Healing in Seasons
I will not be afraid. Afraid of putting pencil to paper, of etching memories into granite, of accepting the reflection staring anywhere but directly into the vast depths of the mirror. But what is life, individuality, and love without the deepest, most painful moments of our lives?
The year is 2007. As a 13-year-old girl, life is quite ordinary. I strive to maintain high grades and keep up with the latest gossip. I strive to look like all the other girls. In school, I gaze enviously at the thinner girls, wishing to look like them. My family has membership to a local gym. As such, I take to the machines daily and run, not caring that my muscles are screaming and I want to throw up. The gears whine continuously, my face hot and sticky and my breath coming in short, hard gasps but I run. Left, right, left, right; nothing else matters, and it all becomes a blur...
Fall: In the parking garage, my mom turns slowly around to face me in the backseat, her eyes urgently searching my own. Her pupils are dilated, her mouth turned downwards. I turn away quickly, unable to meet those agonized eyes, unwilling to be caught by the glaring searchlights cutting through the fog. Voices in my mind rise louder than ever, replaying a conversation held moments ago: “She needs help! She’s only 88 pounds!”
Eighty-eight pounds. Eighty-eight pounds. When my mom parks the car, I run inside, slam the door to my bedroom, and let my raw emotions flow. Taking out my diary I flip to an empty page. Through bleary eyes I copy, “88 pounds.” I lift my hand from the paper. A small scribble barely a quarter-centimeter high remains as evidence. Ten seconds later, deep, furious pen marks have scratched out the lightly printed words. They no longer exist.
A few days or maybe weeks later: I look down into my outstretched palm. A small rectangle sits there. Small, circular objects encased in plastic lie in neat rows of four by seven, one for each day of the month for as long as necessary. Take one nightly, my mom tells me. She gives one to me and I put it slowly in my mouth. When she leaves, however, I spit it out, wrap it neatly in a piece of paper towel, and discard it. Only sick people need pills, I tell myself.
Winter: I remember looking at photographs of myself standing on my snow-strewn street. My cheeks are flushed with the cold and I am bundled in a brown winter jacket many sizes too large.
My face has a haunted look about it. My eyes are gazing straight ahead but what do they see? The memory seems distant. My hands shake with the difficulty of holding onto a window into the past while memories that have accumulated over the span of four months crash down upon me. “I am sick. Anorexia has eaten my life and my soul. But I cannot be defined by anorexia,” I declare. No one else is in the room. But I am the only person meant to be listening.
Spring: I have taken my medicine daily for the past few months. Some days I skip but the next day, I always remember to reach into the medicine cabinet, take a pill, and dry-swallow it. I have stopped exercising as excessively as before and my eating habits have improved.
I pay less attention to appearances. Most of all, I have begun to embrace my family and accept my appearance and individuality as they are. I don’t remember when I got better. What I do remember is that day by day, week by week, the numbers on the scale slowly crept up; I laughed more; I talked more; life meant something and I felt stronger than I have ever been.
Life is forever a rollercoaster of a ride. However, truth and mindfulness always remain there to stretch out caressing hands. The decision was so clear and is so now. And thus, I let go of illusory satisfaction and reach confidently toward arduous healing and self-love.
I can’t help but feel vulnerable for sharing what makes me who I am.
But then, I wonder, what more can I possibly fear after I have divulged one of the best-kept secrets of my life to one of my biggest critics, myself, to then be loved unconditionally and embraced with open arms? Nothing.