The Fixer Upper

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When I was very young the world made me afraid of mirrors. That world had many names: Magazine, Television, Mother, Sister, Friend, Enemy…Men.

Like many, I grew up in a world that made my face a priority above all else. At twenty-seven years old I still struggle to see past the lines and the shape. Every curve is too curved or perhaps not curvy enough. Things are never in the right place. People are always too pretty, too smart, so much more of everything and so much better than the girl my parents made.

Does she sound familiar?

She has to. I’m not alone. I’ve never been alone. So many came before me. So many will remain after me. I am just another picture on a wall. Another girl starring at her portrait with confusion in her eyes. She’ll ask herself who lingers in the frame because it can’t be her. It can’t possibly be her.

I was twenty-seven years old when I self-diagnosed myself with body dysmorphia. I’d heard the word thrown around for years, but I’ve never liked labels. I’m the quiet type. The good daughter. I’m the one who is ok. The one people talk to when something is wrong. And if I’m that person then I can never be diagnosed with anything.

It’s amazing what we do to ourselves when we are sleeping. I’m not talking about the kind of sleep that happens when you rest your head and close your eyes. I’m talking about the waking sleep. The nightmare we carry around and call our dreams.

I dreamed of being skinny. I dreamed of perfect skin. I dreamed of nothing else for more than ten years. Now I wonder about the moments I lost when dreaming was my waking state and sleep was the relief.

There’s an old song I listened to recently. The lyrics claimed that ‘time is on our side’. It’s a beautiful song but I don’t for a minute believe this statement. Time has no voice, no name, no particular preference for anyone. Time takes no sides.

A moment, however.

A moment can always be on your side. It takes a single moment to shift your thinking from mirrors to trees. Lately I’ve been thinking about grass and the way it feels beneath my feet. What a relief it is, to be free from my face; the lines, the shape and all the comments people make.

Change is a slow monster, however. It growls and seeks sustenance but can never quite find it’s fill quick enough. When I call myself a constant fixer upper I truly mean it. The ‘house’ so-to-speak, never has the right paint or the precise furniture I need. Everything is shuffled around in circular fashion, sometimes forwards, sometimes backwards and at times, sideways as well. When ‘fixing’ becomes your default state one thing tends to happen: life becomes a marathon and you never seem to leave the starting line.

I was eleven years old when I first became vividly aware of my body. Before that day I was certain I knew it well. I was certain it was me. I didn’t hate it because I didn’t really think too much about it. I was never removed from it. I never thought of it as clay to be prodded and moulded. Like all things in this world, that idea did not last very long.

Sitting on the front porch were my parents, smoking cigarettes. This is one of those memories that’ll probably stay with me till I die. It’s one of those memories that no longer exists for them, but somehow managed to claw its way into the front of my brain. I can recall wanting to impress them with my reading ability. My mother had recently purchased a book of poetry and I was so delighted by my ability to read it. I’ve always had a love of words and I desperately wanted to show them all the wonderful words that I could pronounce.

I read a poem and they watched. God knows if they were listening. When I finished I was proud. I expected them to be proud as well. I think that they were. I think they thought I was probably pretty smart. If only that was enough though.

I’ll never be rid of the moment when my father turned to my mother and said, “don’t you think she needs to lose some weight?”. I was standing right there, and I might has well have been invisible. I can recall my eyes glancing down across my body. It was the first time I had ever scanned it for flaws. And to think, all I wanted to know was what they thought of the poem.

The title of the book: Poems of Forgiveness. I’m not even kidding.

Kiss my ass Irony.

 

 

 

I’ll Remember

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I’ll remember how I wanted to tell you everything

rummaging around in my head

I’ll remember the crumbs I gave you

and the tears that threatened to shed

I’ll remember how I locked it all away

and let you speak instead

 

-Mother & Daughter in the café

The words we say without knowing

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You said it and it stayed

and there it did remain

playing out for always

every day

like a movie marathon

And all I wanted was to read you, a poem of forgiveness

Perhaps this is the poem you were always meant to hear

I forgive you

you did not know

how the weeds would grow

and suffocate the flowers

that wanted to bloom

And when they piled on the dirt

and that putrid smell rose

it filled my nostrils and escaped my eyes

till all i could see was the disgust outside

But again

It’s ok

I think it was meant to be this way

I’ve made friends with the weeds

and forgotten about the flowers

and look!

there are trees

that line blue rivers

which house secrets inside

Swim with me now

and I know I will not drown

You have kept me afloat

of this I have no doubt

and so once more-

I forgive you because,

despite it all

it is you,

who I adore