Scared

I leave for my Goddard College residency on April 7.

I have to buy my tickets this Friday when I get paid. I’m flying into New York City and then taking an Amtrak train, the Vermonter, to Montpelier which is five miles from the school. (I love the train. A lot. I took one to Washington DC last summer and had an absolute blast. There is no train route that will get me from Nevada to Vermont, or I would so be there.)

I’m incredibly excited to spend an extra night in New York City. To explore.

I have financial aide that will just cover the tuition. A fistful of handbooks and packing lists from the school. And a heart that thump-thumps every time I think about doing this.

I want to be a writer. Does that make  me a wanna-be?

Am I going to be surrounded by super-cool-future-best-seller-Pulitzer-Prize-winners?

I will have to read out loud. Read words that I wrote myself, out loud to people who are serious writers. Can I do that?

And then my next question puts it all into a different light. I hate it, but I can’t stop it from coming.

Will I be the fattest?

I’m a good writer. It’s the only thing that I know deep down that I can do well. My heart believes that with work I can be a successful writer. That this is the work. This is paying my dues, and I’m ready and willing and excited to do it.

So why am I even thinking about my weight? I don’t even know how much I weigh. It will be four months since I’ve weighed myself when I leave. Almost five.

Why does weight have to seep into everything?

Once upon a time all I wanted in the whole world was Olympic gold. Every one of the millions of 50 meter laps I swam from age 6 to 16, I imagined the weight of a medal against my damp chest and hearing the American anthem play. It drove me.

I was on the right track. I was fast. I was strong. I was on a  good state team and I was working toward qualifying times.

And then my father went to prison.

He stayed there until I was 19. I felt too old. I felt too slow. I couldn’t swim the way I could at 16 when he got out and I didn’t have to spend all my time working to help support my sisters and brothers.

I’d lost my edge.

I’d gained 30 pounds.

I gave up.

Because I thought I was fat.

Now I really am fat (5’10” and 170 pounds of mostly muscle is not fat, no matter what my 19-year-old self believed. Nearly twice that much is.) And I’m scared. Scared of putting myself out into the world. Scared of trying so hard and failing.

I was an athlete once. A serious athlete with drive and determination. I could have been an Olympian. But I gave up.

I hated my body. Even when it was strong, lean, a butterfly-machine. Even when I could run ten miles, or do 250 incline sit ups, or swim like the wind for hours a day. I hated my body because as much as I loved being an athlete, and intellectually I knew that to be an athlete I had to be fit, I wanted to be skinny like my sisters.

I wanted to be beautiful like my 6′, 125 pound, Brooke-Sheilds-look-a-like sister. (Looking like a Brooke Shields is always a blessing, I suppose…but in the days of Island of the Blue Dolphins? Yeah. That’s what my sister looked like. At 13.) I wanted thick, waist-length hair like hers especially. Mine was short to fit in my cap, and chlorine burned.

I wanted to be perfect like my pretty blonde sister who never seemed to struggle socially the way I did. Even now, when I read her Facebook wall I get a familiar tinge of jealousy over how much everyone she’s ever met loves her. Everyone loves her.They seek her out, to be near her.

I was an athlete amongst beauty. And I hated my broad shoulders and muscular arms.

I don’t want to hate myself anymore.

I want to accept myself. I want to open myself up to criticism and critique and the possibility of greatness. Not the promise of it. That’s never been promised. Not when I was a swimmer, and not as a writer. But there was a time when satisfaction came from trying as hard as I could. Reaching for something I didn’t even know was there, down deep. Being just a little bit better than I even knew I could be.

I want that again.

Maybe it starts with learning to eat for enjoyment and love of good food.

Maybe it starts with letting people love me. Just as I am.

Not 30 pounds, or 50 pounds, or 150 pounds from now. But right now. Just as I am.

Maybe it starts when I get on a plane, bound for New York City and a train to Vermont, to write.

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5 Comments

Filed under body, mind, spirit

5 responses to “Scared

  1. I have never been able to swim continuously for more than one lap, and that lap was done in gym class. I didn’t have upper body strength, so had difficulty when the phys ed teacher barked at us to keep going – faster. I could climb tall trees and jump rope or play kickball all afternoon, but I failed in watersports. So I admire that you have that strength and stamina in you for something I’ll never be able to do!
    Likewise with writing. You have the skills and you are honing them. I envy that!
    I’m wishing the best for you at Goddard. You’ll be busy, but please update us when you can!

  2. I so do wish you the best too!

    And I admire your honesty and transparency in this post–this is probably a necessary first step for what you hope to achieve as a writer, since you have to be brave about what people see on the outside before you can be brave sharing what has long been hiding on the inside. : )

    Have a wonderful time stretching your wings.

  3. Stephany

    I have been reading your blog for a while now and I thoroughly enjoy following the journey of you and your family. Sometimes I even see my life in your blogs…your recent blog about your husband in particular made me think of mine and smile. You put yourself out there every time you add to your blog, and over 8,600 hits to your blog says people can relate to you, just as you are. You have this innate gift of story telling that is already welcomed into homes across the country. I can only imagine where this gift will take you. You will do brilliantly at Goodard.

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