i was skinny for six months.

this isn’t the post i intended to write, after a three month absence, but it’s the post that’s happened

i say sometimes, “i was skinny for six months. i also wanted to throw myself off of the george washington bridge, so…” and i trail off and mumble something about depression. it’s comfortable because it’s a lie;┬áit’s a lie all around. i’m 5’1″ on a good day and i was a size six, so i wasn’t skinny, i was passably average. and i didn’t consider throwing myself off a bridge, exactly. i did frequently wonder if i could muster up the nerve to step in front of traffic. i sobbed, hard, whenever i tried and failed to explain how and why i wasn’t alright. i made therapy appointments wherein i explained my symptoms, including weight loss, and quickly followed with, “no, i don’t need to gain it back. that’s the one good thing that’s come out of this.” most importantly, i lost my appetite, i easily cut my consumption in half if not more, and i was smaller than i’d ever been. it was a small light shining in a great darkness.

i got out of darkness and i went back to where i’d started and then some, size wise. sometimes, i’ve wished to trade it back. i’ll take the misery, just make it easier to buy clothes. make me not ashamed to exist outside of my four walls. make me not cry every time I’m getting ready to go out for a night and i can’t stand myself. i’ll take it back, just make me smaller.

what i’m getting at, the lede that i suppose i’ve buried, is that it feels like i’m not allowed to talk about it because i never achieved the goal. i read about women who battled eating disorders in high school, college, and my every sympathy is with them. then they say, “and then everything evened out and i’m (insert small size here) now.” 2, 4, 6. then an invisible wall goes up, because even though we came from the same struggle, i am now The Other. i am The Nightmare, i am The Cautionary Tale. i am What Could Have Been, but thank god is not.

i never hear, “i’ve fought this my whole life and my body will not naturally sit at the place you consider normal,” so i’m telling you, that’s what i am. i fought the same battles and because of my damage i don’t know any other way to put it besides that you won and I lost. those who preach, you must realize by now, are their own intended subjects. i don’t know if it is because i fucked up my body well and good when i was younger, i don’t know why i am this way, but i am. this is what i am, this is the shell that houses me.

i make the subtle self deprecating jokes in public settings because it’s safest that way, because i have to make sure everyone knows i don’t think too highly of myself. there’s a lot of intersectionality there between weight and womanhood but i don’t have the energy to dive deeply into it. i’ve learned to do it in the way that doesn’t make everyone think you’re begging for their compliments or asking for contradiction, but in a small enough way that says, “i know my place.” i do this not because i believe in my heart that i should, but because it seems like my responsibility to culture as a whole. if i were a braver woman i’d refuse, and there are days i do, but they’re not often enough.

this is not a topic i can tie up in a neat little bow. it’s deep and complicated and the history is heavy and it is woven through my every single day, and this is just how i feel about it right now. it’s not an easy fight. i suppose nothing is.

friendships, trust, and what it means to be reliant.

my friend Kate recently wrote a post about her friendships and how she does, or doesn’t, rely on people and what that says about trust and vulnerability. i started to comment, and realized i have my own story to tell.

when i was in my early 20s my life was an unholy mess, most of the time. i relied in my small friend circle for absolutely everything – without them, i would have crumpled right into the ground and never gotten up. i called them, i chatted them, i visited them, i said “help me.” i said it a lot, and they never faltered. they’re almost all gone, now. and those wounds gouged me in huge ways – i’ve written about them before, about a boy in minnesota and a girl who lied and there are other stories that i don’t even know how to tell.

i’ve crawled into a shell since then, since even after then, and it would be easy to say it is because they hurt me. but it’s not just the loss of them that’s formed my habits today. you get more private as you get older, you hold your truths, your secrets, closer to the chest, you narrow down what love and friendship mean. i was once the most raw creature, you could see all of my facts written across everything i said or did. i would lay them bare for you with the slightest provocation. i’m not this, anymore, and it’s not just because i was hurt. the answers are rarely so simple.

i’ve turned over in my mind, a thousand times, the balance between what is normal, what i should be, how i should act, and what is the overprotection of my heart. i don’t know where the bar balances – i don’t know where the middle point is. (i rarely do.)

there was a moment a while back where everything was terrible and the bouncer and i were in a horrific fight and i sat at the computer and stared at my gchat, all of the green and red and orange dots and went through every name and said “there is no one i can talk to. not because they would not listen, but because i will not let myself need them.” it hit me like the proverbial brick wall, and it made everything about the moment worse. i cried harder – the holes are so much more desperate when you’re alone in them.

there’s no neat and tidy answer here. i’m working on it slowly, just like i have been for the past few years. there are crests and valleys, times when friends tell me they miss me and ask me where i’ve gone, times when someone will ask why i’ve been mean and i have to admit it is self defense, times when i feel the glowlight of real connection buzzing right in the middle of my chest. it’s a journey, right?

debt free: a retrospective.

i’ve been in debt in one way or another for the past ten years.

it’s not your typical story. i wasn’t an irresponsible college student racking up expensive dinners or alcohol, i never had a ton of clothes, shoes, or makeup. i knew about responsible credit use thanks to my mom, and her instructive tale of a $2,000 desktop computer that turned into a $5,000 computer after she only made minimum payments on her sears card. (thanks for that, though, mommy, cause i probably wouldn’t be on my current career path without that thing).

i was on my own through college. i paid my tuition, i paid my rent, i bought my food. i had a tiny amount of help from my boyfriend at the time, but he also stole many thousands from me at one point too, so. you know. it evened out, most likely. some months, the numbers just did not add up. i wasn’t eligible for loans or extra financial aid, and i was fortunate enough to have a large part of my tuition covered by scholarships, but what they don’t tell you is that tuition goes up every year, and your scholarships remain what they are your freshman year. so, with easy numbers, if tuition is $100, and you have a 75% scholarship, you have $75. the next year, tuition is $110, but you STILL only have $75 in scholarship and the rest is on you.

i made it through the years, with taking a semester off to work at a tireless and tough job, 50-60 hours a week. i found rooms to rent, because it worked out to be cheaper than on campus housing, and i could not take living in the bubble of privilege that was my private university campus when my world was full of anything but. i was given a car, by my ex. i made it all work, somehow, but times were absolutely tight. i distinctly remember sitting down to do my taxes with all the determination in the world, realizing a few hours later that i owed the state something like $700, and being totally shell shocked – terrified because i knew i could not pay, knowing i’d balanced so many plates so carefully, and devastated that i’d managed to screw up anyway.

my ex, the one who stole from me, one of the ways he did so was via credit card convenience checks. you know how sometimes your card will send you checks in the mail that you can write in order to pay something with your card? yeah. he made them out to cash. the interest rate on them was something like 30%, so while he did pay me back, i’d accrued a ton of interest in the time it took him to do so. mostly, though, i had to make ends meet. could i have been more frugal than i was? sure. no one needs candles at target, but when you’re in that kind of a hole, you’re desperate for just something small to make you feel more normal. after i got out of school, i would very rarely use my cards for extraneous purchases, but i would do things like put plane tickets on them. and then i wouldn’t pay off whatever the whole amount was, i’d just continue my previous payment plan (which was always way above the minimum, but still, those plane tickets would take a few months to pay off – and by then, there may be another big purchase). i definitely used one to get my car out of impound once, to the tune of $1,000. things happen in life. so the balances hovered between $3,000 and $4,000 for several years.

like i said, it’s not your typical story – that’s not a ton of debt. it’s not the kind people freak out about, or call . i’m sure it’s well below average for my demographic. but eventually i realized i had this rotating balance, $400 in payments that was choking me, preventing me from hitting savings goals, and moreover, i was PAYING for the privilege of holding this debt (in interest). i mean, what?! that was totally unacceptable. i knew if i didn’t let myself purchase anything further on the cards, i could tackle it within a year.

i opened a balance transfer card with 0% interest for 18 months in january of 2013. i told myself that this was the year. there was already some travel on the books, but i limited myself to what was already planned. i sat down with myself, put all my accounts into mint, and committed to however much it would take to get this all paid off by the end of the year. i dedicated my tax refund to paying down this debt. i took on side work this year and put some of my earnings towards paying down this debt. if i had any extra money left over at the end of the month, guess where it went? yep. paying down the debt. i did end up using my cards for some unplanned expenses, but i made damn sure to pay off whatever that expense was in full asap – my cards were no longer my savings plan for big purchases.

i got smart about credit and opened some cards that would net me awesome rewards for money i’d be spending anyway (groceries, amazon.com, etc.) – but that’s a separate post. through it all, i made sure my total debt was going down – and every month in mint, my net worth crawled up and up. in late december, i realized i would probably hit my goal in february of 2013, which was cool. maybe i’d be one month late, but i’d still be thrilled to get it done. i paid my bills right before the new year, content that the end of january would be the last time i’d be making these payments and the start of a super aggressive savings plan.

last week i realized i had a spare $900ish sitting around because of income from some side work that i got paid on, some checks i haven’t cashed, and an unexpected refund. and so, with very little thought, i decided to get it done. i wiped out the very last $500 of credit card debt i have remaining, and i am totally and completely free.

why am i sharing this? why am i including numbers, which many probably think is gauche and tacky? because we don’t talk about money the way we should in this world. it’s a hidden ghost that lords over us and draws so many lines in the sand, and we’re so rarely honest with how and why we struggle. i believe in the importance of those stories. i’m proud of myself for making a decision, making a plan, and then just doing a thing. you don’t get these victories every day, and i am savoring it.

ghosts around.

we won’t even talk about the debts i owed, because that slate should have been wiped clean long ago. but i obliterated them and it should have been enough and what right do you have, pushing yourself into my now?

none.

six times today, rings, and they’re him, a number i’ll never forget no matter how hard i try. two recordings his voice, and it doesn’t sound right. i know when it doesn’t sound right. i always knew.

a search tells me his mother died, over a year ago. his father, a few years before that – she was not the kind of woman to survive without her husband. they were such a deep part of my world, a decade ago.

a decade. can we discuss that for a second? can we discuss that there’s a decade of history between then and now, between me and all my knowledge and all my faith, and me, this girl who lives grounded so hard in reality but doesn’t know, not ever, how to escape the labyrinths of my mind.

there are things i have locked away in trunks, thick-walled, metal, with locks that no one, nothing, will ever crack. nothing contained within is welcome in my present.

because i put that shit away for a reason.

 

al fresco.

the actress and i were sitting in front of a wide open bar window on a friday night. i was sipping a house made sangria, she had a glass of whiskey.

i look inside of houses all the time. i am fascinated, that every window contains another life with the same kind of heartbeat, breath, troubles and joys that i have too. there’s a word for it, i’ve learned recently: sonder. it’s overwhelming, in the city, to see giant crowds of people and know all of the same have the same little self obsessed universe that i do. it’s all so large, when you really think about it. it makes me anxious sometimes, walking down broadway every night, glancing up at the empire state building, pushing through crowds.

in any case, i like looking in the windows of strangers. it’s voyeurism, but of the curious kind, not the creepy kind. Also, i like to see furniture. on the third floor of a nondescript building someone leaned out and surveyed the street below – i could only see him in shadow, he was lit from behind. and i invented, as we all do, a little story for him in my head, of how he was taking a break from getting ready for a night out. how he was looking up and down the street before putting on his button down and joining the rest of the bros in the lower east side to do shots until way too late and try to bring home a girl in a bandage dress and nude pumps.

i understand what people chase in new york. or at least, part of it. i tried, too. i was never thin enough or pretty enough or had the right clothes or enough craziness to let go the way you need to to give over to night, here, but i tried. when i realized it wouldn’t be mine, i just wasn’t the right kind, i walked away and found other things. i had an intense amount of fun, but i never really fit. and i’m still trying to figure out, always, where i belong.

the man leaning out of the window reminded me that you don’t get time back. i’ll never have the time back where i am new to the real world and stomping glittering streets until four am. i’ll never have college with stone buildings and sense of crisp academia and finals and the ability to make learning a foundation of my world. i’ll never have youth, though i really never felt i did.

you can’t go back, not ever.

 

when the vacuum fills.

we get greedy. there are good things in front of us and still, all we can see is more, what else, how much more could i have. it doesn’t matter, not quite, if you’re satisfied where you are because we deserve more than satisfaction, we deserve fireworks, we deserve every moment to be a sparkleburst of unadulterated joy. we’re told we’re complacent.

me, i don’t have answers. but you step back and you look at what’s around you and you put the brakes on, and you say, absorb this.

we all exist on the same push pull continuum, in and out, every breath, every day, every commute, every sleep. we exist in cycles, rhythms, circadian and otherwise. we exist in joy and despair, dark and light, everywhere in between. and lest you think the spectrum just goes left to right, no, it does not, it is three dimensions or even four if you’re calculating it right.

they say light is the absence of dark but it’s more than that, i know now. i know about middle ground and i know about real nothingness, what the vacuum feels like. and i know when it fills. it makes you more grateful, it really does.

i’m glad for summer, for sun, even for oppressive levels of humidity. i am glad for love, and work. i am glad for paint colors and couches, for insight, for people i call my own that make me smile.

i’m glad for so much.

they don’t deserve my worry, now.

i’m moving at a speed that, to dominique of four years ago, would be slow, but it’s faster than i’ve gone in a long while. i’m traveling – in the past year I’ve been to Atlantic City, Vegas, minnesota, Florida and the Bahamas, a different part of Florida, and LA. i’m working on growing my small business, i’m tending to the demands of my day job, and i’m still trying to eat relatively healthfully and keep my house in a semblance or order and prevent the dust bunnies from taking over. my plate, it is full.

it was about this time last year, post bisc, that i sank into blue exhaustion. i’ve adjusted in ways and it’s lifted in ways. i know what i need and i am more liberal with down time, especially down time that i don’t let myself feel guilty for. i am also more rigid with my scheduling, which paradoxically helps me tremendously. or perhaps not, because i know of several anxious/ADD people that are only assisted by rigid schedules.

something rose in me in winter, after i spent a week on a boat in the heat. some curtain parted and i learned to finally believe in my own future. i learned that i’m capable of creating one, and i confronted the possibility that none of it will work. And when i did, i realized that the world won’t stop spinning and i’ll figure something else out. i always do.

a few weekends ago i dropped my saturday night plans and drove to AC with the bouncer and some friends, and i panicked and dreaded what might happen if i did not clean, work, and take care of things. and nothing did, except i had a lot of fun and made an awesome memory. the idea that the world will crumble if the constructs i’ve built to keep me safe aren’t in place isn’t true, even if it does make me uncomfortable. and maybe it also means that some of my constructs aren’t necessary.

i wrote this on a on a train which took me to a short road trip which took me to a party, and every step of the way i had friends by my side. i appreciate, for once, how lucky that makes me. it certainly wasn’t the case several years ago – since then i’ve developed hardness, edges, spiky bits that weren’t there before. paula asked me on our AC drive, “how do you do that?”, with regard to the ways i can be cold, and i answered honestly, after consideration, “i would never wish it on you, because it comes from periods of intense loneliness, of really having no one, and learning you’re all you need to survive”.

but those times are over. they may come again (change is the only constant), but they don’t deserve my worry now. now, i’ll just be grateful.

#scintilla13: the sink story.

scintilla-twitter-badge I’m a cofounder of The Scintilla Project, along with the beautiful and talented Kim and Onyi. We believe that your stories make you who you are and we’re asking you to share yours. Interested? Learn more at scintillaproject.com and find us on twitter @ScintillaHQ.

prompt: talk about a time when you lost control.

there was a period of time where i was trying very hard to be the kind of girl who went to happy hour.

never mind that i’m not a big drinker, never mind that i know i need a lot of sleep, never mind that i am kind of a homebody. no. i am a young professional in the Big City and goddamnit, i will take advantage of two-for-one specials. so, i would ask the bouncer to come with me and i would feel mildly cosmopolitan. there was one bar around the corner from my job, right near port authority (which tells you something about the quality of the establishment), with the nicest bartenders, a pool table, and very cheap well drinks. so this was my place of choice.

i mean, we’ve all been drunk on a thursday, because most of us have been to college and all of us have made mistakes. before we left the bar we got into a fight about something and i cannot for my life remember what, which probably tells you that the results weren’t worth it. we get back to his apartment and we are yelling and a thing about me, i am kind of violent. i have a propensity for throwing things and i find crashes and shatters very satisfying. mostly, i had tamed these urges but i guess all bets were off.

i decided to try to take my anger out on something that i cannot possibly break, so i grab the sides of his bathroom sink and i pull with all of my might and guys, the SINK DISLODGED FROM THE WALL IN MY HANDS. my face immediately went from clenched and ragey to oh shit. it did not come off the wall entirely, but it definitely was no longer firmly attached. and some of the pipe joints came apart too. as a bonus, we could no longer fight because i needed to tell him that i just took his sink off the wall. to his credit, he was not even mad at me. to my credit, i was very sorry.

all of his friends called me she-hulk for months.

#scintilla13: between june and autumn.

scintilla-twitter-badge I’m a cofounder of The Scintilla Project, along with the beautiful and talented Kim and Onyi. We believe that your stories make you who you are and we’re asking you to share yours. Interested? Learn more at scintillaproject.com and find us on twitter @ScintillaHQ.

prompt: the saying goes What you don’t know won’t hurt you, but sometimes the opposite is true. talk about a time when you were hurt by something you didn’t know.


we developed a habit of laying in bed and talking. i suppose this isn’t uncommon, when you’ve been together a while. our conversation drifted to the past, and i asked, in one of those sappy ways that they do in rom-coms that i should know never translates well to real life, i asked when he knew he loved me.

what’s sad is that i can’t remember what is answer was. i can’t remember the thing, the thing that should be so important. he mentioned something i’d done that happened in the fall of the year we got together. except he first said the words in june. there are many months, between june and autumn.

and i should tell you, that the subject of those three little words between us was always fraught with awful, because i said them first and i said them at the wrong time and he could not say them back, not for a month. and i don’t think i have ever been more vulnerable in the most terrible way or splayed open than i was that night, where all i can remember is staring at his pre-war wall with cracks, and they blurred over and over as i sat in shame.

but now,we’d come a few years past that and it’s astounding how quickly i went from normal to disaster. it’s a talent i have, i think. it took me less than a minute to put the timeline together, and from my first “so, wait…” to hysterics, it didn’t take long.

he was shocked, to say the least.

“so you lied to me? how do you lie, about something like that? how do you…how do you let me think i am safe when i am not? how do you leave me alone in this?”

he said he was confused. he said he did not know how to identify what he was feeling. he said he wasn’t trying to do anything wrong. i believed it all, i still do, but still. still.

this is a lie you just don’t fucking tell.

#scintilla13: event horizons.

scintilla-twitter-badge I’m a cofounder of The Scintilla Project, along with the beautiful and talented Kim and Onyi. We believe that your stories make you who you are and we’re asking you to share yours. Interested? Learn more at scintillaproject.com and find us on twitter @ScintillaHQ.

prompt: write about the event horizons of your life – the moments from which there is no turning back.

a note: this post is the inspiration for this prompt. as i am wont to do, those specific horizons focus on a break, a turning away from. getting rid of something. i want to keep these in the vein of moving towards. let’s see how i do.

two years ago: i am walking to the train in the middle of the day and my heart is beating so so fast. i am practicing deep breaths to slow it down, because i’m convinced they’ll be able to hear it. i didn’t lie to be here; i told the owner of the place i’m temping that i had an interview, maybe in hopes that he’ll stop trying to make me take a shitty job that I don’t want. the job i’m going to interview for is a dream. when i walk into the office, i say, i could be here. yes, i could.

four years ago: it’s mid january and i have a bitch of a sickness. i stopped talking to the boy i could see myself with* because i liked him too much, and i started carrying on with someone else in an only slightly more defined way. when his friend introduces me to someone and says, “this is colin’s girlfr…wait, ARE you colin’s girlfriend?” and i have to truthfully respond that i don’t know, it stings. but i’m sick now, and i’m taking it as a cue to ignore the shabby state of my romantic affairs. a coughing fit wakes me up at 4am, and i lie there for a moment, willing the nyquil haze to set me back asleep. my phone buzzes, and it is the boy i like too much. “if i had ever told you that i really liked you, do you think that would have changed our path?” my heart drops and my chest flushes and it spreads to my brain, down to my fingers. i take a while to answer, “yes.”

a year and a half ago: it’s been a far rougher transition than i imagined. we’re not doing particularly well, living together. it’s a weeknight and we’ve fought again and i’ve put myself on the couch because i just need some distance, and sleep. i am likely questioning the whole arrangement. i notice someone leaving comments on my blog posts – she is in the habit of doing a bunch at once, and the emails are pinging through accordingly. i am not good, usually, at talking to people i admire but i am just in enough of a space that i send a message. eventually, we end up chatting, and she keeps me company until two am. she won’t know for a long time how many tears she saved me that night.

 

*you know him as the bouncer.