Have you heard of the idea that once you’ve experienced something, you can see it in other people? As though there is some kind of connection and the thing that links you is your pain or your shared knowledge. With Anorexia, a lot of the time I see it in other people…not always but a lot of the time. It’s not in the obvious way either but it’s in the eyes; the vagueness or intensity but never the in-between. I see something I can recognise and every time I do, it feels like someone has kicked me in the shins. I’m at Uni and as you can imagine, the prevalence is pretty high. Most days I pass someone and I know. A couple of years ago, it used to make me burn with jealousy. There I was, playing pretend at recovery and having to keep everyone around me convinced that I was fine and these (mostly) women/girls got to engage in their disorders without anyone interfering. Now though, I feel angry. Not at that person who is struggling but with the disorder itself. My head screams at it “How is this fair? Why do you get to keep destroying lives in this way?” It’s difficult to know what to do with that kind of emotion because it feels so useless and also makes me powerless to something so vast. I think ‘what makes me think that I have the ability to ever get away from it and to not just be hung on by a thread, waiting for the moment it’s bored of my absence and reals me back in.’
I want to take a moment to just explore that anger though. For about 90% of the time that I have had an Eating Disorder I have never being capable at being angry at it. Initially I think there was an element of love there or idolisation, potentially the idea that it was going to be the thing that saved me so possibly gratitude. Over time those feelings became ones to do with loyalty and comfort. If there was anything I could do to stop myself getting angry at it then I would do, even if that meant displacing it on to my family, friends or the people trying to help me. I cared more about protecting it than I did about anything else. People would say to me “It’s taken so much from you! How can you not be angry?” and I would just look at them blankly. Until they said it, the thought had never even entered my mind. In all honesty, I could never be angry at it because it felt like I deserved every second of misery that I felt. I deserved to be in pain and I certainly did not deserve to experience anything good. It was years before that belief started to even shift by a millimetre.
There is a difference now though. I see those people who I mentioned above and the anger rages in me. I don’t feel it for what this disorder did to me, I feel for what it is doing to them. I want to be angry for them on their behalf because if they are anything like me than they too probably wouldn’t have even considered the idea of being angry. I want to be angry at it for taking away their youth. For belittling them and making them feel that they don’t deserve to be happy. For all the lost nights that they spent crying to themselves because just being in their body was too much to bear. I want to be angry for them for the chances they didn’t take and the holidays that they missed…
and books that they couldn’t read,
and lies that they had to tell,
and birthdays that they hid from,
and jobs that they turned down,
and opportunities that slipped by,
and school that they missed,
and dreams that they lost,
and hope that they gave up on…
There is so much to be angry at. It’s overwhelming isn’t it?
It is in other people that I see why I can’t ever forget what I know now and why I can’t go back to that person I was before. That suffering is so intense, pointless and unbearable. My choices must reflect that reality. Anger is an emotion that I don’t do well but maybe in this, it is what needs to be experienced.
I hope your day has been kind to you.