The Storyteller’s Story

One hundred pounds, my goal weight paled. A menopausal woman, a mother of three and a grandmother my relationship with my body had travelled a crooked path. It began eighteen months ago, the compulsion to re-immerse  myself in the adolescent years reviewing my association with my inner voice.

70s print

Insensitive words spat at me by my best friend’s older sister awoke something sleeping inside. A weed perhaps? At ten years of age, I realised I didn’t fit. That gave me the beginning the memory of me, a child hiding from the world under the dwarf date palm in our front yard. Moving from the sanctuary of our migrant neighbourhood hurt me deeply.

I seethed with unexpressed anger but I was a good girl. At High School, out of my comfort zone the dominoes toppled leading to the anorexic experience. During the past eighteen months, I’ve deconstructed my life moving from a highly respectable identity into the unknown. Had I really chosen to be a writer?

Mid-life urged me to share the inner dialogue with my anorexic ideal. I fought it. The idea of detailing my descent into a disease which left me cold, skinny and on the brink of hospitalisation, terrified me. I felt myself losing respectability; a health care provider with a mental health diagnosis.

Would I be judged? What if people thought I was crazy?

Snatching memories here and there, I tried to order them into a book. As they amassed, the manipulative voice of anorexia revealed itself. After a 40 year high school reunion, the doors of incompleteness sprang open. Catching up with class mates, people I’d shared the intense intimacies of high school life with, I remembered.

But they remembered things differently.

Fear, self-doubt and a lack of formal training meant my writing appeared raw. Clearly, I needed help so I enrolled in writing classes, memoir writing workshops and joined writer’s circles. Initially when sharing my writing, more accurately myself, my vulnerabilities held me back.

I began to wonder if this book was such a good idea. Every time I seriously considered abandoning it,  I’d spot someone out here; cachexic and cold.It slapped me back on track.

The story continues to evolve, my time on the slippery slope, the dawning of the awareness that something was seriously wrong and my disentanglement with this dangerous process. My computer file is a mass of stories: me, Saima my inner voice, my mother and her baggage, my father and his shattered dreams. It is the 70’s, a time of upheaval, political and social change, garish colours and crazy designs. My story is at home there, a chameleon among the madness.

Work-shopping evenings have helped me gain confidence in my emerging direction. Like my life which seems two lives yet again, I am now re-assembling myself by cutting and pasting my personal narrative relating to the turbulent and formative adolescent years. As I refine my story, I reach deeply into my darkest recesses and hope to share my learning from this experience.



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