Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Didn't Read Anything Tasty Last Week


So, I had a bad day yesterday. I started the school-year schedule, which includes waking up before God, and it just went downhill from there.

I started submitting query letters to literary agents, and I was all panicky and anxious, and somehow, all these fears of failure coalesced into hating my body all day long. I didn't want to get dressed, I didn't want to eat, I didn't even want my husband to hug me when he came home. I felt like a giant ugly blob of grossness, and all the relentless, negative tape-loops I thought I'd cleaned out of my brain were working overtime. Not only was I going to fail at getting an agent because my novel sucked and the market's full of vampires - no, obviously I was going to fail because I am a big, fat, toothy, ugly loser.

I'm not writing to get pity (though I'll shamelessly take compliments anyway.). I'm writing this down because it illustrates just how intertwined our bodies are with our everyday lives, with our emotions; and how body acceptance is a process that doesn't end. Fifteen years after I chucked dieting the first time, and I still have all that crap I grew up listening to in my head, waiting in the back of my brain until something else has me jittery and inattentive, and then it sneaks up and makes me feel like shit.

And I hate that my anxiety is so closely linked to my appearance, but that's how I was taught; that's how my mother wired me, right from the start. I was not a child who could leave the house in a tutu and rain boots: that would have reflected badly on my mother. In fact, the only thing that reflected well on her, as far as I was told, was looking perfect - perfectly matched, perfectly styled, perfectly brushed and curled and accessorized. Too bad I was so fat, or I really could have done her proud.

I understand her wanting me to start off on the best foot, to make the best first impression I could. But since I could never actually look good - just good for a fatty - the whole concept of first impressions, of appearances, just makes me stupid with anxiety. Even when the people I'm "meeting" can't see me, and have no way of knowing how big I am.

My writing should be able to stand on its own (and I think it does, or I wouldn't be trying for an agent at all), but the toxic tapes in my head told me that I'm fat, and therefore worthless, and therefore a failure before I even get out of the gate.

I've dealt with this most of my life by failing on purpose. If it's my choice to fail - by not trying, by dropping out - then it's not a judgment on me. It's not because my body is unacceptable - because I am unacceptable. It's because I didn't want to.

Fuck that. I've missed out on a lot of life because "I didn't want to". No more. Even if I fail, so what? I tried, right? I pursued a difficult and insanely competitive profession because I wanted to! I wanted to put myself out there, to do the only thing I've wanted to do since I was 10 years old. If my timing of the market isn't right, if my writing is truly awful, well, I'll figure that out.

I will have wanted to, and from where I'm sitting? That makes me a success, right out of the gate.

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Gimme some eggs for my bacon!