Monday, 24 March 2014

Bootleg Shame

Whitney Thore
Whitney Thore is a dancer who, in her late teens, inexplicably gained a lot of weight.  By the time she received a medical explanation, the emotional damage had been done.  She did overcome it, though.  Still obese, she puts videos of herself on You Tube and does street dancing to promote positive body image.  In this interview, she said she didn’t know loving oneself could be so subversive for a fat person. 

I postulate that society considers self love subversive for all of us.

I thought myself clever, giving up self doubt for Lent, even concluded in my last post that it made me a better person.  As the Lent Prohibition progresses, however, shame speak-easies crop up all over my psyche, remind me of how many times I fell flat on my face.  It’s actually shocking, the negative messages contained in one human skull, and how few come from actual Bad Things I Have Done. 


After a party we gave, a guest apologised for not spending more time with me.  I smiled that sweet smile Appalachians give when someone says something stupid.  Although he’d spent most of the party in another room, he’d managed to criticise my weight three times. 

His rude comments, exhaled breath that I inhaled. 

Speak not of Tuilleries
I run into a friend after spending my birthday in Paris.  She pushes my trip aside so she can talk about her life.  Not particularly interesting aspects of her life.  The same old, same old.  Whether she considers me a bore or is a crap friend, her message is clear. 

Shut up, Lora.

I am silenced.  I am erased. 

Then there’s the mother of three special needs children that folk around here say mollycoddles her kids.  They also call a man weak because his mentally ill ex-wife keeps taking him to court.  This mother and ex-husband, victims of circumstance yet unable to evoke sympathy from their neighbours.


We’re not weak.  We don’t molly coddle.  Who cares if you went to Paris when I had a nice ramble across the moors? 

Too fatolduglyskinny
The unfortunate consequence is that some people stop talking because we can’t be bothered to listen.  Other people won’t be in family photos because they’ve been told too many times how fatolduglyskinny they are.  Folk in dire circumstances stop asking for help because they’ve come to realise it was their fault anyway.

This has been one of my most difficult Lents, trying to fight the demon Self Doubt.  I’m not able to say what is true about myself and what is protective salt thrown over someone’s shoulder to land in my open wound.  For the moment, I feel displaced from my life, from my Self. 


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Labels & Lent

Flight or fight.  Decisions.
Her eyes widened a fraction of a millimetre, the tiny jaw muscles tight as she calculated the distance to the door combined with her age versus  my own, her adrenaline extrapolated exponentially to my lack of anticipation, and predicted the likelihood of her escape. She thought she could make it.

You expect more than that from your GP.  Or I do.  Still.  After all these years.  Fat, dumb, happy, that’s me.  But the thing is, the Butler’s taking me to Paris for my birthday and feck me if I’m not having a good time.  And in order to do that, I need to be heavily medicated.  Which is a whole other story, but this GP looked more likely to hospitalise me than give me drugs.

So I say, ‘I used to work with children and some of them in the Asperger’s spectrum had this same inability to habituate certain sounds and vibrations.’ 

Ah, a manageable label delivered with big words.  I most likely wouldn't throttle her with the blood pressure cuff.  She gave me some beta blockers and now the world is safe again.  Everybody breathe deeply.

I don’t know if I’m on the spectrum, although if it’s a spectrum, I guess we’re all on it, but I proposed (tongue in cheek) to the Butler that people should be nicer since I have a label.  This wise ass remark made me decide that for Lent, I would be nicer to me.  No self doubt.  Just for Lent.

18 Things Creative People Do. Photo Andy Ryan
Don’t get me wrong.  Self assessment is a powerful tool.  Without it, you’re a narcissist.  Being disappointed in oneself leads to improvement.  Writers do this full time, I suspect.  It’s as I read recently, creative people ‘fail upward’.

But self doubt can become a constant negative voice inside our heads that we accept as reality. 

Too blue.
F’rinstance, I’m knitting two cardigans for Paris.  A normal person would buy something there or if pressed, knit one.  Me, I knit two.  And during the whole operation, I critique my work.  Too bland.  Too blue.  Buttonholes not where they should be.  Meanwhile, the Butler reacts to my knitting as if I’m spinning gold from straw.  To him, it’s miraculous that I can twist a couple of sticks and out comes a cardigan.  Who cares what colour it is?

Oh.  Yeah.  Right.

A friend of mine is doing 100 Happy Days – the challenge to post a photo of a reason to be happy each day for 100 days.  That’s the ticket with this Lenten vow for me, to look at myself and what I’m doing through happy eyes, so to speak.  Not – well what can you expect from someone with a label – but, it’s good that I exist.  I, who sing badly and often dance as I’m getting out of bed, who reacts to the Butler bringing me a fox skull with a rib breaking hug.  It’s not just alright, but good that I can’t remember to dye my hair and don’t cook and periodically dig up parts of the lawn for pumpkin patches and other inexplicable endeavours.

Too bland.
Sometimes it’s difficult, not sliding into Bad Lora mode.  Sometimes I have to say, ‘It’s just for Lent.  You can rag your ass after it’s over,’ to prevent myself from jumping on some inadequacy. 

The effort is worth it, because as I search for a belief in the beauty of my lesser components, I find more reasons to be happy.  To feel lucky with the life I lead.  And I actually think I’m a nicer, better person for being treated kindly by my inner critic.  Even if it’s only for Lent.