I'll Bite The Hands That Feed Me

Grace Moloney
Content Warnings
My most piercing memories are those that can be found scattered around waiting rooms and surgery theatres...
Dec 29, 2021 7:37 PM

My most piercing memories are those that can be found scattered around waiting rooms and surgery theatres. The sounds of my high-pitched screaming linger in the silent swing of the double doors labelled EXIT. I have been trying to figure out where the shame sutured itself to my body and my brain. I think I have found it in the stack of medical files that are heavier than the weight of being alive. It is proof that there is pain in growing up and growing into a half formed body. Becoming aware of my own disembodiment acts as the hungry scalpel that threatens to bite into the skin. It is unclear to me where and when the shelf of myself began to dismantle from its own composition. Somewhere along the beaten path my eating disorder and I began to share a mutual animosity with one another. All I can see clearly in the dull darkness of my own universe is where it would eventually begin to kiss my mum goodnight and sleep on the other side of the bed. Through painfully potent memories, I am able to see where I am slowly reaching into myself but never carefully enough. I had never been one to keep my elbows off the table. The glass of my body broke somewhere in between the table salt and the grief. I hold my shattered body up to the breaking light higher and higher as if to say, “Here. Look. Look at what I was able to mend back together as pieces of myself flew apart as if in a dream.” My knees buckled under the pressure. No prayer could keep my body from splitting apart in the middle of the night. But I cannot see the way my hands burned from holding onto all of that grace. I cannot see through the murkiness of an illness that is notorious for fogging up even the most fondness of memories. I cannot see what my body decided to let go of. I cannot take it all back and keep myself safely tucked under the folds of a barely bleeding heart. How it felt like a body falling apart. How it felt like all of the times I spent falling into the mirror, straining and aching to catch a glimpse of myself while I performed surgery on my garish heart which was trying to eat its way out. Margaret Atwood says, “if you get hungry enough (...) you start eating your own heart.” Mine ate me. What does that make of this hunger? My life feels as if it has been placed in front of a series of fun house mirrors. In the glaring reflection, my body and its displacement were scrutinised by the person staring into it. It was here where I began to play around with the idea of an eating disorder. An eating disorder was my way of reacting to a culture, a body, a self. It is the thing that I believed was keeping me contained and whole. As I tried to protest the cultural stereotypes that distanced myself from my own body I began to split apart from myself. It is a painful process and one I believed would keep me alive. No one in their right mind would seek out an eating disorder for the hell of it. But my sense of self was already so radically distorted from years of living in a culture where my body was seen as defect rather than whole and it only made a terrifying amount of sense to slowly chisel away at my body until it transformed into something deemed worthy. I believe that I developed an eating disorder as a means of satisfying the culture that correlates beauty and thinness as a sick state of social status. My disabled body did not meet the requirements. It met the harshness of my own consumption. It is also fatal. I did not know that. I could not have cared less. Instead I fell head first into the depths of illness and did not come back up for air for a very long time. I started to sever the last ties between my body and mind. But I am holding onto a moment that has stretched itself thin to the point of breaking. It is in this moment where I want to know how it feels to devour life. To take a mouth full and let it bleed into the bone. To be so full of life that I begin to embrace a fullness that I do not feel I ought to get rid of out of fear of feeling too much. It is the insatiable need to be alive. I want to let it take hold of this body of mine that I have spent far too long running away from, perpetually afraid that all the light I was dying to protect would slowly seep out of the seams of the self that I had loosely stitched back together with my own fever and faith. I am attempting to spill clumsily out of a self and into another. This feels like a confession. A betrayal against a body. A mind. I am beginning to understand that it is. It is a confession that opposes everything that my eating disorder has led me to believe. I have spent torn and frayed moments of my life under the impression that my eating disorder would allow me to obtain an almost tangible sense of identity. Something that I could grip onto harder than the given moment. Instead, my feet have been bloodied and bruised from the journey I took as I plunged through the vastness of my own self. Here, my body and mind ricocheted only to be met with the echo of the broken pieces of my own distorted body image staring back up at me. I have been stripped completely bare of myself and unable to let go of the sad identity of illness that I gripped in shaking hands. I am learning how to begin a new day. The pain I swallowed in the ache of the night has not yet come to terms with its embodiment. I am hit in the head and the heart by want. The want that chases me through the crowds of half-eaten smiles as I try to choke back the day old despair of having never quite known myself. I have been a medical file titled ‘triplet no. 2,’ a ‘patient x,’ a rare condition, a case study, a serial number, a ‘full name and date of birth please,’ a statistic, a hopeless condition and a chronic case before I have been myself. I have been impatiently waiting and aching to become something much more than I already am.