As I write this, I am working on hour four of insomnia. I woke up at 1 a.m. It is now 4:15.
Before I gave up trying to sleep and got out of bed, I thought about what I ate yesterday and got mad at myself for eating one of the peanut blossom cookies I’d made for an upcoming party (I had to test them, right?), and I berated myself for having not gone to the gym for a week. This induced an anxiety attack as I thought about how much weight I’d gain if I didn’t stop eating cookies and didn’t work out. Then I remembered it takes 500 extra calories a week to gain a pound and I bargained with myself that if I ate nothing but salad for the next three days, there would be no ill effects from the cookie (or the extra bites of cheesy pasta or the port wine cheese on a Triscuit or the …).
I reached down and touched my thighs and took hold of the flesh along their sides and thought about self-acceptance and how, at my thinnest, I thought I had made peace with my body at all its weights when the truth is, that was only true when I weighed 132 pounds or less. I’ve been self-critical since leaving that weight two years ago.
I’ve spent most of my life surrounded by this feeling of not-good-enough because my body wasn’t what I thought it should be. It was easy at 128 pounds to say that I appreciated the person I was at any weight, but in fact, I was glad I wasn’t heavier, ecstatic that I’d finally shed that skin of self-consciousness. I felt sorry for the me who was 300 pounds, 215 pounds, 150 pounds. I pitied her. And for god’s sake, I never wanted to be her again.
But I am, and a few hours ago I was touching my thighs and wondering if I could ever just say yes to the body I have and, more importantly, the person I am. To not allow one to define the other. To separate them but love them equally.
It is now 5 a.m. The cat is playing with his toy mouse in the kitchen. Jim will be up soon to go to work. He will kiss me good morning and offer sympathy for my insomnia. He will feed the cat, drink some orange juice, maybe eat one of the cookies I made, and tell me to go back to bed. I’ll assure him I will and then he’ll kiss me goodbye. But instead of sleep, I’ll crawl back into bed and start reading the book I bought last week, “The Need to Please: Mindfulness Skills to Gain Freedom from People Pleasing and Approval Seeking.” Perhaps I will find in there more pieces to the puzzle of self-acceptance. And after I’ve read a bit, I will end the night and begin my day with perhaps a bit more appreciation for who I am, right now.