At 60, I have finished anorexia. Life had pushed me into a corner, no exit sign. I’d come a long way on my own but the roots of my ED remained alive within me. Inter-generational trauma proved to be the fertiliser for my ED. I was sub-clinical. The world saw me as normal, even enviable.
I lived a life that didn’t belong to me.
Winter brought illness. August brought respite, a trip to Africa. In Africa, I integrated seven months of therapy. Bouncing along the road, looking out the window; I gave myself time with me. In the process the shadow, my anorexic self slipped away. The revelation blew my mind. It would be rosy from here on, right? And that’s when I began living with a gap.
I’ve been home two weeks exploring the new me. The changes astound me. An avid talker, I’ve descended into an eerie silence. The need to express an opinion on everything has vanished. My poetry, a way to explore the hard stuff, is silent too.
Where have my words gone?
On the last day of my 59th year, I attended a Body Esteem Educator Training Course run by the Butterfly Foundation. The irony of the situation wasn’t wasted on me, a recovered anorexic learning about body esteem.
What was I doing? What was I looking for? Food for thought here.
It’s nearly a month since I finished writing and the critiques are coming in. It’s as I’d expected, my readers find things to love and things to loathe. Critique doesn’t equal criticism but my head still struggles with that concept.
I’m human. I’m not alone. I’m sick. Life has gone unexpectedly awry.
Over the years my ED lay dormant, a salient spore. I knew stress triggered me and I coped by setting unrelenting standards for myself. Enter the perfectionist. But which perfectionist? Was there more than one?
I employed three:
- The punitive critic
- The demanding critic
- The guilt inducing critic
Slippery and deceptive, I have just begun to honestly face them.
Thank you for reading my blog. From my heart to yours, I wish you inner peace at Christmas. May the festive season fill our hearts with happiness and generosity. I hope to be gracious especially to those I find difficult and rekindle the optimism I’d allowed to pale this year.
I’ve been writing. I’ve re-entered my profession. To date, I’ve decided to own my ED and seek resolution by digging deep into its roots. I’m grateful interested in my blog. It is as haphazard, as the process of learning self compassion, acceptance and love. I’m being honest and sharing the process with you.
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 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.
Everyday I discover something new. That’s how I choose to live my life. Tackling my struggle to stay on top of the inner critic, I’ve had to embrace honesty and self-awareness. My body talks to me. Yours does too.
But do you hear it?