On Thursday evening I waited for over an hour with my 4-year-old in the car in a hospital parking lot. The crib she slept in the first 18 months of her life, and her brother the same, broken down in the back of our van ready to be a newborn’s new place of safety. My original intention was to sell it.

“It’s free. Tell me where to meet you, you don’t need to be worrying about anything else but that baby.” I write back as soon as I see the word NICU in the buyer’s inquiry to me.

She told me she was traveling from 2 hours away everyday to be with her premature baby born a couple days ago at 33 weeks. That day she was supposed to meet me, the traffic was horrendous. So we waited. And waited. And waited. I exhausted every rock-paper-scissor, I spy, and thumb war games I could dig up from my childhood to keep my preschooler entertained. The stranger finally came, and parts of the crib did not fit in her already-too-full sedan. In the middle of the parking lot we broke the crib down into the smallest pieces possible and puzzled it into her car. But the car seat wasn’t in the right spot and I didn’t see how, when the time came to bring the baby home with her tomorrow, she would be able to adequately and safely re-arrange it.

“Do you have anyone to help you?”

“No. Well, my baby’s father is inside right now.”

“What about when you get home?”

My mother-instincts are kicking in hard. She is definitely younger than me and I don’t want to leave before I am sure she’s going to be alright. I do not gather enough satisfying answers, though she seems confident, so I tell her to please let me know if she needs any more help, hug her, and head home.

At this point, it is dinner time. What am I going to do for everyone else for dinner? Wait. What am I going to do for dinner? I need dinner, too. 

How is it that I am ready and willing to provide for everyone else, even strangers, but not myself? I have so much love to give. So much. Then I saw this:

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The caption explained that when your gifts weren’t honored as a child, they morphed into challenges. Which would explain why while the core of me is constantly trying to use those gifts and celebrate them, they are met with challenges. For me, those challenges represent my eating disorder. My eating disorder is ready to jump on perfectionism, absorbing others’ emotions, intrusive thoughts, control, and rigid rules and use those things against me. Those things so easily settle in my brain as my normal and put I’m not good enough on repeat.

Those challenges go into overdrive sometimes. The level of depression that comes over me approximately two weeks out of every month is so intense, so real, and so frightening that I completely lose touch with reality, it seems, at the height of it. I’ve scared myself numerous times in the last year with how bad it gets. I surmise it’s getting worse because I’m not using my eating disorder (as much) to cope with it, and instead I attempt to sit with it. But sitting with it has been my own personal nightmare.

I feel fine right now. Because I am outside of that window. But when it comes I am unable to remember that it will end. It just feels so terrible that I can’t convince myself or believe anyone else that it’s a wave. Or that it comes and goes. That it will be ok. I want to respond to “ride the wave” with THERE IS NO WAVE. THIS IS IT. MY LIFE IS OVER BECAUSE I CANNOT HANDLE THIS PAIN. Each time seems worse than the last and each time truly seems like it is the time it is not going to dissipate regardless of my historical patterns.

Now, it seems dramatic. Embarrassing. Hard to talk about.

Now, I am going to give myself some compassion for being honest. And showing up. Instead of judging myself for the intensity of my real emotions.

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