“I’ll Never Let Go, Jack… Er, ED”: Is Anorexia Your Forever Love Affair?

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The other day, I saw a Facebook picture of a person I will forever define as “a lifetime love affair.”

… Okay. That’s a lie. I went purposely creeping through his Facebook page, dug past his borderline-conspiracy-theorist-Facebook-belief private settings – and ended up clicking over to his current girlfriend’s page – ogled over her natural European thinness – and tried to find remote evidence of her ‘plain’ personality via a couple pics.

We all have a few of these people – sprinkled throughout our lives – like quicksand dissolving through our fingers.

She seems ‘right’ for him. I said it aloud.

We ended as we were meant to, I reminded myself.

She loves him. I don’t wanna know.

You don’t know that person anymore.

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As I laid back on my pillow, there was a picture I noticed on her notably less privacy-clad page (she must be strong-willed, I decided, to ignore his constant conspiracy rants) – and it was the two of them on a Scandinavian mountainside. A black spaghetti strap falling down her tan shoulder, a black t-shirt clinging to his stomach from wind-blow. They had backpacks on, surrounded by friends who seemed equally as attractive and ‘mountain-approved’ by an REI commercial.

A flicker of angst: “A life that could’ve been mine, and wasn’t.”

Continue reading ““I’ll Never Let Go, Jack… Er, ED”: Is Anorexia Your Forever Love Affair?”

Side Note: Love Wins

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“There is no reason that we should ever be ashamed of our bodies or ashamed of our love.”- David Levithan

What is love?

Today demonstrates that love is perspective. Awareness. Awareness of what you’re doing- how you’re doing it- who you’re affecting- over and over again: Aware aware aware.

Love is aware.

And today is truly life in marvelous times-

In 20 years, it’s comforting to know that my child will look at me the way I looked at my grandparents and say “Wait Mom, you mean not everyone could marry while you were growing up?”

Congrats to equality for all.

Recovery Tip: Hey, You Broke Up- Now What?

Ending a relationship is tough- necessary- heartbreaking- and sometimes nobody’s fault.

You wake up and realize that while the love is equal, the paths are different, neither wrong, but neither right for the other at the time.

As I struggle here, trying to healthily grieve and cope through what might just be the first, and only, mature relationship’s halt I’ve ever experienced, it brought me back to the therapy journals I kept in rehab.

Sitting on my childhood bedroom floor this weekend, sniffling and snotting like a baby, I came across a writing we were instructed to do on ”love.” Such a basic word (#basic) but how often do we have the chance (or the time) to define what it represents to us.

This post comes with pain in my fingers as I write. Months ago, as some of you might have seen, we lost one of the women I went to rehab with.

Openly sick, infectiously honest, I wrote the following next to her one day and read it to the group. As I finished and my eyes looked up to the counselor to signal I was done, she raised her little body off the couch (where she loved to rest) and propped herself upright.

Damnit Lindsey, she said, wiping tears from under her eyes. You’re good at this shit.

Laughter.

Can you make me a copy of that?  she asked. Just write it down somewhere.

Sure, I smiled.

I didn’t, of course, ever give it to her.

Forgot. Life moved on. I left. She stayed.

But tonight, I’m dedicating this to her memory and her struggle. Corrine, I hope you’re in peace, and thank you for showing me that words matter; and the perspective you choose to take from them is the perspective you’re left with.

Continue reading “Recovery Tip: Hey, You Broke Up- Now What?”

I Haven’t Shaved in 6 Weeks Day 8: 11 Truths About That ‘One Time In Rehab’

So it’s been awhile.

I know- This is how I function- spewing multiple things out at one time before going through a sort of self-deprecating writers block- forever certain my abilities to share creatively have been sanctioned.

Alas, I’ve returned though- still as unsure about this post as I felt when I first began to write.

Prefacing this by saying that– MY GOD– Relationships are hard to write about- The end of them harder.

I was going to avoid it to be honest- this whole topic- “the one that got away” and all that

But, as my dear best friend pointed out to me- avoiding that is the same as omitting- the same as lying- which is how I’ve often lived my whole life-

-So no, it’s not easy to write about this- it’s not easy to write about someone not wanting you the way you want them. It’s vulnerable- and it makes you wonder if others around you will look at you and think “Wonder what’s unloveable about her?”

And in retrospect, it seems even harder to write about relationships when you know this other person  probably does not perceive it the way that you do now- It’s often harder to be real because at the end of any relationship- you know you both played a role in untangling it- And it’s a vulnerable thing to put your interpretation of it into their hands if they want it-

However, in posting this “rehab truth” I’m delving away from my eating disorder mainly because one of the points I’ve always wanted to make in writing this- is that whatever your addiction or disorder is- you’re still human.

You’re still human and it doesn’t mean you’re living your every day life like an episode of “Intervention.”- You’re functioning- maybe not well- but you’re still a human. You still love- You still get left.

So with that–

Truth 8:

“Everybody Plays The Fool: An Ode To The One That Got Away-“

Cheers- you

__________________________________________________________________________________________

So here you are, right?

Week 3- Day 2–

And you’re sitting around the upstairs rec room watching Lilly comb her fingers through her hair while you eat a sanctioned 2:00pm snack.

My hair’s falling out, she muses- looking at her hands.

No it’s not, you say, peeling the wrapper down your granola bar- It just probably was before and you weren’t noticing.

Swear to God it is, Lilly says- Look at this- She holds up loose strands of hair with her fingers. Look at that Lindsey- no way you can’t tell me it’s not.

You nod- I mean I get it- my bathroom looks like Chewbacca shed his coat.

Dude yeah- Lilly says. Your roommate’s hair is falling out too- have you noticed?

Yeah, you admit. But like usually she’s pretty cool about throwing it away- that or she just leaves in on the shower wall.

You hear Kenzie clomp up the stairs.

Yo- she says when she sits down next to you. I’ll take Almonds, she tells the counselor- God I had to move, she says. Some bitch is crying downstairs about her boyfriend.

Who?

I dunno her name- the one from Canada.

You’ve been here for 2 months- how do you not know everyone’s name?

Lilly bites her cheek. Her boyfriend’s been a dick since she got here.

You nod- he sounded like a douche when she told me about him.

He is, Lilly says. I mean I don’t know him obviously but I heard her on the phone with him.

That’s why you get the upper hand first, Kenzie says. Or you’ll never have it.

You shrug- Everyone has that person though–

You see Kenzie look at you. Doesn’t yours live halfway across the world?

You grin- Yeah.

I don’t get it, she says- shaking her head. Why talk to someone you know you’re never gonna be with– Why even be with them in the first place?

God, I’d never date you– Lilly says. You’d drive me bat-shit crazy.

Agreed, you say.

She smiles– looks at you. I wouldn’t date you either, she pauses. Or you– and she looks at Lilly. You two would be all clingy and shit.

Nu-uh.

Yeah-huh, she says. Your ex left you forever ago and you’re still bitching about it.

Cause she’s human, Lilly says- defending you as she gets up to go downstairs.

People bitch about everything, Kenzie mutters. That’s all we do here is bitch about shit we can’t change.

Eat your food, you say– watching her try to sneak almonds into her binder.

She makes a face. I can’t stand snacks.

Kenz, you say– Eat your food.

She rolls her eyes- Maybe I’ll lose weight and get kicked out, she pauses. Then I could go back to LA.

Like you’d make it there– you say. Look at you– shaking and shit.

I miss it, she says– I was a good model.

You were a junkie.

A “junkie?” she grins. Okay Texas–is that what your parents called it?

You smile.

It was fun, she says again. I had a good guy there too– until my dad made me come here.

What happened with the guy?

She shrugs– I don’t know where he is.

You didn’t tell him?

Why would I? We don’t all pine away for our exes like you do.

Do not.

Yeah you do, she says. I saw your journal.

You mean you read it?

Of course, she says– casually. What else is there to do around here? She pushes her hair behind her shoulders–grabs an almond.

You should tell that person– by the way.

Tell them what?

Whatever you wrote– she says. You should just tell them, she pauses. Or at least let them know so you’ll stop moaning about it.

You flick a piece of granola at her.

She smiles–

__________________________________________________________________________________________

And now here you are again– talking about it on the couch as Kenzie predicted–

Because it’s true what people say–that there’s two sides to every person–

And no matter how many people you date

You will always have the one-

(That left you)

That one that got away–

______________________________________________________________________________

So this person, your therapist says– your Achilles Heel.

You snort.

Tell me about them.

I have.

No– you’ve told me what happened -not what happened.

You shrug. Met them when I was young- you say- shifting in your chair. And I just had that feeling. Like I saw them- And I knew you know?

She nods.

Where were you?

A party- you say. We were in the backyard and this person put their drink on a table and it shattered– you grin. The whole table just shattered and everyone was staring.

She smiles.

I don’t know what happened after that, you pause– I just remember seeing their face– I looked over from where I was and they were standing there with this shattered table- looking so pathetic– I wanted to help– had this really weird maternal feeling. I remember my boyfriend at the time grabbing my arm and being like ‘You don’t have to go over there– they’re fine,’ you say. But something about them you know– I wanted to know this person– wanted to talk to them–

Okay, she says–So how’d you end up dating?

Took awhile, you say. Took a lot of time– They weren’t the type of person to warm up easily– All foreign and everything, you smile. But then one night they called, sitting in my room doing my homework– you say. We talked till 5am and everything changed after that–

She nods. And how did it end?

They left– you say– They had to– their visa was up- they had to go back.

You think about that night.

_________________________________________________________________________

2 in the morning–

Legs entangled on a chair.

Their hands holding your face

What do I do, you’re saying- What am I supposed to do?

Hey, they whisper- running their fingers under your eyelids. No tears, they say- No tears, okay? I’ll come back–

Sitting there- hands cupping your cheeks- Their fingers on your jaw.

I’m sorry- they’re whispering– I’m so sorry.

Don’t leave- you say

Hardly blinking-

Don’t go– even though you know it’s silly- Just stay.

Stay and it’ll be okay-

With the leaves falling on the ground

From the tree that hung over the roof

You sit there all night–

You don’t notice the day break-

The morning light on your skin- Through the window.

I love you-you’d said, the words falling out of your mouth. I’m sorry-

I just love you–

______________________________________________________________________

You look at your therapist now– we’ve stayed in each other’s lives all these years since then- you say.  I feel like if things had been different-

They weren’t, she says.

Right– yeah, you say– But I think about it.

Everyone does- everyone wonders how something goes wrong when it worked before– And oftentimes it’s in retrospect you realize it was never going to work at all.

But I don’t know, you say. It was working. It was– you pause. And I think it would’ve eventually, when we were older.

In theory–

No, not in theory. We talked about it- You sigh. I mean I don’t understand how you get over someone that you never had a chance to get tired of.

What do you mean?

I just mean we didn’t butcher our relationship when we were together- you pause. Life butchered it. Distance butchered it- everything else. We had to keep going– keep existing– and years went by before I realized that this person was moving on from me and I wasn’t.

She nods her head. How did they tell you?

They didn’t have to, you say- We weren’t in the same place- we weren’t together–hadn’t been for a long time–They never had to tell me it was over, they just started dating someone else.

But you still went back and saw them? She asks, her brow furrowed.

Yeah, you say. I don’t know why- thought I could get them back- or just make them see, you cringe. Seems pathetic in retrospect.

And obviously that didn’t happen?

You almost laugh- No. I thought they’d come back after school was over and all that ended up happening was them moving to Thailand for a year.

How’d you handle that?

How anyone does- you say, sinking into the couch. Drank- cried- dated- stalked- binged, you pause. Read Thought Catalog pieces.

She smiles-

I used all of it as a reason to get sicker, you admit. I thought if I looked perfect- if I tried harder.

She nods.

Time just kept going though- you say- And they never came back– never needed me. And yet I still come crawling back every time they talk to me.

Why do you think that is?

I don’t know– you say. I think even now I still believe they’ll realize it, you say. That maybe they’ll wake up and think ‘Oh shit, this girl. That’s my best friend– I need her.’ you pause. We used to joke about it, you know? Finding each other down the road– how we knew we’d never sit in a room together and not wonder.

Alright, she says. But if what you’re telling me here is true– the two of you were never going to want the same things.

I don’t know, you say. I think there was hope of it changing.

You mean, hopes of you changing? She asks. Cause that’s what I’m hearing- that if this person came and begged you, you’d go running off to wherever they were.

I wouldn’t now, you say defensively. I mean back then it seemed more realistic– I always adjusted well to different places and I liked their life and-

Lindsey, she says- pointedly. Do you hear your own bullshit?

You make a face.

Do you realize you’ve sat in here with me for 3 weeks now talking about how much you need your family- how much you need your friends– how you ultimately want stability- and yet you’re telling me you really think you would’ve been happy leaving all of that to go be with someone halfway across the world that you knew didn’t love you as much as you loved them?

Okay look– I know that, you say. But once you’re in something– you’re in it and how do you know when it’s over? You sigh. I just thought they’d move back here eventually– that they had to.

So have you told them this now? She asks. I’m just curious– In all these years, have you ever once said any of this so you know where you stand?

No– you say, indignant. How horrifically pathetic to go on telling someone you love them when they don’t say it back.

Why talk to them then? She asks. Why keep them this close?

I don’t know, you sigh. I’ve tried not to– It’s just when–

You want to make sure you still have some part of them-

Maybe.

Alright- well explain to me how you think that’s fair to anyone you’re with in the future?

It’s not, you admit. But I don’t know why things have to be final. You can’t just put a stamp on something.

But I don’t think that’s what your problem is, she says. I think you’re scared– Scared because you know if you did say it then it’d probably be done– you wouldn’t have the option of hoping anymore. And it hurts when people let you go.

I mean yeah- you say- But I’ve dealt with worse.

Death isn’t the same.

I know– you say- it matters more.

It’s not about which matters more- she says. Ending relationships is a death.

It’s not though, you disagree. You choose to do it– and I don’t see why I have to do that.

No one’s telling you that you have to– but at what price are you going to pay to keep yourself 20% attached to someone that isn’t going to want you the same.

Well, that hurts– you say– flattened.

I don’t mean to hurt you–

I know, you say. It’s just that this person’s out there- living their life, you know- this person gets up on the left side of the bed every morning- watches BBC when they get dressed– drinks Diet Coke from the can- you pause. I can hear this person in my head– Can hear their response to something I do.

I know it’s painful, she says.

I think it’s just surreal mostly–That you can know the moles of someone else, and then are meant to wander around the earth with this useless knowledge of one person – you pause. It’s hard for me- because it all seems sad doesn’t it? Letting go-You never love someone half as much as you miss them- and I think that’s the real tragedy- maybe the saddest part of all.

It is sad, she says. And you can let it be that– No one’s telling you it’s not. There is value in sitting here right now, being sad– And when you try to minimize pain you’re doing yourself a disservice- You make it worse.

It is trivial though, you say. Someone wanting you or not. There’s so much other pain that matters more-

It’s not about mattering, she says again. I think you know that the truth is that no pain is trivial- because it’s real. Maybe the only emotion that is real–And no one’s telling you it didn’t matter or that what you’re feeling isn’t ‘right.’ You’re not ready to forget this person– the way you saw them at least– And that’s okay. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t– Letting go comes when you start changing the definition you place on an event. Looking at the same event with a different meaning- and that can take a long time.

It’s never made sense to me though, you say. Hundreds of messages, thousands of words, and the whole time you think you’re creating this thing- this massive tapestry- and all of a sudden it just unravels from a single frayed thread and falls apart– And you’re left sitting there with a half undone blanket being like ‘What the hell do I do with this now?’–

Nothing comes undone in one sitting, she says. It unravels quietly- with one string pulling away from another, she pauses. You’ll see that someday.

You wanna know the truth? You say– pausing. When I lose them, the entire joy of remembering that part of my life will feel like it’s been taken from me– And it’ll feel like losing the memory itself, as if the things I did then are less real- like I’m watching a movie that cuts out before the end.

I get that, she says. But just because your finale didn’t get wrapped up with the credits running doesn’t mean it’s not already over– she pauses. Life happens this way–You know this. It ends and it begins in the middle of a sentence– It’s rare people get the satisfaction of playing out a whole story to its finish– It’s why they end up on Oprah, she says.

And you smile.

You think that everything has to happen perfectly and when you think it’s going to happen– and that’s not how things go- And you’re going to be unable to go on with life until you realize that things don’t happen the way you think they’re going to, she pauses.

You can’t hold onto something that wants to leave- you can only love what you have while you have it–

You nod.

And you have a ton of love Lindsey- I see a lot of families come in and out of here- Girls in here that don’t have friends, don’t have anybody-

I know– you say.

You do though- she says. You have people that love you whether you’re 95lbs or 115- that love you even after you think you’ve done the most unforgivable thing in the world. You just get so preoccupied trying to make yourself matter to everyone that you misplace what really does.

You make a face–

You, yourself, you’ll matter, she says. And you’ll leave little speckles wherever you roam– but you won’t matter in the way that you’re searching for now–she says. People leave. We can’t stay indebted to everyone– we drift in and out of each other’s lives all the time.

You nod. You know this–

You gotta matter to yourself– she says. So you can stop trying to always matter to everyone else and be a more genuine version of you.

So what do I do with this person, then? With all these years?

Forgive them, she says. Forgive them for not loving you enough– but forgive yourself first- And then forgive both of you together because it’s sad, she pauses– Do this so you can be free to someone else– Figure out how forgiveness feels best for you- And then wait till you matter more to yourself so that when you tell them you forgive them, you don’t need them to tell you the same.

You nod.

You are going to have to leave, you know– she says. To actually step out of their life- You can’t keep people that don’t want to be in your life as much as you want to be in theirs– You’ll know it, she says. You’ll always know it and you’ll never be happy doing it–

I know, you say– standing up- tying your sweatshirt around your waist. But what if I’m not ready? What if I don’t know how yet?

Then you’re not ready– she shrugs.

Will they be okay? You wonder. Do you think they’ll be okay.

I think they’ll know- she says. I think somehow- they’ll already know- she pauses-

And if they ever loved you- the day that you tell them-

They’ll let you go too.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Weeks go by after this–

You talk about it again before you leave– mull over it in your journal

Debate doing it– Debate not

And it’s funny to you now– looking back as you write this post–

How things unfold when you least expect them–

Weeks later- when you’re home–

Your mom downstairs making dinner– and your dad outside cutting the grass–watching Law & Order in the game room–

You see their call on your screen.

Their face on Skype–

Remembering how before you went to treatment they sat on the phone with you in your room– after they’d seen a picture of you on Facebook.

You look awful, they’d said then.

I’m fine–

No, they’d said– pragmatic as always. You look sick; Let’s do something about it.

It’s just the picture–

It’s not, they’d said, bringing out a sheet of paper–

You really are a psychologist, you’d laughed then– loving it– because this was the way they’d always been– and it’s comfortable to love something you know.

These are your rules, they’d said when you came to an agreement. No running every day, Rest Days– they’d scribbled. Fish twice a week– No vegan.

You’d smiled– listening to them– happy in a weird way– that they cared- even if you were sick.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Hey you– you say now when you answer–forgetting therapy, forgetting rehab-

Watching their face appear on a screen.

Such a lovely person you are-

Past your bedtime, isn’t it?

They nod their head– but they were thinking of you.

And you want to be thought about by this person- So you talk-

Talk to hear them talk back.

They ask how you are– How was rehab?

You start to tell them– to tell them about the girls.

About your life– about all the times you swore you couldn’t do it and did.

About the night with Bradley–

And your mom–

About your counselor–

But you stop-

You never called– you say tonight- surprising yourself. When I was gone– You never wrote–

I’m sorry, they say– I was busy.

And they make a joke.

Busy? you say–Feeling something wince– like you’ve felt before–

And never said.

You had 2 months–

You- you say- You had 2 months.

You could’ve called- Feeling something defiant come out of you-

You could’ve said anything-

I know.

Jesus you could’ve just written.

Lindsey- they say. I’m not like you, you know that.

Not like me? You say. God, you just had to call- you missed all of it.

You missed the whole thing-

I’m sorry- they say.

You’ll really never be there- You say- almost laughing now- and it feels strange hearing it– because you’re not sure you mean it.

Or that you want to mean it.

Unsure whether you’re mad or whether you’re sad.

You really just don’t love me.

This person closes their eyes.

I can’t do this– you say. Look at me– look at me when I’m talking to you- you say their name.

You- I’m so tired of you.

They put their head down–

You don’t love me- You say- But I’ve always loved you– I have always loved you.

Hey– they’re whispering now-.

Like they did all those years ago-

Holding you on a chair.

Lindsey- Please.

All these years– you say- feeling your throat close.

Lindsey–

So many, you smile.  And You- You’ve got to let me go.

Hey you- you say again-

You have to let me go.

And they’re  looking at you now-

Pulling their hat off their head

4 hours goes by–

On the couch in your game room

You tell them to listen.

You tell them you love them-

You tell them you always have

And then you tell them you have to find your life without them.

Tears running down your face–

You get it, don’t you? You say. You have to get it-

Tears in their eyelids.

i’m sorry- they say.

You hang up the phone–

Let me go, you whisper-

And they do.
______________________________________________________________________________

Months go by quietly after that–

For awhile you expect to hear from them– and don’t.

You finish treatment– move back to NY– you get a job.

You think of them.

Want to tell them– want them to know.

You get a message one day–

I’m happy for you, they say– when you’re walking from lunch– I don’t know what you’re up to, don’t know how you’re doing-

It kills me-

But  I want you to know I’m proud of you.

You keep reading.

I’m happy you went back, Lindsey– and I’m happy you’re healthy.

You want to message them back– standing on the sidewalk with your phone in your hand– your Whole Food lunch in the other.

You want to message them because they messaged you. You want to tell them you are happier and be smug when you say it– want to ask them how their job is– How’s your mother?

Did you ever get surgery on that shoulder?

But you don’t.

___________________________________________________________________________

Months go by again–

You publish your blog.

You publish this blog.

You get a message:

Can’t help but notice the story looks familiar–

And you smile– It should.

It hurts, they say. Reading it– I never meant to hurt you.

I know, you say. Goodnight little one-

Goodnight, they say.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

And you’re sad tonight that you’re unable to have the chance to tell them what you’re feeling now–

This weekend–

Sitting in a car–

Holding someone else’s hand.

Forgetting to see your life with theirs–

Forgetting to miss them when something happens–

Forgetting to check their pictures–

Changing your music– before The Cure, and James, and The Smiths–

You’re holding someone else’s hand–

And you’re not thinking about how one summer when you went to visit, and held the others in the center of the counsel–

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Teach me to drive stick, you’d said– 11 at night- all that time ago– the lights from the street lamps hitting your faces when the car passed under them.

Now? They’d smiled.

Now, you’d said.

And they’d driven you to an empty parking lot–

Quiet- with the leaves fluttering from the trees

The breeze–colder than you expected

This person’s hoodie pulled over their head– switching spots with you in the car

In the vacant parking– on a street 4 blocks from their home–

Circling around each other to the other side.

Drive slow, they’d said– when you buckled your seat belt– their fingers over yours. I’ll tell you when.

And you’d listened–

__________________________________________________________________________________________

No– you’re not thinking of that now–

Sitting in a car with someone else–

Looking at their hand– at a scar on their finger

Holding it with your other one out the window–

Cupping the wind with your palm–

Watching them take a sip of their drink–noticing the way their mouth moves when they sip.

You wonder what it is that you feel for this new person– what you could feel in time–

It’s midnight now and you hear the highway– the noise the car makes when they press on the gas-

You’re happy being there–

And you’re happy because you chose it

And you think this person is choosing too.

And it’s nice to choose something with someone– together.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

So to you, beautiful person:

Here’s to all the places we went– All the places we’ll go.

And for  a crooked little heart

That will always hold love for you–

This is Rehab Truth 8

I Haven’t Shaved in 6 Weeks Day 6: 11 Truths About That ‘One Time In Rehab’

Oye- after spending the weekend celebrating my crows-feet turning quarter-life century birthday, had dinner on Friday talking with the girls about relationships.

Who’s dumped whom?

Who wants who?

Why do boys/girls do what they do?

And, with that in mind- as I muse over the relationships gone awry in my own life- I dedicate my next post to the beautifully complicated world of relationships + eating disorders-

Truth Number 6: 

Relationship Status: It's Complicated with Bulimia.
Relationship Status: It’s Complicated with Bulimia.

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend.

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6.) Relationship Status- It’s Complicated with Bulimia:

A Letter To My Future Spouse

You’re laying sprawled out on Lilly’s lap one afternoon when someone asks about relationships.

It’s week 2 day 4 and you knew it was coming- one of you bound to ask.

 “What about them?” you say, staring up at the ceiling- picking your cuticles

Do you date a lot?

Yeah, you say. I don’t have serious relationships- but I date.

Me either, someone says. I always fuck it up.

I don’t, you disagree- getting defensive. I just don’t ever feel indebted to anyone.

I don’t feel indebted to anything, Lilly says.

We know badass. You roll your eyes.

 ___________________________________________________________________________________

And now it’s 3:23 on a Thursday- and your therapist is making you write a list.

Every person? You reiterate.

She nods. All of them.

What if it only lasted like 3 weeks?

Well, she pauses. Judging by what you’ve told me- that seems fairly protocol for you so yes- Those too.

You sigh.

24 years old- you think- and here you are feeling like Elizabeth Taylor’s 8th divorcee.

It takes you nearly 20 minutes.

You look over the list again.

I don’t think I’m missing anyone- you say

She takes it from you- glancing it over.

Alright, she says. Let’s talk about these relationships.

So you do.

You talk- You tell her which ones mattered- Who the first relationship was- all the way to the last.

And when you’re done- you feel like a stiff drink.

What you wouldn’t give for a Pinot some days.

Do you know what it means to be intimate? She asks when you’ve run out of stories to share.

You say you’re not sure, but that you try.

You try- you don’t set boundaries

You share things- you think that’s being intimate

You know what it is to hold someone

To love them for who they can’t be

But maybe one day could be-

You say all this.

I’ve loved before, you say. I think I’ve loved more definitively than most to be honest.

Alright, she says, dismissing you. But your relationships, she asks. What made them intimate?

You shrug.

Think of one person.

Think of another.

_____________________________________________________________________

Remember waking up to the morning

Rain against the roof

Sheets around your shoulders.

Tucked into the crevice of someone else

You think you know what it is to be held

Reaching out as they stir and roll away from you-

Come back, you want to say, your legs around theirs- Don’t leave

With their face now level with yours- smiling as one of your eyes opens.

The other buried in the pillow

What if I left? What if you woke up and I was gone?

You smile.

Your teeth feeling dirty, your hair in your face.

I’d still know you were mine.

Think so?

I do.

This person grabs your hand from under your head

Draws circles in your palm with their fingers

I wish I could always have you, they say- sweeping the hair from your face.

You know this person is gone

But you think about them sometimes-

_____________________________________________________________________

That they would end, you say finally. I always knew they’d end.

Okay, your therapist says. I’m going to ask you to explain.

You really do hate when she says that.

You appreciate things when you know they aren’t permanent I guess- appreciate the tiny things more- Make yourself aware of them so you can hold on to them when you know it’ll leave.

Why do you think things always need to have an end? She asks.

I don’t know, you admit. I just don’t trust myself or anyone else to keep their word on anything.

Do you think your eating disorder plays a part?

Sure, you say. In part- but in part because I personally never have. I’ve never been faithful to anything- no one. Even when I loved them.

I think it makes sense.

I don’t. I think it’s awful, you say. I think it’s horrible. I’ve loved people- loved them- in whatever way you can love another person- flaws and all- and I still cheated on them. Was always looking for something else.

She eyes you from her desk chair.

Do you think you’re real in your relationships?

You don’t know. I mean to a degree, you say. But isn’t that how everyone is?

I give what they need me to. I’m intuitive, you say. I read people well.

She nods. But do you know what you need from them?

I never know what I want from anyone besides attention.

You realize you set your relationships up for failure before they ever begin, she says. You throw yourself into them without really giving anything- you just donate yourself.

You shake your head.  I don’t know if I believe that.

What are your needs then, she asks. What do you want from someone?

You say ”lots of things,” and she nods.

Right, but you don’t ask for them.  Your problem is that you only ask “What can I give to you?”

You smirk, I’m not that selfless- believe me.

No, she says. In fact, it probably means you can be pretty selfish- when you’re constantly looking for validation.

Okay, you agree. But doesn’t everyone?

To a degree, she pauses. But the difference is that you don’t like who you are and don’t trust yourself enough to know what you need, or even think it through.

You make a face.

When you don’t accept who you are- you can’t know what you need from other people- so you become the version you think they’ll want, she pauses. It makes you feel better that way, doesn’t it? To be accepted.

I want everyone to love me, you admit. I’ve always been that way.

Well, she says. You probably get that then. You have it here- you’re an enigma. You have a personality that draws people in.

Thanks, you say.

Not here to compliment you, she shakes her head. I see how you are with the other girls- hugging on them, asking questions, playing with their hair, making sure they’re okay- it’s charming. But I’m not sitting here to tell you that you’re charming- you know you are.

You don’t say anything.

The problem is that when you live your whole life like this- floating from person-to-person, seeking approval-

But approval for what? you interrupt. Like I don’t really know what I’m looking for.

I don’t know either, she says. But when you go around giving 10% of yourself to this person, 5% to that one, another 7% to this one- what are you left to give to someone new at the end of the day?

You recross your legs.

You draw people in, she says. But with no real intention of keeping them close- how can you? You’re so busy running from person to person making sure they still want you that you can’t really be with only one.- Am I somewhere on the dot?

I don’t know, you say. Probably. It’s a joke with my family that I can’t date anyone longer than 6-8 weeks, you pause. It’s incredibly accurate.

Alright, so go through the cycle with me, she says.

I meet someone- “Love” them. Love everything about them- Think I can be them.

She smirks.

They’re into me- I can feel it, we’re jiving, you pause. I’m enthralled with their life, love that they’re ”different” from the last one- think it’s gonna work, you say. And then something happens.

What?

I don’t know, you say. Just something happens and I’m done. I check out- Don’t answer calls- don’t answer texts I just leave- I always leave I hate it. It’s awful.

Okay, she says. Why do you think that happens?

It gets too serious- That’s the thing with me. I can talk about anything but I can’t stand when someone starts making me a priority- Scares the shit out of me. Makes me feel like I’ll never be myself ever again.

Makes sense, she says. How can someone make you a real priority when you know you’re only giving them a piece?

You nod, Seems logical, doesn’t it?

It’s always easy to say things- she smiles. Harder to do anything about it.

You agree. My best friend always says that. She always makes a point to be like ‘yeah, you’re a great girlfriend for the 8 weeks someone knows you.’

Do you agree?

Yeah, you say. I’m the coolest girl around for 6-8 weeks. I’ll be anything you need me to be- I’ll do anything you want.

You see the problem with that?

Of course, you say. The whole time I just let shit build up in my head and don’t say anything. I just lie. I lie and omit and it just feels terrifying to have someone start relying on you.

Have you ever been honest with anyone about your eating disorder?

You think about the times your exes caught you.

When you snuck up the stairs at his mother’s house and threw up in her porcelain toilet.

Vomit splashing back up on your face.

And you- standing there in front of the mirror wiping snot from your nose

Reapplying concealer around your chin.

As your boyfriend rapped on the door.

You’d opened it then, your eyes watery.

And he knew.

You both knew.

But he let you smile then, and throw your make up back in your purse

Let you walk out in front of him-

_________________________________________________________________________________

You can’t be honest when you’re sick, she says. You can’t know what it is to be truly intimate with someone when every day you’re pulling yourself away bit by bit.

You just do it though, you say. You do it and get numb to it and you don’t think about it anymore.

But what happens later?

You resent them- At least I did. Resented everyone for not figuring it out.

You want your relationships to save you- she says.

In a way- I want them to make me feel better I guess. I resent them when they can’t.

She looks at you. You know, you’re one of the scariest patient I have, Linds- you’re smart.

Not true- you say. Not really.

You get ahead of yourself, she admits. But you know people. You know how to reach people- you manipulate.

You nod- You know.

I have to check myself with you-

I’m a chameleon, I know.

She agrees. You’re also one of the most defensive patients I work with.

You make a quiet face- but don’t say anything.

You know what I mean, don’t pretend like you don’t.

Probably.

I have the nurses check on you twice the amount of times at night, she says.

You can’t help but snort. Nu-uh.

Yeah, she says.

I’m really not doing anything, though.

This bothers you that I don’t trust you, doesn’t it?

Well, yeah, you say. I mean you’re the golden ticket for me.

You’re your own ticket, she says. I don’t think you remember that sometimes- that this is your recovery. This is your treatment- not mine. You don’t have to prove shit to me, your parents, your friends- My job will still be here when you leave- Their lives will still move forward whether you’re sick or not.

You agree. I’ve just always been defensive.

I know, she says. You put yourself out there the way you do so you can control what people think- have you noticed that?

Sometimes, you admit. I think it’s why I don’t have any boundaries.

She nods. Think about that this week. Where your boundaries lie.

You say you will- notice the time.

Get up from the couch.

I want you to do something for me, she says. A homework assignment.

I want you to write a letter to your future partner.

You sigh, standing in the middle of her office.

Write it- write a letter to this person and tell them what you want- everything you think you want for a life that includes someone else- so you’ll know. So you’ll have it somewhere to keep yourself in check.

You tie your sweatshirt around your waist. “Alright,” you say. Will do.

It’s later that night- wrapped in your white blanket on the couch- Titanic playing in the background with your friends- that you write this- and you hope you mean it:

________________________________________________________________________________________

You,

 You beautiful person- I’m writing this now- to give you a chance to exist.

So that when I discover you- when I see your potential with mine-

I’ll read this and remember that it’s you that I want to sit at a kitchen table with.

Brush my teeth next to.

Drive in a car and flip radio stations with-

Of course this seems crazy, doesn’t it?- To imagine a life that you can’t predict- but there are times I think about what my life can be with someone. What a life with someone would mean.

And it doesn’t always seem pretty- in fact it seems hard. It feels hard- a lifetime with someone- 

But I’m writing this to you because I think you’re the person that I might want to try it with-

The person I want to make coffee for in the morning. You’ll want your coffee different than mine, but I don’t think I’ll mind. I’ll wait till you pour it into our cups, and pour Hazelnut in mine.

I’m writing you today, because I think you’re the person I want to see get dressed in the morning. To watch from my bed while you dig through the drawers looking for clean socks- While you push your hair from your face. As we get older, I imagine you might have a stomach that goes over your boxers (“I need to start working out again,” you’ll say) and I’ll notice it when you bend over, complaining about how I haven’t done laundry in weeks. 

 I’m writing you because I want to have a pet with you. A dog that you pick because I refuse to get a cat. You’ll pretend to hate it but we both know you’re the one who will feed it every morning before you leave- listen to you scoop out the dog food into a metal bowl and smile as you force it to eat, growing impatient. Mumbling under your breath.

“Eat your food boy,” you’ll say. “No. Not there- there. It’s right there- Eat.”

I’m writing because I want to look at you those mornings, when I walk out of our room- a robe lazily hanging from my shoulder- and notice the wrinkles forming beside your eyes. The age marks on your arms. Your hair turning grey.

Perhaps, I’ll think that you look more like your dad. That, like your dad, you’ve grown more attractive with each year, and sometimes I’ll still want you. Run my hands over your shirt.

I have to work, you’ll whisper, smiling at me in that way as the dog comes trotting into the hallway, jumping up on you- getting fur on your pants.

See you later, you’ll sigh as you walk out. 

“There’s a Lint Roller in the glove compartment,” I’ll say.

And I’ll tell you that I love you.

And you probably still won’t say it back like I want you to- Because I’m dramatic and wordy.

But I’ll know you think it.

 I’m writing you because you’re the person I want to have kids with- Go to our children’s events together. The Christmas plays where our kid plays one of the sheep- but you know I’ll film it anyway. You’ll say that it’s a waste of film, but as soon as you see how mad it makes me you’ll sit back quietly and let me film as he or she walks across the stage, looking for us in the audience.

 You’re the person I want to have conversations with- Those quiet ones that married couples forget they have. You tell me about a book you’re reading. I tell you that I’m afraid my dad’s getting older, losing ability to move well. You’ll tell me that’s life and that your dad was sick for a long time before he died. 

 I want to lay on the couch with you at the end of each day. Listen to the dishwasher as it dries cracked dishes. Listen to our kid while they play the piano-play it badly. You’ll make fun of them but never to their face. Imitate the way they bang around on the keyboard.

Why are we forcing them to play? You’ll ask.

I’ll tell you that they’ll get better- That I got better with time. And that music is a theory worth knowing. 

You’ll mumble about it, disagree but give up.

When they’re finished, I’ll tell them to go upstairs and get ready for bed. I’ll complain that you never help me and you’ll say “I never let you help,” before you settle into the couch flipping the channels on the TV.

______________________________________________________________________________________

 I’m writing because I want to travel with you- All over the world. We’ll be in the snow more than I care to be, but I’ll accept it.  And I’m willing to compromise on that as long as you promise to take care of your knees and shoulders and don’t end up in a wheelchair.

 We can go all over together. We’ll conquer the continents. Drag our children along on leashes. You’ll be mad that I rented them and I’ll say it’s practical- Maybe we’ll compromise on a stroller. I’ll wear a camera around my neck and you’ll make jokes about how ridiculous I look until I tell you to piss off when the kids aren’t around. We’ll see everything, wont we? That’s what I want.

 We may never have the money we want, but we’ll see the things that are worth seeing.

 And we’ll go to Disneyworld- And I’ll watch you cool yourself down with the Mickey Mouse fan, complaining about how hot it is. We’ll ride every ride the kids want, and while I’m worrying about them falling out of the roller-coaster, you’ll be complaining about how uncomfortable the seats are.

 I’m writing because you’re the person I want to run through an airport with when we’re late to a flight. Listen to you yell about how I took too long putting make up on and how it’s my fault if we miss it. I want to drag along a suitcase that’s old and broken because we both refuse to spend money on a new one. And I want to watch you later arguing with the attendant- and want to see you be proud of yourself when they check our bag even though we’re 10 minutes late.

 I want this kind of life with you- of making dinners that I don’t really like but know you enjoy. Of learning how to cook food that I otherwise wouldn’t. Of listening to you talk to your mom on the phone on Sunday afternoons in the backyard. I won’t understand your conversations but will listen to your tone. You’ll sit with your feet propped on a chair, the sun peeking out on your face. I’ll watch you move your hands from the kitchen window. Cast them in the air when you talk. A beer half- drank on the patio table in front of you. 

 I want to go to parties with you that we don’t care about. That neither of us want to attend but have to because we said we would. Complain about it in our minivan the whole way there. Enter the room together and talk to people we find boring. Count down the minutes till we can leave. Look at the buffet line and agree that all the food looks like plastic but pick out some crackers and cheese wedges anyway.

I want to visit our families together. Try to get the whole family together, but fail every year. Laugh at the dining room table at my parent’s house in Texas. You and my dad eating pie and talking about how the world is going to shit while my mom and I clean up the dishes in the kitchen. I want to have little annoying kids running around the living room.

 I want to grow old with you, get fitted with glasses at the doctor. Make fun of each other and how we can’t see anything anymore. Stub my toe on a piece of furniture and cuss under my breath as you laugh.

I want my breasts to sag so I can complain about it. How I hate getting old. How death feels like it’s on our doorstep and have you smile and say, “Well, get used to it. We are old.”

I want to fight with you- and I know we will.

We’ll fight over everything sometimes- And some years we’ll fight more than others, and we’ll hold each other less-

But I’ll know, I’ll remember- that no matter how mad you make me, how much I want to walk out-

you’re still worth holding onto.

And that I waited so many years to have my life fit with yours.

 I want to fight with you over the things that matter, and the things that don’t. Argue with you in a car about which direction to take, about how much money we’re spending, argue over how annoying it is that I don’t do the laundry enough, argue about our jobs, and where we’re going to live. And argue about how to raise a kid in this world.

 I want to cook dinner for you  and feel you come up from behind me, grabbing a piece of chicken off the skillet and throwing it into your mouth. Feel your hand on my hip as you do it. Smile and tell you to get out, I’m almost done. Watch you grab a beer from the fridge and open it with your teeth.

 I want you to be the one that stands at my head when I’m having a kid. You be the one that gets more worked up and I have to tell you in between pushing to shut up and hold my hand. Watch your big eyes stare at this thing we’ve created- and be scared to death when it comes time to put him or her in a car seat.

“What do we do with it?” You ask.

“It?” I’ll say. “Please don’t refer to our child as an ‘it.’

 I’ll want to take a break from life with you sometimes- when things feel overwhelming and the kids are throwing toys at each other, and there’s marker on the wall and the fridge smells like something died.

 Go to a bar close by and drink beer to feel young and talk about how we could’ve ended up a million different places but here we still are. Talk about all the dreams we didn’t do but should’ve. Think about what our life could’ve been and what worked and what didn’t-

Leave happy, knowing that I still have this small life with you.

 I want to sit in airports with you. Watch our flights get cancelled, make faces, cuss, be mad with one another over something completely unavoidable and laugh it off later. Drink wine in the TGIFridays bar to pass the time, getting so drunk we stumble through the airport gates looking at the boarding passes over and over again to remember which one.

Gate 16, you’ll say. Are you sure it’s not 15?

I don’t know, do you have the boarding thing?

The ticket?

It’s Gate 15. 

How far are we?

How would I know. We’re at 32.

Damnit, Lindsey.

Watch you drop our bags on the tile accidentally. Scramble to pick them up and over your shoulders.

What the hell did you pack? You’ll say. Rocks?

I want to start looking like you- How couples that have been together forever look, do the same things.

Walk the same walk- Dress alike and don’t even know. 

 I want to go through all the good years with you, and the bad ones too. The years we get job promotions, the years our parents die, the years we don’t have enough money, and the years our children take over and become the only thing we focus on.

 And when it’s over, when this small little life is over, I want it to be you that I’m crying over.

I want it to be you that I have to say goodbye to. 

 Isn’t it funny how you can want someone without even really knowing who they are?

 Because I believe that this will be a pretty life to live- and I’m happy that I think I want to share it with you.

 

Beautiful Birthday Weekend in ole Brooklyn
Beautiful Birthday Weekend in ole Brooklyn

 

This is Rehab: Truth 6