So, I’ve been MIA. Way MIA. In all fairness, it’s because life has been extra shiny that time to reflect has been limited. Nonetheless, the task to catch myself up on everything that’s been happening, never mind try to write it all here, has been daunting. And the list has been building. And I have been flooding with excitement, and news, and fears, and trials and triumphs, errors and bumps, and everything else. So here is my attempt at a synopsis of what has been the life of Alexandra in the past, I don’t know, three weeks or so.
There was an alumni retreat for the treatment center I most recently graduated from with soulful, incredibly inspiring, motivating people, memories, and, of course, food…
I may or may not have had the most amazing experience of (possibly) my entire life coming across dolphins as I paddle boarded with some of the best people I know. I also jumped in with them, so there’s that…
There were so many good times with so many good people. Museuming, jumping in pools, barbecuing, and taco-bar-ing. There were hard goodbyes and happy reunitings. S’mores were made and tears were shed. I night swam in the ocean and wire-wrapped about a million pieces of sea glass. Throughout it all, I was present…
And then I left LA. Departing LAX for the last time for a while was so bittersweet. Not only in the sense that I comically made my way through the airport with a snapback, heels, sunglasses, a few sweaters on, a plant in hand, and a massive garbage bag trailing behind me (yes, my bag was being judged for its weight). It was also a favorably tragic parting in that I left the community that had taken me in pieces 10 months ago and helped to sort me out and recreate me, while I moved on to the life I have worked hard to re-enter.
Chaos followed suit in a similarly poignant fashion. In the past week, I have made my way from NY to Boston where I have officially moved into Boston College after a year of deferrals. Somewhere in the midst of that, I dined with ninjas, reconnected with old friends in old places and was new, saw an eye doctor and a dentist, tried sour cream and onion crickets, unpacked all of my life in LA and repacked for the next semester in a far different climate (already shivering thinking about it), dined quite a bit with my family, and tried to collect myself for what’s to come.
Now, fast forward to today, I am finally settling into my new environment. Being in the real world again on this level has been something I couldn’t have foreseen and I think that might be good (fingers crossed). Over the past week, I’ve probably had more external triggers than my past four months in Malibu (including, but not limited to having health services accidentally show me my weight after about 2 years of not knowing it…wow). And, though it’s been challenging, I’ve found myself floored, to a certain extent, with my ability to power through. It’s been disorienting, to say the least, getting accustomed to time changes, eating in cafeterias, figuring out my new treatment team, being around people who stay up past 10 pm and wake up past 10 am, and generally adjusting to the way the average American college student discusses all of the topics (food, weight, exercise, etc.) that have been so sensitively tiptoed around for the past couple of years in treatment, and, because of that, I’ve had to disconnect a bit. I’ve found myself slightly removed at times in an effort to figure it all out as an observer before I find my place in it all. I’ve put my energy into my basic needs and feel a little level one in that. However, something I distinctly remember my dietitian explaining to me once was this concept that we are all just continually discovering ourselves in new “level ones”. Basically, each time a new challenge arrives or we have to reconvene and modify, we start back at base, it just becomes a new base and that is how we grow.
Being slightly shaken in this transition has shown me where I stand and I’ve filled with gratitude. Yes, I’m still figuring out the campus layout. Yes, I’ve felt frustrated, afraid, confused, lost, conflicted, and a myriad of other emotions I’ve, at times, thought were negative. But, they have passed and I have kept myself safe through it all. I have eaten my food and tried to guess over my meal plan to make sure I stay fueled. I have made space for compassion when I’ve overslept and talked through near-breakdowns with possible strangers at the risk of scaring people away, but with the hopes that I get a glimpse of support that keeps me afloat. I have felt proud.
It is sitting here today that I recognize how far I have come. I’m not recovered. I have work to do, but I am sturdy in where I stand. At any other point, I would have already crumbled, but it is the people who have put air under my wings and the wings that have grown which keep me flying when the wind dies down.