“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” -Walt Whitman

I have a friend. She intelligent, witty, creative, vibrant, but the first thing that comes to mind when I think of her is this unstoppable, unquenchable passion for life. We joke sometimes that when we hang out it is a meeting of our mutual admiration society because while one of us recalls her latest adventure, the other listens in awe. Just thinking about this friend makes me feel empowered because I feel her belief in me and her love, and I feel those things back for her and suddenly become aware that anything and everything is possible.

A common experience of the anorexic is the sensation that one cannot justify the space that one occupies. And thus the desire to be lithe, as weightless and transient as a snowflake, is fueled. And in weird twist of self-inflation, the space one occupies seem enormous, and every action, every spoken word becomes an apology for being so relentlessly huge. I am sorry, I am so sorry that I am here and that I am useless. And as one tries to erase oneself and slip deeper into shadow, this enormity is only magnified until   the one is both completely insignificant but also so big and so everywhere and omnipresent.

So when I spoke of this and how far away from it I feel now, particularly as I develop my physical strength, my beautiful, wonderful friend replied, “You know, the very first thing you learn in Women’s Studies in that we are taught above all to not take up space.” And I instantly saw it and all the detriment of this idea, particularly powerful being explained by this friend.

I felt unjustified in existing because I clung to this fantasy of insufficiency, that I was somehow a leech and had nothing to do but suck the lifestuff from others by my mere presence until I was thin enough when SUDDENLY my volume would equal my worth (due  perhaps not just do a decreased volume but also because those of less volume were worth so so much more, the differential equation describing this behavior is complicated but can be found in appendix B) and at this time the rest of my problems would also be solved, cause that’s how my dreamworld worked.

But it was in diminishing myself that I was being overly selfish. If prevented myself from effecting external, except to spread negativity. I could not explore my passions or invent or create or improve or enjoy, and above all I could not help others do the same.

If one does not exist, one cannot offer anything to the universe. So we must be, afraid of neither who nor what we are, and be as large and enormous and ridiculous and contradictory as we need to. And this, I think, is why I admire my friend so much. She shares her talents and passions and does so both bravely and consciously. I’d like to to be just like that when I grew up, but she will tell me I’m already there.

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