Today, in the middle of Mother Nature shaking the New England snowglobe for the second day in a row, I came up with an analogy that expresses my biggest and deepest fear. It wasn’t brought on by anything in particular; I wasn’t prompted by some lightning strike of inspiration or revelation. I was just sitting there in my clunky oversized sweater, leggings, and scarf that I’d donned to hide the abominable bloat (seriously, I’m highly considering referring to it as that now to make it seem just a tad bit less horrendous), legs crossed and hands folded in my lap, and the thought appeared in my mind as noticeably as the snowflakes sticking to the windowpane in April.
I am afraid of being alone. This is my ultimate fear. I am frightened of ending up all by myself, devoid of friends, romantic relationships, or any voice in my head other than my own. Nothing is scarier to me. And my eating disorder makes this fear all the more tangible. It whispers in my ear that even if I fully recover, I’ll still be so disgusting and ugly that no one will want to bother with me. And it insists that if I just recommit to it and begin to let my weight drop again, I’ll be likable. Lovable, even.
So I was sitting there in the comfy couch that’s all too easy to sink into, entrenched in trying to articulate what this feels like to my case manager, and that’s when I found it.
The Balloon Analogy.
“I’m afraid of being alone,” I explained, somewhat hesitantly and gesticulating wildly. “I’m afraid of people walking out of my life like they have before. I’ve had so many people turn their backs on me even before they knew about my disorder, and I’ve had several people do the same after finding out it.” My knee bounced with anxiety. My brow furrowed. “It’s like I’m the little kid holding onto a bunch of balloons, but I can’t hang onto all of them at once. And they start to float away. And I wish more than anything that I could get them back, or fly away with them, since the sky seems so open and happy and flying seems so free. But I can’t. And then it’s too late, and they’re gone.” All of these words fell out of my mouth and hung in the air not unlike the metaphorical balloons I’ve just described, and I wondered at them. I wondered at the truth of them.
Because this is what it’s felt like, unfortunately. I’ve had several people flat out walk out of my life after finding out I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Hell, I’ve had people walk out of my life because they found out I had anxiety and depression. They all told me the same basic thing; it was just too much for them to handle. I was just too much to handle.
And my mind, as horrendous as it can be at times, warps these thoughts so that I’m always the one to blame. I’m never allowed to play the victim. It’s always my fault that people turn their backs on me; I’m always too emotional, too crazy, too depressed, too ugly, too unhappy, too fat, too boring, or too “something” to be worth the time.
I’m just the lonely kid left standing there with no more colorful balloons to brighten up my life, staring up at everything that’s left my life with a desperate wish to have it all back.
Today, for the first time, I decided to do something different. I decided not to shoulder the blame. I decided to turn my back on those who have left me behind for whatever reason.
I decided to watch the balloons fade into infinitesimal specks in the distance, and then walk away without their loss weighing on my mind.
Because, as I’m starting to learn, there are always more balloons out there. And some I’ll be able to hold onto, because their knot around my wrist will be tied in an unbreakable, forever, permanent fashion.
I am not meant to be alone. And neither is anyone else. So no matter how much my disorder might like to make me think otherwise, I will always have some color in my life.
(P.S. The painting that’s the featured image is by yours truly! I painted it in a sudden moment of inspiration, heh. It’s all done in watercolor and took me about fifteen minutes to complete.)