Skinny, Bookish & Broken-hearted

Broken-Hearted Bookworm writes:

My stepdad was recently clearing out his book collection and offered me a book I’d given him as a gift some odd years earlier. I had been living in my car at the time and had scrounged together the money, leaving a very heartfelt inscription inside with some choice memories of our time together. I really cherish this man’s love because my biological dad was not great. I thought we had a really good bond but he’s never even read the inscription in the book or even cracked it open. This feels like a breaking point in our relationship for me as now I feel like the disconnect between us is really growing. How do I tell him how I feel?

Heya, Bookie.

Does it occur to you that maybe your stepdad is lying when he says he didn’t read it? Maybe he did open the book but found it was very emotional and couldn’t continue. When the father-child bond is so fraught like yours is, it’s very possible that memories can be harder to live through than you can imagine because they come with such bittersweetness.

A couple of other things:

One, you say the book was unopened. But unless it was shrink wrapped, what definitive proof do you have that it was actually unopened? This isn’t one of those college books your teacher makes you buy that you don’t actually read, this is a somewhat cherished keepsake. Did you flip through all the pages to make sure none of them were dog-eared, that none of the spine was even remotely cracked and that no pages were stuck together with ketchup topping from meatloaf? (Things happen. Don’t judge me, Bookie.)

Two, you’ve had a superiority complex about this gift for a long time. Are you still living out of your car? Or has life gotten better with the help of this same loved one? Maybe instead of reading your painstaking inscription of memory lane, your stepdad was living life and being there for you, and now that he’s in a better spot doesn’t feel like he (or you) needs to go back there.

What I’m getting at is that maybe you’ve got feelings about this inscription that have nothing to do with the book. Time being homeless changes people to something more feral (no matter the length) and not to be mostly heartless or cruel, but give the guy a break. Sometimes a father can’t be a dad, no matter how much he wants to be.

Hearts and Stars,
Your Advice Guru

Skinny Yet Sad writes:

I went from being 420 pounds to a lot less and now everything sucks. I was always told that losing the weight—I’ve always been hefty at best—would open up the world for me and that I’d get a girlfriend and a great job and everything I’ve always wanted, but now I’m just stuck in the same dead end job with more salads. I went through bariatric surgery and relied on the encouragement of family and friends. What did I miss? What do I do to jump start my dreams and live my new reality?

Heya, Skinny.

Ah, the myth of the perfect body. It’s the same story that the “Biggest Loser” has been selling us for years and before that, Susan Powter and Jack Lalane, and before that, well, every skinny actress on TV. I’m looking at you, Mary Tyler Moore. The myth of skinnyness is as follows: skinny people are happy, successful and wise. They fit in. I am not skinny and therefore none of those things can apply to me until I am skinny.

Note that this myth doesn’t account for body tone, problems with thyroid, cultural bias, or the fact that skinny vs. fat as the “in” body type changes incrementally throughout the centuries. If this wasn’t the case, we’d all still be wearing Elizabethan-era foof collars around our yon necks.

I’m sorry that you bought into the skinny myth, and I congratulate you on your new health. But your new health is nothing more than that. Skinny isn’t a key into a magical door called perfection. Much like Southern Girl from last week, you’ve bought into this fantasy life where everything from a Pinterest board can heal all.

You say you’re the same person you were in the same job, you’re just physically lighter and I can tell. I guess my question is, why? What did you want to do that your weight was holding you back from? You still probably can’t fit into the wooden roller coasters at Hershey Town (they’re made for toddlers, I swear), but other than that, the world was never really that closed off to you. Sure, you won’t have to ask flight attendants for seat belt extenders and it’ll be easier to accept invitations to climb Half Dome at midnight, but I’m not sure you’ll ever have the opportunity to experience those things because you’ve never trained yourself to have the curiosity about them.

You thought skinny was the end of the road. It turns out, skinny is just the start. Because you were always waiting to be skinny before you learned how to become interesting, and that’s just a shame. I hope now that you’re at the starting gate of your life, you’ll take that wheel (of pottery or race car driving or whatever) and tell Jesus to move out of the driver’s seat because you’re late to your own life.

I wish you the best. Keep in touch and let me know how you’re doing in about a year. Oh, and rent the movie “Tangled.” It’ll be more helpful than you might think.

Hearts and Stars,
Your Advice Guru