I praise you because I am indeed fearfully and wonderfully made...Psalm 139:14
When I was in late high school and early college, I was plagued by anorexia and bulimia. Well, really I was plagued with an incredibly low self-concept (and grossly inaccurate body image) which skulked around in that wonderful freakishly thin facade thinkin' it was all hot-n-shizz with those sexy ribs showing.
Really that's not the case either, I just wanted to disappear. Or as my kids sometimes say "diss-d-appear." I was so ashamed. Who even knows why? It was the times. We hadn't really integrated the new post-sexual revolution reality yet. The early 1980s may just as well have been the Victorian Era--especially if you look at the Gunne Sax dresses we all wore to prom. By the way, I think dissdappear sounds better. Very sing-songy. Anyway, my point in saying that is things are often not even in the same zip code as they appear to be on the outside. Because on the outside, I looked pretty okay, a little too skinny but to the untrained eye, 'okay'. Ha. Does anybody remember Mercywood?
|Gunne Sax Tea Stained Prom Dress circa 1979-1981 - Uh, does anybody else see season 1 of "Downton Abbey"?|
As a few of you know, I've been absent from the blog these past few months because I returned to school. No, it wasn't in the master's program that I had originally wanted. Thank you Jesus for that, too. Instead, I decided to get a second bachelor's in psychology and then just keep on going until somebody starts calling me Doctor Mason. The only problem with this current term was the lack of availability of good classes. I ended up with the Psychology of Sex and Child Psychology to resume my academic life. Oh my. It felt as though an elephant was resting on my chest as the topics grew more grave and sinister and began hitting rather close to home, at least with respect to children. I started referring to these classes as "Creep" and "Cringe" respectively. They just started freaking me out. I had the worst case of medical student's disease ever with the Child Psych class.
The topic that struck me the hardest and literally knocked the air out of me was "Parental Attachment." In a twist of horrific irony, that class happened to be the same day as the "abortion lecture" in my Psych of Sex class. Attachment/Abortion. Ech.
Of course, I came away from the one lecture thinking 'I don't think I attached to my kids properly' (and the other lecture just thankful for them). They came at me from the cosmos/heaven with such a velocity that it was all I could do to catch and not drop them---like literally not drop them. Somebody did give me the book "Attachment Parenting" by Drs. Sears. But the kids were already out of diapers by then. Fat lotta good that did me! I think I threw that damn thing across the room cussing until the chandelier lost a crystal. File that one under, 'massive failures' and 'things I should've have known earlier.'
As for the psych of sex class, well, let's just say that yesterday was STI day and the screen at the front of the lecture hall (where I sit front row) is 25 feet wide and 20 feet tall. Dude. Need I say more? But a small aside here. I saw these gnarled up private parts of people, riddled with disease, and all I could think of is that these poor parts belong to poor people who are or were somebody's babies. That was somebody's bump in somebody's belly however long ago. All possibility and promise. Then losses, bad parenting, drugs, bad decisions and consequences took them down a path of such sadness and despair that they ended up a case study in a epidemiological, gynecological or urological manual. I had a sense of deep sorrow at the moment I realized that. Sorrow for those people who had been reduced to slides. There, but for the grace of God... There must have been shame in there somewhere, I thought. Somewhere, somehow, somebody convinced these folks that they (and their parts) weren't worth paying attention to, not even by themselves.
After the nausea wore off, I drove home sort of rocking back and forth in my seat. I'm pretty sure that's when the PTSD set in. But at 4 o'clock on the dot, when the kids got off the bus (all flailing arms, backpacks, swinging lunch boxes, smiles and "Mom!s"), I was magically lifted out of my despair and trauma. And this morning as Elliot so shame-freely stated his "ball problem" to the doctor I thought, attached or detached, the kid has no shame about the beautiful creation that he is. He and his brother think that their bodies are works of genius and art. The Hand that drew them (and all of us for that matter) drew ALL parts. And Elliot knows that already. File that under 'awesome.'
Previous generations regarded telling somebody they had "no shame" as the gravest of insults. In the case of Elliot it's what I would call "mentally healthy" or "great self-concept." I'm rethinking this whole "no shame" b.s.
What about you?