Wednesday, April 05, 2006

finding enough

The night before last, Josh's aunt invited me to a women's Passover dinner. For the last 15 years, they've been meeting in the week or two before Passover actually begins to have a seder dinner together, laugh and share their thoughts on the roles of women in Judaism. I was excited to have been invited, and I had a wonderful time at the seder. It closely resembled a traditional dinner, but with a greater emphasis on women in history, and how the lessons of Passover tie into the world today. For example, instead of just listing the traditional plagues in Egypt, like floods, locusts, etc., the plagues were related as events today such as limited abortion rights, domestic violence, an emphasis on unattainable ideals in the media leading women to have plastic surgery or suffer from bulemia or anorexia. I found the whole thing fascinating, and made all the more special since Josh's aunt and her friends had put the whole thing together themselves years ago.

One of the themes mentioned was also the idea of having "enough." Enough money, enough success, enough beauty, enough power, enough of whatever it is you need to make you happy. If you are always focusing on what you don't have enough of, whenever you actually get it, it still won't be enough. So you must learn to view the blessings in your life as enough- somehow.

This is incredibly difficult, of course. If anyone knows how to easily internalize that value, I'm all ears. I know that I have been battling my own demons of having enough for years. In the moment that we were reading these passages, I kept thinking about my internal obsession with being thin enough. I've touched on it before, and it takes a great deal of willpower for me to look past whatever flaws I see and focus on the positive.

Weight or size numbers don't matter, because this obsession isn't rooted in logic. I can tell myself logically that I am relatively thin, but when I look in the mirror and think that my pants look tighter, or that my thighs look thicker, it makes me want to scream. The only thing that has worked as of late, is the realization that when I look back on pictures from college, or pictures from my honeymoon, I see that in fact I was thin, and I still thought I looked fat at the time. In pictures from a spring break trip in my sophomore year of college, you can see my collarbones jutting out above my tanktop, and my ribs show in my bathing suit. Before I got married, I lived near Central Park and ran two and a half miles every morning before walking over a mile each way to work. I forgot to eat for several days in a row before my wedding day, and yet, when I got pictures back from my honeymoon, I was disgusted with the way my hips looked in my bathing suit. And that was 20 pounds ago.

I could strive to maintain an unattainable 20 pounds less, or to wish for a smaller size, or a different shape, or I can tell myself that as I look back now and see that I was just fine then, I am just fine now.

I stopped preventing Josh from snapping pictures of me in my bathing suit when we were in St. Croix, because in 30 years I'm sure I'll look back and remember what a nut I was to think I was overweight. And even if I don't, I owe it to myself to stop obsessing about it. My children might enjoy pointing at their mother's old-fashioned bathing suit and floppy pink hat and laughing. I have to believe when Josh says I am beautiful, and I have to accept that no matter what I do, there will be good and bad parts of me. The good has to be enough for me.

I am enough the way that I am. I have to learn to find enough in every area of my life.**
** Obviously, I'm talking about finding enough in a life with no serious problems. I hope this doesn't come across as my trivializing people's lives who do face difficult times.


Phantom Scribbler said...

Aw, Halloweenlover! I just want to give you a hug. And I wish you could see yourself through Josh's eyes. Or through mine. Because you're so thin now that the thought of you being 20 pounds lighter makes me shudder.

Ninotchka said...

Oh yes! "Enough" is a big concept. I feel like I'm very thankful for all of the other things in my life but I'm incredibly hard on myself. Body image is a huge issue for me. Here's one thing I wish we didn't have in common. Meaning, I hope we both find true peace in this area of our lives. We owe it to ourselves and our loved ones too.

De acuerdo, preciosa? :)

(And, hey!, I have "boyfriends" all around town too. This gemela thing is getting totally eerie.)

(Not really, I actually love it!)

wordnerd said...

Oh, this was a wonderful post. I agree that it is so difficult to find that point of "enough" for whatever obstacles you face.

I really do think that knowing is half the battle though (funny, afterschool specials actually paying off here)...and that we are all works in progress. Therefore it's never too late to get back on the waggon (whatever waggon for whatever issue is really yours) and try again or try harder.

Good post...funny that until you just mentionned your weight....I (as a chubby girl who has come a pretty long way in self-acceptance) never would have imagined this was an issue for you because you really appear so thin in all your pictures. Just goes to show that we all internalize things differently and feel them in our own way. Once again, great post...sorry comment so was just THAT good!

Yankee T said...

Sounds like a great seder, and I'm glad you're heading toward being comfortable in your body...from your photos, you are gorgeous.

Jill said...

I love the concept of learning to view the blessings of our life as "enough." I think it is the key to contentment. I find it hard to put into practice, but recognizing the truth of the concept is a big step in the right direction.

I also want to chime in that you are beautiful...and thin! You are! I hope that you can start to see yourself this way because it's true.

Maribeth said...

What a great topic. Enough. It's true. I think people are so caught up with wanting more and more that they forget to be happy with what they do have.
I lost sight of this twenty years ago and it cost me everything I loved in my life. I wasn't able to see that what I had was enough. That I could be happy and content with what I had (left), to me. I wanted the unobtainable. I lost it all, and nearly lost my life...
Now I know that I have enough. And I am happy.

mc said...

This is a fantastic post, HL. Thanks for putting it out there. I think, as you said, lots of us struggle with the idea of enough, whether the subject is weight loss, salary, material possessions... you name it. It sounds like you are on a great journey toward finding enough!

Chatty Cricket said...

I have to email you with a follow up- so funny you should post this because I was just reflecting on this myself the other day.

I've mentioned before how unconcerned I am with my figure post- Lady, and it's so true. I've finally hit a point in my life where I realize that my body is more than just something to compare to others' or to pick apart as being less than perfect, it's an amazing creation that brought us this wonderful little person. I have such a sense of respect for my body that I never did before, and I'm so proud of it, warts and all! (Not literally warts, because I would definitely treat those, but more specifically, jiggly butt and all!!)

Plus you're totally right, 30 years from now you'll look back and realize you look like a godess!

Chatty Cricket said...

Yes, and to second what Phantom said, how would I be able to locate you if you lost 20 pounds? I would need to teach Lovey how to track your scent!!

jen said...

from what I've seen (ahem) 1. You are gorgeous and 2. if you hadn't mentioned it elsewhere, I would have had no idea you had these thoughts about yourself.

Jenn from Breed 'em & Weep wrote on this and had said when she sees pic of her younger self in a bathing suit covered up in a long t-shirt b/c she thought she was gross she wants to KICK THAT GIRL'S ASS, for she would give anything to flaunt that pre-2 kids baby body in a 2 piece today. She probably had a smokin' bod but thought some area was just too gross for the world to see.

I am glad you are at least acknowledging this. I have to keep myself in check like this all the time, too. I see some other blogs where they rip themsleves apart body part by part, skinny girls and I easily have 20+ pounds on them each and I think, "so, does this mean they think *I* am fat??" and by logic, yes, but my is if you'd ask them they'd say no.

perspective, it's a hard concept to come by.

And before I come off as "oooh look who thinks she's a bag of mental health and no insecurities", don't get me wrong, I do. I was 10 lbs lighter 3 1/2 years ago and I wouldn't cry if I dropped a few lbs just like many of us. But I'm just doing an extreme amount of self-help talk so that I don't let it ruin my good time and by proxy, others.

Piece of Work said...

ENOUGH, HL! (Ha ha ha) Seriously, though, that Seder sounds fantastic and what a great lesson to think about.

Kristin said...

Oh honey! I do the same thing with old pictures. I look at them and realize I was NOT fat, especially in comparison to now! I lost 30 pounds before my wedding, and I was finally getting satisfied with the way I looked in pictures. Then I had to go gain it all back plus more, and now I'm back to feeling the fear of photos. I wonder if there'll ever be a moment in time when I'm satisfied with myself.

Nancy said...

Thanks for the thought-provoking post. It is difficult sometimes to view ourselves through an objective lens -- I think so much of how we view life is in relation to others around us, so we can't help but compare because we're so used to it.

It's so trite to say "beauty comes from within" but it's true. I think as we get older we make peace with our body more, because we begin to focus less on that and more on other aspects of our lives.

I think you are a beautiful person in body and in mind, and that makes for an excellent combination.

mama_tulip said...

I related to this post in many ways. I look back on pictures of me from high school and marvel at how thin I was, and think about how fat I thought I was at the time. I'm heavier now, having had two kids, but I'm the most happy with myself that I've been in ages.

Great post.

Robin said...

Hi. I just found your blog through Wonder Mom's blog. I love finding people in Massachusetts.
The seder sounded wonderful. Where was it held? How did you hear about it?

I love the concept of "enough" since the Passover song Dayenu talks about it being enough. That's a pretty cool tie in.

Anyway, body image is a bizarre thing. It's a mental not a physical thing. My best friend has battled with anorexia for years and she is very thin. I have learned it's not about being physically thin. It's about why you view yourself in a distorted way.

I thought this was a very thought provoking post. I think when we are not satisfied with what we have,not matter what it is,it's because we are not satisfied with ourself. I struggle with this too.

After a sudden attack of pancreatitis while on vacation in Disney this past November,I have had to change my whole way of life. For the first time ever,I realized I am worth the effort. It's a funny feeling but I love it!!

Kris said...

This has been on my mind a lot lately. I'm about 15-20 pounds "overweight" right now, meaning my clothes don't fit and I don't feel thin. By normal standards I'm not fat, maybe toward the top of the normal range for my height. But weight has always been an issue for me. So.... I relate! Good for you for letting Josh take those pictures. :)

halloweenlover said...

I'm humbled by all of your comments, they have been so incredibly kind. It's funny because the person I see in the mirror is not the person I see in pictures, so it must be something in my head that causes me to pick and pick. I'm working on it, though, and over the past several months, I think I've come a long way to accepting myself and focusing on the good.

I am shocked to hear that so many people feel similarly, especially all of you whom I look at and think "skinny skinny skinny"! I guess that is exactly what this is about.

Thank you again, you have all be so sweet.

Chris said...

Oh I am so there with you. I have never felt thin enough... NEVER. Even when the size zero clothes were too big and I didn't eat for days.

I haven't worn a pair of shorts in at least seven years. I look at my legs and see big fat white tree trunks. Even though logically I *know* they can't be as huge as I see them, it doesn't change how I feel.