She laughed at me.
I didn’t crack a smile.
Half a second later she stopped, suddenly realizing that this was not a joke. I was serious.
It was that time of the week. The time when I meet with a staff member for a “check-in.” She asks me about my week, goes down a list of questions, then asks me to set three goals. Some check-ins last longer than others. This was one of the longer ones.
Impulsive was the only word I could use to describe how I’d been feeling, but I knew it was wrong. My definition of impulsive didn’t match the world’s. I wasn’t spending massive amounts of money or engaging in risky behavior per se.
I was raw with emotion; wearing it on my sleeves. My filter had vanished. I was recklessly truthful. I laid it all on the table. To me, this was impulsive. It was different from anything I’d ever done.
She asked me a question. One I hadn’t considered. “Is this impulsivity positive or negative?” Like I said, I hadn’t really considered it. I had assumed it was bad. I mean that’s what the world tells us, right? Being impulsive is bad?
For a moment I considered the idea that my behavior was neither good nor bad; merely different. It screamed in the face of the secrets, manipulation, lies, and deceit that had sabotaged my treatment for the last 3 months. My impulsivity was an act of defiance against my eating disorder, which I had considered a friend. So yes, it felt bad.
I thought they’d look at me like I was crazy if I tried to describe this unique feeling of impulsiveness. I thought they’d panic. They’d think I was getting worse and raise the alarm–who knew where I’d be next week. I didn’t expect them to call it growth. Progress. Maybe they’re the crazy ones.
It was towards the end of my check-in when she laughed and my impulsivity shattered the glass room in which every one of our previous conversations had taken place. I was no longer predictable and compliant. I think it took her by surprise. It sure did catch me off guard.
Laughter. Her laughter would have crushed me last week. But not today.
“Hey. I’m serious, ok? I ordered my Christmas cards in November. They’re the really awesome kind with pictures of Skylar and I from throughout the year. But I couldn’t even bring myself to do anything with them until just this past week. I practically missed Christmas to my depression this year. So yes, we’re halfway through January. And yes, the cards say ‘Merry Christmas’. But I don’t care. I bought the cards and I finally found joy in preparing them and I’m going to mail them this week. So write it down.”
It was then that I realized my impulsivity was not something to be feared. Her laughter allowed me to answer that question for myself. I could feel energy flowing through my body again. I was engaging with people, my environment, my dreams. I had leapt off the sidelines and into the game. I was out of practice; it was exhausting. But it was exhilarating.
I could tell she was thoroughly horrified by her own foolish laughter. She offered an unnecessary apology. Her reaction was innocent and I like her too much to hold a grudge. When she saw that I was not hurt by her laughter, she smiled. “Thank you,” she said. “You spoke up. You found your voice and used it. You called me out and stood up for yourself. You taught me something. Look at you.”
I felt alive. Empowered. Hopeful. Courageous. Challenged. Vulnerable. All at the same time.
I no longer feared myself, my growth, or my journey. I chose to run with it. To be swept up in the whirlwind. To lead a recklessly radical quest for life and purpose. Not next year. Not after treatment. Not tomorrow. Today.