A Year of { jiggly laughing }

Something we’ll chat about in 2012 is the shrinkage of the junk in my trunk, my bathroom scale sighing in relief, and my ability to now where shorts without crying. I’ll divulge several magical weight loss tips. As a teaser, I’ll even tell you a couple now: I ate healthy foods. I ran, and ran, and sweated like a man. Anyways, all that carrot-munching effort was hardly poured forth to acheive that ever-elusive level of hotness. I’m a mom. Scientifically, we’re not even supposed to be hot. No, the change happened after writing this next post, and, as author Anne Lamott warned, finding God in the bathroom.  I learned to like myself fat, and only later thought about liking myself thin.

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The Divine Comedy: God is in the bathroom.

     We woke  Monday morning to a heavy snow drifting in unexpectedly, as the weatherman had confidently declared our area might see a light rain. Even the snow looked confused. Cow pastures? Eighteen Baptist churches in a 1-mile radius? I’m far too gentile to just go landing on any old Wal-Mart! I thought we were headed for sophisticated cities…with cars…and people dressed like civilized attorneys. Psh.

      Our list of errands (as well as my festive, lime green running shorts) seemed out of the question. So, we settled into a cozy day at home doing the everyday things everyday people do when they are suddenly trapped indoors like napping, slurping warm soup…and looking at my naked form in the bathroom mirror.

I can feel your worried stares through cyberspace. Quite frankly, the whole thing had me a little worried, too.

     Throughout my youth, across college dorm rooms, in and out of grown up jobs, and far into my pregnant phase, I had what most women long for: positive self-esteem. I did not knowingly acknowledge my love of self, but it was a constant presence reminding me that I was alright at life. I look back to my teen years,proudly mowing the lawn in my comfort attire composed of one, tiny sports bra and one, tinier pair of cheerleading shorts. I catch glimpses of my college days when skin was not feared but featured in strapless dresses and bold conversations with Senor boys.  I thank God for the third-floor apartment I pranced around, baring a baby-filled belly without so much as a care that the blinds were open and my waddle was exposed to the world. Sometime from then to now a tide has turned. I have taken to layering on clothing, hiding myself like a bad family secret, and creating the burden of insecurity to sandwich between my turtleneck and baggy underpants. I have, for all intents and purposes, become a bit of a Never Nude.

     I have noticed a sick avoidance of reflective surfaces, a personal tumbling into not wanting to give a haircut or a new pair of socks to myself. I insist on performing an elaborate dance to change clothes: arms under shirt to unhook bra, new shirt over head as old shirt is skimmed upwards to fashion a scarf. Without purposefully trying, I have lost the comfort of confidence. Instead there is a feeling of disappointment with no real reason for it. “I have not wanted to look or to be seen,” says the former abs-of-steel Homecoming Princess.

    I took a shower while Baby napped. Once scrubbed and shampoo-ed, I instinctively snuck a hand to the floor outside, clutching a towel and swiftly sucking it back into the tiny stall. Alone, I was still craving towel-dried privacy… from possible intruders? Or the dog? Or the baby who cannot physically move himself from crib to floor to bathroom? Ok, ok, from myself. I prepared to make my exit (into my guest-less bathroom) by wrangling every square inch of terry cloth under both armpits. Double check to ensure the towel’s edge isn’t leaving any belly or knee uncovered. As I brushed my hair, back to mirror, staring at a roll of toilet paper, I thought of a passage from one of my favorite authors. Because that is what a girl does when she can’t bring herself to make eye contact with her toes?

“Some people think that God is in the details, but I have come to believe that God is in the bathroom.”- Anne Lamott

   Sure, Lamott details that she felt closest to God as she awaited test results for her only son by letting him play with urine specimen cups in the sterilized restrooms of the doctor’s office.  Sounds like a stretch to think I could find God in my vulnerable moment of navel-gazing. But I heard God, and I heard Bathroom, and I was all out of ideas about how to be a big girl and just face my bum already!

 I dropped coverage, and snapped around. I was distracted by my wincing face, eyes half squinted like they’d stared too long into a carnival Fun House mirror, mouth puckered like a kid waiting for the candy to turn sour. The shock faded, and I set sight of myself, bare and freezing. A swirl of hateful taunts fogged the mirror, no doubt the voices of persnickety girls from highschool and a handful of Brazilian swimsuit models. This is no Homecoming Princess. This is no ballerina. No cheerleader. No reason for a frat boy to look up from his beer.

Then the tears came. Welling up and falling to the slick counter as confused as the misplaced snow. This was not the divine experience I was expecting, Anne Lamott. This was not Jesus appearing to tell me of my beautiful hair and heart. I was mad, crying mad  and set about to find God in my bathroom and give him a word about the audacity of making people wait. I stood naked in my closet, in the shower, in my bathtub, and finally back at the Reflective Center of Naked Truth that was the vanity. I wanted an explanation of what I had to be embarrassed about. Why is gravity such party crasher? Why do magazines splash bikini-clad starlets across a cover two days after they birthed light-weight children? HOW THE HELL DO FRECKLES MANAGE TO TRAVEL?

I took Lamott’s advice despite the fact I hadn’t had so much as one vision yet.

“I felt unattached and unaccounted for, in a lovely porous way, as though something was dissolving. I felt that I was in a safe little cave with God; and, that I probably should not be moved.”

Naked lounging in the dry bathtub. I would face myself as long as it took.

It could have been hypothermia, a serious conversation with God, or the lingering fumes of Scrubbing Bubbles, but I found some calm and an answer of sorts. My curves and bumps and scars and sagging body  is not the issue. The inability to accept my body has to stop. I flopped from the tub like a land-locked fish, struggling to get to my feet because whimpering is exhausting.

Me, Myself, and I had a thirty-second blinking contest to settle the score. There is no major malfunction, no disfiguring blemish, nothing that sends the townsfolk scurrying to their cabins. “Thou shalt stop tryin’ to fix My stuff” is surely included in the un-revised list of Commandments.

For a  final confirmation, the dog crept into the bathroom, wagging her tail. She seemed visibly excited to see me, bare bum and all. And gave my hind a sniff for good measure. I laughed with every fluid ounce of my being.I laughed like I meant it. Who would have guessed a laugh feels much more genuine when a ripple and a jiggle get involved?  

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12 thoughts on “A Year of { jiggly laughing }

  1. God, can I relate! I wish I couldn’t, but I can–on a lot of levels.

    And you have done Anne Lamott proud, my friend! I think I might have once said you out-Lamotted Lamott, maybe it was even in response to this post!

    Hugs,
    Kathy

  2. Funny you referenced Anne Lamott; I’m just reading her “Bird by Bird”, which is awesome. Every writer has to read this book. I have also discovered the joy of having less of me to spread around this year. I didn’t gain the 5-7 lbs that I have put on each of the prior 3 years, and also lost an additional 15 lbs. You rock Weight Watchers!

    • Renee, I used Weight Watchers for a little bit, too! I doubted it completely… and then lost a bunch of weight. Consider me a fan! “Bird by Bird” is one of my very favorite books, and I could not agree with you more. I think every writer- from professional to at-home journal-jotter- should read it!

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