I have worked so hard to get myself here. Where is here? Here is where I am. I don’t mean to sound like a Buddhist koan, but I’m feeling rather Zen- like lately.
It’s not just about losing the extra twenty pounds I’ve carried around like armour, and the dissolution of 46 years of an often debilitating eating disorder; more important is that I am changing the way I react to life.
I have been swimming daily, taking my little barkalicious puppy to the park, often for hours at a time. I am constantly checking in to see what my body needs as opposed to wants, and most importantly, I hold myself emotionally responsible for creating my best possible life.
This is not the life I had imagined as a child when I would come home for lunch every day from school and watch The Hollywood Squares and imagine the day when I too would become famous.
I would hold the ketchup bottle as a mic and rehearse my Oscar acceptance speech. I had a special shout out to Gordon and Cheryl, two kids from my grade school who were making my life a special kind of hell. “Look at me now, losers! I’m a star!”
I wasn’t sure exactly how I would achieve this acting accolade but I had my priorities straight from the start – from my perspective, it was all about payback.
Fortunately for the viewing public, my acting career never got off the ground, and instead became a therapist; but payback or restitution never really left the forefront of my mind.
I could help others but never myself as I was perpetually stuck in revenge mode.
Then the day came where I became too ill to work. I was diagnosed with Moebius Syndrome, a condition with multiple symptoms, one of them Chronic Fatigue. I could not work anymore and moved in with my partner Marian, who reluctantly offered her home up to me. .
Of course I was grateful, but her unwillingness to share her life and her body with me was extremely triggering and I found myself acting out in ways that mimicked my Borderline Personality mother. Part of me was utterly ashamed by my behaviour, but my actions felt automatic, and felt bigger than I could consciously control.
Marian was then let go from her job, and our relationship went from bad to worse. I tried so hard to be kind to her, but her declining mental health was terrifying for me to witness and I felt trapped by my own reactions. I tried to find somewhere else to live, but I had no where to go, no family to take me in, and no money of my own to sustain me. I should have tried harder to appreciate what I did have, an apartment that I was allowed to live in gratis; instead my lifetime feelings of restitution became my downfall.
Last August when I was visiting friends in Montréal, Marian called the police and told them I had tried to kill her, and was afraid for her life. This gave her the opportunity to oust me from her apartment and her life, in one fell swoop.
There was never any attempt on her life, but I did throw a glass of water in her face. I remain totally ashamed of my behaviour, but all I could think about in that split second was retribution for her cruel comment the moment before, and all the years of gaslighting and torment that preceded.
Now officially homeless, I had to scramble to find a place to live. I sold my Rolex watch, then had enough money for one year’s rent, and found a teeny tiny apartment to live.
I had always been afraid to live alone, telling anyone who would listen that I was not a living alone kind of gal. All that has changed. I have been so grateful to have this year to heal and review my life. I could see that being constantly resentful with what life was offering up to me was undermining my peace of mind, and had destroyed my relationship not only with Marian, but with all whom I encountered.
I joined a wonderful support group for women who suffer from eating disorders. They have provided comfort and concrete ideas for me to move from resentment to emotional freedom.
I am not certain what will happen to me when this year is up. I am on the wait list for subsidised housing in a small hamlet outside of Toronto, but that will take up to three years to come to fruition as they have torn down the existing structure and are building a new one.
I do know that whatever happens, I will great my life with gratefulness.