It had been a tough morning and the day never improved. Jenny had arrived late to work having spent too much time trying to get her hair just right.
“Damn it” she yelled as she slammed the hairdryer onto the vanity.
“Why do I have to deal with this every single day? Why can’t I have hair that just does what I tell it?”
Even before she had opened her eyes the day started going downhill. Jenny started thinking about her weight.
What was the scale going to say this morning?
Most of Jenny’s mornings started out this way. The worry over the scale, the hair that wouldn’t cooperate, the decision about what she could wear that would cover up her bulging tummy and thighs.
After dragging herself out of bed, she walked stiffly into the bathroom, removed her nightgown and tried not to look at herself in the mirror. She didn’t want to see the roll around her midsection and the cellulite that had collected on her thighs. She took a deep inhale and stepped onto the scale. 165.
“Shit. What is wrong with this thing? Why can’t I ever lose any weight.”
Well Jenny of course you know why. You eat too much. I remind you of this every day.
Ever since she and Paul had gotten married Jenny had been in a constant battle with her weight. When she was in high school she was slim, never thinking about what she ate, and could wear all the stylish clothes. Now she just felt fat. She would go on diets, but they would consistently last until her willpower wore off which was generally around week two. Sometimes they would last longer. There were times when she wouldn’t even make it home from work. Those diets always ended with a quart of ice cream.
Occasionally, when she was feeling in control, Jenny would have a frozen diet dinner or she’d stop at the grocery store and grab a prepared diet meal. She was always hungry. Except for those evenings when dinner was pizza followed by a container of ice cream. The battle with the scale was never ending and this morning was no different.
As she stood in front of her closet inspecting her options, Jenny’s frustration started to peak. “If I could lose 35 lbs, then I would actually feel good wearing some of these clothes.”
You’d look great Jenny. Remember when you were in high school? Wow those were the days.
She reached for her black Flax linen pants with the elastic waist. Everything else was either too tight or didn’t land properly on her 5’6” frame.
“I look like a frump,” she said as she gave herself the once over glaring at her thighs. “There isn’t one piece of clothing in this closet that actually looks good on me.” She burst into tears.
Each morning was the same – she’d beat herself up leaving no body part unscathed by her disapproval.
You tell it Jenny, all this weight gain is ridiculous.
Jenny made her way downstairs where the next battle loomed – the one over breakfast. She still had to make her “you failed the scale” lunch.
Life was absolute torture and there was nothing she could do about it. She hated her life and everything about it.
“Why was life so damn cruel,” she wondered?
She made a mental note to contact the therapist whose phone number she had been carrying around in her wallet for the past year.
Jenny sludged to work managing to hit every red light turning a 20 minute drive into 40 minutes. She could feel her already pounding heart starting to beat faster. Damn, she was going to be late for the third time this week and it was only Wednesday.
“Morning Jenny, hit all the red lights again?”
“Good Morning Roger and yes, as a matter of fact, I did.”
“Whoa Jenny you’re late and Priscilla’s been looking for you.” Jenny’s friend and closest working partner Brenna whispered. “Better scoot over to her office asap, she didn’t look too happy.”
Jenny dropped the bags containing her lunch and the work she’d taken home into her cubical chair and went directly to Priscilla’s office where she learned that the timeline for a project she’d been working on had been moved up. She had 14 days to complete the Emerson project instead of 4 weeks. Her heart pounded even harder and Jenny could feel her hands start to shake.
Before heading back to her desk, Jenny stopped into the coffee room and made herself a cup of black coffee. She hated black coffee, but her diet prescribed that she take it that way. As she waited for the coffee to drip into her “Life’s a Bitch and Then you Die” mug, she noticed someone had brought in donuts. Krispy Kreme’s. Her favorite.
“Oh look there’s a Boston Crème – I haven’t had one of those in years,” Jenny mused as she reached for a napkin and the donut. She took it and the coffee back to her desk.
Taking that first bite was sheer delight. It tasted just how she had remembered as a kid - the sweet chocolate topping, the cakey goodness, and then the silky custard center. Heaven in a bite. Jenny could feel her entire body relax. She thought about her grandmother who would stop at Krispy Kreme whenever Jenny slept over, always getting two Boston Creams just for Jenny.
“How’s it going Jenny?” Roger’s voice made her jump in her seat.
“Fine” Jenny replied, “Why?”
“Just checking. I heard your timeline for the big account got moved and I was hoping you’d be able to manage it.”
“Of course I can manage it Roger.” Jenny was enraged. Didn’t she always manage it? Wasn’t she ‘Jenny who can do anything’, everything, always putting work first?
She went to finish the donut, but it was gone - eaten along with the sensation of peace that she so rarely felt anymore.
When lunchtime rolled around, Jenny’s co-workers decided they needed a pick-me-up lunch. When they ordered take-out everyone was expected to join in so Jenny ordered General Tao’s chicken with the orangey-red sweet and sour sauce. She secretly hoped that no one would notice that she would be eating her salad instead. But, as usual, once lunch rolled around, she ignored her salad, and since she was on a time crunch for her project, she ate so fast no even remembered seeing her in the lunchroom.
Her bloated stomach left her feeling queasy and gassy all afternoon. She found the only way to relieve the pressure was to get up and walk around.
“Are you okay?” Brenna asked her when she noticed Jenny’s fifth lap around the cubicles.
“Fine.” Jenny replied as she tried to smile. “Just trying to get some ideas formulated for my project.”
When Jenny finally pulled into her driveway that night, she turned off the radio that she had tuned to her local public radio station, and sat in the silence. What was she going to do? She was a mess. She felt like crap and worse, she couldn’t see how life could ever be any different.
“Is this it? At forty-five years old is my life going to be a series of days like today?”
Jenny’s divorce had left her feeling empty inside. She was angry that things didn’t work out. Paul wanted what she couldn’t give him. But no - no more attempts at love. Having her heart broken once was more than enough. But still, there had to be more to life than this.
Jenny emerged from the car and scuffed her way up the walkway to her front door. Stepping into the foyer, she kicked off the heels that killed her feet and threw her handbag onto the chair. Her briefcase, filled with the impossible pile of unfinished work, went on the dining room chair. She walked into the kitchen and tossed her uneaten salad into the refrigerator.
“What a shit of a day. If only I could lose this weight,” Jenny thought, “I’d be so much happier. I’d be able to handle these kinds of days. Life would be so much easier.”
Oh Jenny, you’re so sad, ice cream will make you feel better. And there’s some of those cookies you bought and hid. They’d be good too!
“Maybe,” she thought to herself.
Jenny peered inside the fridge. Nothing. Her stomach was still uncomfortable from the lunchtime take-out fiasco. Why had she indulged in that disgusting food when she had brought a delightful salad? Was it delightful she thought? What was delightful about it?
She pictured the salad she had made for lunch. Lettuce. She had chosen a packaged red leaf lettuce for her salad. She preferred the packaged variety because she didn’t have to wash it and it was already cut up. About a cup of lettuce went into the Tupperware container, along with two thin slices of cucumber halved, and a quarter cup of diced baked chicken breast. Jenny’s diet dictated that she eat the least amount of fat possible so her chicken was always baked and her salad dressing consisted of squeezed lemon with pepper. Sometimes Jenny would toss in some grated carrots or diced celery, but this morning she had been feeling particularly loathsome so she kept her salad to a minimum.
Jenny’s mind moved to breakfast. She liked to start her day on the right foot and would often skip breakfast so she could feel in control of her hunger pangs. She had heard that warm lemon water calmed the sensation of hunger and also worked as a detox, so it felt good to be managing two things at once. Since she wasn’t eating breakfast, she relied on supplements to give her the nutrients she knew she was missing.
Jenny felt skipping breakfast was her way of telling her body that she was in charge. She might not be able to control her hair, but by god she was going to lose those 35 pounds. Skipping breakfast and her meager salad were proof that she was serious.
And now with nothing in the fridge except her salad ingredients, Jenny was at a loss.
“I’m hungry,” she exclaimed out loud.
Well Jenny, you can always order pizza delivery.
“No! I am not ordering pizza. That would be the third time this week!”
But you know you love pizza.
“But I’ve already had that gawd-awful take-out at lunch and I’m on a DIET!!!”
Well you said you were hungry, I’m just trying to be helpful.
Jenny paused for a moment.
“Who the hell am I talking with?” she wondered.
She walked into the living room and as she eased into her oversized armchair, Jenny became very quiet. A soft blanket of curiosity covered her and she sat looking at nothing in particular.
What was that voice? The voice that seemed to direct her every move; the voice that was non-stop telling her what to eat, what not to eat; the voice that told her to go on a diet and then tempted her with cookies and pizza? What was this voice that kept her in a tailspin day in and day out? Was she going mad? This voice that told her she wasn’t good enough first thing in the morning, that yelled she was a FAILURE when she got onto the scale, that told her not to eat breakfast, and that a skimpy salad would have to be her lunch. The voice that talked her into eating take-out and delivery, that let her only buy chicken breast and goddamned packaged lettuce at the grocery store.
Where did this voice come from and how did it ever get control over her?
Jenny sat quietly in her chair as questions and curiosity enveloped her like a tornado, picking her up in one spot, spinning and shaking her, and then touching down leaving her in a different place entirely.
The sun streamed in through the window and onto Jenny curled up in her oversized chair. She didn’t move. She felt the calm that had come over her. Everything around her felt spacious and new. Her breath was slow and relaxed.
Jenny recalled dreaming about a woman. She could sense the beauty of this woman. It wasn’t her physical appearance as much as the glow that emanated from her. This woman was radiant.
As Jenny walked toward her, she could feel herself being drawn as though a tractor beam was pulling her in. Jenny could have turned around and walked away, but she was curious. What made this woman so radiant? Jenny wanted to know.
The woman, who introduced herself as Lucinda, invited Jenny to sit down. Jenny noticed two chairs and a lace-covered table with a floral patterned teapot, two matching cups with saucers, and a plate of jam-filled cookies. Lucinda smiled and offered Jenny a cup of tea.
Jenny watched as Lucinda poured the tea, first offering a blessing of gratitude for the tea. Lucinda poured a cup for Jenny and then one for herself. Before they each took a sip, Lucinda thanked Jenny for her company and then they drank. The tea was delicious and Jenny could feel it energizing her in a way that felt like love. She asked Lucinda about the tea, was it a special blend? Jenny had never tasted anything like it.
“Dearest beloved” Lucinda said, “the special blend in this tea is love. When something is made with love, it creates its own kind of magic.”
“What do you mean ‘made with love’?” Jenny asked. What was this woman talking about?
Jenny noticed that being in this woman’s presence was extremely relaxing. She felt like she could stay in this strange place forever.
Lucinda continued, “Inside each of us is a piece of divinity, love consciousness. It can get covered by life’s events and by the ego, whose purpose is to survive. It can feel like a dark cloud, but when it’s exposed, then the love that is our true self can shine through. When you can live from the love that is within you and see that you yourself are a source of love, everything changes. Suddenly the fear that consumed you and the control you thought you needed to survive are replaced by the knowing that you’re an eternal being of love living a human experience. Love can then permeate all that you think and do, becoming your partner and changing your experience of life. Be kind to yourself.”
The words glided off Lucinda’s tongue and into Jenny’s heart.
Sitting curled up in her chair, Jenny recalled Lucinda’s words. She felt the warm glow of Lucinda’s radiance.
Jenny noticed she felt hungry. It was a different kind of hunger than she had felt in the past. She felt hungry for life.
Even with her project at work looming over her, Jenny decided that she needed to take the day off. She felt a strong desire to be in the company of herself.
Jenny didn’t enjoy her job. She had started working for this company part time before the divorce to bring in a little extra income for vacations and house repairs. As a graphic designer she enjoyed the creative component of her work. Now she needed the income and worked full time. The constant deadlines and stress made the job overly demanding and Jenny found the clients to be particularly challenging. How many times had she nearly completed a project when the client would decide to change content or go in a different direction with no deadline extension? Yet she always pulled it off often working late, bringing work home and working on weekends. Work had become her life, but until now it was all she had.
“Priscilla, hi, this is Jenny. Hey I know I have a tight deadline on the Emerson project, but I’m not going to be in today. I need the day off. Yes, don’t worry, I’ll get the project done, you know I always do.”
Jenny broke the connection and decided to call Brenna. The call went to voice mail.
“Hey Brenna, I’m not going to be in the office today. Nothing to worry about, just taking the day off. See you tomorrow.”
Still in her clothes from the day before and feeling a bit hungry, Jenny decided to make her hot water and lemon breakfast/detox before taking a shower.
This tastes a bit underwhelming she thought to herself. Perhaps something else would taste a bit more interesting. Finding nothing in the fridge except her lettuce and carrots, Jenny decided to go get her shower.
She shed her clothes as she walked through the bedroom. As she entered the bathroom, she saw her scale sitting on the bathroom floor awaiting her daily weigh-in. Does this have to be a daily thing Jenny wondered? Why do I weigh myself every single day?
You know you need to Jenny. How else will you know what to eat today?
That voice. What was it Lucinda had told her in her dream? That the voice she was hearing, the ego, wanted to survive. Jenny could feel the truth of this statement. It wanted to survive alright. It didn’t really care about her. It didn’t care that it was taking her to unhealthy places. Its role was to be in charge and right now it wanted her to step onto the scale.
“No, I won’t do it.” This loud declaration surprised Jenny. “Not today and maybe not tomorrow either.”
Don’t be a fool Jenny. You know you need to weigh yourself.
Jenny remembered Lucinda saying that she needed to love herself, that when we can see the ego for what it is, then the love that is our true self can shine through.
The truth of these words was in her bones and she felt them like a soothing balm on tired skin.
In the shower, the hot water flowing over her body felt fantastic. When was the last time she enjoyed the feeling of a hot shower? She took them every day, but she couldn’t recall a time when she actually noticed the water energizing her as it touched her body. Her body with its wrinkles and cellulite. But it was hers and she could see the beauty in her flabby, not perfect body.
For crying out loud Jenny, get a grip! Your body’s fat and ugly and you need to lose weight! You need to get on that scale so you know how much weight you need to lose! Who are you kidding?
But instead of latching onto these thoughts, Jenny felt Lucinda’s words rolling around in her mind and in her heart. She didn’t have the desire to beat herself up. Somehow, she was able to see her body differently. She was also able to hear the voice very loud and clear and it was sounding rather desperate.
She was craving fresh air. Jenny lived only a few blocks away from a locally owned natural food store that she had only been in one time. She thought it was expensive even though she could afford the prices. Fresh produce from local farmers had held no particular meaning to her and organic food felt overly hyped.
Jenny slipped on a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers and decided to walk the five blocks to the store. It was a lovely day. The breezy summer air gave her a sense of aliveness she rarely felt. As she walked past the house next door she noticed the beautiful hydrangeas that were blooming profusely. She wondered if they would grow like that in her yard.
As Jenny entered Gloria’s Natural Food Store, she was greeted with a blast of earthy welcoming smells. This was not like the grocery store where she usually shopped for her few meager items – the packaged lettuce, lemons, carrots and celery. She hated grocery shopping. She hated the idea of having to waste her time standing in the bright lights, dealing with people who pushed and nudged, not to mention that she found the smell of the store to be offensive although she didn’t know why. It just all added up to an experience that she put off as long as she could.
This store was a completely different. She was trying to remember why she didn’t like shopping here. Glancing over the produce section, Jenny saw some delicious looking apples. She picked out two. The fresh heads of lettuce caught her attention as well as a bunch of fresh asparagus. She thought maybe she’d try a salad with a few more vegetables in it. She could cook the asparagus and have it with some fish one night and have the leftover with her salad during the week.
As Jenny meandered through the store, she noticed that she was enjoying reading labels and looking at the variety of food. Her basket was getting full. Eggs, olive oil, yogurt, bananas. What was happening here? Why was she all of a sudden interested in eating? These food items weren’t on her diet. In fact, food in general wasn’t allowed on her diet.
Listen Jenny, you have to put this stuff back or just put the basket on the floor and leave. You don’t need this stuff. It’s going to make you fatter. You’ve really gone off the rails.
The voice was persistent and Jenny found this interesting. She hadn’t noticed the voice as much as she was noticing it today and quite frankly, it was becoming a pain in the neck. She tried to ignore it, but it continued.
Jenny, be reasonable. Not only is this food going to make you fatter, it’s going to cost a small fortune. Save your money for those new fat clothes you need.
Perhaps this was all true, Jenny thought, but the voice of desperation was becoming more amusing than alarming. As Jenny enjoyed the music, the smells, and the ambiance of the store, she found to her surprise that she was smiling.
As she meandered her way down one last aisle, she saw some boxes of tea. She stopped in front of the display and a box fell off the shelf and onto the floor.
“That’s interesting.” Jenny looked at the box. The design on the box reminded her of something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. She wasn’t a tea drinker per se, but the design intrigued her so she tossed the box into her overflowing basket.
As Jenny worked her way to the check-out counter, she found herself looking forward to a bowl of bananas and yogurt. She paid for her items and carried the two large bags toward home. As she walked, Jenny hummed a little tune. The tune sounded vaguely familiar. After a couple of rounds, she recognized it as the tune Lucinda had been humming when Jenny first approached her in the dream.
When Jenny arrived home, she went into the kitchen to put her groceries away. She looked over her purchases.
Now you’ve done it. All this food and it’ll all go to waste. You don’t cook. There’s nothing here that’s on your diet except the lettuce.
She heard the voice, but it wasn’t making sense. She knew how to cook. Of course she did. Maybe she didn’t cook, but she certainly knew how. It was time to take charge.
Jenny put some fresh water into her teakettle, plugged it in, and opened the box of tea she had bought. Although she couldn’t identify the aromas blossoming out of the tea bag, it smelled heavenly. She placed her hot water and lemon/detox “Life Sucks” mug, that she brought home from the Yankee Swap last Christmas, on the counter. As she went to put the teabag into the mug, she remembered the beautiful china teacups Lucinda had served her tea in.
How had life become so tense, contracted, and lonely Jenny wondered. Life had been fun, once. Before the divorce, she and Paul would entertain often and enjoy evenings with friends. Jenny loved to cook and her kitchen was fantastic. The pantry and the wine cellar were always full, ready for a three-course dinner with the slightest notice.
It all came crashing down when Paul asked for a divorce.
Now it seemed like Jenny was in a spiral of self-loathing, pity and even hate sometimes. Work was her life now and she was starting to resent it too. When would it end she asked.
“It ends when you ask it to.”
“Oh my god, more voices” Jenny cried out! But this voice was quiet and comforting. And familiar.
“I thought you were a dream.”
“I am if you want me to be.” Lucinda replied. “But I can be here with you now too, if you’d like.”
“Oh Lucinda.” Jenny cried. “Life is so hard.”
“I know.” Lucinda replied. “Life Sucks. Right?”
“Oh no, no, no, no!” Jenny jumped to her feet and thought about the saying on her mug. “No I don’t believe that.”
“But you read your mug everyday.” Lucinda reminded her. “You reinforce this statement to yourself every time you read it. Whether you think you believe it or not, is not the point. The truth is when you repeat words to yourself through reading, or thinking, or by saying them out loud, you begin to believe them. And then one day it’s a part of you.”
“If you were to stop using that mug,” Lucinda continued, “and perhaps got yourself one that had a nice saying on it, like ‘I love you’, then you can see for yourself if it makes a difference.”
“That sounds way too easy.”
“I only suggested that you give it a try and see for yourself. I would think with the all of the beautiful dishes you have you could find a tea cup that would suit you rather nicely.” Lucinda assured Jenny.
“Yes I suppose so. I don’t use those dishes except for, well, never actually. They seem too nice to use for everyday. Plus I usually eat out of the plastic container my food comes in, that way I don’t have to do dishes – no clean up, you know.”
“I do know.” Lucinda replied. “And that’s what I want to talk with you about.”
Lucinda shared with Jenny how eating was an intimate and sacred act that honored the human body.
“A relaxed relationship with food speaks of Love, Trust, and Gratitude. When you eat to lose weight, that’s not honoring the body, that’s trying to control it. It’s contracting and painful. If you can be in relationship with food and your body, you’ll start to feel a sense of ease and empowerment. Your body loves you and it wants to be in relationship with you.”
Lucinda concluded, “As you create awareness around eating, you’ll start to feel a sense of expansion.”
Jenny sat in her chair, her eyes closed. The words from Lucinda filled Jenny’s heart and the space around her. Lovely, meaningful, joyful. She wasn’t able to move, so she sat breathing gently, letting Lucinda’s love embody her. Lucinda’s words were so simple yet they carried a profound wisdom.
Are you planning on doing anything today?
The voice jolted Jenny to open her eyes and see that the afternoon sun was shining in through the back doors. What time is it? She wondered.
Time for you to be doing something!
Jenny went over to the hutch that held her grandmother’s china set. The pattern was violets on white bone china so thin Jenny could practically see through the plate when she held it up to the light. Her grandmother had gotten the set during a trip to Canada when Jenny was a little girl. The dishes were never used, but her grandmother would show them to Jenny when she came to visit.
“These will be yours one day.” She would say to Jenny and Jenny would smile with delight.
The set had luncheon plates, cups and saucers, small bowls and a teapot. Jenny loved the set so much she bought a hutch especially for it. She loved looking at the dishes through the glass door fronts, but she had never used them. They were as pristine as the day her grandmother had purchased them on that trip to Niagara Falls.
Jenny opened the door and took out a lunch plate, a teacup and saucer and brought them into her well-equipped kitchen. When she purchased her house after the divorce, it needed some updating, so Jenny took her inheritance money and remodeled the kitchen and bathrooms to suit her taste. They were gorgeous. Although she rarely cooked, Jenny took great pride in her state of the art appliances and granite counter tops. She had an island large enough to seat 3 people and beautiful French doors that led out to a deck in the back of the house. She had expected the house would be great for entertaining, but then she got busy with work.
The thought of work made her heart sink.
Oh how Jenny longed for the day when she could let that job go. The demands were becoming intolerable. She’d start thinking about her to-do list on the drive in and work non-stop until six or later some nights. Often she’d bring work home. She had planned for her second bedroom to be a guestroom, but instead it was set up as an office.
She was angry that work had taken over her life.
When she and Paul were still married, the job worked out great. Twenty hours a week, Tuesday through Thursday and they had Friday through Monday for long weekend getaways. She loved traveling and they always found somewhere fun to go. A weekend on the Maine coast at a cute little bed and breakfast was Jenny’s favorite. They’d eat lobster and walk on the beach picking up heart shaped rocks. Paul would always have some impromptu idea of a museum to tour or a hike. When they were in Bar Harbor they would rent bikes and ride around the park. Jenny loved thinking about those times. Until she remembered they weren’t married anymore and Paul was going on those adventures with someone else while Jenny was stuck working.
When was the last time she had gone on vacation? Where would she go? Who would she go with? Herself? Even work sounded more appealing than a vacation by herself.
Jenny headed into the kitchen to start some dinner. She found she was quite hungry.
A pizza would taste good. No need to worry about the calories since you’re at practically zero for the day. You could even get extra cheese.
The voice amused Jenny. She was looking at the beautiful piece of fish she had purchased at Gloria’s Natural Food Store and it looked very appealing. She pulled the asparagus out of the refrigerator and put it on the counter along with the lemon. How did she want to prepare the fish?
Jenny usually ate her fish plain to keep the calories count low, but tonight she had the inclination to make something a little more elaborate. Maybe she’d bake the fish and pour a little lemon butter with seasonings over it. She had some butter in the freezer she could use, lord knows she had lemons. She cut the bottoms off her asparagus, put the stems in the steamer and prepared a place setting at her island.
When the food was cooked, she arranged it onto one of her grandmother’s violet bone china plates. Perfect.
She sat down to eat, but something wasn’t quite right. This beautiful meal was meant to be eaten at the table she thought. Jenny picked up her plate, utensils, and placemat and placed them onto her oval cherry dining table. Geez, she thought, I haven’t eaten in here in ages, I can’t even remember the last time.
The fish tasted glorious. And the asparagus was cooked to perfection.
I must do this more often Jenny thought to herself with a smile.
After cleaning up the dishes and putting the leftover asparagus away to be used in tomorrow’s salad, Jenny walked over to her briefcase with the work she had brought home.
She flipped through the project brief and tossed it aside. This day had been delightful and she wanted to keep it that way. She headed up stairs to take a bath.
You’re going to have to look at yourself. You’ll see all that fat and get all sad you know. Maybe you should just watch TV.
The bath felt luxurious. Jenny had found some Epsom salts in the bathroom closet and a bottle of lavender essential oils in a gift box she had received from Brenna on her last birthday. The warmth of the bath and the fragrance of the lavender worked their magic and Jenny closed her eyes and drifted off.
Jenny could see a glorious day at the beach. She was lying on her beach blanket next to Paul, her face and body soaking up the warm rays of the sun.
“When are you going to see the doctor?” Paul had asked.
“I don’t know. Do we need to talk about this now?”
“Well, we need to talk sometime.”
“I just can’t Paul.”
Jenny would have cried, but she was all cried out and the day was so beautiful she didn’t want to ruin it. She didn’t want Paul to know that she had no intention of going to the doctor. She had no desire to confirm that she couldn’t have kids. If the doctor told her she couldn’t, then Paul would leave her. It would be better left alone. Then there would always be hope.
But in the end, Paul left her anyway.
Good grief, how long have I been in here? Jenny wondered as she looked at the wrinkled skin on her fingers.
She climbed out the tub and put on her pink chenille bathrobe tying it around her middle and looked at herself in the mirror. Paul had broken her heart. But in truth, she now realized, she had broken his. She couldn’t face herself. She had lost the one thing, the one person who meant the most to her and now she was alone. All fucking alone.
In the morning, Jenny woke up after a few hours of sleep. She hadn’t slept well, tossing and turning most of the night thinking about Paul and how, after all these years, she still loved him.
It was Friday. She’d manage her way through the day and then she’d have the weekend to regroup.
Such a loser, too bad you can’t lose weight. What’s the scale’s going to say today? You didn’t weigh yourself yesterday. Who knows how much weight you’ve gained. And it won’t be my fault, I told you to weigh yourself.
Jenny walked into the bathroom and looked at the scale. Shit, there it was. Every single morning. She felt like tossing it in the trash. What did it ever do for her besides make her feel like crap. Did it ever make her feel good? No! She kicked it under the vanity in disgust.
You’re going to be sorry. You’re going to wish you’d been getting on that scale so it could tell you how much weight you’re gaining.
Jenny remembered Lucinda’s words and chuckled. “You are quite persistent aren’t you? What if I decide to never step on the scale again? It’s a machine that’s been dictating how I feel each morning. What if I just skip it?”
Determined to stay off the scale, Jenny hopped into the shower. As the warm water caressed her body, she felt a slight sense of renewal.
“Jenny! Meet me in the lobby at 5 o’clock sharp! Do not work late and do not tell me you can’t.”
“Okay?” But Brenna had left too quickly to hear Jenny’s response.
In the lobby at 5 o’clock, Brenna announced that they were headed to Brown’s, a local hangout, for cocktail hour. Jenny had given up alcohol after the divorce, but apparently Brenna thought it was a good idea to take her there anyway.
Brenna paid for the glass of white house wine and the seltzer with lime that she had ordered for Jenny and they sat down at an empty table near the front window.
“Jenny.” Brenna stated as though she needed to get Jenny’s attention.
“You’ll never guess who I saw at the grocery store last night, wearing a wedding ring and buying diapers!”
“Do I care?” Jenny said. She wasn’t really in the mood to play guessing games and was equally uninterested in a married man buying diapers.
“Well you should be! It was your ex. Paul.”
Jenny’s heart skipped a beat. “Paul? Why was Paul buying diapers?”
“Exactly! Well, I looked him up on Facebook and he’s married to some young thing and has two kids!” Brenna spoke like she had just won the lottery.
Jenny sat very still, not able to breathe. She didn’t really expect Paul would remain single and fatherless, did she? The news struck her. Hard. She couldn’t speak.
“Jenny, say something!”
Jenny got up and walked out of the bar. Brenna caught up with her a block away, slightly out of breath.
“Jenny slow down!”
“Go away Brenna! What were you thinking telling me this? Did you think I’d be happy? Did you think at all?”
“Geez Jenny, it’s been five years. I figured you’d be over him by now.”
“Really, Brenna? Dammit, it’s none of your business!”
Jenny wrapped her sweater around her and picked up her pace. She fumbled for her keys. By the time she reached her car she could barely see.
In the safety of her car, the tears came streaming down. How could Brenna be so thoughtless? How could anyone think she didn’t still have feelings for Paul? Even though he had left her, she still loved him. How could she not? He was sweet and funny and he had loved her.
Jenny would have stopped for ice cream at the grocery store, the one with the florescent lights and the weird smell, but her eyes were too puffy and red. She just wanted to go home.
Good thing you have those cookies hidden in the back of the cabinet.
She pulled into her driveway and slammed on the brakes. This voice! She didn’t want cookies, she wanted to be loved! Was that so much to ask?
If you can’t have the real thing, might as well go for second best!
Jenny got out of the car and slammed the door. When she got into the house she went upstairs, took off her work clothes and crawled into bed. Her mug was right, life did suck.
She thought about Paul being a proud father. She couldn’t give him what he wanted and someone else could. How could she deny him that? How could she deny him, the man she loved, the life he truly wanted? She couldn’t and she knew it. She wanted kids too, but it didn’t happen. They had each other and that was enough for her. But not for Paul.
“Lucinda? Are you here?”
“Yes, dearest, I’m here.”
“Lucinda, can you help me? I don’t know what to do. How can I live with myself? Maybe there was something I could have done. I didn’t want to face the truth and in the end I lost everything. What have I done Lucinda? I feel so empty.”
“Dearest, always remember: creator energy lives within you.”
What did Lucinda mean by that? Jenny wasn’t sure. Her eyes closed and she fell into a deep sleep.
A path. Where did it lead? Her feet landed softly as she walked carefully picking up each foot and placing it down gently sensing that there was no real bottom only grass that had that been bent over giving her support. Walking effortlessly, she saw a pond just ahead. Her sense of well-being reflected the smooth mirror-like surface of the water. She noticed a slight movement and a gentle ripple. As she approached the shoreline, she saw a large snakeskin abandoned on the path as its snake slipped into the pond. Jenny could see this was no ordinary snake.
Jenny awoke gently sensing a calmness that surprised her. She vividly recalled the large brown snakeskin on the shoreline. It was at least eight inches in diameter. She thought how snakes normally freaked her out, but when she saw this snakeskin and the ripple in the water, she was very calm.
A snake shedding its skin, she mused. Throwing back the duvet she slid out of bed, went into her office, and turned on her computer. “Snake shedding its skin” she typed into her web browser. To her surprise, there actually was a link for “snake shedding its skin symbolism.” It informed her that in a dream this could be symbol of rebirth, transformation, and healing.
As Jenny leaned back in her chair, she let out a deep exhale that came from so deep within her she felt her insides quiver.
It was Saturday and Jenny had promised herself that she was going to take the day to regroup. The past few days had been a whirlwind of emotions. She had been angry, confused, and sad with curious moments of delight sprinkled in. How enchanting Lucinda was with her wisdom. Jenny felt like she didn’t always understand what Lucinda was telling her, but at the same time, she felt like the meaning of Lucinda’s words were touching her heart. It was hard to explain, so Jenny didn’t try. She simply let them be and smiled.
As she pulled on her jeans, Jenny decided she’d walk over to the farmer’s market and browse the stalls. She hadn’t been over there since they opened several years ago. She moistened her hair with a spray bottle and tossed it with her fingers. Who cared if it wasn’t perfect she thought as she pulled on her Life is Good baseball cap, the one she had gotten in Maine.
That trip had been so much fun. She and Paul stayed at a sweet bed and breakfast located on the rocky shore and taken a day trip to Monhegan Island. She smiled as she remembered how excited they were at finding lobster buoys in the woods on their trek around the island.
The walk to the farmer’s market felt lovely. She enjoyed getting out and stretching her legs.
I wonder why I didn’t fall apart thinking about Paul just now? She felt a softness toward him that she hadn’t felt before and she invited more.
The first stall Jenny came upon smelled heavenly.
“Good morning” Jenny said to the vendor. “I’d like an egg sandwich and a small coffee with a hint of cream, please.” She could smell the tempting aroma of cinnamon buns fresh from the small oven, but decided against them.
“I’ll just enjoy the smell” she thought.
As Jenny looked around she saw an empty spot at the picnic tables set up in an open grassy area.
“Excuse me, is anyone sitting here?”
“No, go ahead.” The man looked up and Jenny noticed it was Roger from work.
“Oh, Roger! Hi.” Jenny remembered her manners and said, “What a surprise seeing you here.”
Roger got up to make room for Jenny.
“No please sit down Roger, I can find another spot.”
“It looks like there’s room for two over at that table.”
Roger led the way to the table and Jenny regretfully tagged along. He offered Jenny a seat.
“Thank you” Jenny said feeling a bit awkward. She knew Roger as an annoying pain in the neck at work and didn’t really want to sit and enjoy this special treat with him.
“Do you come here often?”
“Yes” Roger replied. “I come here every weekend to get my produce. I’ve never seen you here before.”
“Well, actually, this is my first time.” She took a bite from her sandwich. It was as delicious as it smelled.
“Do you live in this neighborhood?” Roger asked as he took a sip of his coffee.
“Yes, just a few blocks away.” Jenny wasn’t sure how much information she wanted to share with Roger, but he was acting rather congenial she thought. He definitely wasn’t being annoying.
Jenny enjoyed a few more bites of her sandwich while Roger made small talk and chatted up some of the vendors.
“Well, I guess I’d better get shopping. You’ve made it all sound so wonderful, I don’t want all the good stuff to get bought up before I have a chance to see what’s here.” Jenny got up to leave.
“Nice chatting with you. See you around.” Roger replied.
Jenny dropped her wrapper and coffee cup in the trash and went about checking each of the stalls making purchases here and there.
In her excitement over the fresh and tantalizing produce she realized her reusable bags were practically full. She hadn’t experienced this kind of vibe before – it was thoroughly contagious. She decided perhaps she should leave some of this goodness for the other shoppers.
As she passed by the last stall, Jenny noticed some beautiful mugs. The vendor, noticing Jenny’s interest, commented that she had made them from local clay and she mixed her own glazes. She asked Jenny if there were any that she’d like to try out and Jenny chose two. As she held each mug in turn, Jenny could feel the calm energy the mugs emitted. She felt as though they had been made just for her. The glaze was a stunning blue with lavender undertones – Jenny’s favorite colors.
“These are gorgeous. How much are they?”
“Twelve dollars each.”
Jenny reached into her wallet and pulled out a twenty and a five.
“Thank you, these are perfect.”
Jenny felt proud of her purchases. She tucked one of the mugs in her brief case to take into work. She placed the other on the island and turned the kettle on.
Heading upstairs, Jenny went into her office closet and pulled out the journal she had purchased just after the divorce. Her therapist had suggested she write, but Jenny could never quite do it. Whenever she’d think about writing her hands would turn clammy and start shaking. Her feelings were so raw she was afraid of what she might write, so she put the journal in the closet and shut the door.
Now it seemed like something was stirring within her, something that wanted to be let out. She thought of the snake and how it had shed its skin. Was she like the snake leaving the old behind and moving into something new?
She sat in her cozy oversized chair sipping tea from her new mug. In her journal Jenny wrote how she had been at her breaking point just a few days ago. She put her pen down. Something was changing within her. The writing seemed cathartic. She picked her pen back up and continued to write. What she found most interesting was that she enjoyed it and she wasn’t holding back.
Closing the journal, Jenny sat back in her chair and let out a sigh. That felt good she admitted to herself.
“Life is good Jenny, when you allow it to be.”
“Lucinda, everything seems so different than just a few days ago. I don’t feel like the same person.”
“Perhaps that’s because you’re not.”
“How did that happen Lucinda?”
“What’s next for me Lucinda?”
“That depends on what you want. It’s up to you.”
“Oh Lucinda. I want to be happy. I want to stop hating myself. Sometimes I feel like I’m my own worst enemy.”
“That change is already happening. Reread your journal entry and you will see that you’re already taking steps to be in a more loving relationship with yourself. Learning to love yourself unconditionally, without condition, requires letting go of the old and bringing in new thoughts and a new way of being.”
Jenny could feel the wisdom of Lucinda’s words. She opened her journal and jotted down what she wanted for herself. I want to be open to the joy that life has to offer me.
“That’s a start, but if you want it to be so, then write it as though it already is.” Lucinda commented.
Jenny rewrote the sentence. I am open to the joy that life has to offer me.”
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