This Is Us, But Mainly Kate

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This Is Us is the best show I’ve ever seen. I know that sounds extra, but I’m pretty sure I’m telling the truth. The show follows the lives of three adult siblings with complicated lives. 

I have a DEEP appreciation for amazing portrayal the Black character, Randall. His backstory, his current story, his family #Swoon. The whole show could just be about his family and I would still be as invested.

As much as I love all the richness that is Randall and Beth Pearson, I can’t help but admit how much Kate’s subplot speaks loudly to a fat girl in me who is constantly healing.

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All the people reading this who relate to this scale moment, exhale. You’re not on the scale in front of people any more. It’s ok. I totally get how seeing this pic could cause anxiety, but breathe. OhCAE… moving on.

Recently, I’ve reached a new place in my weight loss journey. Or maybe we could call it my journey to changing my relationship with my body. In a 2010s world of body positivity there are still women like me and Kate who grew up in a world that hated fat people. It’s hard to not internalize some of that hate. It’s SUPER hard to push some of it out when it’s been part of a person for so long.

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Look at kiddo Kate in her Care Bears bikini! Cute! She’s 8 and hasn’t learned to see herself through other’s eyes yet. I have a bikini pic from around the same age and size. (I’ll find it and update this later, maybe.) In the pic, I was having a super fun time at Wheels Inn. (RIP Wheels)

Pig Kate

So here’s Kate enjoying her life with her bikini, then her friends laugh at her and explain that they no longer want to be friends because she looks like a pig. This, of course, devastates her. But it’s not just the note. It’s a combination of the note and her mom’s constant pressure for her to lose weight. She makes her eat cantaloupe while her brothers eat sugary cereal. 

People wrap their encouragement to lose weight in fake concern for fat people’s health, but never discuss health choices with trash eating people in slim bodies. Kate couldn’t eat what she wanted, but her brothers could even though it wasn’t good for them. 

Now, lemme clarify. This isn’t my story. But I definitely know how lonely it can be to feel like you’re the only kid you ever see who has to be concerned with food intake. It’s an unfortunate and sobering moment to realize you’re a 7 year old and sitting at a fat doctor. Going to your pediatrician because you have a cold and he scoffs when your dad asks if it’s safe for you to take the prescription at 11 because “she’s 200 pounds” is an unforgettable experience.

Thinking about this stuff makes me reassess why I’m so comfortable only acknowledging Randall’s family line. Randall’s life reminds me of the current me. The one who has taken my trials and built the life I want despite the difficulties. Kate’s inability to move beyond her childhood hurts makes me face the fact that I still have work to do to heal little Cae.

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Be A Man

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Something that truly irritates me is when I hear people talking to little boys telling them to “be a man” or “man up” or something of the sort. He’s not a man. He’s a child.

I totally disagree with the belief that men are naturally insensitive unfeeling people. They just get taught early on in life that it’s not okay to cry then they’re rarely encouraged to still express their emotions. They get told to suck it up and be a man.

And we wonder why men and women have such a hard time relating. (But that’s a whole ‘nother post)

I read a Child Watch Column by Marian Wright Edelman and its title sums up what I’ve been thinking about. “Treat Children as Children.”

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And we can see instances of this forced adulthood in so many places. For example, I finally watched a recent episode of Black•ish. (Have you watched that show? Do it! NOW!) Brilliant.

It brought out a topic we often ignore. Men who are raised by single mothers who end up hating their sons’ significant others.

After watching this scenario play out over and over, I deduce that it’s because the sons take on a dual role as their mother’s man.

I posted that as my Facebook status after watching and one commenter said this “Yep. Calling them little man, man of the house, king… Etc. Childhood is symbolically lost. You’ve nailed it.”

I don’t think we really understand how much our words really mean.

We have to stop forcing our boys into manhood with our words and actions.

OhCAE?!

Why I Practice Yoga Shirtless

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Yea, you read that right.

I’m new to Bikram (hot) Yoga, but I consider myself an official yogi. And when I practice, I practice in shorts and a sports bra.

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Yes, I have excess fat. I’m technically obese. My stomach is round and hangs down and I don’t care.

I was the fat girl who got teased in elementary school. The last time I weighed fewer than 200 lbs, I didn’t have acne yet. I weighed more than my fifth grade teacher and I have vivid memories of visiting the fat doctor in the second grade. So I guess you can say this is how I’ve always been or for as long as I can clearly remember. But this is not how I’m choosing to be forever. I want to have a slim body. Not bc I’ll be healthier, bc according to my doctor I’m in great shape. Not bc I’ll be prettier, bc according to my Facebook and Instagram likes and comments (lol) I’m pretty cute. But I wanna do it bc I don’t want to be defeated by ANYTHING. I want to do it just so that I can say that I did it and to encourage others that I can be done.

But to my original point, why do I practice yoga shirtless? People in bikram come in bikinis and swim trunks and I started out fully clothed in a room that’s around 105 degrees before we start moving. But just like I told my auntie when I was in second grade when she asked about my ballet and tap class, (yes, i did ballet. Shut up!) I have the BIGGEST thighs of anyone in the class. So I don’t feel comfortable dressing like everybody else but I practice shirtless because I want to prepare myself for my new body. I don’t want to go into my new body with the same forever fat girl mindset.

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I know that eventually I will have my new body, but since I’ve been obese for so long I’ve picked up some habits that women with slimmer bodies don’t have.
So now I make myself avoid the handicap restrooms. I make myself sit in the middle of rows in auditoriums. I try my hardest to not have an anxiety attack when I look at chairs that look flimsy.

I don’t wanna get my new body and keep my old habits. So I’m practicing now.

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Not *JUST* One, Just… One

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A friend of mine offered to give me tickets to a game before.
She offered to give ME ticketS to a game.

A couple years ago I won a contest. I sent in my application. People voted for me. After voting results came in I was given TWO passes to a festival.

When I was a kid, my friend called the radio station at the perfect moment and she won a PAIR of tickets to a concert.

I thought about all these instances recently because I have been trying to figure out why is that when I go to restaurants I get the strangest looks when I request a table for one. “JUST one?” they ask. “Yes,” I reply with a gentle smile. “YES!! Isn’t that what I said?Why is that so difficult? I’m only one person. Can’t I go eat by myself?” I scream in my head.

outside inside(google didn’t have a better picture conveying happy on the outside, irritated on the inside but anyway…)

I guess it’s not so weird when I consider the fact that our world clearly expects us to come in pairs. I think that’s why we see so many people who battle sadness and depression that is brought on by the fact that they are *cringe* single ESPECIALLY as they get older.

This year I turned 25. Someone called me on my birthday and said “Wow, 25 huh? You’re about to have a Master’s. You have a good job and you’re living on your own. You go to church. Now, all you need is a man.” #SideEye

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Why do we accept a world that tells us that we are not enough alone? Think about some of the language we use to talk about significant others. “Other Half” is my newest favorite. That basically communicates that at my very best, until I am in a relationship with someone else, I can only be HALF of who I really am. Um… whet? It took a while for me to realize it, but truly I’m a pretty awesome person, by myself.

Starting from my childhood days, I’ve been Claricha and somebody else. I’ve always had cousins and friends by my side in every social situation. It was great, but I’m learning to get used to being by myself and still being happy about it. There are plenty benefits to being by myself and dating myself. I always want to eat what I want to eat. I always want to see the movies that I want to see. I only want to go where I want to go. I only stay as long as I want to stay. Honestly, it’s a pretty good set up.

So, no hostess at my favorite restaurant not JUST one, just… one.

Poker face

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I basically taught myself how to play the drums when I was nine. I watched other drummers and applied their techniques. I struggled with the same thing most drummers struggle with, keeping the tempo. The organist at my church would tap on the organ to help me out. Then his taps got louder. Then he started banging on the organ until one day I did what all hurting kids do when they get unjustly embarrassed. I cried.

My daddy called him to talk to him about how he’d treated me. All the women who saw what happened told me not to let him get to me because I was doing a great job. All the women except for my auntie. She made it clear that she was very disappointed in me because “No matter what, you never let anybody see you cry.” I can still see her face.

I took that and unknowingly adopted it as a part of who I am. I hardened myself over the years. I went from being the girl who’d cry at any emotional time to the girl who didn’t have feelings. And I wore the didn’t have feelings badge so proudly. That is until I got to a place where I felt my feelings had been irreparably hurt. I couldn’t hide it. I couldn’t shrug it off. I had to feel them.

Last night, I dreamt I wrote a poem. Here it goes…

For all those years of holding it in
For pretending I was unfazed cuz I didn’t win
For being teased for being fat
For being jealous of the girls who were all that

For being ostracized because I was a girl drummer
For feeling like I was too big to wear shorts in the summer
For being annoyed because I felt so tall
For playing down my achievements so others wouldn’t feel small

For telling myself I’m not pretty enough
For allowing my wit to make me appear tough
For beating myself up for having the urge to whine
For all the times I gave up without trying.

Sorry Auntie, believe me I really really tried.
But life has been so hard on me and after holding it in for so long
Today, I cried.

And I’m letting everybody see.
And I’m not weak. I’m me.
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I have learned that one of the greatest signs of strength is being strong enough to admit that sometimes I get weak.

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Sometimes life causes pain. Sometimes pain is good.

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I have a faint scar on my hand and it’s been there most of my life. I got it when I fell off my bike as a kid. I was riding with no hands and I simply fell, but it was a pretty hard fall though. I blacked out for a second. Shortly thereafter, I decided that I was done riding bikes and playing outside because I was tired of getting hurt. Today, I am still struggling to overcome obesity which became a part of my life as a result of inactivity and poor diet choices.

Today, I looked at that scar and asked myself, what else am I dealing with today because of a decision I made years ago based on the idea that I want to avoid hurting?

It was a legitimate hurt, but hurt happens. I’ve learned that being afraid to hurt can sometimes cause more pain than the isolated incidents.

India.Arie has a song that says
“Child it’s time to break the shell. Life’s gonna hurt, but it’s meant to be felt. You cannot touch the sky from inside yourself. You cannot fly until you break the shell.”

You may be preventing yourself from reaching the next level because you’re anticipating pain. I totally get that. Seriously, who goes and does something knowing it’s going to be painful? Someone who understands that suffering is always temporary and things always get better and there is always something valuable to be gained even through pain.

The beautiful thing is that pain heals and it leaves a perceivable scar.

You can look at a scar and remember the pain that caused it. Or you can look at it and realize that it’s there because the pain has been healed.

Sometimes life causes pain. Sometimes pain is good.

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Little Girl, Are You Listening?

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(This is an old blog from 2012.)

One day, I was in the car with my sister and brother (Tan and Tyrone). Ty had just bought an old Mary Mary CD (Incredible) so we were listening to it during our ride. There’s a song on it entitled “Little Girl”. It’s a song that’s supposed to encourage young teenage girls to see their beauty and love it. As it played, I closed my eyes and envisioned my 13 year old self and inwardly I apologized to her for ignoring her feelings and making her pretend to be perfect and unmoved by her life.
I told her I was sorry for not giving her the chance to love the 200 lb body she had. I reminded her that she’s pretty even with all the acne. And I told her that even if none of the boys at school wanted to be her boyfriend, she’s still pretty and an amazing person who deserves to be treasured.
I actually shed a tear when I saw her response to the final thing I told her. I simply said, “I understand completely. I see through the façade and I care about the real you.”
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The picture that came to my mind was of me at my 13th birthday party. As my 23rd birthday is nearing I have decided to deal with the issues I’ve buried for so long. Like many girls, I dealt with a lot of body image problems. However, I never felt like I had the platform to discuss it with anyone bc I thought they couldn’t understand. I wouldn’t even admit to myself that I was bothered. I decided to focus on my good characteristics. I capitalized on the fact that I excelled in school. I completely ignored my emotions, publicly. But as a teenager, many nights I cried myself to sleep. I was so displeased with my life and I didn’t want to taint my image so I kept it to myself.
Now, I’m wise enough to know that that was just a tactic of the devil to isolate me and make me feel like no one was invested in me. But as miserable as I was, I don’t regret one tear filled night. 10 years later, I have a testimony and a great appreciation for every woe.

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I encourage you to acknowledge your past hurts. Reconcile with your inner child and be healed, in Jesus’s name.