I feel, increasingly, that I don’t really know who I am anymore.
Once upon a time, I was anorexic, in as much as that was my identity. I could – and did- choose not to let people any further than my bony exterior. Much as I can’t see it myself, I’m coming to accept that I looked anorexic, and I fitted into the ward upon which I was a patient. It was the first time I felt accepted within a cohort for a very long time, and that gave me a sense of self. I was able to spend time rediscovering what I enjoyed doing, and who I enjoyed being with.
Then, I was discharged and I was ‘better’. It felt miraculous to me that I had managed to achieve something that I thought I would never be able to. I had the chance to try a lot of ‘firsts’: holiday, my own car, volunteering, job interview, being with my friends and boyfriend. Looking back now, it feels like a honeymoon summer. I was ready to face the world again, but this time with the knowledge that I had gained in hospital.
And now I feel lost. I watched Miss Perergrine’s Home for Peculiar Children last night. I empathised with the protagonist because he felt that he were neither ‘normal’ nor ‘peculiar’. I am neither anorexic nor recovered. Stuck in the middle, trying to keep a brave face on things. I am lucky in that I have the skills to prevent me relapsing; I know that I need to eat, and that I need to eat enough to keep my weight stable, but it doesn’t mean I want to do it. I can go out for a meal; I can tweak my nutritional intake to suit a busier day and I do understand that I don’t want to relapse. I don’t want anorexia to be a part of my life anymore.
The problem is that I don’t really know what I want instead. Until this point, someone else had always told me; I needed to gain weight, and I needed to finish my degree, and I needed to stick to my meal plan. Now, I have to make my own decisions, and I feel that I can’t ever make the right ones. I want to be a good friend; good at my job; a part of my family, but I don’t live up to any of these things. I watch other people’s lives fall into place (through their own hard-work and dedication to what they want, obviously) and mine just stutters and stumbles, one anxious day after the next.
I guess my point is that I am surrounded by so many fantastic, wonderful, inspiring people that it is difficult to accept what I have always been hiding from: not that I don’t know who I am anymore, but that I am all too aware of who I am.