Too Much To Carry {a few words on my body}

Too Much To Carry {a few words on my body}

Too Much To Carry

Too Much To Carry I used to wonder why boys didn't stare at me when I walked into a room. I knew I wasn't beautiful like the girls who wore eye liner, but I was slim, and I had a nice smile. I hoped that these things would be enough to start a conversation. I was confident that my engaging personality and active listening style would do the rest.

That time doesn't feel that long ago, now. As my friends paired up in college, and beyond, I remained hopeful, and confident of my allure.


I have identified stories of those people in the Bible who waited many years for what they prayed for. Sarah and Abraham for a son (even taking things into their own hands at one point), the woman with the issue of blood (whose money and options has been completely spent over twelve years), and Anna, who had stayed in the temple for years, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Messiah (and finally seeing Him face to face).

But there were others.

As Advent approaches, I find myself thinking often of those 400 years between the Testaments. We are not told about those who cried out to God for deliverance, with hope.

There is only silence.


It's getting colder, and I've been trying on clothes that have been taking a long summer nap. Last week, I ran into the kitchen, asking my roommate to zip up the dress that I was wiggling into. She tried, but it wouldn't come together.

I remember when I bought the dress. I was in Topshop, in York, on a study abroad in the United Kingdom. It had fluttery short sleeves, and fireworks all over it. It made me feel beautiful.

I wore it, later that spring, as I listened to my classmates critique a short story I'd written, thinking that there was no where else I'd rather be. Not in all the world.

I walked back into my bedroom in my half-zipped dress and stared at myself in the mirror.

I put on a cardigan over the gapping back, and went to work.


I hear things from the people that I know. They talk about the ways that their bodies are changing, acting in ways they don't understand, or much like.

I want to enter into these conversations, and I sometimes do, but our stories are different. They are holding babies, inside and outside of them. Their bodies are changing and growing to form new life. Their stomachs are becoming soft and welcoming to small, tired heads.

I look at my hips, which no longer fit into several of my skirts and slacks. I have not traded the slim hips of my youth for new life (consciously, or unconsciously). I do not feel noble. I feel like a failure.


I used to wonder if the boys would notice my entrance into a room. Perhaps my sashay into a college classroom, or an energetic trot into a coffee shop would catch their eye.

Now, I suck in my stomach when I'm walking through crowded places.

I pull myself out of bed in the small hours to go to the gym. I eat kale. I drink kombucha.

I do not see change.


Perhaps it is only in these moments that I realize how fragile my body image is. The curtain of my hope is pulled away, and I am left clinging to the shreds of what I thought I had to offer.

I listen to conversations with married friends, hoping that they are still attractive to their husbands. Many of them have accepted the ways that their bodies are changing (with and without children).

I realize that I am worried about a potential partner loving my body (and all the nuanced rest of me), because I am struggling to love it.

I want to be that lithe girl from just a few years ago, not only for a romance, but also for myself.


In April, at the Festival of Faith and Writing, Anne Lamott lifted her shirt and showed her back fat to a crowd assembled for a Q&A. During her keynote, she spoke about packing the wrong pants (not the ones that made her feel slim). Instead, she had packed pants that were too tight.

Afterwards, I heard someone say: "Anne Lamott is 60, shouldn't she be over all the body image stuff by now?"

I wonder: Will I ever get over this body image stuff?


I am not going to end this piece the way I want to. I am not going to suddenly adapt to my new shape. I am not going to forget about the girls I have been. I am not going to stop going to the gym.

It is likely that I will look in the mirror, sometime this week, and sigh loudly.

I will clasp both my hands over my warm, rounded tummy. I will smile down at it, and I will wish it away.


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{photo credit}