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.:)
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 light....to emerge from out of the darkness? 💖
I know I want this....now, 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.