MY HEART BRINGS ME UP OFF THE FLOOR

Photo: Amani Omejer

Photo: Amani Omejer

Over the last eight years, I’ve danced with the act of making myself sick — I’ve danced with Bulimia.

I hate labels but, on paper, I guess that’s what it is.

During peak hangouts with this vile thing, it would happen at least three times a day — I was lost in a whirlwind of consumption and release.

But during quieter times, it’s been just a few times a year — feelings of desperateness and disgust flooding my system, leaving the fridge and the bathroom as, seemingly, the only logical places to go.

I lean over the toilet, elbows on the edge, fingers in my mouth. My teeth jar against the skin of my knuckles, bits breaking open. My back reaches upwards, and sinks downwards. My throat heaves open, aching. The roof of my mouth stings, burning. My stomach holds on, turning.

My heart longs for me to stop but my head eggs me on.

As I write this, I can’t believe I’ve done this — and sometimes do it — to myself.

It’s such a paradoxical experience — the thought of making myself sick leaves half of me craving and the other half of meshivering. I’m mixed with anger and frustration that I choose not to use it to cope as much as I used to, and utter relief and gratitude that I don’t.

I’ve found other ways to deal with moments of overwhelming isolation, helplessness, and pain.

Making myself sick can so easily feel like an act of love — I’m offering myself a way of coping. It’s a chance to revisit the safe, but agonizingly painful, place I knew for so long. I’m offering my inner rage and whirling hatred, the gift of release. It’s a chance to cover my crippling worries with a blanket of escape.

It’s an opportunity to numb the desperate grief for my un-mothered childhood, and the deep longing for a mum I have now. I’m offering myself some time off from the work of cultivating self-love and self-compassion I’ve been so dedicated to doing.

When the tsunami of excruciating feelings, and the team of self-hating gremlins, feel impossible to mindfully notice, I can give myself this gift — the gift of making myself sick.

The rush of adrenaline that comes from the process is huge — it’s an addiction. I’ve never gotten into drugs, but this feels like my shot of heroin, my spoon of crack.

It’s my hit of B.

When I use it, revisit it, after not doing it for a long time, I feel like I’ve come home. I’ve got my shit together. I can cope. In a storm of feeling painfully lost and isolated, I feel like things are going to be okay.

I feel frustrated that I hadn’t done it sooner.

But I feel so so alone — so much more alone than I did beforehand.

Despite the sales pitch my mind can so easily and effectively give, seconds after I stop, everything feels so much more complex than it did before. The idea that it was a gift to myself goes out the window.

I freak out because I know the revisiting of this old act isn’t okay.

The come-down — the waves of shame, regret, self-disgust, embarrassment, fear, a longing for things to be different, and a desperate need for help — suddenly flood my system. I wonder whether it’s really worth the heartbreak.

What always brings the spell of kneeling-beside-the-toilet to an end is my heart bursting open and my tears filling buckets. I suddenly stop because I hear my heart telling me I deserve more.

I stop because I begin to listen — my heart’s voice is no longer drowned out with adrenaline.

My heart brings me back up, off the floor.

During the half hour leading up to the last relapse, my inner girl sat in shock and fear as she witnessed what was happening. She was about to be wounded and she could see it coming.

She watched in terror as the adrenaline flooded my system and rid me of any clear and rational thoughts. The B-Gremlins were more convincing than thought or feeling of self-love.

The part of me that seemingly needed this act of self-destruct had a tighter hold than the part of me offering gentleness, compassion, or kindness.

I thought my journey with B was over a couple of years ago, but last year I took myself by surprise and did it twice. Then two months ago, I did it every day for a week.

It turns out that my journey with B isn’t over, and it probably never will be, completely. It will always be there as an option, because I’ve done it before.

That’s enough to make me never do it again, but it’s also enough for me to have it stashed in my cupboard of comfort as a resource I can head back to when I can’t find, face, or be fucked with, mindfulness, love or compassion.

It just depends on the moment — on where I’m at, how I’m feeling supported (internally and externally), how loudly the self-destructive gremlins are yelling, how strongly my self-hatred has a hold, and how deeply I trust and believe the voices telling me that I deserve things to be different.

I feel embarrassed that it’s something I deal with, and I long for it to be something I can sweep under the carpet. But beneath the embarrassment, is a compassion, an understanding, and a relief, that I let it speak.

My journey with B, is just like my journey with my wounding: complex and confusing, but able to be healed and forgiven.

And loved.

Originally published on Rebelle Society.