Girl Half Empty

//What an odd thing a diary is: the things you omit are more important than those you put in//
- Simone de Beauvoir
/June winner of the diary competition/

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46. //Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom//

30th March

365 days ago I was stood on a commuter train with my hair coiled like a russet python on my head – tamed back with hair spray. Beneath the raincoat and casual clothes I wore my leotard and tights like the second skin they were still permitted to be. An outsized shoulder bag assaulted my left thigh. My insides felt like sprinklers. Fear. Excitement. Ballet. Fear. Excitement. Professional training. London. Fear. Excitement. Future. Station Platform. Fear. Excitement. Ballet. My lungs breathed inside a washing machine and who could rival such ecstasy?

Now I’m standing at a mirror wearing the jogging bottoms that belong to my dance school. Wondering how I do I make myself happy when anxiety has gnawed me into the monster in the glass?

A single photo from a year of devastation. Brother. Field. Evening. Skeleton. Field. Evening. Monster. Field. Evening. Only photo taken in that year of my life. Found by accident. Nauseating. Who needs a horror film when you’ve got memories?

Now I’m standing at a mirror wearing the jogging bottoms that belong to my dance school. Wondering how I do I make myself happy when anxiety has gnawed me into the monster in the glass?

Is this working?

No.

I’ll try again.

FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKI’MSOFUCKINGSCAREDOFTHISSHITTYLIFEANDITSSHITTYUNEXPLAINEDILLNESSANDI’MSOSICKOFNOTSLEEPINGANDNOTKNOWINGANDNOTUNDERSTANDINGANDI’MSOFUCKINGSICKOFBEINGSOFUCKINGSCARED

Haha – wish the school was here to see me. A good Christian girl with a mouthful of someone else’s dirt between the white of my enamel. Ugly that’s too big for a face as shrivelled as mine sits in all the cracks because I’m the mould that leeches off the bathroom taps and I’m the ceiling lamp that the flies go suicide bombing in and I’m the skull on the warning labels – all decomposing like a flower.

FUCKFUCKFUCK

Understand me yet?

No, of course not.

I’m always too cryptic when the metaphors come.

We’re sitting on puffed out leather – punched out rag dolls whose necks are too floppy to bear the weight of the tears that wait above them. Snot on his jumper. We fall to each other’s shoulders, hands, voices…

Dad: It’s OK; they’ll get to the bottom of it.

Me: What if they don’t?

Dad: They will. Eventually. That’s their job.

Me: Eventually?

Dad: If you do have to be admitted then they’ll be able to do tests faster.

Me: What if it’s not fast enough? What if I just keep on loosing until there’s nothing left of me to test?

Dad: Doctors try pretty hard to save kids’ lives, you know.

And I’m a bad person because it takes me three days from that doctors waiting room to realise that, when he says this, he’s thinking about the dementia dividing up his mother’s mind and the mutant cells casting lots over his father’s prostate.

No, not working.

Sometimes honesty means removing the craft.

Take away the subtlety.

Facts.

• I lost weight.
• It was an accident.
• We thought it was because I was going to be a dancer and this year was going to be the year that I finally, finally waved goodbye to academia and satisfied my ancient heart with vocational training and so this year was the year that I trained five hours a day on top of living the active way my parents brought me up to.
• And there was the cold.
• And the paper-round.
• And the school stress.
• And the grandparent stress.
• I noticed it at Christmas.
• Thought I could solve it alone by eating more.
• Ate more.
• No ground regained.
• Brought it up with my parents in January.
• They’d sort-of-noticed too but couldn’t bring themselves to believe.
• They trimmed my training and bulked out my packed lunch.
• Thought I’d be sorted by February.
• March and I gained a little back from the stranger who was pulling my life out from under my feet.
• March and I felt my world shrink as the number of things I could do and places I could go was sent through a mangle that constricted the windpipe of my ballet career.
• I lay in bed and cried, said I knew I was being ungrateful for what I had but I felt like the guy in that film we watched at Christmas, the French one about the man who can only move one eye ‘le papillon’ inside his ‘scaphandre’.
• March and I lost 6 pounds in a week.
• Completely unexplained.
• March and I became a test specimen.
• March and I passed out two weeks running in the phlebotomy department.
• March and this morning may well be the last time I…


This is taking too long so I’ll rush the last bit.

In a horrific parody of my brother’s eating disorder, I am currently physically unable to gain or even maintain weight. I am trying. Desperately. I have had to dismantle my plans for this year and put the one constant source of comfort and happiness in my life in the bin. I fucking hate my reflection. I hate seeing people I know because I look vampiric and sunken. I am costing my parents the world in grocery shopping and still the wasting continues. I have an armada of blood tests, a chest scan and an ultrasound lined up. I can’t make plans for my Easter holidays because if I have lost weight today at my appointment then I will spend my Easter holidays in a children’s hospital. I am costing my parents the world in emotional exhertion. I will potentially also cost them the world in hospital parking. I can’t do anything. I can’t go anywhere. So I just sit and think. Only I don’t; I sit and panic about my messed up body and everything it entails.

A final word:

There are three labels I do not want you to assign me and these are ‘anorexic’, ‘attention seeking’ and ‘lucky’.

I have seen anorexia. I am not in denial. I am not it. I know this because it is what I was scared of being, my doctor has told me that I am not.

I do not seek attention. I am telling you a winters’ worth of truths I have failed to tell you. I am warning you why I have not been and may not be very active on this sight.

I am blessed with two wonderful parents and an exceptionally wonderful dad but there is nothing lucky about having a BMI of 14.8. There is nothing lucky about being skinny and next time you wish for a thigh gap I hope you remember that last Sunday I cried in the shower because I realised that, when my hair was wrapped up in a towel and I wore my tomboyish old pyjamas, nobody would have been able to tell if I was a boy or a girl. I hate my smile because it no longer looks like mine. It’s shrivelled. I don’t use it much these days anyway.
 

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