Morning is Broken

{I was searching for the sketch I did of the nightmare I recalled in my last post when I came across some assignments I saved from college. This one was supposed to be recounting part of a normal day in the minutiaist style of James Joyce’s  Ulysses. It gave me the most powerful flashback to the morning I recounted that I thought I’d share it here.}

The mirror bids me good morning as usual. Nightshirt off. Panties on. Good morning to the closet of a bedroom and ugly white walls covered in black and white photos of other people kissing. Good morning to the spots on my face, too small breasts, too wide hips. And now a head of hair that’s about eight colors because I can’t leave it alone. Idiot.

     …ugly. Say it, say you’re not good enough. 

     I’m not good enough. 

     That’s right. You’re lucky, aren’t you? So lucky I keep you. 

Stop it. Stop.

A shake of the head. Hands ball into fists far too late to act as any real defense.

     Don’t think of him. 

A sigh. Stomach flat. Edge of a hip. Okay. Better. A turn. Cellulite.

…not good enough….not good enough….not good-STOP! 

Debating breakfast. I run hands over the straight lines of my collarbones, down arms, almost skinny enough. Grip breasts. Fuck it. Shower.

After the shower, it’s quiet. Anna is asleep still. Elyssa gone. Dance probably. Theatre major. Daisy… probably upstairs in her boyfriend’s bed.

Lonely. Still and lonely.

There’s a tiny patch of sunlight that hits the corner of the living room. It glints off the edge of a bit of fingernail clipping, caught in the buzzcut carpet. Silver polish. Not mine. Should vacuum. Swear I’m the only one that cleans. But that’s all right.

I don’t mind. Keeps my mind busy.

     You’re everyone’s mum then. 

     Not really. 

     You are. But it’s endearing. 

THERE’S a happy thought. Daniel. Lips. Hair. Eyes. Voice. Accent. Hair on his chest. Man. Man. Love. Eyes. So new.

     They’re hazel. That’s what you were wondering. I saw it. 

Movie theater. Valentines Day. Walking home. Hollywood after dark. Down those streets a thousand times but not with him. Hands, laced in the dark. Lips. Chest. The curl of brown hair, chest, stomach, lower. God, how I love…

   …the way “Robo-Cop” sounds with an English accent. 

I sit in the patch of sun. Wedge in next to the sliding glass door, press my back against the wall, heartened by the feeling of my vertebrae pricking my skin from the inside against the plaster and at the same time hating that the feeling cheers me up slightly. I brush my hair, eyes closed. Copper tipped bristles scrape my scalp. The sun’s glowing warmth hits a shoulder and a hip first. Spreads from the points. It’s the wrong angle to be hot, just the sensation of being touched by light. A hum starts in my throat.

No one’s around to hear. Lonely and still. Quiet, so quiet. It’s not that bad.

Two sips of whisky in the flash but I’m not gonna drink it

Swear I’ll make it last til we’re

Drinking out of the same glass again

The rythm of my brushing keeps time to Passenger tunes.

Ahhh Passenger. 

Daniel, Daniel. Where’s my phone? Eyes open. Done with the brush. I stretch in the sun. Curl my toes like tender leaves of grass in a breeze.

My legs are skinny at least, thought they look sickly and pale in the direct sunlight. I can see every tiny blue vein through the vellum I’m made of. Blue. Wormlike. No one will love you. My skin is so easily broken. I’m made of tissue paper.

I’m still in my towel. And I’m sure I should getting off to somewhere. Class perhaps.

Who am I kidding, of course class. I’ve missed far too many days already.

Dress. Leggings. Shoes. Eyeliner. Halfassed and smudged. Powder. Nothing else. I might have a date tonight and that calls for the full nine. Though I get the impression that this one wouldn’t mind if I skipped the makeup. Simplify simplify. Maybe that’s why I l-ike being around him.

Though the sand may be washed by the sea.

The old may be lost in the new

Four will not wait for three

I like my voice at least. Soft, husky, good ear for pitch.

Class. Too hot. Took the stairs and am out of breath. Sitting against the wall, my own misshapen citadel, I fan myself  with the yellow legal pad I keep with me for my lists. And the letters.

Daniel: I miss you. Is that selfish? Very well then, it’s selfish. You’ll never read this. 

     You’ll never know…

     I love him, I love him. It’s pointless. He’ll just go back to England. But I love him. 

Check the ipod, finally. I have to wait. Can’t just check it constantly. Have to have some boundaries. Inbox. Empty. Refreshrefreshrefresh. One message. Not him. Leave it. Glance up. Professor’s chatting. Down again, reach for the watch I left on the bathroom countrer. Stupid. I crane at the clock and feel hideously rude. Two minutes left.

Refreshrefreshrefresh.

Nothing.

     Three never waited for two. 

     Though you will not wait for me

Scratching a heart on the corner of one yellow sheet in pencil. Graphite smudged on my fingertips. Scratching it out again.

     I’ll wait for you. 

Stomach growls. I pretend it’s upset. It is, but for the lack of foord, rather than what sort. Tap my foot, tap the tip of my pencil against the desk. Tap the toes inside my shoe. The usual anxiety building. I should focus on something else.

     I can’t take this deep slow panic. 

     Teach me, teach me not to dream

     Dream deeply

Tap in time to the shift in soundtrack.

Professor. Erin. I call her Erin. Even when I’m not in class. Hands me something. Journal. Never know if I’m doing these right. Wish I could compare with other people. But I don’t talk to them.

What? My hair. I touch it.

It doesn’t look bad.

A grin.

Thanks. Thankyouthankyouthankyou.

I cling to the wall. I needed that. Shouldn’t have dyed it. Shouldn’t mess with it. Why do I bother trying to be pretty? Why. But she was kind.

She’s always kind. I wonder if she knows.

Orientation. 3? 4 years? English advising. Saw the tattoo on her wrist. Her smile the first that didn’t make me want to hide under a table. Or run. No more school. Please no more people.

I sat to her right. Or left? So long ago. Only her face left, her wrist. It’s the little things that stick. Most important.

Maybe I won’t be weird here. Maybe… 

She’s my favorite. Role model. Something. Has been since day one. Never told. How would I even go about doing that? So infinitely awkward. I don’t keep my mouth shut enough as is. Maybe at graduation.

You kept me here. 

     I just wanted to be like you. 

Erin, green gem of the silver sea, or at least hope for a place where I’d be comfortable in my skin.

One minute to class time. Attendance poll. The routine.

Blergh

I like class. What I don’t like is leaving my closet of a room. The bathtub, no water, knees to chest, huddled. It’ll be okay. It’s okay. I’m okay. Class is great. Rooms are too big. The walk there too open. Too many people. Like cattle lowing and ambling from one pen to another.

Let the day begin.

Refresh the inbox one last time. One message. Him. Wrong him.

Subject: YOU

Body: need to get back to me. You don’t get to do this. YOU are MINE. Call me. NOW.

-M

And this routine’s back.

 No one else will want you, say it, say it. 

Don’t think of him. Don’t. Don’t. Ipod away. Hiding. Routine. Fear. Loathing. Also routine.

Face in hands. Phone lights up.

New message from: Daniel

Temptation. Class has technically started. But I need this. I need this.

I can resist anything but temptation. Just a peek.

Morning angel. Walk with me tonight? It might rain : ) xx

Worth it. I do love walking in the rain. So does he. And his umbrella’s a perfect fit for two.

Nobody else will want you, say it, say it SAY IT you are MINE….

Morning angel…

I’m nobody who are you? Are you nobody too? Well there’s a pair of us, don’t tell…

Phone away. NOW the day can start.

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Civic Duty

I had Jury Duty this week.

I wasn’t really too upset about it because my work pays for a few days of it and I’ve never seen the inside of a courtroom outside of binge watching SVU. I got there and was selected for the jury pool for a case. We went in and the judge made a speech about how this is important and why jury duty is what it is and how if you think that the courts let cases off easy then you should WANT to be there making sure things are done justly. The buzzwords were citizenship, duty, fellow man, justice, community, service etc.

It was a remarkable and moving speech.

Then we went on lunch break and I went downstairs to the cafeteria and ordered a salad and some honeydew melon which came in crisp plastic packaging. I ate across from a handsome lawyer who asked if I minded before joining me. We sat and read together, me a novel, him some sort of ledger or file, in comfortable air-conditioned peace.

Then I went back upstairs and seated myself on a bench by the window outside the courtroom’s double doors to wait for role call, and court’s resumption.

I opened my book again (Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend, highly recommend btw) but I’d read well over 100 pages that day already, so I looked out the window instead of reading. Behind the courthouse, there was something going on on the ground. I couldn’t tell at first what I was looking at. It seemed like some sort of farmers market or something, which for my location wasn’t unheard of. The city the courthouse is located in is full of art walks, markets, craft fairs, etc. From 9 stories up, it just looked like a group of tarps.

The more I looked, though, the more clear the picture became and eventually I realized I was looking at a makeshift shanty town of tents and tarps. Homeless people trying to get out of the California heat any way they could. It was like a small city of downtrodden individuals right behind the courthouse in plain view.

The judge’s words about how being here was important came back to me. How giving up a workday, or our normal routine was so important. We had covered the case by that point and it was basically two men arguing over the terms of a contract and whether a fineable breach was made by one party.

Looking at that shanty town, and then turning to watch one of the two hard-faced businessmen stride back into the courtroom with his lawyer, in suits so clearly expensive that the cuff links could have fed all the people below me for a WEEK, I felt a roll of guilt and indignation in my stomach.

How can someone say that deciding if there was a breach in a business contract that didn’t result in losses significant enough to alter the course of a business, or anyone’s day to day wages or way of life be CIVIC DUTY and a SERVICE TO YOUR COMMUNITY while addressing starving citizens WITHIN EYESIGHT isn’t even on the table.

Don’t talk to me about civic duty when in plain view of city officials, lawyers, politicians, judges, POWERFUL men and women, every day people struggle just to avoid exposure to the elements and nothing has been done. In view of people who could ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING about it, people IN OUR COMMUNITY have suffered. They’ve suffered long enough that there’s a veritable VILLAGE of them grown up behind the building.

Like with a lot of my posts lately, there is no good answer. I have no silver lining. This is just an angry cry that something needs to be done, and a comment and observation of just how skewed our priorities are in this country.

Two Voices

I was on Facebook looking at my “On This Day” memories and came across a video I’d posted of me playing guitar and singing 3 or 4 years ago. This was at a time in my life when I was very VERY unhealthy but also skinny.

As I watched the video I noticed things I’d never noticed before. My arms were skinny, probably the best they’ve ever looked, my shoulders were cut and defined, my collarbones stood out like razorblades erupting from my flesh and my cheeks were sunken in harsh squares, a clean right angle from jaw to chin.

There are two voices in my head watching this video.

The first was horrified. Initially she’d admired the arms and shoulders, but the face so startled her that she drew back in the realization that she’d been admiring careful starvation. The video was in what I’d always thought of as my “recovery period” but I was so painfully underweight that, today, I’m thinking I may have overestimated my recovery. Or maybe, I just had a long way to come back.

The first voice wants to know how I had DONE that to myself. She wants to know how I could have missed the lank hair, the pallid face, the painful angles my skeletal structure made protruding against my skin. She remembers all the hours spent at the gym and wonders how I had “worked out” when I so lacked muscle, when I was skin and bone and not much else.

The second voice reminds me that fifteen more pounds and I’d be nearly in that range again and fifteen pounds is easy. A couple weeks of nothing but juice and an occasional handful of almonds and that face in the video could be mine again. My abs look like the after photos in BeachBody ads and yet I have this second voice telling me I could starve my way back to a thigh-gap.

This is the reality of eating disorders. They never go away. Even if you’re eating normally, and you feel in control. Even if you’re happy with the way you look. There is something in you that CRAVES starvation, purging, overexercising. The desire to punish yourself, mold yourself, shrink until you disappear never goes away. You just learn to ignore it.

I learned to get angry at it.

Probably not the most healthy reaction but finally I think I’m at a place where I can yell at that second voice to shut up. I can tell it it’s stupid and I’m fine as is, and that I do still have a couple pounds I’d like to lose, but that like the other 60 I lost, I’m going to do it the right way, so it stays off. So I can maintain. So I can eat cake on my mom’s birthday and sushi on a mini-vacay with Jo and not feel bad.

This is what being in control really feels like. I don’t know how I mistook hurting myself for control, but I did. Over and over again I took a backseat to my disorder.

I won’t do it again.

But this is today. There is always the chance of backsliding. The second voice doesn’t leave. It is patient. It waits for moments of weakness.

This is why we need to be kind to each other.

This is why media giants like Cosmo need to avoid posting unrealistic beauty goals like back and shoulder contouring.

This is why we need to remind our friends and family of the ways they are beautiful.

In hopes that it will help save others from this confusing pull in two directions over something that should be shallow and unimportant.

No one should have to choose between health and image.

Stanford (graphic content, sexual abuse trigger warning)

I’ve done a lot of crying the past day or so.

Its been on and off since I read the closing statements from the Stanford case. I can’t stand that that asshole is getting off with 6 months in county. He ruined someones life but because his  body holds value, “justice” has favored him instead of his victim.

That’s not purely why I’m crying.

I don’t think I’m quite that selfless. I read each new development in this case, and so many other women’s stories, and the nasty comments perpetuating rape culture and I cry for women as a whole who are in this place where they are violated and then revictimized every time something like this happens. I also cry for myself.

I was attacked at the end of my high school year. By my boyfriend. He was in the 6’2-6’4 range, taller than me even in my highest heels, and on the track and field team. Star athlete. Maybe thats another reason Stanford is so triggering for me. He was massive, six pack abs, in the gym 6 hours a day minimum, biceps like pythons. He could wrap both of my wrists completely in one of his hands and have a secure hold.

Our relationship had very clear lines. I was a virgin and didn’t want to have sex before marriage. He knew this. We’d been over it in no uncertain terms but after prom he pulled over his truck at the end of my street to kiss me good night and kissing turned to groping and when it went too far and I told him to stop, that night, he didn’t. My wrists went in one hand and the other hand found its way down, hiking the skirt of my gown. I remember my elbows and shoulders protesting the awkward angles they were put in.

At what point he opened his pants, I still don’t know, though I’ve replayed the night thousands of times. I could feel him shoving himself at me. That sensation of only having a thin, thin, seamless layer of pale blue microfiber between him and my virginity.

I can hear my voice, like it belonged to someone else. “Stop it, what are you doing. Stop, stop, STOP STOPITPLEASESTOPYOURHURTINGME” getting more breathless and shrill and scared with each syllable. I had got my hands free, but then he had me by the upper arm, the hip, I would slip free, he would grab me again, and one hand was clumsily trying to drag my panties to the side.

Ignoring me.

He was just so big. All those muscles I’d thought were so pretty were just, muscles. Weapons of my destruction. I am not a small girl, though I was a swimmer. I was lean but athletic and I’m tall myself. I wasn’t used to feeling so delicate. At one point it occurred to me that he could actually hurt me, break bones, bloody me. That had never been a part of my reality before: physical powerlessness.

At some point he released my hands and started grabbing my legs and buttocks. Trying to pull me onto him.

I remember his one solid thrust and my panties were still half covering me, so they mostly stopped him, but it still hurt. A sharp warning burn between my legs and I let out a squeal like some sort of pathetic piglet. I just kind of flailed at him. One hand, the other, both, my knee grazed ribs or a hip. He stopped briefly.

I sucked him off.

I figured it would give him what he wanted sex-free. And I could go home and lock the door behind me. And everything would go back to normal.

But it didn’t. When my dad asked how things went when I came in from prom, I lied and pasted a smile I hoped just looked sleepy and not scared on my face and said things went great. When I woke up in the morning I couldn’t believe what happened had happened.

The more I thought about it the more upset I got. I felt betrayed by my boyfriend. I felt scared. I’d never been physically overpowered before and until it happens you always think “I’d just kick ’em in the nuts.” “I’d just thumb-drag their eyes.” I watch movies, I’ve read articles on self defense. I should be fine.

It’s not the same.

I knew what he did was wrong. Without consulting anyone, I knew it was wrong. But I was a big reader. I love Alice Sebold. I owned a dog-eared copy of Lucky and I know what victims of sex crimes go through even when they’re clearly the victim. Even when the rapist is a violent stranger.

As a teenager I knew about victim-blaming. How women are accused of asking for it. Liking it. Bringing it on themselves. I knew because he was my boyfriend, and because it was prom night, because I agreed to pull over for a kiss goodnight, and because I agreed to oral sex in lieu of penetration that he would never be found guilty. That it would be my fault and all I’d do by coming forward would be to make it public knowledge. Everyone would know I was a whore.

So I watched the bruises on my arms and buttocks and hips and thighs fade with the burns on my knees from his car seat. I didn’t report him.

I was in dance, though, and my friends saw the bruises when I was changing and asked.

I told a few of them.

That was one of the worst parts to this whole story.

A friend, MY friend, told me I might be mistaken. She asked me if I was sure. My boyfriend was best friends with her boyfriend, she’d set us up in the beginning and she encouraged me to give him a second chance. She said she was sure he didn’t mean it “like that.” He’d never hurt me. He’s a nice guy. Maybe he was just drinking. She knew what kind of crowd he hung out with. Maybe that was the case.

So I stopped talking to people about it early on. I hid it. And continued letting it hurt me.

Fortunately he didn’t go to our school so I didn’t have to see him every day. Avoiding him was easy.

I told him I didn’t want to see him. That I needed to think. He tried to tell me it wasn’t like what I said, that he’d never hurt me, he loves me.

He showed up at my last dance show with a dozen red roses. Like ugly red flowers could fix what he’d broken. My friend and her boyfriend were smiling next to him. She wanted me to come get dinner with them. A double date. And he’d come by himself, so the drive over would give us time alone to talk.

I said I’d check with my parents.

I called my mom and quickly and quietly said: M_____ is here, he wants me to go somewhere with him but I don’t want to. I will explain later but can you come get me and pretend you’re making me come home? Please, please come get me.

She sent my dad. I remember I was wearing intentionally mismatched Chuck Taylors, one purple, one black, because I stared at my shoes as I tried to find words to explain things to my father. “At prom he tried to get me to do things I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to be alone with him. I don’t want to see him. I have to break up with him.”

I told my mom about the same thing. I downplayed. They still don’t know what happened.

He harassed me for a while after that. Would show up at the house. Text and call. Get friends to text and call. He got a new girlfriend and for whatever reason she started calling and texting. Telling me I was trash.

Because HE attacked me.

I felt like trash for a long time. Because of how the events played out I wasn’t sure if I still counted as a virgin. Something I’d planned on giving as some sort of preserved gift to my soulmate someday was tarnished, if not stolen. I struggled with this for years.

Between the lack of clarity and the PTSD-like symptoms that would happen any time I was remotely intimate with anyone I spiralled as I began college. I hung out with people who were anti-relationship. One night, drinking at a friends dorm with a couple friends, a guy got me alone in a room. He kissed me and I fell backwards onto the bed. He climbed on top of me and started groping me. He was heavy and my leg was bent under me. I couldn’t get the leverage to sit up. My friend was off with some other guy. I panicked.

He unhooked my bra, tonguing my cheek instead of my mouth, since I’d turned my head away. He was drunk and fumbling and didn’t noticed I’d frozen in fear when I realized I couldn’t get up. He didn’t notice the silent tears streaming down my cheeks á la PTSD. He hadn’t even noticed when I’d stopped kissing him. I choked a bit on a sob and begged “let me up.”

He said “oh, you wanna be on top, huh?” Even when I sat up and started backing towards the door he didn’t realize there was anything wrong. I heard “where you going?” before I shut the door behind me.

I ran, literally. Grabbed my purse, jacket, and shoes from the common room and didn’t stop to put them on. I dashed into the hallway and when the ding of the elevator startled me I bolted to the stairwell before the doors could open. I ran down the stairs and sprinted across campus before stopping to put shoes on my bleeding feet at an intersection, waiting anxiously for a car to pass so I could run on.

I lived off campus in my sorority house and I sprinted all the way home. Not far, but far enough that I pulled muscles in my legs and could scarcely breathe by the time I was locked behind the door. I was crying in the shower by the time my friends realized I’d gone missing.

I avoided men for a while after that. Too scared.

I also developed a bit of a phobia about being without my undergarments or wearing anything that wasn’t 100% full coverage.

The couple times I tried to date I either had a panic attack in front of them and they never called again. Or when I tried to tell them I didn’t want to have sex before marriage, the ensuing questions led to uncomfortable questions I didn’t have the right answers for.

 

Finally I couldn’t stand it any more. I was no longer clearly pure but I’d never had sex on my terms. I wasn’t dirty but I had a fine layer of dust. Damaged goods. I thought I may as well do it once for me and be able to give a straight answer when asked. Not being a virgin was better than explaining I’d been assaulted and because of the gory details wasn’t sure myself.

I just wanted to forget the whole thing. I would have sex with my next boyfriend.

My next boyfriend was abusive.

My next boyfriend left me with actual scars on my body and a fractured rib that never healed properly.

My next boyfriend thought dragging me downstairs by the hair, beating me with objects from his bedroom,  and then raping me was fun. My next boyfriend forced me to have sex with his friend.

My next boyfriend knew I had an eating disorder and would use his genitals to make me puke and then say he was helping me keep my figure.

Because I consented to being his girlfriend, to normal consensual sex, to giving him what was left of my virginity, to a little slap and tickle experimentation early on in the relationship before it got abusive. Because I stayed with him. Because we broke up and I went BACK to him more than once.

There’s not a jury in the world that would convict him for anything he did to me.

Because I grew up in a society that believes women are asking for it, I had no hope of help when I needed it and over the years I grew so damaged that I am still recovering. If I had any hope of quick and just action when I was attacked the first time, I would not have put myself in situations that damaged me further.

Because I live in a society that thinks consenting to a relationship is consenting to anything a partner cares to do to your body, I lost hope that I could successfully escape my abuser.

Because I live in a time where there are rallies held to legalize rape, a time where judges that will suggest that because a rapist is young, and an athlete and a scholar and has not raped before, he is somehow exempt from just punishment for his crimes, a time where men will pull my hair, put their arms around me, and make lewd comments about me either to my face or behind my back in public places, I find myself unable to sleep soundly or feel safe going through my day to day life.

This and more is EXACTLY why I feel like it’s a mans world and women like me are just living in it. We’re trapped. 
There is NO WAY to be the change I want to see here because I am not a man. I am not the active party in these scenarios. All I can do is wait for someone else to act or cross a line and defend myself. 
I don’t want to mark escape routes in every situation. I don’t want to carry mace or other weapons. I hate that I’m in the market for a handgun. I don’t want to carry my keys in the shiv position when walking alone at night.
I will give all the support and solidarity I can to survivors who are victimized over and over again by our messed up society, but I am so tired of being forced to.
I will celebrate every win, but it shouldn’t BE such a big deal when a rapist is found guilty. Justice being served should not be the minority situation.
I want change. I want justice. I want to feel safe in familiar places. I want the law to be an actual deterrent. I want real equality for women.
But it is so very very hard to cling to hope for the future with things the way they are.
I wanted there to be a happy ending to this post, but for the time being there is not.
We NEED a change.
But I see no clear solution.
So to close, my beauty in negative spaces is this: I am not in the situations I was in before. I am lucky to have survived. I am lucky to be looking BACK at what has happened. I have also grown a lot. I have grown physically stronger to better defend myself. I can knock a heavybag over with two punches or a single kick. Elbows and knees are better for defense though. I have gained coping skills to manage panic, and push it down long enough to either defend myself physically or verbally depending on the situation. I’m learning to value myself like I hadn’t before. I am damaged, but I am not completely broken. I still have use. I can still be functional.
It is taking a really long time but I’m coming out of this.
Most importantly I am talking about my past. Its therapeutic for me, and it educates and empowers others depending on the situation. I’m taking away the power that those events had over me, I’m taking away the power that rape culture had over me. I am using my voice. I was silent when I should have leveled charges at the men who violated me. I can’t go back and change that.
But I will not maintain the silence. I will share the distasteful things that happened to me and say it is not my fault. I did not ask for those things. I know the truth. I am blameless. I said no. I asked for them to stop. Their actions were their own. They have nothing to do with me. I will not forgive myself because there is nothing to forgive. I will accept that I have been wounded, and focus on the things that let me heal.
I will build up those around me that they may avoid similar hurt. I will support and nurse those who have been wounded. And I will hope and strive for a better tomorrow.

Body Positivity Week

I guess this week is body positivity week. My Facebook has been absolutely bombarded with plus size models and inspirational quotes. The “Try Guys” from Buzz Feed put out a video on photoshopped images. My friends are all reposting BPW media and I see so much positivity being put out there but (because with me there is always a but):

I have an eating disorder.

And because it’s body positivity week, it’s somehow appropriate for all these people to come out of the woodwork and haphazardly post about how they “had” an eating disorder because society, the media, photoshop, etc. but how through some radical self love and a little gumption they managed to “cure” themselves.

It’s killing me.

You don’t cure an eating disorder.

You go into remission.

And you don’t get an eating disorder from watching too many episodes of America’s Next Top Model.

You develop an eating disorder through a myriad of deep seated personal problems.

Because of this, it’s not as easy as just up and deciding to love yourself.

It’s not ABOUT loving yourself or being “positive.”

Personally, I’ve got so many issues I couldn’t tell you which one it was that started me off. None of my shrinks have pinpointed it either, and that’s not how therapy works anyway.

Big picture? My eating disorder, like my agoraphobia, and a couple other things we’ve never talked about here on the blog, stems from feeling a lack of control over myself, my situation, my life.

If we’re being honest, here, I have a very selfish reason behind this rant, but I think my reasons are making even more clear the problems with this week.

It just so happens that the Monday of Body Positivity week dawned on the Monday I woke up and realized I’m no longer in remission.

I had a stomach ache. The deep, painful kind you get when you’ve actually overdone it and hurt yourself. I vomited three separate times on Sunday. On purpose.

And  I recognized as I walked to the bathroom, knowing what I was about to do to myself, why I was doing it. I felt out of control. Making myself sick has a method to it. There are steps. Steps I won’t list here because reading other people recount their dealings with eating disorders is how I kept mine under wraps the seven years I went without professional treatment. But there ARE steps and going through them makes me feel like things are okay.

I’ve had a rough couple months.

I’ve had very little control at work, in my personal life, at home.

I thought I was managing, but clearly I have not been. I have just been making myself feel better by rigidly controlling what I eat and when that gets messed up, just “adjusting.”

My nails are brittle, the inside of my mouth is full of raw patches and peeling skin from acid exposure, and I woke up so dehydrated Monday morning that I felt hungover.

It’s a problem. I’ve been able to look at myself rationally, now, so I’ve be able to stop, I’m two days clean, and I’ll eventually get back to a good place.

However, this body positivity week, a movement that is supposed to be helpful to people like me is hurting me. I can look at inspirational quotes and put the most negative spin on them or wonder what is wrong with me that I can’t seem to think as positively as “You’re not fat, you HAVE fat”.

I can look at a plus sized model and either feel bad because she’s actually skinnier than me, or panic because she is my size and I DON’T WANT TO LOOK LIKE THAT, or worst of all, even if she’s bigger, I’ll feel like I don’t measure up, or I’ll reverse it and feel like I’ve gotten too bony. My collar bones are too prominent, my leg muscles are too hard and close to the surface.

I can’t win.

Besides that, this week is so superficial. Love your body! Love yourself!

This week somehow equates the self with the body, overturning this Cartesian duality that I count on to feel human.

I do love my body when I’m able to be rational. When I am centered, and not struggling to feel in control, I love my body. I am strong. I am proud of what my body can do and how far it has come. I adore being able to dance and exercise and stretch.

My body suffers at the hands of my mind, though.

I cannot love my mind because it so often betrays me.

It makes me hate my body.

It makes me want to get so small I disappear.

It tells me I have to lure a man in with my body first and that if I am attractive enough he will accept the flaws of my mind. An ass that defies gravity makes my social anxiety more acceptable. A small waist makes it easier to deal with someone who still has tics from being abused. Toned arms and legs makes bursting into tears for no apparent reason endearing instead of disconcerting.

Yeah, I know it’s all crap. Rationally.

It’s not the media making me do this. It’s me. Just me. So to equate my self with my body brings on a whole other level of confusion that serves to push me farther out of the controlled center I NEED to function.

That being said, nothing the media puts out is going to help me. I just have to pick up and sort myself out again.

It’s very isolating, to tell you the truth.

The conclusion I’ve come to, is that Body Positivity week is for people who are already positive about their body or who want everyone else to think they are.

Because those of us who aren’t body positive know better.

I hope to god no one else is having a BPW like mine.

And if you are, I’ve gone nearly 3 days without starving or purging. I will celebrate that. I know you can do the same. We’ll take it one day at a time.

We know we’ll fall into old habits.

But we also know we can pull out again in an endless tiring circle.

 

Just stay strong.

The Fear in Knowing

I was talking to the Viking the other night. I hadn’t seen him in about a month since I’d been gone one week and then he had a couple trips he’d gone on.

After a hug on the stairs that lifted my feet from the top landing of the stairway where they’d been planted  and felt like the most cinematic reunion ever he followed me into the Blues room and sat with me for a while.

I’d come alone because Kay bailed to watch Civil War with her church friends instead and I’d had a rough week with a lot of things happening outside of my control so I was already feeling rambly and vulnerable.

He teased me gently about being a wallflower and then laughed when he realized I was wearing the very floral dress that started a bit of an inside joke of referring to me as the wallflower, or sending me Wall Flowers songs through facebook.

I explained I’d just got there and was still feeling slightly overwhelmed and he smiled and at the same time I started to say that I enjoy people watching, he said it. I mentioned coming out is always less horrifying for me if I have a friend to hide behind or use as a buffer between me and people. He said something about hoping he didn’t overwhelm me, but in a soft way, like he knew he wasn’t. I told him he wasn’t. That I know him, kind of. He smiled and looked away and tripped over saying “as much as two  people who see each other on a-” he paused and finished with something along the lines of on a regular basis as if he’d only just noticed we see each other at least once a week.

I nodded. We don’t really KNOW each other. Not like I know someone like Kay: her family, all her stories, her tics. “But you’re… familiar.”

The Viking eventually asked me to dance and we did and I could barely follow because he’s so tall and warm and I’d missed him and after a literal month of thinking of him he was finally touching me again.  I don’t remember the song that that was playing and I’d been making a conscious effort to do so since “Ray of Sunlight” solidified the last dance we’d had so perfectly in my mind.

The song ended, because we’d started halfway through, and he asked if I’d like to dance a full song.

So my hand stayed tucked in his and we picked up the next song.

Out of nowhere, really, he got a peculiar look on his face and asked if it was scary for me “being known by someone.” He floors me, sometimes.

It was an oddly deep question and its been all I can think about, since.

I asked him whether he meant in general or- and he followed up by saying, like we were talking about getting to know people and how we kind of see each other regularly and then in relationships, is it scary to be KNOWN by someone.

What I wound up incoherently rambling at him was something along the lines of big-picture, end-goal, no it’s not scary, its something I want. It’s getting there that’s scary. Then he wanted to know why. I rambled some more as we finished up the dance.

I don’t specifically recall much of what I said after that, but I do remember he put my name into the last line of the song we were dancing to and sang it in my ear. He sang my name to me and I don’t remember the words surrounding my name, because I was already flustered, and he confuses me, and it was such a sweet moment that all I can remember is those two drawn out syllables resonating in my ear.

The question remains though: am I afraid to be known?

After days of agonizing over the question I’ve come to the conclusion that like so many other things with me, its not as simple as I am afraid or I am not afraid.

There are stages of knowing someone. I happen to have a LOT of stages. If knowing me came in levels, I’d be like the stairs of some ancient French Cathedral: steep, winding and seemingly endless.

On the outside, I’m “the girl with the outfits” (this is actually something more than one person has called me out dancing because I’m apparently always dressed to kill AND its never the same dress). Watch the outfits long enough and you’ll notice I play at acceptable fashion. I know how to put an outfit together, but I like an edgy sort of comfort in my clothes. Start looking at me to make sense of my outfits and  I have a sunny personality, I laugh easily and appreciate wit and peculiarity. Talk to me and you’ll catch me swearing or letting out a morbid or innuendo laced joke. My humor leans towards violence and self deprecation. I can’t take a compliment.

If you make it to a landing, higher up the staircase, you’ll know I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder but manage it with diet and exercise and meditation, journaling, art therapy: anything to not be on medication. I am also an agoraphobe using social dancing as my exposure therapy. I manage my anxiety and panic disorders with breathing exercises, tapping, grounding, and the occasional self medication with a nip or two from the bottle. I’ve had an eating disorder since I was about 14 that rears its ugly head when I feel like I need more control in my life.

I used to self mutilate but haven’t hurt myself in a while and won’t again because I can’t stand that the last group of scars hasn’t flattened out and turned white but remains raised and ugly and purple for the world to see and judge.

I’ve been abused, stalked, assaulted, threatened- more than once and its left me with an awful lot of triggers and trust issues.

The ugly parts of me are so closely tied to what you find out first about me. They come out early on because a lot of things are triggering for me and I often find I need to explain why I reacted the way I did to something seemingly innocuous.

I’m difficult. I try to be as functional as possible, but I’m under no illusions. The jagged edges of my person are tricky to get around.

Still, it’s not being known that scares me.

I am afraid of being known halfway. I’m afraid of someone starting to know me and stopping before they get to the good parts. I’m afraid of being known only to the point of being crazy, and sad, and angry, and afraid of everything.

I’m afraid of not being given the chance to be known in all the ways that matter. That I’m funny and enjoy taking care of people. That I’m a good cook and like feeding people. I’m a loyal friend but will tell people they’re being unjust or overly judgmental. Dogs, horses, and small children inherently trust me. That I am afraid of everything but that it’s never going to stop me because I can make myself work through anything.

I’ve been hurt in many ways but I love deeply and permanently.

People who see the whole picture, stay.

Its just a rare occasion that they take the time to get that far.

So is being known scary? No.

Playing the crapshoot of letting people get into the gnarly stuff necessary before the finish line and hoping they’ll make it?

Positively horrifying.

 

And of course, because I’m still caught up in this silly crush, I’m stuck thinking of those earnest blue eyes locked on mine and that warm voice singing my name.

If I had to pick someone to let know me, I’d want him.

Desperately.

But I’m afraid to let him get past the charming exterior.

I went on a date…

What the heck, right?

Unless you read the last ramble about how I’m inept in the romance department. In which case you knew about all this.

So now like some weird, less fashionable, less horse-faced Carrie Bradshaw let me tell you about my experience.

The son of my high school History teacher asked me out last week. As I mentioned before, we have a TON in common and have been aware of each other for years, just never really spent much time together or really talked until he started being all up on my social media starting about a month ago.

My problem is this: I feel NOTHING for him. Cognitively I know we like the same movies and tv shows, our upbringing and families are similar. I was good friends with his sister in high school. He goes to church but doesn’t seem super serious about it, so that matches up. He work out daily, as do I. He likes animals. We can nerd out and drool over food together. It’s great. On paper, we’re perfect.

We had a great date on Saturday. We started out going to the Arboretum at our old university campus but it was closed off for some reason so instead we trekked all over campus revisiting the old sculptures put out by the college of art. We talked, we laughed. We spontaneously went to a movie. Then he took me to dinner.

I had a really good day. I felt happy. We work well, together. I had a very low level of anxiety being around him. HOWEVER, it seems to stem from the fact that I don’t care. Which is a problem.

I talked to all of my friends leading up to this date. I actually started thinking that maybe I should call it off. I don’t want to lead him on. I’ve been led on. I don’t want to do that to someone else. Everybody seemed to be of the opinion that I should give him a chance. That I might like him if I’d take the time to think of someone outside of my massive Viking-related crush. So I did. I resisted the urge to cancel the date and I had a good time.

We came back to my apartment and finished the last couple episodes of Daredevil and then I subjected him to Archer. He kissed me.

That’s all that happened. There wasn’t even any attempted second base action, just kissing, and hand holding; it was very PG. He’s a good kisser, aside from the fact he rocks one of those stubble-goatees so I kept getting jabbed in the face. He’s also very attractive. He’s athletic, with strong arms and shoulders, a hard, flat stomach, and that V that cuts down his hips and into his jeans(I’ve seen pictures, no live action, it was PG!); he’s droolworthy, really.

I just don’t care.

I started making lists in my head while kissing him, thinking of other things, other people, other places. I just zoned out.

I don’t want him. I know we’d make a good team but I don’t want him, no matter how hard I try to make myself and I don’t feel like wasting time with some distraction. I also definitely don’t want to lead him on.

I also don’t want to shoot something potentially healthy and functional in the foot without giving it a chance, though. So I’m torn.

HE seems really into ME, though. I’m having trouble keeping him at arms length.

Besides that I keep comparing him to the Viking.

I CARE about the Viking. I find little things he does so perfectly adorable I can’t put it into words. I stare off into space dreamily when I think of him and my friends notice. I feel safe with the Viking.

He’s not cut like an athlete. He’s older, and softer. He doesn’t have that metrosexual snappy-dresser thing down like my date. He’s sweet and funny, not dashing and charismatic. On paper the Viking should be inferior.

But I want him.

So I’m stuck and confused and this would all be SO simple if I could just flat say all this to the men involved and get straight answers and understanding out of both of them, but that’s not the way the world works, so I guess I’ll just suffer.

Hooray.