Thursday, July 24, 2014

and also, all of this

It’s been so long since I’ve blogged because I was trying to write fiction, trying to acclimate to the night shift and to nursing, and trying to regain some of the ground I’ve lost with respect to my ongoing inability to function like an adult and not an addict.

Every time I run I think how incredibly lucky I am to have a body that mostly works. I can’t have kids very well, and my teeth are a mess, but I can do a lot of things other people can’t do with theirs.

The only thing is — and a lot of my recent non-writing has to do with the fact that, witty insights about the shortcomings of others aside, this is the dominant theme of my life for at least a chunk of most days — my brain doesn’t work correctly.

Even in this instance of shit luck, though, I’m actually still pretty lucky. Or blessed, if you can reconcile yourself to using that word, which, you know, I can’t in this case. (I struggle with the idea that there exists a God that would bless me and not, say, the schizoaffective individual muttering at me in the street. And by struggle, I mean I pretty much wholeheartedly reject that idea out of hand.)

There are much more debilitating psychological problems to have than bulimia, as debilitated as I might feel when asked to put on a pair of shorts or stop tearing my bread items into pieces prior to eating them. For example, I can perceive reality, in the sense of, are voices speaking right now or not. Many people cannot do this, and it wreaks havoc on their lives and makes things I take for granted a struggle on the scale of your average hero in any number of Greek myths.

I do have an extremely difficult time with the more nuanced and subjective bits of reality, particularly those which our collective discourse has found it financially profitable to fuck with: Can a bagel be a meal? So why not every meal? And, if it can, how many meals to I have to skip to accommodate, say, a bagel with eggs-no-cheese on it, which necessarily becomes more than a meal if just a bagel was, in itself, a meal?

It is not the end of the world that that conundrum directed my day yesterday — I was still able to:

  • gossip with my oldest girlfriend via text during an excellent, leisurely walk home from work, 
  • visit a newer friend in her nursing home, 
  • walk the additional two and a half miles home that hospital, 
  • take my son to the park, 
  • read an entire book about international surrogacy, 
  • browse both Barnes and Noble and the public library, and
  • sleep (okay, for two hours. We do the best we can.) 

All of this after a thirteen hour overnight shift.

There are worse things than the fact that, for me, the only solution to eating egg whites on my bagel, short of bulimia, was to eat grapes for lunch.

And while eating disorders are misunderstood with an enthusiasm second only to, I don’t know, that involved in date rape or bisexuality, after twenty years of living with one, I’m comfortable acknowledging that, for me, grape lunch was the best we could manage yesterday, and that my experience with lunching after consuming multiple food groups at breakfast is not that of your average non-eating-disordered person.

I’m not failing some test everyone passed yesterday; I am experiencing a condition that makes eating different, and harder, for me than it is for many other people. Lots of people just eat three meals a day, and include carbs, protein, and fat at each one. Lots of people drink juice; lots of people don't worry that they tore off too large a piece of the Eucharist at communion. They do these things, not because they possess an ability to triumph over adversity superior to my own, but because juice drinking does not constitute adversity for them.

So last night, I waited, hangry, while my husband chatted up a visitor and my son ate his dinner. Thinking: why am I the only one who can’t keep her fat stupid body in check here, who just wants to be rude and eat dinner already? Forgetting completely that my husband had actually eaten dinner prior to the guests arrival, about twenty minutes before.

He was not hungry because he had been hungry and had made sandwiches and ate them. I watched him do this.

Those people to whom food matters less than it does to you, my eating disordered friend, are often people who are eating food in adequate amounts, multiple times a day. 

If that was what occupied your headspace, you’d probably doubt you had much worth saying, too. So I haven't really been writing much lately.

What I try to bear in mind is how every single person I encounter has something like this occupying them. Not an eating disorder, but something. And we are all just doing what we can, imperfectly and over and over, because there is literally no other option that is valid. Once you decide that Ending It All is just something stupid and adolescent to scribble about in your diary, you are faced with day after day of trying to make it work, whatever situation you’ve found or made for yourself. 

And so you decide to be a nurse rather than an academic, and you become unable to do much more than like other people’s posts on Facebook, because everything you say sounds besides the point.

But then, sometimes, even knowing what you have to say is unlikely to change anyone's life, even knowing it's of interest mostly only to yourself, you still want to say it. Because while you're afraid that the space you occupy, the noise you make, is just always too much and too loud, you also never outgrow that bit of hope, that maybe you have a right to that space and that noise anyway. That in addition to 1. being the person you're asked to be or 2. making the unwanted person you are as unobtrusive as possible, there is also the option of 3. being the person you are, and creating for yourself a space in which -- the rest of the world notwithstanding -- that person is valued. 

You actually don't have to stop talking just because other people don't like what you've got to say. Add this to Things Other People Learn Well Before Thirty, right before bagels are not dinner and you deserve socks