Week 1

Someone qualified (I want to say Sylvia Plath) once wrote about wanting to lift up the tops of people’s heads like teapot lids in order to peer inside and find out what they were thinking. I like that image, and I’ve often had the same thought, but this week, I was very glad no one had that kind of access to my private thoughts. Follow the shrillest whistle.


Let’s talk about Week 1. About the quiet thought I kept clinging to, even though it is the exact sort of thing to make an editor cringe. Since the only person crossing things out around here is me, and because returning to it made me feel better during some very touch-and-go moments over the last seven days, I’m okay with it. I’m going with it. You can poke fun if you want, but: better to be on a rollercoaster than a merry-go-round.


Of course, if you managed to get me to an amusement park, I would absolutely be the person tugging your hand towards the pretty painted horses, nice and safe. Or the Ferris wheel, nice and slow. You’d have to physically steer me towards a line for a rollercoaster ride. If I really, really liked you, I might allow myself to be guided in that general direction, but really, you’d be dragging dead weight. Good-here-thanks!


But metaphorically speaking, YES to the rollercoaster ride. Yes of course, obviously yes. And no, no thank you, to the merry-go-round, which I am only just realizing I’ve been slump-sitting on for the last six months.

New jobs are hard. Change is hard, and I am famously bad at adjusting.


There are a couple things at play here. One, I am afraid of failing. Of not being the best fit. Or even a good fit. I am afraid it’s going to become very clear that I am just not cut out for this at all.

(Can I just say, though, that I don’t think that’s the case? I think I always find getting up and running pretty grueling, and I hate feeling incompetent and new. And until I’m able to suss out the kind of organization system that’s going to work, how to tackle the mess I’ve inherited, what’s actually on my plate, what hard deadlines I have, what my priorities should be, and approximately how my days/weeks/months are going to look, I feel deeply drawn to the visual of a chicken running around with its head cut off. We’ll skip that image, though.)

Two, the learning curve is steep. And I’m not doing a very good job of keeping my own expectations reasonable. I always do this: I live in fear of disappointing someone else (or coming off as a slow learner), so I work myself into a frenzy in a frantic attempt to be everything the people around me hoped I would be. I don’t know where I got the idea that if I’ve been shown something once, I should never have a question about it. New York, maybe? Google is your friend.


Three, I need to stretch my timeline for how long it’s going to take me to feel like I have a handle on things. It’s not reasonable for me to be aiming to be 100% ready by the time this haphazard here’s-stuff-you-should-know ends. I’m basically starting at zero and trying to absorb what it took someone else three and a half years to build. My boss said himself that it will take nine months to get me fully trained. Nine months. Nine! And it’ll be an entire year before he guesses I will feel entirely comfortable covering a more complex piece of a colleague’s job.


Four, I need to handle the stress better. Like, immediately. Priority #1. The truth is, right now, whenever I’m not devoting all of my energy to looking capable and confident (and like oh yes, there is totally enough time in the day), I am not sleeping, not smiling. Nottt feeling so great.

Five, I need to eat more. I say it every week and then continue to quasi-restrict because everything feels so out of control at work and it’s like I have got to have a hold of something, but it cannot be the food. It is self-sabotage, plain and simple, to not eat enough. I will lose this job, if it turns out I can’t take good care of myself. I was a comfortable four to a six when I completed the refeed several months ago, and I felt inexplicably and newly like myself when it ended. Sweet. Kind. Sensitive. Smart. Calm. Grown-up. Most of all: warm.


Now my size twos are falling off, I don’t have a period, and what do you know. I am panicked and exhausted and weepy and incapable. Incapable of coping.


Except I am capable. I’ve done this before; I can do it again. This morning I went to the store and bought all of the things to make sure this week is Week 1 of Better Weeks: avocado, tahini, hummus, peanut butter, chocolate, granola.

I swapped chicken thighs for chicken breasts (and made this, which is always worth the lingering garlic smell). I got salmon for tonight instead of white fish. I grabbed lentils and rice to cook in bulk and keep in the fridge. I picked up my favorite caraway rye sourdough for sandwiches, and they will be two-pieces-of-bread sandwiches, none of this open-faced business. I stayed away from eggs, because too often I wind up only having a fried egg on top of leftover roasted vegetables for dinner. And I decided that if I’m going to have a salad, from here on out, it’s going to be a salad with lots of stuff.


The real question is whether or not I can get back to my natural set point (where my body just likes to be, without exercising crazily or worrying about whether or not someone will ever find me attractive) on my own. Without going back to the nutritionist. Therapy is great (even if you’re 100% well), but it’s not quite the same as the nutritionist. It’s like good cop and bad cop. Bad cop can be more effective, when you’re resisting gaining weight.


I do feel like I’m coming out the other side on that front, but regular checkups can offer a lot of peace of mind. Plus it’s nice to have a cheerleader, when you’re doing a hard thing.


In the beginning, I remember texting my mom every time I added something to a meal and didn’t take away something else. You’re doing such a good job, sweetie. I love you so much; I’m so proud of you. I know it’s miserable, so miserable, but you’re going to be okay. You really are. You can do it; I know you can. I remember texting my brother every time I took a day off, so he could remind me of all of the bullet points under why we should rest. I remember crying while I put together this post.

unnamed-3 copy

I haven’t gone back to the nutritionist yet because things don’t feel dire-dire, and I would like to be able to muscle through on my own. But maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to take advantage of every single source of support available to me, just until things settle down again. I haven’t failed at getting better; I haven’t completely relapsed. The way my therapist put it was comforting: what we have at the moment are a bunch of [waving] red flags that we want to address sooner rather than later. Before things do get dire.


(That would be the view from my mom’s car, as she schlepps me from Oregon to Arizona.)

I have the feeling that one day I’m going to look back and say that these were the loneliest years of my life. When my apartment was spotless, when my abs were defined, when my freezer was full of perfectly portioned homemade meals. When I went to the gym every weekday at 4:50am without fail, when I knew I’d be sitting down to work at 7:30am on the nose, when I finished the dishes before having dinner at exactly 6:00pm every evening, when I curled up with a library book every single night. When I wasn’t interested in dating, when I was too afraid to try.


One last little thing. One additional note to self. You don’t have to be *done* in order to make some changes. In order to start living. In order to let your heart balloon in your chest.


P.S. You are not totally damaged goods (or if you are, everyone is), and you like boys in baby blue.

P.P.S. Don’t forget about your personal goals in your quest for a professional life.


“‘You’re not the same as you were before,’ he said. ‘You were much more…muchier…you’ve lost your muchness.’” -Lewis Carroll

“If you’ve ever been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left, then you know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again.” -C.S. Lewis

“Maybe in a year I could write something. There is something in me maybe someday to be written; now it is folded, and folded, and folded, like a note in school.” -Sharon Olds

“I read the way a person might swim, to save his or her life. I wrote that way too.” -Mary Oliver

“It doesn’t have to be all bright and cheerful. A little touch of black and gray would make the painting beautiful anyway.” -Unknown

“When it hurts we return to the banks of certain rivers.” -Czeslaw Milosz


“There are some people who begin the zoo at the beginning, called WAYIN, and walk as quickly as they can past every cage until they get to the one called WAYOUT, but the nicest people go straight to the animal they love most, and stay there.” -A. A. Milne

“Loving can cost a lot, but not loving always costs more.” -Merle Shain

“There is nothing sweeter than the sound of someone you love calling your name.” -Kate DiCamillo

“The past is no more and the future is not yet. Take a breath.” -Osho


“There was something so comforting in the certainty that someone knew about your biggest flaws and was still willing to stick around.” -R.K. Lilley

“Sometimes we have to give ourselves what we wish we could get from someone else.” -Phil McGraw

“We want someone that we can be at our weakest with, and not feel weak. We want to know that our vulnerability won’t be taken advantage of, but taken care of.” -Dae D. Lee

“His voice in my ear. It did interesting things to me. It curved my back and parted my lips. I felt lazy and feline, and he wasn’t even in the room.” -Helen Oyeyemi

“Whether it’s from sadness, pain, depression, anxiety, fear, or anger, I think there are days of reprieve. Days where the struggles fade away, and the good things stand out in brilliant contrast. These are the days that we need. But sometimes, these are the most difficult days. They’re confusing. Do we deserve them? Can we enjoy them? How long will they last? These are the days when we have to accept that it’s okay to be okay. It’s okay to be content, happy, excited, calm, loved. It’s okay to be okay.” -J.A. Lear


{Wooden walk via @crippeakasizzler1, galloping horse via @bythebrush, Portland sign via @jordanerinnn, Portland skyline via @craydilla, pink staircase via @lily_rose, fire via @nicholasgraves, snowy stream via @firthfilms, Haystack Rock via @nicholaspeterwilson, something stellar via @jenngietzen, rainy road via @gc.fonda, jeans/t-shirt/topknot via @jenngietzen, sunset via @gemini_digitized, Columbia River Gorge via @thayford, misty reflection via @muenchmax, and sun-dappled wood via @k_sto — all on Instagram.}


8 thoughts on “Week 1

  1. I feel and read your pain, your frustration, your struggles, your resilience, your humanness, your acceptance, and your hope. Be well and continue to be courageous!

  2. Amazing and stark in it’s honesty. Ah, Han, you are a beautiful person. This post was so many things….you have such a gift. You are gifted and you ARE a gift. ❤️

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s