Today, I am not going to talk about children or adoption or mental health. Today I’m going to talk about myself. (Ok, so maybe a little mental health then.) But I want to address an issue that led me to near-tears in Target just this morning. I say “near-tears” because I refused to cry a pathetic cry in front of my toddler. (Well, my toddler and the twenty-something Target employee who was gracious enough to look the other way while her 36-year-old customer had a near melt down… again, near.)
I have PCOS and I am fat. I am fat because I have PCOS (and because of Oreos… but mostly PCOS). Now, this isn’t something I just realized today – although shopping for curvy pants in a skinny-jean world certainly drove the message home loud and clear! My fatness has been a long time coming. I can actually remember the week when I realized that I could no longer put my arms all the way down next to me because my arm fat and my back fat created too much squishy resistance. (Now I walk around everyday trying to smile more because my natural arm stance looks as if I’m ready to take someone on in a sumo fight.)
I also took note of when I first rolled onto my side to fall asleep at night, only to find that I was short of breath. This was because my boobs and my stomach rolls teamed up and decided to kill my lungs by squishing them to death. And then recently, the only 3 pairs of jeans I have left (all 3 pairs of my previously labeled “fat pants”) decided to rub clean through in the upper thigh area. I now have holes, far too near my crotch, and had to go pants shopping (which, other than swim suit shopping, is the worst thing in the world – just in case you’re Miss Skinny Jeans and didn’t know this already).
Despite these dreaded things happening to my body, I didn’t cry. Crying over my weight is something I gave up in my twenties – back when I still had a faint memory of my metabolism, and before the PCOS hormone imbalance completely had scarred my view of self. Now… I just don’t look at myself anymore. I mean, I look in the mirror to do my make-up and hair (which I’ve kinda let go anyways), but I feel as though I’m looking through myself instead of at myself. I see the absolute “musts” that need to be seen before rushing away and immediately forgetting what I look like. My survival instinct is to remember myself at 30 – back when I was overweight but still somewhat healthy. I feel like it’s a compromise between the old me and the new me. This lets me get through the day without the tears spilling over, even when my big girl undies refuse to stay up over the tummy rolls.
I’ve seen so many doctors and had so much blood work – I’ve tried all of the diets and exercise routines there are. I mean I stick with them. But nothing works. And if one more medical professional tells me that I just need to cut my calories one more time, I will likely end up behind bars… as if I’d never thought of that! Two degrees and a decent IQ and it never even occurred to me to just “cut my calories”! In fact, I call BS on all the P90X and HCG plans, all the 5:2 diets and anything else that is too hard not to be given a name… just a dumb set of letters and numbers and punctuation marks. And as for all this Crossfit, Acefit, Kinofit nonsense… I just want my freaking pants to fit! (PS if a loved one tells me that my face is “still pretty” one more time, I will likely go postal, because all you’re saying is that I’m fat AND there’s a time limit on how long the front part of my head will hold up before it goes, too!)
Like I said, I try not to let this get to me on a daily basis. I don’t even use the “f-word” around my kids because I want them to grow up with a healthy sense of self – I want to be an example to them that shows that you can be happy and healthy, even if you’re wearing the “wrong” size. But today was pants shopping day. And Target was my safe place back when I used to have money to buy new things, so naturally that’s where I ended up.
After trying on 40 pairs of pants in women’s, plus size, and maternity, I still walked out with two pairs of jeans that make me feel old and frumpy. No khakis, no dress pants, no capris. There was nothing that worked on any level for this weird body of mine. In fact, between the tears that threatened to pour out and the horrifying lighting, I decided that even my knees are now fat (knees… things that are literally made of bone and cartilage and tendons… they are now fat. And old. I have old, fat lady knees which I didn’t even know about until today while attempting to find shorts.)
I stood there half naked in a Target dressing room, contemplating my looser, pale skin. My stretch marks and cellulite. My hair crimping around my neck from sweating under the fluorescent lighting. The stubby nails and the wrinkly hands. The decade old shoes that I keep getting fixed because they don’t hurt my arthritis like the trendy high heels do. The redness that’s creeped into my eyes, accompanied by the dark circles underneath them. The chin hairs… oh, the chin hairs!
Can getting old give you PTSD? Just wondering…
It was a very lowly and pitiful 2 minutes of reflection – a time in which I looked AT myself instead of through myself. Dinosaurs growled in the background from whatever my son was watching on YouTube. I started to giggle at the fact that I was in a posh town where every other woman in the store was super put-together, along with their toddler in tow. And there I was, in Target’s dressing room, looking at my life from such a physical sense, realizing that the theme song to my life would, in fact, be the soundtrack to DinoTrux. It seemed fitting.
I decidedly put the 38 items back while purchasing my two pairs of jeans. I re-layered myself in the clothes that I wore in, doing my best to cover the lumpiest parts. My toddler and I drove home quietly – away from the trendy city and back to our humble town filled with dollar stores and cows.
My life is not glamorous. I am not glamorous. But something that has been resounding with me lately is this: Identity. Who am I? Not “what” am I, but who? I decided that if I were going to allow the time to actually look at myself, I wasn’t just going to go over my flaws. Because that’s not WHO I am. I am God’s Child. I am a Queen. I am Loved Unconditionally. I am Chosen. I am Appointed and Anointed. I am Called. I am Covered in Grace. I am Forgiven. Redeemed. Made in a Holy Image. A Fighter. An Advocate. Fulfilled. Precious. Beloved.
And as ridiculous as it sounds, the words “thin”, “trendy”, “youthful”, and “glamorous” don’t even make the top 100 of my thoughts. They’re not even part of my goal when I think of my identity! That means that the war that the enemy tried to have with me back in Target this morning was over things that don’t even hold a candle to who God made me. I am not in my twenties. I am not thin. I am not perfected.
And I don’t care.
I am loved by God who created me. And that’s all I actually need.