At least in my case, it felt a lot like the moment I realized – and accepted -- I had regained a lot of weight.
Which is to say, that bad decision after bad decision after bad decision mixed with an awful lot denial has brought you to a point that you need to do something beyond what normal people do, because your problem is just that much bigger. And there is almost relief in accepting it, because at least now – hopefully, hopefully – you realize from that point on it can only get better.
That’s how I felt nearly two weeks ago, when in the middle of the night I emailed for help sorting out something that has caused me more shame – and perhaps lost me more friends, and created more distance – than any amount of food I ever have eaten; any amount of food restriction and crazy exercising I ever have done.
My apartment was a disaster.
There, I said it.
It wasn’t a cute disaster, like the girl who needs five minutes of the date she brings home closing his eyes so she can hide a few embarrassing things.
It wasn’t the casual “my place is a total mess” you tell someone before letting him or her in and giggling nervously.
No one – absolutely no one -- has been in my place for a year and a half. Bulbs burned out in lights that were too high for me to fix, and I wouldn’t let anyone in to change them. I bought lamps. Sometimes I’d have to use the flashlight on my phone to see my way in. Other times I would get as far as the refrigerator, crack open the door, and use that light to get far enough into the apartment to turn on the lamp. (I’m sure there is a joke in the fat girl, or sorta fat girl, seeing by the light of the refrigerator, but I can’t think of it right now.)
Except for a bed, I had never bought furniture – a long story that is partly to do with my initial inability to commit to living in New York (and thus owning anything), and partly to do with my dad and what is or is not in his basement. I’m not even going to get into that. There were piles everywhere. Piles upon piles. Boxes that have not been unpacked. Clothes that got destroyed by moths because it was dark in the bedroom and I couldn’t see to find the clothes, let alone notice any problems with them. (I also didn’t know NYC had moths, because DC didn’t. I assumed they were a London thing. But never mind about that.)
And so I lied and I schemed. It wasn’t too hard -- I’d had a lot of practice from bingeing, after all—though it was exhausting. I always had a reason why someone couldn’t meet me at home; why we shouldn’t meet in my neighborhood; why a friend couldn’t stay. I had exercises from the foot doctor I was supposed to do at home but didn’t because there was never room. I sweltered and slept poorly in the summer because I wouldn’t let anyone in to install an air conditioner. I have never set up my printer/scanner – first because it was wireless and I wouldn’t let the Time Warner people in. Even when I found out how I could set up wireless Internet myself (and did) I still didn’t deal with the printer/scanner because it was beneath a pile of stuff. And so I always have to go to Kinko’s to do it.
Pause to let it sink in that I work at home. So I don’t even ever escape this rubble; this chaos, this constant reminder of pile upon literal pile of bad decisions: clothes I have binged my way out of; things I bought and lost the receipt so I can’t return; clothes I have ruined by letting them sit in piles in the dark.
Sorting through and getting rid of some of these things is hard, because it involves accepting things about myself that I don’t necessarily like and often don’t want to accept. Accepting that I will never be a size two or four or even six again. Accepting that my life does not and probably never will again require the shoes and gowns and dresses it once did, and that I probably can’t even walk in most of the shoes anymore. Accepting that I am financially irresponsible in general, and in particular, that money I wasted – sometimes a lot of it -- will not be recouped because let’s be honest, I am probably not going to get it together to sell X thing on eBay, or to get X thing fixed. Or X thing is no longer in any shape to sell because of the way I have treated it -- or has not retained value.
Today I paid a scary and also truly embarrassing amount of money for help – embarrassing because I let things become so disastrous that I need help for something normal people do not. Because I need help for something that, like bingeing, normal people cannot understand.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get quite the help I expected, needed and paid for today, and that the company promised me. And so the two kids -- two guys from inner city Baltimore and Washington DC who, despite company promises, had zero training, less than six months’ experience, and were more used to just cleaning trash out of abandoned housing used as dumpsters – will not be returning for the other two days.
But that’s a story for another day, and it’s all OK. The lights are on again. There is space to think and acres (OK, feet) of clear floor – and room, I hope, for better things to come along.