Friday, March 6, 2009

Not myself

After I've finished reading something on BitterGrace Notes or Smells Like Boi, I often think I shouldn't write. Both bloggers are such beautiful writers. Truth be told - their skills intimidate me. Yet, I must remind myself that there are many different styles of writing and ways of expressing oneself.

I hesitate to say that I write the way I think. This may sound odd, but as I meditate more, I feel as if I don't think about things all that much. Until I put voice or word to any thoughts, the thoughts waft through my mind like fast moving clouds.

I allow myself to write stream of consciousness and it's rare that I edit (as if that weren't obvious). I once participated in a short writing workshop that turned out to be about how to turn off one's internal editor. I thought, "I haven't got one!" We were told to write something as fast as possible in ten minutes. I spewed out pages and pages of nonsense. This reminds me that I sent an editor two rough drafts way back in July and haven't heard a thing from him. It's damned impolite.

See? Those last two sentences weren't on topic. But I am loathe to change. I feel as if I'd be giving up something honest about myself if I did. I don't practice the art of writing. I'm just talking to myself and letting you in on it.

Oddly, this was supposed to be the introduction to a post on anorexia. Now that seems too sudden a shift. But is it really? My allowing myself to write just as I am is related to my allowing myself to accepting myself just as I am, isn't it?

Anorexia is the antithesis of being just as one is. It is the ultimate control. Those who haven't experienced it may think that a person who stops eating has lost control of themselves (or their minds). But, most people who have had anorexia report a deep sense of satisfaction at having mastered their appetite. It feels like a triumph.

When I had nothing in my refrigerator but bottles of sparkling water and wore a size 0 pair of pants, I felt unconquerable. I also sported a crewcut. At my thinnest, I shaved my head clean. The androgyny made me feel powerful, too. Even at 5'1", I could pass for a young man and often did. Seeing my bones through my skin looked beautiful to me. I loved my sharp hip bones and the way slinky fabrics draped over them. Never mind that I had so little padding that I got bruises on those hipbones all the time and it hurt to sit on my bony backside. I felt like the master of my little universe.

Once a week I would meet with another anorexic friend and we would go to TCBY to eat frozen yogurt. It was our big, naughty treat. She was stricter than I, for she'd get the yogurt with the imitation sugar in it. I never would use that stuff. In the midst of slowing killing myself, I cared about not putting fake sugar in my body!

I didn't think I was killing myself. Not in the least. I have never believed that there was such a thing as "denial." I always thought that if a person was in the grips of an addiction or a behavior that was bad for them, they knew it. They just didn't want to or weren't able to stop. I was wrong. I had no idea that I was anorexic. I looked in the mirror and thought I looked gorgeous; like a model! I was photogenic for the first time in my life. A friend took a picture of me when I had bleached my hair. I looked a bit like David Bowie. It astounded me. Here I was, a woman who had always been plump, who had been teased for being fat and being busty when I was in elementary school, and I looked like a model or a rock star. Finally!

What I didn't know is that my doctor was planning on doing an intervention on me if I didn't stop losing weight. She was constantly encouraging me to gain a few pounds. I thought she was nuts. Me? I needed to gain weight? I'm not too thin! It was impossible for me to believe.

The intervention never happened, for I did start gaining weight. My love of food finally got to me. See? Even now, I couch the end of my anorexia with a phrase that implies that the end of being thin was something bad. I'll write it again: my love of food finally got to me. You see, a part of me still longs to be that thin. Maybe not that thin, but thin enough not to think I look like crap from the side or feel that I must wear a high turtleneck to cover my double chin. No, I'm not over this by a long shot.

I agree with my whole being when I read about being a "ferocious crone" on BitterGrace's blog. Yet, these demons still haunt me when I'm struggling to get into a pair of jeans or look at a photograph of myself. Other times, I must admit, I look in the mirror and just see me, a person whom I like.

Photo note: Somehow it seems unfair to Annie Lennox to put her face at the top of this post. I searched, in vain, for a painting that spoke to me. Then I typed the word "adrogyny" into Google, found this photo, so lovely, and said "this is it." No, Annie Lennox didn't have anorexia, as far as I know. She had a beautiful, shapely body. I thought the contrast of her womanly form and her adrogynous style was "to die for" (though I've never uttered those words in my life). In order to be more like her, and less like myself, I starved myself. No, not to be Annie Lennox exactly, but she was my ideal. She is gorgeous. And she is gorgeous still. I will find a recent photo of her to post, but not tonight. Tonight, I am done.


TMC said...

Unconquerable. Hmm.

You've just given me an idea...

jmcleod76 said...

There you go swelling my head again. it's bad enough you do it on my blog. Now on yours, too?

Anyway, you write wonderfully. Really. I have very little tolerance for bad writing. My inner snob kicks in and I lose interest.

I actually admire you. I spend way too much time analyzing almost every little word choice. It makes me feel a bit impotent. I can turn a pretty phrase, but I don't feel like I have anything worthwhile to say. You, on the other hand, are frequently posting the kinds of observations here that make me stop and think. That's why I plague you so much when ou try to take a day or two off.

chayaruchama said...

Dearest Julie-

Even the lovely Annie has her demons...

Recently seeing an image of her, it became apparent that one helluva lot of dental work, and 'face-pulling' had occurred [this makes me unspeakably sad, though I try to understand her and appreciate her struggles].

You're a remarkable woman.

Control issues are extremely potent; the fact that we can exercise some measure of control-Draconian as it may be-
Over our sorry-ass lives, is intoxicating and sings the Lorelei song...

I remember being in my early 20's- School full-time, work full-time, teaching / weight-lifting/ translating / Macrobiotic -on-the-side...
Family ramming down my gullet, full of dicouragement.
Getting straight A's, being 5'7'', and 90 lbs.
I slept 3 hours a night- MAYBE.

So very proud of every bit- Especially my toothpick status.
[And the fact that- to this day- folks assumed I was in the dance department of the conservatory- NOT the opera dept.]

Looking back on those photos, I wince.
But that doesn't stop me- on occasion- from wondering how I'd look in that tiny siver silk cheongsam I used to pour myself into.

Love of life pulled me back.
Some marvellous instinct that whispered non-disparaging thoughts.

Life's ironies threw me many curves after that.
Horrendous illnesses, accidents, catastrophies.

I think those evil things SAVED me...I DO.

Bless you, dear lady.

chayaruchama said...

OH. BTW...[ she said]...

All we have- is OUR OWN VOICE.

I'll never be Maria, or Mary, or Renee, or Elena, or Denyse-
Or many of my beloved, talented writer-friends.

I'll be ME-
The loving, raunchy, profoundly thoughtful, silly, bawdy , serious empath leaking breastmilk.

Dayenu !

[Ditto, for you, sweetie]

BitterGrace said...

I know it's kind of annoying of me to say this, but I actually find your writing a little intimidating. You write beautifully, and I can tell that much of what you write flows from you with a natural mastery. My own writing process is ugly and labored. My first drafts always shame me, and I never stop finding fault with everything I write.

I actually think feeling a little discouraged when we see other people's work is a good thing. It means we give a shit, we've got standards, we know we have something to say and we care about saying it. Just don't stop writing. (Somehow, I think you won't.)

Everything you wrote about the anorexia resonates with me. My own starving years were complicated with a boatload of other problems, but there is absolutely a high that is addictive, at least in the early stages. People who have never felt the hunger rush have a hard time understanding its allure, but it is incredibly powerful.

Annie Lennox is indeed beautiful. I remember the first time I saw her, on MTV about a million years ago. She just blew me away.