Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reality Check

You know what I've been thinking about lately? Illusions, reality and the vast space that sometimes, no -- almost always falls between.
I know that at the heart of my eating disorder is the disconnect between who I thought I was supposed to and who I really am.
When I became a full-time "housewife", I tried to fit into this image I had in my head about what a "farm wife" was supposed to do. I tried working the irrigation crews -- so I would fit in better with the farm wives around here that actually worked on their farms. I about killed myself to keep house and a yard and do everything from scratch -- like I figured my grandmothers had done.
I didn't fit in here. I am liberal, educated and worked in a non-traditional career field -- well, at least non-traditional around here. I no longer had an identity as a reporter/editor, I was "Clem's wife". Although I was still free-lancing from home, more and more of my life spent cooking, keeping house (sort of -- not my strong suit) and helping around the farm.
It was hard. Very hard. But, we don't have the kind of farm where I'm needed with the daily duties of keeping the farm running. I couldn't handle working in the office. So, I was a "farm wife" but not like my friends who were partners and integral in their family's farm operations.
I have little in common with my in - laws, but I tried like hell to be more like them and made myself even more miserable.
There is also a disconnect between reality and the image of myself I carry in my head. This void started as a child. I was told I was chubby -- that I carried "baby fat". That was my identity. Not "she's a bright girl". Not "she's a smart girl" - "she's a chubby kid."
Later, I was constantly told I was fat. That I needed to "trim up" -- that I was never pretty.
Here's the thing. Photography is a beautiful thing. I look at the pictures of myself during that time and guess what, I'm not fat. I have big boobs -- occasionally a tummy. But at the time, none of that mattered. It was too late. Being fat was already part of my cellular structure, despite the fact that it wasn't reality.
What this image did for me -- well, it's an odd thing. I have these bizarre beliefs.
Instinctively, I believe that a skinny person is right and I am wrong. It makes no sense. The first time I realized this I was a sophomore in high school and I was out running for P.E. I was in the back of the pack, because I was fat and that is where I belonged. Inside me, I wanted to run. Finally, I left the pack and ran. It felt so good. My body felt strong and energized ... and free. But then I ran past a girl who was smaller and thinner. "This can't be right. I can't be passing her. She's skinny and I'm fat. Something must be wrong."
So I stopped. I walked with her. Despite the fact my body was screaming "run, run!" at me. I stopped because there was no way a fat girl like me would be able to run past a tiny little thing like her.
When my then boyfriend, now husband, told me to eat in a way that totally didn't work for my body, I did it anyway and starved and then gorged because obviously he knew better than me what I needed because I was fat and he wasn't.
I find myself at a cross roads here at 43 and in reality, overweight by pretty any scale.
I can continue to live under the assumption that I'm wrong -- not because of anything factual -- but because of numbers on the bathroom scale. I can continue to deny who I am -- and try to fit into everyone else' view of who I am or I can listen to my body, my voice and my instincts.
It seems like a simply choice, right?
Really, it is. And here's the odd thing -- I've been having dreams about running lately. Maybe I'm trying to tell myself something.....

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