Food, arghhh! It’s complicated isn’t it? I love food, I really do. Even at my most vulnerable, as a restrictive anorexic, I loved food. I loved watching people enjoy food. ButI loved chips and chocolate. My mother’s ongoing sabotage of my love of greens, probably helped to keep me alive.
Mama always kept treats in our pantry. It smelled delicious, like a deli. And it was. Treats included chips and chocolate. I caved time and time again gorging and then self-flagellating. It gets better right?
Good friends keep us sane, especially the kind we plan to get old and weird with. A waft of cigarette smoke caught my attention. I craved a fag. Omg. Where did that impulse even come from? I mentioned it. She laughed: You’re self soothing.
The words struck me and stuck fast. Truth does that! I had to admit to myself, I’d been hurting despite the perfectionist persona.
Sunday: A turbulent night over and light peeks through the sheer curtains. I prefer it to the darkness but am peeved to have missed the dawn. It’s been an intense year so far and the hype up to Christmas makes me want to step back.
In sight of the finish line, I’m flat today.
I’m watching the blossom fiercely wrenched from the trees by spring winds. A metaphor? I too, am suspended in the whim of the universe, a dance so random that I can’t always keep up. I’m still writing. I’m trying to encapsulate the process of self-empowerment, an adolescent anorexic turning the tide. It ebbs and flows a staccato experience.
Writing has given me the courage to shine light into my deepest recesses. Words fail. How do I convey my truth and share something that drove me to deny myself over and over? Like the blossom, I’m stripped bare by spring winds of my pen.
I consider myself recovered. But some days a small voice nags. It is still there lurking in the background. Weird things seem to trigger it, but most centre around a central theme: authenticity. I used to feel separate, Anorexia does that. It cuts you off.
Challenges are a gift. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Sometimes life gets me down and I struggle to see the positive. But at those moments that I feel the most disconnected, I’m again honouring the inauthentic in my life. In a world dripping expectations, remaining true to oneself can be quite a challenge. I’m not ashamed to admit, I spent a good deal of my life chasing rainbows.
Sometimes life cracks you open and sometimes it doesn’t. Facing one’s mental health issues does. It does. Rising above the monsters that lurk behind the 2D cut out self, takes self-compassion and patience. Some would say we have to fight and slay the beast. But is it so?
I had to befriend mine. An acrostic poem …
The manuscript is progressing and I’m in the middle of year eleven. It’s a whirlwind time with senior school responsibilities and study and boys … At 59, I’m recalling what it was like to be fifteen, anorexic and naive. I’m looking at my two-dimensional view of the world and that of my greatest influencers, my father.
After my fifteenth birthday, our relationship changed and he distanced himself from me. Loving me became Mama’s job. But dad’s views underpinned our lives, both hers and mine.
The perfectionist said, ‘It’s okay.’ It didn’t have to say more. Okay didn’t equal perfect and everywhere I looked the ideal loomed. I didn’t compete with others. In fact I disliked competition. But I held a different set of standards for myself. Personal choice, I figured.
Year eleven, German Verse Speaking Competition … gaps, Swiss cheese recall. I sought ways to reconcile the short fall in my memory. Accepting my cultural heritage had become another pillar in my recovery from anorexia. I’d fragmented myself. But realised that I had choice and in an adolescent way, with my half-formed brain, began to glue the fragments together.
But the question remained, how did one stimulate the fuzzy memory?