Being physically and emotionally present for my friends is a new behavior for me. For so long I was the “needy” one: my life was either in crisis, just out of crisis, or headed to crisis – that people just didn’t expect or ask anything of me. I would make committment and then not follow through, either because I was physically absent (in-patient, again), or overwhelmed, or just didn’t feel like I could handle it.
I’m not proud of any of those things, but I am at a point where I can acknowledge them for what they are (symptoms of my depression and ED) without giving them any power they don’t deserve (like convincing me I’m a terrible, flaky person).
Because of my history of being less than reliable, I am very conscious now to only commit to things that 1) I really want to do, 2) I am realistically capable of doing, and 3) that are healthy and productive. I am working on only saying what I mean and then meaning what I say, so that if I really agree to something I can be counted on to follow through.
That is why my fruit flies are pissing me off to no end. I can’t imagine how flaky it must sound to people when I say, “Oh yes! I’ll be at xyz event. As long as my flies are cooperating.” I hate that I can’t schedule my flies around my life – that what I have to do right now is schedule my life around my flies. And let me tell you, Drosophila aren’t big on giving advance notice of their intentions.
It is humbling when I realize that the inconvenience I’m experiencing as a result of my flies is probably only a fraction of the inconvenience my past behavior caused others – people I really love and care for. While I can’t change the past (and am working on not punishing myself for it), I can learn from it.
In some respects I may have lost almost a decade of my life, but I resolve not to lose the lesson.
Ecological Imperialism, Alfred W. Crosby
The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Melissa Bank
The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
Housemate #2 [upon searching the house for liquid laundry detergent and finding 10 different boxes of tampons instead of any Woolite]: “I swear that every single woman who has ever spent the night in this house – you, my sister, my sister-in-law, my ex-girlfriend – must have brought a lifetime supply of tampons with her. Are you all afraid the stores are going to run out? At this rate, with what I’ve found, you’ll never have to buy another tampon again!”
One of the most challenging things I’ve had to face since “The Move” and subsequent rebuilding of my life is continually answering the question “What do you do?”
Because really now, how am I supposed to answer that when it’s someone I’ve just met? Generally all I’m comfortable disclosing is that I’m taking undergrad classes as a post-bac student while I’m applying to neuroscience doctoral programs. Which then leads to the question, “What classes are you taking?” To which I answer, “genetics and microbiology.”
Then, without fail, the next question is either, “Is that all? Just two classes?” or “Oh. Well, what else do you do?”
What I’m so tempted to say in response is something along the lines of:
“What else do I do? I fucking get out of bed, shower, and brush my teeth. I spend hours with my treatment team. I exercise appropriately. I follow my meal plan. I don’t binge. I don’t purge. I weigh and measure my food. I log all my exchanges. I go to four meetings a week. I work on being physically and emotionally present for my friends. And I do all of this while fighting a constant stream of disordered thoughts and feelings about food, weight, body image, self-worth, and the meaning of life. What the hell do you do? ”
But I’m never brave enough to say that in the moment. So I’m saying it here, now, instead. Because that is what I do. And right now it just has to be good enough.
“When you have balance in your life you will have balance in your yoga.” – John Newman
Balance ain’t my thing. Never has been. I may have some semblance of flexibility, but balance alludes me. If its unclear whether I’m talking about physical balance or existential balance, that’s probably because I’m referring to both.
Academics, taking care of my physical body, interpersonal relationships… I just can’t seem to handle them simultaneously for any length of time. Last week I felt like I was doing a pretty good job and was actually quite impressed with myself, until my fruit flies started having sex. Then all hell broke loose. Let me tell you, having your schedule dictated by the sex life of Drosophila really isn’t fun, if for no other reason than it is a constant reminder that they’re having sex you’re not. But I digress.
It seems like I can do a somewhat decent job of keeping up with two of the three, but that adding the third variable does me in. What ends up happening is that I’m either not adequately prepared for a quiz, or I stop tracking my exchanges (and inevitably end up restricting), or it takes me 36 hours to return a phone call from a boy I think I like. (Yes, I ungracefully managed to accomplish all of those things in the last four days.)
How do I decide what gives? Academically I can’t afford another semester like the last one. Physically, I can’t afford to fall back into the behaviors that abuse my body. But I also can’t afford not to nurture and cultivate relationships, because it is being with the amazing people the Universe has seen fit to bring into my life that motivates me to keep working for full recovery.
I can’t help but think that everyone else intuitively understands how to do this and that I’m the dysfunctional one who isn’t capable of simply being a responsible adult. I guess all I’m left with is the ability to try, to fail, to try again, and to fail again – but to fail less. If it was easy, I would have already figured it out by now, right? Maybe in my next 30 years…
… because if he was alive, the results of today surely would have killed him 😦