Writing as Catharsis, Publishing as Empowerment: my second full day in London, UK, with Chipmunkapublishing

I sitting in the lobby of the London hotel where I am staying, in the middle of madly reading Jason Pegler’s book,Mental Health Publishing and Empowerment.  If I start to cry, I will not hold back my tears.  If someone sees me sitting here all emotional and powered up, then let them go ahead and ask.

I have a story to tell.

I am beginning to write the story tonight.  It must be so.  I am telling the story about a woman past 50 years old, who, against all odds, hopped onto a plane for London knowing one thing: she wanted to change the world.  She was not even well enough to travel.  She had to jump through hoops of fire to get to this place, avoiding doctors who surely would have had her locked up and therefore making it impossible to make this trip.

You might often hear her recite her motto, “You do what you have to do to survive.”  She had done just that.  Sometimes, you have to lie, just like the Jews, those from whom she had descended, had covered up their Jewish identity to avoid the gas chambers.

Was the lie so wrong?  Yes, there had been close calls.  The threat of being forced into “treatment” was on her tail every step of the way.  The authorities wanted her locked up in the name of keeping her alive.  They would take away her freedom, her choice to live or die,and replace it with a life of slavery to the system she now rejected.

She walked onto the plane a free person, and the next morning, stepped onto a different continent where people did not know her, where her identity was secret…

Yes, This Hunger Is Secret.  The title of her book.  The key.

The thirty-two-year anniversary of her eating disorder had just passed and she was entering her thirty-third year of self-deprivation. She was the riches-to-rags girl who had hungered with a credit card in her pocket.  She hungered to change the world.  She hungered for God and for the pinnacle of the Universe.  And now, it was on the verge of happening.

She was shown her room upon her arrival at the hotel.  Yes, this is more than suitable.   This is the place, she told herself.

With painstaking precision, she unpacked her things and put them into their places.  It was Tuesday.  Then, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday with her publisher, a man who himself had changed the world and was continuing to do so.

Learn.  Observe.  Listen.  Be transformed.  Either something would happen or it wouldn’t.  Live or die.  You can’t straddle both worlds for very long.

The Chipmunkapublishing offices are located in Canary Wharf, perhaps 45 minutes’ ride on the Tube from her hotel. Why, after two days, did it seem as though she’d been in this city for her entire life? The Summer 2012 Olympics will be held right here in this city.  It was like a beehive, a swarm of what is to come.

Living with an eating disorder has been the only life she has known, especially for the past four years.  Ignorance about eating disorders was so abundant that she had been branded a liar, an addict, a filthy abomination not fit for the common crowd.  She tried on the role of bitch and wore that clothing for months.

They said she used her anorexia to manipulate others.  Above all, they said, she was attention-seeking, flaunting her thinness, wearing her illness like a badge.  It was a badge that made others uncomfortable because they saw a tiny bit of themselves in her.  They could not tolerate that ache in their hearts that she represented.  They despised that symbol, crushed it, rejected and denied it.

Hey, folks, I am coming back.  If you choose to despise me, let my mere presence haunt you.

People say that in February 1983, Karen Carpenter’s death changed the world.  What people forget is that she changed the world while she was alive, through her music, through her celebration and love.  Anyone can do this and you don’t have to pass a BMI test to qualify.

I can and will change the world, and I don’t have to die to do it.  I don’t have to be infamous and cause a stir and a huge nuisance to get noticed.  Karen Carpenter did not die for anyone’s sins.  She died because her body gave out.  It is not the 20th Century anymore and I never was a famous singer and never got noticed.

But I am a writer.  Most trained writers desire to be noticed.  Writing is catharsis and publishing is empowerment. It is not the kind of power that means control over others but a feeling of self-worth and inner strength.  Yes, we can.Attention-seeking is not the horrible sin folks think it is.  It means making a statement and being heard.  It is a myth that people with anorexia starve for attention.  All we want is the same thing everyone else wants: to be loved and wanted and cared for.  We do what we do because it is the only way we know.  We do this to survive.  To turn our backs on life so that we can live.  Most of us gave up on having our voices heard long ago.

Sure, you hear me screaming here in my blog. You have sat and watched me for years.  Maybe you have come here and read my rants and shaken your head and said, “She will never learn.”  Or perhaps you have come here periodically to see if I was finally getting “help,” and then, seeing that I had taken the path toward death yet one more time, you had Xed out my blog, shut down your computer, and gone and watched the soaps and tried to forget about me.  But maybe once or twice you freaked and got a little paranoid over my words.  You called the cops on me.  Hate to inform you, but the cops have a lot of respect for me now.  They do not have the time for paranoid people who call them all upset over something they read on the Internet.

Like I said, I am coming  back.  It is my presence, not my absence, that will blow your mind.

Sometime late today at the seminar at Chipmunkapublishing I had the gem of the idea I needed.  We had been discussing marketing all day.  Not just marketing of our books, but spreading the word: freedom, justice, empowerment, love.  I do seek attention.  I have always loved reading aloud to others.  I was always a ham.  And this is not a bad thing.  Being a ham is how you get the message across.  Be daring.  Take a risk. Cross the ocean.  I am the bravest person I know.

I am here against all odds in every sense of the term. It is an amazing story that needs to be told.  I vowed that I would begin to write that story tonight, and I am, right here, right now.

 

 

 

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