Kindness and Bacon
Today I went into the shower thin and came out fat. It happens. I blame the mirror. I wouldn’t notice my body if it wasn’t there staring at me like a non-airbrushed magazine cover. It’s startling to see this jiggly belly when I think of myself as athletic. Or, let’s be honest, when I think of myself a twelve-year-old girl, naturally buff just from growing so fast.
Granted, I don’t really work out. I rarely sweat. I walk a lot less than I used to and I never go to yoga classes. I walk for maybe thirty minutes to an hour a day and do about thirty minutes of yoga at home, and there are days when I don’t do anything at all. I lie around a lot more than I have since, probably, I was an infant. I read, write, stare at the wall, meditate, all while horizontal. It is marvelous.
My ass is shaped like a spatula.
I don’t know if this is what 52 looks like or this is what coming out of the fog as an adopted person looks like. Maybe it’s both.
In the past, the belly thing would have upset me. I would have labelled myself bad and gone from there. I would have walked around hating myself, hating my soft stomach, hating my lack of self-control. I would have focused less on the good things around me and more on ways to punish my hungry self.
Today, I got dressed, fried up some bacon and made a spinach salad. I thought about all the good, high-quality food that went into making the softness that is me. I thought about how lucky I am to be able to afford good bacon, organic spinach, and the handful of sweet macadamia nuts I ate while cooking. If I had to fry up the flesh of my belly and serve it to myself for dinner, I bet it would be delicious.
I am surrounded by kindness.
I was reminded of this today when I met with Salvador Ingram, the man who is going to help me market You Don’t Look Adopted and…me. He’d read my book in preparation for our meeting today, our first, and he asked what the year and a half between finishing the book and now had been like. I told him about not having a home, a car, a job, and I told him about all the people who had stepped in, given me shelter, wheels, money, food, hope, love. I felt like a jar the world had filled with love, and this is why I am now able to do something I never could have done a year ago: hire Sal to help me promote my work.
I spoke with an adopted person the other day, one whom I love because she represents so much of what I want for myself: a life based on kindness and wildness and success and truth and beauty. And yet she suffers from the same kind of disregard for her own self that I have struggled with my whole life: the underlying desire to complete the act of the birth mother and to dispose of the child, get the act of relinquishment finally over with in a more complete way. The infant mind doesn’t understand Your mother couldn’t provide for you, couldn’t care for you, was too young to be a mother. The infant mind understands, She’s gone and now I am going to die. This is a lot for a brain to carry around, but because adoption trauma hasn’t been well-studied and isn’t well taught (if at all) in medical schools, adopted people, not just infants, continue to suffer.
If I were a magic genie and could have a Tesla or alter the brains of adopted people so they would see that they live in this world, now, and their self-worth is whatever they determine it to be, I would pick the Tesla.
I would not do that.
I would choose the brains. I may have a fat stomach, but I’m not an idiot.
I walked away from my meeting with Sal and it was as if the world had gone through a car wash. Things were sparkly. I felt lighter. I walked more slowly, looking at everything. There were police cars parked down by the river, and I saw two policemen pushing a stretcher to a sheet-covered body. On my way to meet Sal, I’d watched a homeless man scream at the grass, and then he’d looked up at me and had called me a fucking bitch. There are a lot of homeless people in downtown Santa Cruz. Sometimes it feels more like a garbage can for people than a tourist destination. I had hoped the man wasn’t going to chase after me as I kept walking. In the span of an hour and a half, he may have died.
People could have left me alone when I felt busted. I could have written my book, had my breakdown, ended up by the edge of some river screaming obscenities. I know plenty of cuss words. Just ask Haley Radke. If it weren’t for the kindnesses of others, I might not be lying on this couch, typing as I hear the thrill of hummingbirds at the feeder. I might not have food in the refrigerator. I might be really, really skinny, my backbone visible through through the skin of my belly.
I get to have the luxury of weight.
It is so easy to fall back on old patterns, old ways of thinking. It’s easier to swim in an ocean of shit if that is what you feel is home. Clean water can be disorienting if you are used to murk.
Baby steps all the way to amazement.