All men should strive
to learn before they die
what they are running from, and to, and why.
- James Thurber
Each day is becoming progressively colder which has prompted me to do something I dread each and every year: swap out summer clothes for fall/winter clothes. I keep out of season clothes tucked away in the guest room closet, so I've spent the last couple of hours dragging out sweaters and jackets and belts and scarves. I've had some of these clothes for so long. Some are too big. Some are too small. Winter after winter I pull them out and hang them in my closet. Some of them I never wear. Each year I tell myself, "I'll get rid of this one soon." But I never do. Why can't I let go?
Is it because they remind me of the past?
I have this purple sweater I used to wear when my eating disorder was at its worst and my weight was at its lowest. It doesn't fit anymore but I refuse to get rid of it. I suppose I feel like parting with that sweater means letting go of those memories, that time, that struggle that existed when I used to wear it. They aren't the best of memories. That was the lowest point of my life. Shouldn't I want to shred anything up that reminds me of it?
I want to be free from my eating disorder.
But does that mean I want to forget it?
I have no problem letting go of my anorexia. I don't want to be sick anymore. I want to be healthy. I want to be better. I want to stay better. I don't want to be defined as the anorexic girl. But I also don't want to forget that girl ever existed.
I guess I could argue that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? That by remembering how bad things used to be I can appreciate how good things are now? While those things are true, deep down, I'm not sure those are my real motives for hanging on to the past.
Maybe it boils down to identity. For a long time I struggled to define myself as anything other than "anorexic." Now, I don't consider myself anorexic. But I used to be. I'm a former anorexic. A recovering anorexic. An on-the-mend anorexic. Maybe I like that identity too much to part with my past completely. In other words,
Maybe I'm afraid of just being normal.
But I know in my heart that healthy and ordinary are not the same thing. They cannot be conflated into one pathology. Healthy is healthy. Ordinary is ordinary. They should not be made interchangeable.
There are still things about the healthy me that makes me unique. There are things that set me apart from other people. I don't have to count on my eating disorder to make me different.
And I shouldn't worry about labels or parameters or definitions.
And neither should anyone else.
I've been told my entire life it's okay to be me. I am unique. There is not another me. There is not another you.
Let that be enough.