2013 started off in a cell for me. A cell I wasn’t sure how I got into, and one I did not know how to get out of, writes Emma Wood. One I had put myself in, but never intended to.
This cell was dark. It was quiet. It was predictable, structured, controlled. I knew what my days were going to be like. I could decide who could come visit. But no on knew what it was really like. I cleaned before they came round. I straightened the curtains and made my bed. I pretended like it was great in there.
To me, it was familiar. I knew the cracks, which floor boards creaked, the number of chips in the ceiling. It was peaceful in there. My home.
Something wasn’t right though. My body wasn’t working the way it used to. Sleep wasn’t restful. There was a constant blockage in my ears – like they needed to pop. There was pressure behind my eyes. My hair was thinning. My bones felt sharp. My clothes hung off me. My energy levels – low. My eating – disordered.
My doctor suggested I put on weight. My housemate asked how the thought of that made me feel. Petrified.
I became aware, then and there, of the cell. That being in the cell was making my world a small place.
Over the next few months, the parts of my cell I had found comforting were now a threat. The cracks weren’t just quirks – there were hazards. The solitude wasn’t just peaceful – it was isolating. I wasn’t just hungry – I was starving.
The walls were caving in fast, and my therapist’s mention of the word “hospitalisation” resonated loud – I needed to get out before the cell crumbled with me in it.
A plan is what we worked on next. A plan to get out safely to reach a healthy BMI. A literal food plan, careful note-taking and monitoring of the progress, establishing the safest moments to move forward and the times I needed to lie low. Adrenaline and vulnerability like I’d never known before.
Some days I looked back, craving the drama-free quietness of my old home. I longed for the peace again, to not always need to watch and keep track of my every move.
But somehow, memory of life on the other side of the prison walls spurred me forwards. The hope people carried for me on the outside kept me running towards them.
And I did.
Towards the end of the year, I reached those walls. The BMI considered “normal”. I began to climb, ready and rearing for life beyond.
But still, something not right. I could hear no birds chirping, no gentle trickle of a stream, no wind in no trees.
Instead, the world I knew before had turned against each other, it became so obvious when I reach the top of the wall. A civil war had broken out, and I needed to pick a side to fight for.
Two options. Go back to the quiet. Go back and risk never knowing a larger life, an adventurous life.
Or jump. Jump down and face the wide open space ahead, full of uncertainty. Of decisions. Of choosing which side of the war to fight on. Of risk. Of wrong turns. Of anxiety. Pain. Battles. Threats. Carbs. Identity. Purpose. Forgiveness. Love. Hope. Rest. Joy. Dinner parties and chocolate.
2013, I’m deciding to leave you behind. Deciding to be grateful for where you’ve brought me. To remember you as a battle won, strengthening me to fight 2014 with victory on my side.