Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Accepting the Masculine and the Feminine

I almost titled this Masculine versus Feminine, but I'm tired of everything being a fight.  I've also been fighting myself about posting this blog.  I don't know why.  So, here it is.  If it resonates with you, let me know.  

For most of my adult life, I have been a take-care-of-business, accept no one’s shit, take no prisoners kind of girl. In a job performance review once, in fact, I was told I was “too direct.” I told them they never would have said that to a man (probably only serving to prove their point). I was proud that my balls were bigger than most dudes’. The facade was that I didn’t need anyone to take care of me because I could handle my own life just fine thank-you-very-much. I was very aloof and avoidant in relationships. I was a serial monogamist with commitment issues, which doesn’t really make sense.

It’s pretty lonely at the top. But the truth is, we are made to want a partner. And there’s nothing wrong with that. What’s fucked up is society tells us there’s something wrong with us and that we are desperate if we say we want to settle down but haven’t found the right person.

In my 30’s, I had two long term relationships. Neither were good or healthy relationships. And I probably emasculated both of those guys every day, mostly by not needing them. I never really cried because showing emotion like that was a sign of weakness. I rarely told either of those men that I loved them. And I resented them both for wasting my time. Yet I also allowed guilt to keep me in those relationships even though it should have been easy to see that neither were viable from early on.

I spent much of my life living in my masculine. It was almost like I hadn’t even heard of my feminine side. The side of me that gives and accepts love and desires to gratefully share in what another human has to offer. I was too busy just taking care of myself. I hated it. I was exhausted and felt like I never got a break.

Strangely, I have always somewhat disliked the right side of my face.  I always called it my stroke face. I have what I call a “wonky eye” (one eye is slightly more open than the other, which is actually pretty common). I feel like my mouth is more down-turned on that side. I even think my nose looks completely different. When I take photos, I generally turn the left side of my face to the camera. “This is my good side!” I will rearrange a group photo to put myself on the correct side if I can.  To me, the right side represents the analytical/masculine side. The left is the more artistic/feminine side.  In reality, facial asymmetry is pretty common.

I was thinking of how this plays out in my life. In my last long term relationship, I was the “man of the house.” He was working on his doctorate and only worked (for a paycheck) part of the time we were together. So the care of the household fell to me. I worked full time. I made sure the bills were paid. I had to cook. I had to clean. We really were just two humans who lived in the same space. Barely roommates. Definitely not lovers. I never got to just relax. I always felt like I had to take care of everything. He was legally blind so driving responsibilities fell to me as well. I think about how the “masculine” side of my face would have presented itself to him as I drove us everywhere. The ugly face that I hated. The face that hated that relationship and feeling like I had to be the "man of the house."

After I got out of that relationship four years ago, I met the “love of my life.” He’s the one that opened my heart up again and reminded me what love was. He was very much in his masculine. And he made me want to be in my feminine. To accept love. I suddenly wanted to be the traditional 50’s house wife who cooked and cleaned for her man and anticipated his every need. I would have had ten kids with him if he’d asked me to. (Look, I’m not saying this was all healthy, I’m just saying I felt like a crazy teenager in love for the first time.) He would drive and we would hold hands. The beautiful, feminine left side of my face presenting to him. Smiling. Telling him I loved him. He wasn’t the right one ultimately, but he taught me some important life lessons.

Recently, my friend Andrew took a ton of photos of Kim, Ginger, and me at the Golden Gate Bridge. We put on fancy dresses and took some super fun photos. When I saw the pictures, I realized I didn’t hate the photos taken of the right side of my face. For the first time probably ever. Whether 350 pounds, 180 pounds, or somewhere in between, the left side of my face has always been my preference. And on this day, I finally accepted (and actually liked) both sides of my face, the balancing of the masculine and the feminine, and of myself.

This is like the acceptance of my shadow self. Or acknowledging my inner child. All of these parts of me are exactly that...me. And rejecting any part of myself only makes me feel like I’m not good enough. But I know I am.

I spent so many years feeling broken, and then the last few years really working on healing myself. I believe that this realization and acceptance of all parts of myself is kind of the last puzzle piece falling into place. This is who I am. This is how I speak (or write). This is what I look like. This is how I conduct my life. Take it or leave it. I’ve always spouted that script, except now I believe it.

I’m so grateful for the path I’ve been on, and for the growth I’ve experienced. I feel like a completely different person than I was even a year ago. I have spent so many years battling myself and I have finally found some peace in this crazy world.  

Monday, July 1, 2019

Mirror, Mirror

My pinup outfit
I have a problem.  I don't know what size clothing I wear.  It has been an issue for years. 

Post-gastric bypass, you can imagine that it might take some time to get used to a new body and clothing size.  I went from 350 pounds (size 28) to 180 pounds (size 12).  It was actually overwhelming to go from shopping a small store like Lane Bryant to being able to fit in clothes on multiple floors of a store like Macy's.  Studies have shown that it can take your brain a year to realize your body is smaller.  Therefore, you may turn sideways in a crowd to fit through an area you can actually walk straight through.  Apparently, 15 years later, my brain hasn't caught up. 

Chubby Lori
I am currently a pretty solid size 16.  I generally wear an XL, although sometimes I go up to a 2X for comfort.  I am talking about American sizes, not those weird Chinese sizes where I'm sometimes a 4X and sometimes a 12X.  I certainly shouldn't be wearing a 3X in American sizes for any reason.  Tonight, I opened a package of clothing I ordered awhile back.  The dress is a 3X.  It swims on me.  The bathing suit is a 2X even though I've ordered from this site multiple times and a 2X is always too large. 

I was in Hawaii two weeks ago and I participated in a pinup contest.  I went to a pinup clothing website and spent an insane amount of money on an outfit for this contest.  I read the sizing instructions carefully, didn't believe them, sized up, and had clothes that were swimming on me.  These are not clothes you want to be too large.  They should have a fairly snug fit.  I couldn't return them easily so I spent $200 on clothes I probably won't be able to wear again (unless I want to spend more money having them altered). 

"Skinny" Lori
When I worked in San Francisco, I remember often wearing baggy slacks and a shirt that was easily two sizes too large.  My friend said to me one day: stop dressing like a homeless lady.  I don't know what my deal is.  I think I may know what happened though.  When I was going through my first year of weight loss in 2004/2005, I was losing weight so quickly that I was losing an entire size each month, and was essentially needing to replace my wardrobe every few months.  When my clothes were baggy, I felt skinny.  When I would size down to clothes that actually fit me, I suddenly felt fat again.  So I think I now associate baggy clothing with feeling thinner.  However, in reality, when I see photos of myself, and get feedback from friends, baggy clothing doesn't accentuate my assets and actually makes me look larger than I am.  My brain does not comprehend.  I don't know if my brain still equates too-large clothing with being skinnier, or if I am so terrified that tight clothing might show off a fat roll that its just easier to deal with the baggy clothing. 

I was recently talking to a friend about body dysmorphia.  Body dysmorphic disorder is when you are so obsessed with a perceived flaw that you are almost unable to function in life.  I always felt like my issue was special to me being a larger person, but my friend is 111 pounds, and she battles it as well.  The old me would have hated on her for thinking she's flawed or fat at that weight.  The new me recognizes that we all have our issues that we are trying to deal with and I respect that this kind of shit wreaks serious havoc on our brains. 

I'm actually at a weight that would historically make me feel fat and unhappy.  Perhaps I've just gained muscle, but I feel great, my clothes fit fine, and I like what I see when I look in the mirror. 

Golden Gate Bridge photoshoot
The thing is, mentally, I do feel good.  Really good.  Like, I've probably never been this content with my body in my entire life.  I do have fat rolls, loose skin, stretch marks and scars, but I don't have any issues wearing a bathing suit in public, or putting myself in skimpy pole outfits.  I mean, I get that thinking I'm chubbier than I am doesn't mean I can't also love my body regardless of size.  Maybe it's actually a good sign that I think I'm a 3X and I'm still cool wearing whatever I want to wear.  Last weekend I did a photoshoot with some friends at the Golden Gate Bridge.  I didn't hate any of my photos.  I felt gorgeous in every single shot.  In fact, I usually have a weird thing about which side of my face I want photographed, and I even liked both sides of my face!  (More on that coming soon.)

I am extremely grateful for my current mental state.  I have certainly battled some serious demons in the past over how I look and feel.  The truth is, I feel great. 

Sharing my fat with the world