this is not an inspiring story.

This is not an inspiring story.

It’s summer, which means it’s hot. I hate hot. I shouldn’t hate hot. Who hates summer?

I’ve made it to the car, which would mean relief, because soon the ice cream will be in my mouth and nothing else will matter. But it’s hot, which means I’m sweating. And that means I feel even more of the bunching of my skirt, the clinging of my polyester shirt to my bra, the bulging of my skin, the stomach I hate so much I’d like to cut it off and throw it right out the window. Even though that would hurt. And would also be bloody.

The hate and self-disgust is taking me over, burying me in its heat, and I want to make it go away. It doesn’t matter how painful it is to make it go away, or what promises I’ve made to myself that I’ll be breaking. I know only that I’m drowning in this excruciating hatred of myself.

Which clinches it. The windows can stay shut, I can suffocate in the heat of the car, and it doesn’t matter that I don’t have a spoon. I cup the three fingers of my right hand, scooping out the softening ice cream near the outside of the container. My fingers find their way into my mouth, and all is sweet and good and okay for half a second and that’s all that matters because if I can disappear into the cold and the sweet for a moment, maybe I won’t have to live any longer.

I’m still awake and alive, though, which means already the voices of rage and remorse are striking. I am not deterred, and I scoop my fingers again into the tub of ice cream. Back to my mouth. And again. Again.

It doesn’t matter that I don’t know or care what flavor it is I’m eating, or that someone might see me. It doesn’t matter that I’ll have to hide the evidence later, or that I’m not hungry, or that my fingers are now so cold that they’re aching. All that matters is that, for a moment, I can forget my loneliness, my longing, and my fear of gaining even more weight.

I don’t want to eat this ice cream. I don’t want to be sweating inside this hotbox of a car. I don’t want to feel the empty ache of my alone-ness. And so I continue to shovel the ice cream into myself, even though it hurts in so many ways, because the half-second of oblivion is worth it.

Like I said, this is not an inspiring story. This is a realistic story.

Now, it’s ten years later. Maybe not even that many. Maybe eight. Sometimes I feel lonely. When I do, I notice it, and I focus on feeling the loneliness. When I write that, it sounds simple and easy, but it’s not. It’s a challenge, because my instinct, even after years of working on it, is to eat something to distract me from what’s wrong before I even know something is wrong.

Despite my instinct, which leads me to the cupboard like a sleepwalker, I can’t remember the last time I binged on food (or anything, for that matter). I don’t know when the last time was that I ran toward that cliff and into oblivion. It took a lot of years, but I’ve become functional, and mostly happy. Not just that, but I know more is possible for me. If I didn’t, I never would have gone full-time with coaching and photography.

I’m not telling this story to escape from the shame I feel about living that moment, and countless others like it.

I’m not telling this story to brag about the fact that I escaped.

I’m not telling this story to convince you that working with me will take you from hopeless to footloose and fancy-free in three months.

I’m telling this story because at that moment, in that hot-as-hell car, I didn’t think there was hope for somebody “like me.” Now I know there is, because I’m here.

Here, where life is infinitely more hopeful.

This is the tiredest of cliches, but if I can do it, you can do it. I won’t say it’ll be fast or easy (and it definitely won’t be linear), but you can do it, whatever “it” is.
This is not an inspiring story. This is a realistic story. And sometimes, there’s a lot of hope in realistic.

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