Friday, January 4, 2013

Great Granny

I was named after my great grandmother, Alice.
She died when I was 11, but I was lucky enough to be able to get to know her pretty well before she passed away.  I only lived a few miles from her, and I spent time with her at least once a week.  She was incredibly fond of children, and we always felt so important when we were with her.
She was a story-teller and she lived through (even thrived through) The Great Depression.  She didn't throw anything away.  She gifted us with sock monkeys made from great-grandpa's worn out red heel socks.  She cut the bottoms from her plastic household cleaners (think Downy), tossed in a bunch of yarn and ingenuity, and made tiny baby cradles for all of us grand girls.  She crocheted.  She loved to write. 
She saved all of the pictures from her old Lawson Wood Monkey Calendars and used them to creative fanciful stories to tell us on Sundays.

We'd gather around her old mustard yellow rocker as she pulled out monkey pictures... she always made the BEST stories and did all of the voices.

Soon after she passed away, I was given a school assignment to write a poem.
I got REALLY into it.  I was really thrilled with the project, and I put my heart into it.  My teacher was so pleased with my poem that she read it out loud to the class.
A few months later, we were asked to write a short story.  My classmates groaned -but I couldn't WAIT to get my hands on a blank sheet of paper.  Ideas flew through my head as the day went on, and in the end I handed in a 10-page "short" story about a pioneer girl named Alice and her little brother, Hal.  My parents loved the story so much they paraded it in front of my relatives.
As my relatives read, they remarked how I was turning out just like my great-grandmother.

The older I got, the more I heard it: I was turning out just like great-grandmother. 
I acted in school plays in high school and was approached several times by older members in the community -they told me watching me was like watching Alice in her younger years. 
After I was married, I got my hands on her journals.  I read through them and found that I was more like her than anyone else knew... even the way I wrote, my sentence structure, paralleled hers.
Her tendency to worry to the point of irrationality -her sentimentality -the way she was so interested in individuals and their stories.
We aren't anywhere NEAR physically the same.  She was short and frail.  I'm tall and corn fed.

At a Family Reunion last summer, I remarked how small she was -how she probably worried all her weight away.
My Dad's cousin was sitting next to me and she sort of chuckled.
"Well, that and the laxatives," she said.
"The what?" I asked.
"You know..." she shrugged.
"I don't," I said.
"That was a problem for her -her weight.  Her sisters were always kind of big.  She didn't want that.  Even when she was hospitalized, she would sneak off and throw her food up in the bathroom."

I had no idea.
My great-grandmother is my Illusion.  She's my Perfect Person that I admire and look up to in so many ways because I can relate to her so well.
And I suddenly loved her so much more: she struggled with her appearance -with vanity.

Step 4 has taught me just how much I struggle with vanity -how much of a road block it is for me spiritually. 
After hitting rock bottom and starting my recovery process, I came to really love myself no matter what I looked like.  I started to love my weird birth mark, my stretch marks, my pointed nose...
It was a gradual process, but the more I learned about true Christ-like love and the Porn World, the more I loved my natural body -my natural self, just the way it is.  I suddenly abhorred the idea of implants -something I'd contemplated getting in the past, thinking maybe if I was bigger I would be "enough" for my husband and he wouldn't NEED to look anywhere else anymore.
Hollywood is proof that no matter how good lookin' you are, if he's going to cheat, he's going to cheat.

It surprises me how often I'm triggered with my old vanity though.

A few days ago, we went as a family into the city.  My husband took us all out to eat at a nice sit-down restaurant.  There was a 30+ minute wait to get a table for our now family of 5.
The restaurant was packed, and our family waited near the front entrance of the restaurant.  There was snow covering the ground outside, and it was freezing.  Literally.
Families were coming in clad in snowsuits, boots, heavy coats...
And then a woman came in with her boyfriend.  He was covered in a heavy Carheart coat, thick jeans, and sturdy boots.  She was wearing a see-through black lace blouse, tight jeans, and sexy boots.
When she sat down with her back to us, her shirt revealed her back.  Her bare back.  The shirt was slit up to her black lacy bra.
I looked down at my Mom Bod that just made and cranked out a baby not three weeks before.  I was feeling pretty good about just barely fitting back into my jeans. 
And I was triggered. 
Amid the chaos surrounding us, I texted my husband something along the lines of "Why can't she cover up and give us old married ladies a fighting chance?"
He texted back validations, which I'll admit, I was fishing for.

And there in lies my problem: I want to see women in tight jeans and see through blouses and NOT go to my bad place where I suddenly hate my amazing body.
I mean: I just GREW a tiny, perfect human in my body... what's to hate about that?  Would I trade it for tight jeans and sexy boots?
Is it my job, as a 27-year old MOTHER of three, to be in a "compete" mindset?
Do I need anyone's validation?
So why do I seek it out?  Why do I automatically revert to unhealthy thinking when a young, beautiful woman walks by?
I never used to feel this way, but I can't blame it on my husband's porn addiction.  This one is on me... it's on my vanity.  The addiction merely brought it to light (just like it brought my co-dependecy to light).

Unlike Great Granny, I have steps to help me overcome this.  Thanks to my husband's addiction, I've been led to a guiding light.

Because of the Atonement, I have the opportunity to NOT end up with a cabinet full of laxatives. 
All I need to do is take action.


  1. I loved this post! Won't it be cool when we can see all of the past in a glance and realize that everyone has had their struggles? I think someday, because you are working on it, you may see that girl or young woman as God sees her. I've been counseled to pray for those individuals that trigger my addiction. I wonder if it would work for you? I do sympathize, though! It sounds to me like you are doing awesome. What great insights you have. Thanks!

    1. I definitely should be praying for those that trigger my addiction -especially because I see some of them on a regular basis. I'll start doing that to-day!

  2. I can relate to this so much. I don't consider myself a vain person, but then why does the vanity of others consume me? I swear I'm more hung up on their appearance than they are.

    Step 4 DOES bring awareness though, and I admire and relate to the fact that we can see that wanting/needing validation is NOT congruent with the person we really want to be.

    Anyway, great post. Thanks!

    1. It definitely brings more awareness! It's so crazy. I thought I knew myself pretty well. Aaaaand then there was Step 4. Haha.

  3. I struggle with this as well and always have for as long as I remember. I've struggled with eating disorders, though thankfully never on an extreme level. I started to work through it though and started to feel better about myself, especially after I was married. Then, finding that my husband had a porn addiction just fanned the flames of the fire that was dying. The sad thing is, part of me doesn't want to give it up. I want to be gorgeous and beautiful and I don't want to be fat with raggedy hair. I've never been to the point where I have felt comfortable with my body, even when I was in high school and had a perfectly flat, toned tummy and a rockin' figure. Even THEN I was unhappy. I guess vanity is like lust - insatiable. No matter what you look like, you will always long for more.

    I definitely need to work on being happy with ME and the beautiful gift of my body. With my pudgy stomach that carried and birthed three children. With my droopy chest that nourished three little ones. With my graying hairs and my newly forming wrinkles. do you get to that point though? Right now I'm just so humiliated by my husband's choices and so depressed about my looks that I won't even let him see me naked. I can't bare (haha!) the thought of being compared to those "perfect" fantasy bodies. Ugh. There is SO much to work on. I have SO many things to work on!!1