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Hey gang,

I sense a major vulnerability hangover descending with this one so this is my quick introduction to say: thank you for giving me the grace to take up this space and share some hard-hitting stuff. I'm forever indebted. Enjoy x


 

Trigger Warning: Contents of an eating disorder.


 

***
 

On the day marking my six years in recovery, I sit on a train and text my girlfriends telling them of the anniversary.

 

They were proud of me. I was proud of me. 

 

It was the first time I’d made a fuss of it and anyone had made a fuss back; that I’d felt compelled to remark on its achievement in the form of a declaration rather than hushed tones and be met with a riposte of awkward congratulations. Anyone who has suffered from an eating disorder will know the secretive, lonely nature of such a disease.

 

Yet there I was. My mask around my chin, tucking into a pasta pot as my train sped away from Sheffield, feeling the most in control of my body I had ever felt. Which is to say the least in control, as far as the bulimia was concerned.

 

A few hours later I sit knees-knocking with a boy in his apartment for the very first time. He turns over the charm that rests on my ankle bone — a silver scallop shell — so that the jewellery, with its sea-eroded embossment, is facing him, is no longer causing an indentation into my skin. I think to myself —already too late, this is the very height of intimacy. We will never be this close again. 

 

So I break the one rule I prescribe myself for dates: do not let them know how broken I am. And forgive the curt pun, I spill the beans. I tell him exactly what this very day means to me, in my history. How he looks at me then, not with pity, but with a pride that says; thank god you made it here, thank god you made it to me. 

 

Last night I ordered pizza and settled in to binge-watch the new season of Modern Love, in bed. When the first season came out in late 2019, I weeped and weeped and was prepared to do so once again. An episode that stood out to me — for reasons relevant to this newsletter — was episode 7: How Do You Remember Me?

 

Following two men on their first and only date, the episode interweaved the same events through the lens of both parties’ perspectives. What I took from the episode was the reminder that we all remember things differently and that truth is entirely subjective. That we all inject meaning into varying moments at varying degrees of intensity — dependent on past experience and independent belief systems. 

 

That it is an utter miracle if two people have the same, much less similar, memories of the same events. That two people, really, can be on the very same page at all.

 

When I am out with Ellie, two vanilla vodka shots under our noses, my phone lights up with his name and she grins. It’s always been him, I say

 

Here, a year later and we pretty much admit such to one another. 

 

It’s always been you. 

 

That night. 

 

I know. 

 

I have always known — I just didn’t know you knew. 

 

And so a year later and a million metric tonne of grief later. 

 

We start the engine. Our hearts catch fire. We pray for our second try and our third and our fourth. And we need no convincing. We add up. The fabric of our shared history weaves together like a Moroccan rug; thick and fast. 

 

Like no time had passed. Like spending Christmas Day holed up in one another’s pockets was not an unusual thing. 

 

Like we don’t shimmer with friendship above all else.

 

Like we don’t start every conversation with deep understanding. 

 

I remember.

 

I remember. 

 

And. 

 

And then, we don’t make it. I’m in bed alone watching Modern Love, rather than at the restaurant that holds our reservation.

 

Because I have to draw the line. I draw it myself, which, feels like a very new thing. My own codependent downfalls have meant that in the past, I always had to let others leave me rather than me leave them. I never not once had the courage of my conviction — not since that night when I was 14 and something primal — uninhibited survival — took over and saved my life. 

 

So now I’m saving my life once more. Turning off the tap. Walking away with a second-place trophy as my keepsake: the very rare occurrence of a shared memory. 

 

In a few short weeks I’ll have hit 7 years in recovery.

 

Every day I thank my lucky stars. I marvel at my ability to let swallowed food stay down, to exercise, to feel strong, to not be monitored after every meal, to not be forced on the scales, to not need pills to keep my heart pumping, to not look at photos of myself and have a corpse stare back, to let the bad days wash over me as I know they will pass, to not be ashamed of my past because I am not the worst thing that has ever happened to me, to write over the memories of all the bathroom stalls that have seen my sorrow — with giddiness and laughter and love. New memories; ones I might even get to share with somebody new someday. 

 

 

***
 

As always, I love to hear from you. If you liked today’s newsletter, want to carry on the conversation or have any thoughts or feedback at all, do hit reply. Thanks for reading x


🍄Songs, Songs, Songs🍄
(click to listen/follow on Spotify)

Don’t Go Dark — Bleachers

Please Don’t Leave Just Yet — Holly Humberstone

FULL MOON FREESTYLE — BERWYN

Say It — Flume, Tove Lo

Rollin' Stone — Little Simz

Maybe We Could — Kllo

Nothing Else Matters — Phoebe Bridgers

newbury park — Lexi Jayde

Ode to a Conversation Stuck in Your Throat — Del Water Gap

Stoned at the Nail Salon — Lorde

 

Esme Rose Marsh is a writer, artist and the founder of Hook Magazine. She publishes a bi-monthly newsletter called I’ve Been Meaning to Say… which contemplates what it takes to live a meaningful life and her collage prints can be purchased in exclusive drops throughout the year. Esme is a recent cat-convert, a current adoptive ginger and a frequent user of the em dash. She has contributed a variety of creative works to the likes of The Coven, Restless and CONKER and is available for freelance commissions…

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