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  • Five pounds.

    Scales don't lie except to the delusional paranoid lady who insists it must be wrong. A loose spring or something, it must be. I still fit into my pants.

    I hate being this shallow, that an extra five pounds of me is cause for such gloom, such a feeling of failure. Shallow, shallow, shallow. There are starving children and there is war and there are people living with disabilities, handicaps that I shudder to think about. There was the theater shooting and the bus explosion before that and the school shootings, the kidnappings, the acts of molestation.

    I hate that I even weighed myself, that I spend any precious moment of my time here, fleeting as it is, focusing on my weight. Who cares? Only me, and I know that. My husband doesn't care, my family doesn't care, my friends don't care. I'm sure my treadmill wouldn't care, it could use a rest.

    My mother was always heavy. She hated it, despised being heavy. "Fat" was an unacceptable adjective in our house, the mere utterance of which pained my mother greatly. There were countless attempts to lose weight, some moderately successful, yet the weight always came back. There was the time away at a special clinic, the OA meetings, the new found resolve, the new diet, always a new diet. My father always loved her as she was, became her protector. If anyone was audacious enough to note her weight gain in conversation he would say "yes, she's almost up to where we want her to be". They would giggle about folks' reaction to that, but the joke and the reason for the joke were born of teary nights and restless sleep and a craving, a deep craving to be thin.

    My mother was a wonderful person. She was kind. She was generous. She was smart. She made us tow the line as kids. Beds made every morning, hospital corners, you could bounce a dime. Dishes done right after every meal, no, not after you watch just one program. Clean behind those ears, brush those teeth a little harder, you go apologize right this very moment, young lady. We griped and whined as kids do, but we felt the love, we always felt the love.

    She had a good life, my mother, but she fought demons who told her she needed to be perfect then berated her when she was not.

    She was hard on herself and so we are hard on ourselves and our children are hard on themselves. We pass this down, this striving for perfection, like a precious heirloom.

    Only awareness can save us now.
    I am aware of my personality, which is no more than neural pathways configured in a certain way, creating this no win situation in my head.
    I am aware that perfection can never be reached because the game is fixed.
    I am aware that happiness does not come from being at the perfect weight but unhappiness most certainly does when I think I am not.
    I am aware that I am aware.

    And that has created enough distance from the whole mess for me to accept and share what I still am sometimes:


    (Old family photo of my mother, on the right, with her sister, my Aunt Doris.)
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