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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Standing on the outside, looking in

This has been written for the "Dear Me" project

Dear Me (Early October 1996),

I’m sorry to be writing at such an inconvenient time. You are in the middle of your final exams and are still grieving over Tim and probably want to go and hide in a dark closet for the next five years. I don’t blame you, even now. Why am I writing? Because I know you will never get this letter and I really wouldn't want you too; just in case Michael J Fox comes plummeting down your driveway in a Delorean and that squeaky voice of his, babbling about the space/time continuum or whatever. If it were possible, though, I'd give you a heads up on what's about to come your way.

This month, perhaps next -I forget -you will get your first kiss. It comes at the pathetically late age of seventeen, but the reason for this might be apparent when you consider that instead of hitting the party circuit, you’re usually in bed by 8.30pm (yes, Chronic fatigue Syndrome sucks). This kiss’s quality was wretched, but in fairness to it’s deliverer you were new at the exercise and it came as a complete shock. You fobbed him off; you said you’d talk to him later. You even supposed that as he’d had the audacity to kiss you, this must mean that you were now a couple. This was galling because you didn’t actually like him back. It took a number of weeks of unanswered knocks at the door and avoiding eye contact for him to realize he was barking up the wrong tree. You always felt bad about this; that you’d never had the chance to apologise since, but since he’s gone on to get married, you can feel better he’s found happiness.

In two months, you will start your downward spiral into an eating disorder. It begins ‘innocently’: if by innocently you mean that your brain discovers it can split into two distinct patterns of reasoning. That vomiting can be SO EASY/ that it is BAD too, but can be stopped at ANY TIME. (so you thought). You remember the first time you deliberately rejected calories. Your cousin offered you a taste of some fan dangled new lolly. You took the sweet into your mouth, pushed it around with your tongue, pretended to swallow, then turned the corner of your grandparent’s house and spat it out onto the geraniums. It was simple: you could get the taste of it, but not the guilts. I won’t go into further details at this stage. You’ll have to experience the loss of hair, the constant toothaches, and the teeth indentations on your fingers as you pry your index finger down your esophagus. Soon enough, people begin to notice. But ‘notice’ doesn’t mean ‘intervene’. Don’t be angry at those you feel should’ve stepped in for your health’s sake. Sickness makes cowards out of those who love you most.

In a little over four months, you will begin university. The stress of this exacerbates your eating disorder. It also exacerbates your college psychologist, once you decide to go seek some help, who was probably sick of seeing umpteen girls parade into her office on a daily basis with nothing more than self esteem issues, nothing ‘serious’, for her to work on. You only see her three times before her rolling of her eyes (yes, you see that!) make you go on your recovery alone. This will be hard because there will be their fair share of horny, drunken, egomaniacal, cast-loose lot of latter-age teenage boys who, in their struggle to come to their own sense of selves, stamp on other’s. One boy in particular will be nasty. He will call you ‘slut’ in front of dorm mates. He calls you this because you turn him away from your door in the middle of the night. He may not have gone on to find his happiness. This news does not distress you.

But, there will be a light. I won’t say his name, but you will go on to marry him. He will be sweet. He will be shy in front of your family and you in front of his. He will buy you Jack Daniels, even though he can’t afford spirits. You can tell he is lovely because his friends are lovely. Though you still have several years ahead of you until you are fully ‘recovered’, he will be your stalwart. It will be good. It will all be good.

I’ve left stuff out. I can’t go into it all now, and I want you to have some surprises. I might write something else later. Like when you walked down a busy street with a towel wrapped around your head. I might even mention you've done that several times.

The kids you’ve always wanted? They come. And they’re sublime.

Take Care, Kiddo.

Karen (2007).

Comments on "Standing on the outside, looking in"


Blogger Meena said ... (6:48 am) : 

I really love this project you've started. It's amazing to read the letters. Sounds like you had quite a journey to recovery, I hope, hope, hope you are there.


Blogger Mad Hatter said ... (2:26 pm) : 

Lovely. I too had a teenage eating disorder--or rather disorders. That's a black time in my life. I'm so old now, though, that it is all but forgotten. It's just the fear of it for my daughter that lingers.


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