hand me another lemon.

hey life, hand me another lemon.

I dare you.

I’m not really sure if I’m being prepared for the life of an expert lemonade maker or if the universe is so full of sour that we all have to take on this much. but what I want to dive right into this week is how I have been feeling in this culture of “check in on your strong friend.” what I see a lot are the people in our lives who are the first to say how awful *insert struggle/crisis/trauma/grief* is. they offer advice and the occasional, “you’re so tough, this is only preparing you for something better.” I generally, and in the realm of faith, believe them as I am also reminded that this path was designed for me. I am never alone in my struggle; as I can, alternatively, always share in my joy. which brings me to the other people- the ones who cheer and congratulate how far you have come and how big the odds were once you have beat them. a friend who celebrates at the finish line. all these humans, full of kind words and support are necessary. but I’m wondering about the people in the kitchen helping you cut lemons. how very few times I am asked how I am WHILE I am doing the work, processing the feelings, or sitting alone wondering how I will make it all happen. now, don’t get me wrong, I have these humans for which I am grateful that ask me how my heart is and listen and show up. it is the casualness with which we tend only to validate the struggle and the victory that leaves me feeling pretty blah with interacting, most of the time. because no one wants to be uncomfortable or to hear a response loftier than fine.

social media has been an interesting place to observe the lack of appreciation for just being okay when okay is not your norm.

so last week, I took a break from sharing. I wanted to fully enjoy my evenings at home since work has been a huge tornado of 9am- 4pm intensive training days and problem solving meetings. I felt like I was playing catch-up all week. but I also needed a break from social media in general. I’d found an article about self care and shared, alongside it, some tips for friends of people with atypical mental health. I got a whole lot of friends asking if I was okay. I was. but very, very few of those people have ever asked me this before. they needed a flare gun to go off before initiating their kindness. most of the time, that’s gonna be too late. especially when the internet is your highlight reel. I ended up taking the story down. it made me feel guilty or like people assumed my happiness wasn’t real because I was also sad or that they somehow had an open door with which to discuss my stability.

the whole situation gave me weird feels because for me personally, this harvest season has brought with it a crop of highs and lows. in recent days, more external lows and internal highs, thankfully. but I am not one to hide that, even online. it’s sad that I regretted my vulnerability because I have been feeling more comfortable with myself. feeling secure in my ability to thrive not just survive. and with that comes less of a need to reach for validation. not that using social media always implies this, it’s just that I have often found myself aimlessly scrolling looking for the thing that will make me feel included or a page that justifies my thinking. I doubt I’m alone in this mechanism.

reflection is truly a humbling tool. one that I use to break my cycle of comparison. it helps me re-pattern my brain to be able to see beyond immediate obstacles. I want to be able to curate the landscape of my attitude. it is important to me that I honor the duality of each day and pay attention to my emotional response to each situation. this can be a struggle for the bipolar brain- keeping all the wires running and free of unnecessary kinks. documenting moments of my choosing helps to create a way for me to ease through irrational thought processing before it becomes a heightened reaction. this is how I have learned to balance my capabilities with my circumstances.

which is why I started The Pursuit of Joy Project at the beginning of last month. the list has made it to over 25 and I spent the better part of my free time away from social media reading over the moments I selected. (you can find them here) mostly, because I needed to find a clearer head space as I navigate through a couple life situations with inevitably difficult futures. (we are all fine but this mama heart is tired) I am finally finding an emotional place where I’m able to let my shoulders roll back and breathe through each moment for what it is. such a relief it has been to spend less & less time recovering from the lows and more & more time being present with my happiness. it’s nice to be able to share all of it with my humans even on the days I shut down and don’t want to.

takeaway from this week’s post- check on your friends, period.

be the friend that shows up for the in between. know that I ( and those in your life with mental health variances) will probably get by without you. they are filled with so much joy when they don’t have to. I have no idea what I would do without my people. I hope you have people too. if you don’t, you know where to find me. if you have the wrong people, the ones who only show up for the before & after to drink your delicious lemonade… reconsider your energy allotment. just sayin’.

candidly,

eliot.

*note- this is, in essence, my journal. you volunteered to read this. thank you for that. I have no intentions of ranting or educating about mental health. I’m just sharing my experience. not sure why I feel like all my posts need a disclaimer, but here we are.

mama, do my thighs touch?

the first time I questioned the validity of my body, of the space it took up, I was in middle school. a boy told my best friend that she had nice legs. he said not a word to me. I sat back down at my desk watching the way my pale skin spread and covered the chair. took inventory of the other preteen legs and how they held shape, looked more tan, and had Less. with this simple situation the fascination began with my need to be less as a way to be more. at 32, I, of course, know better that to blame the boy for triggering this mental and emotional pattern that would continue my whole life.

this morning I sent my middle little girl off to sixth grade. clothed in enthusiasm and pride in her outfit choice. a girl prepared to take on middle school. she is strong and smart and funny. her love of herself extends just as far as her love of her friends and family. I admire and envy this quality in my sweet girl. but, do I fear that the end of her self-love is near? honestly… yea. it has me dissecting their conversations and paying special attention to how I talk about myself in front of them.

I over heard my youngest ask her sister if a pair of her shorts were too short the other day. the dress code for school was on the brain as we rapidly approached the end of their summer wardrobe freedom. I let them wear whatever they want, for the most part, and feel that school policies are antiquated and sexist. but, that’s a story for another day. as they rifled through their closet putting nothing back where they found it and executing the highest pitch excitement two girls can muster, I crept nearer hoping they wanted my advice. instead, my 9 year old spun around in her cartoon underwear atop a pile of discarded selections and asked, “mama, do my thighs touch when I stand like this? maybe that’s why I only like leggings and not jeans mom.”

now, let’s pretend that I had a reasonable response. that I was able to correct her for even asking because she’s beautiful and perfect in this body of hers. that I hugged her and reminded her how loving herself is a harder lesson to relearn as an adult so this negative talk had better get squashed. but, I sat on her bed and folded up clothes and asked her who told her that it mattered. I knew the answer. she had heard me on vacation complaining about my “bikini body” and how my thighs used to touch when I was fit and how I was thankful that being “thick & healthy” was in style now because these thighs of mine are blah, blah, blah.

having to answer for my bad habits at the cost of my girl’s is a game changer.

I have always talked very openly about my eating disorder recovery. doing a yearly check-in where I purge my thoughts and feelings on this self-propelled process of calling a thing what it is and making it better. this works for me. I know that I have to come home to myself so it’s best that I keep it tidy and treat it with care. up thirty pounds (give or take) from my smallest adult weight, I posted a transformation photo a last year. I had done a few modeling spots and was feeling confident in my curves and the new found sexiness that I could own. tucked away were the less present obsessive behaviors. diverted were times when I would restrict or limit. for the most part I was in control. I counted last year a success. enough to say I was moving through the disease as a battle and into it as a place of progress.

deep sigh. this is recovery.

being better has meant coming to terms with ED as an evolving disease. as it has morphed and disguised itself into healthy habits and #treatyourself and indulging in a society of often misguided self-care. I am starting to recognize that my behaviors have shifted from actual addictive behavior to an addiction to recovery. whoa, sounds weird, but in a social media climate that shoves natural lifestyle and acceptance down your throat it is easier to keep up the facade of recovery, even when I am not feeling at home in my skin. the mom community is perhaps the worst place for it, in my opinion. the life we live becomes only a small sliver of the life we curate for others to admire, criticize, and emulate. as if raising little humans isn’t hard enough, we also have to be picture perfect mamas with organic meals and eco friendly homes and little humans clad in conscious clothing. in reality, it has been a way for me use my disease as fashion, as trend. it demands to be stated that this is my experience only. truth- as hard as I am still working to maintain it is a bit discouraging to admit that I would love to lose weight if it weren’t so damn cool to be happy with who you are.

ultimately, I really am okay with where I am at with my body. I practice taking up space. the language in which I speak to myself is dramatically different, not perfect, but better. I keep myself, my home tidy.

call my current place in recovery regression, if I must, but I also call it awareness and grace. because I’m choosing to see the slip ups as an opportunity to change the way my girls will learn to love themselves. stopping to check myself because it is clear that I am already passing along some negative habits. by honoring the bad with the good and knowing which wins.