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
I’d love to say the following truth won’t embarrass this person- but the fact of the matter is that I think it could-
Stoic, Unemotional, Easygoing, Passive- All words to describe my little tart of a brother before I get this post rolling.
But I’m writing this today- because it’s a crucial thing to cover. Family. I could write 10,000 posts on my relationships with them- could write a novel over how supportive- and genuine their love was throughout this time: But I think it’s stories like the following- that actually encompass what it means to remind yourself of what’s important. So that when shiz gets tough- and it will- that you remember the pretty little moments that are encircling it-
So with that:
Truth No. 7: “If Someone Were To Harm My Family, I’d Eat Them:
7.) “If Someone Were To Harm My Family, I’d Eat Them:
Might Go to Jail for 500 Years, But I’d Eat Them“
It’s December 28, 2013- 3 weeks into rehab- and you’re sitting on your knees in front of the mirror trying to push through an old earring when your roommate opens the door.
Damn, you mutter- feeling the back of your ear start to bleed.
You never understand how after 15 years- your.ears.still.bleed.
Hey, she says- tossing her binder on the bed. You missed group?
You push it again- one final time- rubbing the lobe with your fingers.
My grandparents are coming, you say- looking back at her through the mirror.
Now? she says- climbing into her bed for her nap.
You nod, standing up- checking yourself in the mirror- smoothing down your black pencil skirt over your thighs.
You’ll wonder if they’ll notice- your grandparents.
Wonder if they’ll exchange looks when you can’t see- and when they go to leave-
Get back in the car and talk quietly about how unfortunate it is that you ”let yourself go.”
You’ll understand if they do, you think- feeling your waist take up the material of your skirt.
Feeling your backside rub up against it.
Imagining your stomach expand.
This used to be big-
You used to take breaks during work-
Slip into the hallway bathroom- when no one was in there
Untuck your shirt from your skirt- lift it above your ribs in the mirror-
To make sure they were still there.
That your meal hadn’t taken them away from you- your beautiful bones.
You are proud of this, you think those days- when you’d eaten one less almond than before.
You turn in the mirror- the bathroom mirror in front of the stalls- feel the skirt slide down your waist- to your hips.
Stare at your back end- drop your shirt and reach out and up your back to feel your shoulder blades unveil- like goosebumps on your skin.
How you enjoyed cupping them- holding those blades in your palms. Your chest out- standing with your feet shoulder length apart.
You were beautiful then- And you felt it.
You were hungry then- But you’d grown used to it.
You were hurting then- Thinking to yourself ”This is how it will always be.”
And you’re remembering that now- staring into your rehab bedroom mirror-
When you hear a giggle behind you.
Your outfit, she says- pulling the comforter to her chest.
You’re caught- you know it.
Dude, It’s my grandparents- I can’t be lopping around them in a beanie and denim.
You shake your head. I just can’t-
She rolls her eyes. I’d love to see your closet. I bet you have everything separated into categories, don’t you?- Just like oh here’s clothes for my grandparents- here’s my work clothes- here’s my wannabe hipster clothes- here’s my preppy Texas clothes.
You can’t help but snort- balancing with your hand on the bed and zipping up the back of your brown leather boot.
I didn’t even know you had those, she says. And what the hell is with your hair?
What- you say, turning back in the mirror- You don’t like it?
It’s more ridiculous than when your parents came.
It’s a bun- you exclaim. It’s a work bun.
You look like my grandmother.
Exactly, you say- pointing a finger at her.
Have fun Pollyanna- she says as you shut the door to your room.
Can’t believe y’all, you say later- when the moment has passed- and you’re walking out to the healing garden. (The name really is that cheesy)
We got you- didn’t we? Your dad says, smugly. Holding your red binder in his hands.
-He always holds your things for you-
Like he did when you were little- and you held out your gum in the car “Here somebody,” you’d say “I’m done.”
And he’d take it- mock rolling his eyes at you- but he always took it.
Were they ever coming? You wonder
They wanted to, he says. But we figured it’d be kinda hard on you so I told them you needed your space.
The Florida sun’s hitting the tops of your heads.
Thank you, you say. It’s chilly today, isn’t it? Michael beside you with his phone in his hand.
Yeah, he agrees- opening the weather app from his home screen.
What I wouldn’t give for a phone- you muse.
I bet you’re dying, he grins.
My phone bill’s not.
You nudge your dad with your elbow. So how’d yall end up staying?
Michael grins, It was random-
It was, your dad says- entering the garden behind you. We were on our way to the airport and I just kinda had this moment where I was like HEY, why not? It’s Christmas break- no one’s working- Michael’s outta school. Let’s just stay.
You smile- looking at Michael. You didn’t have party plans?
I do, he says- Just not till New Years.
Ah yes- I see.- But secretly, you know he could’ve.
And you? He smirks. Gonna toast it with some apple juice?
You grin- slap him over the head as the three of you sit down on some chairs in the garden.
Your dad rocking in the patio chair- Your brother eyeing you over.
Later on- night comes, as it does once you’ve changed from your skirt to your sweatpants- your bun to your beanie- and you sit down for dinner in the cafeteria- surrounded by the women.
Women who keep their children’s photos in their name tag holders- women who hold pictures of their husbands in their hands when they eat- women who look for every other reason to help themselves when they don’t have enough love to do it on their own.
And you’re sitting there that night- your heart feeling sad and feeling full- when you open your red binder for a sheet of paper.
You’ve been slacking on your food journals you think- and hoping that no one will notice-
When you feel a white envelope fall out from the bottom- sweeping down alongside your chair.
Lindsey- you read- when you’ve picked it up,And somehow, you know who it’s from:
I know I’m not known as the most expressive person in this family, so I imagine this letter is going to come as a bit of a surprise. However, in an effort to please you, I thought I’d take a step away from my unemotional exterior and delve into my multi-faceted, truly emotional interior…
Ok, I’ll try and lay off the sarcasm from this moment forward.
First off, in writing this, I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me over the years. I look back and don’t know how I would have grown up without you helping me along the way and more importantly, being the older child who was the test subject for mom and dad’s punishments. (I think after your thousandth grounding from AIM they realized that they didn’t have to be as harsh on me. So…. Thanks sis!) I never got grounded because of you!
But in all seriousness, I know that I can count on you for anything. Whether it be my “interesting” social life or just how to tell Mom and Dad that I’ve fucked up, I know you’re going to give me the right advice. (Well, at least, some advice) For that, I want to re-thank you. I know many of my friends aren’t as close to their brothers and sisters as we are, and I can’t tell you how much it means that we stay this way.
As I sit here writing this, our family is finishing up with the yearly venture to Kansas City. It’s hard to explain but this trip was different without you. You’re the one in our family who always knows how to make everyone laugh and how to entertain us with one of your stories. I know that your humorous stories may seem kind of petty, but I think everyone would agree with me when I say that it tends to be the highlight of our dinners.
Of course, this year your name came up a lot. As you would expect, our family is worried about how you are doing. However nerve-racking and uncomfortable that makes you, you gotta admit that it’s kind of awesome that our family loves and cares this much about you.
Furthermore, I think everyone in the family would agree with me in saying that your situation definitely came as a surprise. You are one of, if not the most vivacious and outgoing person I have ever met.
Hearing that you’re struggling internally, and have been for some time, seems almost impossible to me and to everyone else. Of course we all face inner demons at some point in our lives, however I think it came as a surprise that these demons could afflict someone like you.
I know no matter how many times I tell you that you’re beautiful, or that you are, IN FACT, skinny that it’s not going to matter. But believe me when I tell you that I’ve never met a single person who didn’t think you were (much to the demise of many of your exes).
Lastly Lindsey, I just want to tell you how privileged I am to be your brother. I know that you have deemed me as the “golden child” in this family, but the truth is I’ve always felt you were the stronger sibling, and now I believe that even more.
Obviously, you hid your eating disorder from us for a long time, but when confronted, you admitted that you needed help and were willing to do whatever it took to get better. I know many would say that was the rational and easy choice, but I see it differently.
You didn’t hide and run from your problems. Instead, you faced them straight on. That’s one of the bravest moves you can make and I know there is no way I could have handled the situation as gracefully as you did. Well, really, I don’t even know if I could have even had the strength to admit I had a problem in the first place. You’re impressive, and I really mean that.
I know that I can be distant and often appear unemotional, but hearing that you’re going through all this makes me sick. I know it sounds cliché for me to say this, but if I could trade places with you I would. I hate you having to deal with this shit and having to overcome anything. However, it does comfort me to know that you are not only going to overcome it, but become an even stronger person than you already are.
Please, all I want you to know, whether it’s now, tomorrow, 5 years, or 50 years from now, is that I am always going to be there for you if you need someone. Lindsey I can’t wait to see you when you’re recovered and are happier than you’ve ever been.
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.