I’m uncomfortable today, as I write.
It is 11:07am on a Wednesday morning – Afternoon? Brunch? Can’t we millennials just coin the 11-1:00pm timeframe as “brunch hours?” It seems much more distinguishable.
Afternoon always sounds late. The 1-4:00pm day-drag hours.
Anyway, it’s 11:09 now – And my white jeans are currently feeling snug around my waist, increases near my bellybutton from hours of wear, and I am sitting in my office swivel chair on a lunch break, pounding furiously on a keyboard.
It’s distracting – these jeans. My legs are Indian style in an attempt to combat the tightness – I am breathing more shallow to provide less stomach movement, and I’m preoccupied, right now, by whether or not what I ate for breakfast will make me gain weight – as though weight can now magically be defined by one meal.
Isn’t it interesting – and morbidly fascinating – what we carry around of our eating disorders.
Last night, I hung out with a person I’m dating and my best friend from college. They happen to be roommates. Hungry, as thin men always seem to be (sorry for the stereotype but seriously. It’s like all thin dudes could eat a person and shit it out by the end of the day – never gaining an ounce.)
Anyway, we went to Chipotle. I ordered a burrito bowl. Light on the sour cream. In retrospect, what does that even mean – ‘light on the sour’? Isn’t it really just a justification for getting sour cream at all? I wonder at times. I think I just like saying the words “light on the ____,” so it symbolizes to the bored-looking high school burrito-maker that “I care about my weight. I know I’ve been gaining lately – you can probably tell – but, I’m in control of it.”
I ate half my bowl, the three of us nestled around a wrought-iron black table. Snorting through giggles, sneaking bites of the others. Listening to my best friend moan about being single again. In one sentence – excited for the prospective women. In the next – moping over how his ex is Satan’s love-child.
The guy I’m seeing squeezes my thigh under the table – giving knowing smirks to one another as my best friend announces he’s going to “take up dancing lessons” in the wake of this break up. In another declaration, “fly to Brazil and make love to beautiful foreign women.”
Sex was born in Brazil, he announces.
I like this person I’m dating. We are effortless in our adoration – present in quality time – even in the lazy afternoons we spend chasing his 3-year old around the backyard. “Miss Lindsey,” the little boy shrieks when I appear.
We are friends in his innocent child eyes.
Alone, we kiss with both hands – midnight walks by the creek, gripping wrists as we stone-step.
Neither of us talk about the future. There is no future. Only now. And there is evidence that suggests to talk about the future – would unravel the rapture we have. So, we don’t talk about it.
Clinging to one another, broken – quietly aware that most things are not made to last forever – and that we are both hurting from some other past.
We returned home last night. I stored the remains of my burrito bowl in their fridge. I felt full, that tinge of eating disorder discomfort lying dormant in my stomach.
I will never understand how people enjoy the feeling of full. I do not know if a time ever existed – where satiation equated to peace.
You look great, he whispered in the dark, a finger drawing a line down my back – as I slipped on a long-sleeved grey shirt.
I shooed away his compliment. We talked instead – in that way people do in the dark – unencumbered by vulnerability because it’s the night, and I find sleepiness to be the catalyst for all secrets grapevined. Sleepiness – the reigning gossip queen.
We fell asleep, hand on my hipbone.
Is it still there? Barely.
But, I can’t lose – I think as I drift.
In and out.
Like a blanket his child sleeps with, my hip bone is the teddy bear I end all nights with.
This morning, I woke up groggy.
Displeased – that kind of wakefulness that feels you never went to sleep in the first place.
I huffed as I got dressed – thumping my toe on the side of his bed. Get your beauty rest, I mumbled sarcastically.
It’s one of those mornings I have nothing to be ungrateful for – and yet still find comfort in the unfairness of little things.
Spending $4 on a vanilla latte that tastes like syrup.
Inch-to-inch in traffic on I-25 South for a client meeting at 9:30am.
Sunglasses irreparably scratched.
PCOS pimple on the right side of my chin.
Is that wrinkle in my forehead getting deeper?
The silly, finicky pretensions that we can allow to swallow us.
In turn, I chow down on my Chipotle burrito bowl leftovers right there in the parking lot of this meeting – 9:22am, and I’m picking corn out of the back of my right bottom molar.
I ate it all in own swift swoop. The entire leftovers. Bite-bite-bite. Hardly chewing.
Forcing it in so I didn’t have time to stop to criticize myself for doing it.
“But, you can’t have chicken for breakfast.”
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING LINDSEY? YOU’RE THROWING OFF EVERYTHING.”
“DON’T YOU KNOW YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO EAT LUNCH FOR BREAKFAST? WHAT WILL YOU DO FOR LUNCH NOW? OH GOD, THE CALORIES. YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE THIS MANY BEFORE NOON.”
“WHAT ABOUT THE GRANOLA BAR AND BANANA?!?!?!?! WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THOSE?!?!?!?!”
Eating disorders. Exhausting in their rigidity.
So, perhaps this background leads me to here – stumbling back to this post at 1:56pm after a couple client calls and a meeting.
It’s nearing 2pm. I am not hungry, I think. ((BUT WHO KNOWS ANYMORE, my mind is saying. SINCE YOU ATE OUT OF SCHEDULE!!!!!))
I’ve lived in a world that for so long was seemingly held together by one tiny string of eating disorder rules and rituals.
3 years later, there are traces of a rope that still bound me to it.
Can’t eat before 9am. Can’t eat after 9pm.
Granola bars and greek yogurt for breakfast. Blueberries and bananas. Anything else often seems to induce stress.
On it goes. Eating leftovers for breakfast – so forgettable for some. So rule-breaking for me.
Did I binge? I immediately thought after.
Jesus, no. You didn’t binge, I said to myself. You just ate something at a time you didn’t think was acceptable.
These little food rituals. I find on days I’m content – they quiet. But, I think in mornings like the one I just had – tired and cranky and restless – they scream ‘adhere or you’re useless.’
But, I am forced to ask myself, isn’t there always an underlying emotion here?
I’m coming off this past weekend from a wedding – I drank too much in two days. I ate a lot of risotto balls at the reception – enough that a male friend laughed and said “Linds is lovin’ the risotto balls.” To which: I melted into the floor.
I’ve seen bridesmaid pictures this week, and cringed. Long dresses are never my style, but the color, the neckline on me – it’s akin to a lavender burlesque sack.
Had a therapy call on Monday – my 82-year old therapist asked about the wedding. How am I feeling? How was it?
I am as expected, I say. I no longer know my place in the world I left. I no longer know where to step into conversation – no longer know what to coo at, what to balk at, where my views fits.
I am as expected.
It was a blessing to watch a college roommate marry – it was torture to feel disconnected from her guests, people I once bumped into in bar bathrooms and squealed loudly as we hugged.
It was a blessing to spend time with my remaining two close college roommates – it was torture to realize that I don’t know their lives anymore – only the slivers we share in texts and drunken quarterly dinners.
Closeness is a loose term we use that is often reflective of the past – not necessarily, the present – and we were once sincerely more immediate than this – all too common to find us in bed with one another, giggling over Netflix shows, crying in each others arms in those hazy college years.
Too close then – to ever acknowledge the finite amount of time you have. Seemingly too welded to understand that one day – we wouldn’t be within arms reach.
I am insecure because I didn’t fit in with my roommates new friends – a lingerer on the outside of a circle of women who grew closer in experiences – as I flew the other direction. A terse nod in my direction – the politeness of the south. “I follow your Instagram.”
I felt insecure and I felt guilty. I left at 22 and this is the punishment, self-inflicted, of leaving one life for another.
Every choice you make is simply that – a choice. Nothing more. But there is an outcome to each of them.
And I am no longer the girl in the pictures – I am the girl who is asked to take them.
“Will you take a pic of the Dallas girls?”
A forced smile: “Of course. Should we wait on the bride and then I can take it of all of you?”
I was reminded this past weekend that I left after college – and when you leave, you are replaceable. Because of course.
Did I expect college friends to pine for my friendship? I didn’t pine for theirs. Hellbent on running – naked in depression – to a different country.
All those distant attempts to fix an eating disorder; unmanageable by 22.
Of course, I thought, watching them lay atop each other with ease – the way I can’t. Watching them pick at each other, flare in annoyance at one another – but laugh it off, harmless – because their friendships are strong and cemented.
Meanwhile, I smile tightly – a rushed apology when I step on the heel of one of their feet. “Sorry. I’m SO sorry. I’m an idiot,” I say in one breath.
To me, the years I spent in college are preserved in a vault – and perhaps there was an ignorance I held that I could always choose when and where to open the vault, and that others would conveniently fall in line with the picture I’d fossilized.
I am selfish at times, and it seems it’s never more apparent than when I return home.
This is the thing with eating disorders. They thrive in uncomfortable environments because they are the variable we can rely on to distract – or provide instant gratification.
It is our job, in recovery, to find the stem. The root cause that allows them to flourish in days like today, as I sit back in my swivel chair – slowly feeling my pants release from the side of my love handles.
Is this truly about my weight? This discomfort today.
Of course not.
Sure, it’s complicated for my eating disorder to rationalize eating sauteed red bell peppers and brown rice and black beans at 9:22am in a parking lot.
But, it’s not insanity. And, naturally I try to define it as a ‘binge’ because everything with food in my life – has had to be ‘defined’ in order to be okay.
It was neither. Simply an accumulation of vulnerable emotions, pushing to the surface.
I ate a little frantically this morning. It’s neither a sign of a relapse nor a step backward. I wanted lunch before breakfast. So I had it.
Sometimes, I think the trick to recovery is to underreact to the shit that we do.
We put so much emphasis on our actions with food – but hell, maybe there doesn’t always have to be so much meaning tied to it.
I am vulnerable right now. I am feeling insecure in this moment.
But, last night I sat on rocks near a creek – with a man who kisses the back of my hand – and I told him, then, that I was content. That I finished a book, The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs, and that it reminded me to be helplessly in love with the world – because we are helpless to it.
I meant this all as I said it – which again reminds me that no feeling is permanent. We are slaves to them in their impermanence.
Helpless in their intensity at times – so we should acknowledge them.
I find once I do – once I say the words, bubbling up at the surface – the intensity seems to dissipate which, ironically, is why it can be also be hard for me to acknowledge in moments of happiness.
Dancing around a rustic inn in a Colorado town a few weeks ago, a bluegrass band strummed – friends surrounded me – I was neither drunk nor tired and I was happy and light-hearted, which made me sad when I took time to say it – because I am acutely aware that happiness in its extremes must end. So, I danced around a room – with the boy who I don’t know will be a paragraph or a chapter – and I smiled achingly till my cheeks hurt.
Refusing to acknowledge anything but that finite amount of time.
At the end of the day, the things I’m appreciating most about life in recovery are the things where everything is not okay, and that’s okay _ or not.
All humans, and this is partial to me, are magnetically vain, fickle, and unstable; difficult to form any certain and uniform judgment.
So, I suppose, all we can do is live now – because there is no certain future. There is only now. And it seems useless to spend time dwelling on our choices when, as souls, we can never truly know what we’ll do next.
As I wrap this post up, I feel at ease seemingly again – legs out of Indian style. I’ve pulled a granola bar out of my purse.
There are no real truths, Montaigne, that French Renaissance philosopher, wrote. Only moments of clarity passing for answers.
It’s 4:02pm on a Wednesday. I wonder what tomorrow will bring –
We shall see.
But for now, I am flexibly okay – and living.