Recovery is a hopeful word, but it remains a distant destination in my mind. It is neither an achievement nor an arrival. At least not for me.
I have been working on my “stuff” for many years, but I cannot honestly say I am recovered. I still fall back into my eating disorder. I still fall back into the false visions I have of my body, of myself. Not as often as I used to, not as violently as I used to, but I still fall. I still fail. But I keep getting back up and trying again. It is simply what my life is, and if I want there to be an underlying purpose, then that’s why I’m here, to share what helps me, just in case it can help you too.
Drawing myself, my face, but in particular my body, brings me peace. Why is that? Because part of my problem is an off-the-charts striving for perfection as well as an inability to clearly recognize my own strengths and weaknesses. Drawing my face, unsmiling, unmade-up, and drawing myself (or another person) nude connects me to what is vulnerable, to what is fragile and tender, to what is raw and real. It brings me back into contact with the frailness of humanity but also to a very pure animal-like strength. It moves me closer to myself in an unaccessorized, unromanticised way. It helps me to see myself as I am. Both strong and weak, resilient and vulnerable. Not all one or the other, but a mix of many shades in between. It brings depth to my shallow desire to appear impeccably put together.
In the past I have been ambiguous about sharing this work and these drawings, but not any more. I share the work in case it can inspire just one other person to pick up a pencil and give it a try, and perhaps find some peace there too. I share these drawings freely now because they don’t really belong to me, they just kind of come through me as I hold pencil to paper. As I draw, a sense of detachment grows in the translation from photograph to drawing. As I work on the image, there comes a point when it’s no longer me, my body, my scars, my curves. It’s just a drawing, of a woman, at that age, at that weight, with that attitude or composure or lack thereof. This erasure of identity brings a universality to the image that allows me to step back and have compassion for the person I see, even if it started out as me and everything that was wrong with me.
I ate much too much of too many of the things that don’t make me feel good today, and yesterday as well. I guess because I am struggling inside, because I am not aligned enough with myself to find inner peace. Sometimes I think this sense of imbalance can’t be avoided or even controlled; as if the disordered eating swings the pendulum back, because when I am doing well, I start to think I am invincible. It’s as if falling backwards is somehow simply a quest for true balance. I could do without these ups and downs, but until I see clearly both my flaws and my finesses, I guess it will keep me drawing.
No artistic talent or experience are required for this process, just a willingness to face yourself and see something different than the you you are used to judging so harshly.
If you would like to draw with me, please let me know. We will find ways to do it together. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.