confession: i quit many work-related activities when i moved from austin to philadelphia last june. i continue to make a living in the same ways, but quieter, slower, smaller. i know how i want to spend my days, my hours, my life, and i’m doing those things, but quietly, more slowly than i’d like, and smaller than i’d envisioned. i’m tired. more than tired, i’m depressed. a low-grade predictable depression underpinned by sensible reasons and circumstances. a depression that doesn’t require pharmaceuticals for treatment but does force me back to bed some days. i was forced back to bed on wednesday. i cried and napped and meditated and read and checked the list for depressive activities for days spent in bed until i had to get out of bed to drive to an appointment at 4pm.
confession: the appointment that i slugged my depressed body out of bed for on wednesday at 4pm was to laser all the freckles and age spots on my arms and shoulders. six months ago someone ten years younger than i commented that the only place my body shows its age is my arms. this person didn’t intend to be rude or hurtful; this person is just too young and unaware to practice sensitivity about aging bodies. i do my best to manage my eating disorder and body dysmorphia on a minute-by-minute basis each day and maybe an innocent seeming comment about my arms showing my age shouldn’t matter but it chased me up the crazy tree and i couldn’t climb down. after six months of fretting about my arms “showing my age,” fuck it, i got my arms and shoulders and back lasered to burn the pigmentation out of my skin. yes it fucking hurt, but lasers burning off my freckles hurt less than the internalized critical voice yammering at me every time i saw my arms in a mirror.
confession: i ogle other people’s food on airplanes. i gawk while forward-thinking healthy eaters pull tupperware containers from oversized quilted shoulderbags and pop the tops to reveal homemade yum-yums like samosas or empanadas or biscuit sliders. i salivate. my stomach grumbles. i get hungry-angry. my hunger-anger produces a headache. i fidget in my seat. i make distorted faces as i attempt to unlock my clenching jaw. i close my eyes and decide to meditate. the toddler sitting behind me starts to cry. the toddler begins tantrum-kicking the back of my chair. i empathize with the toddler. i want to cry. i want to kick and scream and swipe the food from passengers around me, across from me, ahead of me, next to me. i keep my eyes closed. i wait. i wait. i wait with closed eyes for people to finish eating. i wait for the toddler to stop kicking my chair. i wait for my headache to lessen. i wait for the fasten seatbelt light to turn off so that i can escape to the tiny restroom in the back of the plane and bend to look into the short mirror to stare into my own eyes and take a breath and tell myself that everything is gonna be alright, that i’m okay, that i can eat the fiber bar i brought in my bag and the plane will land in two hours and i have a good book to read and the worst phase of the food tantalizing torture has passed. i’m not afraid of flying. i’m afraid of food. i’m afraid of bingeing on food i crave, afraid of gaining weight, afraid of getting fat, afraid of being unlovable, afraid of getting older, afraid of my physicality declining, afraid of superficiality and shallowness and vanity, afraid that i’m rotten inside, afraid of the lies i tell myself, afraid of the lies i believe, afraid that i’ll never be able to live the truths i know. i unlock the bathroom door and step into the plane’s galley. i bend over to stretch my back and legs while breathing deeply and releasing tension in my body. i shake out my recently laser-burned freckle-peeling arms and give myself a pep talk before returning to my seat. i’m okay. i’m okay. i’m okay. i repeat the “i’m okay” mantra as i walk down the aisle. i smile at the toddler and his mother sitting in the row behind me. everybody near my seat has finished eating their yum-yums. the plane will land in another hour and 54 minutes and i start writing this story to you because sharing my story takes me from faking-okay to real-okay. thank you for accompanying me on my journey to okayness.