I Still Suck At Mirrors: And 5 Other Recovery Lessons For 2020

It’s New Years Eve, and I’m sat in a coffee shop on Pearl Street in Boulder, CO, where I live, trying to wrap up the sentiments of this past year.

It’s been months since I’ve written a post. What’s new? I’m not even gonna to try make a self-deprecating joke about it. Tis life. And I write a lot about the ole eating disorder on Instagram so I guess I’m just a basic millennial that shares experiences as they happen.

Anyway, I felt the beautiful sense of urgency today – to wake up and try to make sense of this last year in my life. What lessons to focus on (recovery smatterings) and what to mention in brevity (a focus on friendship) and I chose the five below that I keep returning to when trying to sort out the stream of consciousness that is so often my writing style.

As always, I look forward to any comments or messages – and Happy New Year to each and every one of you <3

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random proof that I’m focusing on friendships this year lol

1.) Mirrors

I suck at them, still. It’s like c’mon Linds, haven’t we moved past this with your intentions and candles and meditations and Ram Dass books and … I could go on.

But no, no I haven’t.

This morning alone, my partner snapped a picture of me with a despondent look on my face, peering at my ass in the mirror. Likely, it came from what I ate last night, and the derivative fear of certain foods that waves in and out.

It’s frustrating – when I was 20 or so, in the hedges of the eating disorder, my parents used to say with underhanded critique “well, there’s never a mirror my daughter didn’t like.”

That shit stung then, but of course now – knowing what they know – they have ceased from saying it. Bbbuuuuut I totally get where it comes from.

I find myself often stuck in a cycle of repetitive beliefs that every mirror is different and am constantly looking for the mirror that proves my body image acceptance wrong. Isn’t that effed?

Every time I take a glance in the mirror, I’m waiting for the ball to drop – like all of the sudden I’m gonna see something catastrophic that wasn’t there literally 10 minutes before and be like ”OH WELL THAT’S IT – SEE!!!! I’M NOT PAYING ENOUGH ATTENTION!!!!!!!!!”

It’s a pain in the ass to manage – but it’s part of healing. And parts of healing are articulating and focusing energy into the nitty gritty parts that affect our day-to-day, not year-to-year.

I carry on in life with this little mirror fetish. At times, it’ll be days. Every now and then, a week before it sets in. Then, I’ll get a bout of it – like feckin’ pneumonia – and I’m down and out for a few, scanning the windows of coffee shops and fitting rooms. like a ravished wolf.

Enjoying these analogies?

Alas, go easy – I tell myself. I’m a human with repetitive thoughts. Takes a long time to untangle.

Like Mark Manson says, “everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame.”

And in 2020, I choose to abide by that idea.

2.) Engagements

Did you expect me to get through a whole post without mentioning my 3-month engagement in 2019? Lol.

In March this year, my ex partner proposed at the hot springs we met at back in 2017.

It was sweet, sentimental, and totally unexpected – not in the charming, Parisian Eiffel Tower way.

The HELL? was my first thought, standing there, watching him drop to his knee. I had just woken up from a nap and was teetering over in sweatpants, an overlarged sweater and lines across my face from the pillow.

I heard him speaking the words of everlasting love, and processed absolutely none of it.

Surrounded by a community of hot springers, and with a notable amount of silence in between, I said ‘yes’ – and as we embraced, I remember thinking to myself ”Oh Jeez. Why is he doing this?”

But, being who I am, and because the thought of hurting him in front of 20 or so random people, I promptly avoided that thought, and convinced myself this was “of course” a given and that I should jump on board. I mean we were living together… we had a life together. I loved this person.

And I said f*cking ‘yes’.

Which later, turned into a ‘no’, and the inevitable dissolution of our partnership in a firey shitstorm that involved my parents, his, and our poor roomies at the time.

Without going into too much detail, the weekend before he proposed, I was in Kansas with my parents dealing with some medical family stuff. My dad, already having spoken to him, asked about marriage (which, in retrospect, I’m like K DAD YOU COULD’VE GIVEN ME A HEADS UP MATE!!! Lol. But, in his defense, what an awkward position for a father to be in) and my response was a prompt ‘we are nowhere near that.’

So, you can imagine how thrilled my parents were hearing this and then seeing me say ‘yes’. Anyway, there’s more to that story but I’m not interested in rehashing it.

Basically, everyone was mad at everyone. My parents and I didn’t speak throughout the duration of the short-lived engagement – and everyone lost in the end – none more than my ex and myself.

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a month or so – after the breakup <3

So, what’s the lesson here?

I’m still learning it. This year has been incredibly challenging – and none more challenging than this whole shindig.

We have what most would consider – a miraculous friendship that has somehow survived the home we burned down with our actions.

He wasn’t innocent in all this – but his lessons from it are not for me to share, so I leave out chunks of this sordid tale.

We’ve forgiven each other – we continue to forgive each other.

If there’s anything I’ve really learned – it’s that I can’t keep telling people what they want to hear and not expect it to backfire in my face in miraculous ways.

I didn’t want to be married. I had doubts far before the proposal.

Being indirect is more selfish than I’ve always considered being ‘too direct’ to be.

And holy hell, whatta way I had to learn that.

*PS – I had ‘Quiet Life – The National’ on repeat throughout this whole break up.

3.) Clothes

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a post I wrote recently on this subject at hand: clothes.

I have this interesting leftover eating disorder thing where when I’m feeling uncomfortable in my clothes, or participating in events like weddings or some other way where I’m at the mercy of many other schedules and times, I tend to wear the same item of clothing (one that obviously feels comfortable) for days in a row.

An ex called that out once: that I have a tendency to wear the same outfits for days at a time & that’s how they could tell where I was mentally with my body image, etc.

I didn’t believe it for awhile. I chalked it up to like ‘minimalism’ or ‘chillness’ (which actually no one has ever accused me of ever being chill over anything) – but I started taking note this year when my new partner made a comment when I sent him a photo of myself in New York.

‘New windbreaker? Am I gonna see this thing in every pic this weekend?’

He did, LOL. For proof – seen here.

It’s a safety thing. I get anxious on other people’s schedules. Anxious when I don’t get the choice whether or not to work out. Anxious when I don’t get to choose what I’m eating for 3-4 days unless I wanna leave the group and go Uber somewhere on my own (which like I’m gonna do cause I wanna be with my friends because what else is recovery for but to enjoy the presence of being with the ones we love in this life?)

So, I wear things over and over like a warped security blanket. And that’s something interesting I’m learning about myself in recovery this year – and I wonder sometimes, ‘My God, does it ever end? All this eating disorder recovery learning?’

And some days, I hope so – other days, I embrace it.

Sometimes it’s quite a gift to be in recovery, because it keeps you forever humbled to something – when means you are forever open to learning.

Other times, it’s a pain in the ass and I just want to be done with it and oblivious to the patterns.

But, tis life in eating disorder recovery – the balancing of awareness, to be hard and not hard. And open and boundary-filled, and learning yet confident.

To eat freely and eat mindfully – to recover with ease, and recover with stumbles.

4.) 30

I turned the ole 30 milestone this year. I’d love to say ‘gracefully’ but frankly, I’m straight up like Rachel on that Friends episode.

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I have found 30 to be both a relief and also a conundrum.

A relief in the sense that the older I become, the less I care about the vanity shit that plagued me in my 20s.

I’m pretty proud of the things I’ve done in this life so far, especially in recovery, and that in itself has given me a confidence I lacked entirely in my early 20s when I was confused, bumbling out of college – and bouncing around the world with no bloody idea what I was gonna do or who I was gonna become. Not to mention – the eating disorder.

So with more self-accomplishment and more experiences under my belt, I’ve just felt a shift in confidence, I guess we’ll call it, that has felt like relief from the reality of aging out of the turmoil of 20s youth.

On the other side of that, I grieve the artistic turmoil of my 20s – more so the adventures of it, as difficult as they were, and struggle with the pressure of feeling like I should know what the hell is next and where my life is headed. And frankly, where I even want it to head.

It’s like ‘wait no. Life is moving so fast. Slow down!!!! I just want a couple minutes to enjoy being right here, right now, in 30, and I don’t wanna think about what’s next!!’

I liked the adventures of my 20s, despite how effing difficult much of it was. I grieve a bit – for the impulsivity of them. And waking up every day feeling like I had a whole life ahead and no idea where it would go.

It’s not that I know now, by any means. But there’s something quite romantic about your 20s.

Sure, I had the eating disorder. But, I also had love affairs I still write about. I had late nights that I now see in wrinkles, sunrises I now can’t imagine staying up for, and flights around the world that I now wouldn’t be able to book without taking care of a plethora of responsibility first.

Mostly, I had no sense of self – so I was open to certain experiences I’d likely turn down now.

I think about moving back to Spain now and L-O-L at the hassle. I’d have to cancel credit cards and electric bills, leave my job, sell my shit – and yeah like all of it is doable – but … it’s not the same kind of idealism as 22, when I boarded that flight to Europe.

How little I knew then. How hard it’d end up being.

And how rewarding it has remained.

I’m excited for my 30s, for what is hopefully a sense of self that continues to grow while in them. And in the same sentence, I grieve the illusion of my 20s.

So, I suppose my lesson here is not really one: just a smattering of words that remind me always:

Life is so painfully fleeting. And I find it beautiful while also bursting into tears at the shortness of everything.

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Van Trip this summer, yay <3

5.) Monetizing Recovery

Of all the ‘lessons’ I learned this year, this one feels less universal – but nonetheless worthy of mulling over.

I got greedy. Moreso, I got anxious about my relevancy in the eating disorder recovery community.

It’s the age-old universal lesson: don’t compare yourself to others.

And now with a twist: don’t compare yourself to others online.

I did. I saw people I’ve internet-friended blow up as influencers on social media. I saw a friend sell a course in recovery. And every day I’m blown up with ads about how to ‘love your body’ or ‘get food freedom in 30-days’ (like, OK)

And in order to continue feeling relevant in this community, I felt that was what I needed to offer next. So, I offered free coaching.

Turns out, I’m not an eating disorder therapist. LOL.

And, I also shouldn’t be counseling/coaching anyone.

It’s not for me. It’s not the right move. And I felt misleading from the beginning.

I don’t have the credentials. I don’t have the direction for it.

I’m a writer. Absentminded, occasionally articulate, emotionally sometimes too available, and selfishly *only* good at writing about my own experiences.

I learned that through my days of coaching this year. And I promptly retired when I realized I should leave the counseling for the counselors.

That being said, I’ll take a moment here to ask you, a reader, a question that I would like to take into consideration as I write in 2020:

What is it that you’re looking to read about recovery in 2020?

More specifically, if you’re open to answering, what are eating disorder subjects you’d like to see me write about?

Not saying I will – but I’d love to know.

Wrapping this up quickly, because frankly my fingers are tired and I have stuff to do today before NYE celebrations tonight.

As always, I want to thank each of you. Any of you. Those of you reading this now.

Thank you. For sticking with me through this eating disorder. For learning alongside. For reading my words that pour out of my brain at seemingly random times.

Mostly, thank you for caring enough to read – for I am always aware, I am just one in a billion.

Trying to figure out this life all the same.

And as Mountain Goats sing:

I am gonna make it through this year, if it kills me.

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Project Heal Eating Disorder Retreat, September 2019
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4 thoughts on “I Still Suck At Mirrors: And 5 Other Recovery Lessons For 2020

  1. Loved reading this. Particularly liked the part where you write about recovering with ease and recovering with stumbling. That’s exactly how it is. There are days when it’s easier and some days just take whatever you’ve got. More than 30 million people in the US alone suffer from some kind of eating disorder. So glad you’re writing about it. What about societal stereotyping? Both demeaning and dismissive comments put people at a greater risk of developing eating disorders. There are studies to prove that.

  2. lisa

    meet your own self. that will be awesome and hard and wonderful and terrifying and better than you imagine. we worry way too much . you are loved, be glad and rejoice in that lovely simple fact.

  3. Good post. He’s obviously not the guy because you should already know long before the dude proposes whether or not he’s “the guy”. Therefore, you made the right choice! Now don’t look back. Keep moving forward. You’ll meet a new guy and someday it will be awesome!

    Good luck!
    Reid

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