Tagged: personal growth

For Me and M and All Almost-Edible Women

I had been contemplating creating a blog for a long time.  But there was always a reason not to start:

Everyone’s blogging!  This over saturation of women-mommy bloggers has made a huge “so what” for me to answer, and I don’t have a good enough “what.”

Everyone in my current audience says I’m a great writer — aahh, the pressure (and, by the way, stop telling me what I’m good at — you all are really killing the joy for me.  Let me own this.  Let it be special)!

Said audience consists of four people, maybe, and half of them are related to me.  They’re all just being nice, trying to “encourage” me.  I actually probably suck, or am merely average at best.

I can’t even think of what to write about.

I don’t have a good camera.

I just need to finish (painting the hallway/sorting the pantry/re-covering the footstools in the master bedroom), and THEN I’ll be able to settle in to a new project.

And so, I marinated in my own special blend of wanting and not wanting, asking for and refusing, kinda-sorta-thinking and absolutely not-ing.  I was in a perpetual circle-jerk with myself — momentary fearlessness getting only so far as the shock collar of “reasons not to” would allow it.  Which was never farther than a few wistful conversations in the secrecy of my own inner workings that started with “maybe someday….” and ended with “maybe…..BUT I think what I really need to do is figure out how to address the bedroom windows.”  And as a result, our bedroom windows (as well as the sofa, the living room floors, and the family room walls, and, for that matter, anything else and everything else that wasn’t related to my own personal growth and development) have all enjoyed an appropriate metamorphosis, going from once-rough sketches to something truly pleasing and functional and “just right.”

And here I sit…..

I’m in this meticulously edited house, with a husband whom I assist as he creates his own happiness (men are particularly deft when it comes to getting this done), with two beautiful boys who merrily march to their own bands (bands in which  I have gradually been demoted to the likes of a cymbals crasher or triangle dinger — you know, the instrumental effects that only, like, one song in a set of 50 ever needs, and even then, if I’m not there, a relatively unsophisticated keyboard could reproduce my job in a pinch)….and I am still a rough sketch myself.

I am nearly 36 years old, and I have yet to jump from the confines of a two-dimensional page.

This realization really started becoming scary.

I finally decided to change things.

The desire to “start something” went from idling to overdrive at a very precise moment that, even as it unfolded, I made a note-to-self that it had to be the topic of my very first  post.  I had just  climbed into a warm tub thinking I was particularly happy.  I had been enjoying a routine of nightly baths, honey facials, hot tea, and good reads.  The baths were necessary to soothe aching muscles — the result of pounding the asphalt on a near-daily jogging regimen.  I was now consistently working out.  I was losing weight and looking good for the first time in years (the post-baby pudding belly was finally cooking up firmer).  Honey facials were  the result of months-long Internet research on the benefits of various skincare routines.  Raw organic honey was “so good” for your skin, I had read.  And here I was, making a habit of it, starting to possibly see results, my skin feeling firmer and the fine lines on my forehead maybe actually starting to fade.  The tea?  The perfect elixir to further the effects of the bath, each sip a figurative mantra: I am able to relax….I have carved out private time….I am taking care of myself….This is good.

And the books?  That was the best part.  I had just joined a neighborhood book club, and was now sharing in an idea feast with seven brilliant women; we would read and then talk and dissect words and phrases and thoughts and messages, the selected book like a pig at a pickin’ — being torn and shred and digested like only women know how to do.

Women are good at making a feast out of thinking.

And so all of this — this “me” time and this taking care of my mind and my body, oh, and the  wife and mother thing, and the completion of a Master’s not even a year ago — it felt as though it all equaled “wholeness.”  It’s all good, right?

And then, I breathed in the steam and vanilla bath salts disappointingly married to the faint smell of sickly sweet mildew-towel (this must have been a Wednesday night — Thursdays are towel-changing-toilet-scrubbing days), and I opened my eyes to feel the weight of that night’s read in my peripheral vision.  I was really enjoying it so far — Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman — a story of a woman treated more like a girl by boys who pretend to be men, and as a result, the main character — the edible woman — her spirit is figuratively eaten away by these men, and by the world, and even by other women.  Maybe even by her.  She loses herself, so much so that at one point she exists in the third person.

While the content was no doubt weighty, this was not the presence I felt.

It was M — my friend who picked this book for our monthly read.

She was so excited for us all to share in what she repeatedly called her “most favorite book of all time.”  She makes a habit of reading it every year.  She loves the layers of messaging and imagery and commentary on womanhood.  She says there is always something new to discover.  This book was more than a book to her,  It seemed like a diving-off point from which she could exercise her own voice — invite some of us in to what’s important to her — her worldview, what makes her tick.  That’s a fairly big deal for a woman — for someone other than your own self to know who you are and what you really think and how that all falls into place to make you an important player in the world.  And I know it meant a lot to her on a very deep level.  And her offering it up for her book club month, as her pick, it was a risk.  She was trusting us to care and to relate and to walk away from her feast completely satiated, and tell her it was the best meal we had eaten in a long time.

I stared at the cover.  I saw The Edible Woman laser-inked in gold overtop a graphic of a fruit bowl that perfectly camouflaged a naked woman.  She was so “hidden” that more than one book clubber didn’t even notice her until one of us who did notice her pointed it out the night we met to talk about the book.  She was naked.  And yet hidden.  The edible woman — nobody can actually see her.

And that night in the tub, in what I thought was a perfectly happy space, I got tears in my eyes, and a sore lump in my throat.  And the tip of my nose burned with the pain of an almost-sneeze because the feelings and realizations were coming on too fast for my body to manage properly.  I was completely overwhelmed.  And yes, this was a literal experience just as I described it — the lump, the tears, the suddenness of it all as I sat there in the bath trying to process the genesis of this big heavy-chested sadness amidst the background noise of a loud tv tuned in to a wrestling match on the other side of the bathroom door (husband and kids are wrestling fans).

It all hit me.

My precious M and this book.  This book with a wrinkled cover from too many nights falling asleep reading.  It sat on my toilet unobtrusively.  It was just a book, after all.  paper and ink.  Completely not loud or mobile or threatening or able to get in your face.  Kind of like me sometimes; maybe kind of like M.  But it had the potential to be personified that way, if only we dared to read into it.  It could be loud for her.  It could make her “heard.”  It could turn us all from “feasted on” to “feasters of.”  It meant so much to M, and now it suddenly meant so much to me.  Me, and maybe a lot of my friends, are we hiding too?  Are the people in our lives really seeing us?  Do we matter in the way that we want to?  Are we able to say what we mean and mean what we say and live like we do?  Or are we believing that we are honoring our most basic instincts because of baths and tea and “me” time and because we get to be moms and wives and some of us even work outside the home with a real career that pays money and everything.  No.  We might still be hiding.

I don’t want to stay hidden.  I don’t want to be consumed by fears — mine or anyone else’s.  I don’t want my life to go by, bobbing along on the waves that just happen to come my way — the waves that my husband is making.  Or my kids.  Or whoever.  I want to make my own waves.  I don’t want me or M or any of my beautiful fellow thinkers and feasters to have any more kinda-sorta-maybe moments.  Life is too short to hide, and for me, “un-hiding” means exploring the potential to share something that someone else might relate to, screaming “Exactly!”  Even if 20 other people read it and think it’s dumb.  I don’t want to wait for someone else to write something before I feel I’ve recognized “my” voice.  I want to write my own words.

As much as I like women (something I recently learned to do, and for that I am grateful), I don’t like women who complain and don’t do anything to improve whatever it is they are complaining about.  So, to not turn in to someone I wouldn’t like — a caricature of myself — I am writing.  I just wrote my first blog post.  This is it right here.  All four of you (or hopefully all seven of you, or all double-digits of you, if I am so blessed) are reading it now.  And this is sorta how it will go:  I’ll post once a week, M-F, writing about thoughts and ideas, some lofty, some pedestrian.  Some deep, some embarrassingly shallow (and I do mean shallow — don’t say I didn’t warn you).  Some will be long, and some short.  All will mean something to me, and I hope mean something to you, too.  This will not be a “mommy” blog, though I might write about parenting from time-to-time.  And, despite lots of decorating mentions in the beginning of this post, it will not be a decorating blog either (though I know interior adventures will make occasional appearances).  This will instead be a blog of thoughts and ideas about the experience of being human, from a woman’s perspective, I suppose.  Or maybe just from my little perspective.  Whatever.  It’s my platform to “un-hide” and move forward with something I have been wanting to do for a long time.

I will never edit posts for fear that no one will like my writing; I will most definitely edit posts when they aren’t pleasing to my sense of mental aesthetics (words, like puzzle pieces, must fit together just so).  I am calling it Tell. Try. Question. Sigh….because that is how I start nearly every personal e-mail to a friend.  Though technically not all imperatives, that’s how I treat these words.  Tell me how you would handle this.  Try this awesome product because it will change your life.  Question: Please say you you feel this way too.  Sigh….you MUST read this because I need to vent.  As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, my audience is fairly small (four might have been an understatement, but not by much).  I am now inviting as many in as are willing to join me.  Whoever is reading this is now on my “Contacts” list, so to speak.  And, as with any e-mail outreach when I am Telling, ‘Try”-ing, Questioning, or Sighing to a friend, I hope I get some feedback.

Let’s read and think.  Relate and agree.  Or disagree.  Please comment (respectfully).  And definitely feast.