Monday, June 23, 2014

What Should Really Be on Your Grocery List.... (No coupons necessary)

When I set out to write this blog my intent was to bring to light issues and situations that I am going through that perhaps other people are experiencing at the same time. Or they are situations that people may encounter one day and they will have my words of sarcastic and hopefully insightful wisdom to guide them through it. I also made a promise that I would be 100% honest because frankly how can someone attempt to inspire others or assist others if they themselves haven't experienced it. So I can assure you with all my heart that I have witnessed, experienced, drudged through, lived through, laughed through and subjected my self to all of the events, thoughts, and situations that I've shared with you. Some have been pretty. Some have been ugly (I'm still trying to understand what was wrong with "No Toppings Guy" and look for him on "Most Wanted" posters). Perhaps I have inspired a few of you to make changes or helped you through a difficult situation with with a laugh. Perhaps I've opened your eyes to something you didn't understand before or even changed your perspective. Or at the end of the day perhaps I've just become that crazy lady with cats and a sarcastic attitude who talks too much. Either way, whatever keeps you coming back to read these posts are why I write them.

To be honest with others you must be honest with yourself. This sounds easy because there are things that are easy to share about me that are completely true: yes, I'm horrified of being made into a skin suit and leave letters/DNA samples/photos before all first/second/sixth dates. Yes, I give 1950's female names to my tumors. Yes, I think frosting solves most problems. And yes, I do believe that a treadmill is an instrument of torture and my personal demise. 

And yes... I'm not perfect. Not because I have the skin of a teenager (God bless you Proactive) or the grace of a drunken sailor. But because I suffer from anxiety. And the reason that I bring this up is perhaps someone reading this does too. Perhaps the experience I'm about to tell will change your point of view and give you support or perhaps it will make you delete the bookmark you have for the page. But I will be honest despite the ramifications that come with it. 

You'd never guess someone as outgoing and vocal as me suffers from anxiety but I do. I have for many years now. And it's not just "will the Yankees win" or "skin suit" anxiety... it's a fear that's inside of me. It's a fear that has forced me to change some of my behaviors and routines. One of these anxieties? Grocery shopping. It's not because I hate to spend money (which I despise doing!!) but because I have this fear that people will look in my cart, see what I am purchasing and think: "She's fat." It's a fear I've battled for a long time... and here's the bombshell: It's a fear that stems from an eating disorder I started experiencing my senior year of high school. Yes kids, I was the plus-sized girl in an eating disorder support group. I would stand up and say, "Hi my name is Kristen. I have a fear of eating food. I'm the biggest girl in this group but I still need help." My behavior is controlled until I'm put into a situation where I'm not in control. Break-ups are one of the most prominent triggers. Those who know me best and know about this "secret" (which is no more) understand that the first thing they need to do, after threatening to kill the guy who broke my heart... is to make sure I eat. 

So you can imagine the heartbreak I had today as I walked the aisles of the grocery store and heard a mother say to her daughter: "We are not buying those. If you eat those you will be fat. And I swear to you I will not have a fat daughter." My eyes filled up with tears because the girl could not have been more than 10 years old. And she was beautiful. Skinned up knees, braces and glasses. She went from having a smile on her face just a couple of aisles over when I first saw her to a look of complete defeat as she held her head down. "A fat daughter"... Who says that? My heart ached for this girl knowing that with the "support" of that kind of mom she was destined to perhaps travel down the same path I traveled. Now please, do not for ONE second, think my Mom had anything to do with the path I went down. My mom is hands down wonderful and has done everything she can to support me even if it meant making sure I had someone watching me eat at the college dining hall that I knew nothing about. (That woman from the Bronx can be so sneaky). I wanted to take that girl's hand and just hug her, tell her she was beautiful, and slap her mom... but I know that would end in my arrest (and I am not made for jail... at all). 

Through years of talking with my "inner-Kristen" who is more stubborn than the Kristen you guys know and love (perhaps?) I have found solace in many realities. I will never be a size zero. I will always have children ask why my legs are so jiggly and my belly so smooshy when they poke it. I will always be told I "have a pretty face" because it's better than saying "I hope you don't lift your arms up in a strong breeze because with those bat wings you're going to take flight." I've learned that I need to go to the grocery store at times when few people will be shopping. I don't own a scale. And it wasn't until I recently that I purchased a full length mirror.

Your anxiety and inner struggles don't go away as you get older. They are always there and you are constantly having to overcome them. But I know that I have a weakness for frosting and baked goods and nothing can stop me from having them because loving myself must be stronger than the fear I have of others judging me and viewing me as "fat."

I don't know that little girl's name. I don't know what the future holds for her. I don't know if she will ever have to sit in one of those support groups or fear grocery shopping. But I pray that she learns to love herself. And I pray that one day, like me, she buys a two-piece bathing suit and says to herself in that full length mirror: "Your legs may be jiggly. Your tummy may be smooshy. But you're fabulous." Loving yourself and having confidence in who you are and what you look like results in a smile. And that's the most beautiful thing you can wear because frankly, it goes with everything... Didn't some kids at an orphanage sing that? 

"You're never fully dressed without a smile"... No matter what size you are. A smile is a sign of beauty. It's a symbol of strength. Don't hide behind it. Wear one because when you do you tell those looking at you with eyes that may be ready to judge: "Don't even think about it... I'm fabulous." 

I hope that little girl in the cookie aisle never chooses the path I took. But perhaps the path I took was part of a greater plan to help others who need to be reminded that their beauty isn't measured by a number on a scale. It's measured by how you love... how you treat others... how you treat yourself... how you smile. 

Go look in the mirror and say "I'm Fabulous." Because you are.

(And I'm the middle child so I'm always right.)

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