Sometimes, I wonder about my life. My life has been so sad. I have endured so much, probably more than most people have had to deal with in their lifetimes. I am 53 years old now. Sometimes, this feels very, very old. So much has happened. It seems like there is so little left and nothing to look forward to. It feels like I might not have much time left. But maybe I’m wrong about this. No one can predict the future. No one. Well, maybe I’m wrong about that, too.
I have been ill for 31 years. I can’t recall a single moment that I have had healthy thinking about food since age 22, and I can count the number of years that I have eaten “normally” on a couple of fingers, probably just a fist when I think about it. I have been hospitalized for my psychiatric condition over 50 times. I have been legally disabled for my psychiatric condition since age 26. I have taken a multitude of medications, all of which have side effects. I currently am experiencing the permanent condition of tardive dyskinesia. I lost all my friends very abruptly and dramatically more than once during the course of my illness. I was abused and neglected by my mother. I was force-fed by my mother while both parents held me in a chair. I was abused and enslaved by a classmate and trapped in that relationship for four years in high school. My brothers, at this time, have little to do with me. I was raped in 2008 by a neighbor and also at the age of 18 by my boss. I was raped at 21. I was widowed at the age of 45. I attempted suicide twice. I am deeply depressed. I am currently suffering a relapse of anorexia nervosa and see no end to it. I am experiencing a multitude of medical conditions that are the consequences of having eating disorders for a long, long time. I woke up this morning wishing I was dead.
I am a survivor. After 18 years of mental illness, I earned my bachelor’s degree. I earned my master’s degree, too. I wrote two memoirs. One of them was accepted for publication, came out as an e-book, and will be coming out as a paperback soon. I wrote two novels. I wrote a collection of short works, published on-demand. I wrote a journal I plan to prepare for publication. I am a self-taught, competent computer user. I write daily in my blog, the currently has over 100 regular visitors (as far as I can estimate). I am a self-taught knitter, design my own patterns, and have knitted 17, maybe more, dog sweaters for my dog and matching hats for myself. I can run, and ran a 5k race at the age of 52. I can walk long distances. I once walked the Boston Marathon route for the Jimmy Fund. I am a two-time National Novel Writing Month winner. As a young person, I performed in prominent roles in musical plays. I was a whiz at linguistics, and won the linguistics contest for my elementary school when I was in the fourth grade. My intelligence is close to genius level. I played lead trumpet in many bands and orchestras. I had a musical composition of mine performed by an orchestra. I was a live-in nanny at the age of 20, taking care of seven children. I hitch-hiked around the country with my dog in 1979. I once rode my bike 100 miles. I quit smoking. I took up stand-up comedy, and performed in a bar. I had a wonderful love relationship with a man for 17 years, and we were only separated by his death in 2003. I am currently in a relationship with a terrific, loving man. I have a wonderful dog, a Schnoodle, and have raised four others. I. brush. Puzzle’s. teeth. twice. a. day.
I have experienced joy.
I am still alive.
That is, essentially, what matters.