I want to start a new thing, in which we all applaud whenever anyone even tries to do something. It is hard, to try.
It feels like all I do is prepare food. And cry. And then it’s time to eat again.
For someone who has done an A++ job of swiftly severing ALL ties to anything even remotely messy feeling…these crying jags are actually a very good sign. It is good to cry.
Only, to tell the truth, it doesn’t feel very good. It doesn’t feel very good at all.
I’m not experiencing the sort of satisfying cry you might have while watching a movie, when something impossibly sweet just snakes right out of the screen and turns one of your hidden valves, a little bit left.
The kind of cry I am currently contending with — it is of the FULL BLAST variety. The until-there-is-nothing-left, variety. Only there is always more, later. I’ve come to expect it, though. At breakfast-lunch-dinner, which have begun to blur together, as well as at Snack #1, Snack #2, and Snack #3.
It seems all I have to do is look at my plate. I look at my plate, and it begins. Huge, racking sobs, which eventually dwindle down to this series of sharp, shallow shudders.
I cry like I will never cry again — like this is my only chance to get it all out. Let it all go. I cry until my eyes are rimmed red, until my head is splitting in two, until my throat is raw and my voice is scratchy. There is nothing beautiful about this new way I cry.
But there is beauty, in this whole mess.
I’m about to go very yoga-y on you. I hope that’s okay. We did this one pose at the end of class this morning — I forget the Sanskrit for it now — and it just about made me burst into tears. Again. Apparently I am an emotional creature. Anyway, it was just before Savasana, and the teacher had us put one hand on our hearts and the other on our bellies, and just rest like that for a minute. While she talked. She said that this pose — this Sanskrit something — stands for compassion, in English.
Compassion. This word positively reverberated around my brain. While one hand hovered over my heart, working so hard, beating away, while its equal and opposite splayed gently, across my shrunken stomach.
I don’t think you need to be anorexic in order to grasp the significance here.
Having dealt with anorexia, having come out on the other side — it is going to make me more compassionate. When I am recovered, I will be more compassionate than I have ever been. Maybe: more compassionate than I could have otherwise been.
And there is more. This one makes me sad to say (and perhaps I’m mistaken), but I don’t think that I could have ever come to accept my body, as it is and as it will be, had I not gone through all of this. I don’t think I would have been able to shake this thought: that if only I tried harder, if only I were more disciplined, if only I had more willpower, I would look the way I wanted. Or, maybe more accurately: I would feel the way I wanted.
The picture I had in my mind — it was an unrealistic ideal for my body type, for my particular set of genes. Even emaciated, even literally actually starving, I didn’t look the way I wanted. And oh, I didn’t feel the way I wanted. I didn’t feel successful or lovable or capable or confident, or any of those things. I could not have pushed my body harder, and, in the end, I could not have felt further from “enough”.
What I felt, instead, was hollow. Horribly hollow. And sad. So sad — and so small, and so afraid.
This is what I know, now. When I am full — this is when my hair is shiny and my eyes are bright and my smile is real and my giggle is infectious. This is when I am as kind as I want to be. As generous as I want to be. Generous not just with my time, but also with my energy, my enthusiasm, my affection.
And this one came as a real surprise, but I have a much better relationship with my family. Now that they understand. Now that I understand myself, better.
I have also discovered what everyone means, when they talk about friends as extensions of family. God, do I have good friends. They might be all over the planet, and I still might get cold toes before meeting people in person, but there are so many amazing people around, in my life. All I had to do was ask, and they appeared.
There’s another positive to come out of all of this, too. I’d thought that by breaking up with my last boyfriend (a year and a half ago) and by staying purposely single, I’d be working on the self-love piece. Which, you know, I clearly needed to work on. I actually don’t think I worked on it much for most of that time, but I’m sure working on it now.
I’d been beginning to feel like it would be nice to have someone to love again, but the fact is: I do have someone. (Yes, exactly who you’re thinking, if you’re over there cringing. Waittt for it!)
There’s a lot to be said, for the self-love pitch. There really is. And there is also a lot to be said for getting to know what you love, before you go trying to love somebody else. My Love List is just exploding. Look at what I got to add, just this morning!
I like tea, actually better than coffee. I like it in perfectly imperfect cups. I like hikes, especially alongside some kind of body of water. I like time alone, time together. I like little kid stickers, sticking snail mail envelopes shut. I like links from friends. I like pictures from my mom. I like full-fat yogurt. I like swirly-sticks of honey. I like gray mornings. I like snuggling up on a couch that smells like a baseball glove, in the middle of the morning. I like throws that look like Grandma sweaters one side, Dad’s fleece on the other. I like dog-earing library books, even though I know it’s wrong. I like people who call, laugh out loud. I like granola — this granola. But do you know what I like most of all, today? My pants.
My pants, one size up.