Posts Tagged ‘eating disorder’

Welcome aboard! Please stow your baggage (emotional and otherwise) in the overhead compartment or completely under the seat in front of you. Buckle your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride as we fly through the randomness that pours out of a writer’s mind when she has spent too many hours sitting on planes…

 

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I always thought I would be a good mother because I had such an exceptional example of a mother to follow. My mother made many mistakes along her way, but her love and sacrifice for her children were flawless. I did not seem to inherit those attributes.

Now, I am aware that I am far superior to the crackhead who births her baby addicted or the resentful woman who leaves her children loveless or even the hypercritical mother who can never be pleased. However, at the most simple, I am just too selfish. There is too much ME in my mother-child relationships.

Maybe it was because my mother loved me too well, implanting the seed that I mattered so much. Maybe it was because my mother’s love cost her so dearly, her sacrifices so grand and painful that I refused to duplicate them.

I do love my children, completely and whole-heartedly, but I also do sometimes resent the demands of being their mother–mental and physical. I think I would have made a much better father with the elimination of the physical requirements and reduction of the social demands of motherhood.

I wonder if the guilt I feel at this maternal deficiency indicates I care or only signifies what I’ve been told I should feel. I wonder how my mothering style will shape my children. Will it teach them to maintain and prioritize themselves even in the troughs of love, like I hope it will? Or will they internalize my lack of obligatory doting and masochistic self-sacrifice and blame themselves?

At the bottom of it, I think about aircraft safety procedures. Perhaps because I just had to listen to them recited yet again. Put your mask on before you put on theirs. Take care of yourself so you can take care of them. I also think about how children learn by watching more than being told. I want to live a life I would be happy to proud to see them live, a life where they always mattered and advocated for themselves, a life where they did what they needed but also made sure to do what they wanted.

Or all of this is what I tell myself to help swallow the lump of mom guilt that has swelled up in my throat with each day of this business trip.

 

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This has to stop. It has been too long. I am too fucking old and smart for this to continue. I did not work my ass off to tame bipolar unmedicated to be dismantled by a bullshit eating disorder. I did to adapt so far as to expertly manipulate myself and others to be seduced and swayed by a sad, shallow cultural flaw.

I refuse to continue to define myself by standards I do not ascribe to other people. Cognitively, I get it. Logically, I know the truth. Yet something about my deformed emotions and that scar tissue in my brain keeps me imprisoned in this utterly fruitless cycle of self-loathing.

My body does not help as it relentlessly undermines me. I am continually undone by its incessant betrayal. I had figured it out. I had successfully decoded dieting and slipped the noose of bulimia. My body decided to reward me by heaving a large wrench into the machine–into me.

Fasting was the answer. My body granted me an entire year of success and freedom before invalidating the accord. The weight flooded back on and the madness, the fixation, the obsession that it inspires. Causality no longer aligned. Unearned consequences twisted my perceptions into deformed figments. Right back down to the bottom, sinking like a heavy stone.

I tried all the things–past failures and successes. I went to the doctor and a nutritionist. I went back to binge-enticing restrictive diets. I returned to injury-demanding levels of exercise. All roads slammed into the same fat wall. Yet I can’t relent or abandon any of them for fear that I will continue to inflate.

So, I am back to my Hell–starving myself, punishing my body, scrutinizing my reflection, fixating on the numbers. I am back to obsessing about things that do not matter.

It has to stop.

I realize I cannot control my body, so I, once again, need to tame my mind. I need to remove my damage from the equation.

As age continues to wear on my body at an accelerating rate, I realize that youth has nearly entirely slipped from my grasp. I will only steadily continue to wrinkle and sag and reform. Do I want to waste the preceding time wishing I was something else, the way I regret hating my many youthful states before now? Do I want to reduce my assessment of my body to the numbers on a scale or measurement of any circumference, dismissing the dance vocabulary it has learned, the strength it has built to climb mountains, its bizarre flexibility? Do I need to forsake everything to be “skinny”…

And WHY?

What does it matter against a clever and successful mind? What does it get me as I am already loved?

When I ask the questions, I know the answers–without hesitation. Yet these old and perverse trains of thought still snake and steam through my mind on distorted tracks. My emotions trickle and pour through the canyons worn by my eating disorder like bad habits. The core of me always reels for the familiar comfort of hating myself.

But I cannot claim that I will not waste a moment of chronological life to then squander my emotional life like this. The words and compulsions and habits of my former mind are not true; they do not need to be heeded.

I can let it go. I can exercise because I love it and it balances me. I can eat clean because it is beneficial to my body and makes me feel physically better. I can make these choices for my own wellness rather than an aesthetic.

Because this has to stop.

It is killing me and poisoning my days. It gains me NOTHING. It has to stop.

 

Christina Bergling

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When I started “modeling,” I think I was chasing a way to feel positively about my appearance. In the wake of my most self-destructive phase, I needed to manufacture some semblance of confidence from the shattered pieces of my sense of self. I knew I could never be classified as conventionally pretty or skinny, but I wanted to make that art. I wanted to see myself differently, from the outside.

Over the course of this clumsy dabbling, I worked with photographers with whom I could collaborate, and our visions collided and amalgamated into what I considered my visual style.

But I never did feel better about myself.

My pseudo eating disorder raged. I would starve myself and not eat on days I did nude shoots, as if lunch or water made a perceivable difference. I would turn the pictures on myself, use them to catalog my flaws, use them as a qualifier of my worth. For as much as I have never prioritized aesthetics for any other person, the toxic tentacles of the damage in my brain always made me one-dimensional to myself. It was as if my physical body was an entirely separate entity from the rest of me, judged meticulously by only its appearance–by ever-sharpening criteria. I was never going to be “thin” enough or “pretty” enough because it was never about how I looked. Self-destruction had been driven out of my heart only to make a hidden home in my eyes and my flesh.

Yet I continued to play in front of the camera. The symptom was never the disease. I modeled until we moved back to Colorado from Tennessee. Then I was no longer dancing, I had no established relationships with local photographers, and I had another child. By this point, I resigned myself to simply being too old and the pictures being a closed chapter in my life.

Then I mentally evolved again.

Two major changes happened. Most importantly, perhaps at the root, I finally made peace with the damaged and self-destructive persona in me. I have been analyzing, flirting with, writing, and being her half my life. This time, I actually forgave her, forgave myself for what I did to us. I released that blame and those consequences that it felt so safe to hold.

Perhaps as a side effect to this or maybe as a tangent effort, I put my atypical bulimia to bed. In vain attempts to restore myself after my son, I spent years obsessing and fixating, starting and torturing myself, punishing my body to the point of multiple injuries. Then I discovered intermittent fasting.

I had attempted numerous diet and fitness paradigms, yet fasting slipped on like a glove. For all my anxiety about not eating and hanger, it was just what my brain and body wanted. Needed.

And impossibly simply, food was no longer an issue. The numbers were no longer an obsession. Just like that. It seems utterly unrealistic. I am neither the weight or size I “want,” yet I don’t care. I am happy. I am comfortable. I have finally grasped that confidence that launched the entire endeavor.

It is possible I have simply outgrown some of the fixations. Life continues to get bigger. Maybe I am old enough to just give no fucks anymore. Yet a part of me still fears this is a trap set by that self-destructive girl, a false summit. Feeling authentically good in my skin feels alien, so forgotten it’s almost foreign. I have reservations over so many years of struggle culminating in so seemingly simple a fix.

But I’ll ride this wave until it sends me crashing onto my face.

In this place, I have returned to modeling. Yet this time is not motivated by a search to find something in myself. This time is not a band-aid over the tear in my mind. I am not trying to prove to myself that I look worth something.

I am trying to look scary and disturbing.

I have launched into a new collaboration with members of my “commune.” The photographer is establishing her visual voice, and I am happy to play test subject. We both love horror and have already collaborated on one of my novels. With the addition of a blood minion, we are collectively chasing beautifully disturbing images.

Successfully so far.

The difference is where I am coming from. I no longer feel infected by that pervasive insecurity. I am no longer worrying if the wrong position creates a bulge; instead, I am making sure the fake blood is dripping right. I am able to look at the pictures and see the image rather than all the things I am not.

I have worked with some amazing photographers over years (and plenty not), but there is something unique about laughing your head off as your “sisters” ladle chocolate fake blood on you, about collaborating with women who have held you up most of your life.

The fact that the pictures are turning out is just a bonus.

Christina Bergling

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I am a mother. Biologically and physically. Mentally and in practice. I cradle the deflated and distended flesh were my babes once grew. I bear the perpetual markings of crusted handprints on my pant legs and snot dried on my shoulder. I sacrifice for my children: sleep, time, my body, my space as my bank accounts bleed dry. I smile bigger than I knew I could. I weep out of joy and astonishment. I feel the love for them in my bone marrow.

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I am a lover, a life partner. I am the teenager he met at a keg party and the woman who birthed his children. I am beneath him saying “I love you” and beside him holding his hand at her funeral. I am rolling my eyes in rage as I throw out one more bicker; I am laughing uncontrollably as he pinches my hip bone. I am awash with gratitude as I watch him play with our children. I am lost without him and stronger because of him.

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I am a tormented writer, slave to the page, victim of the word. I have a million characters living and breathing inside of me, crowding my consciousness, fogging up my brain with their writhing heat. I dissolve and disappear into other worlds, vanish into stories untold and lives unlived. I belong to my twisted imagination, both persecuted and enlightened by its sharp edge. I carve out chunks of my soul and bind them in a file, tossing them out and asking strangers to buy and love them as I did.

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I am bipolar. I am the depression that makes me want to open a vein; I am the mania that makes me feel like an unchained heart. I am bliss and agony. I am the swirling dance between two minds, a refugee left traveling between two fleeting worlds. I am emotions amplified, perceptions distorted, self turned enemy. I am beautiful suffering and painful happiness. I am artfully crazy.

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I am a runner. I am the pavement beneath shoes. I am the panting breath and relentless sweat. I am the exertion of the body against the protest of the mind. I am the stubbornness to keep going, one more mile, one more stride. I am the float disconnecting brain from body. I am the endorphins to breed sanity. I am the trial, the accomplishment, the addiction.

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I am a dancer. I am the music in my hips, the melody manifest in my bones. I am sealed lips and active flesh. I am expression and freedom. I am confidence in a scandalous costume above of an audience. I am the ferocity to mangle choreography before a crowd, with a smile. I am lost in the beat. I am transient of the sound. I am reduced and concentrated down into movement.

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I am savage. I am the base and ugly core. I am the reality and the desperation. I am the decision between you and me, the line between us and them. I am fight and flight. I am selfish and self-serving. I am ultimate priority. I am survival at all costs.

I am the tattooed and pierced freak. I am the orange hair and the black clothes. I am a high school goth floundering through professional adulthood. I am my inner darkness on the outside. I am questing to show myself as different. I am the art on my body, the pieces of my mind drilled into the flesh. I am the socially condoned pain and body modification. I am the struggle to find the outside expression of the inside brain.

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I am an eating disorder. I am an obsession with food, a fixation on numbers. I am the weight on the scale, the inches on the tape measure, the calories in my last meal. I am the compulsive tracking of every workout. I am hours spent in the mirror poking at unsatisfactory skin. I am the demon in the back of my brain, never satisfied. I am the perception distortion in my eyes. I am the insecurity.

I am a dreamer. I am belief and possibility. I am ideal and ambition. I am the forecast of the mind, the silver lining in the pain. I am lost in the world at night, a prisoner of the subconscious musings of my sleep. I am reaching out past reality, stretching into the alternative. I am seeing something else.

I am a child. I am still that child and that teenager from decades ago. I am still small, overwhelmed and confused by the world. I still call out for my mother when I am sick, my father when something is broken. I long to find shelter under that wing of unconditional love. I finally see that I never knew anything all along as I shunned the older and wiser voices pleading advice to my closed ears. I now see that my parents knew everything and that I remain their ignorant child.

I am horror. I am the darkness in us all, the hidden crimes, the primal undertones. I am the hairs rising on the back of your neck, the quickened pulse, the shallow breathing, the thin, cold layer of sweat, the blank mind. I am the fear rising up from behind your thoughts, whispering to you in a deeper, more persuasive tongue. I am the exquisite mingling of thrill and panic, the delicate line between entertainment and terror. I am the edge.

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dollyfreddyshower

I am everything.
I am nothing.

Christina Bergling

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