Thursday, March 24, 2011
Max does this thing with me that is sweet-slash-horrifying. He clutches my upper arm and squishes the flesh, kneading it like dough, while he exclaims, "Squishy! Squishy!" I find it sweet because it's this little corner of my body that he has discovered and claimed as his own. It makes sense as I think about it. He's spent a lot of time with my upper arms; they cradled him as a baby, hoisted him around as a toddler, and shouldered snugly next to him as a reading buddy or fellow watcher of the Disney channel. It's the soft, warm security blanket he never had, I guess. The horrifying part, of course, is that few women (and probably men, too) enjoy having someone describe them as "squishy." With exclamation points.
Usually I ask him to stop. I try to be comfortable in my own skin, but it only takes about four squishy-s until I am sufficiently uncomfortable. And sometimes he seems genuinely hurt. He can't understand why I don't want my squishy arms celebrated! Frequently! In public!
Semi-related tangent: I remember this young couple from our church congregation when I was younger. The husband was whispy thin and his wife, while not fat per se, was quite thick, outweighing him by at least a few industrial bags of flour. Somewhere along the line I remember hearing that he was attracted to her soft, jiggly, fleshy arms because they reminded him of his mother. Aaaaaaaaaack! That kind of disturbing detail just doesn't leave you.
Okay, back to my story.
Beyond the regular, run-of-the-mill body image issues, I think the discomfort comes from somebody loving something about me that I find un-lovable, something I would like to change. Why isn't he obsessed with my sense of humor? My cooking? My blog?
I started doing pushups to de-squish my arms. They've always been bigger than I'd like, but once upon a time they were toned and muscular, so I decided to go retro with some exercise. I made the mistake of doing my pushups once while we were all watching TV together. Max cried out, "Noooo! Don't get rid of Squishy!"
Oh my gosh. Squishy isn't just an adjective, it's a proper noun. Kill me now.
We talked about it and struck a deal. I would keep Squishy as long as Max provided back scratches whenever I asked. (Let's break this down: I stay fat and get unlimited back scratches. Winning!) To his credit, I've received a few on-demand back scratches; however, I'm still doing pushups in the privacy of my own room (with no noticeable results). So we're both happy, I guess. Though I think the real exercise is finding a way to receive this very specific love. I'm not even sure where to begin. Every time I dip my toe into that pool, I can't help but think that someday Max will marry some wonderfully fleshy woman because it will remind him of me. Aaaaaaaaaack! And then I run away do more secret pushups.
What about you? Has somebody loved something about you that you dislike? How did you overcome?