I love Britney Spears. From the moment she arrived on the pop scene I have been a huge fan and I have stuck by her through thick and thin. This week, when I was out on one of my walks, listening to my MP3 player (which is a new thing I do-before when I walked, I wouldn’t allow myself to listen to anything), I was playing all my Britney Spear’s albums. And one song seemed very appropriate to how I feel at the moment.
“I’m not a girl, not yet a woman”. One of my favourite Britney songs and one that rings very true. I know your probably thinking that I’m nearly 28 so how on earth can I consider myself part girl/part woman…clearly I’m an adult? But anorexia keeps you in child-like state; physically, mentally, and environmentally. Many 28 year old would have their own home, a career, marriage, children…an established adult life. The years I have lost through hospitalisation and ‘being anorexic’ has put my life and growing up on pause. I very much feel like I am still a teenager. There is no way I could cope with living on my own. I do not want to be without my mum and dad. Growing up and becoming an adult has always terrified me and this is something anorexia has protected me from. It has meant I haven’t had to grow up.
I have never properly thought about careers. At school I had dreams but in reality I had no idea what I wanted to do. University and Sport science seemed like the most logical option for me. However, anorexia took over my life and then I didn’t need a career…anorexia was my full time job. But when I was discharged from my most recent hospital admission in 2011, the following 4 years when I was completing my degree I had the idea in my head that my dream job was to work in a tearoom. So again, I didn’t need to think about a career. I would get a job in a tearoom and that would be it.
But here I am, one and half years into what I thought was my dream job as a cook in a tearoom, and I am dis-satisfied and very unhappy. This is not my dream job and I do not want to be doing it for the rest of my life. So, for the first time in my life I am starting to think about a career. Whereas before, I was anorexic and very much a ‘girl’, now that I am experiencing more of life, anorexia is getting smaller and I am entering the phase, as the song goes “Not a girl, not yet a woman…all I need is time, a moment that is mine, while I’m in between”. So for the moment, while I’m in between, I am investigating careers in the sport science and media domain, seriously considering doing a Masters, and trying to get work experience in the relevant fields.
This weekend I went on a training day in Derby as I had applied (and was chosen) to be a volunteer to carry out scientific tests on aspiring athletes to try and identify potential Olympians. I am actively trying to build a career pathway, something I have never contemplated before. I think this can only be a good thing. And whilst I was on this training day, I did something I have always thought I wasn’t capable of:
A) I sat next to a boy, B) I spoke to this boy, C) Not only did I just speak to the boy, we had proper conversations throughout the day…chatting and laughing.
And to me, this is a major achievement. I have always concluded that I can’t talk to boys, that I am a social reject, a freak of nature. But I really surprised myself this weekend. I spoke to him with ease and the conversation flowed. Most people wouldn’t think twice about talking to a boy. To me, it was a milestone. In my last hospital admission I attended the ‘Social phobia’ classes because I simply couldn’t cope with social situations, they were too anxiety provoking and I couldn’t interact with other people. And now, here I am, holding lengthy conversations with a male!
Another occasion this week that highlights my middling state between girl and woman was a trip to the hospital. Throughout my life I have never wanted to menstruate…having period’s means you are growing up. Anorexia stops this and keeps your body in a child state. And I like this…don’t ask me why because I don’t know, but I want to look like a child (probably because I wish I could stay a child). In the depths of anorexia, I considered my periods returning as absolute hell…I felt it would possibly even drive me to suicide. But now, as I am not the 100% completely anorexic girl anymore, the idea of my periods returning doesn’t terrify me as much. The doctor told me this week that if my periods were to return properly (as would likely happen with a little bit of weight gain) then there is no reason why I wouldn’t be able to conceive. And because I am now between ‘girl’ and ‘woman’ this was something I was happy to hear…I want to be able to have children. And if that means my periods returning then so be it. I am not ready to gain the weight now and I don’t know how long it will be until I do feel ready. I am terrified of leaving and losing anorexia and I don’t want to at the moment. But I do also want a life and I am at the stage now where I have to think about my future…life will soon pass me by if I don’t. This is a fact I am slowly beginning to realise.
And thinking about life and the future…careers and family, can only be a positive step forward. A very daunting one but a positive one nevertheless. “I used to think I had the answers to everything. But now I know that life doesn’t always go my own way”. And this is very true. You can’t run from life forever. And I can’t hide behind anorexia forever. And actually, now I don’t want to.