Still Typing

Things in danger of splitting your heart straight down its center — ready, set, go.

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A text message tapped to my mom earlier this week, one that didn’t make too much of a splash then but is almost assuredly going to drive this afternoon’s cathartic cry: How many more nights am I going to climb into bed at 7:30pm, exhausted, with only a raw carrot to chomp on? Not even peeled. How many more nights am I going to be afraid of dessert? How many more nights am I going to lift my shirt and peek down at my belly button, for what I don’t know. How many more nights am I going to be afraid of myself? How many more nights am I going to say I’m struggling Mama; I’m having a tough time. How many more nights am I going to feel my eyes flood when I see “I love you; I can’t tell you how much” pop up in place of those dot-dot-dots. [Still typing.]

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How many more days, how many more months, how many more YEARS will I spend in a studio in some obscure part of the country, bookmarking someone else’s happy ending at exactly 7:59pm, turning off the light, flipping over my phone, and rolling into a restless sleep? How many more nights will my last conscious thought sound uncannily like breakfast is coming. Breakfast is coming.

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How many more days will I wonder and want, wander and wish? Avert my gaze; pivot towards something “safe.”

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It’s not that I feel as if I’ve wasted 23, 24, and 25 so far. I have learned a tremendous amount, particularly professionally in the last 6 months. I haven’t been unhappy that entire time, and I know I have done an enormous amount of work personally. Even if today “real” recovery feels further out of reach than it has in a long time, this morning I woke up with a better handle on my version of anorexia than I have ever had before, and it’s like that every day.

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In a lot of ways, it’s actually a good sign for me to be angry with myself. It’s a good sign for me to feel like I have failed — like I am actively fail-ing — when I start cutting carbs and going to sleep with a stomach still saying feed me, feed me.

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I know I have gone right back to rigid on a lot of things. I know I need to take more rest days. I know I’m not okay with how often I think about food throughout the day. I know how my body looks and feels when it is healthy and I know this is not it. I know what few items I held onto from “before” shouldn’t fit.

I know to look the way I used to want to look, I would need to either: A). Go back in time and win the genetic lottery (so I could look that way with relatively little effort), or B). Live a very boring, low-energy life. With abs, maybe possibly, but without so many other things. Like relationships and intimacy and spontaneity. And the feeling of actually being authentic and true to myself and at home in my own skin. And ice cream, for goodness’s sake. There’s no ice cream, behind Door #2.

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My life as it is is boring. What have I been doing? Making sure I have just enough energy to move from one task to the other, and [absolutely] no more.

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Why? So I can cope. So I can be lonely, stressed, sad, scared, whatever — without also feeling fat, to add insult to injury. Or so I can feel any one of those things a little less viscerally, a little less acutely. Or so I can “take myself out of the running,” so to speak, and effectively ensure no one else is ever even given the chance to reject me. Or so I can preserve this little artificial bubble of calm I know I can manufacture (albeit at an awfully high price). Or so I can feel like there is some sense of sameness, some sense of security and stability, even in the midst of so much existing/upcoming change.

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Those are all awful reasons. Cowardly reasons. (Would it be okay if I deleted that paragraph? You wouldn’t miss it, would you?) Those are all excuses I thought I’d made my peace with months and months ago, when I was slowly beginning to feel like a self-care queen. When I’d been learning my way around my new body, a whole hell of a lot more interesting.

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If you asked me what really matters, today, I would still say, not the size of my pants. I would still say: Having someone to love. Being compassionate. Feeling fully alive. Being completely present every day so that I can really see and hear and smell and feel things.

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I would still say to myself, do you know how many people go through hard things? 100% of people. 100% of people go through hard things. I would still say: just keep going, you’ll get there in time; you’ve already moved through so much. I would listen to myself protest, but I did it all already, once, and I would nod my head yes and agree, yes, you did, but now you have to do it again. Once more, once more, once more. Maybe this’ll be the last one for a while.

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There’s a lot of “back to Square 1” with this stuff. That’s what I’m finding. Even though of course it’s not nearly as dark and dire as that.

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I just wish people would talk about the middle part more. When you do great for a period of time, when you think you see the light at the tunnel, when all of a sudden you realize there is no tunnel, all of this has just been in your head, and you’re standing there in the blazing sun, a little dizzy with the beauty of it all — but then something happens and for whatever reason your center of gravity shifts and your blinders slide back down and you need to be gently, firmly reminded of what you were able to see so easily once before. No, not that way. This way; look. Open your eyes again. Don’t be afraid.

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________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” -Mary Oliver

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“I don’t think it’s a question of whether or not there is someone out there to love us. It’s more whether or not there is someone somewhere who will love us the way we hope to be loved, and vice versa.” -Jonathan Carroll

“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.” -Rupi Kaur

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“Trying is nothing. You can’t say, ‘Well, I’m going to try to do it.’ You do it or you don’t. If you’re not doing it, you’re doing something else. Trying is a limbo state of nothingness.” -Pamela Des Barres

“You can’t go on like you’re going to start really living one day, like all this is some preamble to some great life that’s going to magically appear. I’m a firm believer that you have to create your own miracles. Don’t hold out thinking that there’s something better waiting on the other side. It doesn’t work that way.” -Perry Moore

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“This waiting, it’s taking forever.” -Wislawa Szymborska

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“He asked questions that were personal but never out of line or prying. Compelling questions, ones that made her consider carefully before answering, although they were about her and the way she felt or saw things. It felt as if she were looking at herself in a new kind of mirror — one that showed her angles she hadn’t seen before.” -Jonathan Carroll

“For reasons of my own I take note of the way people act when they’re around mirrors.” -Helen Oyeyemi

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“Try to be one of those on whom nothing is lost.” -Henry James

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“No matter what the subject — life, love, job, friendship — as soon as we stop asking questions, it is the beginning of the end.” -Jonathan Carroll

“Sometimes in utter hopelessness I put my cheek on the table like it was someone. I wanted to wake my brain up and be loved.” -Eileen Myles

“To say a person is a happy person or an unhappy person is ridiculous. We are a thousand different kinds of people every hour.” -Anthony Doerr

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“Sometimes you have to allow emotions to pass through. You cannot fight them; nor should you cling to them, but some things simply demand to be felt.” -Lynette Simeone

“An emotion does not cause pain. Resistance or suppression of emotion causes pain.” -Frederick Dodson

“I wanted nothing more than to feel something, but I didn’t know how to deal with what came after the feeling.” -Julie Murphy

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“We are all scared most of the time. Life would be lifeless if we weren’t. Be scared and then jump into that fear. Again and again. It is the only way.” -Emma Hooper

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” -Terry Pratchett

“It is never too late to turn on the light. Your ability to break an unhealthy habit or turn off an old tape doesn’t depend on how long it has been running; a shift in perspective doesn’t depend on how long you’ve held on to the old view. When you flip the switch in that attic, it doesn’t matter whether it’s been dark for ten minutes, ten years, or ten decades. The light still illuminates the room and banishes the murkiness, letting you see the things you couldn’t see before. It is never too late to stop and take a moment to look.” -Sharon Salzberg

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“Hands are unbearably beautiful. They hold on to things. They let things go.” -Mary Ruefle

{Latourell Falls via @logan_b_wright, Mt. Hood National Forest via @nicholaspeterwilson, Mt. Hood sunrise via @jakeegbert, Portland via @edwindva, Painted Hills via @gettyphotography, Munra Point via @tojo.pdx, Columbia River Gorge sunset via @nicholas_steven_, rose via @kirtana11, A-frame via @reagan.alicia, Buck Lake via @jeff_bell_photos, Trillium Lake via @logan_b_wright, Imnaha Valley via @manderhan, Lake Crescent via @xanderpascale, Larch Mountain sun via @nicholaspeterwilson — all on Instagram.}

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One thought on “Still Typing

  1. Hannah, your words are so powerful and beautifully written, and so helpful to so many. I hope that you find your true beauty and allow love to fill you.Be gentle and kind to yourself. Love wins.

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