Monday, May 7, 2018

"Gradually the healing took place, seeming as it always does that it wasn't taking place." - Ursula Le Guin

I felt it building in my body - the panic - I felt it welling up inside of me, till my breathing became ragged and my hands wouldn't stop shaking and I was curled up in a ball sobbing, knees pulled tight to my chest as I gasped for air.

It wasn't always like this.

I remember, if only in bits and pieces, a time when the fear wasn't paralyzing, when living wasn't quite this difficult.

But that feels like an eternity past.


"Everything hurts," I used tell her, when she would ask me what I was feeling.

I had no words for that place, couldn't articulate the inner workings of my emotional state; I only knew the aching emanating from my bones, the unbearable weight pressing on my chest, the pain that was packed so tightly into each cell in my body.

"Everything hurts."

When I was fifteen and eighteen and twenty-two, I tried to starve It out of me, as though existing in a smaller frame would leave less room for the Pain to exist. When I found that my malnourished body still carried the trauma, I tried to force it out of me, overflowing the pain onto my skin, in scars and scratches, burn marks and bruises. But still, it remained.

When I lay in a cold white hospital room after an overdose, they asked me the one question that I could not answer: WHY?

It seemed innocent enough, a perfectly logical question on the surface: Why would a seemingly normal twenty-something try to end her own life?

I couldn't articulate that answer, the deep BECAUSE, the words getting stuck in my throat, unable to escape.


They say the body keeps the score, and if that's true, my body is a bullet-riddled map of all the places I have been, battlegrounds written across my skin, a geography of wars waged against myself.

I have tried to escape it / numb it / outrun / shrink it / starve it / purge it / bleed it out of me.

And here I am still, gasping for air, curled up in a ball in the hallway.


I was once told that I needed to let go of the past and move on, forgive and forget. But the Old Ghosts that haunt me are not so easily dissuaded from lingering. They do not give up their cold grip on me with trite sayings about forgiveness, they do not stop whispering / whispering in my ears because I tell myself that "today I am not looking back!"

"How do I make this go away? How do I fix it?" I ask her.
"Healing takes time, Lindsay. It doesn't happen overnight. This isn't a math problem to be solved, it's your life."

I don't like her response. I want a tangible, practical solution to make the memories and fear and panic attacks go away. I want to rid myself of the ghosts, but I don't know how.


I went through my old journals the other day and read through my writings from times past. I seemed fragile and delicate in the sickness, as thought I would shatter to pieces if one more burden was placed on my back.

"Everything hurts," I wrote.

But everything does not hurt, not anymore. The Fear is still strong and the trauma very present, but I am not breaking.

It's almost as though she was right, although difficult to admit, almost as though healing happens slowly and almost imperceptibly. But it happens.

I wondered at the girl in those pages, who felt so lost and fragmented and unsure of who she was.

And I realize I've stopped trying to rid myself of the Pain; maybe that's the difference between me and that lost girl. I am not running away anymore, but facing it head on. Maybe, somehow, as I've stared down my demons, looking straight into their soulless eyes, I have mended, just a little, realizing that they aren't quite as scary when dragged out into the light.

I am impatient when it comes to recovery and wholeness, which is apparently the antithesis of how any of this works. Apparently, healing requires time and self-compassion and feeling things you've buried away for ages. Apparently healing isn't a one-stop-shop.

But I'm learning to be okay with that - not in some cliche way where I learn to trust the process and everything is suddenly rainbows and sunshine. But where I am deeply afraid and I am choosing to feel the pain anyways, trying to face my demons even while they haunt my days.

I don't know when I'll reach the mythical "other side," or if such a place even exists. But I do know this: even on the days when I am curled up in a ball post-panick attack, even on the days when I wake up from another nightmare, even on the days when I want to crawl out of my skin - something inside of me refuses to be undone. The Old Tapes still play through my mind every day, but I can hear Me with a Capital M, pushing back now.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


I cried for the entirety of our fifty minute therapy session, crumpled tissues piling high next to me, after she asked me what it was exactly about the eating disorder that I did not want to go back to.

As I described to her in between sobs what is is to survive ten years of violence inflicted upon your own body, something inside of me seemed to break. Remembering the nights of raw throated agony as I kneeled before a toilet bowl to pay my penance for my sins / the days of primal hunger as my stomach burned and my muscles ached, there was a sense of sheer terror that I would ever return to that life of suffering.

And yet it pulls at me, the Monster, always calling me backwards towards sickness, towards dying, towards pain. It roars in my head that there is something unclean running through my veins that must be dug out; that I have, merely by existing, perpetrated the greatest of all crimes, transgressed the laws of the gods, and I must spend the rest of my days on my knees repenting.

I have spent a lifetime, all of my short twenty-six years on this earth, atoning for sins that I have never even committed.

Are the gods satisfied yet?


"Maybe," she says slowly, weighing her words, "maybe, you have suffered enough."

I grab another tissue and hug my knees to my chest.

It is deeply violent to deprive your body of the necessary calories it needs to survive, to heave and convulse before a toilet bowl altar, to run until your body is on the verge of collapse. What is it to live through trauma that is of your own making? What is it to live through such extreme violence at your own hands? 

For so long I have numbed myself to the reality of what I was doing, but I felt the gravity of it all in that moment, telling her about how I used to lay in bed, counting my too-slow heartbeats to make sure I was still alive, all the while praying that I was not. Because, I tell her, to wake up and live another day meant listening to the Monster's orders, being a slave to Its sadistic whims and I couldn't bear that one more day. 

I choke down more tears. 

Reliving those days, those haunted days, brings up gut-wrenching pain.

Yet I have begun to listen to the Monster again lately, buying into Its silver-tongued promises and rose-colored visions of safety and control. I know better, know that the life it offers is a life against my values. 


It's just one snack. 
One run.
One meal.
One day.
One week.
One life.

And I can feel myself falling again, spiraling into the dark place where I cannot choose for myself but can only obey / obey / obey the Monster. 

This is not the life that I want. I don't want to go back to living as the dead, to walking around half-girl, half-ghost. I am terrified of being forced into living against myself again, committing violence against my body, directed by my mind. 

She tells me that I have a choice in this, that I am giving away my power too easily, and I don't know that I believe her. I want to, but it doesn't feel true. 


Just eat your food, Lindsay, I tell myself, eat your damn food. 

I am sitting at a restaurant with friends, smiling and laughing and talking as though I were not starving myself to death. 

The full plate of food in front of me makes my stomach growl and the hunger pangs grow stronger. 

I can hear the therapist's voice in my head, Think about the life that you want. This is not what you want. 

But the voice of the Monster is loud and strong, and I feel small and weak in comparison. 


"I don't know how to want to eat," I tell her. 
"You won't want to," she says, "You just have to go through the motions for a while before it gets easier." 

I open the door to the refrigerator, close it, and then open it again. 

I do not want to eat.

But I am so very tired of pain, always pain.

I am so very tired of dying. 

I am so very tired of the hellish existence of my eating disorder.

I make no promises for tomorrow, I tell her. I’m not committing myself to recovery and rainbows and sunshine. I don’t know that I am even capable of beating back the Monster for any extended length of time. The Monster’s grip on me is tight.

But maybe - I hesitate before continuing - maybe just for this one meal, I have suffered enough. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

She calls me in tears, telling me she's started using again and that can't stop, and all I want in that moment is to save her. I want to fly across the country, throw out all the drugs and make her promise to stay clean.

But I know it doesn't work that way.

"Am I destined to live in this cycle forever?" she asks me, "Relapsing and then going back to treatment only to relapse again when I leave?"

As I lay there, curled up on my couch, I don't know what to tell her. I want to pretend like my struggles are gone and that I am somehow beyond where she is. I want to convince myself I am not in the exact same place, wanting desperately to go back to my demons, to be pulled back into a vicious cycle of sickness.


Sitting in dark, empty apartment after the phone call ends, I pull my blanket around my shoulders and wait for the overcast Sunday skies to break into rain.

I've been flirting with death again lately, letting myself slip here and there, justifying it all by saying it's just one time, what does it really matter?

I know where this path leads, know that this ends in shivering cold misery and obsessive weight loss, that it ends in hospitals and feeding tubes and months and months of trying to undo the damage. Maybe that's the point, though. Maybe that's what I am subconsciously moving towards.  Because I miss it. Yes, In some twisted way, I miss being sick.  I miss living in a mental fog, not being able to think straight or concentrate on anything. I miss lacking energy, feeling faint, feeling like I was on a high when I didn't eat for days. And most of all, I miss dying.

On the spectrum of life and death, I have hovered on the side of death for the past ten years. There was something comforting in not having to face the world, in hiding behind sickness and death. Not having to deal with pain and past trauma, not having to feel, not having to know what it is to be human; the eating disorder was a safe haven, a protection from a terrifying world.

When I existed in a too-small, fragile body, it felt as if there wasn't room in my body for the pain. As though the less mass I took up on the planet, the less space there was for the hurt. As though I could starve myself small enough to not feel, starve myself small enough to rid myself of my trauma.

Despite all of the hard work I've done over the past few months, all of the intensive therapy and self-reflection, the pull is strong to go back to what was killing me. The siren song of the disorder is lulling me towards the water's edge, calling me deeper and deeper in, lulling me towards drowning.

"There are so many good things in your life," the woman tells me, "you have so many opportunities that are life-giving. You have to be healthy for those to happen. You can't have both sickness and your dreams."

She is right that I cannot have those things without being healthy, but being healthy is strange and disorienting. Being closer to the side of Life is uncharted territory and I'm not sure that I like it. I long for the familiarity of a dying body. I don't know how to live in this new place, a place where I use my words to be heard rather than my physical self.

I am so afraid of being okay, of not being in crisis, of stability and health.

I am so afraid of having the power in my own life.


"You spend all your time escaping and avoiding," says the therapist, "and you're never really present in your own life." 

I started to run back to the eating disorder a few days ago, deciding to relapse and let myself lose control to the Monster again. I would have kept going for as long as I could hold out when a friend reached out to me and asked to talk. In that moment, I had a choice to make: to show up for my friendships, to be fully present and have deep, meaningful conversations with people I care about, or lose myself in the haze of starvation, becoming a ghost of a woman again, never really there.

I chose, this time, to be present.

There is something to that, I think. The most powerful moments in my recovery process have been when people have been fully present with me in my experiences of suffering and pain, walking alongside of me through the darkness. There is something there, something important about the idea that presence brings healing.

But for myself, I have avoided presence like the plague, running from anything that makes me feel my emotions, and when pushed to an uncomfortable place, dissociating to protect myself. The eating disorder, in it's desperate attempts to avoid the present moment, has caused me to become so disconnected from my own self, from my body and my own internal experiences.

But what I want - meaningful connections with other people - requires me to show up. It asks of me what I am most afraid of doing: experiencing the range of human emotions in all of its messy glory. It asks me to stop running, always running, from pain.

This healing isn't one sided though: I am healed through the presence of others as much as through my own home-coming to my body and emotions. It is in this dual relationship of fully embodied presence that I am beginning to mend, bit by bit.

I don't know if I'll ever stop missing the sickness fully, or ever really get over the desire to go back to it. But I believe deeply in the power of presence. Not as a magic cure, as if such a thing existed, but as something to hold onto in the midst of the storm. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

"You seem... brighter," she tells me, as we sit across from each other in her office. I am sitting cross-legged on a blue couch, fidgeting with necklace that I was given up graduation from the treatment center. 

"I've felt it too," I say, "Something has shifted."

It's been two weeks since I left treatment, two weeks of fear and uncertainty and change, but, somehow, two weeks of staying the path of recovery. 

This is a strange new world, like emerging from a fog and not remembering what it felt like to be able to see clearly, trying to navigate this landscape with new eyes. I am used to stumbling around in the dark / I am used to the phrase "you can't see it now, but there is hope" / I am used to having to trust the words of others, having move forward despite not knowing or seeing or tasting freedom myself. 

But in this place, this uncharted territory of recovery and health, I feel an unexplainable sense of peace and centeredness. 

There was a time in the not so distant past when the very idea of hope seemed dangerous, too delicate to trust, too flimsy to grasp onto. The word itself tasted strange on my tongue, like it didn't belong in this worn-down body. And somehow, somehow I am here, now, letting hope, that scariest of words, flood my being / run it's wild course through my veins. It's not that I'm suddenly sunshine and rainbows about life - that will never be my story. But hope doesn't seem quite so foreign now, quite so terrifying and far off. 

I'm not sure how to live anymore. 

Ten years of the disease and suddenly it's like I've woken up from a dream to find myself in Life again. There is no roadmap for where to go from here, how to learn to take my first steps again, speak my first words, start over in the process of being human. 

I should be more afraid than I am right now.

There is so much that could fall through, go terribly wrong. This is a place of complete unknown, territory I have never treaded before. 

And yet I feel an overwhelming sense of calm. 

I am finally living in line with my own self, my soul no longer in chaos or dissonance from living against my very heart. 

That's not to say I'll never struggle again, or never fall back into the waiting arms of the eating disorder.  I am not naive enough to believe the fight is won. The temptation is still present at every meal and I don't know that that will ever fully go away. But the pull of Life is stronger right now, and it is resurrecting me.

I don't remember the last time I felt hopeful, the last time I felt grounded and at a peace, but I think I might just like it.

Monday, March 20, 2017

her office is dimly lit with a small fountain on a table in the corner and a red blanket on the chair and it is all supposed to soothe me, all of the ambience, supposed to make me feel safe and at peace. But instead what I feel is the sadness and the fear and overwhelming sense of dread that I will relapse as soon as I discharge from the treatment program.

"the thing that's missing, lindsay, is a willingness to tolerate the fear," says the therapist and I stare at the carpet and nod. It's not new information that she's telling me: I know full well that I am running, making bargains with the devil again in an attempt to not feel the panic about what's in front of me. And I am trying to prove her wrong, trying to eat when god knows it is the last thing I feel like doing, trying to move towards my future when every last inch of me wants to let the paralyzing fear overtake me. I am doing the right things, acting opposite to my emotion, using my "skills" and reaching out and moving in the direction of Life, but I remain unconvinced that this whole recovery thing is worth it.

I cross and uncross my legs, avoid eye contact and squeeze a stress ball that I grab from her basket of gadgets.

It will be worth it, she promises, it will, Lindsay, but my god, how am I supposed to trust that? how am I supposed to go on in blind faith that things will turn out okay? all I can see in front of me is chaos and uncertainty, things that seem to be falling apart. Everything that once anchored me is is not enough to hold this together / hold me together.

The problem I run up against is that I want evidence, I want indisputable proof that this is worth it, but the only way I get that evidence is by moving forward and living despite the uncertainty. It is a dilemma I face every time I contemplate recovery, the wall I hit when I move out into the world: this overwhelming, all-consuming fear that life is not, in fact, worth living. I want to know that if I am about to throw all of my energy into this thing, put every last bit of my fire behind this, that it is going to be worth fighting for, that on the other side of this is a life that I will want to be present in.


I know the life that I want. I know the life I dream about living.

But I am in the unbelievably frustrating place of knowing and not having, holding a vision of the future but being forced to live in the painful present. The present is the part I want to escape from and not face: the only way out is through: I don't want that to be true. I want to have a way to get to the life I dream of living by going around the hard stuff, avoiding the scary moments and hard decisions and discomfort.

And I know that that isn't how any of this works. I know that by facing what I am afraid of I am paving the way to the life that I want. But the fear: dear god, the fear. It threatens to choke the life right out of me, squeezing the air out of my aching lungs.


Today is heavy.

It's been one week since I left the treatment program and I can barely drag myself out of bed to make coffee because that sounds like it would take too much energy. The world looks grey today and the fear is pressing on me like a weight and I am desperately trying to remind myself why it is important to eat and breathe and live. I want to crawl back under the bed covers and hide there forever.

I have a choice to make - to stay in that which is safe and comfortable and risk-free and never have to feel the discomfort of fear and heartache and shame, or to confront the fear head-on and potentially move into a meaningful life. I know what my heart is pushing for, know what answer my truest self would give, but I don't know if I am brave enough to choose it. 

It's been a long, lonely week, living a life that is not quite recovery but not quite sickness either. The self-destructive voices call me backwards, pulling at me, promising me relief and numbness to the fear and chaos I feel. So far I've been holding them at bay, finding little reasons why I can't starve myself today. But I'm not sure how much longer I can hold out, how long those little reasons will be stronger than the Fear, stronger than my desire to escape / hide / avoid / not feel. I feel like I am on the brink, teetering between worlds, between falling back into the disorder and falling headfirst into my life. It seems that all it would take is a little push in either direction to send me over the edge.


I remember telling her just a few weeks ago that I wanted my power back, saying that I was tired of having a life controlled by other people. I remember how good it felt to imagine a life of my own, outside of their beliefs and words and strict ideas about who I should be. It feels like that piece of me, that deep, guttural place, gets buried when I'm faced with fear and uncertainty about the future. Suddenly, all of the work that I've done gets thrown out the window and I am turn myself over to be a prisoner to the Fear. 

But I'm doing it again, aren't I? Giving over my power to someone or something else? When I was younger, it was family and religion, and later it was the eating disorder, and now, now, it is Fear that has the power over my life. And I am so tired of not choosing my own life, worn down and worn out of giving myself over my power to that which doesn't deserve to be running the show. I want to "belong deeply to myself," as the the poet Warsan Shire wrote, to be my own person and no one else's. 

I don't know how to stop being afraid. Right now, fear is large and monstrous and clings to me like a shadow. I don't know how to get rid of that, dig it out of me and throw it far, far away. All I know is that I must begin to live anyways, in spite of the fear, to spite the fear, to refuse to be ruled by anyone else by my true self. I don't even know what that looks like really, except getting up every day anyways, getting up when I want the world to stop spinning, getting up and trying again, throwing out the pills and the razors as back up plans, and continuing to live.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

"What does it look like for you to have the power in your own life?" the therapists asks me. It's been a week now since I last thought about death, a week since I sat with the pills in my hand contemplating silence and nothingness and stopping the fight altogether. 

And I think of the lines from a Marge Piercy poem:

"She must learn again to speak
starting with I
starting with WE
starting as the infant does
with her own true hunger
and pleasure
and rage."

I don't think I've ever truly known what is is to be control of my own life. I lived for years under the oppressive weight of other people's beliefs, controlled by fear and shame and swallowing down my own thoughts and desires as I tried to make myself less. I remember the nights of guilt-induced sickness, trying to rid myself of the sinful parts of me. And I wonder what it is to live free from their reign, free from the grimy fingers always pulling on my skin, tugging me back, back into their dark world. I wonder what it is to not be owned by anyone, Monsters or men, except myself.


"I can't stop," I say. "I have to lose weight / self destruct / set myself on fire. It helps, oh god, I know it shouldn't, but it helps." 

As I began to move towards Life and recovery and hope, the fear's grip on me got stronger and the Monster roared louder and I grabbed hold of the eating disorder as tightly as I could. I found comfort in the arms of rules and structure and certainty, respite in letting someone else run the show. There was an escape in allowing The Monster to be in the driver's seat. But sweet Jesus, for the sake of all that is good and beautiful in this world, I have to say that I am so very, very tired of being told what to do. I am tired of my body being passed like an offering to the gods, of being bound and tied to the altar and burned alive as a sacrifice. I am tired of belonging to everyone else, tired of being the main course for their never-ending appetites.

I want, I think, to determine my own life: not let their twisted words rule me forever, not let the messages of shame haunt me till I die.

For years they told me I was tainted and broken, taught me to make myself small and shrink away from thinking too much of myself lest I commit the sin of pride. Their words wrap around me like heavy chains, the weight of them sinking me to the bottom of the sea. I am drowning in these voices that lay claim to my soul. What would it mean then, to live out my own truth? To cut myself loose and swim to the surface? What would it mean to taste the first breath of air in my lungs as I live in alignment with my own desperate heart? 

My own power: it is so unfamiliar to even consider it, such strange and uncharted territory that I'm not sure which direction to go. I'm not completely sure I want to be in control. Holding the reigns of my own life is simultaneously liberating and terrifying.  And it comes on suddenly, the sickness nostalgia, the rose-colored images of what things used to be: memories of hospital gowns and feeding tubes and a cold burrowed so deep in my bones that no amount of heat can make me feel warm -- and I miss it, miss disappearing into thin air, miss the safety and support of treatment, miss the days of not having to face the problems of the Real World because I was too lost in a fog of the disorder. The glazed over, sugar-coated images of what life was like inside of the disorder are tempting, drawing me in and towards that world of the unwell -- but somehow, despite it all, my heart is pushing pushing pushing for something else. It is desperately beating inside of me, pulsing to be free and owned by no one, no words, no beliefs, no Monsters. 


"You can't avoid life forever," she says and I want to argue with her, tell her that I am, in fact, capable of long-term avoidance. But I know that is not what she means: she and I both know that I can hold on to this disease till it inevitably kills me. She means that if I want to live, with a capital L, I will eventually have to face what I have been consistently turning away from in favor of the disorder, looking directly into the eyes of that which terrifies and paralyzes me. 

The only way out it through 

Over the past few months, I have clarified the direction I want me life to go in, analyzed to bits the motivating and grounding forces in my life, and yet when theory comes to action there is a disconnect: of course I want Life and hope and happiness / I do not eat my food; I want to travel and sing and have a family / there I am, kneeling before the toilet again. It seems that no matter how much work I do in therapy, the Monster is always stronger, more desirable. And just like that I begin to sink into despair again,  believing that I will never get out of this dark place, believing that this is all there is, as good as it gets - and dear lord if that's the case, I want off this ride.

I am fooling no one: I am not happy here. I am in chaos, my bleeding heart incapable of being ignored, but me, here, still trying my hardest to stop it up nonetheless. I am denying who I am with each meal skipped, each bruised bit of skin, each bloodied blade. I am suppressing that spark of light, that Something Else that comes around when I sing and write and create. She calls it passion (I call it magic) and says that it is what makes life meaningful and that I should pursue it with everything inside of me. The spark pulls at me, pulses through me, calling me back to surface. In each small moment of inflated lungs I feel a tug of hope, a reminder that this is what I was created to do: create. When I refuse my own identity as an artist, suppress my creativity and return to the eating disorder, I betray my own soul.  How long can I - will I - keep denying who I am?

My own power: there is no "taking back" to be done, since it was never mine in the first place. But coming into my own power, owning myself for the first time in my life: where in the world do I even begin? To be powerful, to be a free agent, to have autonomy and belong to me and me alone / this is what I want, what I long for in my most honest moments. It begins with food, of course, and kindness towards myself, since that goes against every message They gave me and the Monster's loud raging voice. But it's going to be so much more than food and not destroying my body. It's going to be embracing a family of choice, surrounding myself with a community because I deserve more than isolation and loneliness. It going to be practical things like being proactive in taking steps towards building a future life that I would want to live in. It is owning my artist identity and pursuing my passions with ferocity.

When I think of power, I think of Toni Morrison's words about love: "Don't think I fell for you, or  fell over you. I didn't fall in love, I rose in it."  There is a rising that must happen if I am to become my own: a rising into an identity that I have been running from, a rising to face the lingering, ever-present Fear, a rising into self-possession and a stubborn refusal to allow anyone else's beliefs define my actions or self worth. I don't believe that deep down I want to continue to be dragged along, bound to their truths forever, a slave to the messages that they gave me. I must rise, must become, must liberate myself somehow:

: if only I knew how - how to motivate myself to stop listening to the old tapes that play in my head, how to treat myself with respect and care, how to find safety in something other than destruction. It seems that no matter how motivated my mind may be, the Monster is stronger, looms larger, fights dirtier. I may know that what I want is liberation and wholeness and agency, but that doesn't suddenly mean that I am free, doesn't guarantee that I am strong enough to fight back and escape the clutches of the Monster. Here, in this place, I feel enslaved to the disorder, to living against my values and beliefs and desires and passions. I don't know what will get me out of this place. I am dying an internal death as I obsess over calories and how much I've walked and How Little Can I Eat Today?  I don't know how to claw my way out of the trenches this time,  I don't know how to tune out my demons; I only know that the longer I go on, the more desperate I feel - the more my heart screams in my chest, pounding, raging against my ribcage to be let loose. I don't know how to get free, I only know that I need it.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

I can see the moon through the slats of the blinds, my fingers moving across the keyboard that's pushed up against the window, my voice soft and low as I whisper-sing my pain out into the night.

In between verses of songs of lost-loves, I am swallowing down tears that are fighting to get out, trying to keep myself from drowning in the sadness. This love that I've lost, I'm not sure I ever had. 

They say that relationships are always messy and families especially so. But does it always hurt this much? It came on like an explosion: unexpected and sudden and me, hiding in the corner like a scared child in the debris-laden aftermath. 

I don't know what I did wrong, where I went wrong, what I could have done to cause such a seemingly irreparable rift between us, but it seems to always come back to me: me, the broken one, me, the stubborn, hard-hearted one, me the one unable to let people close.

Last night I sat with a bottle of pills in my shaky hand and considered swallowing them all, considered ending this right here, right now. Changes are coming this week, likely difficult and life-altering changes, and I would rather not give my family that power over me. I would rather take it into my own hands then let them decide how my life will go. There are moments, fleeting thoughts of how they would regret treating me this way if I were gone / see my sickness and pain for what they are instead of using my disorder as their scapegoat for the family's dysfunction, a "fine, I'll show you," mentality. The thoughts of death come on strong and forceful, and it took every ounce of self-control to pour the pills back into the bottle. I know, even as I look longingly at that bottle that it's not death I crave so much as escape from feeling powerless to the whims of other people, to their push-and-pulls on my life, to their narratives of my journey, to their distorted perceptions of who I am. 

Waking up today to the bright light of morning I can barely move my weary body, much less force food down my throat. The world feels too heavy today for my two small shoulders to bear. I want to lie down and give up. 

She tells me that not eating will not solve the problems in my relationships: but it will, I think, it will if I do it for long enough, enough for my frail body to give out and end this battle. 

There is a Monster inside of my head and monsters outside of it as well. Death then, in some twisted way, seems to be the most logical way out. It is the ultimate grab at power: no one gets to have a say over me or my body, no one gets to move me around like a pawn in their games. To quote the poet Warsan Shire, "I belong deeply to myself." 

But there is still a logical voice somewhere in the caverns of my mind, though it is often overshadowed and shouted down by the Monster, that says that allowing my decisions to be dictated by the decisions of others, living my life only in reactions, is still giving over my power to them. That belonging to myself means something more than escapism and numbing, more than destroying myself to prove that they don't own me. 

I don't know then, where to go from here except that eating and self-care have to be weapons, have to be not a sign of powerlessness but of agency and refusal to play by their games. I have been letting their beliefs about me sink me under again, that I am the prodigal, problem-child, broken and bitter and cold-hearted, and the sadness and weight of it all takes me to the bottom of the abyss again. By moving towards death, I have been letting their words, their beliefs own me. Wholeness and health, then, are living in line with myself and my truths, defying their story about who I am. The changes are coming over the next few days and I want to run away, self-destruct until I no longer exist. I am frightened and angry and scrambling for something to hold onto, some way to not be controlled. But surrendering my power to them, letting them define who I will be and whether I live, is not that way. They don't deserve that power / they don't deserve to decide my fate / don't deserve to have their words echoing in my brain, the messages of inadequacy and failure carved into my heart. 

Until I am back on solid ground again, until I can find motivation inside of myself to nourish my body out of care and compassion, I eat as a refusal to be defined by anyone but myself. I eat in defiance of their ideas of me, the ones that say I don't deserve good things, that I am not enough. I eat until I am the one in control again, I am the one - me and only me - deciding what happens to this body and in my life.