I honestly can’t believe that March flew by so fast…to be honest, I’ve been in an emotional whirlwind for almost a month and a half! I sort of hinted at these feelings in an earlier post (that I literally feel like I wrote yesterday…), but now I feel like I’m comfortable with going more in detail.
My eating disorder first plagued me when I was in my senior year of high school, and I would say it had a firm grasp on me up until late 2015, when I finally started making steps towards real recovery. For 5 1/2 years, the only relationship I cared about was the one I had with food: how I could control it, make certain foods fit into a day, nap away hours in the afternoon just so I could eat again for dinner…it was barely an existence.
When they say an ED becomes your one and only relationship, nothing could be truer. Yes, my Dad and close friends were still nearby, but food took priority no matter what. I would sacrifice going out to a restaurant to hang out with my sister and our close friends just to avoid the calories. I would shout at my Dad for buying too many yogurts or granola canisters because they tempted me to binge. All because I had to live by a number, and ANYONE who got in the way of that would see the worst of me…
So to say that taking the plunge and going into recovery full force only helped me physically would be an understatement. I repaired not only a relationship with myself over the course of 2016, but I also repaired old relationships as well as planted the seeds for new ones. Therapy helped me to understand why I thought about things a certain way, as well as find ways to be okay with things as they are.
When my sister and I saw my Dad over the holidays this past year, the three of us had an emotional, yet necessary, talk about the future. It was the first time we heard all the details of my Dad’s story, and having such a deep, emotionally-revealing discussion with both my Dad and sister made me feel so much more grateful for them. The discussion also helped to make me feel more comfortable with the idea of being open to pursuing a romantic relationship, or at least taking the steps to get to such a relationship in the future.
So that’s when I began to feel all the feels…and the first guy I thought about was That Tall Guy…let’s call him TTG (name changed for privacy, chose to go with the first thing my guy friend from my lab said when I told him about this whole thing, lol).
Preparing for my qualifying exam in January was enough to keep my feelings in check, as stress for that took over. But once that was taken care of, those flitter-flutter butterfly feelings started to come up again, and I couldn’t shake the thoughts of trying to see if something with That Tall Guy could work.
Around the time I visited my cousin, these feelings were growing even more, and I felt like I just HAD to tell someone or I would burst. My sister was the first one to know since we talk about everything as it comes up in our lives, but my friend E was the first one I told among the people I see on a daily basis (actually on my bus ride back after visiting my cousin) and since she has been actively trying to get her love life together too (lol), we thought these would be “fun distractions” to have while we continued on with our mundane lab lives 😛
Funny thing was, I started to see TTG a lot more frequently since my confession to E. He started using the same facility that I use for some of my experiments. He is a quiet/shy person in general, and I think that’s one of the things that attracted me to him. This also made things quite complicated as I soon learned. I knew that the first step in this whole process was to make him aware of my existence, so I began initiating conversations. Being the first one to say hello, how’s it going, following up on something that he may have mentioned in previous days…
But it wasn’t like I was starting from scratch. Just a year ago, we were in the same class, and saw each other at least 2-3x a week for a two hour lecture. I thought he was attractive then too, but the feelings weren’t as strong (or I made myself ignore them/not allow myself to sit with them). I was also working on myself (recovery, body image issues, starting therapy) and so my thoughts were more focused on myself than seeking out a relationship. Then summer, fall, and winter came, and I rarely saw him for the rest of the year since I became plenty busy with lab/my qualifying exam.
So when I did have time to start thinking about him again, on top of the fact that I was now seeing him again on a close to daily basis, I couldn’t deny that I had feelings for him. These feelings felt so new and exhilarating—I was feeling euphoric for the first time in a long while! I didn’t mind staying in lab longer, and since my experiments weren’t time-sensitive, I tried to match my schedule to his so as not to be too obvious, but still increase the likelihood I’d encounter him. I was the first one to say hi, ask how he was/how his project was going, and smile a lot. It was so unlike me, but I was feeling adventurous and ready to get out of my comfort zone.
I started leaving lab later because I learned mid-way through this whole lovesick journey that he took the same train I did, except in the opposite direction. One day, E and I secretly followed him (lol) just to see where he was going when leaving for the day, and that’s when we confirmed he didn’t drive to work. I felt like I had found a hidden clue to solving this “guy mystery”.
Over the course of several weeks, my mind may have exaggerated things to mean more than what they were, but I couldn’t help but think these coincidental (and intentional, lol) encounters, exchanged smiles, and reaching out for help meant something more. He sent me a very thoughtful email asking to borrow an item from our lab, and E and I were practically squealing when writing up a reply. Infatuation at its peak I suppose.
After weeks of trying to time my Monday morning train ride with his, both our trains ended up at the stop at the same time. I literally had to power walk behind him just to catch up, but once I did, I initiated conversation. After asking how his project was going, he asked how my weekend was. When I asked the same question in return, that’s when he dropped the G word. I hadn’t seen him over the weekend because his GF was in town.
I played it cool, wished him a good day, and as soon as I got to lab I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. I then texted E and my sister. The game was over.
But because he is such a nice guy, I wanted to keep things as normal as possible. I still said hey to him when I saw him, and asked how is project was going. As the days went by, my feelings calmed down and in their place emotional exhaustion set in. I left lab early on some days, just to get home and rest up. I drifted from disappointment, sadness, irritation, anger, and fatigue.
Overall, I see this as a life lesson. I’m grateful that I experienced such euphoria for six weeks. It proved to me—if anything—that I am continuing to push away from my eating disorder past and seek relationships. Even after hearing TTG had a GF, I did not feel the need to go to a mirror and body check. I knew that there was nothing wrong with ME, and that for whatever reason, the timing wasn’t right.
Yeah, we never went out for coffee. There was no first date, and I didn’t learn anything new about him besides what he does in his lab, but I held my head high and carried on as usual. I felt exhausted, but the self-confidence I gained over the past six weeks still seemed to stick around. I may have not gotten the guy, but this chase has rewarded me with so much more.
I honored myself with time to sit with my feelings, but then I respected myself to move forward from this experience. I’m just going to continue to keep doing what’s right for me. Continue to shower myself with lots of love, doing what makes me happy, making sure I feel my best…when the time is right, and when I am at my happiest, that one person will be there.
When I least expect it.