But, like, is it really? Isn’t recovery grey and murky? When do we draw the line? I never know. I have 10-years of eating disorders and 2 years of recovery, so I’m not even going to pretend like I can talk definitively.
There are times however I know I push it in terms of relapsing; times I conveniently put myself in situations where I won’t have the chance to eat for several hours and “can’t” get to food (i.e. the airport- always a prime example. Boarding an 11:50am flight from Dallas back to New York and conveniently not getting in till 5pm eastern time.)
“Oh,” I think to myself. “WHOOPSIE, guess I just skipped lunch!”
…Because, likely, if you have an eating disorder you love Thanksgiving- but hate Thanksgiving food.
Personally, I have no problem admitting I am the scrooge of Thanksgiving (okay, fine. And Halloween… Costumes and Body Dysmorphia just DO NOT fly with me no matter if I dress like a slutty nurse or a Pentecostal nun.)
Give me your pilgrims, your Indians, your Thanksgiving Charlie Brown VHS, The corporate Vacation Days, Family small talk, The sweet smell of doughy rolls-
But my God, keep your stuffing, your pecan pie, your cranberry sides, your corn pudding like 1000 feet away from me.
There are times I wish I could use a get-out-of-jail-free card on my eating disorder; Thanksgiving is one of them.
If it were up to me, I’d sit at the ”kid table” far far away from the buffet of food and play airplane while someone feeds me a spoonful of carrot mash alongside my cousin’s 1-year old.
Alas, recovery- however- doesn’t exactly approve of carrot mash (although it might just be the ONE food item I actually don’t know the calorie count on…)
Anywho, despite my silent protesting- Thanksgiving feast occurs again- as it did last year and the year before etc., etc.
TGIF, and here I am in the office at 9:30pm. Yes, some things never change. You’re a perfectionist till you die- However, in honor of the holidays (whether you’re celebrating or not) I wanted to share this 3rd truth:
“TGI…F? W? You Don’t Know- But Happy New Years Anyway“
“TGI…F? W? You Don’t Know– But Happy New Years Anyway”
Your alarm’s going off– it’s 5:30.
Actually, that’s a lie. Despite going over the rehab “list of essentials” with your mother (which laughably do not include shaving kits and mouth wash–apparently in the case that you try to drink yourself to death), you have forgotten to bring one.
So no. It’s not your alarm. Your roommate’s alarm, however, is going off at the same time it does every morning and you yourself are nestled in your twin-sized bed under the hideous Floral Comforter attempting to wield yourself into the first nonsexual human pretzel ever performed.
Maybe they’ll forget, you hope. Sometimes they do. You move the comforter up over your head so that when Nurse Shelly comes knocking for vitals, maybe she’ll mistaken your lump of a frame for a pillow. (And yes, you do think of that scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off… Every.Time.)
Kenna wrestles from one side to the other in her bed– flinging her matching comforter to the left. She turns off the alarm.
Damn you, you think every morning. Why can’t she roll around for 30 minutes like a normal person.
But she doesn’t. You already know she won’t.
She’s up now, her black hair flowing behind her– her sweatpants pulled up over her waist and Easter-colored top hanging from her chest.
You can hear her take the brush off her nightstand– her hair untangling with every pull.
You like Kenna, you remind yourself. You just want an excuse to not have to trudge your ass down the hall to get your weight done.
You don’t even need weights or vitals anymore, you complain every morning sitting on the waiting room couch with the other girls who have sleep in their eyes and medical gowns hanging off their shoulders.
You’ve weighed the same since you walked in (you know this because you’ve snuck glances at your sheet every time drill sergeant Betty has drifted her eyes from you to the cabinet). A fact you’re not sure if you should feel comforted by- or a fact you’re internally disappointed with.
You think of your weight as you lay there this morning, running your hands over your side to see that your hips are still traceable.
To make sure you don’t feel softer from when you accidentally caught a glimpse of your backside in the mirror.
To run your fingers over the flab of skin beside your arm pit and your back bone and grip it like it might come off when you wriggle it.
Like the morning before, you lay in your bed and you push your hand under the waist of your sweatpants– past your underwear and between your legs. It’s an awkward thing to do– but you want to touch the skin that hangs on your inner leg– you need to hold that piece of thigh in your hand.
You don’t know why you do it– But you sift the skin between your fingers, feeling the loosening muscle, and the pockets of fat that you know store the cereal boxes you binged.
You can hear Kenna open her wardrobe– and grab the hospital gown that is sitting somewhere crumpled in your closet as well.
It’s cold, you think. It’s the Sunshine state and you’re always fucking freezing in this place.
You wonder what you’ll wear today–
Fail to forget you haven’t showered in three.
“You’re tired,” you say. “You barely move anyway.”
8:30 rolls around every night and when the other girls head off with their sponges and soap– you steal the inside of one of the phone booths and call your best friend off collect.
You want to feel the water on your skin– and the shampoo down your spine. You want to reach past your thighs and shave your legs in your shower in Brooklyn.
To undress yourself and look down at your stomach- to your legs- to the tips of your toes where you need to trim the nail.
You want these things– and sometimes you do them.
You can look in the mirror and see what’s left of your ribs– blanketed with that thin layer of fat
You can turn to the side and not hate the rounding shape that your figure makes.
Because you’re made that way, you can say to yourself.
You are not made to be a stick–
But this morning– with your body folded into you, you can see the indention of your sweatpants imprinted on your stomach, you can feel your thighs touch– your stomach sag– and your arms squished against the bed, spreading out like an egg cracking over a skillet–
And you’re sad because it hurts.
You hate yourself for hurting–
But you just get so bloody sad when you have to look at it–
So you don’t.
“Is it Tuesday?” You ask Kenna, pulling the comforter down to your nose. “Are we doing body checks?”
“Yeah,” she says, sweeping her hair into a loose bun on the top of her head.
“Happy New Years Eve,” she sings– winking at you from the mirror.
“So what is it we’re doing tonight?” you ask that morning, plopping down next to Lilly on the community couch.
“I dunno,” she says, her tangled headphones lying loosely in her ears.
“JJ,” you say to the girl across the room. “What’s the deal with New Years?”
She shrugs. “I think they’re still deciding on letting us stay up till 12.”
“12,” I say flatly. “As in midnight?”
She grins. “Yeah.”
Lilly shakes her head to the right of me, mumbling explicits. “23 years old,” she muses. “And can’t even stay up till fucking midnight.”
“Don’t even,” Jacy says. “I have to go to bed at 10.”
“Tonight?” you say, making a face.
“Yeah, I’m still at 75%. They won’t let me.”
“Dude, are you going to be back on partial then?” Lilly wonders.
She shakes her head. “No. They know I’m eating, my body’s just not reacting yet.”
You and Lilly nod–slightly jealous but it goes without discussion.
The counselor walks in to start the group.
New Years in Rehab, you think as you take your place on the couch against the wall.
You think about the year before– where you were. Drunk, a bottle of wine in hand–fitted black tights– a sleeveless dress you bought from Urban that you didn’t wear a jacket with because you were excited to feel thin enough to wear it.
You were in England– mate.
It was cold.
Thin, sloppy–you barely ate dinner before but throughout the night snuck the appetizers at the party by hiding them in your purse.
You were losing it then– carefully, concretely.
And now here you are, you muse that night, climbing into the Rehab Bus.
You’re 24, spending New Years 2014 at a 7pm AA meeting.
And when you get there, you’re welcomed by people that offer you nonalcoholic eggnog and coffee– You look to your counselor for approval but she says “No.”
“No?” You whine.
“It says on my sheet you chose to have coffee at dinner.”
“It’s one cup,” you argue.
She just shakes her head. ”Sit down, Hall.”
And you do. You sit in a room with 30 people you’ve never met and together, you spend the next hour trying to understand what it is that you’ve done in your life.
Why you’ve done it.
You talk about what your life was before– and where you are now.
You think about your mom, your dad–
You realize somewhere throughout the hour that you’re guilt free to be sober tonight.
And comforted by being safe.
You share this with the room towards the end– you don’t know why but you feel like you should.
When the meeting’s over, you form a circle with the people beside you– you clasp hands with a guy named Steve who came, he said, because if he didn’t–
On the other side, you have Lilly– she shared her story tonight and you smile at her softly as you take hold of one of her dirty, self-tattooed fingers.
“Love you,” you whisper to her.
And for the first time in awhile– you think you might really mean it.
At night– when this is done– after the nonalcoholic eggnog is drank and you’ve been hurdled back to the Rehab Bus by counselor Kate–
You get back to your little loony bin–make a pallet on the floor of the recreational room with your girls.
You say they’re your girls now– because despite knowing them for 2 weeks– you’ve been more honest with them than you can remember being with anyone.
Why wouldn’t you, though. You had to.
So you guys make a pallet on the floor.
You bring your pillows from out of your rooms, your blankets that your moms sent you– the stuffed animals that friends sent in a care package– and together the lot of you make a casket on the ground.
A white, wrinkled, sloppy pallet on the floor– and you’re in the middle now with Lil and her XL Wu Tang Clan sweatshirt on one side, and a 14-year old who lost her Dad nestled into your shoulder on the other.
You look at these girls that night– you look at their bodies, and their faces.
At the way Olivia’s pink hair tucks behind one ear.
At the oddities of a human–
You realize you may never be in a room with these people again.
May never see their stories grow when you leave–
But damn, if you’re not lucky to have them then.
11:59 hits– and tonight, you guys bring in the New Year asleep on each other’s shoulders.