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.
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.
Good friends keep us sane, especially the kind we plan to get old and weird with. A waft of cigarette smoke caught my attention. I craved a fag. Omg. Where did that impulse even come from? I mentioned it. She laughed: You’re self soothing.
The words struck me and stuck fast. Truth does that! I had to admit to myself, I’d been hurting despite the perfectionist persona.
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.
Anorexia, the disorder of the 70’s and 80’s lived on well past its use by date. Adolescence became a time of shrinking rather than a time of growth. I’ve spent decades progressively unravelling the, ‘Whys.’ Why is like an expensive fragrance, revealing itself slowly, bewitching you and enticing you to want more.
‘Why,’ is more layered and complex than I’d ever imagined.
My road of self discovery has been jagged, strewn with attempts at change. Mastery remains a lofty goal. I once asked one of my spiritual teachers, ‘It gets easier ,right?’ She smiled wryly. I didn’t want to receive that answer.
At the moment, I’m working out how to deal with people who trigger me. I’m sure you also have people and circumstances that trigger you. Mine involves:
- overstepping boundaries
- breaches of trust
Have you ever felt your back up against the wall, repetitive and intolerable situations pressing you tighter into the corner? My life has been a series of micro-deaths, traditions, observances and people. But I keep trying to fix whatever is broken. I’m looking at the finger not what it’s pointing at.
Allowing has been a challenge but I’m doing it. I’m moving to the heart. Maybe you can relate to being trapped in the head with all those chaotic thoughts. Maybe you feel deeply and intensely, so deeply that it scares you. Maybe you want peace and emotional resolution.
Here’s a poem about my experience.
Are you a firecracker or a pickle jar? Life is a continuum and you may lie somewhere in between. Firecrackers explode. It can be an unregulated emotional experience. Pickle jars bottle things up, quietly contorting their inner space; wondering if the lid will still fit on.
The Echidna crossed the road. My husband stopped the car and I ran back. ‘Hurry,’ he called and I began to run. but the Echidna ran faster. He’d begun to hide.
Writing about my adolescence and my descent into anorexia, I’ve re-discovered what I’ve come to know. To truly overcome any affliction, the body, emotions and mind need to integrate the experience into the fabric of ones being. Integration usually involves a lot of avoidance.
I’m a master of avoidance.