A & I

© by Tom Cullingham

A year ago I was leaving hospital after 6 months as an in-patient. I hadn’t realised until I was notified by this Instagram ‘on that day’ post reminder. 

So much and yet so little – to my taste at least – happened this past year, but I keep fighting… 

That sign behind me reads ‘look both ways’, and in my case, it won’t be ‘look right and look left’ but rather ‘look back and look ahead’.

I come from a place, where, a year and a half ago, I was in complete denial of what was happening to me. It took me months, from the moment my mum first uttered the big A-word, to realise what I had been inflicting upon myself and my body all this time. Months before I became aware I was suffering from an eating disorder – some chronic bullshit that feels like it’s here to stay… 

A. and I first met long before I thought we had. It goes back to high school, and maybe even a little before that. A time when I already felt uncomfortable eating in front of others, and was restricting myself out of fear of what they’d think of me. A time when I already hated my body and wished I could just rip my skin off my bones. A. And I have been tied to one another for a much longer time than I thought. She took her time to make me trust her, to befriend her, and rely on her. No, A. Wasn’t destructive at first. She felt like my best ally. Until some real bad things happened, almost all in a row, and she showed her true face. A hideous demon had been hiding behind this pretty mask for all of these years. 

Me seeing A. for what she truly was the key moment of my recovery. That’s when I stopped wearing blinkers. And when I began taking matters in my own hands. That’s when I realised SHE was responsible for  hiding all traits of womanhood I possessed, for my making my heart weak, for turning my brain to mush, and myself into a ghost. 

Today, the future doesn’t seem as dark as what it used to, but A. is still here – always lingering in a hidden corner of my head, practicing some background dark magic I cannot beat. I’m not fully healed. I’m still struggling. There’s a part of me that still believes A. wants to do me good. A part of me that still believes she’s trustworthy. I am not quite ready to let her go. There are so many things that frighten me – loneliness, heartaches, the world around me. As many scary thoughts that makes it comfortable holding on to her – to the ‘friend’ she once was to me. 

I have taken giant steps from the place I once was in, but I still have miles ahead of me to go – miles of steep mountains and rocky paths, miles with tidal waves and wrenching fires on the road. I am miles and miles away from getting rid of the darkness for good. 

But right at this moment, captured on the photograph, I’m looking at him and I’m smiling, and it feels like light will eventually come back in – making it all okay again.


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