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Tortilla Chips & Waterproof Mascara

I’ve been in inpatient treatment again for just over one month now, but I came to the realisation fairly early on that putting on a bit of make-up every morning to make myself feel slightly more human is most often a pointless task. Not because I’m giving up on myself…quite the opposite, actually. It often becomes a pointless endeavour because I’m finding that things keep making me unexpectedly ball my eyes out. Trying to keep my face on at the same time as working out what the waterworks are all about has definitely felt a bit like pissing into the wind.

On the Wednesday of my second week, I looked at my meal plan for the day first thing in the morning, as I’ve been in the habit of doing. No more increases today, and the menu appeared slightly less threatening than it had done the days prior. I felt determined it was going to be a (relatively, mind you) positive day, and that I wouldn’t spend the entire day feeling like my insides were being put through a mangle. I was awake fairly early, so thought I’d face the day with my slightly better face on. Nothing major, just some foundation, bronzer, eye shadow, and some very unfortunately non-waterproof mascara.

Rachel is a massive crier in the best of times. She cries at lots of things. She’s a “major weeper”, to quote Jude Law in The Holiday. I firmly believe that, for me, this emotionality is very healthy. I cried watching Wild Child for the first time. I even remember crying watching the most ridiculous and badly-directed film ever made, which consisted of a young boy’s father dying in a car crash but coming back to life as an animated SNOWMAN. This tendency has gotten me into the habit over the years of buying waterproof mascara in case of an unforseen sob-fest.

The woman upstairs, however, has functioned a bit like a dry sponge in my eyes, gag over my mouth and a cord around my heart over the past year or so. Painful emotions, as well as many good ones, have frequently been suppressed for long periods of time by her ruthless, totalitarian regime. I got very used to feeling numb to much of the world a lot of the time. So much so, that I ended up buying my current mascara on special offer…bog-standard, non-waterproof, and black.


I made it through that Wednesday breakfast fairly unscathed. Morning snack saw a few tears but nothing to do too much damage. Lunch, and afternoon snack were conquered with comparable ease to some of the days prior. Yes, in this place, the regime is also strict…and eating your prescribed meal-plan six times a day is a minimum expectation. However, when I entered that dining room for the fifth time that day to face dinner, my eyes became something of a pair of metaphorical water balloons….and the pin was a bowl of tortilla chips.


My ocular floodgates opened, and alas, as did my nasal cavities. The next thing I knew I was hysterical, and suddenly there were snot globules in my bowl of chilli and mascara dregs all over my tortilla chips. Unfortunately, neither of these added to the flavour.


I have cried a lot over the past two weeks. Granted, crying over a bowl of tortillas is not exactly normal behaviour, and I certainly intend to put that behind me. But I have cried for other reasons, too. And, more importantly, I have felt lots of other emotions that have been unfamiliar of late. Many of these emotions have, perhaps unsurprisingly, been less pleasant ones, as I tackle the woman upstairs by doing the exact opposite of what she dictates and then have to sit with the consequences. But, I have felt glimpses of other things, too. Glimpses of excitement. Of eagerness. Of interest in things I used to love but have forgotten about. Of nostalgia. Of longing…and of hope.



Last weekend, one of my best friends came to visit and brought me a new mascara. Waterproof. I shed a few tears that day. Not of sorrow, but ones of joy, because I miss my friends so much and I wouldn’t be going through this again without their support, love and graciousness towards me which is so undeserved. The inner 'little Rachel' who is stood by herself in the playground with a chewed cardigan sleeve still can't quite believe she actually has friends.

And the 4-week menu cycle here means tortilla chips raise their triangular heads again this week. Since that first full fateful Wednesday, I have had to tackle things far greater than I thought possible. Sticky-toffee pudding, buttered toast, cheese sandwiches, four Weetabix at a time…the list goes on. Given this, I’m feeling more confident as my second chilli night approaches. It’s quite remarkable how much is possible when you’re thrown in the deep end and have no choice but to swim. Nevertheless, though, this Wednesday I will apply my new waterproof mascara before facing the dining room. Because with refeeding comes refeeling, and at the moment we’re never completely sure when the lacrimal glands will strike next.

 

“Numb the dark and you numb the light.”

– Brené Brown

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