Posts Tagged ‘sobriety’

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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.

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On The Road Again

May 21, 2009

So here I go again. For the third time in my life, I’ve quit drinking. Just like last time I hope it’s for good… but then again there was a Last Time.

Many have questioned why I have to give it up completely, why I can’t place my aim on a less ascetic goal. But the problem with drinking even just a little, is that alcohol is inextricably linked to sex for me. Even when it isn’t – when it’s just sharing a glass with my mother or a pint with a friend – that one drink sends my mind into that spiral of longing which I’ve found ultimately leads to more drinking.

It certainly makes sense. Where, to date, my sex life has almost exclusively happened in the context of alcohol, alcohol, then, always makes me think of sex: of how long it’s been since I’ve had it and of where it might come from next. And then, as the night gets darker, or perhaps upon the hang over in the morning, the thoughts further sour to how my sex life till the present has been loveless, to how I’ve only once had sex sober, to the irrational but overwhelming fear that it will never happen again, and in general to that desperate longing for something more.

Ok, well the fact is I kind of have all those thoughts all the time; alcohol just makes it about a thousand times worse. Unfortunately, the soul-sucking effect sobriety has had on my already arid romantic life just makes things worse. They don’t call it “drying out” for nothin’… It feels like the social life of a single 20-something is staunchly predicated on bars and booze, and even if I’m comfortable toting my water bottle around a party, I can sense the discomfort of the drinkers around me with my abstinence. People just don’t like being around the chick who isn’t drinking. I get the sense I make them nervous, angry, self-aware; perhaps that’s projection, but after spending a couple occasions standing around alone at parties, my suspicions have been buoyed if not exactly confirmed.

Furthermore, guys don’t hit on The Sober Girl. Not that I’m all that good at recognizing when I’m being hit on at all, but I can certainly spot when there is a complete void of attention. I mean, shouldn’t I be text-book low hanging fruit: the bored girl sitting by herself watching the world go by? Isn’t that every creep’s dream? But I think they can smell a clear head a mile away, and I can imagine what I’m projecting – misery and loneliness as I watch my friends become more confusing and less intelligently capable – isn’t exactly an aphrodisiac.

Ultimately, the problem is I’m outgrowing this boozing culture, without knowing what to grow into. It’s hard to find new friends who don’t drink, I don’t know what you do on a Friday night instead of belly up to a bar, and I don’t have a Central Perk at which to plunk down and know my witty friend Chandler and wacky friend Phoebe will eventually arrive for a Saturday night latte. What’s most disconcerting is I’m scared I don’t really know what “I had such a great time last night” means when it doesn’t involve alcohol. I have to redefine completely for myself what “fun” is.

So, I’m calling in the big guns – I’m going to AA. Believe me, there’s almost nothing that feels more ridiculous than the idea of raising my hand and saying “Hi, my name is Lynne, and I’m not an alcoholic, but…” but I’ve been assured by friends who have traveled this path that I wouldn’t be the first. My only hope for the third time really being the Last Time is if I find a community with whom to share the struggles that come with choosing this road in this world. Even if I one day decide to have the occasional single drink (I really, really love wine), not returning to multiple drinks on multiple nights will take a significant change in my social sphere.

Of course, I’d be lying if I denied an ulterior motive: if alcohol offered sex with a lack of love, then maybe a lack of alcohol could offer sex with love…hell you can’t get less than the none I have now so at least I have nothing to lose. So yeah, I admit, I’m hoping to meet a man at AA. Or at least I’m hoping to meet a man in some connection to AA – whether that be specifically in a meeting, or in discussions about the subject, say, at a tea tasting or yoga class.

To this effect, I’ve made a funny little deal with myself: I’ve decided I will not have that single glass of wine I think I can handle, until I find myself in a relationship which I believe has forward momentum, for at least a month. That could be a loooong time from now; the way things have gone to date I may be waiting till my 40th birthday. Or, it could happen within the year and I’ll decide to skip the glass anyway, content in my abstinence.  I must say, having begun AA, there’s a lot of motivation never to drink again.  But… I mean. Wine is such a great art….

All I know is my next partner has to arrive in my life independent of any sort of intoxication, and I have to figure out attraction, confidence and sexuality outside of the bottle. If my life is just a huge map of First Times and Last Times, I’m hoping drinking is I-84, and healthy love life is the Pike.

Yeah. I don’t know either.