I can't sleep. It's 2:53 a.m., and I've been awake in bed for a while, simmering and cranky and feeling just uncomfortable in my own skin. My hair is touching my neck wrong, my skin feels too dry, my knee and foot ache, my back itches, I am pre-menstrual and bloaty and BLEAH.
The timing is odd in one sense, given that this has been a kind of self-indulgent weekend thus far. I got my hair cut and a pedicure, both of which usually make me feel a fresh and smooth and perky. Hormonally, though, I get it. PMS hits me in a variety of ways. There's not always an emotional component, though when there is it's usually this restless crankiness or a sort of sad, lonely feeling of disconnection. Physically, though, it's pretty predictable. I get carb cravings like you wouldn't believe, and I pack on some water weight that stays with me for a week or so.
I have to say, much as I don't enjoy this, it's way better than it used to be. In college, I had all of this, plus crazy cramps that were occasionally completely incapacitating. Discovering ibuprofen (recently over-the-counter when I went to college in 1984) improved the quality of my life one week out of the month by giving me some control over the pain issue. But I continue to feel this sense of wanting to crawl out of my skin (and then go drown my cranky inner child in ice cream and margaritas).
Feeling comfort in my body has always been an issue for me. I've certainly come a long way. I think of my young self in middle school and high school, struggling to come to terms with this woman's body that feels awkward and uncontrollable. I was one of those girls who ends up with a womanly body earlier than most--in 5th grade I was nearly as tall as I am now, and I had the breasts and hips of a much older girl. I understood that as fat, though looking back, it really wasn't. But I also needed glasses, and got acne, and got braces, a good two years before my classmates did. So while they were mostly still knobby-kneed kids, I was coping with the life-explosion that is puberty, and it just didn't go that well. I didn't know how to dress or care for my new body, and I ended up mostly trying to hide it and myself. I have such visceral memories of feeling terribly uncomfortable in clothes that didn't fit, in a body that didn't seem to fit.
Those memories give me perspective. It still isn't easy, and sometimes my relationship with my body is more adversarial than I'd like. But there's so much more that I know now. I STILL have acne (sigh...35 years later), but I know what to do about it and how to keep it under control. I know that the shape of my body works with some clothes and not others, and I know where to go to find things that will likely work for me. I know what kind of makeup I like, and that I like my toes polished and my fingers not. God knows there's still plenty of room for improvement, but remembering what it used to be like is kind of a comfort on this uncomfortable night.