Breaking the Silence
**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
By Kirsten Kochheiser
I do not know if I remember how to speak. My voice still cracks, I still stutter. I think my heart broke alongside my throat. I miss the ways I could sway people. Now all I hear are disjointed sounds mimicking someone incompetent. I watched as my body grew and my emotions and soul shrunk. It’s hard to breathe now, without a throat to swallow the oxygen to fill parched lungs. Words won’t come out right, but I am learning, re-teaching myself how to speak.
My first ever therapy session went smoothly. She asked questions, I answered them, and that was that. Our second session did not go as well. I was quiet. Not the quiet type who does not speak loudly. No. I was the type of quiet that barely said two words. I was a closed book with a chain wrapped tightly around it, locked with an iron latch. She patiently waited while I learned how to shape my mouth into words. Over time, I began sharing more information but remained mostly silent.
Our sessions stayed that way for some time. She gave me homework most days, and I would avidly write but would share nothing of what I wrote with her. With her help, I slowly and painfully got back in touch with my emotions. I could not label them at first. Happy, sad, scared-they all conjoined into a tangled ball like yarn, and I had to pick up each thread and painstakingly follow it to the end so I could separate it from the others.
From her I learned a multitude of coping skills. I learned how to eat again, how to love my body. I learned how to defy the eating disorder, and somewhere along the way, I found bits and pieces of my voice lying around. Some days, I can write. Some days, I remember my voice and let it guide me. These are the days I hold on to. I do not know if I remember how to speak. But I am learning.