I recently finished reading Empty, by Susan Burton, who wrote about her life-long struggles with eating disorders; mainly, fluctuating between binging and anorexia.
Her story isn’t unique. Plenty of people have disordered thoughts and actions related to eating, on a wide spectrum of severity.
What is unique about the book is that the author wrote it from the middle of her struggle. She is not recovered and looking back with new-found wisdom. She bravely chose to tell her story “as is”, from a spot of struggle, not clarity.
What I’ve come to appreciate through blogging is that writing is a medium of art. The same story can be told from billions of different perspectives. It can be spun into different webs; it can be interpreted in completely different lights. The same event can make one person laugh and another person cry.
Stories are easiest to tell retrospectively, when you finally have a chance to look back. It is easiest to find the meaning; and certainly, have a clearer perspective once you are out of the heat of the moment.
But what about the middle? It makes up most of our life. We spend a much higher percentage of time in “middle moments” than in “end moments”.
Since our return to Florida, I’ve been trying to embrace the pea- soup- thick humidity that has descended upon us. Last week, I (stupidly) slept in one morning and wasn’t able to sneak out for a run until Chad was able to watch the girls… at 1pm.
The heat was disgusting. Even “easy pace” felt difficult. As I was slogging along, encapsulated in 114 degree heat, and in a pretty negative mindset about how horrible this was, I was passed by a landscaping golf cart.
Immediately the golf cart fumes and scent of freshly cut grass transported me back in time to the days of high school cross country. It’s funny how a smell can do that.
Whenever I think of high school cross country, I get a slightly nauseated, slightly anxious, nostalgic feeling that spreads through my body. Sounds weird, but I’m guessing most people who have participated in a pain inducing sport can relate.
This scent trigger brought my mind back to a day we were on the track, running repeat 300’s. 300 meters is a gross distance. It’s short enough where you should be able to sprint, but long enough that you feel like you want to die.
Our coach at that time was Mr. Rod. Mr. Rod was tall, funny, and innately understood the pain that running could induce. As we struggled through the workout, he gathered us up for a pep talk.
I’m sure we all had looks of hatred on our faces- he wrote the workout after all. There was no need for him to acknowledge the pain we were in; that was baseline knowledge, punctuated by someone puking in the background.
He simply said, “Break it down. Run the first 100 fast, float in the middle, and sprint the last 100.” Some angsty teenager asked with attitude that only a teenager can have, “What do you mean float?” To which Mr. Rod replied with a smile, “Just pretend you’re floating.”
Sounded pretty stupid to me.
But, given that I was on deaths door, I tried the floating idea.
The crazy thing was, when I envisioned myself floating in the middle of the last couple 300’s, it felt a hundred times easier, and yet somehow I was still running just as fast.
And just like then, I find myself in the middle. Given the large number of new COVID cases in Florida, we are back to quarantine, in the house, with young kids.
I keep wishing to find myself at the end of this COVID story- to be able to look back, smile, and find some inspirational meaning.
But for now, I find myself in the middle and to be blatantly honest, I’m not floating. The days are filled with tantrums (by the kids and me) and messes. I’m covering the positions of line cook, maid, therapist, anger management coach, teacher, friend, enemy, mother, and wife.
My story from the middle isn’t inspirational, I would say it’s more of a “what not to” story. Making a necklace would be cute but beads bounce all over the house and look suspiciously like candy. Running in 114 degree heat after eating tacos NEVER ENDS WELL. 3 year olds CANNOT BE REASONED WITH. Crafts that are found on Pinterest rarely turn out as well as the promising pictures <liars>.
My story from the middle is messy. (Literally and figuratively, ok?) It’s not something that people will read and say, “I really want to try that! Sounds like she has her life figured out!”
So for now, I’m going to break it down into 100’s and try to float.
Off to Target to buy floaties… and wine. Lots of wine.