You know, sometimes, forgetting, it’s a good thing. Not when you are searching your brain for a missing word mid-sentence, or for the name of the person quickly approaching with open arms. Then, it’s a little scary — am I already an Alta cocker (old fart) losing my marbles? Oy vey. Some memories, good or bad, come rushing back at you with a smell, a sound, a familiar face, a feeling in your gut (shpilkes), or reading a great post about a national movement to battle body image for young girls.
Please know , that this post was inspired by Allison at Mad House Mom. She wrote an amazing post, Be Real (istic) in early February that dislodged the floodgates that fed (
that is some effing pun) my inner voice as a kid. Hell, this voice was feeding me well into my thirties before I started fighting back. Before I wanted to fight back. And it was some battle.
If you are a woman in this world, chances are pretty damned good that you have had a bout of feeling a bit ‘less than’ throughout your life. If you grew up as a people-pleasing perfectionist, that sponged up all the dysfunction in a family to make it all seem okay, well let’s just say,
that really sucks that is meshugenah (crazy) making.
Having mr t in the big office, bragging about ‘grabbing women by their ‘pussies’ (this has happened to me) after popping a few tic-tac’s; suddenly earning 21.4 cents less per dollar isn’t your biggest worry. How do I parent and protect my girls, my babies from what can be a cruel world?
Here are just a few doozies that broke the
damn dam for me:
“Both girls, they’re too fat. I’ll allow two cookies a year. One on Christmas, and one on Easter.” Our pediatrician said this to my mother with my shvester (sister) and me in the room when I was 5, maybe 6 years old. The age of my Little. A doctor really said that in 1969.
“Lisa, come here. Look in the mirror with me. When you put your legs together, you should be able to see three perfect diamonds. This is a problem.” My mother, she brought me into her ‘dressing room’ in the summer of 1974. I was wearing my, “I’m Lisa. Fly me.” t-shirt. You baby-boomers may remember this overtly sexist campaign from Delta, that actually sold the allure of the flight attendants as an absurd, racy extension of the actual airline. I had on my favorite matching yellow shorts. I saw no diamonds in that room, wall-to-wall mirrors, showing every possible angle of ‘diamondlessness.’
1979, said to my parents by a person I had never met, as we stood in line at the Rascal House for dinner: “I had no idea you had another daughter, Morty? I only knew about your sports all star!” Then my mother interjected in a very faint whisper, after looking from side to side to make sure no one
of stature was listening, “Lisa likes to paint. She’s an artist.” Insert shame here.
“I apologize, my daughter is wearing her glasses today, and I just don’t know why?“ Then under her breath, she looked directly at me and sneered, “Why would you do this to me?” Mom again. We were meeting for dinner, maybe 1987-88? For the record, I was at least 25 years old, my glasses were brand spankin’ new and my eyes were irritated from a flight from Philadelphia to Miami earlier that day. She spent the rest of that evening with her back to me. Never once looking at me or speaking to me during the entire meal.
“Don’t you ever share food with her again, she has cancer. You’ll catch it. When you go to the bathroom, in her house, don’t sit on the seat. In fact, try not to go at all.” 1986, mom again. We were in NYC and I took a bite of dessert from my most favorite aunt in the entire world. At this point, she should have been pleased I took a bite of anything at all. I would go days at a time eating absolutely nothing. Seeking invisibility and gauging my worth by the numbers on the scale.
“Lesbians, like Martina (Navratilova), have a genetic mutation, just like retarded people. That’s why she is gay. It’s the mutation. And, she is obviously the man in the relationship.” This gem, also from my mother, was declared over dinner at the TGI Friday’s in the Princeton Market Fair, NJ. Circa 1992-ish. ‘Dear old dad’ went on to pontificate about how she (Martina) disgusted him, and he couldn’t even watch her play tennis. Don’t you worry Martina, I defended you from this incompetence.
These couple of quotes, just the tips of the iceberg that tried to sink me like the Titanic. My dear friends, don’t you for one second be sad for me. I am alive and well, living and loving a life free of toxicity. My Mrs. and me, we met at a group for women with eating disorders. Good luck / bad luck. We worked
through our shit hard in therapy before having little ones.
We do our best and bend over backward to raise our shana maidelehs (sweet girls) with love, respect, and self-esteem in a world that tries too hard to steal it from them. They will never hear what I heard or be subject to the pernicious parental spiel (empty jabber, talk) that formed my invalidating inner voice.
We want for them to learn to love themselves first and foremost. To know they are loved by us, no matter who they are, what they do or how they look. They will understand the value of being a good person on the planet, helping others and living a life with empathy and a strong voice. They will learn how to take their space and own it. We will not let them succumb to the vile sexist and misogynistic messages of the media, or mr t. That the ‘P’ word (perfect) only sets you up to fail.
We want to build their house on a strong foundation, ready to weather the storms that blow in and out of our lives. Mighty girls become brave women.
I wish that I could have pain instead of you my child. Mir zol zayn far dir, mayn kind.