“Saying my problems out loud is the main way I am ever able to let go.” –Anne Lamott
I’m afraid to write this. I’m afraid to post this. Because I’m supposed to be better. I’m supposed to be all the way better. That means no blips, no anxiety, no anxious and obsessive thoughts.
Yesterday evening I told my husband that I’d had a hard few days. I said I felt like a fake, that I started this blog to show the world how recovered I was and that I was letting everyone down.
He told me I should blog about it, that that’s the reason I started this blog, to be honest and open and vulnerable. Not to show everyone that I’m perfect, but to show the world the complete opposite.
Even if it makes me feel like I’m teetering at the edge of a cliff without a net to catch me.
Even if it makes me feel weak.
Even if my friends and family read this blog.
And damn it, he was right.
My entire being is railing against putting this out there. Even after all the support I’ve gotten on my other blog posts. Even after the confessions I’ve made and the way I’ve opened myself up and out.
Because my other blog posts talked about how I struggled for years and am mostly better now. Mostly to all the way better now. Just about completely better now.
And having a bunch of unwelcome thoughts pop into my head over the Christmas holidays made me realize that maybe I’m not “just about completely better” now.
It also makes me really sick of trying to define what “better” means, of having to present myself a certain way so my family won’t worry. Of having to beam out an image to the world because I have this “beacon of hope” blog.
Because I can be a beacon of hope in another way. I can be a beacon of real. A beacon of truth.
The truth is, I restricted on Christmas. Not in the “starving myself” way that I did when I was sick. To be honest, I probably ate the way a lot of people would have on holidays. I ate the things I wanted, but dished out reasonable portion sizes. I only had a few desserts. I didn’t overindulge.
I did exactly what all those magazine articles and Today Show segments tell you to do:
Put things on your plate that you don’t have all the time!
Don’t have seconds!
Eat, but still feel satisfied!
That’s thing–I did eat. But I was also thinking. And measuring. And that meant that I wasn’t satisfied.
I didn’t let myself go. (Cue up the Frozen soundtrack. True fact: that song applies to eating disorders like you wouldn’t believe.)
I didn’t let myself have more when I wanted to.
I was still hungry when I went to bed on Christmas Eve.
I was nervous about two big food-based events in two days.
I felt big.
I felt guilty that I didn’t exercise on Christmas.
I worried about all the changes to my “routine.”
None of these were major. I didn’t let it affect my day or my mood. I didn’t freak out or starve or panic. I didn’t “repent” the next day. I don’t think anyone even noticed anything was going on.
But the noise was there in the background, in my head. It changed my behavior the littlest bit. It took some of the joy out of Christmas. I hate that.
That’s why I didn’t want to share any of this–because I feel guilty about what happened. I feel mad about what happened. I’m supposed to be beyond this. I’m supposed to be normal.
But what if there is no normal and abnormal? What if there’s just a progression? What if I’m not a failure because I had a few hard days? What if having hard days actually does make me normal?
When I was sick, I always felt like my friends were looking down on me, feeling sorry for me. While they were off living their lives, going to college, and going out on dates, I was in a treatment center. I was “poor Jen,” who was weak enough to get sick and miss out on life. I was like one of those celebrities on tabloid covers, the ones who go to rehab and people laugh about how messed up they are.
She was me. I was her.
Part of me never lost the belief that I’m still like that, that even with a husband and a family and a career and goals, I’m still that poor little sick girl who wasn’t strong enough to fight back.
I did fight, though. I fought hard. Maybe not all the time, and maybe I didn’t succeed in the time period that people expected me to, but I did fight.
Most of the time, I know that I’ve won.
Except for on the bad days.
But doesn’t everyone have bad days? Even those so-called “normal” people?
That’s the funny thing. I seem to think that 99% of the population is composed of “normal people,” that me and a few outliers are the lone crazies. But then I post something like this and realize that everyone is crazy. That crazy is normal.
I still feel like a failure, though. I still feel like I’m not supposed to struggle anymore. That I should be far beyond that.
That’s why I have to write this, though. To transform my failure into a success. To be the change I keep saying I want to be.
That’s why I created this blog. Not to show the world more of my fake perfection. Not to show anyone anything.
I created this blog to be. Not to be perfect. Not to be normal. Just to be, whatever that is on any given day. To share what’s happening, no matter what label or category it does or doesn’t fall under.
Here’s the category those few days fell under: life. The holiday season, when lots of people get stressed. The aftermath of my two-year-old’s four-day-long fever. Family and smooshy-close togetherness.
So my mind got stressed. So my mind thought about stuff. So I maybe didn’t eat that extra cookie I wanted.
That doesn’t mean I’m sick again. It’s just what happened on a certain day.
I still feel guilty about it, though. I still want to work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
But I’m going to share it anyway. I’m not going to keep it inside. Because that’s when things fester and mutate and grow, when feeling big and not having an extra cookie can become something else altogether. Something scary and monstrous.
So here it is. The truth. The whole, not perfect, crazy-normal truth.
I’m writing this post.
I’m pressing “publish.”