If my life depended on it I could not remember the name of the deli I was at when I first became aware of cellulite, but I’m telling you right NOW that I remember re-thinking my sandwich choice. I was 16 years old and if I’m being honest, I was Britney Spears in her prime – HOT, and that was more important at the time than nourishment.
It’s true! Years of competitive gymnastics and dance and good genes were the source of my tight quads and perky tush. Now I can’t say for sure, but I couldn’t imagine that the woman standing in front of me, who was bulging just a bit out of her shorts, could ever have looked as good as I did that day. I could not take my eyes off the dimples that covered the backs of her legs. How in the hell did she allow herself to get that out of shape and why didn’t she cover up those dents and bulging purple veins that had mercilessly hijacked every inch of her lower half? Gag me with a spoon (it WAS the 80’s)!
There is no WAY I will ever allow myself to let it all go like that – ever – I thought to myself. Never, ever, no, hell to the N.O.P.E! The image of the woman truly haunted me. With each passing year, I promised myself that I’d take care NOT to become “the lady in the deli,” yet as the years passed, it became impossible for me to deny the undeniable fact that there were many things I could not control when it came to my physical appearance. I’m sure my pregnancy body was nature’s way of reminding me of that William Burroughs quote, “Every girl should use what Mother Nature gives her before Father Time takes it away.” And Billy Boy lived long enough to see it happen for many a dame get dimpled and purple, so you young ones should heed his advice. I know I sure did, for a decade and a half I used all I had to my advantage and I enjoyed it – immensely.
I write both from the heart and my experience as a mental health professional and a parent of two nutjob kids who provide me with more material for this nonsense than I could ever use.
Flash forward 14 years to my 30 year old, 26 months pregnant self, rocking back and forth and pushing my palms down in my thighs trying to generate enough inertia to get off the bed and into the bathroom so that I could pee for the 629th time that day. I looked down at my hands and was horrified to see that the skin surrounding my hands was surrounded by dimples. Maybe it was the fistful a day Fannie Mae Trinidad habit I’d developed around the seven month mark wasn’t such a good idea after all, but the chocolate delights couldn’t also be the source of feathery, lilac colored tributaries feeding into the thick, plum colored vessels peeking through the overstretched skin on my legs.
I remember being acutely afraid at that very moment, wondering how many more lines would appear on the metaphorical road map of my life popping up on my limbs, hoping they would be strong enough to carry me through the journey ahead.
Had I had let myself become the lady in the deli or was this just the way it would be now that my body was no longer really my own? The relief came in a wave of knowledge that no matter the look of my body, it was a miraculous vessel in which a life was growing. Bring on the bon-bons!
A strict diet of post-partum depression took care of every pound I gained and then some. Not the ideal way to lose weight, but I took good care to make up for the loss during the FOUR MONTHS of strict bed rest and healthy eating required during my second pregnancy. A voracious nursing appetite and an immediate course of anti-depressants helped ensure that even a couple months after having kid number two, I was a slightly more attractive version of Jabba the Hutt AND struggling with an identity shattering life change.
At the time, I didn’t realize how trapped I was in the mind prison of an inaccurate, ignorant, incomplete paradigm as far as what truly made a woman strong, because all I felt was weak and worthless. I no longer had a career and there was no longer an excuse for caving in to cravings and calories. My babies were on the outside now and I needed to figure out how I was going to BE a whole new me when so much of who I thought I was no longer existed.
I had always found strength in the knowledge that my body, mind and spirit were healthy, fit and if I’m being honest, quite sexy. Jabba Nikki, stay at home mother of two looked and acted nothing like the clinical professional with the firm buns whose sharp wit and unlimited ability to move and shake things up physically and mentally. The only way out of the sinkhole sucking power of my immature perceptions about the things that made ME worthy of respect and approval, was a complete shift away from my completely undeveloped and fundamentally flawed paradigm.
Again I turned to Billy Burroughs (I call him that sometimes) who famously said, “Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.” Now that’s some deep and brutal truth, amiright?
So I said an emotional goodbye to the yesterday when my career and my body defined me and embraced the mature and imperfect truth about what made me ME, had nothing to do with the look of my legs and the professional alphabet soup letters after my name. The truth is that there is no truth, at least not one that works for certain and forever, because another great piece of wisdom from Wild Bill Burroughs is that “Nothing is true,” and “Everything is permitted.” And let me tell you, I am still saying that goodbye. It’s the longest Goddamn goodbye in the history of goodbyes.
I frequently feel like a kid who has run for miles after a car that’s driving away with her best friend, kicking up dust in my eyes only briefly slowing me down enough to accept the reality that there inevitably comes a time to slow down and just wave a bit before turning around and walking toward the possibility of making a new friend. Each shift I have to make in my paradigm of life is like making a new friend, yet the process of letting go of the old friend never seems to get easier. But I’m doing it because of the person that I am becoming continues to be revealed metaphorically through the bumps and lines and appear on my body, but also through the sometimes harsh voyage through the peaks and valleys of parenthood.
And THAT person needs to be someone who knows that the only way to teach kids to know and love who they truly are, is to accept that who they are is ever changing! There is NOTHING in the world more important to me than the job of being the person who on a daily basis can accept, demonstrate and roll with the ongoing and necessary shifts in life, even when those shifts make me feel desperate, raw and afraid. My worth now is based on a paradigm that values embracing the change that comes with the acquisition of dents and damage that not only mark me, but also refine me and encourage me to embrace the paradigm of PRINCIPLE that is the inevitable consequence of LIFE.
You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body. ~C.S. Lewis
Read more from Nicole at chicagonow.com/moms-who-drink-and-swear