When It Changed
Like many Sunday evenings before, I was stationed in a study lounge, hands hovering over my keyboard. Writing has never been a challenge for me, but telling the story of my sisters eating disorder was different.
My memories and emotions felt tangled, like an old necklace, and making sense of those knots was new to me.
My family will tell you that I’m rational to a fault - I handle struggle by compartmentalizing. Subconsciously I had shoved that story to the back of my mind. It felt safer there. But as soon as I began writing, that mental dam broke and everything I had succeeded in hiding flowed from my fingertips. Many of the things I wrote I had never processed until that moment. It was painful writing that story, but mostly it felt cathartic to release the tension and pain I had carried for so long.
It shifted the tide of my life in ways I never thought imaginable.
For most of my life, I’ve been pretty successful in creating a protective shell. It kept others at arms length and allowed me to project only the palatable parts of my life. In many ways, I am extremely privileged and blessed, so I was hesitant to share the uglier parts of my story that seemed inconsequential. And I still recognize there are infinitely more important ones to be told.
The conviction that my story was irrelevant led me to hide it from others, but also from myself. There was a gaping disconnect between my identity and my experiences.
Even more impactful than this sentiment was the realization that pain is inextricably linked to the beauty and happiness in life. To recognize one is to appreciate the other. If I failed to understand my painful past, the value of the present and future was diminished.
I ended the story with one of those happy moments and sent it to my sister. She so eloquently summarized the feelings that had been churning in my head.
The past stuff feels like a story, almost like it happened to other people. So somehow, it’s easier.
The new stuff though, that’s fresh. I’m not numb anymore so it hits me harder and for real. But yes, in a good way. Like tears because I’m glad we got to stand in the ocean together again and tears because your hug in the mirror that morning was more important than what I saw in the mirror.
Tears of hope and a shit ton of gratitude.
I hope my mindlessness can be a lesson to someone else. Untangle your story - both pain and beauty. They create your present, your future, your life. Wear it like the beautiful and complicated necklace it is.