Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Battle of the Bulge

Okay so it's been a week and I am already updating. Also, it has only been a week and I completely forgot my password again. So when I was trying to decide if my memory lapse last week was because it had been a while since I logged in or if it was old age memory problems...well I assume you see where I am going with this...

Don't worry I didn't write it down this time and you can expect a similar opening to the next blog I'm sure.

Writers always say finding a start into your piece is the hardest part...not for me said the flea.

Cop out.

I was walking to the grocery store today and the weather was really pretty descent. Barely 80 degrees, sunny and just lovely. I was taking a moment on my walk to relish in the beauty of the day when I saw something that was a little off putting.

A girl jogging.

Now that's not to say that I find females who run off putting or that I am judging this girl's cardiovascular habits. I'm not. But well I have to be blunt...she was a hot mess.

Blood red. Hair stuck to her sweaty face. Armpit stains for days. Boobs poorly controlled. A heavy stride. And a look on her face that can only be described as utter and complete misery.

Okay, maybe I was judging her. But only because I saw myself within her, and it made me uncomfortable. (I bet she would use the same adjective for how I made her feel...semantics.)

Before you completely write me off as a judgemental bitch I have a perfectly sound explanation.

I used to weigh about 200lbs. I wore a size 16 and I ate my feelings. (I have alot of feelings) My weight was a HUGE issue for me growing up and it left me pretty distraught and depressed but I didn't do anything about it. I wasn't one of those people who were comfortable with who they were at any size. I wanted to change. I wanted to be healthy but no diet I went on or exercise regimen I went on could muster the kind of commitment I needed to change. So I just sat around and sulked and ate cookies, Swedish fish and watched The Biggest Loser. Nothing says weight loss more than sugary treats and watching other people run on treadmills.

Then I tried to convince myself I was happy with how I looked. That muffin tops were the new black. That when it comes to chins, less is not more. And that if you are funny, people are more forgiving of your love handles.

Fat Funny Girl, party of Colleen? Your table is now ready.

The well constructed mask I made for myself was bullet proof and insulated with biting wit and a charming smile. It even had rays of sunshine blasting off of that shit.

Little Miss Butterball of Light and Joy party of Fat Funny Girl Colleen? Your table is also ready.

I was pretty untouchable for a good long while. That mask was so damn good that it even convinced me that I was happy.

(Enter the little old lady that could: Terri Hayden)

Who is Terri Hayden? Well she is a 90 year old legend of a woman who teaches acting technique at my school, known for her brutal honesty and her inane psychic powers. Well loved and respected and dare I say feared.

The first time I worked for her went a little something like this:

(Colleen completes the acting exercise. Sits in a chair in front of Terri and her class and waits to begin the dialogue of what Terri just observed. A long pause about 30 seconds in length, or for some 15 years in length.)

Terri: Are you sad?
Colleen: No. Not at all.
(Terri stares at Colleen as if Colleen just said she was Mother Teresa)
Terri: Is anyone else in your family overweight like you?
(Colleen shit her pants and loses her breath)
Colleen: (mumbling) No, they are all in good shape.
Terri: Hello?
Colleen: (speaking more clearly and loudly) NO THEY ARE ALL THIN.
Terry: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
(Colleen stares blankly)
Colleen: Yes, one older sister.
Terri: She doesn't have weight problems like you?
(Colleen shits her pants again and holds back tears)
Colleen: No, she has a really fast metabolism. Wish I inherited that too.
Terri: I wish that too.

(End scene)

Needless to say, I went home and cried after convincing everyone in my class that I was fine and that what she said didn't bother me and then I called a friend and did what every other insecure mess would do in this situation, I talked shit about her and my gracious friend told me that she is crazy and that I don't have a weight problem. Ahhhh sweet comfort and delusions of grandoir.

And then for the next year of my training...every single time I got up to work she would only comment on my weight.

"You remind me of Judy Holiday. She had a weight problem too...and it eventually killed her."

"What do you eat?"

"You used to be a runner?!?!"

I eventually refused to get up in her class. There was only so much I could take and I am pretty sure for every comment she made I gained 5 lbs of shame.

Then finally the last time I worked for her in my first year of training she started into me again when a classmate raised his hand and stuck up for me (said classmate is now holds title of best friend. true story). He asked her why I have to change the way I look for her to think that I was an effective actor. She gazed at me in a very calming and loving way and a sweet smile crept over her face and then she so simply said:

"She's good. But she's not good to herself."

(Cue tears followed by a quintessential self discovery moment)

Terri had been working on me all year. Chipping away at my mask the only way she knew would work, which was tough love. She presented me with my biggest be called out on my crippling insecurity in front of my colleagues. She beat me down, so I could build myself back up (why yes, I just used that cliche.)

She changed my life. I lost lots of pounds since then and I am down 5 dress sizes. Jenny Craig has NOTHING on the 'tricky' and highly appreciated ways of Terri Hayden.

(In elementary school I had to go to the counselor to deal with my fear of people throwing up on me and everyday she had me draw pictures of people in different situations throwing up on me and then rip them up and throw them in the the trash. She CLEARLY should have just thrown up on me instead. Would have saved a lot of time...and paper.)

So tomorrow morning...I am getting up early. I am putting my running shoes on and I am going to be that girl I saw today. Red faced. Sweaty. Heavy stride. A look of misery...but boobs MUCH more controlled. I've feared running for too long now. Face them fears ya'll.

Hotmess O'Connor...running to a borough near you.


  1. boob control. very important.

  2. You almost made me cry, and then you almost made me pee my pants with that fear of people throwing up on you crap.

  3. I am so inspired- to once again get out of the "comfort" I have found recently and start kickin my own ass to be good to myself. Thank you SO much for writing this. I was SO freaking inspired by this- my eyes watering, my heart racing with new life and creative inspiration. You are a blessing with your spirit. Thank you!!