Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Very Raw and Truthful Account of What It Looks Like When I Backslide In Recovery TW: ED, Restriction, Bingeing.

Something happened in December that threw off my recovery.

For some people, this might be an intense family gathering surrounded not only by the food that you're "supposed" to indulge in all while under the scrutiny of the people whose opinions if not matter the most, certainly are expressed most vocally and irrepressibly.

For others maybe it's not the family that's triggering; maybe it's the office party where there's all this pressure to bring something indulgent, but know that if any of your coworkers see you snacking they'll all be talking about you in the bathroom.

Who knows...there are tons of triggering moments. None more so than the fucking diabolical launch of all the New Years' Juice Cleanse, Slim Quick, Paleo bullshit diet plans and the relentless flogging of gym memberships and fitness classes as methods by which we "atone" for anything so human as enjoying food for a little while.

Anyway, all of this is to say that these have been triggers for me in the past.

But not this year.

This year, I was bamboozled by six weeks of illness starting the week before Thanksgiving.
Having a two year old, and beginning to work with the public again after a reprieve from exposure to their unwashed masses meant that starting November 15th, there was a cold in our house, and one of us had it, in some form or another, FOR A GODDAMN MONTH.

Somewhere between the antibiotics, emergency room visits for skyrocketing fevers, sinus infections, pediatrician appointments, buckets of used tissues, sacks of cough drops, chicken soup and pots of tea, Thanksgiving and my son's second birthday happened.

Neither of which we could celebrate because one or all of us were so under the weather.

And then the week before Christmas, we thought we were in the clear. We figured a month must have done it, but the germ gods had other plans.

I came down with it first.
A 24 hour stomach bug that put me on the toilet with a trash pail in front of my face for the better part of 8 hours. It was so bad and so sudden, I had to ask my husband to stay home from work because after a night of mandatorily evacuating my body, I was too weak to stand, let alone care for our agile and vigorous toddler.

And he was amazing.
My Beard brought the babe to me to nurse and cuddle because he was frightened and confused by his prone mama. After the six hours of chills, shakes, and crippling stomach pain that followed in the wake of the horrors, he took the babe away and brought me gingerale, pedialyte, and later, saltines and pepto bismol.

It was a rough bug, but a quick one, and I was surprised at how much more human I felt almost exactly 24 hours after the symptoms came on.
Of course, as I was settling into bed with my son at that exact moment of relief, the toddler came down with the bug and began his six hours of bodily voiding.

I was surprised at how competent I felt considering how weak I was, but my husband had to go to work the next day, and so I immediately became dedicated nurse locked in until the 24 hours had had its way and finished with my child.

As I'm sure you can imagine, freshly absolved of the bug myself, getting our little guy through that with which I had so recently tangled did not make me want anything more than the few crackers I managed to help him eat before we went to bed that night.
When we got up the next day, I was more concerned with getting the baby to eat and drink than I was with putting anything more than a cup of weak tea into my system.

Then...suddenly it was the afternoon, and I was alone with the baby, and I realized it had been almost three days since I'd eaten more than a piece of dry toast.

I checked my stomach for feelings of hunger, and there was nothing.

And here I was, triggered, triggered harder than I had been since I had the baby.

I knew I had lost weight.

I knew I was probably the thinnest I had been since I had my baby.

I knew if I looked at my body what I would see.

And here's the shitty thing.

I looked anyway.

I looked and it made me even further divorced from my actual bodily feelings.

There was suddenly an ease to this starvation thing.

I mean...I'd been so sick...I didn't feel like eating, and now my stomach was so small, even a few pieces of toast filled me up to the brim.

I could hear the nasty whispers of that voice I had spent so long trying to silence.
You know what it sounds like.
You know how it wheedles and promises and tells you that just by listening to it over the cues of your actual body, you can get everything you ever wanted.


Fuck.

I admit...I didn't handle it well.

It scared me.

I ate pizza that night.
My first real meal in three days, and I didn't binge, but it did feel weird and wrong and uncomfortable.

I tried to sit with those feelings.

And then my husband came down with the stomach bug.
And then it was Christmas, and we were too weak to travel, so we got rescued by my parents, who took us up to their house, but the baby wasn't recovering as quickly as I had thought, and so meal times were interrupted and aborted. I ended up having to miss several meal times and scrape together my sustenance from leftovers carefully wrapped and put away by my mother who chittered and worried about me the whole time.

And here's the ugly truth:
ED's LOVE THAT SHIT.

They love that nagging from loved one's
"ooh you're looking a bit thin, dear."
"Did you get enough to eat? You can't afford to miss a meal!"
"Is that all you're going to have? Are you sure? Wouldn't you just like a little bit more?"

And it's like a high, the control, the power, the repetitive, "No thank you. I'm good. No thanks. I'm all set. No. No. No."

I can't speak for anybody else, but for me, in the grips of the ED Voice, the inquiries as to whether I'm eating enough, the commentary on me being thin, the constant asking if I'm okay...

That's what I'm missing in my life, and that's all I want.

I want to be cared for.
I want to be worried about.
I want it to matter to someone that I am struggling.
I want my depression, anxiety, fear, and worry; my suffering, my sacrifices, my martyrdom to be written all over me, so somebody asks me if I'm okay.

It makes me feel like i matter at a time when I am incapable of asserting to myself that I matter at all.

To be noticed...it's huge.

And it makes sense. I mean, here I was, caring for my child, my husband, taking care of myself as best I could, dealing with sickness after sickness in these unrelenting waves, and all I wanted was somebody to take over. I just wanted an adult to come in and take care of things so i could have a day where I didn't have to be the strong one.

Except we don't get those in real life, not as parents, not as adults, and the closest I could get, was getting thinner and getting worried about, and then getting the privilege of saying no no no, and the satisfaction that maybe they'd keep worrying enough to check in on me again, in a week, when I didn't know if I'd be okay yet, when I was certain, I'd need checking in on.

I told you it's the ugly truth, but it's pulling it out and examining it under the bright, unforgiving light that takes away its power, because here's the thing.

The body fights back.

Here we are, two weeks after my parents' house.

Life is still doing it's thing.
There are blizzards that bring all travel, work, and plans to a halt.
There is a cabin feverish child brought to frenzy by being stuck indoors for weeks on end.
There is holiday burn out and aftermath and packages to send and cancelled deliveries, and every other thing that makes you tear your hair out this time of year.
And everybody else is dealing with it too, so nobody's asking if you're okay anymore.

The pendulum always swings back.

All of a sudden, you find yourself engaging in behaviors you haven't done in months, maybe years.
You're waiting until nobody's around and then eating half a huge bar of chocolate in great big gobbles. The gluey sweetness fills your mouth but you barely register the flavor. You swallow as fast as you can. You're halfway through the bar, which is maybe a pound, and you realize what you're doing and it scares you.

Your kid is in a high chair watching, and though he's not old enough to understand, he's soaking it all in. The strange behavior. The way that Mummy doesn't eat like Daddy, doesn't eat like anybody else.

You're flooded with shame and guilt, and the binge feelings you worked so hard to quell are surging through you alongside the sugar rush, telling you how worthless you are, what a terrible mother you are, what a horrible example. It's all connected. It's all fused into one terrible cycle, and you're as stuck inside it as a lost swimmer trapped in the curl of an undertow, being dragged out to deep water.

That's how it feels.

But you prepared for this.

I mean I prepared for this.

I am not the weak, struggling girl I was ten, five, even two years ago.

I know this game.

I recognize this tide.

I know if I change the direction of my thoughts, I can escape it.

So I wrap up the rest of the bar of chocolate and I put it away.
I take three deep breaths, and I pour myself a glass of water.

I'm not ready to drink it.
There's too much going on, and my body feels all kinds of crazy, so I just take it with me, like a safety blanket or a life preserver. This glass of water is going to make me feel better in about an hour, when my body is struggling to metabolize the binge, and I need to be ready to take care of it, to tell it, that it's okay, that I am working on it, and we are going to get out of this together.

Later, I drink the water.
It took more than an hour for me to feel like I had room enough for it in my belly.

It was about three and a half hours later, as I was lying in bed.
The darkness was there, and the baby was asleep, so it was just me, alone with all of the confusion.
The ED voice screeching as loud as ever about "making up for it tomorrow" about "worthless lack of self control" about "you deserve everything bad that happens to you because look at how disgusting and pathetic you are."

And I drink the water and I quietly tell it to go fuck itself.

There is no point in saying, "what's done is done."

What's done is what haunts me and drives my actions.

So instead, I breathe, and I keep drinking the water, which is a very small, very pointed way of getting out of this. I tell myself it's okay. I forgive myself over and over. I remind myself that my body went through shock recently.

It went through a period of almost three weeks of starvation, and its natural response was to get as much into it as humanly possible when it finally got past my ED.

It was scared that I was going to starve it again.

It was trying to save me.

When I realize this last part, I feel the hot sting of tears behind my eyes, and I tell my body, with my hands on the soft mound of my stomach, "I'm sorry."

That's all.
That's where this began, and it's where it continues.

No matter how many times I slip backwards on this journey, I start with the apology to my body.
"It's okay."
"You did the thing you were meant to do."
"I'm sorry, and I will do better by you now."

I manage to fall asleep, and I keep breathing, confident that I have slipped lose of the undertow, and can begin swimming back for shore. I know I can get there. I just have to keep going.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Winter Well

For as long as I can remember, I have endured Winter.
I have no enjoyed it.
I have not delighted in it, used it, anticipated it, or waited for it with bated breath.

I have known, like any New Englander (and while not one by birth, I believe my 20 odd years of New England winters should designate me at least the honorary claim), that
Winter Was Coming And I Needed To Prepare.

As a child in Canada, I found winter mesmerizing at first. Coming from a place like Australia, where the winters were comparable to the best possible slightly drizzly day in late May according to Canadian Meteorological rules, I found the relentless deposits of snow and blistering cold to be fascinating in the way that only a child can be fascinated by things that can kill her.

I made snow men. I snowshoed. I skied. I tried ice skating and wasn't terrible at it. I shoveled and was abysmal at it. I learned how to tie a scarf around my face and pull my hat down in negative forty degree weather so that only your eyes were exposed, and then I learned what frozen eyelashes felt like.

When we moved to Maine, the luster had very much rubbed off of Winter.
As a teenager I was required to be moody and hate everything, and so I hated Winter fiercely.
I hated it for keeping me indoors (when all I wanted to do was read anyway).
I hated it for the shoveling my parents demanded I do every time there was a blizzard.
I hated it for the feeling of cold that seeped into my bones and which could only be driven away by gaining five to ten pounds in three months and as a teenage girl this was the kind of Catch 22 that made one suicidal.
By the time I had enough fat on me to keep the cold away, the cold went away on its own, and it was presumed that I should be ready to strut around in the shortest of denim shorts and flimsiest sundresses as only true New England girls do once the thermometer goes above 50 outside.

As a young adult, I escaped Winter by having a love affair with California.
I have yet to resolve my feelings about this country's West Coast, but suffice it to say, that there is somewhere nestled to the Pacific where I am certain I could have the New England bled right out of me if I were to try. And I wouldn't hate it.

But here's where I am with Winter now.
I am in my mid-thirties, a time, when a great deal of uncertainty and self doubt begins to move out of the rotation on the "Most Important Things To Obsess About on an Hourly Basis" list.

I had a baby a little over two years ago, and so many of the things on that list have little to nothing to do with me anymore at all.

Then there is the peculiarity of Winter.

In a time when we are pressured to constantly move.
A time when we are never successful enough, beautiful enough, relevant enough, rich enough, clever enough, well read enough, charitable enough, funny enough, fuckable enough, or productive enough...
A time when you feel like you must update your blog your twitter your facebook your instagram your "followers' your friends you family with every single moment of your completely ordinary day and somehow sell it like it was something superior to everyone else's completely ordinary day...

In this time, Winter makes you stop.

Winter doesn't give you a reason to go out.
Winter forces you to find reasons to stay in and slow down.

Winter makes you stay inside your head, inside your house, inside yourself.

And as a person in these times, that is quite difficult.

In fact, I watch many many people take this time to escape themselves very seriously.
The book vacations using credit cards and scamper away to the tropics where they can run around and pretend their lives aren't waiting for them the moment they get back.
They go on cruises so laughably distracting from the routines of everyday life that they must create new routines inside their ship lives to keep from going mad.
They expunge all evidence of the holidays and dedicate themselves religiously to militaristic diet and exercise regimens that fill their brains with calculations and meaningless arithmetic all boiling down to DO YOU OR DO YOU NOT DESERVE A COOKIE WORTHLESS FLESH MACHINE?

Very few people actually dwell inside the Winter, and thusly, themselves.

Do not be fooled.

Even the bullshit American appropriation of hygge-hype has nothing to do with the actual ministrations of what hygge stands for. It's much more a way of excusing one's introverted behavior by means of hashtag.

Gods forbid we don't feel guilty for sitting on our couch with a book and a cup of tea.

Which is what I am getting at.

In Winter, I clean my house.
I scrub the cupboards and I purge my closets.
I pine sol the bathroom and I reorganize all the books on my shelves.
I do this, because I am spending so much more time inside I want it to be a nice place to be.
I buy a couple of fat candles that I will enjoy lighting when the sun leaves us at 4:23pm.

I invest in a nice brand of hot chocolate, and the good biscuits, or I learn to bake a new kind of cookie that I can put in my little cookie jar and feel very fancy when I reach in and there they are, all warm and slightly crumbly from the dry air.

I don't fuss with exercise.

If the weather is decent, I take a walk, but never for distance, only for silence, to appreciate the ocean, or the way the world goes all to whispers during a snowstorm.

If there's been a snowstorm, I get up, first thing in the morning, put on my favorite music on my headphones, and I shovel out the driveway. While I do this, I fantasize about the enormous breakfast and twelve cups of coffee I am going to have when I am done because nothing is so delicious as the food and drink you consume after shoveling snow.

I don't worry about gaining weight. If I do, it will keep me warm.
If I don't, I have a thirty pound baby who likes to take naps on my chest for that.

It's almost sneaked up on me, but I believe I have finally learned how to winter.

And Winter well at that.



Monday, January 1, 2018

NEW YEAR'S REVOLUTION

Good Morning 2018.

Right away, you tried to play your same old 2017 tricks, but we are wiser now.
We are smarter, more resilient, less naive.

In 2017, I felt like nothing was in my control.
I felt at the mercy of the media, of politicians, of big companies who couldn't care less about me.
I felt manipulated, overlooked, exposed and vulnerable.

I felt powerless.


And as the end of the year approached, I began to realize the biggest thing I wanted to take away from this year was the overcoming of that powerless feeling.

So when I opened facebook at 7am on January 1st 2018 and the first fucking thing the stupid bloody algorithms tried to tell me was that North Korea was constantly ready to push their nuclear button, I said, "FUCK THIS and FUCK YOU."

Because no.

I don't think we're on the brink of nuclear war.

I think the current administration wants us to believe we are because then we will cling to it.
We will be so cowed by the biggest, scariest threat that they can feed us, that we will let them "do whatever it takes to protect us," and gobble up all the stupid fear mongering bullshit news articles about "escalating tensions," "good guys and bad guys," and every other carefully chosen phrase that will not make you freak out, but put you in a low level of anxiety and tension that makes you feel vulnerable, weak, and desperate for a big, strong hero to tell you, "Do not worry citizens. I have this under control."

You are being manipulated.
Every article you read.
Every headline.
Every tv show.

All of it is designed to make you feel a certain way.
Every piece of media you engage with is designed to make you feel invested in a plotline, or character development, or mounting dramatic tension.
Not every source of such material is in it for simple entertainment value.

And it is really really really fucking important to know where you're getting your entertainment/news/media from, and what they benefit from if you wholly engage with their manipulation.

They may get a second season of their incredibly well written netflix series.

They may get a third article on the well read blog that's gaining popularity.

They may get a third release of their celebrity endorsed clothing line.

And they may get a second term in office, or avoid prosecution for their multitudes of crimes, if we, as the consumers do not pay attention.

SO NO. I WILL NOT BE BUYING YOUR CULTIVATED FUCKING WAR SEEDS. I WILL NOT BE BUYING INTO YOUR POORLY CONSTRUCTED SUBPLOT.

2017 was really hard.

It was a year of disillusionment and fear.

Part of that was realizing that there are still a ton of people who hate other people for no bloody reason, which I admit, was really brutal.

I, like many, believed we were well on our way to a new time of peace, love, hope, and understanding.

The thing about all that really nice stuff, is that it's like a garden, it must be tended to and taken care of, or else it withers and dies.

If you leave the garden to everyone else, you will come out one day and there will be no tomatoes for your pasta sauce. You have to water the garden. You have to plant the seeds too. You may even need to teach your children or your friends how to take care of the plants should you get ill or need to take a break so that the garden survives your absence, but the thing is, WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR THESE FUCKING TOMATOES.

Long story short, it is okay if you had a rough 2017.
It is okay if you are tired, and it feels overwhelming to go right out and check on your garden right now.

BUT WE SURVIVED YOU GUYS.
AND WE WILL KEEP SURVIVING.

IN FACT WE WILL THRIVE AND SO WILL OUR TOMATOES.

Okay that metaphor is a little ridiculous now...

But truly.

Don't let the follies of last year inform your decisions for this year, or exhaust you before you've even begun.

Do not read articles that discourage you from resisting.
You do not have to believe something just because it is in print.
You do not have to believe something because it is on tv, because it is on a well reputed blog, or because it is being spouted by the supposed leader of your country.

You do not have to believe a god damn word.

And you shouldn't.

Because you are being manipulated.
Constantly.
And you can decide not to be.
You can decide to turn off the computer, or the phone, or the television.
You can talk to your friends, read other articles, and speak with the representatives who engage with and stand up for your beliefs.

Believe me when I say this alone is an act of rebellion.
Continued education is an act of revolution, and choosing not to be manipulated is a virtue of that education.

Believe me when I say, we are going to thrive this year.
2018 is not a year of fear for us.

It is a year of fear for THEM.
BECAUSE THEY ARE TERRIFIED OF US.
WE HAVE THE POWER.
 BECAUSE WE HAVE THE MAJORITY.

HAPPY NEW YEARS REVOLUTION.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Creature of Habit

The thing about coping mechanisms, addictions, and eating disorders is that even years into recovery, they still like to present themselves as your first recourse whenever you find yourself in a stressful situation.

For the last few months, I think I can safely admit that I was depressed.
Back in August, after a trip for a family wedding that, while in no way disastrous, felt extravagant and unappreciated, I began to tumble down an all too familiar chasm of anxiety.
It was partially spurred by the the use of a substantial amount of funds for the trip and my concern that it didn't leave us with "enough" to make ends meet through the rest of the year.

That's right, I started worrying about things in December back in August.

It was compounded by the relentless terrible news I saw in the media every day.

I kept worrying about how i could take care of my son, how I could protect him, how was I going to make up for the fact that I'd brought him into a terribly dangerous world where people purposefully ignored the environment, turned away the hungry and hurt from their doors, fought over meaningless social platforms, and burst into schools, concerts, and churches to murder each other. In this world, it wasn't safe to walk down the street because a nazi/terrorist in a truck could plow into you just for having the gall to protest the normalization of bigotry and hatred.

Before long I was drowning in fear. I couldn't control anything. I couldn't even financially care for my family because no matter how many jobs I applied for or freelance positions I wrote samples for, or manuscripts I sent out, I never got a bite.

My feelings of inadequacy multiplied and bred in the shadow of these fears. They began to consume my sleep, my time with my son, my relationships, my body, myself.

I should warn you. This is not a comeback kid story. This is not a "And then I had an epiphany and turned my whole life around" story.

This is the truth.

I cried every day.
I retreated from conversations with friends because I didn't want to tell them how poorly I was doing.
I called my dad every day and talked to him for fifteen minutes before hanging up because every time I thought he would say the thing that made me feel better, he was a human being and just asked me how the baby was doing, and whether I'd tried a new recipe for bread, and what book I was reading, and I couldn't fathom being a normal person who wanted to bake bread, or had the concentration to read a book, or could accurately describe how her child was, because everything was terrible, I was terrible, nothing made any sense, and I was somehow still falling, always falling, always getting sadder, more anxious, wondering if this was how it would be from now on.

And this went on until about two weeks ago.
Around the end of October, I realized I hit rock bottom.
I looked around rock bottom, and I don't have to tell you what it looked like because I think you know, but I got there, and I knew, this was a different rock bottom than the one I had reached at 28 when I decided I needed therapy, or at 22 when I looked into the ocean one day and thought how nice it would be just to smash myself to pieces on the rocks to make my head go silent once and for all.

This time rock bottom was a moment of walking to the park. A storm had just blown through, and ripped mighty limbs from trees. Our neighbor's shed had lost its roof. Power zapped out through many neighborhoods including our own. And in that morning light, after the storm, with all the wreckage lying about, the wind still very strong and wild, it was oddly warm out.

I had been crying all morning, but needs must, and I took the baby for his daily dose of fresh air and found the park deserted.

Which made sense. Anybody with half a brain was probably tucked inside safely away from all the debris.

I took the baby out of his stroller, and we went down to the ocean and looked at the waves.
They were crowding the shore, chewing at it hungrily and the sound of thousands of rocks clacking against each other was deafening.

I picked up a stone. It was round.
And I realized that the ocean wasn't responsible for rounding its edges the way I'd always believed. The ocean just bashed the rocks against each other and it was the friction of touching all those stones, tumbling about in a senseless torrent of waves, that smoothed them down and made them blunt.

And it wasn't an epiphany, but it made me think about how much I had been blaming the universe and the state of the world for being fucked up and making me miserable, when it had nothing to do with an omniscient force and everything to do with all the other people, all the other rocks, and me allowing them to smash into me over and over and over and feeling like it was out of my hands, and that I had no control over being stuck in this wave.

But that isn't how it has to be at all.

And a little voice said, "the good thing about hitting rock bottom, is that there's nowhere to go but up."
And i felt better.

It was an increment better.
It was a sliver better.
But it was the first time in three months I could remember feeling any bit better instead of worse.

So I got a job at the local coffeshop working part time so that I didn't need childcare, and I could still spend my days with the baby.


*


When describing one's life, it is easy to get sucked into the desire of fitting one's story into a narrative.
I want you all to leave off with me on that shoreline, wind-whipped cheeks and howling with renewed fervor for life, but that is not the end of my story.

It is not even the end of my depression's story, because life is too many simultaneous narratives to ever possibly fit into such a neat and tidy description: beginning-conflict-resolution-end.

So I got a part time job, and I began to work on my anxiety, and I stopped going on facebook or instagram as much, and I cut certain media outlets out of my life, and I slowly, incrementally, started to feel like perhaps there was a point to what I was doing. Perhaps it wasn't a terrible idea to bring a child into this world, to hope that there might be a future for him that didn't look like my worst nightmares.

Things like to settle into grooves, habits, and routine.

I could work at a coffeeshop in Berlin and it would be just a slightly differently nuanced version of the same thing I've been doing for the last fifteen years.

So this is a new cafe, but the same old habits.
The offensive music we save for the closing.
The pastries we fight over to take home at the end of the day rather than throw them out.
The elaborate shift drinks.
The bad jokes.
The regulars.
The terrible customers.
The mopping.
The cuts and bruises I don't remember receiving.

And I come home at ten o'clock at night, starved from the running and carrying and lifting and cleaning, and I can feel the old monstrous crutches lean into me heavily as I enter the darkened kitchen.

The same demons that always lived here telling me to eat until I want to die.
Eat because I didn't have time to during my shift.
But keep eating because I hate myself.
Keep eating because you have to go back tomorrow.
Keep eating because you're lonely, because you miss your kid, because you miss your kid but you don't want to see him right away when you get home because you haven't actually had a moment's peace.
Keep eating because you don't remember how to listen to your body, because your body is a stupid, wretched thing that you have no control over, that will fail you, is failing you, failing you constantly, every moment, even now.

So it is a small victory but an important one,
that I make a grilled cheese sandwich.
I put butter in the pan, slice up the good, homemade bread.
arranged the cheddar pieces so that they meet the edges of the bread and then press down with the spatula to get that golden toasty outside, with the hot, molten, salty interior.

I make the grilled cheese because making something to eat was also never how I used to come home from a shift.

Then I take it, and I sit down in front of the computer, and I put on a site that I can stand to read, that isn't terror infused, and I eat the sandwich slowly. I taste it. I drink a glass of water to wash it down.
When I get to the last bite, it is the best bite, the corner bit with the toastiest edge and the meltiest cheese. I savor it, and then I finish my water, and then I finish the article I am reading.

I brush my teeth, and then I retrieve my child, and I go to bed.

The smallest victory, but no less important, because it is so starkly different from how I ever sought comfort in the past.

And there is still a voice that screams:

You pig!
Bad mother!
Terrible person!

But it sounds hollow and desperate now.
There is a voice bigger than it, and it sounds like a wave filled with tumbling rocks, and all the ocean behind it, and it says,
"Good. Now sleep. You've done all that you can."

And it is enough.


Friday, October 6, 2017

Worthy

We threw out our scale a few weeks ago.
In fact, I haven't weighed myself in a month, and it wouldn't be that big of a deal if I didn't think about it, every, single day.

See, weighing myself and seeing a number that corresponded with the idea I had fo no logical reason decided to be the most virtuous helped me make sense of my life.

I struggle a great deal with feeling worthy.
As in, I don't.

I won't go into the litany of things from my childhood and young adulthood that destroyed my sense of personal value, but I will boil it down to the three sentences I hear inside my own head more than any other words:

"You don't matter."
"Who do you think you are?"
and the biggie...
"It's okay for everyone else, but not for you."

These tenants run just about every decision I make, and back when I had a full blown eating disorder, I created an elaborate system of behaviors that governed whether I could feel worthy that day.

Doing 2,000 sit ups=worthy (no matter if it took two hours and rubbed all the skin off my spine leaving me with a bloody scab I had to cover with make up).

Not going for a walk because I had too much homework=unworthy

As an adult in recovery, I have worked really hard to  listen to my body and approach my behaviors with curiosity over judgement and forgiveness over shame.

But I still had my scale.

Is it any wonder that, after we threw out the scale, I began to have a real problem with my self worth?

I was unaware of how so much of what I chose to feel about myself was decided by that arbitrary, whimsical number.

I could read all day about how weight is irrelevant to health, muscle versus fat density, body positivity, and HAES, but the information never traveled further than skin deep.

Nevertheless, I am experiencing a reckoning.

I,
-
a thirty five year old woman with multiple degrees, several completed manuscripts, a husband, a son, good friends, a safe neighborhood, and a view of the ocean a ten minute walk from my door,
-
DO NOT KNOW IF I AM WORTH ANYTHING BECAUSE I CAN'T TELL HOW MUCH I WEIGH.


Now, my first reaction is to berate myself for being so stupid, superficial, and easily manipulated by our fucked up media and society's perceptions, BUT,
that is one of the fundamental parts of the problem.
I am far too quick to judge myself as faulty or stupid or morally corrupt for fastening onto something so arbitrary, but isn't this an important moment for me?
Realizing that my inherent value has nothing to do with a measurement, and more importantly my brain doesn't know how to imbue itself with worth if a body isn't involved, is a big deal

But now what?
How do I change these destructive habits I have practiced for so many years? How do I teach my brain to throw out the veritable lego kingdom built out of millions of bricks of doubt and coping mechanisms of thirty odd years?
Is this really why  throwing out the scale was so scary I couldn't actually bring myself to do it?
Is this why I didn't actually do it until my husband handed it to me and told me to take it outside and junk it?

Ugh.

So here I am, a girl standing in front of a mirror, asking it to love her.

No strings, no scales, no immediate pay off.

No caloric equations that will somehow placate the mind into believing something was managed.

No balancing of scales of any kind, no measurements, literally, just a girl and her mind, a girl and her body as vehicle, as sensory receptor, as child creator and sustainer, just a body for god's sake!

Nothing more, certainly,
but finally, nothing less. 





Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Snowball's Chance

You know how sometimes you're chugging along, doing your thing, and something comes along and hits you like a mac truck?
Maybe it was something you were prepared to have interrupt your routine, like, say a trip to the top-middle of the country for a wedding...
You tie up all your loose ends, doing laundry, emptying the fridge of perishables, and taking out the trash so it doesn't fester in your seven day absence.
You arrange for the dog to spend the time with your Dad in Maine where she can run about in the woods and be fattened up with sneaky table scraps.
You get a friend to stop by the house and feed the cat. You transfer money and budget for gas. You make seventy six checklists and you shockingly get out the door on the day at the time you planned for, and like tumblers in a lock, everything clicks like it's supposed to.

Then, a mid-west relation on your husband's side, someone with too much make up, or bad breath from a sour stomach, shakes your hand, touches the baby's cheek, or kisses you hello beside your eye, and introduces a fucking cold germ.

The trip continues to go pretty much as planned.

I mean, sure, the world is in chaos, terrible things are happening that make your too anxious to eat regularly. You make some poor decisions like drinking diet coke at four in the afternoon because you're doing that whole "vacation with a baby not sleeping thing," and you maybe eat two frosted rose cookie favors from the wedding while lying in a hotel bed one night after you flee the wedding because it didn't start until 6pm, and so the baby went into meltdown just as they brought out the entrees, and so you haven't eaten anything but half a bread roll and three forkfuls of wilted romaine in italian dressing.

But these are all details that get lost in the relief as soon as you set foot in your own house a week later.

Except you wake up the following day with a head full of bees and a throat paved in crushed glass.
You, your Beard, and your baby, are sicker than a pack of dogs, and due to all the travel and emotional strain, it knocks you out for yet another week.

By the time you get back on your feet, it's almost the third week of August.
You're hurtling well toward Autumn with many stores already shuffling in their Halloween decor, and a desire to drink hot coffee and sit outside beside a smoky fire and eat apple after apple.

or at least that's what you want it to be.

That anxious feeling in your stomach never went away.

In fact, now that you have the biggest financial commitment of the year, and the requisite gnarly cold out of your way, you have nothing but the hideous world to focus on.

You want to be enjoying the last beach days. You take the baby to the beach during the eclipse thinking it will be magical, but instead the water is choked with foul smelling algae, and you flee the stench after ten minutes under the sickly half-sun.

The class you've had to reschedule twice now has to be cancelled due to an open house, and your baby won't take a nap, and your fall classes don't have enough sign ups to run yet, so you're anxiety takes hold of money fears, and you find yourself swinging back and forth between nausea and ravenous hunger, fear and survival, self loathing and self preservation.

Your need for stability and reassurance is constant. You get no succor from talking to people who ordinarily make you feel better, hopeful, like you matter, like you can make things better.

That's what it all boils down to.



Control.


You have so little right now.

With a child who you want to leave a wonderful world, a world better than the one you brought him into.

With an old demon that threatens its ugly rise every time you feel ineffective and lost.

With all the small grievances snowballing against you its really difficult to stay warm and be certain you'll get back to safety.

I feel like I'm trapped inside an avalanche and I don't know which way is up.

But, I've got to spit, and see which way it falls, and then start digging.
I have to dig my way out, and trust the sun is shining once I'm free.







Friday, August 4, 2017

It's Friday.

So there are only three days left before the great Cronk roadtrip to Detroit MI for Cronk the younger's wedding.

This meant my brain thought it would be a wonderful time (at around 3am this morning) to list all the things I haven't done yet to prepare for said road trip, namely the copious amounts of laundry.
Also, I think Baz is teething again because he's been night nursing a ton, and while I was listing laundry, counting phone chargers, and trying to figure out if we needed to bring all of the books the baby wants to read, I was also fantasizing about eating peanut butter, tortilla chips, and frozen bananas.

I feel like I need to blog more regularly, so that I come across as less of a psycho and more of a human, so here's a recap of my week.

Monday-
I finished reading the pieces written by the students in my Magical Fiction class and doodled notes on them. I spent an hour on zillow looking at apartments in Portsmouth and Dover, NH, which are beautiful, and much more affordable than the North Shore.
Still, we don't really have the extra moolah to move right now, so I got depressed and strapped the now 30lb baby to my chest and went for an extra long walk to clear my head. I toodled down to the Beverly market for the first time this year and bought some corn and zucchini. I was surprised at how little produce there was in comparison to how many stands were selling bread. I hung out at the Pigs Fly stand drooling over their stuff for longer than I probably should have considering I don't think buying bread makes sense when I have Fang (my homegrown starter) lurking in the fridge waiting to be turned into magic.

Tuesday-
My Dad came down in the afternoon to hang out with the baby and help with the childcare so I could leave for my class in Boston. We drank tea and ate slices of the zucchini bread I baked that morning. Auntie Rex came over and the baby delighted in having so much attention.
We left the babe with my Dad and ducked out so I could buy a Rose for my class to share, and Rex got me to the train depot in plenty of time.
For the first time this summer, I made it to Grub without having to run halfway across Boston.
I chilled the Rose, and then the rest of the students arrived.
They're a really lovely group, and between them there were brownies, almond cookies, pretzels, hummus, and blueberry cake. One very industrious student took it upon himself to make ice shot glasses in the freezer and brought out a bottle of rum, but he was the only one brave enough to try it.
If I were to drink anything stronger than a glass of wine, there would be no way I'd make it home in one piece. I'd probably end up on the Fung Wah bus to NYC with a garbage bag full of balloon animals and a box of krispy kremes (not that I've ever done that...ever).
I got home on the 11pm train after a wonderful class, and fell into bed with the bairn.

Wednesday-
My late Tuesday nights always melt into eeeeeeaaaaaarly Wednesday mornings. The baby does not care what time I get home from class. He's up at 5:30, and so I am too.
Thank god for coffee.
It was humid and hot, so we went down to the beach at about 8:30am. The baby bypasses the playground and goes running straight for the water, and honestly, I can't blame him, so we splashed and frolicked for a bit, until I could feel the sun starting to scorch up my shoulders, about quarter after nine. It's a good thing too, because I checked my phone and saw a few texts about a coffee date with my darling InkWitch that I totally blanked on thanks to the no sleep. I wrapped the babe up, swaddled him into the stroller and raced for the coffee shop, still making it there in time for the date.
It was one of those necessary lovely things. We only had about an hour to visit, but InkWitch is so generous in spirit and in body, that I always feel really well cared for in her presence. She brought a rattlesnake toy for the babe, and tea and a talisman for me. I've been wearing the talisman for the rest of the week, and it reminds me how much I am loved by a very special witchy lady.
After the coffee date, I ran a few errands, then my third wind abandoned me, and by noon, we were back at the house. I curled up so the babe could get a post-lunch nap and wished with all my might that I could fall asleep too, but not for this Aries. As long as the sun is shining, my eyes are open.
The afternoon involved a lot of reading. Baz picked out book after book, and I read and read. It makes me so happy that he might love reading as much as I and his Dad do.

Thursday-
I woke up with a baking fever. I had a recipe kicking around in my head for Sauerkraut Sourdough, so I mixed up the dough at seven thirty while the coffee pot burbled and the baby finished his sweet potato pancakes. I fiddled with the kraut, but still, it added a bit more liquid than I wanted, and so, when I left for (yes, another coffee date), I was a bit nervous about the final rise.
This has been the week for seeing friends who've been so busy that our schedules never properly aligned. With the trip next week, I got worried I wouldn't get to visit with anybody, so I jammed everything in to this seven day block. It makes me sound way more social than I usually am. Most weeks, we don't see a soul, and I start talking to the walls to feel less crazy. That's how it works, right?
Another early hour at the beach, some running around, and then, an eleven thirty lunch/coffee date with Auntie Face. Auntie Face is really a term of endearment, because she is fiercely beautiful and serves serious face. I am in awe of her luminescence.
I drank two (TWO!!!) iced lattes, and Baz purloined her almonds and dried mango (he's lucky he's cute), then we walked down to another park and played around a fairy tree while talking about the world between worlds. I try to be grateful for the humans I have in my village around here. It's remarkable...how we all find each other exactly when we need to.
After such a busy date, the babe was tuckered out. We came home and he collapsed into his afternoon nap. Sometime I'm going to have to sleep train him, but for now, I relish the feeling of his little body completely at rest on my heart. It makes me feel stronger and more magical than I ever dreamed possible.
The nap ended abruptly, and I nervously bunged the sloppy kraut bread into the oven, then we read a few more books before dinner.
Shockingly the bread turned out marvelous!
Savory, tangy, sour, and salty without an overload of anything. It was really good! The baby ate a piece with his peas and chopped up hamburger, and I had a chunk with some cheese.
I typically eat my biggest meal around two in the afternoon, and then eat a snack and then another snack instead of dinner because the end of the day is super busy, but I guess I didn't eat enough yesterday because of the late night hangries.

Friday-
And here we are!
This morning, I confirmed our rental car reservation, bought some weekend groceries (fruit, cat food, whipped cream, and taco fixin's) but was strangely waylaid by a package of raisin bran muffins. I couldn't tell you why, but I had to have them.
We then scooted straight up the hilliest hill in my neighborhood to visit Auntie Treat, who spoiled us with homemade palmiers (teensy little three bite wonders), and fancy coffee. The babe was in heaven racing around with Auntie Treat's two doggos. We got our exercise too, trying to keep him from eating trinkets, pulling out wires, and knocking over glasses as well.
By then the babe was ready for his nap, so we spirited back home, where I inhaled a banana/peach/sweet potato/coconut yoghurt smoothie the size of my head.
Later I took the babe outside and let him play in the baby pool (another present from Inkwitch), and picked some tomatoes from the garden, before coming back in to split one of the muffins and some salty salty peanuts. Nom nom nom.