Chinese Food

TRIGGER WARNING | This post includes triggering content and sensitive detail for those who may or may not suffer from disordered eating or cope with mental health disorders.

We cope with stress differently. The body kicks into fight-or-flight mode, and sometimes we let it decide our plan before our mind has any time to catch up.
Like the impulse
Impulsivity nails me to a wall and mocks me for being so naïve to her repeated ways. She shows up in Martha and intrudes on each of my relationships.

It was 11 AM and I skipped classes to be with Martha. It became a thing that year to skip class or events to be with her because she understood it far better than anyone else did.
I realize while reading this, it makes you uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable too. And, it made the people in my life uncomfortable for years.
Think hard about it, how do you casually approach a friend, a daughter, a mother, whomever about their purging? How do you not offend them without setting off the demon that lives within him or her at that time?
You cannot.
The feeling of discomfort disrupts the impulse to stop the bad thing from happening.
And, eventually, maybe walls break down and we can talk about the thing, the issue, the wall that your demons set up months, or years, or whatever it is prior. But, until then things have to be uncomfortable before they get comfy.
So, let me make you uncomfortable.
It is my senior year at Belmont and I skipped class to spend time with Martha. You know the feeling you get when you neglect a friend intentionally, then all of a sudden a rush of guilt overwhelms you, causing every muscle in your body to react and reach out?
Well, there you have it.
The nagging got to be too much and recovery was making more progress in my life than Martha and I cared to admit. We got overwhelmed. We got confused.
My roommate had left at 7 AM for clinical and would not be home until 7 PM. Martha and I could hide here while no one was around.
So, we hid.
And, ate.
Then, we drank.
Martha and I ordered Chinese food at 11 AM on a Friday. Crab rangoon, vegetable lo mein, pork fried rice, chicken fingers, and spare pork ribs – guarantee the delivery man expected the sight of four college girls cramming for a college exam, not one malnourished skeleton pacing in her lifeless apartment.
Martha thanked the man for delivering my food, but internally I screamed for help. I watched as she set the table in front of the couch for one, then poured herself a glass of wine so she could sit back and cheer. I watched as she unwrapped the grease-stained Chinese food boxes from the paper bag, oohing and aahing at the food. I watched her load my plate with a serving size for two.
Then I watched her do it again 20 minutes later.
And, again 40 minutes later.
2 hours later it was all gone.
And by gone, I mean no longer in the grease-stained boxes or my stomach.
Eradicated.
Poof.
Martha had a method to her madness. Her cheers shouted persuasive notes of encouragement, slowly adopting elements of fear, as if to say, if you do not do this, you lose me.
“You got this, Meg!”
“Meg, we are going to win this!”
“Meg, think about the results!”
“No guilt, Meg, just you and me!”
“Meg now is the time, do not miss your shot. Do not miss it.”
Getting up from the couch, lights in the apartment drawn to a low and episodes of Gilmore Girls playing in the background, Martha ran her fingers through the muscles on my shoulders. She had this thing about shoulders. It got her going, it put her in the mood to pull the trigger and stick her fingers down my throat.
That day, she was in the mood to do it in the dark. Maybe it was the ounce of shame she felt when she realized she was doing this to me at 11 AM on a Friday, or perhaps the realization that moments like this were coming fewer and farther in-between.
The realization that she was now a relapse, a hook-up, an in-between.
I have a feeling that is what drove her to push me so hard that day. Once we were in the bathroom her cheers took a sharp turn toward demands, screaming at me every chance she could, trying to pull me permanently back into her world.
I screamed into the toilet, angry with her, and angry with myself.
Anger, a beautiful, wonderful, and frightening thing.
Something I had not allowed myself the capacity to feel for ages.
I screamed and she pushed. The argument played out like a script, that being, her queue to speak was when she stuck her fingers down my throat, and my queue was to bite back and scream no.
I screamed no because I wanted more. I screamed no because everything Martha had me doing felt so good. It felt good enough to dump the thousands of dollars my parents were pouring into my recovery down the toilet along with some pork fried rice and lo mein noodles.
We went on for hours until the Chinese food was gone.
I did not win that day, but I did not lose. Setbacks put us on the right track, they make us whole in a way that is both new to the mind, body, and soul. We gain perspective and we lose a sense of narrow-minded perception we once had before.
With Martha, I am to understand one thing, be nothing but a size two.
With Meg, I am to understand beauty is transformative. It is the way you carry yourself walking down the street and the behavior to which you speak to others. Beauty is the hug you give your best friend after coming out of a spell you have been under for years, only to find their love has been there, waiting for you all along.
Beauty is the ability to say no to your demons and yes to your true self.

Run to the Sea

She walks by and arches her back in hopes of attracting attention. 

The other lays down, coyly airs her towel, beach wrap still hugging her body and eventually places herself in the sand with ease, cautious of exposing her skin to the dozens around her. 

I lay on the beach chair, breasts protruding from a triangle bikini too small for me, but not small enough for my awkward tan lines. 

Who determined one of the three of us was wrong? Who decided we were too much or too little? 

Many would argue no one. No one determined what our worth compared to the next was.

Then again, many would argue the opposite. 

Whether I argue or not is not what gets under my skin. 

What makes me unsettled at 3pm on a 85 degree day on the cape is whether or not the idea of insecurity is valid or straight up bullshit. 

The idea one’s muscle gain or another’s weight loss is possible of triggering another woman? Or another man for that matter. 

I don’t think it will ever make sense to me. The way we look at women with adoration and appreciation because to be frank, the female body is capable of badass things outside of giving birth to children. It will forever amaze me. It should bewilder anyone. Particularly those without a birth canal. But, what amazes me even more is the constant fear I have of other women. I am asking, begging, and crying out for acceptance of my own female body when they themselves may not be able to show themselves that same love. I am in recovery from a disorder I should be over, but, cannot cross the threshold of acceptance because of an invisible boundary I do not know how to push pass.

When does it start and when does it end? 

When does resilience begin and acceptance declare itself? 

Call this what you want. A rant. A chance for me to air dirty laundry – though it could certainly get dirtier than this, nonsense thoughts strung together in a blog post. Or a case of the Sunday scaries. 

Either way, just take a second to think about it. 

Yesterday, I looked at my reflection in mirrors, glass windows, window shop reflections, and in the mirror of a whitecaps sea 64 times. 

64 times I sought validation. 

What is wrong with that? 

Is it you?

Is it me? 

Or, is it us?

Hold your Heart with Two Hands

We sat across from each other at the farm style dining table in her dining room. She sipped on her glass of chardonnay, I talked about upcoming plans for New York. I sipped on my glass of Bordeaux while she talked about working for the United Nations and parading around New York City.

The almost weekly ritual, talking about life while drinking wine became a staple the Summer of 2016.

Deep into the conversation she paused, raised her glance from her glass of wine toward my eyes.

She asked if she could change the subject.

“No Mimi, you can’t,” I laughed.

Who tells their grandmother they can’t change the subject?

“Of course you can,” I said.

Her blue eyes smiled, her blue eyes spoke for her most of the time. So, she paused, took a sip of wine, and started her weekly sermon I looked forward to.  

This week we would talk about love.

To be honest, most weeks we talked about love. It was a thing of ours.

She started in on Poppi. He passed away at 51 or 52, I can’t quite remember, from a heart attack, a common thing in the 80s when everyone started to realize three packs of cigarettes a day won’t do the body any good.

Mimi loved the man so much she never remarried, never dated again, never allowed anyone else to touch her heart.

Mimi’s love for Poppi paralyzed her.

She asked me to find a love capable of paralyzing me. She asked me to hold my heart with both hands and never let go. Love is precious and once you find it with the right person, you’re supposed to hold onto it for fucking life.

I nodded and assured her I would.

Mimi died suddenly six months later.

It paralyzed me.

Sent me into shock, turned my world upside down, sent me into an eating disorder that captured each ounce of my being from my toes to my heart.

She told me to hold my heart with both hands but, months after her death, sitting at the very same farm table she asked me to find a paralyzing love at, I had no idea what the hell she meant.

Jesus Christ.

What did she mean?

Sorry.

Pardon my french.

I started writing in my journal overwhelmed by grief. More or less the grief I neglected to care for in respect for outlining situations.

I  wrote, two glasses of wine in and emotions at a high.

I flipped back to last year when she told me to hold my heart with two hands.

Mimi, what does this mean?

How do you hold your heart with two hands?

How do you hold your heart, keep it from breaking, and go through day-to-day life without letting it fall through the palms of your hands?

Cue the tears, a Meg staple.

I walked up to her room, it still looked the exact same, down to the smell of her Lancome perfume and daily pills on her nightstand.

I searched her nightstand for traces of her.

I  held a note from her she had left me.

It held her heart all those years after Poppi’s death. How she kept her heart from breaking again. How she learned to stand on her own two feet after a loss.

I sat on her bed skimming through pages, pausing in-between to run my hands over the lines she wrote, hoping to feel her presence just a little bit more.

I held the letter with two hands, turning each page with care, reading through the days of grief, the days of hope, and the days of joy. I read through her questions to God, her demands for answers, her need eternal rest.

I held her heart in both hands and answered so many of the questions I had only an hour earlier.

Find a love capable of paralyzing you. Check

Hold your heart with both hands and take care of it. Check.

Find a way to move on and grow with your heart. Check.