(TW rape, anorexia, suicide)
I live in the wrong body: one with hips, with breasts, with all the curves of a grown woman, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be entirely comfortable with that. When I was in the throes of anorexia, I was less female and more nothingness. My body was boyish—childlike. It told the world not to look at me, and that made me feel safe.
I wanted to be effaced. Invisible. I wanted my femaleness gone because rape had infected it. I didn’t know how to get rid of the trauma without getting rid of my sexuality.
Watching yourself evaporate week upon week is soothing when you’re living with a death wish rooted in self-hatred. You almost believe that you can make yourself disappear, and figuratively, you do vanish. I became so malnourished that I was as good as gone. I spent most of my days unconscious, and that is how an anorexic kills herself—slowly. Ludicrously, insanely slowly.
Suicide-by-starvation is torturous, but it wasn’t always death I was chasing. Sometimes, I was looking for a way to tap out of the world temporarily in the hope that I would dig up some strength along the way to magically get past my rape. I was hanging onto the edge of the world by my fingertips, not alive enough to climb over the verge where real life was, but not hopeless enough to let go, so I hung on.
on and will this ever
Anorexia numbs you, but it comes with its own kind of necrotic pain. Feelings demand to be felt. They will bang on the door of your psyche all decade if they must, but what they’ll never do is turn around and go elsewhere forever. Until you feel them, they’re irrevocably there. Always. Fucking. There. Dead and numb. Dead and numb. Dead. And. Numb.
I thought my feelings about my rape could kill me—not consciously, of course. I’m not that irrational, but when I root around in my history, what I find is abject terror of those emotions. Recovering meant feeling, and that’s how I learned that it wasn’t pain that was harming me, but refusal to feel pain.
I did more crying in my first month of treatment than I’d done in all my life, but it was better than dread. Dread is a terrible bedfellow, so you might as well move through it. Move through it until there’s nothing left to dread.
I can’t credit anorexia for anything positive that came out of my recovery. Had I chosen a healthier way to get through my trauma, I would have reached this side of life sooner. Ana only brought stasis. It’s been almost eight years since I let her go, and I’m still not sure I’ll ever feel entirely comfortable in a woman’s skin. Maybe I don’t need to. Maybe I never needed to. Maybe what matters is not my body, but all this vitality that bubbles up from secret places…
… and all this love.