My hand pulls back the bow string, the arrow securely attached and my eyes aimed at the round circle in the middle. The circle represents anorexia. I want so badly to hit this circle and to kill anorexia. I am swearing under my breath, cursing anorexia for all it has done to my life . . .
It is early evening. The time when day's end and twilight begin to meld into one. The sunshine held that peculiar autumnal quality, a mixture of warmth washed with pale yellow. A reminder that summer is dying and soon this part of the world will be covered with snow and ice, and the sunshine will hold light, but little warmth. Our ancestors would be making preparations for the coming winter.
Now we wait for winter's onslaught and think we are ready with our houses of wood and stone and vehicles of steel and rubber. But we are separated from one another by these artificial structures, The world we have created often prohibits turning to each other for warmth and companionship during times of need, and we remain cold deep down inside as we walk through a dead world and wonder if life will ever return again. The turn toward winter has begun . . .
Anorexia is a cold companion.
I think of all the things anorexia has stolen from me as I aim at the target.
It has taken away my husband, the love of my life. I have not been a full partner for years. I have been too busy counting calories and plotting ways to lose weight. I have been obsessed with the number on the scale.
(Every morning it was the same thoughts, hammering at my brain. Is my weight low enough? Please God let it stay in the double-digit. Let it be lower today. Tell me when it is exactly the right number so I can finally relax and do something else, anything besides think about my weight one more second! Free me from this obsession, because I will never be thin enough. God, are you listening??? Am I thin enough now? Can I eat something without feeling guilty or punishing myself? God why won't these thoughts leave my brain? FREE ME FROM THIS SLAVERY!)
It has stolen my health and strength, stripping my arms almost to the bone. I have been sick much of the time since my relapse in January, and I needed an NG feeding tube in February.
It has robbed me of myself. I allowed anorexia to almost completely destroy my personality, swallowing quirky traits and endearing qualities until I have become a shadow of my former self. No longer did I sing Christmas carols in July or ring up a friend just to talk about life and love for hours at a time.
It has tried to crush my spirit. I have woken up many mornings wishing I were dead. I felt I could never defeat anorexia. I felt I never could complete graduate school. I wanted to hide in bed until the end came because I didn't think I could turn it around.
I am barely able to pull back the bow string, but I will not give up. I am going to hit one part of that target before calling it a night. My rage is at anorexia and I will be damned if I will turn it inward anymore.
My first attempts at letting the arrow fly are pathetic. The arrow is hitting the grass, the side of an outbuilding, the garage. Everywhere except one of five round circles printed on a piece of paper and attached to a large square of Styrofoam.
Suddenly . . . Bang!!!
The arrow hits the top right circle. The mark is so very close to the round bull's eye. It's just a hair's length off. Damn!
Still, the arrow did hit the target and a circle. I feel very proud of myself and shot off a few more arrows just for fun, enjoying the weakening sunshine and slight breeze in my long hair. I hit the target representing anorexia, and told myself it will die.
I went to talk to David the night he left and I wanted to die when I realized he wasn't going to come back home. However, we did talk of reconciliation and how we both still love each other. That night I slept on and off for about two hours at a time. I kept listening, thinking he might change his mind and still come home. It was the loneliest night of my soul when I realized around 4 a.m. that his van wasn't going to pull into the driveway and he wasn't going to come through the back door.
I wanted to die. But a stronger feeling took over. I wanted to live, really live. Live as I haven't lived for years since anorexia took over. I couldn't stomach food that first day, but I could drink six Ensures (three regular and three Plus.) And so I did and it was the beginning.
I knew what I had to do the next day. I had to eat and get healthy. Three regular meals and three bottles of Ensure Plus. I have kept up this regimen ever since. I have much hope we will reconcile and be a couple, a family again.
But I'm beginning to feel an even bigger hope. That I will become myself again. The person I was before anorexia, only better and hopefully, more understanding and compassionate of the needs of my husband and others.
As I went into the house today, I looked at the scratches on my left thumb and the red marks on my left arm. My hair was in my face and there was dirt on my boots and dust all over my black dress. And I didn't care. Because I realized I didn't just hit an arrow on a paper target. I am beginning to hit the target when it comes to recovery.
Being recovered looks so far away. But finally, finally the road of recovery is the one I have chosen. I may feel pain and I may cry every day because I miss my husband. I am not ashamed of that. I will never be ashamed to love someone and cry because I miss him.
But I also step forward each minute and this time I haven't looked back. I have hit rock bottom. I have finally hit rock bottom and God in his mercy has used it to transform me and lead me to healing. I truly believe anorexia died inside me last week.
I truly believe I will finally live.