I got my nose repierced last Tuesday, this time on the right side because of the scar tissue at the original site on the left. The hole closed because I couldn’t get the plastic plug in correctly before surgery and metal is a no-no in the operating room. Ergo, it shut up tighter than a lid on Limburger.

Why do it again, you ask? Because the original piercing was an expression of a quasi youthful rebellion that had been banging around inside this arthritic, old-feeling body of mine the last year or so. A nose ring, to me, says, “Hey, I’m fun!” and god knows I haven’t been a barrel of laughs these days. The nose ring is a good reminder.

Almost 3-year-old Claire spent the night Thursday, and on Friday morning she watched me clean my nose ring. The ritual is ridiculously funny – swab soap on the site, sniff salted water up your nose, blow out, suck water, blow, suck water, blow. Swab antibiotic liquid on the site, sniff salted water up your nose, blow out, suck water, blow, suck water, blow.

Claire watched intently, then she laughed and said, “You look like a cow!”

She’d probably seen a photo like this somewhere:

But what I heard wasn’t a 3-year-old observing water coming out of my nose. What I heard were the two boys across the street from where I used to live in 1986 when I weighed 250 pounds the first time. (Yes, I’ve been down that 100-pound weight-loss road before.) I was knocking on my neighbor’s door, happy about something or other, when they yelled out, “Mooo! What a cow!”

Boom, just like that, the happiness was gone. My stomach hurt like they’d physically punched me. I’d been called names before, but “cow” seemed to hurt more than the others. And when Claire said I looked like a cow, for a split second I was self-conscious…again. Fat and therefore should be invisible…again.

Even after all this time thin, after all the work of keeping my body and emotions in sync and healthy, that old feeling of worthlessness lies dormant until it is awakened by a word: cow.

I don’t tell you this to be Debby Downer. I tell you this because it’s reason 593 why losing weight is not the cure for all ills. Losing weight can make us healthier, it can be a real boost to self-esteem, but sometimes it doesn’t matter how good you feel about yourself in the moment. An old sickly feeling can spring up at the most surprising times, fresh as a weed you thought you’d killed last week. Running away from it won’t work. Eating a jelly donut won’t do the trick, either. Facing it, labeling it, and not judging it or myself are the three best tools I’ve found to use when it happens.

I acknowledged the 250-pound me knocking on my neighbor’s door, gave her some loving kindness, and then kissed Claire on the head.

“Grammy DOES look like a cow!” I said. “And what do cows say?”

“Moooo!!” she said.
Giveaway reminder! If you’d like to win Billy Blanks Jr. “Dance With Me Cardio Fit” DVD, jump over to Friday’s blog (click here) and leave a comment to throw your name in the hat. I’ll draw a winner on Wednesday.

12 thoughts on “Cow

  1. OOF – it's amazing what words can be triggers for awful feelings. Glad you were able to put everything in context and move forward.

    I had no idea there was so much involved with a nose piercing – reminds me of everything I had to do after I had surgery for a deviated septum. And…when are we going to see a picture of the new piercing?

  2. (I tried to comment on this earlier this morning, but for some reason it didn't go through. If my earlier comment shows up, it's not me being forgetful.*G*)

    I soooo understand where your mind went first with this. Feelings take a lot longer to heal than does the physical side of weight loss. I think it's wonderful you were able to quickly sort it out and recognize the comment for what it was–an innocent remark from someone who adores you (and obviously thinks you're kind of cool.)

  3. Yea, I still find some things bringing back memories for me. That picture though had me laughing. Sounds like Claire tells it like it is lol. I'm sure she meant the noises you must have been making lol.

  4. It's amazing how those things we thought we dealt with can have triggers that cause them to spring right back up to life!

    I like your way of dealing with it, not running from it. Quick, simple, to the point.

    Claire… what a doll, so innocent.

  5. I have a cute denim shirt with painted black and white cows and red barns. I put it on today…quick took it off. The tummy sticks out, and I'm imagining what people might think! Then I read your blog. What a sad thing that on top of everything else we suffer, it's words of other people that hurt the most. (Not your little Claire, of course.) I'll be glad when I'm as skinny as you and can laugh in just a few minutes!

  6. I know the feeling when people called you names. Fortunately the hurt-feeling words never stay longer in my head (may be i'm a forgetful person).
    Anyway for your information i'm one of the cow's – i mean i'm one of the people who was born in the year of cow in chinese calender..

  7. I haven't met you in person, but I just like so much about you and how you share your thoughts and feelings. Words hurt forever, but your words strengthen the world around. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Ugh! I know the feeling! AND they are not just memories! I lost 300 pounds in 15 months starting Christmas week 2008 (493lbs down to 193) after carring that weight for 22 years and I still hear comments like “He will just gain it all back” and “How did you let yourself get that big! You should be ashamed of yourself, not proud!” I just use it for fuel to remain focused as keeping it off is just as hard, if not harder, than taking it off!

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