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
Good Friday morning, a quiet time… The shops are closed and the neighbours quiet. Time to reflect. Lately, I’m checking in with myself these days. Easter, the full moon and the past five months; a lot has changed…
The process of change is for the courageous. To change you have to meet yourself honestly which takes determination and patience. Struggling with a rampant inner critic, I view myself harshly, expecting perfection. Nothing less.
Stress triggers coping mechanisms and perfection is a coping mechanism. Perfectionism is common in those living with eating disorders such as anorexia.
What do the words, ‘good girl,’ unleash in you?
I’ve been a good girl for most of my life. Has it made me happy? Sometimes. Like most self discovery; it’s a mire in there. ‘Good girl,’ is in the hard basket with other taboos: periods, mothers who drink or do drugs, women who choose not to have kids…
Over the years my ED lay dormant, a salient spore. I knew stress triggered me and I coped by setting unrelenting standards for myself. Enter the perfectionist. But which perfectionist? Was there more than one?
I employed three:
- The punitive critic
- The demanding critic
- The guilt inducing critic
Slippery and deceptive, I have just begun to honestly face them.
Love spots? I do. I’m wading deep. Doves coo and immediately I’m back home, a child barefoot in the back yard among the fruit trees, Gardenia in the air. I’m unravelling. The past and present co-exist inside me.
I’m the girl with spots on my dress. And I’m not alone.