June 23, 2021, noon
It is often said that the scariest part of a horror movie is the buildup. In the mystery of anticipation and heart palpitations our minds often conjure up images of monsters that we have never seen. Yet, despite this, they exert an intangible hold over us that leaves us holding our breath, immobilized in our seats, eyes glued to the television until they are revealed. And after this, we exhale and their influence subsides. We have been released. I have come to learn that living with an eating disorder is much the same. That the power and control of the disorder lies within the intangible shadows of its existence, something so scary that we dare not speak its name.
One of the greatest tools that has aided my recovery has been revealing who She really is. To me, She is smart, twisting research and ‘facts’ into manipulative half-truths of unobtainable standards and goals. She knows what is socially desirable, She tells me how to fit in, how to be accepted. I’ve had to fit in so many times. It is She who makes the rules about what is good enough. She decides if I am worthy and she assures me that if I listen to her, I will be able to love myself and be happy. She keeps me safe, She is the gatekeeper of all my worries - the deep unspeakable ones. She holds these thoughts and tames the fears. But She is also exploitative and will use those fears against me. She whispers in my ear, She screams in my face, She plays her tapes over and over in my head.
But She loses power when I call her out by name. An act of defiance that threatens the very core of Her existence. This seemingly impossible step of externalization gives me the strength to untangle a tapestry of complex lies thread by thread, trying to repair the very fabric that I am cut from. Each piece that I pull out and question threatens Her existence and she knows this. I am able to face Her, and when I speak Her name even if it’s just the frailest of a whisper, it echoes. It reverberates through my village like a shock wave and my people hear it. Your people will hear it too.
And as I am sat down at the bargaining table as a frail stakeholder over this war torn territory of a body, I am not alone. The village is congregating in the distance, their shadows barely visible, their cries almost inaudible but they are there, I can feel them. All because of a whisper.
All because of a whisper I am able to feel release from covering Her up, I am finally able to accept help. With each shaky articulation of Her presence I feel Her shrink and my confidence grow. Soon the whispers no longer get stuck in my throat, I no longer tremble at their sounds. Time after time after time I practice calling Her out. I talk back to Her, I defy Her. Her power and influence like the scary movie monster is no more because I know who She is and I have seen Her in her truest form. It is not I who should feel shame, it is Her. I feel joy. I feel love. And in this very moment I know that I am worthy and it all started with a whisper.
Haley Jonas lives on the East Coast of Canada and is a mom of three wonderful children. Recently divorced, she has learned how to thrive in all aspects of her life. She enjoys music, cooking, gardening, exploring the outdoors and going for walks with her dog.
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