Fear Anxiety Depression Self-Hatred . . .
Each rock was a strange mixture of velvety softness combined with rough bumps and indentations. I wrote each word — feelings and actions that have weighed me down for years — on several rocks in stark black ink.
One rock was reserved for the terrifying and addictive disease which has been trying to take over me body and soul for years.
I started to feel both fear and relief as I traced that word in blood-red ink on each side of the rock. I fear letting go of anorexia because it has become so intermingled with my identity. But I know I need to let go of this disease in order to live.
The word looked so powerful. My mind flew back to when anorexia first crept into my life, chipping away bits and pieces of me until I sometimes felt there was nothing left.
Each one of us wrote down the things that have weighed us down throughout the years. We then could choose to hold onto these rocks that symbolically represented the traits that have held us down for years.
Or we could chose to toss these rocks into the river running past the River Centre Clinic. The choice was ours . . .
I went first. I was determined to throw everything that had weighed me down for years. I have struggled through almost six weeks at the clinic. The road to recovery has been rocky and I often have been my own worst enemy as I have fought to get better.
But through all the struggle and pain, through the tears I cried and the loneliness I often felt as I longed to be with my husband and friends back home, through the ambivalence I sometimes felt about letting go of anorexia, there remained a mustard seed of hope that I could be free, I would be free.
I stepped down the grassy, sloping path to the river, dodging overgrown bushes and hanging tree branches, balancing my rocks in my hand. I stepped close to the edge, the river's dark waters churning just a few feet away from me. I threw the first rock, angry as I remembered life before my eating disorder developed. I threw more rocks as far as I could, willing each one to sink deep into the water.
The rock with one word — anorexia – remained in my hand. It felt soft and cold in my hand. The word seemed to mock me, saying that I would never get better, I would never be free. I hurled it as hard as could, feeling a strong sense of release as it landed into the water. I felt as if I had been buried under a ton of rocks and I had finally climbed my way out. At that moment it finally hit me — I want to recover. I want anorexia out of my life forever. I want to be free.
Each one of us took our turn. Some women were able to release all of their rocks, while others chose to hold onto one or more until they felt ready to release their burdens.
I started to cry as I walked back up to the clinic. I'm still not sure why. I was feeling a mixture of release and relief, mingled with fear about the work I still need to do in order to get better.
Later that night, I thought about all those rocks we threw into the dark waters. I could still see the words we had written on the rocks. I imagined the water rushing over the rocks until the words disappeared through the ages, the ink worn off and everything which had weighed us down mingled together into nothingness, becoming meaningless as we move forward into recovery and life.