Saturday, May 21, 2011

Not Personalized, and I'm Taking That Personally

Ugh, what a week. Here's my melodrama. You may want to skip it, but writing it out usually helps restore my perspective, and maybe you'll find something that helps you, too.

Part of the stress is a work project in which I keep sabotaging myself, hating the pattern but feeling helpless to break it. It's not huge, I'm the one who makes it messy. It is the kind of thing I really ought to be able to do, I think. But there's some fear, danger, and sliminess clinging to it and I can't seem to keep it clean. Several days or parts of days went pretty well: I kept on top of the stress and my reactions to it, praying as I went. Felt like Jesus and I were taking some fairly decent baby steps, navigating the overfurnished living room of my mind to get where we needed to go. But I fell down pretty frequently, and sometimes it hurt.

Then there's the growing pressure that comes from taking none of the holidays we've had, all year. I've had travel or teaching on every one, and a lot of my weekends too. Work piling up in-between doesn't encourage the use of comp days. I am taking Memorial Day weekend off to play. And at least part of the following week as vacation. There's some stress associated with that, too, though, since I'm going to spend it with Chris and his family. Yup, I fly out early Friday. Meet the beau's clan for the first time. His mom is picking me up at the airport. It gives her an excuse to go to the Ikea in Portland. We'll have Swedish meatballs for dinner! Now, it could be a great week. And Chris is a great guy, and so, so generous with the unconditional and supportive love. But still I am nervous...

What else? As I mentioned before, this is the last week of my seminary class, and it's also my week to write for the ezine. Content has been piling up in a folder for six weeks and I sure hope there's something good in there. I do enjoy that task; it never get covered with the slime I seem to pick up in other areas. But I'll need to put some time into it.

Add to this mix two rather troubling conflicts striking on Thursday and Friday - one over email, the other by phone. A phone call conflict - heck, any kind of phone call - usually catches me off guard and feels like a slap in the face, though it may lead to the quickest closure. An email conflict may stretch out uncomfortably, but I appreciate the opportunity to choose my words.

Then, bra shopping. Perfect storm, eh? Gentlemen, you may want to leave at this point. Girl stuff. Though you may have body-image issues now and again as well. They rarely seize me unless other things have left me particularly vulnerable.

I suppose it's understandable that our modern consumer culture has standardized so many things. Taken the vast array of human preference, taste, and need and responded with efficient systems like the creation of "sizes." But doesn't it feel dehumanizing, at times? You know, when you find that your feet aren't normal, that pants are either too short or too long for your legs, or that you look simply awful in the uniform you're required to wear?

It must be particularly hard in a world where symmetry equals beauty to find yourself really a-kilter and require such things specially made. Sometimes I long for the day of seamstresses and cobblers when more things in life were made-to-order...  Personal. Though I suppose I shouldn't romanticize it too much. What if I could only have two pairs of shoes, or one, and spent my days sewing for my family? (I'm sure I could bear it, but sewing clothing is seriously outside my set of skills, interests, or pleasures...)

But back to those darn undergarments. Here's the problem. I can walk into a store's lingerie section and search for half an hour before I find a - um, well, let's be specific, 36A. (Even then I'd better try it on.) I can always find something adequate. But I get the message: Normal women have larger breasts or smaller ribcages, not smaller-than-average breasts on an average-sized body. I do like my body, and I'm not waaaaaay off. It's just that I'm neither 34A or 36B; I'm the size they don't like to make. My sister shops in fancier places. Not sure if that would make things harder or easier for me. But looking online, I'm not hopeful.

Shame, shame, shame. Do you ever fall into such a pit, feeling that it's a perfectly awful thing to be you? What triggers that for you? I'll be OK, but meanwhile I'm talking to God about these things. He's gentle and his perspective is spot-on. When I ask him, "What do you think of this, or that?" things have a way of falling into place and becoming much simpler and less slimy than they had been when they were cluttering up that living room of my mind.

One practical tip: Feeling ashamed of yourself? Writing or talking it out may help. Prayer can really clear things up. But avoid "retail therapy." Too many pitfalls!


Megan Noel said...

i need to go bra shopping too! my rib cage got bigger. ok, sweets, this is what you need to do and it does not require fancy. all the bras i've gotten lately have been at fred meyer. look at microfiber. barely there is one brand i've gotten. seriously if you fit the rib cage these will stretch (not not stretch!) as needed.

now, don't talk to me about bathing suit or jean shopping! i buy my bathing suits online from landsend because i cannot put myself through trying one on in a dressing room and they just better fit! (why do dressing rooms always have awful lighting? just makes you feel worse!) i have not bought jeans in a couple years i don't think. just wear yoga pants a lot!

Marti said...

On further reflection, I've found what I think is a more helpful perspective on some of these questions. Granted, there are people who can buy shoes they see in an ad just because they are "cute," or people for whom today's fashions seem best designed, or people who never give a thought as to whether lingerie will fit. That's how averages work. It's not personal...

On the other hand we have diversity. You don't have to know many people to know how many of us feel like outsiders, who see the rows and rows of stuff for sale and know only a fraction of it is suitable for someone like themselves. And it doesn't matter which side of any given "norm" they find themselves. Even those who are right in the middle of the norm might recognize the accommodation being made for people not like them.

So, the vastness of the collection of lingerie I cannot wear, at J.C. Penney or Target (sad, no Fred Meyer here!) may be partially in recognition of the fact that yes, people are different. They are TRYING to have something for everyone. Maybe I can offer back a little more grace in return!

One more (TMI) comment about bra shopping though. I just have to laugh when I see how many of the smaller bras are designed with enough padding to make a gal look twice her actual size. No thanks... I'd hate to walk into a room and have my girlfriends thinking, "Ah, that's a good color on her. Looks like she got a haircut. And what did she do to her chest?"

Sorry, cruel world - love me as I am, or don't!