The air of May holds so much anxious energy – so many memories of lack and longing – strong feelings of being empty, and memories of emptying myself out even more. Twenty-two years of living with a hand on my own throat, just daring myself to swallow or speak, and desperate to “keep the peace.”
I have vowed not to do that anymore, but my body…well, she’s still keeping score.
I don’t know how to erase the vivid video of my mind’s eye, replaying the times I poured my heart out to porcelain. Rows of pink pills to empty me out, lined up like my perceived faults – counting them, swallowing them, one after another after another after another. If I could take back all the minutes/hours/months/years I spent hunched crooked over countless toilets, I could live a lifetime without regret. I have to settle for acceptance instead. It is what it is, and I did what I did.
My anger came out in wretches and gags, I couldn’t say the things I needed to say.
After all this time, ghosts follow me around – hiding in corners of shadows, lying waiting in loneliness. I fear I will never be “normal” about food, about my body and her relation to the world. I still don’t even understand her relation to my soul. I never asked to be put into this body – I’m perfectly fine with this tender heart and this overactive mind…
but this blushing, bruising body who always wants something – it’s just too much. She’s always wanting to be touched (and always afraid to ask). Always wanting, needing, flushing, bleeding, always hungry and slick between the legs. Always feeling, always waiting to see who stays. I’m so tired of fluctuating between stoic…and pleading:
“I don’t need you…but please. DON’T. LEAVE.”
How quickly my thoughts of food and hunger turn to arousal and desire – two different tongues of the same fire.
I starve myself of anything that makes me human – imperfect, in my mind, and weak. I only let my judgmental self speak:
TOO MUCH (but also NOT ENOUGH)…UNDESERVING…WANTON…WEAK.
I know that I know those things aren’t actually true – I lied to myself so long (AND I can tell myself something new)
Every face-down prayer to a porcelain god, begging to be absolved of being “flawed”: having needs, having memories, having skin and blood and bone and a voice that needed to be heard.
It was never really about food. It was about desperately needing not to need. Not to acknowledge my wishes and wants, my longings and lust, my inability to trust…and the root from whence it all came: inherited shame.
My selves at three…eight…twelve…eighteen: all of them just wanting to be heard and seen. Validated, not violated. It felt good to be touched, but they knew it was wrong…so they believed they were wrong.
“Only girls who want something sit like that”
<I closed my knees and my natural, wild state>
“It’s okay,” he cooed like gravel
<His sins will never be okay>
If the only way to not get lost in the chaos is to open and shut my legs when I am told, it is no wonder I have performed like a pawn for approval:
I will be what you want me to be, just please. don’t. leave.
If the only way to be seen is to be silent, it is no wonder I have kept my existence quiet – muted and mumbling and not making a scene.
But, this is what it is and I did what I did.
No amount of self-flagellation will change the past (and would I want to anyway? Would I give up the person I am today?)…
So here I am. Sitting down with myself in 1998, where the hunger came to a head, and I am allowing her to speak instead. Not stifled, not swallowed, not shamed. I’m giving her tools and speaking her name. Let’s call a truce, dear body of mine. Tell me all the things you need to say, and I will learn to let you take your time.
*Kudos to anyone who catches the poetic reference in the title 🙂
**Cover image is not mine; all rights belong to Stella Im Hultberg (piece is called “Limitless Undying”)