I wasn’t afraid, I was brave and courageous with everything I did.
I wasn’t afraid, I was brave and courageous with everything I did.
It hurts to grow up
And everybody does
It’s so weird to be back here
Let me tell you what
The years go on and
We’re still fighting it, we’re still fighting it
This week, I am finalising my manuscript. Progress paused last year when I commenced an intensive work training program but that was completed last Friday. Now I have a few chapters left to write and have set a daily target of 3,000 words which will get me to the end by the weekend. Looking back, writing scenes from years ago, it’s all so obvious. There are visible patterns to behaviour and the underlying beliefs that drove it.
This month, I’ve been separated from my ex-husband for longer than we were married. Time bends and stretches. The last eight years have flown. The last eight years, I’ve grown. It hasn’t always been easy. At times it’s been incredibly painful. But that was what I wanted when I started this new life. I wanted to feel. I wanted to love. I wanted to know myself. I wanted to grow up.
“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted on by an external force.”
This afternoon I visited a friend and as we walked around the local wetlands, we paused at a bridge. She pulled out her iPhone and began to play Hymn to the Sea from Titanic. It is a dramatic orchestral piece; exquisitely sad and gloriously hopeful. I hadn’t thought about Titanic in a long time. Although, when it was released, I watched it at the cinema three times.
Titanic was unsinkable.
Could it ever have ended any other way?
Sometimes, it feels like we are living the same story over and over. We say “better the devil you know”. Or “old habits die hard”. Or something else to justify it.
But our thought patterns will continue in the same direction until acted on by an external force. We repeat situations until we learn the lesson. Until we choose to change.
People hit icebergs too. And we can either change direction, or sink.
“If the heart is a muscle,” I said to my psychologist, “and it atrophies without use, can it be built back up again, like any other muscle, with exercise?”
“Yes,” she replied. “I believe it can. Is that something you want to do?”
Although I had experienced physical heart problems as a consequence of anorexia, that wasn’t what I was worried about. As I had become weight restored, I’d started to notice that people around me felt things. And not just sad things but a whole range of emotions. They felt joy. And grief. And anger. And heartbreak. They felt gratitude. Amusement. Disappointment. And hope.
But the thing they felt that I coveted most was love. Love was not something I had a lot of experience with. Marriage, well, I had experience with that. But that was different to love.
Those early days of recovery were hard. My heart was a mess. I had no idea how to use it. Sometimes, I’d spill it everywhere. Sometimes, it would jam shut and I’d be unable to prise it open.
But slowly, and with practice, my heart became stronger. More resilient. And softer.
And it was in that softness, the same softness I’d always believed to be weakness, that I found strength. Courage. Compassion. And love.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written publicly about my struggle with anorexia. But then again, it’s been a long time since I’ve been ill. And while occasionally there are still days where I feel a bit unhappy with how I look, there are no days where I feel so worthless that anorexia has any hold over me.
Years ago, on the edges of recovery and still nostalgic about my eating disorder, I wrote the below poem and posted it here with the song “Someone You’d Admire” by Fleet Foxes. Today, I’m remembering my old self. This is today’s Music Monday.
And in the distance
As barren hills are touched by black-tipped fingers
The fading light reminisces about the days it lingered
Over pots of tea with toast
Whispering sweet nothings to its only ghost
Then the moon rolls across the inky sky
With a gut full of ache and his upside down smile
And he stops to rest in the furthest corner
Heaves in gasps as the solitary mourner
Closes his eyes just for a minute and
Imagines the days when he was thinner.
At the end of a year, people like to make resolutions, create goals or define ambitions for the next year. These can be helpful but they can also make life overwhelming, so they tend to fall by the wayside as the year goes on.
What if, instead of adding responsibilities and commitments to our lives, we set an intention to let some things go? Things that no longer serve us. Things that take up time, create stress but don’t add a lot of value to our lives. What if we stopped sending our energy into those things, instead, directing it towards what is really important to us? I’ve let go of many things in the last few years. I’ve become better at trimming the trappings of my life that do not add meaning. But I need to do more.
Letting some things go will be difficult. But energy flows where your attention goes. And focusing on some things, even though they would be good, isn’t beneficial. I need to save my energy and say good bye to some dreams.
So in 2018, I am choosing to invest my energy into those things — mostly people — that really matter to me and whose love and support can always be relied upon.
The screen is blank. The cursor blinking, ready and waiting to be pushed forward by keystrokes that form words, sentences, coherent thoughts.
Writing a blog post was supposed be easier than editing my book. But it’s not.
Sometimes, when there is too much to say, it’s easier to say nothing. I don’t know where to start. But maybe that’s the point. Do we ever? Is there even a beginning?
Time is a human construct based primarily on natural occurrences. The spin of the earth on its axis, offering us both darkness and light. The orbit around the sun providing us with seasons. We break these units into ever smaller increments. Hours. Minutes. Seconds. We quantify these periods into days, weeks, months, and we count their passing.
But what do we do with all this time? How often do we pay attention? Because life is both long, and short. It can change slowly over many years. Or irrevocably, in fragments of seconds. At times, it seems not to change at all.
Endings feel easier to identify than beginnings. But the truth we often hide from ourselves is that the edges are blurry. Endings and beginnings overlap and blend into each other. Most of life can’t be sectioned neatly into containers and labelled, even though I often wish it could. And once, believed I was an expert at it.
That too, was an untruth, like many things we often believe. If you undertake the process of self-examination and pick away at the surface of your thoughts to reveal the underpinning beliefs, the reality can often be ugly. Or at the very least, uncomfortable. I began that process in earnest when I started this blog in 2010. While my focus has shifted at various points, I will never be finished.
And life goes on.
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…
“Closing Time” Semisonic
The thing about time travel is that it’s much slower than people think. You can only go second by second, minute by minute, day by day. And worse, you can only travel forwards. Eventually, after hours, days, weeks and months, you find yourself years into the future.
Sometimes, within those years, big noticeable things happen. You get divorced. You move interstate. You adopt a cat. You nearly die.
But most of the time, the days and weeks are filled with small incidental things. You wake up. You shower. You follow your meal plan. You take baths. You swim in the sea. You fold laundry. You swallow your meds. You learn to knit.
And then, one day, you make friends. You fall in love. You become a stepmum.
Life shifts you into the strangest of places, the lovingest of arms and the kindest of corners. It’s not all brightness and light, of course. Life doesn’t work that way, even for the most charmed. But second chances exist everywhere.
I began writing in 2010 as a way of processing both the physical and psychological aspects of the mental illnesses I was experiencing, although I never intended it as therapy. I blogged publicly but anonymously about my experiences for almost five years. Just over a year ago, having not written for some time, I chose to end the blog so that I could focus on re-configuring previous work, as well as new material, into something that resembled a memoir. As that process is nearing completion, I have been feeling confused about what to do with this space.
I could have started a new blog. In fact, I created several. But none of them had the captivating or familiar feel of this place. Coming here feels like coming home.
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. This is my new beginning. This is my homecoming.