No longer do I flinch unintentionally when a man tries to touch me. No longer do I spend hours in the shower trying to scrub unsought fingerprints from my body. I remember those days years with graphic detail. Sunken on the shower’s floor, sobbing and shamed. The bruises were long gone but I swear I could still see them, feel them, even under my abraded skin. I wanted to disappear and take up as little space in the world as I could. I could only justify becoming invisible. Instead of falling in love with myself, I initiated a torrid love affair with the void in my stomach. The emptiness felt like a field of flowers, satiating my search for healing. My ribcage and spine represented a pristine lesson in skeletal anatomy.
While I am no longer a portrait of skin hanging off of bones like wispy clothes from wire coat hangers, the memories are stored in my body. There are nights I wake up with a tourniquet around my chest. Hyperventilating. Pressing my hand in to my stomach to remind myself I am safe; there’s no baby in there.
Instead, there’s a burning desire in my belly to rebuild all of the pieces of myself I had been convinced were stolen from me. Years of therapy later and a long, arduous journey into the depths of my soul painted a portrait of attainable fortitude. Had someone told me over a decade ago the work I’d have to go through to recover, I’d like to think I would have made different choices. Because fuck is it excruciating. Yet, I do not think I would alter my decisions for it has been this grueling exploration of being human that has shown me true beauty in life and the gravity of connection.
I remember my therapist use to tell me there is life after an eating disorder. There is life after trauma. There is a life where I can drive my own bus; a bus not dictated by my past. She was right. I have found a different sort of void to fall in love with – rock climbing. I can fill the void of the rock with my body, because I am enough. I have a compassionate tenderness for the bruises that decorate my skin from climbing. They are a beautiful colour of black and blue, and I chose them. And, they always heal. Instead of a field of flowers, I have found a desert full of sagebrush and abounding nothingness. That is where my heart lives, so full at times it’s hard to remember where I came from.
To remember I no longer spend days in bed unable to do anything but gaze at the scars on my wrists. To remember the certainty I had in convincing myself I deserved the atrocities. To remember what it was like to starve, slowly dying. It is a humbling process to remember to be gentle with myself and to grant grace in healing.
This passage through time has taken years. I have most certainly come a long way with an even longer way to go. Living with myself day in and day out, progress is not always obvious to recognize. There are still some days where I simply can’t bring myself to eat. And there are days where I feel utterly insatiable. This passage of healing isn’t a straight line; it’s a circle constantly coming back to carve its way deeper in to the very roots of letting go. There are still nights I wake up with a tourniquet around my chest. Pressing my hand to my heart to remind myself there’s a fire in my belly and I am whole. I am wild. I am weightless.
© /skin/ /ˈpōətrē/
“Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it- it can’t survive being shared. Shame loves secrecy. When we bury our story, the shame metastasizes.”
― Brené Brown