Currently, I have neglected my self-laden responsibilities. In all my efforts this year, I still struggle with the importance of self-made deadlines. I work in an office pursuing a career in a demanding atmosphere. Movies like Obit, or Spotlight make the stress of reporting look like the kind of stress the artist wants to have. Not like the stress I currently face, and now know, will always face in this line of work.
At least I know that I am still around at the end of the day if I miss a self-imposed deadline. My job isn’t guaranteed when I miss a deadline. I am still here with and for myself even when the work doesn’t get done. Setting personal goals for myself is something I should be better at, and in 2018 I think that’s where I will start.
Setting goals to work for 15 minutes a day, or work until I find myself getting distracted. Learning to let my body do what it wants.
I used to set goals like, Write a book in two weeks (I once wrote a 40 page paper tracing logical fallacies of Gestalt Therapy from Michael Buber in four hours). I was left aching, tired, full of self-delusion from completion under emotional duress, or indignant because I couldn’t make it happen because having a body comes with its own framework of existence and what I think can’t always manifest.
Tonight I am setting a goal to think only of the good caring for myself has brought me.
I don’t exercise because I am obsessive. I am incapable of doing something one time. I have to do it and do it again, and again. I have to make it a part of my identity. A run in the morning turns into a second run before bed. That turns into a mid-afternoon lunch break run. It won’t be long before I find a way to run to work, and home from work. Every. Single. Day.
I do ride a bike, though. This is how I get everywhere and anywhere. I love my bike. My exercise is my transportation, and my body’s ability to get me from one place to another, without hurting myself.
The difficulty lies in the fact that I have lost weight. This time by accident (and if any of my old doctors and therapists read this scoffing, it is an accident).
This, however, is why my eating disorder will never come back, yet I managed to lose weight anyway.
Honestly, I really don’t know what mental stability fucking means, but I do know my brain is nothing like it used to be. My ability to produce was the only identity I had. I existed only to be used. I understand now that the pressure I am under to achieve at job, in my career, at school, and in my personal work, has little to do with my personhood, my identity.
In my sophomore poetry class, I wouldn’t write my name on my pieces. I wasn’t interested in what my name could do for my work, or more, I guess, what my work could do for my name. I only wanted the work to be completed. My body was a tool. That doesn’t happen anymore. I demand bylines on all the articles I write. I call out someone when they blatantly take on my ideas as their own and as a female in a creative industry this happens a lot.
Mental stability is valuing the self above production. And I do, spending afternoons cooking and smudging my space, hanging up my own work (I don’t own a mirror, but I do hang up my paintings), cleaning my little fishes little tanks, or taking a nap. Or dancing in front of a freshly stretched canvas as some kind of shared joy between creativity and the channels of creativity I get to explore.
I am so talented. I am so honestly, painstakingly human. I have a God Complex and a Guilt Complex. I think with my vagina and with my heart. I get angry, and I’m working on letting myself become emotionally loose enough to cry. I cannot eradicate my humanity. I am sincere and in touch with myself. I am free as soon as I touch down on the notebook. Or canvas. Clay. Any project I take up.
I got into this mess. I’m getting out of this mess. I get triggered often. Body trauma, psychological disruptions, colleagues who find eating a redundant activity hits me just below the solar plexus, an eternally sensitive spot for me. When I was using laxatives and diet pills in conjunction my stomach up to my esophagus had a raspy, sticky, tightness to it. My heart was always about to give out, my stomach was always coming up, I smoked too much, and I was so dehydrated I pissed out protein in buckets. This is a body memory I can’t shake. I will never shake. No matter how much skin I shed, or hair I cut, or hair I let grow in, the body remembers. When I am triggered I don’t ask for clarity. I don’t unpack why I get nervous, or quiet, or shut down. I accept that I feel like I’ve been hit by six semi-trucks simultaneously, but quietly, and give myself time and space to recover.
Self-care is heavy. Self-care is the two bags I carry on my shoulders that has all of the food one person should eat in a day packed away, from breakfast to dinner. If I stay out late, I only have to wake up earlier in the morning to make sure I’ve cooked enough food to eat for the day.
Self-care looks stupid. Really, it does. While everyone is edgy and self-effacing, competing to sleep the least, to refuse the most food, to be the most delusional, and you’re refusing a coffee trip because coffee is an addictive substance to you and can and will be used as hunger suppressant, remembering to emotionally respond to stimulus, showing up authentically, being radically kind, and radically good to yourself looks like you don’t have one bone strong enough to withstand the universe. The greatest secret, and the hardest thing I’ve learned is that I don’t have one bone strong enough to withstand the universe. And I don’t fucking have to.
Self-care makes no damn sense here today, in 2018. It’s almost diabolical. But it’s the only way I’m going to stay alive.
When I stand, my ribs don’t show through my back like they used to. A simple shrug of the shoulders and there they are. It’s such a tight balance that I am still new at understanding. For a few months I was gaining fat. Good, strong, healthy fat. Towards the end of the school quarter and working three jobs it started coming off. Now, I am tired, and dehydrated, and not getting enough protein. All I want to eat is dairy. Why? Because our current political climate has made self-care to be an act of labor all on its own. Recovery is a long, arduous battle. I am nowhere near finished.
I never had stretch marks before my eating disorder. I never had cellulite before my eating disorder. I now have both and my body deserves to only expand. My body deserves every good and healthy thing. I should be able to live a life that allows that. I am not asking for too much.
Self-care is a form of radicalization. Self-care is a form of radicalization. Self-care is a form of radicalization.
Every single day I remind myself of this. Every single day is the hardest day of my life. I face something that would have landed me in the hospital a year ago every day of my life. I am so proud of myself, my space, my body. I deserve every good thing to ever happen to me.