Emily Dickinson didn’t mince her words. It’s bizarre to think that, even 100 years ago, people felt like I do. Strangely reassuring, particularly given the subject matter – imprisonment and isolation.

A prison gets to be a friend,
Between its ponderous face
And ours a kinsmanship express;
And in its narrow eyes

We come to look with gratitude
For the appointed beam
It deal us, sated as our food
And hungered for the same.

We learn to know the planks
That answer to our feet,
So miserable a sound at first,
Nor even now so sweet

92, Emily Dickinson

Human adaptability is an amazing thing: it’s scary how quickly you can get used to containment. It’s scary how easily you can forget freedom.

An eating disorder is a ruthless jailer. The rules are stringent; the freedom fleeting. There’s no sentence, to speak of; rather, a co-construction of a cell, a conspiratorial erection of four walls – and no door.

This is how I got trapped. I participated in the act

At first, you’re trying to keep the world out. And then it won’t let you back in.

There’s lots to avoid when you’re trying not to eat. Most social gatherings are off the cards; invitations are something to be managed, not enjoyed. Friendships are fraught with danger; there are questions to be answered, explanations demanded.

The foundations are easily laid.

Then, as an eating disorder slowly tightens its grip, the walls get higher. Secrecy is paramount. Spontaneity conflicts with the routine. The risk of unforeseen events is unimaginable.

I thought that I was happy in my little world. I knew how things were; I knew what was coming next. I was kind of used to the predictability.

It’s all about control at first. You could tell the time by my routine.

I thought that I was safer within the four walls of my existence. People stop attempting to shout through a brick wall after a while. They don’t bother asking – so you don’t have to worry about refusing – after a while.

It’s all about knowing where the boundaries are and being able to touch them.

I thought that I had chosen structure over adventure because that cut down the risks. I thought that it was better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. I thought that the view from my window was the best that it got.

It’s okay when you’re complicit in the act.

It just becomes a problem when you try to get out.

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One Response to “Trapped”

  1. Wow, this strikes me very powerfully. My sister nearly died from
    anorexia in the late 70’s after getting out of an abusive marriage. Little was really understood about it at the time. You made me so aware
    of the isolation. Thank you for sharing.