Into the Darkness / by Michelle Cowan

Okay, so the last post wasn't entirely accurate. Sometimes, my life does flow downhill, smooth and easy. But what I really wanted to say was that I am convinced that my life will not end in a worse condition than where it started. I'm progressing, not regressing; entering a place of light and freedom, not darkness and confinement.

But sometimes darkness is fun. Sometimes, I long for darkness more than anything. I think that many of my most creative ideas emerge from the shadowy places. I often find more rest there than anywhere. Oftentimes, "dark" things in my life move into the light, and sometimes I see "lighter" things in a darker sense. Recognizing the ever-changing brightness of these life elements adds depth to my existence. I understand the world in a different way when looking up from the valleys than I do when looking down from the mountaintop.

Right now, I feel like entering the shady places. A lot of it has to do with wanting someone to notice that I have gone down into them. I have only once had the experience of someone noticing when I became truly depressed and disconnected. This was in high school, when my eating disorder was first uncovered. Unfortunately, even when my disorder was noticed, I felt it was not handled with love and care, but with fear and control on the other party's behalf.

Since then, I have recovered and relapsed a few times, all without a word from me or anyone in my life. I don't know definitively if anyone ever noticed, but I am certain that no one ever said anything to me about it. The only acknowledgement of any changes in my life have been from people remarking on how good I looked after losing weight. I was never congratulated for gaining weight or socializing (two very difficult things for me). No one ever asked me why I stopped showing up to club meetings or gatherings of friends. No one called to check, and no one ever mentioned a thing about changes in my appearance or the reprehensible state of my living quarters.

Returning to the depths of my eating disorder holds no appeal for me, really. But experiencing the helpful hand of someone reaching out to me does. Therefore, I consider unearthing disordered behaviors, wallowing in depression, and disengaging from social activity simply to facilitate the fantasy of someone's attention. I imagine someone realizing I have not called or been seen in weeks, and that person reaches out to me somehow. Once they point out my absence, I am able to cry in front of him or her. I allow arms to encircle me. I allow someone to help me. In short, I want to experience help, so I want to put myself in a position of needing it.

Here's the rub. I also resist help. Therein lies the other half of one of my cyclical push-pull scenarios. By calculating a relapse, I'm going against the natural ebb and flow of life. If I do relapse, perhaps it would be a natural thing. However, I do not believe such a regression is in the cards. Needing help is, though. Going into the darkness is certain. It happens. I never need to force it.

Why not take advantage of moments when I need help and ask for it? That way, I don't have to open the door to full-on relapse to experience the joy of someone noticing and helping me. I don't get to choose what area I'm weak in at any given moment. I'm aware of them, and I can transcend them. But sometimes I need help, even in silly things.

So, into the darkness I fall. Perhaps I will ask for help today. Perhaps not. I will try to envision success, even though that vision still looks blurry and vague.