The sunset was pretty tonight. It’s always pretty to me. Halloween night, the sky was patterned with spotty white clouds, one perfectly like the next. Tonight, there was a tinge of yellow and pink on the horizon. Nothing spectacular, but enough to remind me of one of the perks of being alive.
I was told twice this weekend I was pretty. I’m not sure if that amounts to a hill of beans, but it’s always something I “had”, at least since I stopped being an overweight pre-teen.
I’m fairly sure half of my readers just gave up on this post; I wouldn’t blame them, for thinking I’m vain. I am. I can be. I think we all can be, at least most of us.
My father always talked about sunsets. And so the sunset made me think of him, which made me think of time. Because it’s almost been a year since he died. And how time can strip you of many things – people, energy, health, looks. Time is frightening. Pressing, like a weight on your chest until there isn’t space anymore.
I find it frightening that I once was 15 and could operate on six hours of sleep with no problem, and now it’s twenty years later and sciatica is a common word in my vocabulary. I find it frightening that I once had a tiny five pounder, and now I have a three year old who acts twenty-five and regularly asks me what words “In Spanish” are. I find it frightening that a year ago, my father existed, as emaciated and twisted as he appeared at the end, and now…he just doesn’t.
Eating disorders are a good distraction from the real issues at hand. Want to avoid your feelings? Eat only raw vegetables and protein during the day for prolonged periods of time. Want to forget that you’re a living breathing human being who will one day, too, stop breathing and stop existing? Fixate on the fact that you’re becoming less pretty. It’s a nice “smoke and mirrors” to the friend who you’ve lost from your life, or the brother that just won’t get well.
That’s where I’ve been lately. Pulling at my jeans because I have gained weight, and I’d rather focus on that than on the fact my Dad’s been dead for a year. Looking at my growing-out hair, and grimacing, because it makes me look old and fat. Rather than think about the fact that some of the friends I had in my life last year aren’t here now.
Change: it’s a real ball breaker.
Don’t get me wrong; I love the compliments. But it always gets my disordered brain thinking, “what if I wasn’t? Would they still like me? Would they pay as much attention to me? What will happen when I’m old, saggy and grey? Will I ever be able to let go of this attachment of self-worth to appearance?”
I’m sure this all sounds remarkably self-involved; I don’t know what to say. Parts of me aren’t pretty on the inside. It’s just the way it is.