Drip, Drip, Drip

I’ve never seen rain like this. It’s not a quiet, whispery rain. It’s nothing that could be called background noise. It’s the rush in your ears when you step outside. The hammering above your head when you duck back under, in.

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This must be winter. This constant drip-drip-drip, mostly pound-pound-pound. It’s relentless. I’m talking two inches in twenty-four hours, earlier this week. I’m talking soaked to the skin, after a sixty-second sprint from one awning to another. Water cascades off the sides of buildings in great big sheets. It’s enough to make you want to stand by a window and gape.

The amount of shivery steel gray around you is staggering. Thick ropes of it plummet to the ground as you watch, dousing everything in sight. You realize it’s no longer a matter of individual drops, each hitting the sidewalk with a delicate ping! It’s a deluge, this rain.

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Smart girl that I am, I’m posted up in Powell’s, doing my best to stay warm and dry. Six days to Scottsdale. The countdown to Vitamin D is on.

In truth, I’m not thinking about the rain. I’m thinking about approximately forever ago. About a little girl who spritzed No More Tangles in her hair every morning and rode a shiny pink Schwinn around a parked red Pontiac every afternoon. I would ride around in a tight circle, taking care never to leave the driveway, and tell myself stories. (Aloud.) I used to do this for hours. While my brothers adventured off, undoubtedly without helmets, almost assuredly with people perched on their pegs.

Was I so risk-averse, even then? To me, storytelling was the ultimate form of entertainment. I got such a thrill out of going around and around and around, keeping up my stream of consciousness commentary about everything and nothing. It didn’t matter that I was alone; I wasn’t lonely.

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Sometimes I’d tell the same story. Sometimes I’d pick up where I’d left off. Sometimes I’d just talk. Always, I’d just start.

It’s been a bad month. Maybe we can turn it around, amend things so we wind up with just a bad beginning to the month. Think there’s still time? I do.

There’s still time not to undo everything I’ve done in the last 16 months. There’s still time to say, nope, I’m not going down this road. Not again. Auto-rerouting. Please make the nearest possible legal U-turn.

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Sometimes I feel like recovery is like that. I’ll be going along just fine (for months at a time, even) and then all of a sudden, I’ll get a little turned around. That’s the euphemism for hopelessly lost, in my family. But then there’ll be this little voice, saying it’s okay, all is not lost; it’s probably just time we re-oriented ourselves.

This is the farthest off-track I’ve been so far. I can say that because I’m coming out of it now. There was a moment last week in which I thought oh no, I am sick again. I am still sick. My breastbone is back. My belly has flattened, my abs have started to reappear. And it’s not just the natural way of things; it’s not just the result of a messed up metabolism finally catching the rest of the way up, after months and months of “normal” eating. I know it’s not. You get far enough through this stuff, and you don’t lie to yourself anymore.

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I won’t deny feeling that old surge of elation, that brief spike of gratification. But on its heels was something I’m actually proud of: dismay. And a fair amount of shame. I shouldn’t be chipping away at any of my imperfect parts. I’m past that. Or I should be. I was. I will be.

Getting better seems to take this strange mixture of forgiveness and tough love, to be administered by yourself, to yourself, for yourself. I’m slowly coming to grips with the fact that perhaps I didn’t get all the way better, when I thought I had. I didn’t stay there for long enough.

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If the thought of going out on a date with a guy in great shape or seeing my family again is enough to make me want to restrict, it’s not over. Not yet. There is, also and by the way, no such thing as restricting “just a little bit”. Not when you’re anorexic. It’s a little bit now plus a little bit more, the next time.

I know I need to let go of the part of me that still badly wants to whine: but I did it all, I did everything I was supposed to, and it wasn’t what you said. I tried really, really hard, and things didn’t just slowly fall into place. I didn’t feel less lonely. Life didn’t feel less hard. I didn’t find someone to love me just the way I was.

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It makes me laugh, when people say eating disorders are about food. I mean they are, but they are and they aren’t. You know what I mean.

It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard to trust that things will keep changing, and things won’t feel this bleak or one-note, forever.

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I do know the way forward is not backward. And even worse than the fear of honestly letting go, once and for all, is the thought of staying where I am, frozen in this semi-recovered state. Semi-recovered is a step up from sick, certainly, but it’s not free.

Want to know what’s really, truly horrifying? The thought of spending the next five or ten or F.I.F.T.Y. years, going back and forth, fighting the same couple of pounds. And even worse than the thought of losing someone else’s approval is the thought that I might never get my own. I might never swim in the ocean; I might never order a pizza at midnight; I might never let someone see me, really look at me.

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I don’t want this to be the story I tell, over and over again. It already breaks my heart to think that someone could have told the seven-year-old girl on that bubblegum pink Schwinn that she’d tell the same one for so long.

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“This is the weird aftermath, when it is not exactly over, and yet you have given it up. You go back and forth in your head, often, about giving it up. It’s hard to understand, when you are sitting there in your chair, having breakfast or whatever, that giving it up is stronger than holding on, that *letting yourself go* could mean you have succeeded rather than failed. You eat your goddamn Cheerios and bicker with the bitch in your head that keeps telling you you’re fat and weak: Shut up, you say, I’m busy, leave me alone. When she leaves you alone, there’s a silence and a solitude that will take some getting used to. You will miss her sometimes…There is, in the end, the letting go.” -Marya Hornbacher

“There is never a sudden revelation, a complete and tidy explanation for why it happened, or why it ends, or why or who you are. You want one and I want one, but there isn’t one. It comes in bits and pieces, and you stitch them together wherever they fit, and when you are done you hold yourself up, and still there are holes and you are a rag doll, invented, imperfect. And yet you are all that you have, so you must be enough. There is no other way.” -Marya Hornbacher

“It is a terrible thing to be so open: it is as if my heart put on a face and walked into the world.” -Sylvia Plath

“It is not a sudden leap from sick to well. It is a slow, strange meander from sick to mostly well. The misconception that eating disorders are a medical disease in the traditional sense is not helpful here. There is no ‘cure’. A pill will not fix it, though it may help. Ditto therapy, ditto food, ditto endless support from family and friends. You fix it yourself. It is the hardest thing that I have ever done, and I found myself stronger for doing it. Much stronger.” -Marya Hornbacher

“Is it really that bad if someone sees who you are? Why is it humans have a problem with letting someone else see that they are human? ” -Joseph Gogler

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” -Pema Chödrön

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“The real struggle is about you: a person who has to learn to live in the real world, to inhabit her own skin, to know her own heart, to stop waiting for her life to begin.” -Caroline Knapp

“You can hear something over and over and over and over and over and still not really hear it. It does not click. No lo comprendo. Until you’re ready to hear it. And then it is deafening.” -Jen Sincero

“A stranger can see in an instant something in you that you might spend years learning about yourself. How awful we all are when we look at ourselves under a light, finally seeing our reflections. How little we know about ourselves. How much forgiveness it must take to love a person, to choose not to see their flaws, or to see those flaws and love the person anyway. If you never forgive you’ll always be alone.” -Stephen Elliott

“Just keep coming home to yourself. You’re the one you’ve been waiting for.” -Byron Katie

{St. John’s Bridge via @silassao, Puddle-pond via @megaguire, stormy PDX skyline via @portland, misty vista @nicholaspeterwilson, Forest Park trail via @samuelelkins, Mt. Baker via @scott_kranz, plant via @alexbaileypdx, snowy wood via @bertiemandagie,  La Push via @ioegreer, A-frame via @bdorts — all on Instagram.}

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