TBH, sometimes it’s like, FML. And that’s OK.

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I had it all set in my head to write this great “I Overcame My Eating Disorder” post, and then, unexpectedly, I had cause to watch some of my wedding video. It totally took the wind out of my sails, people. I was so thin then, and I mean, I LOOKED happy enough.

The gist of it was that my aunts came in to town last weekend – three of them – and of course it made me think about how my body has changed since last they saw me. And like, I don’t go around all the time feeling bad about how I look, but let me tell you I tried on my entire wardrobe before deciding what to wear when the whole family met up.

Thing is, I don’t know how to write about this. I don’t know how to write that sometimes I look in the mirror and literally do not recognize myself. I’ve been eating disordered since I was 14, and I always want to stay positive and light for teh interwebz but sometimes it’s just not that easy. If I want to keep writing, if I want to keep being honest, then I really have to admit. It is not that easy all the time.

Why do I want to share this? Why do I want to expose myself in this way? I mean, everyone’s weird about their body, right, why put it out there? Because nobody TALKS about how they’re weird about their body. Nobody TALKS about how it feels. And I think that’s important. At least, it makes me feel better to think that.

So we went out to dinner, my aunts and my parents and me, and we all had Bloomin’ Onion and steak and what have you, and the whole time I was feeling like this huge whale that probably should have gotten a salad instead of a filet mignon. And at the end of the meal, my aunt leans over to me and tells me how amazing I look. That I really look amazing.

This, from the woman who probably remembers me as I was in my wedding dress, all thin and beautiful. This is me then, just after the wedding, on our honeymoon in Mexico. What you don’t see in that picture is my bulimia. And now I don’t have that. It’s cause to be happy. It’s a reason to be proud.

Right?


Free Advice: if you don’t know, probably just don’t ask.

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It’s no secret that I’ve gained some weight since B! moved out here. All told, there’s around a 35 pounds from lowest to highest. And, you know, I’m not in love with it, but it’s not like it’s wrecking all my time. I just ate a fro-yo cone with sprinkles. So, there.

But it’s gotten a little awkward lately. More specifically, people have started asking me if I’m pregnant. And I’m not talking like “that random stranger this one time”, I’m talking PEOPLE. Like, best friend people. Like, coworker people. People people. More than a handful. And it’s never just like, oh are you pregnant? It’s always like:

“Boy or girl?”

“When’s the due date?”

“I hope she has your hair!”

For any readers who may themselves have asked the burning question in question: it’s not the asking that bothers me. I’m well aware that I’m no longer the lithe sprite of yesteryear, but I’m also no longer smashing dishes or throwing glasses of wine at things. My eating disorder is in remission. I have a full set of dinner dishes. Weight gain is a small price to pay for sanity, I think, although it’s not always appropriate to say in the moment.

What bothers me is the whole awkwardness of the situation. Like, they say it, and then I have to say, you know, “no”, and then they get all flustered and I just laugh and smile because really – REALLY? It’s funny. Come on, you know it is.

That said, I’m still thinking of getting a couple T-shirts made that say “NOT PREGNANT, JUST FAT”. It’s summertime now. Anything goes.


And another thing, while I’m on a roll here,

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http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-truth-about-borderline

This article, found through a Twitter feed I follow at work, made me at least 6% less productive on Tuesday. I remained devoted to my job, turning my attention back to more relevant Tweets, but something about it stuck with me long after the day was done.

Now, let’s be up front. I’ve never been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I have a lot of other official diagnoses, but BPD is not one of them. However, they did teach Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a treatment schemata for those *with* BPD, in The Bin while I was there. I found the techniques very helpful: mindfulness, awareness, cultivated skills and concentration. I’m not saying it works every time, but, really, it’s not supposed to. Emotions are normal, and, we learn, they come and go.

The horrible thing about depression is that it seems to NEVER let go. Being depressed is like being trapped under a heavy, moist, 1-ton bale of stinking farm hay, and not even having the energy to wedge yourself out. And when you’re treating someone depressed, I’d imagine, the first order of business is to lift up that load and help the person stand. So in the hospital, every bit the picture of classical depression, it’s no wonder that they diagnosed me thusly.

So I’ve not been depressed lately. But I haven’t been great, either. Where my moods were once a one-note hum, they’re now a jazz arpeggio. Like, that kind of crazy jazz I hate. I’ll be fine one minute, just OK the next, and then feel myself slipping over the edge into something dark and mushy. Sometimes I’m able to catapult myself back out – sometimes I’m not.

None of this is like depression. But a lot of it is like borderline. Although I’m able to maintain relationships, it has more to do with my resolve to stay healthy and the infinite patience of my companions. Although I’m usually able to compose myself, I generally feel just on the verge of going technicolor. And impulse control? Let’s not even talk about all the ways I venture to excess.

I feel bad about it, really. I feel like I conquered one horrid beast only to be faced with another, more jostling foe. And anyone can tell you, the worst thing about feeling bad is feeling bad about feeling bad. But this article, instead of bringing me down, gave me some measure of hope and self-forgiveness. It’s exhausting to manage these moods – the euphoria and the depths – and since I’ve now been trained to bring awareness to every flicker, each movement is obvious to me.

So maybe it’s OK to be exhausted. Maybe it’s OK to be sad sometimes. And maybe it’s OK that my on-off switch flips at the speed of a strobe light. Maybe this is just the new me, and now I just have to learn how to handle her.


Is having a problem over here.

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So I’m writing this essay for this contest, and it’s about my personal journey from sickness to health. Well, I mean, it could be about anyone’s journey to any old place, really, but for me it’s about that. There’s a cash prize, also, so I’m especially motivated to make it a good read. And, as usual, I’m fine with talking about my depression, my anger, my marriage, my stay in the Bin, but it is SO HARD to describe how I got well. The journey from there to here is impossible to relate, and, in some ways, more painful to remember than my days in despair.

I mean, how do you describe how your husband left you, and you were living in the apartment alone with a cat who pissed not just everywhere but EVERYWHERE, and you barely had heat and you slept on the pull-out couch, but how during that time the Universe saw fit to give you amazing friends, shiny fun toys, and a brand-new lease on life? How do you describe how you were actually GRATEFUL to your husband for leaving, and how much sorrow you felt about how everything turned out? And then, if you can manage all that, how do you convey the beginning with B! – how a phone call from an old friend turned into capital L-O-V-E in a matter of weeks? Like, crazy fast but it was gravity, and the realization hit like a crash-test dummy faced with 65mph of brick wall.

Maybe it’s hard because those last days with Katsu were so hazy and strange. Maybe it’s because the months after were stranger yet. Maybe it’s this way because I’ve yet to figure it all out. I never want to come at my story from a position of being totally well – I mean, I’m still amazed by each day without utter catastrophe – but it’s true that my mind is much better now. Regardless of whether I win or not, regardless of how I tell the story, the essay will bubble up here eventually. It’s good to have things to rely on.


Can still remember.

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Ten years ago, I woke up to my roommates screaming. At first I was annoyed, I mean, it’s like 8:30am, TONE IT DOWN ALREADY. Then I saw. And we were all quiet.

My father was flying out of Boston that day, but I didn’t know where. The phone lines were down, so I couldn’t call my mom. It was like the apocalypse, I thought. No service. No contact. Only this breathless uncertainty – the kind of terror that has its own atmosphere.

We watched the news all day long, and, by this time one decade ago, I was at work. I waited tables at an Italian restaurant on the East side of Syracuse, NY, and the few customers I served that night were celebrating birthdays. I gave them all free cheesecake. What a crappy birthday, I’d say to each, I’m sorry. When I wasn’t tableside, I sat at the bar and watched CNN.

By nightfall, exhausted, my friends and I decided to distract ourselves by going to our favorite bar. The news was on there, too, so it wasn’t much of a distraction. The air hung thick with smoke and resignation. None of us knew quite what to do, so when we got home we started to pull Tarot cards. I pulled The Tower.

The next day I rented a car with no tape deck and drove to Massachusetts to be with my family. I didn’t tell them I was coming, just sort of showed up. I drove through the Berkshires in silence, thinking about that night in late 1999 when I sat on the steps of Kaia’s brownstone in Jersey City, out of my mind after a night at the clubs. She had a view of lower Manhattan from her stoop, and the twins seemed to sparkle and wave. Columns of light and life.

The meaning of The Tower is catastrophic change – the undoing of all things. It is a card of violence, but also a card of immense hope. For from destruction comes creation, and only from the ashes can the phoenix rise. I know this now, deeply, and I hope that we as individuals (and our country as a whole) can use this time to live in a way that builds better Life. Because Life, I mean, it can be pretty awesome.


An anecdote

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Driving home from work today, I heard something behind me that sounded like a cross between a garbage disposal and a poorly-made hairdryer. The noise got louder and passed me on the left: a road-worn red Mustang piloted by the largest woman I’d ever seen. Her passenger was no less corpulent. As they pulled their way ahead, I noticed that the rear tire was a spare, and that the rear chassis of the sled was decorated with twee flower decals, chipped away from years of gravel.

Try as I might, I COULD NOT get away from this car. The whole commute, I was confronted with this monstrosity of a vehicle and its interminable, grating roar. Even so, I started to feel bad about being so judgemental. I mean, maybe they were happy, this pair, in their tank tops that remind me of a dollar store in Fargo. Maybe they were just joyriding down 1A at sunset, taking a break from their husbands and their kids, enjoying a smoke and some girl talk.

As I finally pulled by them on the left, I took one last look.

They were both eating double cheeseburgers.

There’s nothing bitchier than an eating-disordered girl who sees other people eating double cheeseburgers. A sick combination of jealousy and horror, marked with a hearty side helping of despair.

*sigh*

We still have some work to do, I guess.


A short list of things that are Extremely Worth It:

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  • The glass deductible rider on your car insurance policy. I’ve had like, 6 windshields over the years, honest to God.
  • MAKE UP FOR EVER HD Foundation. Two words: Seriously Amazing. The other afternoon, my boss went out for lunch. While he was gone I applied my daily dose, and, upon his return, he kind of did a double-take and asked me if I had changed, somehow. PEOPLE, my (male) BOSS noticed. It’s that good. It is not sticky, it is not greasy, and it does not look like makeup. In short: it is everything you want out of life.
  • Mark Bittman’s cookbooks. That one and this one. I read them like novels. I mean, I’ll be honest, some of the recipes are not that great, but if you need to know how to debone a chicken, make DIY buttermilk, or create awesome 15-minute Kung Pao chicken, this guy is your man.
  • The BlacX Duet. I just purchased their single-drive model, and am kicking myself all the way down the street for not just spending the extra money and getting the full package. The potential for 4 live terabytes of storage with a price tag under $100. It makes me dizzy.

If you have a hard drive fetish, if you like to cook, if you like to look fantastic all the time, or if you like to not spend money on stupid crap, trust me here. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.


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