I was in a coffee shop recently, having a rare, quiet moment outside of toddler-madness and I bumped into an acquaintance I hadn’t seen for a while. He’d seriously muscled-up at the gym since I last saw him.
He stopped by for a chat and when I told him how well he was looking, blithely asserted that women don’t have the same problems that men have with their body and self-esteem (why, oh why, didn’t I recognise the madness and stop the conversation there?!)
As gently as possible, I reminded him that women have enormous issues around body image and weight, and that I’ve definitely struggled since my son’s birth almost two years ago.
He looked me up and down and loudly announced that the great thing about English people like me is that we don’t care about being overweight. And by the way, isn’t it great that we’re so humble and unaffected we don’t mind all our teeth not being white enough either?
I immediately felt the acid-bubbling of ‘not-good-enough’ hissing into my mind, his words tearing razor-sharp strips through my self esteem. My mind froze, my laugh stuttered and I quickly changed the subject.
I left the cafe as quickly as possible and sat in the car, taking deep breaths, trying not to cry and telling myself that he’s an idiot who will probably (hopefully) lose both his teeth and penis by mixing up his steroids and teeth-whitener.
It’s been a few days since then. I’ve been moving through the stages of
I think I hate him
stupid muscle-bound tiny-brained DEFINITELY-single loser!!!
And finally… to a place of wanting to be at ease in the world more than I want to be right about him. I’ve learned the hard way that my self-righteousness and my happiness can’t exist in the same space. I often want both, but my experience is I have to choose one or the other.
The problem with moving on is that I frequently suffer from emotional flypaper. The only way I’ve ever been able to move through to peace, when I’m already prepping the nuclear warheads, is to see where I’m culpable.
He’s clearly expressing a belief that I don’t agree with, and doing so thoughtlessly. But if I stop there I’m going to be in muscle-spasm mode every time I see him, and I don’t want him to have that kind of rent-free space in my head.
I meditated for a bit, then spoke with one of my wise women (I don’t lock them in the attic or anything, I just happen to have met some wonderful wisdom in my search for a good life) and two things became apparent.
Firstly, after his initial statement about women not having body image issues, I may have tried to speak kindly, but the truth is I only spoke up at all because in my mind were the words,
“You’re a moron and I’m right. Here, let me convince you with my superior understanding of the world and amazing female knowhow. And did I mention that you’re an idiot?”
Secondly, I took his statement personally. If I were comfortable with my current Australian size 14 (<cough> 16 <cough>) figure and my English teeth, while still not agreeing, I would have remained personally unaffected. The embarrassing reality is that put myself in a position where I needed someone other than me to think I’m great before I felt valuable.
My wise woman also pointed out that I failed to set appropriate boundaries early in the conversation (something like, “No more talking from you!”) – this genuinely never occurred to me.
‘Being nice, then turning into a victim and becoming enraged when I don’t get treated in a manner I deem appropriate’, is a long description for what I did. I think the usual term is ‘passive aggressive’.
I know she’s right and I have some work to do on boundaries. And I also decided to go back to the gym. Not because of him, but because my own self esteem and depleted energy levels don’t enjoy being overweight, no matter how good my reasons.
Sometimes being a grown up seems really hard, it doesn’t come naturally to me at all. I’ve always found it to be completely worth it in the end though.
And in honour of getting healthier I made lime and coconut slice!
But this is a vegan, gluten free, raw slice. A gentle and tasty reminder that I don’t need to be black and white about food, or anything else. That the alternative to chocolate doesn’t have to be a limp lettuce leaf. And the alternative to being angry doesn’t have to be accepting the unacceptable.
- 3/4 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
- 5 Medjool dates
- pinch of sea salt
- Zest from 2 limes
- 200ml whipped coconut cream – see below (whipped cream is far better, but if it seems too hard, beat 150ml of coconut oil with a hand mixer until creamy – about 2 minutes)
- 3 tbl sp maple syrup (this isn’t properly raw, although I think it’s better than most raw options out there)
- 2 tbl sp lime juice
Process together the walnuts, coconut, dates, sea salt and zest from 1 lime
Make sure it’s well combined, and press into a 20cm x 15cm glass dish
Place the whipped coconut cream into a small bowl and add the lime juice, remaining zest and maple syrup. Whip until combined and fluffy
Spread the top layer onto the bottom layer
Place into the fridge until set (about 30 minutes)
Cut and enjoy!
Coconut Whipped Cream
- 400ml can full-fat coconut milk
Chill the coconut milk in the coldest part of the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight, taking care not to disturb or shake the container, the coconut milk will separate with the white liquid on top and the clear on the bottom
Once cold, flip over the can, open it, and carefully pour the clear liquid into a small container to save for another purpose, such as smoothie making (if you get too much of the clear liquid mixed with the white cream, the coconut milk will not whip up properly. Put the coconut milk back in the refrigerator and wait until it separates to try again)
Place the thick, white coconut milk into a mixing bowl and whip on high for 5-7 minutes while it increases in volume and gets soft peaks
While you can use the whipped cream immediately, I find that it’s better if chilled in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes before serving