Friday, October 26, 2007
Why is it that a NASCAR race is so much more exciting once someone crashes? The Miss Universe pageant has never been so amusing as when Miss USA fell on stage and popped right back up. A hockey game sucks if no one throws a punch...and while we all agree it's sad...we glue ourselves to the screen during the Olympics to watch both great accomplishments, as well as, heartbreaking failures. If we miss one of those tragic events, we turn to the internet so that we can watch "the agony of defeat"...over and over and over again. Why is it human nature to love to see others fail?
We all want to be more...the best. We all want a better car...a bigger house...a more impressive job title...a skinnier waistline...more intelligent children. The desire varies depending on the person...but EVERYONE is always looking for more of something. We hate the people that we perceive are better than us or that have achieved what we want to achieve. We work hard and if we're lucky...we make it too...only to find out that it's not as great as we expected it to be.
It's not as great, because when we are succeeding...there's always someone hoping...watching...waiting for us to fail. People smile and congratulate you to your face, while privately they cut you down and secretly hope you will faiI. I feel that way sometimes. For years, my husband and I were so poor. We worked so hard and went without for so long. The hope of a better, more secure future is what kept us going when we didn't know how we were going to pay the bills or when we had to wear coats inside our house, because we couldn't afford to heat it. I dreamed of the day that I could have a nice purse or drive a nice car...the day that I could be proud to bring people to my home...the day that I didn't cry when it came time to pay the bills. After many years, lots of hard work and sacrifice, and thousands of dollars in student loans...we have achieved a lot of our goals. We are not millionaires, but we are more than comfortable...successful by most people's standards. There are many people that have more, but we have a lot and we appreciate it, because it was not easy to obtain.
There are other successes, besides monetary successes that people resent as well...especially women. We women have to be the meanest, most competitive creatures to ever walk this earth. I know that there were people that were much more likely to approach me and like me when I was beat down and overweight. It was easy, because I was no threat...no competition. I made the person standing next to me look good. When I took control of my life and problems...lost weight...and gained a bit more confidence...everything changed. People stopped approaching me. I went from being invisible to being talked and whispered about. The sad part is...I'm still me. The inside is the same. I'm still nervous and insecure...I still struggle not to over eat...I still have the same worries as every other 30 something mom. I think that's one of the reasons that I'm so scared of gaining weight. I know that there are people that would revel in my failure, because then they could feel good about their own short comings and weaknesses. People don't always see the successes of others as simply a success to cheer for or congratulate, but as a personal failure...a reflection of what they, themselves, did NOT accomplish.
I have found myself actually being embarrassed at times...embarrassed when a fellow PTA board members husband complimented me instead of her...embarrassed when my children's friends come to the house and say, "Wow! You have a nice house! I wish I had this house!"...embarrassed to admit that I have a nanny even though I don't work...embarrassed of the amount of shoes and purses and belts and clothes in mine AND my childrens' closets. Personally, I think that sometimes I am embarrassed and I fear success because I don't feel worthy. Failure is comfortable in some sick, twisted way...familiar. Maybe part of it is in my head...maybe it's me...the dark insecure parts of me...that are waiting for...fearing...expecting failure. It would be easier in some ways...but would I be happy...settling for less?
As I sit and think about the dilemma between "having it all" and being hated for it or being just like anyone else and easy to like, I realize that while it hurts to know that there are people waiting for me to fail...people putting me down in whispers...I could never live with myself knowing that I didn't try to be the best I could be. I realize that deep down people don't really think of me as a jerk or think I'm bad, because if they did...they wouldn't be talking...they wouldn't be competing...they wouldn't care. So, yeah people might love to see other people fall...lose...fail, but personally, I would rather be Miss USA and fall onstage in front of millions, then be the fat girl eating popcorn and laughing from my chair at home. I'd rather be the Olympian that trips and loses the chance to win a medal...the one he has been working for his whole life...than the guy with a spare tire...sitting alone...watching it over and over on youtube. It hurts and it's hard, but I'd rather be the best version of myself, then wonder what could have been. So, I'll keep working while others sit and wait...for failure.
Posted by MC at 9:12 AM
Monday, October 22, 2007
I'm the girl that always tries to remember birthdays. I love to buy cards...send a text...give a card or a small gift to celebrate life's little accomplishments or to ease everyday pain. I'm the girl that thinks of the ones I love all the time...everyday. I'm the girl that worries when my loved ones worry...hurts when they hurt. I try not to ask for anything...I demand nothing in return. I say I don't need it...it doesn't matter...but somewhere deep inside it does.
I'm the girl that is forgotten. I'm the girl that only receives cards on her birthday...and even then, it's just a few...it's family...the people that have to remember. I'm the girl that men always looked at with desire...but never asked out or wanted to date. I'm the girl that no one ever worries about, because they think I'm tough and strong. No one asks how I am...and if they do, they assume I'm just fine and don't stick around long enough to hear the real answer. The everyday pain that I try to ease or prevent in others...goes unnoticed in me. I do not ask...and I do not receive.
It seems so ironic...pathetic...so sad, but that's just the way it is and will always be. I have to believe that in order to survive...because when I hope or trust or think things will change...history repeats itself...again. Then, I feel even worse...more alone...invisible. It's like dying a slow death...one disappointment at a time. So, I have to try to look unfazed and perfect...put on a smile...hide when I cry...and say, "It's okay." I have to do this. I have no choice, because I'm the girl...that just wants to survive.
Posted by MC at 8:47 AM
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I LOVE shoes...the higher the heel...the more impractical...the girlier...the fancier...the better. I have over a hundred pair. I actually counted once. I have them arranged by color in my closet...and yes...I have about every color in the rainbow. I can't even begin to describe what it feels like to find a pair of shoes that perfectly matches an outfit. It's almost as if they were meant to be together...and I'm bringing them together...fulfilling destiny. Sometimes I find a pair of shoes that doesn't match anything I own...at all...but these shoes are so special...so fabulous and unique...that I buy them anyway...even if it means I then have to search out and buy an outfit to match them...perfectly. Again, it's almost like destiny...like they were meant for ME. I mean, not many people buy high heels with swirls of blue, green, and black, or hot pink boots, because they are not practical. When it comes to shoes, I am NOT practical.
I ask myself when this love affair with shoes started? Where did it come from? Will I ever be able to walk away...to leave this unhealthy relationship behind? Why don't I just avoid shoe stores or departments? When I put my mind to something, there's no stopping me. When I decide to conquer...I destroy. I guess it's not really such a mystery. I know why. I don't stop buying shoes, because I don't want to overcome this obsession I have. I love it like a junkie loves his drugs. The drugs numb his pain and free his mind of the things that drove him to the drugs in the first place. Just as the drugs change the way he feels as soon as they enter his veins, shoes help me forget and they change the way I feel as soon as I slip them on my feet.
Different shoes make me feel different ways. When I used to wear my pointy toed, black cowboy boots in college, my sister always said I acted tough...and in retrospect...I felt tough. Now...when I wear my green and silver running shoes, I feel fast. When I wear my 300$ Donald Pliner boots, I feel special. When I wear my leopard wedges, I feel stylish. When I wear green 4 inch high heels or my hot pink, pointy toed boots, I feel sexy.
I've been fat and I've been thin. I've been somewhere in between. I've been attractive and I've been average. No matter what I look like or what I weigh...no matter what size my jeans say, shoes ALWAYS fit. The size doesn't vary or disappoint me. If I try on a pair that feels tight or too small...if they just don't look right, I don't feel guilt or regret. I don't tell myself that I'm a failure or that I'm fat. I put them down and move on...walk away...without another thought. I can't say that for jeans.
I think that's when it began...when I was fat. I couldn't wear sexy tops or trendy jeans...but...I could wear fabulous shoes. I could wear the kind of shoes that make people stop me and ask me where I got them...the kind that other women whisper about and point at and admire in the airport (true story). I pretend not to notice, but inside I'm secretly jumping for joy. I know that any obsession is not healthy, but I also know that shoes are the one area of my life that I don't beat myself up over. Shoes make me happy and everyone deserves to be happy...even me. That's why I'll keep shopping for the perfect shoes...and when the shoe fits...I'll buy them and wear them...and be happy...even if it only lasts until I take them off.
Posted by MC at 10:52 PM
Friday, October 12, 2007
Wouldn't you like to be faster than a speeding bullet?...more powerful than a locomotive?...able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Sounds pretty good to me. What about the ability to cling to walls?...or to have superhuman speed, agility, and strength? These things would certainly come in handy most days at my house. I can think of many times in my life where being able to stretch my body into different shapes and lengths, or being able to become invisible, or to fly would've been incredibly helpful. I can't do these things because I am just a human. I am mortal. I walk on the ground. I can be hurt, and one day I will die. I don't possess any of the characteristics of Superman, Spiderman, Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman or any other of a long list of super heroes. I guess that makes me regular...nothing special...nothing super.
Everyone loves super heroes. Men want to be them, and women want to date them. They give us a glimpse of greatness...of what it would be like to be better than everyone else...to make a difference in the world. They make us feel safe and give us hope for a better tomorrow. When Lois Lane falls, Superman is always there to catch her. When she is in trouble, he saves her from the bad guys.
My kids always need a band aid to make them feel better when they're hurt...or think they are. We go through band aids like you wouldn't believe in my house. Whether it's a scratch or a cut...bleeding or barely noticable...a band aid is ALWAYS a neccessity. The only thing that can calm their cries or heal their hurts faster, is a kiss...my kiss. As a Mom, my kisses can dry tears and soothe pain. It's like magic. I started thinking about this one night as I held my daughter in my arms and kissed her stubbed toe. Yes, I really did kiss her toe with my lips. Her crying got quieter until it went away, and soon she was back up and running around. She still had a tear sitting on her cheek, but she had a smile on her face and her toe, the one that was ruined for ever, was working just fine again..free from pain. For a moment in time, I held a super power of sorts...the power to heal...to quiet...to calm. I made her feel safe, just like Lois Lane feels when Superman cradles her in his arms and places her feet carefully back on the ground.
When one makes a list of super heroes, there are certain men that come to mind first. I always think of Superman, Spiderman, and Batman. Those are my top three. Until, I started to think about what powers they each possess, I had never realized that while Superman and Spiderman have numerous and specific superpowers, Batman does not. Batman fought crime and saved people just like the other guys, but he did not use special, super human powers. He made use of what he had. He used his wealth and his intelligence...his love of technology, his detective skills, and his physical abilities to accomplish many of the same things his fellow super heroes did.
This leads me to the thought, that in our own way, we can all be superheroes...to somebody...sometime...in some way. A mother is a super hero to the child that she comforts with her kisses...that she catches as they fall...not from a tall building, but as they take their first steps. The businessman that stops on the highway, rolls up his sleeves, and changes a tire for the woman with a van full of small children, even though it's hot and he's tired, and it will make him late for dinner, is a superhero. The doctor that heals the patient...that saves his life for yet another day, is no less of a hero, than if he were Superman. It doesn't take real superpowers. It takes using the talents that we each have selflessly...to the best of our ability...for the good of others. I can...I am...I will be...a super hero today.
Posted by MC at 12:42 PM
Monday, October 8, 2007
Everyone has seen "that" person. You see her in the grocery store with her beautiful kids, perfectly dressed, shopping cart full of healthy food...every hair in place. She's perfect. You see her at the gym in her matching workout clothes and shoes, tanned skin, freshly highlighted hair in a neat ponytail, and a thin, strong shape. She's perfect, too. You see her in the mall...lots of shopping bags...just the right outfit, matching jewelry, and high heels. Once again...perfection. You quietly say things to yourself like, "Who does she think she is anyway?!?" "She's pretty and I bet she's rich." "She's so skinny. I bet she never eats." "She isn't smiling. I wonder if it's because she thinks she's too good for anyone...for me." "She must be a snob." Your thoughts and opinions vary depending on the circumstance.
You're not perfect like her. You wonder if that's why she's all alone...maybe all her perfect friends are busy...or maybe she hasn't found anyone perfect enough to be her friend. You peel off the label, stick it on, and walk away...hating her. We have ALL done it. I'm ashamed to say that I have; more than once.
My dad has lots of sayings. One of his classics...his favorites is: "Perception is reality." Sounds all new agey, but it is probably more true than any of us want to admit. I know that the way I see things or people has changed and evolved over the years as I have. I've been the stressed out, over worked, under appreciated, overweight, out of control, sloppy, unhappy stay at home Mom. This is not to say that stay at home moms are these things, but I was. I saw "that" person...that perfect person all around me...everywhere I went. I didn't know her, but I hated her, because seeing her made me swell with regret. The way I felt when I saw her, made me not only hate her and look for ways to put her down, but it made me hate myself. It was a twisted, self imposed revenge of sorts. I saw her as perfect and myself as imperfect...her as lucky and me as unlucky...her as in total control while I was completely out of control...her as care free and me feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. She...whoever she was...was the enemy and I was the victim. Poor me...helpless...afraid. My perception became my reality.
One day I realized that I didn't have to be a fat, miserable, unhappy, out of control victim. I didn't have to be trapped in a body; a persona that wasn't really me. I realized slowly as I took control of my life, not all at once, but piece by piece...methodically, that I could be better...stronger...healthier...happier. I never expected or dared to think that I could be thin or strong or beautiful, but I knew that I could be better than I was. It took years, and I'm not sure I'll ever be completely satisfied with who I am, but I am so much better than I ever dreamed I could be. I have become "that" person...just like those people that I hated.
People think how great it must be to have accomplished goals, to have lost weight, to look good, and be in the best shape of my life. It is...sometimes...but I never realized how hard it could be to be "that" person...that seemingly perfect person. I'm the one that people pick apart. I'm the one they hate. Now I know that sometimes that perfect person that you see in the store does have beautiful kids, but they fight and misbehave and get into trouble just like everyone else's kids. I know her cart is full of healthy food, because she feels regret over eating that candy bar earlier in the day...the one that will haunt her until she goes to sleep. I know that that perfect person you see at the gym in matching clothes and shoes...the tan, skinny one...is there at the gym because she is not naturally thin and she is deathly afraid of being fat...fat like she use to be. I now know that the perfect person you see in the mall has lots of bags because she shops to fill a hole...a hole with no bottom. I know she painstakingly chooses the "right" clothes, shoes, and accessories just to feel okay...not great...or perfect...or better than everyone else...but just to feel okay. I know that she is alone because she has no one to go to the mall with...no one to talk to. I know that she does not smile because she is really sad and really lonely. I wish I didn't know those things, but I do.
Sometimes even when the outside appears perfect, the inside isn't. I've learned that no one should ever jump to conclusions or shut someone out or place a label on people we see for a brief moment in time. We shouldn't rely on our perceptions and discount knowledge...knowledge that we could gain by taking the chance to know "that" person. I've learned that perfection is an illusion...a mirage...a perception. Every living thing has a flaw if you look close enough. There really is no such thing as perfection...but still, everyday, I open my eyes and I try. I try knowing that I can never have that which I desire...need...crave. Perfection.
Posted by MC at 1:49 PM
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
My toes were curled...my hands balled into fists...oh, I was so tense! Every week I tune in to watch one of my favorite shows, "The Contender"...a boxing competition. I'm yelling...hoping...wishing...encouraging someone to win that doesn't know me...will never meet me...and can't hear me. "GET HIM! KNOCK HIM OUT!", I plead with my eyes glued to my TV screen. Then, the bell rings...it's over...the one I was cheering for has lost. I knew it before the referee announced the decision. This man...this boxer...this warrior...lost the fight...but he was certainly not a "loser" in my eyes.
I love to watch boxing and I hated that the fight didn't end in the way I wanted it to. I usually tend to cheer for the underdog...sometimes they pull through and surprise everyone with a win and other times they don't...either way...I express a lot of emotion. I'm either jumping up and down screaming, "YES!" or I'm ranting about how my fighter coulda won. Last week, there were a couple of things that occurred during the show that really got me thinking. This man I was cheering for, was in the worst physical shape of any of the boxers. It was obvious even just by first appearance. Amazingly, when he was called up to fight...to "tow the line"...he did so willingly...without any hesitation or fear. I wondered, "Is he brave...or stupid?".He was determined to give all he had and he did. He fought like a true warrior...as if it were the last fight he would ever have...as if his life depended on it. He was shorter and weaker, but he didn't just fight, he went to battle and gave it all he had. After the fight, one of his fellow "contenders" said to him, "Man, you have the heart of a lion! I'm proud of you. You have NOTHING to be ashamed of.".
Many times, when the losing boxer returns to the locker room to be interviewed, he is sad or frustrated or regretful. Sometimes, they even cry...these big strong men...they cry...they express regret. This man did not. He fought in a way that allowed him to hold his head high and make no excuses. When his children came in to see him, he sat them down and taught them. He didn't cry or ask their forgiveness. He told them that he gave it all he had, and he told them that in life they should always fight for what they want...that they should go after what they want with all they have. They didn't lament his loss or hang their heads...they were so proud of their dad...and rightfully so.
There was one comment this boxer made at the end that made me reflect upon my own defeats in life. He said, "If I had had one more round, I coulda had him." I think about the times when I lose...when things don't go according to plan...when life "knocks me out". How do I react? My first instinct...my natural instinct...is to give up...feel bad...change direction...think of myself as a loser. I'm not there, but I'm trying to learn to have the "heart of a lion". I want to live my life in such a way that even when I am defeated, I can hold my head high with no regrets...knowing I fought...knowing that I gave it all I had and feeling good whether I win or lose.
I sat down to watch my favorite show...to be entertained...but I learned something and gained a new resolve. I made a decision. I want to live as a warrior...with a brave heart...and an open mind. I want to live in such a way that even when I am defeated, others will say of me..."She has the heart of a lion."
Posted by MC at 11:31 AM