When I was in sixth grade, my boyfriend told me he didn’t care that I was fat. He loved me anyway, just as I was.
It was something along the lines of, “Tom and all those guys say you’re really big, but it doesn’t matter to me.” And instead of hearing the part about his acceptance of me, all I heard was that people thought I was fat. This was news to me, as I’d never thought about my own size, weight, or shape in any way before that moment. Never considered that other people were looking at me and judging me. It was an absolute revelation. And although I give him credit for trying to soften the blow and explain that he could care less, it still changed me. For the worse.
I started dieting immediately, and continued to diet for the next 13 years. On and off, of course, which meant that my weight fluctuated quite a bit. I’ve been 30 pounds heavier than I am today, and 20 pounds lighter. I’ve done Slim Fast, Lean Cuisines, and all manner of book-based food plans. Most recently, in 2004, my husband and I undertook the South Beach Diet. I lost 40 pounds over the course of those excruciatingly carb-free months, then slowly gained back 12 of them over the ensuing years. And although following a different prescribed dietary plan, formulated and tested by weight loss experts, might get those 12 pounds back off, I won’t do it. I refuse to diet ever again. Here’s why. Keep reading »
I was finishing college when I met my husband, Jason*, a carefree, polite Australian with dreamy blue eyes and shaggy brown hair who was on an extended working holiday. The attraction to his laissez faire personality and quirky accent was arguably a naive American girl’s knee-jerk reaction to a breakup with a controlling and insecure Brit. Yet, it is undeniable that our romance was of Hollywood screenwriting caliber. Set in the picturesque town of St. Andrews, Scotland — ironically at the same time and place where Prince William courted Duchess Catherine — I allowed this delicious Aussie, four years my senior, to sweep me off my feet. We strolled hand-in-hand through ruins on the beaches that lined the North Sea, snuck kisses in-between pints at our favourite pubs on Sunday afternoons, and celebrated my graduation from St. Andrews University in the company of my entire family, who embraced him immediately. I knew he was a keeper when he broke into the Royal and Ancient Golf Club where he worked to show me the grandiose dining room, which had banned women patrons centuries ago.
Nonetheless, reality always finds a way to spoil the fairytale. Soon after graduation, I returned to my parents’ house in Connecticut and Jason returned to his native Australia. While most flings abroad are retired, Jason and I couldn’t shake the feeling that we might be soul mates. We agreed to take a stab at our fledging union and if it didn’t work, we would walk away with dignity and respect knowing that we tried our best. Thus began a journey that far outweighed the rarity of our early beginnings as Jason and B.B. Truly, what was most unforeseen was not the juggling of the typical long-distance relationship, but where this brand of relationship took us and the questions we inevitably had to answer. Keep reading »
We’ve been seeing each other for years; short, weekly sessions that often leave me enlightened, teary-eyed, or with a skip in my step. Ours is one of the most gratifying relationships I’ve ever had, defined by an openness and comfort level that allows for complete honesty. It took a little while to get there and I was certainly guarded at first, but now? Well, I wouldn’t know where I would be without her.
She’s my therapist. She knows everything about me. But sometimes I wish I knew more about her. Keep reading »
I’ve heard friends say that this past week of being inundated with 9/11-anniversary footage and commentary has been overwhelming. I can more than empathize. As the co-author of Project Rebirth: Survival and the Strength of the Human Spirit from 9/11 Survivors, I spent close to two years steeped in interview footage of those who had been directly affected by 9/11 testifying to their experiences of great, unthinkable loss and slow, but sure recovery. The book is a companion to a film of the same name, which premieres at 9 p.m. (EST) on Sunday on Showtime, and both move away from the sensationalistic images of the planes flying into the twin towers and political debate about wars and terrorism. Instead, they focus directly on the stories of individual human beings—in pain, in love, and in recovery.
It turns out that even when your grief evolves within the context of a national tragedy, it is still private and, in that sense, universal in so many ways. We all lose. We all have to pick ourselves up after loss. I learned a lot about grief from the survivors I wrote about, but I learned even more about resilience. Here are a just a few of those precious insights. Keep reading »
“It was like I had to do something serious, something to cause a rift, that we couldn’t come back from.”
That was my friend Caitlin*. She stopped me dead in my tracks. We were walking off brunch last Sunday afternoon, a brunch filled with sharing our mutual dating tales and reminiscing about our past relationships that brought us to where we are today. Caitlin started telling me for the first time about her ex-boyfriend, a guy she had been with for four years in her late teens and early-20s. They’d fallen in love, moved in together and settled down seemingly happily. Then Caitlin started to feel anxious. She was too young to settle down. She wanted to “go out.” She wanted to have more life experiences that didn’t necessarily involve him. It wasn’t that he was doing anything wrong; in fact, she still recalled him sweetly. So she started to sabotage the relationship, to hurt him so badly that they had to break up.
She had carpetbombed the relationship. She needed to carpetbomb the relationship. Keep reading »
As a mid-20s Manhattanite who leads a hectic life reliant on long hours, late evenings, and public transportation, I’ve often considered what would happen if I ever found myself in a threatening situation. Standing more than six feet tall in my favorite wedges, with fiery red hair and freckly arms, I’ve thought of myself less as a meek target and more as a ginger Amazon. Be warned, potential attackers: this chick is a former figure skater, a regular yogi, and a long-distance runner. Keep reading »