The Size of a Fist

It took me five years to get over my first love. We stayed together for the first two years. Will you understand what I mean when I say it’s no fun, to face the music?

Six months after we agreed to cease dancing around the elephant in the room, I began dating a Frenchman. Although that makes it sound like it was casual, kind of cautious. It wasn’t. It was fast and furious and I almost married him. Almost made little babies who would have called him Papa. Me, Maman.

And then I proceeded to mourn them both, with varying degrees of intensity, up until — oh, I don’t know — a month or so ago.

How’s your track record?

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Can I just say — I wasn’t an active disaster, that entire time. I learned an incredible amount. From the simple, searing truth that memories can’t sustain you (and also: feelings change), to the slightly more complicated it is one thing to be loved; it is quite another to be IN love. Reciprocal love.

Anything that requires a semicolon feels complex. And anything that requires any kind of a recovery feels hard. Really hard.

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Some days I feel like recovery can be a beautiful story. Such a triumph. I feel that way often — I am lucky. Some days I feel like I am starring in my own love story. And I can imagine introducing another character with relative ease. I’ll be able to weave him right in, without much fanfare. I’m not there yet, but I will be eventually. I’ll be able to love so much better, once I’m better. Once I’m bigger — because bigger means better, around here.

It is smart, I think, for me to think about gaining weight in terms of increasing my capacity to love well. Not just me-myself-and-I, but someone else, too.

And even if that day never comes, even if I never fall for someone again, there won’t ever be a scarcity of love. Of appreciation, of small joys. I’ll always be able to find something, even if it’s just the way my feet look in fuzzy socks. Or the way the sky seems so extra blue, where my mom is in Arizona.

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There are so many reasons to finish. To finish what they call “the refeed”, in the field. I will finish. I’m just not in a particularly fun phase, at the moment. I’m in the phase the professionals call “partial weight restoration”, which means I’m doing an A++ job, and also something slightly less ra-ra-ra: most of my hard work gets glued to my stomach. It will re-distribute once my metabolism has normalized, of course, but that will only happen if I keep going. Keep going, keep going, keep going.

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“The transition from anorexia to health is a privileged time: the excitements of normality can get lost in all the fear and uncertainty, but if you manage to let yourself enjoy them, they can delight you with all the intensity of their novelty, and help make the progress to full recovery self-sustaining.”

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A month ago, I needed this too:

“And if all this seems a million miles away, as you battle with nausea and tummy fat and confused emotions and residual anxieties, and think to yourself ‘all this, and my BMI is still only 20!’, remember that it’s still bad because your BMI is only 20 and you’re not letting it go any further, and remember too that recovery isn’t a linear progression.

Your body doesn’t start in with repairing the major organs or increase the metabolic rate straightaway: fluid retention for cellular repair and the normalization of liver and kidney function occurs first, followed by fat deposit especially around the midsection to protect the vital organs, followed by major longer-term repairs and finally, as long as adequate energy remains available, by neuroendocrine and metabolic reversion to normal. This order means that things like bloating and disproportionate sensations of fullness are bound to be bad to begin with, and that things like the extreme hunger get dramatically better only towards the very end – the end of the natural process, not the end where your anorexia wants it to be.”

Source: Recovering from Anorexia: How and Why Not to Stop Halfway (Otherwise known as the article that got me to give up, give in, and do the braver thing.)

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“I have learned this world is the size of a fist, lately an open palm.” -Clementine von Radics

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