This Baby Loves Her Back

My boobs were bigger when I was 10 years old than they are now.

Something happened the summer before I started middle school — my mom let me shave my legs for the first time (at our lake house in a bikini, terrified of cutting myself), acne snickered at my skin and well, every top I owned suddenly was a bit too small. And though I had always waited quite impatiently to look like a real woman, when those curves arrived sooner than expected, I wished they would go away.

Having an inappropriate body for a young girl brought all sorts of things — unwanted attention from older guys, untrue rumors at school because surely if my body looked sexual, I must also be sexual in nature. The truth was I found myself wearing a 32 D-cup and sincerely had no idea what to do with such a massive and speedy physical transition. I hadn’t “french kissed” a boy and yet I had a chest to insinuate I was ready for quite more than that.

Sixth grade was really the first year I started cursing my own body. I was too heavy on top. My stomach pooched more than the other girls in gym class. I couldn’t run as fast because my breasts were too heavy. My skin was speckled. My teeth weren’t perfect and I didn’t want braces. The other girls were prettier. They were skinnier. They didn’t have awfully huge knockers that I hated so badly I kept them only in sports bras for years until one of my friends demanded I wear a proper underwire freshman year of college.

Throughout my many growing body pains, my pants and dress size fluctuated too. Following a stressful period my sophomore year of high school, I gained close to 20 pounds and kept it on until I graduated. To compensate for my insecurity, I covered up the extra weight in loose-fitting clothing and cardigans to cover what I saw as embarrassing rolls in every place. When I went off to college, I not only had to walk — uphill, literally in snow — everywhere I went, but I discovered a newfound love for running, too. The thing that triggered my actual shedding of the baggage around my midsection and thighs wasn’t anything healthy though — it was the depression I fell into following that terribly awful thing that happened on my 18th birthday.

And then I was thrown into a dark world of strange feelings about my body.

Not only was it slowly shrinking due to quite a loss of appetite and desire for much of anything, I also felt foreign to my own limbs. And maybe more devastating to me, that power I had always felt sexually since I lost my virginity to my high school sweetheartfaded. I didn’t want to be naked and I really didn’t want to be touched — unless it was a touch of love. And love was pretty much void for most of college. I didn’t know how to get back all of that fire that got me through everything, so I took the advice of someone special and I faked it until I made it. I led one of the sections at the student newspaper, I volunteered, I became an orientation leader and I went on dates with men I knew I’d never actually care about. And inside, I felt like the ugliest person alive. Like this body I had, was damaged or broken, that it wasn’t worthy of what I once thought it was.

But after lots of counseling and even more determination to pull myself back up, I found myself interning in New York and starting to finally feel beautiful. Or maybe glamorous is the right word. My bra was not only significantly emptier but my waist and heavy heart was too, making me feel unstoppable and vibrant in a city that mostly defines itself by beauty. Or at least being surrounded by it, that is. But when you spend your time trying to be social and liberated and basking in the light of a bright new chapter, you also start drinking more. When I returned to finish my last year-and-a-half of college, I found myself staring at yet another number on the scale I didn’t like and pulling out those hefty bras I thought I could throw away.

And so this pattern continued pretty frequently over the next five years… until last summer.

Mr. Possibility was still in my life — in and out — and though he did help me get over my intense hatred of my acne (“Those are only your freckles!“), he didn’t do much for my body image. His love (and constant praise) of those 5’10-and-up skinny, long-legged gals made my shorter, curvier, womanly frame feel unworthy. Unappreciated. Not good enough for any successful man in New York. While almost every guy I’ve dated (Dr. Heart included) has adored the little extra I’ve always packed, I’ve never felt quite comfortable having them like it so much. If it jiggled or wiggled or moved at all, surely it’s not an attractive sight for a man to see.

But in the sweltering heat of the July sun, after a knock-down, drag-out fight that ultimately kicked Mr. P out of my life for mostly good with the shocking slam of a taxi cab door — I made a decision to be beautiful.

Scratch that — to feel beautiful. To embrace my beauty. To accept it. To know it’s there.

And as much as falling in love with myself is more than my mirror’s reflection, a positive, accurate body image is part of the courting, too. I got back into running after a long-delayed absence, I starting drowning myself in water, I went on Accutane to get rid of 15-year-old acne and I stopped comparing myself to every girl that I saw.

That last one was the doozy.

I had been measuring myself up against every pretty lady I passed, wondering if she had all the things I wanted because her thighs were the size I wished mine were. Or her skin had never seen a bad day. Or her teeth were aligned so symmetrically it blinded me. Instead of seeing perfection in everyone around me — and ignoring my own shine — I started reminding myself about how superbly awesome my body is.

And maybe more importantly — how incredible it will be one day.

Now, it can run 6 miles and not be out of breath. It can make it through an intense Pilates session and hit the pavement minutes later. It can endure the brutality of the city and stay in step with the fastest New Yorkers who push by. It’s hand can comfort a puppy who has a nightmare in the middle of the night. It can hold the head of a friend in need or embrace a celebratory moment. It can rock out a black mini and a red dress, and then look equally good — and damn it, curvy as hell — in tight workout pants and t-shirt an hour later. It can curl and go straight, it can go natural or pageant-faced and be just as pretty. Even if the beauty is in the fruitful flaws.

But one day — it’ll even be better. It’ll produce life. It’ll carry a baby. It’ll give birth to that baby. It’ll grow and stretch and sag and wrinkle and change and with all of that, it’ll just get more astounding. It’ll get lines and have scars that hold meaning — ones that were caused by things I survived. Or memories that were worth every bit of pain. It’ll be touched by a man worthy enough to be loved by me for the rest of his life. It’ll be held delicately because it’s precious and one of a kind.

And it’s mine.

So why not love it? Why not be madly in love with it? Big boobs, freckled cheeks, a baby-got’s-back rear end, frizzy hair in all-weather and everything in between belongs to me. And to me, all of it is beautiful.

You Should Go Running Today…

…for the families of Sandy Hook. You can donate any amount you want and run or walk whatever distance you can. Email me your photos and I’ll post them. Send me your running time and you could win. It’s only been a month since Sandy Hook and help is still needed to recover.

Learn more about the Sandy Hook Remote 5K here — and seriously, get up and go for a run! It’s only going to do good.

Don’t Forget Sandy Hook

I’m not a mom –but I’m like one. I’ve always had dozens of cousins and now I work in the parenting space, so I often find myself relating to mothers and tucking away ideas and tips for when that day comes. Maybe it’s that mothering mentality that everyone notices about me that made what happened at Sandy Hook so devastating to me.

It was a day like any other — I received an email from our news editor alerting us that there was a shooter in Connecticut and we planned to follow it to see what happened. I don’t think anyone was prepared for 20 children and the 7 adults to lose their life in under ten minutes at the hand of one shooter. And post-tragedy, I still don’t know what the answer is to make schools safer. Part of me thinks there will always be disturbed people who do these heinous things but a bigger part believes in the good that could come out of it — and in stricter gun control laws, too.

I spent most of the weekend following Sandy Hook in a daze — praying and thinking about those families who just lost a special little light that lit up their entire lives. I thought about their full stockings on Christmas day that will never be opened. About all of the things I’ve experienced that they never will. About how heavy and broken so many hearts were, are and will continue to be.

There isn’t really anything anyone can do. No way to get those moments back, no way to make the moments before last longer. No way to give them one more hug or one more kiss.

But I wanted to do something.

Inspired by what the Running Mama did for Hurricane Sandy, I decided to do something similar through Confessions of a Love Addict for the families affected at Sandy Hook. Regardless if you’re a runner or a walker or just want to give a donation, anything goes a long way to rebuilding lives and to keeping the memories alive of those lost.

Here’s how to get involved in the Run For Sandy Hook Remote 5K

How it Works:
On Saturday, January 19, you and a group of your friends will run/walk a 5K wherever you are and then email your race time to confessions.loveaddict@gmail.com. All who sign up for the race will be entered into a drawing for a fun, awesome grand prize pack. The winner will be announced on January 20. The more money you donate, the more chances you have to win! (**Note — if you don’t want to run, you can still donate!)

Sign up here to join the race
Donate money here ($20 suggested minimum, but any amount is great!)
(Note: you’re not officially signed up for the race until you donate something)
All money raised will go to the United Way of Western Connecticut Sandy Hook School Support Fund.

I will also post photos of runners, so send them race day!

Please feel free to spread the word and to ask me any questions you have. If you’re in NYC, I’ll be planning a run in Central Park — so if you want to join, you’re more than welcome to, just email me.

Thanks for helping out Sandy Hook — there’s not much we can do, but joining together can make a huge difference.

At the End of the Day

As dozens of scattered droplets, falling gently yet surely across my tired body, I kept my eyes tightly shut until the warmth made me accept the morning. I let the stream splash against every patch of skin and ring of hair, saturating the impurities and freshening the scent that’s so  distinguishingly mine. Along with the grime from these filthy pavements and soiled city streets, I let the clean wash away my worries, too. I exhaled my frustrations off my brow, the heaviness off
my heart and the ache that causes tension from my bones to my emotions. Though invisible to anyone but me, I saw the muck swirl its way down the drain, leaving me wide awake and shining in the rising sun across Amsterdam.

I let my shower cleanse it all away.

In motion with the bright beats of the pre 9 a.m. crowd, I sauntered in tall wedges from my padlock door to the closing ones of the subway. The rhythm floated through my vibrant blue hi-lo skirt, perfectly in sync with the early August breeze that’s as rare as its lovely. I let the music play as I dared to close my eyes on the subway ride, knowing that a sudden stop or a passenger with unruly intentions could cause a detour I wouldn’t appreciate. The harmonizing voices serenaded me all the way to work, singing words I yearn to hear from the man I can’t wait to meet one day.

I let the music take me to a place where my dreams have lyrics.

I listened to all of them, all around me, near and far, chatter away. About the weather (hot), about their weekends (nice), about their weeks (busy), about the men they have and wish to have (plenty!). I imagined their pink nails tapping away at the keys, putting something in motion while sipping the coffee that’ll keep them awake. I watched their lips move and their eyes light up, full of ideas and excitement, sleepiness and interest. I spoke the language of a manic Monday morning in brief sentences and tenured phrases, meant to show empathy and understanding, meant to put us both on the same page.

I let the ones I love talk away my day.

Praying that delays and rain stray, I counted the minutes until I’d arrive at my stop. I walked quickly in those wedges that made my ankles sore and promised them that soon, they’d be out of these painful pieces and into the running shoes that mold to their every curve. I breathed deeply and slowly as I rounded the first mile, watching the life of the park unfold around me. The soccer players kicked, the volleyballs bounced, the basketballs spun, the bikers did circles around me and the runners nodded as we passed. All sweating, all moving, all feeling it all roll off of us, knowing the only thing we need to focus on is one step and then the other. One more step, one more mile.

I let my run, run away with me.

I watched the couples walking back from the park — some on one end of a leash, others gripping a stroller, many just holding onto each other — and I tried not to smile. I felt nighttime arriving for the first time in months, and that green reflecting top meant to protect me, wasn’t warm enough, even after 40 minutes of jogging. I glanced from lightpost and traffic stop to those glittering eyes of a duo so obviously in love, and I tried to figure out which shined the brightest. I took my time picking up fruit from the grocery store, helping someone older and slower in front of me and striking up a conversation with the clerk who rarely gets thanked. I walked around the block, past those men sitting on stoops, those ladies selling frozen yogurt and the kind homeless man who knows me by name, and though I was sweaty with makeup running down my face and my toes tired from all their work today, I gave them all a smile. I made sure they felt noticed, even in this boisterous land.

I let my city restore my faith, again and again.

Finally, I made it back to the place I started. Trying hard not to obsess bitterly about the lack of text messages or the conversation gaps I wished weren’t so, I put away my iPhone. Hoping whatever it is, however it’s going can wait until I open my eyes in the morning, I sat down my Blackberry to let it charge. I peeled off those running clothes and shoes, I freed my face of its daily armor. I felt the crispness of my sheets, the softness of the bed I bought with the money I made doing the things I love the most. Without the fuss or the must, the paths to follow, the people to know, the city to invigorate or irritate me, without the rushing and the gushing, the loving and regretting, without all of it in between — there was only one thing left at the end of the day:

Me.

And I thanked the powers above that I was enough. That I can endure and I can slow down, I can embrace and I can relate. I can go and I can move, I can relax and I can inhale. And yet, after all that a day puts me through, time and time again, over and over — I can still be the same me that walked out that door…ready to face whatever is in front of me. And whatever will ever come my way.

Miles Behind Me

Both transitioning between one part of our life into another, my good friend M and I spent a recent afternoon going to the gym for several hours (no exaggeration, actually), sunning ourselves slightly (we’re embarrassingly pale for July), and talking about our futures. What’s coming seems to be a popular topic of interest among the majority of my 20-something friends, as we’re all continuously waiting for a grand gesture from the universe that somehow never seems like it’s coming.

(Until it does, that is. And it always does, eventually…probably, maybe, hopefully…right???)

As we’re walking back to my apartment in desperate need for a shower, we are faced with toddler traffic. Three strollers with happy, bouncy, adorable babies are coming toward us, their nannies leading the way. Reminded I live on the Upper West Kiddie Side, we moved aside to let them pass before crossing Amsterdam. Getting closer to my place, I casually say to M, still thinking of the cute blue-eyed, dimpled two year old, I say, “Isn’t it strange to think that we’ll probably have a baby of our own in ten years?” Not one who is keen on commitment and breaks out in hives at the thought of trying on a wedding gown, M said: “Yeah, it’s odd but think of all that’s happened in the last ten years!”

Hmm, let’s think about it.

In the past ten years, I’ve graduated from high school, started, and finished college. I’ve moved from my first home to a second home, from that second home to a lakehouse, from that lakehouse to a third home. I’ve packed up my all of my things to move to college, then a year later, packed up more things to move into an apartment, put those things in a storage unit, only to take them out a week later to move into another apartment. And then again to move to New York, my family mailing a box a week for six weeks. I’ve had several New York addresses. I’ve interned and transplanted myself in the city. I’ve bought furniture twice, paid utility and credit card bills, taken out students loans and started to pay them back, with a lovely thing called interest. I’ve saved up my money, only to spend it, and then save it up again, and again…and again.

I lost my virginity and then proceeded to sleep with x-number of people I’ll never reveal to this blog. I’ve fallen in love three times, learned how to orgasm, how to break up with someone, and how to nurse a heartbreak with puppies, alcohol, and cupcakes. I’ve shattered spirits and hearts, made friends and lost them. Joined groups and made them better, left them and started new ones on my own. I’ve experienced the annoying curse of Mother Nature for being female 120 times. I started getting acne and never stopped. I learned the difference between a push-up and a regular bra, miraculously in front of the mirror at Victoria’s Secret with the saleslady encouraging me to purchase a dozen outside the door: “Don’t they look great, pretty thing?”

I’ve gained ten pounds, only to lose 15. I’ve gone through clothes and through men, trying different ones on for size, only to find they just didn’t fit quite right. I learned how wear makeup, how to straighten my hair, and how to just accept my natural little, uncontrollable waves as they are. I passed the driver’s test in North Carolina, only to crash my car a month later, and have my parents say a prayer of thanksgiving when I moved to New York and was off the road, off their insurance. I became a runner and slacked on my schedule when things heated up with Mr. Idea and again, when things became official and steady with Mr. Possibility. I learned to play tennis and then took almost every guy I could to play a match with me as a great second date (and to see them run a bit).  I’ve traveled across the states, but not abroad, though my piggy bank will soon allow me to go overseas. I’ve seen my first byline appear in a tiny publication in a tiny town in North Carolina, and then on Cosmo’s website in bold, beautiful pink letters I’ll never forget. I’ve had two four-page spreads in national publications and started this blog, that you, whoever you are, wherever you are, are reading, right now. (Thank you!)

I’ve figured out I like it on top more than I like it from the side and while charming and handsome is great, dependable and cute is better. I’ve fallen for the wrong guy and passed up someone who may have been the right guy if he was just a few inches taller (or larger). I’ve been kissed in Grand Central Station and the Lincoln Center, as I always dreamed, and figured out that sometimes dreams are more vivid in your head than they will ever be in reality. I’ve landed my first job, paid my dues as a hostess (with the most-ess), a maid (seriously), a freelancer (always), retail sales clerk (folding clothes, yay!), and a babysitter (girls are better than boys).

And now, I’m here. A 20-something with a lot of highs and lows, ups and downs, trails and successes, loves and losses, hopes and failures, miles and travels behind her. But you know – it’s only been two decades. I can’t even begin to list what I hope (and know) is ahead of me.

Daily Gratitude: I’m thankful for huge coffees and the company of a new best friend :)