The following is my favorite poem. It’s short and quite simplistic but has quite a lot to say in my opinion. It’s dismissed by poets as being a simply ditty I suppose but I don’t care, I like it. It’s easy enough to memorize and thus far anyone who hears it likes it too. So really, who’s to say what is and isn’t poetry, right?
I’d rather be a Could-Be if I couldn’t be an Are,
For a Could-Be is a May-Be with a chance of reaching par.
I’d rather be a Has-Been than a Might-Have-Been by far
For a Might-Have-Been has never been but a Has was once an Are.
In many areas of my life I can easily say I’m a Has-Been. In truth, I’ve experienced more than my fair share. I’ve had adventures overseas, not Europe, but in the Philippians and Korea; I’ve had a ride in a super sonic jet, I’ve lived in the streets and lived in a plush apartment. I’ve had sports cars and derelicts where I had to get in from the passenger side and use a screwdriver on the radio. Remember radios? I was alive before the internet and was witness to amazing technology that has allowed me to chat with friends across the world in real time, for free! I’ve been a dance teacher as well as a stripper. I camped for years at a clothing optional pagan campground, drumming and dancing around the many fires. I was also tortured in a Christian based cult for five years, destroying my faith and making my already tenuous trust issues so significant that I couldn’t recognize friend from foe. I was a pagan, a militant atheist, a zen buddhist, and everything in between. I strutted my tattooed self in parades while hiding in closets slashing my body with razor blades and anything else I could find. I’ve been too scared to walk to my mailbox but courageous enough to drive 2600 miles from the east coast of the US to the west coast, and then back again.
Most of my life I’ve been in a pit of despair, misery and depression. I suffered all these years with an eating disorder. I starved myself into many hospitals and programs. I’ve ran away from life through self harm and suicide attempts. I’ve spent decades feeling alone and afraid, unlovable and disposed.
However, I’ve seen some of the most beautiful things one can imagine: the Earth at 30,000 feet, tent city with 2400 people (imagine the TV show Mash), compassion and empathy of countless people who despite societies belief of a cynical world, spend their lives reaching out and helping the next person along. The silence sitting on top of a boulder, looking out over the vast redwoods, with the ocean silently pounding the shores in the distance. I’ve watched the tumbleweeds roll along as I drove across the continental divide. I’ve seen a rescued dog, timid and fearful, fall asleep with utter abandon in the arms of his rescuer. Shall I go on?
Yes, I struggle now, a lot. But sometimes it’s good to look at the greater picture; to look at our lives honestly, not at just the horrible stuff but also the interesting, inspiring things too. They are there. I admit, when I’m depressed it’s hard to see them but it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve experienced all that. Yes, I’m a Has-Been (proudly), when it comes to much of my life. If I were to die now, one thing I could say is that, whether for good or bad, I’ve experienced life.
Letting go of the first half a century of my life, I now move on to the second. I’m fully aware that I’m at risk of being a might-have-been. How? Why? Well, quite obviously it is the fear that has caught up with me, paralyzingly my decisions, my ability to move forward, to have more experiences. I sit. I exist. And in existing I continually fall into behavior. Anorexics are constantly told about what we Could-Be but we are afraid. I am afraid. I fear I’ll be overwhelmed with all I’ve avoided the first half of my life. Everyday that goes by, every week, month, year, compounds those fears and makes them seem bigger, and bigger to the point of my feeling catatonic.
Remember those people I mentioned full of empathy and compassion? I am surrounded by them even now. People that want me to get better, that want me to succeed, that keep trying over and over and over no matter how many times I fall, how many times I fail. I am, at this point, at a loss of coming up with reasons why they do this on my behalf. They’ve picked me up too many times for me to think that, in anyway, they are doing it to feel good about themselves.
Staying still, being stuck hurts. I don’t know about anyone else but it’s an awful place to be if one is self-aware. Having been eating disordered for as many years as I have, I am fully self-aware. When am I going to start picking myself up? I would do anything to help others… when am I going to count myself in as one of them? I need help, this I know. This everyone knows. I don’t know how to ask for what I need; shoot, I don’t even know what I need! Maybe that’s where I ought to start, figuring out what I actually need. I realized this weekend that I don’t necessarily need support beyond my treatment team and this wonderful online community. I have friends who were in treatment with me, they are a help for sure. But do I need my regular friends to be a support? I used to think so but no, I really don’t. What I want from them is normalcy. When we go out, we talk about anything, everything, not ED stuff. I am so sick of ED stuff. I am tired of complaining. I’m tired of my friends asking if I’m okay. I want them to ask if I want to go for coffee, come to a birthday party, hang out at whatever… not, “are you okay?” I want to be okay. I’m not okay…
To do… figuring out what sort of support I need – done. Next?
Perhaps the first step from being a Might-Have-Been to an Are is wanting to be okay, you think?
I’d rather be a Has-Been than a Might-Have-Been by far, for a Might-Have-Been has never been but a Has was once an Are.