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 …
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.
We have them now and then, those weeks that see you taking a deep breath and praying you’ll make it to the end healthy and sane. Last week was one of those, things stacked up, lots of big things: goodbyes, a new job, facing the demons …
I thought I’d examine the effect on my mental health. Weeks like that can uncork the most grounded being. And I’m working on the grounded part. I’m a leaf with a rock on it.
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?
Conflict? Is it beneficial? Soul-destroying? Or an opportunity to learn? Can we become addicted to conflict? Writing my story, I’m in year eleven of my high school experience battling anorexia and I’m forced to address conflict. I was at breaking point. Something had to give and it couldn’t be me, good girls don’t make waves.
I’d made a huge discovery, I didn’t like the life I was living anymore. I’d had enough. Would this ensure recovery? Would it be enough?