Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Control (01/30/06)
TITLE: Heart of Hunger
By Ann Grover
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
Please forgive me if I ramble. I havenít been thinking too clearly lately.
Maybe youíve already guessed. Youíre very observant, but youíre also cautious, and you wouldnít want to mention anything, just on the outside chance that you might be mistaken.
No doubt youíve noticed the diminishing of my spirit and my self, in spite of the fact that I am very adept at cloaking the evidence in bulky layers. I also know how to conceal myself in busyness and the demands of hospitality. Iíve learned to anticipate the fade-to-black sensation that shadows my mind if I move too quickly.
Iím able to overcome my panic at mealtimes, and Iíve calculated how to maintain a facade of ingesting, hoping no one will notice that I take a spoonful-sized helping of this, a thin slice of that, pushing food around with my fork, rearranging it into smaller piles, simulating consumption.
Seizing any opportunity to escape from the table, I fuss with making tea or filling the kitchen sink with hot, soapy water. I plunge my trembling hands into the scalding suds, letting the pain gather in my fingers, allowing me to ignore the burning in my heart.
I have chosen my battle. I have chosen my weapon.
I have chosen my voice.
I havenít always been given the option of speaking. Now, with obscene freedom, I proclaim refusal of sustenance.
I reprimand the guttural demands of clawing hunger pangs, and they retreat into quiet submission. Iíve persuaded myself that the gnawing appetite is not real, only a ploy to make my body respond to the temptation to eat and so live another day.
Food is designed to preserve, to keep a body moving and feeling, but I prefer the numbness in my melting bones to the unrelenting anguish of despair and unworthiness. Deny nourishment to the undeserving. Withdraw privileges from the condemned. I am shriveled and unshriven; how can I receive absolution when I have but one ambition?
How long until the hollowness inside escapes the husk that I have become, dissolving like a thin vapour into invisibility?
Sometimes, my resolve breaks and I swallow. The food turns bitter and weighs heavily within, distended by guilt. With determination, I mend the promises Iíve made to myself, but sometimes, the burden needs to be released, purged.
Each loss is a victory.
I feel empowered by my ability to subdue and suppress.
Occasionally, someone comments on my fading away. I must have tremendous will power, they say. I must be blessed with an extra measure of self-control.
How little they know. I donít have any control at all. Iíve lost control.
I can not stop the winding descent any more than I can stop the tide or the wind.
I am afraid that if I relent, I will gorge myself into obese oblivion.
Yet, I am also afraid that starvation will consume me.
I wonder if itís of any consequence, either way.
I am confessing to you, to test the waters, so to speak. Iím watching you for signs of revulsion or judgment, but your eyes tell me that you are not surprised by my confession. Iím challenging you to be honest with your words, your actions, to not dismiss me with a trite rebuke about duty and responsibility.
If you give me permission to eat, I will. For a few bites, I will be at your mercy, and I will feel relieved and breathe much easier. Convince me, persuade me that it matters if I will still be breathing tomorrow, next week.
Tell me again to eat, before the tenuous moment passes, and I become tangled once more in the delusion that I am beyond redemption. Tell me again that you care, before I begin to mock the voices that are telling me itís acceptable to eat. Please hold me while I unwrap the deceitfully comforting arms of self-denial from my heart.
Perhaps, each time you encourage me to take from your hand, I will be filled and satisfied by the assurance that it is permissible to exist. The nourishment of your steadfast and unconditional love will restore my ravenous soul and feed my famished spirit.
Itís time for me to let go.
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