This has been an interesting year, to put it mildly.
For starters, I now understand first-hand all the pathos and drama of great depression-era films...because depressions are, to put it frankly, often quite depressing.
I also understand why my literary agent warned me to "be rested" before my book release in February 2009 (I wasn't. Oops.)
And I understand that sometimes it is best to go into new enterprises, like launching a first-of-its-kind global eating disorders online mentoring community, complete with rigorous pro-recovery content moderation, with child-like idealism - because even when everything else looks, acts, and feels impossible, idealism can always be counted on to save the day.
But most of all, I understand that my fashion sense is never, ever going to err on the side of either fashion or sense.
Which realization actually gives me a strange sort of peaceful relief.
Four weeks ago, I took the first vacation I have had in six years. I planned a road trip to see friends in South Carolina (two more firsts for me) and boy was I excited. At least until, as I was backing down my driveway into the direct morning sunlight, I discovered that my favorite pair of sunglasses had gone missing.
Hmmm. Inconvenient timing, but not unworkable, I thought. The sunglass-sleuth in me busily got to work to solve the mystery.....were they underneath my seat? Hidden in the glove compartment? Buried in my purse under what appeared to be the rest of my apartment?
Nope, nope, and nope.
I remembered that my car had a sunglasses holder above the rearview mirror, and when I popped it open, three pairs of unfortunately-designed and ill-fitting shades fell into my lap. I chose one, slid them on, and put the car in drive.
Three hours later, with seven hours to go, I had gone through all three pairs and all I had for my troubles were sunspots and a strange bruising ache over both ears. This simply was not working.
I finally pulled into Montgomery, Alabama, for the night, and spied a nice resale shop where I felt sure I would find comfortable vintage sunglasses of the sort I preferred. The first pair I picked up had nice wide white lenses that looked cute when I stared into the postage stamp-sized mirror above the sunglass rack.
The price tag said they were only $7.50. Problem solved.
It wasn't until days later that I really got a good look at myself in my new sunglasses from the side.
What was that I spied?
Chicken pox. Yup. Unmistakably so.
My new sunglasses have chicken pox.
Fashion emergency: 1. Shannon: 0.
Some things are never going to change. But they aren't the important things. So I still can't pick out sunglasses. I can - and did - recover from anorexia and bulimia. And ten years later, I'm still recovered.
I can write the first book of its kind about a subject I am passionate about - eating disorders mentoring - and actually write a book proposal capable of convincing someone to publish it.
I can also launch a first-of-its-kind eating disorders mentoring community, using skills I have learned like asking for help, asking for help, and asking for help. Oh, and accepting the help that is proffered each time I ask.
And I can purchase a pair of virally-infected sunglasses and never once allow that vicious little voice in my head - the same voice that used to bellow at me from behind the guise of my eating disorder - to say one unkind word about it.
In fact, today I rather like fashion-challenged me. I like me, period. And I like my pink-pocked sunglasses.
In one of the Life Celebration Affirmations from Beating Ana, I write:
I am the only me who ever has been, is now, or ever will be. I am singular, unique, unrepeatable, irreplaceable. I am a mystery, a miracle, but even more importantly - I am me. I will save myself. I will preserve this historical phenomenon so that it does not die but will live on even after I depart to inspire others to take heart, live with courage, fight what opposes them, and triumph - just as I am triumphing now.