My relationship with writing goes way back. I taught myself how to write before I learned how to read. From that time on, I have felt a chill in my bones: I must write what I see. I must write what I feel. Of course, I enjoy writing. But to me, it has felt like a mandate as well. My writing style has morphed between creative and academic writing throughout my life. It has also been nuanced to include my passion about mental illness and mental health issues, especially eating disorders. I write for myself, but I also write so that others will understand my experiences and more about the beautiful chaos of life.
While writing has always been a part of my life, I have been plagued with the contradictory but simultaneous message that I am not good enough for anything, much less to write. I am broken and scarred. I can’t pretend that my life is bubble gum and rainbows and butterflies. Many “eating disorder recovery” sites and books read like a travel brochure or ” a secret society with an even more secret handshake,” as Carrie Arnold astutely remarks in her blog. I feel that such positivity can be minimizing and shaming. Moreover, it leaves me with the sense that until I am fully better, fully recovered, and frankly, perfect, I don’t have anything to say.
I have faced this message in the church as well. I have heard testimonies of people who God has healed, people who have prayed to God and have received powerful miracles. I rejoice in the work God does in others’ lives, but it leaves me with the nagging sensation: Why has healing alluded me when I’ve prayed for it for so long? God, where are you in this?
In telling people about my pain, I have encountered quite the range of responses. I have been blessed with many amazing people in my life who sit with, love, and accept me. Others have turned to advice-giving and trying to “fix” the problem. While I love psychology and the rationale behind what I do, and while I love theology, concentrating on “fixing” the problem rather than hearing me is missing the point. I am less concerned with the answers than the questions.
When I read this article, called “Testimonies of the Not-Yet Healed,” I was really blown away. As Marya Hornbacher wrote in Wasted, “still there are holes and you you are a rag doll, invented, imperfect.” I am not “whole and happy.” I am not healed completely, convinced that I will never never never NEVER relapse again. Despite that, perhaps I still have something to say.
Writing my thoughts requires being vulnerable and honest, and I hope to provide a space in which I can accomplish just that.