Sink or Swim

12308783_10153146735601254_312141603208826933_nSince I was a young one, I have been told by family and friends that I am oversensitive. I was told at times that I am a crybaby, other times that I “take everything so seriously”, and other times that I’m flat out getting upset over nothing. I have held onto this belief about myself for most of my life. But for several years now, I have started to pick apart everything about myself and what I believe. And I’d really like to let go of the “oversensitive” thing. My wild emotions are obviously a huge factor in my problems with food and my body. One second I’m crying about how gigantic I am and the next I’m scarfing down mozzarella sticks to make myself feel better. What makes it difficult to let go of my “oversensitive” nature is that I clearly am a sensitive and emotional person; but that also makes me highly suggestible and easily influenced. I often have no idea when I should honor my emotions, and when I should manage or override them.

And so, when I have a problem, I ask every single person I trust what they think about it, and try to get a consensus on how I should feel/react/do about a situation that hurt me. Surely the opinions of my closest friends will help me get a clearer grasp of the situation, right? Not really. I inevitably end up more confused than when I started out. The only person who always made me feel like a million bucks after I talked to them was my Grandma Cutie.

Cutie was my kindred spirit. We had a strong connection from the very beginning, when I was given her first name as my middle name: Patricia. We eventually started calling her Cutie because she used to call us that, and so we would lovingly reply “No, you’re the cutie!” And so she became Grandma Cutie. As I became an adult, me and Cutie developed a best friendship that felt much more like a pair of friends who grew up together, rather than a grandma and her granddaughter. I mean how many people can say they went to see Inglourious Basterds with their grandmother and we both LOVED it?

Most importantly, Cutie was a tremendous support system for me. She was always up late like I was and would answer her phone at all hours. I would apologize for calling so late and she’d tell me she was always here for me, 2am or 2pm. She and my Aunt Mickey were my confidantes through my first real heartbreak, which could have literally killed me had it not been for them, a couple other friends, and for the grace of God. No matter what I told her about me, she thought I was so wonderful and always told me to stop being so hard on myself. She loved me unconditionally, with all of my flaws. She understood me when I cried about things that other people deemed trivial because she too had been told her whole life that she was oversensitive. But she never treated me like it was a weakness to overcome. She inspired me to love the part of myself that feels things deeply, because that’s what makes me such a good artist.

Right before Thanksgiving last year, I was preparing to leave for Michigan. Cutie had been in a comatose state in the hospital for a couple months after her leukemia worsened, so I planned to go to Michigan to be with her. The day before my flight, she passed away. I did not fully feel the impact of her death in the moment and only cried for a few minutes. At the funeral a week later though, I was a mess. I had lost my best friend.

Right now I’m dealing with a lot of painful feelings, and I want my Grandma Cutie. I’m in a place where I do not feel like I am good enough for anyone or anything. I seem to have forgotten all of the positive words she imbued in me. And trying to “better” myself through balanced diet and exercise seems like a futile mission. What is it all for? You could say I’m having an “oversensitive” moment. And the one person I feel could make it all go away is not here anymore. My instinct is to flounder and grasp on to something, anything that will make me feel better. For me that is typically food. But all the mozzarella sticks will not make this better, I’ve tried that.

At my eating disorder center they taught us about how hard it is to let go of your crutches. The disorder is a crutch that we use to cope with deeper issues. I cannot in good conscience use food to cope. It does not even work anymore, even if I wanted it to. But I also don’t have the support system that I used to have either. I’m floundering, and I have no choice but to sink, or learn how to swim on my own.

Our regularly featured guest blogger Azriél is a New York based performer with a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts. She is a proud feminist, and a not so proud Bachelor enthusiast.

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