I was walking back through the park and there were a couple, hugging, on the path in front of me.
His head was bowed on her shoulder; her hands were clasping his back, so tightly that I could sense the strength; and I wanted, as I side-stepped around them, to scream.
This is what the eating disorder stole from me.
That kind of hug – and that kind of union – is what it stopped me from enjoying; and has put so far away that the distance feels too vast to bridge.
I walk on, and my head says, because it should, “well, isn’t that nice – I hope they’re okay though – and a hug is, indeed, a powerful thing”; and, at the same time, my chest is ripping because, yes, eating disorder, a hug is a powerful thing, and love is certainly a force to be reckoned with….
Is that why you were so scared of letting people touch me? Is that why you stopped them, just before they started reaching out, with icy eyes and the sharpness of bone?
Maybe. Although you liked to say that it was the other way round, and the problem was me.
I have missed hugs, over the past decade. There have been a few, but nowhere near as many as would be good for me. They have been strained – rather than strong; shadowed by the fragility of brokenness, and the discomfort I have felt about being in my own skin. They have been constrained – rather than liberally available; rationed by my secrecy, and the isolation, and the periods spend within different systems of care.
This might explain the wrench.
Plus the fear that it will never be me, joined in that embrace.
I am a hugger, I am beginning to learn, now that the eating disorder has retreated a little or I am less afraid of arguing back. Because it wouldn’t hurt so much – would it? – if I didn’t know how important a little human contact is.
And I believe in the power of love, I am starting to admit, now that I am snatching the parts of me back or peeking out from behind the disorder. Because, I wouldn’t appreciate the strength, I don’t think, if I didn’t have a lot of my own that I am desperate to give.