Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Meg Dalton.

I had an idea of a post I was going to write. It was going to be a combination of a couple of different ideas, and it integrated my good friend Meg Dalton. But I decided that I didn't like that post idea. I had already told Meg that I would write about her, though, and now she wants her post :) I've decided, though, that instead of integrating Meg into one of my posts, I'm going to integrate a post into Meg. A few various concepts.

1. Unexpected Friendships
Who would have thought that the little drunk girl who visited Chelsea at CEDC while I wanted to nap would be someone who I have maintained a long-lasting and important bond with today!? I never thought so. When she added me on Facebook, it took a little while for me to figure out who she was! We began to talk more regularly and soon became integral part of each other's days. I've found that unexpected friendships are some of the best ones that I've come across. Of course I have friends from childhood, friends from high school and college, from work and grad school, but the unexpected friendships are the ones that have generally been stronger. Those friendships aren't built out of convenience. In fact, it takes a lot more to make them work. You don't see each other every day. You don't slowly learn about each other. You kind of just immerse yourself in the other's world by reading their facebook wall, and by texting back and forth about your days. They happen, when this person stays in your life after those other 50 "random friends" you've added on facebook disappear from your mind and your life. Meg Dalton is not my only unexpected friendship, but she definitely is a reminder that you never know where you're going to find one of those people who you don't know how you ever lived without.

2. Watching someone genuinely struggle (really truly fighting) when you're not isn't so much triggering as it is both scary and empowering.
When you're the one struggling, as scary as it may be, and as close to death as you might be told you are, you know somewhere deep down that it really is in your hands. But when it's someone else, especially someone who you've grown to care about, it's scarier because there is - in many ways - nothing you can do. Sure, you can offer support and friendship, but you can't fix them, and you can't convince them that they can get better, that they need to get better. Meg was already struggling when I met her. At first, I didn't know if she had a full-blown eating disorder or if she was just messing around with it, but I soon learned that she was fully entrenched in it. Every time Meg was admitted into the hospital, I could breathe easier, and every time she came home and decided it wasn't worth it to try, I waited for the day when she stopped answering my text messages because she was dead. Thank God, that day has not come. But the fear, it was so real.
Empowering, I said, too. It can be empowering. Kind of like being a big sister. Actually, a LOT like being a big sister. As much as you want to wear diapers and sleep in the crib again, it's a "look what I can do! I can wear underwear and sleep in a big bed!" Like a big sister asking mommy if she can have a crib again too, we think, "hmm, maybe it'd be better/easier/simpler if I were back in the hospital/if I were starving/if I stopped fighting this." But when we DON'T reach for the bottle or the pacifier, when we don't resort back to our outgrown coping mechanisms, we might continue to struggle, but we feel this twinge of pride as we walk on, as we live full lives. And like a big sister, we hope -no, we KNOW- that our little sister will be able to walk like us, to read and write and talk and be a big girl, just like we are. Just like how I knew Meg would be able to move forward as well. I didn't know how or when it would happen but I knew she had it in her. And she's not the only one.

3. Being Real
I could write for hours about being real, but at the same time, I don't know if I need to. So I won't say too much. I know a big part of my problems come from repressing myself - my words, my art, my thoughts, my body my appetite. However, Meg Dalton is my "being real" outlet. We talk about happy and sad things, bodily functions and food. I need to tell someone that I'm farting like crazy or burping up chik'n nuggets. I know it keeps me sane.

4. Turnaround
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Meg is something that I did not come to know until recently. I had most certainly caught glimpses of the person that Meg is underneath her eating disorder, but I had never really come to know that part of her. After spending a few hours with her at the end of her residential treatment, I met with my therapist and just cried about how happy she made me. Not only to see that she is happy-ish and healthier, but this person who came out of her who was just more there than ever. Kind of like a "glow" except it was inside and out, and it was like meeting an old friend for the first time, if that makes any sense. Like, I think about a couple of moments and just see rainbows and butterflies in my mind. I always want to hug her and not let her go, but now I know that I can let her go because she'll be there next time. Life is a constant journey. I won't stop growing, progressing, changing, and working through life until I'm dead. And neither will Meg. Her recovery is only beginning, as is mine. I might have two years of recovery on her, and four years of life, but in the grand scheme of things, we are just two young people who have a lot ahead of us and we're lucky - in some ways - to have gone through what we have, because we're that much better prepared for the future. I don't know how people can enter adulthood without having gone through massive amounts of therapy, honestly. But I know I'm ready, and I think that soon she'll be ready too. I believe that one day, 65 years from now, Meg and I will be old ladies sitting on the couch with our blankies and our kitties, watching SVU and looking back at the old-fashioned ways we used to communicate, like BBM and facebook.

Summer 2009
(I wish there were a better pic but the other one of us both is in a hospital bed...)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Adventures in Babysitting

I've heard it said many times that having babies makes women appreciate their bodies. This just boggled my mind for the longest time, probably because I still have never been through it.
However, just spending time with a little 3-month-old baby girl, A, lately, has helped me to appreciate my own body.


Baby A smiled at me today for the first time. She was laying on me napping, then started to cry. Usually when she starts to cry, you need to pick her up and walk around, bouncing her up and down, and patting her back. I was so tired of doing that though and decided to see if something else would work. I put Baby A's feet on my tummy and started bouncing her. Not only did she smile, but she giggled! We bounced together and giggled and made silly faces. If my tummy didn't bounce, Baby A and I would never have had that fun bonding experience where we laughed and smiled together.

I definitely have wide hips. I don't mean this in an "OMG my hips are so fat" kind of way as much as I mean, "my hipbones cover a great width." On top of that, I do carry a fair amount of my body fat on my hips. And, I hate it. I look at my "love handles" and "muffin tops" in the mirror, look at how wide I am, and try to wear long shirts to cover it up. As I mentioned, Baby A needs to be walked around when she cries. She likes to be held all the time, likes to be moving, and likes to be close to your heart. Well, I definitely am thankful for my upper body strength, because at about 12 pounds, Baby A is not an itty bitty baby anymore. But even my strong chatturanga arms need some help. Luckily, I have hips - one on either side of my body - that help me keep Baby A lifted up even when I think my arms might be giving out.

Breasts. Pretty much every woman either loves them or hates them. They're too big or too small. Me? I've always been pretty content with mine. Neither too big nor too small, although the twisted voice inside of me says that they - like everything else - should always be smaller. Nothing reinforced the wrongness of that voice like the way Baby A's head rests perfectly alongside my breast. Really, if they weren't there, and weren't that size, she might suffocate. But it helps me to hold her at the perfect angle. Helps her to comfortably nap - and it's convenient that she can hear my heartbeat right there too. It even helps ME to comfortably relax while she naps.

And my height. I've never been particularly bothered by my height, although finding jeans is difficult, and actually, finding sweats or yoga pants that are the appropriate length is even more difficult. But Baby A's mom and I are the same height. This makes it easier for her to adjust to a different caregiver - still having the same shape body to hang on to. It also makes it easier for me to pass Baby A to her mother while she's still sleeping - she barely has to adjust her positioning at all, and just continues her nap on mommy when I have to leave.

When a baby holds onto you, sleeps on you, drools on you, and just shows that she needs you, and everything that your body can do that she can't yet, it puts things into perspective. You don't need to pull down your shirt to hide your "fat that's sticking out," especially since no one can see it, and also since changing position would wake the baby up. You don't need to have washboard abs or a flat belly, because who wants to bounce on a hardwood floor or, well, a washboard? No baby that I know. Keep it human! You don't need bigger, firmer, smaller, or non-existent breasts in order to be perfect, or just in order to fit into that shirt. You need to find a better shirt that fits you because the way you are is important to someone else. If you can't be important enough for you, find someone else. That's advice that I give a lot. Of course, you should be your own #1 motivator, but if you're not, it doesn't hurt to give someone else, even an infant, that role until you can find it on your own.

All this from a few hours of babysitting. I can only imagine what nine months of pregnancy (not to mention the process of raising a child after birth!) can do to your perception.