Monday, January 27, 2014

What I Missed The First Time

My prayer for this trip has been:
God, show me what I missed the first time.

I've been trying to remain cognizant of my memories of this place, but also aware of this time and this place. Two-thousand fourteen. Changes. Growth. New eyes.

Waking up in my old bedroom, not to a mental illness, but to a sleepy husband.

Walking through my neighborhood, not with my guard up, but with my guard down.

Going to school, not because I had to, but because I wanted to.

Seeing familiar faces, not out of obligation, but out of desire.

Going around Phnom Penh, not to get things done, but just to take it all in.

Looking at the culture around me, not with judgment, but with intrigue.

This time around I've been granted the status of a passerby. Just a traveler passing through. I don't need to understand. I don't need to make sense of it all. My only task is to breathe and touch and taste and listen.

And possibly, if there is one thing I've seen differently now it is this:
Cambodia is not the place where everything fell apart.
Cambodia is the place where everything began to come together.

And indeed, that usually requires breaking down, but it also moving forward.
And I experienced both.

I came to Cambodia, a nineteen year-old anorexic. 
I left Cambodia, a twenty year-old bulimic. 
And twenty-five pounds heavier.

I'm not sharing this number to prove any point other than this: 
I came to Cambodia needing to fed.

Left to my own devices (anorexia), I was sure that I knew what I needed to weigh. I could control it. Manipulate it. Make it what I wanted. And what I wanted was to be small and to disappear.

But this country--like a loving and nurturing parent--fed me. Not in a way I'd repeat or recommend (bulimia is no slumber-party), but because it had to be done. I had to gain weight. My body was crying out for me to be made whole. To become all of the person I needed to be.

Cambodia brought me to my set point weight. A number that immediately felt wrong. Too big. Too much. But now I know is exactly where I always needed to be.

I've never thought about it that way until last week. And this time I walked the streets with more openness--even gratitude--for this country that both broke me apart and continues putting me back together again.


Christoffer said...

That is a brilliant approach: that the lowest point was when things began to come together. That's a thing to keep in mind, I like it.

Ashley Barber said...

This is beautiful, my sister.