Trigger Warning: rape, depression, anorexia
This is what it had come to: me leading a drip stand up and down Ward 7 Room 415B wondering why the hell I’d bothered to come here. In five weeks’ worth of hospital visits, friends would trawl in and out with a hundred ideas for fixing me. If they tried hard enough, laughed long enough, offered enough help, they could rescue me. Surely?
This is how I spent Christmas 10 years ago: with doctors pumping life back into my body as though my problems could be located in my physiology. Sometimes medical professionals have to treat patients they know will go straight back to self-destruction the instant they’re sent back home. It’s soul destroying.
My mother bought me a new computer, as though my problems could be cured with gifts.
The trouble with rape is that it will turn you against yourself. There is no hostility so profound. I turned every cell of anger inward and twisted all my shame into self-hatred. My rapist was no longer present and was thus immovable, so I despised myself instead. The emotions had to go somewhere, and nobody else was applying for the position.
I couldn’t tolerate living in the same body he had touched, so I starved it. I abused it. I withered and withered until I’d mutated into a ghost. I could still put up a good front. Oh, believe me, I laughed at their jokes. I went to their parties. I lied. “Of course I’m not starving myself. I’m just ill. I just keep on losing weight. I don’t know what the problem is.”
In the end, I packed my life into a series of boxes and chose suicide.
On the other side of the country, my mother screamed.
She never stopped searching for the magic solution to my trauma. She tried love. She tried disappearing. She tried tough love. She tried being constantly present. She tried coda, books, conversations with other survivors.
The only thing she didn’t try was hopelessness. That’s the trouble with love: it’s infinite. No matter how much you wish that last hanger-on would leave you the hell alone and let you wither, love won’t let them.
Love is what miracles are made of. My mother knew that. She also knew that a miracle was exactly what I needed.
Eight Christmases ago, she found a pair of therapists with backgrounds that fit my pathology like a pair of skinny jeans. I’ve told this part of my story from a hundred different angles, but never from this one–the one that makes me cry: I was loved back to health. Hell, eventually I even became capable of loving myself back to health.
Never tell a lost cause that miracles don’t exist. We will prove you wrong. Love will bring healing as surely as day follows night.