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An excerpt from Don't
The town of Lenni, PA was so small there was really no main street. There was just Lenni Road. It was more of a roller coaster than a road. It twisted and turned. It had a steep hill, and then a drop so steep that you actually rose up out of your seat briefly as the car descended. And then, there were the railroad tracks. When you went over the tracks the car and the passengers were shaken and bounced.
We drove up and down Lenni Road every day for almost two decades. The kids and I were on our own. When I was married, my husband traveled a lot. When my kids were nursery school age, they would giggle as they jiggled over the railroad tracks. They would gasp as they crested the hill and plunged into the steep descent. We liked the roller coaster road. We laughed.
On this particular journey, back in the early 1980s, it was just my husband and I. As we rode down Lenni Road, I was enjoying the ride more than usual because I was the passenger instead of the driver. I giggled and held my jiggling belly and breasts as we went over the railroad tracks. I bounced as we went over the hill and down. I was having fun until I noticed my husband’s face. “What’s wrong?” I asked. His comments appalled me (Which was a good thing, if I had agreed with him my self-esteem would have been badly damaged.) He said: “That’s disgusting. You are so fat that you are like a blob of Jell-O jiggling around in the seat next to me.” I asked him why he would say something like that. He replied: “I have to tell you that you are fat. Otherwise, you might stay that way. How will you know that you have to change?” At the time I was a size 12. I rode silently for the rest of the journey. We were divorced a few years later.
That evening I wrote this poem when we came home from that critical car ride. I found it in an old journal. At first I thought the poem was about a young woman speaking to her critical husband. Then it hit me.
This poem could also be MY BODY speaking to ME.
Over the years I have journeyed through the experience and recovery from my eating disorders (bulimia, compulsive over-eating, and exercise bulimia.) It took me decades to learn what my body already knew. Yes, this poem was my body speaking to me. Would your body give the same message to you?
If your goal is to change me,
But if your goal would be to love me …
And from my love,
What makes this difficult is that
For if you love me so that I will change,
And your efforts are bound for resistance.
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