I was writing on brand new paper with a brand new pen. I was afraid strangers would read the words I was frantically penning in order to not forget. Strangers next to me on my flight from Ireland. Strangers in the Frankfurt airport. And then I thought; fuck it.

Up and down the street in front of our modest house, 200 meters worth of pavement, he would push me down a gradual hill and I would learn to ride a bicycle without training wheels. It was the neighbor’s idea: to ride down the hill, without pedaling, so I could get my balance. My father’s previous training tactics were too harsh for a much-too-sensitive five-year-old, and my mother’s tactics were too kind for a far-too-competitive five-year-old. The neighbor across the street knew what to do, and it worked.

This is exactly how learning how to drive went. I got too frustrated when my dad tried to teach me, and my mom got too frustrated when she tried to teach me. No one seemed to have patience for me. One would get irritated when I got frustrated, and the other made me angry because I saw that she was getting upset. So they sent me to driving school. And it worked. We have always needed a mediator to succeed at difficult things.

I am a difficult person.

I am so sensitive and so emotional, but so fantastic at hiding it. Which, in turn, makes me an extremely difficult person to be close to. Because I am never done talking. It takes me forever to talk about anything substantial, and if I do happen to get to that point, it’s difficult for me to know when to stop. When are people done listening? When is a boundary crossed? When are they going to think I have lost my mind?

It is so much easier to not even approach substantive conversation.

But, part of being brave is doing things that exceed your comfort zone. Part of being healthy is leaving the pretty little box that you have existed in, pull the corners in, and make it a circle.

The shock comes when you do not feel like you are being accepted when you have finally taken that step. You are one foot outside your perfect square, and someone says, “no.”


“I don’t understand; I can’t relate. What you’re saying doesn’t make any sense. You never looked sick.”

My heart stopped beating. All at once, I am unable to breath.

At that moment, I realized it would be a lost cause. I made short-lived plans to prove that I could be “sick” enough to be understood. I could be that way in a month, tops. I could get approval for having had an eating disorder. 

But why?

I do not need to be understood by everyone. It is pretty painful for a friend to be insensitive towards such an issue, but it doesn’t mean in order to gain their respect, I need to gain their approval and understanding over this particular subject, to keep moving on.

I have been thinking a lot recently about how maybe it’s hard for me to totally move on once and for all because I need my parent’s approval. I need them to acknowledge that what I was doing was not ok, and I needed their help, or someone’s help. And I want a re-do. Sometimes, I want to be so skinny that they finally notice, without finding out from someone else, that I have lost all this weight. Am I perfect yet? Am I thin enough to be a real runner? Why is everyone so upset about uneaten lunches? I don’t want the problem to be silently swept under the rug and  frightfully forgotten. I want understanding. And love. And a hug.

And then maybe I can move on. But there’s no mediator for this kind of thing. No neighbor or driver’s ED teacher can intervene here.

One thought on “Training Wheels

  1. My therapist keeps telling me to bring it back to me. Self-compassion, self-care, self-respect, self-understanding, self-love etc. I see his point but I also know how comments from external reference points telling me “you look really well” (and slowly nodding at me as if ‘well’ is a code word for us eating disordered folk. I want to bark, “yes, soooooo fu*king well, I’ve just been making myself vomit for 45 minutes with the bristle end of a toothbrush! Now validate my suffering!”

    To many myths, too much focus on association of the severest emaciation with any eating disorder don’t you think? Which the media have pushed and the net result is that the people like you and me get lost in the “you can’t have an eating disorder, you’re not 90lbs.”

    I’m not your family, not your best friend. A fellow blogger with a similar illness. So I know it’s not the same. But here is understanding. Here is some love. And here is a virtual hug.

    Insightful read as always xx


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