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.:)
Tuesday, 23 August 2016
I wonder what they do see; the ones who do happen to notice the girl who hurries by them so timidly. Would they just see a healthy, normal girl, a girl who is just in a hurry to get somewhere, and out of shyness avoids meeting any body's eyes?
If only, they knew.
This bmi, this number on the scales, an apparent indicator of healthiness, of being a step freer from Ed. But those numbers do nothing to change how I feel inside.
On the outside, so much has changed; since that day I committed myself to the gruelling task of gaining weight alone. My skin has a glow which wasn't there before; my hair is softer, stronger. My hands are no longer wrinkled and dry; the knuckles no longer cracked and bleeding and sore. I have a bust and my hipbones no longer protrude from my body. My legs and arms are no longer like thin little sticks which looked as if they would snap like a twig if I were to fall. I no longer look like a walking skeleton. My body has changed from that of a girl's, to a woman's.
If only I could say that I have changed on the inside, too.
Because that, I know, is where my illness really lies.
I'm not going to lie and say that peoples comments no longer affect me. Neither can I look in the mirror without wanting to look away again immediately, tears misting my eyes and a hard lump wedging itself in my throat. I cannot make myself like what I see: the healthy, strong body that I, through my own hard work and perseverance, now possess. Neither can I make myself want true recovery for myself. All along, I have been doing it, for those who I love and care for.
The last part of this mountain is steep and sharp-sided. The rocks here are jagged and cut me as I try to cross them. The hardest part. Yes. Here is the hardest part of my journey. This is where I stopped and gave up the last time: this is where, after having climbed so far and crossed so many valleys and gullies, I let myself fall down. for fear of what lay ahead of me; of the remaining gullies and rifts that faced me. The last part is shrouded in darkness. For though my body has changed, my mind is still the same: and this last part of the journey terrifies me.
If only the final stretch of this mountain was gentle and soft beneath my tentatively treading feet. If only the path that winds on in front of me was lined with soft sweet grasses, easy to follow and easy to tread. If only. But rather, what lies ahead is treacherous and painful. There are thorns which leave me bleeding; nettles which sting me and bring tears to my eyes. And now I know that I was wrong; at the beginning of this long, hard journey which I seem to have been travelling for so, so long. I thought then that weight gain would be the hardest part. But no. Now I know I was wrong. This is where the hardest battle of all will be fought.
But I know I have to close my eyes now and scramble blindly forward onto those sharp, jagged rocks. There is no shortcut or way around them; onto them, I must go. I know that I have to embrace this pain.
Wednesday, 17 August 2016
A place upon my path leading up the mountain...a moor, where there are flowers trying to grow, but, beyond that, there is a precipice...a precipice I have to cross.
When I was at this place a year ago now, I was, as I am today, weight restored...
But I was, and am, something else, too, something which other people cannot see. That being free; free from my eating disorder. I was not back then; and I know, that I am not now. Weight restored. A state of being which means that my body is now relatively healthy. But am I cured of an eating disorder? No, I am not. People might look and see a girl who is recovered; but that is where they are wrong, so wrong. How much I weigh is totally inept in measuring how healthy I am inside.
And the last time that I stood in this place, of weight restoration. there was a wretchedness; a bitterness which twisted deep inside my heart, unseen and unfelt by anyone else but me. And a hatred: a hatred of my new body. a hatred which was as audible, as palpable to me as the harshest of sirens: which could not, would not, be silenced.
The compliments that people would give me back then, would burn in my ears like acid upon the surface of the tongue. The words would roar sonorously through each and every passage of my mind; reverberating and echoing, repeating themselves over and over. No matter where I went, no matter what I did, the echoes were there, taunting me. The kind, loving words of my friends, my family: translated into the cruelest mockings by the cunning whispers of E.d.
She said that you looked well today...
she meant, of course, that you have gained weight, that you are fat.
And I believed it. I believed what it told me. And little by little, ed crept up behind me. It's ok to miss lunch, every now and again. You are weight restored, so it doesn't make a difference. It's ok to cut down on your carbs, Emmy, don't worry. Even better if you just eliminate them altogether.
And that is where I fell.
Fell into a place, which I had once sworn to myself I would never fall into again. But Ed is, and always will be, a trickster, a deciever, and a liar.
But now here I am again, at this place. It would be so so easy to fall, I know. The way ahead is as slippery as a glacier. As slippery, and equally as treacherous.
One false step, and I will slip, and fall over the edge. Just like I did the last time.
But since then I have changed, and grown...
The storm might blow over the tender little flowers, at first; seizing them and tossing them mercilessly to the ground. Because they were not ready, or strong enough, for those winds. All that is left then is a barren and broken landscape. Upon which, it seems, nothing can grow...
But there are some things that even a storm cannot touch. That is life, and hope, and the ability to start again.
And even though I fell before, I made myself get back up again.And I changed and grew and learned from my past mistakes. And now I know I am strong enough to face the storm. To stop it from causing me to fall.
And now I know that I do have what it takes to keep me from falling off that precipice...
And that this time, at the place where I last fell, I can be stronger than my eating disorder.
For starters, despite the fact I am weight restored, I am still eating the same amount, roughly, as I did when I was gaining weight.
I'm not going to try to pretend that doing this really scares me...but that, I have learned, is what true, real recovery is really about.
I have pledged to myself to listen to my loved ones, over the manipulative whispers of the Voice inside my Head. For I know what will happen to me if I let myself give in to that Voice. Now more than ever, I have to fight, and stay strong.
And in addition to that I am focusing on my weak points and feel motivated and determined to confront them. I am aware of exactly what they are; and that it will require true commitment and effort from me if I really am going to change. But I know that all I can do is try. If I do not try then I wil never be truly free from Ed.
So this is where I fell.
The same place; roughly, the same time of the year. The leaves of the beech trees are tinged now with the gold of early autumn. The flowers in the garden quiver gently in the soft wind. Their petals are vibrant, but some are already beginning to droop ever so slightly. The brink of another autumn: a time of change and transformation. And soon those golden leaves will shrivel, and fall.
But watching them now, my heart will not ache as it did last year, when I felt like one of those falling leaves; those wilted petals. No: this time, I see beyond the decay. I see instead the infinite beauty of nature; of a cycle which, in its never-ending rotations, there is always new life, new growth; and always, always hope.
So this time I will not fall. I will stand tall and strong and will not falter. I will keep my head up and my heart strong, and I will continue my ascent of the mountain.
Sunday, 7 August 2016
It feels familiar, while at the same time, totally, completely alien. A planet I have been trying so hard to reach; but which I knew that I had stepped on; once, some time, before...
And as I step onto that planet there is an immense sense of relief, of joy. I've done it. I reached my target weight. But then...then at the same time, there is this fear. Not the fear of actually being here, walking on this strange soil. But rather, what lies ahead waiting for me, in the darkness. I am scared because I don't know what lies ahead. Weight restored. I no longer need to gain weight. But...what if I do, anyway? What happens if I continue to gain?
How on earth do I even eat now? I had thought to myself, in confusion. They didn't tell me how to do this, in the hospital: the focus was purely on what and how to eat when you are gaining weight. But now I am here in this strange, but somehow familiar, new place. What do I do now? What will happen to me? I feel so lost, confused, disorientated. Ahead of me lies a vast, deep gulf. Delicately I step upon the only way across: a narrow, sharp-edged precipice.
So easy now to fall off that edge, off the edge of this place, to be swallowed by the darkness. But what lies ahead is just as terrifying as what lies below. The obscurity, of the future. Shall I cross that edge? Or shall I let myself fall? Fall, into where there is, essentially, a familiarity, for me...
Familiarity, because I have lived in that...other place for almost half of my entire life: in the prison of my eating disorder. And yes, it was familiar. But it was, more than anything, a living, breathing hell.
Because that's what living with an eating disorder is...
Nothing but pain, and loneliness, and fear.
And no matter how scary and unfamiliar the future is for me, I know that I have to keep on going...forward.
On the morning after I looked at the scale and saw, recognised, that I was actually weight restored. I woke up and then I just lay there for a few seconds, my thoughts revolving like meteorites streaking across a jet-black night sky.
What do I do now? How do I eat today? Do I restrict? Do I eat less? Do I compensate? Do I pound the roads for a good hour this morning to burn off the calories I will consume?
This time, things will be different. As scary and as terrifying as it is, I am, for the meantime, going to keep on eating to my meal plan. Rather, this was what I have been doing, for the past week. It is like walking out on that precipice with my eyes closed. It is blind faith. But I am going to take that step. I am going to follow the advice of my loved ones, rather then listen to the Voice which tells me that it's now time to restrict, or cut back.
It is hard. It is so, so hard. For the battle is far from over for me. I have to continue fighting on: as hard as, if not more than, I was when I was eating to gain weight.
This time, things will be different. Because this time, I am not going to just stop and give in halfway. Around this time last year, things were alreeady beginning to slide backwards. I had started to cut down on my intake. I was beginning to tell the odd lie to my loved ones about what and when I ate. The little habits which I thought I had long since destroyed were slowly but surely creeping back in. Basically, I had given up in my fight. I allowed myself to fall.
But this time, things will be different.
The road continues on.