My body, My self

I have so much to say, and I don’t know how long I’ll be able to write for before my little girl wakes up and needs me. She’s at this stage where she really, really wants me and since I work full-time, there are limited times when she can truly have me all to herself. So, I know this “I love you so much mama, hug me now” stage won’t last forever (she is six-and-a-half) and I want to relish it, savor it, and so, other things are temporarily falling by the wayside. Right now, she thinks I’m gorgeous, hysterically funny, a miracle worker and awesome cruise director (when she’s not complaining — “why do I have to go to day camp over the summer — why can’t I just stay home?”). If I get tough with her about something (about once or twice a day), she breaks down in tears and through them says “Mom, you hurt my feelings.” It’s a weird sort of power to have, and I’m glad it won’t be this way forever. But the affection, I do enjoy that.

But what I really want to write about is my body. How I do love it. How much or how little there is of it isn’t the issue. I loved it when I was fatter, and when I was less fat, and I love it now. I know not everyone feels that way about their body, and like my daughter’s love for me, there are times when I might get mad at it, but most of the time, I love it, I’m grateful for it, I appreciate it and I think it’s beautiful. Where I run into problems is when I encounter how other people react to my body (or maybe not even my actual body, but some abstract notion like that my BMI hovers around 40 and oh my god that must mean I’m going to die at any moment). Where I’ve been noticing this tension the most lately is in certain interactions, like with my doctor, a regular old family practice doctor who is just a sweetheart. He’s tall, probably around 6’4″, and slender in a certain way that tall guys can be. He’s a fantastic combination of excellent doctoring skills and excellent humanity. I had gone in to see him about a severe dip in mood that we adjusted together a little over a month ago (also the nurse in his office, after getting the lowdown from me on the depths of the depression, stopped and gave me a giant, long hug) and I just went back for a readjustment. In telling him all of the things I thought were contributing to feel better I mentioned that I was taking a hula hooping class, and he glanced up from his laptop and smiled at me for a second, which I almost missed. I feel funny saying this, but I really love him. Anyhow, I know he respects me, and treats me like the fantastic human being that I am, but I have this concern that because he’s a doctor, he must find my body repulsive. Never mind that when he listens to my heart and lungs (something he does regularly), taps my stomach, examines some body part I’m concerned about, even offers to be the person to do my pelvic exam (not in a pushy way, just letting me know that he can do it if I want), he treats me with kindness and in a tender way that a great doctor would. So my fears that he would find my fatness, my bodily self repulsive, are not based on any evidence. These thought, while understandable, are not based in the reality of my interaction with my fantastic doctor.

Another example is that just yesterday, after thinking about it for YEARS, I bought a new bicycle. I hope to have some photos to post soon. I was truly worried about the ability of the bike to carry my weight, but the (worker-owned) bike shop workers did not share my concern, although they were very slim guys, the kind of slimness that isn’t worked at so much as settled upon by ones body. I might even say they had a “slight” build, but that sounds less-than-positive. I mentioned weight a couple of times, even stating the actual number in case maybe they were thinking I weighed less than I do. But there was this sort of, “no, not something one needs to be concerned about” way they regarded my question, as though I was asking about if my curly hair would be a problem when selecting the correct helmet. They were far more tuned-in to getting me the right bike for my height, since I needed a frame that would accommodate my 5 foot tall self. I’m actually five feet and one half inch, but that half inch didn’t seem essential (I actually think I need to raise the seat slightly, but this is the first bike I’ve ridden since I stopped growing taller where I could actually place my feet on the ground).

Little girl is up — we’ve got to get back into bed on this surprisingly cold morning.




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3 responses to “My body, My self

  1. jackie

    This is lovely. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. Alexie

    Good post. Just on the worrying that your doctor finds you repulsive – don’t. You know how they say doctors just see people as bodies? It’s so true. I spent a lot of last year in hospital in Germany. In Germany, people will get their gear off at a moment’s notice. This attitude to the body extends to hospital, where patients are given no personal privacy. The whole time I was there, I had to see loads of other people nude or semi-nude, often because the patient didn’t care about their own personal privacy. At first, I was really offended. But after you’ve seen the tenth old lady with boobs down to her knees, you really truly do stop judging human bodies. It’s just a body. Anything your body can offer is just part of normal human variation. The most important thing about it is that it’s YOU.

    Me? I love cats. Adore ’em. They can be old, fat, missing an ear, skinny, kittenish, playful or bitey. I just love them and their bodies really don’t matter very much to me. That’s how I’m coming to see humans as well. I think that’s how many of the good medical people see bodies as well.

  3. Hooray for that age: six-and-a-half! You are right to treasure it. My 14-year-old grunted at me this morning. I took it as an affectionate grunt, but I know it was a stretch. At six-and-a-half you KNOW what’s happening.

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