Since I started blogging over two years ago, I have mostly tried to keep it light over here at Blog This Mom!, mainly because that is how I try to live my life. It isn’t that I hide from stating my opinions or sharing my story; I’m a pretty open gal, in the blogosphere and in real life.
With regard to opinions generally, there are so already so many well-reasoned and well-thought posts out there, I often find that I don’t have much to add on certain subjects. There are also some posts that I don’t find at all reasonable or thoughtful, but because the decision to move on from a blog is a mere mouse click away, rather than leaving an unkind comment, I click off. And usually? I try to find the upside, particularly if I’m sure that the person who wrote the post had a good intention, whether I agree with the opinion or not, and so I typically leave a kind word anyway.
As far as sharing my “story” goes, I do, but when the story gets tough (and my story has deep and dark parts, like lots of folks), some bloggers tell it with grace and gumption. And even when they do, sometimes their stories are taken as a call for sympathy or a preachy “look at me now” schtick. I shy away big-time from sympathetic looks and noises, so while I have shared my personal stories of colonoscopies, being a survivor of child abuse, infatuation with a certain bass player, an airport smackdown, and people who have questioned me about Laura’s father’s ethnicity, I try to tell it like I see it, which for me is often funny, because I see humor in so much of our shared human experience.
So? Now? Can we talk about asses? I joined Mrs. G.’s Ass Project with the best of intentions. I applaud the way that Mrs. G. shares herself and sheds light on our shared human experience. With grace and gumption she talks about anything on her mind, and we often find that what’s on her mind is on ours too. With Mrs. G. we share laughter. With Mrs. G. we share tears. But mostly? With Mrs. G. we share love. So? Oh, yeah. The Ass Project. (See how I love to gush about Mrs. G.?) After
four months in rehab over my addiction to a spring infatuation with Trader Joe’s gluten-free granola, an infatuation that damaged my laptop and my lap in one fell swoop, I decided that my summer project would be getting my abs into better condition. My ass? Hopelessly falling from San Diego into Central America. But my abs? I still have hope. Nevertheless, after wrestling all summer with whether or not to post a photo, I have not. Let me be clear. I have made no improvement in the condition of my abs owing to less exercise and the occasional foray into treats like homemade Macadamia Nut ice cream in Maui. So my before and after picture? Same-same.
Now every week I stand up and applaud (all by myself in front of my computer) the great women who post photos and videos of their asses on their blogs (see Derfwad Manor for the list of participants). But (until today) I haven’t posted one single picture of me and my jelly belly. Although I have mentioned once that I was working on it, I’ve never before blogged full hog about the fact that I lost a lot of weight and have kept it off for over a year, until today. So why am I doing it now?
As you’ll read in the letter below, a dental hygienist pushed at my level of consciousness yesterday. You see, while I do not hide from my weight-gain and weight-loss story (I’ve done both, yeah-huh), neither have I ever wanted to put it out there in a way that might seem as though I’m boasting about something that is very hard for people to do, something that was very hard for me to do – lose a significant amount of weight. I have never wanted to sound like a person who believes she has it all together, who knows “the way.” Don’t let my current size, or the fact that I’ve managed to keep the weight off, fool you. I don’t have it all together. I work at this every day. And while I am not adverse to talking with someone personally about what worked for me, I am very aware that there is more than one way to skin a cat and that we aren’t all cut from the same mold. What works for me might not work for you.
Motivation is a biggie, but that is highly personal too. My biggest motivator was that as I approach age 50 (I’ll be 48 in October) with a now-eight-year-old child, I want to be healthy and energetic and live as long as possible. Living healthfully, energetically, and until I’m 105 would be harder, although not impossible, if I had stayed overweight. And? I wanted to feel hawt. Now I think hawt is hawt is hawt no matter what a woman weighs, so long as she feels hawt. But I wasn’t feeling particularly hawt a couple of years ago (for many reasons, including my weight gain), and making some changes in my life (including losing weight) have helped me feel hawt again.
Guess what? I’m not entirely comfortable with this topic. Can you tell? Also, I’m not over what happened to me at the dentist’s office yesterday (I’m gettin’ to that part), which is why I’m airing out my feelings here and there. In particular, I have not been entirely comfortable with people’s reactions to my weight loss. But this is on me, and I’ll figure it out. Meanwhile, I have noticed that there are loving friends who I know deep in my soul feel exactly the same way about me no matter my weight, and I’ve had others put a foot in his or her mouth trying to say the right thing. I love them all, and bless them for trying. I have had people remark about how much “better” I look now. Oy. But my all-time “favorite” remark happened at church. I know. Double oy. I had a woman who I hadn’t seen for a while approach me outside the sanctuary, wrap her arms around me, and plead to me, “Cheri, please eat. It’s okay to eat. I want you to know you are loved and that you can eat.” Really. That actually happened.
The bottom line is that no matter my size or yours, our insides are all the same. But that isn’t how we are always treated. You may have seen the reports and/or studies about when an overweight woman waits by the side of the road with a gas can in her hand and nobody stops to help, but when it is a slender woman in the same situation, many people pull over to lend assistance. So while I think one of the ways that my weight gain served me was providing a self-perceived protective shield around me, I have stayed silent about my weight loss in an attempt to protect myself from comments and opinions and reactions (subtle or not), that may be well-intended, but are nonetheless hurtful.
So? Yesterday? Something happened at the dentist’s office that caused me to realize it is time for me to go even deeper. Today? I decided to talk about it, and do something about it. So, I will start by posting a recent full-body photograph of me in a bathing suit. Mrs. G., when I do something, I don’t do it half-assed, so long as we understand not-half-assed to mean no ass, since my photo doesn’t show mine.
Thank you in advance for all the comments that you’re thinking of posting about how hawt I look in a bathing suit (heh!), but what is important here is that in spite of (or maybe even because of) my sags and stretch marks, I’m feeling okay with myself these days. Although I have captioned the holy heck out of my photo for fun (go ahead, click on it to make
my thighs it bigger), I’m cool with my flaws and strengths. What I’m not cool with? Dumb-ass remarks. But that’s my work, and I’m on it. Because mostly I know people mean well, and I’ve made many a dumb-ass remark in my day. I’ll probably do it again soon.
Also? Here is the letter that I sent to my dentist this morning:
Dear Dr. Dentist:
From the time that I have been your dental patient until yesterday, I have been pleased to refer my family and friends to your office, as you know. I have found you to be a very kind and gentle dentist, and, on a personal note, you strike me as a kind and gentle man. The manner in which your office staff has typically treated me reflects your personal and professional manner. Because my experience with your office has been so positive up until yesterday, I want to let you know why I am uncertain as to whether I will continue dental care at your office.
To begin with, I am sure that the dental hygienist who treated me yesterday is a well-meaning person, and I am certain that she did not embarrass me intentionally. Having said that, I came very close to tears when she persisted in making certain comments and asking various questions about the Polaroid photograph taken of me at my first visit in your office. She looked at my photograph, held open the chart to show me my photograph, and then made a number of remarks to me (in a surprised tone of voice and at a volume that had me cringing while wondering who else might be listening in your open office environment), “That’s not you!” “Look at this photo!” “Is that really you?” “What happened to you?” “That cannot possibly be you!” “Did something happen to you?” “How much weight did you lose?” and “How did it happen?” At first I was silent, then I stammered, and, finally, I was near tears as I tried to figure out what I could politely say to get her to stop making such remarks. Looking back, I think I should have been direct rather than try to be polite, but I was so embarrassed at the time. I think she finally realized that I might be embarrassed because she said, “Oh, maybe I’m asking questions that are too personal. Am I?”
Dr. Dentist, first of all, I would really like it if you assured me that that photograph be removed from my chart. I was surprised and embarrassed over the remarks made about it, and I never want that to happen again. The person in that photograph is me, a human being with feelings. While sitting in the chair and hearing your hygienist speak about my photograph as if I were some other person, somehow a lesser version of myself because I weighed more (a lot more according to her), the human being depicted in the photograph went from initial discomfort to near tears. As you may or may not know, I did lose a lot of weight, but as I’m sure you also know, that is my personal business. And while I am a pretty open person about everything in my life, a person’s weight gain and loss is very personal, and it should always be up to the individual whether he or she wishes to share about it. I should not have been questioned (and I should not have been questioned loudly enough for others to hear), particularly as though there was something so shocking and remarkable about how I looked before that my photograph “[could not] possibly be [me].” At best it is simply bad manners to make such comments to someone, and it is unkind. However, in the atmosphere of a health-care office, it rises to the level of unprofessional, at least.
At this point, I am feeling uncomfortable to say the least, and I have to think about what I want to do about my future dental care. But because my experience with you and your office has been very good until now, I thought I should at least share my thoughts and feelings with you about my experience yesterday.
So . . . now that I’ve opened my big mouth about weight gain and loss, stay tuned for future posts about substance abuse, religion, and Sarah Palin’s hairdresser. Just kidding! Fo’ realz? Stay tuned for upcoming posts on married sex, the dream I had about my husband and a hooker, and a post about my Hawaiian vacation that included cliff diving and lust for a hawt sailor dude in Maui.