Gosh, I don’t have time to write right now- but that doesn’t mean that words and narratives don’t swirl in my head, like this one: Were you handed beliefs and stories about yourself that didn’t turn out to be true? Have you ever thought about what some of those stories and beliefs might look like? Case in point, for as long as I can remember, I was branded a “Lequire” or a “Robins” (my paternal relatives and lineage). There was no doubt (none that I can recall) that I was from this side of the gene pool. In my mind, this meant I was like my dad and not my mom, and considering that the mom I knew was an unstable, unwell addict, I viewed this as a good thing. My dad was my hero and I LOVED the idea of being like him. I honestly think this story was where my child-hood obesity stemmed from. The Robins were big people. They had big hearts and big bodies and don’t get me wrong, there’s not a THlNG wrong with that, but I made up my mind very early on that this is who I was and who I wanted to be. Also, it was implied that my big bones and pudgy cheeks were what made me more of a Lequire than a Hollenbeck. Daddy loved to eat, he used his humor to romanticize it and by gosh, I wanted to be like dad and NOT like mom because dad was safety and all things good. I know it seems a bit of a stretch, but when I dug deep about my own stories, I realized I thought I was supposed to be plus-size in order to be like him.
One day, while sorting through an old filing cabinet in the garage, I found a picture of my mom. It was a close up of her face. This is important to mention, since any picture including her body (which was always slight and trim) would not have led me to the big Aha! moment I had. Her face was round, like mine. Her hair was dark, like mine. Her eyes were the same shape and color as mine and we had the exact same nose! Stunned disbelief. How could this be? Did this mean I was doomed to be damaged like her, too? Did this mean I would grow up abandoning all that I dearly loved? I shoved it back in the cabinet, never to be seen again, which so saddens me to this day, because it was a lovely picture of her (us) and a real moment of awakening for me. As I got older, I started noticing things about our personalities that were similar, as well. I would quickly shove these realizations from my mind and heart, because they scared me. She hurt me and she hurt people and I couldn’t be like her.
As I grew up and evolved, I began to realize that many of the stories handed to me about her were untrue, as well. My mother was a precious, precious soul who was not damaged, but sick. Unwell in her mind and heart, she suffered from things unimaginable and this illness caused her to do things from which she could never escape the suffering from. I thought long and hard about her life and the things she went through- the challenges, the pain. She was strong and kind and smart. A ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. She gave and gave and gave until there was nothing left and seeking some kind of solace, she was given a crutch which became the very stick she would continually use to abuse herself with. I have learned her lessons. I carry them around in my heart as my own. And I am proud to have her face. Proud to take after her gene pool. Proud that when I stand, she stands within me. I know now that I can eat whatever I (key word) want. I am my own agent and the way I eat and live stems from the melting pot from which I was conceived and the present person I continually choose to be. Write your own stories, dear ones, and don’t be afraid to leave the one’s handed to you behind. You have unlimited personal power. Use it to be the person you want to be.
P.S. My sister and I were discussing this one night and she said:
“We truly met our mother as a woman after she passed away, because that was just when we were becoming women. Her women. And that’s her legacy, I think. That we carry ourselves like she did, before (when she was young and healthy). That we love ourselves the way she couldn’t. That we devote ourselves to each other and refuse to break. I know she is at peace, knowing we are fulfilling the life she wanted, but didn’t get. We do it for her and for him, but as women, as a mother and a future mother, we do it for her.”
Yes, our lives are our own, but they are lives she would have been proud of. They are lives which have learned her lessons and gleaned so much happiness from them.
We love you mama. We understand you more now. We carry your heart, we carry it in our hearts…
P.P.S I am proud of my lineage on both sides. I still love the idea of being a Robins, I just don’t want that idea to dictate how I live my life. The Robins were truly salt of the earth (here’s to you Willie May <3) and I still consider it an honor to be perceived as such. But the truth is, I’m a good mix of both and there’s not a thing wrong about that.