The new and the old…

May 27, 2010

I’ve decided (as it might be apparent) to write about more than art.  I’ll still do that, as I’m still doing the art.  I’m thinking that since the main person reading this stuff is me, I might as well write to me.

So, I’m going to post something I wrote almost 10 years ago.  It’s about weight and obsessing and pain.  Sadly, I still relate to these words of mine from ago.  I wish I didn’t.


(The set is relatively bare.  A vanity with mirror and a chair.  Simple, as in a young girl’s room.  There is also a twin sized bed.  Again simple, no pillows.  On the dresser is a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. )

(The lights are sparse, illuminating only the furniture.  Background is dark….the stage is large, so the area of focus is small.  There is an audience.  There is one actress.  She is dressed in black, black turtleneck and black pants.  She sits on the edge of the bed, and looks out at the audience as she speaks)

“I am relating these thoughts, this monologue, this diatribe, because as I was on the treadmill just now, trying to convince myself that the reason I was on the damn treadmill was because I wanted my body to be healthy, wanted the good feeling exercise gave me, I realized that the main motivator for getting on that treadmill this evening was because I saw myself in the mirror as I changed into the exercise clothes after work and I knew that it really had started again, this fluctuation in the weight, this bulk ……there was no denying it, it was there in the mirror, and however small this increase really was didn’t matter…….all that mattered is that now I MUST do something or else!  and I realized as I was walking on the treadmill that I AM motivated by guilt……not pleasure, no longer able to tell whether I really WANT to walk, or whether I am merely running from the mirror….”

“This is not a new thing….this is a very old thing…..”

(The actress lies back on the bed, staring at the ceiling as she speaks….)

“In the mornings before I get out of bed, I check myself…I have lots of ways of doing this checking, but mainly I bend the fingers and see how tight they feel in my multitude of silver rings, check the feel of my belly…is it flat, level with the hips?? Sunken perhaps??…….. which would be good, but doesn’t happen often, or does it pooch a bit, meaning I need to run my mind quickly over what I ate for dinner last night…..did I eat too much salt?? Could it be water retention??  Wishful thinking that it is water.  Water is movable in a day or two, or might pass with the passing of tampons………..The kind of weight that I know the best is the kind that makes you try and try to find something to wear in the mornings, and if it is pants, and you used to fit in them, your mind, MY mind, this mind….is relentless in telling me when and how I used to fit into them ( usually how recently too) and they didn’t cling and feel tight at the waist and IT …this mind talk will keep on and on until I want to just scream and beat something, or myself, but I can’t because I HAVE to go to work, and it is getting later, so find something to wear DAMNIT ….”

(The actress moves to sit at the dresser…looks at the mirror….looks down at the pack of cigarettes and picks it up)

“I used to smoke….for 17 years I smoked, and then I quit.  Quitting wasn’t so hard, it was the chink in an already meticulously calculated metabolism that was hard, for the body, this body that I have struggled so hard to be friends with was gaining weight, and everyone said it would happen, and I said, “oh no….not me, I won’t let it” but it did…despite what I ate or didn’t eat, and it made me so incredibly mad!!  So I went ahead and let it go for a while…..How could I be friends with a body that would betray me, and I was trying so hard to do something GOOD for myself and be HEALTHY, and all I could see was that it was a trade off, and was I willing to let go of the cigarettes which obviously helped me stay thinner?? and GOD!, why did this have to be so damn hard all the time??  Why me???, I asked, and then I would think….”I am so selfish and shallow to be concerned about this when there are far worse problems that I could have”, and then I would feel more guilt, but shit!!  This was MY issue and I was SICK of it, and no matter whether it was lame or not, it was making me crazy and all I ever wanted was to be normal….”

(The actress crosses her legs in the chair and looks down at them…)

“I could tell you almost exactly what it has felt like to cross my legs at different weights throughout my life.  It’s sick, I know…but it’s true.  I know it by feel and I know how it looks at different sizes.  I think it is the worse thing, you know?  Crossing your legs when you are overweight.  You have to expend energy to keep them crossed……they don’t just do it naturally. They want to spring back into a state of being uncrossed.  It doesn’t feel comfortable or natural.  I remember looking at my brother with his legs crossed.  Why didn’t I have legs that wouldn’t change size?  It looked so easy for him to sit that way“

“Just like the legs, I can look at any picture of myself and know immediately what it was like to be that person in that picture at that time.  My mind will say, “oh yeah, that was when I was doing lots of speed and was kind of thin…don’t I look sort of good?, I ask myself.  At least I am thin, I say…Wonder if it would be so bad to just do a bit of that again and get the weight off??…I wouldn’t do it for very long, just long enough to lost a bit of the weight…and then I think, “no, better not go down that path again…might not be able to stop.”
”And I look and  see other pictures that almost make me weep, for I so empathize and pity the person that is me in those pictures…I remember one in particular…it was a Superbowl party in the late 70’s, early 80’s, and some of Dad’s students were there, and Jen was so skinny, and Alan (yeah, that was his name), was cute and tall and thin, and his girlfriend danced with Jen, and I remember he flirted with Jen, and I was fat and trying to hide it in these overalls, and in the picture I see this long blond hair of mine, and it is dyed and I look so obvious!, so incredibly OBVIOUS, and overweight, and did I really think the overalls hid this??, and it makes me so sad for myself, and I almost don’t want to relate to that person for it is painful, and why in the world do I remember all of this shit so clearly???  Does my sister remember that day??  If she does, does she know what it felt like to be in her body that day??”

“This guy I dated once told me that I wore all these large sweatshirts and sweaters to try and hide my weight from him and that he KNEW I had the extra weight ….and I was mortified!!  Mortified that he would say it out loud to me,…say that he KNEW, and I wanted to just crawl into a hole and never come out, and I was so terribly embarrassed.  It was awful…I remember that day as well.  Just as clearly.  Don’t need a picture of that one.”

(The actress gets up from the chair and walks in front of the bed.  Sits down, sighs, and speaks.)

“I’m 38 years old and this has been my story for 24 years.  24 years of mind numbing, self deprecating obsessive thoughts about this body in which I reside.  24 years of beating myself up for not being thin, not being willing at all times to do what is required to maintain thinness.  24 years of letting the scale and its number determine my mood for the day.  24 years of fluctuating weights……..24 years of money spent on diet pills, drugs, diet food, diet books, different sized clothing, and gimmicks.  24 years of worrying about whether a man (or a guy when I was just 14) would think I was attractive.  This could continue…..this story …..or I could find a different way to be.  Find a kinder more accepting me to be.  I could find peace in this body, and then I could have 24 years + of another story.”

“I’m 38 years old and I might as well be 14. “

© 2001  Alison Williams


One Response to “The new and the old…”

  1. Linda said

    No, No, No! We all have had the same thoughts at one time or another or even now.
    I can’t cross my legs anymore and I hate it! But can I get to where I can? Do I want to get to where I can? I don’t know if at this time in my life I can even do what I’d need to do. And…I don’t know that it matters. For it seems that people still seem to like me, or not, as I am. And the same is true of you, my dear.
    I see you as being surrounded by a great group of family and friends who love you for who and what you are. The fears are yours to keep, or let go.
    Fourteen year olds are notoriously mean, except for grandsons to remain un-named.
    The time has come to say begone! and send your old hurtful thoughts and things flying out the window. Do this on a beautiful day and then breathe, deeply and healthfully, then do it again, and again and watch those scary things float away, never to land again!

    Love to you and all the things you are, Linda

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