To The Bone, and thoughts on anorexia

I just watched To The Bone… it’s a Netflix original movie about a group of people with eating disorders, especially anorexia because that’s what the main character has.

I remember hearing about this before it came out–people saying they thought it would be triggering and/or glamorize EDs, especially anorexia. For me, it wasn’t triggering at all. I didn’t think it glamorized it at all. It just told the story from a perspective rarely seen, in a snippet often glossed over in narratives.

For me, if I had any issues with it at all, it’s one part I can’t reference without a spoiler, but that is more of asexual me responding than anything, and the only other “issue” I would have is I wish it were longer. I would like to see a sequel to this, although I doubt they will make it.

Personally, I didn’t have any issues at all with the ED part of it. I thought overall the movie was quite funny in parts, sad in others, awkward where it was supposed to be awkward, hopeful in other aspects. Just like life. It wasn’t as tectonically moving as I expected it to be for me, but that isn’t because of a failure on the part of the movie.

Actually, I think it’s a good thing. I think this shows that I’ve come a long way since the last time I watched an anorexia-themed movie or show. I think the fact that it didn’t dig emotional claws into me deeper than would any other movie, shows I’ve learned to tell the voice to fuck off, as Dr Beckman says to do in the movie, and it shows that I’ve come far enough that I can watch something like this and see it as the story it is first and foremost, instead of everything bouncing all around my brain worrying about everything else.

I’m not sure if the way I explained that makes any sense…

But then, maybe a reason it doesn’t affect me as strongly is because I never went through therapy or got any sort of help for my issues. And the movie is set almost entirely during therapy. I liked the story a lot, though. I felt like they didn’t try to glamorize or dramatize anything, really. The main character’s story feels like something that could actually happen right now in real life, and I like that.

I still need to release the bits and pieces I’ve written so far about my own struggles with anorexia. I have some parts written. I keep thinking I’ll share some here on my blog, and then I keep not doing it. Not because I mind if people know everything that I cover in it, but because I don’t know the best way to release it without it being super random, or without potentially triggering anyone.

On the other hand, that’s what everyone feared about To The Bone, right? That it would trigger people with EDs. But it didn’t trigger me. Granted, I’m not as deep in anorexia as I used to be, but I don’t think those thoughts ever fully leave one’s mind. It’s all a matter of how you categorize them in your head; the weight you give the weight you have. Every day, I think at least 2-3 times that I would be “better” somehow if I were 30-40 pounds lighter. At least 20. And every day I ultimately dismiss or ignore that thought, or argue against the voice.

The thing is, if you have an ED, if you dealt with anorexia for any significant time, you can’t trust your own eyes, your own opinion. I look in the mirror and what I see may not be what everyone else sees. I think some people think I’m a lot smaller than I am, but maybe I also think I’m bigger than I am. That’s the point, isn’t it? Those numbers, they mean nothing. They’re numbers only, just some digits taken from a scale and set to mind. They’re as arbitrary and subjective as opinions and beauty are.

There is no equation that solves all one’s problems. The only equation is living, and the only solution is continuing to live even when you think you can’t. Because those feelings will ebb and flow over time, like the tide at sea. Sometimes the ocean will recede, back and back and back into the horizon, and it feels like a drought will take over everything we know, and there will never again be water, there will never again be life. But the ocean always returns. The water will always be there again. Sometimes there’s too much water; the tide comes in too fiercely, and it’s not a drought of emotions, now it’s drowning in them, suffocating from an overabundance of something so ubiquitous it becomes inimical to life and living; a silent, unassuming partner for death. But that water, too, will eventually be drawn back out for tide. That water, too, will ebb. And if it goes out too far, if it comes back as a tsunami, it will take much longer to recover. But always, always, it will recede. If only you have the willingness and patience to wait for it, or to run and find the place where the tide is out if you don’t.

What is perfect? What is beautiful, or right, or wrong? What is humor? What makes one view of any of these more legitimate than another’s? If there is variation in the way humans view these things, why can there not be variation in how we see ourselves? Internally, on our own; a variegated, carbon-dated archaeological dig into our own self-view, self-worth, self-confidence, self-pity, just Self.

We all have stories we want to tell, and other stories we don’t. The dark stories we may not hide for any reason other than because they are hidden even from us, even though we may still feel them. Sick and slick and a dark balm on the soul. Something that feels like it’s helping us, healing us, but is hurting us, harming us; the slow dance down to a self-prescribed -cide, the only question being which it is. Suicide, homicide, fratricide, and more.

But why does that have to be the only end? Stories only start and end where you say. Give your story a little longer, and the line you choose to end on may give an entirely different meaning than even the one before it. Or the one after. We can’t choose what happens to us, we can’t always even choose how we react to what happens. But we can choose how we see that story, or how we make the story see us.

This world is not here to be perfect for you, so you don’t have to be perfect for the world.

You know… I write posts like this, and then I think about posting them, and sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Do the words make sense? Am I conveying what I meant, or saying something unintentional that I don’t mean? Do I mean it after all and just didn’t know or realize?

Now when I think about anorexia, it makes me philosophical. Because inevitably it leads me to thinking about subjectivity. There was a time I thought the world was much more divided than it really is, as strange as that may sound given how divisive the norm has become.

But I believed in extremities. I don’t mean I believed extremities exist–of course they do–I mean, I saw the world in either/or fashion more than mediation. Black or white, right or wrong, good or evil. It wasn’t always that cut and dry, it wasn’t always that dismissive, but it was there. I didn’t believe solely in those concepts, because I’d lived so much of my life outside the norm. But maybe what I thought was accepted was only those extremities. Maybe I thought that to the general world, the general population, I only existed when my natural flow overlapped one of those pools of thought. Everywhere else, I was an in-between, a nothingness that existed because it breathed, but did not exist because it didn’t live the way it was supposed to.

And that was part of it, wasn’t it? “Supposed to” — an expectation, inexorable, unspoken but unavoidable, a question in every breath and a thought in every mind. That which we are expected to do, that which we are required. Being born so different, maybe on some level I thought it was my duty to align in some ways whenever I could, to give meaning to my life, maybe, or maybe to give context for myself.

I get philosophical because I think about all the things I thought, and all the things I think now, and they aren’t so different, honestly; I’ve always been pretty similar in some ways. But the way I see those thoughts is what has changed. I think.

The question is this: whose voice do you listen to, when you can listen to only one?

Is it the voice that tells you over and over you aren’t enough, you have to be more or less or better or different?

Is it the voice of others, not understanding or not trying, an accidental dismissal of everything you own and know and are?

Is it the voice of those who do understand, who do try, but don’t know the words to fix it, because they think they have to do the fixing even when they don’t?

Is it the voice inside, perilous and quavering and oh so uncertain about everything?

Is it the voice even deeper inside, quiet and questioning, unwilling to accept the status quo, unwilling to accept this is it?

For me, it was that deeper voice that made me always stop just before it went too far. That deeper voice that, for years, led to nights I cried alone, hushing my voice so the tears tracked my cheeks but even my gasps were silenced so I wouldn’t disturb anyone else. That deeper voice that would not let me accept the louder voices. That deeper voice that refused to give up on me.

If you were to ask what any of this means, what any of this matters, I couldn’t tell you. It’s just the thoughts I have when I watch movies like To The Bone. The philosophy that emerges when that deeper voice rises to the surface, once more discontent with the silence, once more questioning all that I thought I knew, and everything I accepted since the last time we conversed.

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