You are holding my hand as we sit inches from each other. Today, I can feel your hand. You are trying to get me to breath, deep belly breaths, and I pause the exhale multiple times before I let out all the air. Each pause is my automatic reaction to cut off the rush of emotions trying to escape with the exhale. I am conditioned to believe letting my emotions go is a very bad behavior. I will get in trouble. I take another breath and squeeze your hand tighter. This time I know I’m going to try to let them go.
It takes a couple breaths and simply settling into feeling completely safe, before a final exhale brings the ocean with it. You are there. You let go of my hand to pull me in, and wrap your arms around my body. The body that I keep trying to hate. The flesh I keep denying. The skin, and bones, and muscle, and fat–you hold all of it without judgement even though I cannot yet do that.
A handful of pounds ago–almost a year ago–you said you could feel every bone in my back. I remember because my anorexia lives for comments that might insinuate someone thinks I am too thin. But even though pride shot through my body, tears came at the same time. My body hurt. It hurt so much. The parts of my body that are naturally skin-and-bone (my spine, my chest) had been missing needed fat deposits to soften the blow for everyday things. Like sitting in the car and having my belt dig into my spine. Like holding my toddler as his head rest against my chest and my sternum bruising from his precious little head laying there repeatedly and so gently. Sadness swept through my veins because I didn’t want your touch to hurt.
You haven’t mentioned that in a while, and my spine hasn’t hurt in a while, and my sternum doesn’t shoot with pain anymore when I pull my little ones in for a hug.
Everyone will say it’s the anorexia talking when I exclaim I am bigger, because I am always exclaiming I must be getting bigger (that is the anorexia) but this time it’s real. I am sensitive to the number of pounds and percentage of fat (though I don’t actually know these numbers) above and below a very specific amount. I know that no one else can see the changes who see me everyday. But I can feel them every single day.
And as I exhale, I am mourning.
I am mourning and hoping at the same time that I will never see anorexia in that way again. I can feel her leaving. Sometimes it feels like a close friend dying in my arms as I watch helplessly while she takes her last breaths. Some days, as much as I wouldn’t wish anorexia on anyone, I want her to stay. I feel attached to anorexia like she’s filled the spot of so many things, especially parental care.
I can feel your arms wrapped around my rib cage, grounding me, and I can hear anorexia whisper, you’ve gotten so fat. No one can feel your bones any more. You are worth nothing.
But I choose in that moment and in this moment to lean in to you. An overwhelming rush of grief envelops my body and I choose you, not anorexia. I choose your safety. Your love. Your care. Your hope, that I still have trouble finding sometimes. I choose recovery.
I choose to feed the good wolf.
To trust the wolf pack.