Two nights ago I was waiting for sleep to come in a fabulously grand hotel room in Trieste's Borgo Teresiano, diagonally across from the building where a century ago, James Joyce lived with his beloved Nora and their newborn son for a while, penniless and by all accounts in dismal squalor. As I listened to the noises slowly dying down I could not stop thinking of Am's comment to my last post - thank you!
Earlier that day sitting - as one simply must - in one of the gorgeous cafes overlooking the grand squares and seaside panoramas, I had read an interview (link in German) with Susie Orbach where she described how mothers will always - consciously or subconsciously - negatively influence their daughter's body image.
I tried to remember a time during my childhood and teenage years when my mother expressed anything close to approval of the way her two daughters looked or dressed. Maybe there was such a time when we were really small, but mostly it was a hard and nasty competition between the three of us, which my sister and I continue to this day. The first thing we do when we meet is check, ever so slightly, who has put on/lost weight, what are we wearing and so on. Before we even greet each other, we exchange one quick look of absolute disapproval, just for a split second.
My mother disapproved of diets, as a food and agricultural scientist she at least had the theoretical knowledge. Yet, her secret diet of cigarettes and valium - at times she was painfully thin - was a hard act to follow and she would sharply remark on any weight gain. She was the queen of thin and dear me, how she had to suffer all of the world's sloppy, spineless characters with belly fat.
I like to think I did it a lot better with my own daughter. Would she tell me if I messed up? I wonder. But I think she loves her body a lot more than I do or did, even when I was raising her.
Illness changes a lot. That is the lesson I have had to learn. Suddenly, my body has become precious, and above all, oh please, don't stop functioning, never mind what shape and form, just keep going.
Yes, there are days when I am disgusted with the way my body has let me down, the tiresome and constant readjustments to the drugs and their long litany of side effects. But mostly I try to enjoy the surprise bursts of energy and vitality when they do occur and for the boring rest of it, easy does it.