How many times did you say never mind last year, and how many times did you say I love you.
I can count on one hand the number of times I said I love you. I can’t remember how many times I mumbled never mind.
Know what I else I have trouble remembering? There is still time to become the person I want to be. There is still so much time.
I read this paragraph in a book the other day, and it hit me like a hammer to the heart:
“He was one of those people who doled out sex as a reward for good behavior. Who saved sex for the end of the day, after you’d washed all the dishes and spent an hour tying up the loose ends in your inbox and finally the lights were off and you could relax.”
Womp. Switch that “he” to a “she”, and womp.
I don’t want to be that person. The person who needs to have showered under two hours ago, the person who needs to know her breath is minty-fresh from a mile away. I don’t want to be the person who needs things to be perfect, in order to proceed.
I haven’t been in a relationship in a long time, but this seemed to be as good an analogy as any.
In my old life, it was hard for me to do anything if everything else was not done. And nothing ever seemed to be done. I would work myself into a tizzy tackling my to-dos, only to have my list repeat itself. The items I’d just checked off would pop right back up again, with empty boxes flashing insistently on lines one, two, and three. It would seem impossible, but it would be time to go to the gym again. Or do another load of laundry. Or pay the rent. Or return my library books. Or clean the kitchen. Or log in to online banking. Or respond to new emails. Or go get groceries. Or run the vacuum around. Or think about dinner.
I forgot to mention: if you’re not a perfectionist, this post might not resonate with you.
It was all I could do to keep up. (Uh huh, with no kids. And I know, really relatively few real responsibilities.) I just couldn’t see how people lived. How anyone ever managed.
I didn’t, of course, realize that all of life would have felt a heck of a lot easier if only I’d been eating enough to sustain one.
But here’s the annoying thing about anorexia, once you realize you have it and probably-definitely need to do something about it, ASAP. Just like losing the weight didn’t solve everything, neither does gaining it back.
Maybe that didn’t come out quite right. Don’t get me wrong: gaining weight solves a lot. A lot a lot. It fixes the period gone missing and the sex drive dropped to zero. It takes an eraser to the dark circles under your eyes and the goosebumps you used to sport 24 hours a day. It fills in the horrible hollows on your frame and does away with most of the more irrational irritability. It keeps 60% of your hair from continuing to pull away in the palm of your hand. It infuses color back into your cheeks. It puts a bounce back in your step. It gives you a beautiful shape, and patiently waits for your mind to catch up. It coaxes the corners of your lips up into so many more smiles. It allows you to think more clearly, and concentrate on command. And as my closest friends told me over and over again: it makes you more you, again. (There is really a lot to be said, about gaining weight.)
But privately, I suppose for a while I’d hoped it would provide a relatively quick fix to everything else, too.
You’ll laugh…but originally I’d hoped my nutritionist would declare me weight restored, and right around the same time, my therapist would feel about ready to turn me loose. Clean bill of health, better ability to cope, and all that. Check, check, check.
It’s just not that neat. Unfortunately, it seems nothing is ever that neat.
I’m beginning to think that what gaining weight really does is gift you with enough energy to begin parsing through the things that seemed so paralyzing, before. It is no wonder that I am afraid. It must be normal, to be afraid. It must still be early days, yet.
Even so, I can imagine a lot more now than I could a few months ago. I can imagine having a full-time job again now that I have a part-time one. I can imagine resuming living on my own now that my mom has gone. I can imagine all sorts of things. But I just can’t imagine intimacy coming any more easily than it has.
Won’t I find I still get stuck there? With every light off and my shirt still on? Won’t I find I’m even more ashamed than I used to be? Won’t I find I feel even more compelled to hide my stomach, to conceal the tops of my thighs?
It is no longer a question of trying (and failing) to be perfect. Or managing (not managing) to make everything else within reach as perfect as possible. But it is a question of confidence, and how I’m supposed to come by it. Genuinely, without so much as glancing at someone else for confirmation. I wonder how anybody does it.