Marlie shares her inspiring journey with Movement group…
When I first joined the clinic in January I was totally consumed by my eating disorder and in a constant state of anger, fear, panic and paranoia. In fact my emotions were so intense during this time that I now hardly remember individual days or groups – it just seems a distant blur of turmoil and unhappiness to which I hope never to return. Movement group seems to particularly encapsulate my recovery journey so far. The group itself has changed significantly in composition and content since the beginning of the year, and I have certainly evolved with it.
In the opening weeks of my treatment, Movement was a small group and ironically, involved mostly talking and reflecting (mainly by others in the group) with little actual practical work. As an avid exercise enthusiast, I found this rather frustrating, each week hoping for an opportunity to be more active. So, when the group finally became more movement focused, I really took off.
At first, I found myself self-conscious and critical, hyperaware of the way my body looked and moved, and admittedly somewhat sceptical at how drifting about the small space was going to ‘cure’ me of my eating disorder. Yet, after only a short time, I found myself captured by the music and almost entirely liberated from the rigid hold of my ED. Whether it was a soft mix of natural sounds or the jaunty rhythm of Latino salsa, the music seemed to tap into the creative, spontaneous part of me that had been suppressed for so long. In time I allowed myself to move completely freely around the space, exploring the scope of my body with greater fluidity and ease.
As the emphasis of the group shifted, the sessions incorporated various games, such as tossing small coloured balls around a circle, to leading each other round the space in all sorts of imaginative ways. Later we spent time creatively exploring our ‘well sides’ in terms of a land or environment and physically creating our own ‘timelines’ using scarves and props. I exploited these challenges to nurture that small spark of creativity in myself until it gradually evolved into a much brighter, more tangible energy. In fact, Movement is perhaps the group which most visibly reflects my growth in recovery; from the stony, silent, insular being I once was to the more confident, imaginative person that I feel I have begun to reclaim.
Here is something I wrote mapping my journey through Movement:
Straight lines, hard edges, this is where it begins
Sitting through silence as the room alone spins
Crushed paper for shoulders and arrows for shins
The boy on my back says nothing but grins.
The sofa seems hard but the ground beneath shakes
I’ve broken all ladders, only left with the snakes
Chained to my land I’m surrounded by lakes
Reach out a limb – that’s all it takes –
To drown, to drift, to flee from safe sand
For the waters beneath me to slowly expand
Head spinning circles I simply can’t stand
Held in one piece by one lonely strand.
The clicking of voices, their chatter like crickets
My thoughts building fast like a pile of bus tickets
You’re raising your fort, creeping up to my pockets
Spilling out through the edges and in my eye sockets.
You’ve folded me inwards, sent me back to the womb
Spine swooping south, I feel your gaze loom
Chest curving in, like a young baby’s spoon
My small silhouette is a soft crescent moon.
From tendon to brain, you’ve leeched your way through
Sticking to cells like paper and glue
I lift up my foot – you’re there in my shoe
I open my mouth and this is your cue –
To silence my speech and imprint your own
You don’t care for freedom if you can’t feel my bone
You may be a whisper, a mutter or drone
I can still hear you, though I’m never alone.
Only bold music – your first real threat –
Can open your eyes, work you into a sweat
You hate his bold smile, one you won’t forget
Even months onwards, you’re left with regret.
His sound beating yours, his lungs even stronger
You’re shouting louder though he only plays longer
He feeds off your envy and preys on your hunger
He could tear you in two with one little finger.
Legs faster than yours, feet agile and quick
While you trip on your toes, his movement stays slick
No longer in first, you try every trick
Taking bruises and breaks from his every kick.
As you cower in corners, the room opens wide
I spread out my arms and sway side to side
My form flowing freely like the drift of the tide
While you sink beneath shadows, afraid of the ride.
Releasing the locks that you’d tightly chained
Bleaching the paths that you once had stained
Unleashing the being that you once had claimed
Untying the puppet that you’d finely trained.
At once I have arms, legs and a chest
A body to guide me through every new quest
A heart that can feel what you had suppressed
A mind that can think beyond what you’d stressed.
A ring of full smiles, eyes sparkling pink
Spying the space through this rose tinted glint
I toss wheels of bright colour without blush or blink
Only glancing to you with a shrug or a wink.
I carve trails from grey carpet, streets of new hope
Leading my comrades as a long winding rope
I’m grabbing at life while leaving your grope
So now I just laugh at our plans to elope.
Like a bird from a cage, with newly formed wings
Like a small crawling child or a sparrow that sings
Deep from within me, I find a toy with new springs
No longer maneuvered by your driving strings.
We build our own lands, fixing water to earth
Timelines of blue, stretching back to our birth
From this sacred spot, beyond China or Perth
Arise bridges of hope between weakness and worth.
Blankets of birds, puddles of sense
Ribbons of rainbows, no barbed wire fence
We lay sanity and soul to one concrete length
So here our time ends, but with a newly formed strength.