poetic injustice

here’s some salt for that wound

You brought home a girl for Thanksgiving and she’s beautiful. Just like I thought she’d be; just the opposite of me. A petite angelic blonde.

I was expecting it, honestly. I was ready for it to sting.

The news came with a call from my mother, late the other night. She found the pictures by accident and sent them to me; you were there in the frame with the blonde, posed sweetly in your childhood home. The home I grew up in with you, the home we lived the first weeks we were married, the home with our high school ghosts and long kisses and late nights and wine and dinners and the love of your family. This alone feels like a betrayal—how dare they love someone in my place, let her into walls they’d shared with me, tell her she’s beautiful, surround her with grace, forget to punish you for the love you withheld from me. 

But then it got worse. It was a punch straight to the bruise I thought I had healed. A dagger pushed slowly into the softest part of my heart. 

It’s poetic, really. How else could this have gone? The man I left when he swore he never wanted children now has a girlfriend with a child. This ending makes the least sense, so I suppose it is the way it must be. The writer in me appreciates it. The human in me is stunned.

You looked at me dead-eyed as I wept; you were certain. Never mind the house we’d bought with rooms for children or the timeline we’d sketched out. Children were not for you. Ever.

That’s what happened, you remember, even if the only thing you tell her now is that I was crazy.  I have to keep convincing myself that I wasn’t—which I suspect is a symptom of your pathology rather than mine, but I can’t seem to stop. I hope she doesn’t fall for it. I hope she’s level-headed. I hope she knows what she’s signed up for. As we all know, love should be entire, a knowledgeable yes to the good and the bad, though I suspect you are still burying me in half-truths. I can’t stand the thought of that, where my version of reality exists no where but in my head. 

I wonder what she knows. I hate to think of her with you, wandering through my house, touching my things, trying on my shower, my closets, my bed. Doing the things I never could do without even saying my name.

Did you tell her when you took her camping that I’d bought you that gear the winter you moved into the guest room? How I thought we could reconnect somewhere quiet, somewhere far away from the bars and friends who’d been keeping you out every night? When you walked through our house with her child in tow, when you picked up our dog and the tent and stored it all in your car, did you tell them I spent extra on the orange one because you took up so much room when you slept? Did you tell her you never found time to take me?

Did you tell her, when you brought her to Temecula, that I’d tried to book us a weekend there? That you’d been distant when you got back from Vegas, that I’d been desperate to draw you back, but that you told me no?

Do you tell her that the shirt you were wearing was a gift from my dad? That the blue hat was a gift from me? That your brunch-and-football dates aren’t special, that they were our dates first?

And does she know about the pregnancy tests? The ones I hid in the bathroom trash? The ones I took in grocery store stalls, too scared to bring them home? How afraid I was of how you’d treat me if you even sensed a breath of life?

Why did I have to live like that? Was the pain you inflicted meant only for me?

And why, how, do you get to keep living while I am still suffering? Do you feel nothing at all? 

If she keeps you around does that finally, actually, make me the crazy one? Did I make you up?

Whatever it is, I hope you talk about consent. I hope she never has to tell you no more than once, that she never feels discarded, that you never handle her too roughly or make her feel forgotten.

I hope you talk about the hole in our bedroom wall. I hope she asks about it on a Sunday, on the way to her church, and you tell her it was because I refused to worship you. I hope you let her practice her faith with the respect you could never find for me.

I hope you don’t make fun of her. No jokes about her size, her style, her feminine brain being less than a man’s. I hope you don’t groan, do I have to, when she puts on lingerie. 

I hope you’re never unfaithful. I hope you never lie.

I hope she never hurts. I’m gone, I’m glad I’m gone, but I still do.

I’ll always love the sliver of hope that existed deep inside you, and now she has that sliver. Part of me is jealous, part of me is broken, part of me wonders, distantly, why wasn’t it mine, until the better part of me peeks out and just hopes you treat her well. It tastes like injustice, for you to hand over to her what you denied me, but women were not made to be played with. Do better, if you’re capable of it. Godspeed.

a year of celibacy

redefining sexuality in singleness

Not exactly the most exciting anniversary in the world, but interesting, yes? In the absence of being naked with anyone but my GYN, I’ve been on a very educational journey.

For starters, I’ve learned some lessons in self-worth. The binge-eating misery of divorce (college/grad school/night shift) has re-shaped my body. While I am on my way towards healing my relationship with food, I am also finding that the size of my jeans should not correlate with how confident I allow myself to feel. I don’t need to lose weight to be happy, and whatever that number says, or doesn’t say, I deserve to take care of myself. If that means I don’t even know what I weigh, then that’s great too. 

Either way, I deserve to feel beautiful. And I deserve to buy some damn bras that actually fit.

Speaking of undergarments, the next time I let anyone else take off this fancy-ass bra things are going to go a little differently.

Next time, I will not allow myself to feel manipulated into doing anything I’m not comfortable doing. This is good bedroom behavior, but, not surprising, also applicable to daily life. I am not to be taken advantage of.

Some other tidbits I’m going to keep in the back pocket of my high-rise jeans:

Crying after sex means that things are no bueno. RED FLAG.

Sex should not be selfish. At my most open, most vulnerable, and most intimate, I should not be left feeling used.

I am worth the work. I am worth the time. I am worth the effort. Sex is good and it should feel like it!

Also good: being a woman. Women are homes. Soft places to land and safe places to hide, built on strong, durable, brave, unbreakable bones.

We don’t just exist to be attractive, and our femininity is not defined by our desirability. I am still a woman if no one sees me, wants me, or validates me. 

Of course, on the other hand, women are inherently beautiful. Beauty is good and our bodies are good. We are worth celebrating and uplifting and appreciating. This does not allow for casual use and degradation. Also to be avoided: gossip and comparison. Two very reliable thieves of joy.

Anyway, here I am, a year untouched, living in a body I’m finally growing to love. I’m grateful for this year of alone-ness in my skin, and I’m grateful for this Creator of mine Who was kind enough to take as much time on me as He did sunsets and oceans and wine. Maybe more.

How magnificent. 

what i weigh

when the scale becomes your worth

When I was born I was just over seven pounds. 

Today I weighed 207.6 pounds. 

When I was ten I was 105. When I was 15: 155. 145 after a breakup. 

Senior prom was 148. I cried, thought I was fat.

Freshman year of college I was 151. Junior year 175. 167 after a diet. Senior year 190. 185 after another diet.

The day I got married: 170. 

The day I ran my first half marathon: 165. 

When I got into grad school: 186.

Seems like I gained a lot of weight. 

Really, seems like it was my fault when he didn’t want to have sex anymore. Like I deserved it when it just stopped happening. Or when it started, but couldn’t finish. Maybe I should have stayed what I weighed when he met me.

On the other hand, maybe he shouldn’t have been calling me a manatee.Yes, they’re cute, I get it. And yes, I’m cute too, fine. But geez! The slowest, laziest, floatiest animal in the ocean? And when I turned around and asked for a new pet name, it switched to hippo? We saw them at the zoo once and they LITERALLY CANNOT GET BY without being supported by water. Because they are SO LARGE. And he thought that was just HILARIOUS. 

All teased, buried, smothered under a laugh and a hug. While the girl on TV/at the park/at the bar/in the movie was a dime/hottie/smokeshow/bangable, etc., etc., etc.

For some reason, before we were married, I was bangable too. I was hot. I was sexy and desirable. Fun. Dark-haired. Tall. Curvy.

And then we were married, I could be naked. I could be decorated like a damn lace Victoria Secret CAKE. I could have MY ACTUAL HAND DOWN HIS ACTUAL PANTS and STILL get turned down. WHY DID I HAVE TO TRY SO HARD TO HOLD HIS ATTENTION?

Maybe it was because I was 170. 175. 186.

All the while, I tried. Maybe this work out will make him want me more. Maybe he’ll think its hot that I can plank like a champ. Run long distance. Cook with quinoa. Or maybe I’m sexy now that I lost three pounds? That I cut my hair and got new jeans and I can rock some freakin’ heels? That my ass still looks great in yoga pants?

The thing about moving cross country, working night shift, and being a grad student is you get stressed. And tired. And heavy. 188. 190. 193. 204. The scale crept up, and our marriage started falling apart. Probably not cause-and-effect, but still a heart-breaking correlation.

Honestly, from the beginning, it’s all been heart-breaking. 

I learned how to stare at my body and pick the parts I hated when I was 10. I learned all boys cared about were butts and boobs, and I realized I was taller and littler softer than the rest of them. 

I learned in middle school I wasn’t worth looking at, with curly hair and glasses, while the other girls wore thongs above their pants. 

When I had to start buying size 12 jeans I learned how to call myself a “fat whore.” I learned not to shop at Hollister because I didn’t want to ask the sales rep for a ladder to the top shelf. I learned there was always bikini-season around the corner, and year after year that dressing room lighting didn’t get more forgiving.

I learned the boys liked you better when you were smaller. They liked volleyball uniforms and low rise jeans. I learned that when other people noticed you, that meant you were good. 

And then I got married. I learned how to hide when I was naked. I learned about how to be rejected at my most vulnerable. I learned that even husbands, who had once been ravenous, could simply turn away, pat you on the head, affectionately name you after fat zoo animals. I learned I wasn’t worth loving, I wasn’t good, I was disgusting.

Now I’m alone. Divorce, turns out, is more stressful than grad school, and leads to much more crying over bowls of pasta, bottles of wine, bags of chips. And now I tell myself I’m not worth looking at until I lose 50 more pounds. Who could ever be interested in me, ever again? 

I’m tired.

I’m tired and I’ve tried it all. Gluten-free. Paleo. Keto. Carb-conscious. Calorie-counts. Weight-Watchers. Nutrisystem. Optavia.

I’m ready to try something new. 

I’m ready to stop weighing myself every morning, letting the numbers set the tone for my day. I’m ready to stop punishing myself for my food, and stop measuring my day based on the success of my diet. All these days are worth more than calories consumed, and I’m wasting my life obsessing over it. I wish I didn’t know what I weighed on the day of my prom or my graduation. I wish I had just enjoyed myself regardless. I want that to end, and I want to enjoy my life for the rest of my life. Mostly, I want to stop letting the scale decide whether or not I think I am worth loving. Whether or not I am good.

So, inspired by various body-positive Instagram pages, I’m going to tell you, one last time, what I weigh. Because the space I take up in this world is more than what I can measure.

Today I weigh:

My heart. I am kind and caring. Sometimes I suck, but mostly I’m trying. Firm believer in growth and faithful prayer.

My mind. I am smart. I work hard. I’d like to think I’m a good nurse, too. 

My love. For humanity, for life, for color. For beauty. For swimming, dancing, laughing, drinking, eating, breathing.

I’m a little (lot) introverted, but I’m also fun. Even cool enough to go to the movies alone.

And I think it’s time I starting working out because it makes me feel good. Because I am strong, I’m mentally tough, and I have endurance. Because I am a damn boss. Because I am a woman, and I deserve to take care of myself. Because I am worth treating kindly, and I am not bad because I love pizza. 

Also, damnit, my ass still looks good in yoga pants. And I don’t need anyone to notice me for that to be true.