At 60, I have finished anorexia. Life had pushed me into a corner, no exit sign. I’d come a long way on my own but the roots of my ED remained alive within me. Inter-generational trauma proved to be the fertiliser for my ED. I was sub-clinical. The world saw me as normal, even enviable.
I lived a life that didn’t belong to me.
Winter brought illness. August brought respite, a trip to Africa. In Africa, I integrated seven months of therapy. Bouncing along the road, looking out the window; I gave myself time with me. In the process the shadow, my anorexic self slipped away. The revelation blew my mind. It would be rosy from here on, right? And that’s when I began living with a gap.
I’ve been home two weeks exploring the new me. The changes astound me. An avid talker, I’ve descended into an eerie silence. The need to express an opinion on everything has vanished. My poetry, a way to explore the hard stuff, is silent too.
Where have my words gone?
My therapist said, ‘Anorexia is a form of self flagellation.’ I knew what she meant. I didn’t want to own it then. I’d been working really hard peeling back the layers of inter-generational trauma. I understood why I befriended the shadow: anorexia. And I went to Africa. My brain was fried.
I’d physically recovered by 23 and didn’t give anorexia much thought. By 30, I was pregnant with my first child and by 35, a mother of three. I returned to work four years later, weekend ICU, an intense world which kept me enthralled for 18 years. I needed a break and moved into community health. Writing called. I answered.
Just a short note to thank those of you following my blog. I never thought that I’d divulge my inner world struggles and write about anorexia. The process has been both exhausting and liberating. As a reward, I’m travelling to Africa and taking a break for the next month. Bon Voyage. Stay safe.
I’ve put the manuscript out there. Two of my readers have come back to me. I’m grateful for their honesty and time commitment. I asked for feedback and I got it. It got to me, too! I have changes to make, quite a few.
Honing a manuscript takes time.
On the last day of my 59th year, I attended a Body Esteem Educator Training Course run by the Butterfly Foundation. The irony of the situation wasn’t wasted on me, a recovered anorexic learning about body esteem.
What was I doing? What was I looking for? Food for thought here.
It’s nearly a month since I finished writing and the critiques are coming in. It’s as I’d expected, my readers find things to love and things to loathe. Critique doesn’t equal criticism but my head still struggles with that concept.
I’m human. I’m not alone. I’m sick. Life has gone unexpectedly awry.
I have given my manuscript to four readers, one reader has daughter traversing the anorexic landscape. I’m mulling through the feedback as it rolls in. My body is sick; a winter bug that has left me horizontal, vulnerable and deaf.
Yesterday, I saw my psychologist. I’m struggling: illness adds a whole new dimension to redesigning the inner world. It flays you. So, I’m stuck with the unpleasant feelings. Loneliness bites. It invites me to run towards myself not further away.
‘The Anorexic yah, yah,’ doesn’t go away. I’m still learning to live with it.
I’ve been writing a lot lately driven by an undeniable urge to finish my second manuscript. Writing a memoir is personal, mental health one even more so. A choice exists what to divulge and what to withhold. It’s weird, say too much and be vulnerable, say too little and appear bland.
For me it was anorexia.
We form attachments to our writing projects. Born through us, the umbilical cord twangs. But we have to let them go. We have to trust and accept help. Last time, I didn’t ask for help: a big mistake. So I’m sharing some simple lessons learned with anyone who is finishing a manuscript.
Last Monday came and with it an irresistible urge to complete this manuscript.
But fear is near
Emptiness shadows joy