Finding beauty in the dissonance.

I was once so deeply self-aware of my eating disorder that I opted out of (potentially) forever missing out on trick or treating with my kids because it felt so triggering. Them going with their dad, my ex, felt safer.

Fast forward a lifetime.

I was many hours into today before I remembered that I used to hate Halloween. All of that candy used to feel like an abyss. I remember one year I even made it all the way through Halloween without partaking in any treats and it felt like this epic win. And because I got through it, I thought nothing of it when I had candy a couple days later.

I had been eating really clean before that too. Hell, I may have even been doing a Whole30. And I remember going from all clean all the time, to lots of candy intermixed, to quite literally only candy, within a few days. For two weeks.

For two weeks I ate candy. Almost exclusively. I tried to force myself to eat meat or vegetables. But none of that sounded good.

The detox from that was heinous. It was two solid weeks of agonizing pain. I had been taking a biology lab that semester. Every Friday. I remember trying to walk into that class. My legs hurt so much I was in tears.  Just sitting was even worse than the walking.

At that point that was maybe only the third time I had experienced that deep, debilitating leg pain. I had no idea at the time how many more dozens of times I’d put myself through that. Or that seven years later, I’d have come as far as I have.

Chris and I went trick or treating with the boys tonight. I was worried about how cold it would be, but I layered and it was actually a gorgeous night. I could have stayed out for another hour or more. It was a perfectly delightful time.

This was the littlest’s loot.

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It doesn’t tempt me or haunt me or sadden me. It doesn’t make me anxious or worried. It could be a bag of yoyos or acorns or marbles. I only even took it out to take a picture of it for Chris.

L had a blast trick or treating for the first time. And S had fun running around with his friend and taking a night off from the usual routine. Chris was so in his element tonight. It was a really amazing night. And I didn’t have to forfeit it to accommodate fear or my sense of balance. Feet firmly planted in goodness*.

 

*Alongside tonight’s goodness, today was a trying day in other departments and I never used food to navigate them. I noted a couple times that I was very intentionally not using food to cope or distract or soften the feelings of impatience and anger and frustration. And then I moved on.

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Leads to something.

When I was in high school, I saw a counselor every week. She once told me to write letters to myself with my nondominant hand for a different perspective. In this age of technology I wonder what perspectives we lose not writing pen to paper at all–everything with both hands all the time.

This week felt like everything all the time more of the time than I’m comfortable with. Last night, I eventually just had to lie on the couch and close my eyes.

My mother had surgery yesterday to remove a tumor in her stomach. It’s cancer–technically. But also it’s not the sort of cancer that so many cancer diagnoses are. It’s unlikely she’ll need chemo or radiation. It’s unlikely she’ll need to do anything except heal from surgery. So I’m not…worried per se. It just would have been nice yesterday to have more information. It would be nice to have had any information today.

The biological father of my two older children can’t seem to get it together enough to be an actual dad. It’s overwhelming for me to experience his absence to them, as well as his tragic (as of yet) inability to grow and evolve.

My husband, who has been going through a fair amount of medical and health issues, is overwhelmed with his own feelings involving grief and loss and pain of old ghosts. As well as physical pain and exhaustion because of hard labor and stressful job stuff. And I can’t do anything about any of that. I can stand by his side and support him, but it’s not my place, or within my ability, to do more. And try as I may to not be weighed down by it, it is still a heavy part of my day. And that is something I navigate.

And then there is the frustrating fact of hormones and the sweet irony that women sync up. And I have a teenager.

But it’s all a reminder that life ebbs and flows and moments are just moments and on to the next we go.

I climb ’til the entire sun shines on my face.

Once upon a time, I was pregnant and had a life growing inside me named Caleb. His due date was August 29th, and I’m certain he would have been late, but instead he wasn’t at all. He enters my mind in fragments throughout the year. But today, today he is always with me. And I think about the beautiful boy he would have been. The sweet soul. The doting brother. Smart. Loving. Rambunctious. And I celebrate the what if. Because today is his day.

Slow hands.

It’s so amusing to me that right after I gave advice to a friend of mine to start writing again, I would walk away from my own writing.

I’ve entertained this thought dozens of times. I’ve started entries in my head and in memo pad. I’ve drafted outlines in gmail. But mostly I just haven’t written and haven’t had a desire to.

For a while, I was *doing* instead of writing about doing. I was getting all the things accomplished. Even the ones that paralyzed me with fear. Even the things that now still nauseate me. Back to school registration and doctor appointments and birthdays and summer camp and vacations and student loans and garage sales and purging and donating. I’ve ticked so much off the list. And still more exists because there’s hardly reprieve.

I look back on the summer and it was good. Yet I’m conflicted. I’ll take the win, and also I would have loved for it to have been more. I would have loved to remember more moments of being present. Connected. Patient.

My favorite memory of this summer is this groove that my son and I got into watching episodes of Flash. I could be right there with him, but also feel like I could breathe. There’s too many memories of just not breathing enough or having enough space or quiet or time or sleep.

There’s a strange dichotomy that exists when simultaneously you want more, yet have too much.

So now I’m working on the ratios. And I’m taking the time, as best I can with a 2yo, to breathe and get quiet, so that I can enjoy the abundance too.

Step out of line.

I thanked Chris for not projecting onto me his feelings toward my dad, when my dad is in the middle of a psychotic episode.

I prefaced that it was a ridiculous thing to thank someone for. At the same time, it’s the experience I am familiar with when it comes to my family. This is what my ex husband taught me. So five years into this relationship and it still disarms me that he is supportive and non-judgmental and doesn’t lump me with my kin. Doesn’t shame me for where I come from and who my parents are or how much I care for my friends.

A couple months into dating Chris I spent the night with an ex boyfriend in the emergency room. I took him to the emergency room actually. The next day I was telling Chris about it, and I was kinda nervous. He didn’t understand why. He said I was helping a friend. That it was a good thing. An admirable thing. It was one of the things he loved about me. And my brain couldn’t wrap around it. Instead of insinuating I did it for sex or that my ex was just doing it to get in my pants, here was a man who appreciated my goodness.

Five years later and I’m still not used to it. Five years of goodness later and the shittiness of my 10 year relationship with my ex-husband still comes to mind first. Not always, but often. I wonder sometimes if one day it won’t.

I can see inside you.

The best thing about having a parent with mental illness is that you are always given opportunities to practice “rolling with the punches” and navigating disappointment and creating new, non-heartbreaking, but also honest, ways to explain to your kids why once again someone failed to show up for them.

First, it was me trying to navigate a visit with less than a week’s notice. I gotta say, I kicked ass in that department. I rallied the troops, made roses out of cat poop and turned all that gray into sunshine. And now here I sit. He’s three and a half hours late, with his phone turned off. No word. He could be injured or wounded or dead, but 38 years of experience tells me he’s just sick.

All the simple things you revel in.

I didn’t realize how much I’d resent taking this medication. Not because it’s putting toxins in my own body, which I’m less than okay with as well. But because it keeps me from nursing my boy.

It’s only a four hour delay. It’s only for five days. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal. But it is. Because now suddenly I feel taken from him. Now I feel inferior to who I was yesterday. Now I feel poisonous to him. And that part really fucking sucks.

The optimistic side of me says “It’s giving me the opportunity to connect with him in new ways!” and “Now I can appreciate what I had been taking for granted!” and that’s all well and good (and true), but it doesn’t stop it from sucking.

So today I will honor the Silver Lining Girl (because damnit, how can you not?! She’s annoyingly infectious.) and I will also embrace the suck.

And L and I will do our regular Friday tidying and cleaning. And we’ll run to the window and wave when we hear the trash truck. And we’ll take a trip to the store for diapers. And I’ll make it a day that he doesn’t know was any different.