I am aware I carry a lot of free floating, untargeted, unpretty anger. I’m pretty much flummoxed, though, why I am so over reactive to this little (small, small, yet not as small as my own paternal grandmother — in her time) person, now so aged.
I can begin with, I suppose, that she raised, and heavily influenced the man I married, expecting it to last forever. I’m talking, of course the man who fathered my children. He’s also the man who asked me, after I’d lost fourteen pounds on a twenty eight day survival trip wherein I’d walked the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument, (well, a goodly portion of it, or so it seemed), eaten off the land (yeah, guess what that yielded in October) and 10 cups of (gotta make sure you don’t die out there) survival food we could pack on that long trek — one cup sugar, one cup honey, one cup hard kernel, chip-your-teeth wheat, one cup rice, one cup salt, one cup raisins, sorry, that was over forty years ago, I can’t think of the other cups, just now. You know what; I think there was also one cup of milled wheat, too. Trust me; you can get hungry enough to dream about eating that stuff.
Tell me you are getting the picture that month whirred by with minimum calories, lotsa, lotsa walking — generally over twenty miles a day — rough country, an eleven mile run up and down hills wherein I was the first female in, at the end.
My first shower after all that led to me looking in the bathroom mirror when I was finished so I could see those indented ribs I’d felt in the shower.
I tell you all this because I was beginning to tell you this man who fathered my children, son to Maxine, had asked me after that fourteen pounds could I lose another ten? I can see, now, how young and foolish I was then. “What the hey”, I thought. “I’m a miracle worker now.” Too bad I couldn’t see I was being dumber than dirt.
Perhaps, you have your own tale that’s similar enough to this one. If you don’t I’ll tell you I had never remembered my body at a lower weight than when I returned from survival. I had to weigh less when I was born and through my childhood, no doubt, but had no reason to notice. It has not weighed less any time since.
I was young then. As a kid, I’d been somewhat skinny. I’d never been fat. Ah, but I forget. Twiggy was the big deal model, then. That would be the Twiggy “who made beanpole figures ‘de rigueur’ in the sixties”. And, that may well have played its part, for his mother has always loved Enquirer and Globe. And I have never looked like a model, nor would anyone remember me looking anorexic.
Interesting, and fun, it can sometimes be, looking back. I met my first anorexic my first year away at school. I spent that year in the dorms and met her, oddly enough, in the cafeteria. She was amazingly open. She was amazingly informative. I’d never seen anyone look like her before, except those pictures of people emerging from the concentration camps – bones barely covered by stretched skin. She was suffering so many things that point towards the end. Her heart was fragile, her hair spotty. She was married to an Army higher up, as old as her father, as scarce as her father. This was during Vietnam.
Alright; I’m back with you now after a little trip down memory lane
You probably guessed it didn’t turn out well in our marriage that I failed to see what it might mean that a man who met me when I weighed less than I had growing up in a healthy (leaning to lean) body wanted a commitment from me to weigh ten pounds less than that.
You may, also have guessed correctly that it didn’t bode well that I failed to make that the most important aspect of my being.
I will tell you that I must have assigned the importance of that coming from the male side of the family. I don’t recall having even as much as one good reason to think that. I just never, ever guessed it would have come from his mother.
Let us fast forward to September of 2010. I had not seen Maxine for a number of years, in part because I’d been out of state for ten, in part because she had had a replacement daughter in law which changed dynamics considerably.
My oldest son and I came to her home so she could remind herself who I was and we could see if we could feel comfortable with the arrangements of my coming. Her son was already here. She had convinced herself she’d be taking care of me, although I did not understand that at the time. We were going to have dinner.
In the course of the meal, and Maxine telling many of what I would come to know as her litany of stories, she threw out, “we’ll have to get you down to your girlish figure”. I confess a degree of gratification as the tension grew thick enough to be cut with a knife as both my son and wasband held their breath. I had been told that her son was considering putting her is assisted living, which was why I was back in the picture, so I did manage to be gracious and merely laugh.
It did not take long being in Maxine’s presence to realize, however, that people’s size and other aspects of their apprearance was of paramount importance to her. I’d hear her hollering loudly at the TV, “she’s huge, she’s huge”.
A daughter of her third husband, and her husband, were going to be on this side of town and called to let her know. The stories began. “They could barely get through the door the last time they came, and they ate and they ate.”
Recently, Maxine told of a woman who must have been, (yes, my tongues is in my cheek) just mammoth. Her nurse told me a couple days after that how loudly Maxine had proclaimed there was a very fat woman who’d just come in the store.
As is usually the case when we humans have difficulties with another person, I do realize that Maxine and I have a lot of qualities in common. I have to admit to the profoundly disgusting (to me) trait of jealousy. It’s barely tolerable for me to admit to that, let alone to look at it, but should I determine I must bare my soul about it, you are likely to know. It seems that jealousy always wants to join the fun when I realize we share traits.
I have a long ways to go, however, to see myself seeing others similarly to how I gather Maxine sees others. It is unfortunate, though, that it is only one of those things that I react to. Truth be told, it was only one of those things I reacted to with her son in our long ago marriage. Bottom line, what makes my situation, galling here, as the first comment I ever got on this site points out, relates to this whole muddle.