Check in Again Later

I wonder how you move through life. If you really prefer to do it with a camera slung around your neck, and a headphone, singular, lodged into one ear. I wonder where the other one is hiding.

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I wonder where I’d find you, if I looked. Would you be sitting or standing? Cautious or cocky? I wonder that too.  I wonder whether some would say you’re on the prowl, or if the implication would make you frown and clear your throat — say you’re pretty happy here, with just sort of seeing what comes along.

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I wonder if you’re edgy or content. Experienced or mostly not. I wonder whether you’ve ever been the one to love less, and if you’ve also been the one to love more. I wonder if you’ve ever found the balance, and if you managed to hang onto it, make it stay.

I wonder if you have one rogue memory, just one that insists on burning big and bright. I wonder what kindles it, and what you do to douse it. What’s a total nonstarter for you, at this point? What’s your pilot light?  I wonder what glows gold for you, day in and day out.

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I wonder if your family is growing. Growing, period, or growing apart.

I wonder if your job is just a job, and if yes, what it is that makes your life feel like a life.

I wonder if there’s a hole you’re filling, and how you’re filling it. (Also how that’s going, but not in a mean way. In a curious way.)

I wonder whether you sleep on your stomach or your side. If you like to cozy up against the wall, or whether you’d be more likely to pass out spread-eagle, smack in the middle of your bed. How often do you wake to find you’ve been grinding your teeth on the past again? Not so much anymore? I wonder if you’re in the in-between space, like me. No longer brokenhearted, but not yet onto the next.

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I wondered about you last week, and I’m wondering about you again. Wondering still. I think that might be what writers do.

Writing is my way of moving through space. I look back through this blog and I see three people. The person I’ve been (the person I’m glad I don’t have to be anymore), the person I am, and the person I want to be. The person I want to be, so badly.

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However. The person I want to be doesn’t have ten trillion things to write and ask and tell, and approximately nothing to say when it comes time. Nothing — not even a hello. (Maybe we should practice. How hard can it be to say hello?)

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The person I want to be is not satisfied by the thought of just telling stories, and never again living them. The person I want to be does not scold herself for wishing, for wanting. Or for shifting her eyes away from the screen. The person I want to be does not turn down every opportunity to go meet some people. Maybe make some friends, maybe meet someone.

The person I want to be does not need to battle the insane urge to accost a stranger on the street. Do you think I look fat? Am I as fat as I feel? The person I want to be does not think: actually I will wait another year before I approach anyone, ever.

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Part of me knows I’m not being fair. I’m not half as socially awkward as I make myself out to be — it just takes a lot of energy for me to be around people for a long time. And I’m not fat. I’m recovering from an eating disorder, and that means I’m no longer miniature, and it’s just going to take some time for me to get comfortable in my skin. Some more time. Sometimes it feels as if time is moving very slowly.

Every ounce of fat I have has been hard-won. I know that. It’s not so much that I worry someone might turn to his friend and say yeah I don’t know, maybe if she lost 25 pounds. I mean yes, that would hurt my feelings terribly, but I also know what a struggle it has been for me to gain weight, and how proud I am of the way I did it.

For the first time in my life, I feel good about what I cook and eat and how often I exercise. I can’t say I feel as stupendous about how I look, but I have high hopes that one day that will change too. Or just continue to matter less and less — one or the other.

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This is all to say that what I’m really worried about has very little to do with what size my pants are (versus were back then). What I’m really worried about is never being able to find someone who just genuinely doesn’t care, either way.

Men like that do exist; I’m sure of it. My older brother is one of them. He’s the only person in my family I could stomach the thought of seeing again, in the beginning. I know for a fact he likes me so much better this way. When I have plenty of extra energy to go on a hike, and I just can’t wait to see another set of falls.

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He likes me all the time. When my shoes are soaked and absolutely-definitely going to be smelly on the way home. When my jeans are mud-splattered and stretched out, when my curls are out of control crazy and piled high on top of my head. I know because he has told me. He likes me best, the very best, when I’m happy. When I’m relaxed. When I’m willing and eager and so on board to stop and have a snack, just because the place looked like someplace we should try.

He lives in England, but every time I see him, he makes me feel so lovable. Infinitely lovable. Like it would just be crazy for someone not to love me, ever.

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Do you have somebody like that in your life? I hope you do. I hope you have multiple somebodies. People who just know you. Who just see you, have always seen you.

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In the very early days of my recovery, I remember my therapist asking me what I’d be giving up if I didn’t choose to get better. I remember going down the list, casually ticking off things like swimming in the ocean and ever having popcorn at the movies, but eventually whittling it down and having to face the more horrifying things.

I remember huddling on her couch, with my bony knees collapsed against my non-existent chest and my scarecrow arms trying to hold it all in, hold it all together. I remember feeling like something was breaking, blowing into a thousand tiny pieces, when I looked down at the rug and whispered relationships. 

Because it’s true. Relationships of all kinds — that’s what you’re really forcing yourself to give up. You give up a lot things when you’re half-yourself and half-not (things no human being should ever have to do without), but that’s the big one. It’s intimacy that you kiss goodbye, when you start systematically cutting things from your life. It is not just carbs; it is not just sweets. It is not just whatever your newest rule says you can’t have, don’t deserve.

It makes for a lonely life, let me tell you.

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But this is where it gets tricky. It goes without saying that I was afraid to let people see me then (figuratively), but I am also afraid to let people see me now (literally). That doesn’t really seem right, doesn’t it? It doesn’t seem right that the part of me that was so ashamed and so afraid of what people will think is still alive and kicking, even though I’ve come so far.

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I think you would tell me that this is where the leap of faith comes in. Because I’m not doing this with a boyfriend — I’m not doing this knowing full well I will be loved no matter what, always.

But when I think about the alternative — what it would be like to go through life on my own little island, so scared of being rejected that I never even TRY to extend myself — I think nope. Absolutely not. I did not come this far not to go all the way.

So the short term isn’t so great, and the in-the-meantime could be better. But the long term is going to be SO GRAND. Amy P. says so.

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“Hopefully as you get older, you start to learn how to live with your demon. It’s hard at first. Some people give their demon so much room that there is no space in their head or bed for love. They feed their demon and it gets really strong and then it makes them stay in abusive relationships or starve their beautiful bodies. But sometimes, you get a little older and get a little bored of the demon. Through good therapy and friends and self-love you can practice treating the demon like a hacky, annoying cousin. Maybe a day even comes when you are getting dressed for a fancy event and it whispers, ‘You aren’t pretty,’ and you go, ‘I know, I know, now let me find my earrings.’ Sometimes you say, ‘Demon, I promise you I will let you remind me of my ugliness, but right now I am having hot sex so I will check in later.’” -Amy Poehler

{Mt. Hood #1 via @alexbaileypdx. Mt Hood #2 via @andrewwalshphotography. Golden Hour via @pnwonderland. Long road via  @chriscauble. Sunny sea via @erubes1. Pretty path via @maurice.}

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