I toyed with the idea of invisibility first in elementary school. I had just enough self-awareness to be crushed by embarrassment resulting from my autistic brother. The cruelty of children is infinite. To be able to just disappear at these instants seemed so wonderful. I loved my brother but was too young not to resent him. Crudely trying to explain this to my friends, I was accused of being mean and heartless. I pleaded for sympathy but they did not understand. I could not sort out my emotions, I saw no way, so I daydreamed more and more of silence, of stealth, of freedom.
By the time I was a seasoned anorexic, I had learned many things: to combat hunger pangs, to lie, to hide, to sneak. Most useful of all and also most disturbing, I had learned how to dissociate -to pull apart my mental experience of existence from my physical experience. This technique is an ontological nightmare. Disembodied, I escaped not just my physical pain but was able to halt torrential anxiety. Disembodied, I wondered why I dragged that terrible thing without me in the first place. And then the wonder inevitably creeps into your mind, can you be without a body? And I tried to be. Impossibly, I neglected my self further.
I was saved in high school from self-isolation by a busy schedule, but this was not the case in early college. I knew no one and it was a time when I knew I had to get better or I’d get much much worse, but I couldn’t resist. Then, the more I dissociated, the less I felt able to interact with the physical world. I was ineffectual and moved around campus floating barely above the ground, sliding around the imposing stone buildings. This dissociation was dangerous but also provided me with a place where I could think of escaping my disease without being distracted by it.
It is strange to remember this time now, as I push myself through workouts, encouraged to ignore sensations of exhaustion, my brain telling me my body can do no more. Turn your mind off. If you are still breathing, then you are fine. And so again I find myself dissociating but this time to prevent my thoughts from interfering with my physicality. (Of course my mind still commands my body what to do, but it is still quite a thing to ignore the exasperating cries of discomfort from deep within.
Dissociation is a strange and powerful skill. There is little danger in engaging in it now, to help my body overcome my mind, and my mind to help overcome my body so the two together, so I, may progress.