The Skinny Little Bitch Project is a biweekly feature dedicated to examining the role of weight in celebrity culture and the impact of size in one woman’s daily life. The entries may be triggering should you suffer from an ED or body image issues. For more info on the project, or to read it from the beginning, please go here. This is not a health plan we are endorsing, we do not promote dieting and hope this project will increase awareness.  Please read at your own risk.

To sum up, I’ve been A LOT of fun to hang out with lately.

 

I’m backsliding and it doesn’t feel good.

It’s not that I’ve stopped losing weight or that I’ve doing anything that could be construed as “cheating” – to speak in the dieter’s parlance.

But I’ve started weighing myself everyday, and cancelled my most recent therapist’s appointment, because after the guy suggested I make my weight loss goal LOWER I deemed him a tool. That would be fine if I had taken the necessary steps to find a new therapist, but I haven’t.

Why haven’t I done this exactly? To hide the weighing-myself behavior? I don’t think so. I think it would be a relief to sit down in front of an objective third party and confess. God knows it would be better than what I usually do. Weigh myself, see an incremental change or none at all (because why would I, daily?) and then quietly ruminate on my failings, quietly rail against my body, quietly admonish myself as fat and hopeless, and then go even further and quietly rip myself apart for not being strong enough to see through the very bullshit I’m examining by way of this process.

I don’t think I’m in any danger. After stepping off the scale to find no change from the day before I realized my mind was racing as a I contemplated potential variables. Was it the milk in my coffee? I’ll switch to whipping cream. Was it that I ate too many tomatoes? Cut them out totally tomorrow. Did that free side salad I scavenged from the pantry at work have bread crumbs in it? No cheese tomorrow, can’t be too careful. Did I poop yesterday? I’m probably the same weight because I didn’t poop.

That’s where I stopped. For fuck’s sake, I’m seriously, literally – GIVING A SHIT…ABOUT SHIT.

It’s the living example of a first world problem. I fret because of my abundance. It’s also a living example of a person with anxiety not managing their anxiety well. Not managing it at all, really, in fact, using their weight-loss program as an excuse to indulge in the worst of their anxiety-driven behavior.

The truth is, weight loss has been low on my list of concerns right now. I turned 29 in July, and since that far-from-auspicious-occasion, I’ve found myself examining, well, my life. “It’s not,” I said to my mother, to her friend, to anyone who asks or dares to smile at my cliched woe-is-me-30 mindset, “it’s not that I expect to have my life figured out by the time I turn 30,” I said. “I’m not, I promise you, so arrogant as to think I can figure anything out, let alone the great mysteries of life by the time I hit 30. It’s not even, that I expect to be HAPPY – it’s that I want to know that I’m on my way towards being happy, and I don’t think I’m there yet. I know I’m not.”

I’m a writer – that much I know. It used to be enough to say “I am a writer,” and then write, and then shrug off my menial day job as the proverbial means to an end – it gives me insurance, it pays my rent, it covers the basics I need to live. I used to say – and absolutely mean – “I don’t care what I do for money so long as I can write and have my work read.” That’s not exactly true anymore, in large part because my work isn’t being read. Or worse still, my work is read once, received once, and then a wall of silence. Rejection is part and parcel of a writer’s trade. But while I used to accept the occasional web-printing of an essay or semi-professional production of a play as evidence that I had picked the right profession, the infrequency of these events, with longer and longer pauses between them, has made me begin to feel a little bit like Semisonic – the scribe of a, albeit catchy, one-hit wonder.

I am not giving up writing. Not out of any sense of pulling-oneself-up-by-one’s-boots sort of mindedness. But rather, because I believe staunchly that we are all put on this planet to do something, and this is it for me. But the formula has got to be rethought – because working a job where my lack of intelligence and ability are presumed and where boredom is the unchangeable status quo…it just can’t be an option for me any longer.

What does this mean? Unless a magical writing job drops from the heavens, it means a couple of things – potentially. Does it mean I leave New York City and get a start in some other place where the cost of living is less, and the people have more room to stick out their arms, and everything isn’t clenched jaws and running the same paces every day over and over again because the city turns us all into rats just acting out the idea of the grown-up life we wanted to create for ourselves? Or would I just hit another wall – another flavor of the same sort of unhappiness? I’m starting to think that any option would be better.

I’m a big fan of giving myself paths just to have a purpose. Exhibit Graduate School. I would never have moved to New York if I hadn’t gotten into graduate school, something I only even applied to on a whim after a desperate year off after college at home with my parents. It’s natural I’d be thinking about a PhD program now. A PhD program in a sunny, southwest state, a place where every joint in my body relaxes the minute the plane hits the tarmac – it’s not a bad idea. Especially given the differences between me applying for my Master’s and me applying for my Doctorate. After all, I have a clear sense of what I want to study now and why – a PhD would get me into teaching, something I think would be really fulfilling to me, something that works as a direct compliment to my writing life.

Though, if it’s just a matter of changing my job, it shouldn’t mean moving my life across the country. Teach here, go to school here. Sure, of course. I apply for teaching jobs daily, and I’ve put in the requests for my transcripts, so look out NYU, Becca’s Big Plan hasn’t ruled you out completely!

But there’s another, more secret and shameful reason I am looking outside of the city I have made – for better or worse or the worst – my home for the past going-on-seven years. “What do you think would make you happy?” my mother asks searchingly, “You seem to have figured out how to improve your career, it’s just a matter of a school, of getting into a school, which you could do in New York.”

” Yeah, but…I want to have a family someday.” And out of nowhere, my throat is tight, and my eyes are blurry with tears and I’m thankful for the sun in face so that if I’m very quiet only my mother will know that I’m working on not crying and the rest of the cafe patrons can go about the business of praising their quiche.  “Oh Becca,” sighs my mom, sad with me. I’m very embarrassed, but it’s absolutely true. If 30 means seeing the path to my one-day-happiness, it means saying even the embarrassing truths. I want to get married and have kids and in all my time in New York I have never met one person who even ranked the most day-dream level of consideration for taking that part in my life.  I have spent a fair chunk of my tenure here trying to transform myself, thinking that my inability to find someone I’m simpatico with is the fault of various aspects of who I am – I’m too shy, I’m too fat, I’m short, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not a sexual dynamo, I’m too weird.

For the last year and half, as we know from reading this blog and my other writing in its sundry of incarnations, I’ve made a conscious effort to stop doing that sort of negative self-talk and negative self-treatment, and in the process, it has become clear to me – for the first time – that it might not be me. It might be where I am. It might be what I want. It might be the city’s particular pull – drawing a sort of Never-Never-land dwelling men my age, who, by the time they are where I am, will be men in New York in their 40s, who don’t give women in New York in their 40s two glances.

If this is true – and I do think in my particular case it might be – I’ve got to keep doing what I’ve been doing, and keep making healthy choices mentally and physically, even if that means changing my physical location. That’s a terrifying thing, the idea of starting all over again, of leaving my two best friends here. So what do I do instead of seriously consider it other than what comes naturally – take a fearful, anxious, step back. I fall back into old behaviors, thinking that this time, if I’m controlled enough, if I’m rigorous enough, if my hair is light enough, if my nails are well-manicured, if my feet are planted in heels, this time it will make a difference, this time I’ll lure a guy into my trap, because isn’t that what womanhood is – one giant man-catching trap?

It is amazing how quickly we can regress, no matter how stridently we proclaim our growth, our freedom from our former foibles.

The scale goes away – again. (Note to self: good lord do not buy another scale – this is what the gym is for, and god love you Stokes but you won’t go there everyday) The new therapist is called – this time, the one recommended by a friend so you can hold yourself more accountable. The project continues, because I’m tired of never finishing anything, and, somewhere close to 20 pounds down, surprisingly, my stomach-insides feel better than they have in ages and I don’t have any foot, hip, or knee pain. The results will still be considered and analyzed, and your life will still keep moving forward, and you will face it, and you will make adult decisions no matter how challenging, and in the back of your mind, if you move or you don’t, if you quit or you don’t, if you date or you don’t, you will begin to notice that how you look doesn’t change any of it, how you look has never changed a damn thing.

  • Really incredible post, Becca! This is some honest, courageous, and totally real shit. Way to be.

    • Caitlin! Posts like yours – cheese factor aside – keep me motivated on this expedition of sorting shit out and staying as honest as possible – THANK YOU.

  • Loresa

    <3 <3

  • I found SLBP today (wish I remembered the referring link) and have to say I’m really enjoying the series. As for your assessment that men in New York are not, generally, mature normal adults like they would be in the rest of the country? All my male-friends will argue to the contrary, but I have to say I agree with you. i wasn’t raised here, I’ve lived in numerous other places around the US and it all comes back to me realizing I am surrounded by lost boys chasing their youth, and the beautiful women that did not previously accompany them through it.

    Please keep writing – I’ll keep reading. <3

    • psyched that you found this little experiment, and equally psyched to know there’s another NYC-inhabitating broad who has zero time for these shenanigans.

  • There are so many things in the post that are happening in my life right now. Including the PhD part….it’s nice to know that someone I am friends with and have deep respect for is in a similar place…for better or worse :)