Rigid

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You’re never as thin as you intend to be before people begin insisting you eat more than cigarettes and black coffee. You’ll also never decrease enough to satisfy the distorted images of your body in the reflections of shop windows and dressing room mirrors. Photographs might as well come with blindfolds or a razor kit. When you start reading what healthy diets are all about your heart sinks further, in between irregular beats. Why bother? There is a meager line that stops feeling worth it so you decide you’d prefer not to taste anything, like love. This trail of thinking is the kind of anhedonic trickle which leads to the thoughts that make staying in bed non-negotiable. The money must not be spent. The calories must not be eaten. The mess must not be made. The products must not be used. Everything becomes a violation of a series of spoken or unspoken rules. Everything becomes a task that belongs to you and results from your very messy, very untidy, very chaotic needs. Watching the way others leak and leave behind sticky counters, ravaged budgets, used resources, condom wrappers and discarded children turns on all of the alarms inside you. which call you to consciousness and insist that you make it stop.

It used to be triggered by the events inside my house; my father’s drinking, another weekend with my uncle’s mouth on top of mine, my mother’s absence, the unfed siblings, the debt collectors, the arrival of yet another trash bag of clothes, the sound of screaming and banging in the apartment upstairs, my mother’s steady stream of crying, needy girlfriends and their odd children whom I had to entertain or listen to in musty attic or basement playrooms, the fighting, the peeling linoleum flooring, or simply enduring another week of being bullied by classmates while existing in clothes that didn’t fit. Dancing and praying soothed me. Hiding in my closet was a safe comfort. The rest of the time I was a good, convincing, smiling, pleasant female child who said and did all the things which put them at ease or at the very least, was not an issue, until I started getting nose bleeds and other kinds of bleeding. I did not want to be an issue, but containing the landfill inside me had become a greater challenge than I could manage. This is when you learn tricks and happily, those around you are content to remain mystified, until you fall down the stairs again.

Now it would seem it is triggered by the events outside my home which turn on things inside my head. The dishes need to be put away and there are more than a few piles of laundry that need to be sorted and washed. Trauma is like that shirt with the stain. I’ve tried several methods for cleaning it, but it lingers. Some things have come out. Some things have not. Some things get tripped over that you did not know were there. I think those are the things I could most do without. When those things show up I use my most tried and trusted tools for navigating pain. The thing about recovery is you cycle through your steps much quicker, like in one morning or day. You practice noticing and choosing something different. You have gotten very skilled at making lists and allowing, and mindfulness and supplementing, and hydrating and devotionals and whatever else it takes to become realigned with the person you fought so hard to be. I recommend not having a television or listening to radio or looking at social media news-feeds. My mind interprets news as instructions and tasks that, if not followed, indicate I am useless, careless, lazy or otherwise not good enough. There is a rational adult inside me who knows this is the essential goal of capitalist propaganda which is why there is no fun in t.v for me. When I listen, I hear everything. Everything. And it’s very loud. Have you ever felt that way?

Resilience is another fine line. I adopt it more when I find myself confronted with other people’s excuses for why they can’t or couldn’t. I want to be fiercely parted from anything weaker than I what I think I need to be safe. Is resilience a pound away from dependence? Then I’d prefer to be a few pounds under for added insurance. It’s like pulling an elastic band just taught enough that it makes a flat and sturdy surface for an ant to crawl across, but any harder and it snaps and stings you and falls apart. That’s recovery with food; the line is a pound, the line is a slice of toast, a piece of fruit, an extra mile and sometimes you are very lost sitting in front of a scale with your back to a toilet terrified of your fridge and your closet. Underneath is the awareness that none of these feelings are about the food or the tape measure and you cannot bare the thought that it is this again and you wonder when it will stop.

The first time I found my voice it came out in a panicked statement followed by breathless crying. ‘I’ watched it from someplace else.  I didn’t use my voice again for a few very quiet years. Since then I learned to attach it to meaningful use and detach it from my Self. Keeping it away from me was a safer preference with only the occasional discomfort of other’s ignorance, here and there. You bump into it and through some practice with compassion you learn to dismiss the wrong things innocently blurted as misinformed and prejudiced ‘facts’. At times I have felt like an escaped prisoner listening to free people who assume I share their culture. But then, I suspect we all feel like that at least once in our life. Maybe?

 

I’ve made a few attempts at using my voice since I suspect I’ve had all these experiences for some intended and good purpose, like divine Providence. I believe that as part of saving my life. I believe that everything which happens to us happens with the intent of growing us and shaping us to help grow and shape others. The essence of all of life is a series of births, deaths and rebirths; dying to every lie and being reborn again and again to the Truth. Some people call that truth God or G-d or Love or Source. I don’t know that it matters what you call it, just that you find it and it helps you keep going. When I can’t speak is when I pray. I go in and look for the guidance I can’t produce on my own. Look for the Love that is sufficient and remind myself of why I choose to live.

“Let us then pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding.” -Romans 14:19

5 thoughts on “Rigid

  1. Shit you right really well! Is this fiction or is it real? Because if it’s fiction, you’ve hit the nail right on the head and if it’s real, then, my god, am I sorry that this happened to you and what to give you all my love and support and really wish you are better x

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  2. It’s really excellent, and rare, to come across writing with such emotional honesty, on top of such wonderful use of language. Some manage one, some the other, fewer can do both – judging from what I’ve read in my lifetime. That’s a tiny sliver of an intersecting Venn diagram.

    The Japanese have an actual word for the pile of books waiting to be read on one’s bedside table etc. It’s *tsundoku*. If you’d like to add some books to yours, I’d like to recommend one called “Borrowed Light” by Anna Fienberg, a Sydney writer. It won a young adult reading prize and deals with the difficult topic of family dysfunction and its consequences in a brilliant way that begets both tears and laughter. You kind of have to play detective as pieces of the family back story are revealed, while being bathed in astronomical facts and cosmological wonder. That’s my favourite novel on the topic.

    On a related note, Camilla Lackberg from Sweden also shows a lot of insight into family dysfunction. She actually writes crime fiction, but very differently from most other crime writers. I love her psychological puzzles; far more interesting than who actually did it, and I’d actually bet that the author probably feels that way herself. I quite enjoy some other crime writers like Minette Walters, SImon Beckett, Raymond Chandler, but none of them get anywhere near Lackberg in terms of human psychology and patterns in families and the consequences… it’s often attempted in cliched ways by B-grade writers, but this author I take my hat off to.

    Your writing got me thinking about these authors again, so I thought I’d recommend them to you. Ah, so many books, and only eighty years or so to read! 😉

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    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment Sophie. Tsundoku yes! I have piles like this at home, at work and in my Amazon cue. I like the sound of Borrowed Light and 80+years to put all our puzzle pieces together. 😉

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