in thinness.

My housemate has been away for the past three weeks, and I have got to know parts of myself better that I thought I would.

As somewhat of an introvert I enjoy my time alone. I like coming home to an empty kitchen each night. I blast music in the mornings and talk back to podcasts while I wash my face. Years of living in a house of ten made me welcome empty living rooms and only the spinning of my washing machine to distract me.

I spent my days studying. This semester has not been kind to me, so I locked myself away with my nespresso, determined to make my tired brain just learn.

I emerged from exams empty. I felt like my brain was made of cotton wool. It felt like years since I’d actually spoken to anyone outside of ten hours of work per week.

I think maybe depression has let it self into my bed again in a way it hasn’t in quite a bit. I’m strangely lonely but also really don’t have the mental energy to do anything to rectify that.

For a few days, I hiss and spit at God. I never learn, that is one thing I can guarantee about myself.

“why would you leave me here?”
“why won’t you speak to me?”
etc etc, the usual.

I truly believe that the fact that I am still standing, decidedly not struck by lighting, is all the proof I need that YAHWEH is a merciful god.

However, this is not what I meant to talk about. At least not entirely. I found another small answer that I will add the collection of mercies that I like to forget about.

So instead, I will remember the thin places. Sarah Bessey wrote about the death of Rachel Held Evans, how her hospital room became a thin place, and that the interaction of the divine and temporal are often unexpected.

Thin places are a concept from Celtic Christianity. I won’t pretend to know all that much about their history or significance, but I understand the concept enough to let it become a phrase in my own internal vocabulary.

When the presence of God, of something holy, (whatever that even means, as if it can become words) is strangely close, that is a thin place.

Gothic Architecture tried to create a sort of thin place with their stained glass windows and bright, airy sanctuaries. When I took communion two years ago in the tiny church in my home town that building with is hand built pews became a thin place.

A thin place, at least in my experience, is rarely where you would expect.

I sat for an hour an empty wing of an art gallery the day I told my psychologist that I didn’t think I could stay alive right now. That room became a thin place as I cried about things I could not speak of. A taxi took me to hospital that evening. I spent much of the next month crying until I felt I would vomit and yet that was a thin place.

I’ve learnt to grit my teeth a bit more in the years since. Perhaps this is for the better, I take my medication to try to keep my foresight on and care about science and art and maybe growing old.

But I have hidden from the thinness.

I don’t write this as any sort of victory shout. I will wake up tomorrow still confused about what on earth any of this means–What my faith should look like, why my unbelief grows somehow both stronger and weaker when I look beyond my bedroom walls.

The thin places in my life have so often been grief soaked. They come to me when the girl I am-was-will be– has given up. Sometimes deliberate surrender, more often on collapse.

Trying to untangle the grace of God from what feels like injustice is confusing and terrifying. I am afraid to question YAHWEH, I feel like I can so infrequently find myself within religious practice, I pick and choose and that feels like a sort of blasphemy directed at my upbringing.

As I grow older, as time moves quickly on, as my own Damascus road falls further into the past, I become quieter. I don’t know. I do not know.

And in that is a sort of thin place, I think.

I will continue to bite the hand that saves me I’m sure. I will hide from my Father Mother Advocate God. And then there will be a thin place, and distance between my tired-aching-shame-wracked body and the holy and true will shrink, and maybe I will let myself listen.

Do not let me forget the beauty of a thin place.

my hair is curly now (reflections on 21).

my hair is curly now.
i bet you didn’t expect that
when you wrapped dirt and shame
around my half grown body.

long hair brushed straight—
one hundred times—
to pull the memory out afterwards,
but my milk tooth brain could
never quite push you away.

the day i chopped my long hair off
i thought i was free—

i was not free.

you cannot purge evil with shears
or blades,
or fire,
but goddamn i have tried.

though,
the body rebuilds itself with time.
your fingerprints aren’t on my skin
anymore. new flesh has grown over
my bruised bones,

and my hair is curly now.

-(a collection of words from a late night run.) 

I don’t have much to say about 21. Other than somehow I am thankful. A kind of thankful that is hidden under layers of mistrust in my own ability to be thankful for whatever all this was.

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These days I do not have so many words with any sort of meaning. I am good at throwing out a thousand that spin themselves into knots and tangles of nonsense or perhaps insanity.

I didn’t want to write about 21 until now. Until I spent the day and evening picking through my own messy thoughts. I think I want something to remember this by, so here is a small portrait of Britts at 21.

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The sadness comes in waves—rolls in and out, and every time I catch a break I am still coughing up my lungs despite ankle-deep waters.

I need to learn to swim all over again. To trust that I am built for survival, that I don’t have to breathe in seafoam and brine, instead hold my breath until a break comes.

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And breaks do come.

I am learning to breathe again.

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and,

i am thankful for everyone who made this year survivable.

i am thankful that i am finding my faith again in a new and quiet way.

i am thankful for forgiveness and love that is unconditional.

training wheels.

I still remember learning to ride a bike.

My first bike was tiny, bright fluorescent pink with white tires and training wheels that were permanently attached. I outgrew it fast and it was passed down to my younger brother who told me that it was not pink, rather faded red and also a motorcycle.

It was neither.

For my sixth birthday, I chose a pink and purple BMX with white tires. My dad swapped them out for black within the month after far too many punctures. The white rubber was more expensive, and of poorer quality, he told me, and I was glad. White tires did not match the picture of the ideal bicycle I had in my head.

Dad took the training wheels off soon after my birthday. What was the point of a bigger bike if I was just going to ride it like a baby, he said.

Where I lived, the roads were wide and empty so I would wobble my way down the half of my street that was sealed, while dad held the back of the seat to stop me from tipping over.

Eventually, he would let go, pushing me and my bike forward as he did. I would squeeze my eyes shut and yell that I couldn’t balance before dropping to the gravel.

You can’t learn to ride without grazing your knees a few times, dad said.

When finally I was good enough to stay upright unassisted, I began pedalling my way up and down the streets, using the white lines in the centre of the road to keep my path straight. My mother was horrified when I proudly explained this tactic to her, and probably with good reason, given her six-year-old had decided that wandering in the exact middle of the road was the safest of all her travelling options.

///

Standing at my sink this morning, a wave of anxiety washed across my body.

I experience this often.

When you have anxiety it is sometimes easier to drown it out in any healthy or unhealthy way you can. This doesn’t always work so well, but sometimes it does.

Until it doesn’t anymore, and a tidal wave of (often irrational) terror sweeps across your reality.

While driving, out of nowhere comes the overwhelming realisation that I am in control of this vehicle but within moments I could not be and oh god there are people and other cars and I think I am going too fast and is my foot on the break or the accelerator and suddenly I have forgotten how to breathe.

This happened to me again at the bathroom sink. My mouth was full of toothpaste.

It dribbled down my chin and for a moment I forgot that I was in control of my own body.

Lean over, spit into the sink.

My sink. 

At least, it’s mine in the sense that every fortnight money disappears from my bank account in the form of rent.

The personal magnitude of this slammed into me.

This is my home now. I pay the bills, clean, leave my keys on the kitchen bench after work (and no one can tell me not to).

I get myself to doctors appointments, stand in line at the chemist, push a trolley through Woolworths. I even have a drawer specifically for reusable shopping bags.

After a childhood of trying to be a grown-up, I am suddenly faced with the reality of adulthood, and I’ve never felt younger.

These are just small pieces in a sea of growing up that I am somehow half swimming in.

Independence hurts a whole heap, but I finally feel a little bit closer to being free.

My knees might be grazed, but I’ve taken off my training wheels.

(And, one day I will have almost forgotten the terror of wobbling along by myself.)

///

all my love,
b.

mad crazy tired. (when recovering is not glamourus).

Right now I should be writing about Galenic theory and the Hippocratic school. I realise that this is procrastination in a charade of productivity. I just cleaned my kitchen and my bathroom, too. My hands are still dry from dish soap.

I miss writing. Even my journal is more collected pieces of paper, scraps of life, and mismatched stickers than words these days.

My brain is on battery save mode. My eyesight feels dimmer, despite the new glasses that make the words in front of me less blurry. I feel like my vision is surrounded by an old Instagram filter, an overemphasised vignette.

When I think of the things the six last months have revealed to me I taste vomit rising in the back of my throat.

Around this time last year, I thought I had reached my breaking point. As I stepped out of the fog of hospital and breakdowns that I could no longer hide from myself or those forced to live beside me, I began writing that I could not forget these days. A sort of ‘remember where you came from‘ monument for myself.

Perhaps these days set the foundation in place for what was to come. Or maybe things are not that simple. Maybe those days just happened because. Either way, I am here now.

/ / /

I woke up thankful this morning.

I moved out a few months ago. I still have dreams where I don’t live in my new place, where I am trapped in the limbo I lived in between eighteen and twenty. I still forget that this is my house, that I pay the rent, do the laundry, go food shopping every fortnight.

It’s nice.

This morning I remembered that I am not faking this anymore. I am not pretending to live elsewhere while still being trapped in my tiny room with its apricot carpet and walls that have seen too much of me falling apart, that have heard too much, know too much.

So that is strange and good.

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/ / /

I don’t really want to talk about treatment and appointments and all that sort of thing right now, so I won’t in any detail, other than to say I am thoroughly shaken. I suppose this is all part of the process.

(vague. empty words. one day I might have the voice to talk about all of this, but not today.)

All that aside, I don’t want to ignore the bad days when I talk about the things I do. If you search mental health, recovery, that sort of thing on wordpress I show up there, reasonably high in the ladder at one point, when I wrote more regularly. So I suppose that’s what I mostly talk about.

Right now I am no one’s recovery goals. I have somehow forgotten how it all functions, running in every direction, making a general mess of things, like the time I kicked a football clean over the fence within seconds of coming outside to play with my brothers. I tried, that is all that matters, I tell myself as I collapse in my eleventh despair heap of the day.

I don’t particularly like myself either. Which is no surprise really, I’ve never been good at that, though I felt a little more at peace with my own being for a while there. Now I couldn’t feel more uncomfortable with the words I speak, my voice, my laughter, my attempts at keeping all the bad inside.

(Perhaps more this is more naked honesty than I would like.)

/ / /

I don’t mean any of this as a mad scream for attention or anything. Or to complain or whatever. I wouldn’t say I think that I’ve got it particularly bad, what I’ve experienced may not be overly fantastic but I am so very aware that the aftermath could have been drastically amplified on every axis. I am thankful for that.

But also.

I am not doing my best right now. Perhaps better than a few years ago. In high school I made no attempts to lessen the lasting effects of my breaking down, living moment to moment, giving up and letting go. Now I try and think forward and outwards between gasping for air.

Breathe in, this hurts. Breathe out, this isn’t forever. Breath in, I can’t see the way out. Breath out, you will find one.

I don’t want to talk about my ‘recovery’ (cliche, overused word that I stick on every attempt at not giving in) as something all glorious, because that is a barefaced lie.

My psychologist says the things that I told her two weeks ago show how far I’ve come. She is probably right. Right now it just fucking hurts.

I’ve had lots of days like this, however. It hurts it hurts it hurts, and then it is six months later and something has shifted.

I realised this the other day on my way home from university, exhausted, dragging textbooks and notes and my own tired feet. Without thinking, I stepped onto the escalator.

A year ago I would never have been able to do this.

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My time as an outpatient at an eating disorder clinic was a mess. There was too much else rushing around my mind, they discharged me as soon as my body was healthy again, telling me to come back when my anxiety and depression were more under control. I never really got there. Accordingly, I considered it all a waste. Three, then two appointments a week, pages of food diaries, the half-naked ECGs, endless blood tests, arguing about bread, months and hours and negative kilograms I could never get back.

Maybe it wasn’t a waste. Maybe it was just another tiny piece of coming back together.

If all I got out of those months was the self-compassion to take the escalator after a long day, to ignore the extra calories I wasn’t burning by walking, maybe that is a mercy enough. (For now, at least.)

/ / /

Right now I am tired, often hysterical, feeling a little lost. I have stories in my heart that I cannot tell now, I don’t know if I ever will. I’m trying to keep afloat at university and everywhere else I spend my life. My faith is more questions than bold declarations for now.

I’m sure that will change. I’m sure I will be able to cope better and differently soon.

I don’t want to forget this, when I make it past my twenties, when things are no longer red raw and burning, when I have a degree and career. I don’t want to tell anyone that getting better will be easy, that every day is mindful and deep breathes and well-rehearsed coping skills.

Sometimes it just sucks.

One day I will wake up and do something that a year prior was too scary, too much. And it will continue, and I will continue.

all my love,
b.

Let’s Get Real//late thoughts on NEDA week 2018

I missed participating in NEDA week partially because it was also the week before my best friends wedding day, partially because my words are a bit tangled in the debris of actually recovering right now.

Despite my own lack of active participation, I watched as my social media feeds filled with the never-ending discussion of whether before and after recovery pictures were helpful and awareness post after awareness post.

The theme this year is let’s get real.

Let’s get real. Okay, I can do real.

I hate cliche. I don’t want my instagram full of comments about how strong I am, I am not #strongnotskinny. I don’t really know how to talk about my eating disorder in a way that feels safe and honest in a face to face context. I can share the idea of it in writing, but rarely the more intimate details.

I am not a poster child of anorexia. I’m not the collection of before and after images that the Daily Mail wants for their ‘shocking’ headlines.

I am not hashtag bodyposi. I don’t think I ever will be. The whole concept makes me a little sick and that’s not even my disorderbrain™ speaking. I am not sugar sweet mirror shots in a frilly bra and pants that show my stretch marks. If you are, I don’t mind, I don’t particularly care. You do you, whatever helps.

///

My diagnosis seems to switch endlessly between atypical anorexia and just plain old teen movie trope anorexia nervosa. Sometimes it makes me feel powerful, but more often I feel pathetic and a nuisance to those that surround me.

I also find myself placed in the delightful “Eating Disorder; adult” category. Where I live, there isn’t a whole lot of support available once you’re over 18 in the public system. This category is where they put the ones they don’t really know what to do with until you collapse and your heart starts to fail.

There is room in the media for me as a sixteen-year-old skipping lunch and collapsing during cross country. I was an interesting plot line, in need of saving but in a kind of romantically tragic way.

There isn’t room for me as an adult.

I find my diagnosis stamped across every corner of my adult life. As a teenager, my eating disorder was a bit of a quirk. In my class there were a few of us, as far as I can tell, most of us grew out of it, either through adolescent treatment programs or just growing up and embracing life (to put it very simply).

I am the significantly less fun 21-year-old who just didn’t seem to get over it.

///

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17, in and out of a restriction and binge cycle. Also a fan of mince pies.

It screws up your life. It consumes every waking and sleeping moment. 

(In high school, I had nightmares where I would binge for hours, I’d wake up convinced it had happened, that I would balloon, that I would never be small again.)

Let’s get real. Okay.

I’m 21, and I feel as if I am wrapped in cotton wool. My friends grew up and I am forever an annoying teenager.

It makes me a child.

I kick off about what I will and won’t eat. I sit cross-legged on my kitchen floor having a cry while my pasta boils.

My friends check up on me, follow me to the bathroom on nights out.

I need to nap during the day. Like a baby. I often don’t, I haven’t got time, but my mind melts around midday.

///

I’ve never been hospitalised for my eating disorder. I probably never will be. I don’t have the money or time or the body type. I balance on a tightrope of not sick enough to be taken seriously, not well enough to be okay.

I’m kind of sick of it.

I’m kind of bored.

Sometimes I trick myself into believing for a moment that this is a game I carried on for too long. That I can put down my kit, untie my runners, let my hair loose and breathe deeply.

I can’t. I want to, but I can’t. (If I undo my hair handfuls of it float to my bathroom floor, collect in the corners, twist around my drain and fingers and toes, attach to my clothes)

I am forever angry that I have entered my twenties with my pockets full of uneaten food, dark circles under my eyes, bile stained teeth, childish fear, kicking off and body checking in bars.

///

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Let’s get real. I am privileged to be a white girl who got sick when she was already small. Though now my body might not be the perfect picture of a headlining anorexic, I am at least sometimes seen and taken seriously. Our system of treatment is broken, but they did let me in for a while. I got an outpatient clinic place for a time (until I was too unwell, high risk, my list of comorbidities became too long).

I am not the only type of person to get sick.
My bleach blonde, insecure, contraband-makeup-in-the-school-bathroom, sixteen-year-old peers are not the only ones who get sick.

My dance and gymnastics training and private school education were not the reason I got sick.

Eating disorders don’t pick their victims based on stereotype. They don’t only go for upper-middle-class teenage girls who do ballet or cheerleading with cutouts of the Olsen twins around their mirrors.

They don’t present based on x number of symptoms listed in the DSM-V, and I don’t even mean this to bash the APA. The DSM is a tool, professional diagnosis is important, guidelines are important. I just mean I shouldn’t only be taken seriously when I am so unwell that my whole life has been entirely consumed, when I live of apple skins and black coffee, or when my BMI is closer to single digits than double.

Just because we see the girls with feeding tubes and more bone than body does not mean they are the only ones with eating disorders.

This isn’t a middle-class white girl disease. I’m not doing this because I read too many magazines and saw too many diet ads. Eating disorders don’t really care about your gender identity or socioeconomic status.

Getting real about eating disorders, at least as far as I am concerned, needs to be less about headlines and shock value and more about representation. Not because a diagnosis is a badge of honour but because supported recovery should be available regardless of weight or race or gender or income.

Perhaps ballet and the pressures of private school contributed. I can place blame on childhood abuse, maybe on chemical imbalances, an unfortunate compilation of nature and nurture.

But do not tell me I am sick because of Victoria’s Secret or because I didn’t get enough attention in school. Don’t tell me it’s because I was a silly teenage girl with semi-wealthy parents and an obsession with Teen Vogue. (I have never opened a copy of Teen Vogue, that sort of media was banned in my household.)

Don’t invalidate my sickness because I fit some stereotypes. Don’t tell me I am shallow or vapid or self-obsessed. Don’t ignore my illness because I’m too old or too heavy or too smart.

Don’t invalidate the illnesses of those with less attractive disorders.OSFED, Binge Eating Disorder, Atypical Eating Disorders and Bulimia exist and are just as terrifying, just as dangerous, just as consuming.

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(via)

Don’t invalidate the individuals who got sick while they were at a higher weight.
Don’t ignore the voices of those who don’t look like what we are told sick looks likes.

///

For me, getting real about eating disorders means acknowledging their unavoidable reign of destruction. It means destroying the idea that anorexia is the only diagnosis, that they are not an illness that affects only vapid sixteen-year-old girls, that sickness looks a certain way. It means representing those who have not previously been represented with the goal of making treatment more diverse and accessible.

I am here for getting real about eating disorders. I am here for the reality of messy, ugly, so not instagramable recovery, and I hope this reality check extends beyond NEDA week alone.

All my love, B.


More information about NEDA /// NEDA is an American organisation, therefore their support services are US based. I chose to participate in NEDA week despite living in Australia because participation tends to spread beyond the US.

Regardless of where you live, the website is still a great resource. A similar, Australian based support service is The Butterfly Foundation. The provide a variety of services, including face to face treatment and groups in some states, and Australian helpline, and globally accessible online groups.

Trying to Live in a Recovering Body

“Do you have any tips for shopping for a year 12 ball dress in recovery after gaining weight?” 

This question was sent to me the other day. Simple enough really, once sentence, one question, a string of words that pulled me back to 17, only to whip-lash back to the present.

I started year 12 four years ago now, and it’s been five years since the first time I was tasked with finding a ball dress. So much has happened since sixteen-year-old Britts was standing in front of a full-length mirror zipping the most ridiculous collections of fabric around her body that maybe I’d forgotten the process.

At sixteen I was already well acquainted with my disordered eating. Though still undiagnosed, I was experimenting with what I could get away with. Which meals I could skip, how many hours I could exercise after school, getting off the bus early to get in a few extra kilometres. I was convinced I needed to be in control of something, have something that was all my own, and my food intake and by extension, my body had to suffer.

I was not recovered by my year twelve ball. I can’t tell anyone how to cope with a situation I ran from. Nearly four years on, I often still don’t know how to inhabit my weight restored body.

I do know that it is hard.

I don’t know the reasons behind your eating disorder. I don’t know all the reasons behind mine, but I do know, at least in general terms, what your body can come to represent.

(How incredibly tragic for the vessel that carries your soul to become a weapon against yourself.)

I was never interested in looking like a model, I didn’t look at magazines or billboards and pray for a thigh gap. Yet somehow, here I am at 21 and painfully familiar with the gaps and crevices left by malnourishment, how they fill and change and grow softer with health.

Howhowhow in the world are you expected to live in a new body, now with the added insult of floor to ceiling mirrors, tight bodices, and standing in underwear for the hundredth time while you wait for the next dress.

I don’t mean to be defeatist or negative, but I’m not quite sure.

I don’t know how to look in the mirror at Myer’s and like what my healthy body looks like yet. I don’t know how to be comfortable in clothes that fit when I am not in control of how my body sits when properly nourished.

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I do know how immensely crap my year 12 ball experience was.

How many moments I missed because my brain was starved and couldn’t keep up with the world around me.

Pushing food around my plate, on guard, waiting for someone to make an insensitive 17-year-old boy joke.

No energy to dance longer than 15 minutes.

Dry, brittle hair.

Makeup that didn’t want to stick to my flaky, uneven skin.

Sitting alone in the bathroom.

Isolated.

alone alone alone.

My eating disorder promised me control, and in a way, I did get it.

(in the most pathetic, meaningless way. good for you, you managed to eat exactly half of the green vegetables. such control.)

I went home by myself that night while my friends disappeared off to their afterparties. I didn’t want to go, I wanted to hide and be away from everything because my exhausted brain couldn’t keep up.

I felt like I was living in a completely different world to my classmates. I was sick and tired and hurting and lonely, refusing to grab onto the lifeline of recovery because I was too scared of the unknown.

I traded the final moments of my teenage years, my last moments as a school girl, for dry toast and working out until my head span. By not allowing my body to grow into the space it was designed to inhabit I chose isolation and fear and missed opportunity.

///

Precious girl, I cannot tell you how to see your weight restored body in a ball dress (or any other outfit or situation) and feel okay with that. I cannot tell you how to love your body because that is a journey we have to work out for ourselves. It’s more complicated than flicking a switch in your brain, and true love is complex and wide and exhaustive.

I do know that your recoveringchanginggrowing body means that you are alive.

You have chosen to take control of your mind and life.

And yes, your body is unfamiliar and scary, but every moment you chose to nourish it you scream in the face of a disorder that promises death.

I don’t have any tips or tricks or instructions other than to remind yourself that you are living and healthy and making your life your own again.

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if you are not recovering you are dying. there are no exceptions.

I’m still very very much recovering. I am not recovered, and I don’t really know what my life will look like when I am.

I hope you can enjoy your final year of school in a healthy body, that you learn to love it however that looks, and that you have the strength and courage to scream in the face of your disorder.

All my love,
b.


 

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Down Days and Drawing El.

Januarys feel like trying to swim in custard. Treading water, exhausting with no forward motion.

I don’t like the uncertainty that comes along with the promise of a new year. Anxiety demands that I am in control, with every future step planned.

Right now I am very much not in control. I’m desperately job hunting, trying to figure out university, sorting my life into cardboard boxes. Really all I need is for one thing to fall into place so I will have some sense of clarity, and I will be able to shake January off and move onto my future. Nothing has fallen. Yet.

But. Right now I am stuck in uncomfortable January so I may as well make the best of it.

///

I do want to be better at writing. I’d like to write everything from the position of having solved whatever experience, to have wise and comforting words that are good and gentle and strong.

I am beginning to accept that right now is not the time for that. Not today or this week. I have enough of my own mess to sort through right now. Besides, it’s no secret that I am one that is still in and not yet through.

Despite being in a dark room all day with no job and no essays to write, I’m doing my best to look up and out. (Not just apply for a few jobs and then sleep the day away like my anxious brain would simultaneously love and hate.)

So I drew Ellery.

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Over the last two years, there are a lot of things I credit to me maintaining some sense of sanity. High up on that list sits both art and Ellery.

Everyone needs an Ellery.

We first met as baby university students, awkwardly trying to figure out seating in a classroom full of unfamiliar faces.

We then spent the rest of our first year perfecting the art of frolicking.

This process includes: getting locked in the engineering building whilst pretending that we belonged (despite the fact we were always dressed like art students), arriving late to class due to sharing a piece of gluten-free, anti-stress cake, also arriving late to class because the stationary shop had opened a sweet section, birthday picnics, getting lost in more buildings that we had no reason to be in, and arriving on campus with wildly different hairstyles completely unannounced.

Ellery is sunshine and bumble bees, songs you play on repeat, candy floss without the sickly sweet aftertaste.

I never really believed in Anne of Green Gable’s kindred spirits, I got far too cynical for that by 18, but I guess Els is the closest I’ll get to one in a non-fiction world.

So from my little bundle of gloom, I will remind myself of the good and beautiful and kind. (and we’re seeing each other Tuesday)

///

Today I don’t really have much else to say, but I think that is alright for now.

I’m planning and working on bits and pieces for this blog right, even though my words are not great at the minute. Looking forward to all that.

I’m also feeling a bit drained, but I think that’s just part of the process of the less glamourous recovery moments.

Anyway.

All my love,
B.


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New Year, Vaguely Same Me. (Also, some goals)

By the time this post goes up we will already be ten days into the New Year. Fortunately, there’s no one grading me on my submission of goals or I would have failed this year by default.

At the end of 2013, I decided I didn’t like the idea of resolutions. I then came up with a concept that I liked better, but turned out to be essentially the same. (Nice job on that one, 17-year-old B.)

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the face of one who thinks she’s creative but is in fact–not.

I don’t really like strict resolutions with clearly defined parameters, they never work for me and I always end up forgetting. Other than setting a few around study and other practical requirements, I’d rather have what I want to think about over the next twelve months recorded.

This will be the fourth year I’ve published the concepts that I want to define my new year online. The idea behind this is that I will trigger my fear of failure enough to actually achieve something. (Also I insist on oversharing. And I enjoy reading similar from others.)

2018goals

The last two years I’ve recorded whatever verse seems to have captured my focus around the turn of the year. Last year it was Philippians 4:8, this year, Ezekiel 36:25-26, a verse that I’ve taken a bit out of context but is also applicable to my current life situation.

This little yellow page in my journal with become what I turn to for the rest of the year, a sort of backbone.

Anyway.

Here we are, 2018.

I am excited to write more words and unexcited to deal with the hard bits of recovery. I am excited for creativity and growth and healing.

This is not the most incredible thing I have ever written, but I have a lot more things to talk about, and somehow my drafts folder now contains 25 unfinished posts, so I suppose I will get onto them.

Until then, I hope this year is a year of change and love and empathy. I hope that 2018 is a year that the world doesn’t finish quite so exhausted and tired, that instead, we speak up for justice and equity, and that personally and globally we feel a little freer.

All my love,
B.

Washing Machine Prayers

If I could find a way to put the last few months into paragraphs, I would, but right now I am faced with a washing machine full of words. If I open it now everything will spill out, tangled in soap and dirty water, and I will be swamped.

I’ve searched everywhere I can think of, and I can’t seem to find what the right thing is to do when faced with such a situation, or even one similar. I’m looking desperately for answers, but there doesn’t seem to be any.

My faith has perhaps been in the washing machine along with everything else. Still very much there, but sometimes hidden by a build-up of dirt and stains. I’ve spent my time with my hands pressed to the glass, head spinning, nausea rising—searching.

Sometimes it’s there

clearly— clearly— beautiful—bright 

Other days I cannot sing What a Beautiful Name without suffocating. My head has twisted the words, lies whispering victim, I want to scream my lungs out from the back of the church.

Then, still, small, the words I helped place around the church auditorium, the scribbled copy Zephaniah 3:17 taped to my bedroom door speaks truth.

Grounding. Breathe in, out. Trust.

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via

 

(I hate this kind of writing.)
(I don’t.)
(I hate being the writer.)
(I want to speak of finished and better and fixed.)
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Sometimes I feel like I’m grasping at straws. Other times I have just given up. Wordless groans, I don’t know what to pray—

—which I think is okay, for a while. I have no doubt that God loved me in every moment of silence, closed heart and ears, stiff upper lip.

My heart ached —I could feel it bruising in my chest.

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My Dad has been in hospital after an accident and my Mother has been away, waiting for him like she has so many times before. It’s been a long while since I’ve had to play mum, but these past few weeks I have done my best.

My youngest sister is six. I’ve put her to bed most nights the last few weeks, I’ve sat with her and prayed and I swear the first night I did I felt my heart break.

I missed talking to God with that kind of childish honesty. Fear and love and confusion.

I miss you I miss you I miss you.

Perhaps I needed another nudge in the ribs.

Hospital. Anger. Crying. Memories memories memories.

Come back come back come back.

Finally, I disappeared into the bushland near home, sat on a log, and prayed.

—definitely not a textbook prayer. (My religion teacher would have a fit.)

I did not have a lightning bolt moment. Instead, I cried my silly eyes out and spoke and listened until I felt like a whisper told me I needed to go home and rest.

I can’t exactly explain it.

The closest I can come to any sort of metaphor is some lame high school story.
(one day I will accept that I’m a proper adult now, my school days drift further back each moment).

Some weeks I wouldn’t do so well at balancing dance and specialist athletics training, and I would a c h e. That deep burning of overused muscles, can’t sit comfortably.

Everything hurts.

And then you have to leave at 6:30am for school.

Check your diary, and mercifully it’s a sports uniform day.

Swap heavy skirt and stiff blouse for track pants and a polo. The ache isn’t gone, but at least you are safe from waistbands and collars and skirts that flare up in the slightest breeze.

Sports uniform feels like at home clothes in a not home environment.

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15.

I think that maybe this is how I feel now. Everything still aches and maybe it will for while. I will still cry on Christmas days and Sundays and skip parties and ignore phone calls but I think it’s okay for some things to hurt and hurt and hurt. Somethings are deeply painful and for good reason.

Within all of this, I am trying to find where my faith sits, how to renew my mind and live like one redeemed.

But I think there is grace for that?

And I think there is grace for the days I scream and cry and hide like a child. And there is grace and forgiveness for the days I call out to any other idol. Grace upon grace upon grace.

///

I want to write like a finished product. Speak my ‘I was’, but instead I am 21 and trying to find God and love and myself in a rubble made of ‘could haves’ and ‘if only’s’.

I spent my teenage years begging for stories of people who loved Jesus but with hurts that were still healing. Maybe it is my turn to be that person.

I also do not want to seem as if I have any sort of answers, because I don’t, but I am
walking walking walking, collecting truth and words.

All my love,
B.

Paint and Completed Essays.

It’s 1:34 pm on a Wednesday afternoon. I am still wearing the clothes I slept in under the oversized shirt I wear when I paint. Six weeks ago I would have been preparing for my psychology class, annotating notes on Erickson and Maslow and psycho-social development. Probably anxiously picking at my nails, simultaneously overwhelmed and purposed by the prospect of six thousand words due in two weeks.

Everything is submitted now.

The day I submitted my last paper was less of an emotional roller coaster, more of a washing machine. A roller coaster seems too ordered. A weird mix of relieved and grateful, ready to break down and cry in the aftermath of a particularly taxing psychologist appointment that morning, a small, tentative sense of pride, and anxious because, well, an anxiety disorder. All the feelings, none of them exactly discernible.

I think, on reflection, that I worked hard. Regardless, somehow my perfectionist brain can’t help but pick apart the last five months, place fail 2’s on distinctions, note that I was employed but only just, that half my papers had extensions on them. Pick, pick, pull apart.

That aside, I am done. My creative energy does not need to be reserved for essays on cross-cultural work and reports on early childhood development. I am a qualified youth worker. (Hilarious to me, as I feel eternally seventeen, a youth myself.) My time is (mostly) my own again.

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I get this weird combination of emotions whilst studying. I am fond of the idea of being an academic. Contrary to my overtired, overstressed, overstimulated breakdowns, I enjoy writing essays and collecting research. I want to be intelligent and I’ve spent the last three years in tertiary education working for it.

I also want to be some kind of artistic mess. Copy my fourteen-year-old self and sit up trees writing stories, embrace the messy seventeen-year-old covered in oil paint, perpetually late to any class following art or a free, locking herself in the art room every spare moment.

I want to tell stories and paint my life away, I want to be up at 3am buried in psychology texts, I want to work two jobs and somehow never burn out.

I am learning again and again that this is impossible.

I’ve had to let things fall by the wayside. Not always a pleasant experience, some days I’ve felt like my entire life is as messy as the room I’m living in. If I could only reset everything I would feel a little less catastrophic, a little more human. But there isn’t time. Sometimes between classes and work and psychologists and medicals and assignments and crying and meetings, there isn’t time to collapse into a freshly made bed. I don’t have the answer to balancing mental illness and work and study and just living. Perhaps there isn’t one, maybe this journey will be up the steepest hills every step of the way, and maybe that is what I should be counting when my grades come in.

Regardless. I am done with this chapter, I can scratch my signature on the dotted line and move on to the next, full of its own challenges and nights out and Sunday mornings and breakdowns and breakthroughs.

///

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Today is a Wednesday afternoon and I am in my bedroom covered in paint and my speakers are playing worship music and I know I have to call Centrelink and universities but right now I have a tube of gold gouache and a painting to complete. Maybe for an hour more I will breathe in and out with every brush stroke, then I will try not let anxiety swallow me whole and be an adult once again.

I’m cautiously optimistic about the next few months. Terrified, more often than not. I’m moving out and changing jobs and universities but for a single Wednesday afternoon, that doesn’t matter.

All my love,
B.

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