vigil definition: an act of staying awake, especially at night, in order to be with a person who is very ill or dying, or to make a protest, or to pray Cambridge Dictionary
18/06/2018, 5.30 -7.30 p.m. Reclaim Princess Park, that’s what came up in my Facebook feed. Introduction to Oncology for Physiotherapists and Exercise Professionals, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre 18/06/2018, 8.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. My PD landed me right in the neighbourhood.
I wanted to pay my respects to Eurydice Dixon.
Siphoned along by the ever-increasing throng of people who knew where to go, I found my way to Princess Park. The grass underfoot yielded and cold seeped through the soles of my boots. Melbourne winter, just shy of the solstice, freezing of course. Silently a crowd gathered.
It was amazing as you can see from Kate Carey Peters’ footage.
Everyday I discover something new. That’s how I choose to live my life. Tackling my struggle to stay on top of the inner critic, I’ve had to embrace honesty and self-awareness. My body talks to me. Yours does too.
But do you hear it?
Normal. Where is the line? When do faulty beliefs become pathological?
Spiralling into an eating disorder at 12 years of age, I’d crossed the line into the unhealthy zone. I didn’t know that. My parents watched me derail weight loss, cold, amenorrhea, exercise compulsion, obsession with food … It became unhealthy.
The epilogue of that experience, scattered ideas, metaphors and images scrawled in a notebook. I think better on paper than on a computer screen. I wanted to crystallise what I’d gained from my unhealthy association with my inner critic. What was the root cause of my ED?
I’d lost myself.
I’ve lived with the shadow of anorexia for 45 years and have spent a lot of that time trying to understand why this happened to me. It took me nine years to physically recover: weight within a normal range, regular periods and less sensitivity to the cold. But in my inner world the duality continued. As I understood myself more, it lessened.
Ageing is confronting in a world where beauty is valued and financially rewarded. Although the body ages slowly, the changes are possibly more apparent to someone living with an eating disorder. Many women my age, 55 plus, have either not been diagnosed nor have they ever been treated for their eating disorders.
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.
What else is there to do on a cool, May day but attend a poetry reading?
What else is there to do on a fine Saturday afternoon but recite poetry in the company of accomplished local poets and Cate Kennedy. Don’t know her? Here’s a starting point.
Cate Kennedy poems
Twice … I’ve read the same question. It held my attention, if only for a short time between this and that. Then I read it again. That made three times. “Why do you write?” The question sought me, so I thought I’d ponder it.
Why did I write and what place does writing serve in my life?
I’m home but my words float along behind me. The break from the rigour of my manuscript has done its job. I hope my words catch up to me soon. So here is a prose poetry account of writing, travelling and most importantly changing.
My resolution of my ED has been a lifelong journey, I’m nearly 60. The decision to write about it was driven by an incessant internal nagging. I resisted it for a long time, knowing that behind the recovered physical body of the anorexic, lay unresolved emotional misconceptions.
Then I began.
I smashed the experience out quite quickly 45,000 words of undecipherable me. My best friend gave me valuable critique. ‘It’s too confusing,’ she said. At this point, flashing neon doubts arose. I wondered what people would think. Where is the line between wellness and ongoing mental health issues?
Retail therapy? I like shopping. Sometimes, I indulge my unhappiness with a new pair of shoes. Sometimes window shopping isn’t enough. Wandering around, checking things out, watching people and walking away with a brown paper shopping bag can be very therapeutic. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s not.
I hope you enjoy my prose poem.