the power of words, and the alleviation of pain.

anorexia nervosa; in remission.

re/mis/sion (noun): the diminution of the seriousness or intensity of pain. a respite. stemming from the latin root ‘remittere’, meaning to restore.

in remission. these were the words written by the hand of my therapist, as sun filtered in through the slanted windows. as we were signing a medical clearance so that i may travel to israel. as the excitement for a departure to tel aviv was replaced with crushing guilt of a survivor for nothing more than being alive. as my sweater became much too hot. choking. suffocating. as i felt the sudden crumbling of my words, and my fucking chest filled with the weight of loathing and my throat tasted like the bitter stench of vomit.

in remission. an identity shift. existing in a body that has been revived from the precipices of darkness, empty but oh so full, and i ache that the latter is all i can allow myself to feel.

in remission. the tears no longer fill my lungs. the fear is no longer a wound that abandons me crawling on my cold knees, pleading for apathy. my bruised kneecaps are no longer my prayer beds.

in remission. the duality of the fragility of a pain alleviated, and the acknowledgement of the strength in endurance.

in remission. the expectation to return to all the light you are told that you held once before. the restoration. the restoration of the life you tried to end, of the soul you hoped would starve, of the body you wished someone would find cold by sunrise. but, not all of us had a ‘before’ worthy of a return. for some of us, for me, ‘before’ was tearing at the flesh on my arms beneath the play structure at the age of six. ‘before’ was sensing i was so wrong that i could not bear to identify with my body. ‘before’ was not speaking for days on end. ‘before’ was silence and confusion and an eating disorder by the age of twelve.

in remission. having nowhere to go. nowhere to run. no one to be. the ceaseless destruction of identities, with nothing safe rising from their ashes.

be/tween (preposition); at, in, or across a space of separation. 

so here we are. here i am. waiting amidst the in between within which i know not where to go. but though my steps may falter and my legs may grow weak, i am no longer falling to my knees.

what i do know is that i cannot return. to any of it. to the darkness, to the years lost in the fog, to that wheelchair bound shell of a human, or to that unimaginable discord of the heart. to the ‘before’ on that playground sitting in the tanbark with blood on my wrist, or even the ‘before’ of yesterday. for the evolution of this pain must be held, and healed.

i may be in remission, but i am here to create, not restore.

i may brimming with an endless ‘before’, but i am too an endless ‘soon to be’.

i may be in remission, but my pain still thrives.

i may be a paradox, and i am united simply by virtue of it all.

maybe the truth of it is that we do not become unworthy the moment we finally become revived. maybe we do not deserve to die the moment we are almost alive.

i know that i am not there yet. i know that i am not cured. and, i strive to endure on the blind faith that i am on my way towards wherever this is all meant to lead.

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when the whole world feels dark.

there is nothing inside of me that i do not fucking loathe with every ounce of my being.

i live in the world, but i am oh so far away. where i am, the air is stale and i can taste the shame, thick and visceral, as it stifles my haphazard breaths. it fills my mouth. a death without immediate end, i gag on the shame of my very own survival. nothing permeates through the fucking ice cold leather of the skin i wish were not mine at all. this world is too fucking dark. there is nothing here for me.

the people around me are so distant, even if i screamed and clawed my way towards them, i would never arrive. the humans on the street are so lonely i feel as though i’m going to vomit out my own beating heart onto the pavement.

i sit in my car, the man pulled up next to me has eyes of regret and loneliness fucking threatening to drown him right then and there. his windows were rolled up tight. i can see him drowning already. i drown too. we all are, whether you feel it or not. this world is not right. i cannot be here.

it’s eight minutes past midnight and the fucking razor blades are not sharp enough. they are not opening my veins fast enough. the warm blood not flowing heavily enough. not enough. not fucking enough. never fucking enough. i try a different blade. it’s all the same. another blade. another. another. another. my fucking room has a thousand razor edges. i survived and i don’t even have the strength to carve myself away. i cannot do this. i cannot be here.

the fucking world is collapsing and there is nothing left. there is no hope left. trauma is thicker than the tears that cloud our eyes and we are a disgrace. children are being ripped from their mothers. people are dying, and even the ones who are alive do not speak. we are all so fucking alone, i cannot bear it. everything is dying. i do not want to live. i cannot be here.

my recovery from a so-called eating disorder is a fucking joke. i am nothing, nothing more than a grain of sand fucking praying to be washed away. this world is filled with so much misery, and truth be fucking told that my recovery is the most fucking superficial shit that i wish would have fucking done away with me long ago. there is real chaos here. real darkness. i do not even deserve to be alive. who the fuck do i think i am.

i cannot live with myself, but so fucking what. i am nothing. i do not matter. i am barely even human. i am a fucking shell. why was this life wasted on me, i scream to the fucking empty heavens. good souls are fucking dying left and right. why the fuck am i still here?

i do not know. i cannot breathe. i cannot be here.

how do i even legitimize a life as worthless as the one i am living?

how do i fucking continue living in this damn, dark world?

how?

having your mind full of everything and nothing, while searching for a something.

most days, my mind feels as though it is on the tip of my tongue; close, so close i could almost taste it, but never quite close enough. i know it is there, pulsing, heavy, full of all the somethings and everythings and nothings all at once, but when i grasp for the strings hoping i can pull it apart into unraveling, i am left with bleeding fingers and the knowing that there is more, more, more that i just simply cannot feel. more that i cannot think and know and breathe, because it never leaves the tip of my tongue. it never finds me. we never find each other. tied up and hidden, i remain empty.

days like today i feel consumed with this knowing, this knowing of all the things i do not know and cannot speak, and it threatens to swallow me whole. fighting for breath between the words that never make it past my throat, yet never make room enough for me to escape. days like today i am full and empty all at once, and ever so aware that my struggling mind just past the point of return is what keeps me hidden, disconnected, and alone. days like today i just wish i could find the words, feel everything nestled just inches too deep within my chest, and unravel the tangled strings of my foggy mind until i am heaving and shaking but undeniably known.

known, and the very opposite of alone.

days like today i sit in therapy offices and pray that emotion finds me. why oh why is it that i only seem to feel when it is dark, when the night is too heavy, when there is nobody to hold my knots and my hands are already shaking, my fingers already raw? why can’t i seem to feel when connection is right there in front of me?

and now, i sit here alone, deciding to put words onto a page for nobody but myself. because snarled knots in the chest is no way to live. because a mind on the tip of a tongue is no way to heal.

and so i begin. unraveling.

unraveling the grief of yet another loss. another soul stolen from this world who’d seen far too few sunrises, taken far too few breaths of the crisp autumn air, lived with far too much fear and desperation in her heart. another soul ripped from this world by the wrath of her eating disorder, her lungs crushed under her last ounces of strength. another loss that makes my heart shatter and scream and cut like knives through the seemingly unending darkness. a loss that makes me question if i deserve to continue on, alive, at all. the crippling guilt of, once again, surviving.

unraveling the shame of an ended friendship after a night of clothes on the floor and hands in places i never wished any hands would ever be. a night of panic so immense i believed the moon would crush my skull into the earth; a night of wishing that it would. a night of disgust so boundless that i could not feel my body and could not fathom how i would ever be human again. tainted. ruined. my existence shattered. a night of wishing i would never awaken. a night of not understanding how this could, to any soul, ever feel okay, because it made me long to shred this body to pieces. this body that i could never, ever be safe within.

unraveling the fear of having an inked tattoo upon my body to remind me of that night, the nausea rising in my throat every time i get undressed, the summer sun beating down upon thick sweaters permeating through the sweat caused by despair. i keep covered and i swallow my self-hatred because every time i look down to see those black looped lines my eyes shed salt and i pray that tonight, tonight i’ll have the strength to carve so deeply that they release me from their prison.

unraveling the strings between close to death and close to life, but walking the line weighted down by one million wounding fears.

unraveling the strings between empty and full, everything and nothing, collecting my pieces along the way.

and here i am, on a day like today, unraveling the tangled strings of my foggy mind until i am heaving and shaking but undeniably known. known by possibly nobody besides myself and this once empty page, but i trust that the universe listens, and leaves me never completely alone. i am raw, sitting quietly in my own dark, not a soul awake in my creaking wood house, but i am never completely alone.

and neither are you.

so, in your own painful silence, or your own resounding scream, allow yourself to unravel.

it is only here that you will find your mind again, like a lost word yearning to be remembered, understood, spoken.

here, you will find yourself.

unravel. unravel. unravel.

unravel

traveling far to come home to yourself.

the day now close to a year ago that i first bought my plane tickets to fly halfway around the world to india, i was sick and i was lost and i was grasping for something, something, something to fill the empty void inside of me. i had never traveled on my own; many times in my life my treatment team could barely even trust my body as i was flying directly to be admitted into an eating disorder treatment center or hospital. and yet, that day i decided to fly over seven thousand miles on my own, i had a deep-seeded knowing that there was so much i still had yet to learn, and see, and love, and be that i simply could not learn and see and love and be in the world i had been living in for so long. so, i boarded that plane. i boarded that plane journeying towards what my team expected to be an undeniable relapse simply waiting to happen, already seeming to know the price my health would undoubtedly pay, their fear so full and huge in their chests that they couldn’t feel much else. and yet, almost seven weeks later, as i sit on the terrace for the last time here in this dusty and beautiful and painful and achingly wonderful country for the last time, as a human more full and whole than i have ever been in the entirety of my life, i am reminded that sometimes we must embark on all that seems too daunting in order to become all that is most true. here, i have LEARNED and SEEN and LOVED and BECOME more than i had ever believed i could, and my gratitude is astounding. there is so much world. so much life to be felt and love to be held and lessons to be learned and work to be done in this world. i have been taught and seen and loved by children, by laughter, by friends from across the world, by rivers, by rowboats in the sunrise, by curry for breakfast, by dusty train stations, by pancakes at midnight, by temples, by hardship and beauty, and by hope. and i would never give this experience up for the world. 

what does your soul yearn to see, and learn, and love, and become?
and how will you push through your fear and make it there?

india

paying the light forward, and a wide, wide world.

my god, it is an utterly breathtaking thing to realize you truly are beginning to live into the life that you never, with your whole heart, thought you would see.

yesterday, as the rain poured down around us, i sat in the warm car with a dear friend of mine as we journeyed through the storm towards a place of such remembrance, a place of old pain and new stories; the treatment center at which we met oh so long ago, a haven amidst this city of trees that we both hold sacred within our hearts.

the music filled our car, this small space of such warmth, such overwhelming hope, and our cheeks were sore from these newfound smiles so unintentionally spread across our faces. we hurtled towards our own becoming, one mile down that highway at a time. the river hugged our right as the trees led the way. my god, we sung from lungs that have never felt so full, and we spoke from hearts that have never felt so true.

we pulled into the parking lot, the one that held us there that very first day, too. yet now, we emerge as souls who have been cleansed by all the rain in this world; we are no longer drowning.

we have returned for the tradition of the “one year stone”. one year of choosing to live in this chaotic, beautiful world. one year of breathing through the fear and fighting always, always, for love. and with this tradition comes the honor of speaking. speaking to all the patients currently living the life you once so painfully endured, sitting right where you once sat, believing in the very hopelessness that once threatened to eat you alive.

we stilled our bodies in the very same room that held so many of our hours and days and months, surrounded by new faces. i sat upon that very same couch. and then, it was my time to speak. my thoughts went blank, so i let my heart lead the way.

my heart said that is it an unfathomable honor to be here, alive. my god, how i could never have seen this coming. how i wasn’t different from any tormented soul in that room; not a one of us is too broken, too chronic, too worthless, or too far gone. not a one.

my heart said that we are only as hopeless as we deem ourselves to be. and once you decide yourself otherwise, you are stronger than you could ever know.

my heart said that this world is so beautifully immense and so brimming with opportunity when you realize that you have the strength and worth to still be here, living, for many many years to come. and this heart-wrenching realization fills you with awe over and over and over again. and my god if even at first you are only living to make it to the next of these moments, my god that is enough.

my heart said that my god there is beauty here, and my god there is hope, and light, and life. is it real, it is real, it is real. and you must fight even when there is only emptiness to cling to, until you feel the truth of this world for your own self. fight even when all seems dark and all seems lost, for that is where it truly matters the most.

my heart said that on paper, we could have all died a hundred times over. on paper, we should not be here. but we are. we are, i am, and it is my honor to use this light i have tended within my soul to pay it forward. pay it forward, for all the wondrous souls we have heartrendingly lost along this dark journey already. pay it forward, because all the words in this world could not describe how remarkable this existence can be. full of chaos, full of questions, but so full of marvel. so full of wonder. so full of truth.

my heart said that it is the small choices, day in and day out, even before hope is something that we can fathom, that will lead us to a life of freedom that we could have never believed ourselves worthy of. and it is actions before beliefs, always. always, no matter how paradoxical it may seem, no matter how excruciating it may feel. what we create, we become. 

my heart said that i am not perfect, nor is any soul. and healing feels far, far from beautiful.

my heart said that some days my hopes still run faster than the wind, leaving my yearning body lying in the dust, but that my soul is courageous enough to bring me back.

my heart said that though i am more full than i ever have been, though i drink up more light and more live in more color than i ever thought i was able, i am still nowhere near the end of my journey. but nevertheless, i have a flame within me that knows my direction now. and i am here, alive, for a reason. to bestow the truths of freedom, i shall.

the wings in my heart beat faster than anything in the world as i spoke of the life i am creating. the life where i am departing to india in forty eight hours, as i am strong enough and healed enough to care for and teach children halfway around the world. the life where i am to begin my first internship no sooner than three days after i arrive back home, as i have the honor of being a part of a body positivity and eating disorder awareness organization in a whole new way. this life where i lose my voice amidst the awe of arena concerts, where i eat delicious ice cream with chocolate rocks, where i drink matcha lattes as the rainfall rinses the darkness from my heart. this life where i am left sobbing from the beautiful realization that this humanness is not so terrifyingly wrong indeed, where a treatment center or a hospital bed is no longer the extent of my world, and where a girl whispers the word ‘inspiration’ from across the room as i hold my smooth stone of becoming in my palm.

this life that is really, truly, wholly, beginning to feel like a collection of tethers that i could never, for anything, live without again. a life that could never be more painful than what i endured in the choking depths of my anorexia, and in fact more beautiful than anything i had ever felt before. this light has nowhere to go but forwards. onward. always. becoming. always.

i sit here now, in awe. my one year stone sits beside me as my fighting heart beats within me. my soul is screaming to spread this hope to the farthest corners of this universe, my life is screaming to be lived.

so is yours,

so is yours,

so is yours.

listen.

(for my next post, my words will come to you from seven thousand seven hundred and fifteen miles from my home. get ready. there is so much more yet to be lived.)

IMG_8983

our lives were not destined to be small.

one hundred and twenty calories; tonight, enough to both ravage my mind with shame and yet enough to give me the perspective i so desperately needed to be reawakened. this afternoon, as i sat bathed in the flecked sunlight sifting through our wisteria with my ukulele (named suzy lee) on my knee and the warmth of the day caressing my cheeks, i consumed one hundred and twenty calories that were not forced, not part of my meal plan, not necessary for my survival.

there has been a ceaseless hunger that has continued to dwell within me ever since i once again began to restore my body back to health ten months ago, and today i chose to live into bravery and truth as i felt my hunger and honored its wish. the bravery soon turned to fear all the same, which turned into panic and disbelief, anger and disgust.

it was a paradox, it seemed. the agonizing yearning for freedom from the darkness that had oppressed me for so long, and yet the shame felt when i seemed to be fighting my way onto safer ground. the thirst for life, and yet the anguish over no longer being sick.

but because my soul knew deeply that none of this was ever about any number of calories, i heard the universe whisper, “if you are no longer sick, what are you?”

this pulled at my heart. the churning of my mind began, though i knew that my heart already held the answers.

i am a life that was never destined to be small.

if having a body that takes up more space is the only way to ever have even the possibility of having a life that takes up more space, then so be it.

if fighting through shame that feels like the cutting edge of a knife is the only path to freedom, then so be it.

if every step of the way that feels so plainly wrong could truly be worth something in the end, then so be it.

and this is not to say that any of this is easy. choosing to align our actions with the light often makes our residual dark pieces scream out with fear even louder than ever before, and this is okay. even i, tonight, after choosing to fight for life and truth and feeding myself every ounce and calorie i am prescribed, took to cutting the flesh of my own thigh in the dim light on my cement floor. it is far from easy.

so, sometimes we lose to the darkness, and sometimes we rejoice in the light. sometimes we are too scared to go on, and sometimes we know that continuing is the only choice that we have. we are ultimately all just living, breathing paradoxes.

and every one of us, no matter how much darkness we still carry with us, is unfathomably worthy of a life more vast than we could ever comprehend.

not a single one of our lives was ever destined to be small.

not a one.

i would rather just be human; nothing more, nothing less.

reentering the world without the familiarity of my anorexia was much like emerging at last from the depths of a frigid sea. after fighting so immensely for so so long, i had finally broken the ice that held my breath panicked in my chest and my limbs numb within my shimmering prison, and yet when my head rose to the surface with my whole being screaming for air, i could no longer feel my icebound body. and as i crawled with fear away from the depths i had known much too well, my body began to thaw. and as my body began to thaw, as the feeling in every inch of my vessel returned and began to burn piece by piece from raw and excruciatingly unexpected aliveness, i looked to my body and realized that i was not at all something that i recognized.

and that unrecognizable body terrified me to no end.

as i thawed, i saw a body i had never inhabited in the entirety of my life. as a soul who has been overcome with an eating disorder since the age of twelve, a woman was nothing i have ever been. these parts of a woman’s body that i have been consciously starving away for years finally began to exist amidst my own physical vessel, this body that i decided i could no longer diminish into desolation without choosing to also end my life and yet this body that i knew could never house a woman nor a man nor anything so extreme as the thought itself made me sick, and it was a paradox of more fear than i can describe.

as i thawed, i was presented with a badge of health that bound me crying on floor of my room with shame, and never got easier. with each new month, my body was filled with disgust and betrayal, this secret caught inside of me that i could never speak of to another soul. weeks prior to every every occurrence, nightmares would flood the hours before dawn. dreading, dreading, dreading. i knew i could not endure this every twenty eight days for the remainder of my life.

as i thawed, i was choking on my own wrongness. my god, could this soul that the universe was seemingly demanding me to be simply be mistaken? who am i, if i am not who i am?

i wondered and ached and loathed and searched for answers. am i betraying my own recovery, i screamed within myself, if i choose to identify as something that i am not? is this, this way i was born, what i was meant to be? how could the universe make a soul so uncomfortable in their own identity, their truest home? is there nothing more to this life besides accepting what i am becoming, even if it makes me sick inside? is this what ‘self-acceptance’ is? how can ‘self-acceptance’ end up becoming simply yet another prison?

but my goodness, no.

self-acceptance cannot be simply another cage. self-acceptance is not just one more constraint on the soul. self-acceptance is the holding with grace of all that we are, all that we are not, and all that we may one day be.

therefore, i have decided that until my soul speaks loud enough for me to hear, until i am graced with my own quiet knowing of how my soul yearns to identify in this confusing world, i am going to continue on as a human, simply a human, in the kindest manner i am able.

though i am unsure, i am riddled with shame, i am overwhelmed by my differences and burdened with the immeasurable weight of my ‘off’ pieces, i am going to continue on as the authentic human being that my soul has ceaselessly continued striving to become.

so here i am, existing in my humanness, honoring my discord yet leaving no room for retreat, as this soul will never be anything less than my own single and precious soul, no matter how many labels and identities i must cast off.

i am holding onto hope that it is not me that does not fit the world, it is that i simply have yet to find where my truth shall lead.

and when i am afraid, when the thawing is painful beyond measure and i seem to be leaving myself behind, let me remember that ‘self-acceptance’ is never at the cost of my own ease. if i relinquish my own ability to exist in this skin that is my own, then it is the path to contentment that i must reevaluate, not my soul. let me wear my fathers sweaters if that feels right, and let their warm cotton keep me safe. let me bind my chest if that feels true, and let that release of shame bring me gratitude. let me allow myself to sleep as long as my body yearns for during the days i am overcome by the femininity that i so dissociate from, and let that rest provide the strength to continue fostering this life. let me drink tea and shed salt down my cheeks and allow my soul sisters to remind me that i am still me, my soul is never too broken, or too different, to survive.

let us never be alone in this being, for connection is the most important thing there is and our common humanness is the truest and most genuine label identity any one of us could ever possibly give another soul.

let us thaw, keep what fits, discard our shame along with all of our discordant pieces, and hold everlasting grace for all that we are yet to be.

‘i explain my gender by 

saying i am happiest on the road

when i’m not here nor there,

but in between,

that yellow line coming down

the center of it all

like a goddamn sunbeam.’