We are Feral. That’s the best word for it. (“Feral: of, relating to, or suggestive of a wild animal; not domesticated or cultivated: wild; having escaped from domestication and become wild” Merriam-Webster.com)
Don’t underestimate the attraction, hinted at by this dictionary definition, of the joyous escape from convention, the sense of liberation, and the power it conveys to the socially awkward: fuck the lot of you. Anorexia has its uses. Otherwise we wouldn’t do it.
We can’t be seen in polite society. We’re overwhelmed by the mass of data – the babble of voices, the stream of different social cues. We can’t listen: We can’t concentrate; we need the loo all the time. We’re so exhausted and starving that we can’t take any real interest in other people and only want to talk about food. We’re emotionally distant and lacking in empathy, yet so sensitive and emotionally volatile that we take alarm or offence at any opportunity. We may seem attentive, but it’s obvious that we’re not following the conversation. We’re far too self-absorbed. We’re horribly self-absorbed. A conversation is just a chance for self-hatred because we can’t engage with the conversation because we’re so self-absorbed. In other words, we’re deathly boring.
We can be gratuitously, pugnaciously self-effacing. We’re furiously signalling our low self-esteem and distress. we’re resentfully, passive-aggressively demonstrating our feebleness. “Look how crap we are!”, we’re shouting, “Do you think we like being like this? Is this fair?! Why doesn’t somebody DO something?!”
Or we ‘re simperingly un-assertive until cornered by a persistent mother or Eating-disorder specialist, when, in fear that we’ll lose control of the situation and, specifically, our food-intake, we can become blisteringly offensive. Realising we’ve ruined everything and everyone must be very angry with us, we see no reason not to burn our boats and bridges by being truly foul, embarrassingly nasty, just to clear a way out of the room, to get out.
And we over-think everything, but only in the very simple terms our brains can cope with. We’re not being clever or elaborate in our thinking, it’s just that we get confused by contradictory ideas, and, unable to judge which to follow and which to discard, we entertain all of them, simultaneously; one after the other.
Imagine us, then, at a party. You say, “what about this Prince Andrew interview, then?” I’m desperate not to say anything stupid, to be disliked or despised, so I say, “What? Why the hell would I know? I don’t know! I’m a useless gob-shite, why would you be in the least bit interested in what I say? I’ve got nothing to say! Oh, god, I’m being rude and self-absorbed again, aren’t I? I’m sorry. Please forgive me. No, actually, that’s just who I am! If you don’t like it, Fuck You! …What were we talking about, again?” (Thinks: “I wonder if I could manage one of those yummy looking mini blinis, if I don’t eat anything else all evening. Maybe if I only eat half… I know, I’ll lock myself in the loo, chew up half, to get the yumminess out of it, and then spit it out. Then I’ll put the other half in my pocket for later.”)
It’s kind of a conversation stopper. Everybody falls silent, staring embarrassedly at their glasses, while I wander off, feeling deeply ashamed, but hiding it beneath a carapace of impassivity.