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.:)

Monday, 21 August 2017

The hardest fight..

This morning, walking my two furry friends upon the peaty stretches of the bog, epitomised what many might refer to a typical Irish summer. To the east, an unblemished sky of cobalt blue, in which the sun was rising like a drifting golden ball floating slowly to the surface of a tropical sea. And then to the west a completely different picture: advancing storm clouds, grey and majestic in their arching sublimity, stretching hungry arms towards that glowing sun. Two completely different scenes, captured in the same hour of one particular morning. As the doggies and I passed along the rippling expanses of mauve-tinted heather, those clouds reached that invisible divide, causing a spectacular battle to take place.

The weather this August seems to reflect my turbulent, ever-changing emotions; my tumultuous states of mind which so often drift upwards only to be tumbled about like strewn leaves in an autumn gale.

One minute, I would be as high as the soaring kite, soaring carefree across an endless summer sky, my wings outstretched to catch the winds racing behind me. I felt free. I felt like I was riding that wind. I felt higher than I ever had done so before; high enough to traverse the tallest trees, and the highest, most towering of the mountains. And there was immense joy and delight at finding this new found strength, a strength that I wanted to nourish and sustain; along with that strange new voice which had enplanted itself in my head. I'm going to do it, that voice cried in delight. I'm going to reach the mountain!!

But then the skies would darken and the wind would turn against me, forcing me down towards the awaiting ground, the darkness below me. And then that new voice would dwindle and fall away, to be replaced with the one which I've come to know so very, very well.

Weak, pathetic, good for nothing piece of sh**.

Time for me to stop just...stopping, in my tracks, every time I try to move that bit further forward.

Time for me to just stop just talking, and writing, about what I want to do, and achieve. Time for me to actually make those crucial changes. Draw my own rainbow across this raging battleground.

One of the hardest things about being in this place is that noone except me knows the ferocity of this battle inside my head. People look and me and see weight-restored. People look at me and think healthy, and recovered.

I've already mentioned the comments I've had, the ones which grate harshly upon my ears and try to make me swerve off this narrow and somewhat treacherous path. But there's also something else; the fact that others no longer think I have an eating disorder and I do not, and should not, seek help for it. At the moment, all my family's emphasis is on me making a hasty decision about what I want to do as career, and then to pursue it, at once. My original plans to have a year out, working part-time and doing therapy alongside, have been once or twice tentatively mentioned, only to be brushed hurriedly aside. Clearly, the girl who had an eating disorder doesn't really need that sort of thing, anymore.

But they can't see the inner battle ground. They don't know that this illness isn't just embedded in flesh and bone and blood. It's in the head. That's where the main battle always rages. Inside.

I've given up trying to convince them. I've recently spent most of my days inside the clouded part of the sky, wretchedly watching the blue slip away from me. Sometimes I do manage to catch it, grasp at it with desperate, yearning fingers, feeling the warmth of hope. But then the clouds gather behind me and pull me into their embrace. Clouds with ragged edges, like my fraught and jagged emotions. Clouds which envelope my heart and block out every last trace of the sun. Hope can be such a slippery, evasive thing. One minute you have it there in your hands and then it's torn away from you, borne away by the rushing tide.

My thoughts charge like running horses, crashing across a storm-ridden plane.

Their hoofbeats resonate like this Voice, deafening, refusing to be silenced. Unheard by anyone else, but me.

Thoughts as dark and as bleak as the greyest of stormclouds. And yet, somehow, I still keep my thread-thin sliver of hope, alive.

I'm at the rainbow, now. There's darkness as well as the faintest glimmer of light. It is raining but through that rain comes the sun.

I just have to keep going now, put my thoughts and plans into action. Sometimes I think I lack the bravery, the strength to do this. But yet I am still here, somehow, in this place. The torturous state of half-recovery. Where noone else sees and knows. But the inner battle is the hardest and most excruciating of all.

I have to deal with these comments and judgements. I have to ignore the fact that everyone thinks Im happy, and healthy, and capable, on my own. I have to brush aside my own doubts, my own huge, towering anxieties. I have to somehow change how I think about myself and my body.

I have to accomplish the hardest task of all. Fighting the hardest fight, alone.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Hunger for More...

And so, it's back, again. Back again like a fluttering moth, one that refuses to go away, no matter how many times you flap your hands in a vain attempt to ward it off. Ignoring it doesn't help, either. But you don't want to hurt it because it's not there to harm you, exactly. It's not like a wasp with its malicious sting, or a blood-sucking fly which wishes to prey upon your blood. Both of those insects make me think of Ed: remorseless, predatory, parasitical. But this moth is slightly different. My old friend, the "extreme hunger". I groan and sigh and bemoan its presence in my life, once again. But yet I cannot condemn it. Because I know that it's there for a reason.

Since coming back from Mas Banyeres, the extreme hunger also returned, and in force. It was with some gloom that I duly acknowledged its presence, having naively assumed that Barcelona had seen the end of it: that niggling, yearning desire for more and more, even when I'd eaten enough to be physically stuffed. It's something I only really get in the mornings, but this is a fact that I have quickly started to hate, and deplore as much as its actual existence. Because the mornings are the one time when I like to write Morokia. Since coming home, I've barely written anything. And one of the main reasons for that is the fact that in the mornings the EH is proving slightly more than a bit of a distraction.

Take this morning for example.I woke up and then about half an hour later I had sat down to breakfast. The bowl of weetabix was quickly consumed, followed by a slice of toast and a load of peanut butter. After a portion of cheese I decided that it was time to stop and try to write for a while. Give me the next item, please, the hungry voice screamed in desperation, already eyeing the next food on the list which hangs in my mind every day, the all-too-familiar meal plan. Half a toasted bagel with seeds and spread, and then a soft boiled egg or some baked beans. No, I shouted back at it, in frustration. Just wait a couple of hours, darn you!! I want to write, I don't want to spend all of my wriitng time just eating....!!

About half an hour later - and with one sole measly paragraph done - I finally gave in, and ate. And was very quickly not just full, with food, but with self-disgust and and self-hatred, as perusual.

At the fact that I couldn't hold out and wait until everyone else ate, as a normal person would, insert quotation marks here, as that's what the voice in my head says in my brain. Not to mention at the bloating of my stomach afterward.

In Spain, the EH was still there, though, of course. Just not as sharply prominent; or rather, I was more effectively able to ignore, even defy, it. In the mornings I gladly thrust myself into jobs and tasks which would divert me from it. I did not eat as much there as I do at home at breakfast. And weirdly, by doing so, it was almost as if the EH was suppressed. Whatever the case, I was not eating as much, and didn't experience any cravings to do so, either. But now I am back home, on my meal plan again, and now this. What's going on?? How do I respond to these cravings and mental hunger?

No point trying to deny it, there's a hunger...for more.

But also there is a different sort of hunger. A hunger, a desperate need, to defeat ED once and for all.

So does that mean giving into the extreme hunger...and actually, really doing it, this time. Not just eating that wee bit extra, but actually making a conscious, concrete effort to increase amounts throughout the day.

But there's so many challenges and obstacles preventing me from doing this. People's comments spin in orbit around my head. You look well, Emmy. You look the picture of health. You look so much better now. And then, last year, one evening in my library, the stranger there. What chubby cheeks you have. That one still lingers in my memory, slowly twirling on a sharply pointed axle.

My heart's telling me I should try to gain a little more weight, to go beyond this...minimum. But doing that is so, so hard, when the world tells me that I look "healthy" as I currently do.

But can they see what's happeneing on the inside? Can they see my weakened bones and nutrient-deprived ovaries??

Having a hunger for true recovery might well mean....ignoring everyone's else's interpretations of me, the way I look, and behave. It's not about them, after all. It's about, well, myself. And my body, which I alone know more than anyone else.

But the path ahead is dark and covered in shards of ice. I step upon them, and a shiver runs through my body, at this pitiless, icy coolness. And I am afraid that that ice is going to crack, and that I will crack, along with it.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Catching dreams...

This morning I feel as if I am floating beneath fluffy, dove-white clouds. Clouds which may be thin and transparent; others, thick, solid, almost tangible. I drift between them like a pollen grain, suspended in the summer wind's soft breath.

All these clouds represent different things to me. Some seem fully formed and others, not so much. They represent to me my dreams and hopes. And how I long to alight upon each one of them.

But landing upon a cloud is a very difficult thing. Some may look solid but I know that they are not. If I were to reach out with my hands to catch one of them, I am afraid it will break apart in my hands. Disperse into a million tiny pieces, leaving me with a heavy heart and the remnants of a broken dream.

Is it really worth it to chase your dreams? Will they not escape you, evade you every time?

But that's not what I am willing to allow myself to believe.

My dreams. True recovery. To free myself, wholly and completely, from the Voice inside my head.  To conquer every single one of the demons which are still holding me down.

There are other dreams, dreams which I have held for a long time, but which I have never been able to catch hold of, since they are directly linked to the first one. To complete Morokia and to share my story with millions of readers worldwide. To find a job that I love and that I am good at, and to be at the healthiest that I could ever hope to be. Perhaps even to write my own story, one of recovery and strength and hope. And then there are dreams of being in a relationship and newfound love. Of places  I want to go to, sights and wonders that I want to see.

But I know that to achieve these other dreams I need to seek out the first one. Because without true recovery, I know I will only ever be able to brush the mere lining of those other clouds with my fingers.

But how will I ever be able to catch that beautiful dream? It seems to always just escape me , to hang just that little bit out of reach. Sometimes, it seems so close I can almost touch it, to taste its sweet delicateness upon my tongue, to feel its soft touch against my burning, yearning skin. Other times, it seems as cold and as distant as the snow-adorned mountain, a mountain so harsh and icily hostile that I recoil from ever attempting to reach its summit.

But I know that it has been long since I started to climb that very same mountain. I may only be halfway, but I am there, instead of being at the bottom. At one time I could only stare in wretched wonder, wishing that I had the courage to begin that long ascent.

And then I did.

But now I am halfway again at the point which I as never before able to cross. Just where does the path lead from here? The clouds are still far above me, shrouding the mountain peak with their billowy, feather light forms. But it's such a long road, to keep going along. And at times it seems so relentlessly, bone-wearily hard.

Both mountain peak and dreamy white clouds are still so far away, from me.
How can I ever hope to reach them? Catching them in itself now seems like such a beautiful yet impossible dream.

But I have something now which I did not have before. A new determination to give this fight all that I have got. To go into this battle with courage and hope aflame in my heart like a flaring torch. I am going to beat you, Ed. I am going to beat you, or go down still fighting.

Recovery is my new priority, my mission. And, if I fail, then at least noone can say that I did not try.

My Barcelona experience has helped me pinpoint my course of action in a number of ways. It's helped me to realise several things: about myself, my recovery, and what steps I need to take as I strive to move forward. It's reminded me that I still have so much work to do, yet. There were countless challenges and obstacles lying in wait for the girl with anorexia there, all of which reared their ugly heads on my wary, hesitant approach. Some of these challenges I managed to beat back down, overcoming them with the strength of my own purpose, my determination. Yet there were others which I fought against and lost. There were times when my attempts at fighting back were simply just not good enough, leaving me weakened, with only enough strength to vainly bang my fist against the unyielding surface, before being knocked to the ground and cast aside. Recovery was harder, there, away from the comforting, familiar surroundings of my home. I had to constantly keep my guard up high, and there was certainly more than one time when I let it slip and fall.

But. Aside from that. There was another thing that Barcelona reminded me. A fact that somewhere sometime I had realised, before, but did not nourish enough to fully acknowledge. above all Barcelona  reminded me that I truly have the power to do anything. Anything, if I set my heart and mind and soul to it.

Did I not climb the Via Ferreda, having not done anything remotely like proper rock climbing before? Did I not get thrown in at the deep end on my first day of teaching, having not been given any proper training or induction, only to walk into that classroom regardless to greet my pupils with a smile as if I had been doing this for all of my life? And did I not take the greatest leap of my life, by stepping onto that plane in the very first place? That step was so much more than a literal step, for me. It symbolised strength and resolution and enormous courage. It meant that I was facing my greatest ever fears, but yet despite my trepidation and terror, I was still going ahead and doing it, anyway.

And it is in this light I should see my recovery. My recovery, and the seizing of my dreams in trembling, exuberant hands.

I know deep down I have the power to do anything...

Anything, including this battle, and this long, long climb to reach the clouds. ๐Ÿ’—xxx

Monday, 31 July 2017

The last and final sunset, heralding a beautiful new dawn...

And so it was time for me to go home. After an incredible five weeks full of sunshine, smiles, laughter and unforgettable experiences, the sun was finally setting for me, on my time in beautiful Catalonia. But each sunset marks a time of change, a new beginning. For with the darkening of that lilac blue sky comes the night, a night which in turn will inevitably pale and wane as an orb of soft brightness appears upon the eastern horizon.

Sunrise at Mas Banyereres 

For me, that was how everything felt like, on that final evening as I gazed out of the small window of my plane with the massive engines humming and singing as we became airborne. Far below me, lay the city of Barcelona; its lights glittering like hundreds of scattered diamonds flung from the sky; its shore flanked by the ever moving sea which pulsed and ebbed as it kept its own ceaseless beat.  A scene of such beauty and finality - nothing could possibly have befitted more a way to end such an unforgettable trip - that tears automatically sprang into my eyes and coursed down my cheeks, moistening the pages of my book which lay forgotten on my knee. But I did not wipe them away. I merely kept looking, absorbing every detail of that view in all its sublimity. Soon the city began to fall away, being replaced by the soaring mountains with their thick covering of shrubby trees. Two different and inevitably contrasting landscapes; both contained within Catalonia itself; a land which once had been a stranger to me, but which now had become known, and loved.

But there was another stimulant behind my tears, tears which were of both sadness and joy. Sadness, at leaving such a beautiful place; in which I had so welcome, so accepted. Joy at being able to go home; home to where my family and friends waited for me with outstretched arms. No, but there was another recognition. A recognition that this night was not the end. Not an end; but a beginning. This night was a new dawn.

A new dawn which would mean that my adventure in Catalonia was only the start of what was a whole new journey for me. A journey of discovery and acceptance; a journey of learning, and new experience. A journey which would involve doing things I had never thought possible before; a journey, in which I would find myself, and nourish the real person who I really wanted to be.

That was how it felt like; in that bittersweet moment of exquisite joy, tinged by the droplets of poignant and tangible sadness. I had realised that this end was not a night or even a sunset. On the contrary, it was a new dawn: a sunrise, to something new and even more beautiful.

My time in Barcelona has been so significant to me in many ways. But above all else it has made me realise that I can in fact do anything. There are no limits to what I can achieve; now, it is time for me to leap upwards, upwards into the sky, and to dance amongst the stars.

I did it! I'm home! I got back to Ireland in one piece on Sunday morning and am now once again ensconced in my cosy little chair in the sun room here at Derryguile. And needless to say the post I had planned to write in the final week at Mas Banyeres just did not happen..I was as busy as ever meaning that unfortunately I didn't get a chance to update :'( but hey, it doesn't matter, because I can do it here, instead๐Ÿ˜‰ I really want to talk more about my experiences, and what I learned from them, and their relevance to my recovery. ๐Ÿ’šxxxx

Saturday, 22 July 2017

A battle that I fought and WON..xxxx

Barcelona. I knew the word and I guess I thought I knew the city - or did I? What defines to know a place? I had heard of it, of course; had claim to a somewhat scanty knowledge about where it was and what it was like there.

But never did I once consider that upon a day in June, approximately three years since I embarked upon the journey which is recovery from an eating disorder, I would be setting off on one of the biggest adventures of my life, to exactly that place - the golden glowing jewel which is Barcelona. And I've been here for over four weeks now, and this beautiful place has already stolen a piece of my heart.

I say Barcelona but perhaps it would be more correct to say Catalonia. As I'm not based in the actual city itself; but rather, in the countryside some little way inland. I'm just outside a little town called Centelles. It's small and quaint and full of that quintessential Spanish charm, with its narrow streets and ornate, high-towered church, the many bakeries whose windows are adorned with shelf upon shelf of tantalising delights, and its scattering of ice cream parlours which the Ganache Elf has frequented quite often of late. ;)

Making the decision to come here was one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life. I had so many fears and so many insecurities. What it would be like, would the other people like and accept me, would I cope being away from home. And then of course there was Ed, hovering in the back of my mind like a malignant wasp which refuses to be swatted away.

But I took that leap and threw myself off the cliff into the deep. A deep so unknown and so terrifying in its immensity. But then I discovered that instead of being drowned by that fear, of being borne away by that rushing tide, I could learn to master it, to ride those waves. And the waves would touch my face and skin, soaking me to the bone, but that cold fear need not touch my heart and soul. I could be like the graceful silver dolphin, cutting through those waves; I could be like the shooting white star, slicing through an infinite, ink-black sky.

This trip for me has been about so many things. Pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, and learning to learn that I could cope with being away from my beloved home. It's been a learning experience and an adventure. I've done things which I've never done before, met people who I know I will remember for the rest of my life. I've taught my way through four classes of bright eyed children, each one with their own story to tell, each one with their own different personality and different smile. Faces and names which have been inscribed on my heart. I know as time passes, the concrete images now fixed in my head will begin to fade. But I know that the memory of them will be with me forever, as will the joy that I found came hand in hand with their identifying of me as their teacher.

I have discovered that it is with children I want to work with, for my future. The sense of fulfilment I have derived from this job - the way the children's faces light up when I praise them for all their hard work; that sense of pride and fondness I feel tugging at my heart when I look through their homework and marvel at the progress they have made - is something like which I have never quite felt before, and want to feel again, once I return home. I only have one week left now - I've been four weeks here since yesterday, a fact that amazes me in itself - and my time in Catalonia has almost come to an end.

It has been hard. So hard , in many ways. But one thing that I know is that I do not regret anything about my decision to come here. It has changed me in ways which I know I needed to be changed. And now my life's path will bring me back home, home to that rugged little island perched on the edge of immense Atlantic Ocean, to that cream-walled Dorma Bungalow at the island's very heart. Mid summer in that bungalow's emerald-bright garden, where the eucalyptus tree rustles its aromatic, papery skinned branches and the sweet peas flowers stir in a soft summer breeze. And it is here where my recovery journey continues on. And I know exactly what I am going to do, and how I am going to achieve it. ❤

I'm so sorry for my blogging absence over the past few weeks - it's literally been so so hectic I haven't had a chance to write at all! Over the next few days I will hopefully get to fill you in on the stuff I've been doing while I've been here, and normal blogging will resume once I'm back in Ireland. Thank you so, so much for sticking with me and thinking of me, for all the comments and words of encouragement, the advice and support. It means SO much, it really really does! ๐Ÿ’—

Sunday, 2 July 2017

She learned to conquer the Fear...

It was the Tuesday after my birthday that I got the Skype call that changed everything.

I was sitting in the lounge - or the "sun room", as I like to call it. My writing room. The frontermost room of the house which the sun's first light spills into every morning. As that golden orb ascends into the sky, it casts golden shafts of sunlight through the brooms' enormous east-facing window, illuminating the faces of my loved ones' pictures upon the walls, causing the polished oakwood of the little oval table to shine and gleam with an almost fairytale-like quality. It's one of my favourite rooms in the house. It's here where I retreat to every morning to immerse myself in my own little world; that being, of course, Morokia.

But on that morning I was not sitting there with such a purpose in mind.

Besides me were bundles of Morokia notes I had brought with me to look at while I waited for the Skype app to ping. Pages upon pages of dog-eared A4 sheets, covered from top to bottom in my messy, scrawly handwriting that noone can ever decipher apart from me. Truth was I was unable to really read them, of course. The words would float like thin, wispy clouds in front of my eyes, drifting away whenever I tried to grasp them tightly to my quivering, pulsating consciousness. Yet at that very moment I wanted to be like on of those clouds, in the sky. Graceful, airy, suspended in that blue infinity forever, without any duty or obligation, any pain or regret.

A few months ago I had done something which I had never, ever done before.

I had applied for a job. Not just a local parttime job in a cafe or local store, all of which I've tried to get into before. It was a summer camp job, based in the renowned city of Barcelona on the South Spanish coast. It still makes me smile at the randomness of the way in which I found out about this job. I was walking out of Trinity through Front Arch, wrapped up, as usual, in the comforting folds of my daydreams, when a sudden chilly gust of wind reminded me that I hadn't got my gloves on, so I paused, slipping out of the way of passerbys to stand directly by the Arch's Wall. As I scrabbled in my bag for the gloves that I hoped I hadn't left in some random place as I am often wont to do, I suddenly realised I was standing by a billard plastered in dozens of small, typed notices and adverts. And I don't honestly know how and why, but one particular slip of paper called out to me. Spanish summer camp seeking young English teachers for July. Apply with cv. There were other details, all of which I read and committed to memory.

The old Emmy would have just smiled, and walked on. The Old Emily would have thought to herself how wonderful that would be, but that she would never be able to do it.

But this Emmy applied for that job. And a few weeks later, she had her first Skype interview.

I remember the feelings which coursed through me while I waited for my interviewer to call. Self-doubt, and disbelief, and scorn. You honestly think that you, of all people, are going to get this? As if they'd pick you. You'd be absolutely hopeless!! And alongside that there was the slimmest glimmer of hope. Please, may it go ok. Please may I get this job.

But alongside that hope throbbed a beating vein of fear. That fear wrapped itself like a snake around that thin thread of hope, crushing it in its heavy, suffocating coils. No no. Please don't pick me. I don't want to go to Spain, on my own. I would be useless at that job. Please God may she not pick me.

And then the Skype pinged and my trembling hand went to press accept. Then I remembered. There was another time, when I accepted a phone call. One that I knew would change things, forever. The one of the day they told me my bed was ready at the hospital.

And hadn't I felt fear and trepidation that day? Hadn't I felt surrounded by vast currents of terror; currents which tore at me with the ferocity of hunting lions, ready to bore me away and tear me apart?

And yet I faced that fear and thrust myself into that current, felt it ripple and surge around me, its power. And I realised that I was stronger and more powerful than that fear, if I chose to be. I need not be anymore the girl who drowned in her fears. Rather, I could be the one who fought those tides of self-destruction.

And this time neednt be so much different.

I could learn to conquer the fear.

And yes, I was offered that job, much to my shock and disbelief. And yes, I did accept it. The months passed like young damselflies skimming on the surface of the water, and before I knew it, it was time for me to go. To leave my beautiful home, so beloved, so familiar, so precious to me.

If I had felt fear at that day of the interview, the terror I experienced that Thursday when I left for Dublin Airpot, was that multiplied tenfold. What it would be like, would the people there like me or not, how would I cope in an actual proper working environment for the first real time of my life. And then of course there were the ED fears, forcing themselves insistently to the forefront of the others to blare out at me like high-pitched, wailing sirens.

But yet this time I refused to submit to them.

2017 has been the year of the change for me. This year I have overcome more thn I could ever have thought possible, or imagined. I gained weight by myself for the second time, nd this time found a level of acceptance for my new body which I never could put claim to before. I put my recovery first even though I was at college, and struggling to get through the finl last curucial term of that degree which had caused me so much heartbreak.

And then there was this. Barcelona. Another thing I could never have thought of as being possible.

I am learning to conquer my fears, not give in to them. And I know that I can use this strength to beat every single last one of my demons and let my light rise like a diamond bright star into a ebony black sky. And one day the clouds of depression which remain wrapped around me will part and fall away, and the final few chains of ED. They will weaken and I will take them in my hands, snap them like brittle kindlewood between my now strong and capable fingers. No longer a prisoner. No longer a girl with an ED. ED will become a thing of my past, a thing that was fought against and overcome, just like those fears which I faced.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Let the Flame become a Fire...

Every day, in both our natural and human worlds, change unfolds itself in striking, dazzling colours.

Trees don their lush green summer foliage as the detritus from the previous year decays beneath their roots, absorbing into the forest floor to nourish the new generation of the most minute forms of animal life. Young fledglings spread their wings and take that crucial leap from nest into air, finally stretching those tender wings, feeling the wind against their feathers and learning what it is to be able to fly. And then there are the human changes; changes in the lives of human kind. A baby is born and is cradled in its mother's protective arms. The young girl grows up to be a woman and feels sensations beginning to awaken inside her; sensations which are strange and overwhelming and yet irresistible in their potency.

But for years I felt as if all these changes were set apart from me; that I occupied a world in which everything remained still and static. Yet this world in which I remained entrapped in, like a limpet in its shell, rested tantalisingly close to that other world of change and progress and maturing. Every day I would peek out of my shell and look upon it, watching, seeing, witnessing, this universe from which I had been inevitably excluded. All those changes flickered past my eyes like moonshadows upon the surface of a rippling sea: beautiful, aesthetic, almost fantastical in their exquisiteness.

I watched my friends and loved ones grow, grow like the fragile new shoot growing upwards to sprout leaves and tender buds, buds which open to reveal the most breathtaking flowers which shine and glow like scattered diamonds against black silk. And seeing these changes would always strike me to the very heart. Because everyone, everything, was changing; yet I remained the same. The only change that had happened to me seemed to be that one, long over a decade ago, when what had been a young, innocent, blissfully happy little girl left behind the untainted landscape of her childhood, entering a realm in which innocence was corrupted and which all sense of self-worth which she possessed was smashed into tiny fragments, like a delicate fluted glass being shattered upon a hard stone floor.

And in that realm a darkness awaited, to which she duly advanced, submitted, and was lost.

And for years that's how things remained. No flickering candle burning in that darkness; no glimmer of rosy pink light, paling the permanently shadowed horizon.

But then upon one day a tiny spark was alighted. A spark which tentatively, weakly, gradually became a flame.

That single flame burned steadily, diminishing and strengthening alternatively by turns.

But never once did the flame surpass a certain attained level of brightness. It was a flame, not a fire.

But then something changed.

For me, 2017 has been different. 2017 has seen, for me, some concrete, palpable, tangible changes.

But yet despite the progress that I have made, I know there are still so many things that remain unchanged, and which I want to change. And even though I yearn for this change like the flower longs for the sun's warm kiss upon its outstretched petals, I fear it, greatly, too. I am afraid of being scorched by those rays which have to power to let me grow. The cold and the damp have been all I've ever known and I'm terrified to break free from it.

I'm afraid of letting go of the compulsion to exercise the set amount.
I'm afraid to totally let go of ED.
I'm afraid to leave my home, to be an adult. Afraid to be out in the real working world and to feel the judging eyes of others upon me.
I'm afraid to eat just that little bit more, and get my bmi up to the place where I know it needs to be.
I'm afraid of the change. It looks so beautiful, like a prancing golden lion, shaking his long, flowing mane.

But that lion roars and I flee from him, shaking out of fear and terror.

How do I embrace the change, if I am so afraid of it?

In a week and a half, it is Barcelona. And already I can feel the nervousness building up inside me. Layer upon layer, like a many-ringed onion, ready to burst out at the slightest tentative prick.

Words cannot describe the elation that soared through me when I realised I had been accepted for this job. Needless to say, however, that unsurpassed feeling of pure, raw joy didn't last very long. It was soon replaced by nervousness; and fear. Real, palpable fear that rages inside me like violent ocean currents, threatening to drown me, consume me if I were to let it.

There's so many fears revolving around my fast-approaching placement. A fear of being judged; a fear of being left out, of being unaccepted. A fear of being the loner again who treads the path of solitude. A fear of the challenges which will be posed by this total change of place and routine.

Most of all I guess it's the unfamiliarity; what is will be like, what they will be like, how I will cope with ED and whether he will win out in this strange new environment.

Over the first part of this year I have overcome so, so much. But now I have reached that certain point; the point at which the flame has never burned any brighter. Can I overcome my fear of this change? Will I be able to go out there and shine in the sun; or will ED creep in again, dragging me down into his shadows?

I have to be strong.
I have to realise and acknowledge the changes that I have faced in the past, and overcome. I never once believed I'd cope with hospital, or would conquer my fears to gain weight at home all by myself. Or that I would possibly get through college while maintaining a progressive and evolving recovery.

But I did it.

In each and every one of us there is the strength of the rising sun and the courage of the golden-maned lion.We can burn as bright as any crimson flame.

And I hope that come next Thursday I will take my own words of strength to heart. I hope that I will be able to walk towards a beautiful new horizon with an open and courageous heart, instead of wrapping myself in the protective, yet suffocating covers of my own fear.

For it is time for me to change.

Early February this year. And now I look at that picture and think, jeez, I'm surprised that the sea winds didn't blow me away in one puff!! ๐Ÿ˜–

Over the past few months, I have changed so much and travelled so far. And I know I just can't let the fear and doubt stop me now. ๐Ÿ’šxxx