Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

A belated online thank you…

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

For the past few weeks, I’ve had a dodgy internet connection. It has upset me more than the fact that I am living out of a suitcase and am not sure, at the moment, where I am meant to call “home”. It means that I want to tweet something – and can’t. And that I want to join in the conversation – but am stopped at the last minute by a “lost internet connection” box.

I have found it quite upsetting.

My online community has become as important to me, over the past year, as my “real life” friends. I have wanted, desperately, for them to share the next stage of my journey as they have been so important in me getting this far –

This post started out as a pulling apart of some of those fears that a sense of disconnection brings but it got railroaded by an overwhelming desire to say a big thank you to all the people who have been so wonderful and supportive of me online. After going round and round the real life / virtual life debate, I have given up trying to work out whether a line exists and analysing the risks of throwing it all out there – because my world is far richer if I extend the parameters and I, far stronger, thanks to the people I’ve met online.

So, this is a shout out to the people who stop by and visit my blog, and the comments that offer me a new perspective, and keep me moving forwards, and make me realise that I’m not trying to make sense of this on my own.

It’s a huge thank you to a wonderful Twitter community that has reminded me of how generous and caring and loving humans are; that has put up with the ups and downs of my tweeting, and helped me to find a sense of humour, and kept me inundated with a stream of fascinating and beautiful and inspiring stuff –

Isolation is one of the most devastating effects of an eating disorder. We need human connections, I think, like we need food and sleep and water and air. I’ve been getting back in touch with the world over the past few years and growing in leaps and bounds, but I’ve been surprised to find that the connections are as powerful and the relationships, as rewarding, when they start off online. I didn’t realise this when I started my blog. I didn’t realise quite how much I’d learn from people online, nor how important those connections would become –

They’ve grown my world and helped to change my life.

Thank you.

xx

p.s. I’ve brought a netbook and a spare wifi card. :)

Recovery: Some of the things we talked about…

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

I did a recovery vodcast earlier this week. Because my recovery was so internalised and over-analysed, I forget that there are useful things that could be said. This is a recovery dump. It’s some of the things that we talked about that I had only talked to myself about. I don’t know whether they’ll be helpful. I’ve been so aware that my recovery has been different from his recovery – which is different from her recovery – that I’d forgotten the points where experiences collide, and that the more weapons you can rally up, the better.

It is not an easy battle, nor fought on a single front…

So, in no particular order, these are some of the things that we discussed.

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Dating and the things that have been unsaid

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

This evening I helped make a recovery vodcast. I was planning a post about it on the way home, and then this tweet hit my timeline. It was for an article from Jezebel called ‘The Delicate Balance of Dating and Mental Illness’.

I will come back to the recovery vodcast post. I will write it, another day, when I have moved beyond the hot relief that people are talking about the things that I’ve been too afraid to say. Now, though, I’m writing before I lose my nerve because I’ve known, for a while now, that this is a subject I will end up exploring.

I just thought it was only me.

And that it was because I was me.

Knowing that other people have had similar experiences makes all the difference, and this single quotation from Carrie Arnold (ED Bites) – “I was in survival mode, so [dating] wasn’t even on my radar” – summarises exactly where I have been. Relationships were another part of life that I rejected without even realising it, and I am only now beginning to get a sense of what that omission might mean.

It is glaringly achingly absent.

I am not quite brave enough to dig deeper into my experiences at the moment. There’s a sharp kick of shame, and a sense of failure, and a very very high wall that I’m finding quite overwhelming. I wanted to write this post though, to draw attention to the article and to start tentatively exploring how difficult it is to have a relationship when you’re hiding from the world -

How impossible it is to let other people in when you’re ashamed of who you are and every action is an expression of self-hate. How the few relationships that slip through the net are quickly complicated and twisted and tangled up with a relationship that’s already stranglehold strong. How you can wake up, when the illness – and then the recovery – stop consuming your every moment, and realise that the rest of the world has paired off and you’ve missed out on one of the most beautiful aspects of human existence and would kill for a weekend strolling hand-in-hand with a special someone…

I was blind to this when I focussed on food.

I did not miss it because I did not realise it was there.

It is. It just feels like, yet again, I’m on the other side of a very wide abyss.

Nb. For anyone who missed it, here’s a link to ED Bites article.

Alright with being okay (the bit I forgot to mention)

Friday, September 10th, 2010

When I was 17, I nearly got well. After the initial plummet and once I’d got over the shock of treatment, I started, gradually, to build myself up again. I gained a bit of weight. I experimented with clothes. I had moments when life seemed a lot brighter. I flirted and giggled and did normal teenagery type things. The eating disorder remained – just not as much as before.

I’m not sure why and I can’t work out what happened; but, at some point, I got scared about being okay. I worried that I’d be nothing if I was ‘normal”, that I was letting myself go because I was letting myself enjoy life.

And so, I put the brakes down. Hard. I re-erected the walls and re-instated the rules. It was not okay to be okay.

We know what happened.

I ended my last post before I reached the end. The moment of insight that had been eluding me has finally clicked into place. This re-animation is the same as I felt at 17 – only this time I’m not afraid of it. It is alright to be okay.

I’m Okay

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

I got home last night and scrawled three words on the back of an envelope. They said: “I am okay”.

The inspiration that I have been waiting for has stalled and is yet to catch up with me. Any insights that might prompt a blog post are suspended, somewhere, far above me; so, for the moment, all I can say is, “I am okay”.

I think this is enough.
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Self Stigma

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Finding Melissa is no longer a secret. With my identity revealed on the About page, it was never a very good one; but the level of ownership that I’ve taken has gradually increased. I have, in the main, been okay with this, after all, it’s been my decision; but, recently, I’ve been wondering if I’m really as okay with it as I think. I have caught myself, on several occasions, catastrophising that if my site is “found” or my “real-life” identity connected, the consequences will automatically be bad.
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Travelling

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

I wanted to write something this evening. Not out of a sense of obligation or because a blog “should” be updated regularly, but because I have missed writing and I wanted the sense of comfort of coming home. It is interesting, upon reflection, that a blog or the act of writing can feel like coming home. It has only been a few days since I last wrote, but the changes have been immense and so they’ve distorted the sense of distance. I feel like I have travelled a million miles and been gone for a mini lifetime. In reality, it has been 48 or so hours, and 9 junctions around the M25…
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All Change?

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

I have gotten myself in a state over the past few days. My six weeks off miraculously accelerated in the last quarter, and I found myself going round in circles – and then burying my head in the sand. Because fear has this terrible habit of growing, the more you give into it, I nearly forgot that I was excited before I got scared. And, because I’ve been concentrating on all the momentous things that I haven’t achieved in the past month, I’ve overlooked the million smaller things that have shifted, and sparkled, and probably had a much greater impact on where I currently am…

So this is a reminder.
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Food and the Move

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

I haven’t written about food for a while. Partly because I’ve been doing really well with relaxing around it; and partly because my mind has been addled by other things. Food is, however, back on the agenda at the moment, and yet again, it’s linked to ‘the move’. I think this move might throw up a lot of skeletons in the next few weeks, so I apologise in advance…
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The “I don’t care” voice

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

I am starting a new job on Wednesday. It’s the first time I’ve gone into a new job without the eating disorder to lean on. It was, I am beginning to recognise, a big part of my defence against the world and so I feel rather exposed venturing out on my own. If it all goes wrong, I will have nothing to make me feel better and nothing else to blame.

It is a little hard to acknowledge these thoughts.

I’ve been digging around rather uncomfortably to see if I can find out what they mean…only I already know the answer. They mean that I have to stop pretending that I don’t care.
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Stretching the Horizon

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

I went to a body stretch class this morning. The teacher started by explaining that muscles grow if they are stretched; and the more stretchy they are, the better they work.

This isn’t a post about flexibility, though there’s an analogy in there about that. This is a post about life, because it grows, like a muscle, when it is stretched.

I did not realise this until recently. I viewed life and all the things it offered as finite and within eyeshot. I didn’t get that the horizon keeps expanding if you push beyond it; and that, though each experience and thing may be unique, there is an ocean of experiences and things to explore.

This opens everything up for me.

It means I don’t have to cling on to the particulars; and that the more I participate in life, the bigger it gets.

The muscle story caught my imagination because muscles seem to operate in a similar way: an initial twinge of discomfort when you stretch out of that comfort zone – and then the gradual extension and the wider reach that the action brings.

The past few months have been full of stretches. I have been pulling myself into new experiences and testing out how far I can go with life. When I started, I assumed that there would be a list to tick off as I passed through every first and each new activity. I also assumed that firsts and new activities were in short supply, so each came accompanied with a twist of loss. About half way through, something shifted, and I realised that there are always more firsts and they appear the further you go. Or grow.

It is like love. Find a little and tap into a mine.

Not rocket science, maybe, but something I didn’t appreciate until my life muscle became unstuck.

Significance and Stuff

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

I have just come back from yet another trip to the dump. I am finding this clearing out my flat thing hard. It’s not just the slight OCD-tinged tendencies towards hoarding that are so difficult to deal with; it’s the fact that so many of my possessions have been coloured by my past. They are throbbing with association and each wrench aches.

I guess this is normal.
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One Vs The One

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

I’m starting a new blog section. It’s going to be on the stuff I’m learning about life. It will be exactly the same as other sites about the stuff people learn about life (though maybe not quite so eloquent and without cool pictures) because there are some lessons we each have to learn. I’m starting a little late and I tend to forget things, so I figure this will keep my eye on the ball…

I am a little embarrassed by how basic some of it all sounds – but then I’ve always been better with theory and academia then I have with life. Hopefully this will tip the balance. If it’s down in black and white, it might also stick around a bit longer in my head.

It feels, as well, like an extension of my recovery; as though I can apply the principles I used to explore my relationship with food to understand my relationship with life. Or something. Anyway, today’s lesson has been….
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Letting go of the edge

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

I have a desktop of half-finished blog posts. They are driving me insane. I am not sure that they will ever be completed because at the moment I seem to be in a state of constant change. Things are moving so quickly that each post is elbowed aside mid-flow, and I rarely reach a clear conclusion before the next thing comes along. It is quite disorientating.
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Insomnia

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

It is 1.48 am. My sleep has been a mess for months now. I started trying about 2 hours ago with a book and a hot chocolate. At midnight, I moved to my sofa. Now I am panicking and it feels like I can’t breathe. Before tomorrow has even started, we’ve got off on the wrong foot.
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Bright Lights

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

We walked through the West End at the weekend. The streets were heaving. Tourists, undeterred by the shiny pavements and spitting skies, were out in force, and the atmosphere was Theatreland electric, the excitement irresistible. The sky had cleared by the time the performance had finished, and we made our way down to Trafalgar Square, past buildings that I’d seen a thousand times and never noticed. There were people scrabbling over the lions and magical fountains and statues gleaming against the dark backdrop; then Whitehall glowing a rich historic cream.
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Available to Life

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

I bumped into a friend on Clapham High Street last night. Mid flat-hunting panic, when it felt like the city might swallow me and I was feeling scarily alone, she walked past and invited me to come along for dinner.

I hesitated (because I had planned my supper already) and scrabbled around for an excuse (because they were going for pizza, and I haven’t faced that challenge yet); and then realised that it was more important – given the loneliness – that I was fully available to life.
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The Flipside of Fear

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

This is a blurt post.

There’s stuff going on in my head that I can’t quite seem to work out. Passing snippets that have paired themselves off without quite explaining the pairing, and insights that still remain partially hidden. There is one common thread. It is the word fear.

Fear.

I’m scared.

Belly scared. Paralysed scared. Scared silly….yet not quite sure of the source (there’s so many); nor, if I’m honest, of the emotion (it’s just what I always feel).
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Getting Okay With Food

Monday, August 9th, 2010

I had semi-skimmed milk on my cereal this morning. It is little steps like these that remind me of how far I have come. I brought some, over the weekend, for a friend that came to stay; and, rather than insisting that they take it with them or knocking on my neighbour’s door, as I’ve done in the past, I decided to get over it and drink it, instead.
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Ups, Downs, Rainbows and Black Clouds

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

My friend has recommended tea drinking, retail therapy, and bubble baths. I have opted for crying and crashing on the sofa instead. The excitement of the past month appears to have caught up with me. I feel like I have been running running running and then

WHAM

Like a cartoon character with the tweeting birds and my head twisted 90 degrees, I have fallen flat on my face.

Ouch.

I am waiting for the birds to stop tweeting and the dust to settle before moving to vertical.

I think this is the downside to my up. The highs are electric and energising, and the lows leave me gasping and stunned. I have not mastered the art of walking the middle ground yet, nor fully acknowledged that life is yang and yin: a little bit of good and a little bit of bad with the beauty lying in the contrast. Nope, the centre still needs a bit of bolstering and I keep ricocheting between the two.

This is, I think, probably inevitable. Up until this point, my strategy has been to neutralise, negate or control. To remove myself from opportunities of excitement, and pleasure, and enjoyment, because their loss is almost unbearable; and to plaster over the downs with eating – or not eating – or thinking thinking thinking it all out. For many years, I opted out of life all together; then, I created my own see-saw in a daily routine of bingeing and purging: high, followed by low, but with the knowledge that tomorrow it would be the same again.

Round and round we go but at least we know the end….

Life does not work like this.

There are glorious rainbow-coloured ups where everything seems wonderful and connected and full of potential, and then moments when it’s really rather black. The difficulty, for me, is keeping my feet on the ground when I’m exploring the magic and also when the grey clouds start moving in. It’s about accepting that sometimes it is neither stormy nor golden, but somewhere, cloud speckled or slightly overcast, in between.

It is harder than I anticipated.

You have to be exposed to the storm, maybe, in order to appreciate the rainbows; but then, you also need to remain standing, come rain or shine. At the moment, I am still at the mercy of the weather, and haven’t quite adjusted to life’s ups and downs.

Girl Stuff. Again. (Last time).

Friday, August 6th, 2010

I haven’t written much this week because I’ve been incredibly tired. My body doesn’t quite feel like my body at the moment; and, whilst I’m delighted that it’s clearly recovering, the whole hormonal re-start has caught me left wing. It has been a little scary, to be honest, which sounds pathetic now that I’m 30, rather than 13.
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Girl Stuff

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

I developed anorexia before I really went through puberty. On the edge of womanhood, I sunk just before the major changes kicked in. This meant that, aside from a brief spell post my first inpatient treatment and a few months when things seemed to be on the up, I haven’t had periods. My last one was in 1996 or 97. As regular readers of my blog will know, I’ve been quite upset about this (here and here).

I’ve been at a normal BMI for nearly a year now; and, as I’ve watched my peers begin families and enter the next stage of their life, I’ve been left wondering whether I really have closed some doors that might have been open and if I will ever be able to repair the damage that I might have done.

There doesn’t seem a huge amount of research in this area. It has been hard to find any answers.

This isn’t the kind of thing I’d normally announce online, but my periods came back yesterday. I don’t know much about the medical stuff, but I think that this means I will be okay. I guess it proves that there’s always hope. It would, at least, explain why I have been such so hormonal and stressy over the past few days. ..

I don’t know what this means for my fertility. My GP has always been wildly optimistic, so maybe it’s time I started trusting his “the body will repair itself” mentality. That is, however, all some time off, so I’m just going to focus on the fact that I appear, finally, to be on my way.

When I Stop Wobbling…

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

I whinged on Twitter all weekend. After a fortnight of heady excitement followed by a colossal nosedive, I think I might have been driving my poor followers mad. I got myself stuck in a bit of a vicious circle: feel bad – complain about feeling bad – feel bad about complaining that I feel bad – feel even worse – complain about feeling even worse…. and so it went on.

The truth is, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed; and, because I’m overwhelmed, I’ve been temporarily blinded by a kind of white blanket of fear. It has seeped everywhere. In the cracks between waking and sleeping; when I step through the door after being out with friends; in the moments when I am waiting for the kettle to boil…
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Shortbread

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

As anyone who follows me on Twitter is aware, I’ve just baked my first batch of biscuits. As a blogger, rather than a baker, it’s only right that I should write about the experience; but I’m not quite sure where to start – baking seems to have been more about feeling and doing than thinking for me. This is a bit of a surprise, to be honest, especially as I’ve spent so long building up the activity in my head.
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Two Days

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

I wobbled last weekend. Amidst all the pride at reaching my second year anniversary and after the giddiness of a jam-packed-life-changing week, I had a sudden panic, standing on the beach at Brighton, that the gap between the world and I is still too chasmic to bridge….

It is not the food that has turned out to be the hardest part of my recovery – it’s discovering how far I have removed myself from life.
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Second Chances

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

On Sunday, it will be two years since I last binged and two years since I last threw up.

When I stopped, it felt as though I was wrenching out my heart. Now, it feels like I unclamped it.

I do not miss it at all. It does not cross my mind, apart from when some small, unpleasant reminder, like a shattered tooth or an unexpected flashback, make an unexpected appearance – and these certainly don’t tempt me back.

The first year was about existing through the days and the evenings; this year, it’s been about life. I do not need the film subscriptions and elaborately planned meals and scheduled phone calls to distract me any more; in fact, I rarely have enough time.

Even in my wildest imagination, I did not think it could be like this…

And so, I’m celebrating the occasion – as I did last year, and will do next year – as my unofficial birthday or the date that I allowed myself to come back to life.

It is, inevitably, tinged with sadness and a strange dusting of betrayal, though I could not say who betrayed who –

It does not matter.

The point is that I have had a second chance and I am starting, finally, to feel alive.

The Transition

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I am leaving my job tomorrow.

I’ve been harping on about it for ages, but I’m now feeling rather scared.

There’s lots of stuff about bad employers and discrimination. Mine have always looked after me rather well.
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Heading For a Fall…

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

There is a little voice at the back of my head that thinks I’m heading for a fall. I have been feeling quite happy recently, so it’s tugging on my elbow, desperate to be heard. It has been clinging on for years, like a leech, and I think it’s time we parted. I will never be able to feel pleasure, or enjoyment, or pride, whilst it’s still hanging around.

This morning, when I was swimming, I imagined it hurtling through space, cartoon-like.
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Que Sera Sera

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Today is the first day of my last week at work. I handed in my notice a few weeks ago. Not because there was anything bad about my job, nor because I have something better to go too; but because I want to follow my dream.

I’m not quite sure exactly what “my dream” looks like yet, which sounds a little strange for such a decisive action, but I know which direction I want to move in. Vaguely. Or I am, at least up for the exploration, though admittedly a little scared.
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Where I’ve *Really* Been Going Wrong

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

A while ago, I wrote about my “am I still the same?” question. There is another old favourite whining around in my head at the moment. It’s the “are you angry with me?” one. I feel like a squeaky teenager who I’d like to give a good shake.

“Are you angry with me?” “What have I done?” “Don’t you like me anymore?”
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The Meaning of Life?

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

I am ready to love now.

I wasn’t, for a long time, because it did not feature in my world.

I am only just beginning to learn how far gone I was. That the things which make life meaningful were squeezed out, in the early years, and I ended up trapped between my own self-created walls. I am not sure how this happened. How something which is starting to seem irrelevant was the absolute centre of my world.

Absolute. Only. All.

I could not have loved before, maybe, because I did not have the attention to give. Could not have shared, because I did not trust; nor been open, because I was ashamed. I could not have spent time talking and listening and laughing and living, because I was only marginally there, just existing on the peripheries. I did not have room to love.

I think this has changed now.

I am ready, I think, to really really give –

I’m just terribly scared that I have got the point a little too late.

Unloveable

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

If you’re looking for fluffy hearts and romance, I’d stop here.

My eating disorder didn’t do sharing and it certainly didn’t have time for love.

It preferred sharp words to soft affection; advised arms length over intimate connection; and was characterised by coldness – and not warmth.
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The Secret to Patience

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

If you know the secret to patience, I’d love you to share it with me. Patience is a virtue I certainly do not have.

I’ve been waiting for things all week, and it’s left me somewhere between frazzled – and totally burned out. I like things straight away, please, before they might run out or run away…And yes, I know that I am a grown woman.

I also like to know exactly what’s coming and when it will arrive; so there’s some control and anxiety bubbling around in there as well, just to heighten the experience.

This is nothing new – I just haven’t sat with it before. It was one of the key feelings I tried to get rid of during my illness; either by not wanting (so not waiting), or by changing the direction with the violence of a purge. If you want things, you might be disappointed. If you’re excited about something, bingeing offers an alternative high and one that resets the equilibrium…in a very flawed way.

So, excitement – and the need for patience – and managing unpredictability – are all things that are quite new to me; and good, because it means there’s lots to look forward to – but bad, because they kind of mess around with my head and mean that I’m always trying to catapult myself ahead…

A lovely quote from Eckhart Tolle kind of summed up what I think is happening: “Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.” This is what impatience is all about, for me. The next step, the next thing, the next certainty.

Now.

Of course, life doesn’t really work on these terms. You have to wait for things and you have to appreciate that some things happen – and others don’t…. But it would be good to have a few strategies or approaches to dealing with the interim period, so to speak. To help me learn how to be patient – or, at least, how not to burn myself out.

Any ideas?

Trusting the process

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

A while ago, I wrote a post called Clinging on to the Past. It was a difficult post to write as I had to acknowledge that I might be holding onto my eating disorder; and also, because I couldn’t see how the situation would be resolved.

At the time, a comment was left suggesting that I would know when the time was right to move on. It was a comment that touched me deeply, and has stayed, therefore, alive in my head. I couldn’t see how the miraculous transformation would materialise – but the hope made me feel warm and that was almost enough.
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Crayons and Creativity

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

I got my crayons out again yesterday. Caught up in the online surge of creativity (you know who you are!) and with an unexpected spare day, I re-discovered my watercolour pencils and an art bin that dates back about 18 years. It was fun. Unexpectedly so. I can’t really draw, but it was good to explore with no expectations. To lose myself, for a while, in colours and shapes and ‘oh, I wonder what that would look like’.

Art is one of the activities that got sidelined when my eating disorder barged in. It’s a perfect example of how all-consuming the whole thing is. How it manages to get everywhere.
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Un-attaching

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

“We pin our happiness to people, circumstances, and things and hold onto them for dear life.” (Lori Deschene)

Historically, I have been terrible at letting go of things. I attach, associate, cling on, attempt to control, smother, stifle and grip experiences, people, things and feelings. It has meant that it is hard, sometimes, to move on.

In the light of all my experimentations with living, this piece from Zen Habits seemed incredibly fitting, and really struck a few chords with both my eating disorder experience, and where I’m currently at. I think it’s a must read whole article, but these are some of the things that stood out:

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The Then – Now Continuum

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

I flip-switched myself into the past yesterday morning. The side streets of West London and places that I didn’t think I’d been.

I had.

About ten years ago.

I got off the train and was giddy-kneed with the memories. Things that I wish I hadn’t done and the horrible weight of wasted potential. Youth and possibility, yet I had my finger firmly pressing the self destruct.

It was not the best way to begin a few days that were all about laying the foundations for the next steps in my life, and I nearly turned around and gave up then… but, as I made my way home on the sweaty train this evening, I realised that this is probably how it is going to be. Shadows that try and pull me down; and a battle between then – and now – that I’m going to have to engage in, in order to win.

It has been an amazing few days, on reflection.

As part of my plans to change my life, I’ve decided on a new career; and the past few days have been spent at an exhibition trying to find out more about what’s going on. I have learnt a heap of things and my head is still buzzing; but it is the internal shifts that have made the biggest impression on me.

I noticed, yesterday, that I didn’t think about food. That I ate, because I needed some energy; but the worry was lessened by the excitement about what was going on around me; and, the obsession was softened by the other ideas and thoughts sparking around.

Today, I realised that, for the first time since year one in secondary school, I have been in a new learning environment and my whole brain has been totally engaged. That during school, and university, and my working career, the ‘activity’ has always come second to the food; and, suddenly, it’s the other way round instead.

My friend joked, last night, that this was “normal”, and this has been the third revelation that I’m still trying to digest. “Normal”, now that I’m actually doing it, is not quite as terrifying as it had come to mean in my head.

I have been distinctly “normal” over the past few days. Have been a virtual nobody. Have worn the same clothes as a lot of the other attendees; eaten the same food; made the same small talk….and I’m happy, for the moment, to disappear into the crowd.

Three lessons in two days is not bad going for anyone, but I have another message that is echoing around. It is something about getting the balance between the shadowy regret and the excited progression; about pacing, and not going with my tendency to leap, absolutely, from one thing to the next.

I am writing tonight for this reason. To join the dots up between where I have been – and where I am – and where I am heading. To break the pattern of separating my life into discreet chunks and then burying them away until a random memory winds me. To keep myself grounded, and whole, and coherent, so that I don’t knock out the scaffold and find myself crashing, alone, again.

I’m not going to dwell in the stabs of regret that I experienced on Tuesday morning, nor let them stop me from fighting, now, to move on. I’m just going to try and hold the two parts together, because they’re both part of who I’m starting to become.

p.s. This, as you can tell, is part of my ongoing blog bit! The re-structuring has been temporarily waylaid by the above and my inability to differentiate between blog / web. This weekend is set aside!…

Being Beth

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

When I was a child, I wanted to be Beth from Little Women.  I had forgotten just how much I wanted to be Beth, from Little Women, until I was flicking through a quotation dictionary and stumbled over this quote:

“I am angry nearly every day of my life….but I have learned not to show it; and I still hope to learn not to feel it, though it may take me another forty years to do so.”

(Chapter 8, Louisa Alcott)

For anyone who has not read Little Women, it’s the story of four sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, and written in the 19th century.  I can only remember the plot in fragments; but it is hung on the girls’ characters, and their presence, for me, persists. Meg is the eldest and most sensible; Jo, a hare-brained creative; Amy, blonde and pretty; and Beth, goodness incarnate.
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A Backbone of Steel

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

I have a fractured tooth. It is a front one, which I’m finding quite hard. They have bonded it, for the moment, but it’s only a matter of time. The others are likely to go in the same direction.

It has been 23 months, almost to the day, since I last threw up; but the damage has been done. There is a little network of cracks spiderwebbing from my teeth to my ankle

But I do appear to have developed a backbone of steel.
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Without Which I Would Not Be Me

Friday, June 11th, 2010

I have been re-writing my CV recently. It is clean, sparse, and formulaic. I have done a lot, in a relatively short space of time, but the lot feels overshadowed by the glaring delay. Plus, my biggest achievement remains unsaid.

I’m not too sure how well my background would go down. Whether it would be considered a liability or, as I’m beginning to view it, a difficult journey, without which I would not be who I am.

Without which I would not be me.
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Flashbacks

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Sometimes I will do something little – like flip the lid off a glass bottle – and the ‘pop’ will send me catapulting back, again; to nights standing in the kitchen, screaming with frustration, because I’m desperate desperate desperate to binge.

And sometimes, when I have to go back to the places that it has dominated – like stations, and supermarkets, and hospital waiting rooms – then a smell or a sound can leave me winded, because it carries, still, the panic and chaos and ice cold despair.

Sometimes, an innocent action – like a friend adding an extra splash of oil – will trip the switch into the old ways of thinking; and my stomach will twist and my head close in and I won’t be able to what am I going to do don’t make me

Breathe.

And then again.

It is as impossible to run away from the flashes of memory as it is to run away from ourselves.

We can only notice them, from the safety of distance, and thank God that things are no longer the same.

Eggshells

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

I can not miss my snack, because it will be impossible tomorrow – and then the next day – to eat it again.

And I can not throw up what I have eaten, because it has taken 2 years (nearly) for the swelling to go down and my teeth still wobble.

I can not have a cigarette, because it might hurt the graft they performed to try and repair the damage I had caused; and, I have removed the razors from the bathroom, because long sleeves in summer provokes too many questions.

I do not drink, because I am scared of the calories; and I don’t do drugs, because I’m afraid of death.

I don’t take medication, because I’m frightened of not being in control; and I can’t sleep, because my head won’t stop –

Which means that I just have to sit, for the moment, with the feelings; and ride out the discomfort –

because there’s no where left for me to hide.

Tasting Life

Friday, June 4th, 2010

“Friday I tasted life. It was a vast morsel. A circus passed the house – still I feel the red in my mind though the drums are out. The lawn is full of south and the odors tangle, and I hear to-day for the first time the river in the tree”.

Emily Dickinson, from a letter to Mrs J.G. Holland, May 1866.

I wanted to find a snappy quote for Friday, but I fell over this.

Make of it, what you will: Emily Dickinson defies intepretation, and I have resisted the temptation to google her words into meaning.

She might be referring to food – which opens up the whole idea of exploring the tastes and is a lesson, for me, in itself…

Or she might be talking about life, in which case, I concur.

It is, indeed, a “vast morsel”.
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Finding the Spark

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

I have been on a mission for the past few days. Been fired up and propelled forward on a burst of energy that has added a spark to my eyes and a new sense of purpose to my thoughts.

I think this is called ambition.

And I am trying not to be scared.
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In which I remember how hard it is to speak….

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

I went out, at the weekend, with some people I hadn’t met before.

It was a beautifully hot day and my friends had brought a picnic so we sat, on the Heath, with the other picnic-makers, and I fell asleep in the sun. The conversation rose – and fell – around me; and I drifted in – and out – of what was being said. At some point, one of the guys (a chef, I think), produced a box of homemade cookies and handed them around. A joke was made, to his girlfriend, about how hard it must be to live with a great cook; and she replied, that it didn’t matter, because he’d taught her how to be sick.

The comment winded me.
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Dwelling in Uncertainty

Monday, May 24th, 2010

I went to a School of Life Sunday Sermon, and heard a neuroscientist, called David Eagleman, speak. If I’d got round to any pre-event research, I would have gained a little insight into the stuff he’d be talking about; but I was, instead, hooked by a one word title.

“Uncertainty.”

Anything that might illuminate a concept I grapple with, on a daily basis, is guaranteed to grab my attention.
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Tickled

Friday, May 21st, 2010

I have not had much success in my body befriending mission and I therefore decided, a few weeks ago, that it was time for a change in approach. If the visuals are still too much to handle and mirrors remain a little tough, exploring my body, from a new perspective, might possibly start to help.

So I decided to try something totally off the wall.
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“Am I Still the Same?”

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Last night, I bumped into someone from my past; and I shocked myself, when it came to saying goodbye, by nearly asking a question I’ve been grappling with for years: “am I still the same?

Am I still the same” is my “do I look fat in this?” question. The reassurance seeker that I continually seem to ask. “Do I look the same?”, and “Am I still the same”, or “How am I different?”. And please answer that I am not.

I have resisted, more recently, from externalising the discussion, but the variants have been tingling, slightly unpleasantly, on the tip of the tongue

Up until now, I haven’t bothered to unpick why this staying the same has been so important. What, exactly, I am staying the “same” as; and why it matters if I am “different”. There is a vague link to weight in there, and an outdated attempt at subtly asking the “do I look bigger?” question – but it is the underlying implication that has left me slightly more disturbed.

If it matters that I do not look different and is important to remain the same, then I am pretty much destined for failure; because if there’s one thing we can all be certain of, it’s change.
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The Capacity for Compassion

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Since starting Finding Melissa and beginning, finally, to join in, I have discovered a capacity that I never thought that I had. It is warm, and gooey, and the fuzzy-haired end of soft; and I think it is called compassion. It is like an unexpected ray of sunshine and the first kiss of warm air after you’ve been shivering, without an umbrella, in the rain.

I had always considered myself to be a rather brittle and cold person.

I am not, by nature, particularly tolerant and tend to lose patience pretty damn quick. I can rarely be bothered with explaining; am only just learning to listen; and, had become accustomed to life as them – and me. Compassion is not a quality I have associated myself with, nor something I thought I’d ever get –

It turns out I might have been wrong.
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We Are All Made Of Glue

Monday, May 17th, 2010

After my three missing Murakami months, my latest literary voyage has been a little lighter and far more full of froth.

Figuring that I deserved a break – after such a marathon – I was delighted to find (!) the latest Marina Lewycka on my shelf, and decided that a touch of humour and a very attractive front cover exactly met my need.
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