I was sitting at a table with four of the greatest women I know, having just polished off a fantastic meal, some decadent desserts and a couple bottles of wine. Bridie look over at me and asked, “So, any plans for your thirty-second year?”
“Yeah,” I nodded. “I’m going to try to stop obsessing over things I have little or no control.”
Salty nodded, “That would be nice.”
“And,” I smiled. “I’m going to stop being so mean to myself.”
“I like that,” Bridie smiled and lifted her glass in my direction.
However, I can’t take complete credit for that last one.
I recently read Women, Food and God, a book I keep mistakenly referring to as "Women, Love and God," a Freudian Slip the author would have a field day with if she ever heard me make it. I never considered myself an emotional eater, having been raised by one I know what they look like. But when I was laid-off last year, I found myself eating to excess every a lot. I started to notice that every time I got anxious or scared or upset, I would get something to eat. So when I heard about this book, I was definitely interested in reading it.
In the book, the author writes about how we talk to ourselves. The things we say to ourselves everyday and how hurtful and awful they are and how we would never let anyone ever say anything like that to us, but we take it from ourselves all the time.
A thousand years ago (or nine) Bridie and I were at a bar with friends. One friend was talking to two guys and as I headed towards the ladies’ room, I stopped by to make sure she didn’t need rescuing. One of the two guys, we’ll call him Mutt, turned to me and asked, “Which of us do you think is the most athletic?” I looked at Mutt, tall, well-built, attractive in a frat-boy sort of way, then at his friend, we’ll call him Jeff, shorter and skinnier, but also cute in geeky sort of way. I immediately knew what the answer was supposed to be.
However, I have never been a fan of doing what I am supposed to do, so I asked, “Of the whole group or just between the two of you?”
Mutt shrugged a shoulder and said, “The whole group.”
I nodded and replied, “Me.” Maybe I also smiled.
Mutt was aghast. “How can you say that? You don’t even know me.”
This confused me, seeing that Mutt didn’t know me, which is what I tried pointing out to him but he just kept insisting that I couldn’t possibly answer that way since I didn’t know him. I then countered, that in all fairness, then I shouldn’t have been asked the question. But since I was, I gave my best answer. I then walked away, wondering what those two guys could have been saying to keep my friend interested.
A few minutes later, Bridie walked by the group, and Mutt grabbed her arm and asked, “Where did your stupid friend go?”
Bridie, admitted later that she said a silent prayer that this guy was talking about me because she knew it would be fun watching me rip him apart, asked, “Who is my stupid friend?”
“The blonde, with all the hair.”
She smiled. “Let me go get her.” Bridie then found me, relayed the events that just transpired and watched as my face turned red, my eyes narrowed and my nostrils flared. At this point, some of our guy friends had joined us, so as I turned to find Mutt, they followed. I would like to think they did this to protect him, but it was probably to keep me from getting hit.
I won’t detail the barrage of insults I threw at this guy. I’ll just say this: I really don’t like being called stupid and I think I made that very clear to him.
Now, I haven’t thought much about Mutt in the last several years, for a while we would run into him and he would yell loudly, “oh look, it’s the smart girl,” but even that hasn’t happened in some time. Still, when I read this bit about the things we allow ourselves to say to ourselves about ourselves, I immediately thought of him. I almost physically assaulted this complete stranger because he called me stupid – once. I call myself a lot worse things several times a day.
But all that stops at 32. If I even so much as think about insulting myself, I have promised to unleash my 23-year-old self, complete with her denim tube dress and Christina Aguilera fro (what? I thought I looked cute).
Of course, I’m not really sure what my 23-year-old self will do other than hurl more insults, but who knows. She’s had nine years to learn some new tricks. Plus, it seemed to work for Mutt – he never said another nasty thing about me again.
Oh wait. Come to think of it, he did call me a bitch. But I took that as a compliment.