone not quite in control. Someone with a self-imposed, somewhat pathetic, condition. Whether you feel pity, compassion, revulsion or nothing at all, I do not want you to think of me fat.

So, picture me if you will, strong, lean, capable. Carrying my body with the ease of one who has just what is needed. Light-footed, walking toward you with my eyes and smile wide open; our handshake becomes an embrace between friends.

Or picture me as I am.

How might others describe me if I weren’t in the room and, for some reason, needed describing? Heavier side of average? Keeping well under the circumstances? I think she looks fine? Or perhaps they would use other descriptive qualities: strong, intense, intelligent, attractive. Though those aren’t much help in picking me out of a crowd. Likely people would stick to safe features – long dark hair, blue eyes, about five-five, mid-30’s.

Size isn’t appropriate to discuss.

How do I see me? It depends on the day. Some days I look at the sagging skin of my battle-scarred mid-section with admiration that it’s not worse - like, wow, you grew two humans in there, grew yourself out to the size of a beach ball twice in 3 years – and now, not bad, considering. Some days I even manage to see an increased fullness as sexy, as long as I don’t look too closely at my thighs. Most days I manage to skip over self-hatred, through self-pity, and on to loving compassion in pretty quick succession.

But I'll tell you, there is a kernel at the centre that my can-do attitude can't reach. And it doesn’t take much to wake it up.

So yesterday it woke up. A casual tweet, humorously intended. And as I read it, I pictured a person I feel I’m getting to know, a person I admire, a person I know to be lovely and thin, dismissing me as a big fat slob. The comment wasn’t to me. It wasn’t about me. It wasn't intended to be judgmental. But in my own little kernel of fear, I believe it applies to me, and in the moment of reading, that belief burned.

My brain threw water on the flame frantically to prevent my fear of rejection heating into a gaseous state that can consume my whole being. I turned my thinking to the reasons for my unreasonably strong response, and found myself very impatient with them. And with myself that they are still there, lurking. Yes, yes. Am I not done with this yet?

The truth is, I’m almost okay with myself as I am, while gently and slowly working towards the body I want to inhabit – one that is strong, capable of doing what I need it to do without complaint. And, yes, one that is more beautiful to my eyes.  Most days I don’t think twice about it, I just make one choice at a time based on what makes me feel healthier. And it's coming along.

What I’m definitely not okay with, when I let myself consider it, is how other people might see me. I’ve been heavier, I’ve been thinner, and everything in between.  I have clothes in my closet from size 6 to size 14, not counting maternity wear. What I’ve discovered through personal experience is this – people, at least in business, take thin people more seriously. Fat is a symptom of weakness, lack of control, lack of discipline – a certain softness where firmness would be preferred. Unlike other addictions and many mental illnesses, fat is visible.  It can be covered and minimized, but there is no hiding girth.  It’s embarrassing. It’s private, but it’s on display for all to see. Heavier people make twice the effort to build half the respect. We could debate it, but that's my experience-based observation.

Since respect was my lifelong consolation prize for feeling too off-normal to inspire love, I still have a part of me that sees my weight as a real threat to my identity and my ability to connect with others.  My fear triggers whenever something confirms my suspicion that polite conversation doesn’t reveal the true assessments by which I can be casually dismissed.  Seeing myself on TV or even home video becomes torturous as I subject that poor girl to the judgments I build in my own mind for everyone else to hold. How much is real, how much is fear? I may never know.

What I do know is this – I am strong, capable, respected, loved and, yes, beautiful and sexy. Now, to penetrate that kernel of concentrated fear and neutralize it with that knowledge. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?