Friday, September 30, 2011

lessons I learned from a romantic

Firstly, thank you for all for your wonderful comments. You guys are seriously the most inspiring group of people I know. In fact, I made everyone I know read your comments to show them how insightful and amazing you are, and they agreed!

And secondly, sorry about my absence. Someone very close to me just went through their first break up (and boy oh boy was it a nasty one. I don’t want to share personal details, but trust me, it was horrible), and so I have moved in with them for a couple of weeks.

Seeing her go through this was been just awful, but seeing her recover? Now THAT is amazing. This girl has been so amazing and strong about the whole thing; and considering I am the type of person to melt down when Joel gets the wrong type of milk or when I run out of shampoo, she has been teaching me so much.
But what she ended up really teaching me surprised even myself. You see, I am not a romantic. Not in the slightest. Neither is Joel. While we love each other (obviously; I’m not in the habit of marrying people I don’t love), it is in a very independent way. We have our own lives, as well as our life with each other.

And I hate to say it, but I judged this girl. Because she fell hard. She did not hold back. She committed to him completely, with every bone in her body. And I was not happy to see this. Because what if it didn’t work out? I loved her, and she would be hurt. And so I kept trying to warn her, to tell her to pull back just a little bit.

And I was right, it didn’t work out.

But she was okay.

And I realised that maybe I was wrong. Her ability to trust and love completely, without any reservations, is not something I should be trying to stamp out of her for fear she might get hurt again. It’s actually a gift. While this time she happened to give it to the wrong  man, one day she will give it to the right man. And that man will then be the luckiest guy in the whole world.

Life is too short for doubts. Holding back for fear of getting hurt could ruin something that could have been wonderful if only you had let yourself feel it completely. And yes, you probably will get hurt. No one gets it right the first time. But you will recover. And move on. And find someone worthy of all that love that you have to offer.

So everyone: Love as much and as hard as you can. Don’t hold back. Scream it from the rooftops (if you happen to be near one and no one else but your love is around...). And tell them. Tell them everyday. Let them hear it in your words, see if in your eyes, and taste in on your skin. And don't let an unromantic like me tell you otherwise.

ps. I am not in any way saying to put your happiness in someone else’s hands. I really believe that unless you’re happy alone, you can’t be happy with someone else. But this loving completely is a whole different kettle of fish, and one that I strongly encourage.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

a post about eating disorders

For those on here that don't know: I used to have an eating disorder. One that consumed me from the ages fourteen until eighteen. Anorexia Nervosa, to be specific. But I spent so long having to talk about it in the out-patient program, then to my friends and family afterwards, that I soon tired of mentioning it, and from there it didn’t take long until I tired of thinking about it as well.

But I saw a program on television a little while ago that brought it all to the forefront of my mind again. The program was like all others, trying to decipher exactly why people stop eating. The media is almost always blamed. The size of models, the obsession with looks, and the unhealthy eating habits that is often encouraged with articles like ‘I lost 6 kilos in 3 days!’ And I agree that this sort of attitude that is currently pervasive in society is detrimental. And I believe that it can contribute to people abusing food and their bodies.

But it is not the cause of eating disorders. I certainly never wanted to be a model; I found the whole idea shallow and quite frankly, boring. And I knew that I looked worse the more weight I lost, when looks from boys turned from interested to scared or amused at the sight of my now emancipated frame. The other girls in my out-patient program felt the same way. For us, it was never about looks, it was never about trying to be beautiful. It was so much deeper than that.

I went into the program in 2005, when the buzz surrounding the media hadn’t quite picked up yet. At that time the theory was that girls (the focus was mainly on girls; the theories surrounding boys were completely different) stopped eating because they were scared of growing up and developing woman’s bodies. But the thing is, yes we were scared of growing up, but we were scared of everything. We had looked ourselves in this tiny safe bubble, become more and more segregated from the outside world, until soon anything outside our bubble terrified us.

The theory that we were scared only of our changing bodies did not last very long, thank goodness.
And just like that theory is now null and void, the theory that the media causes eating disorders will soon pass too, and another one will take its place; one formed through studies and interviews conducted by professionals. But they will always be wrong.Because when it comes down to it, the answer as to why eating disorders occur is so much simpler than anyone would dare to believe.

Happy people don’t stop eating.

Happy people don’t starve themselves to the point of hospitalisation.

I was sad, and the other girls in the group were sad. This unhappiness could have been manifested in a variety of ways, such as drug or alcohol abuse, self-harm etc. But this was the path that we just happened to go down. Telling people with eating disorders to learn to feel beautiful, doing a lot of ‘love your body’ work, is simply fixing a problem on the surface. The reasons behind it all are much further down; outside appearance is just another issue amid a myriad of issues that these girls are facing.

Because of this, we need to realise that we can’t put all people with eating disorders into one box, with one idea for treatment. People are sad for a multitude of reasons, and we need to recognise this. Those with eating disorders are so completely different from one another, in a way that current theories do not recognise, and as such, need completely different approaches when beginning recovery.

But the first step will always be the same: Ask them why. Ask them why they stopped eating; ask them why they are sad. Instead of pulling out a textbook and making assumption.

If we recognise that each person is different, and adjust treatment to suit the individual, then the road to recovery may become a whole lot shorter, and we may be a whole lot closer to really understanding than we are at the moment. Jumping from scapegoat to scapegoat is not helping anybody, particularly those who need our help the most.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Monday Gratitude List

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments on my last post! I am all better now thanks to lots of sunshine, good food and wonderful friends (including you guys!). Because I am much too hyped up after a fantastic weekend and the excitement that warm weather and dress-wearing brings, I thought I’d write a little 'gratitude/what has been going on in my life these last few months’ list, rather than anything that requires too much concentration!

Things I am grateful for:

-warm weather! (in case I have talked about that enough...)
-tea dates with lovely people
-housewarmings and dress-up parties
-Europe in exactly three months from today!!!!
-Becoming a permanent staff writer for lip
-having a short story accepted into the annual anthology FourW (out in November, so excited!)
-my Masters course at my amazing new university
-family BBQs and that fact that they are becoming a weekly tradition
-my dog recovering from his leg surgery much faster than expected. He is now back to his happy, lovely self J
-being a bit silly with my savings and buying a Halloween costume and a one-piece 1950s swimsuit (I’m forever practical...)
-applying for a job as a Santa’s helper in the mall. Fingers crossed!
-getting into the NSW Finals of Miss Pinup Australia (it’s very silly and very cheesecake; filled with lots of petticoats, pretty dresses, and crazy hairstyles)
-The decision to save for a coffee shop with my sister and our friend (who is an accountant, which is very lucky for us!) So hopefully in less than two years we’ll have our own little business!
-exclamation marks!! (obviously!!!)
-date nights with lots of food and silly movies
-Canberra having their very first Christmas markets this December
-having tomorrow off with Joel (he’s had to work a lot of hours these last few weeks, so I am so glad to have him to myself for a whole day!)
-having five pieces of cake over four days. Impressive, yes?

Now enough about me! What wonderful things have been going on in your lives?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Space to Breathe

 Well this weekend, instead of doing something crazy, I got sick instead. While it put any and all things spontaneous out of the equation, it was actually really lovely to spend a whole three days recuperating, without having to do or accomplish anything. 

I feel calmer now than I have in a long time. I think I needed to get sick; my body and brain were both worn thin, tired to trying to do too much, trying to meet the non-existent deadlines that I place on everything that I do. 

Sometimes I forget to breathe. I forget that I need that space to just…be. To feel free, to break away from the bars I have shut myself behind and run barefoot in the sunshine. 

This weekend I gave myself time, that precious gift that we hand out like misers to ourselves. A little bit here, a little bit there, but not enough to buy anything substantial. Just enough to stop us from starving, from fading away completely. 

But this weekend I slept in for twelve hours each day, making up for weeks of early mornings alarms after late nights. I let myself lay in bed for hours after waking, reading books and snuggling under the blankets, listening to the rain outside. 

Sometimes we need to get sick, to appreciate just how important it is to take that unnecessary guilt away from our everyday lives. How vital it is to our very existence. You can’t be happy if you need to account for every second spent.

 From now on, I’m going to spend my time however I see fit; sometimes yes, I’ll be a miser, but sometimes I’ll spend every second that I have without worrying about the consequences, about the things that aren’t getting accomplished. 

Because that space to breathe, and the peace that comes with it? 

That is priceless.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Slowing going stir-crazy....

I feel like I am going crazy. My brain is spinning, my limbs are aching, and my fingers are itching. I want to do something crazy. I want to shake things up. Shake all of the monotony that I have allowed to creep into my life onto the floor, so that I am left bright, shiny and new.

I want to skydive, get another tattoo, run a marathon, book a trip SOMEWHERE and just go right. now. I want to ignore everything that I am supposed to be doing, all of the sensible life stuff, and just do anything and everything that occurs to me on the spur of the moment.

Spring has begun, and I feel like I am still stuck in the winter rut. I am tired of sitting indoors, waiting for adventure to happen. I need to go out there and find it. I need to get away from these ordered little suburbs, and lose myself in a big, messy city. I need to meet new people, make impulse decisions, and drink too much even though I have work the next morning.

I need to go on long night drives, spend days at the beach, and go to as many festivals as possible. I need to talk and laugh as loudly as possible, dance as badly as I want, and refuse to apologise for who I am.

Europe is still three months away, and I am going stir crazy. So I am going to take this feeling, this spark, this energy that has been slowly building up over the cold winter months, and make the most of it. I'm going to harness this feeling, and let it steer me wherever it wants. And most of all: I'm going to enjoy the ride.

Who's with me?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Why I Write

I did not begin writing for the reasons that most people do. Often people write because it is a part of who they are, because it is as natural to them as breathing. I on the other hand, only wrote sporadically at best up until a year ago.

You see, I have always had a fascination with the spoken word. I love learning all of the different ways to describe a situation, the different shades we can paint it simply by changing a few letters. I constantly narrate my life in my head, I love using words as a way to turn a stranger into a friend over the space of a few hours, and I could not adore debating and arguing any more that I do.

But about a year ago, I began to stutter when I was nervous. I didn’t tell my friends or family, I was horribly embarrassed. But I began to find it difficult to talk. My words came out quickly and un-cooked; poor reflections of what I was trying to say. One thing that has always bothered me about words, despite my love for them, is that I have never been able to use them effectively. What I am trying to say gets lost amid the incoherent sentences and rushed words, and I am left feeling isolated and alone. 

As I said, this had always frustrated me, but with the development of the small stutter that only reached stranger's ears (though I knew it wouldn’t be long until it was introduced to the world), I found myself hating spoken language and its restrictions. The way that it tangled up all of the thoughts that were so clear in my head a moment earlier.

So I began to write. First it was this blog, and a small diary on the side. A diary in which to down the  tangled thoughts and try to make sense of them again. Soon it developed into articles, little opinionated essays that harnessed both my love of words and my love of debating. It has finally led into short stories, and now a small novel, albeit not a good one.

And I have found that with each sentence I write, talking becomes easier. The small stutter is gone, and so are my jumbled, rushed sentences. Before I open my mouth, just as before I write, I pause. I untangle the mess before I speak.

And finally I am getting the opportunity to say what I really mean.