The Cupboard Marked Important

The mantra my brother will make fun of me for this week is: you are growing from this, you are growing from this, you are growing from this. 3x.

It’s true though; I am. Growing from this. Being stretched exponentially in every way almost every day, if you want to know the truth. The only trouble is I don’t have any control over how quickly I’m being edged out of my comfort zone, and that’s where things start to get dicey. (Breathe, Hannah, breathe.)


(Eat, Hannah, eat.)

This job is giving me confidence. According to my outgoing text messages, Week 2 inspired significantly more confetti emojis than Week 1. It would also seem I’m fond of the bulging bicep and dancing lady.

I can wear the (baby, kitten) heels and work the Banana Republic blazer, even if 10 minutes before an interview I was in the bathroom sucking down air like my life depended on it. This before an interview I was leading. As in hosting. As in not going to. (Who gets nervous for an interview as an interviewer? Girl in the brand new blazer, that’s who.)

It’s still very strange. To be the person assessing, to be the person saying yes or no. To be the person taking a stance. To be the person talking strategy, systems. To be the person multi-tasking. To be the person privy to so much stuff. To be the person with a company card. To be the person people generally seem to think of as informed and on top of it and yup, I know, don’t worry about a thing. Gulp.


But really, truly: it’s going just fine. Not perfectly — but enough with that. This job is MAKING me be more even-keeled. More tolerant, more resourceful, more sociable, more flexible, more big-picture. And those are all good things.


With that being said, it wouldn’t do to lose sight of my own big picture. Which currently lives behind a cracked frame and is a bit blurry in places, but still does a decent job of depicting the things I want to do and work on and become and have. Offer and have.


I was trying to explain it to a friend the other day. I was not very articulate, and started and stopped a lot before landing on this: I don’t feel like I have an eating disorder anymore so much as I have loneliness. (Yes, like it’s an affliction you can have. That’s exactly what I mean.) I also have startlingly low self-esteem, which is separate but related, although “startlingly” is an improvement on the word I would’ve used months ago. Months ago I would’ve gone with “cripplingly.”

The self-esteem piece is coming along, although we’ll see if I can sustain it when I gain the weight back this time. The loneliness piece is trickier. It’s awful to say, but I am less lonely when I am hungry 24/7. There isn’t much to think about beyond when I’m going to be able to eat next. That’s what anorexia is doing for me these days. I’ve been able to cut the cord on a lot of it, and it doesn’t have me snagged in nearly as much of a snarl as it once did, but there is still that thread.


When I was a comfortable 4 to a 6 (and even an 8, at one point), I was the loneliest I had ever been. Ever. Ever-ever. I felt it all. There was simply no way not to. And now I have to go there again. Get there, and then go a little bit further. Trust and believe all of the people who say it’s SO.MUCH.BETTER, on the other side. Where people are flawed and things are messy and on the really shitty days, we let each other in and hold each other close and the heroic effort comes way before we put on a pair of sweatpants and go out for twin slices of pizza.


“The great anxious focus on the minutiae of appetite — on calories and portion size and what’s going into the body versus what’s being expended — keeps the larger, more fearsome questions of desire blurred and out of focus. The underlying questions, after all, are formidable. What makes you feel empty and what makes you feel full? What feels right, what feels like enough? What would satisfy? How much do you need, and of what? Who, or what, makes you feel connected or soothed or joyful? How much companionship do you need, and how much solitude? What are the real hungers, behind the ostensible goals of beauty or slenderness?” Caroline Knapp


“What we want, of course, what lies in the cupboard marked ‘important,’ is connection, love. If the deepest source of human hunger had a name, that would be it.” -Caroline Knapp


“Loneliness creates a deep psychological wound, one that distorts our perceptions and scrambles our thinking. It makes us believe that those around us care much less than they actually do. It make us really afraid to reach out, because why set yourself up for rejection and heartache when your heart is already aching more than you can stand?” -Guy Winch


“It is an act of bravery to feel your feelings.” -Gayle Forman


“Some things you can’t control, no matter how hard you try.” -Gayle Forman

“I don’t think you can get really out of anorexia (or any addiction, for that matter) until you simply have no other choice, until the sense that your back’s against the wall grows too strong and too irrefutable, until you are simply in too much pain — too desperate and deeply bored and unhappy — to go on.” -Caroline Knapp


“You have to be vigilant about keeping your own fire alive.” -Tift Merritt

“I’m still prone to periods of isolation, still more fearful of the world out there and more averse to pleasure and risk than I’d like to be; I still direct more energy toward controlling and minimizing appetites than toward indulging them.” -Caroline Knapp


“We have to allow ourselves to be loved by the people who really love us, the people who really matter. It’s time to put an end to this. It’s time for us to let ourselves be loved.” -C. JoyBell C.


“The dog’s agenda is simple, fathomable, overt: I want. I want to go out, come in, eat something, lie here, play with that, kiss you. There are no ulterior motives with a dog, no mind games, no second-guessing, no complicated negotiations or bargains, and no guilt trips or grudges if a request is denied. I’m 38 and I’m single and I’m having my most intense and gratifying relationship with a dog. But we all learn about love in different ways, and this way happens to be mine.” -Caroline Knapp


“Dogs possess a quality that’s rare among humans — the ability to make you feel valued just by being you — and it was something of a miracle to me to be on the receiving end of all that acceptance. The dog didn’t care what I looked like, or what I did for a living, or what a train wreck of a life I’d led before I got her, or what we did from day to day. She just wanted to be with me, and that awareness gave me a singular sensation of delight. I kept her in a crate at night until she was housebroken, and in the mornings I’d let her up onto the bed with me. She’d writhe with joy at that. She’d wag her tail and squirm all over me, lick my neck and face and eyes and ears, get her paws all tangled in my braid, and I’d just lie there, and I’d feel those oceans of loss from my past ebbing back, ebbing away, and I’d hear myself laugh out loud.” -Caroline Knapp

“Failure is so common a human experience that what distinguishes us from one another is not that we fail but rather how we respond when we do.” -Guy Winch

“When we can begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance that we learn to laugh at ourselves.” -Katherine Mansfield

“It will go away…the stuff in your head. Little by little.” -Michael Thomas Ford


“Claim your experience; don’t let it claim you. We all know that that’s the way to cope. Find meaning. But here’s the thing: it doesn’t have to be some gigantic, extroverted meaning. We don’t all have to start a foundation or an organization or write a book or make a documentary. Meaning can be quiet and introverted. Maybe we make one small decision about our lives that can bring about big change.” -Debra Jarvis

“We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret.” -Chris Cleave


“Here’s a simple truth that I think we all need to face up to: The people we meet at the wrong time are actually just the wrong people. You never meet the right people at the wrong time because the right people make you want to throw away the plans you originally had and follow them into the hazy, unknown future without a glance backwards. The right people don’t make you hem and haw about whether or not you want to be with them; you just know. No matter what you thought you wanted before, this is better. Everything is better since they came along.” -Heidi Priebe


“When we feel jealous, we tell ourselves a story. We tell ourselves a story about other people’s lives, and these stories make us feel terrible because they’re designed to make us feel terrible. As the teller of the tale and the audience, we know just what details to include, to dig that knife in. Right? Jealousy makes us all amateur novelists.” -Parul Sehgal

“I write out of hurt and how to make hurt okay; how to make myself strong and come home, and it may be the only real home I’ll ever have.” -Natalie Goldberg


“The most frequent reasons we get turned down as romantic prospects (or as job applicants) are because of a lack of general chemistry, because we don’t match the person’s or company’s specific needs at that time, or because we don’t fit the narrow definition of who they’re looking for — not because of any critical missteps we might have made nor because we have any fatal character flaws.” -Guy Winch


“So when you get rejected, the first thing you should be doing is everything you can to revive your self-esteem. Don’t join Fight Club and beat it into a pulp. When you’re hurt or embarrassed or never going to stick your neck out again, treat yourself with the same compassion you would expect from a truly good friend. We all need to practice emotional first aid. Show me someone who doesn’t.” -Guy Winch

“I think nearly all of us have some kind of defect, and I suppose I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people really.” -Tennessee Williams

“You can begin as if nothing had ever gone wrong. White as snow.” -C.S. Lewis


“Your job is to collect good ideas. The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by. Always be reading. Go to the library. There’s magic in being surrounded by books. Get lost in the stacks. Collect books, even if you don’t plan on reading them right away. Don’t worry about doing research. Just search.” -Austin Kleo

{Latte via @mellysimmonds, North and Middle Sister via @chrisliedle, conversation hearts via @goodcomag, North Sister solo via @dllln, blurry lights via @vdubl, chairlift via @brenda_hego, falls via @kaitykatt, bridge via @nickcarnera, sunny trees via @fursty, Haystack Rock via @jvillamor424, Mt. St. Helens (from Rocky Butte) via @nicholaspeterwilson, rainy window via @megaguire, birds on a wire via @petewilliams, Keep Going via @jenngietzen, Mt. Baker via @kyleszegedi — all on Instagram.}


7 thoughts on “The Cupboard Marked Important

  1. Anorexia is, at its core, a disease about control. Just like every other addiction in the world. The difference is your addiction keeps you from getting the nourishment your body needs to sustain itself. It sounds like you are working hard to conquer that and that is your biggest first step. Sounds like you’re doing awesome! Keep it up. And don’t worry, I feel like a fraud ALL. THE. TIME. You are not alone grasshopper lol

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