You’ve lived in its gentle, dark shroud for much of this year. It had little pockets of light sewn into the material, and you found them to be a thousand stars
new ways of thinking, learned and relived
fractured mirrors, reflecting back your face on a thousand more assumptions.
But you can’t live under that black and silver shroud forever.
This year has been about Reality. The grey, the bruised sky, the cold rain. It’s been about finally facing the fact that you’re an adult, with responsibilities that can’t be turned from, as was your wont in youth. Closing your eyes doesn’t make the world go away. It also doesn’t make it any easier to bear. The darkness isn’t so hard to find, but it can’t hide any of us forever.
You stood in the park today, looking out over the water and the birds, the murder-sky and the rain lancing in on a wind that stashed itself under your skin and bled out your eyes. You cried them raw, cried your face off, on a day where reality was Alone, as never fully appreciated before. Three times the charm, this year. You haven’t learned your lesson. Haven’t or didn’t. It doesn’t matter anyway.
Reality is that cold rain on the face. It’s knowing what must be done, and how and when, then forgetting to stop. It’s walking into town to go shopping, and coming back with an empty bag. It’s knowing that you can’t fall on your own sword, for the ones it would leave behind; you might be there with the worms and the dark, the no-thought and no-feeling, but this won’t apply to those who might still care. You find this notion amusing and self-pitying by turns, but it’s also a reality, for They have told you so, insomuch as words and actions can.
You’ve lost as much as you threw away. Only yourself to blame.
Walking through that park with the wind and rain and turmoil in your hair, wet on the face, aching chest, and wondering What the hell was the point? Of getting well, of recovering from anorexia, if only to feel like this?
Then laughing at yourself, because to live is to feel. There was the stillness and the pale years of existence before, and you can’t return to them, because you know too much now. Where do we find ourselves, in a kaleidoscope of falling shards, of cutting ourselves again and again?
So. Reality is going home. It’s washing the rain and tears and makeup off your face, getting back into bed, and sleeping some more. So soothing on tired eyes that sting from the night before, and make others stare through the rain, for their halos of red. It’s waking up, hungover and staring out of the skylight at a bruised sky, but the rain has slackened off somewhat.
You finally know what Barnes meant today. And you sympathize, wishing it could be as easy as that.
(Hearts don’t really harden to grief; they just freeze it, waiting for the next thaw.)
And it will come, because you never could shut the world out for long.
This is my pseudo-wisdom, nostalgic truth, reality check.
This is waking up, putting on fresh makeup and cleaning the house, getting on with things that must be done, though the Christmas cheer makes me sick to the stomach, and I can’t bear to see so many people together, especially those with the smiles that say
I am not really here.
I sympathize with them, too.
But the world doesn’t stop because you feel as though your heart might, as though a year has broken you. It hasn’t.
We’re all still here.
Edit: Part 2 (28.12.2013)
I don’t normally hold with these annual round-up of events. One thing anorexia has taught me over the years, is that nothing truly ends. Things roll over, one year bleeding to the next. No matter how important the meeting, how anticipated the holiday or significant the birthday, the illness wouldn’t grant a reprieve just because there were expectations of Normality to be met.
This used to hurt inside, damaging my hope. I’ve learned now to be realistic. Life has a habit of accordion-pleating on itself, bringing back around events, thoughts and feelings that you thought had been laid to rest.
I’ve discovered an ambitious side, long dormant because of the anorexia. It’s meant giving up certain things that I thought would be around forever, and that pain doesn’t leave in a hurry. I don’t like being fatalistic about things; it denotes a lack of choice to say “some things were / weren’t meant to be.” But finding my voice online, whether speaking through others (who put things far better than I could) or in writing the sort of articles I never dreamed myself capable of … It’s been the key to a wider world, which I secretly longed for.
I have one in particular to thank for that – for drawing me in and showing that this strange conveyor belt of words and pictures isn’t all just the silliness I assumed it to be. It’s engaging, and full of real lives. People with feelings, to be explored and taken for granted by turns. I’ve been as guilty of this as any. Time becomes something that we juggle between the place where our minds go, and where our bodies and “real” commitments are.
I’ve found in myself an unexpected capacity for love, and cruelty. There are so many facets to friendship, which in my naivety I had no idea about. Nonetheless, they – you – have all kept me going, despite my negligence at times, which comes with a grin-grimace and a desire to be everywhere at once. I suspect others have learned their own hard lessons. To those I’ve hurt, I can only say – I’m sorry. I understand.
But as Sofie Bird (@sofie_bird), a Twitter friend, put it recently: “Reaching out to someone with 140 characters can sometimes help as much as a hug or a shoulder.”
If that’s not reason enough to become involved in social media, I don’t know what is.