When I first started Unfuck Your Habitat, it was a housekeeping blog very squarely aimed at lazy people. Mostly because I am one. As the blog gained momentum, though, I started hearing from people who were using the fundamentals to help them battle through something more…
My dad used to drive us around and we’d look at lights on the small lower middle class houses around our town. When I was in high school and we’d moved to a nicer neighborhood with bigger houses, I still begged my boyfriends to take me back to that neighborhood to drive around and look at the lights. I don’t know if we ever did. But that’s where Christmas lived for me. I was that little girl, sitting in her room, praying to Santa that he bring her one of the floppy-butt-live-dog-toys she’d forgotten to ask for and then saw it in the morning, in the color she wanted and everything, and life was so magical and so full of joy and potential.
When I was older I loved Christmas. My best friends would come over and we’d drink hot chocolate or alcoholic beverages later and decorate the tree we forgot to get until Christmas Eve and in the morning my brothers and I, no matter how old we got, opened our stockings together before anything else.
Holidays get hard when families change and it was right around the time that I found out about my mother’s affair that I started dreading Christmas and holidays in general. The first year I missed picking the tree I was 19 and I’d been crying all day, I’d snorted a drug for the first time the day before and had a terrible reaction and I was so sick and I heard my brother downstairs complaining about me and that’s now known as the Year I Ruined Christmas. Then there was the empty house that we all used to fill with family and noise and glitter and ladybug art that climbed up the walls and laughter and drinks and beer and baseball games and it was just my dad and one gray cat with three legs and our voices echoed and I took the first videos on the bright yellow flip cam my dad got me and things echoed and we forced laughter. Stayed for an hour before going back to my mom’s new house with her new boyfriend where we all disappeared into ourselves or forgot ourselves through our methods of choice. And after that, there was yelling and anger and not enough money and me sicker and sicker and sicker and then I dreaded them. The Holidays. I hated them. My parents are divorced, I’d explain. I’m single. I don’t know why ANYONE would be happy right now. Why are YOU happy. God.
Last year I had some moments of joy. I did dread the holidays. Not for the same reasons, I’ve adjusted to divorced life now, but because of the first holiday being in treatment for my eating disorder. My littlest brother and I screamed at each other on Christmas Eve and I don’t remember why but I know I disassociated in my old bedroom that was now filled with bags of crap from all over the house for like an hour. But we still drove 45 minutes to hear the hour of music before mass that my dad played and helped my mom decorate the tree and opened our stockings together in the morning.
And this year, something has been different. Tonight I was walking the dogs in the not-so-terribly-cold early December weather and I saw some Christmas lights and I smiled. And I noticed the lights in our city town, decorating the top of parking garages that have graffiti on them. Families sitting in their homes with trees sparkling. And we have a tree, my Boy and I. It’s about as tall as me and fluffy and round and he feeds it water every day obsessively and we went to Target together and bought multi-color lights I insisted had to twinkle and silver, dark blue, light blue sparkly balls that sprinkle around the twinkling lights next to the two ornaments I bought about a month ago from Michaels of a Chihuahua and Dachshund that look freakishly like our puppy-babies. I am excited for my brothers to come home and my friends. I am excited to wrap gifts, drink wine, hang the wreath my roommate made me on the door. And there’s some magic back. I don’t know where it came from or where it was hiding, but it’s here, if not as strong as it was when I was younger, it’s here. Twinkling in the lights on the neighbors porches. In the eyes of the baby dog as she hides behind our tree because she doesn’t want us to leave for work. In the ear muffs my roommate from college gave me. It’s here. I’m letting light back into my life. I’ve been and am sometimes so consumed by negativity, and the eating disorder doesn’t make positivity easy at all, there’s no room for good when you’re starving and abusing yourself and all that goes with it, so I know that’s a major piece of it. And the hard work I’ve put into therapy too. And a lot of things. Things may not be perfect. But there’s glimmer, happiness, joy, magic in the world that’s been hiding from me for a while.
And I’m just happy I can see it.
it’s like it purchased a mega-phone or something.
And it’s very clear: my eating disorder does not want me to enjoy ANYTHING. In fact, it wants me to do nothing but things that are the opposite of fun. Work out for way too long so it’s no longer enjoyable, eat nothing exciting, follow everyone else’s rules and ignore my nutritionist and spend all my money on food I can’t afford and never eat gluten or dairy again, ever. It wants me to cancel plans. It wants me to NEVER drink alcohol again, ever. It wants me to stay in. Do work out video after work out video. It wants me to not live.
And I want to live. I understand that food and our exercise is an important piece of the puzzle of happiness. I truly believe everyone needs to find what works for them and who am I to tell you what works and what doesn’t. But I know that I want to remember a life full of laughter over kool-aid vodkas, bites of different appetizers on foodventures to new restaurants with my friends, cuddles on Sunday mornings, walks around the city with time to take breaks to photograph the leaves or the dogs, flexibility. Flexible self care.
And that’s something my eating disorder would never allow. So am I as toned as I’d like to be? As small as I’d like to be? No. But I’m learning how to be flexible. How to love. How to live. And to me, that’s worth way more than having a restrictive diet so I can feel better than you.