I put on socks today for the first time since May. Friday night, I wore both a thick wool sweater and sandals out to meet Sweet Machine, but I decided this morning that Denial Time is over. Fall is here. For the next eight months, my daily routine will involve driving myself mental trying find two clean socks that match. No getting around it.
That, and getting dressed today in general, made me think of a few things.
1) I fucking love comfortable clothes that fit. Dumbest statement in the world, right? But the fact is, I used to wear a whole lot of uncomfortable clothes that didn’t fit. I desperately hung on to clothes I’d grown out of. I bought pants with gappy waistbands and shirts with sleeves that were too long and dresses that were a smidge too tight, because I was convinced in the store that THIS PARTICULAR GARMENT would change my life, even if it looked weird on or cut off my circulation. Now, if it doesn’t really fit, I don’t buy it. Period.
This limits my options substantially. I need petite plus sizes, for the most part, and those are not plentiful. But when I do find them, and nothing’s too long or falling off my shoulders — or too tight because the petite line only goes up to one size down from me — it’s a very good day. What I finally realized was, I had a closet full of a few things that fit, which I wore constantly, and a whole ton of things that didn’t quite fit, which I wore rarely and hated wearing when I did. So as it turned out, not buying the really, really cute, potentially life-altering thing that didn’t quite come in my size would ultimately be no more of a disappointment than buying it. (In fact, it would be less of one, because I wouldn’t be out the money and closet space for something I couldn’t wear.)
These days? It’s fun to get dressed. When I pull a pair of jeans out of the drawer, I know they’ll look just right on my ass and not get caught under the backs of my heels. (Well, except for a couple pairs of Right Fits I haven’t shortened yet; the petites are still a bit long, and this whole “only buying stuff that really fits” thing can only be taken so far.) When I pull out shirts and sweaters, I only have to decide what matches, not what’s long enough to cover a gappy waistband when I sit, what’s too tight by itself but okay with a cardigan over it, what requires a cami underneath because I can’t button it over my boobs, etc. The whole process is so much less stressful, I can’t even tell you.
I know I’m lucky in that it is possible for me to find stuff that really fits off the rack, even if I bitch about the relative dearth of petite plus sizes. Some people can’t. But a lot of us probably can and just don’t, because we want to get into that other size someday, or we just can’t bring ourselves to buy something with this size on the label, or we must have this particular top, whether it comes in the right size or not.
Let me tell you, it feels so much better just to put on clothes that fit.
2) I am so glad I’m old enough that Eddie Bauer, Land’s End, L.L. Bean, and J. Jill, all of whom offer a far wider range of sizes than most stores, seem like perfectly reasonable places to shop now. It is much easier to find clothes that fit when I don’t give a rat’s ass if I look like a soccer mom.
3) I’m excited about fall, for the first time in I don’t know how long. I’ve always loved sweaters and changing colors and really windy days and the fantasy of living in an L.L. Bean catalog, with baskets full of fresh-picked red apples and Golden Retriever puppies everywhere I turn. But for the last several years, all of that’s been trumped by the abject dread that arrives when the days get shorter. It’s only going to get colder and darker from here. A lot colder. And a lot darker. For MONTHS.
This year, I’m giddy about autumn — although Al flatly rejected my suggestion that we go apple-picking — and I’m even looking forward to winter; I do love fireplace fires and down slippers and Christmas decorations and snowpiles that haven’t yet been fouled by dog piss and ambient urban grime. But for the last several years, winter has been hell on me. By Christmas, I’m despairing of ever enjoying light or heat again; by Valentine’s Day, I am a crazy person. A crazy person who is MOVING TO THE TROPICS NEXT YEAR, I FUCKING SWEAR IT! Seriously, there would be days when I’d sit and sob because it was so goddamned cold outside, I couldn’t stand to leave the house, and I knew I had months to go before it even let up, let alone before we had an honest-to-goodness warm, sunny day.
This year, I don’t really anticipate getting to that awful place where I’m researching Florida real estate with fat tears running down my face. This year, I am genuinely psyched about the change of seasons.
This year, I have a system full of Lexapro.
I did by last winter, too, but since I’d only started it in September (happy anniversary, Lexapro!), and it took 6 or 8 weeks to kick in, I still went through all the usual autumn dread. Winter definitely wasn’t as bad as it had been in years past (it was also a fairly mild winter in Chicago), but I still wasn’t really used to feeling pretty good yet. Now I am. After a year, pretty good is now my default mood, and despair is an anomaly.
I never really thought I’d see the day. In fact, I think half the reason I resisted anti-depressants for so long was that I was afraid they wouldn’t work, and I’d have no hope of ever conquering my depression, no tricks left up my sleeve. I’d have to accept that this was the real me. As long as there was a possible solution still out there, I didn’t have to accept it. (But of course, as long as I wasn’t taking advantage of that solution, depressed me was the real me.)
4) And because you know how I love a dead horse, I can’t resist pointing out my suspicion that a similar mentality is at work in people who stubbornly refuse to believe that diets are useless. Don’t you dare take away my hope of being normal someday! Don’t you make me resign myself to this misery!
I can relate, obviously. But the thing is, being fat does not have to be misery; being depressed, by definition, pretty much does. The other thing is, there really is no effective treatment for fatness; it’s not me taking away your hope, it’s that bastard reality. And the other thing is, if you work on getting rid of the misery instead of the fatness, you might just find that the fatness doesn’t bug you so much.
I’ve gained a bunch of weight on Lexapro, as I’ve said. Not so very long ago, I would have automatically nixed the thought of any drug that I knew might make me gain like 30 pounds in a year. Even an antidepressant — if it’s going to make me fatter, there’s no fucking way it can make me happy!
Today, I’m pretty much at my fattest. And my happiest. And I’m really looking forward to fall and winter. And I just bought a whole ton of new fall clothes that fit, because the ones from last year don’t, and I had fun with it instead of flipping out over the new number on the tags.
One of the most controversial things in Joy’s Fat Rant was the part where she entreated us to quit “blaming our fat” for everything. To some people, that sounded like the “Quit making excuses, fatty!” shit we’ve all heard quite enough, thank you. But all she was really saying (Joy, correct me if I’m wrong) was the same thing she said throughout the rest of the video: Don’t put your life on hold. Don’t believe you can’t do things just because you’re fat. Don’t assume everyone else on earth is as obsessed with your fat as you are and will reject you for it. Don’t automatically blame your fat for things that might have nothing to do with your fat.
I did that shit for years — most notably, assuming no guy would ever want to date a chick as fat as me (including when I was not actually fat), and thus not even trying to find a date. (While constantly bitching about not having a date, natch.) But more insidiously, I spent a whole lot of years blaming my fat for my depression, telling myself that if I just lost the weight, I’d be happy. Even after I lost the weight once, was still depressed, and gained it all back. I was so totally convinced that fat was the root of all evil, I believed that getting rid of it would cure every damn thing that was wrong with me, including a chemical imbalance in my brain.
Instead, balancing out those chemicals has made me both fatter and much, much happier. I’ll fucking take it.