It’s 8:30 on a Monday morning, and I’ve been in quarantine for 23 days. Or more. I’ve lost track of time. As I wrote that, I had to double check if it was Monday on my phone calendar.
A month ago, I was on a connecting flight in San Francisco to go to Europe and Morocco indefinitely (okay, probably like a month because money doesn’t grow on trees):
It was to be my Eat, Pray, Love debut. I was going to write my book, figure out what I wanted my career to be (I’m going through a quarter-life crisis, we’ll call it), go makeup free, taste Cafe Con Leche at cafes, wander the streets of Europe again in flowing skirts and stop in Seville in southern Spain to reminisce of my year there as an au pair (I do not recommend being an au pair FYI but I DO recommend living in Spain), and generally have this momentous moment of human freedom in recovery.
As we wrap up the first month of 2018, the cliche remains: “Where did the time go?”
How are we so shocked when we look down at the screens of our phones and realize we’re 31 days into a new year.
Where were we the last 31 days? Did we go into a mindless Instagram vortex and disappear?
OR… do I just tell myself that because right now, in this moment, I’m feeling that way.
ANYWAY. I detract.
I know it’s “new year, new you” and all that crap, and many of us are off starving ourselves or worshipping new gym memberships or trying to stick to the belief that are bodies “are fine as is” even when we want to act out… regardless where you’re at, there’s an aspect of these “life changes” that doesn’t get acknowledged or valued enough. And that’s the loss.
The loss of the life you were leading. I know we’re supposed to be all like “YAY recovery life. I don’t want that old life back.”
But, as Mark Manson says, you can’t change or grow without losing a part of yourself. And that loss, even when it happens for a good reason, it hurts. It shapes.
And that’s not even getting into losing something or someone for a bad reason.
Out of the hundreds of emails I read each month seeking recovery or ‘what next’ advice, I’d say nearly 50% relate to loss in some way. Loss of an eating disorder. Loss of a relationship. Loss of family. Loss of career. Loss of friendships. Loss of identity. “Who the hell am I without X?”
I’m sorry, he said. I know I promised I wouldn’t, but I wanted to make sure you’d be okay.
I shrugged. You’re not the first, but I hope it didn’t overwhelm you.
He shook his head; his mouth opening slightly, then closing.
What? I asked.
I just, he trailed off. It was hard to read.
I’m sorry, I said. But hey, 80% truths. I write 80% truths about 80% truths.
He shook his head. It wasn’t your writing.
He fingered the lid of a beer with his forefinger.
I just- I went through this before Linds, he paused – catching my eye again. Brought back that time I guess.
I mentally slapped my forehead. Of course, I thought.
Close, he repeated – breaking eye contact. Yes.
He mumbled his relation to her, and then he looked at the ground. She’s not really, he paused again. She never got better. Nothing I did ever helped, he said. I worry about that with you. If one day you’ll just fade.
You can’t fix her, I said, realizing how stupid it was as it came out.
((I HATE WHEN PEOPLE SAY THAT. Like DUH, we KNOW we can’t fix people.))
I didn’t want that, he said. I just, I wanted her to be better I guess. I thought she’d grow out of it or something. I didn’t know it could get so bad.
No one does, I suggested. Everyone thinks eating disorders are a cry for attention.
He tightened his mouth.
I opened mine; nothing came out.
Sometimes saying nothing at all, I realized, relates more.
He leaned over; grabbed my hand. We changed the subject.
Alright guys, so I’ve been pretty MIA the past month and a half (unless you wanna count my previous red-faced emoji rant about the UK coverage as “blogging”) and I haven’t really been writing because truthfully, I’m like a lizard changing its stripes (is that even the idiom??)
Moving is a huge change- goes without saying – and I haven’t really wanted to write until I felt more settled, or at least more genuine, about what I’m even writing about.
Some days I wake up overlooking those Colorado mountains and think “This is where I was always meant to be,” and other days I wake up with this incessant loneliness, longing, and nostalgia for my life in New York.
The world is a playground and I can barely figure out where the slide is (also, I’m directionally challenged). Yes, I’m meeting people. Yes, I’ve gone on a few dates (post on that to come soon ’cause my GOD my relationship life is always a hot mess) and yes, I’m interviewing quite often for jobs, but it’s been over a month and I haven’t yet found that “comfort” of the familiar, and I find that theres always tis feeling of insecurity when meeting new people.
Sometimes, I think because I was sick for so long that I literally just didn’t learn basic human skills and abilities. I was so obsessed with food and being thin that like I missed the college lectures on how to balance a checkbook, or even the cultural staples of my generation.
I will never really be a girl that has “seen that movie,” “heard that song,” or “read that article.” I can tell you how many calories are in that banana by weight and size, but I have zero idea what Games of Thrones is, or what band sang that song – and that reality comes out when I’m meeting new people and like trying to relate to them in a basic millennial way. Therefore, I feel more insecure than usual.
I know I’m not meant to yet, but it is hard some days to not wake up and go straight to g-chatting my former co-workers as I lay in bed picturing them in their offices. Picturing the sounds of the office, knowing who’s always late to work, who is getting their 8th coffee –
I miss my familiar. I miss my work husband walking into my office every morning, happy hours with my female coworkers at the wine bar across the street – knowing which subway line will be delayed – and even the comfort of “the crazies” who roam the subway trains spouting off about religion, and how we’re all going to hell.
I miss my banana waiting for me on my desk, and a granola bar in my office desk for breakfast.
I miss New York – yet I know it’s over. Funny how people do that, yah? How when we lose something, we have this human ability to only remember the good, and negate all the negative.
Anyway, I know in my heart I made the right decision – but you leave pieces of your soul wherever you roam.
Scratch that. I officially live in a Jungle. Just call me Tarzan, or Jane. Whichever floats your boat.
As I lay here this afternoon, feeling both nostalgic for NYC as well as overwhelmed, terrified, and elated about everything else going on in my new life in Denver:
I’ve realized that I’m now living the exact mantra my therapist quoted at me 100x before I made this move:
“Wherever you go, there you are.”
In 5 years, I’ve lived in 5 places:
Fayetteville, Arkansas (c. 2007- 2011)
Seville, Spain (c. 2011- 2012)
Fort Worth, Texas (c. 2012 -2013)
New York, NewYork (c. 2013- 2016)
Denver, Colorado (c. 4 DAYS)
I’ve lived in about the most conservative state in the US – to the most liberal. I’ve lived in the state that thinks it IS its own country, and I’ve lived in a country that prides itself on siestas (can you even imagine if NYC were to implement such a thing. LOLZ. Does nodding off on the subway count?)
I’m idealistic to a fault; every place is better than the last. I’ve experienced American “life” at many different angles; in many different perspectives – but hey, GUESS WHAT?
At the end of the day, none of it “fixed me.” I still have my bloody eating disorder.
Moving – again – does not change that I have to maintain my ED, and that’s a reality I’m coping with today.
It doesn’t streamline recovery, or evaporate the habits you created over the years. I don’t get to walk into a new apartment and say “Hi Ms. Denver, here’s the trash from my eating disorder – could you toss it please? Thx!”
Changing environments doesn’t mute the voice in your head. I will always be in recovery; and no matter what stigma I surround myself with, my environment will not “cure” me.
I have to choose to cure me every day, and right now it’s a struggle to center myself because I’m vulnerable and antsy and out of place and over-stigmatized.
I’ve always had this quirky idealism about moving (lies- okay about everything).
OH MOUNTAINS, I thought before I moved, through rose-tinted goggles. MOUNTAINS AND INCLINES AND BIKE PATHS GALORE. DENVER- I’M IN HEAVEN. DENVER – YOU’LL CURE ME. THIS IS WHAT I’VE ALWAYS NEEDED. DENVER- YOU’RE MY NEXT LOVER. TAKE ME IN.
I’m like a stage 5 clinger to cities. (Insert mental image of me wrapping myself around a New York skyline, planting sloppy kisses on the wall of the Drumpf Tower… )
I’ve shuffled through cities about as quickly as I’ve shuffled through partners – and in the past, I’ve always inevitably felt deflated when one or the other didn’t just “fix me.”
I was revamping my resume the other day (for my big ole move to Denver tomorrow! P.S. HIRE ME PLZ) and as I was modifying my skills I actually had a moment ((while eating Greek Yogurt and a handful of almonds)), that I smirked to myself and considered including:
Fluency in Calorie Counting
Sharp cache for all sugar, carb, fat, and sodium grams
Extensive fieldwork into the calorie counts of all processed and baked goods
Well-versed to all sugar in fruit juices, caffeine, and alcohol
Eating disorders are amazing lil boogers. I was completely focused on perfecting the language of my resume and yet as I glanced down at the yogurt, I caught a SMIDGEN of the label and my brain went all “Beautiful Mind” and added the calories of the almonds and yogurt quicker than I could stop myself.
Not to brag, but I am like the Speedy Gonzalez of calorie counting. My brain doesn’t really retain historical info, or anything actually pertinent or useful- but bloody hell, I can count calories on a plate of food about as quick as Kobayashi can choke down a hot dog.
Could not be more appreciative of all the support as this article runs. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a mixed bag of feelings to look down and see your name associated with the word “suicide.” To clarify: it’d be sensationalizing my eating disorder to state that I ever tried to end my life, but there were plenty of times that I looked at myself in the mirror and thought “this will be how I die. I’ll never get past it.”
Glad to be an example of recovery; what it is, what it entails, and all the beautiful ups and downs. Feeling so much gratitude and love as I leave this big apple city.
And of course, thank you to my friend Chase Williams for his sexy cameo. Don’t be surprised if the ladies of Cosmo come knockin’ my friend