I don't know where this will go. I'm a little embarrassed to even write it all out.
When our son was 7 or 8, he decided that he was too big to live upstairs with us, and insisted upon moving into the spare room in the basement. Number one, it was huge, and number two, there was a substantial lack of pink carpeting on the floor...neither of which were true of his upstairs room.
So, we packed him up, we shipped him out, er, down, and all was well.
His upstairs room, sunny, happy, and inviting, (even if it was somewhat pink) lent itself perfectly to my quirk, and my sometimes incredible desire for solitude.
I moved in.
I collected silliness anywhere I could find it, in the form of ribbons, beads, tassels, and just general quirkery. I hung them, tied them, pasted them, and threw them anywhere there was a space in my new sanctuary. My favorite painted chair moved in, and I began sitting in the corner for hours, reading, writing, scribbling on things that were never meant to be scribbled.
I refused to dust it. I refused to vacuum it. This was my space and it did not ask to be clean and tidy. It asked to be filled to capacity with silliness and clutter. And so, I obliged.
It was the greatest room in our whole house.
And then, our son realized that the basement wasn't very friendly. It was dark. No windows in his room meant that not even the moonlight could comfort him at night. He began to see things that scared him. For weeks, he was sure he kept seeing a dead dog lying at the bottom of the stairs. He heard things that were certainly evil, and out to harm him. He was afraid.
After sitting with him one night for an hour, in the dark, and explaining away every shadow, every creak, and making precisely no progress, he decided that he could no longer live in this dungeon of horrors, and asked to move back to his old room.
And we moved him.
All of my lovely things shifted from the bright and happy room upstairs, to the dark, loneliness of the basement room. There was no light. There was no breeze. There was no ugly pink carpet, and there was no quirk whatsoever. Just four white walls, and a concrete floor. I was sad.
It became a playroom for the kids. It became a workout room for everyone. It became a catch-all for anything in our house that did not have a proper home. It became less and less "my" space, every day. Eventually, I stopped trying to make it into something it refused to be, and I stopped visiting.
And, in the grand tradition of teenagers, our son changed his mind, once again, decided that he was too big to live upstairs with us, and insisted upon moving back into the basement room.
We protested, for a minute, and then we gave in.
Today, after a positively crappy morning, I decided that I was taking my room back. Anything belonging to our son that was left upstairs, got piled into the living room, (he will hate me when he gets home from school) and I began slowly replacing all of my silly treasures to their rightful home. The room brightened instantly.
Gathering stacks of books, piles of candles, wads of beads, I moved back in, somewhat, and arranged everything to my liking.
And then, the book.
Originally a "count your blessings" book, it had been repurposed some time ago, and turned into a nasty, nasty thing. I had masking-taped the pages together that had already been used, and on the remaining pages, I had pasted pictures of violently skinny women. Women who were either sickly thin, or who had been airbrushed to appear so. Rib cages. Jutting hip bones. Sunken flesh surrounding sharp collar bones. Lots, and lots, and lots of bones.
There were also three purposely unflattering photographs of another woman...
Standing, in her underpants, exposed beneath the harsh lighting.
She stood, posing for the camera, a frown on of obvious disgust on her face.
A fat woman.
A woman with a distinct lack of self worth, posing first forward, then sideways, then facing away from the camera. Posing in such a way that the viewer could fully take in every angle of fatness she had to offer. Her soft belly. Her large breasts. Her wide bottom. A woman ensuring that there was nothing whatsoever about her that was appealing, or encouraging.
I was twenty nine when I posed for those pictures.
I printed them, quickly, and then deleted any evidence that they ever existed.
I pasted them in my book, and surrounded them with captions like "you're still fat...keep walking," and "you're HUGE!" The photographs were the first page, in my new, horrible piece of exercise equipment. My "inspiration" book.
Filled with pictures of my fatness, and pictures of willowy, bony, beautiful models, I would stare at it, as I ran on my treadmill, until I was exhausted.
I lost a few pounds in the beginning. I ran or walked for a specific number of calories every day. I also limited myself to one meal per day (because I couldn't handle being anorexic even for a minute. I'm a broad who lives for her oral fixation).
The weight started to come off, and I felt as if I'd won some sort of prize. My ass was shrinking, and I was on my way to pointy hip bones in no time.
And I hated myself.
I hated my fat.
I hated my lack of hip bones.
I hated every inch of my flesh, regardless of the thirty-pound weight loss.
I hated me.
That goddamn book. It was the paper proof of what I had always felt inside.
"You are no good unless you fit a certain standard. You are less if you're fat. You are less valuable if you don't look like these bony women. You are sub par."
That goddamn book.
I gained all the weight back. And of course, felt even lower about myself.
The day our family joined a local gym, the disdain for my person was evident upon my face in my membership photo. I looked like all those ugly statements I'd constantly told myself. I looked sub par.
I stopped looking inside that awful book, and eventually shoved it into the back of our bookshelf to be forgotten. I dropped fifty pounds at the gym, and started to feel better. The nagging voice that had constantly impugned my self worth, gradually faded into the background, and I learned how silly it was to base my value on the size of my ass. My fabulous ass.
And then, I gained the weight back.
And my ass is still fabulous. And I hate that goddamn book more than ever. I hate that I have allowed it to continue to exist in my home. I hate what it says about me. I hate that I spent so many years believing it.
I can't stand to get rid of it, however. It's currently buried in my new room, with Shel Silverstein piled on top of it for good measure.
I know I'll look at it again, from time to time.
But only because, I know it can't hurt me anymore.