Aspen Princess: Walking that line of letting go vs. letting yourself go |

Aspen Princess: Walking that line of letting go vs. letting yourself go

Alison Berkley Margo
Aspen Princess

The other day I was rummaging around in the scrub oak on the steep terrain beneath our deck, gathering the various toys that Levi had tossed over the railings as Ryan watched, amused.

“Flip-flops are not the best footwear choice,” he said. “But I know you think you’re such a badass.”

He’s right, of course. Without good purchase in the loose dirt on the steep hillside, I had to execute a few rock-climbing moves swinging from the trees, bracing against the brittle branches of our cottonwoods and then hoisting myself up over the deck railing.

A few hours later, my scalp started to itch. Then my armpits. Suddenly, angry red bumps rose on my belly. I ran into the bathroom and lifted my shirt — the bumps were everywhere: the sides of my ribs, my back, chest and neck.

I began frantically searching the internet for poison oak, looking at various photos of disgusting rashes on innumerous body parts of strangers, limbs covered in oozing blisters, dark leg hair illuminated by a too-bright flash. It was the epitome of too much information, a smorgasborg of the failings of the human immune system. I found a homeopathic remedy for a baking soda bath and called it a night.

This all comes in the wake of babe being sick for over a week now. Living with a sick toddler is like having a small terrorist who takes you hostage in your own home. He tortures you with his incessant and impossible demands so that nothing you do satisfies him. No matter what you do to try to comfort him, you are met with a red face and pinched fists and loud cries and every so often, a bottle of milk hurled at your head.

Back to the computer you go for more Google searches on things like “what cold medicine is safe for a 2-year-old” and “alcoholism toddler parents.” This goes on for several days in a row, until the bags under your eyes can no longer be concealed with makeup. And so you wear sunglasses all day long, even inside, so that everyone thinks you are either a drug addict or a celebrity trying to go incognito.

The mystery rash comes at the most inopportune time to say the least. My agony further compounded by the photos of beach vacations that are clogging up my social media feed.

I wake up the next day to find my rash has only gotten worse, the red bumps slowly making their way to my face, behind my ears and all over my scalp. My skin feels hot and itches like crazy.

Before I can think about swimming in a bath full of calamine, I take my son to his doctor’s appointment, where he proceeds to melt down during the easy part of his exam, crying and carrying on and screaming “owie!” when the nurse tries to listen to his heart. He refuses get on the scale so they weigh me first, and then weigh me while I’m holding him. I give the nurse strict instructions not to tell me how much I weigh.

Later, at my own appointment, I have to get on the scale again. I squeeze my eyes shut and tell the nurse not to tell me how much I weigh. I am put into another small room and left there so I can think about how itchy I am with nothing to distract me.

When the doctor finally comes in, she takes one look at me and tells me I’m having an allergic reaction to something, scribbles a few instructions onto her notepad, and sends me on my merry way. I speed over to City Market, buy the medicine she recommended, and furiously tear the packages open in the front seat of my car and down the pills. I feel better within 30 minutes. The next morning, the rash has vanished.

Filled with relief, I click on the link to the patient portal that was emailed to me to review the doctor visits, and there it is: my weight.

I don’t know what was more shocking, watching red bumps erupt from my skin like mini volcanoes or seeing that number. I dropped my head into my hands as if I’d just been sentenced to life in prison. And in some ways, that’s what living in my body feels like.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve eliminated more food groups than I actually eat; that I spend every chance I get in the hot room trying to sweat it out; or that I spend a ton of time, energy and money on making wise food choices.

I study myself in the mirror and my body looks pretty much the same as it always has. I don’t understand where this big number is coming from. Apparently, I spent my youth thinking I was fat when I was thin, and now in my middle age, I believe myself to thin (enough) when I’m actually fat? Have I become one of those women you pass on the street dressed in a painfully unflattering outfit and think, “Yikes, she really shouldn’t be wearing that.”

My husband tries to talk me off the ledge by telling me all the things every girl dreams of hearing her whole life. He tells me I’m the most beautiful woman in the world and that I’m perfect just the way I am. He swears he would tell me if I was about to leave the house dressed to embarrass myself.

I think about that awful, ugly rash and how I never imagined it would just disappear, just like that, overnight. I wish the same could be true for this cold that has plagued my beautiful little baby boy for over a week now. Of course, I also wish this extra weight would disappear. I’m just afraid there’s a very thin line between letting go and letting myself go.

The Princess is happy for this brilliant blue sky day. Email your love to

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