“Eating” is an ancient tradition.
Preparation is holy, and meals are sacred. Food is not simply consumed: it is sacrificed.
This is a ritual of self care. It allows us to indulge in living rather than struggle through survival.
Anonymous’ preaching was easy to listen to when I had already lost faith in Ellie.
Anonymous never celebrates, she mourns.
Anorexia is a cult that seeks to punish, but Recovery is a religion.
“What have you done to be nice to yourself this week, Ellie?”
I find it hard to be nice to Ellie, because Anonymous has conditioned me to believe that she is sinful.
A requirement in the rites of Recovery is meditation on the positive aspects of yourself. Reteaching myself to see the good in Ellie is frustrating because light and shadows move in pairs: I am blinded by darkness.
“They’re unhappy. It must be my fault.”
“What did I do wrong there?”
“You’re useless Ellie. Useless.”
Surely, not everything is in my control. Not everything is my responsibility, so why am I torturing myself?
The rituals in recovery require practice to become habit.
The pilgrimage to the kitchen allows me planning time, so that I can carry out the “Eating” ceremony safely. Measures are put in place to dilute the corrosive conviction that I am breaking an Anonymous commandment by eating.
Quantities are important: I must have enough to appease Ellie, but little enough to keep Anonymous dormant. I have to eat in peace: food must be revered. Nothing disrupts a ceremony more than interrupting anxiety.
Eating still feels sinful. The myriad of tastes and textures that are unleashed upon my tongue never ceases to shock me. When you’ve been starving, everything tastes delicious.
Is it really so indulgent to expect to be treated well?
This week saw me carry out a blasphemous act against Anorexia: I celebrated my 21st birthday. I celebrated Ellie.
Months of torment lead up to the date. Anonymous walked me through images of university halls, carving the scars in my memory deeper. She talked me into the future and the catastrophes that would surely take place; the many expectations from other people that I would never live up to. She offered me the power to climb into people’s heads, and presume to know what they were thinking. She showed me the selfishness of taking up a whole day in the calender.
On the 22nd November, she was silenced by shock. I have never felt more loved than I did on that day.
Knowing I would never be able to face an actual cake, my parents put candles into a bunch of flowers and made a birthday “cake”.
We had a quiet evening where I managed to eat in front of my grandparents. I was able to enjoy their company and forget for a moment what I was putting in my mouth, and why.
The card my friends at work gave me touched Ellie: surely, she must be doing something right.
I did something to celebrate on that day to: I told Ellie I was proud of her.
I am proud that she let me sit still for an hour and write this blog post.
I am proud that she nudged her BMI up to 14.6.
I am proud that she can climb all 14 steps at work and not collapse.
I am proud that she made it to her 21st birthday: in June, it didn’t seem likely I’d make it here.
In Recovery, I am able to mark the passing of time with the gift of time. With ‘the present’ in question: it is the thought that counts.
The gift of thought Ellie gives me is tearing me away from Anorexia’s sadistic cult, and I am proud.
That is what counts.