I stopped opening my mail. I let it pile up. From December until now. Three big piles.
I have a secret streak of irresponsibility and procrastination. When it surfaces I know something is going on. Years ago, I procrastinated filing my taxes. One year, then two, then I stopped opening the letters until the IRS took the money out of my bank account. The weird thing was, if I’d filed on time, I would have gotten a small refund. Instead, I had to pay a penalty and hire a CPA to straighten the mess out.
All the forms I need to file my 2014 taxes are in those piles, and whichever ones aren’t, I’m going to have to track down on-line. I should make an appointment with my accountant. I have phone anxiety. If I don’t call now I could procrastinate for another five years, paralyzed by shame. Like a bad child on my way to the principal’s office, I can’t believe I’m here again.
Telling a procrastinator to just do it is about as effective as telling an overweight person to use willpower or a depressed person to cheer up. I muster up my adult self, pick up the phone, and place the call. I know I won’t blow off the appointment. I will come prepared because I don’t want to look like an idiot. I want to look like a responsible adult, even if I feel like a terrified child.
I’m afraid of backsliding and screwing up my finances again. Of starting a costly self-perpetuating cycle of anxiety, avoidance, and shame. This is a part of me that I hate. I’m also afraid of gaining back weight; the visible manifestation that I’m out of control and that something is wrong. I could lose my grip and be round again.
Or be eleven years old, chubby, wearing clothes I hate, stealing money from my parents to buy muffins from the bakery, and stuffing the muffins down to steady myself, bewildered but unable to stop.
Two things my mother harped on were my weight and that I was never going to be successful or be able to support myself (since I obviously wasn’t going to get married and no one would hire someone who looked like me). It is impossible to get those dead arguments out of my head, no matter how many times I prove her wrong.
It is no accident that this is happening just as I am starting to feel good about my body. The procrastination and bingeing are warnings. The eleven year old is banging at the cellar door trying to get out. I don’t know what to do with her.
I want to tell her that her mother is wrong. It is OK that you don’t want to grow up. There will come a time when you won’t have breasts, and you won’t have to wear anything that makes you look like a woman. You will have a nice chest and you will put on a T-shirt with nothing on underneath it. You won’t have to stuff your feelings down, you will be able to feel the pain and it will hurt but you will survive. It won’t be easy, but you will stop stuffing down bagels and you will pay your taxes on time. And you will feel better. I promise.
Notes: Roy Rogers is remembered for his horse Trigger, but he also had a trusty canine companion, Bullet. Bullet was known to rescue him from some pretty difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, Gracie can not help me open the mail or file my taxes. I can’t even take her off as a deduction.
This article from The New Yorker (although neither butch nor trans* related) is a good piece on procrastination. A lot of us complain about being paralyzed by procrastination, putting off all sorts of things until we get our act together. I’m trying to break the cycle.