Michael and I were supposed to have dinner with some friends tonight, but their sweet baby girl has come down with something. (We love you, R! Feel better soon!) Instead, I will be subjecting Michael to a shopping trip. For jeans. I know, right? Replacing a posh all-you-can-eat event at a restaurant we’ve been dying to try with the mall? Could I have chosen a worse day? (Maybe Christmas Eve.) And yet, when in the course of events it becomes evident that lady’s closet will not support a week away from home, a shopping trip becomes not only proper but necessary.
I’ve always been–let’s choose an adjective, shall we?–curvy, heavy, plus-sized, fat, big, etc. (One of Michael’s favorite shopping anecdotes: at the outlets on the coast, a woman in the Jones New York store looks at me and says, “YOU’RE A PLUS!” before directing me to the racks on the left. Michael laughed and laughed.)
Actually, I’m okay with fat. I wasn’t always, but I’ve come a long way with regard to accepting myself and my body, and I’m proud of that work. I got down to a size 16 a few years ago–and lost over eighty pounds to get there–but it took an incredibly hate-filled and difficult regimen involving fits and bursts of exercise, cigarettes and coffee and, if I’m being honest, not much else. When I ate, I didn’t eat sugar or carbs at all, which would have been fine. But a lot of the time, I just didn’t eat. I told myself it was for the best–I was skinnier! people noticed!–but I was depressed, pushing through graduate school (the second time), going through/coming out of a toxic relationship, etc.
Once I started dating Michael, I was happier. And the weight came back. (Oh, hello!) Some of it was general dating weight–we went out to eat, we spent time traveling together, etc.–but also, as I began to love Michael, I began to love myself more, too. I wasn’t constantly scrutinizing every inch and curve of my body. I got back to a size 18, then a 20, and fluctuated back and forth for a couple of years, always with good reports from doctors. That’s where my body is happiest, I guess. That’s about where I was just before the wedding. Since then I’ve gained a bit more. I’ve felt uncomfortable lately, felt those hateful feelings creeping back in. Michael has been a big help in battling those feelings. It’s hard to hate on anything when he’s around, smiling and beaming love at you.
As it turns out, though, Michael tends to show his love through food. When his sister had her babies, he made meals for her and froze them. When our friends come to visit, the first thing he does is plan what he’ll serve them. We made our own wedding cakes, partially because it was cheaper, but also very much because he couldn’t abide serving something subpar to our guests. Michael makes food for parties instead of buying it (you saw the brownies, I trust). And he cooks for me. For us. He wakes up early on weekends to make me breakfast. He spends hours in the kitchen preparing our meals, pouring his creativity and enthusiasm and love into cup measures. It overflows.
And so do I! Haha. But no, I need to shop for jeans. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care to wear the clothes I have packed away in our basement, the jeans I tried on just this afternoon. I’d also be lying if I said I’d been eating well over the past few months. Michael and I talk a lot about adopting better, healthier habits. And we will. We need to learn to better understand our bodies and their needs. We need to learn how to help one another without nagging, how to brighten the other’s day without something delicious. But all of that has to come from a place rooted in love.
For now, I am going to resist the temptation to squeeze myself into clothes that make me uncomfortable, the impulse to deny myself one of the best parts of the holiday season. I am going to buy a new pair of jeans, and I’m going to enjoy dinners and parties with our loved ones, all without hating myself. Because Michael loves me. As I celebrate my first Christmas as a married lady–our first married Christmas–I solemnly promise not to let calories, carbs, photographs, or a tight waistband put a damper on things.
Now. Let’s just hope I can find some jeans without crazy sparkles on the butt.