Everything takes forever: A story of waiting (Part 1)

‘Picnic on a tank’ by Joseph Tey.

How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?

—Dr. Seuss

Well January was certainly productive.

I jest.

In truth, I frittered away most of the month feeling gloomy over a situation I found myself in and was anxious to extricate myself from. In a classic fight-or-flight situation, I regret to admit I typically opt for the latter response, and usually without a roadmap. Running into walls? Check. Talking myself into a catch-22 corner of despair? Check.

No groundbreaking insights here, but having scurried on that same hamster wheel for years, it was hard not to finally accept that maybe the positive change I so much crave(d) is not going to happen, at least not in a situational sort of way. Remember me berating Katherine of Aragon and Mary I for being so obdurate and inflexible of mind? Hashtag, eatingmywords. Since all manner of plots and devices for effecting change have not yielded success, it’s perhaps time for me to change my mindset. [Somewhere in the background, I hear my husband giving me a slow clap. That’s been his advice to me, ad nauseam.]

Then, there’s waiting some more, for change—both of the internal and external kind—takes time. Sitting atop a fully functioning army tank, but without yet a signal to fire, it remains but a place to perch, a vantage point to consider the lilies, so why not make a picnic of it? And I’m reminded, too, that transformation of any sort may feel distant or excruciatingly slow, but takes place it does, “the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” It has, for one particular instance in my life, anyway.

Here’s Part 1 in a multi-part series in what may or may not be a typical story about struggle, acceptance, and above all, waiting.

Everything Takes Forever: A Story of Waiting (Part 1)

I was 28 when I had Etienne, my firstborn. I probably was quite small before that because when my post-partum weight settled at what was a normal BMI for my height, it looked like a huge difference. At least it did to the office pantry lady in my former company who made a remark that set me on a course which I took years (and then some) to set straight.

I return from maternity leave, a bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived new mum, but excited nonetheless to settle into a new work routine. It’s mid-morning and I stride to the pantry to make my first cup of coffee, beaming at colleagues around me who welcome me back and ask kindly after my baby.

Then she approaches me.

“You’re fat.”

It takes awhile for it to register that she’s talking to me. Is she joking? Judging from her serious expression, I’m guessing not. “Well, you know, I just had a baby,” I say, with a nervous laugh.

“So did the other ladies in customer service. They just had babies and they look fine. What happened with you?”

It feels like a rhetorical question, except it isn’t, and pantry lady really wants to know the answer. There and then I have nothing to offer, save for a tiny shrug. I go back to my desk without making that coffee.

I’ve thought of that comment everyday since.

Fact: One does not develop an eating disorder overnight. It wasn’t like I went home that day and waged war with food or embarked on a militant exercise regime. What those words did, however, was plant a seed—that quiet thought at the back of my mind often beginning with questions like “But what if I just…” And like a plant, it grows. If tended to often enough, a singular thought quickly blooms into a stream of consciousness, from a voice that makes polite suggestions to harsh commands delivered in the imperative.

Anyway, I’m skipping too far ahead. After the pantry lady episode, I carried on normally. It was irritating not to be able to squeeze into my pre-pregnancy jeans but there’s more to life, I thought, and there was. But I started noticing things, like how people never remarked about me being slim anymore—they’d say I looked happy or nice, but never slim. In hindsight, I wonder if I would’ve even picked up on that if I hadn’t been called fat (funny how the mind works). What also surprised me was how much I’d identified myself as a slim person. How, no longer being that (or so I believed), I suddenly felt alien in my own body, and desperately anxious to be me again.

[To be continued…]


6 thoughts on “Everything takes forever: A story of waiting (Part 1)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s