At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...

I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)

Thursday, 1 March 2018

The Task

The writer in me is frustrated and irritable. And has been the past few weeks, ever since I got that little urge, that sudden and unexpected desire to write Morokia again. Come on, Em, let's get back into it. Or the story will never be told.

But it's not good enough, another voice answered it, sadly, to be followed swiftly by another. And we need to focus on the job search.

That's your priority right now, Em. Get a job!! Earn some money!! Too long have you been here relying on mam and dad to provide for you!! Lazy, hopeless girl...

Like a blaring siren the sentences repeated themselves, over and over, in the cramped confinements of the chamber of my brain.

And it was only a matter of time before the siren became too unbearably, painfully loud.

Since I came back from Lapland, trying to find a job has proven to be a source of purpose and direction to me, in the sense that I, as a writer, have always liked to have had a little writing project to focus on - a project which satisfied that occasional need to dabble in the artistry of the written word. And the more I felt that "project" was of some sort of practical use - was going to be of benefit to someone, was going to contribute towards some significant cause - the better. And to that guilty, niggling part of my brain which was squirming in guilt and indignation at the fact that I was still unemployed, the task of finding a job was certainly the most significant task I could possibly commit myself to at this point in my life.

So I turned away from Morokia's unexplored landscapes; the epic battles raging between good and evil, the characters who I had come to know so well that they seemed real, breathing people, with minds and hearts and stories of their own. I turned away from that fantastical landscape, and concentrated all my energies on something which I knew was much more imperative: finding a job. I say "concentrated all my energies"  because doing job applications to someone like me is no straightforward task. The perfectionist streak of me demanded everything to be immaculate and without flaw. Any mistake on my part would result in a fury-filled inner berating which would then in turn leave me edgy and disconcerted for days. But I continued with my teeth set firmly together, as if I was making myself walk through a storm of drenching icy rain.

And so it comes as no surprise that equally my self-set job of finding a job has been a cause of misery, frustration, and more often than not, despair. A procedure so torturous and painful, it seems almost equatable to having the skin torn, shred by little shred, by a toothed bramble enmeshed around the legs, impeding movement, disabling you from moving on: yet biting into you, too, if you remain still and cease to move. At each little tear I would bleed that little bit more. Yet another unanswered email; yet another application which has been ignored, rejected, dismissed straight out of hand? Oh, you're useless, Em. Clearly no one wants to employ you. Save the place in Shrewsbury which you no longer want, and were to weak to take on. Now you've let it go and you're doomed, Em!! No one else will employ you. Ever. You're a complete and utter worthless piece of sh**!!

The other day I could not take it anymore. I shut the laptop with a snap and just cried. Was there really nothing out there? It certainly seemed so. I felt so afraid that it seemed every scrap of my courage had been stretched and wrung out to dry in a harsh, baking sun. That they had been stretched to the point of being snapped apart, leaving me with nothing but untraceable, indistinct fibres.

And that's when mam came and reminded me ofsomething which I, in the chilling depeths of my despairing, had inevitably lost sight of in my mind. Wave upon wave of heavy black misery had washed over me, but when mam reached out and took my hand to pull me from the water again, I could just perceive fthrough the mist and the fog that path through the choppy seas which I know I cannot afford to fall away from.

And mam reminded me of the most important truth of all. That yes, it is important that I try to find a job. But as important as my recovery? As important as beating ED? Not so.

Just don't get so stressed that you fall back into bad habits, Emmy. And right then her words filled me with strength. And even more so that I can attest to the fact that it is not "falling backwards" is not the danger here. No. For despite how stressed and desperate I have felt, I am still eating. Eating well and good. Eating the same amounts every day. But that's where the problem lies. The same amounts. My stress and anxiety hasn't impacted me in a way which has made me go backwards; no. I am strong enough to inhibit that from happening, now.

Rather, it has taken a toll in so far as I haven't quitepossessed the motivation to increase my meal plan that wee bit more, as I know I need to do, to gain the final bit of weight.

And, on reflecting on it all later, I realised that no, I was not quite right in asserting that finding a job as quickly as possible is the most important and critical task for me to accomplish right now. It's important, yes; but I just need to pause now and ask myself a crucial question. Is successfully fulfilling this task going to play any major part in contributing towards my health, my physical and mental recovery? Is bending over backwards to obtain employment going to help me save the most important and valuable asset that I will ever, ever own?

My body?

The answer is to all these questions of course, is no. No, finding a job as urgently as possible isn't going to heal all the damage done inside, or make my periods come. No, getting that job isn't going to help improve my osteoporosis, or increase my chances of recovery.

And this is what I have to remind myself now. My principal task is recovery. I'll carry out all the other tasks alongside that one, job-hunting included. But this one takes priority.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Breaking the Mould

Hopped off the bus, pulled up my hood; scurried along at a somewhat breathless trot along the rain soaked streets of Portlaoise. Across the railway bridge I pattered along, my little black rucksack bouncing upon my back, my hair, having long escaped my hood, fluffing up around my face in messy wet ringlets that held on to the tiny beads of drizzle in the air.

My little red bike with the pink basket on the front was patiently awaiting me at the bike racks. I slung the handles of my bag across the handlebars, wheeled it out, whipped one leg over the saddle, and away I go. And as soon as the rush of the wind roared in my ears and my legs began to turn the pedals, an enormous smile came to my face. It was a sensation of which I would never tire of; a thrill that no matter how many times I had felt soar through my veins before, I wanted to relive, over and over. Faster and faster we go through the streets, past fogged-up windows within which soft lights glowed, past spluttering chimneys and enclosed little gardens.

I soon left the town far behind me to enter the realm of which is more beloved to me than any other. That being of course the countryside, shining and bright despite the drab drizzle and the thickening rain clouds. Everything seemed to glow and glisten like a multitude of scattered diamonds. And in the hedgerows, newly budding primroses; golden and glorious, their paler outer petals framing centres fringed with a slightly darker shade of yellow. The fields, too, were bejeweled with early spring's offerings: tiny daisies, dainty and delicate, peppering the rich green grass with the plentiful abundance of a mellowing fruit tree; alongside fluffy-headed clover and eye-bright golden celandii; and then, flanking the edges of the fields like a guard of honour, stood the blue-green shoots of the germinating daffodils; their trumpet like flowers yet encased within the protective layers of papery buds.

To see all these things caused my spirit to soar till it felt like my very soul was flying above the stars. To see this, and feel it. To be alive today. And to feel the strength in my mind and body which was not there before.

Because I am stronger now; physically and mentally, to the way I was before. I recall the days that I would feel so weak and drained it was almost as if my knees were going to give way beneath me. When I felt so light-headed I could not focus on the glaring words upon the white sheet in front of me. When I felt so lifeless, that all I wanted to do was to crawl feebly into my mam's arms and just lie there and just...die. Yes. There were times when that impulse was there; that longing to put an end to it all, to escape the limitless suffering. But how glad I am that I did not succumb to that impulse. Now, I look back and shake my head in incredulity: not only at that, but just how deeply enmeshed in ED's web I was. And along with that incredulity there is the bitter, poignant recognition that so many others out there are trapped in the same shackles that I once wore.

Ambitions. Do I have them? As regards a career, no, not really. But I have other ambitions; other goals which, in the world of business and profits, might not be worth very much. Not that that matters to me, of course. No. What matters is the fact that my ambition is something which I would willingly put my whole heart and soul into achieving. It's to help others break free from these chains. But to be able to fulfill my ambition I need to first break free myself.

And now I can clearly perceive, feel the changes in my mind and my body; changes which, at one time, would have served to appall or frighten me; but which now I embrace with the exuberant joy of a girl who has just reached a goal which she never thought she'd even be able to brush with her fingertips; who has discovered a beautiful place which she did not know existed, but which delights her, nonetheless, with its newfound delights of wonder and mystery.

The other day, about two weeks ago, now, I got my first B bra.
No, I'm no longer an A.

Now I know all too well what sorts of thoughts, feelings this alteration in my bra cup size would have once evoked. Disgust. shame. self-loathing. and most of all , smarting, pulsing fear. My head would have played host to a massive battle drum; a timpani upon which anxiety thrummed its heavy iron drumsticks. And how that timpani would have rolled. Rolled until I could not take it anymore. Rolled until it was all I could do but to turn abruptly backwards; to sprint, in a wild panic, back into the darkness from which I had only just tentatively, warily emerged. Currents of anxiety, submerging me in fear. Back then I was not strong enough. Back then the enlargement of my breasts would have inevitably led to relapse.

But not now.

When I was in M&S and the lady who measured me told me I was a B I nearly could have hugged her then and there. The soaring joy I suddenly felt right then stemmed primarily from two sources: one, the fact that they had grown in itself; and secondly, the simple fact that those feelings that I described above were so conspicuously, blissfully absent. And if felt like I was running through a summer meadow. Soft moss cushioning my feet and my hair flying free like a horse's floating mane. Because at that moment when I put my new bra across my breasts, I realized just how tangible this was; the feeling that is that when you are really, really breaking free. I'm getting there. Slowly, slowly I am breaking free from the mould. ED's mould. I no longer want to be the skinny girl with the beanpole frame, the gaunt, tired face, the stick thin arms and legs. That was who I used to be; that was how ED moulded and shaped me. But no, not anymore. Now I am breaking free and loving the feeling. Now I know how it feels to be able to make strides, and to be able to relish the freedom which comes in doing so.

So now I'll keep on running through the meadow: a meadow which, at the time, is like that of the early spring; so discernibly similar to the field I passed while cycling home from Portlaoise yesterday. Not everything is in full bloom, yet. Summer has not yet come.  But up through the ground push the tender new shoots which, despite their seemingly fragile appearance, conceal a tactile inner strength.
And now I know that I am at the germinating stage of my recovery journey. All I need to do now is keep pushing, to let myself grow ever upwards. To finally let myself bloom and blossom, and shine in the sparkling sun.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

The Impossible Dream

Dear Mam,
Im sorry for getting on your nerves last night, for answering back when you criticised me, and then going off to cry afterwards. I'm sorry that I can't take criticism better, that I didn't manage to do what Matt did last weekend. I'm sorry for letting you down again. I promise I'll try better the next time.

Im also sorry for getting so stressed about the job situation and for not having a job by now in the first place. I'm sorry Im no longer going in April. Im sorry you're going to have to put up with me for this bit longer. I'm -

Stop, Em, a scornful voice raps out, and my hands ceases to write upon the little slip of card wedged into the soil of the plant pot.You can't just write....all that. A siimple I'm sorry will suffice, then. Oh but Em, you've bought her flowers countless times before. Don't you think she's going to get sick of it? That it'll be a source of irritation in itself??

But. But I'm upset because she's angry with me and I don't want that.

I want to make amends. Amends for what?? For just - everything. Everything I've ever done and keep on doing. I want - to be - the "perfect" daughter. I don't want her to be angry with me. I can't bear it! Why do I always have to be the inadequate one??...

Without warning, an image passes across my minds eye, a vision of mam and dad discussing my brother's progress in college, and what a "sound lad" he was. I felt like crying. I want them to talk about me like that, I thought, in agony. But no. I bet all they talk about when they discuss me is the fact I leave alot to be desired. No job, no career aspirations, and still moody and weird about her food and goes around with her head stuck firmly in the clouds.

Yes. That was what I wanted all along, I realise now. All along I, in the words of Moana, wished that I could be the perfect daughter. But like Moana was drawn back to the water's edge, time and time again I always drifted back to Ed, or depression, or something that wasn't compatible with my beautiful, perfect ideal.
I wanted everything to be perfect,
as immaculate as a cornflower-blue sky...

They say anorexia is often caused by something embedded within one's darker experiences of childhood. But the point is I had no dark experiences. All I knew, as that flaxen haired little girl, was kindness and affection; of constant expressions of love. Yet despite all that I created a crevice for myself. Come my early teens, I had latched onto this idea that I had to be perfect to be loved. That I had to be immaculate in every way in order to deserve respect, to earn affection, even friendship. So as well as harnessing ED as a way of bringing about what I back then saw as being the perfect body, I rooted out all the possible ways which I believed would enable me to achieve this golden goal of perfection. I was going to study non stop and get the best grades. I was going to go to Trinity College. I was going to be so demure, so polite, so flawless in every aspect of my character. I'd never lose my patience or make a mistake in any area of my life, whether that be personal, academic or social, as to do so would result in the dreaded and most loathsome thing of all: criticism.

But no. Now I realise I have to, that I must let go of that. I'm not perfect. And I never, ever will be. I see myself as infintely flawed, and at the same time , I realise that there's nothing I can do about that. But then why does my parents disapproval affect me so much? Do I need to develop a thicker skin and not let it get to me to such a great extent when we have these stupid, petty, insignificant little rows?

But yet I say this to myself all the time. Stop trying to please them. You're never going to be able to live up to their expectations. You've tried in the past to make them proud and it never worked, really. So stop. Just stop! Can't you see how pointless this is?

But there's this innate and very much childish desire deep inside me to please others, particularly when it comes to my parents. And I know all too well nothing quite feels as good as that feeling of knowing that I have succeeded in pleasing someone. It's like a sweet rush of warmth and serenity, a security. I feel secure and fulfilled having brought a smile to one's face or an approving, satisfied word. But on the opposite extreme, knowing that another person is displeased with me is equatable to having a mountain collapse on my head. Heavy rocks, tumbling down; bearing me down with them to lie broken and bleeding upon the floor. And last night was just one of those instances. Afterward I went upstairs alone and sat crying upon the floor of my room, trying to gather up the scraps of what was left of a perfect, beautiful day which had now been torn ruthlessly apart like a pretty dress ripped apart by jagged thorns. It felt like it was the end of everything.

Now then morning is here; the night has fled. Im sitting in the exact same place as I was yesterday, though the room now looks subtly different. Golden shafts of sunlight pour through the window, illuminating the tiny dust motes floating in the air; these circulate, like miniscule planets in orbit, in lazy circles before my eyes, performing a slow and and graceful dance to which there is no beginning, and no end. The sunlight advances further, touching and irradiating, outlining the frames of the dusty ornaments dispersed across the bookshelf, amplifying the bright colours of the little duvet strewn across my little bed. The room is different, but I still feel the same. I feel bitter and sad. I look at my bed and wish that I just could climb right back into it, pull the snug covers over my head, escape reality by leaping into the infinite oblivion of dreams.

But I realise now that I am essentially trying to live an impossible dream. It's no good trying to be the perfect daughter. I tried that in the past and it never got me anywhere. In fact, it only served to cause me more pain, and others too. I need to let go. Let go of the impossible dream. But to do so is as hard as fighting off sleep when you're already drained and exhausted. It's as tough as going against an instinctive drive or impulse, or urge; because that is what this feels like to me. And like ED I've been this way for as long as I can remember.To let go of the impossible dream seems, in itself, impossible. And Im afraid to do so, primarily more than anything, because I believe deep down that if I stop trying to please other people as much as I currently do, than they will lose all affection for me, will turn away with hardened faces. And there is nothing I fear more, that that. Of losing the people that I love. That is the nightmare from which I cower before and plead to not touch me. I could not bear to lose them. But am I not losing them, anyway? How do I walk the fine line between making others happy, but not in a way which causes me pain and unhappiness?

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The Adventure

More than anything, my recovery journey once closely resembled an uphill battle, a struggle.

A vertical climb upon an exposed rock, with nothing to protect me from the the rain that came pouring down, and the harsh, relentless blasts of cold air slapping against my cheeks. It left my hands red raw and freezing, rubbed and scrapaed at the delicate skin there till it took on the texture of harshly abraded sandpaper. In its wake the icy wind dotted my face with beads of icy precipitation, beads which would remain, suspended there, like frozen tear drops halted in mid stream. They complemented the ones which had already escaped the ducts in my eyes.

I used to cry alot, those days.

Sometimes, the battle was so hard, so exhausting, so bitter. And so, so long.

So wonderful, being back here; to walk upon the endless golden sands of West Cork's breathtaking beaches; to let the sea wind stream out my hair and pull insistently at my clothes and skin. A silent message is conveyed, through words that noone else could hear except for me. Let go of them, em. Cast those worries, those fears to the wind. Let them blow away, to be dispersed upon the sea. Let them fall upon the waves like lightly strewn petals from a wilting plant.

And to look out to sea and whisper the recognition that at so many points upon this journey I thought I'd never, ever be able to say.

I'm glad I kept going, back then.
All the tears, all the wounds that tore and bled, all the times I felt like throwing up my hands and crying out, No, no, please stop. This time I cannot go on.

I'm so glad I did. Because it really has been worth it.

And now in many a sense I am like Daisy on her quest upon the beach yesterday. Watching her when we embark into the wilds has always been a source of enormous pleasure to me, though in the past I don't think I was able to identify with her feelings as much as I do now. She's never still, loping from place to place, brown eyes filled with curiosity. She's like the intrepid explorer, setting sail into unchartered waters; embarking into the spectacular rainforest in which no human has ever trod. Every sight and every smell, every sound, ripe for discovery. It's as if the location of our walks represent for her a marvelous kingdom in which weird and wonderful things grow, and it is her task to discover them for herself.

But I remember the time, back then, not so long ago, when I first met my beloved Daisy. And in many respects she was a shadow of the dog I see now.

But I and Daisy have made a journey together, one of discovery and growth, in which we have both struggled and suffered and fought demons that noone else could see. I remember so well the day when I first saw her, a thin, scraggly little thing with a drooping tail and eyes which spoke of untellable loss and suffering.

It was in November, well over a year ago, now; back in 2016 when I had returned to trinity for what was to be my final year of university. And with that return came the usual flood of doubt, the fear, the constant feelings of inferiority. The relentless labelling of my own self as the misfit and the odd one out, who doesn't deserve to be here. And, alongside all of that. Ed was waxing, waxing and spreading himself out, like a malignant fungi snaking up the tender new roots of a developing sapling, choking out all life.

And I knew that I was relapsing. It was as predictable, really, as the falling of the withered leaves still clinging desperately to the cherry blossom's shivering branches; to the wilting of the last remaining summer flowers, now drooping their mottled heads to the ground as if bowing down in surrender to the triumphant, advancing winter. This had happened every autumn of every month everytime I started back at trinity. And try as I might to resist Ed's pull, I was as defenceless as the faded flowers; the brittle leaves. And just like them I began to fade and wilt away.

But then came the day in November when I first met Daisy. And I recall looking into her brown eyes and feeling a sense of heartfelt empathy, an identification. Hey, it's ok, I whispered silently. It's ok. I'm going to take care of you. Whatever your past, whatever you've been through, I'm going to be here for you. I'm going to help you get through this.

Daisy - how she once was

I soon discovered just what the nature of "this" really was. As a result of her abuse, most likely, Daisy had (yes, this is bizarre, but true; dont they always say a dog is just like its owner?) serious, serious issues with eating. Amongst other things. She was painfully shy, startling at her own shadow, and would run a mile at the slightest noise or provocation.

It was a hard and often exasperating road.
But every time I felt like giving up, every time she yet again turned her nose up at  the carefully prepared meals I would do for her; everytime I felt like screaming in frustration when she would simply refuse to come when called by her name. I reminded myself of that one core truth. Remember what's shes been through Em. Don't give up. Don't give up. We can do this. She...she can do this.

And then a tiny voice, no louder than a breath, whispering softly from the very back of my consciousness.

And you can do this, too.

Daisy and Me on the beach this weekend.

So together Daisy and I embarked upon this journey. For Daisy, it was the first time she had set foot upon that road, I am sure; her previous life of abuse had not permitted her that.

And for me, it was the next of many. For so many times had I stepped upon the road only to fall off once again, months along that beaten, grueling track. Many times I had tried and failed. But having Daisy by my side gave me a renewed sense of motivation. We were going to travel this long and bumpy road, together. And we had eachother's backs. If one of us slipped and fell, then the other would help her to gently get back up.

And looking back now, I can clearly see just how much both of us have changed, and grown. How far we have come.

She no longer lingers close to my side when we go for our walks together, as if there are monsters waiting to pounce on her at every turn. She no longer regards her full dog bowl with disinterest, before turning away as if it contained something vile instead of food. No. Now instead she sprints across the rugged terrain of the bog at the speed of a bolting hare, her paws beating against the soft soil of the ground for the fleetest fraction of a second before lifting upwards once again to alternate with another. Now,  where once was only skin and bone and dull hair, there is now powerful, strong muscles and flesh, and a soft, jet black coat which seems to shine like a blackbird's plumage captured in a shaft of sunlight. And oh how far has this beloved friend of mine come. Yet I know she is not quite there, yet. But she is getting close. So close. We went away for the weekend and instead of refusing to eat in this strange, new environment of the apartment (a situation which always presented problems for her in the past), only once did she not finish her dinner during our stay.

I can't say that we are there, just yet. For both of us the road leads on. And at times it may be an uphill battle. But. At times it is also like an adventure, a quest. A quest in which ultimately, if we both persevere, we will, some day, succeed.

And Daisy and I can lope together through that sweet green meadow, of the soft brown soils and dewy, glistening grasses. Trees grow there, their branches laden with blossom and fruit, and dainty flowers of dazzling colours cluster on the ground in glorious thick masses. There are streams of crystal clear water, in which silver minnows dart and spin in endless, exuberant circles, mirroring the freedom which beats in my heart like the wings of a captured bird which has finally escaped from his cage.

And that is the object of my quest, I know. To break free from Ed's cage. And once that quest is over, another adventure begins.
The adventure that is life without Ed.💓


Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Journey to the Summit

And so I sat in my little writing room with the laptop open and my fingers resting on the keys; poised to type, but today, the words would not quite come. I wanted to blog but the tiny number on the page view statistic page mocked me. Who cares about your stupid work Em? You might as well give up right now.

I know though deep down I will not. I will always be a writer, and I will be drawn back to it even when - as I do, quite frequently - feel disheartened or disillusioned about my work. Even if noone else is really reading, these words mean still alot to me. Releasing pain through my words; channelling out fears and insecurities out onto that exposed white page. It has always been healing for me. And that little number on the page view screen is irrelevant, really; my blog is worth alot more to me than that. What's important is that is the charter of my own recovery journey. And in chronicling that journey I hope that I help - or at least, have helped - many others along the way.

One thing I learnt as an English lit student is never to underestimate the power of writing. Over the years, ever since the first form of writing appeared, the written word has held the power to inspire and excite, to move not only emotions, but people and nations themselves.: to cause both the weak and the strong to look towards change.

And just like Luther writing his controversial pamphlets; and the Gawain-Poet composing his intricate, beautiful poems. I want to leave my mark, too. I want to make people pause and think. More than anything I want through the power of my words to bring about a real change.

So that's my bit of...warbling done for the day💙
Now what I really wanted to talk about is where I currently stand. Where am I in my recovery? Where do I now stand upon the mountain?

Well I'm climbing. I've climbed high enough now to be able to appreciate just something of that beautiful view.
There's fruit trees growing here, at this point upon the mountain. And I'm enabled to actually reach out and pluck their fruit with trembling, tentative hands. The fruit is as wonderful and as tantalisingly sweet as I imagined. But there is a clause, as ever. Only a few fruit trees grow here. The rest remain far up the path, only reachable if I choose, to go on.

I feel something akin to what I felt, all those years ago, on that sunlit day in late April, when the trees bore forth fresh new leaves the colour of polished emerald; and sweet fragrances, delicate fragrances filled the air, scents of moist earth and blossoming flowers; the fragrances which looked toward the early summer. And it was upon that day that I went with mam and dad to Kinnity in my beloved Slieve Blooms; to do a walk which for constituted my first proper ramble since getting my osteoporosis diagnosis. Having received the devastating news which for me, at the time, had had an impact easily equatable to that of a death sentence, I had been forbidden to engage in any form of physical activity until, at the very least, my weight had reached a certain point, and I had been seen by the rheumatologist for his specialist opinion.

But then came that day when the prison gates were flung open and the sanctions were taken away. My soul and my body felt like they had finally been set free.

We climbed to the midway point of the mountain, and I stood upon the sandy skinned rock of the outcrop, and looked down at the magnificence stretched out below me. I wanted to absorb every inch of the scene, down to the very tiniest of details barely visible to my vision.

Hard to believe that it's almost three years ago
that this picture was taken...

And oh, the feeling.

Looking down at how far Id come. It had taken so much out of me to get here. But now I had done it, and was enabled to perceive myself the wonders of that beautiful, beautiful view.

But then I realised with a jolt that we had not reached the summit. And mam and dad were walking on, not upwards, but along the little path that looped around the side of the mountain. As I watched, mam turned and beckoned towards me. Not today, Emmy, she had said gently. Not today. You're not strong enough, yet.

That day I was not strong or ready enough to go further, despite my fervent longing to do so. And in a way, that has how it has been since then, as regards my ongoing recovery journey. Much as I wanted to move onwards, I just was not ready to do so. The inner strength and resilience required was simply not quite there, just yet. But now, in this brand new year, I feel as if I have finally found somewhere in me that inner strength, which will enable me to climb higher, and higher.

The changes I have put into place, so far this year.

  • I renewed my efforts to break down just some of the many, many rules that Ed established for me to keep me in half recovery. 
  • I'm due to make an appointment with an endrocronoligist that I was referred to by my doctor in trinity. The cost of the appointment is enough to make me want to recoil, but I am going to make myself go. For too long have I ignored my absent periods, clinging to the lingering hope that they would eventually come back by themselves. I'm really hoping the consultant will be able to give me some advice as to how I should address this, as well as her thoughts on my current weight, bmi and diet.
  • I've started the frightening but necessary process of tapping into my oldest fears and demons. The bloating, of course; of no longer being the skinny girl, and the compulsion to do x amount of exercise.  
  • I'm no longer content to let ED manipulate my thoughts and twist them in a way so that I am constantly filled with loathing and dislike for my body. Rather, I am striving to accept. Accept and respect, and to realise just how valuable my body really is to me. And then maybe in time, I will learn to love. It's a long and hard road ahead but I know that some day I will get there.
What I need to do
  • Gain the rest of the weight that I know I need to; and allow my body to be the healthiest it can be.                                                                                                                                               But this goal is by its own nature one framed by uncertainty. Just how much exactly do I need to gain? What is the "healthy" weight for my body?
  • I'd like very much to find a little part-time job; a job which would then allow me to both earn a wage while simultaneously enabling me to focus on myself and my recovery. I'd like very much to commit to therapy. If only though I could find something. I've been looking since I returned home and thus far my efforts have proved fruitless.
  • Dismantle the long-established beliefs ED long ago established for me, about myself and my body.
  • Continue to break ED's rules and push myself far beyond his boundaries.
  • Seriously consider as to what it is that is going to enable me to climb higher than I ever have done so before. 
Kinnity <3

Saturday, 27 January 2018

The Fairytale

Beautiful. Oh, so beautiful. That is what the life Ihave led for the past eight months, has been like.

Ever since I left university, really. Ever since that day when I sat that last exam. It was upon that day when I felt the yoke of stress and pressure being lifted from my shoulders - a pressure born entirely out of my fears of failure, and not being good enough - to be replaced by a freedom like nothing I had ever felt before. A freedom so sweet, I wanted to draw and draw on it, like the bee sipping on the lily's delectable nectar. It flowed along every channel of my veins, filling me with a new vitality, a new energy that I had never felt ever before. And this marked for me the beginning of a what could only be described as a sort of fairytale.

Because what happened since that day allowed my life path to take on a sort of fairytale like quality. First off there was this freedom. I was enabled to do the things that I had been unable to do for what felt like a lifetime. I was able to relax again, to do the things I loved again, to laugh and know that my eyes were shining with true and unfeigned joy, unlike before. And then there were the things that happened; the experiences I had. There was Barcelona and the adventures that unfolded for me there. There was the summer at home afterwards, in which I indulged in the sweetness of that freedom and the knowledge that I had overcome my greatest fears in leaving to work abroad. There was going away with my best friend and knowing what it felt like to have a proper girly holiday, no strings attached. I can still feel the buzz of our excitement that first day, still hear the sound of our laughter floating gaily into the slate-grey skies above Scotland.

There was that unforgettable, surreal day when I received my exam results, and realised that I had achieved the degree which I had lost blood and sweat and tears over, for five long and grueling years. And then there was October, upon a damp and seemingly non-descript Thursday, when the rain filled the gaps between the cobbles of Trinity and the cherry blossoms seemed to droop with the weight of the water pressing down upon their leaves. It was upon that day that something happened to me. It was upon that day that a girl fell in love.

From then on the fairytale continued, unfolding and unraveling itself to uncover moments so infinitely beautiful and sublime, that they, truly truly, did not seem real; rather, they seemed totally surreal, even magical. It was just like I had stepped right into the world of my own creation - Morokia; a place where goodness and beauty still prevailed; and in which persistence and bravery, in the face of relentless struggles and suffering, would in the end be rewarded in the most unexpected and beautiful of ways. But most of all, in Morokia existed something I believed for me did not exist in my own world. That being love; for ever since I became ill all those years ago, every part of me believed that there would never come a day when I would meet the one.

Because that one did not exist, I believed. How cpuld anyone ever fall in love with a girl like me - with my history, my past, and my current and ongoing relationship with my clinging, deadly nemesis?

But that's where I was wrong.

However, following a heated discussion yesterday at home, the joy I experienced in such intensity only a few days ago has now rapidly disintegrated into tight, icy fear. Its fingers claw into my brain, scratching and writhing, alongside the words that were exchanged yesterday.

 You need to get a job, Emmy. Not just a short term thing like Lapland, or Barcelona. A real job. You know you can't stay here forever, don't you..?

It feels feels like the fairytale is reaching its end. But that's the thing, of course; life was never meant to be a fairytale in the first place. I just stupidly, so stupidly allowed myself to unconsciously fall into the illusion that it could be like one. And now I feel more afraid than ever before. As afraid as I felt when I stared down the page at those dreaded essay titles. As scared as I felt when I sat in the exam hall and waited for the superintendent to give the signal to open the booklet lying before me on the desk.

I don't want to leave. I dont want this life to end. I dont want to leave behind those I love and care for. No, I don't want the fairytale to end.

But now it seems so fragile, so delicate. That any minute now it will fall and shatter spectacularly into a hundred million jagged, broken fragments.

And it shames me to write these words but to deny it would cause me more shame as I know full well that this is true.

That no, I don't want the fairytale to end. But I know that it has to. I know that somehow I need to learn to survive in a place much scarier than that of the darkened woods or the perilous mountains of the fairytale. Monsters may loom there but they're tangible and can be beaten back with a sword. But the monster in one's head is a different thing. The monster in the head is a more difficult thing to kill.

I am doing well. I am doing more well than I ever have before. But will I be able to keep up the fight when the fairytale ends?

But it is not that fact which upsets me the most; which makes me want to cry into my pillow, which makes me want to curl up in a ball and hide myself away from the world's judging, critical eyes. It is the fact that, unless I find something here, I might have to leave, properly leave, for good, this time. And, in doing so, leave behind all those who I love.💔

And suddenly the road ahead appeard so bleak and frightening...😢

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Out of the Darkness


That one word has long span rotations in my head, like a loosened dandelion clock caught in a squally autumn wind.

Why. Why do I listen...still? After everything we've been together? After all he's put me through?

Sometimes I feel so, so strong. As if I could swim through the most volatile of oceans; as if I could ascend the steepest and most treacherous of mountain paths. Recovery is very much like both of those. A sea of violent, churning waves which toss about the brave swimmer, relentlessly trying to push him or her down below that broiling, ceaselessly swaying surface. So hard to stay afloat, it seems. So much easier to just stop kicking and surrender yourself to that mercilessly cold water.

It's very much like the mountain, as well; an analogy which I return to more than any other. The summit is shrouded in cloud; mysterious, and as yet, unfathomable; just like the golden shore which awaits at the other side of the sea. You've been told that it's beautiful beyond comparison, but you still won't know for yourself until you get there. And there's the thing. The uncertainty. How do you know that they are right? Is it really quite as beautiful as it is fabled to be? What if you get there, only to be greeted by a barren, bleak waste, a waste which is no better than the place that you left behind you? Is it really worth..the effort, the fight...?

Recovery is a daily battle. A fight to stay on the right track and not stumble and fall backwards; a fight to stay upright above the water and fight the urge to cease kicking your limbs, to succumb to the delicious, easy lull which wants to pull you under.

I think, since coming home, I've developed a more heightened sensitivity to the natural world around me. As I noted before, this probably stems from spending just over a month in a landscape in which there was never really any change in exterior environment. Stately spruce trees decked in shrouds of soft white, their branches still and unmoving and devoid of all life. Silent rivers and streams, locked in crystal channels of ice. A watery sun which, for the first week I was there, made a brief and fleeting appearance amongst the lilac sky's trailing, blue-grey clouds; but which then, as December drew on, ceased to even cast a glance upon that land's frozen surface. Winter pulled tighter her icy mantle across the earth's awaiting shoulders, resulting in days which were as raw as the harshest of nights I had ever experienced; more bitter, and more cruel, than the most biting of the westerly winds that unfurl themselves from across the mountains back at home. It was beautiful, it was enchanting, in a way; but so still and silent it almost appeared sterile. It was as if everything there had been imprisoned by the winter: that here, her grip was so tight, that it was choking the land, suffocating all life, resulting in miles upon miles of pearl-white, unblemished nothingness: peerless, in the sense it was untouched; yet insidious, in the sense that it was lifeless. So different to my beloved Ireland; in which soft grasses continued to grow above brown soils; in which brave flowers and shoots could still be perceived and rushing brooks and streams continued to dash their waters towards the awaiting shore.

Perhaps, in a way, what haunted me so much about Lapland's exterior, was that to my eyes there was a close parallel between that pure white landscape; and the landscape that was that of my own mind, back in the days when I found myself so deeply ensnared in ED's clutches. The cold-fingered grip of winter which I perceived in every snow-laden tree; every pitiful sapling clawing desperately out of the ground, brought me right back to that time when ED had me held so tightly by the throat. And everything I did and said was just for him. Like the ice-locked realm of Lapland, I was lifeless: an empty shell of a girl with little fight or life left in her dull blue eyes. The days all merged into one, never changing. The same routine and procedures of behaviour, every hour of every day. The landscape never changed.

But now back, back across the dipping grey rolls of the North Sea, lies a very different landscape; the ever green, moist-soiled expanses of Ireland, that jewel of a island which shines so brightly to my adoring eyes.

So different to Lapland, for here, there is still growth. Yesterday my footsteps were stilled by what for me had always been one of the most beautiful and aesthetic sights one could ever perceive in January: the first few snowdrops, tender green shoots poking from out the ground, one and two here and there bearing forth a drooping, bell-like head, so dainty and so delicate, yet growing strong despite the chill westerly winds spiralling across the puddle-ridden bog.

As is my custom I found myself pausing to peer closer, to just take in this beauty which is so simple but yet so sublime. And then as I raised my eyes to the tree branches spread out above my head, I caught a glimpse of their newly forming buds: buds which I knew, in a few months time, would prise themselves carefully open, to reveal those tiny new leaves of the most wonderful, vibrant, fresh new green. The colour of spring and renewal. The colour that symbolised the end of the darkness and the beginning of warmth and light.

Now I'm not usually into rapping, but at that moment, I found myself singing to Macklemore's Glorious, the chorus of which just always stirs something deep inside me, and makes my very blood sing and thrum in my veins.

I feel glorious, glorious...
Got a chance to start again..
I made it through the darkness of the night..
And now I see the sunrise..

No longer am I content to just let my recovery remain locked in endless immobility; to let it stand, still and lifeless, with not a single fleeting chance of new growth.

Rather, I want it to be like the ever-changing topography of my beloved Ireland. I want to see change and new growth every day. I want to seeds take root and new stems to push themselves free from soft yielding soils. I want to see shoots sprout and buds burst open; delicate blossoms bloom to adorn the trees and scatter fragrant pink petals upon my head. And I want to run barefooted through those forests of change and let me joyful laughter echo above every tree. To let my song join that of the birds', and let my spirit soar with them on strong, beating wings above an artist's painted sky.

I want this. Oh, I want this! Have I ever felt so determined to follow the emerge from out of the darkness? 💖

I know I want, and not later. But like the last time, there is the hesitant, "but how? What do I do?" And now I suppose I have to make my own map to scale the mountain. I need a clear and definite idea of exactly how I am going to do this. For one thing I do not like is stumbling about in the dark with no idea of where I'm heading.

And so I made a plan. Somewhat messy and scatty, for that is what Emmy's rough work usually is. But it is there, it is real, it is of a weight and substance that goes beyond the scrawny resemblance of those letters. It is my plan of how I am going to beat ED. My map which will lead me to freedom.

And so from out of the darkness emerged the most beautiful, beautiful light. A light which seems to pulse like a beating heart; a light which burns gold with the intensity of its own vitality. A light which will shine and shine on through the night, and draw me bravely onwards, like a beacon guiding a weary sailor towards the shore. A golden shore of soft sands, caressed lovingly by white flecked waves. A shore which marks the end of one journey and the beginning of another through a land bedecked in the rich garlands of spring.