Good Talk

So many revelations lately! Where to begin.

First…Philadelphia has a lot of excellent street art.

Perhaps you are already aware of this. I’ll spare you the other 60 or so affirmations saved to my camera roll, which has doubled in size in the last couple of weeks.

Did I tell you I was going on a trip? I may not have. I’ve turned into a once-a-month (ish) Hobby Blogger, and it’s kind of great. Although I do miss keeping a more diligent diary of my life, it’s also very nice to leave my laptop at home and spend time, you know, talking to other people.

So. Yes. Not a lot of writing while I was back east. Unless the stream of consciousness notes saved to my iPhone counts, in which case I am still a writer with a capital W.

Here’s what I did do, when I was out of town. Put other people first. Put myself first. Slept in what felt like 6 different beds. Stayed up later than I have in 5 years, 9 nights in a row. Read 0 books. Went to a party. Sat around a pool. Made small talk. Leaned in. Had a great time. Hugged without holding back.

Relaxed. Remembered what it’s like to be my happy, healthy self. Listened to music. Went to yoga. Tried 10 kinds of coffee at my brother and sister-in-law’s shop. Shook hands with a dog that made me want a pet, possibly. Ate a steak that had been basted with butter. Smiled closer to my old frequency.

Met a 3-month-old with my brother’s face. Kept him alive for forty (!) five (!) minutes (!). Decided babies are messy/wonderful and puzzling/perfect. Went back and forth about whether I’ll want my own someday. Got to know the women my brothers have picked. (Won the sister-in-law lottery.) Felt my family expanding, not contracting.

Met 3 guys I would’ve liked to date. Felt all the feels for preppy New England towns. Went on a hike. Remembered how humid is humid. Went on a successful search for cute, cheap, forgiving sundresses. Ate what other people ate (not 100% of the time, but a good amount of the time.)

Sat in traffic on the George Washington Bridge. Explored Philadelphia. Loved Philadelphia. Went to a restaurant I’d been wanting to go to for months. (And did such a good job, enjoying a top-to-bottom tasting menu and parade of small plates.) Made a game plan for one, last, enormous effort to make the Pacific Northwest work.

It is beautiful out here; there is no denying that. This is the prettiest place I have ever lived, by far and away. But at some point, it’s not about the place, is it? It’s about the people.

I miss feeling *seen* in a way I can’t even begin to describe. That’s what I need to be happy. (That’s what I need to be healthy.)

It was so good to be loved. To be supported. To be surrounded.

There were other benefits, too. Being out of my Northwest bubble and back around people helped me realize how far I’ve come. I’ve been beating myself up for still struggling for so long that I’d forgotten just how much progress I’ve made.

There was a time when I was in complete denial about my relationship to food and exercise. There was a point when I:

  • Ran to eat
  • Definitely felt superior about my “healthier” choices
  • Wouldn’t even entertain the thought of going to a therapist or nutritionist
  • Believed you could only be anorexic if you were scary underweight
  • Couldn’t get myself to take a day off from working out
  • Routinely dismissed yoga or a walk as “too easy”
  • Was convinced my body needed to be micromanaged
  • Felt certain I would be happy if I could only lose a little more weight
  • Was 100% afraid of food
  • Eliminated whole food groups
  • Counted calories
  • Wrestled with orthorexia
  • Thought the sun rose and set on MyFitnessPal
  • Couldn’t eat something without weighing it
  • Panicked at the prospect of going out to eat (or felt compelled to compensate, beforehand)
  • Found brief solace in IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros), before that became disordered too
  • Substituted one thing I was overdoing (running) for another (lifting)
  • Spent hours wandering around cities *just looking* into bakery windows
  • Worked in food media and consumed more pictures of food than actual food
  • Couldn’t travel because the thought of being away from my routine generated too much anxiety
  • Dipped way below my body’s natural set point
  • Felt foggy all the time/truly couldn’t think straight
  • Felt good about having lost my period
  • Restricted every single meal, every single day
  • Used only teeny tiny plates
  • Couldn’t sleep (for weeks at a time)
  • Couldn’t go a day without body checking
  • Had a long list of food rules
  • Had an even longer list of triggers
  • Thought gaining weight would be the literal end of the world
  • Hadn’t ever done a proper refeed
  • Felt scared to deviate from my prescribed meal plan
  • Hadn’t ever heard of intuitive eating, non-diet dieticians, or health at every size
  • Felt unable to accept any fluctuations in size or appetite
  • Couldn’t stand to see a photo of myself
  • Felt awful about needing to buy clothes in bigger sizes
  • Felt too self-conscious to see family or friends
  • Hated my grown up, healthy body
  • Felt too ugly/weird/sick to date
  • Couldn’t conceive of a life free from restriction

None of those things are true anymore. Not one.

I don’t feel weird and ashamed anymore. I don’t feel capital S sick. (I do feel very lonely on the weekends. But I’m making a big effort to not spend all day Saturday and Sunday stuck on that.)

What I need now is a reminder that there is no such thing as a perfect recovery.

Yes, there are things I still need to work on. Namely, remembering to:

  • Resist the temptation to fill up on vegetables and fluids when what I really want are carbohydrates
  • Eat when I’m hungry, regardless of what time it is
  • Be quicker to show myself compassion
  • Notice when a new routine starts to feel like a rut
  • Let unhelpful/insensitive comments roll off my back
  • Not take rejection personally, if/when it happens
  • Turn to other people when I need support
  • Continue to challenge myself with foods and situations that still make me a little anxious
  • Tell myself that beating myself up for something I ate for hours and hours is less healthy than eating whatever it was I wanted
  • Keep in mind my #1 job is to take good care of myself and just let my body do its thing
  • Put the smaller clothes away, as I need to
  • Embrace my curves, back again (hello hi, need a new bra!)
  • Sleep in sometimes
  • Opt not to take the most labor-intensive path every time
  • Keep putting myself out there — and remember that being open, genuine, and vulnerable in my desire to connect with others is more important than managing every interaction perfectly

Looking at the above list — is any one of those things so terribly appalling? I don’t think so.

Screw shame. Stuff it into the tiny box it deserves to live in, tie it with a bow, and chuck it out the window. (This is good self-talk, FYI.)

This is getting long, but if you’re up for it, one more thought.

The best part about being around other people is how normalizing it is. I really have been way too alone, for far too long, in Oregon. No wonder I got depressed.

After a week around people who share intimacy, it struck me squarely in the chest: there is NO WAY you can be at ease with someone else if you’re not at ease with yourself. And eventually, you just get to a point where you get tired of entertaining reasons not to be nice to yourself.

People aren’t perfect. They have dirty laundry. They have messy apartments. They have bodies that go up and down. They get spinach stuck in their teeth. They overcook things. They make typos. They miscommunicate. They buy things they don’t really need. They stink up the bathroom. And it’s fine. It’s all fine. It’s better than fine, actually.

It’s wonderful.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“The best people I know do not have static selves. They grow, change, and evolve — what they care about, what suits them, what nourishes them, and who they want to be when they grow up. Sometimes, they shape-shift on purpose; sometimes, they do it with flailing limbs and broken hearts. Life is long enough to allow for reinvention, do-overs, and big errors. Very few decisions have to be final. Very few choices wind up being as monumental as they feel when you’re at a crossroads.” -Jill Filipovic

“Smile baby. You’re alive. You’ve got options.” -Sonya Teclai

“It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but a good amount of it actually is.” -Adam J. Kurtz

“I don’t care if you think your body is beautiful. Your body is not your power. I want you to not hate it so you can go out and do meaningful things with your life. I want you to know that you don’t have to be attractive to know that you’re worthy and valuable.” -Summer Innanen

“Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, so what. That’s one of my favorite things to say. So what.” -Andy Warhol

“When you judge your performance around food — when you draw an imaginary line in the sand where ‘okay’ ends, and ‘not okay’ begins — you will inevitably cross that line. And probably lose your shit.” -Isabel Foxen Duke

“Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of 8 would not expect realistically to squeeze into a size 6, it is equally futile (and uncomfortable) to have a similar expectation about body size.” -Evelyn Tribole

“I’ve never done this thing before; I should probably be perfect at it.” -Logical Train of Thought

“Good enough is good enough. Perfect will make you a big fat mess every time.” -Rebecca Wells

“There are no guarantees. There are no promises, but there is you, and strength inside to fight for recovery. And always there is hope.” -Gilda Radner

“‘I believe in you.’ Words that water flowers.” -Michael Faudet

“My circle is small but the love is enormous and genuine. It gets no better.” -Alex Elle

“I’ve come to a conclusion about happiness: I want it.” -Kathleen Ossip

{Philadelphia sunset via @oskhernandez, Mt. Rainier via @outofthewoods, rainbow via @k_rowejo, Mt. Hood from Smith Rock State Park via @caittcallahan, chocolate rugelach via @functioncoffeelabs, Cascade Head via @jesshackelton, Washington coast via @nicholas_steven_ — all on Instagram.}

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