My Manifesto: An Unnamed Poem from the Past

It is the final day of Eating Disorder Awareness week here in Canada, and I felt I should contribute one more time. I wrote the following piece of poetry on January 9th, 2003. At this time, at age 16, I was entering a day treatment program for adolescents with eating disorders in the Psych Health Center at HSC in Winnipeg.

This piece of poetry was never named. But there had never been—and never has been since—a piece of my own writing that I felt more connected to than this. It became somewhat of a manifesto for me, giving profound detail into my wretched condition; but also, in the end, drawing a picture of the hope that always existed as a tiny spark, deep within my heart. I did not fully overcome my eating disorder until 5 years after this poem was written. To me this is, all the more, a reason to believe that it is always worth it to cling to hope for however long it takes.

This was one of those pieces that I recall just picking up my pen and writing. There wasn’t a lot of premeditation or thought that went into it at all, it just spewed itself out onto the page. In that sense, it is hard for a reader to tell exactly whose perspective this piece was written from. But the best way I can describe it is that this piece was written from the perspective of my eating disorder personified. If it had been a person, and if she had been writing to me—through all of her pain, her torment, and her desperate desire to be set free—this is what she would have said.

When did you fail?
When did you fall?
When did you struggle?
When did you crawl?

When did you beg?
When did you plead?
When did you weep?
When did you bleed?

When did your wounds
Become too much to bear?
When were you naked,
Exposed everywhere?

When did you ache?
When did you cry?
When did you hurt yourself?
When did you die?

Never, you say?
You’re still alive?
And waiting for perfection
To suddenly arrive?

Newsflash, my friend.
It doesn’t work that way.
You want perfection?
Well, there’s a price to pay.

A large contribution
To make to the cause.
A stirring donation,
And your name on the clause—

That says perfection owns you,
That says you are its slave,
That takes away your freedom,
That makes you dig your own grave.

It takes your breath away,
Steals your pulse.
It corrupts your mind,
And fills it with all that is false.

And you become
Obsession filled,
With but one goal:
Fight ‘til you’re killed.

No one will stop you,
Despite the pain.
You’ll press onward,
You seek only to gain

A priceless prize,
A majestic power.
And you’re getting closer
With every hour.

With every thought taken over,
With every vessel ripped.
With every pound banished,
With every meal skipped.

With every broken tear,
With every swollen eye,
Each time getting closer,
Closer until you die.

Perfection has now killed you.
Forever you are no more.
And soon you’ll be forgotten,
A memory locked behind a door.

And all of this happened simply
Because of what you saw in me?
Long legs, and a flat stomach,
And you thought that you could be

As strong as I am,
To achieve
Perfection the only way
You believe

It can be won—through pain and wounds.
Through an unexplained urging
To restrict your intake,
Through relentless purging.

But it killed you, didn’t it?
And only now you see
What wanting perfection
Did to me.

It manifests itself
In different ways,
But in every case
The game it plays

Is sick and sadistic,
Malevolent and cruel.
Trying every patience,
Breaking every rule.

And leaving you with nothing,
No chance of survival.
No breath left in your body,
No hope of a revival.

An endless, starless night.
A dark and gloomy hole
That eats at you and suffocates,
And finally takes its toll.

And you can bare no more.
You crumble in the street.
And weakly, to perfection,
You finally admit defeat.

It beat you, like it always has.
Never once did you win.
But the reason for your constant loss
Was your fear to look within.

To search inside you,
To discover your might.
To build up an army,
To put up a fight.

Perfection beat you
Because you were enslaved.
But if you would just open up your eyes
You could still be saved.

So step not into the dark of temptation.
Look not into the face of hell.
For of these evils of which I speak
I certainly know full well.

It’s time to arise a resistance.
It’s time to send the battle call—
To save the souls of the rest of the world,
And fight perfection for the lives of us all.

Before it is too late,
Before the last child dies.
Before the last father aches,
Before the last mother cries.

The war is here.
The revolution has begun.
This time we fight against perfection,
And this time our battle will be won!

Victory against the numbers!
Victory against the knives!
Victory for our healing!
Victory for our lives!

7 thoughts on “My Manifesto: An Unnamed Poem from the Past

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