If these words are yours, own them. Wear them. Go to Walmart and buy the widest, ugliest muumuu you can find. Take it home and drape it over your naked body. Be brave. Look in the mirror and see your true reflection. This is reality. This is what your brain has done to your life. There is no shame here, only pattern and practice. This is habit, addiction, and insatiable desire…
“I’m so sorry,” says the woman trying to squeeze herself through the doorway of my Blank Canvas Living Creative Counselling office. She’s wearing what’s got to be the most horrifically unflattering muumuu ever created.
“Don’t apologize,” I tell her. “The only thing you have to be sorry for is, quite frankly, that awful muumuu. Why on earth would you do that to yourself?”
“I’m lost,” she says, and bursts into tears. She’s in the room now, but she can’t even sit down. There’s some unspeakable bulk, all sharp corners and clinking sounds, writhing under the synthetic pink and orange atrocity.
“You’re here now, and that’s huge. Not as big as that muumuu, mind you, but major non the less.”
She gives a weak smile at my even weaker joke and looks at me expectantly. This is how it always goes. There’s this idea that I’m going to make some diagnosis and write a prescription or trace some emotion back to its pattern of childhood origin. But that’s not the way creative counselling works. I’m not here to waste anybody’s time. My job is to strip the problem down to the story and brain habits that are causing it. And I know this woman’s not going to like what I’ve got to ask her to do.
“Take it off. For the love of gawd,” I beg her, “take off that hellish thing so we can see what we’re dealing with.”
“What?” She says, giving me a worried look. “Seriously? But I’m not wearing anything underneath.”
“Good, all the better. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to be perverted or anything. Just trust me on this.”
She fusses and fidgets, delays, protests, and delays some more, but I won’t let her off the hook. Finally, with infinite reluctance, she takes off the muumuu and drops it on the carpet between us.
Bottles of white wine, cases of diet coke, cigarettes, tabloid magazines, 12 boxes of Peek Frean cookies, television remotes, Facebook screens, automatic negative thoughts, phones waiting for calls from bad men… the baggage is a tonnage of habit and addiction. The woman’s body is creamy and lovely at the center of it all, but her face is red with shame. She won’t even look at me.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispers, “I never realized how bad things are, how much I’ve been carrying around. It’s ugly isn’t it?”
“Not near as ugly as covering it up with that gawd awful muumuu like you’ve given up on yourself. Look, if you’re brave enough to show me your body and brain like this, then you’re brave enough to change it. You don’t need all this shit. I can give you a new language and way of maximizing your humanity without needing to rely on external emotional regulation. I’m not talking about yoga rituals or 12 steps. I’m talking about a way of real-time dialoguing with your brain’s perception of reality. You just leave that muumuu with me and I’ll transform it into a tactile demonstration of what this process is all about. Sound like a plan?”
“This isn’t some new-age-y bullshit, is it?” She asks. I can’t blame her; I’d be suspicious too.
“No bullshit. It’s already saved lives, including mine.” I leave her curious as I go to find her another outfit to wear home.
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11 thoughts on “Under the muumuu – A woman and her addictions exposed”
very cool illustration. love it.
Thanks Laine! Can you believe I actually went to Walmart and bought the model. Possibly the most embarrassing purchase of my life, and I’ve bought some pretty shameful things lol. But one must not be afraid to suffer for art… or for upcoming sewing projects 😉
I loved this. You sound like you have very satisfying work, bravo!
I recently began a diet / lifestyle change because I am only 30 lbs overweight but I still have been hidin’ stuff in a muumuu, I guess you could say. I’m doing it all on my own, the peeling off of layers, and channeling the need to emotionally protect myself and pad my body with protection into writing. It’s working because I’m not really hungry, and I feel good about the writing (it’s never perfect enough for me, but I’m happy enough with it!)
Very nice piece. Thanks so much for posting it!
I’m so happy you enjoyed the muumuu! Thank you so much for your comment! Our writing is just like our bodies – both take effort and both suffer when we don’t give them a good healthy amount of time and energy. And I have yet to meet any writer who thinks either are perfect. Congrats on peeling off your own muumuu, layer by layer. Just remember to be compassionate with yourself no matter what you discover. Gawd help us all if I ever stripped mine right off – who knows what would come crawling out lol!
These last few years I’ve been wearing a rather drab uniform of tragic pants and practical shirts. I expose so much of myself on this blog and I’m starting to realize that I need to have the guts to show more of who I really am to the ‘real world’ – where I can’t moderate my comments~wink. Let’s both be brave enough to offer our true selves to the world around us. Not naked, mind you, but with bodies and clothes that make us sparkle 🙂
Love this story! I totally connect with it- can’t believe I’ve been wearing a muumuu my whole life until recently. One of the biggest baggage underneath my muumuu is lack of self-confidence. My first step towards gaining this back is to create a blog and reach 4,000 views at the end of 5 weeks. I hope you will follow my story- I’ve only just started but I have so much to share. Thank you for sharing and I cannot wait to read more!
Thank You!! Committing to your goal in front of an audience is a billboard sized sign of increasing self-confidence. It’s saying loud and clear “this is who I am, this is what I’m doing, and watch me achieve it!” All my millions (I wish lol) of dear readers are now witness to your goal. Don’t give up! We think our muumuus protect us, but they only keep us prisoner to secrets and ugly coping strategies that bulk up and keep us from living the lives we know we were born to rock.
Love your grandma workin’ her mini-ipad!
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Great post and thank you! I am getting maerrid next month and felt that sense of panic looking at the models wearing wedding gowns and comparing them to my own plus sized figure. I got over myself and went in search of a fabulous gown and found one by Mon Cheri Couture I even got it brand new on eBay. There ARE designers out there who are making beautiful gowns for more realistic figures they just don’t get the press of course. I know you’ll look amazing on your wedding day too regardless of your size. Thanks for sticking up for real women everywhere!
Congratulations Rahul! No need to wear a muumuu down the aisle when there are so many gorgeous wedding dresses out there! Congrats on sourcing yours with such 21st century ingenuity. I’m sure you’ll look incredible – and there’s nothing quite like the glow of a bride walking down the aisle to embrace her future.
I went old school and designed and hand-stitched (stupid machine was broken!) my wedding dress and every time I see it peeking out at me from the corner of my closet, my cheeks get a special little hint of that same rosy glow.
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