Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Samara left this comment about Body Remodeling:

You're absolutely right -- there is a significant difference between cosmetic and corrective procedures. Do you think that we want people outed for their procedures just so that we can easily label or categorize them? You know, gay or straight, male or female, real or fake, etc etc etc? I think that we as a culture are totally label-obsessed. Of course, the other possibility in my mind is that we want to know who has had work done so that we can feel better about ourselves. Thoughts?

As usual I do have thoughts on this. Shocking I know. It sort of ties into a few themes cooking for me right now. My Mom is a Jungian, she practices Jungian analysis which is a analytic form of psychotherapy. Her doctor, Dr. Williford is pretty cool. Share what I learn from Marisa and she shares with me what she learns from Dr. Williford. One of his brilliant things is on labels. He says we label as a shortcut to understanding. We think if we label something we have a deeper understanding and connection to it then we do. Labels do not really tell us anything. It would be really easy to say if you have plastic surgery you are fake, but what about a burn victim? Extreme example but definitely of someone who is not fake. I try not to label, speak in broad or general terms, but it's a tough challenge. Sometimes you just want a shortcut. You just want to think you have grasped the whole story or bigger picture. In thinking about labels I have been thinking about how I label myself. I discussed my whiplash reaction to being told I would end up looking like Kim Kardashian. We discussed why this is. I knew she would have some good insight. So much of it comes from my childhood. What I learned is this, have I dealt with experiences, and childhood pain? Absolutely. Do I have any idea how it has shaped who I am now? No. I understand it has impacted and shaped me but I have no idea what to do about it. I talked about my issues with men. That I hate feeling preyed upon and the idea of having a super sexy body made me want to shut down. I said to her imagine if I had just gotten my driver's license would you give me a Bentley or a Ford? I vote Ford. I am just becoming comfortable in my own skin, aware, and proud, to then go from 0-100 just made me panic. I think so often why I take the lead with guys is to keep that panic at bay. I feel so out of control, uncomfortable, and panicked when I am being pursued. I also inherently do not trust it. Some of this is from being monkeyed with as a kid, and being trapped in a bathroom and made to show my body. It is not a huge surprise this would influence me, but how do you avoid just labeling it I was affected? Marisa told me what is really important is when that happens is to recognize that it is my past, and that I have to literally say to myself you feel this way because of the past but you are safe and in control now and can leave the situation. Just hearing that made me feel better. I like knowing an action I can take.

Another thing we talked about is again this cul-de-sac of weight loss I am in. She said I think some of it is you needed a break. You have been running an emotional marathon and needed a break which is okay. I like that she gives me permission to take pressure off sometimes and does not make me feel guilty. I think it helps me connect with my own voice to give myself permission to do what's right for me. So she said a lot of what is going on is where you are now in the middle is safe, it's neutral. We talked more about what that meant. She said more is coming up, more to do with your childhood. She said when I say childhood I do not mean the babysitter's friend (pieced that detail together recently), but your childhood, the whole thing. I thought for a second and said I was never accepted as a kid, I was never told what who I was is good enough. My mom was a bubble popper, if you said I want to be an astronaut her first response was well you're not very good at science. She thought she was preparing you for let downs, other people's opinions, or the cruelty of the world at large. So much of this behavior was about her not me, or my brother, does not mean it did not hurt. It took a lot of joy out of what being a kid is about, thinking anything is possible and the world is yours to conquer. Another thing is no one said anything as critical, cruel, harsh, or deflating as my mom so she was pretty wrong on that front. It did not prepare me for the world, it prepared me to not have her confidence in me. I do not think that was her intention at all but it's how it came off. She has done a tremendous amount of soul searching in the past two years right along with me for her own purposes. She called me one day and said she was sorry. It was pretty amazing. It was really cool to have her come to her own realization how hurtful, pointless, and ridiculous that behavior was. I feel pretty lucky to have received that apology. I also feel kindness towards her that so much of it was not about me, but about her. My mom has really struggled with her own self esteem and self acceptance. My grandmother was a doozy of negative influence on her. She was downright mean to my mom her entire life. It is not a surprise to me my mom would try to protect us and instead end up hurting us. She had no example on how to protect kids, she had to protect herself within her family. How it all starts to piece together.

I received very little acceptance from my parents, family, or peers in many ways. It was constantly reinforced to me I was not good enough, what I should be, or okay. My Dad loved pieces of me, the ballerina, the horseback rider, and the daddy's little girl. He also was the same person after seeing for a split second and telling him about my day would say, "Anna the short version." Seriously dude? You were not that important, you were not the president and should have been able to tolerate 10 minutes with your kid before ego'ing out. I became so self conscious about this, about talking too much, wasting people's time, men thinking I was silly and superfulous. Simple action, life time of ramifications. I won't even go into his full scale meltdown of me embracing grunge, there was no greater insult to him then not being feminine. Of course though it did not help my mom also would say to me Anna you're babbling stop talking while in the middle of a sentence, and also was made to do my Dad's bidding. He would complain to my mom and expect her to just fix things, like my weight, or wearing doc marten. I believed her that it was his agenda, but I felt so betrayed.

My relationship with my mom was so tension filled and tenuous I did not need anymore stress to it. My Dad should have manned up and talked to me about his own concerns. Often I was desperate to connect to my mom that and maybe the babbling was feeling like I had her attention. I just was trying to have a conversation. I felt so distanced from my mom as a child. She held me at arm's length because her own self esteem said to her they can't possibly want or depend on you, you're not good enough. So sad. She held herself apart thinking no one could love or need her and that's all my brother and I wanted. One of my favorite teenage memories because while I focus on the negative the good is implied but not always share.... a group of girls in 8th grade were not being so nice to me. As my mom said it was my turn in the barrel. I went to the nurse feigning illness and she came to school picked me up and took me out for an awesome day in London. It made me feel awesome. It gave me the confidence to go back to school and think whatever taunt me I dare you, but mostly I loved that she read between the lines and just got what I needed and trusted her instincts. For the record NO ONE is or was better then my mom with girlfriend fights. Seriously have issues with your friends I'll hook you up with her.

These voices still exist in my head. There are old labels I default to. Old labels of no one will ever really accept you, no one will ever love you for who you are, no one will ever think who you are is enough. I am okay with who I am and think I am enough, but when it comes to other people and interactions this voice crops up. I have to learn to understand how it's intertwined with modern day me to move into the future without it having any power. The damage is done, it's shaped who I am today, but for it to lose it's control/power I have to change my own labels.


  1. I love that my offhand comment instigated such a great post. The most interesting thing to me about labels is how although we think that they will help us better understand something or someone, in most cases, it actually creates more confusion as well as a mistaken/problematic view of ourselves and the people/world around us.

    P.S. Did all parents hate the Doc Marten trend of the 1990s? My parents were definitely not a fan of my beloved Docs, either.

  2. Samara- I thought it was such a good'in that comment. I agree, labels create more problems. They are not such a shortcut but a problem creator. I think every parent hated Doc Martens like all of sudden we were some teenage militia.