Bare Feet Swinging

I’m writing in cursive today, because cursive feels pretty. Swoopy — if that’s a word. Cursive feels swoopy, as in not so straight. I make sure nobody’s peering over shoulder, and look a little more pointedly. I like all the curves, I decide. Each rounded so smooth.

Remember when we all wrote in cursive? That’s the way I learned to write, anyway.

We also used to be able to sit cross-legged without giving it too much thought. Remember? Mat or no mat, we used to be able to sink down — sit up tall — without thinking yikes. Without thinking: yup, more yoga, in 2015.

It feels like I was little so long ago. I barely remember having to beg my big brothers to let me ride on their pegs, take me to the park. Can you remember swinging on the swings?

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It feels like forever ago that I proudly practiced the persuasive essay. First in the hopes of getting my ears pierced, then to hammer home all the reasons why I needed a cell phone. What happened to the little girl getting bigger? What happened to the little girl growing — the one who started sneaking down the stairs so she could talk to boys on the house phone, long after she was supposed to be asleep.

When was the last time you stayed up too late, smiling yourself stupid in the dark? Even if you weren’t sitting on cold kitchen tile, overjoyed and oblivious, and absently wrapping curly plastic coil up and down your arm.

I had confidence then. Not so much that I would have been willing to part with my 3×5 full of talking points — but enough so that I didn’t doubt a boy when he said I was different, beautiful.

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I have more confidence again now, in all the ways that count. I didn’t need a guy to get it. I needed a damn good therapist and a tough-as-nails nutritionist. I needed two years of time alone and time with friends. I needed three straight months with my mom. I needed to sit in A LOT of coffee shops and go on A LOT of walks.

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I needed to cry. I needed to write in order to see straight, in order to re-think, in order to let go. I needed to write often, every day. A lot a lot a lot.

I suppose I needed the rest of it too, then: all the bouts of unemployment, every new city so awful to adjust.

I’ve said this before, but: I needed to realize I was sick so I could get better. I’m lucky I get to get better. So many don’t. Anorexia is more deadly than any other mental illness.

Do I wish I’d had a better way of coping with all the chaos outside? Yes. I didn’t deflect it; I absorbed it. Do I wish I had been able to minimize it, rather than mimic and magnify it? Well yes — yes, that would have been nice. Do I wish I hadn’t had to hit rock bottom — with a resounding smack — when I moved out to west? Again: yes. That would have been ideal.

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It would also be great not to feel so stuck, now. Most of the way there weight-wise, but stuck all the same.

I’m too self-conscious to see anyone who knew me before, and still too vulnerable to let anyone know me now. During, after.

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I feel like I’ve erected my confidence so painstakingly. All this work — all this care and consideration and ALL THESE COPAYS — and it still feels like it would only take one jab from an insensitive idiot to poke a dozen holes in how far I’ve come. I don’t know how to leave my little cocoon. Half the time, I’m not even sure I want to.

(Did you read the article This Is How We Date Now? Did it make you sad for our generation? Yeah. Me too.)

I’m guarded now. Reluctant. I don’t talk to guys — I basically haven’t for two years. I often feel as if I’ve forgotten how, but maybe it’s more like I don’t want to remember. Maybe originally it was because I didn’t think a man was an especially good place to source self-esteem, but now it’s more because I’m afraid.

I don’t want to hope; I don’t want to hurt. It is safe, in here. Tucked in my corner.

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It would help, I suppose, if I had more faith in the idea (fact?) that not all men like their women teeny-tiny. It would help if I knew more men liked women who didn’t turn heads — but could make an excellent batch of chocolate chip cookies, and eat 2.25 of them happily, with bare feet swinging against cabinet doors.

It would go a long way if I believed that more people were fighting to believe that looks are at the very BOTTOM of the list. And that any guy worth knowing would choose a girl who is soft and warm, pliable and practically glowing, over someone stone-cold and stiff.

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