When did it all begin?
I struggle to find the answer. And does it really matter in the scheme of things? I'm not sure. I am bombarded with memories that swim in front of me and present themselves with pressing urgency. I recall brief moments in time where the word "anorexia" was not a thought in my mind, but the basis of that terrible disease had already begun to take hold in the subtlest of ways.
If I allow myself to go back in time, I recall always being a skinny child. This was brought to my attention, not so much by mirrors, but by the people that were part of my early life. "Skinny" was always a good thing—something to be proud of. "Skinny" was an accomplishment. "Skinny" was something that others wished they could be. "Skinny" was what made me similar to my mother. "Skinny" was what made me special.
I went to a pool party when I was about 7. Standing on the deck of the pool in my bathing suit, six or seven of my little girl friends around me, I became a participant in a contest. We made a line in a specific order: from fattest to thinnest. I was not the leader of this little event, but I remember feeling relieved that I'd be spared any unnecessary embarrassment—because I was skinny. That word again. Skinny.
One by one, we had to jump in the pool in order, the thinnest of us left standing on the deck. Everyone had to keep agreeing on who would jump next, examining each body in a way no 7 year old should be prone to do.
Two of us left standing on the deck.
We were looked at, discussed, and decided upon.
Arielle is the skinniest.
She's the last one in.
I was special.
How do things like this happen?
How do a group of 7 year olds even begin to have these thoughts? To think it's completely acceptable and "fun" to create a contest where the thinnest participant is best? To have no qualms about such a designation? To have no arguments regarding who is fatter or thinner than someone else, but to simply understand that "fat" might be an unfortunate "fact"? To find comparison necessary?
It boggles the mind.
Why do memories like this embed themselves in our brains to be picked apart later in life?
Is the brain molded from an early age in a way that could possibly fuel anorexia? Or is the brain already predestined by its very makeup to struggle with anorexia?
Questions, questions, questions. I don't think the answer is the important thing.
I think learning yourself, figuring out what to do with what your mind IS—no matter how it got that way—is the key.
The real question is: If you have the key, where is that lock? Or more specifically, where are all the locks?
We have so many locks within us. Some pertain to past behaviors. Some pertain to guarded memories. To abuse. To family. To bullying. To trauma. To friends. To pain. To sadness. To depression. There are many locks.
What takes so long is finding them all—each and every one—and inserting that key. And turning it. And watching that flicker of light that happens when you have an epiphany…or a revelation…or a moment of peace.
Some of the locks are hidden. But once you find them all, the light will be warm and all-encompassing. It won't be a glimmer at the end of the tunnel any longer. It will the peace that fills your mind.
It's tough to get there. It's tough to find all those locks and make the (courageous) decision to turn that key. But it's something to look forward to. And something to work toward.
And it WILL happen.
And one day you'll be free.