Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Another Piece of My Heart

Two days in a row -- you KNOW I'm going through an existential crisis.

The eve of this day's crack was looking at year books from the 1920s and 30s, trying to find a distant clue about my birth mother.  There is information there that I can't tweeze out but it's the closest I've ever come to looking.  I went to bed rattled at what I thought would be an easy match.

The first crisis of the new day was the panic attack I barely avoided walking the dog who bites me and who pulled me down and broke my face.  Can I terminate this $480-a-month gig?  Do I really have a choice when I'm now spooked about putting a collar on even the most docile dog?  Do I look for another couple of gigs or write that book proposal?

All that while I'm walking the streets with my wrecked up face aching in the cold thinking, "What can I do today that will give me some personal fulfillment?"

Some questions shouldn't be asked.

I have a friend and a colleague who would do anything for me, who has helped me through my grave times in the last six months.  My friend has no filter between his thoughts and his mouth, however.  He's like a three-year-old and can say some of the most amazing or scattered things.  He is not alone in this -- I have another friend who can be the same way.  I've done it myself.  But no one does it more often than he.  It's almost pathological.  I suspect psychiatric testing would demonstrate some broken place in his brain.

I ran into him on the street as I went from a poodle who got an alligator treat  after her walk (really: made from alligator, smelling of alligator, smelling of IMMORTAL alligator) to pick up prescriptions, a task that also tries my tendency to panic because I have to stand in line at CVS and then run the gauntlet of giveing information and trying to figure out which insurance card is which.  (My coverage was reviewed & I was switched to a different category and I was sick at the time and didn't cut up the old card or throw away the old physician directory.  On the other hand, $60 of prescriptions cost me $15.74: you go, Obama!)

I'd had some ideas about what might give me some dribbets of personal fulfillment during my daily rounds.  I was looking forward to coming home and seeing if I could give them a try.  Then my friend asked how I was, noting that my face looks better.  It does -- but it is exquisitely sensitive to cold and I think I'll have a big scar on my inside upper lip from Killer Dog.  I tried to say this and he cut in, "You know, some of those pictures of you on Facebook -- you were really attractive."

Were.

Thonk.

I think my mouth dropped open.  I know my hands were flapping as I said, "Don't say more.  Don't talk about it.  I gotta go.  No," as I turned my back on him and walked away, "were."

I am crushed.  It's too cold to cry outside and hurts too much to cry inside -- the scab on my nostril and the scar in my lip have made smiling and crying difficult, leaving me locked up with these poisonous feelings.  I got into CVS where the warmth helped me think again and I said out loud, "Is that all there is?  Were?"


There was a stricken email when I got home.  I answered that it was OK, but please don't bring up the subject again.  This prompted a second stricken email, protesting undying love and protestations that he thinks be beautiful outside as well as in.  I answered that I know he couldn't help it, he is forgiven & no more discussion.

But it wasn't about inside.  It was about having seen me when I was thin. 

I fight hard to stay the size I am.  Sometimes my clothes are looser and sometimes they're tighter but I haven't changed sizes in a year and a half, which was a loss of one size. 

I walk dogs and have no social life.  I haven't colored my hair lately or had my eyebrows ripped off.  I wear jeans or sweatpants, no jewelry, no make-up.  And I know what he was saying was not about this unvarnished, scabby-lipped version of me.

It was about the Thin Pictures.

Jesus, I wish I'd never lost weight.  I wish I hadn't written That Book.  I wish I didn't have to keep some of those pictures of me in circulation to help the sales of That Book.  I wish I didn't know any of the things I learned about myself from losing weight, from being thin, from gaining weight.  I could be happy in ignorance.  I could get questions like, "Have you always been...overweight?"  I could fantasize about what I would do if I were thin.  OK, so I'd be a ton bigger by now (maybe literally), and I couldn't walk dogs and I wouldn't be published or know I could sustain writing for the length of a book.  But no one would be comparing me to myself.

I am what I am, I said in the last email.  Unvarnished.  Big.  Too panicky to think about scrubbing up to see people.  I feel defined by what I once was and what I'd like to define myself as for the rest of the day is ABLE.  Able to walk dogs.  Able to smile as much as I can at someone who said hello.  Able to handle a query about something in my Other Life with ease because I know the material backwards.  Maybe you have to look a little harder to see me as "attractive".  Maybe, for some people, you need to come insist I put on some lipstick and earrings and nicer clothes and go out.  You may even need to stand in my living room and give me directions, then drag me out. 

I'm doing my part as best I can.  Showing up when I'm ashamed to be seen and scared of the dogs.  Trying to be just not only about this morning's encounter (it's really not his fault: he has no filters) but about last week's contretemps that was disintegrating into she said/you said/I said, saying "Enough is enough" at the risk of being accused of unjustly claiming the higher moral ground.  I'm talking, goddam it!  Right here, putting it out there because I hope someone will say the right thing to help my heart or to maybe articulate what someone else has been needing to cry about too.

Maybe this is all the personal meaning I'll find today -- having blogged/whined/masturbated.  But maybe something will come of the risk of not burying another flaked-off bit of my heart.

2 comments:

Margaret Curtis said...

Having been crying most of the last year, for various reasons, it's comforting to know I'm not alone in my panic/self-doubt/despair. People try to jolly me out of my pain, but it doesn't work like that. Just know I admire you, respect you, and am deeply grateful for you, and you're not alone.

Margaret Curtis said...

Having been crying for most of the last year, it's comforting to know that I'm not the only one drowning in panic, self-doubt and despair. But I'm sorry that you know these things too. I respect you, I admire you, and I'm grateful for you, ever since I read That Book. You have helped me more than you know.