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  • Holy Shit I’m Getting Body Dysmorphia!

    Do you guys have a good relationship to your body? Have you always? Mine has waxed and waned, much like the moon, or a vagina.

    When I was a kid I was SUPER skinny. Picture a skeleton, but with skin, and on roller skates singing along to Bell Biv Devoe. I was very tall, thus stretched out, and basically malnourished. I love you mom and dad – you’re great in every way except in how you fed me my poison. My parents were busy, and didn’t really notice that I pounded pounds of candy for dinner. The “food” I ate was often Chef Boyardee, aka microwavable dog food for children. My mom is saying to herself right now as she reading this, “But Toni, that’s what you wanted for school lunch,” and my retort to that is – 7 year olds are idiots that smell their fingers after they stick them up their butts. DON’T LET THEM DECIDE WHAT IS GOOD FOR THEM!

    I was self-conscious about how thin I was because people would often remark on it. But then again, I was also high as fuck on high fructose corn syrup so I was also trying to chew off my own ear. I didn’t see being skinny as desirable, and would have preferred a more robust figure with greater padding so my butt didn’t get so soar on a sea saw.

    Then in the 5th grade I went to camp for the first and only time in my life. For whatever reason I wanted the life experience, probably because my mom thought it was funny to wear “Magnum Condom” T-shirts to pick me up from school. At camp I didn’t have any friends because everyone had been going their whole lives, and I was just the new girl that never got any mail. Finally one girl befriended me, but she was also anorexic – but who was I to be choosy! The only thing this girl would eat was shredded carrots and Italian dressing. Yet because she was my friend, I did it too in solidarity. When my parents came to pick me up they couldn’t see me at first because I was standing sideways. I obviously didn’t need to lose that weight, but I did learn that starving yourself is a pretty effective method.

    Then when I got to high school I started, you know, banging dudes. My mom put me on birth control so I wouldn’t become a teen mom. LITTLE DID SHE KNOW SHE RUINED MY CAREER AND I COULD HAVE HAD MY OWN TV SHOW ON MTV!

    Once I got on the pill I started packing on some pounds. At first it was cool. For the first time I had big boobs, and an ass. I also cried everyday for an hour because of the excessive hormones but did I mention my big tits!!!?? WORTH IT!

    Because I had grown up so excessively skinny, I also was in the habit of eating like a football player. My appetitive was massive. Yet once I was a teenager on the pill and eating for two despite my non-pregnancy, it didn’t exactly translate. But at first I didn’t really notice. My weight was first brought to my attention when I was hostessing at a restaurant at age 16, and every day after I work I would get a brownie sundae because of course I did. Then one fateful Friday one of the older waitresses was watching me eat with a look of apprehension.

    Waitress: You know – you probably shouldn’t eat a brownie sundae everyday like that.
    Toni: Are we talking about the same thing? Because I think eating a brownie sundae everyday is goddamn delicious.
    Waitress: Yeah, but you’re gonna get, you know…

    Then she blew up her cheeks to indicated “fat.”

    That was the first time in 16 years that I thought food could make me fat!

    I didn’t see myself as chubby, but I started to think I had to “watch what I ate.” Then I was approached by dude to “model” because I was the right height and must have had that dead look in my eye that said “I hate myself enough to do anything to please you.” but he told me that I had to lose anywhere between “15-120” pounds to make it to my ideal weight… my birth weight.

    I then developed another complex. Before I felt too skinny, but now I wasn’t feeling skinny enough!

    To deal I pulled from the memories of camp deprivation, and the effectiveness of eating nothing. For the entire summer after graduating high school I ate nothing but a can of tuna fish a day. My friend had told me the “Atkins Diet” was the best way to lose weight, and so I figured mercury poisoning was a sure fire path.

    For the next 11 years I had a weird relationship to food. Was it an easting disorder? I was probably on the spectrum, much like I am with my high functioning autism. Who are all these confident people out there who can look everyone in the eye!? I wouldn’t say I was constantly suffering over my relationship with food, but it was also somewhat disordered. I was never as extreme of my 3 months of losing 1/3 my body mass, but it was off. I would think a lot about food. What did I eat that day? Was it too much? Does that mean I should eat nothing tomorrow to balance it out? It was in a cycle of binging and starving… plus I smoked a LOT of bong hits so I wasn’t exactly making the best choices at 2 am.

    It was stressful!! Being anxious about food sucked because I LOVE eating. Plus, I think the tension I felt made food hard to metabolize. I never enjoyed eating without feeling some sort of guilt around it – or obsessively questioning myself. The psychology around eating was not helpful for my body in any way. Even though I was eating pretty healthy, I still felt like I was eating too much. I had this thing with my stomach, and always wanting it to be flat. So when I ate food, and my stomach would poof out trying to digest the nutrients – that would drive me crazy town. HOW DARE YOU STOMACH NEED SPACE TO PROCESS ALL THAT I HAVE PUT INSIDE OF YOU!

    Then I got pregnant. I could no longer have a “flat stomach” because there was a baby in there poking out. Just like that, I stopped caring about what I ate. Of course I INSISTED that everything was not only organic, but also harvested by fair trade gnomes, but other than that I ate whatever I wanted. When I was hungry I ate, and never thought about it again. I stopped thinking about food entirely except how yummy it was. I felt like what I assumed it felt like to be a guy. “Me stomach want food. Me stomach happy now that food in it.” I gained about 50 pounds when preggers and couldn’t have given less of a shit because HOLY FUCK MY TITS WERE MASSIVE!

    Then I had the baby and was breastfeeding. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever had a parasite suckle from your teat 70 times a day, but boy does that give you an appetite! So I ate when I was hungry, which was ALL DAY LONG. I would have two hamburgers for dinner no problem. I ate constantly and joyously.

    7-years after the birth of The Munch I still have a pretty ravenous appetitive, even though I only breastfeed when asked politely by random men on the Internet for money – it’s my side hustle. I eat what I feel like eating and never feel guilt about it because I need a lot of food to live my life! I move my body a lot, dancing, walking, doing yoga, and beating my head against the wall wishing I had Lena Dunham’s career – that burns more calories than you’d think. Yet since my pregnancy, I never went back to my previous relationship with food. My body creating and hosting a life gave me such a more profound relationship to it, and I was freed from the stress around eating. Because my psychology around eating has changed so drastically, I think my body processes food better. I don’t watch what I eat. I eat what I want when I want it. That involves, gluten, sugar, meat, cheese, pizza, meatball sammiches… I eat like a dude in high school but add some bok choy. Yet I had been feeling that my body was totally fine! I had no problems with it!!! NONE!

    UNTIL THE TICK!!!

    Now another thing worth mentioning is part of my total body acceptance has to do with the fact that I NEVER look in mirrors. We have a mirror at my dance studio of course, but I’m not looking at my body to pick it apart aesthetically. I’m looking at the whole package and how it moves as an instrument of art. It doesn’t occur to me to pinch my stomach fat, but rather I’m noticing if my arabesque has the right line, or if my butt could move faster while pumping it to Drake. At home I don’t have mirrors except in the bathroom and there’ll all kind of dirty and covered with pieces of food from flossing to close.

    But since my fucking TICK BITE, and my fear of having TICK STD’s I’ve had to search my body nightly to see if any tiny insect is sexually violating me with its tiny tick dick. I have to look in a mirror to make sure I’m not missing anything and… You guys it’s fucking me up!!!!

    I’m like wait what’s that mole on my back? Has that always been there? What’s up with my upper thighs? Is my butt okay… wait, can it move faster to Drake or not? But also is it okay looking?? Oh yes it can move faster, nice.

    I’m getting body dysmorphia trying to make sure I don’t have ticks on me! Looking in a mirror too much will drive you nuts!

    But I have a solution! I will use a flashlight and search for ticks in the dark instead… because then it’s like a fun nighttime party game that justifies getting wasted every night. THAT’S HEALTHY RIGHT!

    Here is the tick that bit me… under a microscope. The Lab that tested him for tick STD’s sent it to me. Sweet right!

    June 7, 2017 • Being Preggo, Breast Feeding, change, emotions, Health, pregnancy • Views: 723

  • My Life Pretty Much Sucks, How About You?

    Some of the happiest I’ve ever been is when I was on drugs. There was one time where I took liquid acid in nature, at 11 in the morning, and even though I was with two other people we spent the entire day alone – exploring the wilderness and laughing to ourselves at the absurdity of existence. I’ve done cocaine on the beaches of Costa Rica, ecstasy in clubs in New York, mushrooms on a mountain. I’ve giggled to the point of near insanity on weed, and truly felt the oneness of all things… also on weed. The common link of those experiences that brought so much bliss was this sense of freedom of forgetting myself. Allowing my identity to slither away into the background, leaving behind my worries about the future and anxieties about the past. Of course some of my worst memories are on drugs too – puking off a balcony for 3 hours, waking up on to the sound of my own puking on a grimy bathroom floor, and desperately shoving my fist down my throat attempting to puke because I ligit poisoned myself. So… everything has a price.

    Of course the happiness experienced with drugs is synthetic and manufactured. It’s not the same as the deep cultivated happiness that comes from a genuinely good time. There are many cases when I’ve experienced that authentic type of joy as well, but it’s hard to come by, and only visits in the most unexpected moments. You have to wait and around and see if it will come, and sometimes like that Dad that went out for cigarettes, it can take a minute before it comes back.

    What is happiness really? It’s such an illusive feeling, yet something we all seek. According to the American constitution it is even our RIGHT to be happy! Can you believe that? It’s my god give right to be happy!!! Yet despite our forefathers insisting on it’s availability I find myself chasing happiness, trying to capture it in a cage it can always escape from.

    Maybe the quest for happiness, that assumption that happiness is something I deserve, is part of the problem. Contentment seems like a more reasonable goal to strive for. I don’t need a happy life; I would just like to feel content. Perhaps I would feel more content if I wasn’t so focused on wanting happiness? I should see happiness for what she is… a flighty sprite who dips in and out of life at a whim – a gift not to hold onto, but to set free for others to find.

    CAN YOU GUYS TELL I’VE BEEN HAVING A HARD TIME!?

    This is what’s going on with me. For one… my back went into spasm. AGAIN!! This JUST happened to me last month so I’m kind of wanting to shoot myself in the face. The problem with my back going into spasm is not only am I in state of constant agony, but also my limited ability to move takes away my main sources of joy. I can’t dance when my back is in spasm, and dancing is my antidepressant. The minute I enter into the dance studio I feel like nothing else matters. I love teaching, I love my students, and I love the journey we go on together. I always leave with a renewed sense of purpose. Who cares if I just got rejected from that film festival, I taught a woman to twerk today!

    With my back debilitating me, I also can’t make my videos, or write because sitting is so excruciating; I can’t do anything that feeds my soul and spirit. I just have to exist. WHICH I AM NOT GOOD AT!

    Doing nothing but allowing myself to rest and heal is my PERSONAL HELL! Relaxing has become super stressful for me. So instead I try to be really proactive about my getting better, and work really hard at it. Yeah yeah, I get the irony too. But I have shit to do, places to go, and adventure to be had. I did not schedule in debilitating discomfort!

    So far on this back pain journey I’ve seen my acupuncture lady and had her jab her needles in me – 3 times. I’ve been drinking the Chinese herbs she gave me that taste like licking the taint of Satan. I’ve done meditations, picked tarot cards, sat with my suffering, did ceremonies of gratitude, and drank more demon brew.

    It’s been my thinking that I have to dive into the esoteric when I’m experiencing discomfort because there is this part of me that believes I deserve these moments of pain. I see my misery as a lesson – a teacher to tell me how I’m not living life right. So I self-reflect; convinced my back pain is an emotional necessity of my development.

    In the midst of dealing with this back drama, I wake up Sunday morning and go downstairs to choke down some Chinese herbs/devil drink. As I’m retching, I absentmindedly feel my neck. There’s something there. I knew right away it was an embedded tick. I hobbled to bathroom praying… but when I look in the mirror my stomach drops. There was a deer tick sucking away at my blood like a mini Dracula, yet with less sexual swagger.

    Now if you don’t live in New England and don’t have your prerequisite PHD on tick breeds, deer ticks are the bad kind – the kind that carries Lyme. Lyme is the most feared disease of the North East. There is no real cure. It affects everyone differently. It can fuck you up for life. Lyme is like the AIDS of New England. I checked the tick’s dick to see if it was wearing a condom.

    I knew it had been on me for while. Because of my back I hadn’t exactly been showring, so I was not doing daily tick checks. I also didn’t even think of it because I hadn’t been outside either, and was too busy watching old Twin Peaks episodes. But my cat sleeps in my bed so I guess it had crawled off her and on to me? I got tweezers and pulled the tick off, wishing David Lynch was directing my life because this was a great moment for red curtains and a little person to speak backwards yet forwards.

    I stared at the tick that was still holding onto a huge chunk of my neck with his little mouth-claws. I then looked at the bite. Holy fuck he was really in there.

    I put him in jar and sat there watching at him. He crawled along the sides of the glass, still carrying a piece of my throat with him. We were bonded for life now.

    I staggered to my car with my tick, threw some pillows on the seat so I could attempt to drive, and headed to the hospital to get him tested. Yeah… so it turns out hospitals don’t really appreciate you’re bringing ticks to them.

    Nurse: You need to have your physician call first.
    Toni: It’s Sunday… and Memorial Day weekend? How is that going to happen?
    Nurse: Sorry. You’re gonna have to take your tick and leave.

    So I did just that. I gathered up my tick and left. At this point I’ve fully developed Stockholm syndrome, carrying my tick around from place to place, feeling the need to take care of it. I put a piece of grass in the jar in case it got hungry, buckled him up in my kid’s car seat so he would stay safe, and then named him Noam – hoping that like his name sake Chomsky, this tick would fill my blood with knowledge about the political system in the Middle East and not Lyme.

    Noam and I headed to my acupuncture lady – for the 4th time in 4 days. She did her best to suck the poison out by stabbing the bite a few times with a needle. She then light some shit on fire and “cupped” the bite. With a giant hicky on my neck, she sent me on my way. Noam and I got back in the car, because of course I brought him in the house with me so he didn’t get lonely. Before driving off, I stuck my head out the window.

    Toni: Wait? What should I do about my back? It’s still really bad?
    Acupuncture lady: Keep drinking herbal.
    Toni: Right.

    While driving home my physician finally called back and said I have to send the tick away to get it tested, but I can’t until Tuesday because of the holiday weekend. She suggested I put a small piece of wet paper towel in the jar to keep some moisture in.

    I bring Noam home, and set up his new apartment in the jar with some Ikea furniture. He’s officially my pet now. I feel love for him. It’s not his fault that global warming means more ticks to destroy humanity. He’s doing his best.

    The next day I see my healer. My back is a mess. My bite is festering. My emotional state is borderline Jack in The Shining because I haven’t been able to sleep. I’ve been having nightmares every night about ticks and bugs crawling all over me, and keep waking up in a panic to check my body. And my stomach is a mess from all the herbs, aka the secretions of Lucifer’s loins.

    The healer and I talk about my back and the reality that I’ve been getting about five back spasms a year for the last five years and how to solve the problem of this chronic pain. I can’t take it any more. I don’t know what else I have to learn about myself. How much more self-reflecting I can do? I’m done thinking about me. I’m boring myself.

    Healer: I don’t think this pain is emotional. I think it’s skeletal. Your hips are so torqued and twisted.
    Toni: Do you think it’s from my pregnancy?
    Healer: No.
    Toni: Car accident?
    Healer: No?
    Toni: Well, I guess this all started when I was in the 5th grade. That’s the first time I remember getting this kind of back pain. At the time I was jumping on the trampoline about 6 hours a day so…
    Healer: It’s the trampoline.

    Right.

    Where everything stands now is not only is my back still all fucked, but also my hips, AND my right foot from walking so weird because of my fucked up back and hips. So now I have this shooting pain in my foot and can’t walk on it. Turns out it’s nerve damage. Cool. I look so hot in crutches – the perfect tool to impale myself with.

    Even though I can see how this is a physical misalignment of my bones, I still did learn a lot emotional soul searching from this current bought of suffering. Might as well since I have the time right and can’t work?

    First. I keep hearing about horrible things happening in other peoples’ lives – stories of friends that had a fire at their home, friends that lost a child. These real devastations that force me to realize how lucky I am. How lucky most of us are most of the time. There is so much potential for tragedy in this world, and it’s a blessing when you are not experiencing it. Perspective is crucial when feeling sorry for yourself because most of my pain is of my own making.

    I also realized that I’m motivated by the wrong sources. Much like a car that is powered with dirty fossil fuels, I need to shift what drives me. I need to become electric.

    When I was in my 20’s I wanted to change the world. I was politically motivated, and compelled by social consciousness. I had so many ideas of how I would make a difference, and even though my visions had merit, my executions never panned out. I got discouraged by life, and started to see the whole system as rigged. I felt useless in this paradigm of the New World Order and lizard elite with their alien DNA pulling the strings of the hallucinatory global economy. What could I possibly do considering all the massive corruption and greed that is the guiding principal of everything? I’m just some 25 year old that no one takes seriously.

    In the midst of this despondency and desperate feeling I was meaningless, I got pregnant. There is this assumption that a baby ties you down, but in a certain way it frees you. After the birth of my child, the world became so small. This infant was my world and nothing else mattered but her eating and sleeping. It was so simple. Just love this baby and keep her alive. It was this profound break from not only my own troubles, but also the troubles of the planet. This time in my life was like an altered state, the ultimate drug experience. I escaped into this sweet bubble of caring for my baby.

    As the Munch grew and I had more time for myself, I had to redefine who I was. I had to get to know myself again. There was less time to be spent on mothering, but now what? I was no longer living in New York City, and sequestered amongst trees. That’s why I started writing, and making art more seriously. I had always dabbled, but seen it as a hobby. Something shifted in me. I figured maybe I couldn’t change the world from the bowels of rural New Hampshire, but I could at least try to entertain it?

    Yet somewhere along way, my motivation of why I do the things I do got convoluted. I’m no longer in that adolescent state of my 20’s when anything seems possible. I’m in my 30’s. Reality and responsibilities color my every decision. I need to have a career. I need to figure out my place in this world. I want my art to be that driver. I don’t know if it ever will. But there is a pressure that sits on my chest making it had to breathe.

    Yet I can now see the only motivation I need is not one of success, or recognition, but rather to be propelled by the same force of my 20s – that naïve belief that I can make a difference in this corrupted world. Idealism gets beaten out of us so easily because of the overwhelming task of it all, but fuck that. I don’t want to be cynical. I want to be impassioned by the same ignorance of my youth. The benign belief that if you try hard enough, shit will change. It will get better even if it is just in your small corner of the world. Even if my only true contribution to society is that because of me, a woman can pulse her pelvis to the beat of hip-hop music at my dance studio.

    Noam with his paper towel.

    Noam’s apartment.

    My tearful goodbye, sending Noam away.

    The culprit… my cat.