Truth is, this headline is declarative. I have no idea why you relapse.
As I sit here in a coffee shop – mulling through this post – I got a call from a close friend.
“Have you talked to X lately?”
“No… He dropped off a couple months ago and stopped answering me, so I assume he’s relapsed.”
“Linds, it’s bad. Just feel you should know before you hear from anyone else. His liver and kidneys are failing. Was in ICU for 13 days. Respiratory failure. Got out and got back on the painkillers. Sister found him slumped over a coffee table. He’s going to die if he doesn’t get help… and I don’t know if you want to reach back out – but we’re trying anything.”
I stared at my phone.
Stomach sinks. Not because it’s unexpected – but because it’s so expected and yet, no matter how much you can prepare for anything – you never know when the day will just come.
My ex might very likely die, which is two of my exes that I am waiting for that call.
I received it once already – when my best friend fell out of a tree.
And I know it’s only a matter of time these days, before I get it again.
Being a messy person creates a messy life. And I have always held a love for messy people.
Coming out of a minor eating disorder relapse these last couple months, and I went to dinner with a girl who follows my blog this past week: “What made you go?” She asked. “To rehab? Did you have that moment?”
I sipped my wine: looked down at 2 tacos in front of me. Sometimes, I wanna have a big, juicy response for that question. Sometimes, I don’t know what to say.
I kinda chuckled. “I dunno if I have an answer really,” I said. “I didn’t have that moment – that big climatic scene in a movie. I didn’t have it, and sometimes I feel like I should make one up to feel relevant.”
Truth is, though: I’m not the girl Lily Collins is playing in some hyped up Netflix movie about anorexia. I’m not your dying girl on a feeding tube in a hospital.
I’m not the girl that people shook their head at in the street, and I wasn’t the girl who had a movie scene moment with an indie one-hit wonder theme.
I was just a girl with an eating disorder – and I was simply boring.
“I guess it’s that,” I said. “I was bored. I wanted a different story. Got tired of the one I was writing.”
I wasn’t dying, but what is being alive glass-eyed? Tripping over your feet? Unaffected unless it directly relates back to calories burned or food lost. Food doesn’t give you love.
Saw fields and mountains and beaches for years n’ all I thought was how long I could run them – till every calorie of food was gone.
Look at pictures and remember events in my life by what I ate, threw up, or didn’t eat. “Ah yes, that picture. I had just hidden grape leaves in my back packet. Smushed them later in the car when I sat down. Smelled rank.”
“I guess I just eventually got bored enough to ask myself ‘what else is there?’ I ended up saying. “And that was enough for me. Eating disorders are boring. People grow tired of you. You get tired of yourself; sit in the same 8-10 revolving thoughts all day. I was just … I was tired of feeling nothing.”
I wanted something else to live for. I wanted to cry again; like big ole’ tears. And laugh the most genuine of my 7 laughs (still have them). I wanted to have shit days and joyful ones – and love affairs that wouldn’t last, and anger. I wanted to go on dates and road trips n’ eat camp food because it’s there. Party till 2am or sit in a lazy river. I wanted to run around at a hot springs or laugh at a meal with girlfriends. I wanted to gossip. Dance. Try some blues moves. Read a novel. Fuck up.
I just wanted to be a person who no longer found the word ‘boring’ an acceptable meaning for a life.
A lady who lives out of a suitcase – than motionless in a box, eyes wide open – feeling nothing.
‘Cause honestly, what woulda’ been the point otherwise? I reminded myself that then: biting down into my tacos – what else is the bloody point?
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.
I legit have the Flu people- THE FLU….yet yesterday at around 6pm I still thought as I rode the bus home “Am I sick enough yet to miss a work out?”
Inevitably, mother nature answered for me. In the 45 minutes it took me to ride the bus, get home and eat dinner (which my taste buds were already rejecting) I could feel the fever flame through me.
Ugh, fine- I thought, feeling the weakness fever brings. GUESS I CAN’T WORK OUT.
If felt like failure.
Huddled in my bed last night- teeth chattering- running a 102.3 fever and crying at Undercover Boss (because apparently fever makes me HIGHLY emotional)… I find I still have that little voice in my ear.
As so often happens, “weekend Orthorexia” creeps into me after I’ve worked out. What is it about that voice in your head?
Had a nice, 6-mile run and then immediately came home and couldn’t decide what to eat.
“If I just DON’T eat, well then those calories will be saved,” I always initially (and gleefully) think. “Whatever I eat will make me bigger. NOTHING is safe.” My Braveheart chant sings.
I’ve always had a little bit of an issue with working out and then eating. Somehow, it feels like when I work out- my appetite tends to dissipate for awhile afterwards; Even though I know I need to be eating. Does anyone else feel that way?
Anyway, I went to the little grocery store by my apartment and found myself doing what I always do when I’m in this position; walking up and down- and up and down- back down and elsewhere- into the store unable to decide what is “acceptable” to my ED to eat.
But alas, at the end of the day it’s a choice to hurt yourself- and I’m enough in recovery to understand that. It’s a choice to live by your ED and a choice to weigh your healthy voice over what your weird, instinct desire is telling you.
Fruit? Do I need the (natural) sugar? Cheese? Do I need the protein and fat. Bagel chips? Do I need the carbs?
Yup. I do. Cause I can’t live my whole life being scared of food.
I spent years of my life researching food; memorizing calories.
Years of my life google searching until my eyes felt like they were burning out of my head.
Two years ago, I went to a wedding, drank 6 glasses of wine, and wouldn’t take off my coat.
Earlier that day, I binge ate 2 boxes of cereal, threw up- and went straight to the gym with my dad.
I ran for 45 minutes- analyzing how many calories I’d likely thrown up and how many I could continue to burn.
It wasn’t enough.
When my dad came over to the treadmill, he signaled he was ready to go and I hopped off and followed him out of the gym.
We chatted in the car that day, giggled about the latest Bachelorette (because, yes, my father watches The Bachelorette), and when we got home I lurked till he was back in his room before I grabbed the keys and yelled out I was going to “run errands.”
My brother, I was later told, watched me pull out of the driveway and went back to my parents room to let them know I still had my tennis shoes on.
30 minutes later, as I ran cemented to the treadmill, I looked up to find my Dad standing there at the gym entrance- his eyes watching me.
Filled with shame, I stared back as he walked discreetly over to my treadmill.
“Linds” he whispered. “C’mon.”
We didn’t talk much that afternoon. I stayed upstairs with a bottle of wine avoiding my family and getting dressed for the wedding.
Anxious because I hadn’t finished running 12 miles, I hated the way I looked in that dress. I hated how much tighter it felt, I hated my thighs, I hated my arms, I hated my stomach and I wore Spanx that sucked in what was already bloated from purging.
At the wedding, I lingered near the bar.
Please take off your coat, my Mom whispered at some point when I’d gone out on the dance floor with my winter coat zipped to the neck.
I’m cold, I lied.
That night, I got absolutely hammered. I spoke with people I don’t remember talking to but have pictures with, I spent the last hour finding ways to sneak the grilled cheese appetizers in my coat pocket to ”eat later,” and I danced with sweat pilfering through my coat because I wouldn’t take it off.
Wine-dazed and dehydrated, someone drove me home that night and as I walked in the door I heard my Dad call me into the living room.
Shit, I sighed drunkenly. I just wanted my bed and the Cheez Its I’d hidden in the bathroom.
As I walked into the living room, I immediately noticed the two empty boxes of cereal on the coffee table.
Lindsey, he said calmly. What happened to the cereal?
Dunno, I slurred, my face reddening.
Lindsey, he said again- softer. Mom and I counted before you got here and we had 6 boxes of cereal and now we have 4.
I stared at him.
Honey, he whispered. We just love you.
Tears welled in my eyes.
We know, he said. Lindsey we know you need help.
I’m sorry, I heard myself whimper. I’m so sorry.
Did you throw it up? He asked.
My mom shook her head. We have to get help, she said. Lindsey you can’t keep living like this. We can’t live like this.
…Because 4 years ago on 11/22/11 I was a lil girl I can no longer recognize, and I’m going to enjoy 3 cookies.
“I’m tired of living like this,” I wrote then. “Can’t stand drowning in food. Just want to be a person; To enjoy a meal. To not rape myself for eating a candy bar. Need help Bradley, where are you? My god come help me. I’m tired and just want to be okay. When I look into a field I don’t see grass anymore. Don’t see the scenery. I just see a long treadmill made to run off what I ate this morning. I’ve made everything I do a way to burn calories, and the joy of life has left me in so many ways. Nothing is interesting if I can’t make it about weight. I’m 22 years old and lived like this for so long I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a meal; the last time I sat down and felt hungry. So far in and don’t know how to get out. Afraid I can’t. Can’t remember what’s enjoyable, only in theory. Was given so much, and am wasting it. Given looks and I cut them away; given a brain and am using it on everything senseless. Given morals and forgot how to abide. Can’t remember how to be apart of anything.”
Remembering tonight that 2 years ago pineapples had “too much sugar,” strawberries had “too many pesticides.” iceberg lettuce held “not enough nutrients,” soy sauce had “too much sodium,” cashews had “too much fat,” and quinoa salmon patties held “too much olive oil and breadcrumbs.”
2 years ago I ate like a rabbit- I picked and sorted and moved and analyzed. I could binge eat a box of cereal yet not eat a sweet potato because “carbs.” I wouldn’t eat a bowl of fruit because “natural sugar” but would binge drink a bottle of wine at happy hour. My orthorexia was a mad woman in my brain- and I was miserable.
2 years later, I’m sober; I’m cooking every meal- and I’m realizing that I enjoy it (something I never thought possible). I’m googling what sounds interesting and coming up with Asian lettuce chicken wraps and quinoa patties and homemade yogurt parfaits.
Im feeling useful to myself and I’m taking care of my body. I’m eating foods that I once deemed inedible and finding myself full and content on a level that doesn’t give me massive anxiety (I.e. My mind screaming: run it off you lazy bitch)
In short, I’m waving goodbye to the pieces of orthorexia that still remain as I enter this sober side of my life. I didn’t comprehend how much of me was still skewed by this ridiculous logic of my eating disorder brain.
Orthorexia is a real deal. People discredit it because our culture is unhealthy in nature, but taking clean eating too far is real. It’s obsessiveness and habit-forming in the same way bulimia and anorexia are. It carries the same warped values and illogical patterns.
As I continue down my sober epitome, I find myself waving goodbye to a part of my existence that just didn’t make sense, and thankful to be cooking- even if it means I’m not necessarily the girl with the most “fun” stories from the weekend anymore.
I’m content living this way lately. I’m content cooking- sometimes successfully, other times not so much (my potatoes are always undercooked-ugh) but hey- I’m learning. And I’m sober. And I’m finding a happiness that’s consistent- and that’s all I could ask for tonight.