Monthly Archives: August 2017

Tasting reinvention.

I’m still grieving over saying goodbye to my clothes that have been old and trusted friends for many years. 

I’ve folded up and stroked the garments I’m too afraid will be tight, or worse, impossible to get in to. I’ve buried my face in their familiar smell and cradled them close like you would a much loved child. And then I’ve sent them away, like evacuees, to sit in a dark corner of my wardrobe at home until they can return or settle in new surroundings. 

But you’ve heard all this before. And, although it’s a conversation I have in my head on a permanent loop, I won’t inflict a recap on you. 

I’ve moved on, I think. A little, anyway. I’m feeling for a fresh form of disguise that can contain all the shame at allowing the body to grow larger – to take up more space in the world. 

It’s only a medium-term solution, because I have no concept of a long-term future. In fact, claiming it’s a medium-term solution may be an overreach. But it’s more than just wearing the largest jumper I can find. And I’ll take that for now. 

Item eleventy billion on the list of reasons why anorexia is a bitch is that weight goes back on unevenly so, right now, I look like I’m five months pregnant. 

I know there’s some sciencey bit about protecting the vital organs, the core of the body. But, frankly, I’m not interested in understanding: experiencing is more than enough to cope with. 

I feel conspicuous. I feel everyone’s eyes are drawn to my bloated stomach. I feel alien. I feel out of place in this palace of more visible bones and suffering. 

And then there’s the water retention. No one talks about that; how your confused body doesn’t know what the hell is going on, and you end up with legs the size of tree trunks and slippers as your only choice of footwear.

How do you dress a misshapen blob, a caricature of a person? How do you pass for normal when you’re not? 

My answer comes in experimentation. In piles of parcels containing different styles of clothing in a range of sizes. My answer relies on dredging up the courage to try on clothes without looking at the labels, and trying not to cry as a stranger looks back at me from the mirror. My answer is to clutch at the last little sparks of strength to start to create a new persona. 

The hospice charity shop will do well out of my pain. And, right now, I’m not running from the emotions, which has to be a start. 


Wearing grief. 

I am grieving for lost friends. 

We were extremely close – even intimate. We spent so much time together, through the good times and the bad. We held each other and, at times of stress, we reached out to each other. We communicated without words: our language was one of touch and feel and vision; knowing when to stay close, and when to give each other space. 

Together, we were strong and outwardly confident. We knew the inner truth was different, but we conspired to hide this secret from the world. 

And now they’re gone. 

I’m grieving for my beloved clothes that are too small for my life as it is now. It feels like another part of me has died. I carry on breathing in and out; I have the technical definition of life, but they don’t. Like conjoined twins, where one exists only because of the other, we’ve been separated. And now they’re mere piles of cloth, lying prone on the floor, a skin shed and left behind. 

I hold them in my arms and tell them how sorry I am, that I didn’t mean to end their existence. That I love them and I miss them and I’ll never forget the life we shared. 

I remember how they shielded me from all the unspeakable empty times when I was a ghost of a human, but they stepped in to provide a disguise and buffer between me and the questions with no answers. 

I stroke them and I apologise for the betrayal. For allowing the body to push them beyond their capabilities. I thank them for trying to carry on being my support when I started to turn my back on them and walk away. I hold them tight and wish we could go back to the way things were before. 

To you, the outsider, they are just pieces of cloth. A frankly strange combination of materials that you might put on without a second thought. 

But I know their value; they’ve been my disguise, my refuge, my identity. My personality to a certain extent. 

I have abandoned them. They’re dead to me and yet they are part of my past that I desperately want back. 

They won’t get a funeral or a wake of any sort. They won’t get a memorial. 

They will never be forgotten. Never. But their life is over and I’m deeply sad about that. 

Goodbye, my friends. 

Saying the unsayable.

After forty one years I wrote down the words I’d never ever meant to say – even to myself. 

I wrote a story about a little girl in a way that strangely reminds me of The Tiger Who Came To Tea. A story about how a seemingly ordinary life took an extraordinary turn. A tale where a little girl just accepted strange events because, to a child, so much doesn’t make sense, and they just do it because it’s what the grown up says.

I wasn’t supposed to be writing about this. It was therapeutic writing group and the plan was to create a personal crest to symbolise what was important in my life. I went with my first instinct to say ‘fuck that for a game of cards, I’m not in primary school anymore’. But I’d also been waiting for a structured time to sit down, face the paper – and the past. I’d been trying to put past events back in their box, but failing, badly. 

It doesn’t matter what I wrote. What I want to puzzle out is how it feels to tell the secret you were programmed never to tell. The guilt. The hot, hot shame. And the fear. 

I think you get used to living with fear. You accommodate it; even bargain with it. If I hum that particular song the dark won’t hurt me. If I don’t step on the cracks in the pavement then it might not catch up with me. If I divide all the words I see on the teleprompter in my head into equal groups of letter while holding a conversation, then the fear is held at bay. It goes on and on. You follow the rituals. And you must always do what you’re told.

But then you wake the fear, in my case, accidentally. Poke it with a stick. Bring it out into the open. Look it in the face – and it transforms into a choking beast that wants to smother you. All the promised repercussions take on a life of their own. It becomes a reality that follows you; you know it’s there, and if you could spin round fast enough, you’d be able to see it. But no one else can see the fear. They just see how you react to it. Which makes you mad. And definitely makes you look mad. 

I’m so afraid at night. I sleep with fairy lights on and the door open so no one can lock me in. I sleep lightly and go from doze to total alert in a nanosecond. I don’t feel safe at all at the moment. And when we only have bank staff on at night I am afraid to sleep. I do sleep, but I fight it all the way. 

But fear doesn’t hang around alone. It brings its friends: guilt, shame, self-disgust, and a desire to put an end to everything. 

I started out with something else to say, but that can wait. 

All I want to say right now is that whoever tells you to feel the fear and do it anyway hasn’t grown up with fear as a constant companion. They need a sharp poke in the eye and to shut the fuck up.