01 February 2010

Finding Angela

I am powerless against anorexia.

Those were the five hardest words I've ever had to write. It was so humbling to admit it — me, so strong and ready to deny that nothing is wrong and I can handle anything — and yet so freeing in a way. Maybe I don't have to blame myself. Maybe I can now accept anorexia as the disease it is, and turn over control to those who can help me instead of fighting against their every suggestion, every word. I now know that in order to recovery, I must change.

It also has started me thinking about who I was pre-anorexia, and as my mind floated back to that time of freedom, I felt an aching sense of loss coupled with an intense longing to yet again be that person . . .

I liked books and reading and was interested in so many things — religions, history, medieval times, the life and history of Anne Bolyen, the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder and more. I studied many things on my own, reading about everything from the flu epidemic of 1918 to the catechism of the Catholic Church to the teachings of Islam. I delved into "The Chronicles of Narnia," exploring the strange new world that Lucy and her siblings found. I was one of the first in line to buy the newest Harry Potter book, and I couldn't wait to dive into my new books for graduate school (even literary theory!) Each new book was like a treasure waiting to be opened and just the smell of the paper and the crispness of the spine was thrilling.

Curling up with a book at bedtime, becoming part of a new world of each offered, devouring the words, no ED thoughts hammering at my brain . . . It sounds so simple, I know. It also sounds like a beautiful, healthy and normal way to spend an evening.

I cared about people, and did things to show that caring. I took part in an in-school program for years, where I was paired with a young student who needed a kind, caring adult to read to him or her and just listen to the day-to-day life of childhood. I remember one young girl, Anna. Anna had long, dark curly hair and looked somewhat like the daughter I've never had. She loved to giggle and was so smart; she didn't really need help with reading, she needed an adult to listen to her sometimes confusing and convoluted life. Each week, we would sit in low chairs, two dark heads bent over as we nibbled on our lunch and explored the different worlds inside books. She loved to talk and create her own stories, and I still pray that she is as healthy and well-adjusted as she was then.

My husband and I went for long walks, watched stupid T.V. shows, talking about politics and the books we were reading and played competitive games of Scrabble. We held hands, snuggled on the couch, and we didn't argue about food. We went out to eat after church on many Sundays, and the time at the restaurant wasn't spent watching my fear as I opened the menu and looked at all the frightening food choices.

I wasn't afraid to go to parties and other events. People didn't scare me then, and my mind wasn't consumed by anorexia. I could relax and enjoy the moment, and actually was considered an interesting and engaging person.

I could write articles without feeling panicked; I could read and understand the words on the page. I could eat without fear, I could be with people and not want to run away and hide any where I could find just to be safe. I could face a variety of situations and not feel fear bubbling up.

I miss the person I was, and right now I am in a period of mourning for that Angela, going through the stages of grief and wondering who I will be when this all plays out. I wonder if anyone else out there feels the same way, because it feels lonely to miss the self you were, and wonder about the self you will be after recovery.

Can I ever become the person I was? No. Time has moved on and anorexia has impacted me. I know I will never be the exact person I was before anorexia.

I want to become a better, stronger person; one who embraces life fully and without fear. I can either continue to be bullied by my anorexia, trying to hide from it (although no matter where I go, my mind is always with me) or embrace the growth opportunities that it offers.

I can let it slowly kill me — and right now, a part of me wants to let Ana win (Jesus, just get this pain over with already! I am so tired, just take me home to peace and love and rest; "For my yoke is easy and my burden light.")

I am ready to concede to Ana. I just realize I can't do it alone. I think of it as nothing less than preparing for war, for the more I try to move toward recovery, the more fire bombs Ana throws at me. She's been a real hissy bitch lately.

But as I think about being powerless, I realize that doesn't mean I'm not without strengths. I have a mentor, my husband, my friends and colleagues and perhaps most importantly, my writing; all formidable weapons against my arch-evil foe Ana.

Now it's time to unbury the Angela underneath Ana.


Lou Lou said...

this was very moving, i love how you write.
I always read your blog and I wish you serenity.
kia kaha

Silly Girl said...

And you have your strong will and determination to fight Ana. I believe in you. I know it is not easy or quick but you can do it. And remember, you are not alone in your fight. Thank you for sharing. Stay strong!

Love, Silly Girl

Jessie said...

This was such a wonderful post. I'm struggling with this too right now, particularly the fact that I'm never going to be that person that I was before anorexia. And it's frightening because if I'm not that person and if I'm not the anorexic person, then I really don't know who I am. It's not that there aren't still parts of me that are very similar to the pre-anorexia Jessie, but that person will never come back the way she was before. And it's hard to accept that sometimes.

I also love to read and I love books!

Missing In Sight said...


It sounds like with out Ana you were a pretty active person with lots of interests. Those capabilities are still with you. You can access those things while you ignore Ana.

Just remember, Ana might win a battle or two, but you are still able to win the war.

Take care.