Back in Time

Daily Post: Hand-Me-Downs:  Clothes and toys, recipes and jokes, advice and prejudice: we all have to handle all sorts of hand-me-downs every day. Tell us about some of the meaningful hand-me-downs in your life.

Let me start by saying that my parents have kept all of my childhood stuff. Their basement is full of old toys, books, photo albums, school mementos, etc. We’re talking stuff from the 1970’s and 1980’s mostly, some 1990’s.  Yes, I was an only child. Needless to say, my kids think my parents’ basement is a treasure trove.

Side note: my parents also have a huge vinyl collection and a cabinet full of 8-track tapes along with a stereo that plays both. I think my daughter is the only 6 year-old on the planet that knows what an 8-track is and how to play it. But I digress.

So a trip through my kids’ playroom is a little like wonky time travel.  There is a complete set of pristinely-preserved Dr. Seuss books from the late 1970’s (well, mostly pristine. Some may or may not have scribbled drawings on their inside covers. I fancied myself an artist back then) on the bookshelf right along with new favorites. There are also Cabbage Patch dolls circa 1984 hobnobbing with American Girl dolls circa 2013.  Barbies from the 1980’s with chopped hair live in the Dream House with modern Barbies with chopped hair (because let’s face it, all little girls like to cut Barbie hair).  And my old Fisher Price record player circa 1980 stands out like a relic next to the more technologically-advanced toys.

Its pretty cool actually.  Since my parents took such good care of everything, these toys are getting another generation of love.

One day my kids were particularly excited about a box that my dad hauled upstairs from the basement.  They were bouncing off the walls.  It was a box of knick knacks from my childhood room.  It was like my own personal time capsule, watching these items see the light of day after being packed away for twenty years.  Some of the things I remembered and others I did not.  The girls held up each item and asked me about its significance, treating everything with great reverence.  Then they sat in the floor with all of the items between them. Taking turns, they picked and divided until everything had a new owner.  Those items are now proudly displayed in their own rooms.  It makes me smile inside when I tuck my daughter in every night and see the same cross hanging above her bed that I had over my childhood bed for eighteen years.

And I hope that in twenty or so years some of those items will be handed down again to the next generation.

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Freedom

The Mirror Crack’d – Daily Post – You wake up one morning to a world without mirrors. How does your life — from your everyday routines to your perception of yourself — change?

 

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She stands in front of the full-length mirror, absolutely hating the image staring back at her. From head to toe, she takes a mental inventory of all of her flaws. Square face. Too-broad shoulders. Waist not small enough. Hips too curvy. Squishy thighs. Thick lower legs. Cankles. Fat. Ugly. Fat. She is 5’8″ and wears a size 4, yet all she sees is fat. Her and her mirror just aren’t speaking the same language. She plans a trip to the gym. She plans to skip lunch. She may even skip dinner. She tallies calories in her head, wondering what is the minimum she can eat to keep from passing out. She thinks if only she were thinner, prettier, she would be happy. She would be loved. She would be worthy. Her life would be perfect. 

I have battled anorexia since I was 15. There, I said it. Not that many people know that about me. I don’t talk about it much. There is still much shame, much guilt. Stigma. Its been a long road. I don’t self-starve or abuse my body anymore, but the thoughts are still there. The negative body image and the self-criticism are still there. More so than I like to admit.

So, mirrors. The thought of a world without mirrors is an interesting one.

On the one hand, it causes me anxiety. The thought of going out in public without making sure my hair and makeup and clothing (you know, the camouflage for all my flaws) is acceptable – that I am socially acceptable – is a thought that my little OCD perfectionist soul cannot fathom. What would happen if I didn’t look “right?” Would I be rejected? Ridiculed? People probably wouldn’t even care. But for someone with social anxiety, the thought is crippling.

On the other hand, mirrors have been a prison. Shackles. A tool to breed self-hate. Maybe a world without mirrors would be… liberating. I have spent so much time in front of mirrors in my teenage/adult life trying to make that girl in my reflection who I want her to be, berating her for not being who I want her to be. If I couldn’t see my image, could I let that go? Could I just let her be? Could I let my loved ones be my mirrors, internalizing the love and acceptance that they reflect?

Sounds like freedom.

For more information on eating disorders…

National Eating Disorders Association

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders