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.
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?
vigil definition: an act of staying awake, especially at night, in order to be with a person who is very ill or dying, or to make a protest, or to pray Cambridge Dictionary
18/06/2018, 5.30 -7.30 p.m. Reclaim Princess Park, that’s what came up in my Facebook feed. Introduction to Oncology for Physiotherapists and Exercise Professionals, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre 18/06/2018, 8.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. My PD landed me right in the neighbourhood.
I wanted to pay my respects to Eurydice Dixon.
Siphoned along by the ever-increasing throng of people who knew where to go, I found my way to Princess Park. The grass underfoot yielded and cold seeped through the soles of my boots. Melbourne winter, just shy of the solstice, freezing of course. Silently a crowd gathered.
It was amazing as you can see from Kate Carey Peters’ footage.
Normal. Where is the line? When do faulty beliefs become pathological?
Spiralling into an eating disorder at 12 years of age, I’d crossed the line into the unhealthy zone. I didn’t know that. My parents watched me derail weight loss, cold, amenorrhea, exercise compulsion, obsession with food … It became unhealthy.
The epilogue of that experience, scattered ideas, metaphors and images scrawled in a notebook. I think better on paper than on a computer screen. I wanted to crystallise what I’d gained from my unhealthy association with my inner critic. What was the root cause of my ED?
I’d lost myself.
31.12.2017! Really? Another year is nearly over, but in my mind I’m still somewhere in mid-December. I’ve moved from a family which enjoyed New Year into one which doesn’t really give a hoot. New Year is about turning the page, about new beginning and promises. It’s a mixed blessing with its crowds, booze and terrorist potential.
1974, that’s where I’m up to. Spring 1973 left the earth sodden under foot and the tropical air heavy and sticky. Life became harder and harder. The social isolation drove me further away from myself into the arms of my inner voice, the anorexic one.
Summer holidays consisted of the hype up to Christmas. Mama loved Christmas so the atmosphere at home lifted. The ‘Regensburger Domspatzen’ sang carols in German and mum sang along. And it rained some more.
Have you ever tried to change? I’m talking big change, making a choice from hell, from a trapped existence:anorexia, alcohol or depression; the cages that ramp up insidiously until one morning you wake up wishing it would all go away? That moment when you’re really sick of living this way.
Change is dicey. It’s what we want someone else to do? If they changed this or that, we’d be happy. Really? Really, is that where it’s at? Change is hard because the only person who can change our situation is us. By the time a bad tape has been running for years, we’ve often separated ourselves from family, friends and lovers. Inside our glass bubble live intangible things like isolation, loneliness, fear and pain. Crap company.
It happened amidst the chaos, the email that piqued my curiosity. I read it. A smile tugged at the corners of my mouth. It was a dangerous link with the past. I closed it and decided to sleep on it.
The next morning, I looked up at he Paperbark trees glowing in the golden light of the morning sun. Picking up the phone, I reopened the email; the job offer beckoned. A warm glow spread through my body, maybe I should go back.
Today, I remember being a bride. Like many young brides, I’d planned the perfect day which of course included the perfect version of me. Life keeps changing, princess to bride to young mum, to superhero to middle age. The changes physical, emotional and mental can be confronting. At times we don’t recognise ourselves.
A difficult decision had come to fruition, I’d sold a dream I’d created, the family had grown up. Stress, anxiety, overwhelm… Life gave me lemons but I struggled with the recipe for lemonade. Change still tasted a tad sour.
My feelings took me back to when I was fourteen.