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My Cloud(s) of Witnesses

Tonight I was going to write a photo essay of my current struggle with weight. I was going to include four pictures that showed how I have gained twenty-five pounds since I have returned from living overseas two years ago. In fact, the impetus for this post has to do with my fear of an upcoming weekend meeting with friends from my overseas days. I dread their "what the heck happened to you, Miss Pumpkinhead!"

So, after going through the pictures I'd chosen to display, I decided: No. That's not the way I want this to go. If I am not happy with the reflection I see when I am alone, why exacerbate it by posting it? All of us at one time or another have faced a weighty issue, whether one of body or of mind. Currently, this is mine. I want to discuss it with you, without the distraction of my cringe-worthy pictures, because we have all fought the valiant fight with something that seems not willing to budge under the usual ministrations.

It is convenient to look for sources of the weight gain. In the past year I have quit smoking, completed my MBA, helped my mother through health issues, struggled with the desire to find a new hometown and career, while managing my current ones.

I hate excuses. My weight is an issue simply because my caloric intake has exceeded my caloric output. That is what I tell myself when the scale fails to move. My whiny self will argues that women naturally find it more difficult to take weight off with age. I do not want to apply this truism, no matter how convenient, to myself because the only thing worse than weight, is age. And not because of the superficial change in appearance, but because of the irreversible march of time, the realization that we are finite.

When I look in the mirror I do not see myself as I am in my mind's eye.

Yet, I did not wake up one day and decide that avoiding my reflection in the mirror was perversely pleasurable. I didn't decide that it would be fun to no longer fit into my favorite jeans. Or, to not get a second look when I walked in a room.

To eat is to satisfy one of the most elemental desires. It may be argued that it satisfies others as well.

Eating well is tactile. It engages the senses, the crack of a fresh bread crust as it is pinched and then plunged into a shallow pool of aromatic olive oil, the silky smoothness of a triple cream cheese, the smell of fresh cut grass as a very good Italian Barolo rolls across your tongue.

I would like to defend my weight gain as the result of such voracious pleasure. To pinch my belly and sigh with a memory of an evening indulging a variety of the Seven Deadly Sins.

It is as likely, that that pinch may be from the scoop of Starbuck's Java Chip I had while mindlessly watching yet another political rant-fest. Although, what I was really doing was worrying about this or that goal that I'd set for myself, mulling the possibilities of its achievement.

While there may be a metabolic answer to our weight issues as we age, I firmly believe it is also the result of an emotional confrontation with our own mortality. When our realities do not meet up with our expectations we search for comfort in one form or another...perhaps that's why there is a need for seven sins rather than just one....

I went for a walk after dinner. The weather tonight in South Florida is beautiful. I'm convinced we have cornered the market on breathtaking sunsets.

What is it we say at Mass? Those words of Christ that we give each other in greeting: "Peace be with you, my peace I give you." Sometimes, we need to offer that greeting to ourselves.


slow panic said…
"Peace be with you, my peace I give you."

You are right -- we do need to say these words to ourselves.

I struggle with the weight and the eating and the whole thing.

Love your blog.
JCK said…
Suzanne,your writing is lovely. I am so glad that you popped over to my blog so that I could find you!

Body issues are incredibly complex. I recently wrote a Letter to my Body on my blog for the BlogHer Letter to my Body project. I don't have huge insight for you, as each woman's journey is her own. However, I will say that you should not minimize the HUGE accomplishment of your having quit smoking - CONGRATS! It is only natural to have weight gain as you are working through that (and from what I understand it takes quite a while to leave behind.) Try to be kind to yourself. It sounds like you've had a big year of change. The weight may find itself leaving you once things feel normal again. Whatever normal is! LOL
JCK said…
P.S. I'm going to add you to my blogroll! Your blog is delicious!

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