In case anyone is wondering to get me for Christmas… Nevernude, yeah!!
Plastic zippers are an abomination. Metal zippers are one of my favorite things about wearing vintage dresses. I have dresses that are nearly 70 years old (oh yes I do!) that the zipper still works perfectly in whereas the cute vintage-esque dress I bought a few weeks ago now has a permanent home in my sewing box thanks to an invisible zipper that was apparently constructed out of Barbie shoes and dental floss. This is important because this – this dress and its stupid zipper – is how I ended up in a heap on my floor this weekend, not once but twice.
Sunday morning found me performing my usual insane ritual of trying on every item of clothing I own and getting progressively more upset because everything “makes me look fat.” (No I don’t say it out loud, I have the kids to consider.) At last I settled on what I thought would be the perfect outfit – only to have the zipper get stuck about 3/4 of the way up my back, right at my, um, muscular lats. My husband tried. My sons each tried. Even Jelly Bean tried. But it wouldn’t budge. Exasperated I performed a move that even a contortionist would have been impressed by and yanked the zipper the rest of the way up. “See?” I declared. “It does fit!” Then, as I turned to walk upstairs, the entire zipper burst open. Yep. It’s bad enough I Incredible-Hulked my jeans but now a dress too?
If I’d had better presence of mind I could have turned it into a burlesque act and made my husband think I did it on purpose. (Oh and probably scandalized my kids too.)
Unfortunately I have no presence of mind when it comes to this kind of thing. Confession: This is about to be the most embarrassing confession I’ve ever made on this site. Yes, I know I’m the girl that talked about pooping what I thought was a pile of bloody entrails thanks to eating a ton of beets. And I’m also the girl that blogged 10 different types of gym humiliations. But for whatever reason, this feels worse. It feels shameful in a way that makes me want to hide it from everyone. So of course I’m going to talk about it. (Dear Mom and Dad, that’s what I do. I’m sorry.)
The thing is, I change my clothes all the time. I’ve mentioned this before as a vestigial habit left over from my eating disorder days. But I don’t know that I’ve ever explained the impact it has on my life. Even on days where I know I’ll be home all the way until I crawl in bed, I can’t just throw on a pair of mismatched sweats and be done with it. I’ll sit paralyzed in my closet, the minutes ticking away so loudly I can feel my productivity falling into the abyss with them, unable to just pick something and put it on. Some days – good days – the process takes five or six outfit changes and twenty minutes. But on bad days it can consume an hour. Or hours. And the more upset I get the longer the process takes. Sometimes tears are involved (like Sunday). Sometimes I get really angry at my dumb body for not fitting into any of my cute clothes (when in reality it’s the clothes’ job to fit me, not the other way around). And sometimes I just feel really hopeless. Always I feel humiliated. Humiliated and judged and found lacking – by a pile of inanimate objects.
I’m not sure why I do this. It’s not vanity, I swear. I know people think it is. But I’m not prancing around admiring myself from every angle. With each new outfit I get more critical, more depressed. And while it’s certainly got elements of OCD, that’s not the whole story. It’s also not about a need to look perfect or impress people or get compliments. Really it’s not about the clothes at all. It’s about me and how I still, after all these years and all this time in eating disorder therapy, can’t see myself as beautiful. I can’t really see my self at all, actually. It’s a “fat and ugly attack” of the worst kind. And I still, after all these years and all this time in eating disorder therapy, don’t know how to stop it.
But I might have stumbled on something today. Like most good ideas, it didn’t originate with me but rather came to me like a bird on my shoulder. Like all good ideas, it started out small and grew big.
This morning, thanks to a challenge I read on another blog, I meditated. The goal was just to be still for five minutes. As I’ve said before, I am not a natural when it comes to meditating but that is perhaps why I need it even more. In a soul as frenetic as mine learning to cultivate calm is extraordinary. I know this. But I still never do it. (Kinda like I know I should take fish oil and change my razor every month and wear flip-flops in the gym shower and I never do those either.)
Yet today I did. Even though I was in the middle of the morning breakfast-homework-carpool-missing shoes rush and didn’t really have time, I decided to make it a priority. That was the first thing, the who, what and where.
The second thing was the how. This time I didn’t try to focus on counting my breaths or drawing an eternal circle or repeating a mantra (not that those are bad things) like I’d been taught previously. Instead I focused on just feeling loved. For me, as a Christian, this took the form of imagining sitting quietly next to my Savior – the person who died for me, because I’m worth dying for. And the person who conquered death and lived for me, because I’m also worth living for. I didn’t imagine a conversation or a lecture or even a face. Just the feeling. (And I think that this would work for anyone regardless of personal belief – imagine Allah or God or Nature or an ambient universe, whatever makes you feel like you have a purpose beyond yourself.) The effect was powerful and immediate.
And when the five minutes was up – faster than I thought it would go, surprisingly – I stood up, put on the first outfit I saw and walked out the door. Not only did I stay in this outfit all day but I felt good in this outfit all day long. I can’t remember the last time either of those things happened. And when my husband told me I looked nice, I didn’t contradict him.
I don’t yet know the why. Maybe it’s too simple. Maybe it won’t work again tomorrow. But I hope it will. I’m going to try.
Anyone else get stuck on the clothing carousel? Anyone else ever been surprised by a meditation? If so, what was it? Got any tips for me??