I have given my manuscript to four readers, one reader has daughter traversing the anorexic landscape. I’m mulling through the feedback as it rolls in. My body is sick; a winter bug that has left me horizontal, vulnerable and deaf.
Yesterday, I saw my psychologist. I’m struggling: illness adds a whole new dimension to redesigning the inner world. It flays you. So, I’m stuck with the unpleasant feelings. Loneliness bites. It invites me to run towards myself not further away.
‘The Anorexic yah, yah,’ doesn’t go away. I’m still learning to live with it.
Last Monday came and with it an irresistible urge to complete this manuscript.
But fear is near
Emptiness shadows joy
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.
I’ve lived with the shadow of anorexia for 45 years and have spent a lot of that time trying to understand why this happened to me. It took me nine years to physically recover: weight within a normal range, regular periods and less sensitivity to the cold. But in my inner world the duality continued. As I understood myself more, it lessened.
Ageing is confronting in a world where beauty is valued and financially rewarded. Although the body ages slowly, the changes are possibly more apparent to someone living with an eating disorder. Many women my age, 55 plus, have either not been diagnosed nor have they ever been treated for their eating disorders.
Everyone’s busy. Grim faced people stream past me on the street. Many are typing or scrolling on their phones. An old lady approaches, dressed up for an outing, a day in town. ‘Beautiful day isn’t it?’ her gravelly voice washes past me. She’s still walking having learned that no one has time to stop.
I think of the VCE students who walked through the school gate for the last time yesterday. The relief and uncertainty, a balm and a wound shoulder them. It’s now or never … exams, results, courses, dreams … I remember.
Dreams, what are they? Are they part of our subconscious mind or fantasy? Do they serve a purpose? Or not?
I dream vividly and frequently. As a child, I terrified myself with recurring dreams of separation or failure. Some nights, I ran from one reality to another and another again. I’d wake exhausted happy the night had passed, hung over from fatigue.
I walk. It keeps me sane. Lately, dare I say it, I’ve tried mindfulness. It’s then when the words come. Poems, ideas, edits and of course I’m not carrying a pen.
in the shaded garden
on naked limbs
On the path something black wriggled, clearly alive, clearly lost. My mind searches for a name. Rummaging …
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.
I’m getting older. No doubt about it. Ageing and wisdom are by no means synonymous. Why? In our material world, got to love that we even write songs about that theme, we crave youth and perfection. We want symmetry. We crave the golden ratio! Does it define beauty?
I believe that fight and flight also governs our response to strong emotions. Some people come back at the person/ situation enraged; words or fists flying. Others don’t.
Are you someone who simply runs away? For me it’s easier. Either physically creating distance, emotionally by shutting down or psychologically dulling reality. I’d like to share my discovery of running away.