My therapist said, ‘Anorexia is a form of self flagellation.’ I knew what she meant. I didn’t want to own it then. I’d been working really hard peeling back the layers of inter-generational trauma. I understood why I befriended the shadow: anorexia. And I went to Africa. My brain was fried.
I’d physically recovered by 23 and didn’t give anorexia much thought. By 30, I was pregnant with my first child and by 35, a mother of three. I returned to work four years later, weekend ICU, an intense world which kept me enthralled for 18 years. I needed a break and moved into community health. Writing called. I answered.
Anorexia looks extreme: the weight loss, restriction and rituals. But it doesn’t begin that way. It creeps up on you and hoodwinks you into allegiance to a dangerous ally. That’s my experience anyway. How are we influenced? And why?
This poem looks at two vastly different experiences. I’ve lived the experience through my cultural lens and watch my daughters struggle with their perceptions of their bodies. During my travels, I’ve come across women with far less wealth but a powerful sense of self.
We recently travelled north from Melbourne to Brisbane, a journey that unearthed memories from over thirty years ago. My parents, long gone, undertook this journey to visit us. This piece is a collage of my impressions on the road.
Up the Newell
Up early after a scrappy sleep,
Our bags are packed, Christmas gifts safely stored.
New Years Day:
Eerily-empty roads stretch out in front of us.
The Newell Highway, the inland route.
My computer DiEd. I tried to breathe life into it,
‘Let’s get you a new computer. How long have you had that thing anyway?’ Inwardly groaning, I jumped into the car. A new challenge loomed, setting up a new computer… passwords… resetting passwords…moving files… Arghhh………………………………………..
I wrote about Dala, my father’s hometown in Schicksal. We went there as part of my research into the past. Dala taught me many things. This is what happened just trying to get there. Our confusion is probably shared by travellers and immigrants daily.
‘Do you want to share this memory?’ Facebook asked. Did I? Not sure, I flicked through the posts and their images. Only you can see these, it reminded me. A glint of sadness passed by as I thought of Turkey and India.
No holiday this year.