“It’s all about shape, proportion, and fit.” –Tim Gunn

I’ve been thinking about my life lately. Shocking, I know, because I’m so famous for not thinking so much.

Oh. Wait. The only acupuncturist I ever saw told me to think less because “The thinking is bad for your spleen.” And no, you can’t steal that line. I’m gonna write it into an essay someday.

I’m a suicidal depressive. I default to suicidal depression. Not in a dangerous way; in a fully functional, and yet also deeply entrenched in suicidal depression way. I’ve been like this for…years. And it works for me. I get through the day. It reminds me that life is always–always–a choice. I’m a control freak; I like having choices.

And yet.

I’m not sure this way of living is working for me as well as it used to. I’ve internalized this lesson. I don’t need to keep teaching myself again and again that getting out of bed is a choice, that eating is a choice, that being is a choice.

The thing that happens, though, when you realize that your old emotional uniform no longer fits, is you have to find a new one.

Clock TowerWhich is where Tim Gunn comes in, because it’s truly all about shape, proportion, and fit.

The defense mechanisms that worked when I was a kid no longer do; I don’t hide in my room and play with my stuffed animals anymore. Although I do sometimes hide in my room and write fiction, which is essentially the same thing. The way that I reacted to anxiety when I was a teenager no longer works for me. I can’t afford to keep my head down and not speak. And these days when I get nails-digging-into-palms-drawing-blood angry, I can’t just walk out of the class, or away from the people.

I have to sit with it. Sometimes I speak (because as we know, when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard, or welcomed, but when we are silent we are still afraid, words by Audre Lorde that I repeat to myself all the time). Sometimes I don’t speak. Either way, I mostly regret the way I chose to respond and yet can’t see what the better alternative would have been.

It’s this ill-fittingness of my responses that has preoccupied me of late. If both actions leave me with a bitter aftertaste, then what am I missing?

I lamented to a friend last night that my kid’s current developmental age–while totally perfect and sound and exactly where she should be–leaves me feeling like a hostile bully 80% of the time, that I hate myself all day every day for acting the way I do.

But why do you hate yourself? she asked. It’s not your fault things are hard right now.

I thought about that for a long moment. Then I realized it’s because the absolute only thing I have control over is how I react, how I respond. That’s it. There are times when I nail it. E and I spent two hours in a Prompt Care waiting room a few weeks ago and I was a motherfucking zen master. When it’s the two of us against the world, I’m a great parent.

When it’s the two of us alone in a room, I’m a total asshole.

It’s time, past time, to reevaluate some of the ways I react to things being outside my control. To say nothing of people. I had a long, successful run at isolationsism. I never doubted it as a policy, and it served me well. That time is over now, so I’ve got to work out a new way of relating to the world and relating to the people in it.

But first, I’m gonna watch more Project Runway. Because I have a huge crush on Tim Gunn, and also because he says these offhand sort of genius things about clothes that are really about life.

It’s all about shape. Proportion. And fit.

Both lovely images are by Elliott Brown on Flickr, used under Creative Commons License 2.0: Lions on Flagpoles and Clock Tower.