I had a dream early this morning that my family was still together and that we were all back in the only house that I have ever considered my home. My family was together, my sister was maybe 8 years old, and my parents were still pretending to be happy together. But I was me. I was there, just as I sit here now, jaded and broken. It seems that even in dreams I can't hide from myself.
My step-father had read what I had written, the piece that I won an award for recently, and he wasn't scared. He told me that it was well-written, that it was dark, and that it was beautiful. He told me exactly what I wanted to hear, said to me that it was all of the things that I hoped it would be when I set out to write it last October. But I wasn't happy, or proud, I was worried and frightened, just as I always am when someone reads something written about a piece of my storied history. The truth is that no one in my family will ever read it, and that's the way that it must be. They could never look at me the same way if they knew half of what I've been through, if they understood that my soul is older than any of them will ever be. They would have me committed again, and I can't afford that. Not now, not when the glue is still holding the pieces of this life that I've built for myself together.
And it must have been a dream, because what I wrote isn't worthy of an award. There are typos in the piece for god's sake. It's far from perfect and it's unacceptable that anyone should ever read it and think that it's worth anything at all. Still, for a moment, I felt that somehow winning an award for writing signified that I was doing the right thing with my life and it renewed my drive to complete my book, giving me some sense of hope that people somewhere might actually want to read it. All of that has faded into obscurity now. I find myself as uncertain as ever of what I'm doing with my life. But maybe, if I ever actually finish the book, someone will have nice things to say about the words that I have written once more and I'll feel decent about myself for a few more minutes.
I haven't felt anything approaching proud of what I've done since the last time I won a bike race. And when was that, Coolest 24 in 2010? Yeah, something like that. It's a long time to go without feeling good about the things that you've accomplished. Because we're all making little accomplishments all the time, aren't we? I woke up this morning and ate breakfast, didn't I? Accomplishment. I made it to work on time. Accomplishment. I made someone's life a little happier by selling them the right bike. Accomplishment. They're everywhere, but I don't see them anymore, not the way that I did a year ago when living a somewhat normal life, or at least trying to do so, was still such a new experience for me.
But life can't be about accomplishments, I can see that now. I can see that living life from one accomplishment to the next is not a maintainable way of living. It's entirely too difficult and ultimately it leaves me feeling disappointed because at some point I will fall short of my goal and if I was counting on achieving that goal, on winning that race, on selling that bike, in order to feel something approaching happy, then I will always be left feeling worthless. No, life has to be about something else but I'm not sure what that something is. Maybe it's relationships which would be highly unfortunate because I struggle to form and maintain healthy relationships almost as much as I struggle to maintain a healthy weight. And goddamn it I struggle to keep the weight on, don't I?
It still doesn't feel natural to me, after all of these months, to be in a healthy weight range. Maybe it's just the nature of the beast that I prefer to stay just below what my dietitian recommends for me but even I must admit that I'm getting alarmed at this point. It's been a rough month but I thought that 80 oz of water loading before my last appointment would at least show a maintained weight. Nope. Still trending downward. So how much did I really lose in the last 4 weeks? It seems impossible that my weight is still dropping despite all of the food that I ate in Chicago, despite all of the food that I eat every day, and despite the serious lack of exercise that defines my life at the moment. But apparently it's perfectly possible and I must accept it and move forward doing what I need to do in order to turn things around. I can't go back to treatment, not over a few pounds. Not over a break up, and not over a disastrous vacation. I am strong enough to maintain my weight, I have to be. I did it for a year, didn't I?
One year out of twenty-seven. It's no wonder it feels so unnatural to stay in one place according to the scale. I'm more than the number on the scale. Or maybe I'm less, but either way I can't let it define me. I may be only a number to the treatment team but I'd like to think of myself as a person, complex and somehow still beautiful despite the damage. But the truth is that I will always be a number on someone's scale, at least in part, because of where I have been and because of the things that I have done to myself. I can't erase the past and visits like my last to the dietitian will never let me forget it. Stressed out? Weight drops. Problems with a girl? The pounds melt away. Things are going well? The weight refuses to stay on.
Isn't it amazing that while some struggle to keep their weight from climbing as the months drag on, there are a number of us with the exact opposite struggle set out before us? I guess at the end of the day, we all struggle with something because it can be hard just to get by sometimes. But they tell me that this gets easier at some point. That point just seems so far away at times like these.