it isn’t easy being green. with envy.

I’ve been dealing with some stuff.

That’s what I told a couple of my girlfriends in an email last week. Only I didn’t say “stuff”. I said something else. Something much more fitting to describe exactly what it is I’m going through.

Yesterday, I got an email from NaNoWriMo. When it hit my inbox it felt like a sack of pumpkins to the face. Oh yes. It’s October, which means that next month is November. National Novel Writing Month.  Has it really been a year since I touched my novel?

Let me give you a little bit of insight as to how my life looked a year ago:

I’d just gotten surgery to repair my ACL, an injury I sustained during an awesome dance class at an incredible studio. I was writing like it was my job (which, okay, it is my job but youknowwhatimean), my blog was getting roughly a bazillion hits a day (roughly), and I was taking on my biggest writing challenge ever — fashioning a novel (albeit a complete crap one) in a month. All the while, I was involved in four ministries, one of which I led, at my church.

I was doing it all, basically. I was the it-girl.

And then bam. On November 16th, I took a positive pregnancy test. A figurative slam on the brakes of life, if you will. A happy gear shift, for sure, but a gear shift none the less. I went from being completely focused on my life and my goals to turning down everything (including beer, dang it) that I wanted in order to put someone else — someone so precious and special — first.

I was thrown head-first into a season of rapid life-changes, both physically and otherwise. As I watched my body grow, I also watched important things in my life grow distant. It was almost as if I was taking up too much space to allow for anything else. A painfully obvious metaphor, of sorts. I stepped down. From a lot of things. I put writing on the back burner. I surrendered the ministries in which I volunteered (one of which I’d run for five years — that was pretty hard to let go). I removed myself from all of the “good” things in my life in order to make room for the “best” thing.

Make no mistake. When I saw his little face on July 19th at 1:34 AM, I could see why he was, indeed, the “best” thing. He was (and is) absolutely perfect. He is my whole world. 

That should be enough for me. It should. But guess what?

I’m human. I’m broken. So sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes, like right now, for instance, it’s not.

This year looks  a lot different than last year. I’m not dancing. I’m not writing as much. I’m most certainly not writing another novel, or even editing the one I did write, and I’m watching as all the ministries in which I served move on without me. Moreover, they’re moving on with other people. People who, by my account, are better and more lovable than me. My brokenness begs me to cling to the public affirmation associated with being involved in and doing everything, and so now, since I don’t have any of that, I don’t feel as though I am worthy of love. It’s especially hard because the only person for whom I’m “doing” things, the only person from whom I can receive affirmation, can’t speak. Can’t audibly affirm me. (Unless you count coos and the occasional but oh-so lifesaving smiles.)

To make matters worse, I had to go back to work. And my milk supply consequently dropped. So now I sit in my cubicle, praying that the one thing I — and only I — can do doesn’t slip away, too, making me (in my mind) completely and utterly useless. It feels like this thing — breastfeeding my child — is the only thing keeping me from being obsolete and unloved. As each pumping session shrinks just a little smaller than the last, I begin to panic.

Enter: envy. Pure, immature, annoying, soul-crushing envy.

I find myself envious (and bitter, to boot) of everyone these days. Stay-at-home moms who can answer the demand of their nursing infants and, therefore, don’t have to worry about a diminishing milk supply. Published writers who, because they’re published, are better at it than I. Singers, because dear GOD don’t ask me to sing. Songwriters. Artists. Friends. Not friends. Redheads. Brunettes. Blondes.

The list is endless.

Chances are, if I know you, I’m probably envious of something you have that I don’t. Even though what I have — a beautiful and perfect baby boy — is something you can’t ever have. Sure, you can have a baby boy at some point. But he’ll never be my baby boy. He’ll never be the perfect little angel I wake up to every morning.

It’s the nature of the sin. It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t God-honoring. It’s wrong and stupid and awful. And yet, here I sit, stewing in envy. The painful thorn in my side.

One of my favorite writers touched on this earlier this week when she lamented about the solitary nature of book-writing. The way she explained her feelings echoed mine. It’s as if I’m a duck floating atop a pond. Quiet and inconspicuously still above the surface, but furiously paddling my feet beneath, unseen and unappreciated by all.

Barf. Whatever.

Because this terrible ulcer in my heart wouldn’t stop festering, I had no choice but to open up about it to a couple friends. (In two completely unrelated lunch meetings, both over sushi, which I found to be adorably ironic.) I sat across the table from these two friends, friends I’ve known for years, friends who have seen me at my absolute worst, and I let them have it. I let them know that, yep, I’m still messed up. I compare myself to others and get really freaking jealous and it really sucks.

And they listened. And they challenged me to think differently. To be proactive and to make changes.

But change is hard and I hate it. 

This past weekend I took a short, 24-hour trip to my hometown to see my best friend’s little brother get married. It’s a four-hour drive, and since I had to take Dax with me, I had to drive at night. I hate driving at night, but Dax sleeps through the night now and also conks out during car rides so there was no way I was going to drive during the day if it meant my son would revert back to a nocturnal disposition.

My least favorite part of the drive, probably because of the low speed limit and lack of passing lanes, is driving east on highway 40 through the Ocala National Forest. As soon as I get on 40, I start counting the minutes until I can finally turn right onto 17 and get the hell off of 40.

But this time, it was different. I wanted to stay on 40 forever.

In the dead of night, the Ocala National Forest should have, by all accounts, been pitch black. My Camry and I should have been shrouded in complete darkness. But we weren’t.

The moon was full, and so it poured buckets of silvery moonlight across the land, transforming the forest completely. The trees were a mass of dark, almost-black-but-just-not hunter green against a slate sky and clouds disguised as clumps of charcoal. It was devastatingly beautiful — a type of beauty that could only be seen in the dark of night. As much as the sun could try during the day, that type of allure was only achievable with the overwhelming glow of the full moon. (I tried to take a picture of it with my iPhone but none of the photos did it justice. So hopefully my words will.)

It reminded me of me. And what I’m going through in this time. Though I am, indeed, walking through a “dark” period, a night which has gone on way too long with the hope of dawn too far off in the distance, there is hope. There is truth. There is light.

There is light in the truth my friends bring me through honest, raw, desperate conversation. There is the reality that, though I am broken and have weak moments, I am loved and valued, even if I am not publicly esteemed as such right now. And though I’m currently wrestling with this beast of a sin, I can beat it because I am a daughter of the Most High. A princess.

A broken princess. A messy princess. But a princess, none the less, bathed in the sweet, soft moonlight of grace.

pop singers don’t eat.

In recent days, Lady Gaga has come into the spotlight for, ahem, “letting herself go” and gain some weight. Media outlets, like they tend to do, have criticized her new “fuller” (I put all these words in quotes because GOOD GOD SHE LOOKS BLOODY NORMAL) figure. To defend herself, she posted a couple pictures of herself online in her underwear with the caption, “Bulimia and anorexia since I was 15.”

 

Now, all of a sudden, people are coming up alongside Gaga to aid her in her new found quest to spread body image positivity and courage.

Yayyyy, right?

Bleh. Yes? I guess? But here’s what pisses me off about the whole thing.

I used to love Lady Gaga. I would dance like a damn fool whenever her songs came on the radio or in the clubs. My husband and I bought her newest record (which was disappointing, honestly) the day it came out. I can’t remember another artist for whom I went out of my way to purchase their stuff on the drop date. (Okay, there’s Hanson, but they don’t count because I buy their stuff BEFORE the drop date. Obviously.) But I stopped supporting her cold turkey recently.

You see, all of you are late to the “Lady Gaga Has An Eating Disorder” Party. We were all invited to that party years ago and I guess no one but me noticed her invitation to it… despite it being on Twitter. 

I stopped supporting Lady Gaga because she tweeted about eating a salad with the hashtag #PopSingersDontEat. It was almost like she was proud of it, like she knew she was “better” than the rest of us for foregoing calories in the name of thinness. I didn’t want to support anyone, ESPECIALLY anyone who women (and girls!) across the globe looked up to, who would publicly advocate such unhealthy behavior.

Because I struggled with an ED, I know that her tweet, and the thought process behind it, had ED written all over it. The desire for validation. The absurdity. The stubbornness. The emptiness. Everything about her tweet SCREAMED, “Help. I have an eating disorder,” but only NOW, when we actually see Lady Gaga give her ED a name, do we feel sorry for her?

Why is it that a tweet that LITERALLY STATES one is refusing food just gets swept under the rug, while a picture that states, in lesser words, I DON’T EAT FOOD actually gets your attention? It’s the same thing! Is it the sheer fact that now, a medical term — anorexia and bulimia — is tied to the behavior? If so, that’s horribly sad, because think of all the people who are currently suffering from eating disorders without diagnoses.

I was one of them. For those of you who know my story, you know I suffered from an eating disorder for TWELVE YEARS before being diagnosed. Twelve. Years.

After Gaga’s original tweet, that’s when we should have been rallying up alongside Gaga for body positivity! We should have tweeted back at her that nothing is worth damaging your body for, especially not thinness. We should have tweeted back at her the truth that she’s fearfully and wonderfully made. But we didn’t.

I didn’t.

Had Twitter been around back in the days I was knee deep eating disorder hell, I’m almost positive I would have tweeted something about how a Pepsi One (yep, throw back) totally counts as a legitimate lunch option. And you know what? I would have secretly hoped that someone, anyone, would tweet back at me, “Please, eat something more than that. You’re beautiful. You deserve to treat yourself better.”

Don’t get me wrong — I’m glad Lady Gaga is doing what she’s doing. I think she’s a beautiful woman, inside and out, who, like a lot of us, has been tricked by society to believe that her worth is only skin deep. And I’m not mad at her for doing this all of a sudden. What makes me mad is that THIS IS NOT NEWS. Poor Gaga practically threw a Hail Mary pass on Twitter asking for help and no on caught it. But now, she’s in the end zone doing a dance after rushing for a touchdown in her underwear, and NOW we’re paying attention?

Welcome to the party.

introducing: friday favorites!

Can I speak off the cuff for a second? (Psh. Why am I even asking? This is my blog, you guys. I do what I want.)

I’ve been pretty aware of all the ways I suck lately. Mostly, over the past week. I guess that makes sense, what with me going back to work and wrestling with what that means as far as my contribution to my home and family. It stands to reason, I suppose, that in this time of transition I might find myself struggling to focus on what is praiseworthy about myself. (Philippians 4:8.)

The truth is, self-love isn’t something you just achieve one day and then bam, you’re all better. I really wish it were that simple, but the reality is that loving yourself in a society that does its damnedest to point out everything that’s wrong with you takes daily discipline. It takes the strength to wake up every single day and look yourself in the mirror and say, “Hey, Self, you’re all right.”

Unfortunately, with everything that’s been going on in my life as of late (you know, having a kid and all) I haven’t really taken care of myself in that respect. Sure, I make sure I eat every day and try to squeeze a shower in here and there (I washed my hair last night, y’all!) but as far as putting forth the effort it takes to truly, honestly, take care of my self-esteem and consequential mental health, I’m falling behind. And it’s starting to wear on me.

An old issue I’ve struggled with in the past has reared its ugly head recently. The issue? Allowing myself to be loved without doing anything. 

I’d thought I’d beat it. I thought that, with the help of this blog and the people with whom I surround myself, I’d finally let that little part of me die. But, since stepping away from all the things I “do” for people in order to focus on my son and my family, I’ve started to feel as though I’m being replaced. Forgotten. Unloved.

While I know that isn’t the case, right now it’s hard to believe it. So, I’ve decided to go ahead and use this blog for what it was originally intended — a tool with which I can learn to love myself daily. I’m going to dust off the old “self-love” warrior training boxing gloves and start a new weekly post series on my blog. I’d like to introduce to you,

lindsay’s friday favorites!

On Fridays, as a discipline, I’m going to post a blog highlighting one thing about myself that I like, that is my “favorite trait” of the week. One thing, I might add, is just ME. Not something I DO. Just something I AM. It may be physical, or not. It may be an item of clothing I bought or a way I did my hair. It might be a book I started reading and the thoughts it provoked within me. I’m not sure yet. But all I know is that I’m going to commit to doing this every Friday to remind myself that I’m valuable just because I am.

I’d like to challenge you, my readers, to do it, too. On my Friday Favorites posts, I want you to comment the things you love about yourself that week. Nothing would make me happier than knowing that my struggles, and the disciplined nature through which I will try to overcome them, might actually be a positive influence in your lives as well.

And so. Starting next Friday, we’re going to do this. We’re going to start to love ourselves, one little blog post at a time.

back to the grind, consumed with mom-guilt.

I’d like to take this opportunity to give a standing ovation to all the stay-at-home moms out there. Bravo, ladies. Brav. Vo.

Y’all want some real talk? I’ll give you some real talk.

I’ve been a working mom for three days and let me just tell you — stay-at-home moms have it harder than working moms. (And, as an aside, stay-at-home moms who HOME SCHOOL? Psh. They’ve all got to be immortal droids or something.) I’ve been back in the workforce for almost three days and it’s like I’m in Cabo on vacation. Wooohoo! I can count on one hand the number of days that have gone by without me getting pooped on, and I can pee whenever I have to and not hold it until the baby’s asleep! (Okay, so maybe, based on that comment, I did stay-at-home mom life wrong. Whatever. Holding your bladder for five hours while consoling a colicky baby is legit, right? Don’t answer that.)

Anyway. Props to all you SAHMs. Major. Props.

More real talk. I miss my boy. Bad. 

The first day back was pretty great. I was distracted by all my new projects at work and the sweet welcome I got from my coworkers, seen here:

And the second day was okay, too. But once I got home, I realized that, at the end of my work day, I only have a few short hours with my baby until he’s down for bed which makes me SUPER. DUPER. SAD.

You guys. I’m in a downward thought spiral, here. My self-love is waning in lieu of mom-guilt. Does he still recognize my voice?! What if he grows up not knowing who I am? What if he thinks I’m just some weird lady who comes to his house and sleeps in his dad’s bed after being away for eight hours all day?! Even worse, what if he DOES know I’m his mom, but thinks I suck majorly because I’ve missed out on all the times he’s smiled as a two-month-old? What if, when he learns to talk, his first word is, “I-DON’T-KNOW-MY-MOM.” YOU GUYS?! HOW DO KIDS OF WORKING PARENTS NOT GROW UP COMPLETELY MALADJUSTED?! WHY AM I THE WORST?

Okay. So maybe my kid is adjusting fine. Maybe he’s two months old and doesn’t know the difference yet. Maybe he’ll grow up completely normal in spite of me. Maybe I’m the severely unhinged mental case who needs help.

Anyway.

I’m back in action, y’all! Back with a whole new set of insecurities! Let’s do this.

i’ll have curves with a side of bones, please. hold the cellulite.

Well, readers. I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news.

The good news is that it seems as though the outrage against society’s “thin ideal” is finally being recognized. Magazine photo editors have finally gotten the message and have stopped Photoshopping images of women down to impossibly skinny frames.

The bad news is that instead of Photoshopping women to look skinnier, now editors are adding fake curves. According to the lovely ladies at Beauty Redefined, curvy is the new skinny, but only in places curves are “allowed.”

Sigh. SO CLOSE, YOU GUYS. SO CLOSE AND YET, SO FAR.

Seriously, people? The problem isn’t that images of women have been manipulated to look thin. The problem is that images of women (and men, for that matter) are being manipulated at all. I’ve been dying for magazine photo editors to get this through their heads and with this new revelation, I feel like I’ve spent the better part of my life begging my parents for a puppy, and they just finally agreed to get me one. Only they came home with a beat up Pound Puppy they found at the local Goodwill and hoped it would pass.

And so. Here we are again singing the same song reinforcing the idea that one body type is better than all the others. Where it used to be impossibly skinny, now it’s impossibly curvy; that is, thin all over except where curves are acceptable (boobs and butt, essentially).

As someone who falls in the “curvy” category (or plus-sized, if you can believe it) I’ve always wished that I could have this exact body type — thin everywhere, but with killer boobs and a butt. But even when I was starving myself into misery, I still had the body type I do: curvy, even in the spots where it’s not acceptable (bigger arms, bigger thighs, and so on). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation with another girl about how we wish we could switch body parts with each other so we could fit the ideal.

ME: Ugh, I hate how big my boobs are. I wish I was skinny all over like you.

FRIEND: Whatever! I wish I had your shape and actually looked the way a woman is supposed to look!

ME: But we’re all ‘supposed to be’ skinny like you.

FRIEND: Yeah, but with big boobs like you!

I wasn’t born knowing that there is a “right” way to look and a “wrong” way to look. I was taught it from a very young age. Sadly, I was also taught that, thanks to Photoshop in the media, the “right” way to look is also the “impossible” way to look.

Either it’s being so skinny that you’d have to have most of your rib cage removed…

 

Or it’s extremely curvy, but only in the places that curves are accepted.

And if you don’t look like this? Well, it’s no one’s fault but your own because you’re the only one not working hard enough.

To learn more about this stupid new trend in Photoshopping, click here to read the article by Beauty Redefined.

eat your heart out, girlfriend!

The days and weeks are all blurring together. I can’t remember the last time I wore real clothes or left the house. (Sunday? Was it Sunday? I think it was Sunday.) But each and every moment I spend with my little boy (even the screamy ones, though I have to admit, at a lesser extent) is precious. And hey, who cares, right? I have Netflix to keep me company.

EXCEPT WHEN THE INTERNET AT OUR APARTMENT DIES AND THEN I DON’T. [sobsobsob]

What did new moms do back in the 80s, huh? No Internet? No Netflix? HOW DID THEY SURVIVE?

The first time our Internet died (it’s been dodgy for the better part of a week) I was pretty cheerful about it. “OH! My baby loves to hear my voice,” I thought, “so I’ll read to him. Oh, and BONUS! I have to read all these ‘new mom’ books anyway so why don’t I read THOSE to him and kill two birds? MAN, I’M A GENIUS!”

So I picked up The Girlfriends’ Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood by Vicki Iovine and started reading it to my newborn. I actually finished it in about two days. And bless my son, he was so entertained, even though I could tell he didn’t give two hoots about the subject matter. (I can hear his little thoughts now: “Breast pads? Post-natal incontinence? Mommy, why do I need to know about these things?”)

I really liked Iovine’s first book, The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancyso when a friend of mine loaned me Iovine’s book on motherhood I was really excited to read it. For the most part, it did for me what Pregnancy did — told everything about motherhood to me straight, even the not-so-happy parts. I love Iovine’s “no nonsense” take on all the crazy bizarre things that happen to women during and after they gestate. I was all about to give The First Year of Motherhood my hearty approval until I came to a chapter entitled

I Want My Old Body Back!

Even though I’ve already made peace with the new body I have, I wouldn’t mind being able to wear my pre-pregnancy jeans again (mostly because I’m cheap and the thought of me buying new pants makes my wallet cry). So I read on. Because this book is written from the point of view of my “girlfriend”, I expected good ol’ Vicki to tell me, “Hey, girl, it’s okay. You’ll get your old body back naturally and healthily. No worries, girl. For now, focus on nourishing that babe!” Because that’s what I’d tell any of my girlfriends.

I’ve decided that, based on this chapter, Vicki is not my girlfriend. Check out some excerpts:

Eat Only One Meal a Day. Relax, I didn’t say eat once a day. In fact, I think you should eat several times a day, but only once should you sit down and tuck into those three-coursers that were so much fun during pregnancy…

To avoid feeling cranky and deprived, always include a food that my Scottish friends call “fuller”: you know, something that makes you feel full and satisfied. A light pasta, roasted potatoes, rice or a piece of bread are all good “fuller”.

At least once a week, make a big pot of soup to eat at those other times when your body thinks it needs another meal.

You know what that sounds like? That sounds like an eating disorder to me.

When I was knee-deep in disordered eating, those are the kinds of thoughts I’d have: “To avoid feeling deprived, I’ll do X. To trick my body into thinking it doesn’t need more food, I’ll do Y.”

WHAT?

You know what’s happening when your body “feels” deprived or “think it needs another meal”?

YOU ARE DEPRIVED AND PROBABLY SHOULD EAT ANOTHER MEAL.

For the past week or so, I haven’t been able to eat but one meal a day. Because my baby boy loves me so much (let’s go with that as the reason) he won’t let me put him down. So while Dan is away at work all day, I am literally doing nothing but holding, rocking, and nursing my baby. Even if he is as comatose as someone who is actually in a coma, the second I lay him in his bassinet he wakes up and screams bloody murder. Therefore, when my husband gets home, I practically throw our child at him so I can eat something.

You know what that’s done to me? Nothing good for my figure, that’s for sure. And what’s more, I believe it’s diminishing my milk supply.

At the end of the chapter, Iovine kind of comes back around to say that even though your body will never be the same again, the new you is a “better” you. But I feel like limiting myself to one meal a day is doing nothing to make me better. From what I can tell, it’s making me worse. I’m crankier, more tired (if that’s even possible), and my baby is feeling the effects at mealtime.

So tonight, Dan and I made an agreement that he couldn’t leave in the morning until I had a for real breakfast. Like, with protein and stuff. So that even if I have to wait until he gets home to eat again, at least I’m not starting out on E.

In related news, I’m still jiggly and boy do I WORK IT.

postpartum body image.

Let’s call this blog post a victory lap, shall we?

At two weeks postpartum, I’m in a very awkward stage as far as my body goes. I can’t fit into my pre-pregnancy pants yet, but my maternity pants are just a bit too baggy. Similarly, the number on the scale is considerably smaller than it was two weeks ago, but it’s still one that I’ve only ever seen since becoming pregnant.

The Lindsay from several years ago would probably be crippled by depression over this. She would most likely be missing out on all the wonderful blessings surrounding her newborn boy because she’d be too concerned about dropping the baby weight as fast as possible. And she’d definitely be completely inconsolable over her ridiculous new bra size. (For the record, I still have no idea what my actual bra size is. Thanks, nursing sports bras! You’re the best!)

But no. Not anymore.

I’d argue that, if anything, pregnancy has taken my body image and radically transformed it into something magnificent. Sure, my midsection is as soft as a pile of bread dough and is decorated by a couple of new stripes. And maybe I’m not entirely sure what “size” I am anymore. And let’s not get started on what my BMI says about me at present.

BUT…

As completely cliche as it sounds, I’ve never loved my body more than I do right now. Here’s why:

1. my body built a life.

Every time I look at my son — my beautiful, perfect, angelic son — I am in complete awe. My body is the instrument God used to create my sweet baby boy. It’s a true miracle, really.

2. my body sustains that life.

All I have to do in order to make sure my baby is fed is stick him to my boob. Bam. Fed.

(Also, to drive this point home, watch Jim Gaffigan’s stand up special called “Mr. Universe”. It’s on Netflix.)

3. i’ve never felt more loved.

Okay, so maybe it’s true that my two-week-old baby doesn’t really give a crap whether or not I have horns, so long as I feed him every two hours and change his diaper as needed. BUT BUT BUT it’s really nice to feel so loved, no matter what my body looks like. My son couldn’t care less if I ever lose the baby weight — or grow horns — he just wants me to be near.

4. for the first time in my life, i’m letting myself be loved.

Not just by my son, but by my husband and my friends and my family, too. For the first time since I can remember, I’m consciously letting myself be loved, without asking “why” or “how” or anything, just because I am me. Not because I look a certain way — because that “certain way” is definitely NOT what I look like right now, and I might never again — but because I simply am. Because I am a wife. Because I am Mommy. Because I am a friend. Because I am family. I am loved and that’s the end of that.

In today’s society, I think that too much pressure is put on new moms to get back to their pre-pregnancy form as soon as possible. What with celebrities like Beyonce gracing the front covers of magazines mere weeks after giving birth, it’s easy for new moms to feel insecure about their so-called ravaged bodies. But as for me, someone who has a past that is pock-marked by disordered eating, I refuse to fall victim to that.

There is nothing — I repeat, nothing — in this world that I have done that holds a candle to carrying my healthy, perfect, wonderful baby boy to term and giving birth to him. Nothing. And if I’m a bit pudgy and stretch-marky afterward? Let it be. I couldn’t be more proud of my body and the miracles it is capable of.

Put that in your beauty-obsessed pipe and smoke it.