A Dangerous Phrase

August 18, 2014

There’s a troublesome thought I’ve had on multiple occasions. Well not a thought so much as a thought-category: a series of thoughts that all start with the same subjunctive phrase:

“I wish I had a boyfriend so that________”

(Wait! Stay with me. I promise this isn’t total Cathy Cartoon territory. It’s far darker than that.)

The first time this popped up I knew it was a sign of dangerous toxicity:

“I wish I had a boyfriend so that I could stop drinking.”

Right? Dangerous. My social abuse of alcohol stemmed from discomfort with my body, discomfort with sexuality, and with interpersonal anxiety. The delusion was if I could just get myself into a relationship, I could stop going to bars to find that relationship, and stop suffering all the consequences alcohol brings with it. Luckily, I dodged that bullet before the addiction-apple fully dropped from my family tree, but not without my fair share of embarrassing, sad, and damaging events in my pursuit.

The next time I heard it was equally problematic:

“I wish I had a boyfriend so that I could stop eating compulsively.”

At the point this permutation reared its head I had at least figured out that the root issue in the previous example was loneliness. There was no getting around that. And where the worst of my food compulsions were occurring at night – the time of day my skin most loudly cries for contact – it would follow that a partner would solve that. (I use the word ‘solve’ loosely and with great self-awareness.) Luckily, a drastic diet change proved my compulsions were chemical (look up Leptin Resistance – it’s fascinating), and I got out of this one easy (if you consider a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free, legume-free, grain-free lifestyle “easy,” which at this point, given the alternative, I do).

Having kicked both of those habits, in the beginning of the year I had this rather heady one:

“I wish I had a boyfriend so that I could meditate better.”

First world problems. But where the dating arena has always felt like my least successful, and  sexual and romantic desire is one of the strongest forces in nature, there’s not much room for the Lotus when you’re full of Pin(e)ing. (It’s a stretch but it’s kinda funny, right?) Despite years of practice, no matter how long I sit most of my meditation sessions devolve at some point (or for the entire duration) into record-skipping repetitive thoughts about what man is or is not in my life at the moment. The idea here being if I could get into a secure relationship (is that a thing?) I could know what it’s like to have that piece of the puzzle out of the way so I could obsessively think about other things.

In this case, the problem is the solution – what is meditation if not an exercise in sitting with our compulsions, easing our relationship with them. Ultimately a clear pattern of obsessive thought is a gift in meditation – a box of (raging, pain in the ass, just shoot me in the face) goodies you get to work on every time you approach the cushion. So I just keep sitting and try to be grateful for the practice.

The most recent version that floated up into my consciousness is the saddest, I think:

“I wish I had a boyfriend so that I could treat other women better.”

Brutal. Painful. Embarrassing. Culturally pervasive? I willingly, if shamefully, accept personal blame that a sense of competition and poverty in this arena has caused me to be less warm to other women, like a dog backed into a cage uncertain if she’ll ever eat again, only instead of teeth and bark I have a biting sense of humor and a predilection for intimidation. We all have our defenses when deep down we feel inferior. But externally, I think we are raised in this culture pitted against one another, constantly swarmed with images of women who are thinner, taller, more successful, more quirky, more girl next door – whatever that means – more something than we are, ultimately causing the internal narrative to fail The Bechdel Test.

Luckily, I had a complete meltdown back in the spring! Really: luckily. My therapist asked me to look at exactly what would change were I to be in a serious, long-term, move-in-with relationship and I fell apart in a way I was not expecting. I was a puddle on her chair, having a certifiable panic attack, thinking about how the reality of a relationship would change some of the things I love most about my life. She sent me packing with a handful of tissues and the instructions to be gentle with myself, meditate on it, and see what comes up.

What I expected to come up was a sudden, flowery, saccharine opening of my heart, a welcoming of change to my lifestyle and shedding of my attachment to my independence. What happened instead, much to my surprise, was finally accepting that a relationship will solve nothing, only create different problems, and that I’m pretty damn happy with the way things are right now. Sure, at any moment I could meet someone who completely blindsides me and all that will change, but for now, I’ve got a pretty sweet deal in life.

In going through this deconstruction, I released a tension I didn’t even realize was there – a war between the conscious belief that I was “supposed” to be in a relationship with the unconscious pushing away of one.  In the months that have followed, a space has opened for a lot of great stuff to happen, both material and immaterial, not the least of which was connecting with some incredible, strong, powerful women in my field and other fields, liberated from that nagging, excruciating sense of competition.

Ultimately, I think I fell prey to one of the most tragic platitudes we feed our kids: Happily Ever After. We still preach, through our movies, our tv shows, our magazines, all of our trope-machines, that a mate is both the prize and the solution, that there is a “place” to get to, which can be achieved through diet, exercise, self-improvement, sex tips and any other industry’s carrot. No matter how I acknowledged the limited scope of this idea intellectually, (I mean, hell, I work for a divorce attorney!) the concept still had me by the throat, and it took a genuine and painful breakdown to get out of its grip.

I would be interested in the world’s consumable entertainment producers telling different stories. I don’t really care anymore How You Met Their Mother. What other questions can we ask? Because “Happily Ever After” is a dangerous answer.


The Struggle

March 30, 2014

I’m struggling with my weight. But it’s not what you think.

I’m struggling because I’m relatively happy with my body at the moment, but I’ve never known what that felt like before, so it’s making me uncomfortable. Not just uncomfortable, it’s making me paranoid, like at any moment my sense of balance and contentment could disappear, which certainly lessens the pleasure of balance and contentment.

I’m also uncomfortable because I am aware that this is as lean as I’m going to get – I can’t cut out any more food and I’m exercising as much as I care to in my busy schedule. So this is it. I arrived at The Place. As a heavy kid the idea of a body I was “done” with was a distant idea, maybe never to be reached. So what now?

But even to use the word “weight” at all makes me a bit of a hypocrite, since I believe deeply that the number on the scale is meaningless. It has nothing to do with your muscle mass, your bone mass, systemic inflammation, gut flora, fluid retention, daily fluctuation, circadian rhythm, heart function or any true barometer for health. It is an utterly useless figure.

Unfortunately, it’s a useless figure that was assigned consequential significance in my formative years. My dad once told me an old Groucho Marx joke: guy walks into a store and says, “Hey do you know where I can get a Henway?” The store owner replies, “I don’t know, what’s a Henway?” To which the guy answers, “Oh about two and a half pounds.” I remember sitting on my father’s lap, falling for the joke, and then bursting into tears, sobbing that “Daddy called me fat,” because I’d never heard the words “weigh” or “pounds” said to me in any context other than how high up the percentile chart I was. Even in homonym form, the word was a bullet.

So we won’t say weight. I’m not struggling with my weight. I’m struggling with my body. I am struggling because I like how it looks now, and I didn’t like how it looked before, and that also makes me a hypocrite. I’ve written pages and pages about self acceptance and learning to love one’s being in the moment, but no matter how hard I work to change the way the world looks at flesh, no matter how focused I am on gaining fame and influence so I might help to chip away at how bodies, but particularly female bodies, are portrayed in the media, I am still stuck in my own demented preference for leanness over thickness.

Now, you can make the argument that my current state of being is more “healthy” and that my preference lies there. And I will agree with you that as far as my overall well-being and health is concerned I am in a far better place than before I made a major nutritional shift and my body changed, but as far as my purely physical appearance is concerned, I can’t help feeling preferential over my current state, and that is problematic.

A friend of mine recently told me I reminded her, visually, of celebrity Anna Kendrick. Before I could stop the words from escaping my mouth, some beast from within overcame my better morality and exclaimed ecstatically, “She’s so thin!” Hearing the words come out of my mouth I was appalled. How can I write what I write, stand on the soap boxes on which I stand, when this toxicity lies so close to the surface?

This tug-of-war comes with a side dish of rage, and a continued need for forgiveness of myself and my culture, that I have not yet mastered. My only hope is that my willingness to write about my own hypocrisy will help alleviate it. If I make friends with the beast, invite it in for almond-flour, dairy-free brownies and paleo jerky, maybe I stand a chance of ending the struggle.


Udder Despair

February 12, 2014

Do all women live in fear of their own breasts?  I feel like I’ve been waiting for the lump-shoe to drop from as early as I can remember, and my whole life I’ve been scared one day I would wake up and face the breast cancer facts. These things that are supposed to be my prize possession, right? These things that (straight) men are supposed to desire and women envy – that we’re supposed to hate one another over – at any moment could decide to kill me. Or at least make my life very, very challenging.

It is not the first time I have sat in this little room in a pink cotton gown fresh from the sterilizer, waiting for a radiologist to call me down the hall. There’s a spot on my right breast my gynecologist gets nervous about every couple of years, and has me go get a sonogram. I don’t mind that she’s over cautious. As I said I’ve expected these two fibrocystic packets of fat would try to kill me at some point anyway, so might as well get used to exposing myself to doctors on a regular basis now, right? Only this time is different – this time there are two lumps. A brand new lump! Christmas in February.

So I sit in this little room in a pink cotton gown, sweating the mixed sweat of anxiety, vulnerability and overheated doctor’s office, when the friendly-but-close-talking radiologist comes in and attempts to mask her concern about my two “palpables”. But where her mask is so uncomfortably close to my face, I can’t help but see the fear in the eyes behind.  She informs me I’ll be getting a mammogram today. Suprise! Bet ya didn’t know it was Mammogram Tuesday! I’m instructed to take wet wipes and remove what deodorant remained after fighting my anxiety sweat, and follow her down the hall for a good old fashioned boob-squish.

Believe it or not, this is not my first mammogram. In 1998 I first joined The Pancake Club to get a baseline imaging before I had reduction surgery. I wish I could remember what was going on in my head at the impressionable, uncomfortable age of 17, as a woman I’d never met tugged at the breasts I was about to have chopped down to size.

The breasts I had learned to hate.

The breasts I was ashamed of. The breasts that pointed down to the floor instead of up into the room. The breasts I had grown way too early. The breasts I was told I had to cover with undershirts or else kids would make fun of me. The breasts that are now covered with faint scars: tiny external mirrors of massive internal wounds.

So here I stand, scars and all, a woman-over-30 while another woman-over-30 shoves my tits between two plates of plastic and has the nerve to ask me if I’m comfortable, as she cranks my neck around the side of the machine. A mammogram really is a ridiculous procedure. I look in awe and macabre humor at these poor little water balloons, distended into shapes they were never meant to make.  As the machine bears down on me and I’m told to hold my breath, I notice the side of one of the plates says “8×10” and I almost erupt with laughter: my tits are getting their headshots done!

I’m sent back to my tiny little room in my pink cotton gown and sit. And wait. And like a good Buddhist I try to feel where this fear lives in my body. My chest – who’s surprised? And then feeling where this fear lives in my body gets to be too much – I’m overcome by all of it. By the anxiety, by the years of waiting for the shoe to drop, and by the nagging feeling of regret that the breasts I’m scared of aren’t even the ones I was born with. That a part of me is lying in a medical waste dump somewhere in Massachusetts. Has it decomposed yet? Did the grams of flesh they removed from my chest 15 years ago dissolve back into the earth, as the rest of me will one day? Or does it still fester somewhere in the heap? Does my DNA, my tissues, my genes, separated from my being by my own warped decision, severed by a scalpel of self-hate, still pulse somewhere? If time is non-linear, is there another me in this universe who proudly carries her pendulous chest around, appreciative of the female form and unashamed?

I know. It’s a lot. But there’s a lot of time to think in my little room in my pink cotton gown. A lot of time to unpack how this part of my body has affected my life. A lot of time to grieve and to mourn and to recognize how badly I needed to do both.

Finally, after far too long, the radiologist calls me down to her office, and to my amazement, shows me the inside of my breasts. There on the screen. My DNA. My tissues. My genes. Looking whole and complete, and possessing two distinct popcorn-like patches. One, scar tissue from my surgery. The other, traumatic calcification from a bike accident in 2012, when I took a handlebar in the chest. Both utterly benign.

I am a lucky one today. My breasts are not trying to kill me today. Today I simply stand in a little room, in a pink cotton gown, and view my scars and my trauma from the inside out.



For The Braintrust

January 20, 2014

She was a lunch lady. And she was as butch as they come. Every day she wore a regulation polo shirt tucked into high waisted, dark blue dickies, even when the other ladies wore floral prints or simple jeans or maybe even skirts under their uniform aprons. Her hair was buzzed within an inch of its life, while still arguably presenting as “hair” and not “bald.”  She had a deep, gravelly voice, and a hearty smoker’s laugh. She was heavy.  She was boxy. You would not hesitate to call her mannish… if it weren’t for those damn nails.

Her nails were impeccably manicured and impossibly long. She must have spent hours on them every night, for the shape and polish to remain so flawless despite working in a high school kitchen. It was clearly an aspect of herself for which she had great pride, and which was a part of her identity.

As a teenager, I was confused by what I thought of as a highly feminine adornment on an otherwise manly human. To this day, honestly, it still throws me a bit. Did they make her feel sexy? Did they make her feel beautiful? Was she even going for beautiful? But then I find myself a bit confused by what defines femininity in general.

At least as far as the news was concerned, womanhood was not celebrated in my home. I’m ashamed to say to this day when I hear the names Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi, the words “banshee” and “bitch” pop into my head, because that’s how my father referred to them. Regrettably, It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s that I began to learn about what accomplished, remarkable women they are. My dad would make cracks about the “shrewishness” of these particular women or about women in general who can’t drive or about women failing at something or other in the public eye, and it was always said as if I were something other than those creatures. Over time I came to see myself as some outsider looking in to my gender. I knew he valued my abilities and believed in my future, but regularly dismissed women in the world, so I must be something other than this thing he despises.

I was never given the tools to understand womanhood and femininity from a place of power, only from a place of weakness. Instead, over the years I developed other tools for survival – I learned how to use logic and reason, I learned how to use timing and comedy, I honed a low, clear voice with a definitive edge; I’ve been called “authoritative” more than once, rarely meant in praise. And as a result, there is a softness within me that I have trouble letting people see, still harboring old beliefs about what releasing that vulnerability would mean.

Sometimes I wonder, when I get my weekly(ish) manicure, if people are looking at me the same way I looked at that lunch lady – why does she bother? How does one feel both soft and strong without tipping into accommodating or overbearing? What on earth is femininity?

From just a quick search online, I’ve read a few great responses to this question, so instead of writing more about my own confusion, I thought I’d try something different and pose the question to my brainstrust of powerful women out there. How do you define your femininity? How do you define your womanhood? What makes you feel strong? What makes you feel weak? How do you see yourself in the world as a part of this great sisterhood? And does anyone out there, ever feel as bewildered as I do?


Unconfirmed Bias

January 14, 2014

When I was a kid, sitting on our family room floor with my large box of mixed Legos, and I needed a particular color, I had a fun little trick I’d play with my brain. I thought I was special or magical; probably everyone does this. I’d tell my brain to only see Red, say, or Blue, soften my focus, and with just a little concentration, I could make all the Red or Blue pieces pop to the front of my vision in the big mixed bin. As long as I knew what I was looking for, I could make it stand out from the pack.

It’s sort of a kid/Lego version of Confirmation Bias, right? I’ve decided what I want to see, and therefore see it, in sharp contrast to the rest of its surroundings. So what happens, then, if you’re looking for something, but have no idea what the thing you’re looking for looks like?

I recently had a buoyant but intense conversation with a former lover, debriefing what had happened between us a year prior. It became clear over the course of our talk that I had fallen into a problematic pattern I’ve enacted with more than one man in my life – conflating, without mutual understanding, sex and romance.  

The word Romance was his, not one that easily rolls of my tongue, because, I realize now, I haven’t got a clue what that word means. I mean, I understand what he was getting at – in his head we were friends who were fucking, in mine – especially where I was in the midst of some external emotional stresses from which I was seeking escape in his arms – a switch had flipped and I found myself fabricating a different story of our relationship. He’s right. I can’t argue with it. But what I’m realizing more than anything is that I’ve never known anything else.

My sex life started late. Wicked late. I was 24 before I not only lost my virginity, but had my First Time with a lot of other behaviors I think most people dispose with in their teens (use your imagination). Without recapping the entirety of my analysis the short answer is, I don’t know why. There were lots of factors, not the least of which was a horrible relationship to my own body, which I’ve written about plenty. I finally learned how to let sex into my life, but I don’t know that I ever learned what it means to seek out love, to seek out romance, to seek out partnership – sex always struck me as the only gateway to love, romance and partnership.  All I seem to know is if a guy I’m interested in is interested back, I better jump into bed before he disappears, give all my power away, and cling desperately until he breaks my heart.

I mean, that’s rough, but it’s been pretty status quo for almost a decade.

I don’t know what romance means. I don’t know what love means. So how do I go looking for it? How do I make the particular human color palette I seek and deserve pop out from the white noise in the back, if I have no Bias to Confirm. The thing is, I’m not convinced any of us have a really solid idea of what the hell these terms mean.  Maybe people stumble into various situations then label their experiences “love” and that’s what that means for them. I googled “What is romance?” and got a fascinating definition: “A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.” I mean, the word mystery is built right into that shit!

They tell you to marry your best friend, but don’t wind up in the friend zone! You can be a friend with benefits, as long as those benefits don’t include intimacy. And you can be fuck buddies as long as you don’t pal around on the side. Is this just me? Am I the only one completely confused by what all this adds up to? I have no idea what a real partnership will look like, I haven’t had it yet. And the problem goes both ways – I neither know the shape and nature of the Lego I seek, nor the shape and nature of the space it has to fill. That is to say, I don’t know what I am in a true partnership, I don’t know how a man fits into the space of my life.

Did other people get manuals I didn’t get? I often feel that way. That there was a “How To Be A Straight Woman For Dummies” to which this Dummy was never privy. I wasn’t asked what my prince would look like as a child. I was asked what I would be. What I would do. How I would use my brain. This is a great thing. But at what point did my womanhood in relation to someone else’s manhood get obscured by the pursuit of all my other ‘hoods?

If I don’t know even know what spaceship I’m trying to build, will I ever be able to find the piece I’m missing?


I Am Not Toast

November 22, 2013

There’s a scene that recurs pretty much every Saturday and Sunday morning at the Rosenberg household in Massachusetts. My father, toeing the line between anal retentive and obsessive compulsive, fiddles with a toaster that he hates. He has not liked a toaster since they dispensed with their ancient one he loved years ago. No toaster since has provided just the right brown. But at some point the machine pops, the bread springs into the air, its transformation complete, and it’s close enough to satisfactory that he can move on to his precision-based coffee preparations.

I was visiting my parents once, shortly after a therapy session where I had overcome one emotional hurdle only to discover another, larger one on the other side.  Watching my father’s ritual I had the sudden, amusing thought, “I am not toast.” I’m never going to be done.

Sometimes I feel like after 7 years of therapy I should be “finished.” Like there’s going to come a point at which I’ve soothed the little kid, dealt with the scars, come to peace with it all, yadda yadda yadda. But then every time I go through a great phase, another rough patch will emerge sooner or later, dredging up unhealed wounds and patterns in the process. There’s always another bottom to hit.

And I know something about bottoms (heh). The first Buddhist dharma talk I ever went to was the result of my depression and anxiety becoming so unmanageable I would try anything to gain some foothold on my mind, even attend some commie, whacked out “meditation” class my therapist suggested. And although I don’t self-identify as an alcoholic, I have always felt I hit a “bottom” – a fateful Last Drunk point of physical and emotional illness from which I would do anything to emerge.

I hit another one recently that was insidious and subtle, and I don’t know that I’d realized what rough shape I was in until I was on my way back up. Two weeks ago I was in bed, in the middle of the night, unable to stop crying. My days were spent feeling exhausted and constantly napping, my depression seemed to be rearing its nasty  head, I was plagued by eczema and vision trouble, and gaining weight no matter how much exercise I did. I felt broken.

If you know anything about nutrition and health, you may guess where I’m headed with this… Now, I’m one of those people who will expressly NOT do something if you tell me I have to. For example, I still refuse to read Harry Potter (even though I’d likely love it), solely because people told me I “had to.”  (I think it has something to do with a general distaste for and discomfort with  Received Ideas.) So when the whole Paleo, Gluten-Free, Whole30 cult started to infiltrate my Facebook feed, I was pretty hell bent against agreeing with it.

But looking at my symptoms, and talking to a few nutritionist pals, it was pretty clear what had to happen.  As painful as that night was, the bottom I hit was vital – I never could have given up dairy, gluten, sugar, grains, and legumes in one day (not to mention simultaneously going off hormonal birth control) if I hadn’t been desperate enough to do anything to feel better.

The result has been rapid and mind-blowing – not just the physical weight loss and inflammation reduction, but I feel like I have mentally and emotionally emerged from years of fog. I’m singing along to my iPod on the streets, I haven’t needed a nap, I feel strong and vital and happy and like I wish I had hit bottom sooner.

Only I couldn’t have. Bottoms come when you’re ready for them – not just in terms of your own desperation, but all the pieces and external factors have to align before you’re ready to witness your own situation.

This remarkable transformation leaves me wondering, though, what my next bottom will be, because with any luck and certainly with my new found health, hopefully I will not be “finished” for decades to come. Figuratively, and, if the “you are what you eat” adage is to be believed, literally…

I am not toast.


Why Big Girls Fear Bouncing

September 29, 2013

I shudder a little as a bead of sweat drips from my lower back straight into my ass crack, and try to focus on the chick-singers-of-the-90s soundtrack my adorable, tiny, lesbian spin instructor has chosen for this morning’s workout. She’s what I like to a call a speed-happy teacher. Her workouts include such rapid cadences and her legs rotate at such an impossible rate, I often wonder if my face reflects the mixture of awe and despair I feel as I try to keep up with her.

But mixed in with futility and fatigue is another feeling, a horrible clenching sensation; it is an intense, self-inflicted force that seems to be working against any efficient output on my bike’s flywheel. After a while I figure it out: I’m desperately trying to keep myself from bouncing.

Now, before the spin instructors of the world jump on me – I know, I know. You shouldn’t necessarily be “bouncing” if you have your resistance at the correct level. But at some point, when you’re told to match your pace to the rhythm of the song, and that song is Destiny’s Child’s Jumpin’ Jumpin’ (think about it), shit’s gonna bounce.

So I’m very busy bracing myself against the natural syncopations my curvy body wants to add to the song, and causing my musculature a stressful disservice in the process. Why? Because as a young girl I was taught that seeing flesh move – boobs, thighs, butt or otherwise – is unattractive and unappealing and it should all just stay put.

That’s why by the time I was in middle school I was effortfully pulling on girdle underwear and stuffing myself into minimizer bras every morning. That’s why I spent years feeling shame as I watched television or looked at magazines and saw no resemblance between those bellies and my belly. And that’s why the other day, at 32, despite 7 years worth of analysis, I had an absolute, certifiable melt down in therapy, realizing I’m still at war with my body.

But it’s worse than that. It’s so much bigger and so much more insidious than that, and the solution so much more daunting. Because as I stood on a crowded subway on my way home, crying behind sunglasses, and eyeing the women around me, I realized I was not just prejudiced against my own body, I have been inflicted with a prejudice against my body TYPE, on myself and others.

Once, somewhere around 13, my mother came into my room as I lay on my bed in my underwear and commented on how “Zaftig” I looked. I think she meant it as a compliment, but where weight, and (from as early as I can remember) my particular need to lose it, was such a consistent topic of conversation around the Rosenberg household, I instead took it as a vile insult. To this day, when I hear the word something inside me seizes in revulsion. At this particular session, my therapist used the word to describe me and I practically spit across the room at her from behind the tiny fort I had built out of balled tissues.

Now I find myself in the painful process of taking a harsh look at how I judge other women, consciously and unconsciously; how my monkey-mind plays a constant game of comparison, swinging from body part to body part, throwing its sick feces around. And I am crushed by the overwhelming task of change. How can I possibly glorify anything other than smooth, taut, immobile skin, when I never see anything but? If I never see shaking, jiggling, pock-marked skin, if I never see pubic hair or buttzits, if I never see the watery flesh of soft arms anywhere else but on myself, how can I ever heal? I can make progressive comments on Facebook all I want about the fleshy models on Modcloth, but my diseased brain still glorifies Athleta.

The Buddhist response (the one I always look to first…) is forgiveness, namely of myself and the family members who influenced these beliefs. But to truly work through this, I think I have to figure out how to forgive … all of western society? I mean, seriously. The industries that support the Glorification of the Lean have undergone some change, but there aren’t enough Beyonces and Rick Owenses and Rebel Wilsons out there to make a dent yet. The only way I think I can heal, grow, and see myself as sexy is to let go of my anger, forgive my culture, and sever my self-worth from its clenching fist.

I gotta let go and bounce.

When I was drinking, I could bounce. People drink to conjure their “beer goggles,” right? It’s a blurry lens to pull over the eyes and make the prospective one night stand sitting next to you more attractive.  I drank to make what I like to call full beer headgear.  With beer headgear, the goggles have little mirrors in them, so instead of seeing my date as more attractive, I was magically able to see myself as more attractive. Additionally, beer headgear comes with two beer ear plugs – or beerplugs – which accomplish a much more important goal: quieting the unending prattle of body-hating self-judgment.

I could dance in a beerhelmet. I could flirt in a beerhelmet. I could bounce in a beerhelmet. And I think I judged others less in a beerhelmet. I wouldn’t trade my sobriety for anything in the world, but after 4 ½ years I still have not figured out how to generate a boozeless bounce. Of course, alcohol is used the world over to enhance social buoyancy, I’m no one new or special, but there are also lots of non-drinkers out there, and they must have figured it out one way or another.

I don’t think I can go it alone. I need my friends to stop hating on themselves, too. I need us all to stop commenting on one another, comparing one another. I need men and women to be more outspoken about what they find sexy, across the whole spectrum. I need Hoda and Kathy to stop doing specials on dieting while sucking back pinot grigio at 8 AM. I need to see what models’ thighs actually look like without an airbrush. I need the expression, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” to be banned from the English language. I need every woman to wear just a sports bra at yoga, not just the skinny girls. I need more Beyonce. I need more Rick Owens. I need more Rebel Wilson.

And in the meantime… I need to bounce.