I've had an auspicious confluence of events. Until now (now = late afternoon, me sprawled on the couch, gulping down a mighty powerful cappuccino courtesy of super-hubby), I didn’t notice the gestalt. Just another hectic day to get through, albeit with my spunky daughter, off from school, at my side.
#1: Are married, will eat. Yesterday, my husband and I went out for lunch. The local diner, nothing fancy, but a big deal as I’ve been eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch for the past 3 months: yogurt, granola, and blueberries, all of it carefully measured out, all of it meant to inspire confidence and quell panic. ½ cup, ¼ cup, ¼ cup. No second-guessing, no worrying about too much or too little. The classification and compartmentalization keep me away from the toilet, keep ITs demonic voice quiet(er). Dr. B., who knows when IT and the Eating Disorder are about their nefarious work, shook his head again this week at both the rigid austerity and the inherent sad irony: my husband is a world-class cook who makes everything from scratch and from organic sources; he wants to feed us love in pizza, pancakes, and piggy sauce. His is a world of buoyant abundance, while mine is one of tortured, ascetic negation.
Don’t get me wrong; I struggle with IT all the time. Like yesterday. Feeling plucky and praying lucky, I chirped, “Let’s go out for lunch!” Isn’t that what husbands and [normal] wives do together? Silly, mindless chatter over a mindful meal?
At this half-baked idea, IT said: How pathetic that you think a simple lunch is somehow courageous. It’s what people do every day. But then, you don’t get to be “people.” Don’t believe you are anything but crazy, neurotic, and alone.
La la la la I can’t hear you. I’m going to prove you wrong.
So I ordered a grilled cheese and sweet potato fries. Eyed the plate. Counted every bite. Obsessed over how little I could get away with eating. Tapped my foot. Chewed my nails. Tried to hide the churning in my gut from my husband. At home, glued myself to the couch, waited out ITs demands that I purge. Breathed in. Tick tick tick tick. Tock. Breathed out.
#2: Session with Dr. B.. In reference to the Tick Tock of Go-It-Alone’s clock: Why didn’t you tell someone what was going on? Recovery is a We, not an I. (Which is about the hardest truth to get my thick-skulled, often dim-witted head around.) No cutting corners. Ask for help before, not after. You can’t go at this alone. You have a team, family and friends and me—use us. And what made this appointment all the more poignant, is the fact that my daughter was waiting for me outside his office door. Waiting for me. A fact that needs the emphasis because it is one I so easily forget and neglect when IT’s reptilian brain seizes hold of my human (compassionate, empathetic, loving, life-leaning) brain.
#3: A stop, with my daughter, at Old Navy. Next week, Christopher and I fly solo to Jamaica for a needed few days of sun, sand, and for me, non-alcoholic, frivolous, fruity drinks. Put the lime in the coconut and mix it all up…. So yes, buying the sunscreen, the flip-flops, and the bathing suit cover-up has been a cakewalk. But the bathing suit? Several times over the past month I’ve taken myself shopping for said scary item. Stealth trips to the Gap and Target and T.J. Maxx. The same result every time: Me, tankinied in front of the mirror, furtive, sideways glance at what is in the mirror. And what is there is loathsome, unbearable, and unbareable. Then the catalogue of faults begins: too big, too wide, too fat, too tight, too much, pig, pig, pig, pig, pig. You might as well pour the vat of blood, á la Carrie, over my head. A horror show of ITs proportions.
Not today. Today I had my daughter, member of my team, waiting for me to start the fashion show. She raced over to the racks and picked out dresses and shorts and Capri’s and yes, bathing suits. “Momma, this! This, too! You’d look beautiful in that!” And inside the dressing room? She perched like some wise parrot on the bench and pointed out what she liked and what she didn’t like in the clothes. When a sundress pinched at the waist, she didn’t say, “Oh Momma, you should lose weight.” Instead? “I like the other dress better. It’s prettier on you.” In her eyes, I was perfect—except for a brief moment when my underpants slid down and my butt--too big? too little? who cared!—was bent in her direction. Then she cracked up (pun intended), and sang our family song: “I see your heinie. It’s nice and shiny. You better hide it. Before I bite it!” And here’s the kicker: for that half hour in the dressing room with my daughter, IT shut the hell up. And when I tried on the bikini she’d selected, a pink and blue number, just to humor her? “Ooh La La, Momma! Ooh La La!”