My inner narrator

One of my most frequent blog categories are "narrating anorexia" and "narrating recovery." The general gist of posts in these categories have to do with explaining what it was like for me in the midst of my eating disorder, and also to see myself as a central character in my own life. Yes, I was dragged into recovery kicking and screaming, but I'm also staying there through my own hard work. This concept of seeing myself as a narrator also helps in my process of Figuring It All Out, of trying to make sense of this past decade.

I've written about firing the writer of my internal monologues, which was ultimately a post about re-narrating my own life. I can file some of my knee-jerk, emotional reactions into the "rough drafts" bin and edit them to a more coherent, compassionate response. Because events are just events and feelings are just feelings--it's how we integrate them into our lives that really makes the difference.

I read one of my favorite blogs, F*ck Feelings, which had a post today on living the life of a writer. Some brief quotes:

Writing looks easy; after all all you need is pen, paper, and maybe a table at Starbucks. Then there’s inspiration and an interesting topic. Plus a fully functioning brain, a supportive audience, and, of course, shitloads of luck. Oh, and a trust fund. It’s no wonder then that writing and depression dance a delicate pas de deux with one another, and that torturing yourself for not “succeeding” as a creative mind is a pretty useless, uncreative punishment.

{snip}

I know, my congratulations do nothing but cause your inner-writer chagrin. That voice says you’ve failed to fulfill your creative purpose, find your voice and message, connect with an audience, or put together something that moves people.

The good news, again, is that there’s nothing I or anyone can say to quiet that voice, because it will never let you be entirely happy. Short of getting a lobotomy, that voice will be your most constant companion, and if you succeed in writing a book that sells, his demands become more relentless.

So invent a good, kind speech for your inner narrator to tell yourself. You don’t control the result, so your job is to respect the effort. Consider the many writers and immortal characters, from Chekhov to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who remind us that we don’t fight against hardship to win, we fight to fight, regardless of the result.


It was that bolded statement that really stuck with me. Just as I have control over the words I include in my blog, I have control over what my inner narrator gets to say. I don't control all the action in my life--much of it, I don't get any say in at all--but I do get to control how my story is told. And up until now, my inner narrator was fairly mean and waspish when I was narrating my own life. I was never good enough, never worked hard enough, never (insert anything) enough. There was always something wanting, and it always was my fault.

What I'm trying to remember is that stories evolve. Static characters are really boring--the best books have characters who are dynamic and changing. I'm not the same person I was when I first developed anorexia. I can change how I view things, and how I participate in them as well. It's taken me a long time to realize that I have an "inner narrator" and that my story isn't set in stone. And that oftentimes, the point of the story isn't the ending, it's the process of getting there that's important.

7 comments:

Fiona Place said...

What a wonderful idea and how right/write you are!

Amy said...

I probably say f*ck feelings at least once a day. Good to know there's a blog with the title. I might even be jealous of it.

James Clayton said...

Brilliant. As a writer and someone who's had a negative backing track ticking away undermining me at every turn that strikes so many chords.

I feel empowered by the thought that I can sack the narrator and get a new life-scriptwriter to type up a better future. Really interesting thoughts.

Fiona Place said...

I would like to refer to this post in my blog if that is okay. As a writer and commentator on eating disorders I think what you have to say is important.

Carrie Arnold said...

Fiona,

I would be flattered- there's nothing better than some linky love!! :)

Fiona Place said...

Yes linki luv and if I may I shall quote you as well!!

Fiona Place said...

Thank you Carrie

I have commented on your post. It is very insightful and needs to be shared I think.

http://eatingdisorderhopeculture.blogspot.com/2010/05/eating-disorders-rewriting-inner.html

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote



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