That one time I cried about a dog with a limp

My day went just about as most Mondays go. Uneventful with a smack of angry undertones for no goddamn reason. The first thing I thought to myself when I got up this morning was “Amy, you’ve got to change your feelings.” This is what my older sister says to her kids when they throw tantrums. “I’m sorry you’re having a hard time right now. I suggest you go into another room and work on changing your feelings.”

Well, guess what? I don’t feel like changing my feelings.

And then on my walk home from work, I kicked the rocks, head tilted at just the right downtrodden angle. Like George Michael.

And that’s when I looked up and saw this dude walking his dog. The dog had this little limp, and he was so fucking happy to be out on a walk, and he looked at me and wagged his tail, and I started crying. Because he was so happy, and it was this beautiful little tableau–this limping dog so happy to be alive, even with a limp. And that’s when I said, Amy, you’ve got to get your shit together. You know you’re messed up when you start crying in the middle of the street about a dog with a limp.

I’m not sure how people change their feelings. Do you think when those bright, bubbly people tell you to look on the bright side of things–do you think they ever cry about a dog with a limp? Do they realize that we’d love to “BE POSITIVE!” if we could? It’s one thing to say don’t be so negative, but it’s another thing entirely to do it. That’s the thing with mental illness–we’d all LOVE to snap out of it. It’s kind of like women who fat shame other women, even though said women have been skinny their entire lives. Just eat well! Exercise! But don’t they realize that not all of us had it handed to us? Do they ever realize that people have completely different genetics and life experiences?

No, they don’t. The same way I think all people should love Radiohead as much as I do or understand Pokemon. I’m guilty. Which leads me to two conclusions:

1. We (read: I, Amy Morby) need to chill the fuck out and remember that at the end of the night, we all have our own demons to fight. And different paradigms. And completely different perspectives, which means, HEY! Stupid! It’s not so easy for people to snap out of anything. Leave everyone alone. Stop telling people how to feel and live.

And 2. I need my power back. Because here’s the thing: somewhere between age 16 and 27, I forgot I was my own person. I realized, crying about the dog with the limp tonight, that–as much as I hate it–my sister is right. I have to change my feelings. And the only way to do it is to get my autonomy back.

Autonomy=freedom from external control or influence. Or you calling all the shots. Sometimes when you grow up in a whack-a-doodle religion, you forget about autonomy. And then, when you hit puberty, you forget that you have any power at all. Which is exacerbated by media on all its many, heinous levels–the barrage of shoulds, should nots, ought tos, and supposed tos. And then you hit the fiery hellmouth of your 20s and compare yourself to everyone else because I’ll be damned if I’m not living and experiencing and growing and finding myself! And in this giant decade or so of “who the hell am I?” you forget that you have autonomy. That you can say, “you know, I’m not really into that,” or, “no thank you, I’m not interested in that particular lobby’s agenda, which you are now buying as pseudoscience.”

I forgot that I have the power to say no.
Or yes.
Or maybe.

I forgot that it’s really up to me when it comes down to it.

It sounds stupid. And maybe I’m the only idiot in here that forgot I could make my own choices. But I can say, with 8,000% assurance, that I have not been my own person for a decade. I somehow forgot that I could get over my eating disorder. That I could just say, “nope, ED: not interested in your shit.” Or that I could choose my own agenda, even if it’s not scientifically backed by Cosmopolitan or just social sentiment in general.

I forgot that I could have my own opinion, and that my opinion counted. At least to me. In fact, when it comes to me, my opinion is the only thing that counts, right? Because if you think about it, life is just bullshit anyway. We’re all just making it up as we go, and nobody is right or wrong because nobody really knows in the end how it will turn out.

Take Intuitive Eating for example. I’ve been rereading that, and feeling blown away that listening only to my body’s internal cues is such a foreign concept. WHAT? See what I mean? Rather than listening to your own body, we’ve all gone mad and decided a book, blog, movement, whatever knows best. Because WE CAN’T TRUST OURSELVES.

That’s just it–in most aspects of our lives, we’ve somehow been trained, consciously or not, that we can’t trust ourselves.

But why is that?

And why don’t we celebrate autonomy anymore? Why is it that we celebrate those falling into the shoulds, should nots, ought tos, and supposed tos? Isn’t following the beat of your own drum something to be admired? Shouldn’t we admire someone so in tune with their own bodies, souls, brains, and psyches to make their own paths on their own terms?

Look–all I know is that I want my power back. I want to be able to not feel triggered to hell when anyone mentions their diet. I want to be able to not feel guilty any time I make a decision that’s perhaps not what’s expected of me. And my only point here is more of a question: why is that so hard? And how do I get my power back?

“I’m worried that students will take their obedient place in society and look to become successful cogs in the wheel – let the wheel spin them around as it wants without taking a look at what they’re doing. I’m concerned that students not become passive acceptors of the official doctrine that’s handed down to them from the White House, the media, textbooks, teachers and preachers.”
― Howard Zinn

“The essence of independence has been to think and act according to standards from within, not without: to follow one’s own path, not that of the crowd.”
― Nicholas Tharcher, Rebels and Devils: The Psychology of Liberation

How did I get from a dog with a limp to this? I haven’t the slightest idea. But ultimately, I want my power back. Kind of like when Stella got her groove back.

Here’s to figuring that out, and to animals for being unconditionally loving and happy 99.999% of the time and inspiring this blog post.

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self-love renegade brigade project: a solid start to your year

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I want to restart my Self-Love Renegade Brigade project in 2015, making an honest effort to keep it rolling. Even better–you should join me! As a refresher, it’s built on the very definition of renegade:

ren·e·gade
ˈrenəˌɡād/

1. a person who deserts and betrays an organization, country, or set of principles.
2. having treacherously changed allegiance.

Every January, I kind of go into a self-imposed hibernation to protect myself and my recovery from the resolution mayhem. I see it coming all the way back in November, and I dread it every second until it hits full force. I’ve been doing this since 2006–the January where I checked into a facility for in-patient treatment. I’ve learned to get scrappy about it to protect my boundaries. You’d think after 9 years, this whole January thing would get easier, but it doesn’t. That’s nobody’s fault but my own–everyone has every right in the world to commit to new goals for health and fitness. More power to them! But for me, it’s dangerous territory. Trigger central.

So, I do what I do to stay my kind of healthy. I re-read my two self-love bibles: Intuitive Eating and The Beauty Myth. These books have both COMPLETELY changed my worldview several times over, and I find something new in them every time I reread.

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I’ve read Intuitive Eating probably well over 10 times. I turn to it when I have a bad day or week, skimming a couple of chapters that feel relevant. It helps every time, without fail, and I highly, highly recommend it to anyone looking to make peace with food.

**Trigger warning–there are parts that may be triggering for anyone sensitive to ED issues. A couple mentions here and there of destructive behaviors with numbers attached. Look at for those and skip as necessary.**

Of particular interest to me during this year’s reading is the difference between what the authors call the “Nutrition Informant” and the “Nutrition Ally.” My biggest concern for women right now is disordered eating disguised by nutrition and health. The authors explain the difference beautifully:

“The nutrition informant provides nutrition evidence to keep you in line with dieting. While this may seem innocuous or even healthy, it’s a facade. It’s not unusual for someone to say, ‘I’ve rejected dieting. I truly believe I can eat what I want–and I want to start eating healthfully.’ It’s therefore possible to consciously reject dieting, but instead unknowingly continue to diet by embracing nutrition as a politically correct regimen for keeping your weight down.”

Take particular note of the “embracing nutrition as a politically correct regimen for keeping your weight down.”

Now the nutrition ally:

“The nutrition informant becomes the nutrition ally when the Food Police are exiled. The nutrition ally is interested in healthy eating with no hidden agenda. One distinguishing factor between the two is how you feel when you respond. If you make, or reject, a food choice in the name of health but feel acquiescent or guilty, then you know the Food Police still have a stronghold on your nutrition informant who’s guiding your decision.”

One last little excerpt I found particularly apropos amidst today’s health trends:

“Our beliefs about food resemble dietary laws of a false religion–we pay homage to dieting and its rules, but it doesn’t work.”

These, like so many sections of this book, are my constant mantra. The Beauty Myth is equally if not more amazing as far as quoteables go. A quick favorite:

“Magazines, consciously or half-consciously, must project the attitude that looking one’s age is bad because $650 million of their ad revenue comes from people who would go out of business if visible age looked good. They need, consciously or not, to promote women’s hating their bodies enough to go profitably hungry, since the advertising budget for one third of the nations’s food bill depends on their doing so by dieting. The advertisers who make women’s mass culture possible depend on making women feel bad enough about their faces and bodies to spend more money on worthless or pain-inducing products than they would if they felt innately beautiful.”

I could go on and on and on with this book. Talk about a revolution. The facts in this book are so incendiary, it’s impossible not to get riled up and start shouting self love from the mountain tops.

If you are at all questioning your worth, weight, diet right now, I promise you these books will empower you, inspire you, and leave you feeling stoked to start your own self-love revolution. Please, please, please consider reading one ore both in 2015. Even if you’re already in a good space with body image or diet, The Beauty Myth is still an incredible read for any woman.

So, that’s my January Self-Love Renegade Brigade project. It’s my way of protecting my boundaries and doing what’s best for me, but I hope they might be helpful for you as well.

Read on, renegades! If you actually do pick one up, let me know! I would die and go to heaven to discuss it with you.

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4 boxes of Puffs later

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAH, I’m alive.

Barely.

It’s been a, how you say….weird month. Or two months. I made the rookie mistake of going home twice(ish) within the first three months of moving. It was a mistake because I do not yet have both legs of my big girl pants on about moving. I still cry about it. I still angst tweet about it. I still rage eat pizzas about it. I hate moving. I’m still not sure I like moving. 8 times out of 10 I think it was a big mistake. The Pretty Woman kind of mistake when nobody will take her hooker money. Big mistake. HUGE.

I spent a week home in Salt Lake City. I looked forward to it for months. Pretty much since the day I moved. I had all these grand ideas about how it would feel to come home for the first time. I’d come home to my parents house, the tree would be crazy beautiful (it was), everyone would hug me and cry and ask me endless questions about Seattle and what it was like there and how it felt to walk downtown every day and see Pike Place Market or work in the Smith Tower. I thought it would be a week of straight up fun, laughing, playing, good vibes. And parts of it were like that. But for the most part, it was just really, really, really sad.

The second the plane landed I felt it. And the second I got in my dad’s car I felt it. Life had moved on without me, as it should, but I didn’t expect that. I thought everyone would stop dead in their tracks to see me and talk with me. But babies had arrived while I was gone, jobs got terrible, surgeries had–everyone I loved and left in Utah had carried on. And even though they didn’t necessarily change, they just weren’t as happy to see me as I thought they’d be. I’m sure they were, but it didn’t feel right.

Home didn’t feel like home.

But Seattle doesn’t feel like home either.

It was confusing, and kind of painful in the gut wrenching realm of painful things. Anything happy was tinged with a weird aura of sadness. The city looked tiny and, in a weird way, angry at me. Like it wanted to shun me and spit me out because I didn’t belong there. I sobbed when I saw my best friends again. I did this publicly, in a restaurant where bespectacled mustachioed men judgingly nibbled their fancy pizzas with potato and goat cheese on top. But as great as it was to see them, it didn’t feel good like I wanted it to. It felt like a stab. A blunt stub with a shitty butter knife. It just kind of hurt, like a cosmic “I told you so.”

It all kind of felt like–you shouldn’t have left, but you did. So we’re over it, we’re over you, move on.

Nobody made me feel that way–everyone was kind and happy and gave me hugs and high fives. It was more of just a vibe that permeated the whole trip.

By the time Christmas day came, the dull vibe was a loud roar. And that’s when the 72-hour crying spell hit. Everywhere I looked, some memory pinged me and sent the tears a-welling. I couldn’t hold it in. I tried and tried to live in the moment, knowing full well I was ruining this trip I had looked forward, but I couldn’t stop the tears.

It was annoying and confusing, and I never want to feel that way again.

I left feeling worse than ever. Mostly because I had let my emotions ruin my trip, but also because I didn’t really want to go back to Seattle. I wanted to make things better in Salt Lake and just rewind three months.

But even THAT was confusing.

The best part about all of this is that the second I got back to Seattle, a cold came on. But that cold very quickly turned into the flu, which turned into blowing my nose every 4.3 seconds, which turned into sneezing, watery eyes, Nyquil-commercial-type shit, and 6 days later, here I am! Still sick. I haven’t left my house in those 6 days, and I haven’t really moved from the general vicinity of my couch. I’m not sure if it’s the flu or the plague or just the universe saying “THIS IS WHAT YOU GET FOR BEING A CRYBABY!” but either way, I hope it ends sometime. I don’t think it’s natural to go through 4 boxes of Puffs in a 6-day span. It’s getting very Howard Hughes in here.

ANYWAY…what I guess I’m really trying to say here is I’m back. I need a kick in the pants and a fresh start. But none of that new year new me resolution bullshit. I’m just saying now that the holidays are over, and now that I have some important life lessons under my belt, it’s time to start over with this whole Seattle thing. It’s time to stop hating it so much and start accepting it a little more.

Mostly, I just need to learn a little more about home.

Because if Salt Lake isn’t my home anymore, and if Seattle isn’t either, then I should probably figure that out. The whole concept of home–what makes home home anyway? It used to always be where my parents lived. Where I grew up. And I guess, in a sense, that will always be home. But as an adult, home is feeling a little more confusing. So what’s the secret? That’s what I’m looking for this month, now that holiday madness is over and I can just be.

I have to belong somewhere, right? Everybody belongs somewhere.

So, to you I say, happy new year. Thanks for being here. And, per Amy tradition, I will lovingly remind you that you are perfect and that your body is perfect, so don’t get carried away in new year, new me mayhem. Gentle nutrition, kind self talk, love love love for yourself. Take care of yourself, be kind to yourself, love yourself. Because what would an Amy blog post be without a little love yo’self message, amirite???

Have a good weekend, and cheers to a new year!

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