A very peculiar thing has been happening lately. I’ve been catching myself strutting around feeling good. I can almost hear the instrumental of the Bee Gee’s ‘Stayin’ Alive’ play in the background as a buzzy feeling pulsates through me. It’s as though I’m levitating, feet not quite on the ground. I feel so alive and vibrant that I’m oozing sex appeal.
Did that young twenty-something just check me out? I think he did. I strut on.
That is, until I catch a glimpse of myself in a reflection somewhere. It doesn’t matter where I am, the scratch of that 70’s Bee Gee’s record is palpable as I remember: oh right, there’s that minor detail of the extra 30 pounds I’m carrying.
That weight descends upon me like a hundred-pound noose. Suddenly I’m feeling frumpy and unattractive. Suddenly I’m feeling as if I don’t matter. How dare I feel good when my worst nightmare has come true?
I’m a chubby middle-aged housewife.
All the thoughts come raging in, circling around like a record skipping through the same old shit about how I can’t and I won’t and I’m stuck in this body. If I don’t catch myself the record picks up speed, frenetically sputtering out vile lies: You’re pathetic. Everyone must think you’re a slob. Gluttony is one of the 7 deadly sins. It’s pretty much a guarantee that, in some strange attempt to ‘feel better’ again, chocolate will follow.
This has been going on for quite some months now, this feeling good in my body thing. After the past seven years of slogging through motherhood thoughts have crept in about new make-up, or imagining the perfect pair of jeans. I’ve wandered into second-hand shops and walked out with a stack of almost-new designer brand clothes to adorn myself in (including the much sought after perfect jean). I bought my first ever red lipstick just before I turned forty which garnered such a reaction on Facebook that my ego grinned red from ear to ear.
Too bad when I was twenty-five and I actually had the knock out body I didn’t feel this good. Back then I was totally caught up feeling bad about my thigh jiggle. I was obsessed with the number on the scale and fending off cellulite. Looking back on pictures of me then I have less of a longing for the body I once had and more of a longing for the experience of feeling this good in it.
This feeling good is so incredibly weird that my brain keeps getting caught up and confused, not sure what to make of the juxtaposition of “I feel vibrantly sexy and alive!” and “I’m a chubby housewife.”
Insert robot voice: Can. Not. Compute.
What is clear though, is that feeling good feels so much better than feeling chubby and inconsequential.
Maybe this is some sort of weird mid-life gift instead of mid-life crisis.
Maybe I’m FINALLY supposed to get it that the feel-good feeling doesn’t come from the weight, or lack thereof, but from inside of me. After all, nothing changes from feeling sexy to feeling frumpy except my perception.
Maybe I could stay feeling so good that I wouldn’t feel the need stuff my face with chocolate to numb the feeling bad.
Maybe- and would’t this be wonderful- my internal soundtrack would change and no matter what reflection was in the mirror the strut in my step would stay on replay.