Yes, as I said in my last post ‘A is for Anorexia’, it would be ideal to do this whole Alphabet Series thing with some sort of structure – but it’s not going to happen, because I get different ideas for different posts at the most random of times. Apologies if your brain is the OCD type and would prefer if I did it in order! But yeah, not going to happen.
So today I’ve been thinking about the concept of growing up – as in, what a scary thing it is for a lot of people – and I’m not even just talking about people with eating disorders, but lots of people of various ages, male or female. For a lot of us, growing up is terrifying and a very real fear. So at what point do we bite the bullet, so to speak? (ahhhh clichés!!) Or when will we start to take responsibility for our own actions and emotions?
It’s not like this for every single eating disordered individual out there, nor is it really the sole reason for an eating disorders existence – but one thing I found out about myself during the eating disordered period was that I really, really did not want to grow up. I thought that I could not. I thought I was not able. I thought I would fail out there in the big wide world. I was scared of the thought of failing, of letting people down – so an eating disorder ensued. It was an escapism from reality, a distraction, something that could slow down time for me. I carried my blankie around everywhere. I stopped menstruating. I ate food from kids bowls and off teaspoons and drank drinks from kiddie cups because eating from bigger and “scarier” bowls was too hard, too grown up, too much. It was unbearable. The fear of getting older, growing up, was spilling over into my life and gave the eating disorder so much ammunition to use against me.
If you currently have, are in recovery from or have had an eating disorder, you’ve probably heard of the book ‘Wasted’ by Marya Hornbacher. I actually think it’s the most horrifying / beautiful / raw / honest depiction of an eating disorder; it breaks your heart to read it. Anyway. There is much that she says in her book that I love and agree with and because of this, I just want to share a relevant quote with you from her:
“The idea of my future simultaneously thrilled and terrified me, like standing at the lip of a very sheer cliff- I could fly, or fall. I didn’t know how to fly, and I didn’t want to fall. So I backed away from the cliff and went in search of something that had a clear, solid trajectory for me to follow, like hopscotch. ”
― Marya Hornbacher, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia
This quote is an exact representation of how I was feeling throughout my eating disorder (and prior to) – I was so excited to “grow up” and study at university and move out of home and all of those wonderful grown up things – but I was so scared that I’d fail that I recoiled.
(random intermission – I don’t mean to make you jealous or anything, but for supper right now with my cup of tea, I’m eating hokey pokey ice cream with crushed peanuts and maple syrup! BEST)
So essentially, it gets to a point where we have to grow up. Because if we don’t, we stay immature and childish and young forever. We never make decisions for ourselves, we blame others for our emotions, we aren’t responsible human beings. We engage in behaviours that are not age appropriate. It isn’t helpful, right? And honestly, it doesn’t sound particularly fun. Yes, perhaps it seems scary – but I suspect it isn’t as scary as we all might think it is. We don’t grow as people if we don’t grow up, and that needs to be a long-term goal for each and every one of us. And no, it’s not fair if you didn’t really have a childhood, or your childhood sucked or you didn’t have the childhood you deserved – but we still need to persevere in that, we still need to work through that and we still need to grow up somehow – without the childhood. It is a loss however, and we do have every right to grieve it.
There’s also a lot of satisfaction in making change. Today when I got home from college I cleaned my room, took out my rubbish, washed my dishes, cleaned my oven and put an assignment that I did particularly well in on the fridge like a proud mother. I’m at that weird stage in life – learning to be independent, still needing some mentoring sometimes – but that mentoring / mothering etc should be continuing to push me to be independent – it’s a challenge and a half, but we’re getting there. We’re getting there, lovely friends.