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Friday, May 11, 2012

Reappraisal of a Polar Bear

"Wait, wait, wait. Did you just describe yourself as a sedated polar bear? Holy shit, Ann."

Did I mention I heart my therapist?

My current therapist is probably the best one I've ever seen, and I've seen A LOT of therapists. The only problem is that she's GREATLY hindering my vocabulary. For example, if someone gives me a compliment now, I'm only allowed to say thank you. I'm also not allowed to call myself stupid, foolish, or damaged. In one of our sessions she made a tick mark every time I said the word "should".

I said it over 30 times in 1 hour.

I'm not allowed to say it anymore.

And now, I can't say "sedated" or "polar bear".

It's, frankly, censorship.

This is the picture to which I was referring when I referenced, coca-cola loving, arctic fur beast. My finishing photo from the Derby Day Stakes 10K.

My therapist feels that I don't suffer from low self worth, but rather from no self worth. The metaphor she used was going to a yard sale where everything is clearly priced. Everything has been assigned a value, so no matter how much someone else thinks something is worth, it is very clear to them how much YOU believe it's worth.

My yard sale has no prices. I am operating on a perceived value pricing model. In other words, you, Dear Reader, and any other guy or gal who wanders into my yard get to tell me what you think my crap is worth.

Why do I operate this way?

Because I am not a reliable appraiser.

It's *usually* better for my ability to get out of bed in the morning if I let you guys tell me what I'm worth, because for the most part you guys are nice. Here's a word cloud of what you guys said was the first thing you thought of when you thought of me.

If I could be guaranteed that this was what everyone thought of me 100% of the time, my pricing model would work perfectly. Unfortunately, it's an unstable, rickety system, because it only works...until it doesn't.

Until my boss doesn't like something I did.

Or someone says, "Guess what so and so said about you."

Or I get defriended on Facebook.

So I've got to get better at appraising what the various parts of my life are worth.

Take that picture for example.  I believe the race was $20 and I spent $5 to download that pic from the photography site. So the MSRP is $25.

In my initial appraisal, I would first take off for the fact that my skintone indicates I am inbred, my breasts look lifeless and saggy, and my thighs appear to have curdled marshmallow creme trying to burst out of them.

I would then move on to the clear deficits in that I ONLY ran 6.2 miles. Many others were running 20 miles more than me that day. Yet, I am clearly breathless and sweaty. Also observe the terrible running form. I don't even look like I'm running. I look like I'm walking briskly, because I am about to drop a deuce in my running shorts.

Then I would move on to things not even in the picture. Like the fact I came in dead last in my age group. Or that I'll never be Beth Atnip, who won the overall. Or that a good mom would be home watching Saturday morning cartoons with her kids and not making her parents babysit while she runs a race alone.

Deduct. Deduct. Deduct.

First appraisal: worthless.

This picture is worthless, and so is the girl in it.

I attract people who fall into two categories. People who want desperately to convince me that this picture is not worthless. Who want to help me with security at my yard sale, so I don't get taken advantage of. These people hardly ever stick around, though, because I am so difficult to manage.

The other kind of people are the ones who are happy to tell me what my stuff is worth and to take as much of it as they can for as little as possible in return. Until there is nothing left. Then they get back in their Volkswagens laden with things that were really important to me that I gave them for free, and they move on to the next yard.

I am getting too old for this.

So, since I am clearly a bully to that girl in the picture, and can't be trusted to tell her what that picture is worth, the tool I am using as I am going through the painful process of appraising all the parts of my life is this.

What would I tell Hannah Jane and Emma Lynn's mother that picture was worth?

First I would probably bitch slap her over the body dysmorphia induced remarks on her appearance, and then immediately give her a big hug.  This picture is of an athlete's body who has given birth twice in under three years and nourished those two babies personally. And it's not a miracle or genetics or luck that this athlete looks strong, in control, and like she could probably run another five miles. It's the result of dedication, hard work, and intense, goal-based focus. Furthermore, look at that face. Not a stitch of make up on it. That's the hot sweaty face of a girl who wasn't there to impress anyone or who cared what anyone there thought about her. She showed up for herself. She showed up to work.

As far as the distance and speed, I would tell her, SHE HAS ONLY BEEN DOING THIS FOR 10 MONTHS. She is increasing her mileage and her speed at exactly the right rate to avoid injury and for this to be fun. She knows she can accomplish any race distance, EVENTUALLY. She needs to enjoy each step of the lifelong race. And who cares if she came in last in her age group? She only came in last of the people who SHOWED UP. There were a lot of people laying home in bed sleeping off Friday night's hangover that she came in way ahead of.

Finally, I would tell Hannah and Emma's mom that she is a damn good mother and letting her kids have a little GJ and Papi time while she's out raising money for a girl in a wheelchair and being a good example of a healthy lifestyle for her kids is something to be proud of, not ashamed of.

Re-appraisal: Priceless.

This picture is priceless to me. It represents all the best parts of myself. The part that believes I can do anything, if I work hard enough for it. The part that tenaciously goes after the finish line. The part that knows how to pace herself. The part that understands the difference between health and aesthetics. The part that actually, for the love of God, DOESN'T care what anyone thinks, because I didn't that day.

I got up. I geared up. I raced. I finished.

I did that for me and it felt damn good. I didn't FEEL fat and ugly and worthless in that picture, so why am I SEEING fat and ugly and worthless in that picture?

I have to get better at appraising. I also have to realize that even if someone comes up to me and says they wouldn't give me a nickel for that picture, it is no reason to burn the whole yard sale to the ground.

It just means that in addition to getting better at appraising, I also need to get better at security. Furthermore, I don't have to let just anyone in my yard.

Better appraising. Better security. Better vetting system.

And now, thanks to my therapist, a better thesaurus.


NoNo said...


krissie said...

A) I like your therapist.
B) I'm glad that you're sitting with her pushing you instead of pushing her away.
c) You are not alone.

Let's look at Sunday. I know I did something awesome - something that 1% of Americans complete. I don't know exactly what my time is. Because it embarrasses me. And the official race photos? I cannot look at them. Because I look huge. I am obviously struggling. I look terrible.

So what am I doing? I'm creating a cover-up for my finisher's certificate that covers up my time. And I'm printing up pictures we took after. And I'm not going to purposely going to seek out my time or those official pictures. Because I am not going to let them define the day. I'm not going to let them take away from the accomplishment.

I'm proud of you, Ann. For all the work you are putting into yourself. Very proud.

jesshoperose said...

I don't know you; I'm not sure if we've met at some of my husband's races or through the Striders. I just want to say you're not alone. I have a feeling there's a lot of women out there that view themselves the same way. I don't know why we (as women) do that to ourselves! Just know you're not alone. You are way ahead of me- I have 2 under 4 (one is 10 months and still nursing) and I'm still trying to juggle starting this running thing. Knowing there are other moms of small children that are able to run a 6 mile race is amazingly inspiring to me :) and that is far from worthless!!

Anonymous said...

This is probably weird, since I don't know you and you don't know me - yet it's also not weird, because this is the internet afterall. I've been reading your comments on Popehat in regards to the lawsuit from He-Of-The-Trademarked-Name. I don't comment myself, but I've been really impressed by the high level of the commentary from the people who frequent the place. I followed links to your blog here and chose to read more than just the amazingly well-written (not to mention entertaining and educational) posts about the Above-Mentioned Lawyer.

This post made me cry.

I hope that you are able to continue moving forward with the same strength you show in your reappraisal here. Your girls are very blessed and lucky to have such an inspiring mother.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing what a complex, conflicted, and deep mind is inside such a mild-mannered-, sweet-, and cute-looking girl.

Makes me wonder about the people in my everyday life. I typically have a category for them after a couple minutes of meeting them.