“Normal” my least favorite word, as who even defined normal? Who decided that when people follow the same pattern, that is the normal? What if that is the “weird” and I am the normal. Essentially we are all a little crazy, some people just hide it better than others.
I remember the day I crossed the divide and hugged my presumed insanity.
I was 8/9 years old standing in the unheated school pool, freezing. I peered down at my blue swimsuit clad child’s belly and thought, “I am fat.” That was the day I slid off the cliff of childlike normalcy into the crashing ocean of crazy town, and it continued to consume me for the next 10 years of my life.
I have never been shy about telling people I am / was an anorexic, it is not something I hide, it is also not the first thing I blurt out, but it is an intrinsic part of me. It has single handedly created my personality. I am not ashamed of it, I actually do not wish I had never had it, I mean I cannot change what was. People need to know why I do not follow their sense of normalcy, why I am a little bit kooky. People need to realize that If you have never had an eating disorder, you truly will never understand the body dysmorphia, the power and control, refusing food thrust upon me, being force fed, the happiness I felt when I could see my bones protruding aggressively from all parts of my body, picking myself apart in a mirror through dark eyes, sunken back in a face that was a skull. A skull that sat like a bobble head on my emaciated 10 year old body, and all I saw was rolls of flesh, spilling on to the floor. You will never understand the relief I felt punching my stomach, scratching my arms and bruising my knuckles releasing the anger that filled my shrinking torso. I was a 10 year old child when I was at my first worst, I was eating an apple a day and no clothes fit me and I was struggling to move. The day I finally reached out for help to my parents in 1987, my father had to carry me into the Children’s ward of Maidstone Hospital, where he gently deposited me on a sickly, green covered bed, and that is where I stayed for the next 4 months. Unbeknownst to me the doctors had told my parents if I didn’t go into hospital I had about 2 weeks left to live. To be honest I didn’t care, because at age 10 I secretly was over living, it hurt too much, it consumed all of my day, and all I wanted to do was hide from the panic, the hate and the loathing I had for myself. The loathing that is still a wisp of a shadow in my 40 + year old body today.
What I have never told people, is that as soon as I came out of hospital I went back to my old ways. I was a master at hiding my food, it was stashed in shoes, under my arms, snuck down toilets. Where at age 11 a teacher was monitoring me constantly, and that was life until I reached my second “worst”, and I finally was admitted into a newly created eating disorder home for children. Kelly Krystina Dixon age 13 was the second group of inmates. I was there for a whole 5 months, hidden away from my family and friends. I never went back to “normal” I created a whole new me that embraced her madness.
You may call me crazy, weird, nuts, mad, hey go ahead. Because it was at age 8 when I first acknowledged the sanity shift. It has taken me 30 years to love it, that was not an easy acceptance. Because, at age 8 I stopped being like my peers, I was the difficult, unstable, the weird, emaciated loner kid that no one knew what to do with. They tried to understand me , to help me. They locked me up, sent me to therapy, force fed me, shouted at me, sobbed at me, begged me, pleaded with me. Sadly or thankfully, I have a force inside me that is unmovable by others, only when I decide, can a change be made. From that pivotal moment, when my young eyes caught sight of that swimsuit clad belly, there truly was no going back to pre crazy Kelly age 7 1/2, she was gone, destroyed, extinguished maybe she never really existed. I promise you she did, she really was there, and she was stolen.
I have spoken a lot about my eating from the moment I started to get better, but the early years are shaded, I actually have never written the details, the pain, the anger, the hatred I had. The eternal feeling of hunger, the hair on my arms as my body tried to keep warm, the fact my body was eating its muscle to stay alive, the hair on my head was a fine cloud of wisp, my heart rate was so low, just to keep me in this world. I have never discussed, the fights, the fits, the throwing of food, the night running of a small child as she desperately tried to waste calories in a sleeping hospital, the fact I was never allowed off my bed for a whole month to conserve calories, the fact all my sport was taken away from me for years, the perpetual bone chilling cold, because I did not have enough fat to keep warm in summer. No one knows apart from me, my parents and my brother. Who have always been by my side, my army of warriors, who loved me.
What know one knows is I have never written this down, that I am now sobbing at my desk as I sit back in that dark hole of child hell, of fear, of nothingness. I didn’t care if I died, but of course something in me so desperately wanted to live, wanted to fight, wanted to sit back in the sun, and be a child who had friends and fitted.
This has been a good thing to “share”, it may not be what many want to hear or read, but eating disorders are here and they are everywhere in varying guises. They provide a destructive safety net / control in a place where you have no control.
So, please take this as you will. No I am not normal, and I never will be. I will be open, wild, honest, true, believe in the magical, raw and blunt. I do believe that I am also kind and I would truly help anyone in need, I am the person who stops the car to help the lady cross the road, to smile at the person alone on the bench, to hug a stranger crying, and tell people I love them. I know what it feels like to be alone, laughed at in the school, bullied in the playground, in life and constantly told I am weird. But, if weird is not normal then maybe that’s ok by me.
If you don’t like my “different” it is ok to walk away.