Woe to the man whose heart has not learned while young to hope, to love, and to put it’s trust in life.
– Joseph Conrad
I AM Enough by Chelsea Hellings
You cannot change what is a part of you,
Although I’ve often tried.
My body was never thin enough,
My imperfects I’d always hide.
I smiled when they said I was beautiful,
I laughed when they said I was great.
But it took a long time to believe in their wrods,
I figured lonelines was my fate.
The boys I wanted, didn’t want me.,
I was tossed, used and torn.
So many took me as a joke,
I crawled inside myself- scared and forlorn.
My self-eteem had let me down,
My belief in myself was nil.
I did not understand where I was headed,
Could not until….
I finally decided to believe in me,
I realized that I was worth so much.
This was when I could see through the storm,
When I allowed my soul to be touched.
I sometime wish for money and love,
When times get distressing and tough.
But I know that I will always love myself,
No mater what….
I AM ENOUGH!
Once upon a time, there was a girl. And she was fat. She didn’t like being fat either. She thought everywhere she went people were judging her on her fatness because as life experience had taught her, they were. But this girl kept her head high, ruthlessly resilient and determined to prove to others that she was more than she appeared. For years she shouted from rooftops, preaching her differences, her ideas and ideals, believing that they made her special. The people around her would shake their heads and chuckle, sometimes even giving a small patronizing pat on the head, before shuffling along. It wasn’t that they didn’t believe her, they just never once took her seriously. She was of course, the girl with a million and one dreams. And she was lonely.
Then this girl met a boy. She had met boys before. But the boys of Before either couldn’t see past her fatness or they tried to hold her back. The boys of Before were like statues, perfectly content where they were in life, and the girl wanted more. She wanted more, much more, only she wasn’t sure how to get it. And this boy, the boy of Now, was on a similar journey. The boy of Now understood how she felt about her body. He didn’t try to fix her but never the less, he was always there to help. He didn’t just listen with interest to every one of her million inane plans or her body concerns, he selflessly jumped in with both feet to help her. And befuddling to the girl, he found her beautiful. The boy shared his life with her. And so this girl and this boy became fast friends and helped support each one another.
For a few months, this boy and this girl lived in a bubble built for two. They shut the rest of the world out of their lives and for a while, that was enough. Months passed by and suddenly, the girl became restless. Through the bubble, she began watching the world move around without her. The life of two was just no longer good enough for her, and again she began to crave something more. Part of the void inside of her had been filled but it was like watching carbonation bubbles deflate after it reaches the top of a glass. Her cup had not yet runneth over. It wasn’t enough that the girl had found someone who loved her completely, she wanted the relationships she idolized that were cultivated on television. She wanted a Kramer and a Carrie and a Lorelei and a Phoebe in her life. In her own way, this girl wanted to create her own family.
“Suddenly I realized – two people isn’t enough. You need backup. If you’re only two people, and someone drops off the edge, then you’re on your own. Two isn’t a large enough number. You need three at least.” – About A Boy
But like any illusionist would have you to believe, such things are often much harder to come by than they appear. The thing was, the girl was lucky. Like all human beings, she had the tools to accomplish anything she ever wanted but, she just didn’t know how to use them. And so she went through life constantly asking the imaginary audience, “is this your card” until this girl finally had an epiphany. The truth is, the answer has always been there, had always been there and always will be. It was a simple question really: How could you really comprehend another’s love for you when you cannot understand what it is to love about yourself. Most know what it is to unconditionally love another soul but cannot comprehend what the other see’s in return. Or at the very least, I didn’t.
And so, a little over a year ago I went on a journey to change myself. I may not have understood what I was getting into when I started it all, and my attempts certainly didn’t intentionally begin that way but never the less, it’s where my feet, and heart, ended up. I don’t have all the answer’s yet, and I doubt I ever will. There are days when I feel like I am little more than an annoyance to be tolerated by all those around me and then other days that are full of such joy that words could not even put justice too. I understand now what it’s like to completely surrender one’s will to thyself, not to a god or any one person, and to love what they see. It’s more than not feeling guilty over eating a whole box of cookies. I don’t have to love the parts of me I deem as flaws, but I do accept that, as a whole, it doesn’t make me an ugly person.
It’s a journey of just letting yourself be happy, even when the world around you is constantly trying to rain on your parade. And it’s time to move on to the next chapter, I guess. If the first stage, or chapter, is just loving yourself, then the next is letting people in. That in itself is a scary thought. There are too many fears to simply relay in an already long-ish entry. Fears that are common that almost every single person has ever had like, what if I get hurt? If I can forgive, how do you trust again? How can I communicate well to others? How can I make others understand how I feel?
And the truth is like before, I don’t know. I don’t know how this next chapter will play out but, I can make the same promise as I did when I started out last year, to just keep trying.
I think most women will agree with me that, being a woman is hard. Don’t get me wrong fellas, I’m not proclaiming one sex has it easy and the other has it hard. I just feel that, in the battle of the sexes, women generally get dealt the shorter end of the stick. You’re free to agree, or disagree, with that statement. But, as you’ve probably figured by now, I’m going to explain why.
Women in general, have a lot of negative stereotypes. And we’ve had these same negative labels associated with our gender for thousands of years. I could get into plenty of detail about the history of women and give you countless examples but let’s face it, not many will disagree about the struggles women and our rights have fought for. When it comes down to the basics, in any culture, in any society, women always have much harsher and higher demands placed upon our heads. And sometimes it does costs us our heads if we fall below those standards.
That’s not to say that being a woman are without their perks. I know there are people who would argue that women today have more unfair advantages then men. But I’m not here to argue which gender has it better or worse than the other. On that note though, one thing I love about being a woman is, we as a gender are amazingly resilient and are always finding a way to push through the envelope. We are always looking for way to place a toe beyond the forbidden line of standards and push our boundaries further and further back till one believes these lines are non-existent. For instance, did you know that since Chinese women weren’t allowed to know how to read or write, for thousands of years they created their own secret code of writing? They wrote poems and letters as they developed their own system, they passed down through generations.
But sadly, despite wishing for equality, the boundary line of expectations and standards women are supposed to have are always still there, and they quite never disppear, no matter how hard one tries to wish otherwise. The tricky part of these standards for women are, they can’t really be blamed on men anymore. I mean sure, the jokes men still make about women making them a sandwich are enough to roll your eyes at, but it’s not really what holds our gender back. But I’m getting ahead of myself here and excuse me while I back track a ways.
For my boyfriend Chris’s thirty-first birthday, I decided to buy him a bike. I don’t know anything about bikes. I spent some time nonchalantly acting like any girlfriend does, asking advice months in advance about bikes as if I were shopping around for one, and what kind of bike he would get. And so forth. I was successful in my plan of utterly surprising him but the hitch was, he would be slightly delayed in receiving his present until I could finish paying off what I thought was a good Trek bike from a pawn shop. I was told I could switch out the bike, or bring it back, if anything was wrong. Finally, five weeks later, I finished paying off his birthday present. Three days later, the bike’s gears wouldn’t stay and worse, the bike seat came flying off while he was riding it home from work one night.
Two days later, I took it took the bike back to the pawn shop, hoping I could switch out bikes. But no such luck. The bike seat had gotten lost after Chris almost crashed and had to run to catch the last bus home at one in the morning. The pawn shop told me that no seat, no credit, and that was final. To say I was upset, is a understatement. I tried putting my foot down and pleading for humanity, that it had taken me five weeks to pay this off of my pitiful salary. I tried explaining the sacrifices I had made but none of it made any difference. They were unmoving and unsympathetic to my plight.
I left the store feeling defeated and stupid. The moment my feet were outside, I wanted to run back in and try harder, fight harder. I didn’t feel like I had truly left all stones unturned or tried hard enough. But I didn’t. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid, it was more that, I was afraid of not looking like a lady.
Little girls are told to be good, but above all, to act like a lady. What exactly a lady is, or expected, is tricky to explain and different in many people’s eyes. It’s typical for a lady to be portrayed to be as old-fashioned, conservedly dressed, well spoken and usually found drinking tea. Stepford Wives comes to mind. But honestly, I find that concept a little dated. Because a woman and a lady aren’t the same thing. One is born a woman, and one becomes a lady. But how? And if what we define a lady is no longer so black and white anymore, what makes a woman a lady? It’s bad enough that women degrade ourselves, and each other, to make such an ideal of becoming something as simple as a lady, nearly incomprehensible.
For I knew why I didn’t press harder in the pawn shop. Because deep down, I may not feel like a lady, but as nuts as it sounds, I am always fighting myself to reach that ideal. I’m always trying to teach myself to be more graceful, poised, charming and as much as I don’t like admitting it but, complacent too. And if I had argued back and pressed the issue, till I had thrown a huge scene, like my mother would have, was just something I didn’t know how to pull off. I never reach the lady like ideal, at least not completely. It’s like that quote from Sex in the City, “I know I’ll never be the girl with the perfect hair, or be able to wear white without spilling anything on it, but that’s okay.” And it is okay, at least for the most part. Because I’m not striving to be perfect and honestly, nor does anyone really expect me to be.
The thing is, trying to act like a lady isn’t as arcane as it’s perceived to be. I think there is something to be said about how little we put into our appearances or manners today. A lady doesn’t have to know an entire twelve course place setting, knowing how to use each and every fork. But she does know how to eat gracefully, without slurping or spilling food onto herself. A lady knows how to dress for her body, so therefore there are very few wardrobe malfunctions (but nobody is perfect). A lady is articulate and chooses her words wisely. She debates rather than argue. A lady doesn’t have to raise her voice to be heard, nor does she yell, throw tantrums or often swear. A lady has direction in her life, or at least a life, but does not over dramatize every bump in the road. A lady is comfortable with her body and doesn’t sweat over a few measly pounds.
I know I have trouble with a lot of those sentiments but, for the most part, I do try to live up to what I just said. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty though, the problem isn’t about trying to be perfect or act like a lady. Because having a little tact, a little charm and a little grace in today’s society are sorely lacking. The problem is among our own gender. The boundaries we should be pushing are for less hate and more acceptance among women. Because honestly, we are the ones who label too many of ourselves negatively. She’s too fat. She’s a bitch. She’s a slut, prude, weird, nerd, drinks too much, etc. So, let’s stop being in such a rush to grow up as we’re missing steps along the way and just let, Luck Be A Lady.
I process emotions differently than most people. Like for instance, most of the time, before I become upset, I have to take time to process the events that had taken place. I have to have time to go back and re-visualize what exactly what just happened. Sometimes I’ll re-visualize the same scenario a hundred times. I have to have this time to process. I have to ask questions that begin with ‘what if’ and end with at least trying to see the other person’s perspective. When I’m caught in this in between of a frozen moment, I can tell you I’m fine, smile, and seem like everything’s okay. But inside, I’m numb. Inside, I haven’t allowed myself to process what you just told me. And why do I do this? I guess you could say part of the reason is that I am subconsciously self-conscious about the environment that’s around me and another part is that I’m not quite sure how to feel. Which is a good thing I guess because being in the front line of my over emotional self, there are very few survivors. It’s enough to make more than one man run away with his tail between his legs. So I put up a barrier so I can process my emotions alone, and rationally.
It’s enough to make a woman feel unloved, emotional, obsessed and quite frankly… nuts!
I have a different process of understanding information when I’m learning. Sometimes I’ll be reading a paragraph from a book I’m reading and, just not understand what it means. I’ll put the book down for a few days and subconsciously harp on it till I have that ‘ah-ha’ moment. I’ll subtly ask for second opinions from those around me and keep my eyes open for answer’s. At any given moment, I’m trying to process a hundred different ideas, thoughts and voices within just a day. I just want to know why and how, I just want to understand. I want that ‘ah-ha’ moment.
My ah-ha moment today was about food that loves you back. What? Your probably asking. Food that loves you back? Okay, Sarah, your probably thinking, you actually have lost it. Or maybe you’re not thinking anything and just waiting for me to get on with some cheesy monologue about how we’re all beautiful inside. Sorry, but this trip the train is not stopping there. I don’t really believe food can physically love you back. Or at least not love in the typical sense of the word love. A few years ago I read a book about how French women can take three bites of a dish and be satisfied. While I thought this was a gross exaggeration back then, and I still do, I understood the meaning behind it. When I take sinful bite of chocolate raspberry cheesecake or the first bite into an eclair, I black out into ecstasy. I let every flavor be savored and relished. I swallow and the moment’s gone. For a moment, just a moment, I’m utterly content. Then I want another bite. And another. And another. Eventually I become numb, not completely, but I still search for that sense of completeness I had within the first few bites.
It never happens. Sooner or later, I become full, but not with satisfaction. I don’t feel that love that I had with the first bite. A couple of days ago I read about cultivating a relationship with food. At first I didn’t understand. They wanted me to let food love me back. “Huh?” I thought. I didn’t think they were crazy, I just didn’t understand. I didn’t understand how someone could develop a relationship with food. If anything I thought I needed to break up with food instead of falling in love with it! But, what the hell, I thought. I’m game. I’ll give it a try.
At first I didn’t feel anything different. I felt like me. I didn’t feel like my hot pocket was loving me back and honestly I felt very silly. So I finished my hot pocket in silence while I caught up on my weekly TV shows and tried not to think about how my hot pocket was not in love with me. But what can I say, I’m stubborn. I wanted to understand because I felt like I had a vague notion that deep down inside of me, that I did know what this author was talking about. And because I’m stubborn. Obviously, food can’t physically love me back. I knew that. So I needed a different approach. When I eat a hot dog, or a frozen dinner, I never feel fully full, or satisfied. I feel bloated and full of empty calories. And so I sat back and though. When do I feel satisfied? When don’t I feel bloated and when do I feel contentedly full? And the answer to all of those questions popped up with Chris. Or Chris’s cooking to be more exact.
I feel full around Chris’s food. Maybe I’ll be a cornball and say I can feel the love Chris puts into his food but I think the answer is much simpler than that. Chris cook’s in a way that many of us have simply forgotten, with natural ingredients. He cooks with his soul, and not just in the impatient rush that I’m always in to just eat. When I eat his food, I eat it slowly and I enjoy it. Maybe not the same orgasmic level of a chocolate raspberry cheesecake but enjoyment all the same. I feel like Julia Robert’s in Eat Pray Love when I eat his food. I shake my head back and forth, smile with my eyes closed and make lots of mmmmm’ing noises. I can feel it nourishing my body the way a microwaved hot dog can’t. It’s not a feeling I can justly explain unless of course you’ve felt it. I guess you could ration it off as love. I asked myself, is this what the author meant by food loving you?
But I had to make sure, I had to cover my bases and I had to try this theory again. When my mom asked me if I wanted anything from a fast food restaurant, I said sure, thinking it would be a great opportunity to retry. I had felt nothing with the hot pocket’s and I had to know for sure what food loving you meant. I took the burger, fries and soda upstairs to my room and sat on my bed. I didn’t let my eyes glaze over and forget what I was putting in my body but actually tasted what I was eating. I ate the fries first and besides the unusual blandness I felt nothing. I didn’t feel any love but I didn’t feel well… anything! I tasted icky bland starch but I kept on eating. When those were done I started on the double cheese burger. I was a couple bites in when I realized I had to improvise a new tactic. Instead of waiting for the food to love me, I tried to love it. I took a bite and tried to love it and let it satisfy me the way the cheesecake did. But it never happened. That moment never came. And all I was left with was regret, shame and feeling bloated. I had tried to let the flavors of process meat and cheese satisfy me but in the end, it just didn’t do the job.
Letting the right food love you is like getting a heartfelt hug from a friend who you care about. And trying to make the wrong food achieve the same purpose is like letting a frienemy pick out your wardrobe. I know those are cheesy and weird examples but it’s the best way I know how to describe them. And I know that I need to find a way to make these choices more often. I know now that I need to develop a relationship with food. The rest will play out in time.
People have commented to me many times about how patient I am with others. I’ve also have, friends, family coworkers and, heck even customer’s ask a few times a week why I smile so much. They me ask what get’s me through the day to be able smile so much. I sort of touched an aspect of that a few days ago with my entry “Keep it Simple Stupid“. I explained that while I’m not a religious person (I don’t believe in God) love is a belief I can jump on board with. But love is a very broad topic. Part of love is being able to open your heart enough to forgive. Or as a great quote I read,
“Altruism, compassion, and forgiveness may be healing for both the giver and the recipient because giving to others with an open heart helps heal the isolation and loneliness that separate us from each other. When we forgive others, it doesn’t excuse their actions; it frees us from our own stress and suffering. These allow for deep levels of intimacy and community that are powerfully healing. When you meet hatred with love, and fear with hope, this transforms you, as well as those around you.”- Marianne Williamson
And love just feels good. Forgiving feels good. Remembering that other people’s flawed tendencies reminds me that they (like me) are human. Other people are stubborn, other people have bad days, other people are rude and sometimes other people are just plain selfish at times. These are behavior’s I can forgive because they are human. Yes, it bother’s me when I’m constantly interrupted or when people make me feel like my point of view isn’t right. But instead of getting mad at them, I take into account of the factors. Are they just normally overly dominate of a conversation or are they just in the heat of the moment excited? Am I making myself being heard or am I letting myself lay by the wayside. And when people insist that their point of view is the correct one I remember this, you can’t argue with a brick. The point is, people have flaws. And so do I. Sometimes I’m the one who interrupts too much and insist that my point of view is the right one. Sometimes I’m the one who doesn’t realize when I’m being rude. And I guess I just want people to forgive and love my flaws too.
But sometimes I’m just not able to practice what I preach and instead I foster a grudge. It doesn’t happen often but when grudges do happen, I can hold onto it for years. Like I said, it rarely get’s to that extreme, but it has. I don’t mean to and sometimes I can’t even remember why I’m holding onto said anger in the first place! All I can remember is just an intensely strong disdain for a particular person. Yes, I realize I’m being silly and yes I realize I’m being stubborn for not being the bigger person and moving on. I wish no ill will towards anyone but sometimes I just get sick and tired of always having to be the bigger person both physically and emotionally. So a grudge will happen.
Most of the time I am a rational person willing to try to see someone else’s perspective. But sometimes I just want to be selfish. When I’m in a rare fight with someone, sometimes it would be nice if the other person make the first attempt at reconciliation instead of me having to be the peace maker. Someone to stretch out their hand (metaphorically) and say, Sarah I’m sorry, let’s work this out.
This whole topic of forgiveness started playing on my mind when someone I have been holding a grudge towards, started simply acting nice to me again. It baffled me and yes, I was a little wary and pessimistic towards such a new-found generosity. Because that sort of behavior just doesn’t happen to me. Only people I ever care about hurt me. It used to be where I let just about anybody in, and I still do to an extent. But if I start to suspect that you aren’t as honest as you appear to be, I slam the door of my heart until I see otherwise.
But back to the topic. The point is, nobody does try to reach out. What happens, when you can see someone actually trying to in their own way reconcile? Do you trust them? Whose to say anything will be different this time around? Especially when the words you want to hear are not spoken and your needs fall short? Do you let this person in their own vain way attempt to woo you? And because you don’t hear the words you need to hear, can you forget the past?
Anytime I’ve ever gotten into a unpassable argument with someone, I always tried my best to just emotionally let go. Sometimes you just can’t win and sometimes you just can’t make someone want to be friends. Those are actions I am familiar with and are able to forgive. Like I know my ex Tony will never want to try to work things out and try to be friends. And even though that hurt more than I care to admit to, I have accepted and forgiven the consequences of that choice of his. I can’t make someone want to care, even if it breaks my heart. So if we were to go off that example, if he were to call and say he wanted to talk, could I forgive him again if I have trouble forgetting our past?
In any fight, there are two sides of a story. And after a while from most arguments, I eventually try to put myself in the shoes of the other person. I ask myself questions. Where was I being unreasonable and how were they? Why do I feel justified in making such accusations and was I right for pointing them out? Was I hitting below the belt? I’m not saying I’m perfect at this logic but I try. It get’s harder because I usually don’t the other person’s perspective so I don’t ever fully know where I hurt them and vice versa. So I try to realize when I’m being a little bit over dramatic, a bit too preachy or when I’ve crossed a line. I try to realize where I’m at fault but where they fall short as well. I feel like a crime scene investigator trying to piece back together a murder with only half of the clues.
And I will over analyze these thoughts, and perceived wrongs for ages until I can let go that they will never be resolved and I will never know what if. So in that aspect, I can let go and forgive the “what if”. I can forgive because like the number of licks to the center of a tootsiepop, we’ll never know. But what happens when someone does come back to try to make things right; in their own actions instead of words? I’m not sure. This is unfamiliar territory for me. Apart of me is wary, wondering what this person’s motives are, if it’s to truly be kind or because they are two faced.
It’s too soon for me to start to make up my mind. It’s in my nature to forgive and in honest truth, I want to reach out my hand in friendship but I’m afraid of being bit again. I’m afraid of my feelings being stomped on again and if I’m being honest here, I resent the fact they never once said that they were sorry. I want to forgive, but I’m having trouble forgetting.