skin(ny) jeans

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve been on some kind of diet for like, eighty percent of my life.

Sometime in 2003 I’m thinking, it was another repeat Induction phase of the Atkins diet. Baggies of pepperoni slices and cheese cubes in my bag for summer classes, flavored seltzer in addition to my water and all the bunless bacon cheeseburgers and sides of broccoli I wanted before and after my shifts at Chili’s.

Chili’s, where I worked more hours than I wanted to but had some good times for sure. I also met some great people, some of whom I’m still in touch with. Chili’s is also where I met my friend Lindsay. Petite, blonde, super smart, runner’s body Lindsay.

We spent countless Friday nights going on dates to the movies and Panera and talking about everything from philosophy to celebrity news. She didn’t have my same boyfriend troubles, or diet woes but she always followed along and offered her advice.

On this particular summer day I am down about thirteen pounds and wearing bright colored plaid capri pants, sitting at a back table at work eating a burger before my shift.

Lindsay walks in, also early with an armful of jeans.

“Hey, I brought you some of my old jeans to try”

I stare at her, replaying the sentence in my head, because she couldn’t have said that.

“Come on, lets go try them on”

“Hah, uhhhh they’re not gonna fit me dude, but I’ll take them home and try them if that will please you” (followed by an eye roll and a laugh)

“No, were both here early, you have to change anyway, let’s just try them now”

I finish my lunch, and bring my plate and cup into the kitchen, Lindsay in tow.

Before I know it were in the bathroom. Me in the stall, Lindsay outside of it, handing me a pair of jeans over the top of the door.

Thirteen pounds down or not, that stall was not conducive to me using it as a dressing room; toilet paper dispenser jutting out of the wall, dark paint, low light, the whole thing is so dramatic feeling.

First pair.

“Dude these are like a size 4, are you crazy?”

“Just try them, they’re stretchy”

“Stretchy enough to fit a size 16?! I don’t think so”

I get the one leg on, up to maybe, my kneecap.

“Nope”

“You’re not even tryyyyyyying

She was right, I mean, I wasn’t. I couldn’t try to stuff two hundred some odd pounds into a pair of jeans that had spent their life being worn by someone seven sizes smaller than me.

It doesn’t work that way.

I fling the jeans over the door “Are you satisfied? They’re not gonna fit”

No reply.

Rustling.

The jeans disappear from the top of the door.

“Linds….?”

Another pair of jeans is flung over the door.

“These are definitely stretchier, try them!”

I don’t grab the pants, they slide a little further over the door, I know she pushed them, so resisting is futile.

This pair, okay, I got them up. To, ya know, the bottom of my thighs.

I shimy.

I shake.

I’m practically Ross in that friends episode with the leather pants.

Sweat is pooling on my forehead.

On my shoulders.

The pits of my knees are hot, moist.

They’re stuck.

This fucking pair of jeans that I have no business trying on are stuck.

My poor ham hock calves are having the life squeezed out of them by “stretchy” denim.

They’re like skin.

Melded to my actual skin.

I don’t know where they end and I begin.

“Oh man”

“Yea, they fit?”

“Noooooooooooooo. Good God no”

She laughs.

“But I think I’ll keep them”

“Oh yea?”

“YEA BECAUSE THEY ARE FUCKING STUCK AND I’LL HAVE TO CUT THEM OFF TO EVER BREATHE AGAIN SO I’D RATHER THEM BELONG TO ME WHEN I DESTROY THEM”

Laughter.

So.

Much.

Laughter.

My sweaty hand tries to grip the wall, while I use my other hand, and foot to peel the now damp denim down my body.

Scratching my skin all the way, it peels down, rolling over on itself.

Slowly.

Soooooo slowly.

One leg down.

I’m so hot.

I mean, I’m getting a workout here in this 2×2 box.

My legs are pink. No, red, and puffy.

I change into my work shirt and my actually fitting size 16 jeans that I brought along from the safety of my own home. I wet my face, blot every part of me dry and still laughing, we go out to clock in.

A group of our coworkers are standing near the computers.

“Oh I thought I saw you earlier, I wondered where you went” one of them says to me.

“Yea, I came after class and had lunch, and then Lindsay wanted me to try on a few pairs of her old jeans”

Silence.

Slow eye movement spread through the group.

Each trying to determine if her jeans would in fact fit me, knowing in their hearts there was no damn way.

“Come onnnnnnnn” I say “Seriously?!”

A final eye roll from me and we’re all laughing.

 

 

 

 

 

$5

Apparently everyone is spending $5 a day on coffee, every day.

I mean, I’m not. But that seems to be the assumption of some businesses and multi-level marketing companies.

I see people on my Facebook or Instagram feed almost daily, touting some health or diet based product or routine. The story is always the same; “Yes, it’s whatever dollar amount, but if you skip your daily coffee, you can easily afford it”

Well, no. I buy my coffee whole bean, by the pound, so my daily coffee, even if I have 2? Is like 34 cents. So. Not me.

Or “You don’t want to invest $5 a day in yourself but you’ll give it to Starbucks/Dunkin’ Donuts, isn’t your health worth more?”

Ya know what? Maybe some people’s health depends on that coffee – that break, that stop, that self-care savoring moment. Mental health is equally important. So let’s not diminish that.

Most of the people I have encountered or know, who sell these products are good people, nice people who have seen the results first hand and I appreciate that you believe in a product and use it yourself and want to share it with others. Hell, I used to sell Jamberry and I was probably so annoying about it. Everyone deserves to make a living or some extra cash however they see fit.

Everyone also gets one life to live, however they see fit.

Whats bothersome is the pressure it presents. And the subtle shame. Like, Oh just stop drinking coffee and you’ll lose weight, or get healthy, or be fit like me. People who have $5 a day to spend daily on coffee likely don’t need to “budget” for your products. And they either want them, or they don’t.

It’s a bit condescending.

Maybe it’s true – some people who really want to try something but claim they don’t have the funds could cut something out; but if they really wanted to, don’t you think they’d find a way themselves? Don’t you think they’d already be like hey, if I stop spending money on blank, I can have/get/do/go to blank.

I mean, that’s how I think about things.

Maybe when they say they can’t afford it they really can’t and are already scraping by, maybe they don’t want to afford it and are just trying to be nice and still supportive of your venture.

What’s a priority for you, is not a priority for everyone else.

And honestly, while the cost of these things usually does add up to something like $3-$5 a day, that’s not how you pay for them. You know? It’s a lump sum.

And what if they hate it? What if they just need time to think it over?

A few years ago I joined a new gym nearby. Brand new, bright, tons of equipment and a nice looking pool. Early sign up rates on enrollment and monthly fees.

I joined and being about 65 pounds down at that point, I was psyched. Couldn’t wait to take classes, couldn’t wait to maybe have the nerve to try lifting weights, and honestly, couldn’t wait for my “free personal training assessment”.

I got up bright and early on Saturday in December; workout clothes, water bottle and a positive attitude.

The “assessment” was about twenty minutes of an extremely fit, condescending woman bossing me around on things I had never done before. I tried to ask some questions along the way, she talked over me; she wasn’t so much “assessing” or “training” me as she was playing drill sergeant.

I might have still been interested, I was there to get information, to see if this was in fact something I could do. We walked to her cubicle and now we were going to talk about the cost. Obviously nothing is free, and I expected something like $50/session like I had seen at another gym a few weeks before.

I can’t tell you the exact cost but it was in the hundreds per month, upper threes at that. You also couldn’t just pick a few, it was however many times a week, and the cost was pretty similar regardless of the amount.

I listened and spoke honestly.

“I’m job hunting, next week is my last week at my current job and that’s just not in my budget right now”

“Well what if I can reduce the blah blah blah fee”

“I think it’s still too high for me, I’ll think about it though, thanks!”

“Well the offer for that is only good today, so go out to your car and think about it and come back in and we’ll sign you up”

“Haha, thanks, I’ll think it over”

“Christmas is coming, why not ask your boyfriend to pay for it for you as a Christmas present?”

I politely declined and thanked her for her time.

I didn’t think it was worth it regardless of who was paying it. There was another fee just to enroll in the training on top of the monthly fee which was on top of the already paid enrollment to the gym itself and why can’t anyone ever take no for an answer?

“It’s a shame, really” she said, “People always find money for the things they want”

I know that to be true, so I nodded.

She continued “It’s a shame you’d probably rather buy coffee and sweaters than take care of yourself”

I could feel my face getting hot, like I might cry, not hurt, not sad, but irritated.

“Nope, not planning to buy any of that either” awkward laugh “Thanks again” and I start to walk away.

“It’s okay, I get it, you just don’t want to invest in yourself”

I held my gaze straight ahead and kept walking, out of the building, out to my car and cried. A little pms-induced, maybe, but crying just the same.

I cried all the way home.

I got over it, because that woman, in 20 minutes or thirty minutes or even an hour we had been interacting … didn’t know shit about me.

Her comment stung, and it was meant to. It was some warped last-ditch effort to close the sale and it did the opposite. I left.

I considered cancelling my membership as soon as I could talk to someone that Monday.I was mad, I was sad, I was wondering how many people let themselves be shamed into a negative bank account, or feeling badly about themselves in a situation like this.

I didn’t cancel my membership because if I was throwing a couple of bucks a day to invest in anything, it was absolutely myself.

I was incredulous that a person would be in the “business” of helping others and try and guilt or shame them to go along.

But, I mean, the key word is business.

 

 

picture this

I have to be careful when I share conversations between my boyfriend and I with people who don’t know him, or haven’t spent a lot of time with him.

He is, for sure, one of the most supportive people I have ever had in my life, he is also honest [sometimes brutally so] and holds me accountable to myself; for things beyond the subject of weight and wellness.

And honestly, he’s the funniest person I know. Like eyes tearing up, on the verge of peeing my pants funny.

I once told a story over breakfast to a girl who has never met him, and I was laughing the whole time I was retelling it but she sat there staring at me. She let me finish but her stare stayed, and she said “Uh, that sounds kind of rude” still laughing just thinking about the encounter itself I said “I guess you had to be there, he’s not rude at all” and I didn’t go too far on defending him, because he didn’t need it, I know who and what he is and really at the end of the day that’s what’s important.

I have since, however refrained from sharing some stories with some people because I can never duplicate his tone, or the situation or the inflection properly, and I don’t want to give off the impression that he’s some asshole.

But here’s a story that I told like eighty people because when I think about it, I still laugh.

I take a lot of pictures of myself, I think that I always have, but now I’m a little self obsessed, so it’s like I have to document everything in my life as a smaller person.

I’m working on it, but if you follow me on either of my Instagram accounts or Facebook, you’ve seen the selfies. Part of the reason, is because I like to make comparison photos. I like to see how I looked at Christmas in 2013 versus 2016, or how I took a selfie in the airport bathroom in 2011 and find myself in the same airport bathroom in 2015. I mostly make the comparison for myself, but sometimes they blow my mind, and I share them.

Steve sees me every day. He saw me every day for about four years before my surgery, and every day for almost three years since. He teases me for taking the pictures, he scolds [lovingly!] me for staring at my reflection in our new television [it was ONE time!] and he has probably grown tired of hearing people in our families or neighborhoods or friends commenting on how I look now almost every time we see them over the course of my weight loss, but he agrees every time.

He sees me, but I don’t think he SEES the difference all the time, he just sees me. Just the same person who he has always seen. I mean he’s not an idiot, he sees the difference but differently than me, or outsiders, ya know?

So here I am one day, almost two years post op from my vertical sleeve, a few months post op on my panniculectomy (this is essentially a lower tummy tuck without muscle repair) and I decide to make a side by side comparison of myself using photos from the night before my weight loss surgery, and this day. Both are bra and underwear photos taken in our bathroom, and I probably tear up a little, share them on the internet with a story about my story, with honest, real commentary.

When Steve gets home from work, I shove it in his face and instead of his usual “Wow, crazy” or something like that he stares for a minute, blinks hard and grimaces.

“Holy shit”

“I know right?”

“Holy shit you were fat'”

I laugh

“Oh my God, you were so fat”

I laugh again and now he laughs – almost maniacally

“I don’t remember you being that fat, oh man”

Incredulous.

Now we’re both laughing, him as if he just made some earth shattering discovery and me because I don’t think I have ever seen him react to anything this way.

Pacing around the living room while shaking his head in disbelief

“I’m sorry, I mean woah”

“It’s fine, I mean, you never said it before, so I get it”

“Well I never realized, WOW”

“Uh huh, yeeeeeeeeeea

“Can we just talk about how fucking fat you were for a second?!”

And of course, we do. And we laugh some more, we reminisce about things from heavier days that we didn’t see or notice, and I am grateful.

Grateful that for years of my life that I shared with another person, he never saw me for anything other than who I truly was.

While he knew I struggled with my weight, he never struggled with it.

Yet, at the breaking point of my struggle, he soothed me, he encouraged me, for me.

If that’s not true love, I don’t know what is.

 

 

 

let’s [maybe] talk

A friend of mine used to work in a pharmacy and I would tease her for fitting it into any conversation she could; Person opening a cough drop, lady at Bath & Body Works pushing hand sanitizer, cashier in a clothing store.

That’s me now.

I’m so obsessed with the way my life and my opinion of myself has changed since having weight loss surgery that I can’t not talk about it.

I have talked about it with the guys in Vitamin Shoppe, the member services gal at BJ’s, my hair stylist, a cashier at the grocery store and the lady taking my order at Five Guys.

In addition to a slew of people on Instagram, Obesity Help, Real Self and anyone who even hints at being curious. I’m a mentor for the pre-op and post-op patients for the Weight and Wellness Center at my hospital, I’ve spoken on a panel (& will again in October!) at an expo they held. I’m starting classes for counseling in the fall, I’m reading up on taking additional courses for bariatric counseling certification specifically.

I’m into it.

I wanna talk about it.

With everyone.

Well, almost.

Regardless where you went for surgery, or are considering going, there are very similar guidelines post-op. Things like no soda, no drinking while you eat, no solid food for about 2 weeks after; there are stages of eating that you go through and they’re pretty standard.

I can’t hear any more about my girlfriends boss who had the surgery a less than a year ago and a month out was “so hungry” that he had to have a cheeseburger and fries, and complained about how sick he felt after, but continued to eat that way after.

I can’t discuss our progress with a girlfriend who over lunch about a year post-op for both of us got a huge fountain soda and when I (casually) inquired about her drinking soda she said “Oh its fine, they just tell you that but they don’t really mean it”

I can’t offer any more advice to someone who questioned me to death about everything and then four days after their surgery, still healing, swollen stapled up stomach, ate six meatballs, even if “they were really mushed up”.

I sound cold maybe, but these are the people stereotypes come from.

The people who make others think this is “the easy way out”, people who aren’t committed to making changes, people who want a “quick fix”.

To be fair, some may have issues deeper than I am currently equipped to see them through, or deeper than they are even aware of. There’s some leeway there.

It’s been almost three years, but it’s a lifelong thing. On a patient and personal – not yet professional level – I’m serious about my commitment to myself, to the process, to the changes. If you are, or think you are or want to be, or are just curious, we can totally talk about it.

Everyone gets a chance; but some people are just window shopping for advice, and I don’t have time for that.

 

driving miss jae

When my family moved from New Jersey to Wisconsin in the early 2000’s, one of my brother’s and I would make the drive back occasionally to visit friends and see some family.  Depending on your route, and your stops, it could be done in about 12 1/2 hours.

We would usually leave after 10pm, and drive through the night, getting to our destination by early the next afternoon. If I was driving the first leg of the trip, it was more like an ankle. We would get from my parents house, maybe to the Indiana line, which was about two hours, before I would be yawning myself to tears. After busting my chops for a few more miles I would eventually swerve a little too much for his comfort and he would take over the duration of the trip.

EVERY. TIME.

Rightfully so, he teased me for years. He also assumed that I just didn’t want to drive and did this to get out of it. I wondered if I did, too, but really I felt exhausted from driving.

Years later, when I’ve moved to Massachusetts, Steve and I are making the drive to Wisconsin for that same brothers wedding. The trip is about four hours longer, and we agree to leave around 9 and split the driving. I’m sure you can guess how that went. Barely into NY and I can’t keep my eyes open, so we switch seats. He needs a break so in the morning I’m driving again, until I all but doze off behind the wheel and he shouts, demanding I pull over.

I promise you I never made a connection between my weight and endurance on a long car ride; but again, in retrospect I find myself sort of piecing it together.

In 2015, just under one year post-op, we once again are driving from MA to WI for my other brothers wedding. We talk about flying because the trip is a lot for one person to drive, and we know that’s what happens, but we have a suit and a dress and favors and camera gear so we decide to drive.

I start the trip off driving and drive for almost six hours straight, without a break or, oddly enough, a complaint. We switch on and off for the rest of the trip and we joke about what a fluke that was, and I brag to everyone like I’d achieved something incredible.

After that, he’d “make” me drive more places we went, joking that I had recovered from my “driving apnea”.

I’d forgotten about any of that until this weekend when I was attending my girlfriends bridal shower about three hours from here. I was considering the logistics; would I go down the night before? Should I be local the whole weekend to avoid the driving all at once? I ultimately decide to drive down the morning of, and then home afterward. When I tell steve he laughs, “Who are you, me?” since he has on many occasions spent 8-10 hours in the car for one photography outing with friends. We laugh, and I don’t think about it again.

I did it; I drove something like 325 miles, with a several hour break in the middle full of mimosas and delicious food and socializing, and never got tired, or felt like it was too much. In fact, I got home, made us a late dinner and then watched some tv before going to bed at my usual time.

You might roll your eyes like “okay, losing weight made you able to drive longer distances? that’s a stretch” and ya know what, maybe it is. But in losing weight, I gained some things too, one of which was clearly increased energy and stamina, so let me have it 🙂

 

 

rest assured, i’m eating.

When someone you know is losing weight, please refrain from saying “Don’t get too skinny”.

I laughed the first time, as if “too skinny” even seemed like a possibility from my place on the scale. The second time I didn’t laugh as much but thought “Huh, is that even possible?” and here we are at almost three years and ninety pounds later and it’s just not funny.

It’s not because it goes against being body positive or talking to people about their weight or their bodies in general; because I don’t have a hard stance on that stuff. I myself am an open, filter-less woman who will talk about and discuss almost everything.

It’s just annoying.
You don’t have to say anything.

Nobody talked about my body in fear of it getting too fat, but this too thin thing would apparently be an issue.

Nobody had anything to say when I loaded up my plate at a BBQ or holiday but plenty comment on my smaller portions now; “Is that all you’re eating?” “I hope you’re not starving yourself”

I don’t remember any comments on photos I posted about “blowing up” or “being huge” but I now get them about “disappearing” or “wasting away”

With a BMI of 40, a weight of 278 and blood pressure that far exceeded white coat syndrome at 178/100 nobody said shit. I had a great personality and was fun too be around …nobody ever said “Don’t get too fat”

Guess what? I got too fat.

Too fat to feel comfortable going on job interviews.

Too fat to try kayaking even though my boyfriend asked me to go every summer for five years (hey – we’re going on July!).

Too fat to (confidently) go to group exercise classes; or gyms.

Too fat for a dozen other things I can’t recall at the moment.

I got too fat for me.

I did that, and I am in absolutely no way saying that anyone else is responsible for what I did (or didn’t do) or let happen with my body, at all.

I’m also not saying I don’t appreciate the compliments and positivety thrown my way.

[ I do, so thank you! ]

I’m just saying … let’s maybe not say anything beyond the social niceties of “You look good” or “Hey, you look great” and let that be the gateway for a person to choose (or NOT choose) to continue on a conversation about their weight/weightloss.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who was self-conscious about their previous body, so I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a little self conscious after comments like “you’re wasting away!” Or “I hope you’re eating!” …it’s like you can’t win no matter what you’re doing!

Rest assured, I’m eating.

people pleaser

I’m a recovering people pleaser.

I thought for a while that it was just in my nature, my genes even.

My parents are good people.

Like, really good, give-you-the-shirt-off-their-backs good. I was raised watching them help when they could, nurturing and taking care of others.

So I did the same.

I’m not saying I’m some Mother Theresa who let my heart and hands bleed for the good of every person I’d ever met. I definitely didn’t. I did used to joke that I was the meanest nice person you’d ever meet.

A large portion of my adult interpersonal relationships had been flooded with phrases like “sure, that’s fine” or “whatever you want to do”.

Every job I have ever had, too, has been caring for others in some way. Retail and office jobs aside, waitressing, personal assistant, nanny; the reward for me was monetary, but the reward for the other half, endless.

It was just who I was.

It might not have anything to do with my weight.

[you know I’m going to tell you that now I think it did; at least maybe a little bit]

A few years ago I was working for a woman who was pretty put together and had lost her husband the year or so before. I met her and her kids and decided that it sounded like a good fit, and accepted her offer.

On my very first day, while she was showing me around their neighborhood and explaining what the duties might entail, I said, in no uncertain terms “Whatever you need”.

And for more than three years, I stuck to that.

I stuck to it when it interfered with my own plans.

I stuck to it when it seemed unreasonable.

I stuck to it when people would roll their eyes.

I stuck to it when I didn’t want to.

I stuck to it to the point that I was stuck.

Don’t get me wrong she was fine, and took excellent care of me. In retrospect, if I was doing it without complaint, why not let me.

It was during my time with her that I started going to the Weight & Wellness center, going through the process. It was about six months after my weightloss surgery that I would finally give my notice and think only [at least for a moment] about myself.

I also remember a time when my boyfriend and I were hosting a traveling model and her husband for a night. I made everyone breakfast; like a serious, scratch biscuits, eggs, juice, fruit, coffee situation. I served them, and ate while I was cleaning up.

After the third or so time that I checked on them, the husband says “Hey yea I need something, how about you sit down and hang out, you don’t have to serve us, geez!” We joked about me being a people pleaser, about me being a Libra and then he basically said “Well cool, but get over it and sit the fuck down”.

I didn’t ever want to rock the boat. Maybe if I just went with the flow and was nice and sweet and good to everyone they wouldn’t notice. If I could be mostly true to who I thought I was, but make myself just small enough to blend in… maybe I could distract them from my big mouth, my big personality, my big body.

It could totally be because I’ve gotten older and gotten more comfortable with myself as a result, and that’s probably the bulk of it.

But humor me that it could also be the shift in my self esteem (which I never thought was low, ironically!)… That with the weight that bothered me (and in my opinion held me back in some ways) gone, and the increase in my self esteem, my clearer view of my value as a friend, a girlfriend, a woman, a person; I’m less willing to say yes to others, if doing so means I have to say no to me.

’twas the season

Everyone barfs.

In the fifth grade I barfed for what was probably not the first time, but the first public time and man did I go whole hog with that one. Christmas Eve mass, sitting on the altar as part of the children’s choir and I would be the one who announced the hymns. All dressed up in my green and black sweater dress with the matching cardigan from the Misses department at JC Penny.

Every Christmas Eve afternoon my dad and I would scour stores for last minute extra gifts for my mom, and stocking stuffers at a huge pharmacy that had everything you could dream of in the way of trinkets, treats and actual necessities. I always got a few of the first two, and then we went out to lunch.

When I recount almost any story from my youth, or my life in general my boyfriend playfully teases me about the food memories. “How the hell do you remember what you ate when you were at a friend’s house when you were twelve?” To some of us, food is nourishing in more ways than one.

So here we are at this diner who’s slogan for as long as I can remember has been “Where good friends meet to eat” … over the years I would have gravy fries after prom, middle of the night burgers with friends after one too many drinks, and early morning pancakes with a heartbroken friend who couldn’t sleep. Today, this seemingly average weekend afternoon I am having a pizza burger with my dad. For a few years I remembered what I drank, and if I had to guess now I would say fruit punch because it sounds juvenile and like a bad idea when poured on a pizza burger.

We sit munching on our respective plates and talking about how to wrap the odd shaped manicure kit or heart shaped picture frame. I say we just tie some curling ribbon around the little bag of jelly beans or Brach’s candy by the pound we got for her stocking. I had had at least forty-five jelly beans myself because the sheer variety of flavors was overwhelming you couldn’t have just one, or twenty.

At 5 pm after the running around and the eating, we clean up and dress up and head to church. I’m on the altar with at least three other people; one of which is a boy a grade below me and his mother who is playing the guitar for some of our songs and maybe someone else. We’re sitting in the packed church and despite being December, it’s warm. It’s hot. Or I’m hot. I’m also nauseous from incense or something and I feel slightly dizzy so I tell guitar mom that I think I am going to throw up. “Oh, you don’t want to do that” she said. I remember that exchange so well because even with a pizza burger fighting its way back up my gullet and my fifth grade brain I thought, who the hell says that to a kid? Or to anyone? Of course I don’t want to throw up. Not ever, never mind here on a literal stage in front of my peers and community. I didn’t want to at all, that’s why I’m telling you lady, get me out of here.

I have to stand up to announce the next hymn and I must have moved in just the right way to shake it up. I felt every damn jelly bean coming up in a hamburger filled fruit punch sauce as I started to stand, so I sat back down.

Oh god, it was happening.

I threw up, violently, all over the lap of my sweater dress. On the altar, in the only moment the church was silent the whole hour. I don’t know who can see me and I can’t care, I have to get this pizza flavored betrayal out of my body. A few ushers and maybe parents from the front rows come up to help me, so this doesn’t turn into one of those chain reaction vomit fests you see in the movies. I don’t get up with their prodding because I can’t.

I can’t get up because while I was vomiting my fun afternoon all over my dress I was also crapping in my queen sized tights.

I AM A 150 POUND 5th GRADER WHO CRAPPED MY PANTS WHILE BARFING ON A CHURCH ALTAR ON CHRISTMAS EVE.

I’m in the back room off the side of the altar and some nice man who counts the collection money after mass is trying to help me clean up with a brown paper towel from the ancient dispenser – the kind that says pull with both hands but you always have to turn an awkward dial to really get it going. Another lady is there, maybe some more ushers, and they ask me if I can go back out and find my mom. I’m about 10 but I’m pretty sure my response was the 5th grade catholic school equivalent of “Fuck no. I am covered in my lunch and I have shit dripping down the back of my leg.”

If ever there was a time I needed someone to get my mom for me, this was it.

I don’t remember what part of the mass it was but I know my parents packed up my brothers and we all left, somewhat discreetly out of the side door.

I cried all three miles home about what turned out to be a stomach bug going around. “Don’t worry, you’ll feel better tomorrow. Santa will still come if you’re sick. Why are you crying?” my mother asked from the front seat.

*sob*choke*sniffle*

“Because we’re supposed to go to Bennigan’s and now we can’t …”

I’ve always had a lot of heart, so I’m sure I was upset that I ruined everyone else’s good time; Christmas Eve tradition, my parents dinner out, my brothers missing their chance to drink root beer out of bottles and check the color of the soap in the restrooms and stopping to see our grandparents on the way home.

But when you’re sitting on a blanket in the car covered in your own vomit and poop and crying over not getting to go out to dinner… you have to assume my relationship with food was questionable since before I could even spell relationship.