I hope everyone’s thanksgiving holiday was an absolute blast. This thanksgiving for me this year has been filled with more than Sweet Potato Pie and Turkey. It was a time of delving into unresolved conflict and reconnecting with family. I spent a Thanksgiving interviewing certain members of my family for the next phase of The Body Image Project. I am in the process of turning the 20 minute production into a full-length play. The reason I was even able to develop the courage to interview some of my family for this production is because in this reflective month of December, I am finally ready for a real change. I am ready to change what is inside of me and to let go of the negative things of my past that I have been gripping on to for dear life.
Tonight I interviewed my mother. (BEAT)
For those who know JOP, you know that she is one of the strongest people in the world. She is an innovator, a friend and one of the best mother’s in the world. She is a gorgeous, glamazon! She is elegant. charming and fun. She is stubborn, like me. She has endured struggles that have made her into the most amazing business woman. She had a stroke the night before my wedding, and it has changed our relationship drastically. We have never had the “normal” mother/daughter relationship. I was raised in a single parent home with a mother who owned a travel agency and put herself through law school. She really did the best she could, but speaking frankly-I never thought it was enough. To speak frankly- I just wanted someone to pick me up on time, help me with my homework after school, and teach me how to bake. I spent a lot of time with housekeepers, babysitters, aunts and grandmothers. But like they say- it takes a village to raise a child. This interview today, was the hardest interview I have done thus far. It provided me with some of the reasons I have been so angry at her for so many years.
When you are a child, you really do watch your parents. You learn the ways in how to become an adult just by watching and listening. For years I have watched both my mother and grandmother struggle with weight and body image. So of course I would struggle too. But, now my mom, post stroke, is getting to a place where she is losing weight without a diet. She is doing it for her health. In a family riddled with diabetes, high blood pressure, and strokes- I fear that something one day will happen to me. I can no longer continue my life at this weight. But, something my mom said in the interview- she thought that I was gaining weight to spite her. She found herself praying that God would help me with my weight and make me more health conscious.
I have memories of dating guys and my mom saying “If you lose 10 pounds, that guy is gonna be really shocked and you’re gonna make him swoon over you.” Well, now I am married, and I know my husband loves me at any size.
Body Image in my family is generational. It is not her fault she used to think the way she did. She has completely changed since the stroke and I feel like it was such an awakening for her. But, I think the reason I was so mad at her for so many years, is because I just wanted to have a “regular” mom. A mom that didn’t work 72 hours a week, a mom that didn’t drag me to diet with her, a mom that was not known by everyone in the town. It was always super embarrassing going to a Shop Rite or Stop and Shop and having everyone know her and talk about their cases. I wanted a mom that was going to think I was beautiful regardless of my weight. But, the thing is, none of us are perfect. I would not trade my mother for the world. She has supported every single play that I have been in, she has flown across seas to support me in productions, she has given me unconditional love and has more than provided for me. She gave me the best wedding in the world. My mother is the best mother in the world. I understand this all mentally, but when it comes to my heart, I have this block that I am trying to work through because we have always been distant. Even though we lived in the same house, there has never really been a closeness. To be honest, it was my fault. I spent most of my teenage and young adult years hiding from my mom when she had a little time off. I always felt more close to my friends then to her and maybe that is because I was raised as an only child. This year that is going to change and I am really and truly going to have to grit my teeth and get with the program.
I freaked out this Thanksgiving, going back home, because it was the first time that I had seen anyone since the wedding. In August I was 30 pounds lighter, and now in December I have gained about 20 pounds back. I have let myself go. I was embarrassed to go home. I was scared about what would come out of my families mouth. I was terrified of seeing my mother in law again. I was just frightened at what everyone would say.
But, during this interview tonight with my mother I had an awakening moment. I was not eating to get back at her at all. I over eat, because it provides me comfort. When I am full I want to go to sleep. Sleep is where I go to escape. When I eat, I feel supported, I feel loved, I feel nourished, I feel full. When I eat, it helps me forget the things I have been through. I eat when I am depressed, I eat when I am happy, it is all that I know. When I eat it is not to get back at anyone, it is an addiction. I really do believe when I get a handle on eating and really learning what my body needs rather than trying to be skinny with a crash diet- everything in my life will begin to fall in place.
This interview opened my eyes that this body image play really can save me from this addiction. This play is the start of something really great. I feel today’s interview was groundbreaking for my life. A heart that has been hardened for so many years is beginning to warm up.
Have a wonderful week and happy Holidays
Actor | Playwright | Director
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