Fear is a powerful emotion. It’s one which we are evolutionarily programmed to respond to- known as the fright/ flight response. It is an emotion which can incapacitate us and yet at other times can drive us to seemingly superhuman feats. It can make us freeze or it can inspire extreme acts of bravery. It is an emotion of extremes and one of the most basic human instincts.
For a while now fear has been driving me. Ever since the assault I have lived in fear, terrified by attention, by anything that might draw attention to me, terrified of being believed, terrified of not being believed. For a long time I deflected that fear onto food and my body. I deprived myself and starved myself in an attempt to make myself safer. As I diminished I felt more powerful and less in danger- instead of people looking at me and seeing me, they simply saw an anorexic, a skeleton, and that felt a lot safer. It was easier to say I was terrified of the jacket potato and cheese sat in front of me than to admit the real reason I was scared.
I’m better with food now. I still struggle a lot with it, but more with the bulimic symptoms than the anorexic ones. I’m freer with food and whilst I’ve a long way to go, I’ve come a long way from where I was. Which is a positive, but at the same time it feels counter-intuitive and frightening. Suddenly I am in a vulnerable position again and the fear raises it’s head again. Getting my period back, walking down the street and receiving positive comments, clothes fitting as they should, all are terrifying and take me back to the place I was in when I was assaulted.
Fear induces the fright/ flight response. For a long time I’ve been running as fast as I can. And yet at the same time I’m frozen. Terrified to move. What I haven’t really done is fight, fight the dear to get my life back. Now it’s time for that to change. I’ve had a bad week- on monday I overdosed. Not as a suicide attempt but because the memories and fears were so intense I felt that something unnameably awful would happen if I didn’t. It was one of the most selfish things I could have done and I regret the hurt it caused my family immensely. But one thing the resulting challenges from my mum have done is made me finally stop running. Since starting to see my boyfriend the flashbacks and fears have been so intense and I have finally agreed to get help for it and try to face things rather than running from them.
The fear is still so strong. I am still scared of food, still scared of what might happen, scared of anything which brings me positive attention, scared of losing control, scared of living. But it’s time to stop letting the fear rule my life. And that’s scary in itself.