One of the reasons that I stopped writing Finding Melissa a few years ago was that I felt like I had finally found Melissa. That I had rebuilt a life and that I was no longer so submerged in an eating disorder that it was impossible to separate one from the other. That I had put the pieces painstakingly back together, making sense of why they’d come unhinged as I went along. That I knew who I was.
I am surprised to find myself drawn to writing about the same subject two years on.
It has been somewhat unsettling to find that I am scrabbling around, again, with a head full of questions and the impression that I have kind of disappeared somewhere along the way.
I wonder if this is how life works? Whether it is made up of these journeys.
I am beginning to suspect that I got the notion of a fixed sense of self wrong. To realise that it is hard to hold onto yourself when the context is constantly changing. To recognise that there is a different kind of stability which comes from somewhere deeper, maybe. That is like a beacon rather than a mooring.
It is hard to avoid clichés.
I have read a lot about identity and sense of self over the past few years. Descriptions where identity is clearly defined by action (I am what I do). Others, which point to a personal sense of self – a core that withstands what goes on around it. I have questioned who makes the definition. And whether it’s one that needs to be made –
And maybe it’s not the finite terms that matter, as I had previously believed. Maybe it’s not the labels or the tangible things or even the actions, because we all know how easy it can be to fall into the not doing or doing things trap, and how that can sometimes belie what we really feel….maybe it goes deeper and vaguer then that.
Language is scarily evasive sometimes.
I like the idea of the core self. I like the notion that there is a strong part of us, our essence, that can withstand whatever life throws at it. But I also believe that each different part of the journey requires a re-orientation. That there’s an adjustment period where you notice the context changing and have to work out, again, where you fit in.
I have found this re-orientation quite terrifying. I wonder, now, whether I should see it as a sign of growth.