Journal entry ~ 14/12/17:
‘When you hit half-way’
I am currently stuck in one position, my hands by my side and feet cemented to a particular 30cm radius of the earth. I stand face forward to the brick wall that I have come up against (time and time again). In fact, I don’t think a brick wall is a very accurate description as it is not a brick wall at all. It’s semi-transparent and I can sort of but sort-of-not see through to the other side. When I’m feeling up to it my spine allows me to twist in the opposite direction and recapture the image of my footprints – those that have brought me thus far and landed me in this very position, at this very moment in time. I am encouraged to move in this way but I find it rather strenuous so when I do turn around I usually have a good reason.
I don’t like where I am right now. It feels uncomfortable. It feels tight and ill-fitting.
I am sure you know how it feels to have all the pieces of a puzzle at your fingertips and the incapacity to complete the image. Maybe it’s the exhaustion that throws you, after all – you have just spent what feels like an entire lifetime finishing that first half, you don’t feel particularly enthused about exerting this same energy on the other. Or perhaps it’s pure disbelief. It has taken you months, maybe even years (I know you have a half-completed puzzle hiding on a top shelf somewhere!) to make that gesture toward the box, taking it down from the shelf, sweeping off the dust and fumbling your way around the thousand-or-something-bonkers-number of pieces that are hidden inside. We all feel a little bit like this sometimes; stale, frustrated, immobilised.
This is me. I am the girl who has recovered from anorexia so much to say that she can see her future, hazily but with still some clarity; the girl who has mastered the art of ‘taking longer than expected’ and who is left still, expecting something more than what she has now.
In my recent reading of Emily T. Troscianko’s ‘Recovering from Anorexia: How and Why Not to Stop Halfway’ (absolutely one of the most honest & inspiring articles I have read in a very long time: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hunger-artist/201402/recovering-anorexia-how-and-why-not-stop-halfway) a number of chords were struck in relation to my own current state of ‘stuckness.’
Some examples are as follows.
“How do you get past the in-between stage of having regained some weight but probably not enough, of not being sure whether it’s enough, of finding it awful enough already and not believing you can bear anymore, of knowing this isn’t being well again but fearing going any further?”
“One of anorexia’s most fundamental characteristics seems to be the combination of a high degree of insight and the complete inability to act on it.”
“The ‘low end of healthy’ (which, as I hope I’ve shown, is not a meaningful concept for an individual) may be where you always wanted to be, but it now gives you the worst of both worlds: you’re nowhere near thin enough for your anorexia, and at the same time you’re missing out on all the benefits of going all the way to what healthy actually means for you.”
“I didn’t want to stop halfway and be forever wondering what might have happened if I hadn’t. I wanted to do this thing properly. “You can’t predict everything about recovery, and that’s part of what makes it scary, because anorexia needs predictability. But you can predict most things, and that makes it scary too, because anorexia hates being predictable. Embrace the fear, though, and you will be rewarded, in beautiful ways both predictable and unpredictable.”
It isn’t that I don’t know what my goals are because I do. I have always known them. It is the amount of time, space, and freedom that has been given to this illness that makes it so hard for me to regress. I am aware of the progress and the change that has been made thus far, and I am so proud of this, but I am equally aware that I have spent months standing, bewildered and shaking in my shoes, before this semi-transparent wall. Too much of something so obscure can do one of two things, 1) invite you to turn back to the familiar, or 2) motivate you to explore what lies beyond.
Every inch of me yearns for that option number two but the force of anorexia is always at work, luring me back into the ‘certain safety’ of option number one. As I wake from my sleep I am again presented with the choice of which voice to pursue – two very different manners in which I could live out my day.
I know that there is more freedom there somewhere. I can feel it. I just need to find it.