Yes, I know: it is Monday, not Sunday, but I thought of these words last night and although I never shared them over the void, they belong to Sunday.
Because Sunday is pantless. You hear me. Pantless. A friend of mine in New Orleans instated the tradition this past year, spending sundays in cute panties & oversized sweaters, even convincing guests at times to participate. I found the idea ludicrously brilliant, but looking at a seven-hour work shift every sunday depleted the idea’s splendor in my mind.
But my work shifts were just an excuse behind which I could hide my insecurities. For the past few months I have struggled with overcoming disordered eating, self-harm, self-hate, perfectionism, & self-blame, slowly progressing to a place where I can state, firmly, “It is well with my soul.” I am not there yet—and at times it feels like I never will reach that content with my self. But somewhere between the breakdowns, the journaling, the vacillating between hopeful & hopeless, the counseling, the tumbling, the good times, and the best of people, I realized that this journey to being & accepting me, faults & all, is, above all else, a journey. In my life I do not believe I have ever imagined happiness to be this perfect state where I feel happy every second of every day; and yet, as I struggled to accept myself, I strove to attain a mythical place of self where I would never doubt myself, or feel insecure, or despair.
How unattainable! Perfectionism at work, again. No one, no matter how happy or secure, lives without at some point encountering these emotions and thoughts; and I do not long to live on one side of a coin, tracing its face until familiarity wears away the wonder. I want to be happy with myself, to love myself, and by that I do not mean that I want to feel like 100% every day and every second of my life. Rather, to love myself, to me, means that whatever emotions and obstacles and thoughts and regressions I meet, I will have the fortitude & the faith in myself to know and to believe I can handle them, can get through them, without losing myself. I will have low points, but I will weather them, and learn from them. I will take baby steps.
Last night, I took a baby step. After an emotionally tumultuous few days—I backslid into some old habits—I grappled with the sinking plod towards familiar friends, the weary surrender to graceless demons. But, I did not tread down that path. Recognizing that I felt anxious, and scared, and angry, and upset—realizing that I craved food to fill a hunger in my heart that food could never nourish—I resisted, in my own little way. I returned home from work to an empty house, an old sanctuary for binge-eating and purging in solitude, and decided to take action: pantless Sunday.
Surprising, sometimes, how so little & simple a thing can free your soul. I peeled off my formal suit jacket & pants, and as I stood in my burrow of a room in a lace thong & a cami, I remembered how that idea once shone attractively in my mind. I felt the lace against my skin, and smiled. Smiling, I pulled on an old, comfy sweater & slipped on some hot pink boy shorts I adore. This is me, this is my body, & this is me accepting me & loving me for who I am, right now. Sure, I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that yet with my roommates. Yes, I still will refuse to look in the mirror. But here I am, taking a step forward. Here I will dance around the kitchen to loud music in Victoria’s Secret boy short & a simple braid, delighting in throwing together a simple, leek soup, a wooden spoon as a microphone.
I will drink tea, and be proud of my self. I will be pantless, on a Sunday.
September 23, 2000.
He notices it less and less as time goes on. At first he wonders how people spot him in crowds, when he’s little more than a pebble on a beach, and why they make way for him, sometimes in disgust, occasionally disdain, but mostly unconsciously – what makes him different? Eventually, he decides there’s no point in trying to unravel other people; image and reputation are mercurial, unfathomable things.
“You’ve changed,” Pansy tells him one drizzling afternoon when they’re sitting on her terrace, breathing in the mist of fine rain.
He slings one arm over the back of his gilded side chair. “Oh?”
“I can’t put my finger on it,” she says. “Maybe it’s that bruised look you have when you take someone’s measure. Very … puppy knocked on the nose by a newspaper too often.”
Pansy sighs and rests a delicate elbow on the table, cradling her chin between her fingers. “Like you’ve seen things, Draco, and you’ll never be caught unawares again.”
He gives a careless shrug. “You, on the other hand, haven’t changed at all. Still mistaking real life for one of your bodice-rippers. Why so dramatic, Pansy?”
“You think so?” She curves a haughty eyebrow. “You’re wrong, you know. I’m not like you. I haven’t become a more intense version of myself. I’ve become someone new, better. Now that I’ve found someone worth giving it my all.”
“Not me, I hope,” returns Draco easily. “Otherwise, you’ll have to excuse me if I conjure up a hasty appointment or two and dash.”
She hums a soft, amused sound. “Not you for a long time. You’re ancient history, Draco.” There’s no malice in her voice, and somehow he knows she doesn’t mean he’s in her past; he’s in everyone’s past, anyone who used to matter. “It took me years but I finally found her.”
Whatever she sees in his face makes her throw her head back in laughter. Pansy shakes the raindrops from her darkening hair with a satisfied smile. “I meant me, you idiot.”
Once, I used to be free. No, I never completely isolated myself from those envious desires, curling up in my heart; but they spiraled in smoke and with a shake of my head—frizzy, loose, hardly curls—they dissipated. I was free. My eyes lit up with passion and excitement, with an honest naivete that sparkled; an easy, childish smile. I danced in circles and puddles in the rain, even though he only laughed, gazed at me curiously, some impish peacock escaped from a zoo and eager to give a show. I rose early and walked on the beach, and no one watched. I walked for streets and streets, bare feet on wet, clumpy sand. Sometimes I watched joggers and twitched at the thought of sand in my sneakers. I held those moon jelly fish straight in my hand. I thought and I dreamt and I felt alive, those early hours with the sun hardly risen and always the sound of the sea in my ear and my breath, dancing in my mind or crashing into melancholy-eyes, blind to the empty beaches, boardwalk joggers and bicycle enthusiasts.
I was more me in those moments than I sometimes ever feel anymore. I dream of boxes— everyone in their little own. And me, most of all, packed away in colored chinese boxes all buried deep somewhere where doors lead only to more doors until all I want is to run. That old little girl stirs and, trapped, restlessness creeps and consumes until I fly away from all those little boxes and all I see is the sea, or fields, or an empty road. Until only space surrounds me and I am nothing but wide open.
Blood warms cold limbs, and the heat seems to spread, as of late. I’m tired of boxes and broken glass. I want to see the sea every day, feel that breeze tease a smile, and laugh like I am the only one there, and the only one that matters.
Isn’t it about time I loved myself again?
So here’s my vague New Year’s Resolution, to be tossed out here along with all the masses’: I want to love me this year. I want to rediscover that little girl who wrote stories in her room and sang her own songs in the shower, and I want to create that woman-with-the-ever-present-inner-child I know I can be. I want to be me, and be me in my own skin.
Because really, when it all comes down to it, who else am I living for if not me? The only haunting eyes of regrets and hallow whispers staring me down in my reflection will be my own.
So let this year be me.