You’ve got to Love the F-word

The combination of end-of-term madness – let’s just say it looks as though a paper mill exploded in my apartment – and Wintery weather have left me drained of energy, and between downing mug upon mug of tea and frenziedly scribbling study notes on Post-Its to stick to every free space of wall so that I can be constantly bombarded with important test-information, I am left looking like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards, ten times over.

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Having prioritized health, I continue to enjoy three square meals a day and good nightly rest, but the thing that’s wearing on me is the freezing temperature of my living space. Cleverly (note the inflection of sarcasm), my landlord turned off the heat for the summer (bear in mind that summer in Eugene doesn’t arrive until late July, if you’re lucky, and usually lasts until mid-August), which means that all my precious energy is being shivered away. In turn, my concentration has been compromised – It’s hard to study under your bed covers or standing up by the turned-on-oven – as has my sanity: After pouring milk into my cereal, I actually put the bottle in the cupboard instead of the fridge. And this is when I’m glad to have friends… and Facebook.

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Not fifteen minutes after posting my status on Facebook that I was on the verge of contracting pneumonia (it read, “One good thing about having no heat in sub-zero Oregon: My blue fingies and toes and I are getting into bed a whopping 2 hours earlier than usual… With these shivering bones, who knows how many z’s I’ll catch, but one thing’s for sure: tonight’s dreams better involve hot tubs, the tropics and/or space heaters…”), my friend wrote back with the news that he was racing a plug-in heater over to me. We exchanged gifts – I gave him family sized packets of cheez-Its and M&M’s; he gave me the heat machine – and all returned to normal. Breath of relief.

What's on my Christmas list? A teapot.

What’s on my Christmas wish list? A teapot.

My sincere fear of being cold stems from the years I spent shivering owing to being little more than skin and bones. In turn, not only is cold weather simply physically uncomfortable, it triggers painful memories of the years I spent suffering from anorexia. Frigid temperatures, therefore, have become associated with piercingly painful starvation, and even though I am no longer malnourished or restricting my caloric intake, when I feel cold, I panic. That said, although this cold-hunger association is far from welcome, it certainly speaks to the remarkable power of the mind, and knowing that I nurture something so impressive is actually reassuring.

At times, the fact that everything carries such meaning to me is a nuisance, but, for the most part, I feel blessed to be so emotionally connected to my surroundings. The important part is to remember we have the ability to remove ourselves from displeasing situations, even if that means asking a friend for something as small as a space heater. As Winston Churchill said, “We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.”

Do the things you fear carry greater meaning than meets the eye? What are your fears associated with? For me, feeling cold is associated with hunger – both physical and emotional – and I wonder if you have similar experiences. Do share!

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4 responses to “You’ve got to Love the F-word

  1. I’ve always had cold hands and feet, even before the ED. The quote in the cartoon you posted is EXACTLY what my best friend’s granddad once said to me. He speaks Spanish and made the extra effort to articulate this sweet saying in English. I still remember it as the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.

    Stay warm! I’m not sure about my personal fear associations. Loneliness seems like the obvious choice–it’s not just a lack of people, but maybe a reminder of feeling disconnected from others and the world.

  2. Your friend sounds wonderful, and I hope you’re enjoying the brand-new space heater! I completely sympathize, though I came at the temperature problem from the opposite direction: once I stopped being so cold constantly (I used to wear sweatshirts in summer, which here in Ann Arbor is somewhere around 85 degrees…), I became hyper-sensitive to heat. I guess I got used to the cold or something, because suddenly I found myself sweating constantly, like the world’s earliest onset of menopause. Now that things are settling down, I completely agree with you: it’s wonderful to be able to really feel a part of your environment, and to be cold when it’s cold out and warm when it’s warm out. It sounds like a simple thing, but it’s not!
    Also, good for you for taking care of your body and knowing what it needs: warmth, food, and sleep aren’t options, they’re necessities! And shake your fist angrily at your landlord for me 🙂

  3. I hate being cold with a passion – that is why I am looking at places to liver in the south/west coast haha. During finals I make sure to eat well and get enough rest – don’t want all that studying to go to waste.

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