Sitting in the car, country drive, Spotify time capsule, John Denver’s ‘Sunshine,’ plays. Music does that rockets you back to the past and I’m 15 sitting in my parent’s unit. It wasn’t just the music, I’d been doing some serious edits.
Edits can’t help but take me back to the cesspool of my adolescent ED (eating disorder). I guess my mind traversed two realities already, the unknown ready to sprout. A new thought had formed since my return from overseas, nagging, bugging and buzzing around my head like an elusive mosquito.
I felt the compulsion to return to work. Left field, I thought I’d settled for some locum work here and there. The persistence of the thought bugged me. I examined my reasons discarding the usual in the first review. Some snippets rang true. That was all. So I pondered. Atonement came up, right in my face: atonement.
I’m a first generation Australian born to two adult orphans (WWII). Both carry pain, multiple losses, a lifetime’s tragedy compressed into the war years. My father had PTSD but we just lived with it. My mother struggled, a German woman assimilating into 1950’s Australia.
I was a kid trying to grow up. Now nearly 60, I understand the turmoil they must have experienced as I began to vanish before their eyes. A restrictive anorexic, I found ways to keep the food register in balance, i.e. calories out > calories in. The imbalance perfect.
My mother’s eyes deepened at times, outwardly showing her concern. A nurse, a psychiatric nurse; had she come across anorexia before? My father watched me and as our relationship became more distant, he watched me more closely.
In the 70’s anorexia remained undiagnosed and untreated. Magazine articles fleetingly referred to it but on the whole a tanned, androgynous body was the grail. Most girls wanted one and most boys wanted the girls.
My experience as a mother, especially the harrowing times, have given me valuable insight into my mother’s feelings. I raised two girls and we still love each other! An only child, a second chance for my parents, my illness must have terrified them. I have included my mother’s inner thoughts in my manuscript hoping to give greater insight into her character.
I’m an adult orphan now. The last fifteen years have taken me to some dark and lonely places. ‘Sunshine,’ he sang, a ball formed in my throat and I couldn’t hold back the tears. It was hard to see past myself, when lost in the middle of the confusion of a mental health crisis. Just getting through another hour, day, week, seemed all consuming. I remember that and I regret it too. I thought of my mother’s love.
This may sound like guilt ridden flagellation, but I have made peace with myself. Writing has helped me sort the mess.Trying to explain it to the reader has forced me to reconcile the experience within myself. It’s been hard work. I understand struggle and would like to help those that struggle.
I’ve made peace with myself, I’ve recovered and mow I’d like to give back.
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