“Imagine a piece of string.”
Here we go. Alright, piece of string in mind.
“Focus only on that piece of string.”
“Allow your thoughts to drift. Notice how fluidly they move through time.”
That’s because time knows it’s being wasted.
“Hold the string between your fingers.”
Impossible, but ok.
“Focus on what the string looks like.”
A mess. Just like everything else in here.
“Focus on what the string feels like.”
For heaven’s sake.
“Notice whilst you focus on the string, your thoughts are allowed to drift.”
Thank you, string, for your permission.
“As you experience this moment, no reaction and no judgment is needed.”
Bare judgement for dictatorial string.
Time to let this one go, I think. Focusing on the moment is not harnessing me out of the catastrophe of the future. Perhaps it simply isn’t for me.
Anorexia is about obedience, not beauty.
Anonymous is racial. She judges on sight not sense: all I see is black and white. What I think I see, is what is.
Thinking is a reckless occupation, and I am tethered to extremity.
There seems to be magic in food: it is giving Ellie the reigns to think.
Ah, but here is a problem. I can’t hold them. There are too many strings attached too many feelings attached to too much. Anonymous anticipates this is the future: “too much”. So she begins to tug at them.
Meals tangle me in a war on time.
I won’t eat lunch if I miss my lunch “time”.
The gap of opportunity draws nearer but wracks my nerves deeper. I’m going to miss it, tug I’m going to miss it. Tug.
You missed it. You’re too late. Tug.
You’ll have to do without.
I have cried too many times at work because I know I have been given my break too late, and I know I won’t eat. I know a hunger high will creep up on me and rip the threads of thought from my grip. I know this because I can see it: in black and white. The predictability of an unseen future.
Ordering a coffee has become an ordeal: I am a barista’s worst nightmare.
I watch their every move as they perform behind the coffee machine. Wipe the spout; slam the buttons; pour, pour, drip.
Tug. “Is that milk really skinny? Check.”
Anonymous has to track the movement of milk from carton to jug to mug, or I shan’t drink it. A nerve will be plucked if I am distracted, because I am sure I will have missed the slip of a finger that laces the coffee with fat malice. Tug. I’ll be forced to walk away, leaving the steaming cup free and untouched on the table.
Anonymous’ twitching fingers are still dangling me from my strung up nerves. We haven’t lost our touch: in wartime, we can still perform self control.
The science is simple: my body literally has no way of defending itself. Ellie has to react by seeing the threat in everything.
I can’t hear pity when I look for criticism.
I can’t experience comfort if I am weary of pain.
I can’t see sense when I look for it, because it has become tangled in a web of confusion. I am clutching at straws, trying to remember what you’re meant to do with pride, with discomfort, with worry.
The power surges of adrenaline are violent tug thunderous with rage that Ellie let them be starved out for so long. Tug.
My mind’s eye has been blinded by sharp stabbing hormones, and I can’t recognise a single feeling Ellie hurls at me.
Everything is just a tangle of flashing black and white warnings; hazards; triggers. And so much tugging.
I need help eating away at these strings, I need help slackening the leash around Ellie. Every new challenge I am presented with jerks me out of control. An increase – tug – a weigh in –tug– a grumpy customer –tug– or a loud noise.
My doctor turned to me at my clinic this week, looked into the eye of this tangled mess, and told me she trusted me. She said she knows I want to recover Ellie.
I really, really want to help Ellie.
To do that, I need to learn to be nice. I need to recover her, not entice her.
I did something brave this week: I had a bath. Anonymous hates baths: just the thought of a steamy session of wallowing in fragrant peace sends her into a flaming fury.
But I did it, and it felt nice. That much I could recognise and handle.
Nobody thinks straight: strings of thought are too flimsy. They snake around us protectively in reaction to what we see, or think we see.
I am not trying to straighten out my thinking patterns, just liberate them.
If I can relax these strings of obedience they will look like guidelines, not lifelines.