I am paralyzed by fear. Fear of failure? Fear of success? Or am I just dead inside?
Graduate school started out rough for me, but I soon learned to love the learning and interplay of ideas and discussions that take place both within and outside the classroom. I am specializing in Children's Literature, and I particularly enjoyed studying what children read and analyzing the meaning behind the texts.
Last semester, we started with Robert Fagles' translation of "The Odyssey." (Although not specifically for children, literature for children often draws inspiration and meaning from this epic poem." I was entranced by the language, the description of dawn with its "rose-red fingers" and the journey Odysseus undertook - battling evil gods and goddesses and his own nature along the way - to return to the love of his life, Penelope. I was shocked by the violent ending in which the suitors are slaughtered, and yet moved by the loving reunion between Odysseus and Penelope.
I couldn't wait to read the other books, to go to class, to take part in the discussions and to write my term paper on female heros. I fell in love with Sara and "A Little Princess," her stoicism and kindness shining through. I was amazed by realistic portrayal by a male author of the female protagonist, Lyra Belacqua in "The Golden Compass," and was both enchanted and drawn into the world created by Philip Pullman so much I immediately went out and bought the sequels, even though neither book was required reading for class.
This semester started out well. I wrote a creative non-fiction piece about life with anorexia — the onset of this illness at age 41, my struggles to recovery and my decline into relapse — that was well-received and has the possibility of being developed into a larger piece for publication. In my other class, I enjoyed learning about the early texts used to teach children, from the Catechism to hornbooks to Puritan pieces that assumed the basic evil of nature even while teaching them the alphabet.
Now it all feels like ashes and dust. My moods swing so violently from anger at anorexia to hopefulness that recovery is possible. I feel like I am on the world's fastest roller coaster, careening from this turn and that turn; here there is a fun house mirror that shows me as fat and ugly, there is another that reflects a drawn, skeletal woman who looks as she will drop at any moment.
I sit down with one of my books or at the computer, and I become completely paralyzed because this roller coaster in my head won't stop and I am getting dizzy. I hated roller coasters pre-anorexia; the rides always made me nauseated at best and sick at worst, and now I'm on a roller coaster I can't find the exit to.
I am beginning to feel desperate as I enter my fourth year battling anorexia. I know many people have battled their eating disorders for decades, and some friends with EDs say that I should be able to overcome this because of the short length of time I've had it. But I am 44 and my body and soul can't take much more.
I constantly feel as if the pre-anorexic Angela has been snatched away forever. She will never return; there will be no "happily ever after." I want off this roller coaster; I am too dizzy and sick. And I'm increasingly beginning to feel the only way off this horror ride is if anorexia kills me and that this will be the year it does. Then so be it . . .