My opinion of bras. They suck! Man, I could end this right here. Bras have never been simple for me. I’m a very large breasted woman. So large in fact most places don’t even make my size. Anything over a DDD and you’re stuck searching. Even the rare G can find stuff in specialty stores. Not me. H’s are near unheard of unless you want to pay $90 a pop.
Let’s add insult to injury. I have not one but two, yes you heard that right, two frozen shoulders. It has become near impossible for me to put a bra on without help. Not that my willing spouse in the house has a problem with that (I think he enjoys it), but there’s something a little soul destroying about not being able to take care of your basic needs on your own. Let’s not even talk about what it’s like to dangle five pounds each from your shoulders (yes I weighed them. Shup. Don’t judge me). No matter how good your bra is, and mine are rather impressive with under support, when you get to my size pressure will be put on shoulders and upper back. Doesn’t matter how I wear them, it just hurts. Frozen shoulders are no joke. Some people don’t get a lot of pain with them, but I have a pain disorder so the universe decided I could handle even more pain. Gee, sometimes I wish the universe didn’t think I was so strong. Talk about karmic backhanded compliment…but I digress. Bras now hurt in a way I can’t cope with, so I gave them up.
I held on to my daily bra torture for a long time with these shoulders. I had fears of embarrassing my teenagers with their friends or school officials. See it’s really obvious when I don’t have one on. They are big , and a gift of genetics and the fact they were working breasts feeding babies means they hang. I personally do not care that they hang. Never had a partner give a rat’s boob about it, and these things made milk. That’s kind of a miracle when you think on it. I wear my stretch marks, saggy breasts, and gray hair with pride. They tell my story, and a big part of that story is being a mom. No regrets there. Not for one second (even when I want to toss the kids through a window). However, the last thing I wanted was to walk into school and the teachers and all their friends notice I had no bra on and the things they would say to my kids.
I also couldn’t shake the memories of women and teenage girls in my life and around me. Listening to their judgment of proper female dress code and the hell they wreaked on those that didn’t live up (not that I ever did live up as the school basket case ala’ Ally Sheedy in Breakfast Club). Isn’t it funny how we impose the greatest social mores on our own culture groups?
It came down to sanity. It wasn’t worth the searing pain, and I’m talking not able to lift my arm enough to adjust clothing and use the pot after wearing one for a few hours. I started out with really baggy and thick clothing, and scarves (forget that its like 60F outside…I’ll just sweat). I went out nervous as hell entertaining my spouse with a rapid fire monologue of all the reasons why I shouldn’t bother with a bra. How I was in so much pain it wasn’t worth it anymore and we were only shopping not going to a five star restaurant.
But something amazing happened.
No. One. Noticed.
Not one person did a double take or stole a backwards glance at my chest. No one said anything nasty. There were no whispered conversations when I passed. The check out people looked at my face (which was sometimes unusual because with a bra my assets precede me. I’m almost used to certain individuals seeing boobs first). I did not end up on People of Walmart. And, boy, I was ready for all of that if it happened. I had entire monologues of scathing repartee about minding their own business, and my right to go topless if I wanted. Even jokes both self deprecating and insulting to the other. I was armed to the verbal teeth. Haven’t had to use a single one. Talk about taking the wind out of my sails. I’m half happy and half disappointed I didn’t get go toe to toe with an asshole.
I started caring less and less about going out braless. I’m a modest sort naturally (not that anything is wrong with flaunting what you’ve got. You are an autonomous person regardless of what you wear or don’t wear. You do you, it’s not just me). I doubt I’ll go out in a tanktop braless, but pretty much anything else is fair game now. Oh I’m sure if I want to dress up I’ll put the girls on display. There is a certain amount of power that comes with big breasts when you want attention. On a day to day basis, though? You can forget it. My life is easier, less painful, and more confident without well presented boobs. In some cultures my shape without a bra is considered normal and even beautiful. Why have I let the others convince me I need this thing of metal and canvass (for those that don’t wear one underwires are curved metal rods…okay so they’re not typically canvass, but cloth can be stitched and layered in a way that is just as strong) strapping me down?
Let the ta tas free! Unless you feel better about you with one on and they don’t cause you pain or discomfort, toss the bras. They aren’t worth it. Very few people will notice or care. I promise. Those that do notice are probably not worth your time.
Side note for the bra believers: Yes I have been professionally fitted, and get refitted on a regular basis. If you choose to wear one, don’t trust what size you think you are, go to a pro and get fitted. It’s the difference between wearing pants made out of cactus needles vs. silk. An estimated 70% of people with breasts are wearing the wrong size bra. Most higher end dept. stores like Daltons or Macy’s, or actual lingerie shops, will have someone trained on staff to help you for free. You don’t have to actually buy, but if you’re big like me it might be the only place you find your size for under $100.
"My disease is progressing. It's getting hard to cope."
"Oh my. What do you have?"
"Oh. Well. That's just silly, you just need to get moving again, you'll feel better!"
Now I feel silly for having even spoken.
Fibromyalgia is not just pain. I've struggled with this post. Rightly or wrongly I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia for 11 years. I never wanted to be the fibro poster child. I never hid it and once in a while I'm moved to post about it, but preferred to let it sit in the background. I've tried a few ways to explain what this monster is, to varying degrees of success. Most commonly I am ignored. That is for a few reasons I'm sure. Answers that run from not wanting to hear the bad stuff to just being tired of hearing about it. People who live with chronic illness are known in the media as being huge complainers. If you have a sexy diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis or Lupus, diagnoses that are well accepted by the community, or if you have something new that no one's heard of that you can teach others about, then you are heard.
Sometimes I believe there must be something wrong with how I present myself. So many people discount this huge thing going on in my body. Twice I've been in a position where my diagnosis was largely ignored as me being whiny until someone else in my circle of people was diagnosed similarly. It's as if my experience is somehow invalid. I've learned to expect that from the medical community, especially emergency services (don't get me started on the time EMS told me I was lying or the multiple times I've been told I'm a drug addict). That's frustrating enough, but it's worse when it's those you allow close to you.
People with chronic illnesses speak loudly and often. No one can see the battle we fight every day just to breathe. Medical professionals often don't have a reason why your body has decided to break down. We have to almost scream to get noticed, and then that very screaming is considered evidence that we're unbalanced, it's all in our heads. That reaction leaves me feeling guilty every day. Why can't I get out of bed at a "decent hour"? Why can't I just walk there, it's only a few blocks? Am I a good mom? What are my kids seeing and learning when mom is always sick?
Like most people, I've learned ways to make the world work around all my stuff. We all do it. Healthy and ill alike. We create patterns and habits around preference, finances, fears, and dreams. My world looks different because of my illness. If I were healthy I'd be labeled eccentric or lazy. Because I'm ill others feel they can judge me and my choices. It feels like they are looking for a way to tell me it's my fault. When someone is sick we look for reasons and therapy. Cold and flu are viruses, bronchitis is irritation or bacteria. But this has no reason, nothing to blame it on. It is easier to blame the person for bad things happening than to accept sometimes life happens.
Fibromyalgia hits each person differently and to differing severities. I've often said there is no one big answer and cure. There are hundreds as varied as the people who have it. For me, the pain, while no easy thing is the least of it. Fibro pain centers around 11 groups of tender points generally near joints in the soft tissues. It aches like arthritis and flares upon over use the same way, but is actually more painful. It's not painful enough that you can't learn to cope, but enough to make you exhausted with the coping. The pain moves around. Most people with fibro have one or more places that are always a problem but then the pain in the rest of the body comes and goes almost at a whim. On a normal day my pain is about a 5. That is half way between no pain and pain so bad you break your teeth clenching. When I take the right amount of the right medication I can get it down to about 3.
Think about that for a second. The average run of the mill non migraine headache is about a 4. A stubbed toe is like 7 and then aches at a 2 for a few days. So your stubbed toe is a person with fibro's best day. Imagine walking around all day every day with 20 stubbed toes and nothing you can do will fix it.
The pain is also different. Normal touches that shouldn't hurt do. A tap feels like a slap. Sometimes rough clothing hurts your skin. Sound which shouldn't "hurt" can cause physical pain. For me it's sound behind and to the side, even low level sound. The timbre of my husband's voice often makes me cringe. I back myself into a corner so all sound is in front of me and constantly tell people to turn it down. Bright light hurts more than just my eyes. You'll see me with sunglasses even on cloudy days sometimes.
This unremitting pain and exaggeration of stimuli is caused by my brain misreading the signals. I cannot force my brain to read them correctly. There is no behavior modification, or neurological therapy that will change how my pain centers experience pain.
Like I said, this is the least of it for me. I have learned to cope with the pain. I actually have a higher tolerance than most because my body has been trained that extreme pain won't kill it. I don’t like pain and will cry out like anyone else but my body has ceased catastrophic systems failure that high levels of pain cause. That said, it's still not fun and I'd give much to not be walking around like an open sore all the time.
Next, like most neurological issues, is brain fog. It's hard to describe. We all feel funky at times, lack of sleep or need that first cup of coffee, but this is different. I can only tell you what I experience from the inside. I will sit on my bed because I need to get dressed. I know this has to happen. I can see my clothes. I can't tell you if they're clean or not. I might not remember the name of the color. I will hold my jeans in my hands thinking, "How do I put these on? I need to put these on…" Every task during this time takes a lot longer and leaves you feeling exhausted and frustrated. When I say I'm in a fog, I mean it. I won't be any good to anyone. It really is like standing in a grey mist, sounds muted, vision blank, even the air feels heavy. Once in a while if you wait you'll catch a glimpse of reality. A bright spot where you know the brain works but can't quite get there. There is no medication or regimen for this.
The thing I hate the most is costochondritis. It is chest pain near the heart. It's actually an inflammation of the muscles around the ribs where they connect to the sternum. It feels like a lead pipe going the center of my chest to my back. Movement hurts, especially changing position, anything that ups the breathing rate makes it worse. Breathing, talking, even eating are especially hard. My pain hits 9 easily during these episodes. For years I had no idea what it was. No doctor could tell me. I'd call in about this horrible chest pain. They send me to ER, ER rules out heart, accuses me of just wanting drugs, occasionally gives some to me for comfort, and sends me home.
Restless legs is my enemy. I can't stop moving. It's more like restless body syndrome. I’m always bouncing, moving, twitching. To stop actually hurts even as the exhaustion of the constant movement sets in. If I spend time to think about it, I can make it stop, but as soon as I am concentrating elsewhere it starts again. This makes bedtime dreadful. Worry over shaking the bed and waking my husband, taking hours to not get comfortable and waking up frequently only to have to go through the same process of flopping like a dead fish to get to sleep again. Thank gods there is a medication for that…when it works.
Sleep. Sleep is my frienemy. I love sleep. I need it so badly. I am constantly tired. On average I need about 10 hours of sleep to be functional. But then I oversleep and miss things that I felt were important for the day. It takes an hour at least to even try to get up. It takes 2 to fall asleep. Sleep aids do and don't help. The pain medication wears off before the sleep medication, which means I wake up basically paralyzed in pain. Not fun. Sleep is where people get the idea I'm lazy. I keep crazy hours because I work nights, then I can't sleep until the kids are off to school then I can't get up until it's almost time for them to be home, then I didn't get enough sleep so I'm not at my best, it’s a vicious cycle and leaves me basically a vampire. I've heard many "jokes" over the years saying "If Susan can get up…" or "Let me guess, she's still asleep." If I could just be allowed to sleep the way I need to sleep without having to hear those things I would be a much happier person. It's exhausting to know what your body needs and then to deny it in order to fit what others are imposing upon me. I know that what others think of me is none of my business, but you can't always shut it out.
Raynauds is not strictly a fibro thing but it is common. Magic color change toes! Raynauds can affect toes, fingers, nose, and ears. What happens is stress or even a cool breeze or air conditioner triggers a hypothermic response causing the body to remove blood from the appendage. Your toes or fingers turn white or blue in response. There's nothing that can be done. It just happens. It does not cause permanent damage. It's more annoying than anything else. I’m cold all the time. It will be near 80 degrees in the house during those stubborn late spring days when you're avoiding turning on the air, and I will be using a heating pad on my feet. I live in shawls. Even working the mouse on my computer can set it off. Winter in Wisconsin may have been a mistake.
Migraines. If you’ve ever had one, no explanation is needed. If you haven't, no explanation will suffice.
Irritable bowel syndrome. Certain foods will make me very sick for no good reason. Extreme stomach cramps, constipation and diarrhea taking turns. This is largely controlled by diet, but can cause some serious issues if not kept in check. If an attack goes on too long it can cause sores in the bowel which can bleed. Bowels can also become impacted. So I'll stop there before it gets too gross. You get the point.
My fibro symptoms are resistant to medication. Some people get relief from various medications, diets, or natural medicine. I get so tired of being told, my best friend did this, or I tried that and it was great! Each person is going to react differently. You don't know that I have or haven't tried this or that or that it will work for me. I have been on many medications from weed, nerve mediations. Only one has had any effect. However, that one medication only helps with a small portion of all I experience. I watch what I eat to a point (I still like food). I'm into yoga and tai chi and belly dancing. But the symptoms are pervasive and all encompassing. And it's getting worse. I don't know yet if this is a random cluster flare up that happens or if my disease is truly progressing. It's taken from me energy, thought, ability to do basic things like grocery shop, it's even taken the sun. What else can it take from me?
I still feel silly. Like it's all in my head. Everyone seems to think it is, right? But that's the reality. My disease is progressing and there is nothing anyone can do to fix it. I will have more pain. I will have more fog. I will have constochondritis more often. I will need even more sleep.
But all I need to do is get out there and move some more, right?
I wrote this to help people so it is cross posted to both my blogs.
I’ve debated about writing this blog. I’m not sure at all that this is stuff I want to share with the world, but the thoughts about it are running loose in my head bouncing around the edges of my skull like grown up bounce house. I had to write it out, if only to save my sanity. If you’re reading this that means I found a home for it. This is raw and personal and posting this is by far one of the hardest things I have ever done.
Boy that’s a heavy word once it’s out there. I’ve always hated the word as if something of the ugliness of its meaning somehow rubbed off on me long before I had firsthand experience. It’s a harsh, short word that at the same time being apt loses its veracity by its very simplicity. Shouldn’t it be some long, complicated, hard to pronounce word? Something that can never fully be pronounced correctly so that we end up using initials in common every day conversations? Well that’s silly too, isn’t it? This isn’t something that comes up in every day conversations. I’m on the fence as to whether it should or it shouldn’t be talked about. On the one hand this is something no one should ever have to suffer in silence. They should be able to scream about it if they want showing their anger to the world. On the other hand it is something no one can truly understand until they’ve been through it leaving all those shouts of anger as meaningless to society’s ears as this simple, harsh, little, four letter word that stands for an act so horrendous it destroys your world.
I’m avoiding. Can you tell? It’s easier to talk about etymology than to explore the definition and what it means to me.
I haven’t really hid this part of me. Those who know me best know it happened. You have only to read the details in my books to get a really good clue. However, I don’t talk about details. I’m one of those that never had the guts to report it because I knew what I would have to go through. I’m the one that wanted to hide and make it all go away, thinking if no one knew, it didn’t really happen. I thought I knew myself well enough to handle it. I didn’t. I didn’t handle it either. I have grown and healed some since and learned to live, but every once in awhile it rears its ugly head. That’s the reality. This is something that once it happens, you don’t get over. Ever. Tired of listening to someone go on and on about what they went through? Guess what. They’re tired of living with it.
I’ve experienced rape twice in my life. Once by a woman; my first “gay experience” that sent me screaming back into the closet for many years. The second time was my daughter’s father who was so oblivious to his actions to this day I’m not sure he realized what he did. In both cases these were people that were supposed to love me, cherish me, but instead they took my trust and ground it beneath their feet. There is no imagery that accurately captures what they did to me.
During the actual attacks you’re more in shock than anything else. We’ve been taught this is bad. Every woman and man knows not to let themselves be in this situation. I kept asking myself what did I do wrong? Where could I have made a different decision? What clues should I have been looking for? What parts of this are my fault? I must have done something wrong for me to have been in this situation in the first place, right?
I can already hear the screams and murmurs right now telling me it wasn’t my fault and not to beat myself up all the while thinking the same things I was thinking. Admit it, some of you want details so you can find some formula that would have somehow made these things avoidable. No one has the guts to say that, so instead you hold to the repeated confirmations that I was the innocent victim.
It doesn’t matter how many times you remind me, with sincerity or not, I will always wonder if I could have changed it. Always. My mind know it wasn’t my fault despite us both running through the details over and over again. My mind knows there was nothing I could have done in either case. The rest of me will always wonder.
This is a senseless act. There is no understanding senseless acts. They are by nature illogical, an enigma.
I will not describe in detail my mind going somewhere else, or the terror. I won’t describe how exactly I was held down or what I was forced to endure. We all know the definition of rape. I don’t need to relive it for you to understand.
I will tell you; however, that TV has it wrong. There are no tasteful cutaways. There is no music in the background or sound effects to tell you danger is coming. There is only that moment and whether you scream and fight or just try to make it end as fast as possible, the world goes on outside your space as if nothing was ever wrong. There is no one to come and save the day just in time. The sun still rises and sets on your bruises both inside and out, and the clocks keep ticking as you fight for your life.
There’s another point. Whether your attacker intended to kill you or not, it is always a fight for your life, because your life as you knew it gone forever…but you don’t know that yet. You think please God just make it stop! Then it does. And then…you’re nothing. Just a piece of discarded garbage on the floor or bed or wherever you happen to be.
Your mind isn’t reeling at first. At first you realize you’re alive and you’re not sure if you want to be. Then the lists start. What the hell just happened? Who to tell, do you need help, are you ready to let people know? If you have the strength to tell right away before you start really thinking and you’re just going through the motions of what society has told you to do in such an event, then things start happening without you and you’re forced into the process regardless of what you want. If you don’t act right away, each minute slips away and you do what I did. Hide it all deep inside and pretend it never happened.
Bruises fade, injuries heal. If you avoid people long enough no one will look at you and know.
You know. The person you were is gone. You look in the mirror and it’s someone else looking back at you as if you don’t recognize your own face. That never goes away. The person I was before is not who looks out at me from the mirror now. I’ve grown to like the person I am now, but at first I hated her. It was her fault. I would never have let that happen. She did it. This other me that had my eyes and fake smile.
I would walk down the street and I knew people, friends and family included, would see the old me with maybe a few more stress lines around the eyes or a smile that didn’t quite go as wide as it used to, but I knew deep down they were seeing her. This new person I had become and I hated her. I wanted to hide. I did for a long time.
Time heals all wounds right? If I hid long enough I’d heal and be able to come back whole.
Now that’s a joke. There is this hole in me. Two in fact. Those holes were beat into me by my attackers. They were the pieces of me that made me, me, and they stole them. Obliterated them. There is no stealing them back and replacing them. They’re gone. And now there’s a new form to me. I’m still made up of all the shapes and lines of my experiences and memories, hopes and joys, but it’s not in the same figure as it was before. It skews everything about me. My likes change. My hopes and fears shift position, my very soul and being morphs to accommodate this new form. It’s confusing and frightening, but it will happen whether I want it to or not, whether my loved ones want it to or not.
It took me many years to accept this new form as me, to love the face that looked back at me from the mirror. I can now take my shape and face and let it forge a stronger me, but I am not who I was before.
Those with loved ones that have been through such things are hoping beyond hope that their precious girl or boy will come back to them once they’re healed. They won’t. Who they were is gone forever. You truly want to help? Love the new them unconditionally even when they are unable to accept who they are now.
Rape is not non-consensual sex that involves forcible penetration. Rape is murder of the soul, of self. It is more damaging to loved ones than death. It is more significant than this tiny, little, harsh, four letter word.
Date rape is in some ways the worst of all. When you’re injured the world is forced to acknowledge that something life changing just happened and you can grieve while your scars heal and fade giving you time to accept the new you. When there’s not a mark, when you’re like me and hide the marks, you’re forced to pretend you are the same person you were the day before. Nothing has changed. No one grieves the old you because they don’t know it’s gone. You suffer in silence.
I suffered in silence.
I still suffer in silence.
It was my own fault I never talked about it much. Now, years later, settled comfortably into my new form, things happen, semi-horrid things are said by unassuming people, and I’m forced to deal. I’m forced to look at the holes, the edges worn smooth by ignoring, and remember what once was there. Now I have to grieve all over again. I have to mourn the death of someone I once loved. She is gone and I remain, and no one knows it but me…and now you, whoever you are reading this, if you haven’t been so horrified by my revelations that you stopped reading.
There is no conclusion to this. As long as we treat Rape like an ugly, four letter word, and not the complete death of a soul, more people, men, women, children, will have to suffer in silence alongside me.
Rape culture sucks, but if these were bloody deaths out for the world to see would we even debate that it needs to change?
If you need help or you want to help a survivor go to RAINN.org
Recently I had homophobia stare me in the face. It was a hard moment for me. I had a dear friend with whom I had been through many things, get offended near to the point of being irate because I said her adult, straight, happily married daughter was pretty enough to date. It was an innocent one off comment that meant very little. In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t the best comment to share with the world, but this was a friend; someone I trusted with my children. I trusted her so I didn’t edit myself. I thought that because she knew I was bisexual for years now and never judged me on it that she was one of the safe people in my life. A long friendship is now ended because of this.
I was so angry when this happened it prompted me to write the following FaceBook post: Dear world, I am bisexual. There is nothing wrong with being bisexual, heterosexual, or homosexual. We are all born to be one of the three or possibly more options. This is not something I can control. I will not hide myself because some people might be frightened of it. I will not refrain from thinking a girl is pretty especially when said girl reminds me of my girlfriend whom I miss. It does not mean I will chase after or proposition anyone. I have a lot of love in my life I am not going to 'turn' your daughter or sister. It doesn't work that way. Everyone now knows these things about me. Can we please move on peacefully and judge a little less?
While I was pleased with the overwhelming positive support I received, even from my family, I still morn for that friend.
Ironically, this post was also taken as my coming out of the closet speech, which is interesting to me. I never considered myself to be in the closet in the first place. I didn’t go to my parents house and talk about how there was this hot chic at store, but it was a pretty open secret if it was ever a secret at all. My husband knows. He even encourages my relationship with my girlfriend and the two of them are good friends. All of my co-workers and friends know about my girlfriend and my husband. My kids know. They wanted to know who the woman was Mommy was always talking to. So I told them she was my girlfriend and I love her like I love Daddy. They sort of shrugged and let that roll off. I’ve told my children for as long as they have been alive that I didn’t care if they liked boys or girls or both. I didn’t care who they loved or how they loved as long as they loved. They are 10 and almost 13 as I write this, so this is the time when their pituitary glands will begin to answer those questions for us.
I do have friends who are in the closet. I’m a braver person when I am fighting for loved ones. I think I tried very hard not to hide who I was so they would see it was okay, that even if the world did take a crap on them I was right there beside them. I know I stay public for my girlfriend so that she feels like our relationship is validated and hopefully has the strength to tell her family. I’m patient, but not a saint. I know the fear of people’s reactions and possibly losing those you care about. I understand it, even. I am pagan and remained in the broom closet where my family and certain friends were concerned for years. I rode my broom into the sunshine about two years ago. Funny how I found being bisexual more socially acceptable than being pagan.
In a way this was a coming out of the closet experience for me after all. Someone I cared about stopped editing herself and I was no longer seeing the world through the crack in the closet door. Now I was face to face with something I had hoped never to personally experience. The door was wide open and the light shone on my face along with the cold shadow.
Fear of me, of who I am, of how the All That Is created me from someone who should know better. What hurt the most was not that she had a moment of fear, but that it was fear of me. After all this time and all the things we had done for each other and our families, after all the hurt and pain and joy we shared, she found me fearful. I kept thinking there has to be something more to this. I don’t understand why this is a big deal. This couldn’t end like this. The reality is, something about me being bisexual frightens her.
Why is that? I know I will never get an answer to that, but I’m human. I’m drawn to ask. I’m drawn to rack my brain to understand why. I’d had conversations with her before and the logic of not choosing this and good people are good people was used. But when she was faced with the idea that her daughter was attractive to other women she had a knee jerk fear reaction. I knew fear existed. I’d seen it played out on social media sites and in the news all the time, but it never touched me. Not like that.
This is an anniversary of sorts for me. Six months. Six months since I first said, okay, I’m going to put my words out there for the world and see what happens. What a wild ride it’s been too, and so fast. I had no idea how fast things have gone until a friend asked me the other day how I got into publishing. Then I realized that on September 14th it will be six months.
Not to sound dramatic or anything, but six months ago, with my heart in my throat, I pressed the mouse button and self published Silent Heart. I’ve said before and I’ll say again, I’m a wimp. I knew Silent Heart was good, but I thought it was like high school essay good. I never thought it would hold up to critical review. I had no idea where this would lead.
Now I find myself as the executive editor with J. Ellington Ashton Press. Two books published, a story in an anthology, and another book soon to go into editing. I’m still a student, but I’m learning so much and having a great time. So much as happened. I’m doing radio interviews, recording commercials, even singing again. I’m making graphics for businesses and find myself being asked for more. I’ve found friends who are family to me and I’m on the road to where I want to be. All it took was one moment of staring fear in the face and just doing it.
I love my life right now. I love where things are going. It’s not always easy. There are days I’m little more than a puddle of goo on the floor. There are challenges and good and bad days. There are big things in my personal life I won’t go into here at the moment that keep me stressed, but it’s all worth it. All the work, all the ups and downs, even the stress. It’s all worth it. The days we all have where we want to give up still happen, but I just remember how far my life has come in six months and I know can I push through it.
This has been such a wild ride. I kind of feel like this blog post is all self congratulatory, but really its acknowledging that I worked for this and I deserve this and I love it. This is my life, and this is where I want to be. Do you have any idea how long I’ve struggled? If you’ve been keeping up with my blog (particularly the last post) you might have some clue. Six months ago my world was very different. I make mistakes and bad choices like everyone else. I’ve walked very hard roads. Some were worth it and some I’d rather forget. To be here now, maybe not at the top of my career but steadily climbing towards that is the most amazing thing.
There was this movie years ago I always thought was funny. Defending Your Life. It was the idea that purgatory was this great place where you could do anything and eat anything (you can see that writer’s love of food in this movie), but while you were there you went before a judge and defended your choices. Of course bad people didn’t get very far, but the honest every day person was going to go two ways. Back to Earth to try again or on to a higher state of evolution. It wasn’t being pious and good that got you the ticket further in your existence, it was conquering fear. That idea has stuck with me for many years. When I let an opportunity pass by or when I stare something hard in the face I go back to that. I think to myself, when my life is over and we look back upon it, was I strong enough? Would I move on? I want to be able to say yes. I hope I will be able to say yes.
This past six months has taught me that one single moment of bravery can change your whole world. Now when I’m scared, I try to think back on this. What will this next moment of bravery bring me? Say yes to everything even when it's scary and your whole world will change. Wow, this has been amazing. Wow, that was fast.
Warning this has nothing to do with writing.
This is an old pet peeve of mine and probably not the last time you will hear about it. Every so often I kind of have enough of the media and the skewed images it forces on us. I get easily up in arms and pull out the soap box.
So here it is. News flash!
I'm a big woman. That's right I'm fat. By today's standards I'm probably downright obese. How many of you right now are thinking, "Whoopie freaking doo! A fat chic on the rampage. What else is new?" Maybe this isn't some major revelation but it still needs being said. Here's another news flash:
Big women are just as beautiful and desirable as skinny women.
Let me repeat that. Big women are just as beautiful and desirable as skinny women. That's right, I said it,and I stand by it. Here's another shocker:
I'm a big woman in the United States and I DON'T have body image issues. While I could stand to lose a few pounds for health, I still feel beautiful, feminine, confident, and desirable. I may not be every man or woman's cup of tea, but you'd be surprised at the offers I get, even being married, and not just from the freaks. Some of these men and women are GORGEOUS! And just to put this in perspective when I say confident, I don't mean in a put on a girdle and fake it till you make it kind of way. I'm talking, I once had to take a life drawing class online. This is the nude model class. Guess what happens when you have to do that online? You draw yourself. I had the guts to take a mirror and draw myself nude, in all my round glory, and I wasn't afraid of the reaction. In fact I got nothing but good comments.
It shocks me a little sometimes when people expect me to be depressed or want to hide myself because I'm big. I look at them and wonder what planet they live on. The average size woman in the USA is about an 18. The average size woman in the world is a 14. While there may be some countries that worry more about obesity in general, the fact remains, fat people live there too. Big and small people live everywhere.
I wasn't always confident. In my youth I struggled a lot with body image. The messages all around me were telling me I was ugly because I was fat. My mother mad major issues with obesity so the messages I got from my family were the same. "Don't be like your mother." They said this out of love and as an adult I can respect that, but as a kid...yeah it messed me up a little. Messed my mom up too. I was the freak. The outcast. I really was depressed because I was starved for peer attention but didn't understand what I had done to send them all away. And through this my heart kept telling me there was nothing wrong with me. But the evidence was to the contrary right?
Here is a truth I learned in adulthood, after having children, bad relationships, and a lot of time down and out.
1. It takes all kinds. There is every size shape and color imaginable on this planet and all of them are beautiful. If you take the time to see it and not be afraid of going against what the media says you're supposed to like, you'll see it for yourself. Get rid of the size 0 model image in your head. Drop the idea that women need to have DD breasts or men need to have washboard stomachs and really *look* at the person next to you. There's beauty there.
2. Your body has a natural place it likes to be. If we stop dieting and take the time to eat right--I'm not saying go ultra mega vegan, but maybe cut out fast food when you can and make better choices when you cant, and eat fruit and vegetables--and stay active--again you don't need to run a triathlon, but go play with your kids, do things you love, take a walk--your body will naturally find where it likes to be and go there. For some of us it really will be a size 8, for others it might be a 28. I know people in my life who are legitimately 300lbs and perfectly healthy. No heart trouble, no diabetes, no joint complaints. And I know 100lbs people are very sickly.
3. The media will only show the minority, not the ideal. There are very few people who can fit Abercrombie clothes. They show us that because it's exotic. Those models aren't always healthy, or happy. They do not love their bodies unconditionally or even their souls and minds.
4. There is more to life than beauty. Yes I am beautiful in my way, but I'm also smart, kind, creative, and funny. I love these things about me. I'm not perfect. I have flaws like everyone else, but when I started to love myself for these other qualities instead of judging myself by someone else's standard of beauty I began to love the whole package and that's when others started to notice me. It wasn't my size or shape that attracted other people it was the confidence shining out from underneath that attracted them. If you hide yourself and sulk you can look like a million bucks and no one will pay you any mind. If you walk tall and smile and let your soul shine, then you can be fugly and you'll attract everyone around you.
Here's a good example of all my points. I am a huge fan of Les Toil. He does BBW pin up girls. Look at this woman. She has to be over 300 lbs easily. Look at how lovely she is? How alluring? How sensual? How confident? How many women of all shapes want to be her right now?
Size means diddly. Living your life and loving yourself unconditionally is much more important and will do wonders for every part of your life.
Just to be very clear. Unconditionally means you love yourself regardless of what others think of you. Not judging yourself by other people's standards. Forgiving yourself for your mistakes. Wanting good things for yourself. Taking chances to make those things happen. Standing up for what you believe in. Loving ALL your good qualities. Knowing that even when life throws you for a loop you are worth the work it takes to see the other side.
That is my wish, ladies and gentlemen. That each of you can learn to love yourself unconditionally and stop the media blind side telling who and what we should be. They're not in your mind, your heart, or your soul. Who the hell are they to judge you anyway?
Susan is a plural writer and artist by day, a child and pet wrangler by night, and occasional crazy person on the weekends.