When I was sixteen, I thought I had to be perfect. I thought I was an adult. My years of having the priviledge of growing up were over.
I was wrong.
The term 'adult anorexia' came to my attention recently, but that's not what you have at sixteen. When I was sixteen, I was still a child. And I wish I had known that.
I wish someone had said: You are so young.
I needed - how do I put this - to be whole. I needed a perfect moment, one frozen in time, where I would be at my lowest weight, and finally good enough. There would be a perfect moment, one where I would have starved just the right amount. A perfect moment where I was empty, disappearing. Erased from earth.
I wish I had been told that there is no perfect, that the body is not an erasure.
There was a moment at the lake in the summer I turned sixteen when my sister took a picture of me in my bathing suit. She said, I can't take any more pictures. You're too thin. You look sick.
I wish I had been told that there is a lifetime ahead of me, in which to thrive, to be well.
There was a moment at an apple orchard in the summer I turned sixteen, where I watched as a fully grown man ate an apple cider donut in one bite. And I was so stunned that I rudely stopped to stare. How could he justify those calories? He had just consumed more calories than I had in the past week.
I wish I had been told that eating does not need to be justified.
There was a moment in the summer I turned sixteen when I was eating dinner on my grandparents' couch, and it was steak. Red meat was horrifying, and fattening. So I hid the steak in a napkin in the couch cushions. There was no purity in getting fat.
I wish I had been told that there is no purity in shedding weight.
I wish someone had told me to take a deep breath in, and shed my fear of myself.
I wish I had known that moments would never last
That, instead, they’d be memories in passing time
Some fading, some thriving, but all passed
I wish, younger me understood the importance
Of time itself
Cruel, yet merciful
Constantly aluding my grasp
I wish they’d told me
Savoring moments would sweeten the memories
I wish I had known not to label myself.
We place so much importance on labels.
It seems to a human condition to categorise and reduce groups into organised boxes.
At first, I tried to discover who I was, and when that failed I tried to become someone who was close to that but easier to explain in a few sentences.
That definition never suited me.
I kept changing it and reviewing it.
I kept looking for that perfect label.
A word that described me in an easily understandable way.
Some words fitted: feminist, skeptic, dreamer, atheist, writer.
Other words never did.
I have never found that label.
I wish I had not spent so much of my later life looking for it.
At the end of the day, I am just plain, old me and there's only one word that sums that up: Strange.
I wish I had learned what it was like to be touched by a man. I wish I knew that not all men are kind and not all touches are the gentle caress that novels romanticize. I wish I knew how to decipher the signs and the clues that were seemingly spoken in a different language. I wish I knew that it is not unusual for a man to hurt a woman. For a man to disrespect her and take advantage of her. I wish someone had told me that he wasn't the man I thought he was. I wish someone would tell me it wasn't my fault. Maybe I could have known that no one would believe me, and no one would support me. Maybe I would understand that what happened to me was traumatic, as I am told I have PTSD. The diagnosis doesn't surprise me, but I can't help but wonder what would have happened if someone had told me my worth and my rights as a woman. I wonder what would have happened if I had screamed rather than lying frozen in fear, surrounded by my sleeping friends. Maybe someone will tell girls someday that a man will come along and promise them the world but warn them that they can also take it all away.
If Wishes Were Horses
I wish they’d told me that it would hurt
That I would eat my fair share of dirt
To watch the horizon and stay alert
For the looming demons with which I flirt
I wish they’d told me that it would hurt.
I wish they’d told me I’d be alone
That in solitude I was destined to roam
To find my own way miles from home
Or wither and fall to dust and bones
I wish they’d told me I’d be alone.
I wish they’d told me I was naïve
Thinking companions would never leave
That of compassion I’d be thieved
And left to choke til’ I can’t breathe
I wish they’d told me I was naïve.
I wish they’d told me not to be surprised
When people turned traitor, hurt and lied
That selflessness and love had died
And given way to greed, sloth, and pride
But if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
she should have stayed
god told me she was sorry for leaving.
she said it the way parents do
after you’ve gone through rehab twice
and tried to become a ghost.
there is the afterthought of remorse.
an absent chord of love in a song she sang
as a lullaby for children, not citizens
of a world strangled by human hands.
she didn’t experience withdrawal or the
needle piercing parched, freckled skin.
no, she doesn’t know much of us at all -
too busy getting lost in stardust and void.
i don’t think forgiveness is a right and
absence hurts worse than a wrong guide -
but if the stars were done calling her away
i had to tell her to try being a parent again.
sometimes, being there is all it takes.