Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

[Just so you know, I started writing this entry at 5am, after being awake for over an hour. My cat had another seizure, only a day after the last one. Before that, he hadn't had one for a few months, and before that, a couple years. I don't know if he's getting worse, or what. It's scary, and I feel very helpless. And I still can't afford to give him anti-seizure medication. So, I'm awake, and I don't want to be thinking about things I can't do anything about, so I'll write a blog entry about something else entirely. I may not finish it this morning, though. I'm already getting sort of bleary-eyed and desperately wanting to go back to bed. However, if I go back to bed right now, I'll just stare at the wall in that sort of squinty where-are-my-glasses way and worry and worry, and if I'm just going to worry and toss and turn and worry some more, I may as well get up so I don't bother Thomas. Right? Yeah.]

The mirror, these days.

Kinda not my friend.

I suppose I'm just as happy that it can't actually talk to me, although I imagine it does. In that game-show-host false cheerful voice as it tells me how terrible I look. It gleefully points out, in loving detail, every lump and bump, every roll and wrinkle.

I guess it's still holding a grudge.

Because I ignored it.

For years.

I still don't own a full length mirror. I haven't had regular access to a full length mirror since I left Hometown (My own private corner of hell. When I die and go to hell, I'll be back in Hometown with a bunch of rednecks who think hanging out in the Safeway parking lot drinking beer out of Dr. Pepper bottles is the height of cool.)

I have never, ever, liked the mirror. In high school I stood in front of it and counted zits. Seriously, I know everyone makes jokes about being a spotty faced teenager. My teenage acne was the sort they photograph and put in magazines as a "before" picture for Acutane. In fact, I've been on Acutane. My face actually wasn't as bad as my back, which was just beyond nasty. I'm rather desperately hoping that my daughter inherits my husband's complexion which is gorgeous and creamy-smooth and feels just lovely under my fingertips, rather than my own. Which is still somewhat vile, and I have scars the likes of which you'd have to see to believe, and I'm not going to show them to you.

And, like many things that I don't like, I developed a good case of Wally-vision.

No, not that one.

I think I've mentioned that my mom does Historical Reinacting. If not, she does. Basically, she dresses up in hand-made clothing from the 18th century and putters around with tents and campfires on weekends. It's an expensive and uncomfortable form of escapism, but you know, we all need to make an escape from time to time, right?

Anyway, back when I was still in middle-school, early high-school, she used to drag me around to these events with her. I did not - repeat did NOT - like them. It was hot. It was cold. It was raining. There were bugs. I didn't like sleeping on the ground. I didn't like washing cast iron pots in cold water. It was dirty. I did not like sleeping on piles of straw that poked through the canvas groundsheets. I didn't like eating anything that had been cooked in a washed-in-cold-water cast iron pot. Girl of creature comforts I was then, and I am still. Roughing it is not my idea of fun.

However... in our unit (the First Virginia Regiment, in case you care) we had this guy, Wally. Wally was... well, he was very enthusiastic about reinacting and he was a bit of nazi. (If you do reinacting, or SCA or anything like that, you'll find people divided into two camps. The "If they'd have had it, they'd have used it" people and the fashion police who yell at everyone for being inaccurate.) He was, however, also about five foot five and skinny as a rail. And once, after fussing at someone who had a wrong-century something-or-other, he got clocked with a perfectly era-accurate fist.

After which he developed the idea of Wally-vision.

"I do not like what I see over there. However, I cannot do anything about not liking it. If I look over there, I will be angry. I do not want to be angry. Therefore, I will not look over there."

Wally Vision. Do not look at things you do not like, unless you are willing to do something about them.

I had Wally Vision for the mirror.

I also had it for photographs.

I was looking through my wedding album the other day (My daughter likes to look at the pictures. I find it very amusing that - because I honestly couldn't remember the man's name - when she asked who the priest was, I said "Oh, that's the guy who married us," and Darcy now names him as "Guy Merrysus.") and realizing with a start that I have several pictures from our honeymoon. And we are actually in... none of them. It could have been anyone's vacation. It was mine, and while it wasn't the best time I've ever had in my life (my mother, god bless her, gave us a vacation in Jamaica, conveniently forgetting that I am allergic to pineapples, my husband is allergic to shellfish, and neither of us likes to swim. So, mostly we drank a lot.) it was mine. And it's like I never even existed.

(Have I mentioned that my dream is to someday have a renewal of vows celebration so I can wear a wedding dress again and look pretty, as opposed to looking somewhat like a silk wrapped marshmallow?)

Other people have pictures of me, but I don't really have many of my own. I tend to hide behind the camera. And I don't take pictures of my husband unless he's not paying attention because while I am camera shy, he is camera hostile. Mostly I have pictures of our daughter, and pictures of animals at the zoo, and pictures of my stuff.

Looking through my photo albums can be a surreal experience. This is my life. But where am I? Jesus, how could you miss me, I was freaking enormous. And yet... there I'm not.

To be, or not to be (fat)... if a fat girl falls over in the woods and no one hears her, does she exist? Cogito, ergo sum fat.

There are three mirrors in my house. One in the bathroom, over the sink. One in Darcy's room (you've all seen this one, it's the one I take my progress pictures in.) Technically, that's my dresser. I know, I'm a bad mother, having my clothes in my daughter's room. But really, there's no space in our room for two dressers. Our old apartment was much larger and we had enough room in the master bedroom for our enormous king-sized bed, Thomas's dresser and my dresser. This apartment? Not so much. One in the bedroom. We have a pier-cabinet instead of a headboard, and I love it for all it's nooks and drawers. But when we got it, I was very uncomfortable with the huge mirror that made up the entire wall across the king-sized mattress.

However, I'd been doing the mirror-slide for years by that point, so after we got the new bed, it only took me about two weeks before I was doing the mirror-slide in the bedroom as well.

Do you know the mirror-slide? It's that quick glance in the mirror; don't meet your own gaze, don't really look too hard. Hair's combed. Teeth are brushed. Clothes are not wrinkled or spotted. Great, move along, nothing to see here.

I've become an expert in the mirror-slide. Wally Vision. I can't do anything about my weight. Looking at myself in the mirror only makes me unhappy. I don't wish to be unhappy. Since I can't do anything about my weight, I may as well do something about being unhappy. I won't look.

And I didn't.

For years.

I mean, it's not like I didn't know that I was fat. I couldn't possibly not know it. When you're sneaking up on 250 pounds, you know it. When you worry about walking around in shops full of breakable things because you just know you're going to bump a shelf, you know it. Do they even make clothes anymore that "shrink in the wash" or is that just an excuse?

Wally Vision. What I see is going to make me unhappy.

I don't want to be unhappy.

Ergo, I won't look.

The mirror, as I've said, is mad at me.

And after years of neglect, I find myself desperately trying to salvage a relationship that died. Died, was buried, decomposed, and here I am, digging it up again and crying into the maggoty remains to please, please forgive me, I'm sorry, I didn't know...

Baby come back
You can blame it all on me
I was wrong
And I just can't live without you
Why can I not see in the mirror the person I know is there? Why why why?

I look in the mirror, I take a picture and all I see...

Han, mi boogie...

I know I've lost 50 pounds. (Fifty? Really? My god, when did that happen. Oh, right, the last eight months of my life which have been a blur of weigh ins and anticipating weigh ins and dreading weigh ins and... yeah. If I had to sum up my life for the last eight months, it would be "talked about my weight entirely too much.")

I know I've lost 11+ inches from my waist.

I know I'm wearing a medium shirt and size 14 shorts.

I know I'm now shopping the upper end of the "women's" clothing department, instead of the "plus".

I know.

And yet...

Me dwana no bata. Chone manya weesh asha beecho. E chu ta! Bantha poodoo!

The mirror hates me. That's really all there is to it.

It hasn't forgiven me for so many years of neglect.

And frankly, why should it?

But, we're going to councelling now, and I have hopes for a reconcilliation. At least he hasn't moved out yet. So there's still hope.



Anonymous said...

Boy, I relate to that whole post...

kikimonster said...

Civil war reenactors *shudder*... I spent four years at Gettysburg for my undergrad work, and I still have many great stories about them dressed up at the bar, trying to pick up us college chicks.

I have a similar problem sometimes when I look in the mirror, but have you tried doing something else different with yourself to make this 50 pound loss concrete? Maybe a new hairstyle? A new hair color? When I had lost about 10 or 15 pounds I cut all my hair off. We're easily talking about 10 inches. Then, in November, I decided to start experimenting with color... just a little red to kick up my brown. I love it. Just a thought for you to start renewing your relationship with the mirror again :)

Chanda (aka Bea) said...

I can so relate to the dark and twisties (those days and nights when everything is hopeless, so you just don't think about it). Im kinda there right now myself.

But you have soo much to be proud of, you have accomplished the (for me anyway)unattainable. So this mirror thing? Yeah, I have that too. But here's the thing. I'ts not the mirror, it's that mean little voice in our own heads. I'ts that voice you need to tell to shut the hell up. Hang in there!.

Im so sorry to hear about your kitty.

Unknown said...

I love your honesty. I will never own a full size mirror

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I know the Mirror-Slide all too well...and the Wally Vision...and the Absentee Photographs. I used to agonize because if I died, my daughters would have no proof that I had ever existed. I'm working on improving that, even though I don't love pictures of me and probably never will.

I think that you should take one of your "before" photos and stick it in the corner of the mirror, so you see it every single time you look at yourself now, and can maybe eventually see the difference (I know it's tough to see in yourself, even when it's a big difference and it's staring you in the face).

I think there's a part of us that will always, no matter how great we someday look, be the Fat Girl, and she has a way of wanting to diminish the accomplishment of having lost so much, because frankly, self-loathing is a much more familiar place than self-love. It's like an old pair of sweats - not as nice as the sweet little capris, but soooo much more comfortable.

You have done great things. You still are doing them. I don't know if the Fat Girl inside will ever realize that - mine hasn't, that's for sure - but if you need reminding, just hit me up. :-)

And maybe buy a new mirror? You know, if the old one just refuses to forgive?

I do hope also that things get better with your cat. It's so heartbreaking and scary to watch a creature you love suffer and not be able to do anything about it.


Rev. Linda said...

I still remember the day I looked int he mirror and liked what I saw, so I can definitely relate to your post.

At one point I decided that I did not want to do the 'wally vision' thing that it was time to like what I saw.

Here's an interesting point of interest: men are taught to look in the mirror and see what is good and women are taught to look into a mirror and see what is wrong.

You continue to buy into this thinking.

Ask (God, Spirit, the Universe, Yourself) to help you find a way to look into that mirror and like what you see there. That means that you are looking into your own eyes, deep, not surface where all the 'problems' lie, but deep inside where the beauty of who you are lies!!

It's not easy to get there. You have to want to get there and you have to be willing to work it (whatever comes up for you ) until it works.

I have a site helping couples to write amazing wedding vows. I have a blog attached to it that has more inspiration about writing vows and living them.

I think that there would be some good stuff for you that would be helpful to you now. Take a look:

Love, light and laughter,
Rev. Linda, The Wedding Vow Coach
Helping couples write down the dream and then live it!