The Uninvited Traveller

Posted 29/08/2017

I don't recall booking a flight for two, but there you were, firmly planted into the seat next to me. I questioned why you were here, but it was too late. We had ascended above the clouds. Here we were again. Just me and you.

Debating for ten tedious hours. She criticized my every inch. I hadn't given in to the March April May diet culture. The 'bikini body preparation' season, the need to physically alter our appearance in order to enjoy our holidays, to get some attractive photos, to prove who did a better job at looking good on holiday, in order to feel better when consuming food on holiday. It's the diet that's deemed 'harmless'.

I must say, she did a great job at annihilating me. I wasn't self-disciplined enough...I was a failure...I should hide my body, for it wasn't deemed 'bikini worthy'. Needless to say, these thoughts had entered my mind the last few months. I had skipped a few meals and fantasized about being at the lowest weight I had achieved by the time I entered rehab. But every meal I missed I felt weak, tired and a slave again. The anorexic mind brutally takes over quite easily, twisting and turning through my veins.

The lure of this 'harmless diet' is very appetising. But for me, dieting in any sense of the word is incompatible. I have tried multiple times just to lose a few pounds. But the numbers become an obsession that doesn't stop. I took a stand in the debate.

My body. My mind. My summer holiday. Not hers. Mine.

For we had arrived. Touchdown.

However, she riddles my mind. I try to escape but each place it finds. It screams at my every bite. Leave me alone. I want to taste the joy of the flavour of the Texan bbq chicken sandwich flaming down my throat, and the coldness of the rocky road chocolate blizzard ice cream melting through my mouth. I do for a moment. But then I look down at my thighs. Staring. Wishing that they were smaller. That obviously that would make me more happy then looking up into the blazing sunset of Texas. A fountain of colour painted across the sky. A tornado of vivid colours: blue pink green gold orange. All blended to form beauty. The natural elements, the purity of nature. So far away from the dull mind of anorexia. A display free for all to see. Providing life for each of us. A coloured landscape with its skyscrapers and booming clouds. The music it blares and the vibrations are strong. When I look up, it's an element of freedom, but the moment I look down, I miss out on everything that is all around. I lift my head and put her on mute. Breath-taking moments that I cannot dare to miss. For it's not every day I get to see something as blissful like this.

The uninvited traveller acted as if she was lost. Clinging onto my side. But I showed her the way. My way. No guilt. No shaming. No trying to restrict. Freedom to experience and explore this new city in all of its wholeness.

A precious gift this is. For four years ago this girl was ill. She dreaded facing another holiday. She dragged her skeleton around, sickeningly proud. Severely underweight. Severely depressed and anxious. She had given up. Anorexia almost took her last breath. For at the end of that summer holiday she spent it in a hospital bed connected to tubes. That is not the tales of the summer holiday I wish to tell this time.

My body. My way. My summer holiday. Not hers. Mine.

And I won't let her dictate and riddle me with summer shame when autumn comes.

Contributed by Isabel