Romanced by the Demon
I was sitting at the table alone, the house empty. I slid off my white chair and fell to the floor, pinned between a wall and the table leg, and felt such a huge emptiness bleeding in my chest.
You'd think emptiness would be a nothing, and a nothing can't bleed, but emptiness is SOMETHING. It's a womb filled with your fault and hopeless and pictures of failure and despair. A womb pulsing between your heart and stomach, ready to birth a demon. And the womb bleeds.
I walked to the kitchen, grabbed a knife, walked into the yellow bathroom, and cut myself in the small of my arm. I tried to cry about it. Couldn't.
That was the first time. There were others. Sometimes I cut so much that I almost threw up. I tried to slice myself into submission. Maybe this time I'd learn to listen to myself, to stop eating. Maybe. If I cut every day, it was distracting enough that I could stop eating for a week or two.
I super-glued my eyes to our family scale and watched the line tick higher and lower and higher and lower. I fluctuated. I hated myself for that with a gagging, disgusted hate that rose in my throat like my vomit refused to.
I tried again and again to make myself throw up – standing over the toilet, sometimes for 45 minutes, stabbing down my throat with fingers, toothbrushes, anything. Trying induce my stomach with baking soda and water, then salt and water. Neither worked. I tried Epson salt as a laxative once, even. I drank the whole glass, and it tasted like crap and burned my throat, but it didn't work, either.
My throat always hurt from my methods, but I never threw up. I felt cursed by my inability, but now I feel blessed.
Voices began to crowd my head. I listened to them. I cut myself deeper, redder. I tried to write about it, but it didn't help. The emptiness womb was growing. I was bulging with it.
And then the womb gave birth to its demon. I called her Aidan, and she was a girl in my head, and she talked to me. She told me I could, in fact, become as skinny as I wanted. Become as perfect as I needed to be. I was relieved and excited.
She was always beside me. She was mean, sometimes, she'd snap at me so hard that I thought she was going to bite off my fingers. But she was my mentor, a person I could look up to. The older sister I had always wanted.
Aidan was beside me as I cut myself deeper, moving from my arms to my stomach, my legs. She was beside me as I carved words into my stomach - FAT. STUPID. FAT. FAT. FAT. But she moved within me and started becoming me and the eating and the not eating and the cutting became every day every day and I started wondering “what’s the point?”
When I fell asleep, I felt like I was giving up. That day I didn’t burn enough calories, I wasn’t hungry enough even if I didn’t eat, I didn’t sit up straight enough, scrub myself enough, finish chores piano voice homework enough. There was no hope for making it better once I was asleep. The day was cinched closed and lost forever. So I started staying up all night, sometimes just reading, often exercising until I gagged with the pain.
I started losing track of time. I’d find myself staring at nothing for hours at a time. I’d go for walks, and I’d walk along the dam, and I suddenly found myself terrified that Aidan was going to throw me off into the water. She almost did. Again and again and again.
Aidan sometimes controlled my hands, I REALLY WAS GOING TO EAT but instead I walked away, poured my soup down the sink, hid my cereal under trash in the trashcan. I started forgetting my name, hesitating, almost saying “My name is Aidan” instead.
I’d take two showers and LONG for more, wanting to scrub myself totally completely 100% clean. I’d make lists and lists of things that I HAD TO improve in myself, plans and plans and plans that I never followed through. I cut myself to punish myself. I HAD TO follow through. I HAD TO be perfect.
I joined a site, saying my name is Aidan, that was a place for girls and boys to talk freely about their eating disorders. Most people used it to trade tips & tricks for starving themselves. It didn’t help me to starve, but it told me I was not alone, that I wasn’t a freak, that there were others and there was hope. I left the site eventually, feeling guilty and ashamed that I couldn’t be a skinny as the skinniest. But I knew I wasn’t the only one.
A friend told her parents what she knew about my struggles and her parents told mine. My parents knew. My life was saved!
My parents joined the chorus of evil voices, condemning me of apathy on top of everything else. I scrambled to find normalcy to appease them, and instead had to fall back on an image of: “I was sad, got confused for a teeny while, but now, because of you, my life is shiny!’”
My depression got ten times worse.
I decided to kill myself.
I had a plan. I started writing my goodbye letters, pencil on notebook pages. But somehow when I walked upstairs to grab the bottle of pills... I just, didn’t. I lost myself. Blanked out. And I was back in my room. I cut myself beautifully to punish myself for my weakness.
Holding onto life is not weakness.
Then I got the book "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg. I remembered writing and being a writer. I tried writing practice. Then I was consumed with writing. Writing complete junk just about trees and life and me and what I want to be and what I am. But it helped. I respected my thoughts for the first time. I let myself say what I wanted to say, the real raw beautiful truth about myself.
Through writing I began to see that life isn’t black and white. You have to let the colors be there, too, the shades of gray, pink, lemon yellow, navy blue. You can give yourself space to make mistakes. To do things wrong. To pick yourself up again and do it wrong and to drop everything and to try again. That life is a process, and it doesn’t have to be a perfect one.
Aidan faded into the background, once again OUTSIDE of me.
And then I heard God. Through the glowing enthusiasm of a newly born again best friend. Through other friends. Through Him Himself.
God gave me writing to give me open eyes, and now He became my beautiful friend, my lovely Father, the only perfection and the only one who makes me pure. I don’t have to try to make myself perfect because Jesus was already perfect for me.
I’m still figuring out how to not be romanced by my demons. Sometimes I feel Aidan in the room and my hair stands on end and I feel scared and even attracted. But it’s better now. I’m learning to fly. To be free. To laugh.
Sometimes I feel odd, detached, weird. I know shouldn’t be here. I know should be dead. I can’t quite feel my life because I know I WOULD BE if it wasn't for God’s intervention. But now even that’s a gift. It reminds me that my life isn’t mine - it’s God’s.
I still have my scars. Arms, legs, belly. Scars on my mind, too, how I see food, how I eat. How I look at myself. It’s easy to slip into that I MUST BE PERFECT mind.
I talk to God. Just casual conversation. I haven’t figured out how to read my bible exactly, or how to be “a Christian.” But I’m in love with Jesus, and that’s enough for me today.
I’m finding myself again. But finding myself isn’t all that important. It’s finding Jesus that’s the glorious, sweet liberation.