It has been a perfect day, thus far. I don’t get many of those. Most of the time, I’m twist-tied by anxiety, by urges to not eat or purge or cut. But today, nada.
I should add that I am on VACATION. That’s right. Time off from IT, Time in for pleasure, leisure, friends.
Where am I? I’m not exactly sure of the GPS coordinates, but it took us almost 12 hours of driving to get here. HERE = Grand Marais, Upper Peninsula, Michigan at our friends house which is located on Lake Superior. Believe me, I never expected to be the kind of North Woods loving gal. I grew up on Long Island. Directly in Fitzgerald’s East Egg: superfluous money, country clubs, and sail boats on the Long Island Sound. But here I am, thank god, in what I, even the very lapsed Catholic might call God’s Own Country. Our friends' house is located down a long paved road away from the small town, then still much further down an unpaved road, then a left turn into the woods.
I should mention that I am not roughing it. We have a beautiful house, on a spectacular beach. Last night, after all the kiddos went to sleep, we sat around the fire, watching the stars, chatting about where we’ve been and where we’re going.
Where am I going? That is the question everyone seems to be asking. Because the assumption is: I’m doing well, these days. Even mood, eating according to meal plan, purging on hold. How do I tell the truth? I tell it to Dr. B. but not anyone else. I’m not doing all that well. Even mood? Attributable to the fact that I don’t want 6 months in the State hospital so I am doing my damndest to float, to not talk about the dark urges. The mealplan? Oh, I am still dishonest, scrimping and skipping when I can. Purging? At least five times a week. Whenever, whatever. A handful of dried fruit? A teaspoon of ice cream? Everything is puking possible.
But I digress. Because today has thus far been a perfect day and what I’m doing is counting it all off, day by perfect, by honest, by real, by healthy day.
After the epic car drive, the lovely campfire, the happily Trazadoned sleep, I woke up, thankfully, early to the a brilliant sunrise—exact slices of yellow and orange rising over the horizon and then, just as quickly, rolled over and went back to sleep for an hour. Next? A perfect morning run down a forested road, hopping over bear scat and fox poop. Breathing in and out, happy to be alive. Then a morning on the beach—watching my lovely, insane dogs paddle back and forth on the lake, Daphne even threatening to swim for Canada; Athena tentatively jumping in and out of the water.
But my kids! Climbing and jumping off from driftwood pile-ups, cramming fistfuls of wild blueberries into their mouths, swimming and splashing in the VERY COLD lake. Free and running and pell-mell tumbling and rock scavenging and happy, happy, happy.
Which is exactly how I feel. Wandering the beach with my long time friends, Amy and Corey. Talking about how I’m succeeding, being honest about where I’m failing. Feet in the sand, trotting after my son who is now an explorer, dragon-hunter, and excavator. Or watching my daughter in her bathing suit, how gracefully and efficiently and purposefully she moves.
But I must say it is also a bittersweet trip. The last time I was here was 5 years ago, before all the absolute, shitty mess of the Eating Disorder started, before the Bipolar Mania kicked in for psychotic real, before suicide attempts became the answerable norm. I was, in fact, pregnant with my son—expectant and joyous. Though I also need to remember the other reality, the one Christopher can recall: I was volatile, irritable, manic, obsessed with keeping my weight down, down, down.
But here I am. A daughter who is now 8, a son (who wasn’t here) now 4 1/2. I’m sitting here in a lovely room, with the backdrop of rain, and my friend Amy sitting across from me, and my husband and Corey down on the beach, under the shelter of a wood fort they constructed, drinking beer and being friends and being the best dads in the world. And all of our kids are sitting in front of me, watching a movie, kids under rain at camp.
And I am here, writing this missive to you, with Fierce and Loved written on my arms, remembering that I am someone of consequence, someone who is loved. And now my husband and Corey return to assemble an elaborate dinner: risotto, lamb, green beans, and I will make something glorious for dessert and I WILL EAT and love and be loved and exult in this most perfect day.
What I have decided: double-layer dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate icing.