Friday, January 21, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

I almost wept upon hearing a line delivered on a Sex and the City rerun, a show which may well be the most insightful study of the female psyche ever translated into mainstream culture.  It was by one of the show's perhaps less memorable characters, Lainey, a former Manhattan party girl who married and moved to the suburbs.  Having invited her friends from the city (the lead characters of the show) to her baby shower, she unwittingly invites memories of her past with them.  In a final act of desperation, she shows up, heavily pregnant, at a party in the city wanting to recapture who she once was.  Having thoroughly embarrased herself by her own inappropriate behaviour, she gets ushered to an awaiting taxi cab still fighting to hold on to who she used to be.  And the one line that has stuck with me from that scene as she ducks her head into the cab is (and forgive me if I paraphrase a bit) "One day, you'll wake up and you won't recognize yourself... Nobody tells you that."

One day, you'll wake up and you won't recognize yourself.  Not that her station in life was a bad one.  It's pretty much all we dream of when we're little girls and obsessed with being whisked away to the castle by prince charming to live happily ever after.  She lived in a beautiful picket fence house on a tree lined suburban street.  Lovely.  But it was in stark contrast to who she had been her entire life up until that point...

Ah, yes, my point...  Again, I'm sure I have one... somewhere... 

I have taken many moments to really look at myself in the mirror and take stock.  Not only on a physical level, but an emotional one as well.  And it ain't pretty.  My face is rounder, Renee Zellwegger bloated, a double chin clearly threatening to take up residence.  My once JLo fabulous ass is now dimpled with the telltale undulations of cellulite.  And I can't tell you how many times I've been congratulated on the impending birth of some nonexistant baby.  Although, I have to say, I haven't heard that one lately.  It might be though because the muffin top I continuously attempt to tuck back into my pants like a shirt screams: "I've already had the baby, dumbass; what you're looking at is my asbolute inability to put down the dessert spoon."  And really that's what it boils down to.  My absolute inertia, and a complete refusal to starve my body of what it craves most: cheese and chocolate and red wine.  In case you're wondering, those are the finer food groups.  There are many others I do not care to discuss.  I run the risk of losing your kind attention to my angry ramblings to a snack attack in the kitchen.  According to popular diet plans, however, and I wholly agree with them, dieting does not necessarily need involve starvation or even deprivation for that matter.  And I do neither.  It's just the portion control that does me in...

Which brings me to the delicate web on which we base our self-esteem on.  Our fleeting, precious vanity.  Which brings me to the more intimate matter of my boobs.  They were once okay.  A lot of padding and a little push up went a long way... until they became a source of nutrition for my infant daughter...  And once breastfeeding was done, they disappeared along with my milk supply.  I was horrified.  As if pregnancy and childbirth hadn't done enough.  It was just a complete onslaught of change I was not prepared for; it was the weight gain, the veins, the skin discoloration, the nosebleeds, the post-baby hairloss, the headaches and lightheadedness, the stretchmarks across my hips.  And then my boobs.  Gone.  I was only 26 and I had lost my boobs.  Where they went or who had them, I had no idea.  The answer to my dilemma, though, came via two silicone encased masses of saline solution. 

I had the option of sucking out my belly lard, but that just felt like cheating to me.  I felt guilty enough having breast surgery (it just felt so vain of me); I just couldn't justify lipo as well.  So in my head I came to the following pact:  I would fix what nature had undone and would never be able to fix in a gym; I could do lunges until the cows came home, it still wouldn't make my boobs grow back.  Blubber, erradicable; boobs, ungrowable.  So there.  Balance restored.  And because my boobs now protruded farther than my belly, it looked like I had lost inches around my middle, too.  Bonus!

I was now ready for the gym.  I was ready to rework the rest of me like the surgeon had the concave cavities in my chest.  I began modestly.  I was the one huffing and puffing, red-faced and sweaty, in the back of the class with the long baggy t-shirt on.  But the change didn't occur as swiftly as with the scalpel.  Not by a long shot.  A really long one.  A year long one.  And it was a bitch; every lunge, every pound I added to my free weights, and every epileptic fit I had trying to hold a V-sit in Pilates hurt, left me sore for days, and completely wiped out every ounce of energy I had.  I started walking the three miles to my daughter's preschool; it was three miles there and three miles back, and I sometimes clocked a whole 12 miles in a single day if I found myself without a car and had to drop her off as well as pick her back up.  That was me, defying death by heat exhaustion in the smothering Florida heat.

But many years later, I find myself in front of that mirror wondering who that mess is on the other side.  I feel like an eyewitness protection program participant or someone in the early stages of Alzheimers.  I vaguely remember who I was, but I am so entrenched in my new reality that I don't know where the two merged.  Does it matter who I was?  Do I want to be who I was?  Surely it matters.  I had interests once.  I realized that when the boom of internet social communities began and I had a profile page on almost all of them; and in order to start, I had to fill in what my hobbies were: what was my favourite movie, the last book I read, or what was my favourite music.  I was stopped dead in my tracks with these questions because I had no idea what the answers were.  I realized I had lost myself amongst the diapers and laundry and the grocery lists. 

I wish I were one of those housewives who make the transition more gracefully, because I know they are out there and they are admirable.  It is the everyday, accidental-like housewife who sits and ponders these mysteries of the universe  and housewifery with a glass of wine in hand like myself that I hope to reflect.  How did I get here and who the hell am I?  I am happy to report I have actual interests and hobbies now; I read avidly and can even pinpoint the genres that are most interesting to me.  I still hate going to the gym but I go every now and again-- not consistently enough to make a dent, but enough to keep my scale tame and allow me to eat like a pig while watching Biggest Loser on TV.  And I don't feel like I'm going to find myself ushered out of an inappropriate party lamenting my lost self anytime soon.  The trick is to find out who I am today.  For that, however, I might need another glass of wine...  I'm relearning to be me...

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff! Young ladies need to hear this! Im tweting NOW!