Sunday, 20 June 2010

From the Hottest Fire, Comes the Strongest Steel

Let me fill in some gaps.
Everything has been so strained and emotional lately that I haven't had time to talk about my life - not my head - my life.
It's just been depressing, emotional, despondent post after post without a word on what has been actually going on around me - outside my swirling mind. So I need to tell you what has been happening.

I didn't do my exams. In fact, I didn't do a day of revision.
So, nearly two weeks ago, at 9am, as everyone else in my class opened up their first exam paper, I was sitting waiting for my first interview. 
I'd had enough. I couldn't do it. Weak. Yes. I was weak - I had no intention of fighting or trying. I was too exhausted by everything. I had stopped caring about myself and my life.
Alex had been doing his exams for the two weeks before this, I was on 'revision leave', and I was sitting at home, dying. No really, really, just dying. I let it be. Yes, I let it be. Sit and rot. Do nothing except watch yourself die.

But something took pity on me.
The ghost of my father
Some unknown benign spirit
I don't know...

but I've been given a chance;
Something has given me a lifeline that I probably don't deserve. And despite everything, I woke up and took it with both hands.

Let me explain.

I took a gamble. Someone recommended me to a graduate recruitment company. So I sent a CV. And on that Monday morning, as my exams began, I had my first interview...and on Friday afternoon, twelve days later, as exams ended, I got my job offer.
I got my job offer.
I stuck two fingers up at law school and law and took my original degree in English Literature and excellent CV to people who cared...
I should have done it when I graduated this time last year, but I wasn't ready - I was too ill, I was too fragile, too desperate - still a giddy teenager in so many ways.

But you know, I've got Alex now - and you are all so right - his love is too strong and potent for me to ignore it, no matter how loud Ana screams at me. He gives me something... a desire I suppose - a desire to live, a desire to thrive, a desire to be someone for him to be proud of...
I went in to all those interviews and became another person - outgoing, confident, punchy, intelligent, hungry, tough and ambitious - and I did it - I beat the competition - I got it - something amazing - the opportunity to turn my whole life around - the opportunity I had dreamed of as an ambitiously hungry child - to be something great, something successful - to be something.
"Yes, I like her - a gutsy girl".
At first I felt like a fake.
But then, with every interview, every time they asked me back, every time I got great feedback, I began to believe... and then, finally, after the final interview, she came back with a smile and a job offer. You know why? Because I am all those things I felt I had to pretend to be in my interviews; outgoing, confident, punchy, intelligent, hungry, tough and ambitious. Whatever this eating disorder has destroyed, it has given me something more: From the Hottest Fire, Comes the Strongest Steel: All the hell, all the pain, all the torment - it all kept strengthening the sinew holding me together, making me want life and happiness and success more than anything.
And I start on Tuesday. Something. I owe it to something out there - for giving me this amazing opportunity - for not letting me rot.

I start on Tuesday.
In the centre of the great City of London
amongst the towering investment banks and roaring double decker red buses
I will go to work every day
mentored by one of the most successful women in her industry
"I want to offer you the job. You're going to come with me to meet heads of international finance. I was the top biller in my last company, and I'm going to teach you everything to make you the top biller here."
I went straight to Alex's place and cried tears of joy over the glass of champagne he poured for me.
"I have the two things I wanted... I can't believe it, Alex, I finally have the two things I wanted more than anything for so long - I have you, an incredible man by my side, and also, I've been given the opportunity for a successful career. They were the two things I wanted at the start of the year. And I actually have them."
It never occurred to me, that I wanted to be thin and beautiful. It didn't even come to mind that I didn't have the one thing I had been killing myself for for so long. I was too happy and too safe for those terrible things to even haunt my mind.

But now it's up to me.
I cannot fuck this up.
For the first time in years, my father would be proud of me right now, and I am not going to let him down ever again, for all he ever wanted, was for me to be successful.
I am not going to let Alex down, for he gave me so much love and support.
I am not going to let my employer down, for she had the faith to hire me and believe in my ability.
I am not going to let my mum down, for she has born her pain for so many years.

And I am not going to let myself down. For I am good enough for this.
I am good enough for life.

To all the Ophelia's out there... I know that more often than not, living is more painful than all the torment of drowning. But I believe, more than anything, that living must be worth it, and that still, I can have it all, I can be a super woman, I can be thin and strong and successful...

As God is my witness...

Monday, 14 June 2010

(why) Can't

This is the bare bones:
I want to recover.
But I want to be thin first.

It's been a bad week. Uncontrolled crying. In public.
I can't
I can't
Why can't I get better.

I cried myself sick, over and over again. I couldn't stop it. Crying hysterically in front of everyone and anyone... because of him.
Not because he upset me - no. Quite the opposite. He's perfect. And his perfection, his beauty, his innocence, it hurts me so much.
I don't know why.
Or maybe, it's because I know:
I have to end it.
I have to.
He's killing me.
It's all killing me.
Starving. Eating. Throwing Up. Binging. Laxatives. Restricting. Exercising.
Sick. Sick. Sick

I'm supposed to be going to a posh dinner as his guest tomorrow evening. And I can't.
I can't.
I can't put on a pretty dress that exposes the fat on my back, my huge arms and a tummy that sticks out 5 inches.
I can't do my hair nice when it frames such a podgy and puffy face; or put mascara on eyes so swollen from crying.
I can't look nice
its so hard
too hard
cant do

This is the beginning of the end.
I can't live it.

I know that this is Ana talking, evil Ana - wants me all to herself - wants to destroy everything else - everyone else - wants to push him away because he might save me.
No saving me.

How the fuck..

Sunday, 6 June 2010

'He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty'

I wanted to try and get away.
Everything has been hard.
The two people in my life who know about my eating disorder, who know I see a lady once a week, are the two people feeding it.
If I wrote about the things my mother says to me... well I can’t.

I can't leave. I have to write. If I don’t write... if I don’t write, it’s because I’m cured and my mind is empty and emotionless.

I watched a fictional TV programme this evening where the characters travelled back in time to meet Vincent Van Gogh. The exploration of Van Gogh wasn’t deep by any means, but it touched the nerve of his genius quite simply:
The Doctor to Van Gogh: “I’ve seen wonderful things, my friend, but you’re right, nothing quite as wonderful as the things you see.”
His madness was so beautiful. What a mind, what an exceptional mind.
Of course I would never compare myself with Van Gogh’s artistic genius, but it brought me back to the name of this blog: A Head Full of Beauty. I may have an eating disorder, I may be depressed, I may be fragile and unstable, I may be all these terrible, ugly things; but I see things in the world that the others don’t – can’t. The normal people, the healthy people; they wake up in the morning, get out of bed and live – and by living, so carefree, so engaged in the world, they can’t see it. They can’t see it. They feel so little - so little compared to the ones whose senses are so engaged and raw - not only to pain, but also to beauty.
It’s something I say to Alex all the time. You don’t see the world like I do.
He doesn’t see pain and sadness, but similarly, he doesn’t see beauty. And I mean real beauty – like Van Gogh saw it – for him it was the beauty in “the complex magic of nature” – they weren’t just flowers, they weren’t just stars - they were so much more exceptional in his vision, and he captured it, he captured everything in his wild, untamed head beautifully. It is a similar pain and beauty that I often see in so many of you and so many of your blogs.

A quote:
“He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world – no one had ever done it before – perhaps no one ever will again.”
I believe, however, that this is the case with several of the greats in the literary canon – Plath, Tennessee Williams, Blake... In fact, most of the authors, poets and playwrights I studied at university had that one thing in common – a mental illness. And who can deny the beauty that they created.

Something you may not know about me – I have always wanted to follow in their footsteps, I aspire, one day, to be a great author.
I wrote this when I was 19; after I read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar for the first time:

How is it that old books can harbour such a smell of dust? Dead air, trapped deep between the yellow pages, like a memory of all the years it’s laid keeping the secrets of their illustrious words. But the smell is sweet to me, as if I’m inhaling the breath of my ancestors, giving me cause, reason, inspiration, to revive the heritage they’ve left me.

But the deeper I read, the stronger and harder they seem to warn me. Their works were born of struggles; a medicine for loneliness, a cry against silent suffocation, or simply the result of having bordered on the edge of something that no-one else could understand. A reader can almost feel their minds burning, so brilliantly creative, and yet so emotionally destructive at the same time. The abandoned words were warning me. But too late? I first read Sylvia Plath’s poetry when I was seventeen years old.

I admire any woman who can write so brilliantly, but I don’t want to be the next wearer of the bell jar. The more I read, the more I write, the more I have come to see that I have also been ‘stewing in my own sour air’, almost as if I were intent on following in her footsteps - but I’ve pledged not to write with that breath in me. I don’t want my hand to craft in ink of misery and madness. I’ll give it up before it takes my life. All my children care is that I am a good mother; I do not need admiration from anybody else, nor for any other cause.

There is so much goodness in the world, so much integrity – I have always looked for it and always cherished it in order to keep alive the hope that such virtues grow in me. And in just the same way, there is so much art that has been born from the love and happiness that grow within the writers who still live and breathe with fresh air.

Why I write:
Aesthetic enthusiasm, George Orwell called it. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement.
I wrote that essentially, I didn't want to be a great writer if it meant I had to suffer. I didn't want to be able to see the world and feel the world in the way they did anymore. I wanted to give up my dream of writing a masterpiece, so that I could join the rest of the world, and live, and raise a family, a plain, unfeeling, happy family.
I didn't try. Or maybe I did. Or maybe you can't escape the head you've been given.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

"I believe in recovery."
I have to.