Falling women

March 15, 2012

Falling in love, we said; I fell for him. We were falling women. We believed in it, this downward motion: so lovely, like flying, and yet at the same time so dire, so extreme, so unlikely. God is love, they once said, but we reversed that, and love, like heaven, was always just around the corner. The more difficult it was to love the particular man beside us, the more we believed in Love, abstract and total. We were waiting, always, for the incarnation. That word, made flesh.

And sometimes it happened, for a time. That kind of love comes and goes and is hard to remember afterwards, like pain. You would look at the man one day and you would think, I loved you, and the tense would be past, and you would be filled with a sense of wonder, because it was such an amazing and precarious and dumb thing to have done; and you would know too why your friends had been evasive about it, at the time.

There is a good deal of comfort, now, in remembering this.

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale: Anchor, 1998: 226.

2 Responses to “Falling women”

  1. Laura Says:

    After reading “biting anorexia” I tried to find your email address but could only find this page. I have to say what’s on my mind. You mentioned “stick figure” to be overly simplified and then you used the exact same format but left out the entire story. I have a decent understanding of how depressed you were and how you believed yourself to be this child genius of Australia. Everything else is blurred. I think that your book could have been amazing if you had waited a few more years and filled in the blanks.

    • lucyshena Says:

      I do partly agree with you. I wish sometimes that I had waited; until I was further removed and so could write something that was more cohesive, more detatched. But at the same time, if I had waited I’d have written nothing at all, simply because at some point you have to move on and stop engaging with your memories of an ED.

      The reason why I disliked Stick Figure was not because the format was simple, but because she reduced the causes of anorexia down, overwhelmingly, just to body image, to being “thin” so that one could be successful and attractive. I think the causes are much more flexible, and often much more complex.

      I’m not sure what warrants your comment on my believing myself a “child genius of Australia”; certainly at the time that the book was published I couldn’t have felt less so. I have a feeling you know what an ED is like, and how it completely reduces you to nothing. I didn’t publish it because I was wanting to subscribe to any notions of genius; I published it because I wanted to explain something (to myself as well, to be sure), and reach out. A few years of being very involved on pro-ana websites had proved to me the value of sharing how the disease says the same, vicious things to everyone. You begin to think it’s less your own identity if you realise it’s just been repeating what it says to a lot of other people.

      But I do agree that I should have waited. Hindsight is a wonderful and dreadful thing, and I have the benefit of it, and the misfortune of not being able to do anything about it. I was sick when the book was published, and I was sick when it was written. And now it’s fixed in time, and I’m still known for it, even though I am better and very different.

      I’m glad you said what’s on your mind, it’s important to. 🙂

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