Becoming Captain of My Vessel

Something sort of shitty happened to me on Saturday afternoon. I didn’t really talk about it to anyone or let anyone know it was bothering me, but I can’t seem to shake it. I sort of joked about it with my sister but I didn’t realize until tonight how much it was bothering me.

It is Sunday night. I normally write these posts on Monday, and typically I write about what’s on my mind right when I open my computer – that’s my groove. However, I’ve been pondering over this intensely for the past 24 hours and I needed to externalize it because if I don’t, I’m not sure that I’ll sleep. So here I am, in bed, with my music on and a candle lit. I’m thinking out loud, but also not out loud because I’m not talking, I’m typing, and now I’m just being a smart ass. Anyways…

My family went to New York City for the weekend. Usually, we go in-between Christmas and New Years, but for some reason, hotels were insanely expensive this year. This weekend is the last weekend I’m home for winter break, and it was the end of the semester for my sisters, so it was the perfect time for a getaway. We had an amazing time. I got to see my roommate who I missed so much, and who I know is going to make fun of me for admitting that (hey Nat!). We went shopping and ate at the most amazing plant-based restaurants. There’s a pulse in the city that energizes me. I love going to New York, it’s probably one of my most favorite places.

Saturday was a long day. The time I spent in-between destinations getting tossed around in the back of cabs was the only time I spent off my feet. I promised Katie I would go to LF with her early in the day, and suddenly 5 o’clock rolled around and I found myself literally being dragged there. If you don’t know what LF is, it’s just a boutique that is only in major cities. Essentially, they sell ripped up t-shirts and jeans for like $200. Also, for whatever reason, they train all of their employees to be pushy as fork, and if you’re trying on a shirt, they’ll force you to try on a skirt, jacket, shoes, and accessories to go with it, and then bombard you with reasons why you should buy it. (For example, the salesgirl who was helping Katie and I was pressuring Katie into buying really ugly heels for $250, and when Katie said they were out of her budget, she said, “Who cares about a budget, your parents are lucky that they birthed you and they should be spoiling you.”)

Which brings me to my next point. This particular salesgirl was really sweet. I know she was just doing her job, and I know she works on commission and that she’s a college student like me, and college kids will literally do anything to make extra cash. But, when I say that LF salespeople are pushy, I mean it.

I’ve gone through a change in the past year and a half. I mean, that’s what this entire blog is about. As my mental health took a beating, so did my physical health. I’ve been making the effort to heal my mental health, but my physical health is still suffering.

This fact really came to light when I was trying on this super cute pair of jeans at LF. Lately, I’m a size 31 in jeans. LF stops carrying denim at size 29, which makes me really fucking mad. But, I think the root of that anger really is shame because probably 6 months ago, I was a size 29. And 12 months ago I was a size 27. And when I left for my freshman year I was a size 26. I was 35 pounds skinner, happier, and more confident a year and a half ago.

This girl insisted that I would fit into the 29. She held them up and said, “Yeah, these look like they’ll fit you…if they don’t, don’t worry, they stretch.”

I really don’t know why I tried them on. I knew I wasn’t going to fit into a size 29. I try to do that every single time I go shopping and get the same result, why did I think this would be any different? She kept bringing me pair after pair and then brought me teeny tiny denim mini skirts, and I just kept trying them on. I would step into each pair of jeans and pull them up to my knees. I would take a super deep inhale and then exhale until I was as empty as I could be, then would proceed to do the pants dance (ANYONE who has ever tried on jeans knows what I’m talking about) until I got the jeans up to my mid-thighs where they would promptly get stuck. I would heave and tug and pull, and feel a seam pop here and there, and ultimately would blush and I would call out from inside my dressing room, “Nope, these ones are too small also.”

My cheeks were getting super hot and my eyes were stinging. I could feel the tears welling up. I caught a glimpse of myself as I was wriggling out of the fifth pair of jeans I had attempted to try on. I didn’t even recognize myself. How did I let myself get to this point? Me, the control freak. When did I let go? When did I decide I wasn’t deserving to be nourished with thought and care? When did I lose charge of my vessel?

(P.S. it is now Monday night. I got really tired and worked up while writing, and decided to get some sleep. Moving on…)

Flash forward to Sunday afternoon, in our six-hour trek back from New York. My whole family was piled into my mom’s car. My parents were listening to the Patriots v. Jaguars game, Katie was busy watching the entire first season of Stranger Things in one sitting, and Emma was nose deep in who knows what. I believe that God or the Universe or whatever higher being it is that you believe in gives us what we need when we are desperate for answers. That’s why on our journey home, I stumbled upon one of Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday podcasts. It was an interview with Geenen Roth, and the title of the podcast was Conscious Eating. It was exactly what I needed.

I was sort of passively listening for the first few minutes until Oprah asked Geenen how she came to know the statement, “God exists on our plates.” And Geenen responded that she came to know this in her darkest hour when she was scanning the shelves of a bookstore looking for answers and ideas on the best way to kill herself when she stumbled across a book called Fat is a Feminist Issue. In that moment, she realized that her relationship with food was the way she was trying to communicate with herself. When she said that, I stopped inattentively scrolling through Instagram and put my phone down so I could really listen. Here was something I could relate to.

If you don’t know anything about Geenen Roth (I certainly didn’t), she is an internationally renowned mindful eating expert. She went through an awakening when she and her husband lost their entire life savings due to the Bernie Madoff scandal. In such a desperate time, she had to make the decision to focus her attention on the things that she DID have, rather than the things that she lost, and that is when her entire relationship with food changed. Throughout the podcast, which I highly recommend that you listen to, she lays out her five steps to healing your relationship with food. Here are my takeaways…

  1. Land in your body. This is an extremely difficult concept for me, which is why it is such an important first step. I live in my mind. My mind is creative, and imaginative, and colorful, and pensive, and I genuinely enjoy spending my time up there. My new meditation practice has been really challenging for me. It’s really hard to quiet my mind and to draw awareness to my body. Why would I even want to be in my body? It’s lumpy and awkward. I have short stumpy legs. When I sit down and look at my stomach, I see a landscape of rolling hills. I suffer from constant, chronic pain that radiates from my neck to my tailbone. Even if I were a genetically blessed human, my body is a generally uncomfortable place to exist. It hurts. Here is why I should land in my body. Because I have legs and arms that move. I have a heart that pumps blood and that is filled with love. I have big green eyes that glisten, and I have these neurological impulses that cause me to flash a beautiful smile when I’m happy. I have a liver that forgives me when I have a little too much fun and I have a butt that is big because it is strong. I have lungs that I can fill with air, that send light and love and oxygen to every corner of my body. I have a back that hurts, but I have a back that supports me and allows me to stand tall when I’m proud. And that is a gift.Geenen helped me understand something that I have known for years but never vocalized. When I eat, I am feeding my mind, when really I should be feeding my body. When I’m sad I will literally lick chocolate off of a city sidewalk to please my mind. My body doesn’t need that. That’s like filling my car engine with Mountain Dew…that shit ain’t gonna fly. To land in my body, I need to listen to it. To land in my body, I need to quiet my mind. To land in my body, I need to be present in each moment, aware of each breath. To land in my body, I need to love my body. I need to stop feeding my mind with food – my mind can’t eat. What my mind needs is forgiveness. Which brings me to step 2.
  2. Name, love, and question your “Ghost Children”. Okay first off, I was like what the fuck is a Ghost Child. Geenen explains them as the hidden parts of you that make up your narrative – things that you tell yourself that aren’t necessarily true. Almost every day, but primarily in the depths of my depression, I tend to think to myself, “I am not good enough.” That is my Ghost Child. Except, Geenen thinks that we should give them a name instead of saying, “I am” – because it isn’t really us talking. It is a voice inside of our heads that manifests from something that we’ve buried inside our subconscious. So instead of saying “I”, we must name our Ghost Children. “I am not good enough” becomes Not Worthy Nelly. The next step is to love Not Worthy Nelly. Say to Nelly, “Hey, Nelly. It is okay. I love you. You are worthy. You are perfect. You are so so so so so SO loved.” Last year, I would have just fed Nelly. I would practically hook Nelly up to an IV drip filled with queso, and when Nelly got tired of that I would switch out that IV bag with one filled with frozen yogurt. Nelly wasn’t hungry for food. In hindsight, that idea is absolutely absurd. Nelly is a fucking GHOST. Ghosts can’t eat!!! But, Nelly can feel. What Nelly really needed was love. Hey Nelly, I love you girlfriend. And lastly, I had to question Nelly. Hey Nelly, I love you, but what the fuck are you doing chilling inside my mind? What is your source? What is your cause? Last year, it was probably the feeling of rejection I was wallowing in after getting dropped by practically every single sorority at SMU. If it wasn’t that, then it was being told afterward by a boy that I thought I loved that he could, “Never date me because I wasn’t in a sorority,” when he was drunk one night (drunk man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts, brotha). Or maybe it goes back to sixth grade when I got bullied out of private school. Maybe it comes from my first heartbreak, maybe it comes from not being able to try on the fucking pants at LF. Nelly, I love you, but please go back to where you came from because your narrative is not true. Your purpose inside of my mind was to help me realize this. You have served your purpose, so now please let me go. I am beautiful, inside and out. I am strong. I am worthy. I know this now. And if I ever forget this, Nelly, please come back again so you can piss me off so I can remember that you are wrong and that I am beautiful.
  3. Set your intention to heal. Setting intentions…here is something I am familiar with. At the beginning of almost every yoga class I have ever taken, I have been told to “set an intention”. I start my day by writing my intention on the top of my planner. Intentions are my shit. In one yoga class this semester, the instructor began class by handing every student a positive affirmation card that we could set as our intention. My particular card said, “I am in the process of positive change.” Damn straight I am! That was probably in mid-October, and here I am approaching the end of January, and it is still my intention. I am in the process of positive change. I am in the process of growth. I am in the process of accepting myself, of loving my mind, of worshiping my body. I am in the process of healing. When I flushed my pills down the toilet that night in March, I unknowingly set this as my intention. No, I am not fully healed. It’s hard to say when I ever will be. But by actively trying to land in my body, and by telling Nelly I love her, I am one step closer.
  4. Take in the goodness all around. Right now I am sitting at my kitchen table writing this post. My two dogs are at my feet. There are beautiful fresh flowers on the table. My stomach is happy and full because I fed it delicious vegan mushroom tacos that my mom made. I am writing about something that sparks a light within me, to post on a blog that people actually want to read. There is so much goodness around me.Yeah, my back hurts like a bitch, and I’m really tired. But I can feel my back pain because I’m alive. I’m tired because I had a day that was busy and productive and fulfilling. Even in the badness, there is goodness.Geenen suggests taking a few moments 4-5 times a day to really notice the good things in your life. Let them take your breath away. Let them humble you. When I am done writing this, I get to go up to my bed that is made in my favorite sheets and recharge my vessel. So so so much goodness.
  5. Identify foods that work for you. Geenen doesn’t believe that people are addicted to sugar or addicted to carbs or yada yada yada. While she doesn’t deny that certain emotions don’t trigger certain physiological responses in the form of cravings, she believes that we are addicted to the thought before we turn to food. Then Oprah says, “We are walking, talking expressions of our deepest convictions. Everything we believe about love, about fear, about transformation and God is revealed in how, when, and what we eat.” Amen, sister. Way to hit it home. I interpret identifying foods that work for me, not as laying out a diet plan, but actively participating in listening to what my body needs. If I am sad, my body doesn’t need french fries, it needs love. If I have just worked out, my body needs love in the form of whole, nutrient dense foods as a way of thanking it for its performance. If I land in my body, tell Nelly to fork off because I don’t need another piece of chocolate, dammit, and commit to my intention of healing, I will arrive at a place of choosing a fuel for my vessel in order to honor it. I am not feeding my mind, I am feeding my body. If my mind is hungry, it needs love. It needs attention. If my body is hungry, it needs food chosen with conviction and purpose. No more mindless snacking while simultaneously Snapchatting and watching Shameless. Reward your body, thank your body, because it is your ship, and you are it’s Captain, and without your body, you would never be able to travel across the sea.

Oooh, baby do I feel a lot better getting this off my chest. I know that whenever I go through something shitty, it leads me to a greater lesson. I have to shout out my girls Oprah and Geenen for helping me get there. Also, shoutout to my mom for making the health of my family one of her top priorities. Get yourself a support system like that, yo. I know for a fact that I am not the only person who struggles with eating. I know for a fact that I am not the only person who looks in the mirror and sees Shrek reflected back. If you are one of those people, let me tell you, you aren’t Shrek, you’re mother forking Fiona. You are a beautiful princess.

If you look in the mirror and you love what you see, I applaud you. If you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, I support you. Also if you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, try smiling. It may change the way you see yourself. Either way, I love you and all of your Ghost Children.

(By the way, I said yes to Orange Theory, and I LOVE it. Definitely not as scary as it seemed.)

In grace and gratitude, in love and light…see you next week!!

5 thoughts on “Becoming Captain of My Vessel”

  1. Wow Miss Maggie!!! I haven’t seen you since you were under 1 years of age.. sitting in your high chair and your “Aunt” Nancy and I were sneaking crackers off your tray because we were starving 😂 I have witnessed you grow and age in photos and stories from your mom. It was apparent to me you were beautiful and clearly cherished by your family. What I know now is you are just as beautiful on the inside.. and brave and honest and I am so proud of my Shelley for creating such an awesome young woman. You keep digging… it’s truly the good stuff in life and you are soooooo ridiculously worth it! Love you!!

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    1. Aunt Leslie!! I need to officially meet you! I’ve been hearing about Hut Hut my whole life and finally got to meet Ellie a few months ago! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my posts and for your encouragement, it means so much to me! Love you too!!

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  2. Maggie, you may not remember me. I am Hunter Wrather’s grandmother. I picked you up several times for school . You were a beautiful little girl and now I can see a beautiful older girl that has everything. My eyes are filled right now with pride for you . You are amazing and I am so happy your mom shared your blogs. I can’t wait to read more . Love to you and your family.

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    1. Hi Mrs. Norton!! Yes, I do remember you, it’s so good to hear from you! Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words! I appreciate it so much!!!

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  3. […] Ghost Child. If you’re new to the blog and are like WTF is a Ghost Child, check out my post, Becoming Captain of My Vessel. (If I did that right, you should just be able to click on that, and it will take you to the […]

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