One of my favorite mondegreens is “Up from the gravy, a rose!” which is originally from a Protestant hymn, “Up from the Grave, He Arose!” It’s not the song itself that I care for, but I like the idea that from the yucky brown gravy of my days, I can rise, so I will admit that the metaphor is apt.
I’ve been having some gravy days, for certain. Part of it is due to some kind of illness I’ve been fighting, and part of it is that I carry around a lot of emotional baggage that spills out when certain of my buttons are pushed. For example, on Wednesday at the office I had taken a goodly size swig of soda pop, then I turned in my chair and out came this enormous belch. I exclaimed and excused myself (because I’m sure that people in the next county heard that belch!), but a couple guys in the office kept giggling and making remarks. I felt deeply embarrassed. I also started feeling worse about myself as the giggling and remarks continued. I sent an email to both guys to ask that they refrain from teasing me for things that are out of my control. One apologized; the other replied asking why I thought they were amused. (For him, I believe it was derision.)
It was near the end of the day, so I went home. I called my sponsor on the way, crying so miserably that I could barely see the road. My sponsor told me that s/he has been in similar situations and had similar feelings, and that the most difficult thing is to hold two ideas in my head and heart at the same time: (1) I feel crappy / unloved / worthless, but (2) I’m OK because I’m doing the best I can, so fuck anyone who wants to make fun of me or the situation.
Yes, that’s hard. The feelings I have are valid. The feelings are real. But, even being valid and real feelings doesn’t make them true. Just because I feel badly about myself doesn’t mean that I am a bad person. Just because I feel embarrassed, doesn’t make me an embarrassment of a human being. Just because it’s true that I’m obese doesn’t mean I am less worthy of respect, love, and encouragement.
It still took me more than a day to get over it. I’m glad to report that sleep is a great healer. But, in the midst of feeling grief for the loss of dignity that was visited upon me, I was tempted to severely restrict my diet as a kind of punishment for the event. My thinking was, “If I weren’t fat, I wouldn’t be so disgusting.” I was tempted to become smaller, to take up less space in the world, to shrink from being in order to no longer upset anyone around me (something that comes from growing up with critical parents, and worse).
It took me more than a day to get over it, but I’m glad I have a program and a sponsor and a Higher Power to set me up again after I fall. Everything about this program says, “Don’t harm yourself because someone else is a shit-head.” (My paraphrase.) Severe dieting, rigid exercise programs, struggling to be small: All of these things are diseased responses to a world rich with ugly, muddy gravy.
So, I took some time for myself to relax, pet the dogs, work on a project. I talked to another friend on the phone. I grieved. I slept. And then I got up in the morning, took a shower, put on clean clothes, and headed to the office. Renewed. A rose among the crud. It hasn’t been the easiest day. I’m still feeling a little fragile. But the recovering part of me is strong, like the stem that holds up the rosebud. I have broken through the crud today, and that’s worth singing about.