“I am …” How the illness came to sit on my mat.

My first class, I had no idea what yoga was.

Something like Pilates? I was sure it was what very, very flexible people do. In tights. I wasn’t flexible ( and I didn’t wear tights) – and since the birth of my two children, had not even been able to access my abdominal muscles… and that was okay, because concave was okay. Either justifiably bellyful whilst pregnant …. or concave , the ‘rib-cave’ – a remarkably safe place to live… I didn’t think there was a middle road for me. The middle road meant frightening years locked up in a house, too tormented by self hatred to see the world. The middle road meant little-death.

The children … they meant little-life. They were enough – and will always be enough – for me to assemble a surface deep self that functioned – that came out of hiding. I may have watched my relationship with their father erode and explode, and I do still struggle at motherhood. But little-life gives life, even if its a small space to start.

 …yet… the middle road was still mediocre. Grey tones. A Failed Anorexic..

But I went to a class, as  you know.

I went because … I had started university again. Third and final attempt to get through my degree without hospitalization. First attempt to study without the ‘tools’ of starvation extending my curfew to day time hours – where all the world can see. And, as much as it humors me to admit, I started out that journey of de-starv-atizing …. by joining the gym. Skirting peoples eyes and, well, thinking maybe I could look like a dancer if I did this ‘yoga’. Maybe I’ll find a fast track to suction up the waste-line and people will start adverting their gaze from me again. Maybe I’ll re-anorexia-tize, and then university wont matter so much.

But …. yoga happened instead.

Ask anyone who has an eating disorder and they will tell you what sitting with your body feels like. There is simply nothing NOTHING worse. And now … to sit here and often hear the voice in my head “Pause. Soften. Feel your body” as a relief? if there are miracles possible in this world – that’s one of them. Lets not pretend that the anorexia voice has vanished into space – its all still there. Today as i sat down to my laptop I spent 3 minutes checking my thighs as they weighed down on the seat. I deliberately tightened my stomach. I scrupulously scanned my setting for the ‘thinner-than-mes’ (an increasingly common breed of person I am working on making peace with) – You could well be a ‘thinner-than-me’ – but fear not, I promise to respect your mind, even if i feel uncomfortable standing next to your body and being a ‘bigger-than-her’ . 2 years ago I would have cried after you walked away. Because the voice told me that I was no longer okay. That the ‘bigger-than-her’ breed was one of deformity and I had better stay the fuck out of society or else find a collarbone-shaving-cure, stat.

But …. yoga happened instead.

Pause. Soften. Feel your body – I’ve been so fortunate on my journey through yoga. I found people – all these bright shiny souls whose feeling-tones matched their colorful eyes – who took my hand and walked beside me as i discovered the light within myself. The people who taught me asana, the minds who spoke words of impermanence and peace …. the hearts who reflected my own – who in their opening broke open my chest; Moved my shoulder-blades down my back – helped me stumble across this safe, warm, quiet place within my self where i was no one. I was someone. And I was new. Now. To the next. This moment. To the next. I was new and I could heal. I was new and I could feel.

If I hadn’t found yoga … well, there is no if I hadn’t found yoga, because i have. I’m grateful for my daily practice. I am grateful for my teachers – the ones I know intimately, and the one’s I may have only met once – I am grateful for all the brilliant minds out there who offer guidance through their words as we partake on a yogic path … I love the people i walk past on the street and sit next to in class … and I am grateful for myself. I am learning to trust myself, the more that I see less self. The simple thought that i am not one thing, but many, is liberating. I don’t have to be my past, or my future. I don’t have to be my hopes. I don’t have to be my failures. My dreams can be just dreams and my pains …just pain.

I can just be my present – and taken moment by moment – it is possible to work with ease. I hope to one day take the urgency out of my life-experience – I’ll keep the fear, it can serve me well; I’ll keep the sadness, it can release the fear; I’ll keep the pain, it reminds me to make peace with feeling sad. But I don’t want to live in hurry. Happiness, freedom, release is not ‘over there’ – there is no race through life to reach wholeness, there is no timeline to be stuck on …. there is nothing more than now. And the moment i look over my shoulder and reach for the past …. the moment I reach forward and attempt to caress the future … I am robbing myself of the life I have waited for so fucking long to start living. No. I won’t do it anymore. I want to slow down. Pause. Soften. Feel my body. Love. Love. Love.

If someone asked me “how did you recover from anorexia?” I would tell them that I have not recovered. In fact … I would tell them that i don’t want ‘recovery’. I have just …. continued. I have stabilized the parts in me that move too much, in order to bring softness to the stuck side, like finding integrity in eka pada rajakapotasana. I am all the voices. I let them in. I don’t run, but I don’t hide either. I am not an ‘anorexic’ NOBODY is ‘an anorexic’ – just as I am not a ‘yogini’ or a ‘mum’ or a ‘student’. I’m all of that and everything else too. I don’t starve anymore, because I let the lines move. The definitions are hazy and the stencils have all gone broke.

it’s not “I am …..”. its “I AM”.

and yes …. I wear tights.

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