Anorexia: An open letter to my body
I wracked my brain for hours trying to think of a punchy, snappy opening line for this piece, but at the end of the day, the only thing I can say – the only thing I can really, truly say with both honesty and conviction – is thank you.
I’ve made myself your enemy for the past eight years, and you still swaddle me with remarkable loyalty every single day.
There were times during the height of my anorexia that I burned with turmoil and yearned to step right out of my skin and flee far from myself. You were there every step of the way, a tightly zipped body bag of familiarity. You – you and our incredible, lifelong history – seasoned me with the key ingredients of recovery: determination, strength, hope, power and belief.
Mind and body: we should work together in perfect harmony. But we don’t; we’re at war. Or rather, my mind is at war with you, continuously scorching you with its flames of despair, fear and resentment.
You whither in its wake, shaking slightly, but you never back down. You pacify The Voice, dousing it with gentle strokes of wisdom.
The battle rages on; two forces baring their teeth under a rain cloud of lava.
I have detrimentally expressed my hatred towards you for so many years. I’ve been creative and venous in my quests to demonstrate my inner rage, which I valiantly direct at you. I’ve blamed you for everything: all I was, all I wasn’t, all I wanted to be, all I didn’t want to be, and everything in-between.
I’ve called you names.
I’ve massively underappreciated you.
I’ve judged you, and made it okay for others to do the same.
I’ve rendered you to worthlessness.
I’ve done my very best to break you.
You’ve put up with so much, and have endured quite a beating. Still you stand tall. You’re the unrelenting backbone of the wilting sunflower that has, on occasion, been my life.
You quietly adhere to all of my crazy ideas, demands and expectations. You always give 100%, and you never complain or protest.
You have survived 200 calorie days, excessive exercise in all manner of conditions and weathers, physical and mental torture of the self-inflicted kind, heart racing panics, lack of sleep, constant bullying from the voice within, and inconsistent and dramatic eating patterns.
You ran a full marathon in three and a half hours without any training. You run a half marathon every weekend, and somehow you just keep on delivering the results I so selfishly crave.
I ask you to run faster, further, more often, on less fuel, and you do it. You do it all.
I’m sorry for everything I’ve ever put you through, and all of the betrayal I continue to inflict.
You are not the enemy. You don’t make me sick. My mind is the route of the infection, and it’s engraved so intricately now. It’s in every breath I take, it’s laced within the base of my every thought, and it’s the driving force in every step I surrender to.
It forces its way under my closed eyelids as I sleep and pollutes my dreams. It dictates every single thing I do, what I say, how I act.
The exhaustion you must feel…
I don’t know how you do it.
I’m in admiration of you.
I think of the miles we’ve travelled together, mentally and physically, the countless days we’ve shared, the secrets I’ve whispered into your galaxy.
You ignite my veins with an inner calmness, even in those wide-eyed moments of terror.
You infuse my brain with ambition, reminding me of your very being; our shared purpose.
You send a flurry of dreams and hopes drifting peacefully across my blazing mind like clouds, each one so close I can hear their whispering words of encouragement: don’t give up.
You bless my legs with the incentive to run. Maybe there have been times when my obsession with exercise could have been perceived as wrong, but now, you grant me with that freedom, that power.
You held my hand as my feet were set free and skipped towards the edge of that boat in Ibiza: the boat I leaped off into the middle of the ocean. In that moment, you were my bravery and my liberty, cementing a moment of inner release that I’ll never forget.
You take me to all of the places and countries I desire, opening my eyes to the addiction of life.
You are my canvas, and I’m the artist. Through you, I’m able to express myself via so many invigorating and enhancing channels. I can dress you to reflect my personality. I can position you accordingly to portray my mood. I use you to love, to project my thoughts into reality, to throw my head back and release raptures of laughter.
You’re beautiful; a star cloth of sheer wonder draped over protruding bones, holding me together. From the white lines on my thighs – my war paint – to the internal and external scars… You’re unique – eternally and brilliantly so.
You gift me with life, even when I’m determined to reject it.
You are miraculous.
Cara Jasmine Bradley ©
Extract taken from Cara’s book ‘Running For My Life: An Anorexia memoir & Self Help Guide’.
Cara is a blogger who writes honest accounts of anorexia battles and recovery as well as poetry, running and travel. You can visit her website at www.carajasminebradley.com