Body image. Being female. Life’s challenges: wedding dress or bikini? Both bring us face to face with our bodies. They are emotionally charged experiences, all mirrors and expectations. Bikini shopping lays us bare, as close to naked as it gets. But the wedding dress final fitting puts our flaws under the microscope on a grand scale.
Can you relate to the image of the girl on that special day, hand on tummy, breathing in, eyes avoiding while desperately seeking the mirror? She’s present but has checked out. Self-acceptance is out of her comfort zone.
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 grew up nose in a fairy tales book, a little girl who wanted to be a princess. I disliked the scary stories like Little red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel. The dark woods frightened me. As I grew up, I found myself there, an anorexic perfectionist deep in the forest.
It took me a long time to understand the role of the darkness in my life. This a series of questions are me unpacking the darkness.
image : http://www.clker.com/clipart-black-question-mark-square-icon.html
We all like to look beautiful. Beauty comes with a shadow. The shadow includes jealousy, lust, objectification …. You can probably add a few of your own. It’s a long list of uninvited things. Have you ever wondered why they are there?
I’ve sat on the razor’s edge of beauty. It took me places I didn’t expect. Being slender lead me to flaunt with anorexia in my youth. As a young woman, I dimmed my light and hid. I got angry at the injustice of it all. I lost myself among the definitions of who I should be as a woman. Outside definitions came into my inner space and ran amok. Messy.
I was posting a letter to my daughter. Snail mail! I enjoyed the walk to the post box, all spring wind and sunshine. Walking clears my head. It keeps me nailed on. That rhythmic patter of my feet on the footpath calms me. My mind can mull unimpeded in the fresh air.
Mull it does. This morning The words, ‘the Smallness,’ kept taking centre stage. Oh no, I thought. I didn’t want to think about that right now. But a few kilometres further on, I’d done the mental gymnastics.
What does the smallness mean?
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’m in a raw place. It’s painful to let go. Life has been cataclysmic , loss upon loss, the outworn endlessly shed. Am I a willing participant? Probably not. Would it be easier if I was? Probably. Why is it so hard to let go? Why?
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 …