A Note on Grief

By Kayla O’Brien

I used to think the only way I would be able to separate myself from my eating disorder was in a body bag. I also used to think my eating disorder was the only interesting and unique thing about me.

It is fair, though, to say this is normal. It is fair to also say that doesn’t make it any easier.

I used to flirt with and admire a disease that dressed itself up and looked like safety. Like a lighthouse guiding me home if I ever sailed off route.

I used to answer to someone I loved that had a heart made of good intentions but hands that suffocated and words that left scars.

I used to rely on external forces to create internal peace–numbness. 

It worked, until it didn’t. It worked, until my body, heart, and mind learned this was the new normal, and then I was asked to change.

So, if you ask me why I grieve I will tell you this is why. Wouldn’t you, also, grieve a life you used to live? One that was painted in gold and flower petals, and latched itself on to you like handcuffs on skin? One that made you feel like the sun, like magic, like worth?

To anyone else, it is probably unimaginable. Because, how could you love and admire something that had a heart made of good intentions but with hands and words that left scars?

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset
Art by Kayla O’Brien

I used to feel shame missing the life I used to live, more like, the half-life I used to live. I used to feel anger missing the person I thought, up until recently, I would end up becoming.

I honestly don’t know where I’m going with this other than this: if you are grieving something that masked itself as safety, something dressed in gold and flowers, something that you thought brought you internal peace, I am with you. I don’t know when it’s going to get better, because, I think, grief doesn’t work that way.

I have grieved other things, such as people. Close, loved people.

Who, like my eating disorder, were once there and then weren’t, who faded away with time.

I think grief, in its best form, lingers and returns in full force, abruptly. I don’t think it gets easier. I think, maybe, we just get stronger.


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