The night before I was supposed to talk with Matt Lauer on the Today Show I was at the mall shopping with Chup. I was two months postpartum, nothing fit me. Nothing. I had suffered through the last two months hoping my black sweats would sorta look like casual dress pants and ginormous t-shirts from my husband's closet. When I write about it now, I'd like to erase this entire first paragraph and just state: I was a mess.
I leaked through shirts and peed when I coughed. My body ached from earlobes to ingrown toes. I would braid my hair because I had no energy to do it--not that I have any idea how to style my hair anyway--but braids didn't help my cause. I looked like an aged Gretel who had just eaten Hansel. And bless my husband's heart for staying attracted to me even though I spent my days hiding in paisley mu-mus that buttoned down the front.
This was not me. No. I had generously donated my entire life to Cute. Later in my twenties, Cute met up with Weight and started a Circus. I sacrificed anything to achieve Skinny (the ultimate Cute) with the bounds of health consciousness. I cut out meat, dairy and sometimes eating all together. I dreamed of re-sculpting my hips to fit into jeans and drying up the last of anything that bulged. I couldn't have a baby, darn it, but I could have Skinny.
(And for the record, my body does not do Skinny. Which was always going to be my problem. Starting at age 16 it became a quest and intensified with time. Wasted time.)
After a pregnancy riddled with self-induced anxieties and nine months of flu-like symptoms, a whirlwind postpartum and ensuing transitions then, a family trauma, equaling two major life changes in two months, I can tell you I was not ready for my close up, No Thank you, Mr. Lauer.
But it came, anyway.
I bought a blue stretchy dress and told the lady who sold it to me to look for me on the Today Show. I don't think she believed me, or she felt sorry for me, either way I felt the same way about myself. I didn't have any shoes that fit me really, my feet were late to the memo about not needing to retain water, so I showed up in some frumpy Crocs and asked if I could go barefoot on national television.
"We won't even see your feet." Encouraged the producer.
So there I was in between my two wisps of sisters, in my new blue dress and bare feet at 5 in the morning. I felt awful, I had a head cold which masked my voice with mucous. A few days earlier, I didn't even have a voice, so I was grateful for what I had. I reminded myself over and over again to sit up straight and keep my head forward so as to avoid my other two chins from making cameos. But I slumped on that couch with my heart beating so fast I was sure all of New York could hear it.
Had you told me, in my late twenties, that my fifteen seconds of fame would coincide with my biggest weight gain of my life I would've asked for death. Death! A sweet remedy to what surely would be the greatest view of human insecurity possible. Millions of people getting one glimpse into my life and all they will see is my flesh stuffed on a couch. And yet, in that moment I could not refuse a chance to tell my sister's story, and welcome others into our circle of prayer.
They put that ear bud in and told me to smile at the camera before commercial break. The whole time I smiled I thought, "My cheeks! They are so puffy! And is it hot in here? I am so hot, I am going to melt before the commercial is over. Matt will have to interview a puddle." And before I knew it, the interview was over. A grip started wrapping up cables and the producer was telling us to go home, back to bed before our segment aired in Utah.
I didn't even watch it. I was so embarrassed.
Some days I cringe when I think of the whole episode. I see myself so vulnerable and lost. Shortly after buying it, I donated the dress to a second-hand store. I couldn't even see it in my closet and not think about the state of my shapeless body. How much work would I have to do until I could be comfortable again? It was impossible.
But on other days--kind days--I think differently. I think about how soft my body felt at that time. How the children loved to wrap their little arms around it and snuggle with it. I remember my leaking body was everything to a newborn baby and retained the stains of creative extensions. It felt loved by a man, and responded to his touch. Perhaps, this was my glory after all--not Skinny, but Steady. What a better time in my life to have this battled body immortalized on the archives of live television in front of millions of viewers?
Because of this experience, I have come to believe that the God who gave me this body, molds it and moves it into the shape He needs it to be. As long as my form obeys its true function, it will always be the right weight and the right time. And in light of my sister's fighting body, mine was at least healthy. It should've been the last thing on my mind--looking fat on tv--but vanity runs in my veins. I'm afraid.
I will always be grateful for the opportunity, it introduced me to hundreds of good people and those people bless my life daily. Amazingly, it allowed me to come to terms with my one of my biggest fears and gave me the gift of seeing that it wasn't so bad.
Except for the bare feet, when I was told they made it on camera, I was not pleased. And there is no reconciling that. Mr. Producer.
Post-edit: Had to add the "Because of this experience, I have come to believe" paragraph (second from last) or else insomnia promised to hold me forever in it's tireless claws. Good night.